Finding the Right Church

The following article is completely satirical…or is it?

8 Steps To Finding The Right Church
Statistics indicate that if you live near a major metropolitan area, there are literally three million churches in your neighborhood alone, making your choice of where to worship each Sunday that much more difficult.

Thankfully, the variety of churches also means there’s probably a church designed to your exact specifications and built from the ground up to cater specifically to you.

The Babylon Bee is here to help you whittle down the search with this checklist of essentials to look for in a potential church match, and hopefully get you plugged into a congregation sometime in the next decade or two.

1.) Anything less than hand-crafted pour-over coffee is a red flag. Jesus died for the church, and yet they’re only able to muster up an unevenly brewed pot of drip coffee? Puh-lease. This is an indication that they don’t care about the gospel.

2.) Make sure the worship band only plays the genre you like. If you’re into industrial metalcore and the band’s playing late-90s soft rock, it’s time to split. Remember what worship is really about: you and your modern sensibilities and preferences.

3.) If the preacher makes you feel uncomfortable, run. Preachers, above all else, should refrain from sounding preachy. If he starts calling you to self-examination and repentance, make the emergency signal to your spouse, go get the kids, and book it out of there to the nearest restaurant.

4.) Speaking of the preacher: if he doesn’t have at least 20,000 Twitter followers, you’re in the wrong place. You need a church that has a pastor who is not only well-known and cool, but who also specializes in short, sweet, entertaining messages. Look him up on Twitter and verify that he has at least 20,000 followers to confirm both of these attributes.

5.) The youth room must have a fully stocked video game arcade. We’re talking the classics: Galaga, Pac-Man, NBA Jam. This is a non-negotiable if you want your kids to grow up in a Christian environment they love and not walk away from the faith in college.

6.) Shop around for the church with the very best swag to give away. A free donut and complimentary coffee are really the bare minimum at this point. What you’re looking for is a church giving out free T-shirts, stickers, aluminum coffee mugs, carabiners, and those cool pens that can write in space. God gave us every spiritual blessing in Christ—the least the church can do is load up His people with some nice swag.

7.) Pick a church where everyone pretends to be happy. If anyone breaks down sobbing or insinuates that they need prayer for some sort of malady or ill fortune, everyone will understand if you excuse yourself to check out the other church down the road. You want a place where no one will burden you with their personal struggles. You don’t need that negativity in your life!

8.) Remember: it’s not you, it’s them. It helps to keep things in perspective: your specific perception of what a church should look like is probably correct, while their congregation is just jacked up if they don’t fit into that vision. Make sure to let them know this on a comment card or email to the pastor after you leave, so they’ll be edified by your brief presence.

There you have it. Now you have no excuse. Go find your perfect church and get plugged in!
http://babylonbee.com/news/8-steps-finding-right-church/

The Babylon Bee is a satirical website dedicated to mocking everyone. I am in no way promoting them. However, this “humor” hits so very close to what you may hear when you ask what folks are looking for in a church. As the “bee” mocks modern day denominationalism, modern day denominationalism mocks God. Every point of error in this article has been preached from this pulpit.

FOOD? What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God? 1Corinthians 11:22

MUSIC? Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16

SERMONS? Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 2Tim 4:2

PREACHERS? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 1Corinthians 3:4

FUN / FROLIC? And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42

WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME? the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 1Timothy 3:15b

BEARING BURDENS? Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

SELF DIRECTED WORSHIP? These things seem to have a sort of wisdom in self-ordered worship [BBE] Colossians 2:23

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Getting Ready for Worship

One Sunday morning I woke up the 3 boys to get them ready for worship. They were quite a bit older at this point, so I just gave the one notification. I then went and got myself ready, had a cup of coffee, some breakfast and looked over my lesson.

I knew the boys weren’t getting ready, but today was lesson day. You see, we had been through this routine several hundred times since Diane and I became Christians. We had been attending Sunday morning worship “religiously” (pardon the expression) ever since.

