Experience the Good Things of God’s House for Yourself

God’s promise of blessing in God’s house

If you are one of those who tries to get by without actually attending church much, I urge you to reconsider! 

Often I’ve said, “It is a blessing to be able to be in God’s house on Sunday morning.”  People probably think I am just advertising since I am the pastor.  But my statement is based on my own experiences of spiritual renewal, emotional and physical healing and finding encouragement during worship.  It is also based on the multiple testimonies of others.  Recently as I was reading daily devotions, I found a matching objective foundation for my thesis.  In this Bible promise, God specifically promises to bless God’s people in the house of worship.   

Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you.  Exodus 20:24 NIV

So God has specifically promised to give blessing in the sacred places set apart to honor his name.  I say that’s a reason to be there!

 

 

God meets us when we are praying alone too

It is not that God does not give us power and strength when we come to him alone outside of God’s house, in our own homes or on a walk in nature, for example.  He does. Jesus in John 4, taught us that worship can occur anywhere.  And in fact, Jesus often spent time alone in prayer outside and he urged us to spend some time in private prayer too (Matt. 6:6). Rather, what the promise we are studying is saying is that God promises to give additional blessing in his house.   Part of this added beneficence from congregating in sacred spaces is the synergy that happens when the people of God are together worshipping.  But according to the promise, part of the power of being in God’s house is also God’s sovereign choice to bless his people in his house.   God desires to be gracious to us there!

 

 

What is so special about church?

The Psalmist David experienced blessing in the temple in his day. He gave credit for his blessings in the sanctuary to the character of God.  David testified: 

I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. 
Psalm 63:2  NIV

David is also specific about two of the benefits he had received as a result of his worship in God’s house. 

You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.  Psalm 68:35  NIV

 

The power and strength that we feel in church comes to us in personalized ways through several means.  First, the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our hearts renews us like fresh water revives a famished plant (Psalm 1:3; John 4:14).  By being in God’s house for a service of worship we are deliberately spending time and focus to open our hearts and minds to the Holy Spirit’s influence.  Second, in God’s house, there is added exposure to the Word of God.  The Word of God molds us and guides us (Psalm 119:105).  Third, as we individually and collectively make God’s house a house of prayer, we experience the presence of God. Fourth, the sacraments God has instituted through Jesus are celebrated and received in the house of God.    Finally, when we are together in God’s house, we receive encouragement and a sense of connection with others in the body of Christ.   All these together result in tremendous benefits to those who are often found in God’s house for worship. 

Blessed are those who dwell in your house…
Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.
Ps 84:4, 10  NIV

Well, I guess it isn’t just me who gets blessed in church.  See you there! 

 

Websites are now the church’s foyer

I’ve been saying for many years that a church’s website has now become it’s primary way to get information to prospective attenders.   Here’s an article by a blogger on Christian Post agreeing with my premise.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/seven-plus-one-deadly-sins-of-a-church-website-96661/

It can help us here in Kirkville to take the next step in our already developed website.  It can also serve to guide those developing plans and capabilities for new websites such as my new friends in Copper Hill CT are now doing.

 

What should you look for in a good church?

During our 50th celebration we received many compliments as a church family.  Some were for relatively unimportant things.  Others for very significant factors.  The highest compliment we received, I believe, was from one person who does not often speak publicly.  She rose in testimony time and said that she liked our church and was attracted to it because we not only taught the Bible and preached about it but we lived it too.   That has to be one of the key characteristics of every good church.   Jesus said it was the description of every wise follower of his.  Here’s a great article on how to choose a good church.   I think the four ideals this author unpacks describe Community Wesleyan in Kirkville too.

http://blogs.christianpost.com/smallpreacher-biggod/how-to-find-a-good-church-9728/

Why going to church is important to you and your children

Often people ask me if they can be a Christian and not go to church.   I think it would be like trying to be a gourmet cook without frequenting the produce department of the grocery store; or trying to be a good basketball player without going to practices.  The excuses people use for staying away are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and often revealing.     Since Easter, the high point of the Christian year, is little more than a week away,  this is a great time to remind ourselves of just how important it is to express our faith and grow in it by gathering together.  Here is a good article summarizing why attending church is important.
http://www.christianpost.com/news/why-going-to-church-is-important-part-1-72392/

