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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Extremism about Attendance?

Shelby Camp, Lewis, Roman, Kinley (l-r)

I heard this question from someone last week: “Do you really think that taking children to a second worship service on Sunday in a congregation where you don’t regularly attend should be a priority over spending quality time with a close family member?” I’ve thought about that a lot. 

The answer is “yes.”  A simple yes. Quality time in corporate worship of the One who sustains us is always more important than spending that time with any human being or in any material effort. But the important and overarching truth is that children need consistency. They need to see consistency in our ordered lives for the Lord, above all. They need to see, over and over and over again, that every single time the saints are assembling at regular times, we are there. They need to expect this and they do not need to see exceptions made for schedules that can easily be altered to accommodate the consistent pattern they’ve come to observe in our families. It takes something pretty big for our families to give consent to miss school, tournaments, performances and activities that have involved a lot of financial investment. How much more should parents take advantage of this extremely tangible and obvious display of devotion to God? As a matter of fact, when they see us making an extreme effort to be at every service or make a provision for a worship time when traveling, in lieu of the one we are missing in our home congregations, they are even more impressed at how important the spiritual things are in our hearts. They understand that every relationship pales into insignificance compared to the one we have with the Father we adore. They understand that every activity is in the background of, and is influenced by the commitment we have to our older Brother. They come to know that, in a world that rushes and presses our schedules, “there’s a place of quiet rest near to the heart of God.”  They know. They see.

My friend Shelby Camp had a tiny newborn in the NICU on a ventilator on a Sunday morning last spring. She and her husband Billy made the decision to go to worship God on that day instead of going to the hospital. She said this: “Why would we go to the hospital, where we can do nothing, when we can go and worship the One who can do anything?” 

She said it all. 

Going to worship as a matter of course is not extremism. It’s Daniel praying in the window toward the holy city. It’s a staunch commitment to never change the course of our sanctified lives because there’s an inconvenience or even a threat. Daniel could have reasoned it was way more important to continue his work for God’s people, in a land given over to idolatry than it was to bow in front of the window. He could have hidden to pray in an inner chamber. But it was matter of course and his example still talks, from a den of lions, to our families today. 


Questions and Answers: All Dirty Uniforms Welcome!


When ball games, work, or other activities in which our young people may participate require them to leave mid-game, mid-practice etc…in order to make it to the services of the church, is it a wrong thing for them to wear their uniforms to worship services or Bible classes?


Are you kidding me? What better statement to the church, the world, the Lord and the devil can a young person make than the one he wears to that service! He says “I was involved in what many people consider to be the most important part of life: sports. But that’s not the most important thing to me.” She says “ I’ve had to make it clear to those on my team and to my coach that my participation in this activity is a distant second to my faithfulness to the assemblies of God’s people.” It is a statement that so many of our adults need to hear.

When our young people wear ball uniforms to worship, my husband stands from the pulpit and makes a very clear object lesson from the young people who sit there in that attire. He says something along these lines: “We are so blessed to have young people of faith who chose to be at the gospel meeting tonight. Look at these guys in their uniforms. They left the field at the bottom of the seventh inning. They don’t know whether their team has won or lost. But there is one victory they are determined to win and it is the most important one. We are privileged to have men in uniform in our midst. And it’s a blessing to get to clean up a little dirt if it falls from the cleats of these guys. I know you will tell them how proud you are of the choice they made tonight.”

I have, unfortunately, heard of those who have criticized these young people for wearing uniforms to services. How could any church member get his conscience’s consent to discourage a teen or child who has made such an extremely difficult decision by criticizing the wearing of the uniform? I would be afraid of the wrath of Diety who called a little child to him and said “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven…But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for Him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the sea.”

For every one of these children who show up in uniform there are generally several adults who made conscious choices to be elsewhere that Wednesday night or during that particular service of the meeting. Perhaps our time would be better spent addressing the decisions of those who are failing to seek first the kingdom (lovingly helping them arrange priorities), than addressing whether or not the kids who made courageous decisions to fly in the face of negative peer pressure are spic and span when the first song begins. May their souls always be clean. May their lives always be unspotted. But let all dirty uniforms be welcome!


Q&A: Advice about Priorities

I need a bit of advice. We are close to three couples in particular at our congregation who can spend all day at football games but who cannot make Sunday school, Sunday night service, or Wed. night.  They just don’t seem to feel well enough to attend all the services. Sometimes they have headaches or are just too tired to even stay for the entire time on Sunday morning. I NEED ADVICE on how to talk to them about their priorities. I have encouraged until I am blue in the face…and find myself unable to sleep and getting discouraged over their “inabilities” to attend church services. Any suggestions…? I know it’s late. Tomorrow will be fine for a reply. Thanks Cindy.
♥ Jillian
Dear Jillian,
Well, this is very sad and, if unchecked, can have eternal consequences, both for them and for those they could be influencing with a good example. First, I’d sit down with the elders, if you have them, and express this very valid concern. If they are Biblically what they should be, they will be happy to talk to these couples and voice this concern, since they are the ones who have to give an account for their souls on the judgment day (Heb.13:17). I would also talk to your preacher, if he hasn’t ever addressed this in his Sunday morning teaching (that’s probably when they and others who might really need this teaching would be present), and humbly ask him to consider teaching on it. Perhaps the elders would ask him to do this. Then, personally, I would take the ladies for coffee or lunch, after praying hard about this conversation for a week, and then just tell them that you are not presuming to be sin-free; that you want them to come to you and help you be spiritually mature whenever they can. Then tell them that you have wanted to say this for a long time because you feel so close to them and want to be in heaven with them. Then, spit it out. Include verses that trouble you…like Mt.6:33. Include also how that when you take the Lord’s supper, you are forced to think about how inconvenient it was for Jesus to be carrying that cross on his bloody back up to Golgotha; how He probably had been through quite a long night that previous Thursday night; how He probably didn’t feel really good trekking up that hill for me… in fact he probably felt pretty nauseated. But, even when he could have called 10,000 angels, he stayed. Also, tell them that it’s helpful for you to ask this when trying to decide if I really can be at worship/Bible study or not: “If this was a University of ____________ football game and my son was playing, would I feel good enough to be there?” Give yourself some tests like this. That’s what we do when we “examine ourselves” during the Lord’s supper (I Cor.11:28). I am the only one who can examine me. But others can help me be faithful and will help me be faithful if they love me and if their priorities in our friendship are what they should be. Another good self test is this: If Jesus were attending at ___________church during this service, would I be able to make it there? Well, scripturally,…He is (Matt. 18:20). You also need to talk to your husband. Be sure he is praying and the two of you decide who would be most effective having this talk…you to the girls or him to the guys.

Remember this, too. It may not work. You may be “put in your place.” But if you did it with the right spirit (Gal.6:1), and you will, it is still the right thing to do in view of a looming judgment and the obvious nature of this half-hearted Christianity. Remember, too, that sometimes people get angry before they come to repentance. This has happened in my personal experience several times.

When you have done this, try not to worry any more. When you see these people, treat them with the ultimate kindness and try to maintain the closeness. You can’t MAKE people do right. (But you can make a sacrifice of some of your comfort zone in behalf of their eternities. It’s just the best gift you have to offer them.) I’m really thankful you are in the position and have the will to help these people. Life is short. Eternity is …well, eternal. Keep me posted. I will pray.
Love you,