Cap's Corner: Enjoy summer, but don't forget about coming to Church
Summer is here. (Well, it would be if the rain would ever stop and give us a chance to dry up.)
This is the time for vacations, camping, going to the lake, and all sorts of fun stuff. I plan to get my little sailboat into the water as much as I can.
Summer is also the time that many of us get so busy having fun we stop going to church. Of course, if you are out of town, on vacation, or doing anything else that makes going to church unlikely, no one expects you to go to church. But this is a challenge: When you get used to not going to church – or not going on a regular basis – you might never pick up going to church again.
I know it can be a little embarrassing when well-meaning church members say things like, “Well, look what the cat drug back into church” or “Do we know you?” with a little laugh and a grin. I know it is awkward coming back to church after a time, long or short, and you already feel embarrassed and maybe even guilty. Here's a tip: Don't feel that way!
When you have those feelings of giving up, I want you to read Psalms 119:
“1 You're blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. 2 You're blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. 3 That's right - you don't go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set. 4 You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now you expect us to live it. 5 Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set; 6 Then I'd never have any regrets in comparing my life with your counsel. 7 I thank you for speaking straight from your heart; I learn the pattern of your righteous ways. 8 I'm going to do what you tell me to do; don't ever walk off and leave me.”
There will always be a time when one will want to walk away. Some may say they just need a little break – and before they know it, it has been weeks, months, or even years since they last attended church. When I left my parents' home, I didn’t go back to church on a regular basis for over 20 years.
Some may look at my story and think that it didn’t hurt me by not going to church, but they would be wrong. I started going back to church only after my 20-year marriage to the mother of my children ended in a divorce, and I found myself as a single dad. It was in this failure – and it was nothing but a failure – that I found God again. But even though I have a wonderful relationship with God now, the damage was done. The death of my first marriage. The guilt that it brings because of the pain suffered by my children.
The pain has not decreased, and I suspect it never will.
I, too, have heard the studies that say that all marriages in America, including Christian marriages, have a 50 percent chance of failure. But that is not completely true. New and more in-depth studies have found that families – mother, father, and children – that go to church on a regular basis – two times a month – have only a 36 percent chance of failure. For those families that go just about every week, it drops down to a 26 percent chance of failure. That means a they have a 74 percent chance of success.
Of course, it is not because of the family's presence in some magical building that marriages have a much better chance of staying strong. The reason the marriages are more likely to last is because the family is surrounded with other Christians. They hear the Word of God being preached, and they learn discipleship in Sunday school. Now, re-read that first line in Psalms 119: “1 You're blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God.”
My divorce from my first wife was not a curse from God because I did not go to church. It was caused by my poor choices: Not being held accountable by a Christian family, and not being supported by the Word of God. I will not allow that to happen again! I am willing to do whatever it takes to keep my marriage with Charlotte a strong one and a healthy one. Even if I were not the pastor, I would still get up every Sunday morning (if possible) and get my family to church. I would stay the course and walk the path that God has set before me – and before all of us.
Take your vacations and camping trips, and enjoy your time at the lake. But by all means, when you are back, you come back! You stay the course!
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