Angry Little Preacher and the Ghost Lady: Christian Conference Redux

         There was once a big Christian conference in a major city several years ago. It was headlined by a big name Christian evangelist from another country. Many local preachers were invited, as were their church members.

         The city convention center was rented out—the place used mainly for NBA basketball games—and was nearly filled. The conference had been publicized for months.

         As one who attended my share of rock concerts in my long ago youth in such large venues, it was interesting to see all the different people from all over the city come in. As an usher, it was my job to assist in finding seating for the attendees, but also to direct people to the VIP section.

         The organizers of the event made sure that all the VIPs, in this case church pastors and official ministers, were ushered toward the front section, which was marked off and guarded. I was posted in the far back entrance on the main floor. Pastors came in with special credentials and I directed them to another usher far down the aisle, pointing them in the right direction. If I recall, the VIPs wore certain badges to identify themselves.

         There was kind of an upbeat atmosphere but muted. In the old days one walked into a concert in such large auditoriums and saw people having a great time and looking forward to the show. The inevitable frisbees were flyin’ around, caught by someone in the crowd and flung again, several staying aloft at once.

         But not at our conference. No frisbees. No beach balls, even. There was one thing, though. It was kind of weird, but then again for those who were used to it not so much. Again, I was at the head of one of the two or so main aisles in the back down which every minister had to walk to reach his seats in the front section below the stage. My friend and fellow usher was about halfway down the aisle before me.

         The next thing I know a young lady of maybe twenty years of age suddenly felt like dancing. In the aisle. Close to where my partner was. She was doing one of those worship dances with large graceful movements, her eyes turned skyward in kind of a blank look, as if she was hearing music no one else could.

         Okay. No problem. That’s why we’re here. Glad someone’s getting in the Spirit. It reminded me of something, though…

         I remember many years before in a church I was attending there was a lady who did these kind of spur of the moment worship dances. Except hers were really weird. And they usually occurred at odd times. This was in one of those kinds of churches where such behavior was okay, and maybe even encouraged. The idea was to let people be free to worship the Lord as they felt led. The associated challenge with this approach is that you would get the occasional weird “leading.”

         For example, we had a tastefully trimmed out walk-in baptistery at the far front behind the pulpit. It was located there so everyone could see the baptismal candidate emerge on the left from behind a wall and walk down the stairs of the filled tank into the water. The preacher would meet the candidate there, sometimes in waders, and do the baptizing. It was cool. Then the freshly immersed believer would rise majestically out of the water all smiles and happy. It was a celebration! People would applaud and praise God, and then the newly baptized would climb the stairs of the tank on the opposite end and exit.

         Well, our particular worship dancer would sometimes find her way to the baptistery entrance in the back, unseen by all, and then suddenly emerge from behind the same wall through a narrow outlet and out onto the platform! She was thin with long limbs and would always be holding her arms outward and upward, eyes almost closed for the most part, and glide around.

         During a service.

         Sometimes during the preaching.

         You hoped you didn’t bring a visitor on such nights.

         She was ghostly and pale and wore long loose-fitting light-toned dresses. It was quite the sight. Some people were muffling laughter. Elbows were poking others in the pews good-naturedly to let them know the ghost lady was doing her thing. Most congregants acted like nothing out of the ordinary was going on which made it even funnier. For the most part everything just kept going as usual—listening to the preacher, watching the ghost lady, trying hard to be respectful, and allowing her to worship the Lord in her own unique way. Good times…

         Well, back to our conference—our young lady was dancing in the main aisle completely oblivious to oncoming traffic. People going down the aisle would have to stand there and wait for a moment, looking for an opening to get past her. Finally my partner asked very nicely if it would be okay if she did not block the aisle and perhaps dance in her seat.

         The next thing I know some older gentlemen sitting in the back row close by came unglued and walked quickly down the aisle, his head and shoulders thrown back, aimed directly at my friend. He began to excoriate my fellow usher who was quite taken aback at the treatment. My partner tried to explain but to no avail. The gentleman came walking back to his seat red in the face and quite steamed. “That young lady wasn’t doing anything wrong and should be allowed to dance!” We looked at one another. Everybody saw the whole thing. He sat down madder than hell.

         I decided to go over to him both to stick up for my fellow usher and also attempt to diffuse the situation. I was very cool. I kind of half knelt down to make eye contact and tried to explain that she was blocking the aisle. Then he started yelling at me. “That little girl is a member of my church and I don’t appreciate this!”

         It was then I realized that this little man was a preacher. Somehow or another, his credentials were messed up and someone told him he was not allowed to sit in the clergy section down front. This all happened before I took my post. He was mad enough to fight because he felt slighted. I told him I would try to fix it. He said he no longer wanted to sit up there. His behavior was familiar to me at the time since I was the father of young kids.

         Again, I tried to reason with him and diffuse the situation. I stayed calm. Then he said something or another and I lost it. He remained sitting and we were face to face and I let him have it with both barrels, speaking as low as I could. His wife sitting next to him was the most embarrassed woman in the whole state, and was probably used to his antics. But the guy would not let up. I returned fire. I stood my ground and manned my post. Then he looked at me and yelled, “I’ve been preaching for thirty years and I don’t need you preaching to me!”

