Psalms 11:3 & 4
If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.
Ecclesiastes 5:1 KEEP YOUR foot [give your mind to what you are doing] when you go [as Jacob to sacred Bethel] to the house of God. For to draw near to hear and obey is better than to give the sacrifice of fools [carelessly, irreverently] too ignorant to know that they are doing evil.(Amplified version)
Genesis 4:4 6 And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering
5But for Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed.
6And the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why do you look sad and depressed and dejected?
7If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well!
But instead, Cain who had just finished his own form of worship went out and killed his brother, his religion notwithstanding!
Romans 10:1-3 BRETHREN, [with all] my heart's desire and goodwill for [Israel], I long and pray to God that they may be saved.
2 I bear them witness that they have a [certain] zeal and enthusiasm for God, but it is not enlightened and according to [correct and vital] knowledge.
3For being ignorant of the righteousness that God ascribes [which makes one acceptable to Him in word, thought, and deed] and seeking to establish a righteousness (a means of salvation) of their own, they did not obey or submit themselves to God's righteousness.
It has been decades since Ed Sullivan began his television show with these words, folks, 'we have a very good show for you tonight'!
However, many of today's churches have picked up where he left off, they
have a very good show for you too, day or night!
Not only are these people putting on a very good show when they present pageants at their churches particularly during the Sunday Services; most of what they have been doing lately amounts to nothing more than putting on a a very good show. And, what many of our churches and ministers have been doing lately is a very poor imitation of what God intended!
My House shall be a house of prayer for All people!
One Sunday, several years ago, I stopped by the Capital Christian Center which is just outside of Sacramento California to worship. I was so impressed that I went back again and again. The service, not the devotional service, began with altar prayer. And it was not just a 2-minute scripted prayer, these folks opened with old fashioned altar prayer, and it didn't seem to matter to the thousands who were there how long the prayer service lasted.
Individuals were invited down to the altar for laying on of hands, individual counseling and prayer in this I estimate to be about 2 to 3-thousand seat church. Individuals from the floor and balconies came down and knelt, while teams of 2 to 3individuals gathered around and prayed with them. They were not ushered off to side rooms like cattle, as if they were an interruption of the service rather than the reason for it!
Again, does the Bible say that God's house shall be called a house of prayer for all people or not? In most churches today, the aggregate amount of time spent in prayer is about 10 minutes or less. I couldn't believe what I was witnessing, so I went back again and again, and each time it was the same. Why weren't these folks in a rush? Didn't they have a second service? How come the pastor wasn't anxious to get up and put on his show?
And not only that, guess what the Choir sang? They sang songs like, Great is thy Faithfulness. Now where did they get an idea like that? There weren't any hip-hopping, booty-shaky, do the electric slide, half-naked dancing girls there either. In fact this massive, I estimate around 150 voice choir, brought tears to your eyes as they led you into a glorious spirit of worship!
In fact, if the church had not been 120 miles from home, I would have joined. I even considered relocating to the Sacramento/El Dorado Hills area at one time; and for sure this is where I would have joined and hopefully become a part of the ministerial team. The minister preached the word, the fellowship was genuine and people came down in order to give their lives to the Lord, as opposed to what is being done in 'imitation and entertainment church incorporated' today, in order to become a member!
In the olden days you were required to get saved before you could become a member of the local church; today, anyone can join. And as a result, not since the problem of incest at the Corinthian church that Paul once wrote about, have we heard of so much sexual impropriety and other scandals taking places at the church. Why? Because churches today are taking everyone into the church, particularly high-profile athletes, physicians, politicians, celebrities - the latter gives the church some prestige.
At the same time, churches are taking in pot-smokers, cocaine users, prostitutes, male and female ho's, and anyone else who wants to join. And to boot, individuals from either group quickly ascend leadership roles in the church! These individuals are permitted to form church policy in spite of the fact that they have never been converted, or given their inchoate knowledge.
One church in another part of California embarrassed itself roughly one decade ago when it insisted on having ex-boxing champ Evander Holyfield to sit in the pulpit. The minister even tried to get Evander to come down and lay hands on folks who came to the altar. Now don't misunderstand me, Evander was and still is one of my favorite boxers. However, sit in the pulpit or lay hands on people?
Evander declined the minister's laying on of hands request over and over again. And, he did so to his credit I might add. That is not the end of the story. The following week it was confirmed in the press that Evander has just birthed two other out of wedlock babies. His poor wife! And how about the poor wife of former wide-receiver of the Dallas Cowboys, Michael Irving, who faithfully sat in church while he played the field.
Her faithfulness paid off, but can you imagine the attention that he received at the church, in spite of the debauched lifestyle that he was living outside of church!
He was one of my favorite football players, however, individuals like him should not have been treated, nor should they be treated like celebrities in the house of God.