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. [Hebrews 10:25]

We had gotten into “the same thing happens every Sunday” routine. But today was lesson day, the day the boys would learn that we were going to worship NO MATTER WHAT. There was no alternative, no excuses, no other activities scheduled. This is what we do, had been doing and plan to continue to do for as long as it’s within our power to do. They weren’t ready for worship, and today was lesson day.

So, I went to the door, called to them and said, “I’m Leaving, and so are you!” Now there was some activity, a lot of it. You see, in our house, skipping worship just wasn’t an option. Oh sure, when one of us was legitimately sick we might miss a service, but not out of habit. If you were well, you went. So, we went. The 3 boys hustled to the car, “church clothes” in hand, unwashed, bed head and all. We arrived alive and on time with a curious look or two. We worshiped. Here’s the rest of the story; we were never unprepared for worship again, NEVER.

THEN I HEARD ABOUT THIS ONE FELLOW.

Years have since passed, the boys have grown up and moved out, and I heard another similar story of a family who was always struggling to make it to worship on time. This family had children too. This family had to hustle to get everyone together and moving in the right direction. Mom needed to get a roast on, Dad going over his bible lesson for he was leading a class that morning. The children were behind on memorizing their weekly bible verses. You know, the “same thing happens every Sunday” routine.

During one of the more hectic mornings, spilled milk, whiny children, stressed out dad and minutes before they HAD TO LEAVE, mom said, “don’t worry, we’ve got time. I set the clocks ahead 15 minutes because I knew this would happen.” Dad looked at her with disbelief and said, “I noticed the clocks were 15 minutes ahead, so I set them back to the right time.” Panic followed as the family piles into the minivan to race to be 10 minutes late for worship.

Upon their arrival, the parking lot was empty save the old sedan of one of the more senior members who was getting out of his car to walk to the building. They had no idea what was happening. They pulled up beside him and he says, “Hello, I see you’ve decided to get a head start on worship this morning.” Dad asks, “how is that, we thought we were 10 minutes late.” “Ha ha” the old man laughed, “you must have forgotten that today was the end of Daylight Saving Time and didn’t set your clock back 1 hour, YOUR 50 MINUTES EARLY!”

After the embarrassed chuckles dad asked, “But why are you hear so early?” The wise old man said, “I’m always here early to spend some quiet time in prayer to GET MYSELF READY FOR WORSHIP. Why don’t you join me?”

GETTING READY FOR WORSHIP

That phrase means something so much different than what it ought to mean. Getting ready for worship means, for most of us, we take a shower, get some nice clothes and fix our hair so we can be presentable to the brethren. But that’s not what God is looking at when we worship. When men are looking on the outer appearance, He is looking at the heart.

for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” [1Samuel 16:17b]

Oh sure, there is a clothing that is appropriate for the worship, and we ought to get those things ready for worship. However, let us never be found guilty of not having our HEARTS ready for worship. Jesus said,

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” [Matthew 15:8]

Those hectic mornings do little to get our hearts ready for worship. Often, they lead to car fights. You know, the fight you have on the way someplace, that only verbally ends when you arrive. We can tell. We can see it in your faces. Oh, don’t worry, we have them too. All of us have at some point in our lives, and I hope we’re working on them.

Let us come to worship with HEARTS and body’s ready to worship. Do our bible lessons earlier in the week, lay out our clothes the night before or set an earlier alarm. As our brother Mike often says, “As Christians we know there’s no better place to be on a Sunday morning.”

Every NT Scripture authorizing Instrumental Music in the Worship

Years ago, as we were beginning our walk as children of God, we had a few ‘why’ questions. Why don’t we have crosses on the building? Why does everyone correct us when we say, “going to church?” One of the why questions was, “why do we sing Acapella music without instrumental accompaniment during worship?”

The gospel preacher at this congregation would always give us a bible answer to all our questions, but this time, the bible answer was so different than all the other answers he had given. He said, “I’m going to read to you every single passage in the Bible authorizing instrumental music in New Testament worship.” And he did.

The lesson was so powerful that I have used it myself when others have asked this question and I want to share it with you. The chart below lists every single passage in the Bible authorizing instrumental music in New Testament worship.

