"Freeze!"

Allright, we can spend all weekend on this one.

During this Sunday’s sermon here at Legacy on the subject of applying the Word of God in our lives, I’m probably — no, definitely — going to say something about the ways we’ve slid into a seemingly casual attitude toward God’s Holy Scriptures. Specifically, I’m referring to the way folks wander up and down the aisles, enter and exit in and out of the main doors, people coming and going and visiting and otherwise not paying attention to the Word of God being read to the assembly of his children.

It’s not like we’re reading the Star Telegram up here or the Rangers box scores or Newsweek. It’s God-breathed Scripture. It’s God revealing himself and his will to his people. It deserves our highest honor and respect. It deserves for us to stand up and pay close attention to every syllable.

I’m not quite sure yet how to address this. I’m thinking it’s going to be difficult to say and communicate to our church family because our culture has apparantly taught us that it’s no big deal. I’ve tried waiting until everyone in the auditorium is still before I read, but as soon as I start, the activity begins again. I’ve been told that at Pipeline/Legacy they used to keep the doors closed whenever the Bible was being read. Entering and exiting and walking around during the reading of Scripture just wasn’t allowed. I remember those days at Pleasant Grove and Marble Falls. It wasn’t that long ago. What happened?

It has to be addressed. But I’m struggling with how.

I’ve shared before on this blog my experience at that 6-man state championship football game in Abilene back in ’96. I was walking up through the crowd to get to the press box just before the game began when an older gentleman grabbed me by the arm and said, “Freeze!” We were right in the middle of the national anthem. Everyone was still. Everyone had their hands on their hearts. Most were singing. And I was walking up through the middle of them with my Frito Pie and Dr Pepper!

I froze.

And when the Star Spangled Banner was over, I turned and thanked the gentleman for reminding me about manners and courtesy and respect.

I’m thinking about using that story in Sunday’s sermon to illustrate this concept of “Freeze” when the Bible is being read. Any other suggestions?

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I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be preaching this Sunday afternoon for the At The Cross Church of Christ in Mesquite. One of my very best friends, Dan Miller, one of the Four Horsemen, has gone full-bore into an effort to take the saving gospel of Jesus to low-income apartment complexes in Mesquite. Right now they have a group of about 50-60 who are meeting in a little strip center store front on Galloway. They worship God. They sing and they pray. And they preach and teach. And they feed the hungry. And they comfort the afflicted. And they minister to each other in the name of the Christ. I know the Highland Oaks, Mesquite, and New Hope congregations have supported this ministry. But it’s people like Dan and Debbie Miller and Bruce Archer and others who are right there in the middle of it, loving people and sharing with people, fixing cars, finding jobs, keeping kids, crying and laughing with these children of God who inspire me and encourage everyone they meet.

I’ve grown so much since first getting to know Dan at our first Mesquite Men’s Advance in 2001. Following that initial Four Horsemen breakfast at our home when we pledged to each other and to God that we would stop talking and start doing for the Kingdom, we took a trip to downtown Dallas with 400 $1 cheeseburgers from McDonald’s to feed the homeless.

We didn’t know what we were doing. We didn’t know what we were getting into. We didn’t have a clue. But as soon as we pulled into that vacant parking lot between Dallas City Hall and the downtown library in our minivan with those 400 cheeseburgers, we knew we were in way over our heads. There must have been 600 people show up within five minutes! Somehow, by the grace of God,┬áJason got everybody to line up in an orderly fashion. (He was still a cop at this time) Dan had all the burgers inside the van and was handing them to me to, in turn, be handed to those we were feeding. It was wild and hectic and crazy and loud. I’d never seen that many people. And I knew we were running out of food. After about three or four minutes I noticed that Dan was handing me the burgers without looking at me. He had his head down. He was handing me the burgers, one at a time, in a very methodical, almost mechanical way. Like a robot almost. It was weird. I said, “Dan, what are you doing?” And he said, “I’m saying a prayer over every burger before I give it to you.”

He never ever loses sight of what he’s doing, why he’s doing it, and for whom he’s doing it. Never.

Dan is right there on the front lines of Christian ministry, making a difference in the lives of people who are hurting and down and destitute. He touches people every day with the love of Christ—people who, for the most part, don’t feel much love at all. They’re baptizing people. They’re growing the Kingdom. God is working mightily through them to change lives. And I admire Dan so much. He inspires me. His heart for God’s people is pure gold. And I can’t wait to be with them Sunday afternoon.

