One of my readers asked if I like anything about the church. Whoah!?! It was a good question. I have to admit, some days I feel like the church is the biggest dysfunctional family on earth. But beyond all that, God is on the throne, and the Kingdom is at hand. If He wasn't I would have left the church a long time ago.
Here is what I love about church:
Outrageous Worship - Musical worship is a joy for me personally. I like to stand up, to rock back and forth, sing, shout, pray, and I have enjoyed dancing in the presence of the Lord too. I can't describe it, but there is a presence that is different in each worship service - when it's God, it's fresh and exciting. Some times the lyrics become part of my soul; touching things that have been hidden for too long. Other times I just sing the syllables that come to my lips. My preferred style of music is the one in which God shows up in His manifest presence. From Matt Redman, Burn Service, Tim Hughes, Michael W. Smith and Third Day to cathedral pipe organs, if God is in it, I love it.
I think it's easy to show up and join in for a song service. But without touching God, it's just music, and that's not good enough. If it is only about music, it could be Ozzy Osborn. This is just one of the many places that we can get religious where our hearts are far from Him.
Communion - The Lord's Supper is particularity wonderful. It is not always a "wow" moment, but it is an intimate moment with my God. Maybe it's my Anglican heritage, but I love communion, the fancy kind; high church, breaking bread with others, or the bread and juice sitting by the ocean, the altar, or quietly at home. I love the Brazilian tradition of feeding your brother or sister in Christ. The remembrance of Jesus, and His work on the cross for me tends to stop the world for a few moments. It is always a good time to "get right with God'." I know a lot of Protestants only do it once a month, but if God's in it, every day is fine with me.
My most memorable time was at my wedding with Mary Anne. The musicians sang Holy and Anointed One and His presence was amazing.
Altar Calls - I love altar calls - especially the anointed ones where people come to Christ. I think they can be kind of threatening, so they have to be God. When He's there, I even like the ones for impartation, for healing and for more of God. Altar calls are a chance to respond to God and connect with what He is doing. If we do not respond to God we end up in a very religious rut that will go no where fast.
There are certainly lots of different styles. The classic "every eye closed, every head bowed" is sort of dated - but when the anointing is present, it doesn't really matter what is said. If the King is in the House, I want to be there.
The Anointing - The flowing of God's Holy Spirit, His manifest supernatural power, it is the very tangible evidence that God is real, and His power is present to work in some way that He chooses. For example it could be for healing, a miracle, to bring forth a word of prophecy, knowledge or wisdom. It could be for casting out a demon or two, making the pages of the Bible alive to your spirit, inspiring a teaching or bringing conviction to the lost. Without it, nothing happens but regular old religion, and that is a killer.
Isaiah 10:27 (KJV) And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.
It is the anointing of God that breaks off the opposition of the devil, and that is what sets us free indeed!
The Gifts in Action - I can enjoy a good sermon, or evangelist preach from the platform, not that I need to be saved again. I love to watch God at work. The gifts and callings of the church are found here: 1 Corinthians 12:4-13, Romans 12:6-8 and Ephesians 4:11. When the BODY of Christ (not the spiritual super star) comes together for the work of God so many things can happen. Without gifting in the church, little will be done for the Kingdom. You and I are the chosen vessels of God's anointing as it is expressed in the spiritual gifts and callings of the church.
The Presence of God - I have had so many experiences, it would be hard to list them all in one volume, never mind a small section of blog. When I got saved God came in an amazingly sweet way, receiving my fumbling words: my acknowledgment of a 19-year self pity trip, and my need for unconditional love - it was all there in the moment I believed. A few years later when I got Baptized in the Holy Spirit, it was very quiet, I just was able to feel an internal power surge that has never left me, not matter how far fro God I got.
There were other times when I felt the need to repent; to just get on my knees and cry out. One time I stood, knees shaking in awe of the Lord. Another time I sat in the presence as a single candle burned on the altar, quietly and powerfully he filled the sanctuary.
The presence of God can't be put in a box, or a formula. He brings a vast array of ways in which he touches us - joy, peace, conviction, love, and more. Each experience is unique, personal, powerful, and relationship building. I have experienced the presence of the Lord and smelled frankincense, lilies and roses. That is what I love about my Father, He comes, and I receive.
Signs and Wonders - The Bible says that the ministry of God will be followed by signs and wonders preformed by those that believe in Him.
Hebrews 2:4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
God is not into parlor tricks, but for the faithful, signs and wonders are an unmistakable mark or an almighty God.
Testimonies - I love testimonies - not the rambling coincidence kind, but the "I was sick and now I am well," "I was an addict and now I 'm clean," "I was a hooker and my life is changed," "I was in prison and came to Christ," "I was lost, and now I'm found!"
How about you, what do love about church, about God, about His people?