Aug 12, 2006

Just Another Sunday Night

My heart is both perplexed and to be frank, depressed, as I write this article the Lord placed on my heart. We never know the real effect of our actions. Sometimes they are a blessing, and other times a curse.

It began as any other Sunday night service. A few people were in the altars as we made our way to the oew that over the years had become 'our spot.' A few waved, shook hands, and one or two was down at the front praying prior to the evening service. Most however, were in the back rooms talking and laughing discussing the days events. There were of course the stragglers who always made it to church just a little bit after the first song. They never could seem to make it quite on time.

I was surprised and a bit encouraged to see one older lady come and sit a couple rows ahead of me. She hadn't been in church for quite some time. Her hair was different than it used to be, trimmed a bit I guess, and not that I would judge her, but I noticed the glint of gold on her ears. I could sense a sadness about her as we sang the 'new' songs off the overhead projector. I wasn't sure if she was in pain, or just reminiscing about days gone by. There was a time when this sister had been a faithful member of the church. But I better go back a bit further.

Although her husband never seemed to quite understand the workings of a Pentecostal service, they were always there in their usual place, smiling, singing along, and always, even in the local supermarket taking time for anyone else who needed a friend. She worked at the supermarket and always had a kind word for everyone, taking extra time with those who seemed lonely to bring a smile to their face before they left her checkout. Sister C also made a point every chance she got to invite people to church on a regular basis.

Years passed and her family didn't find the time to be in church so much. Her husband had come down with a disease that made it impossible for him to walk, and in time, he had to have his legs amputated. Sister C did her best to make it to church when she could, but taking care of her husband took its toll. After a little while, she no longer came back, and in time most of us forgot about her.

I had moved away for a while, and when I came back Sister C came one Sunday night and her eyes brightened when she saw me. She always used to make it a point to tell me how much I was appreciated, and how she had enjoyed my preaching and singing. Sometimes, in the past she had requested special songs for me to sing, because they were her favorite but she felt she didn't have a good enough voice to do some singing herself. Occasionally she sang a special, but when she quit coming to church, the new 'leaders' felt she must not have a good enough love for God. So, when she finally did come back, there was a nice to see you, but no offer of anything more. She did understand. And she came to church faithfully. She was always requesting prayer for her children, and most people didn't even know she was sick herself.

It was good to see her there though on that Sunday night. She smiled as she saw me, and talked to my wife, and my parents when we walked shook each others hands, but I felt she believed she was no longer useful. She had taken a job caring for an elderly man to make ends meet, but her sickness was getting the best of her.

I felt God tell me to go up to her and talk to her about the four lepers who saved Israel. I told her how God had used them when the Israelites were starving to go into the city and take the spoils. Israelites had been overrun by the enemy and everything they had was taken, they were to the place they were selling dung for fuel, and eating whatever they could find. People were dying.

Lepers were not allowed to be a part of everyone else. They were required to stay without the camp. They too were starving, but one day they decided what would it hurt to go into the city. The worst that could happen ws the enemy would kill them, but they were dying anyhow due to leporsy and starvation, so they figured what could it hurt.

They began to head toward the city and when they got there, they found the place deserted. God had magnified the sound of their footsteps to the point that the enemy thought a great army was coming. Four leperous starving men became an army used of the Lord to save His people. I honestly believed that Sister C, even though she was considered 'unusable' had the abilities to change the lives of many. But, we will never know.

I heard the church phone ring, and someone came up and ushered Sister C to a back room to talk on the phone. I do not know the extent of the call. She came in crying, took her purse, and went to the back of the church. We continued on with taking up the offering, singing a song or two, talking about coming events, and someone got up and spoke for a little while. I do not remember a move of God in that service. Frankly, that has become the norm. It doesn't seem important to most if God moves or not. I remember Sister C standing close to the office door, waiting patiently, although obviously distraught. She waited for quite sometime while most stood around talking and laughing, making plans to go out to eat. Somewhere, in the sanctuary, the pastor stood their talking with some friends as Sister C walked slowly out the door. It was just another Sunday night, as usual.

I got a call early Wednesday morning from my mom and Sister C had passed away. Something in that phone call had disturbed her greatly. She had waited to talk to the pastor, but he doesn't hold all the blame. Even I had seen her standing there, and in the hustle of service being over, I had failed to take time as well to see if I could help.

Sister C committed suicide on her kitchen floor sometime late Tuesday night. We will never know why. She had been to church the Sunday night before, but it was just another Sunday night, a Sunday night on the way to hell.

About a year ago a lady who had been coming to church for a long time just quit coming. I had seen her in the pastor's office, and she seemed overwhelmed with something, but it was the ladt time I saw her. I know she is still around. Her kids and husband still come to church. I called to talk to her a couple times, and was told by her husband that she has gone off over to the deep end, and no longer believes in the Holy Ghost, or Jesus name. Personally I find this hard to believe. She used to take the photos for the baptistries.

