Saturday, April 13, 2013

Is Attending Church Regularly Really That Important?

           People will often tell me how they used to go to church, but now they don’t go anymore.  “You would not believe what so-and-so said to me!”  “All they talk about is money.”  “The church was too political.” “I can worship God on my own.”

            I would like to suggest to you that regular church attendance is very important for your life and your spiritual life.  Not attending church regularly is like what happens to my motorcycle when I don’t ride it all winter and go to crank it up – It won’t start!  The battery has become weak because it has not been charged on a regular basis.  The same is true for our spiritual lives.  When the storms of life come (and they will come), we need to make sure we are plugged into the Source of Life and have the power to face the days ahead.  Consider these reasons on why you should attend church regularly.

            1. It is an obedience issue. “Honor the Sabbath Day and keep it holy.” The Sabbath was made for rest and worship. This holy day we have turned into a holiday, and this is not what God has intended.

            2. Jesus is our example. It was his custom to worship each week (Luke 4:16).   If he needed to worship each week and he was the Son of God, what makes us think we don’t need to?

            3. Worship. Yes, we can have worship by ourselves; I try to worship every morning.  But something happens when you are gathered with the Body of Christ.  Jesus told us that when two or three are gathered together in His Name, He would be in the midst of them.  God inhabits the praises of His people, and true worship allows this to happen.

            4. Discipleship. We attend regularly to be taught and modeled the Word of God and how it applies to one’s life.  A CD or Podcast may give us intellectual knowledge, but the Christian life is caught, not just taught. We need to see it in action.

            5. Fellowship. “Iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).  True fellowship shares life together and how God is involved in one’s life.

            6. Outreach. It is important that we be challenged to think outside of our “me, myself, and I” mentality and to reach out to people in our communities making a difference in people’s.  Following Jesus isn’t about “me.”

            7. Our Children.  Where are our children being taught the Ten Commandments and other Christian values?  School? TV? The Internet? Little League? The Church is about the last place where parents are assisted in teaching these important truths and how to have a relationship with the Lord.

            8. You may miss God or what He wants to say to your life. Remember Doubting Thomas?  He was absent from the church when Jesus appeared on the first Easter.  However, the next week he was in his place and Jesus appeared and spoke a word to Him.
            The list could go on and on. Find a church. Get over your past issues.  Find a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching, Jesus-loving congregation, and deepen the roots of your Christian life.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Some Scenes from Holy Week 2013

Palm Sunday at Holy Cross

Preaching the Word on Palm Sunday

 Palm Sunday Sermon can be heard here!

Sharing with Clergy of the Anglican Diocese of the South

Renewal of Ordination Vows for the Deacons, Priests, and Bishops of the Anglican Diocese of the South

Outdoor Stations of the Cross Service at Church of the Messiah, Canton

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday with the Solomons

 Easter Sunday Sermon can be heard here!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

One-Minute Message

Jesus Appears.  Click to listen.

Whatever Happened to Contentment?

            Have you noticed that no one seems to be content anymore?  Nothing is ever right. No can ever please. The government is all messed up.  I didn’t like the way they cut my hair.  She never does the job right.  I don’t have enough time.  Why do I hit all the red lights?  My health is not good.
               The culture we are living in has us all living with our feelings on our sleeves, able to get wounded so easy – someone makes us angry; we live in loneliness; we are easily disappointed.  No one seems “content” anymore! 
This is even true for the follower of Jesus.  Whatever happened to the personal characteristic of contentment?  Contentment is that inner confidence that knows God is in charge; that God is with me; that I am in His hands – and because of this, my life life-experience is just as it should be.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the early followers of Jesus in the city of Philippi: I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:11f). 
Paul is writing from prison!   His ministry brought him incredible challenges and much suffering.  And yet, he writes about being content.  He writes: Five times I received from the Jewish leaders the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spend a night and a day in the open sea.  I have been constantly on the move.  I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countryman, in danger from the Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea, and in danger from false brothers.  I have labored and toiled and often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst, and often gone without food.  I have been cold and naked.  Besides everything else, I have the daily pressure of my concern for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:23f).  And yet, Paul writes about being content.
As modern day followers of Jesus Christ, we need to recover this characteristic of contentment in our lives.  Contentment brings peace.  Contentment brings harmony. Contentment brings spiritual power.  Contentment brings focus and clarity.  Contentment deepens one’s relationship with God.  But sadly, too many of gripe, complain, and are angry about our place in life or the things happening to us.   Am I suggesting we should not try to improve our situation or become better off or more healthy?  Absolutely not!  Contentment with who we are and where we are frees us to move forward in our lives in the fruit of the Holy Spirit and to live the abundant life God promises us in Jesus.  Contentment is the balm that keeps our perspective godly and righteousness as we navigate the difficulties of life. 
Ask God to help you bring this godly character attribute into your life. Godliness with contentment is great gain! (2 Timothy 6:6).