God Loves A Full House

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There’s a parable that Jesus told about a great wedding feast. The man throwing the party invited all of these people to come and celebrate with him, but they made a bunch of excuses as to why it wasn’t a convenient time for them to come. So the master told his servants, “‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.” (Luke 14:23)

There are lots of things in that parable worth talking about, but the thought struck me recently: God loves a full house!

I don’t want to over-emphasize (no pun intended) the importance of the size of any group gathering in Jesus’ name. Jesus said that two or more can gather and he will be there. But as a leader of groups of people (i.e. church services) I have this problem of looking at the numbers. If lots of people come to worship it makes me happy, and if fewer people show up I tend to be less happy.

There are lots of things at play here and I have to admit that my motivation for wanting a full house isn’t always a noble one. I sometimes want to feel more justified in my preparation, or perhaps I just like the way that it sounds when I full room sings.

But regardless of the selfishness tainting this desire, I really do think that at its core it is a godly one.
Jesus wants his house to be full! This is true in heavenly sense and I think it also applies to worship.

One of my favorite quotes is by archbishop William Temple:

“Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His Beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose – and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin.”

Worship really is the thing that we were created for, the thing that God wants us to be occupied with for eternity! And of course I don’t mean singing or sitting through an eternal church service, but worship, the submission of all that we are to God and finding in him our deepest joy and satisfaction.

So let me encourage you with this: When you find yourself wishing God’s house was full, use it as fuel for the fire of prayer instead of just dismissing it. When we are motivated by a jealously for God’s house, by zeal for his glory and a conviction that he is the greatest, the desire for people far and wide to come and experience him is a really good desire.

Keep praying, keep working, and don’t give up. There are LOTS of people out there who need to find a place in God’s house!

JV

What I Love (and hate) About Sundays

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There is a popular country song about loving Sunday and I have to admit I like it. The song paints a picture of a perfect day that includes worship, community, family time, rest, fun, and pretty much everything you could ever dream of doing on a perfect lazy Sunday afternoon. It’s extremely unrealistic, but I like it nonetheless. It’s catchy and tells a story that I can pretty easily imagine.

I’ve been leading worship for a decade or so, which means that my “normal” routine on a Sunday is far from that lazy, laid-back picture that we all wish it could be. It usually involves getting up WAY too early, getting dressed in the dark, and being forced to hit normal (or not-so-normal) human notes with a froggy morning singing voice.

You want to know something? Sometimes I hate it. There is the occasional Sunday when I hear the alarm waking me up too early on a Sunday and I would give anything for the chance to sleep in, have brunch and coffee with my family, mozy on in to church and sing some songs and then go home and veg out to some football.

Sometimes I hate the last minute problems with the sound system or the guy who forgot he was scheduled to play (or somehow forgot to practice).

Sometimes I hate that feeling of trying to drag people toward worshiping God, something that I know in my core is what’s best for them.

Sometimes I feel so crushed that all my work didn’t pay off like I thought it would.

Sometimes I have a vision of what our worship will be, a scene taken right from heaven’s glory, and drive home disappointed that people wanted to watch the game instead.

 

Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing this all for. Leadership is lonely and NOT for the faint of heart. So why go on?

 

I go on because I love Sundays more than I hate them, and I can’t…not do what I’m called to do.  I have been captivated by the gravitational pull of a deeper affection and this drives me to keep on going.

I love what I get to do as a leader in the church, serving people by helping them sing out praise to God.

I love getting to play the role of using music to point people to their ultimate purpose in life, loving and serving God.

I love Sundays because a bunch of people gather together and are part of something special –namely the worship of God Almighty –in an amazing and supernatural event.

I love Sundays because I get to see people that I know and love, I serve alongside of them, sing with them, pray with them, and eat a meal with Jesus right next to them.

I remember that I share in a bond of peace with people all around the world that I don’t even know, all because of what we do on this day.

I love Sundays because the gathered Church is something that we can never be alone, even in our best moments of private worship. We stop being individuals trying to figure things out and we become a body, a family, called by God to be his Bride.  When we gather, we envision the heavenly scene of the redeemed creation living in a perfect world and worshiping our King with all that we are. And regardless of the results that we can see with our eyes, that worship is happening and will happen for eternity. We are simply invited in.

So I don’t know if you share any of my sentiments. Maybe you find yourself a little discouraged as a leader, wondering what you’re doing it all for.
Just remember that your ability to fight through the fog and remember your calling makes you a leader. I think everybody wakes up in the morning and doesn’t feel like doing the work of getting over their pride, arrogance and selfishness. But when you put in the work and you get to the place where you once again see Christ as the best thing in the world, then you can say with confidence that the work is worth it. And THAT, my friends, is a leader that people want to follow.

JV