I remember her taking pictures of people in the altar pouring their hearts out to God. In fact, I remember one time opening my eyes and finding her camera in my face after a real strong move of God. It was annoying, but she was still a soul, and whatever her issues were I was pretty much surprised that she hasn't come back. Why does it seem everyone counts her as a lost cause? She was there, usually early for church. Many times in the altar. Did church for her become just church, just another Sunday night, a Sunday night on the way to hell?

A few weeks ago I came to church and noticed a couple of our regulars, husband and wife, sitting on seperate sides of the church. She seemed disturbed, and he seemed completely out of sorts. People were friendly, I guess you could say, but most leaned toward her, and left him to sit by himself. I could see he was trying to worship, and so I went and prayed with him unknowing what the situation was. Of course, early Monday morning, someone was sure to give me a call and let me know that they had seperated. She had thrown him out after an arguement, and I heard all the gossip about how bad of a person he was, and how she said this and that.

Now, I do not know the real story. I don't care to. However, the idea that so many people have taken sides, and commented on what they think is going on, infuriates me. Since that Sunday night, I have not seen her visit the church. He has come twice with one of their children, but the other child and the wife are nowhere to be found. Is this the beginning of another Sunday Night on the way to HELL?

It seems to me a pattern is emerging. We come to church. We sing our songs. We take an offering. We listen to someone preach. We go home or out to the local burger place.


Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. Joel 3:13-14

I am sick of it. I am tired of 'normal services.' It is time that the people of God became the PEOPLE OF GOD.

I hope your services have not become routine. I hope you don't leave feeling it was just another Sunday night. I was told I shouldn't make waves. I shouldn't complain. I should 'be a team player.' I don't want to be on a team allowing people to go to hell. I was told, if I did write this article it would get back to people, and people would be upset. It would 'reflect badly on the church.' Please understand, I am not making judgements on the people I have mentioned, but the Bible says "buy the truth and sell it not." That is pretty clear. I am not upset with people who go thru trials or tests. I am not upset with backsliders.

I am upset with people who worry about their image. I am upset with the idea that the church has to be politically correct. I am upset that souls are not worth more than the image of the church. If this offends you as you read it quit reading, because I have just started.

I honestly believe there needs to be a revolution in the movement. It is time there were more Elijah's and less Abercrombie & Fitch. It is time there were more altars and less Lexus and BMWs parked in the parking lot.

I don't understand. There was a time when most were almost ashamed to admit they were apostolic or pentecostal for fear of rejection. You were considered wierd if you believed in the holy ghost and tongues, and most kept it in the closet. Our women were ridiculed for wearing skirts and dresses with their long hair streaming down their backs, our men were laughed at for being clean shaven and wearing ties.

But, we have 'grown.' We are now the ones with the expensive homes, the nice cars, the designer clothes. I heard someone recently comment on paying $150 for a purse. WHY?

I will tell you why.

It is ok now for our men to be scruffy, and to wear a stylish shirt with a jacket minus the tie. (And I know the tie doesn't save you.) Our women, many of them look fashionable but are afraid to worship for fear of splitting a seam, or perhaps when they sit down, if they don't sit perfect the skirt will be above their knee. (This is not about standards, hang on.) I have seen pastors, and worship leaders "calm down" a service, so they could go on with the service. Have they forgotten the move of God? Our services have become overly choreographed to the point, that you can come late to church, and no exactly what part of the service will be going on. We are after all most aware of the clock.

When God does move, and we 'need those sometimes' but we make sure it doesn't last any longer than necessary so we can be sure and meet and greet after the service before the local Applebees closes. Style has replaced passion. Protocol has replaced worship. Socializing has replaced hunger. And souls, well who witnesses anymore? Real Pentecost has been replaced with Pride!

So, whose fault is it when we have just another Sunday night? Mine? Yours? The Pastors? The worship leader? The muscians? The sound man?


The bible says they that hunger and thirst after righteousness "shall be filled." "They shall speak with tongues, heal the sick, etc." We are proud in our piety. It isn't dignified for the pastor to run the aisles. Politically correctness has replaced preaching the truth. Am I just trying to cause trouble? NO. However, I am tired of my church just going thru the motions. I am tired of just another Sunday night.

Sad to say, I cannot remember the last time in my own church, when I felt convicted. Am I perfect. Not by a long shot. We are quick to judge each other, and to notice when someone doesn't seem to be what they 'used to be.' But do we try to extend a hand of friendship, encourage, or uplift?

This is personal for me, because I was told from a relative that they will not go back to the church I attend, because they are not welcome there. I don't want to know more.

I am hurt that they feel that way, because when it gets that way and people are not welcome to come, no matter how bad their sin, and we go thru the motions of just another Sunday night, for someone it is just another Sunday night, a Sunday night on the way to HELL!

You never know, the person on the way to Hell, could be you. Is it worth it pastor? Saint? Musician? Sunday school teacher? Sound man? Just another Sunday Night.