It was Sunday morning, and I couldn’t wait to meet the day. The sun was shining, the birds were tweeting, and I felt refreshed and ready to meet it. My dad had always been a sharp dresser, and I just followed suit (no pun intended) — white shirt and jacket — early on, a suit and tie. Ahh, those were the good old days.
Sundays were special; the workweek was over, and it was time for rest and giving thanks to God. The song “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from the musical “Oklahoma” was on my lips as I prepared for morning worship. With Bible in hand, I made my way to First Baptist Church. Everyone there seemed to know how to play the game of propriety and decorum. Still, there were troublemakers and those who were there only to be a part of the social scene, but at least they had the good sense to play the “religious card.”
I’ve been around long enough to have seen every atrocity and weakness named in the church. The love of money tops the list today; sex, adultery, pedophilia, and homosexuality have reared their ugly heads in this once holy place.
No more pretentions – no more facades. Everyone does as he pleases. Lies and jealousy are rampant. Loud music, smoke and mirrors. Loud music begs young people to attend, but young people have their own rock bands and strobe lights to entertain them. What they really need is authentic Christianity, not entertainment.
Since leaving my former church, I’ve found it almost impossible to find one where there is a degree of decorum and solemnity. Frivolity and course jesting dominate (you know how men are; the small talk between them before the Sunday service is rife with nonsense and things that matter not one whit in the grand scheme of things).
Today there are more pressing issues facing the “church.” Take, for example, these recent headlines, and I quote:
“Two months after leaving Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr. is suing the school for defamation. The former university president alleges Liberty officials accepted “false claims” against him to force his resignation and then “engaged in a campaign to ‘tarnish, minimize, and outright destroy the legacy of the Falwell family and Mr. Falwell’s reputation.” Falwell has been reportedly granted a 10.5 million severance package under his contract.”
Pastor Tavner Smith of Venue Church was caught with chili on his shorts; it seems he and a church worker were cooking something up at a hotel together.
Perry Stone was recently accused of manhandling the female workers in his congregation (I hope it’s not true). He says it’s because he is “Italian” that he likes to touch women. (What normal man doesn’t like to touch women?) I don’t put men on a pedestal no matter how special they think they are, and you shouldn’t either.
Alas, in the meantime, it’s getting ever harder to find a good church, one that teaches the inerrant word of God. If you recall, my latest church of twelve years was divided by a cabal of instigators and usurpers (this is the fourth time I’ve seen this happen in my Christian experience). The latest word about that fiasco is that the instigating associate pastor left what remained of the congregation hanging. A year later, there is a New Age pastor in charge and remnants of the WOKE crowd and Cancel Culture people. One of the former teachers began a home church and fancies himself a dynamic preacher imitating TBN’s former and former preachers. Pastor Hayes Wicker – the founder of that church – was an extraordinary person, unpretentious, humble, kind and gentle.
These are trying times when people are searching for solace and hope in a world gone mad. But to try and make sense of things in this world takes stability and faith in the word of God. If you can find a good, doctrinally sound church, stay with it. That’s why I stayed with First Baptist of Naples for as long as I did even though I knew I was surrounded by fallible and often hypocritical people – but knowing people the way I do, I didn’t expect much from them anyway. In some of these churches, there was the deacon with the woody woodpecker hairdo at age sixty-five who apparently needed recognition. There was the associate pastor who wore shoes that were two sizes too long. To make matters worse, he tapped the toes of his shoes as he preached. There was also an effeminate man who pretended to be kind and friendly, but his glazed-over eyes and effeminate demeanor gave him away.
At a recent Christmas service I attended, the program was anything but traditional. The drummer thinks his gift of keeping time gives him license to burst your eardrums with frenzied banging. To say nothing of the young lady with torn jeans trying desperately to carry a tune. The music director is a failed pastor who, when he gets a chance, preaches a way too long prayer when he should be playing the piano and letting the pastor do the preaching or teaching. That same church celebrated Christmas with a video that depicted a coven-like service as two hooded kettle drummers pounded the drums on either side of the podium. Not being able to see their faces, they looked like ghouls from an “Indiana Jones” movie, “Temple of Doom,” which added absolutely nothing to the Christmas story the people were there to celebrate.
I don’t know about you, but something has to be done about calling these errant people out. We need a call for repentance. (I don’t claim to be perfect, but the things I just mentioned are an indication that the church is in freefall, and soon sound doctrine and the Bible will become irrelevant and without meaning.)
We know that things shouldn’t be that way, but we sit on our hands and say nothing. How I long for the good old days.
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; Which in time past were not a people but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: (unbelievers) that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:9-11).