Bringing Church

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash


Our pastor came to visit the other day. He said that at my advanced age I should be thinking of the hereafter. I told him, “Oh, I do it all the time.” 
“No matter where I am – in the living room, upstairs, in the kitchen, or down in the basement, I am always asking myself: ‘Now, what am I here after?'”

The Bible does reveal to us quite a bit about what we should be here after. When it comes to where it is, we often assume it’s found between four particular walls. However, as they say, “It ain’t necessarily so.”

“Many come to bring their clothes to church rather than themselves.”
Thomas Fuller

Now, if you think I’m getting ready to advocate for not going to church because you don’t have to go to a church building, you’re only partially right. We absolutely should be part of a church body that regularly meets together. The Bible says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25 NLT But that’s only part of the story, isn’t it? Although we should do all we can to strengthen our traditional church body, we need to make sure we aren’t leaving it in the building we visit on Sunday, and if we are to have any hope of bringing Christ to a world starving for Him, we have to exploit every opportunity to do that. That means bringing church with us. Whether we like it or not, we’re all in the advertising business. If God has used your local body of believers to make a positive change in your life, isn’t that worth sharing? Yes! Also, if you can bring church with you by being a positive influence where you work or having coffee with a friend and sharing their burden, shouldn’t you do that too? Expand your ideas about what church can mean in your life and all the lives of those within your sphere of influence. Recognize that while, in truth, God may not need our hands, feet, and voice, He both desires our service and has all authority to direct our path.
That includes, in all its various manifestations, “bringing church.”

“I tell people, and it’s the truth, I could sit in my garage for a week and it won’t make me a car. And you can sit in church till your bottom is flat and that won’t make you a servant of Christ.”
Joyce Meyer

Bring church, yes,
the scriptures memorized,
but more, the principals
behind them.


Bring church
when you’re tired,
it’s inconvenient,
and you’d rather
take a nap.

Bring church
when everyone
and their dog
takes one fork in the road,
and God tells you to take the other.


Bring church
when all the person in front of you
needs
is a smile, a sincere word of encouragement,
and a genuine attempt to understand.

Bring church
even when you’re discouraged
with the state of the world
and any effort you make
seems like bringing a squirt gun to a forest fire.


Bring church…
because, in the final analysis,
God told you to,
and He’s kept His promises.
So, now, it’s time to keep yours.



 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV


©Joel Tipple 2/9/2020








The House of Worship

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O Lord, you are my God;
I will exalt you; I will praise your name,
for you have done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
Isaiah 25:1 ESV

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Psalm 103:1 ESV

I recently learned that some churchgoers actually skip the worship portion of their service. I was incredulous. Seriously? Don’t get me wrong, I love the sermon too. A message that moves or convicts you can change your life, but it’s part of a service, not THE service. There has always been something about the musical portion of a church service that transports me to a place where I feel closer to God. I’ve felt that way for as long as I remember feeling anything about going to church at all. But even though my strongest emotions about music find their home in a church worship service, music has always impacted most aspects of my life. My feelings of nostalgia for different waypoints in my life are strongest when combined with the music I was listening to at the time, whether secular or spiritual.

In the same way that we know music doesn’t have the same strong effect on everyone, we also know that singing and playing instruments aren’t the only way to worship God. It’s important that we understand there are many ways to worship God like prayer and serving others. How do you worship?

One Summer night
as I was walking
around dinner time
and it was cool.
There came a sound
of children singing
all joyful and out of school.
They were singing
their hearts out to Jesus
like they’d mostly burst
if they could.
I thought angels were singing with them,
but it was youth worshiping
like they should.

Looking for the house of worship,
looking for the heart of praise.
There doesn’t have to be a steeple
or even a particular age.
If your aim is to lift Jesus higher
and to leave all your burdens behind,
any place can be your place of worship
and any folks can worship God in that place.

Lift your hands, lift your voice,
if there’s a drummer, give him time.
Be careful of claptastrophies.
Music opens hearts
and can help them soften too
when we just let Jesus lead.

The sound can be country, rock,
or rhythm and blues.
Style’s less important than substance.
Jesus is more about
the shape of your heart
than your circumstance.
So take a chance.

Your house of worship
may be any shape at all,
the seats be pews, bleachers,
or even beanbags.
Just find some human beings
who want to be redeemed,
and some music
that can start some healing.
The house is less important
than the Holy Spirit’s lead.

