One day after church a mother and her child came through the doors as we were packing up after service. She strolled in with her little one who immediately began running and playing like any child would. The child ran over to the room where we have children’s church and peeked in (as the room was a familiar place), I said to her, (half jokingly) “You’re about an hour late” unphased by what I said she shrugged it off and replied, “We went to the park this morning”.
I have to admit this bothered me and later I began to think of how my father without fail got me out of bed, dressed and out the door every Sunday morning to go to church. Unlike most kids and parents today, it never bothered me to get up early on Sunday nor did I feel like “not today Dad, I want to sleep in” or “not today Dad, lets go take a drive in the country or go fishing instead”. Although we did do these things quite regularly, it never took the place of church, and I’m glad it didn’t! I loved going to church with my Dad and I loved Sunday school, we had crafts, coloring and learned about God’s love and Jesus.
How church made an impact on me as a child: One Sunday afternoon I was quite disappointed that because my parents were arguing and decided that we were not going to go to my cousins house (a Sunday tradition), I did something I had never done before: I prayed. I remember kneeling down by my dresser (my room was at the other end of the house from where my parents were arguing) and quietly said these words, “God, If you’re really real, I want to go to my aunt and uncles house”. Just minutes later my father knocked at the door and said, “Get ready, we’re going to Aunt Mary’s and Uncle Otto’s house”. I was in complete and utter shock! Not because I didn’t believe it, I did! I was in shock that the God of heaven and earth, this same God that I was learning about in Sunday school (thank you Dad!) heard MY prayer and not only heard it, He answered it!
Now as a Christian mother with two grown children, I am so very grateful for my fathers faithfulness in setting an example with not only me but our whole family (aunts, uncles and cousins included) that going to hear God’s words were more important than anything else AND just as important: everything else had to wait! If we wanted to go fishing, we did, but not in place of church. If we wanted to go bowling or have a picnic, we did those fun things too, but not until after church.
You might say to yourself, “Why is this so important?” Because there will be times in life when only faith will get you through the tough times. Jesus said, “In the world you will have trouble…but be of good cheer I have over come the world” John 16:33. What is he saying? There are times in life where things will be difficult and when you go to a church that teaches faith and love, you will be equipped and ready to face and overcome any adversity. You see God does not send evil or trouble into our lives, Jesus says in John 10:10, “The thief (Devil) comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that you might have life and life more abundantly”. His word also says, “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (hearing God’s word in church). Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Ephesians 6:10-18
I encourage you to make a new tradition: Put God’s Kingdom first in your life and the life of your family – God placed pastors and teachers in the church for a reason: “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” Ephesians 4:10-16
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.