Take Me Back

What do you tell your kids when they ask, “Do we have to go to church?” Or “Why do we have to go to church?”

My response is, “We don’t have to go. God is good, he has saved us by his grace through Jesus, and we choose to worship him with the church.”

Christ established the church and it is God’s chosen vehicle for His kingdom mission.

Matthew 16:18 “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” 

To the early church, “church” wasn’t a building. The Church is the gathered body of believers, both thought history and in local expressions, that assemble with the purpose to worship God, edify each other, and carry out his mission on earth.

“Fundamentally, the church of Jesus Christ is neither a building nor an organization. Rather, it is a people, a special people, a people who see themselves as standing in relationship to the God who saves them and to each other as those who share salvation.” (Gernz)

We were created to live in community, with other Christians, and worship God in the beauty of his holiness. And as we worship, we also gather together as one body, Christ’s church, to bring glory to His name together.

“We do not enter into a building and then commence to worship. If you are not worshipping God on Monday morning, as you worshipped him the day before, perhaps you are not worshipping him at all.” (A.W. Tozer, My Daily Pursuit, p.27)

The church isn’t perfect, its full of people who are saved by his grace who gather together to worship God. If you haven’t been to a church worship service, maybe it’s time to “go to church” – check out this song from Cochren & Co – Church (Take me back)


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We can rejoice all ways

Anxiety, in the greek: to be in pieces; coming apart. Do you every have times in your life when it feels like things are coming apart – or when it feels like something or everything is in pieces and something or everything is falling apart?

“We are broken people in a broken world, looking for the Creator to restore.” Walt Mueller
 
1 Thessalonians 5:16 “rejoice always”

When we’re stuck in anxious thoughts or in the midst of a significant challenge, likely the last thing we want to do, and the most difficult thing to do is – rejoice.

What does “rejoice” actually mean? The Greek definition of that word is: to be cheerful; calmly happy or well-off; as a salutation, be well: farewell, be glad, God speed, greeting, rejoice.

Nehemiah 8:10 “…for the joy of the Lord is your strength”

Ways to Rejoice

  1. Read the Word “God’s Word is the only thing that can put human anxiety into perspective” Walt Mueller
  2. Meditate upon the teachings of Jesus – Go over the teachings of Jesus again and again
  3. Spend time with other Christians
  4. Lead others to Christ, for they will be a great source of joy – especially in the midst of tough times
  5. Sing praises to God
Psalm 100:1-5: Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

“The amygdala of the limbic system is the area typically linked to negative emotions such as fear and is normally inhibited when listening to music.” (Livestrong)

And I would add that positive and upbeat music will have a great impact. And music that is Christ-centered and helps us to rejoice in the Lord is likely the best medicine. 

Fear is normally inhibited when listening to music – Maybe this is why music has such a unique role in sports. When players are in the dressing room, they listen to music. When they’re on the court for pre-game – they listen to music. I’m a bit of a snowboarder and when I think of the Olympics, I’ve always found it cool and interesting that, just before they head down the pipe, they take a moment to get their song on and then they head out the shoot. There are probably a variety of reasons they do this, but whether they realize it or not – music inhibits fear.

As Christians, we’ve know this for thousands of years! And now more than every, we have instant access to high quality Christian music! What are you listening to? Maybe it’s time for a new playlist or app.

When fear starts to creep into your life – turn up the music, sing and rejoice. 

When you’re in your car – you can sing God’s praises. When you’re getting supper ready, when you’re at work, when you’re going for a walk, when your relaxing – we can sing praises to God – you don’t even know how to play a piano or guitar! So when we gather to worship together – we sing God’s praises. We were created to worship!

Even if you find yourself being a prison singer – you know, behind a few bars – you can sing to God!

Fear: a distressing emotion aroused by impeding danger, evil, pain, etc. whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

Anxiety: distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune

The difference between fear and anxiety is fear is derived from danger or a threat and it can lead to anxiety – distress or uneasiness of the mind. 

Happiness and fear are both processed in the amygdala – fear is processed quicker and bypasses the prefrontal cortex. But happiness, thankfulness, gratefulness, joy, love are all processed in the amygdala and can overpower fear – it just takes a few hundred milliseconds to process.

While I was studying this on Thursday, I was listening to K-Love Christian Radio and then I heard their tag line “If you’re feeling stressed – Positive Encouraging K-Love” That statement is actually scientifically true!
 
This post is part I of a sermon called Rejoice, Pray & Give Thanks

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