Sunday, November 14, 2010
"Church is boring...it is sooooooo booorrriiiinnnnggg!" I remember saying those words as a teenager many, many times. I also remember when we would have week long revivals, which is how I learned how long eternity was, by my teenage calculations, having to go to church every single night seemed to last for an eternity. We went to church every Sunday morning and Sunday night, which explains the fascination I have today with the tv show "Bonanza". You see, every Monday morning during the first recess at school the guys would get together and talk about "Bonanza"...and Hoss and Little Joe, and Pa Cartwright...and I had nothing to contribute, because I had to go to church on Sunday nights, and that is when Bonanza came on. My response was always a depressing sounding, "I didn't get to see it...I had to go to church."
I could not think of any worse punishment than having to sit on a hard wooden pew (anyone remember those?), and listen to some "old" guy go on and on about stuff that I felt had no application to me or to my life at the time. This is why I know God has a sense of humor...because you fast forward several years and here I am...the "old" guy that other people listen to now.
Of course, my opinion of church has changed over the years as well. I not only enjoy, but look forward to meeting and worshiping with my brothers and sisters every chance I get! I love to hear preachers and teachers break open the Word of God and how it is active and living and breathing! I no longer see church as something I HAVE to go to, now I see it as something I GET to go to!
For some reading this, maybe you still find church boring. Don't feel bad...I get it. As I grew from childhood to my teenage years and into adulthood, nothing much changed...I still found church boring. But what I have learned through the years is that it is not church that is boring...it is us. God (and His Word) are magnificent, spectacular, awesome, and more exciting than we can imagine...but we settle for so much less and because we do, church becomes boring.
This week I ran across some principles that if you will apply them to your life, I believe you will leave "boring" church behind you, and enter into a worship service and time of teaching, preaching and learning that will not only change your life, but change the life of your church. My thanks and appreciation go out to Greg Laurie for these nine listener principles.
1. Support your pastor with prayer before and after the message.
2. Bring your Bible.
3. If you know the Scripture passage in advance, read it and become familiar with it.
4. Prepare your heart with prayer to accept God's Word and that you would be open to its truth.
5. Look for ways that you will use the key Scripture or ideas in your life in the next week.
6. Seek to hear the truth for your life, not someone else's life.
7. Listen carefully and think how you would share this message with someone else. Could you summarize the message clearly?
8. Take careful notes. Don't assume you will remember everything that is said. Also, write down the scripture reerences to look up later.
9. Trust God for the results in your life.
Doing what I can to eliminate boring church services forever,
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Acts 5:12 "The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people, and ALL THE BELIEVERS used to meet togethr in Solomon's Colonnade." (Emphasis added)
All. Three letters. One simple word. So why do we have such a problem with it?
I know, you're thinking that we don't have a problem with it, but as a pastor it is my experience that we do have a problem with this word.
If you don't believe me, take a look at your church. When was the last time ALL the members were there? When was the last time ALL the members came together for a Bible study? Now some might say that since their church is of a large size that they have several different services so there is no way that all of the members could be there at once...but even so, when was the last time on one Sunday that all the members showed up even if it was spread over all of the services?
In this country we tend to take attending worship services as not a big deal. Yeah, we go if we want, but if not, no bigee....it will be there next week.
But the early church was not like that. Take a look at how serious they took meeting together:
Acts 1:14 "They ALL JOINED TOGETHER CONSTANTLY in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers."
Acts 2:1 "When the day of Pentecost came, THEY WERE ALL TOGETHER in one place."
Acts 2:42 "THEY DEVOTED THEMSELVES to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."
Acts 2:46 "EVERY DAY THEY CONTINUED TO MEET together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts"
Have we forgotten this in our country, in our culture?
I hear from Christians all the time how they want revival, and I do believe that when revival comes, then God's people will want to come together to worship...on the other hand, until God's people are committed to meeting together to worship I don't believe revival will be here.