© Joel Tipple 6/15/2019

Feeling Music

19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:19

Music drew me to the Lord when I was a child.
The rhythm, like my heartbeat, pushing melodies.
Well worn hymns or modern songs,
like David’s famous psalms,
tied me ever tighter
to the maker of the sounds
of winds and waters.

But no matter
where life takes me,
no great cacophony
or raucous clamor
can drown out
the ever-present ebullience
of my Saviour’s symphony.

So it is now as it was then,
that I’m drawn along with
seekers and believers,
to the places
that play Amazing Grace,
then to the oceans and forests
that fuel me for the race.
I’m always seeking
the joyous sounds of God’s music.

© Joel Tipple 11/3/2018

 

The Road To Healing

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God, we know you’re knocking.
Still, families are falling.
A dad’s afraid to say what he thinks.
A mom’s sure she’ll lose it if she doesn’t get a drink.
A daughter thinks the answer is a wedding ring.
A son thinks life’s a game… and he hopes he’s winning.
The television blares on,
and too few hear the door.

All journeys to healing begin
with one human being earnestly praying.
He heals families
one person at a time.
His desire is to rescue
and mend our broken hearts.
He throws hope to the hopeless
with a life line.

On the road to healing
God brings us together.
Building a body
from the ashes of the fallen.
He reveals beauty
where one could hardly find it.
Will we
choose
all apart,
or
all a part in?

© Joel Tipple
#28/14

Ode to Wormwood (Inspired by The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis)

Your job is not difficult,
junior worker for the dark.
Your task in the main
is to hinder your subject’s work
for the enemy.
It’s no secret
the war is lost
but we have many battles
which we may yet win,
so do your best for the company.

You’ve reported
he is passionate.
Well, that is fine,
passions can be redirected.
His enthusiasm for
memorizing scripture,
sharing his faith,
or uplifting others of the opposition
can be channeled toward innocuous pursuits
the moment they are detected.

You say he persists in meeting with his ilk,
sometimes more than twice a week.
This simply indicates you’re lazy.
How hard is it to suggest alternatives to him?
There are dozens of human sports being played on Sunday.
You can encourage him to stay up too late on Saturday.
If you fail to keep him from raining on your weekend,
talk him into believing that’s holiness enough for one week,
or your scorecard may be grim.

Finally, beginning agent,
among your allies,
in addition to the usual vices
are those modern conveniences
such as the internet.
Oh sure, it’s a portal to all
sorts of invaluable sin,
but the not so obvious boon to our business
is its ability to keep him harmlessly busy.
Keep those hours high,
and you may make senior grade demon yet.

© Joel Tipple
#17/14

God is not my Hobby

You said:
“It’s nice you go to church.”
You said, “I guess some folks need that. Good for You!”
But, you said it’s just not what you’re into.
and on Sundays you have other things to do.

But…
God is not my hobby.
He didn’t save me to be
just another warm church body
with sanctimonious knees.
God is not my hobby, please.
I didn’t give myself to him
for a sky box in heaven front row seat.
Just sit here a moment with me,
and we’ll talk about the real Jesus scene.
Cause God is not… he’s surely not
my hobby.

You said:
“Religious people are hypocrites. I know some of the people who go to your church.
They aren’t who you think they are.”

But…
God is not my hobby.
You need to check it out with me.
God loves my whole church body.
Though we don’t always behave perfectly.
Real people with real problems,
the need for forgiveness, and a new life,
they’re our friends and neighbors
and to grow we all strive.
No, God is not… he’s certainly not
my hobby.

Then you said,
“I have a really hard time believing this is going to last.
People try to lose weight. They try to give up bad habits.
They fail! How can I put my trust in a god who lets that happen?”

Well, the thing is:
God is not my hobby,
and the word promises me
he won’t leave or forsake me,
though he knows everything.
He loves me as I am
but loves me too much to leave me that way.
God is not… I’m so happy he’s not
just a hobby.

© Joel Tipple
#8/14

Take Me to Church

If you want to transport me to a place where faith works,
Load me up,
buckle me in,
take me to church.

Everyone sings!
Can you believe it?
We make a joyful noise!
We serve.

That must be why
they call it a service.
It’s our offering to God.
And yet,
we are the ones
who are served.

We open up to the word.
We test ourselves to prove we’ve heard,
and try to absorb
the lesson we thought we heard
the last time
we went to church.

© Joel Tipple
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