You often hear about people wanting a great quality of life. Usually you will hear about this as people begin to grow older. They want to do things such as exercise and eat healthy in order to improve their present quality of life and their quality of life in the later years. You can’t blame anyone for wanting to do this, so that they are able to continue doing many of the same things as they age as they do in the present. I wonder, though, if followers of Christ do the same thing so that they will have a great quality of eternal life.
Contrary, perhaps, to popular belief, eternal life doesn’t begin when we die. Jesus came to give to those who believe in him eternal life. So, once you have this eternal life, why wouldn’t someone do all they can to have a great quality of eternal life? Surely it isn’t just about punching a ticket to heaven, is it? So, what can we do to develop this great quality of eternal life right here and right now? I think it’s pretty simple.
1. Saturate your life with prayer.
2. Saturate your life with God’s word.
3. Saturate your life with Godly fellowship.
4. Saturate your life with Godly worship.
Do you do these things? Are there other things that you think will give you a great quality of eternal life right now?
I know that we are just about past the time for posts like this, but please indulge me one last one. I promise that I won’t continue these beginning of the year type posts.
What kind of year do you want? Since most of you who grace me with coming to this blog follow Christ, I specifically mean what kind of year spiritually do you want.
Do you want your year to be worship centered?
How about fellowship centered?
What about prayer? Do you want prayer to be the center of your life this year?
Bible study? Reading the Bible through? Would that be the focus of the next few months?
All of these are wonderful ideas. I want all of these things to be part of it, but I want all of them to point to and derive their power from one thing.
I want the Gospel to be the center of my life this year.
Someone may want to get all over me about that. Perhaps they would challenge me and say that Christ should be the center.
I don’t disagree. I just happen to think that you can’t have a Gospel centered year without Christ being the center.
So this year, at the center of my life, I want the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be central to everything I do and think.
Will I succeed? The answer is in the future. I do know that If I don’t go fishing there is a good chance I won’t catch a fish. If I don’t make the effort there is a pretty good chance that I won’t succeed.
I want 2013 to be a gospel centered year.
What is going to be the center of 2013 for you?
If you show up to my church, you won’t see a metrosexual worship leader. You will find a mom and elder/pastor’s wife singing with a group of people who would be the furthest thing from metrosexual. But if someone did that, they would be welcomed and would fit right in.
You won’t find a pastor preaching in an Armani suit. In fact, he will probably be wearing what he would wear any other day of the week. There is no fancy pulpit, no hip stool for him to sit on. Just a music stand that he puts his Bible and notes on.
There isn’t anything fancy about where we worship. A multi-functional building that serves and worship area and fellowship hall all rolled into one.
Our music is not going to win you over if you want the standard, old hymns that we all grew up on. We might sing some, but it won’t be like your momma and daddy, or even you, did back in the day.
People might lift a hand. Or both. Some might jump up and down for a minute. Others might stand there and not move, like me.
There may be millionaires in the service. Or others poorer than a church mouse.
None of that matters.
In Christ, in reality, there are none of these things. Just like there were neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female in Christ, none of these are anything in Christ.
We are all just one in Christ. Even if we are or aren’t a metrosexual.
Are you one in Christ with those of us who follow Christ?
I want to be a worshipper.
Don’t get me wrong. I can worship anytime I want to. In fact, I would say that I should be worshipping. All of the time. Everywhere.
Sure I can worship on the golf course or hiking in the mountains or by reading a good book. I should be worshipping in those things.
What I mean is that I want to be a worshipper at church.
I am not satisfied with simply being an attender.
I want to worship by teaching.
I want to worship in what I give.
I want to worship by singing.
I want to worship in the preachers message.
I want to worship in the fellowship.
I want to worship in the Lord’s Supper.
You name it, I want to worship in it at church.
I want to be a worshipper.
How about you?
Yesterday was a strange day. It was the first Sunday this year that we missed a Sunday morning service. It was one of those days where obstacles got in our way and prevented us from having our normal Sunday.
We planned to go to church on Sunday night so that we could worship with our fellow church members and also attend the church business meeting. We arrived to find out that the meeting had been cancelled for some reason.
Our worship leader is on vacation, so someone else was filling in. It was good, but it was different. ( I also found that this person was from my hometown and graduated high school at the other school in town the same year I did.)
The bottom line is that everything was different yesterday. Nothing was like the typical Sunday for us. At one point in my life I would have been stressed over everything being different.
Hopefully I have learned to just roll with the punches.
Have you ever had a Sunday that was totally different from the normal one?
For the past seventeen Memorial Day weekends, I have been able to count on one certainty in my church services. At some point, all people who had served in the military would be recognized. The song of each branch of the military would be played and whoever served would stand up.
Now, I’m in a new church. Memorial Day was recognized differently. Some patriotic songs were sung. Some words were said.
Memorial Day is a great day to pause and remember those who have sacrificed their lives in the service of our country.
The thing that I thought, though, was this.
Each Sunday is a type of Memorial Day for us. We come together. We worship our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. We remember together what He did for us.
Sunday worship is a memorial day. It is an opportunity to gather in community and have a weekly “holiday” to honor Christ.
I need that.
I need that day to stop, pause and worship Him.
I need that day to meet with my brothers and sisters that I have committed to live with and love.
I need that weekly Memorial Day.
How has your Memorial Day weekend been?
What can I say about this week’s church experience that I haven’t already said?
