Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Making God's House A Priority

Church has always been the center of my world. My parents raised us to make going to God's house our first and main priority. If the doors were open, we were there, whether it was a church work day, choir practice, or a prayer meeting. Sunday morning and Sunday night, we were there. Wednesday night, we were there. About every other month, either our or one of the other local churches ran a week-long revival, and we were there. And the first Friday night of every month was youth rally. This was a highlight for us teenagers, a time to get together and sing and worship together, and there was always food, fellowship, and games after. We had an area youth choir where the youth from several churches got together and learned songs to sing at the youth rallies. Oh, how the blessings of God would fall on us while singing in that choir! Us kids knew how to worship, we didn't sit on the back pew and look for excuses to go out. We were eager for the preacher to "break the bread" and give us what we needed to hear from the Word. We were hungry and got all we could get from the Lord during those services.

While driving around Shreveport this weekend, I noticed on the church signs, there was no time listed for Sunday night services. Are churches canceling their Sunday night services? Am I way behind on this development? Why? Can we have "too much" church? Is it necessary to cut back on the time we give exclusively to God? Or have our priorities changed so much that we have better things to do on Sunday night?

Sure, Sunday is a day of rest, and we get up and go to church on Sunday morning, and that is tiring, especially for those of us who have small children to get dressed and ready. But Sunday is one day a week that God asks us to give solely for Him and His worship. ONE day a week. The rest of the week, we do what we want, or need to do. He gave his LIFE and all he asks is one day devoted to Him. Maybe people think, well, I'll devote time to him at home on Sunday evening. Really? I wonder if people are devoting time to Christ or time to their favorite Sunday night TV show.

I think the root of it is that the church has become worldly and the world has become churchy, so they have met in the middle, so to speak. The church is more like a place to go and be entertained, a place to get involved in this group and that group and have fun. Not that I'm against fun, and the church is best place to have fun (don't the funniest things happen in church?). But God didn't call us to Christ to make us happy, he called us to make us holy. And when happiness takes precedence over holiness, we've got our priorities a little out of order. Has the church become nothing more than a glorified social club?

Kids today don't know what a move of God IS because they are in the back of the church being fed cookies and watching a Veggie Tale movie. I have seen kids as young as 3 years old with their hands in the air, weeping and crying under the presence of the Lord. They were IN church and they saw what God was doing in the people around them and got hungry for an experience. We expect kids to be kids and "sow their wild oats" as teenagers, and then, when they've got married and settled down, they will get in church. Things don't HAVE to be that way.

Today, you don't see teenagers gathered at the church on the weekend because they are gathered at the football game or the baseball game or whatever else is going on. Parents want their kids to be involved in everything else, and those things have priority over church activities more often than not. I have seen it happen with my own eyes, at my own home church growing up. The kids whose parents let their kids join band and the baseball team, that became their passion, and today, you can see where their passions lie, and it's not in serving God.

I don't know about you, but I don't care if my kids ever play competitive sports. For one, the attitude of parents is terrible. I don't want to subject my kids to a bunch of screaming, cussing parents and angry coaches. And for two, why is competitiveness so glorified? Competitiveness is basically, "Look how much better I am than you are." Isn't that pride? What good is it doing? Are the kids really having fun? I feel sorry for them. They are under pressure to perform. Anyway, this is off the subject.

I love God's house and strive to instill that same love in my children. I know this is a foreign concept these days, but I'd rather see them working in the church all their lives than to be deemed successful by this world. I pray that America's heart is rededicated and the churches fill up so that they have to open up Sunday night services again. Maybe one good thing that could come of this economic crisis would be a return to dependence on God for our every need, therefore putting Him at the top of the stack. Revival, come quickly!

Here is a picture of Gracie enjoying herself in the Kid's Choir at church:


Dutch said...

"...the church has become worldly and the world has become churchy...", awesome statement, how true. But maybe you're putting too much emphasis on church. After all Christianity isn't about how many times you go to church, it's about how you live your life.

Amy said...

I digress! How much time we spend in the presence of God will directly effect how we live our life. Being faithful to church is a reflection of our faithfulness to God. The two go hand in hand. We should be just as faithful in our personal devotional time as we are to church. Church encourages me to do that.

Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

I think now is that time that we "see the day approaching", so we should assemble together "so much the more".

Sondra! said...

Amen, sister! You are so right. You can't put too much emphasis on going to church. Where else do you learn different ways to pray, worship, sing, etc. It is by watching other beleivers. We are strengthened when we are with our brothers and sisters. We have Children's Church on Sunday mornings, but if the Lord is moving- we don't go. I am against a seperate children's service at EVERY service. This SUnday night, we had a wonderful move of the Holy Ghost. I was humbled to see my all of my sons worshipping God. Peyton testified that he didn't know what to do with his legs! He wouldn't learn that anywhere else but 'Big Church'. You can attend church every day of your life and NOT go to Heaven, but if you ever GO TO CHURCH wow- You will be CHANGED!!! Keep on training those children, Amy, you will see results.