         If he had gotten up out of his seat I could not have guaranteed that I would not have knocked him into next week. That little banty rooster preacher was a serious piece of work and was obviously used to having his way.

         Maybe the preacher’s antics and our little discussion became a sideshow among the crowds in the upper sections. Maybe the whole thing played out like a ghost lady episode.

         As these things go I was later questioned that night about what happened. Nothing ever came of it. The mad little preacher stayed in back the whole evening glued to his seat and later tried to make amends and laugh it off, though he refused to admit any guilt. He even mentioned something about us almost getting in a fight. As it was, the corrective of the Lord was strongly applied as it probably had never been before and if the preacher had chosen for it to be applied further it would have been.

         Moral of the story? Not sure. But maybe if we didn’t have a first class section for bonafide clergyites and Pharisees, such people would not get their panties in a wad in the first place whenever they felt slighted. Their attitudes are the polar opposite of what the Lord Jesus taught. Imagine the people back in the angry little preacher’s church who revered this guy as a man of God!

         The idea of spiritual VIPs is about as far from the example of the Lord Jesus as possible. He was always being disrespected and treated bad and He accepted it. It was part of the territory. He never demanded His own way or threw fits when slighted. Unlike many modern day preachers who demand honor at all times, the Founder of real Christianity took on the persona of a servant. He would have never been invited to a conference like this anyway, much less have been offered any credentials, but if He got in I’m pretty sure He’d have to sit in the back. With a perfect attitude, though, and most likely invisible. 

         I later thought that maybe the little hothead preacher who had been a minister for thirty years was given a chance by God to show real Christianity by taking the mistake in stride and sitting in his back seat with a smile. And what if all the preachers given official credentials had tossed them aside and purposely sat in the back or somewhere unnoticed? Would not that have been a great testimony to the Lord Jesus, to have that entire front VIP section empty?

         But no. Too much pride. Too much sorry religious pride.

         And there’s your main malfunction, all you Rev. Pretenders: You refuse the Lord His place and take it for yourself. This is like trading a million nuclear power plants for a flashlight battery. It’s no wonder you never see a move of God!

         For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? [James 2:2-4]

         “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” [Luke 20:46-47]

         For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [Galatians 3:26-28]

            Clergy and Laity distinctions have no place in the Lord’s community. Period. We must all get with the Lord’s program. Proper humility is the order of the day. Repentance is called for. Religious pride must be destroyed. We must walk not in the strength of sinful flesh but in the power of the Lord’s Holy Spirit.

         If there is one central determining factor in explaining why much of Christianity in America is long since DOA it is because the Lord Jesus has been demoted or kicked out and replaced by impotent imposters.

         I’m not sure what the actual purpose of that conference was, except to see how many Christians from different churches we could gather under one roof in geographic unity. Nothing much happened. There was no great outpouring. The foreign evangelist, greatly used of God overseas, had little effect. But, you know, maybe it was a good networking opportunity.

         For those interested in the real deal, though, who want the Lord Jesus to be exalted to His rightful place of honor and authority, who long for an outpouring of God’s Spirit and even a national Great Awakening, there is a clue from the ministry of John the Immerser. The forerunner of the Great One quoted Isaiah the prophet while preaching to the many seeking repentance and right standing with God. Isaiah tells us exactly what must happen should we choose to be one big happy family:

         A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.

         “Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley;

         “Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” [Isaiah 40:3-5] [1]

         Now there’s a Christian conference worth attending!

         © 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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Posted on February 12, 2014, in Real Christianity and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. RJ, this post could not have been more timely for me. You know I am blessed to be a spiritual leader and have been ordained by God to be and do so. Presently, I am participating in an online course of study with colleagues from all denominations, and we are supposed to be on a level playing field. You know me well enough to know that’s not an issue for me. But, there is one guy who takes it upon himself to almost immediately attempt to correct and criticize yours truly every time she shares something. Not only that, he attempts to shepherd this entire group of about 200 and teach us scripture from his perspective.

    Finally, yesterday, God led me to let him have it and share that he makes me very uncomfortable because he attempts to place me in his own spiritual box. He replied that God ordained him to correct those who are wrong about scripture and that he was merely doing what he was ordained to do. Just how he is so sure he is right about God’s word is another issue I won’t get into here. Now, I can take correction as well or badly as the next person, but God let me see how very out of line this guy was and still is. Finally, I wrote that he is not my spiritual leader and has zero authority over me and my relationship with God. God led me to Matthew 22 & 23, where Christ calls out the Pharisees and Sadducees. One verse popped out: Those who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. That’s where I ended it because I did not want to be the cause of the group coming to a screeching halt when we were truly sharing with one another, so I brought the issue to God and the group leaders.

    Spiritual Pharisees and Sadducees abound, unfortunately and, as you well illustrate, so does spiritual vanity. Instead of giving God the glory, they give themselves the glory.

    So, thanks friend for championing real Christianity.

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    • Thank you for an awesome and revealing comment, Sharon—revealing in that you tell of yet another instance of this exact happenstance taking place in a diverse group.

