Come, Entertain Me

 

CPC Flower ArrangementThe word come, when read in the Bible about Christ’s enjoining His disciples to follow Him, became their first step in living the Christian life. It is a disciple of Jesus’ first step. Jesus said, “Come, follow me.” In Mark 1:17-18 “And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men. And they immediately left their nets and followed Him.” We do not walk with Christ without following His teachings and direction.
I anticipate worship in a Christian church to be of my Lord Jesus Christ, to ask for forgiveness of my sins, and to take in the whole Word of God. And as I leave the church doors, I fully expect the Holy Spirit to go with me and keep me strong in the faith and use what I heard and learned to navigate through the channels in life. I expect that when I am in fellowship with other believers, I will be comforted, heard, even advised and disciplined by those who know and live the Word of God. I expect that other Christians will use their experiences based upon God’s Word to uplift me and help to direct my life. I pray that I will do the same for them. I pray that I will always comfort others, listen to others, advise and help direct others based upon the leading of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
In a conversation with an individual a year or so ago, after a Sunday service, a comment was made to me that went something like this:
- I know I am a very quiet and non-social person, and I have been coming here for years, but I look around and always feel there are clicks/groups and there is no sense of desire by those clicks/groups to be changed by adding another person to them.-
I wonder how church can sometimes feel like another social gathering or social club. Can we come to be entertained rather than to be taught? Do we turn away from following Christ when we don’t like something we hear from the Scriptures because it is contrary to what our culture teaches us? Doesn’t everyone ask, “Is God trying to speak to me here?” “Don’t I have something to learn if I am following Jesus?” “Could I be mistaken in my beliefs?”
When we are following Christ in church we should react like those who first heard Jesus, “And they were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” We should come to church to obey Jesus Christ, learn His truths, His ways and how to live His life. To follow Jesus is to get closer to Him, advance towards His will, and to draw near to His holiness and goodness. In doing so, we are changed and Christ changes the world through us. We come to church to worship God and to follow Him, not to be entertained or just because we have friends or family there.
I was reading an article (Entertained to Death? Is seeker-driven entertainment a viable option for Growing your Church? By Eric Barger) about how many;
“compromising leaders help propagate lukewarm “religious” followers with no sense of Godly Biblical standards who miss the awe, reverence and supernatural power of God”. “Perhaps due to shrinking attendance and growing expenses, some evangelicals have slowly adopted the notion of “giving the people what they want” as their church plan. Now seen as “old fashioned”, “outdated” and “negative” are the Biblical ideals of discipleship, doctrine, righteousness, victory over evil and the conquering of sin. At any rate, this is the underlying rational being forwarded by a number of today’s popular growth gurus. Those whose books and teaching have lead the Church away from Biblical thinking have probably done so without overtly malicious intent. Nevertheless, the popularizations of the so-called “positive gospels” have come from a non-historical basis, a mix of bad theology and a “change or die” church growth mentality.”
I have been listening and learning from my husband Earl, a God-fearing man for over 16 years. Earl & Bob BeanHe has been preaching for 29 years. Every time he steps behind the pulpit I expect to hear God speaking to me. And every time for 16 years, I hear this man being used as a vessel by God to bring His Word to me. When I come to church, I expect the music, Bible verses, confessions and offerings all to be about worshiping God, not entertaining me. I’ve delved into the Bible for years. I read it annually and continue to study it in depth. I am given great insight by God in those Words and revelations as He determines. I would be aghast if Earl were to ever “compromise” Scriptures just to satisfy some political base in the pews.
If we watch the clock or are like those participants that “didn’t get anything out of that one, preacher,” perhaps we need to seek God more than we do our lunch. Perhaps that twelve noon kickoff tailgate party with friends was going through our minds, and we missed what was meant for us. Perhaps what was preached was from God to us, but we just didn’t agree with it or like the way it was presented. Jesus never said, “Come and be entertained.” He didn’t say, “If you agree with Me, then you might want to try it.”  Psalm 95 is powerful, and I commend it for reading and devotional study – but in particular verses 6-8; “come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God. And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah.”
Come to the house of The Lord. Come and hear His voice. Come and hear the uncompromised Word of God. Come and bow down to Jesus. Come to Him and expect no entertainment in return. But do expect forgiveness, eternal life, and a new and abundant life in Christ.

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The Rain Came Down, Did His People Persevere?

It is 5 AM, and it is Palm Sunday.  The only thing I hear is rain – a torrential downpour.  This is the beginning of Holy Week.  Earl is already in the shower, and I have to swing my feet off the bed and get down to the kitchen to get his breakfast cooking.  It’s part of my ministry, and I’m happy to do it.  I persevere to make sure that the work that the Lord has given me gets done.  But it’s raining, and it feels like sleeping weather.  My feet still hit the floor, and I get started.