Amy said...

I can't wait to see those results, Sondra! John has had a few "running spells" while he was holding Elijah. I hope he never forgets it! What a heritage!

Dutch said...

Perhaps so. That has always been an interesting verse to me. What do you consider "forsaking" the assembling together?

Amy said...

Here's what Adam Clarke has to say about it: http://www.studylight.org/com/acc/view.cgi?book=heb&chapter=010

I don't have the time at the moment to answer your question personally (it's church night), but I will look into it tomorrow. In my opinion, it's pretty self-explanatory, but does merit some looking into--which I love to do w/ the snazzy new Bible John got me for Christmas.

Wendi & Benjamin Wood said...

I agree with Dutch! I think you are thinking so "American"-- what about the countries where there is no modern church? What about the churches that emphasize family outside of church... you see God does say not to forsake the assembling of the saints for the very reason you are talking about to build up one another; to equip one another to go out and be the church. The modern church for the most part has become a monastery with four walls. BUT, our first ministry is to our family.

Concerning children, I was not raised pentecostal, but have several friends who were and/or have been converted, as I myself have, know that children model behaviors. Some may be genuine, but then some are doing it just to get affirmation from family. I'm not saying your children are doing that, but it does happen. I think it is beneficial to speak to children the things of God in their language... whether it is breaking it down verbally or sticking in a veggie tale movie and then discussing the Christ lesson. It is unfair of us to discount the menial things that others use to teach about Christ...for if one child/person is brought to the knowledge of Christ...

I think to say that being faithful to church is a reflection to being faithful to God is a very broad statement, and unfair; again, formalized religion.

Just my thoughts...

Amy said...

I think those people in countries have no "church" do the best they can, and God honors that, but if they did have a church, I am sure they would desire to go.

Yes, church is what equips us to reach out to others, so if we are not in church regularly, how can we be adequately equipped?

We believe that educating/teaching children about God begins in the home, and the home should be the primary place of spiritual development. We practice this as well.

Yes, children copy what they see, and who can tell whether they are just "playing" or if they are truly getting something real? I would rather see my kids playing church than anything. I would love it if my kids were "playing" and it turned into something real. It happened to me as a child. But if they never see anything to copy, will they ever seek for the real?

We are Americans and we have the opportunity to be in church more than any time in history. Those privileges may swiftly be taken away from us. But I guess that doesn't really matter, does it? Who needs church? Church, schmurch!

Natural Mama said...

In many places church is no longer "God's House", so ppl have lost their desire to go. If God's presence dwells in our churches, we will desire to go. If not, it will be merely a place to display emotion or to receive entertainment. No 'heart change' will take place which the result of causes our desire in the first place. Remember as well, Christ will not dwell in an unholy vessel or an unclean temple. When Holy people stand in worship to a Holy God, He will be there. When we see Him "High and Lifted up" again, his presence will fill the temple. I too am thankful for my desire to go to church. I love it, God knows my heart! We are in Revival this week and it has been wonderful! God is getting ready His people for His coming.
Well, that's enough from me.
Love ya!
PS You got it right that so many kids don't know a true move of God these days. It's so sad. I'm sad that MY children haven't seen what I saw at their age. But, yes, it so does begin at home. Definitely.

john said...

Thinking so "American"?

I never thought the priority of being in the house of God would be labeled as "American" but if that is the case call me an "American".

Yes the modern church to many has become four walls and a monastery. It has become a place where people meet and greet and have a social life. For many people there is a total lack of reverence for the house of God.

As far as the other countries that you speak of, it is my experience, mainly from the missionaries that I have known, that they are often more emphatic about being in church than us "Americans". You can go to South America and find people walking miles one way to church... To be there ALL day attending a service... You can go to the Philippines and find people taking boats up snake infested rivers to attend church... you can go to Africa and find people going to church everyday to pray for their people... You can go to India and find people going to church for weeks on end through revivals... You know what you can go to China and find people so dedicated to the Gospel and church that they even meet underground to have church... The same in Vietnam, Laos, Columbia and Nigeria...

Fact is there are many people the world over that lay there life down attending the house of God. It is their priority to attend & worship God... even at the possibility of death...

There is a hunger for God in some of these countries that I would readily say that us "Americans" do not even come close to.

For the sake of the children, I agree, they do model behaviors. They often follow what they see even it goes against what they are told.

Another reason I believe it is important to demonstrate to that child, my child, the importance of the house of God.

