A Chapel of a Different Kind

In the historic town of Rhinebeck, New York, stands a small country church
that attracts large crowds every night. What sets this church apart from
other congregations is not the Spirit of revival, but “spirits” of a
different kind. Gone are the pipe organ and familiar songs of past
generations. In their place are the musical strains of the jukebox. The Acts
of the apostles are illuminated at night by neon beer advertisements hung in
the windows, giving new meaning to “stained” glass. On any given day of the
week, a congregation of a different kind sits peacefully along flowered
walkways under brightly colored picnic umbrellas, unaware of the crisis of
eternity that faces them. This country church in upstate New York has been
turned into a chapel bar.
I’ve never had the courage to go in – not out of fear of what man may think,
but rather out of fear of what a holy God might do if He chose at that
particular moment to shorten His longsuffering nature. I confess that I have
been drawn to this monument of self-indulgence when my travel permits and ha
ve found it to be a place of profound spiritual growth.
You may question how anyone could be spiritually challenged by such an
offensive display. I understand your reaction. At first, I found myself
playing the role of Isaiah as I shed righteous tears over a community that
restricts zoning permits for fast-food establishments because of their
historic heritage yet allows a place of worship to be so blatantly
prostituted. I also resorted to lurking from sidewalks under the cover of
steepled shadows so as to glare down the glory of God on any pagan patron who
was unfortunate enough to catch my eye. I was a man on a mission to uphold
God’s purity. Merely speaking up for decency was for wimps! What God needed
to do, or so I thought, was to nuke the place!
Much to my surprise, I found out that the Holy Spirit hangs out at chapel
bars. I don’t mean to be irreverent, but tha’s the truth I discovered. One
day as I was driving by the “spot”, the Lord opened my eyes to see that
little country church from His perspective. He brought back the scriptural
story of Josiah the boy king who rebuilt another defiled place of worship (2
Chronicles 34-45). I recalled His mercy for a beloved people who traded their
affections for impotent gods and later found restoration in their brokenness
and sins from omnipotent Yahweh (2 Chronicles 7:14).
God then shifted my smug condemnation and outward gaze on brick and mortar to
my own heart, ”His living temple (2 Chronicles 6:16-18). And as I wept over
the sins that hung flippantly on the walls of my “church,” I saw the supreme
Act of Christ, the cross, illuminated through the windows of my soul
(Galatians 2:20). The restoration of this place of worship within my heart
had cost God the life of His only Son!
I am confident that the church in which I serve will never become a chapel
bar. Satan is more insidious than to attack so obviously. But I do feel that
each one of us needs to walk the hallways of our hearts, take inventory of
all that is unholy, and throw it out. If you fear this task to be too
difficult on your own, you’re right. Scripture encourages us in Romans 6 to
submit to the power of the Holy Spirit for victory over sin. Your life, your
worship, and your impact in the world for Christ will never be the same!
“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all
defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2
Corinthians 7:1).
Dan is a free-lance writer and can be reached at Dan Millheim

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