Confessions of a Professional Christian – Going to Church

churchI was about 7 when I was pretty much forced to go to church (this pic is actually where I went to church!). I didn’t want to go. But after a short time, I actually wanted to go. Why? Because I met a friend and we were best friends til I moved away before tenth grade. For some reason, I could always be myself at church, which wasn’t always a good thing. In school, I was a perfect angel. In church, well, I got kicked out of Sunday School a few times. I didn’t always agree with my teachers. The teachers wanted to teach.  I wanted to make people laugh. I know. I know…priorities…

By the time High School came around, going to church was pretty much a habit. I don’t remember much about the services or getting much out of them, but growing more familiar with the Scriptures was pretty much all I remembered in my growth (though I’m sure there was more).  I also remember being released from my duties as a sound tech.  Guess they didn’t like the extra high pitched squeals…

College was different. No parental pressure, though there was an unwritten pressure from Christian peers (I went to a Christian college).  So I went to church sometimes on my own.  My attendance dropped a bit from High School…until I found myself in a singing group that toured the area singing at churches. That kept me in the church.  God knew what He was doing…

But what about now?  Honestly, at times, it is a struggle.  Sometimes, going to church is a way of life.  It is what you do as a Christian.  You go to church.  See people.  Talk. Learn a bit.  Serve.  Then go home.  Done.  Until next Sunday and you repeat the cycle.  Wash.  Rinse.  Repeat. This is what it seems like sometimes.  At least, it does to me as a professional Christian.  Church becomes a Christian tradition, a meaningless Christian activity that should help us in our walk, but doesn’t.  Sermons are fine.  Worship is OK.  People…well….most are pretty good…but going to church isn’t as uplifting as we desire.

Truth is, when church feels this way or it becomes a Christian activity, something is not right in our spirits.  Spiritual growth is stagnant at church because it is stagnant outside of church.  We’re not being fed at church partially because we’re not hungry enough.  Loving people is lacking because loving God is lacking.  Focus is often on the self while others, including God, simply become other characters in the church story life of blah.  Of course, if we stayed in this mental place, going to church would simply become depressing.

Overall, I find this to be true: If church simply becomes a meaningless traditional Christian activity of the week, than the focus of my heart is too small.  The best part about church is this: as a part of the body of Christ, we are part of something bigger than ourselves.  It helps us to redirect our focus on what matters:  1) God & 2) God’s mission.  Going to church helps us to look beyond ourselves and focus on loving others and focus on God.  It helps us to see that we are not the center of our worlds.

One thing I ask the Lord, that as He changes me, that I would not implode by my own self-centeredness, but be amazed by His glory, His love, His Majesty, and His Awesomeness. I pray that church does not become a traditional thing to do, but an opportunity to leave my world of me and drink deeply of Him.  I pray that I will cooperate with Him in preparing my heart to hear His by reading His Word and reading other godly books that will draw me to Him.  Why did I write this article?  Because I am a professional Christian.  And the “every Sunday” can become mundane.  So, I, like many others, need to be reminded that I need Him and that I need His people to love and to be loved by…Overall, I need to go to church.

Loving Your Wife in a Godly Marriage

Getting ready for the wedding day, most brides and grooms choose a location for the reception, the food, the tuxes and bridesmaids dresses, the photographer, the DJ, and of course, the cake.  Ah, the wedding cake.  It’s tradition that the cake be a wonderful masterpiece with an elegant design, where all guests must revel in its beauty.  After the announcement that the bride and groom will cut the cake, the guests surround the newlyweds while hearing the oh so annoying cake-cutting song.  How will the cake be fed to the newleywed spouse?  Will it be a tender placement of the delectable cake upon the other’s tongue, or will the cake be ever so lovingly smashed in the other person’s face?  I was threatened by several women family members that they would disown me if I gave into temptation to match my bride’s face to her dress (white, that is).  They weakly explained to me that it isn’t very loving to do this to your bride.  I disagreed, but desiring not to hear their complaints for the remainder of my days, I fed my bride…lovingly.

What does it mean to love your wife?  To give her everything that she wants?  To watch soap opera’s and Oprah with her (Please, God, NO!!)?  In order to get a better understanding of loving your wife, it is important to understand that our marriages are a reflection of the greater marriage between Christ (the bridegroom) and the church (the bride).  So we must first pay special attention to how Christ loved the church, after all, Eph. 5:25 does say we should love our wives as Christ loved the church…

Communication:  How did /does the Bridegroom communicate with the Bride?  First, the Bridegroom revealed himself to His bride.  He did not stay far away, but he entered her world, her hurts, her trust.  Though the Bridegroom had it much better in Heaven, out of love he willingly placed himself with her.  He listened to her hurts and cries and had compassion.  He did not say, “Wait til commercial.”  Instead, he listened to her heart and to what her real needs were.  His words to his bride are loving direction, never careless advice nor dismissive words.  His words always invite his bride into a deeper relationship with him.  He looks closely upon her heart and refuses to judge (though he has every right to).  The Bridegroom, in love, woos the Bride with his love and his word.  He does not threaten, force, coerce, punish, or manipulate the Bride to give her love.  He desires it, but never demands it.

Service:  How did / does the Bridegroom serve the Bride?  The Bridegroom’s life is characterized by service to his Bride.  His love for her motivates him to sacrifice his life for her without the demand that she does so in return.  He realized that even in doing so, his Bride will not return the same intense and unadulterated love he had given, but that still does not deter him from loving and sacrificing for her.  He sees the sacrifice for his bride as the ultimate form of love for her, to give up his life for her, his beautiful bride.  Her sin does not change his love for her, but he eagerly desires her repentance and return to him.

Intimacy (pronounced into-me-see):  What does intimacy mean between the Bride and Bridegroom?  The Bridegroom desires real intimacy with his Bride.  He does not desire so much what she can give him, as much as the closeness in the relationship.  Being “naked and unashamed” with his Bride is disclosure of who they are inside and out.  It is the removal of anything that gets in the way of this closeness (sin, idols, etc.).   He is so passionate about sharing intimacy with her that he will sacrifice himself to remove these barriers for his bride, if she will let him.  Intimacy is about the connection of two hearts as “one.”

Loving our wives like Christ loved the church is one of the most highest and difficult callings we will ever have.  We were created for relational intimacy with Christ and with our wives (“It is not good that man be alone“).  The idols of our hearts, pride, and selfishness get in the way of a beautiful relationship we are meant to have.  If Christ-likeness is our goal (Rom 8:29), then we must remove the sins that entangle us and keep us from intimacy, and love our Brides as the Bridegroom loved his Bride…as Christ loves you.  As you do so, watch and see what the Lord will do in your lives.

This portion was taken from the Marriage Seminar: Building a Godly Marriage.  For more information about this seminar from Foundations Christian Counseling Services, please call Fred Jacoby at 570-402-5088.