When we are training up a child we are not merely telling him or her what they should or should not do, We are demonstrating it by our actions.

Yes again, oftentimes the children do need things to be broken down for them to understand. Howbeit, I think we limit our child's understanding and experience based on our own understanding... Jesus, however, said...Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

I think we could at times learn a lot from our children as they worship God. For the most part they do not carry all of the presupposed biases that we adults do.

It is our first ministry to teach our children to Love God, to love the things of God, to abide in Him.
For us "Making God's House A Priority" is part of that ministry.

Dutch said...

Adam Clark is vague. Doesn't anyone have an opinion on this? What is forsaking the assembly? Is it not going to church at all? Is it only going on Christmas and Easter? Is it anything less than going every time the doors open? I want to hear some thoughts on this.

Amy said...

My Bible has a lexical dictionary in the back of it. Here is what it says:

"In Hebrews 10:25 it does not merely denote the worshiping assembly of the church from which some were likely to absent themselves, but the assembling for corporate worship, not as a solitary or occasional act, but as customary conduct. ..........Therefore, it would have the meaning of not betraying ones attachment to Jesus Christ and other believers, not avoiding ones own personal responsibility as part of the body of Christ.

No, it is not specific as to how often this assembling should occur, but does imply that is whatever the custom of the local church may be. If we are a part of the body of Christ, yet are absent from that body, occasionally or permanently, can that body function as it ought to? Can it be effective for Christ?

Also, look at the principle behind the matter. Do we ever seen an occasion of Christ NOT going to the temple on the sabbath? We should seek to follow his example. He was in the temple on the Sabbath.

Adam Clark's take on it was that this verse was written to believers who were meeting in private because they were forbidden to meet publicly. Some were not going to the private meetings because of fear of persecution. Paul was saying do not let the fear of persecution keep you from the assembling. So if he thought it was important to meet privately, he must have thought it important to meet publicly, as well.

On another note, I am becoming a little weary of having my blogs picked apart and I wonder about all this debating. Is it edifying to Christ? I write what I write because I love to write and this is what is on my mind at the moment. Don't be surprised if you comments are not published--I'm just not sure how far we should go with this stuff. One could analyze oneself right out of being a Christian if one is not careful.

Sondra! said...

John said so much that I wanted to say. So, 'Amen', John. As Americans with the freedom to worship-we will be held at a higher standard for our lack of attendance to church. Forsake not is simply that- don't leave it out of your life. Church should come first. That doesn't just mean going to the building, but it does include it. My children are NOT just mimicking others. They are learning from what they see, but none of our three children have ever 'acted' when the Spirit was moving. When you see your 7 yr old, tears streaming down his face saying "I just want to love You, Jesus!"-he didn't learn that from anyone in our church- (I've never seen anyone saying that) it is from his heart. He was saved in our home, during family devotion. You have to have a balance but you MUST go to church if you are able. The Bible says to know to do good and do it not to him it is a sin. The 'good thing' to do is take your children to church. Don't go if you don't want to, but for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!
And to any of you who don't like how Amy & John are raising their children- I'm sure they won't mind if you stop reading their blog. Can't wait to see the Lord work in your children's lives!

Dutch said...

If our faith can't be analyzed then that doesn't say much about our faith. I didn't realize different points of view weren't welcome. My apologies.

Natural Mama said...

Quote: After all Christianity isn't about how many times you go to church, it's about how you live your life.

True, church doesn't make one a Christian, but if you do 'live your life' as a Christian, I can't imagining one NOT wanting to assemble with other believers, hearing the word of Truth, singing the Songs of Zion, worshipping God. Unless one can't seem to be satisified in a church, or can't get along with others in a church, I don't see why one wouldn't want to go. Personally, I would evaluate myself and make sure I wasn't the reason I wasn't getting along with others, and if no problem was found there or if I wasn't hearing the truth (or just bored..I've been to a few boring churches), I would look elsewhere. Meanwhile, we are all supposed to have church daily at home. :)
PS Amy, it's YOUR blog and you have the freedom of speech as do those commenting. Don't worry about the debating, sometimes it can be for good.

REAL ME said...

I absolutely agree with you! 100% and I have even fell into letting other things starting to pull me in other directions as a weary of mom of littles. I sometimes feel like I should not always send my kids in church nursery. We have started having afternoon service. Due to some facility issues. But oh my how I miss those Sunday am and pm double doses.

By the way I think how you handle some comments are so elegant.

true blessings said...

Loved your post, I use to think that we had too many services, but that was when I had fallen out of love from God....but when you love the Lord that's where you want to be all the time. I love it when my kids are in the altar jumping and singing and running around praising the Lord , it's awesome !!!I too am a pentecostal in Houston.