 

Not 500, but many good results

Setting a goal encouraged us to invite others

Some of you have asked me already, “Did we make 500?”   I almost don’t want to answer the question because I am so excited about all the great events that happened over our Christmas weekend.   Numerous family groups were here in force and I saw many new faces as well.   The Christmas Eve music was super inspiring and our children and teens put the weekend over the top with their Christmas musical.  But, the answer is, no, we didn’t reach 500 total attendance for our three Christmas weekend services.   In fact, we did not get very close to the number goal.   But having talked to families and friends as they gathered both on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, I am convinced that we had between 60 and 100 more people than we would’ve had if we had not set a big goal and stretched.    The actual total of 370 included many family and friends that had been invited because we had set a goal.   John Abbott  expressed what I heard from many.  He came with a friend that I did not recognize.  Knowing he was from a large family of brothers, I asked, “Is this one of your brothers?”   He replied, “It’s one of the men who works with me; you said bring a friend, so I did.”   That spirit seemed to pervade the congregation both on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning as there were many family members and guests who had been invited to celebrate Christ’s birth with us.   Other pastors who had services on Christmas day found their attendance on the low side.  But because of our children’s musical and our efforts to invite friends, our Christmas morning attendance (145) was significantly higher than our average attendance.  It was also a good thing that we had two Christmas Eve services because fitting everyone who came into one would have been extremely cozy (6 PM 160; 8:30 PM  65). 

A wonderful Spirit of worship and a great play

The most touching report that I heard concerning the Christmas services was Kim Ouderkirk’s report of the children’s prayer time as they prepared to perform their Christmas morning play.   One prayed something like this, “Dear Jesus, we have received so many gifts; now please help us give our gift to you.”  That is priceless.  Another prayed that someone would open their heart to Jesus because of the play.   The children’s’ prayers were so moving that some adults left the room to staunch their own tears.   Then they went out and delivered a nearly flawless performance, remembering all their lines and showing that they definitely know how to act a part.  The message of the play that God’s gift to us of his Son Jesus along with the salvation that he brings to us is the greatest gift of all was crystal clear.  Afterward the congregation gave them a standing ovation.   Our thanks go to Kim Ouderkirk for her leadership, to all who helped her, to the teens and children for their hard work, and to the parents who cooperated by adjusting home schedules on Christmas so that we could tell Jesus’ story and honor him in this important way on his birthday.    And they accomplished all this while also working around the 50th anniversary renovations of the sanctuary.  

Alliance Bank Stadium and Community Wesleyan Church

It’s October and the Major League Baseball play-offs are beginning already.   It reminds me that I was happy to attend the last home game for the Chiefs this summer.   By now, I’ve forgotten the score,  but  I remember the atmosphere and the good feeling of being at the ball park.  I think about it as I watch the Yankees beat the Twins on TV.  As good as TV coverage is, it’s just not the same as being there.  When you are in the stadium, you feel part of the action and part of the team’s extended family—its fans.   When you like baseball, there’s just something about being at the park watching.   The field was immaculately groomed.  I love the new real grass field.  The food was great–white hots are the best deal and they were super.  I bought a new cap to advertise that I’m a fan.   And it turned out to be fireworks night too, which I didn’t know when I went.  (I looked the game on the website.  The Chiefs beat the Redwings 7-3 on 9-2-10)   It’s always nice if the team wins.  But you want to be there anyway whether they do nor not.    I took a few snapshots that turned out okay considering the level of camera I use.

I started thinking – dangerous, I know.    I hope people who identify themselves as Christians feel like they want to be at church too—like they want to be in on the action; like they are part of an extended family, because they are.   They are on Christ’s team.  Whether it’s a big Sunday in the church schedule or an ordinary one, whether the pastor hits a home run with his sermon or strikes out, I hope they are just glad to be in God’s house; sensing His presence, offering their own praises, saying their own prayers encouraging others, and generally adding to the excitement of the moment by being there.    It’s what fans do.   And some morning – just anytime –there might turn out to be fireworks of a different kind – a time when God makes his presence known in a special way to you or to the congregation.   You’ll forget most everything else about that service, but not your own encounter with God.    And you will want more of those touches.