Being part of the family of God is such a blessing! Rubbing elbows with brothers and sisters that are joint heirs with Jesus Christ. Surrounded by people of like faith that can stand in the gap for you when you are unable and lift you up in Jesus name in prayer. What better place than to associate with God’s wonderful people. Peace and joy should reign always in the midst, however, there are times when the enemy will get right in the middle and whisper all kinds of suggestive ideas. Conjecture used to divide the body of Christ, injure feelings and advocate all manner of evil inside God’s church.
“For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12). This verse might make you ask a lot of questions. If someone at church says something to offend you, You automatically have a problem with that person. It is easy to quickly forget where those thoughts, feelings, and uncaring words originated from. Satan himself. He was removed from heaven a long time ago, and has been fighting against God ever since. For every good and perfect thing that God created, Satan perverts the original with a counterpart or a cunning way to attempt to desolate God’s masterpieces.
Because Lucifer (Another name for Satan.) was so beautiful and in charge of the worship in heaven, he has an understanding of beauty and music. He was cast out of heaven because he believed He was equal yet even better than God. “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit on the mount of assembly on the heights of Zaphon; I will ascend to the tops of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High’” (Isaiah 14:12-14).
Keeping these things in your mind, I will share a personal story that occurred recently. I share this in attempt to place the blame in the right direction. My family and I have been ministering in the same place for 4 years and began to feel the need for a change. Be that as it may choosing a new place of worship is never something to do hastily.
We are full-gospel believers. We love Pentecostal worship: clapping hands, dancing, raising hands, etc. My mom and dad were pastor and wife in the Church of God church, and as an adult I have been in non-denominational, International, and Assembly of God churches. These style churches believe in decency and order but Liberty to worship. People bring their I instruments: guitars, drums, maracas, harmonicas, spoons, tambourines and even washboards. Personally since I was a teenager, I have played the tambourine. I have my own and I enjoy playing during the worship. It has been for many years been an extension of me and my worship. My current tambourine has been played a lot. So much, I have considered purchasing a new one.
Several weeks ago we found a church that seemed like a good fit. The praise and worship was as lively as it was reverent. The members seemed delightful and friendly and excited that we chose to visit. The sermons were on point and delivered with authority and love. We attended several weeks and began to settle there. This particular Sunday, I found my seat after hugging a few necks and shaking a few hands. It was another day to attend God’s house and be with God’s people to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. As me and the family found our place, the musicians began to play an upbeat hymn as a call to worship. Practically on instinct, I reached for my tambourine and began to hammer out the beat against my hand, Singing along to the song joyfully.
“Everyone stand to your feet,” came the instruction from the platform. Singing and playing along I instantly realized that the church’s pastor came down the stairs and was headed in my direction. Once he arrived before me, he handed me a small piece of paper with a friendly smile and a nod. I pondered if I should place the note in my purse until after service while Pastor returned to the pulpit. Curiosity got the better of me and I paused my playing to take a quick peek. Please do not play the tambourine today. I will explain later. Pastor. I stood in my spot stunned. My face felt red hot with embarrassment and my stomach was tied in knots. It was as if someone had slapped me in the face for no apparent reason.
I moved as quickly as humanly possible and put my instrument on the floor beneath the pew in front of me. I stood up and began to clap my hands, and sing along with the congregation. I felt more like a puppy left out in the rain than a worshiper. I prayed and prayed inside my head as I went through the motions. Lord, please help me. I don’t understand what I did but I just pray that I didn’t do anything wrong. Please help me get myself under control. The pain in the pit of my stomach was enormous. Part of me wanted to run out of the sanctuary. Part of me wanted to cry. I felt all mixed up inside. I forced the lump that was forming in my throat down with a gulp.
After the service Pastor took a few moments to make plain the reasoning for his request. He explained that all the details were in a letter that he had been mailed the prior week. I heard what he said and in a way I understood. After-all the Bible says, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. Hebrews 13:17.” I responded with a nod of my head and a “Yes, sir.” The Bible following part of me did accept his position. And growing up in a pastoral house I knew that sometimes the one in charge has to do what they must to keep peace. “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Romans 12:18.”
I walked to my car with my family feeling stunned. Praying that I could walk by my faith and not by my feelings, because my feelings were rebelling against my words and my Biblical knowledge. I explained to my husband and family what had happened and sat there quietly as each one gave their personal position of how they felt. Many years ago, I was once literally punched in the face and I do not think it felt as bad as the wound that I was experiencing at that moment.
In the stack of mail from the day before I retrieved the letter. With a deep breath I opened the sealed envelope and unfolded the page. I read through the Greeting and then the statement that said, “As Jesus’ Overseer here, I am banning all tambourines from sanctuary worship at the church. The instrument is causing unnecessary consternation to me, our platform musicians, church members, and visitors.” I was shook to my core, and had to find the definition of this word, consternation: a sudden, alarming amazement or dread that results in utter confusion; dismay. Anxiety overwhelmed me, and I began to tremble.
To think that my way of worship was causing alarm, dread, and confusion made me literally sick to my stomach. 1 Corinthians 14:33 says, ” For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” My mother and father taught me that early in life. If there is confusion, it is not of God. I must admit I was quite upset for a period of about 36 hours. I prayed and prayed for God to help me deal with this situation, and to get control of my emotions. God created emotions to be powerful and there is no doubt at all that mine were extremely vicious.
You may be wondering why I went to the trouble of sharing this very personal story with you. After all, my job here is to encourage you. I am praying that this will serve as a reminder about how easy it is for the church to “eat it’s own.” Someone takes your seat in the sanctuary that you have sat in for 20 years and they “have got to go.” Another person comes along and wants to try something new in the church and “we’ve never done that here before” becomes the new anthem. A lady arrives and is dressed a bit differently from the rest of the congregation and she “simply doesn’t fit.” Of course, if I were the enemy of your soul I would do my very best to stir up as much mayhem as possible.
After seeking the Lord, I have come to what I believe is the best decision. Those that are dismayed by my presence with my tambourine, are going to be blessed with my absence. I am tired of my focus being put on the wrong things. The enemy seems dead set on keeping things messed up all around so believer’s can get our focus off our Great commission. And Jesus said unto them, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15. The enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy, and we have to be wise enough to stop him. Get our eyes on the prize and stop doing so much about things that really do not matter, because the most important thing is bringing souls into the kingdom of God.