New Testament Scriptures Authorizing Instrumental Music in the Worship

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(this page left blank intentionally)

 

That’s it, every single passage. You may be saying, “but the chart is blank” and I would say, “yup, because that is what God has said about instrumental music in New Testament worship, NOTHING.”

Speak when the Bible speaks, and remain silent when it’s silent

There can be no clear instructions, no command keeping if we don’t have a respect for silence. “The bible doesn’t say I can’t” is NOT a valid reason to play an instrument during worship of God. If silence doesn’t restrict our actions, then we can’t get upset when Mcd’s gets our order wrong. All they need to say is, “you didn’t say we couldn’t.”

God The Holy Spirit told us what He wants in our worship regarding music, VOCAL. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;” “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” [Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16]

When you tell your child to make his bed, and later you find out he made it and painted it, are you going to accept, “you didn’t say I couldn’t?” Certainly not! Why? Because what is expressly stated eliminates all other options and additions. Imaging trying to give instructions if you also must include all the things you DON’T WANT.

Some will say, “Well David used instruments to worship God.” Really, you’re going to follow an OT example? [Colossians 2:14] Are you going to also slaughter bulls and goats, because that’s what David did? Here’s a question for you, did God authorize David’s use of the instrument? David also had multiple wives, can I do that? What did God think of David’s use of the instrument? God rebuked His people in Amos 6:5 saying, “Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, And invent for yourselves musical instruments like David;” It seems God was no more happy with David’s instrumental music than He was with the multiplying of wives [Acts 17:30], and you want to use that for permission? Let’s just do this, respect what God has commanded, and leave what He hasn’t said where He left it…SILENT.

I Can Worship Alone

We’ve all heard someone say, “I don’t need to go to church to worship God.” Or, “I worship God alone, because all organized religion is wrong anyway.” Others will say, “Our entire life is worship, so it doesn’t matter if I go to church or not.” Is there any truth in these statements?

For you to offer these folks better answers, below are 7 Reasons why Public worship is better…

  1. It’s Commanded. This should end the discussion, but in this day and age, the commands of our Lord are often ignored.

John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him MUST worship him in spirit and in truth.

Matthew 18:20 For where TWO or THREE are GATHERED TOGETHER in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

 

To do something “in the name of the Lord” is to do it by His command or with His permission. Doing whatever we want and attributing it to God is the sin of presumption [Deuteronomy 18:20, Acts 15:24].

  1. It’s what the 1st Century Christians did. One of the ways we understand the commands of our Lord is through the examples of the Apostles and the first Christians as revealed in the New Testament. They gathered on each 1st day of the week.

Acts 20:7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

1Corinthians 11:20-34 When ye come together therefore into one place… [1Cor 16:1-2]

  1. The only time we are authorized to take the Lord’s Supper. Paul wrote to the Corinthian brethren about their perverting the Lord’s Supper. He reminded them of the command of the Lord on this matter.

1Corinthians 11:23-26 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

  1. We are strengthened when we come together. Paul warned the brethren that many are weak and dying because of failure to worship properly.

1Corinthians 11:29-30 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

  1. Not worshipping together is called “FORSAKING THE ASSEMBLING.” If private worship is acceptable, then there could not be a forsaking of an assembly.

Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

  1. We teach and admonish one another in public worship. One of the five acts of worship is to sing (A Capella) psalms, hymns and spiritual songs for the purpose of teaching each other. Your voice is needed.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

  1. Private, in lieu of public worship is vain worship. Any time we replace the command of our Lord with our own, our efforts become worthless. Jesus warned us to always do His will.

Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

When we’re sick, or circumstances beyond our control, prevent us from attending the local body of Christ, we have not sinned. It’s when we have opportunity and willfully choose to skip it, or replace it with a private worship that we have disobeyed the Lord.

One more thing…If we’ve failed to obey the gospel [2Thess 1:8-9] no amount of worship will help us. Worship is only acceptable when it’s done by the FAITHFUL and is AUTHORIZED. On the back panel of this bulletin answers the question, “What Must I Do to Be Saved?”

