Do we Need to go to Church to be Christians?

 

Are You Wrinkled with Burden?

 Come to Church and Get a Faith Lift

                                                 

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Romans 12:10

 

Do we need to go to church to be Christians? Not in the thinking of a many people. Do we need to go to church to grow and be strong Christians? In my thinking, yes—it is a must.

I find this second thought important in my own life. Where else can I sit and share my beliefs in God more than in God’s house. Those people who think the same way need me there to support them—and I need them to support me.

There are many times when we face sickness, sorrow or tragedy. People will pray for us, and we will pray for them. Jesus calls His children to a community where they gather and share together.

We know that we need to be with brothers and sisters in Christ if we are to grow in the Spirit. When we are with other Christians, we begin to feel more like loving one another, and feel free to share without fear. Christians who gather together learn that each member is a special present from God—someone with whom we can share and grow spiritually.

 

As the bumper sticker suggests: We can get a faith lift every time we come to church and share with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Spending each Sunday with people who love us and want to help us grow is one way to have many close encounters with God.

I have developed some close friendships with Christians from my home church and we keep in touch during the week. It helps me to stay on level with God and to be strong.

We can stay strong another way—as part of a Bible study during the week. Most churches have study groups that are a comfortable place to share and grow.

There is also an international Bible study group (Bible Study Fellowship—BSF) that I attend during the week. There are groups for just men and groups for just women. Some women’s groups meet during the day. Many meet on the same weeknight evening so both spouses can attend at the same time while their children are part of program geared to their age group.

There is a different study in each term of the seven-year cycle and you eventually get a great overview of the entire Bible. I have been blessed each year I’ve gone and have developed close friendships there. After the lecture over the passage we study during the week on our own, my small group of ten to twelve men meets. We share our hurts and needs at the end of each session. Some men would not open up in other settings, but they feel safe at BSF.

 

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and the he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

 

Further adventures

  1. Visit your neighbors and talk to them about coming to church. I realize this may be a difficult assignment. It may be uncomfortable to speak up for the Lord, but just think if everyone in your neighborhood was a strong Christian. What if they all went to churches where they were growing in the Lord? What a glorious place to live. What a boost that would be. Isn’t it worth trying to tell your neighbors about your church, and more importantly about your Savior?
  2. Call a fellow Christian from your church and thank him or her for being there for you. Although they may not understand what you mean, they will be grateful for your thoughtfulness and glad they have contributed to your life. Your friendship may even grow stronger.

 

Something to ponder

Isn’t it funny that even every hair on your head is counted by God?


 *Excerpt from: Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World

God Doesn’t Make Mistakes. He Made You

Hate Is Not a Family Value

 

You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemy.”

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Matthew 5:43–44

 

I have had students say things to other children that I couldn’t help but think came from their own homes. Surely these 8–11-year-old children couldn’t have learned so much hate anywhere else. They learned about discrimination and bigotry right in their own homes—perhaps because the parents also grew up with hate and prejudice.

Hate should not be a family value, but it feeds on generations of hate. And it will not stop being handed down as long as each family member continues to let hate breed within them. Someone needs to break the chain so that it stops in this generation.

If you are one who fuels hate, prejudice or discrimination, it has to stop with you! We must realize that it can stop when each of us decides to do something about it and banish it from our thinking. We accomplish nothing by showing hate or even simply looking down on other people as “beneath” us. We are all people of worth, and we need to respect that in everyone.

Proverbs 22:6 reminds us of this important thought: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.”

As parents and grandparents, change can start with us. We have the responsibility to teach our children to love and respect others. Imagine what a change there would in the world if everyone started to respect and love each other.

God didn’t create anything that wasn’t good. Each and every person (and thing) on earth was created by God. He does not make mistakes. He has a purpose for everything and everyone He created. Each of us has the same value to Him. Therefore, we should consider everyone around us as one of His creations and love them as we would love ourselves.

Hate never works any good in the end. We may try to hate, and shun someone, but we are the losers when we do. We wallow in our own mire and muck trying to hate our neighbors, but the only misery it causes is our own.

It really is so much easier to love someone than to work so hard at hating him or her. The stress level is much higher when you hate someone, and you never feel like you’ve won the game. Loving someone reaps many rewards—peace, for instance. Hating someone only destroys the crop—and eats away at you.

Avoid the rush. Be one of the first in your world to reach out and love those with whom who you’ve had conflict. They will be surprised, and may not react right away. But in the end they will respect you. They will have the burden on their shoulders to either accept your peace offering, or they will be the ones who get to wallow in the muck and mire.

Who would you rather it be—them or you?

