Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
Having returned a bit earlier than anticipated from our Midwest wedding, and because I already secured pastoral coverage for worship here at King of Kings, this past Sunday our family attended worship like a “normal” family. By normal, I simply mean, not as a pastor and pastor’s family. All five of us got into the same car, at the same time, and only about 10 minutes before the service started. We all walked into the church together. We dressed in our summer, casual church attire and took our place in the seats, blending in as just another family in the crowd. When the service was over, we all walked out together, at the same time, and without having to make sure the lights were off and doors were locked. Truthfully, it was really nice and quite refreshing to worship together as a “normal” family. It was also neat to check out a nearby church, with its different style and format to worship. Even if it was rediscovered that I behave much better in church when I’m leading worship. (Although in my defense, the children definitely started it.) 😉
One unanticipated thing that I noticed, even prior to attending that church, was the temptation that the Devil put before me—starting as early as Saturday evening. We had our choice to go to any church at all… OR we could simply not go. Oh yes, I heard the sneaky whispers of that great deceiver. “Take the morning off! Lay low and do nothing! It’s just one week. You don’t need to go. Chill out!” Indeed, even after we narrowed it down to which church we would attend that Sunday, the temptation to play worship hooky did not subside. After all, this was not my church and I had zero responsibilities. No one would know if we didn’t show up. No one would see if we decided to go back to bed. No one would notice if we instead hit up a local diner for breakfast. No one would know if we rationalized our absence with an empty, half-hearted, “We’ll watch the livestream later.” No one would have a clue if we skipped church altogether. I have to be honest; the temptation was really strong to not go. But God’s Spirit continued to nudge at my conscious; reminding me that I know better. Thankfully, we did not cave to the deceiver’s tactics and off to worship we went. I’m glad we did.
Of course, on a typical Sunday, I’m at our church about 90 minutes prior to worship beginning. Thinking through my sermon, finetuning Bible study, moving tables and chairs, etc. I don’t have time to be distracted or tempted. But you all most certainly do! My experience this past Sunday helps me relate and empathize with that temptation. “But Saturday was a late night.” “We could stay home and watch church in our pajamas.” “I really don’t want to listen to Pastor Steve preach again.” These are the persistent ploys and logical arguments that the evil one attacks us with. But we know better; the Bible teaches us better. I love the conciseness in Hebrews 10:25 via God’s Word Translation. It reads: “We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.”
Don’t stop gathering. Don’t stop worshiping. Ironically, the message we heard last Sunday at this “other” church was a discussion on what healthy churches look like. Once such thing, pulled from Acts 2, is that a healthy church is one where people consistently show up for each other—a community with a shared belief in God and a genuine love for one another. Isn’t that what we want our church to be about? A place where we can find guidance and strength in God’s Word. A place where we can find support and prayer from fellow believers. A place where we can find acceptance and community. A place where people are able to be served and willing to serve others. A place that lifts us all up in the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. A place where God’s good word proclaims that we have value and worth. A place where we want to go because we have good friends and maybe even a little fun!
I know the temptations to stay home are real, especially in these last summer weeks. But keep showing up. You’ll be glad you did.
“I go to church as an expression of my need for God and for God’s family.” (Philip Yancey)
“Do not go where it is all fine music, grand talk and beautiful architecture. Go where the Gospel is preached. And go often!” (Charles Spurgeon)
“The difference between listening to a radio sermon and going to church… is almost like the difference between calling your girl on the phone and spending an evening with her.” (D.L. Moody)
Pastor Steve Vera