– Spencer

Fake ‘Good’ News

There is much in the world of politics being called “FAKE NEWS.” Although that’s a kitschy catchphrase, the concept is hardly new. We can trace it all the way back to the very beginning when the serpent tempted Eve with his own FAKE NEWS on God’s command. “Ye shall NOT surely die.” [Gen 3:4 emphasis mine].

In Deuteronomy, Moses warned the children of Israel not to change God’s word. “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” [Deut 4:2]. In the New Testament, John as given the same warning in Revelation 22:18-19.

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. [Ecclesiastes 1:9]

As you can see, “FAKE NEWS” has been around a very long time and it’s especially troubling when it enters the realm of teaching God’s word. We are told, in Mark 16:15, to preach the “gospel” (which literally means ‘good news’), but today we have so many folks teaching a “FAKE GOOD NEWS” which Paul called a PERVERTED GOSPEL. [Galatians 1:7-9]. You won’t believe what people are teaching today about the Gospel of Jesus…

JUST ASK JESUS INTO YOUR HEART. This perversion is the most common “FAKE GOOD NEWS” that I hear. This alteration to the Gospel message follows the exact same pattern Satan used in Genesis 3 by just adding a simple 3 letter word…NOT. In Mark 16:16 it says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;” However, those being deceived are being told, he that believeth and is NOT baptized shall be saved. It’s as plain as day, Satan’s devices are being utilized by those promoting error, just add the word NOT.

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” [2 Corinthians 2:11]

ONCE YOU’RE SAVED, YOU’RE ALWAYS SAVED. Although this is a wonderful idea, it is nowhere taught in God’s word. It is true that a Christian can have assurance of eternal life, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” [1 John 5:13], but it never teaches that you can never walk away from it. This is the warning given by the Hebrew writer,

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” [Hebrews 3:12]

GOD DOESN’T CARE HOW YOU WORSHIP IF YOUR HEART IS IN IT. Another way this “FAKE GOOD NEWS” is propagated is with this statement, “I DON’T SEE ANYTHING WRONG WITH IT.” Both statements place the speaker in the position of God!! Just because you can’t see anything wrong with it doesn’t make it scriptural. The only way you can know what God care’s about is if you read what He revealed. Do these people even know that it’s possible to worship in vain?

But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” [Matthew 15:9]

GOD WANTS YOU TO BE HAPPY… Lastly, for the sake of this article, this piece of “FAKE GOOD NEWS” is probably the most deceiving. Everything about this statement sounds great. To argue against it poorly is to sound like you’re advocating that God wants us to be unhappy. What people forget is that sin almost always looks attractive. God’s word says sin can be, “pleasurable” in Hebrews 11:25; “enticing” in Colossians 2:4 & Proverbs 1:10. God has given us wonderful blessing to enjoy [1 Timothy 6:17], but Satan has taken these pleasures and perverted them with his lies to turn us away from serving God. Our Father in Heaven DOES want us to be happy, and has given us instructions through His word on how to have joy in this life.

Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” [2 John 1:9-11]

Friends, my hope is that all of you want to go to heaven to be with the Lord. I do too, but no one shall get to heaven by believing the “FAKE GOOD NEWS.” I know that you love God. He sure does love you, [John 3:16]. He sent His Son, Jesus, to reconcile us back to Himself and I know you love Jesus too. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” He is the only way. [John 14:4-15].

What do I do now?

The Franklin St church of Christ in Borger, Tx

IT IS WITH GREAT joy that we announce a new sister in Christ, Margie. Just as there is joy in the heart of the one who obeys the gospel, there is also much joy in heaven and we are also full of joy for her [Luke 15:7, 10].

After a person obeys the gospel, the most oft asked question is, “what do I do now?” However, this question is asked by both the new convert AND the members of the local congregation. The new convert, full of joy and gratitude, has a desire to serve and to do what is right. The older members want to help them, but where do you begin?

For the answer, let us turn to Acts 2, the place where the church of Christ began.

