Have you ever been to a place where you are completely accepted and loved for who you are? Where the people are warm and caring and welcome you with open arms? Where it doesn't matter how you dress or from what station of life you come from, you are loved for you.
Nineteen years ago, my parents and older sister Katy came to a place where the people welcomed them with open arms. And our family has been there ever since. I'm talking about my church, and more specifically my church family.
We are not a big church as far as size goes. We are out in the middle of the country surrounded by fields and woods. There are 60 people on a full Sunday. The inside of the church is nothing fancy. It's well over 150 years old and there is so much history jammed into that one little building. The Lord has kept the church where I go alive since 1825. It has survived the Civil War, both World Wars, the Great Depression, and many more catastrophes. It's neat to see how He loves and takes care of us. When I'm discouraged by how bad our world is today, I just think of how God has brought His people through so much. He remains faithful and will keep us preserved 'til His coming back.
Our church is not perfect. There have been some really hard times just in the 13 years my dad has been pastor. But the Lord has brought us through them. He is cleansing the church and purifying it.
Now what does the Bible say about church attendance?
Hebrews 10:25 says "... not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." Does this mean you have to meet in a church building for worship? I don't think so. You can worship anywhere. But it is SO important to be sharpened by your brothers and sisters in Christ. If you aren't currently involved with a church, check your motives. Are you not going because of a past incident where you got hurt? Maybe it's laziness, and having better things to do than go sit for an hour with people. Or maybe you're in between churches right now. Let me exhort you to get into a good, Gospel preaching church.
As alot of you know, I went to Papua New Guinea in 2009 for 5 weeks. While there, I visited my friends who live in the bush where the Lord has blessed their work and they have a thriving New Testament church. The believers there are so on fire for the Lord and look forward to meeting together every week, and more than once a week. When I got home, it was very hard to see the apathy of America's church. (I'm speaking collectively, obviously this is not the case for all churches). We put our time in at church and then live basically how we want to the rest of the week. Why is this? America has had the Gospel for years and years but we are taking it for granted big time. Many people don't even have a written language, much less the Gospel. We have the amazing gift of the bible in our language. We have churches at every corner practically all around the country. When was the last time you picked up your bible and read it? Or when did you last get together and fellowship with believers. Not just for dinner, but to seriously study the Word? Let me challenge you (as well as me) to get involved with a body of solid, bible believing christians. I just heard this quote the other day. No man is an island. We as humans need support and sharpening and challenges for our every day christian walk.
My thoughts are all over the place, but in a nutshell, I am so thankful for my church family and wish that everyone could find a body of believers where they are loved and accepted but also challenged in their faith. Blessings to you all today!
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