Posted by: Pastor Terry Hagedorn | July 4, 2010



Mark 4:15 “And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.”

It might just be a piece of candy–a swirled red and white disc of candy, flavored with peppermint, and wrapped in cellophane–to you. And, you might have been lulled into thinking of it as only something that satisfies a sweet tooth, soothes a scratchy throat, or sweetens the breath. However, that little mint becomes a deadly weapon in the hand of some people! These people are serial killers–of a sort–in your church! They do not kill people–directly. They kill the spirit of a service.

They come in both genders, all sizes, all ages, and all colors. They are either Christian or non-Christian. (Amazingly, the vast majority are Christian!) They slip into the services of your church armed and dangerous. Their weapons having been deftly concealed in a pocket or a purse. Even if your church had a metal detector, it would not stop their dastardly deeds. They would slip right through with their sucrose and cellophane weapon hidden somewhere on their person.

Who are they? What do they look like? How can one identify them? Well, that is not an easy task. Because, they look like me. They look like you. They even look like your uncle–or your grandmother! You cannot go by appearances. They just blend in. Then they pick off their innocent by-sitters–one by one.

How many times have I witnessed their mayhem while preaching from the pulpit or while listening from a pew to a guest preacher. Oh, the perpetrators would say that they are innocent–and, that they did not mean to kill anything, or anyone. Yet, isn’t that what they all say?

The only way that you can identify them is by their M.O. (Latin, modus operandi–i.e. “method of operation”). If you are going to catch them, then you are going to have to catch them in action. You ask, “How hard can it be to catch someone eating candy?” Dear soul, it is not that simple. The candy monster is not the only serial killer in the church. Basically the M.O.’s fall into four categories–which can be generally identified by: the counter/mumbler, the clipper/manicurist, the curator of memorabilia, and–worst of all the aforementioned candy monster.

The counter/mumbler, whose favorite books in the Bible are Numbers, I Chronicles, and II Chronicles, is the one who counts people, pews, hymnals, light fixtures, electrical outlets, knots in the wood, tiles, perforations in ceiling tiles, etc. They are a nuisance to all those seated around them. Because, although they have their head pointed in a forward direction, their head is noticeably askance–tilted just enough to discombobulate the earnest seeker. Also, they sometimes have to point as they count. Oh, they do not blatantly point a finger out in front of them. No! They use an overt head nod or little finger point from wherever their hand might be resting–i.e. neatly folded on the lap, around a wife’s shoulder, or resting on a Bible. The dead give away, however, is the occasional whispered slips, “one hundred nine… one hundred ten…one hundred ‘leven”. The really experienced counters can compute–in their head–the square footage of auditorium, the cubic footage of the building, and even the BTU index for the structure: i.e. If you were foolish enough to ask, then the response would be something like, “That’s four times the cubic footage for a well insulated building and six times for a poorly insulated one. This building needs 1.5 million BTU for its HACV (Heating/Air Conditioning, and Ventilation).” YET, if you were to ask Mr. or Mrs. Calculator what the morning message was about, he–or she–is as dumb as a mud fence

The clipper/manicurist works on his or her nails at a service. Somehow they can get multiple “clips” out of each and every nail. These folks need our prayer. Their nails are pretty; but, their souls are crooked, crusty, and coarse; and, they must be cursed with the fastest growing finger nails! Because, somehow, they are able to “clip…clip…clip!” during every service. They are real clip artists! Yet–make no mistake about it–it is an evil art! Only God knows how deadly a well placed “clip” can be. Without a doubt, it interferes with the working of the Holy Spirit. It is not that a little fifty-nine cent finger nail clipper is mightier than the Sword of the Spirit–or the Spirit. Rather, it is that the human heart is more tender than the finger nail. Do you ever think that the clipper/manicurist even considers the damaging effect that clipping has on the quick of a tender heart? Clipping nails, trimming nose hairs, plucking eyebrows or chin hairs, AND all other acts of personal hygiene–should be done in private. Please.

The curator of memorabilia uses the service to take a long leisurely stroll down memory lane. Hidden in the leaves of his or her otherwise unused Bible are hair clippings from children and grandchildren–neatly tied with an appropriate pink or blue ribbon, a card sent from a loved one–now long deceased, numerous obituary clippings, missionary prayer cards,ar, a smile, a pensive staring off into the past, a “hmm…”, or even a chuckle! The parade of curiosities from the leather bound menagerie kept the spectators–seated all around the curator–from getting anything from the message.

Finally, the worst of all, is the candy monster. This person is the worst because of the number affected and because their method is such cruel and unusual torture. A “clip…clip” might be as far ranging; BUT, it is over in a snippet. However, the cruel candy monster has perfected the unwrapping of a single piece of candy so that it is clearly heard by everyone–even the deaf!–and does it so slowly that even the most spiritual saint is distracted. The candy monster has learned to stagger the intervals between the “crinkles” of unwrapping the candy–varying them from a few milli-seconds to as much as a quarter minute. The most skilled candy monsters can thus extend the torture for minutes–perhaps as much as nine to ten minutes! (These people are the same ones who would pull a band-aid off a child’s scraped knee–one cell at a time! Or, if they were giving you an injection, they would take a minute and a half just pushing the needle in–and two minutes pulling it out! OR, if, while they were writing on a blackboard, the chalk started screeching, then they can stretch the screech out until everyone’s teeth are on edge–EVEN THOSE WHO HAVE DENTURES! Do you get the picture? Need I say more??) Has it never occurred to the candy monster to place–just prior to the service–a piece or two of candy in a clean handkerchief?

People should go to church to worship the LORD. They should sit quietly and attentively. It is disrespectful to God, His Word, the preacher, and your brothers and sisters in the Lord to be so disruptive.

Don’t be an accomplice to murder. Don’t be an impedi-mint to the Gospel. Don’t assist the Devil in stealing the Word from people’s hearts. Just once–don’t perform acts of personal hygiene in the service, don’t count anything, and don’t let your mind wander. Try going a whole hour without putting something in your mouth. And, who knows? You might get something from the service. Moreover, everyone else is more likely to get something!


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