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. That’s where we are with Margie, and all others who obeyed the gospel recently (a young man was also baptized into Christ on the same day.) Nobody joins the church; the Lord adds to the church [47].

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Here’s where we find our answer to the question, “what do I do next?”

Continue in the apostles’ doctrine. The Apostles’ doctrine is Christ’s doctrine. Jesus said to the Apostles, that in addition to making disciples, as one who has all authority, teach them “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” [Mat 28:19-20]. Paul said about his letters, “let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” [1Cor 14:37]

So, the first thing we need to do is to continue to learn through study of the Scriptures what Jesus expects from us. The most effective way to do this is for the new convert and the “old” members to get together and study the scriptures. We need to note that “continue” means to do them. It’s not enough to learn what Jesus wants, we must obey Him [John 14:15]. We can also learn when we gather to worship on the first day of the week.

And Fellowship and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. The new Christians worshiped together. They had fellowship, which means that they were in partnership with one another. This partnership begins when we, “all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” [1Cor 1:10]. The partnership also includes the collection of money for the work of the church. (As you continue to study, you’ll begin to understand the work God has given the church is to spread the Gospel, Teach the saints and practice limited benevolence). The Philippians gave money to spread the gospel, and were in fellowship in the gospel [Phil 1:3-7].

One of the parts of worship (there are 5 activities in sound worship) the disciples ‘broke bread’ which is to remember the death of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Supper” the first Christians met on the 1st day of the week, Sunday, where they would take unleavened bread and fruit of the vine to commemorate His death. The Apostle Paul wrote the early Christians how to properly observe this important part of our worship [1Cor 11:23-34].

They also prayed. Prayer is the privilege of the saints. Christians are called saint in the Scriptures [Rom 1:7; Eph 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1]. In obeying the gospel through baptism, we have “put on Christ” [Gal 3:27] and have been given access through Him to the “throne of grace” [Heb 4:16]. Prayer is an incredible part of becoming a child of God. We know that God does not listen to sinners [John 9:31] but He hears us!

God is not our “genie in a bottle,” to gift us with everything we want like a spoiled child. Rather, He wants to help us in our time of need. It says in Hebrews 4:16; “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Temptation doesn’t stop when we become Christians, neither do troubles & pains, “but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” [1Cor 10:13]. So, all Christians need to pray.

Finally, let us note one more thing from Acts 2…

47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. As you begin your journey as a new Christian, and every Christian, let us never forget from whom we received the gift of grace. We received it from God through Christ Jesus [Eph 2:8-10]. May we never forget, may it never grow old and may we never grow tired of praising God for His indescribable gift.

Thanks be unto God for his indescribable gift.

2 Corinthians 9:15

Memorial Day

Do This In Remembrance…

MONDAY marks an important holiday for our country. It’s a day we take time to remember the people who have died while serving in the country’s armed forces defending the freedoms we often take for granted.

Unfortunately, it has become less about remembering and more about hot dogs, picnics and sleeping in. Until we became blue star parents we spent the holiday in much the same way. When two of our sons served simultaneously in Afghaninstan, the concern for their lives made us take notice of holidays such as this one. Fortunately, our sons returned safe and sound, but so many other’s children did not. It’s for them we take time to remember.

It’s sad to think that many, if not most, will not even pause to consider the cost of their freedom. It has become a day off, not to reflect, rather a day of revelry.

Do This In Remembrance of Me…

The church of Christ has a memorial day. It was instituted by our Savior on the night He was betrayed, and then observed in the church He bought with His own blood [Mat 26:26-29; Acts 20:28].

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. [1Corinthians 11:23-25]

Rather than being an annual observance, the first century saints observed this memorial supper each week… “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them…” [Acts 20:7].

Even the first century saints neglected this memorial, turning it into a common meal and neglecting the ‘remembrance in me.’ The Apostle Paul rebuked this perversion when he wrote, “What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.” [1Corinthians 11:22]

Monday is a day to remember the soldiers who gave their lives in service for our country. Sunday, however, is the Lord’s Day, the day that Christians come together to worship, to pray, to sing, to learn, to have fellowship (to lay by in store) and to remember the Lord’s Death. When we take this supper, we “proclaim the Lord’s death til He come.”

