Tag Archives: going to church

Quit Checking Boxes


Have you ever thought you knew what someone else wanted, but it turned out you didn’t? Maybe they complimented something once, so we assume they always want that one thing. Or it could be that they told us they liked it, but we never checked back to see if their taste changed. Whatever the case, even though assumptions usually get us in trouble, we still operate on them more often than we should.

Not only do we assume what people want, we also assume what God wants. We often forget that God looks at our heart more than our actions. We treat Christianity as if there are boxes we have to check off to make God happy so He will bless us and hopefully let us go to Heaven. Go to church often: check. Give some money in the offering plate when it passes: check. Do something good for someone else every now and then: check. What if I told you that’s not what God wants?

In Hosea 6, the people assumed they knew what God wanted. They had sinned and thought, “Hey, all God wants are some sacrifices and He’ll come rescue us.” While that was God’s promise to them, they had forgotten what moves God isn’t our outward act, but our inward posture. God’s response to them in verse 6 was, “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings” (NLT). They had assumed what God wanted and were wrong.

I think what God said to them is what God wants to say to us today. He would rather we love Him than to check a bunch of religious boxes. He would rather we get to know Him on an intimate level than to do things in His name for our own glory. When you love someone, you put their needs above your own. That’s what God is looking for from you and me today. He’s looking for a selfless love from us that gets to know Him so we don’t have to assume what He wants. It starts with us putting away our religious list and spending time in His presence.

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Oops! Try again.

My son, who is almost three, is as clumsy as they come. He trips over his own feet, walks into stuff without looking and knows how to make a mess. Whenever he trips and falls, he says, “Oops! Try again.” Whenever he gets outside of the lines tracing letters on his Leap Pad and it makes him start over, he says, “Oops! Try again.” It makes me laugh every time. The other day I dropped something and it made a loud crash. He came running in there, looked at the mess, looked at me, smiled and said, “Oops! Try again.”

We could learn a lot from him. When he messes up, he doesn’t give up. He doesn’t let the mistake hold him back. He simply reminds himself to try again. Jesus spent a lot of his earthly ministry doing the same. When they brought Him the woman who had been caught in adultery, He said, “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” One by one they left. When it was just her standing there, Jesus looked up and said, “Go and sin no more.” In essence He told her, “Oops! Try again.” She messed up badly, but He offered her the chance to try again.

I’m sure Peter went through some sleepless night after he denied knowing Jesus. He knew he was going to deny Him because Jesus told him it was going to happen. Not only did he deny knowing Jesus once, but he did it three times. After Jesus rose from the dead, He met Peter on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He looked at Peter and asked, “Do you love me?” Peter responded, “You know I love you.” Jesus then said, “Then take care of my sheep.” In a way that only Jesus could do, He simply told Peter, “Oops! Try again.”

There is nothing you have done in this life that is so bad that Jesus won’t look at you and say, “Oops! Try again.” He understands that we will fail Him. He knows that we’re going to sin. He doesn’t sit there and hold it over our heads. Instead, He wants us to get back up, dust ourselves off, ask for forgiveness and then try again. The whole life of a Christian isn’t about being perfect. It’s about getting up and trying again after we fail. It’s about knowing the One who forgives and encourages us to try again.

Proverbs 24:16 says, “For the righteous falls seven times and rises again.” Being righteous doesn’t mean you won’t fall. It means you get back up and try again. If you’ve fallen and have thought that God wouldn’t take you back, let me encourage you to get back up and try again. If you haven’t been to church in forever, get back up and try again. If you think that the walls of the church would fall in if you walked in, get up and try. You couldn’t have done anything worse than to deny Jesus to His face after spending years with Him. If Jesus offered Peter the opportunity to try again, He’ll offer it to you.

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Your Faith Is Your Responsibility

Right now my phone is blowing up with pictures from all over of the lines people are standing in for the iPhone. With every launch, there seems to be this anticipation that people get so that they can have or see the newest device. Apple has been masterful at marketing and creating demand for their products. They have learned how to create demand like no other company. It’s always intriguing to me to see this.

It would be awesome to see people lined up outside of churches each Sunday in anticipation of this week’s message. It would be incredible if there was a huge demand for people to spend time with God. How would church be different if there was that kind of anticipation? What if we ourselves had that kind of anticipation to hear what God had to say to us? How would it change our lives? I don’t mean this piece to be a Jesus Juke. I’m asking myself these questions too.

I’m not suggesting we adopt a marketing strategy like Apple to get people in the door. I’m suggesting each of us who are believers get excited about God. If it’s a struggle for us week in and week out to go to church, how can we expect others to want to go? If the Bible seems boring to us, how can we expect others to be excited about it? If the thought of spending an hour in prayer (spending time with God) a day seems like a chore, why would we think anyone else would want to do it?

We keep looking at a pastor or priest to motivate us to be who God called us to be. That’s not their job. They are to reinforce what you get from God on a daily basis. What would your life look like if you only ate one meal a week? How hard would it be to survive and to do your job? Why do we think our spirit can survive on one meal a week given by someone else at a place we struggle to go to? Excitement about our faith starts with each one of us. Spiritual growth is our responsibility.

We keep looking for the church to grow and win the lost, but forget that we individually are the church. It’s our responsibility to grow the church, share our faith and win the lost. We expect the pastor to motivate us from God’s Word and never crack open the scriptures during the week. Our faith has to become exciting to us first before it can be exciting to others. We have to daily remind ourselves where we were heading, how we were feeling and what we were saved from if we want others to find what we’ve found. We can’t sit idly by knowing we’re saved without being concerned about others who aren’t.

How would your spiritual life be different if you anticipated going to church each Sunday instead of anticipating when the service will be over? How many of your friends and co-workers can see your excitement about what you believe? If they can’t, what needs to happen to reignite that flame? What do you need to do to make your faith grow and to come alive? It’s not someone else’s responsibility to get you excited about God and to motivate you to serve Him. It’s yours. It’s a daily task and I think that’s part of what Jesus meant when He told us to take up our cross daily, not just on Sunday.

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