Summary: Uses Toby Keith’s song, "I Love this Bar" and the "Cheer’s" Theme song, to compare to the church and the need everyone has to belong.

“I Love This – Church!”

February 1, 2009

“How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.

Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. Selah

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” Psalm 84:1-7, 11

“I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD."

Psalm 122:1

I was a little reluctant about preaching this sermon. It seemed a little sacra religious to me to compare the church with a bar. But the Holy Spirit kept unfolding it in my mind. Even so, at one point I said, “I’m not going to preach this sermon! I’ll do something else!” But the Holy Spirit said, “Yes you are. This is what I want to say this week. If Elijah could cook food with manure and Hosea could compare the Church to a prostitute – you can compare it to a bar.” And I couldn’t sleep thinking about it. I said, “Lord, let me sleep for a few more hours!” He didn’t. Finally I got up and started writing.

So here’s what started it. I had my radio tuned to the country and western channel instead of the Christian channel, 94.1, where Tim is the DJ. I heard the song Toby Keith sings called, “I love this Bar”. Here’s how the first verse goes:

We got winners, we got losers. Chain smokers and boozers. And we got yuppies, we got bikers

We got thirsty hitchhikers. And the girls next door dress up like movie stars. Hmm, hmm, hmm I love this bar

We got cowboys, we got truckers, Broken-hearted fools and suckers. And we got hustlers, we got fighters.

Early birds and all-nighters. And the veterans talk about their battle scars. Hmm, hmm, hmm I love this bar

[Chorus:] I love this bar. It’s my kind of place. Just walkin’ through the front door. Puts a big smile on my face

It ain’t too far, come as you are, Hmm, hmm, hmm I love this bar.”

Now, I have to tell ya, about 40 years ago I spent some time at a few bars. None of them were like Toby Keith’s bar. There was a lot of anger and sadness and hopelessness. But the song illustrates a deep seated longing in every heart. And that is a place to belong; a place that puts a big smile on your face when you walk through the front door; a place where everyone knows your name – and likes you. Here’s another song about a bar. Remember “Cheers”.

“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got. Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot. Wouldn’t you like to get away? All those nights when you’ve got no lights, the check is in the mail. And your little angel hung the cat up by it’s tail. And your third fiancé didn’t show!

Sometimes you wanna go.. Where everybody knows your name. and they’re always glad you came. You wanna be where you can see, the troubles are all the same. you wanna be where everybody knows your name

You roll out of bed, Mr. Coffee is dead, the morning’s looking bright. And your shrink ran off to Europe, and didn’t even write. And your husband wants to be a girl! Be glad there’s one place in the world -

Where everybody knows your name. and they’re always glad you came. You wanna go where people know,

people are all the same. You wanna go where everybody knows your name.”

So the Holy Spirit started talking to me about the church and bar songs. Can you handle it? Here’s a few things I learned. First – the disclaimer. Those songs romanticize the bars and beer joints. They are not like the songs. They are dangerous in so many ways. Their purpose is to sell alcohol. They don’t care about you. They want your money. If alcohol is addictive and destructive and will ruin your life – it doesn’t manner to them – if they can get your money. If you spend your check boozing it up instead of taking care of your family – they don’t care. If you spend your time at the bar sipping suds instead of spending time with your mate or family – they don’t care. They don’t care if you destroy your life and neglect your family and you and your kids all wind up in hell. They are there to separate you from your money. Those songs are all lies. Paul says the devil comes as an ‘angel of light’. Those songs make bars and beer joints sound pretty appealing – but so is a worm to a fish – until the hook is set.

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