#weshallassemble

This new tag began to trend on social media last Sunday. As thousands of churches across the country elected not to meet in person to limit the spread of the Coronavirus, Christians all over began to find alternative ways of meeting.

Some Christians met by having their own time of worship.

Families studied, prayed, and communed together.

Some churches took to the radio and even to television.

Thousands, like Burns, took our services online.

As of 10am on Thursday, our morning worship service showed up more than 2,600 times on people’s phones, computers, and tablets.  The video was viewed in part 1,514 times. I know that most of those views were just for a few seconds as people scrolled on down to the next thing on their feeds, but well over 100 “connections” watched from beginning to end. Remember that many of these connections represented families or friends worshipping together. I suspect that even though our auditorium was empty, last Sunday may have been our highest-attended service in history! Several even participated in worship services from churches all over the country.

I can’t wait to get back together to hug and high five and fist bump and be in the same room, but I love that even when we can’t assemble in person, we still assemble. It’s a reminder of the deeper truth that the assembly of Christians is always bigger than our assembly. I’m privileged to be part of that assembly!

All Ear

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)

What does God want?

The same thing any parent wants. He wants his children to listen and obey.

Why does he command?

Why does any parent command? He wants his children to grow and be safe and be good and be everything that they could be.

This preacher’s story is attributed to Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I sure like the idea:

A missionary translator was struggling to find a word for obedience. There are a lot of words that are hard to move from one language to another. One day, he called his dog. When the dog came running, one of the locals praised the dog and said, “Your dog is all ear!”

That became the perfect idiom for obedience: “to be all ear.”

Do we listen and hear what God is telling us? Do his words go in one ear and out the other?

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

God Favors Faithfulness

Someone has said that in war Providence is on the side of the strongest regiments. And I have noted that Providence is on the side of clear heads and honest hearts; and whenever a man walks faithfully in the ways that God has marked out for him, Providence, as the Christian says—luck, as the heathen says—will be on that man’s side. In the long run you will find that God’s Providence is in favor of those who keep His laws, and against those that break them.

—Henry Ward Beecher

I know that doing right is not a guarantee that good things will happen to us. Under the sun, the race isn’t always won by the fastest nor is the battle always won by the strongest (Ecclesiastes 9:11). However, when we do things right, generally good things tend to happen.

Sometimes people speak of “being on the right side of history.” It is embarrassing to look back and see people arguing in favor of slavery. We want our grandchildren’s children to judge that we were doing right. We don’t want to be in the wrong.

The surest way to be judged right in the end, and the path most likely to lead towards a successful life, is the path that follows the instruction of God. After all, isn’t God himself the definition of right?

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)

Slaves to the Clock

When we come home from work tomorrow, the sun will still be shining. What will we do?

I love seeing the sun when I get home, but I hate how out of whack both time changes make me feel. The kids don’t adjust quickly. We don’t feel right for a few days. A study in Sleep Medicine found that the spring shift to DST correlates to a 6% spike in fatal car accidents during the following workweek. It’s hard to prove, but that lost hour of sleep may kill 28 people per year.

We have a strange relationship with the clock. What was supposed to be a tool to help us divide the day into manageable pieces has become a taskmaster for us. Did you know that the minute hand was only added to clocks in 1680? The second hand didn’t become popular until the 1700s, and it was the 1900s before the second hand was centered on the clockface. Most of us simply didn’t need that degree of precision.

Do you manage your time, or does it manage you? Do you find yourself wishing away your time, wanting the next phase of life to get here? Do you rush ahead of the clock and worry about tomorrow? Do you try to swim up the waterfall of time and obsess over what happened yesterday? Or like so many, do you kill time without thinking about the scarcity of this most precious resource?

Don’t be mastered by time. Use the precious gift of life, given one moment at a time, to God’s glory.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV)