If You See Me Coloring in Church

Copyright: Happy Color

Don’t freak out.

It seems I’m always learning new things about myself. Or perhaps, more accurately, I’m gaining more understanding about what I’ve known for years. In school I couldn’t just listen to lectures; I had to take notes. I may never look at them again, but they made all the difference between getting nearly nothing from the lecture and getting…well, maybe not everything, but certainly a whole lot more. Taking the notes, handwritten notes, helped my sometimes overactive brain focus on what I was hearing rather than running off in a hundred different directions.

So let’s head to church. Like most, I used to sit in a pew with my Bible in hand. I had to take notes, of course, but I eventually realized that I also had a secondary problem. Way too often, my eye would be caught by a verse near the one the minister had us reading and my self-propelled brain would dash off into thoughts about that verse, sometimes never to return to the ministry going on in front of me.

I tried all sorts of things through the years, eventually settling on restricting myself to a Bible app on my phone, thus limiting the rabbit trail options, but that only helped with part of the problem. Hand writing the notes wasn’t helping as much anymore, so I switched to taking notes on my phone. Switching between apps slowed me down and helped, but I still had trouble concentrating and retaining.

And then I had some fascinating conversations with a friend who has dealt with similar issues. She explained that she needed to be doodling or sketching while listening if she wanted to retain, that it helped her stay focused. I don’t sketch, but I do have a color-by-number app on my phone, so I dared to disobey tradition and open it during a sermon.

Oh

My

Word

It made all the difference! Being color by number, it’s a virtually mindless activity. It’s not enough to distract me from the message, but is enough to keep my eyes and hands occupied so that THEY don’t distract me from the message. It gives my antsy brain that one little bit of extra work required to make it settle down and actually concentrate on what’s being said.

Since I started doing this, I am more connected with Pastor’s messages than ever, take better sermon notes now than I have in a very long time, and leave service without the frustration that used to stalk me when I knew I’d missed too much. It is an absolutely amazing solution that works for me, and I’m so glad my friend helped me head in the right direction.

So if you see me coloring in church, don’t freak out; it’s a good thing.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

The Power of a Seed

A seed has an innate command to grow and, all things being equal, when it is planted it will obey that command. I’ve been thanking God for that fact this morning.

I’ve always thought I was raised serving God, but in reality I wasn’t, or not like one might think. When I was very young, we were in church, and seeds were planted. Then, for maybe a year or so while I was in junior high, we were in church again and more seeds were planted. And where regular church attendance is concerned that was it.

But seeds were still being planted. They may have been few, during conversations with my parents and grandparents, during that one week spent in Vacation Bible School, during Sunday morning Christian cartoons…. But they were being planted, and they grew, and they bore fruit, and I am where I am today.

So today I’ve been thanking God for each and every one of those seeds that were planted in my life. I’ve also been thanking Him for those seeds I’ve had the honor of planting in others’ lives.

Maybe I only managed to get one seed in the ground, one word about the love of God settled into someone’s heart during a brief conversation. I’ve been reminded today that even that one word can be enough.

Never discount the power of the words you get to plant as you speak into others’ lives, the power of your actions as you show God’s love. Even one seed can produce much fruit.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Oh Lord

I come to you as a child of the church. Some of my earliest memories center around Sunday school and the sanctuary. We weren’t always in church over the years, but we were there enough that I accepted Jesus in the summer after sixth grade.

On that day, at summer camp, in a chapel by a lake, I accepted Him as my Savior. It was years before I accepted Him as my Lord.

You hear the question all the time: “Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” And you hear others answer, “Yes.” It seems you especially hear them answer affirmatively if they were raised in church like I was – because that’s the response you’re expected to give.

In actuality, though He was undeniably my Savior and I knew it in the depths of my soul, I had no clue what it even meant to accept Him as Lord. Worse, I didn’t know there was a difference. I guess I figured “Lord and Savior” was all the same thing. But…lordship?

I knew what it meant to follow the guidelines I was taught in church.

I knew what it meant to obey the rules laid down at home.

But Jesus as Lord? I didn’t even know what a lord was, or not until I started studying certain historical time periods.

Throughout history, the lord of the estate or region was the one who ruled – similar to a king, but on a much more personal level. If he were a good lord, he kept his eye on you, saw to it that you had what you needed to get your work done, knew if you were sick… He accepted a certain level, a high level, of responsibility for you.

And you? If you truly accepted him as your lord, you obeyed him and submitted completely to his authority. You made sure you knew what he expected of you and you did it. You learned what pleased him and tried to make him happy. You were his and he was yours, and you considered it an honor to serve him.