The woman pastor who brought Smokey Robinson to the Lord with the help of celebrity Leon Kennedy in Los Angeles California, didn't know who he was when he showed up one day at her storefront church. She ministered to the man and not to the celebrity, and as a result his drug addiction was broken. Some individuals will never get saved as long as they are being treated as royalty in the church! Why should they?
What is the imitation entertainment church comprised of today. The Apostle wrote about the imitations in his day and what their motivations were in Romans Chapter 10. He wrote:
1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God
The imitation church, is often more prosperous than the authentic church, and it is comprised of the following:
1). Fake Preachers:
The entertainment preacher goes to school, garners a religious education and repeats to his congregation what someone else taught or wrote. Or he simply repeats a sermon from a book. He has never received an unction from the Holy Spirit to preach, he has never received a word from God, he knows only what he has read, and only preaches what he has heard someone else say or what he has read.
And sadly, some of the professors at American Theological Schools, Bible Colleges and Seminaries do not believe in the Resurrection themselves! Can an imitation preacher, most of the time the imitation preachers preach better than the genuine article. Why? They have to put on a good show. However, the scriptures warns God's people to beware of 'false prophets'. Just like false prophets, false ministers can be very convincing!
These self-identified motivational preachers will preach feel-good sermons. Some of them even identify themselves as 'motivational speakers'. Pastor Osteen, pastor of one of the largest congregations in the country, about the size of Gideon's army to be exact, seems like a wonderful person to me. However, I wonder, just how many in his 'Gideon's Army' are really saved?
Is the information that these ministers provide good information? Many times it is good information. However, preachers of God are commanded to preach the word, and not an imitation feel good copy of someone else's sermon or a simple motivational feel good sermon. Many of today's ministers are well-trained, however, they are operating in rote, instead of by the word or spirit of God.
2). An Imitation Choir, Musicians and Singers:
Unlike Nehemiah's chorus choirs, many of today's chorus, praise teams and choir members are not dedicated full time singers of the Lord. Many times they are not worshipping the Lord in many instances in their singing. Some are simply singing and gyrating to worldly beats and tunes that have been appropriated by the church from the world.
Some of these individuals double back and forth between worldly and religious singing. Would Nehemiah's or Asaph's singers have performed in secular and religious venues? Folks, we have fake choir singing going on in churches today. Religious mogul Kirk Franklin, admits that he has appropriated much of his material from worldly singing groups. God's singers ought to be dedicated to God!
I was a guest a church service one day where I witnessed a young man who was inebriated, fall all the way down the steps from the top of the choirstand where he had been seated. He landed in the middle of the floor in front of the Congregation, stood up and wiped his mouth 'slosh slosh', to sing the song "God Has Smiled On me". This took place in a service held in Richmond California. And brother had a melodious voice, even under the influence. I wonder where he sang at the night before?
3). Today's Professional Liturgical Music Teams:The professional music teams that play for our church services and choirs today, often with their 'showtime tunes' are professionals. Back in the day musicians in most churches were fair at best, there were some exceptions. The difference being, in the former churches the musicians may not have been as good as today's trained, having trained at the observatory musicians, but they were saved.
And that means that the spirit of God was in the music. And don't be surprised today if the musicians that played at the club until the wee hours of Sunday morning, are not playing in your Sunday morning service.
4. The Fake Altar Call:
It is rare when anyone gets healed or saved anymore. As has become the habit, when someone comes up to get healed or saved, they are immediately ushered off into some side room or to the secretary's office where they are given paperwork to complete and/or a quick prayer is made over them. This proves my point that at entertainment churches where everything is staged, the altar call is also a staged event.
An altar song is customarily sung, however, the invitation, represents an invitation to join that parish. It is not being done in order for someone to get saved, or to join the body of Christ. Churches don't have time for that anymore. What some refer to as the Altar Call, should be called instead 'the call to membership call'! For after all, that is what is truly taking place.
The individuals who come down for the most part do not becomes members of God's Kingdom, instead they become members of that parish! At the St. Mary's Episcopal Church in San Francisco, the minister thanked the gay community at the end of the service for providing the morning oblation! Hmm? I plan to do a writing soon on Inter-sex, gay, homosexual, lesbian individuals and eunuchs from a Christian and a clinical perspective!
5) The Fake Eucharist:
Someone else brought this to my attention. During Eucharist, he understood that for sanitary reasons that churches were utilizing the technologically advanced plastic thimble cups with the little wafer on top, however, he wanted the real thing. Kudos to Pastor Junius Dotson in San Jose California, this pastor would break out whole loves of bread.
You would actually be served bread and wine substantiation by the pastor. Back in the day, intimate footwashing and communion services were common place in most churches. 'Big Church' today - no have time for that anymore. I was visiting a church in Columbia Maryland during a 6-year stay over in the Washington DC metro region of the country.
