Discomfort From Grieving The Holy Spirit
I was in Las Vegas this weekend past, visiting my father mainly for a belated birthday celebration for me and also for him. I made the mistake of going to church with him instead of either insisting on going to the Church of Christ or finding a ride of my own there and back. My father insisted we had to go to his Episcopal church, Grace in the Desert, so he could be “blessed” for his birthday, which he celebrates April 4th, but apparently missed church or the blessing that previous weekend. should have known something was wrong right then because I have never heard of someone being given a special blessing for their birthday or anniversary. Church is meant to be about worshiping God and hearing God’s message, not to celebrate people! But I hadn’t thought to find a church of Christ until Saturday evening and so I had no time to ask about a ride from the hotel and then back after, so I reluctantly went to my father’s church after breakfast with him.
I felt uncomfortable from the moment service began. There were women deacons and a priesress there, and God tells us in 1 Timothy
“1 Timothy 3:2, 8-12 NLT
So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. In the same way, deacons must be well respected and have integrity. They must not be heavy drinkers or dishonest with money. They must be committed to the mystery of the faith now revealed and must live with a clear conscience. Before they are appointed as deacons, let them be closely examined. If they pass the test, then let them serve as deacons. In the same way, their wives must be respected and must not slander others. They must exercise self-control and be faithful in everything they do. A deacon must be faithful to his wife, and he must manage his children and household well.”
Deacons, like elders, must be men, according to the apostle Paul in NT. He also tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:3, “1 Corinthians 11:3 NLT
But there is one thing I want you to know: The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” And in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 it tells us specifically that women cannot teach men, for Scripture says, “1 Timothy 2:11-15 NLT
Women should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. But women will be saved through childbearing, assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty.”
They also seemed to metaphorically blow trumpets for the people of the church, by interrupting service midway through to give people with birthdays or anniversaries a blessing, and then towards the end, after communion but before ending hymns and prayer, guests got called out and each one, including me, got personally welcomed. Now do not misunderstand me, it is okay to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and to welcome visitors, but that should come after service like at my church. They need to understand we are there to worship God and that interrupting to celebrate people is not only distracting, but it sends the wrong message to God, that people come first and not Him. There should be hymn singing, opening prayer, and in some order also communion every Sunday, tithe offering, a message from God, invitation song for those in the audience who may not yet be children of God (or closing song), and closing prayer. Then during announcements, at the end, just before dismissal should be when guests are acknowledged and then perhaps a weekly or monthly lunch or dinner for birthdays and anniversaries. And if the church wants to bless someone on their birthday or anniversary, let them do it after service is over just before dismissal.
Also, service kept getting paused to pray or sing and it sounded more like robots in stereo than true worship and I felt super uncomfortable to the point where I didn’t join in when it was words being recited perfectly and well-rehearsed (but I did join in the singing). God wants true and genuine worship from us, not sounding gongs or cymbals (metaphorically speaking). It just all felt wrong to me and I know it was because the Holy Spirit felt grieved, which we are warned against doing so in 1 Thessalonians 5:19 and Ephesians 4:30:
“1 Thessalonians 5:19 AMP
Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [Holy] Spirit.
Ephesians 4:30 NIV
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
Making a big deal out of congregation members and guests in the middle of worshiping God is not what God wants from us and that is the exact impression I got from the Holy Spirit and from God the whole time I was there at that church. They also didn’t have any bibles, but had handouts that had everything to follow along with service, prayer books, and hymn books for the singing parts of service. How can you have a church service without the Bible, which is God’s written word? What about visitors who may come thay have never opened a bible? How are they supposed to know that the Scriptures auoted in the pamphlets handed out before service contain God’s written word and not just words the preacher made up? As it was, there was some Scripture quoted, but someone who has previously never heard God’s word before would not know that.
I has wanted to leave right away, but I didn’t know what bus route to take back to the strip, to where my hotel was and had nowhere to go. I had meant to say something to the Priestess after coming out of the ladies room (I had to go after communion so I did), but I chickened out. And I have felt guilty about it ever since. I may even look up their number to call them and let them know or send them an anonymous letter, if I can find their address online. They need to know the Holy Spirit is grieved and God ia displeased by their practices there at the church. Honestly, it was because I had forgotten my Bible and left it in my hotel room and had no Scripture backup that I left without saying a word. I feared sounding arrogant or judgmental. As soon as I am able to do so, I hope to find a way to let the church know how I felt (from the Holy Spirit) during their service on Sunday.
I did however, let my father know, when he asked me how I liked the service. I told him how I felt uncomfortable the whole time and that women are not supposed to be deacons or Priestess. When I finished telling him what I wish I had told the Priestess, he said, “and that’s that.” He obviously didn’t agree even though I was merely telling him what God told us through the apostle Paul in the NT Scripture.
Then I had lunch with my mom’s (may she be resting peacefully in the arms of Jesus) best friend who lives in Vegas, but had a chance to go to my hotel room first after service and grab my bible in case I needed it. She also asked me what I thought of the church service I went to and told her what I told my father, but this time I got my bible out, and with her encouragement, I read the Scriptures that said deacons can only be men. Before I read the Scriptures, she called me judgmental, and then afterwards, she tried telling me that the Scriptures I read were meant for that specific period in time and didn’t apply today. She thinks we should be tolerant of other people’s different religions and beliefs, even though Jesus never told us to do that and neither did God. In fact, we are told in Ephesians 4:4-6 that there is only “One body and one Holy Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.”
I told her I was just obeying what the Bible says and she tried telling me “which was written by man,” to which I replied, “The words were inspired by God.” My mom’s friend merely shrugged at that point. I don’t think she agrees with everything the Bible says, which is unfortunate for her since she told me that she believes if Jesus came back today or tomorrow, she is ready.
Later, as she dropped me off back at my hotel, she told me she was pleased with my volunteer work I told her I do at the local library near my sister’s house, and the work I do for God with church and all, which means she respects me following and also standing up for what I believe in.
I hope that telling my father and my mom’s friend, this blog, and also admitting my sin against God in not speaking up at church, praying for strength, courage, spiritual wisdom and understanding and knowledge with Scripture backup to gently correct misinformed people and those who do not know God, and to teach God’s word (outside of church, where women are allowed to do so) without fear and also askiw for God’s forgiveness in letting fear stop me were all enough to reach God’s heart to receive forgiveness. I hope He has forgiven me and will help me out in the areas I need help with to teach His word to others without fear and with knowledge of the Scriptures and actual Scripture backup so in the future, I don’t even hesitate to gently correct people who are doing something that goes against God’s word in a way that does not sound judgmental, but that reaches their hearts and where they understand in their conscious minds and change their ways while they have time, before it is too late for them. I also need strong unshakable faith and pray to God all the time for it, so I can boldly (without fear) correct or teach God’s word to everyone: friends, family, close friends, and strangers, and to churches that are not correctly teaching God’s word, to those who refuse to acknowledge God’s existence, or have either no information or wrong information about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and church worship.
I also pray for all of you who may be reading this to have the courage, knowledge, and understanding of Scripture to preach God’s word boldly to others, and to gently but firmly enlighten or rebuke those who either teach falsely or have wrong information, or have done something that goes against God in a way that brings a change of heart to the person hearing God’s words spoken through you, so they may be saved. I offer this prayer in Jesus’ name! May God be with you all.