      First, I think every Christian must be strong in their beliefs and show the proper conviction for them, but only if their beliefs are supported by Scripture. Now, pretty much every believer believes their views are supported by Scripture or they would not have such beliefs.

      But this is where it gets tricky. There is a reason we have four hundred million or so Christian denominations: It is the problem that arises when one’s revealed light (what one knows to be true and can back up with Scripture), does not acknowledge one’s level of ignorance (that which one has yet to know, or what one “knows” but cannot back up adequately).

      The further problem is that one does not know what one does not know, simply because one has yet to know it. This means a person who refuses to be respectfully tactful and admit he doesn’t know it all will insist that he is right in a universal sense. But if a person recognizes the odds are strong that he doesn’t know everything, he will take a more constrained approach in sharing what he does know.

      There are times, of course, when a person is anointed by God to be adamant. This should mean the person can back up his words and also know an anointing of God is present that allowed him and even demanded of him to be adamant regarding a Scriptural truth. The Lord did this often. Paul did this often. In fact, Paul was often engaged in arguments with others in the effort to illustrate Scriptural truth. In further fact again, this is what real Christian teaching entails.

      But Paul also learned directly from the Lord that if love is not involved—if love is sacrificed to prove a point, even if the point is absolutely true—then the whole thing is a waste of time, does no good, and usually creates something negative.

      For example, consider a seasoned, extremely knowledgeable professor of doctoral students who has been teaching and gaining knowledge for fifty years. Let’s say this person knows more truth than anyone else in the university. Now, in addition to pure knowledge this person is also very, very wise. He is a fount of wisdom. He will know he knows more than anyone else, but he will also know he doesn’t know everything. He will know the more he knows the more he knows he doesn’t know. As a result, he will be humble, approachable, warm, understanding, will smile a lot, and will never look down upon his young students who possess only a mere fraction of his knowledge. He will know love is most important. He will show respect and honor even toward the young. He also knows such an approach and manner is MOST conducive to learning.

      I do believe the Lord anoints and gifts certain of His children to shed light and bring correction, and Christianity in general is in GREAT need of such. But I also believe the Lord anoints us to do it correctly, and until we understand love and respect for others, the very ones we are trying to assist, those who we must LOVE as ourselves, it would be better to remain silent.

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      • Amen, RJ. You hit the nail on the head. It’s like the Apostle Paul was inspired to write in 1 Corinthians 13 that exercising spiritual gifts and sacrifice without love is fruitless and an exercise in futility. That’s what struck me about this guy, that he is so legalistic, he doesn’t know what God’s love is about. It’s ironic, since the group theme is John 13:35. We are supposed to be learning about God’s love and what it means to be spirit-led. It will be a very interesting year. And you are right, respect is part of love.

        It is my fervent hope and prayer that all heed Christ’s Great Commandment and truly live it. And if I may be permitted a commercial for those blogs God writes through me, we have some wonderful teachings that have positively spiritually changed lives while learning about God’s love on both blogs.

        Hugs and blessings, friend.

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        • Thanks again, Sharon. It seems as though head knowledge is learned faster than its necessary complement, the love of God and how to apply it. I’m glad the Lord gives us time to mature. I like to say it’s a marathon and not a sprint!

          I do appreciate the ministry the Lord works with you and George. Blessings to you, too.

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  2. Thank you for sharing these anecdotes, RJ. It just brings home the question of what it really means to be a Christian, and I would quote St. Augustine — “the first test of the Christian life, and the second, and the third, is humility.” It is to be like Christ, who, though He was equal with God, thought it not something to be grasped at. He humbled himself to be born into this world like one of us. Humility, then, is the litmus test because the worldly spirit is the very antithesis of it, where pride, arrogance and self-confidence are highly prized, promoted, and encouraged.

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    • Thank you, Dee. That’s a very good word. The Lord revealed to me once that humility is a door. You state that it is the litmus test, and I agree. The Lord was humble for a very good reason. I believe He was the most humble, because it appears that the greater knowledge or position one may have, the greater the level of humility is demanded. Otherwise pride creeps in, sets in, and takes over. I also think this may be why the Lord told Paul in the beginning that he must suffer a lot. The apostle Paul acknowledged this later with much humility (2 Corinthians 12:7).

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  3. I just had to laugh at the picture you painted of the little banty rooster having a temper fit. Sadly, though, it happens all too often. I think I may even have done that once or twice. Blush.

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    • Thanks Linda. But I cannot see you in that guise! I still see very clearly the little man, ready to fight the world, the product of decades of praise with no apparent correcting voice. Again, this ridiculous notion of a single church leader with full power and the recipient of complete deference is the perfect picture of anti-Christian human idolatry, the so-called “Touch Not Mine Anointed” doctrine.

      And probably worst of all, for this stuff to happen in America where we are all free to think for ourselves and follow the Lord Jesus with no restrictions makes it that much worse. His community is composed of strong people with strong personalities and strong anointings who figure out how to get along and work together by possessing and showing His strong LOVE.

      Blessings to you my sister.

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