Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
I did it!
After many months of thinking and talking about it, I finally made the commitment. No more empty words and good intentions. No more excuses or procrastination. No more being lazy or apathetic. After more than two years without, I have signed up for a gym membership again. As of last Wednesday evening, I am a member of Planet Fitness. Now I know what you’re all thinking… How can Pastor Steve possibly be any more buff, toned, and studly than he already is? But alas, over the past 2+ years, my regular early-morning, gym-rat routine has become non-existent. This change was long overdue. Getting back into a routine of regular exercise and intentional healthy habits will be good for me. It is certainly needed. I can no longer use moving across the country or even a global pandemic as reasons to not exercise. As of last Thursday, everything has changed. I am now an official gym member once again!
One week into my brand-new Planet Fitness membership, I must be honest. I should probably admit that I haven’t actually gone yet. I have tried, and had every intention to go, but it just hasn’t happened yet.
But wait! I have my reasons. Here’s why…
Do you see where I’m going with this? These are my excuses, err I mean, reasons, and they are all legitimate and reasonable. But such things will always creep into my life, and unless I start to prioritize going it simply won’t ever happen. A gym membership is only could if it gets put to use. Thought about going. Planned on going. Downloaded the app. Paid the processing fees. But in the end, best of intentions will not do me a lick of good in shedding a few extra pounds. Sure, I even have a gym bag packed and sitting in my car, but I actually have to show up at the gym in order for good habits to form and lasting effects to take shape.
It is also this way with worship. Worship matters. It’s important. It is essential to the spiritual well-being of us all. Worship is where the Word of God trains us and keeps us from going off the rails. It prevents from becoming lazy or spiritually weak. This is where the Spirit of God softens the strains and soothes the pains brought on by the sins and stress of the past week. Worship is where we find encouragement and love from our fellow pew-sitters. It is where our eternal Father, reaches down from heaven to quench our thirst and relieve our burdens. This is where God shows up to serve and save us with tangible vessels of forgiveness and prayer. Only in church will we hear of a powerful God who is filled with infinite grace towards His people; that we are so tenderly cared for and loved that He was willing to die for our sake. What an awesome message! We dare not neglect it. We dare not keep putting it off. But don’t take the word of a pestering pastor, God said it too (and first): “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 11:25) Here God tells the church to keep gathering, keep worshiping, keep growing stronger.
Jesus wants genuine commitment; He wants faith-filled follow-through. He doesn’t just want us to sign-up; put our name on a church membership list and then walk away. There are strong words of warning from Jesus here in his Sermon on the Mount. Jesus wants followers who are devoted to Him and who hear His Words; then take them to heart and live by them. That’s a hard thing to do when we are deserting the word and worship of God. There is a joy that is found in gathering around the Word of God and with the people of God. Again, don’t take my word for it. Look here. Or here. Or here. Or here. I’m just the messenger; God wrote the book. He's the mastermind behind this. Just like my week above, there will always be things that come up and try to prevent you from worship. Power through. Persevere. Come back and join us for worship—whether that be done in-person or virtually.
Who knows?!? Maybe I'll even go to the gym today! Oh wait, I have a... 😉
“God directs his people not simply to worship but to sing his praises ‘before the nations.’ We are called not simply to communicate the gospel to nonbelievers; we must also intentionally celebrate the gospel before them.” (T. Keller)
“From your heroes you pick up mannerisms, phrases and tones of voice, facial expressions and habits, demeanors, convictions and beliefs. The more admirable the hero is and the more intense your admiration is, the more profound will be your transformation. In the case of Jesus, he is infinitely admirable, and our admiration rises to the most absolute worship. Therefore, when we behold him as we should, the change is profound.” (J. Piper)
Pastor Steve Vera