Solid preaching from our interim pastor.
Worshipful music that leads to a corporate experience with God.
However, that isn’t what I want to focus on today.
I want to zero in on what happened after the worship service yesterday.
We had a potato/chili luncheon to raise money to send the youth to a conference.
It was fantastic to see the response of so many people bringing chili and potatoes to support the youth.
But even that isn’t what I really want to talk about.
Jan and I spent time with a couple who shared how much they led and loved the youth when they were younger. Now, some of those youth are now having children and they are loving those children. They also shared with how God has blessed them at different times in their lives.
We also got to spend time with another couple. One of them is having surgery on Friday, so we have an opportunity to pray this week for them. On a side note, they also own cattle. Growing up, my family had cattle as well. It’s great to get to know people who you have things in common with.
The bottom line is that we are truly beginning to feel connected in this church. We love it and it is becoming home.
How are things going in your church?
Unless you were off on a deep space mission this weekend, you probably know that Whitney Houston died this weekend. LL Cool J described it on the Grammy’s as a death in the family.
I read an article in a magazine discussing the secret to Eric Clapton’s success. Of course he has talent and has worked hard, but one of the main secrets to his success was the collaboration he had with other artists. The list of bands and individual artists that he has worked with was incredible.
What do these two things have in common?
Community. My One Word this year.
Whitney Houston was part of a community of artists.
Eric Clapton is part of another.
Each has had an impact far greater than they would have had individually because of the communities they were a part of.
What does that have to do with you and me? Most of you are probably followers of and believers in Christ. We belong to a far greater community than any of these others.
We belong to the Body.
We need each other.
We don’t have room for Lone Ranger Christians. As John Maxwell has said, “Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto.”
My blogging friend, Ben Emerson, wrote a great post the other day about this. He discussed how we don’t need to interpret scripture alone. We need the group. At first I disagreed. Then I thought about it. We stand on 2000 years of interpretation. We don’t need to come in to Sunday School or Bible Study Group and all say what it means to us. We need to find out what it means. Together.
We need the corporate worship experience, not to be entertained or fed, but because we need each other.
We don’t need the singing just to pump us up. We need to sing and praise our God and Savior together.
We don’t need to just listen to a sermon. We could do that on our iPod. We need to hear it together and share the experience. We need to worship Him together in the word.
We need each other. We need to collaborate in this thing we call the Christian life. We need our brothers and sisters.
How do you collaborate in your community and part of the Body?
Jon Acuff recently wrote a blog post about holding your hands in the air while worshipping in song. Of course, his post was a humorous take on it. I read it and commented. Why? Like Jon, I don’t raise my hands while worshipping.
I commented and said that it was because I wasn’t raised like that. I also asked if I should hold my hand up while I jumped on a bridge. I jest, I jest.
I grew up a traditional Southern Baptist. I mean, what would have happened if we had raised our hands? We would have gotten the same looks as the first lady who wore pants to our church got. I mean, that was scandalous.
In 1986, I began attending a good Baptist college. We couldn’t have dances on campus. We couldn’t even advertise having dances off campus. We could, however, advertise our off-campus ”foot functions.”
I went to one such ”foot function” in a dilapidated skating rink. Word Up by Cameo was a popular song at the time. I even danced, or foot functioned, to the song.
What would have happened if the choir director (this was before the days of Ministers of Music or Worship Pastors) at our church had said while leading music, “Wave your hands in the air like you don’t care!!!” We may have broken every Baptist law about dancing ever devised.
Now days, of course, it is very common to find good Southern Baptists putting their hands in the air. My church is a traditional, non traditional Southern Baptist church. There are people putting their hands up and lots of clapping. Sometimes I think I’m the odd one by not doing it.
Let’s make sure that we don’t move in the opposite direction. Let’s leave room for those like me who don’t put their hands up. I promise that sometimes I will beat the pew to the music. Just like last Sunday.
How about you? Are you a hands up or hands down kind of person?
Welcome to my new series. We are not in Church Search mode any longer. We have found a church where we feel welcome and where we believe we can worship. We believe that the Lord has led us here.
I’ll be honest. I was distracted during Sunday School. Jan stayed home due to the surgery she had Friday. I felt just a little out-of-place without her since I still don’t know many of the people there.
I had lunch with a couple of the staff members this week. I was told that there is another couple that wants to begin a home bible study. I’m looking forward to getting to know this couple and seeing if this is something we can participate in. We will need it since I will not be able to be in Sunday School for half the year.
One of the strengths of our church is the worship through music. It is definitely planned, but there is enough latitude and spontaneity to veer off from the path if it seems right.
The sermon was about Sanctity of Human Life. Just before the sermon began, a lady gave a spontaneous testimony about a time earlier in her life when she had an abortion. She testified to God’s forgiveness and grace for this event in her life. Another person came up and testified to her being pregnant as a teenager before marriage and keeping her child. Both spoke to mistakes in their lives and how God loved them despite this.
A time of prayer at the altar continued from there. Many people went down and prayed together.
The sermon was a good challenge to value all human life. It ended with a video called 99 Balloons. It was about a little boy who lived 99 days and 99 balloons were let got at his funeral.
The thing that is greatest about this church is that despite some issues and problems that have occurred recently there is a sweet spirit of love and caring there.
On a side note, we have been going there for four weeks. A couple prepared us a meal today since Jan had her surgery.
What attracted you to your church? What are its strengths?