Message: < previous - next > : Reply : Subscribe : Cleanse
Home   : March 2006 : Group Archive : Group : All Groups

From: "REVIVAL List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Thu, 09 Mar 2006 12:00:07 -0600
Forwarded by:	<mario@...>

-by Kerry M. Denten.

I was getting ready yesterday to go out to my Grandmother’s 95th
birthday celebrations. While I was in that “autopilot” mode you get
into while showering and dressing, I found my mind wandering to
considering some of the larger organised churches around
Australia and other parts of the world and was surprised by what
the Lord showed me.

I was considering Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas when my
mind then meandered from the huge Minster (or Cathedral) in York,
England to St Andrews Cathedral in Sydney. Then my thinking
wandered to the Crystal Cathedral, then to Paradise Community
Church in Adelaide, South Australia, to Christian City Church and
Hillsong Church in Sydney .. and here is what the Lord said …

Five hundred years ago a man named Martin Luther protested
against the injustice of the prosperity of the Roman Catholic
Church at the expense of its adherents. He sounded an alarm over
wrong doctrine and ugly practice. He heralded the need for men
and women everywhere to discover that their salvation did not
depend on their commitment to an institutional church but that they
could be saved by grace and justified by faith through their own
relationship with God.

Luther understood that, at the literal end of the day, we would each
stand alone before God to answer for our relationship with Him and
NOT our membership of a church like that of the Roman Catholics
as was his “target” some 500 years ago.

Now, why would God show me all of those churches in the UK,
America and here in Australia to then go on to say something like
that? Here is what I now understand:

For all of our dogmatic adherence to our protestant ways, the
church of today (including the supposedly free charismatics and
Pentecostals) are just as guilty, as the Roman Catholics were, of
building cathedrals of perverted prosperity at the expense of their adherents.

Sure, we don’t build cathedrals in the traditional sense anymore,
but they are cathedrals nonetheless! A traditional cathedral was
always known for its imposing size; it’s ability to house thousands
at a time; it’s majestic music and huge choirs; and its
contemporary opulence.

If that be the case, please tell me how the aforementioned
churches are any different to the Catholic Cathedrals of old?

1. They are Known for their Imposing Splendour.

Recently my wife and I saw the tail-end of an episode of “Your Best
Life” with Joel Osteen only to see him dedicating Lakewood
Church’s new facility; an ex-sports stadium capable of seating
about 10,000 people at a time. I was really saddened to consider
how excited these people were about dedicating a monolithic
meeting room that would only be used for about 12 hours a week.
Closer to home, it’s astounding how Hillsong Church’s new Bella
Vista campus is the one place many Christians consider a “must-
see” when they visit Sydney.

2. They are Known for their Ability to House Thousands at a Time

Regardless of whether it is a modern conference-type facility or a
sandstone edifice, whichever way you cut it, the minute we build a
facility capable of housing thousands of adherents at a time for the
primary intent of “having church”, we have built a cathedral.

3. They are Known for their Majestic Music and Huge Choirs

Here in Australia, the best examples of modern cathedrals in this
regard are Hillsong Church and Christian City Church in Sydney.
These two “local” churches are known for their magnificent music
and their choirs. In fact, I find it tragically hysterical that almost
every church that has tried to adopt their model or style of worship
now has a choir, a choir stand and a choir leader … “.. but we’re
not bound by liturgy. We’re spirit-filled and free”.

4. They are Known for their Contemporary Opulence.

One of these churches recently spent in excess of $300,000 on
state-of-the-art digital audio mixing desks for use in their services.
Others have installed the very best commercial quality theatre
seating. In others, the lighting rig alone rivals that of a major rock
concert. Lakewood Church even features a huge slowly rotating
globe as a backdrop for the televising of their services.

I’m not trying to be critical of these mega-churches simply to be
seen to have a post-modernist whinge. What I am trying to
communicate is that many over the centuries have fought with their
very lives and reputations to see us, the church, break free of the
things that the Roman Catholic church held so dear until the time
of Martin Luther’s protests. Today we claim to be living freely in the
liberty of those protests and yet we have simply allowed ourselves
to become ensnared in the very things that trapped the men who
led the church after Constantine got his hands on it back in about
300 AD and those are the same traps that ultimately robbed us of
the purity and power of the early church.

