The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest
(I wrote this article several years ago as a reminder of how our summer plans can impact the local church and our own spiritual lives. I am posting it here for your consideration. God bless your summer)
One Sunday morning, two men were out in a boat, fishing. After several hours on the lake without catching a single fish, one of the men said to his friend, "You know, we probably should have stayed home and gone to church this morning."
The other man replied, "Well, I could have stayed home, but I couldn't have gone to church."
"Why is that?" asked his friend.
"My wife is sick," the fisherman answered.
I often wonder what God thinks of our excuses for not doing what He expects of us. While there are times when illness or crisis come along, the truth for most of us is that we generally do whatever we want to do, especially when it comes to God and matters of faith.
When summer rolls around and warm and sunny weather begins to dominate the environment, our minds tend to wander from our personal spiritual priorities. Not far behind is the annual exercise of wandering from the fellowship of believers, followed by the re-activation of the “excuse factory”. We must understand that God sees through every excuse, even if the preacher, Sunday School teacher, Elder, Deacon, or your spouse accepts it graciously. It is important to note that our responsibility to Christ, His church and our own spiritual development continues even when the weather is beautiful and opportunities for other exciting activities present themselves.
Please allow me the latitude of reminding you of some important facts that are often overlooked or forgotten in the summer time…
1. Attendance in church makes an impact on people who visit the church family on a given Sunday. If the service is full of enthusiastic disciples, the guest catches a vision that being there is both important and exciting. If the service is sparsely attended and people are looking around wondering where everyone went, or if members are drifting into the service late, the visitor gets the impression that there are far more important things to the congregation than worshipping the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul.
2. Attendance in church makes an impact on the rest of the church family. A strong turnout of excited believers brings out the best in the entire congregation. A weak attendance leads to depressed brothers and sisters who wonder where everyone went, much like a family dinner where only half of the family shows up and everyone wonders where the others are.
3. Attendance in church makes an impact on God.
He always shows up to meet with His children.
It must fill His heart with joy, when all of His lambs are present and accounted for at the appointed time. On the other hand, you can imagine how He must feel when only a small portion of the family thinks that meeting with Him is the most special part of their week.
4. Attendance in church makes an impact on you and your family. When you maintain the priority of regular worship with the church family, you continue to be fed and encouraged by the preaching, teaching and fellowship. Your children see the priority of God in the family’s life by your example. They too will learn to make the right priorities in their lives. If church attendance is unimportant to you, you will begin to lose touch with what God is doing in the church and what He wants you to do. A sermon series that can help you grow in Christ will be interrupted to the point that you fail to get the full benefit (if any) of its instruction. Your children will determine that since meeting with the Lord and His people is not important to Mom and/or Dad that it must not be important to him/her. This of course places the child’s spiritual future and, therefore, that of future generations in doubt.
5. When you are away from the family back home on your vacation, God’s church is still meeting wherever you go. He is still looking for you to show up at your usual meeting time. Worship with the church that meets there.
6. When you are away from your home church on vacation, or for whatever the reason, the expenses of God’s church continue and the missions supported by the church deserve to have uninterrupted finances. Don’t forget to leave your regular offering there for the sake of keeping His work going in the community. Ask the legitimate question, “Is it right to finance my vacation with God’s money?”
7. Scripture is quite clear about the importance of church attendance:
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” –Hebrews 10:24-27 (NIV)
How important is it for you to meet with God and His people at His appointed hour? How important is it to God? Isn’t it time you made this a top priority? You are God’s priority! It’s time to make Him yours.
Putting Him first together with you,