Browning Ware was the pastor of First Baptist Cleburne where Dan and his family went to church. The order of service was pretty much the same week after week. One particular Sunday the congregational hymns were sung, there was prayer, the offering was collected, and the choir sang the anthem. Then it was time for the sermon. Browning Ware walked to the pulpit and told the people that God had not given him a message to preach to them that morning. With that he walked off the platform and left. The people sat in silence. Finally the Minister of Music prayed and dismissed the people. That afternoon there was much talk, phone calls made, and speculation about what had happened. Not surprisingly, there was a standing room only crowd for the evening service. Once again, the service went in the same order as other times, but this time when it was time for the sermon Ware bypassed the pulpit, walked done the steps of the platform, and stood at the front of the church. He challenged the people to be the church, to come with prepared hearts for worship, and to come to church with an attitude of expectancy. The following year, the church saw a record number of people come to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
That is a lesson I still try to consciously practice each Sunday. I will admit that I do better some weeks than others. Last Sunday was one of those days I could hardly wait to get to church. We arrived at church early. It was Senior Recognition Sunday and our pastor, Dr. Duane Brooks, was preaching on “How does your family say, ‘Goodbye.’” Senior Day is already an emotional one, as you celebrate the young people you have watched grow up, some for 18 and 19 years. The sermon is one to encourage and challenge the graduating seniors, but also one for the rest of us to take to heart and put into practice as well.
Sunday was also the day to honor Randy Kilpatrick on the occasion of his 35 years as the Associate Minister of Music and Worship at Tallowood, along with his retirement. All four Ministers of Music and Worship that he served with were at church. Randy led the two anthems that the choir sang that morning. Several of the young people who had been in the youth choir through the years came back to sing with the adult choir and the current high school choir for the services. The music ministry commissioned Mary McDonald to write a song to commemorate the day based on Isaiah 43:1-19, a scripture passage that has been meaningful to Randy since college days. “I Will Make All Things New” is already one of my new favorite anthems.
The choir also sang “The Mind of Christ,” by Mark Hayes. Besides being a beautiful anthem, each time I hear it I am blessed, challenged, and convicted through the scripture selection of the importance of desiring to have the mind, love, and actions of Christ.
Once again, God used the message from his Word, the lyrics to songs, and people to make Himself known. Not only does God want us to be prepared to worship on Sundays, He also wants us to live expecting him to speak, teach, correct, motivate, and challenge us on the other days of the week as well. It may be summer, but there are still lessons to be taught, learned, and applied.
I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”