Thomas Aquinas is reported as having had an audience with the
Pope of his time. When he was ushered into the Pope’s presence,
the Pope gestured saying, “Look Thomas. Never again will we have
to say ’silver and gold I do not have’”. To which Thomas Aquinas
responded, "And neither will we ever again be able to say ‘in the
name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise and walk ’”. Ouch!

When will we ever learn that to build a tower supposedly as an
example of how great God is when in reality it’s a legacy to how
great we are, will only result in God coming and scattering it and
us once again as He did on the plains of Shinar?

There is a consistent theme of “God-made” vs “man-made” that
runs through the Scriptures, but it’s so subtle you may not have
noticed how serious God is about it.

In the days of old, God always called for altars to be made from
uncut, God-made stone. When Uzza steadied the Ark of the
Covenant on the cart, he lost his life because David was instructed
to carry it on the shoulders of God-made men, not on a man-made
cart. Jesus told Peter that He would build His church upon His
revelation about the God-made Christ .. not upon Peter as a man-
made Pope. Further, the church is made up of God- made living
stones with a God-made living Saviour as its chief cornerstone. We,
God-made men and women, ARE the temple (the Holy of Holies) of
the Holy Spirit.

Do you see it?

My Aussie friend Phil Marshall, who pastors a church in Edmonton,
Canada told me recently that, in the five years to 2005, the church
in North America has spent nearly 25 billion dollars on building
programs! Recently Dr Robert Schuller, founder of the Crystal
Cathedral, retired. When asked by Larry King what he would be
doing with his time during retirement, Schuller replied by telling
King that he would dedicate himself to establishing a fund that
would ensure the Crystal Cathedral would always stand and that
the property would never be sold.

When will we begin to live for the things that so many others have
given their lives for over the two millennia since Christ first showed
the way that a life must be lived, a death must be died and a God-
made church must be built?

We must stop investing millions of dollars into structures that are
ultimately of no real value to the Kingdom of God. Sure, we might
gather in them, and people may even become believers, get healed
or delivered in them, but at what cost to the Kingdom? We invest
millions, even billions of dollars into building buildings when we
should be investing it into building lives. We say that's what the
building is ultimately designed for, but when will we stop fooling
ourselves? What it so frequently comes down to is "mine's bigger
than yours".

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not against buildings for
Kingdom purposes. In some cases we need them. Heck, I live in a
building that's used for Kingdom purposes .. it's called my home.

I'm not against the specific churches I've already named nor any
church for that matter. I'm not having a rant or making an attack
because I "have issues" with organised religion. I have given much
of the last 30 years to serving the Body of Christ in one form or
another .. as an ordained minister, as an itinerant prophetic teacher,
as a general gopher, a church planter and more. I am passionate
about the church.

However, I am motivated to sound a God-inspired alarm for ministries
and churches to stop continually perpetuating the production of the
number one world-wide killer of genuine Christian community and
missional activity just to be seen to have made it among their
peers. That number one world-wide killer? The building program ..
especially as it relates to building mega-church structures.

I remember reading that Smith Wigglesworth once said .. “I am a
thousand times bigger on the inside”. I can relate to that. Now that
I’m over 40, my body is changing. Physically I’m a little more ’solid’
(some might rudely say ‘portly’) than I used to be. As a result, I
sometimes like to joke with people that “I’m a temple of the Holy
Ghost and I’m putting on extensions!” But all jokes aside, the only
building program that God is truly interested in is for us to
corporately work to build who we are in Him, because this is the
only God-made place He Himself desires to dwell in all His fullness.

In the end, if we must build cathedrals, may God be pleased to fill
the expanse of our growing and maturing spirits and may they,
and only they ..being fit together with one another in love .. be the
cathedrals of praise we see built now and in the future.