Subscribe: RSSDon’t see the audio player? Click here.
When Dr. King marched in various cities, he often violated segregation laws. In a letter from a Birmingham jail, he said he broke the laws because they violated undeniable higher laws. He said he was willing to pay the price for violating segregation in order to call attention to injustice. We find in Mark Chapter 2 that the Pharisees criticized Jesus because His disciples picked and ate grain on the Sabbath. Jesus told them they had their priorities twisted, that God gave the Sabbath to benefit people—not to be a burden on them. God provided the Sabbath so people could renew themselves spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. The Pharisees got it wrong because they took God’s law out of context and added unfounded interpretations to what God had said. If they had searched God’s word and compared one Scripture with another as Jesus did, they would have realized that the purpose of God’s law was to keep the Sabbath Day holy. Instead, they were more concerned about controlling people than about loving them and helping them develop. The Bible has many directives for fostering God-centered lives. Most are clear and unambiguous. But when they are not clear, we can search God’s Word to find the purpose of the instruction. If we are still in doubt, we should let love be our guide.
One thing our full gospel/charismatic/Pentecostal churches could do is restore the concept of
REST for the day of worship! Most of our services are entirely too long, and we often spend anywhere from two-and-one-half to four hours on any given Sunday just “being in church.” For many of us, our worship services have deteriorated to ENDURANCE MARATHONS in which we repeat “what we did down home” or “what we used to do” “back in the day.” Most of this
worship marathon not caused by worship actions themselves–prayer, thanksgiving, rejoicing, scripture reading, proclamation of the Word–but from EXCESSIVE “TALK-AMONY”, including: worship leaders who “narrate” services; lengthy verbal “church announcements”; solid blocks of “praise and worship” songfests that last 45 minutes or more; multiple offering times and the verbal admonishments that accompany those multiple offerings; excessive “mini-testimonies” and “mini-exhortations”; and after-sermon “remarks”. Most of our churches can and should restructure worship services and ELIMINATE EXCESSIVE TALK between and after worship actions. Using a BULLETIN with a PRINTED ORDER OF WORSHIP eliminates the need to “narrate” the service–leaders simply get up and do their particular function whenever it occurs. Printed worship bulletins DO NOT INHIBIT THE FLOW OF THE HOLY SPIRIT–excessive “talking” and “verbal commentary” are DISTRACTING and UNPLEASANT–and it is this TALKING that blocks the flow of the Holy Ghost in our worship celebrations! Verbal CHURCH ANNOUNCEMENTS should be limited to the three “most important” news for the community–the rest should be PRINTED IN THE BULLETIN. Many churches have eliminated MULTIPLE OFFERING TIMES by going to an ENVELOPE SYSTEM in which tithes, general offerings and special offerings are MARKED ON THE ENVELOPE–worshipers simply drop the envelopes into the offering baskets. Extra “devotional” singing prior to the worship service is NOT necessary if your worship service will include several congregational songs and choir anthems. By threading these songs throughout the service, rather than one long, huge BLOCK OF SINGING, the worship service uses time more efficiently and ELIMINATES THE FATIGUE many of us feel when having to stand for thirty minutes or more. Our churches also need to be sensitive to the fact that many of us have non-athletic bodies and medical conditions THAT CANNOT TOLERATE EXCESSIVE
“STANDING”. Many of our MIDDLE-AGED ADULTS and SENIOR CITIZENS have fluid retention, musculoskeletal problems and lower tolerance for FATIGUE. Families with young children and/or infants frequently have to “take the kids out” when they become RESTLESS AND NOISY. Shorter, more streamlined worship services avoid major problems and permit people to celebrate more freely knowing they will not “be in church all day”. Well-planned worship celebrations DO NOT WEAR THE WORSHIPERS OUT to the point that they are TOO TIRED TO HEAR AND ABSORB THE PROCLAMATION OF THE WORD. This, in turn. leads to more
ENJOYMENT OF THE WORSHIP, REST for the worshipers (and VISITORS) and FREES FAMILIES TO ENJOY THE DAY as a family unit–and restores the REFRESHMENT that God intended us to experience on THE DAY OF REST!!