Sadly, this has been going on for a long, long time. It rears it’s ugly head from time to time. J.C. Ryle ( May 10, 1816 - June 10, 1900 who was the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool) said, “For another thing, let me warn all careless members of churches…You live on year after year as if there was no battle to be fought with sin, the world, and the devil. You pass through life a smiling, laughing, gentlemanlike or ladylike person, and behave as if there was no devil, no heaven and no hell. Oh, careless churchman, or careless dissenter, careless Episcopalian, careless Presbyterian, careless Independent, careless Baptist, awake to see eternal realities in their true light! Awake and put on the armor of God! Awake and fight hard for life! Tremble, tremble and repent!”
Oh, that we might unite in the spread of the gospel, in time spent in prayer…in reaching out to the needy, in going out into the fields that are ripe for harvest, in holding up one another when we cannot walk any longer, in lifting our voices in praise and worship to God the creator of the sun and the moon, who gives us our very lives!
For too many the church is only something to do, someplace to go as long as you don’t have anything better to do.
About now, someone will cry out that all this talk of not missing church sounds like legalism. Well, maybe it is...but only in the same way that it is expected for a husband to come home to his wife each evening...only in the same way that it is expected for a skydiver to put on a parachute...only in the same way that it is for a deep sea diver to strap on an oxygen tank.
The church is not the church of one...it is the church of many. As a pastor of a small but growing church, let me cry out to you today....your church needs you! We need you when we come together, we need to worship with you, we need to study the Word with you, we need to pray with you.
I cannot help but wonder how believers in countries where they are persecuted for meeting together would perceive us, how they would look at our faith? What would believers in other countries think of us? Those followers of Christ who can only imagine meeting in a well lit building with protection from the elements and cooling and heating…and the freedom to meet and study the Word, and yet they see us coming together when it is convenient?
How will the world ever take the church serious, if the church doesn't take itself serious? How will the world ever see the need to worship Jesus if His own followers don't see the need to meet together?
Why has the word, "all" slipped from the vocabulary of most believers today?
On one hand, some will say that the answer to that question is varied one and has many layers and is tough to answer.
I don't think it is that hard to answer...I just think we don't like to look at what the answer really is.
The reason we have a problem with "all", the reason "all" has slipped from our vocabulary is because we "all" don't want take corporate worship serious. We don't want to go to church services. We just plain don't want to.
Now, this is not addressed to those who have to work when worship time arrives, or those who may be on vacation, and of course it is not addressed to those that are sick. But how many of truly HAVE to work during worship time and how many CHOOSE to work during that time? How many vacations do you really need to take that fall on Sundays? How many times have we gotten sick on Sunday morning...only to feel much better by two or three in the afternoon?
Come on people, let's at least be honest with ourselves.
Maybe you disagree with me. Maybe you think I'm way out in left field with this one...well, then prove me wrong...and show up for church services this Sunday...and every Sunday that you possibly can.
Ok, so there's that...hope to see you ALL in church on Sunday!
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Ok, I am really, really, really, really sorry. If the picture of the sad dog with the "sorry" sign doesn't convince you, then I don't know what will.
In all seriousness, I am very sorry that waaaaay back in August I blogged about having a drawing to increase traffic on the blog...and then I dropped the ball big time.
But, I'm back, and here are the winners of the book drawing:
You will need to send me your mailing address so I can mail you the book. Send your address to my email: firstname.lastname@example.org, and let me know what book you want. The books will be given out as they are requested, so the best thing is to send me your first choice, second choice and then third choice.
The books available are:
"The Last Christian" by David Gregory (a novel of the future)
"Crave" by Chris Tomlinson (wanting so much more of God)
"A Tale Of Two Sons" by John macArthur (the inside story of a father, his sons, and shocking murder)
And now, because I feel really bad about all of this, I am going to offer another book giveaway.
Check this out:
Yes, I will be giving away a copy of the new book "Think" by John Piper.
I will give this away on the first of December. All you have to do to be entered into this drawing is be a follower of the blog. That will get you one entry. After that....you will get another entry for every comment you leave. I promise, to blog more often...hopefully daily, and to not neglect the giveaway this time.
I'll be back sometime tomorrow with a new post.
Still following Jesus, one step at a time,