It was after gaining this understanding that I began to grow up as a Christian. Jesus’ question in Luke 6:46 is relevant, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and don’t do what I say?” Here is reality; it’s one thing to say He is your Lord. It is another thing entirely to live with Him as your Lord. Honestly, it seems that most Christians today don’t even know what He says. How, then, can they let Him be Lord? So…

Number 1: We learn what He says. The very first thing we have to do, of course, is start listening to Him. Read the Word and truly pay attention to it. Pray and genuinely listen to what He has to say to you. Be in the church He calls you to and let the minister He has set there guide you as you learn.

Number 2: Act on what He says. Always do what He says, and put forth every effort to please Him. Remind yourself continually that He was never supposed to be only your Savior, but also your Lord.

Accepting Jesus as your Savior requires a heart change and a declaration. Accepting Jesus as your Lord requires action – continual, faithful, intentional action.

Salvation is free, but accepting His Lordship requires effort – an investment of time, heart, intentions, and actions.

But oh, the rewards on that investment!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Build the Wall – Leave Your Mark

Whether or not you believe in the necessity of The Wall, you should take a moment to consider what is happening with the WeFund the Wall/We the People will Build the Wall movement.

Bottom Line: Individual Americans are rising up and declaring that, rather than wait for the government to fill the need, they will instead do their part to help make it happen. Thousands are contributing to a non-profit that plans to start building parts of The Wall very soon-without the government’s help.

This is huge. We live in a culture where we’re always waiting for someone else to step up, to reach out. It’s the government’s job to do this. It’s the Church’s job to do that. It’s the school’s job to do the other. These people are saying, “No, I don’t need to wait on them, to rely totally on them: I CAN HELP.”

Our Pastor has been ministering a lot, lately, on letting our lights shine, on being that city on a hill, on leaving our mark. In other words, on realizing that WE, the individuals that make up the church, have not only the responsibility but the power to meet needs where we find them. Our church has given us many opportunities to get into the community and meet needs, and is preparing for more, but the idea is bigger – that I, the person sitting in the pew, realize that I CAN HELP…and get myself out there and do it, being the hands and feet of Jesus in ways that make an impact on people’s lives.

Seeing what’s happening with WeFund the Wall brought Pastor’s teachings home. Yes, there are agencies and organizations out there to meet all sorts of needs, but it’s not just their job: it’s also mine. I have the responsibility and the power to make a difference in the lives I touch.

I CAN.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

What’s it all About?

“I go late because I don’t like the music.”
“I don’t like how our preacher seems to preach the same message every week.”
“I want to make my kids happy. They want a church with a better youth group.”

I’m pretty sure that, after decades of actively serving God, I’ve heard it all. There’s one big problem with all of these statements – the word I. Want to know a secret – that isn’t a secret? Church isn’t about us, what we want, or what we like.

I mean, seriously. Do you think every Israelite man wanted to make the trip to Jerusalem to worship as they were commanded to do? Man is the same throughout the ages, so I’m pretty comfortable saying, “No.” Some of those men didn’t want to make the trek to Jerusalem just as surely as many men today don’t want to make the trip to church on Sunday morning. So why did they go?

Because they knew it wasn’t about them, that it was about God and the worship He deserves as God. No matter how many miles they had to walk hauling livestock for sacrifice, no matter how much they hated crowds and noise, no matter how long they would have to wait in line, no matter if they knew going in that they wouldn’t enjoy themselves at all…IT WASN’T ABOUT THEM.

In 1 Cor. 12:18, we are told that God plants us in the church as He wills. We want to pick and choose our churches like we select our food at a buffet. God wants us to attend the churches He has selected for us. And yes, we may at times disagree with His choices.

We may think the church is too far away, we may not like the music at all, we may resent parents letting their kids be noisy in service, we may feel we could have found a better sermon on TV… None of that matters. What matters is that God has told us, “Here. This is your spiritual home. LIVE in it.” If He hasn’t told you that, didn’t lead you to the church you’re in, go talk to Him about it. Now.

If He did lead you to your current church, He put you there for at least one reason. Just like a good gardener studies soil content, sunlight, and other factors before setting a prized plant in the ground, God carefully selected where He planted you. If you dislike things about where you are, don’t whine about it to the other plants or, worse yet, try to dig up your own roots and move. Talk to Him about it.

You may well – probably will – be surprised by what He has to say. He may be pointing out needs in the church that He wants you to help meet. He may be working on expanding your horizons of what you like. He may point out that you don’t eat only two meals a week and shouldn’t rely strictly on your pastor for your spiritual nourishment. He might simply explain that it’s time you get over your self because church isn’t about you at all.