 

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Luke 6:27–28

 

Further adventures

Think about what your parents taught you. Are they values you want to pass on to your children? Are they values you live by today? Do they teach tolerance and love? If not, do some soul-searching. For the sake of your children, take time to evaluate your thinking. If it isn’t quite what you think you want your children to know, do something about it. Get into the Word and see what God says about loving your neighbor—and yes, even loving your enemy.

 

Something to ponder

Isn’t it funny that when you smile you have more face value?

 * Excerpt from: Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World

The Cross is Just a Piece of Wood From a Tree

One Cross + 3 Nails = 4 Given

 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever

believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

 

Have you ever thought about the cross? It was just a piece of wood. It came from an everyday tree. It was shaped for one purpose: death! Think about the cross you may be wearing, or the one you see during your church service. Have you ever really thought about the pain this one piece of wood caused?

History knows about the cross, and some people have despised it. The cross is worn by millions of people. It is often gold-plated and worn as jewelry—usually not to symbolize what it really means, or to show our faith. But the cross really means dying. A cross was used to punish the guilty. It displayed the offender in front of others so they would “learn a lesson” and not do the same thing. Bottom line: It was a torture device to show the power of the leaders during their time.

People try to ignore the significance of the cross, but they can’t. It is the piece of lumber that makes the biggest claim in the history of man. After all, when Jesus was here on earth, He hung on that cross, claiming to be the Savior for all mankind. He even had the nerve to claim He was God Himself!

Jesus was a carpenter and knew how hard it was to toil each day with his hands and a hammer. He had calluses on His hands even though those hands touched a blind man’s eyes and caused him to see. He used those same calloused hands when He touched a leper and he was healed. He knew what hard work was, and yet He had a tender touch that healed hundreds of people.

This is the God of love brought down to earth in the form of a man—a person with flesh and blood like you and me. Full of hurts. Full of sadness. Full of fear. Didn’t He cry out to God to “take this cup from Me”? Wasn’t He whipped, slapped and spat upon? Didn’t He slowly and painfully walk with that cross on His shoulders knowing that He would soon be hung on it and go through tremendous hurt and suffering? From the cross, didn’t He ask God why He had forsaken Him? Wouldn’t you have a little fear?

So we have the cross ready for the crucifixion. How about those nails? They weren’t tiny nails you’d use to build a birdhouse in the backyard. These were spikes—large nails about five inches long. They crushed the bones and caused pain that was beyond description.

Imagine your fear as they placed your left hand on that cross and get ready to pound that nail through your hand. The mallet comes down, and you scream in pain. But before you can catch your breath, they are nailing your right hand down.

Now that they have you securely part of the cross, they put your feet together, one on top of the other and slam another spike through both of them at once.

Do you feel the pain? Do you get the picture? Can you now relate to the sacrifice that Jesus had to go through so that you wouldn’t have to?

He was hurting, He was in great pain, and He cried out to God, just like you and I would, but He knew what He was doing had to be done for you and me.

He even had to look down and see the soldiers gambling for His clothes. That must have made Him feel even worse. They were at His feet, but they didn’t even know He was the Savior. He didn’t scold them. He didn’t cry out in anguish. He wanted them to know the One whose clothes they were throwing the dice for would come back to give them another chance.

Think of His arms spread out across the cross. Open arms. Arms that will hold you and show you love when we are in heaven.

Think even deeper about a mother watching her son die. Having Mary watch Him die had to cause Jesus another level of pain—perhaps even worse than any whippings or the nails driven through His hands and feet. He gave her one final look and then He said good-bye, handing her over to John’s care. Think of what Mary went through right at the moment He said, “It is finished.” Her son was dead, and she had to watch Him slowly fade away from her.

One final gesture. One more time of showing us how much He loved us. One last effort to tell us to seek Him so we can be with Him in heaven. After all, He died for us so we wouldn’t have to feel the pain. It is that simple. He went through all the torture, pain, aloneness, fear, for each one of us.

The next time you see a cross around someone’s neck or see one on top of a church, think of what Jesus went through so you can have eternal life. Try to see Him on that cross, with the crown of thorns on his head and the crimson blood flowing down His face. He is looking at you, and wants you to know that it is OK. He wants you to know that He did this for you, so that you will have eternal life. It should give you a much stronger feeling of what the cross stands for.

 

This is love: not that we loved God, but the he loves us and

sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:10

 

Further adventures

Take time each day to thank God for sending His only Son to die for you on the cross. Start out every prayer time, or devotional time, praising God for what He has done for you. The whole meaning of Christianity started with the cross. Think about how the love Jesus flowed out for you through His blood on the cross.

 

Something to ponder

Isn’t it funny how some people wear the cross and never know what it means?

(Excerpt from: Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World.)