One Sunday during Eucharist, a fine shapely young woman in tight painted on pants, and an equally tight form-fitted halter top that exposed her perfectly endowed cleavage, served the Eucharist. Ah don't get mad at me, other women commented on her before I did.
One woman went to the church's staff and complained. My answer to the woman who went to the church staff was, yes I saw it! I also saw the tight-fitted form-fitted pants that she must have painted on that morning. Hey it wasn't my church, but come on Rev, is there anything sacred anymore! A church in nearby San Francisco decided to simply scrap the wafer and grape juice, instead they decided to use beer and pretzels or crackers, I forget which, as transubstation elements.
And instead of having the dinner before, of the kind that Paul discouraged, they had a dance!
6) Fake Members/Disciples:
Paul found disciples at Ephesus (read about it in Acts chapter 19). Paul asked these disciples, have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed. They had not, so Paul baptized them again and stayed with them until they received the spirit.
Today, we don't call them disciples, we call them members!
If Paul visited one of today's churches and asked that same question, he would likely have to spend 3 years at that church if he intended to get the 'members' of the church - other than baptized.
7) Fake Spirit
If you don't have it just act like you do! Wave your hands in the air just like you don't care, and rock with the music in the church. And you are not alone, for many members in the church today, believe as they are being taught that this is what constitutes being spiritual.
Man everybody's church is rocking today, some call it moving to syncopated African beats. Churches who used to laugh at the 'Holy Rollers Churches' (where I came from) are rolling too. Man people are dancing and speaking in tongues, jumping and hollering in every denomination today. The Catholics even have their charismatic Catholics.
However, one question remains, have you been born anothen, or are you simply imitating what you have witnessed the crowd doing? Elijah learned that the Spirit can show up in a 'still small voice'!
8) Fake Salvation
Did you ever get saved, or did you simply repeat the magic words that you were told to say at someone's altar call. Folks, its not that simple. Unless your heart was fully prepared for God to come into it, you didn't get saved because you repeated the magic words at someone's altar call.
Why is your minister telling you that you are saved? Well because in most instances he or she believes it or they simply don't know any better. Many of the Simon ministers and ministries (read Acts Chapter 8) of today, like Simon the Sorcerer attempted to do, went out and purchased the power to be ministers, and they aren't saved themselves!
I know ministers personally, who have flown around the country in order to acquire 'a plan', to attend a seminar, to work with a church consultant in order to learn how to grow their churches. I reminded one that God would add unto the church daily those that would be saved! Many individuals have been unwittingly brought into the church, because a minister purchased someone else's membership growth plan.
The question is, was the plan he used God's plan? Perhaps that will explain why the churches today are filled with what the Apostle Paul referred to when speaking to the Elders at Miletus; churches today are filled with goats, wolves and usurpation ministers.
9) Fake Love
You will know them by their love. The love at most churches is fake. One easy way to prove it is simple. Look around at your church and ask yourself, how many people in your church have languished in poverty, while some members dress, eat and have the best of everything? Loving spirits would have eliminated the spirit of poverty in their churches, if not in the nation and the world!
There is both a spiritual as well a social dimension to our faith. The church was put in place in order to attend to both the social, as well as the spiritual dimension. Jesus talked about 'neighbor in conjunction with God'. Love God, then love your neighbor! And and who is my neighbor, he was often heard to say?
Paul again, when speaking about Israel said in Romans the 10th chapter wrote, "..my earnest prayer and heart's desire for Israel is that they might be saved. Did you know that the majority of citizens in Israel today are secularists? Could it be that way because the majority of the people in the nation of Israel never submitted to came to God. You don't need a census tract to know that, just read your Bibles.
The Bible makes it clear that the secularists (that America) is so intent on defending, are people who never fully submitted to the Lord. America is following the same trend. Ninety percent of Americans may say that they believe in God, however, the number that attend church or submit to God rather, is significantly smaller. And trust me, more and more I understand why some individuals are not attending imitation churches.
Conclusion: To those who are going to church, and the ones who are having church, well, couldn't you at least be real about what you are doing? When the curtain closes on many church services this Sunday and throughout next week, the imitation leaders can go home knowing that they put on 'a very good show'.
God's ministers on the other hand, can go home with the satisfaction of knowing that they preached the word (without imitation), and when it was not in season to do so - and that is our job and what we have been tasked to do! And, whether the people responded or not to the service that you led (Remember what God told Ezekiel), you will know that you obeyed God in every way.
I encourage you to not give in and to never compromise, whether you minister to five, ten or one hundred. Noah's church had only eight members, however, all 100% of them saved! And remember that when Jesus started off and was performing miracles, thousands followed him, however, by the time that he reached the cross there were only a few faithful women who stood by!
peace & grace
Rev. C. Solomon