I have to study a little more.  I’m teaching the Sunday school lesson.  I worked on it yesterday, but I’m not feeling confident with what I’ve got.  Yet I must persevere, I can’t present what God does not intend.  Clean up the kitchen, sit down and study.  I look out my window to see lightning, and I hear the resulting thunder.

Shower, dress, but no, the dog will not go out in this rain.  Can she cross her paws for the next 5 hours?  I open the door, it’s raining so hard that there is a fog-like consistency in the air.  The dog backs away.  A thought  runs through my head, will God’s people persevere and come to chuch today?  It’s raining so hard.

I realize that I can’t go through the newly created pond at the bottom of my entry stairs in my shoes.  I quickly change into my Duck shoes, throw the high heels in a bag and grab the umbrella.  Will the umbrella actually open?  Oh please Lord, let the umbrella open.  It does.  Thank you Lord!

As I drive through the streets, the meer couple of miles to the church, God begins to speak to me in my mind.  I’ve learned to listen.  Today it is not His quiet voice, but a strong voice that tells me to tell His people to persevere.  Dear Lord, will your people come to hear?  So here is what He told me in my thoughts.

Spring Blooms

Spring Blooms

I give you the rain.  You receive the fresh aroma of Spring.  I nourish the ground for all My nature to grow.  My gifts to you include the beautiful gardens, flowers and trees – lawns so lush – vegetation so green.  My water helps to provide all that for you.  You have water to drink and shower and clean.  My gifts to you.  I give you My Word so the pastor can speak.  He’s been provided with a sermon to nourish My people – to offer their worship – lift up their voices.

God is good.  He gives many good gifts.  Let us not use those gifts as excuses not to come and worship.  I was pleased to see all those whose worship of God meant more to them than the possibility of enduring the rain and getting a little wet. His people do persevere.

Our pastor, our music department, our staff, our ushers, Sunday School teachers – as well as all those who prepare the coffee and refreshments – all worked really hard to be sure that the ministries that God entrusted to them were carried out.  They persevered through the rain.  And we were all blessed this rainy, stormy, Palm Sunday, 2013.

“Therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.” 1 Thessalonisan 1:4

Be the One in Ten Christians that have…

The rest of the sentence is, read the Bible!  The Church as a whole, is biblically illiterate.  Ouch, that hurts!

Different research shows slightly different results to the question, “What percent of Christians have read the whole Bible?”  But nevertheless the Spiritual blood of Christians in America is anemic.  Only 1-3 in 10 professed Christians, have ever read the Bible in its entirety.  That means that although every person’s opinion is valid and important, not every Christian’s opinion is informed by the word of God.  Only about 10%-30% even know what God says. 

God expects more of us.  Paul told the young Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable to teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Hasn’t God given us His word that we might understand Him a little better than we would otherwise?  Every other year, I read the Bible in full.  I can honestly say there are a couple books – Numbers being one- that are very dry and extremely difficult to get through.  But this should not discourage us from reading this wonderful set of love letters that God has so graciously bestowed upon us.  I have read the Bible in a number of different ways: cover to cover, New Testament then Old Testament, and the use of Robert Roberts one year study, which offers a reading of the Old Testament and two readings of the New Testament in a year.  This year I have chosen The One Year Bible for Women using the New Living Translation.  It breaks the Bible up so you are reading Old and New Testaments along with Psalms and Proverbs each day.  I haven’t quite figured out the “for women” part of the title yet, perhaps it’s the pink accents.

God has a voice; He has chosen to speak to us in a most personal way.  He has given us a book full of wisdom and love along with guides for the ways we should live our lives.  If we don’t dive in and seek His truths, we will never know.  We will never be able to discuss Christ and His fullness to others that may be seeking Him.

As a pastor’s wife that has read her Bible numerous times, I still have difficulty understanding some of its messages.  But each time I read it, God enlightens me to new insights that He has for me to learn.  He has also given me a great source for learning – my pastor.  Christians are blessed to be offered free counseling by their pastors.  Our pastors are there to help spiritually guide us and to preach and teach those parts that may be difficult to understand.  God has put our pastors in place for this purpose among others.  So don’t be afraid to seek out your pastor to help you.

This year, why not make a New Years’ resolution to read your Bible in full?  Let’s get the percentage of Bible readers up and be able to live as per 2 Timothy 2:15.  “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the Word of Truth.”

 

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