It’s about Him. It’s about bringing our week-wearied bodies to the sanctuary as a sacrifice of worship. It’s about lifting our hearts to Him in worship and praise whether the song is a hundred years old or ten minutes old. It’s about intentionally ignoring distractions and focusing on what He is trying to say to you – not only through the sermon, but through every part of the experience.

When we shift our focus off ourselves and whether or not someone in pre-worship fellowship took the chocolate-covered donut we wanted, and turn it to the One who is the whole reason we are on this planet in the first place, our walks with God will change radically.

THAT is what it’s all about!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

The Next Show Starts In…

You walk in the door carrying your take-out coffee and get offended when you’re told you’ll have to leave it outside. You let your cell phone ring repeatedly. You let your child wander around. When you can tell it’s getting close to the end you start gathering your stuff together, and right before the official end you walk out the door.

It’s all pretty standard behavior in a movie theater, but I’m talking about church. I’ve seen all of this through the years, and much more, and it sickens me that we’ve reached a place culturally where such behavior is acceptable (by some) even in God’s house.

People leaving during the altar call is the worst. There are souls hanging in the balance. If we really are Christians we should be praying for those around us. Unfortunately too many seem to think they’re in a theater and the altar call is like the credits: Let’s leave now to beat the rush.

Celebrating Jesus anyway!

Tammy C

Why Church? Multi-generational Benefits

This one may surprise you – or may not. Another of my favorite things about my church is its multi-generational composition. With our current lifestyle, we often end up surrounded only by people in our own general age range, but in my church we have people of all ages as well as ethnicities, backgrounds, etc. When my kids were growing up, they had grandparents nearby, but if they had not they would still have had their “church grandparents,” those seasoned family members who have so very much to offer those of us who haven’t walked as far down life’s road.

I’m thinking of a particular couple right now. They’ve been married longer than any other couple I’ve ever known, and still obviously love each other dearly. They are a constant example to those of us who are married, or who want to be married. Their love of God, their understanding of Him as sustainer, their persistently positive outlook on life… These are things developed over time, and I am truly grateful to be a partaker in what they have, what they are.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Why Church? I Never Thought of That!

One of the things I most appreciate about church is the many “AHA!” moments. God has given me a pastor who is unique and obviously chosen just for me. He sees things in the Bible that I’ve never noticed before, and shares them in ways that can be truly unforgettable. I don’t know how many times I’ve been sitting in church and, whether through his specific words or the Holy Spirit using his words as a springboard, been shown something I’ve never seen before.

I love sharing those moments with the rest of the family too, hearing what they take away from the service, seeing how each of us implements the things we’ve learned, and learning more from friends with whom I “geek out” over the Word. No, we don’t stand around all day talking about religious matters, but many a lunch has turned into a “Have you ever noticed…?” session. Again, family shares common interests, and these particular common interests help us grow in the Lord as we share and learn from one another – as “iron sharpens iron.”

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Why Church? Family

This is something that is particularly hard to explain to someone who has never experienced a church family. Even if you go to church, but are one of those who arrive late and leave early, you’ve likely never known what I’m talking about. I don’t just “go to church.” I spend time, at least twice a week, with my church family.

Family dynamics can be just as complicated in church families as in biological families. Relationship building requires time, and clashing cultures can create moments of confusion. As is true in any family, you have times of both triumph and testing. Nothing can take the place of my biological family, and nothing can take the place of my church family. If God told me to move, I would, but barring that I’m stuck to these people like glue.

When you’re an active part of the right church family, the family God has called you to, you are covered in love and surrounded by people who’ve got your back. Jesus said, in John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” In my church family, we have this love for one another, and it shows. It’s one more irreplaceable gift that comes from being a “fitly joined together” part of a church.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Why Church? Where Two or Three…

In Matt. 18:20, Jesus says, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

In the introduction to this series, I mentioned the man who told me he could get just as close to God on the lake as at church. I know you can get very close to God on the lake, but if that is your only place of worship you ignore this verse. Now, he might answer, “My buddy and I are two…” but I’d hazard a guess that he and his buddy would have gathered in the name of fishing and merely invited the Lord to join them. That’s not quite the same thing.

There are obviously many places in which two or more gather in Jesus’ name and enjoy being in His presence. Care groups, prayer meetings, small groups… They’re all wonderful, and I strongly support them for many reasons. I can’t see them being a replacement for church, though. The more we come together in His name, and enjoy the benefits of being together in His presence, the better.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C