"As the priests came out of the inner sanctuary, a cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. The priests could not minister because the glory of the Lord filled the Temple." I Kings 8:10-11.........'Dare we confess that even in our public worship, the influence of the Lord is very small? We sing of Him and preach about Him, but He must not interfere!.........."The prevailing condition among Christians today, as I see it, is that there is a sense of God's absence among us. Many believe in God. Many worship God and even sing about Him. But it is almost as if He is not there." A.W. Tozer
In my last Heart Thoughts, I wrote of our having a deepening hunger to behold the glory of the Lord. In response to that, a good and fine brother, Earl Robertson, wrote me of a story told him by a friend and fellow minister named Dick Eastman, a man much used of the Lord, and someone I too have had the joy of meeting. Dick tells of a youth conference he had been called to participate in, and how in the midst of it, God spoke, asking him if in this conference, there was "room for His glory." Here is the story that Earl shared with me...................................
Finally in the early morning hours, the Lord clarified to Dick what He meant. He asked Dick a series of questions: Have you ever heard better speakers? Dick's response, No. Have you ever heard any better choirs and singers? Dick's response, No. Have you seen a better organized convention? Dick's response was , in essence, it has run like clockwork. The Lord then said, "Who is going to make room for my Glory?" "I want you to make room for my Glory". How Lord? I do not want you to do what you planned. Dicks response, But Lord, I have all these notes that complete the previous sessions. God responded, "Who is going to make room for my Glory?" In a surrender, perhaps of resignation, he said "I will Lord. What do you want me to do?" God responded, "Nothing, I just want you to stand up there (you can imagine what when through his mind). Tell them to read Isaiah 6." So he did that. God moved in as those young people allowed the Word to convict them and repented before a Holy God. Dick was praying during this time and when we he looked out, he said it looked like a "war zone". Young people crying out to God, some kneeling in their seats, some lying face down, some clinging to the altar. The Glory of God fell on that place because one man dared to make room for His Glory.
I love the music of the church, and I believe we deeply need to have Christ and scripture centered preaching, laced with Holy Spirit fire. Yet I also believe that there are times, many times, when what we're singing and preaching actually distracts from Him. You think not? Just how open are a great many worship leaders to the idea of not being able to go completely through their selected song list for that service? How many are truly willing to step aside and away, so that God alone is the focus? We're so anxious to create an atmosphere of worship that we lose sight of the One we say we're worshiping. For we preachers; how many of us are really willing to have the message we put so much time crafting, so much thought, even prayer into, swept aside? And we say nothing at all, so that He alone may speak? How honest are we willing to be in this?
Matt Redman wrote the beautiful but simple "Heart of Worship" in the aftermath of the church he led in worship foregoing any kind of music at all for more than three months. They thought they had become performance centered and emotion pleasing. They were taking away from Him. They removed themselves from the "picture," and the result was a great move of the Spirit upon the people, the worship ministry, and the pastor. The reality is, we can, as Erwin McManus says, "lose Christ in the midst of the church that bears His name." We can, and so often we have. Can we dare to allow the Spirit to search as to how true it may be in us?
As I write this morning, churches across the nation are preparing to gather in His name. Will there be room for His glory? Will we be willing to make room for it? Do we really desire to have such a time as came upon the priests of the Lord in I Kings? Where we cannot stand to minister because He fills the church? Or, will brother Tozer's words be more to the fact for us? Will we sing of Him, speak of Him, but all the while not notice that it really seems as if He's not there? Who and what will be at the center of it all? Our songs, message, and agenda? Our singers and our preacher? Or God and God alone? Seen in Christ alone, through the power of the Holy Spirit alone. May He not be lost in the midst of we who call ourselves His church. May His glory fill these temples we call our bodies, as well as the temples these bodies meet in. To God be the glory. All the glory.