Hope for Hump Day, May 7

What is your only comfort in life and in death?

So begins the Heidelberg Catechism. The answer tells me that my only comfort is that I am not my own, but belong, body and soul, in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

Is that true? I mean, do I live my life as if that is true? Do you live every day, every week, as though the one thing that makes life worth living and death worth facing is that you belong to Jesus Christ the Son of God and Savior of sinners?

Jesus says in John 11.25:

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, even though he die, yet shall he live.

But do we really believe this? Actually that was Jesus’ follow up question (John 11.26). Do we believe that everything this world tells us will give us life and satisfaction actually overwhelms our lives and eventually amounts to nothing?

I was in a meeting recently with some other community leaders. We were discussing ways to serve our greater community with opportunities to come together and enjoy family and friends. We were discussing parades, arts festivals for children, historical celebrations for our community, and other similar events and venues. The discussion turned to the most effective day of the week to hold these activities. One man pointed out that Saturdays were hard because of baseball and softball and soccer and other children sports events. Someone else pointed out that Sundays would eliminate or at least greatly inhibit the involvement of local churches in promoting, supporting, and taking part in these community events. One of the attendees quipped, “People are more willing to skip church than their kid’s sporting events.” Everyone laughed.

And there it is.

What is your only comfort in life and in death?
That my children have been given all the opportunities that their friends have been given to shine like the superstars they are.

What is your only comfort in life and in death?
That I make enough money to fill my two-car garage and my basement with more stuff than I my kids can use in a year.

What is your only comfort in life and in death?
That I am my own. My kids are my own. And I am in control. No one is going to hurt my children or control my children or tell my children what to do except me. I am the captain of my own ship and of my children’s destination.

What is your only comfort in life and in death?
That My kids are smarter than yours, richer than yours, prettier than yours, better than yours.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” -Mark 8.34-36

Are we teaching our children this truth? Do we even believe it ourselves? Do we believe that the God who breathed his own breath into us, shed his own blood for us, poured his own Spirit into us has every right to our devotion and love?

What are we teaching our children about the value of worship? I fear that mostly we are teaching them that worshiping God is mostly a “if there’s nothing better to do” activity. If we don’t have a game or there isn’t a game on tv or we aren’t on vacation or we aren’t getting ready for vacation or we haven’t just returned from vacation or we haven’t had a hard week or we don’t need to mow the lawn or drywall the basement or go to brunch or just have some ‘me’ time THEN we will worship God because we love Jesus and want to show him.

Are we helping our children learn to deny themselves and take up their crosses and follow Jesus, or are we giving them a false god who would never change or even deny their dreams?

Are we teaching our children that there is nothing in their lives that gives them more comfort, more value, more hope than belonging to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, or are we teaching our children that there is nothing in their lives that gives them more value, more comfort, more hope than their performance, their abilities, their sports activities, their recreation?

What would the impact be on our homes, our hearts, even our relationships in our communities if we began teaching and living out with our children that there is nothing more important in the week than gathering with God’s people to worship God and enjoy a rest together? What would have to change in our calendars, in our homes, in our hearts for that to become a reality?

“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” -Augustine of Hippo, 354-430.

Enjoy the Journey

We wish you a Merry Familymas and a Happy Family

It’s happening this year.  It happened six years ago.  It will happen again in five years; then again in six years; then we will get a break and it won’t happen again for eleven years.

 

The production of fruitcakes to replenish the ongoing re-gifting supply due to loss or actual consumption? No, although maybe.  I don’t know the production schedule for fruitcakes.

 

No, I am referring to Christmas falling on a Sunday.

 

Christians (and churches) across the U.S. (if not around the world, at least in western cultures) are making priority choices and therefore value-statements due to this apparently inconvenient double-booking.  Many churches are altering their worship plans for this coming Christmas – canceling altogether, or sending out DVD’s for some quality, living room worship, or moving services to Friday or Saturday.

 

Christmas – the very word means a worship service for Christ (Christ Mass).  We may have come full circle.  About 1600 years ago the church offered a worship service as a better way to end a week long pagan celebration of the birth of the undying sun (Saturnalia).  What better way to help God’s people avoid the idolatries and hedonistic ways of the Roman culture than to focus them on the birth of the true undying Son?  Today it seems the church is taking the opposite approach.  How can we possibly ask you to stop worshiping your family when we have arranged nearly everything in church to promote that worship?

 

Will you be skipping church on Sunday the 25th this year? Attending on the 24th in order to at least check a box?  Ask yourself why?  Every choice between two options is a value statement.  Every morning I choose to turn off my alarm at 5:30 and roll over and the gym and P90X wait yet another day.  It is a choice.  It is also a statement of what I value more.

 

Perhaps you have wonderful and delightful family traditions on Christmas.  We do.  And I love them all.  What value statement am I making, what principles am I teaching my children when I say, our traditions are simply too important to change once every 6 to 11 years.

 

We can teach our children principles, we cannot decide how they will apply them.  Is it true that some things come up in life that keep us from gathering with God’s people to adore God and worship him for the peace we have with him granted and secured for us by the birth, life, death, and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ?  Possibly.  But can you say with a straight face, “We aren’t going to church today because we are celebrating Christmas?”

 

“Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:14-15)

 

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” (Matthew 6:21,24)