I haven't been to our church in a few weeks as a result of Christmas parties & work. What I like about our church is that I always leave with a clear understanding of what it takes to be a Christian.
Last summer on a Saturday I was at a party, & I was talking to some people who I didn't know very well, & everyone was talking about what they were doing the next day. They asked me what I was doing & I told them I was going to church & whatever else I was doing. This lady, most likely in her late thirties with a couple of kids, said something to the effect that if she ever stepped in church the place would probably burn down. I missed a good opportunity to witness to her, mostly because I always feel like some sort of salesman. I don't like it when people try to sell me something, so why would anyone want me to sell them something. That's a subject for another day.
If I were to take a poll of people who claim to be Christians about why they don't go to church, I think the majority of people would fall into two categories, or a combination both.
The most common reason would be apathy. I think most people who don't go to church are in a habit of not going to church, & we humans have a hard time of breaking habits, especially when we don't have a compelling reason to do so. We may not think we can come up with a compelling reason, but the answer to this problem can be found in Isaiah 6:8, or in one of my favorite hymns, "Here I Am, Oh Lord, Send Me." "If you cannot speak like angels, if you cannot preach like Paul, you can tell the love of Jesus, you can say He died for us all."
The second reason is the same reason that most likely kept the lady at the party from going to church. Many people feel they don't belong at church, that church is for the high & mighty, the people who have it all together. This couldn't be farther from the truth. I like to imagine how much different church would look if it were filled with prostitutes, drug addicts, drunks, thieves & murderers. Would these people be embraced during that always awkward time of greeting at the beginning of the service, or would most people stick their nose up at them & look the other way? I know what my first inclination would be. But consider how much more powerful the message of Jesus' forgiveness would be to people who walk into church thinking they don't belong there but are welcomed once they are there.
Us regular church attenders, whether we are willing to admit it or not, think we have it all together because we are there at church every Sunday. Our sins are no less sinful than the prostitute or the murderer in God's eyes. The two biggest blocks to salvation are the thoughts that I don't need Jesus Christ because I'm such a good person or thinking that Jesus Christ can't & won't forgive someone like me. Which thought is easier to get rid of? Either we have to get our hyper-inflated egos out of the way and/or we need to get the weight of our sins off our shoulders. The good news is that Jesus took care of both of them on the cross, all we need to do is accept it.
Five Favorite Songs of the Day
Late for Church-The Drive By Truckers "All that hollerin' makes me wonder, does a whispered prayer get heard?"
The Wild Hunt-The Tallest Man on Earth
Here I Am, Oh Lord, Send Me-Mississippi John Hurt
Watch Me Fall-Uncle Tupelo
Wall of Death-Richard Thompson
Happy Sunday, friends, no matter what you're doing...
everything you ever wanted to know about nothing at all...
Sunday, January 09, 2011
Saturday, January 01, 2011
Every year I tell myself I'm not going to watch the ball drop. This year I thought I wasn't going to even stay up until midnight, but we had some friends over & we were having a good time so I did. If there's one thing that makes me sad is watching all of those people in the cold in Times Square & wondering if they are getting what they want out of life. I don't know that they'll find it wearing one of those hats and the glasses that say the year. Then there's poor old Dick Clark who gets trotted out there like a robot every year, all made up to look like he's perpetually 50 years old, all to hold on to some preconceived notion of what New Year's Eve should look like. The wee hours of the morning make me sad, too. I'd much rather get up at 3 in the morning than stay up until 3. It just feels unnatural, I think God made the day the way he did for a reason. There's enough darkness in the world, why make it any darker by sleeping through the best hours of the day?
I tell you what doesn't make me sad, though, is spending 2011 with the best little family I can imagine. A toast to Christie, Lillian & little Winston doggie. Lillian even gave us a couple smiles this morning, it's going to be a good year.
Five favorite songs of the day
I'm New Here-Gil Scott Herron
Empty Hearts-Josh Ritter
Compared to What?-John Legend & the Roots
This Year-The Mountain Goats
Happy 2011, friends...
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