Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Return to Reverence

Reverence. You don’t hear that word much anymore. It seems to have been drowned out by the clamor of individual raucousness. I applaud in the background when I see a child showing respect to his or her parents. I glow with pride for the parent that stops a youngster from running a lap around the pews or darting for the platform after an energetic service. My heart goes out to the young person that carefully positions the Bible on the top of a stack of books or papers rather than shuffled in the middle. I applaud, not because I am an authority on the subject, but because once again, I am reminded that respect and reverence are not antiquated attributes lost on today’s generation. 
Reverence is a feeling or attitude of deep respect, admiration, awe and worship. I believe when parents teach their children reverence for the things of God, it has a positive repercussion on the respect and reverence those children show their beloved teachers. Plato once said, “Let parents bequeath to their children not riches, but the spirit of reverence.”
 In teaching reverence for something or someone, we are putting a value on that object or person. When we show reverence we are showing our level of respect or our amount of admiration and worship. Who more than God deserves reverence? He is the most admired, amazing, awesome One that has ever been in existence. Everything about Him is held in highest regard. His Word, His House, and His Presence are all worthy of the respect reverence brings. 
I remember when I was a girl getting my first Bible. It was so special. It was a hand-me-down from my mother. Her name was in the front, but I immediately added my signature to the inside front cover. It was bold letters and not to neatly done, but it made the Bible mine, all mine. I would hold it, turn it over in my hands, smell the leather, and fan through the pages, drinking in the feeling of owning my very own Bible. Oh what a sweet memory. Mama taught me how to take care of my Bible. She told me how her mother taught her to take care of it because it was Holy. She would point to the word on the cover. “Holy Bible” was inscribed in bold white letters on the front and it should be treated as such. 
I still have that Bible. Although, it is on the book shelf with a dozen “newer” versions, I still have a special place in my heart for that first one. I learned at youth camp to take care of it because it was the written word of God. I should respect it and not throw it down on the ground, or even put other books on top of it. I remember sliding into the pew, arranging my coat, purse, and Bible next to me. Of course, the purse never sat on top of the Bible. I just couldn’t bring myself to put anything on the Bible. I’m still a lot that way. The Bible is so special to me. Someone once said, “so, you want to hear the audible voice of God? Read His word out loud.” We forget that the Bible is the written Word of God almighty. It is inspired, and infallible. It is the answer for all of life’s problems. It has the answers to our questions. It is relevant to every situation we face today and will be one hundred years from now. This book is amazing! How fortunate we are in this country to have the privilege to own a Holy Bible. We should revere it and remember that it is a priceless treasure.

We were never allowed to go to the restroom during the preaching. Before church Mama would say, “Go to the bathroom now because when the preacher starts, you will stay in your seat and listen.” She was not punishing me; she wanted the Word of God established in my heart. How could that happen if I was coming in and out during this special time of each service? I’m thankful she taught me to reverence God’s Word during the preaching. 
The altar was a sacred place. It was a place we came when we were burdened, or needed healing. It was not a place to play tag or jump off the platform. The prayer room was another place that was reverenced. I brought my small children right along with me when I visited the prayer room.  When they were old enough, I taught them to pray in the prayer room, not play in the prayer room. They learned at an early age when they needed to get alone with God, the prayer room was a quiet, safe place to pour their hearts out to God.
Thankfully, some things my parents taught me stuck and I have passed them along to my children. For example, my husband and I would never allow our children to run in the church. We would stop them and tell them that we don’t run in God’s house. When I walk into our church, I am filled with vivid memories of the moving of His presence. I can see the place I fell on my knees and repented. I see that special corner that one of my sisters danced until she was drunk in the spirit. With those precious memories alive, it is easier to remind myself that this is not just any ordinary building. It is a place that we meet with God and He meets with us.
I have a wonderful memory when we were evangelizing. One particular service, the presence of God moved in such a special way. The whole congregation was stirred. I watched from the platform while people cried, hands in the air, some of them swayed back and forth, and some were driven to their knees as we experienced an awesome demonstration of the Spirit. From this moment of awe, I wrote the song, “This is What I Live For”. There are many churches in our cities that do not experience the demonstration of the Spirit of God. We should respect and cherish that phenomenal spiritual experience. The demonstration of the power of God is what makes Pentecostal services unique. It is wonderful that God honors us by His presence in such an intimate way. Not everyone has that privilege. I grieve in my heart when I see people disregarding the presence of God by talking to their friends, or filing their nails when the almighty God of Glory is honoring us with His presence.
I don’t think God expects us to never laugh, have fun or enjoy life. On the contrary, I believe He is pleased when we demonstrate the joy that He has so generously given us. But when it comes to the things that draw us close to Him in the midst of worship, I believe He is pleased when reverence is exhibited. Today I will examine my attitude and see that I am showing the proper amount of reverence for the things of God.