Wouldn’t it be sad if folks today started to view Sunday (the 1st day of the week) as just another day off? Wouldn’t it be sad if folks treated the Lord’s Day as a day for hot dogs, picnics and sleeping in? Wouldn’t it be sad if folks started asking, “why do I have to go to church?” Wouldn’t it be sad if folks stopped observing the Lord’s Supper every week? Wouldn’t it be sad if folks looked forward to playing games at the worship rather than meditating on the incredible price paid for our freedom from sin?

May it never be so, but alas…

Is church a pill?

A couple of things first. I’m referring to the weekly assembly on Sunday when I say ‘church’, since that is how much of the world uses it. The scriptures clearly teach that the church is actually the people. [1Cor 12:14]

When I say ‘pill’ I’m referring to the idea of a prescription but could just as easily work as “something disagreeable that must be swallowed”.

Do we treat church like a pill? 

Many folks take pills to treat some illness, and in most cases, they seek the pill rather than change the underlying behavior that caused the condition. Take diet pills as an example. For many, rather than reduce their calorie intake, increase their exercise and eat better quality food they will take a pill as if it will solve their condition.

That’s what I mean when I ask, “do we treat church like a pill?” Do we believe we can act ungodly all week long, and if we take a pill (church attendance), that our sinful condition will go away?

Please understand what I am saying. The weekly assembly of God’s people is a necessity for continuing in the Apostles doctrine and shouldn’t be forsaken [Heb 10:25; Acts 20:7; 1Cor 16:2], but it is not a ‘pill’ one takes to offset our bad behavior and sinful heart.

James wrote; “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” [James 1:23-24]

Here’s a question for you, how long after assembling with the saints before you revert to your sinful conduct. 24 hours or 24 seconds? I must confess that I’ve been guilty of this as well. For my family, we had screaming car fights before arriving to the assembly, acting all lovey dovey during the worship, then picking up where we left off with the battle as soon as we got back into the car.

How to take a pill

When you’re given a prescription from a doc, he also gives you a list of things to change. The weekly assembly can be viewed in much the same way. The lesson, prayers, songs, our giving and the Lord’s Supper all have an ability to teach us and remind us what manner of person we ought to be.

The medications we take, very often, would be much more effective if we also modified our behaviors that caused the illness. Without the modification of behavior we will remain sick and possibly die. Paul said something similar to the church at Corinth; “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” [1 Corinthians 11:28-30]

Church attendance should remind us of the sacrificial gift of Christ, and the promise of His return when He will gather up the saints and destroy the world.

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,” [2Peter 3:11]

 

2 Responses to every sermon

I’ve found that there are two basic responses to every sermon. I’ve also spoken to other Gospel Preachers and they have come to a similar conclusion.

Walk out or Walk forward

These responses can be literally walking out of the auditorium or coming forward to the front to confess your sin in a public manner. They can also be done with your mind. So often folks, myself included, walk out or walk forward in our minds as we listen.

WALKING OUT

Walking out on a sermon, whether in your mind or physically getting up and leaving, happens for a variety of reasons…

You’re distracted – You’re sitting there, hot, tired and hungry thinking about lunch. Hoping the sermon is short, you begin taking steps to prevent yourself from falling asleep. If you’re someplace else in your mind, it matters very little whether the speaker is dynamic or boring. Sometimes you’re distracted by the goings on of other members shifting and squirming in their seats.

The remedy for this type of walking out is simple. Take notes. Engage your mind with the theme of the sermon. I have personally found this to be most effective.

Another tactic is to get some rest. So many of us stay up late and fail to plan for our Sunday morning worship. I’m guilty too. Saturday is a day off for most folks, and we just want to enjoy as much of our weekend as possible. I get it, I’ve been there. Eutychus in Acts 20 had the same trouble. If you’re going to stay up late, here’s a little tip that may help you feel more alert in the morning. Plan your sleep length in 90min cycles. 1.5, 3, 4.5 or 6 hours. Our bodies have up and down sleep cycles and we are at the top of the cycle [close to being awake] every 90 minutes. Do an internet search for sleep cycles and you’ll see what I mean.

