November 2, 2015

I pray that your Monday is off to a joyous beginning! We have had a couple of long-time saints in our church who passed away last night. It is easy to feel a little down because we will miss them. But what an amazing Monday they are both having today! Their day is joyful to the extreme. I hope your day has a smaller amount of that joy and happiness!
Today I want to pass on some quotes from Randy Alcorn and from C.S. Lewis about the importance of the local church. Whether it be this church or another one that you are involved in, the local church is an integral part of God's plan for this world. We need to be in the business of supporting it with our time and energy and money.
Notice what Randy says here: "Consider this, in light of the number of people who have withdrawn from the local church because it 'does not meet our needs': Church is about more than meeting your needs. It is about identifying with Christ and with people who otherwise we would never engage with. Some of these people will be very different than us; some of them will be difficult. But we are difficult too, aren't we? We need to recognize the value of the local church, and not abandon it despite all its imperfections (and each of us is included in those imperfections)."
Lewis had no natural fondness for church-going. He found the sermons often dull, and he disliked hymns and organ music, which he described as "one long roar." In his spiritual autobiography Surprised by Joy—speaking of his 1929 conversion to a belief in God (two years before his full conversion to Christianity)—Lewis refers to himself as "the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England." Though reluctant, his reason commanded assent.
He was equally reluctant about church. But he went. Why? He went at first because he felt he ought to: the Scriptures that had won his reasoned assent commanded it. He went later because he learned that it was good for him and necessary for his spiritual growth. In an essay written many years after his conversion, Lewis recalls both his disgust at the services he attended and the grace that came through them:
"When I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and I wouldn't go to the churches and Gospel Halls; . . . I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren't fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit."
What an interesting look at the church from a man who is revered by the church today. C.S. Lewis went because he knew he needed to go. It wasn't that he always enjoyed it. He realized that ultimately it was also important for him and his walk with the Lord. I hope each of you realizes the same today!!
Happy Birthday this Thursday to my youngest son, Caleb!!