Peace,

Allan

7 Comments

  1. Jenn

    I’m with you on the freeze thing…we are trying to teach the kids that we only color (or other activities) during the sermon(sorry, but right now that is where we are at with a brand new 4 year old who can’t go to wigglers worship anymore) and that we worship when the congregation worships…we sing, we pray and we listen…do they always do it? No, but we are trying. Now, are you going to say that I can’t get out with my screaming baby or upset child because the word of God is being read, I hope not. Because for me, as a mom, I want to make sure, first and formost, that my children are NOT disrupting others in their worship time. So, if my child decides to be a distraction ANYTIME during service, you can bet, I will be up and running them out…sorry, but it’s just going to happen. We take all precautions to keep this from happening, i.e, going to the restroom before service starts, stocking up the church bags to the hilt and of course, talking about how important our worship time to God actually is…Maybe we should just sit closer to the door….okay, there is my rant for the day.

  2. Rob's Dad

    Allan – I’ll refer you back to our exchange on 8/22 about the original posting and ask you again “How much funding will it take?”

    Jenn – most of us have been in the same boat with an upset child. Don’t beat yourself up. Most kids do pretty well and if they do cry, they usually have a reason for it (acknowledging that there is always the one that just wants attention). If someone gives you the fish eye it’s their problem and they need to fight though it.

  3. Mel

    I personally think God would be more pleased with my ability to focus despite the distractions instead of my indignance.

    God’s not looking at how well we do an hour….he’s looking at how well we do a life….and life is chaotic.

    Do we really have this image of Jesus teaching the masses this way?

    I can appreciate reverence but it should never make the person with IBS feel uncomfortable for walking in the service late or the young lady who stopped to visit with another sister just a tad bit too long about some arrangements for a baby shower.

  4. Gary L. Villamor

    It’s a circumstance many of us are dealing with. Quite frankly, the children and their mothers are seldom the problem – It’s older children and adults who meander up and down the isles during services that frustrate me. Mel, your points are well taken – We ministers sometimes take ourselves too seriously. That hour on Sunday morning is important, and we should never trivialize it, but its just a piece of that life we are living for Him, as you said, and “life is chaotic.” amen … If those who don’t have little children to contend with, however, would practice common courtesy, our assemblies would run a lot smoother, and afford people a better opportunity to actually worship.

  5. Allan

    Wow. How did we get so off subject? Jennifer, is that you?

    Gary is correct in pointing out that it’s not babies and toddlers. My post was never intended to be about little children. It’s people who are old enough to know better. And I’m not concerned about what is beyond our control in that one hour assembly. There is no perfect worship service. There is no perfect songleader or song. There is no perfect sermon or preacher. No perfect prayer. I’m concerned with attitudes that don’t reflect a proper respect for God and his Word—the revelation of himself and his will to us. God is the focus here, not us.

    The person with IBS or the young ladies visiting about a ministry issue or the person who has to use the restroom or the person who couldn’t find a parking space should not feel uncomfortable about walking in late. But they ought to realize the inappropriateness of picking a seat while the Bible is being read. They should each—WE should each—show the proper reverence to God’s revelation to his people by waiting until the Scriptures are read before walking around the place.

    As for the little children: our Rabbi, who certainly demanded respect and reverance when he read the Scriptures, said let them come to me. I’d love to see our young parents and their small children sit with the rest of the church family down front instead of hiding out in the back. I love the sound of small children in a church building. It proclaims life and energy and enthusiasm and joy to all who are present. Chaos? Bring it on! Noise? By all means! But that doesn’t negate the reality of a right way and a wrong way to listen to the Word of God.

  6. Jenn

    Sorry, didn’t mean to get off the subject, I started typing and I had a rant before i was finished, you know how that is, right? Be careful what you ask for…Susie Green may be up front with you on Sunday! Great post, we all do need to work on showing the proper reverence to God’s word, all the time.

  7. Jamie

    Allan~
    I loved what you said! Please feel free to do what you feel aren’t u the Head Man! Suprise the congreation ever so often! That will make them think and keep on there toes! And like you ever the more!
    Jamie Warren
    P.S. See You Sunday Morning!!!

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