We work with kids who have been abused, abandoned and neglected. I am convinced that the answer to their healing does not lie in a program nor intervention, but solely in Jesus Christ. Once they know Jesus, He will set them free from their past hurts and heal them. Only Christ can make new what has been damaged and replace the years that have been stolen.
I am not saying that it matters not how we interact with the boys, indeed we are the hands and feet of Christ, perhaps the only example of Jesus some will ever see. And surely God will use us in the healing process.
We all have experiences in our lives that have hurt us or that we wish we had not walked through. But we can not live stagnant lives focusing on those past traumas. We must leave the old man with his experiences behind and push forth towards the future with Christ as our hope.
One of my favorite stories I love to share with the boys is that of Joseph. (Genesis ch. 37-47) He was abused and mistreated by his brothers to the point of being sold into slavery, but what Satan meant for evil God meant for good. God used Joseph not only to save his family, but to save a nation.
God can take our greatest hurts and disappointments and turn them into something beautiful. But the key is to take our eyes off of our tragedies and to focus on Him.
We have an outreach team here this week and as province would have it we sprung a water leak in the living room ceiling. Pipes in the bathroom above the living room have been leaking into the concrete ceiling and walls and have made their way into a small pool in our living room and office floor. So while life is already busy we have emptied the living room contents into the dining room so that the workers can make repairs this week. While they are at it, there is some moisture damage in our hallway and laundry room, so all that furniture is in the dining room as well.
From the narrow path that leads through the dining room I can see my piano. It is hidden behind a stack of laundry baskets, barricaded by a couple pieces of furniture. It is calling my name as it always does when times are difficult.
Finances are exceedingly low for Hope House. We have made cut backs and continual adjustments this year to help expenditure match donations, but the stress of the situation weighs heavily on me.
I pray and try to roll this burden onto the Lord, after all it is His Children’s Home, not mine. But the weight of the situation is like a cloak laden upon my shoulders.
And from the narrow path my piano beckons me, “Come!”
Now I know, that practically speaking, nothing will happen if I blaze a trail through the stuff piled high in my dining room and sit on the piano bench. But, I know a secret that lures me to worship. In worship the cloak that weighs on me will be lifted and after spending time in His presence, the burden that I feel in this moment will no longer seem so heavy.
So I contemplate re-arranging that furniture this morning, even if it is only 6am. Just to be able to spend a few moments with The King gaining fresh perspective for my day.
How do you react to life’s pressures? How do you seek His face? What do you do to gain fresh perspective?
Pastor Gary Smith says,
“Those who can praise the Lord in trials have a powerful testimony. Their testimony says, ” My God is real when things are going well and my God is real when everything falls apart. He is God and He is sufficient.”
Charles H. Spurgeon said, “Any fool can sing in the day. It’s easy to sing when we can read the notes by daylight. But the skillful singer is the one who can sing when there is not a ray of light to read by. Songs in the night come only from God. They are not in the power of man.”
So, on that note, I think I’ll go spend so time with the Lord.
“We all have those times when there are no flashes of light and no apparent thrill to life, where we experience nothing but the daily routine with its common everyday tasks. The routine of life is actually God’s way of saving us between our times of great inspiration which come from Him. Don’t always expect God to give you His thrilling moments, but learn to live in those common times of the drudgery of life by the power of God.”
Excerpt From: Oswald Chambers “My Utmost for His Highest.”
Everyone wants to live on the mountain top. To have enough money to go and do what we would like without the worry of having to hold down a job, cook, mow the grass or wash laundry. And yet life without responsibilities isn’t reality. People long to have the title, but to bear the weight of decision making and the responsibility that comes with the job is often an after thought. It is easy to desire all the glimmer without the mundane.
Life was never meant to be a series of mountaintop experiences. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – (John 16:33) The true stage of life is to be played out in everyday settings, surrounded by an audience of common individuals who live life with us.