Another reason we walk out is…

We think it’s about someone else – Yup, I’ve done this one too. While listening to a sermon you say to yourself, “self, I hope so-n-so is listening to this.” It reminds me of Nathan telling David about a man that had stolen a lamb in 2Sam 12:1-5. David became angry and demanded justice for the victim. However, look at what Nathan did in vs7, “You are the man!” Rather than trying to assign a lesson to another, we should be examining ourselves to see if it applies [1Co 11:28; 2Co 13:5].

Lastly, one reason we walk out is

We disagree – It’s ok to disagree, but be careful about HOW you disagree. Is your disagreement based on scriptures? Will you “try the spirits whether they are of God:” [1Jo 4:1]? Or, are you just disagreeing because you or a family member are committing the sin under consideration and don’t see anything wrong with it?

You might say to yourself, ‘that’s just his opinion’. Are we entitled to have an opinion on scriptural matters? Some people have said, “I know what it says, but I don’t like it.” When it comes to sin & doctrine, as enumerated in God’s word, we have no choice but to accept it and to obey it. Nothing in scripture is up for a personal interpretation that suits your opinion, [2Pe 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation].

If the speaker is wrong, then go to him about it privately. Perhaps he misspoke, or you misunderstood, but bring BCV [book chapter verse]. We can both be wrong, or one of us can be wrong and the other right, but we cannot BOTH BE RIGHT. I want to go to heaven and you would be a great friend if you show me where I was mistaken so that I could make correction.

It’s for this reason some folks church hop. They find the teaching to be contrary to their personal desires and go searching for a place of worship that suits their tastes. Or they stop worshiping altogether. This is not new, Paul warned that there are some whose ‘god is their belly’ [Philippians 3:19]. He also said, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” [2Timothy 4:3].

There may be other reasons why folks “WALK OUT” on a sermon, but my desire is that we all “grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ [2Peter 3:18].

Where is your mind when you “WALK OUT” on a sermon?

Next week we’ll examine ‘walk forward’.

What if I don’t want to?

IMAGINE WHAT THE world would be like if we only did those things they wanted to do. What if we only ate the things we wanted to eat or got up only when we wanted to and only did things that felt good?

Actually, I’ve done that on the food side of things, eating only what I wanted, and the results are devestating. Weight gain, health and heart problems as well as the total lack of energy.

All success is predicated on the idea of doing those things we don’t want to do. Successes in business, in relationships and health are found when we do things that others don’t like to do. The fact is, we should do MORE things we don’t like to do. Better, we should find things we don’t like to do and learn to like doing them.

Paul said, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” [1Cor. 9:27].

Rather than success, let’s use the word grow. Growing means more than just getting physically bigger, it also means getting better. We can grow in many areas, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Peter said, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever.” [2Peter 3:18]

Growth requires effort, it requires us to train our bodies and our minds by doing those tasks that seem unpleasant at the time. This is the full idea behind the word ‘chastening’ in Hebrews 12:11. “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

The word we often use to describe training is exercise. Not only should we exercise our bodies, we should exercise our minds. This training of the mind and the body prepares us to respond in those times of need.

Doing laps may sound horrible (they do) and boring, but come gametime, you’ll be glad you did. Michael Jordan said, “I play to win, whether during practice or a real game.” The same can be said about the hours spent in the study of God’s word. Come gametime (ie. Evangelism,  times of trouble etc.) you’ll be glad you spent the time. No one is ever faithful during difficult times or times of persecution that wasn’t first faithful during times of ease.

Success (growth) or failure in any endeavor is not an event. Successful marriages, financial well being, educational degrees and the like are only ever achieved by multiple tiny decisions to do unpleasant things over and over until.

Yes, I intentionally ended the sentence with ‘until’, because the next question is, “how long?” Until you’ve made it, until you have it, until you face the judgement.

“That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:” [1Tim 6:14]