Strangely Warmed By Strange Fire

Dan Edelen, over at Cerulean Sanctum, posted this gut-check article which he has entitled, “Big Box Altars.” The whole article is worth the read but I share this portion of it as it called to mind the sons of Aaron who brought “strange fire” to the Lord. Much of what we call worship in our stainedglassfire.jpgcorner of the globe is nothing more than a stained-glass charade. It’s man’s best coming to the Lord by man’s own way, by his own rules, rife with self-indulgence and self-effort.  Such worship is too neat, too pretty, awfully scripted and hollow.  And it fizzles.

Does our worship even come close to what is shown in Scripture? Could you fall on your face in the aisle next Sunday without disrupting the agenda? Could you dance (not you Pentecostals…I’m talking to the Methodists) like David danced without getting eyeballed like David got eyeballed? Can you weep between the porch and the altar? Can you get so lost in worship that you forget there’s anyone else in the room? Hey, here’s one: when’s the last time you’ve seen an adult run from his car to the front door of the sanctuary just because he was excited to come in to the house of the Lord?

Enough of me, here’s Mr. Edelen’s thoughts:

I’ve got to believe there’s something wrong with a Church where week in and week out there’s no weeping before the altar of the Lord. If a man can go through an entire church year without once falling on his face weeping, without soaking the church carpeting with his tears, something’s desperately wrong with his church.

I’ve got to believe that a church will never amount to much for the Kingdom if it never once sees someone get up and dance during worship. I’ve got to believe that a church filled with people who just sit and nod their heads will be asleep when the Bridegroom comes. The Holy Spirit’s missing in a church that goes through the emotionless motions.

How can an unstirred church reflect anything resembling the abundant life?

In C.S. Lewis’s masterful book, The Great Divorce, he posits a heaven so substantial that all of life this side of it resembles a vapor. Massive, unearthly Christians fill that dense heaven, giants, heroes that shake the foundation of the world with their conquests. How then can it be that so little life fills believers today? Why is it that we cannot find succor for our souls on Sunday, but instead find our hearts strangely warmed—if only for a passing moment—by a 60″ plasma display rocking with the Final Four?

Have we Christians rendered Christ so inconsequential? Have we denied the power of YHWH for the power of LG?

What happened to passion and fire?

8 thoughts on “Strangely Warmed By Strange Fire

  1. DLE says:

    Scott,

    Thanks for the link to my post on consumerism over at Cerulean Sanctum!

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  2. pasturescott says:

    Thank you, Dan. Your thoughts really touched me and I felt they should have an opportunity to touch others…

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  3. JD says:

    I agree with Dan’s premise. But, where’s the “altar?”
    What most refer to as the “altar” in a worship center or “sanctuary” is simply the steps to a stage of the platform used by the worship team and the band and the preacher.
    Where is God’s altar in the church building? Is it not right where I’m standing or sitting, as the case may be? Is it not in my heart of hearts where I’m meeting with God at that moment?
    Were there altars described in the New Testament? What I found were simply references to either the Jerusalem temple altar or a reference to some pagan temple altar. I found nothing about a “church” altar. Except maybe – well, there are no maybes. Please correct me if I’ve missed one.
    In other words, I agree that tears should flow or that we should shout or that we should dance or that we should groan, as each of us is led. My wife asked me why tears come to me sometimes when I read the word in our family devotion time. I don’t have an answer except to say that all the Holy Spirit reveals through the Word is convicting and awesome all at once. I regularly come under “conviction” when I am in the Word. And, I regularly feel the presence of the Holy when I’m worshiping on Sunday morning in my church building. Being in the presence of Holy God is awesome, terrible, wonderful and joyful all at once. And, if that don’t light your fire, you wood’s wet.
    So, whether I’ve an “altar” or not, I just try to remember who it is that I’ve come to worship and try to ignore the people around me because they don’t matter anyway.

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  4. pasturescott says:

    Thanks J.D., I think I know what you meant by your closing thought, but I have to say: oooh, your brothers and sisters DO matter. We are a body. The foot cannot say to the arm ‘I have no need of you.’ We bow before an Audience of One, but we can do it marvelously together. I must say, I was moved by your comment about the Spirit moving on you during such sacred times as sharing the Word and Life with your family. God bless you, my brother! May we all be faithful among our ‘Jerusalem’: family. Praise God for your passion and thank you for sharing in my little family…

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  5. Evelyn says:

    Undivided consecration!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    He will be-He must be: the beloved, the desire, the joy of our souls in such a way that EVERYONE that belongs to Him will proclaim Him as King. When I think about the fact that this consecration may seem impossible-the redirection need only be to remember that we are not under the law that demands but gives no power to perform, but we are under grace, which itself works what is required.
    Glorious it is to consider what that looks like when a fellowship makes that confession publicly UNIFIED IN SPIRIT AND FAITH-and in BROTHERLY LOVE (that sure sign by which all would recognize that we are His disciples). Us who are full of imperfections are to attached ourselves to one another and love fervently – Holy Spirit cause us to weep over how we are grieving You. Bring conviction to us for acting as if we are orphaned and not a part of Your family. Cause us Spirit of the Living God to fall before the throne of mercy and grace-desiring that heart which will burn for our King and His Kingdom. (NO STRANGE FIRE)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  6. Tina says:

    Gotta give a shout out for the Methodists…ha ha ha. We are a sorry lot when it comes to emotion in worship!!!

    Being raised in that context, though, there are times where my enounters with the Holy Spirit have been intensely calm…where I felt I dare not move or talk or sing or cry or I might miss what He was doing in that moment.

    But, more often than not, in my denomination, people shut off the movement of God rather than risk being uncomfortable. We don’t expect much out of God or worship…we don’t ask, seek, knock, cry, beg, plead, hope…we just show up to put in our hour.

    You probably don’t have that problem, but in my church, if you run over an hour, certain people get upset…you wouldn’t want to be late in getting to Bob Evan’s for lunch because you were in God’s Presence or anything!

    Glad God spoke to you through that Donne sonnet on my blog. God isn’t very subtle, is He? When He wants to get a message across to us, He just does it, everywhere you look!!! At least that’s my experience…but, then again, I am kind of dense so He has to speak pretty loudly to wake me up sometimes!!!

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  7. pasturescott says:

    *sheepish* oops, sorry Tina! Didn’t mean to diss the Methodists…it was just a caricature but unfair because I adore all my Methodist friends, who really know what the move of the Spirit is like. And, I am more like you, God moves on me in quietness and before I know it, the tears flow! But, being in a wheelchair, I would love to have the Spirit of Dance get all over me—just once!

    But who says it can’t right where I am????

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  8. Tina says:

    No worries about the Methodists. I laughed out loud…one of those “it’s funny because it’s true” things. I don’t think the Holy Spirit has given up on us Methodists yet, but I think He has to work pretty hard to wake us up!!!

    As for dancing, I have every assurance that in Heaven, you will be dancing circles around me…circles of praise, that is…

    It makes me happy that this life is just a blip in the radar compared with what is to come. Just want to do my part in helping as many people get there as I can…

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