If you find your life dull and lacking luster, take heart! The everyday valley is where God has ordained that we live life as an example of Him. It takes nothing extraordinary to be a Godly example when all is going well, but when life throws a curve and there is no glitter to be found, that is the true test of our allegiance to Christ. It is in those moments that we discover if our relationship is genuine or only skin deep. It is in those real life moments that the power of Christ can most readily impact those witnesses who are observing us.
What image of Christ are others seeing when they observe your life?
I don’t always enjoy going to church. (Oops, did I say that out loud!) Oh, don’t pretend to piously judge me, you know there have been days that you would have rather slept in or stayed home. Those Sunday’s when you don’t enjoy the music and can barely keep your eyes open during the sermon. (Don’t try to hide it, I’ve seen you snoozing in your seat in front of me.) And for those of us who serve in ministry, haven’t you experienced days when you don’t want to lead worship or preach the sermon. For whatever reason you may have stayed up too late the night before and you could barely pull yourself out of bed or maybe you are going through a difficult time or perhaps your are just plain distracted. (Suffering from Fibromyalgia, I often find myself restless with pain, which sometimes makes paying attention nearly impossible.) At any rate, there we sit, going through the motions outwardly, but inside daydreaming of being somewhere else or doing something else. It makes me wonder, “Do you think that God ever intended His church to feel that way?”
On the other hand, there are those church services where it seems all that glitters is gold. Where the worship is more like something off a music video and the sermon delivered from a Talk Show host. And as exciting as it is, I wonder, “Do you think that God ever intended His church to be that way?”
God’s church is not a building nor a denomination, but rather His family. Like most families, God’s family is comprised of people with different likes, tastes and preferences. And yet His family is made up of people from all continents, with different skin color, speaking different languages, and worshiping in different ways.
Because we are unique, we hold different beliefs and have different experiences. We may not agree on everything, but we are expected to put aside our differences to live peacefully with one another. Just as our earthly families are important to us, God’s family is important to Him and spending time together is one of those essential elements which He longs for us to do. In Hebrews 10:25, we are instructed not to stop fellowshipping together.
The essential element that binds us together is more than simply enjoying the same things, our belief in the one true God, Jesus Christ is the key that gains entrance into God’s family. John 3:16 states,
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His son, that whoever believes in Him should have eternal life.”With this in mind I ask, “Is fellowshipping together too much to ask from a God who willingly gave His son so that we could gain eternal adoption into His family?”
If you are struggling with the value of attending church here are a few interesting articles, which might challenging your thinking and rekindle your enthusiasm for worshiping with God’s people.
“Worshiping Jesus together may be the single most important thing we do. It plays an indispensable role in rekindling our spiritual fire, and keeping it burning. Corporate worship brings together God’s word, prayer, and fellowship, and so makes for the greatest means of God’s ongoing grace in the Christian life.” David Mathis
“What if God wants these unwanted distractions to show us more of himself and more about what it means to love his children than we could see alone at home with our Bibles?” Marshall Segal
“No matter what kind of week you’ve had, God may be pleased to turn it all around on any given Sunday.” David Mathis
“In corporate worship, we taste together what we were made for. Together we sample the feast of the coming new heavens and new earth.” David Mathis
Throughout the years, I have experienced God in amazing ways during corporate worship, but honestly those unique moments have been few and far between. Much of the time spent corporately, I would not consider extraordinary. Like many others, I experience God most profoundly when I am alone with Him. Why is it then that pastors continually talk about the importance of church attendance?
In a class, my professor shared a conversation he had with his friend who was thinking of leaving the church. His comment has been circling my mind for months. He said, “Perhaps you think that you don’t need the church, but maybe, they need you!”
Have you ever thought about the fact that the corporate church needs you? Going to church should not be wholly centered around what we can get from the experience, but we should also consider what we can give to God and His people.
No matter our opinion on Corporate Worship, one thing is for certain, Jesus values His church and by following His example, we should too.