Tag Archives: God’s house

Ask not what your church can do for you … OR … Lessons from the Church Refrigerator

I first encountered a church refrigerator while teaching Kindergarten with a wonderful group of people known as Emmanuel  Baptist Church of West Shore.  I remember one of the teachers getting frustrated about all the “stuff” which was left in the fridge.

Churches are communal property; therefore, rights and responsibilities are sometimes nebulous.  For example, who does throw out the leftovers from a fellowship?  Who does throw out old paint cans, or straighten up the craft closet, or discard old Sunday school material?  Whose job is it?

I love the folks at Steam Valley Bible Church!  They are awesome!  When we first came here, the very first Sunday that we candidated, they asked me to play the piano: a very nice Baldwin Studio piano.  However, as an organist, my ear went to the instrument across the room.  It sounded like an Allen organ!  And it was. Later, when we were given a tour of the buildings, I noticed a beautiful Yamaha Professional piano (Studio is slightly smaller than the Professional).  Why was this piano downstairs and the Baldwin upstairs? After some time and some questioning, we discovered that the upstairs piano was given in memory of someone, but the sweet woman, who was mainly responsible for its purchase, was fine with the idea of switching the pianos. Now, we’ve been in the pastorate long enough to know that such a move, in some church, would cause hard feelings and probably a church split!

So, what’s my point?  The next time you are on your church property, look around, especially if you attend a smaller church which does not have a host of paid employees.  How is the landscaping?  Are there any flowers?  Are there weeds?  Is there any mulch?  What about the signboard?  Has it been changed recently?  Does anything need a fresh coat of paint?  New windows? New chairs? New bulletin boards? Who does cut the grass or rake the leaves or clean out the gutters?  And what is your part in making a good show of presenting your representation of God’s house in your community?

John F. Kennedy coined the phrase: Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country! (Wow! Could we retread that one today!) But let’s apply it to church: Ask not what a church can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your church!

Many hands make the load light. That’s one of my favorite sayings.

Our church ladies just enjoyed a wonderful retreat.  It was such a success because of all the help. One lady VOLUNTEERED to head up the food.  Another lady VOLUNTEERED to do a devotion on prayer and then gather the materials to make a 3×5 prayer notebook.  Someone offered pedicures, and another brought chocolate and molds so we could make candy for our loved ones since it took place on Valentine’s Day weekend.  There are so many jobs that could be done “in the name of Jesus.”  How do we show that we love Jesus?  So often, folks say, “Well, I put God first in my life, but that doesn’t mean that church has to come first.” There may be some truth in that statement; however, my question is this:

How do you show God that He is first in your life?

Does working at His house show that you love Him?  Does coming to His house show that you love Him?

Just some food for thought! 🙂 Take a look around, and take the plunge. If you don’t know what needs to be done, as the pastor! Just don’t give him a heart attack!  🙂

Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Haggai 1:4,5

Bow the Knee

Mocking_of_Jesus

Bowing the knee before Jesus may conjure up in your mind one of several images of someone in the Bible; and if you Google the phrase, you’d be surprised at what comes up! Perhaps blind Bartimaeus, or the woman with an issue of blood, or the disciples came to your mind–certainly, they are just a few that physically bowed and worshiped our Lord.

Mark 15:19 says that they bowed the knee and worshiped Him–a beautiful picture until we read the beginning of the verse: Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him;and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him. 

When we see the whole picture, our heart aches.

Mocking_of_JesusAs we approach the most important date on the Christian calendar, it would be good for us to pause and reflect.  How long has it been since I literally bowed my knee to Jesus?  How often do I get on my knees and confess my sins to my Savior, for that IS truly an act of worship? When was the last time that I spent a “sweet hour of prayer” with Him–the One who suffered so much for me?

Do I come into His house to truly worship?  Where is my heart?  Is it on the crowd?  Am I thinking more about what I’m wearing or what someone else is wearing than on worshiping Jesus?  And did I really even think about what to wear as I came to His house of prayer to worship the “High King of Heaven?”  I wonder, have I done my best for Jesus?

As I read Mark fifteen this morning, my heart was broken, because I realize how often my heart is not worshipful. Webster defines worship as:

  1. the act of showing respect and love for a god especially by praying with other people who believe in the same god : the act of worshiping God or a god
  2. excessive admiration for someone

Respect, love, prayer, believing, and excessive admiration.  Those all take time and thought, and so often that is what is missing from our worship. Just a few more questions which I need to ask and answer in my heart:

RESPECT: How do I show respect to my God and Savior as I approach Him?  Amazingly, He WANTS us to approach Him, to know Him (John 17:3).  Admiration, deference, esteem, reverence, veneration,  and high opinion are all synonyms for respect. So, perhaps the question would be: Is my worship thoughtful and focused on God?

LOVE: Love is a choice, act of the will. That may sound heartless in light of the world’s definition and expressions of love, but it lasts and it will be genuine!  I choose to love my Lord, although it was not a hard choice to make!  A lust for blood and a wicked heart drove the Roman soldier to mockingly worship Jesus and bow his knee.  May an overwhelming desperation to express my love and gratitude drive me to my knees in worship!

PRAYER: Working with children teaches me SO much!  Repeatedly, I tell them that even though I am saying the words, God wants all our hearts to be praying together.  That’s a lot for a child to understand.  That’s hard for adults to understand and do!  It takes concentration.  Does your mind wander as the preacher is praying?  Take heart, we all are in that boat!  Continually strive to plug in and take part.  A worship service is not a staged production put together to entertain.  That’s why I have issues with clapping.  When I’ve played an offertory, or sung a special with my heart tuned to worship God, I love hearing a heartfelt “Amen,” which is a statement of agreement, and not applause for performance–I’m not performing, I’m worshiping. Now some may be able to “clap” their praise to God–I just haven’t got there yet! 🙂

BELIEVE:  Mar 9:24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. Oh, how I can relate to this father!  How many of my disappointments, angst, fears, struggles, frustrations are all because of my unbelief?  How much more would my Father do if I only believed?   But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.(22)  Can God or God can?  Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (23)  I can’t say it any better than that!

EXCESSIVE ADMIRATION: Excessive makes it sound like it’s too much, like too much ketchup or Parmesan cheese!  Can we be too excessive or extravagant in our admiration for the One who suffered even mocking worship for me?  And what would excessive admiration look like? I bet it would fill our churches with ardent worshipers, fill our mouths with constant praise, and overwhelm our hearts with gratitude.  It might even overflow our eyes with tears.

 And when they saw him, they worshiped him: but some doubted.  Matthew 28:19

I wonder have I done my best for Jesus,
Who died upon the cruel tree?
To think of His great sacrifice at Calvary!
I know my Lord expects the best from me.

Refrain:
How many are the lost that I have lifted?
How many are the chained I’ve helped to free?
I wonder, have I done my best for Jesus,
When He has done so much for me?

The hours that I have wasted are so many
The hours I’ve spent for Christ so few;
Because of all my lack of love for Jesus,
I wonder if His heart is breaking too.

I wonder have I cared enough for others,
Or have I let them die alone?
I might have helped a wand’rer to the Saviour,
The seed of precious Life I might have sown.

No longer will I stay within the valley
I’ll climb to mountain heights above;
The world is dying now for want of someone
To tell them of the Saviour’s matchless love.

Lyrics: Ensign Edwin Young
Music: Harry E. Storrs