What do you worship?

September 1, 2020

Today Pastor Freed commented upon making money your focus with this quote in his Jack’s Winning Words blog  – “Make money your god, and it will plague you like the devil.”  (Henry Fielding) 

The same could be said about power as a focus, or anything else that is of this world. The devil uses the appeal of gaining things of this world to temp humankind away from God. Remember how the devil tried to use that same approach to tempt Jesus in the dessert –

Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory;  and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’”  – Matthew 4: 8-10

The devil has refined his approach and made it much more subtle, but it is still the same pitch to turn away from God and towards the devil by becoming focused (worshiping) things of this world – money, power, success, etc.

It is easy to convince yourself that you are only doing what is necessary to provide for the needs of your family and to rationalize that nothing could be wrong with that. But, those who worship the acquisition of material things and power don’t stop at fulfilling the needs of their family because they become addicted to the allure of more – More Money, More Power, more Glory. For them more is the goal and they believe that only by achieving more will they be happy; but more never seems to be enough. There always seems to be something missing.

That something that is missing in their lives is God. A side-effect of worshiping the things that the devil offers is a sense of loneliness and of being incomplete.  The devil never said “I am with you always”, only God said that through Jesus. So, one can sit there like the old cartoon of Scrooge McDuck, in a vault full of money, or surrounded by all of the things that one has bought, and realize that they are alone. One can sit atop a business or government empire and feel the sense of loneliness that power brings.

At the other end of those same spectrums of human achievement are the poor and powerless who are nonetheless happy because they have a profound relationship with God. You see them in newscasts as the people who have just lost everything to some disaster but who are nonetheless thankful to God just to be alive. You see them as the powerless protesters who continue to march for justice. You see them in stories about members of families who have suffered a death at the hands of a violent person forgiving that person and saying that they will pray for them.

How can those people possibly be happy or forgiving? They have focused upon something other than things of this world. They have God in their lives and for them that is enough. They worship God and not things that the devil offers. They never feel alone.

What do you worship?

It’s Sunday morning; time for…

July 9, 2017

How do you end that sentence? For all too many, the ending is Golf, a ball game, a soccer match, or some other recreational or sporting activity. For fewer and fewer the ending is “church”. I read recently that in America 51% of adults claim to be religious but that on average less than 20% of the people regularly attend church services on Sunday mornings. Declining attendance could be blamed on many things, but the one that I find most alarming is the trend over the last few years for organized youth activities like baseball, soccer, and hockey to view Sunday mornings as prime game or practice time. The result is whole families missing church because they have to be at a practice or a game during the times that churches are holding services.

I remember times when many states had what were called “blue laws” that required that all stores be closed on Sundays and no alcoholic beverages cold be sold, so that people could go to church. They were gradually weakened or abandoned, which was probably a good thing, but it started the process of viewing Sundays differently and with less emphasis on God and church. Now Sunday’s are all about almost anything else than going to church – sports, shopping, entertainment. There are 168 hours in each week and all that God asks for is that you take one of those hours to go to church and say thanks, by worshiping Him.  Call me old fashion; but, that doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

Parents are expected to try to give their children opportunities in things like sports, but they should also take seriously the need to teach their children about God and the practice of religion. It’s hard to do that if parents choose to put their child into sports that demand their time on Sunday mornings. Some parents push back and say that the church needs to adapt and offer services at more convenient times. To them I would say, “No; you need to get your priorities right.” It is not right to place the worship of God second to the playing of a game. What lesson is that teaching your children and bye the way, where were you during the church service? Both you and your child or worse for the decision to place God after your games or other distractions.

I’ll stop for now; but I won’t stop trying to get people back to the values that are really important in life and cajoling everyone to make better decisions about how to use their time on Sunday mornings. You won’t find God sitting in the bleachers next to you at your child’s game.