1 Samuel 13:12 “Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.”
It is truly humorous how some fads start. Someone on a whim wears clothing differently. Another eats exotic foods. Some will begin a new regimen and others will just seek to follow their own path. There will always be that crowd that goes after whatever is new; whatever is shiny; whatever is trendy.
Sadly, the church has done much the same. We claim that we are keeping our distance from the world, but in doing so, we’ve not kept our position – biblically. Dress standards have changed. Music has changed. Bibles have changed. Some have done so just for the sake of change, but there is a far darker force at work.
Saul was made king by God. A position the people rallied and cried for until Samuel gave in. Saul started well but finished in disaster. He was anointed to lead God’s people. He was given a position of both honor and responsibility. Sadly, the very thing lacking in Saul’s life was a relationship with the One who gave Him the position. And, because of that he changed to meet the approval of the people – not the One who put him there.
If my ‘chronological giftedness’ has taught me anything, it is that I am NOT the source of all knowledge. I do NOT have all the answers. I have failed often enough and at times miserably to prove to myself that anything good you see in me; any good that I may do for others is all attributed to the God I serve and His working in and through me.
I read of this ‘mindfulness’ and wonder if it doesn’t have some merit? By definition, it means:
MINDFUL, a. Attentive; regarding with care; bearing in mind; heedful; observant. (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary)
My ministries have allowed me some travel to other churches and other countries. Attending services in those places, God has revealed some things and shown me some wonderful things as well.
As a singer in a gospel quartet, we provide music for pastors and churches who invite us to come. Over the years, we have come to realize our place and our responsibility to God and to the churches we minister.
We are not the main thing. Far too many churches have majored on the minors and put music at the forefront because it appeals to the masses. Music, good music, surely has its place. It should be done well and by those gifted by God to do so. We do not choose the songs we sing because of the beat, or the emotions that swell when you hear it. At its core, we choose the songs we sing because of the truth of the message in the song.
In a church service, we seek to point the message that will be preached. We adorn the truth with the beauty that only music can bring. Many have mistaken the emotions evoked when such music is played and sung as worship. It is only the product of the Holy Spirit’s movement when it brings about the right fruit.
Does it bring the soul to repentance for the truth it speaks? Does it comfort the one whose heart is wounded and weary and point to Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit to do His job? Does it lift up God as Mighty, All-Powerful, Sovereign, loving, merciful, forgiving, full of grace and truth?
So many times it is about the singer, not the One being sung about. Much of the vocal gymnastics in gospel music detracts from the message because afterwards, we say ‘What a great singer’, instead of ‘What a great God!’
In the verse God showed me today, it says;
“… I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.”
I have been guilty of ‘forcing myself’ to do things; sing, preach, teach and even counsel without the sweet Holy Spirit even being invited into what it was I was doing, let alone stopping to pray and ask. And the fruit of what I’ve done has revealed accordingly.
But also, there have been times of true reviving; of the Holy Spirit moving and touching lives that what has happened can only be explained as “Look at what God did!”
Being mindful of the Holy Spirit and His guidance and direction in anything we do takes first a relationship that only comes through salvation. It only begins there. One must be discipled; whether formally or through constant, faithful growth in devotions; seeking and searching to draw closer to God.
You see, it is personal. It has always been personal. Music masks the message when it carries the hearers away from the truth and settles for an experience. So much so, that when the emotion is gone, there has been no foundation to set your faith upon and the oppression of the world and spiritual battles leaving a wake of casualties in its path.
Being mindful means listening to the words as well as the music that adorns it. Being mindful means asking God just what it is He wants us to glean from what we are hearing. Being mindful means we put out distractions from others comments, phone messages, sleepiness, or just plain apathy.
Think of what could happen if everyone from the preacher to the ushers would come seeking God, the Holy Spirit, to lead and guide in all that was to be done during our next church service. From the prayers prayed to the offering taken. From the songs sung; whether by the choir, a special singer or group, or a piano solo while the offering is collected.
Too often, we are more apt to treat it like the commercial that comes in between the real show we want to watch. There should be no ‘filler’ to what we do when it comes to God’s service. All should be done in a manner pleasing to Him. And what better way than to follow His lead?
Of course, this mindfulness spills into every area of our life. Simply, be present to be and to do all that God would have you wherever it is He has called you. When we are able to be mindful of the Holy Spirit’s leading, we will see what “church” is truly meant to be!