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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN


Is It Good to be Here?

One Sunday night a little boy knelt beside his bed to pray before going to sleep. Remembering the church service he had attended with his family that morning, he prayed: "Dear God, we sure had a good time at church today - but I wish you had been there!" Maybe that little guy was onto something some church growth experts and modem worshipers have missed the Bible does not teach that God shows up at church j ust  because we do or that He had a good time at, church just because we do. Careful, now, for there is no prohibition in the Bible against having a good time at church. Quite the contrary. David's words in Psalm 122:1 challenge the attitude of those who approach worship assemblies with nothing more that a grudging sense of duty and obligation: "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go into the house of the LORD.' " The New Testament echoes the sentiments of the Psalmist in Hebrews 10:24-25 where it calls for us to "consider  one another in order to stir, up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another and so much the more as you see the bay approaching." I like having a good time at church, don't you? I like it when the singing and the sermon stir my heart and soul and remind me I have a rendezvous with eternity. I like it when a brother at the Lord's Table prays a prayer or reads a Scripture that compels my mind and heart back to the stunning scenes of Golgotha and the mystery and wonder of the empty tomb. I am amazed and humbled to learn that God seeks our worship and that He indeed will show up and will enjoy worship when it is done in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).

Words from the mouth of the apostle Peter in Mark 9:5 challenge ho-hum attitudes toward worship assemblies: "it is good for us to be here." The context of this statement reveals Peter is overcome with awe and fear after he viewed what must have been the breathtaking sight of Jesus being transfigured and then talking with Elijah and Moses who had miraculously appeared. A careful study of the incident shows that Peter still had much to learn about Jesus and His mission and message. But Peter was right about one thing: it was good to be in the presence of Jesus. How about you? How highly do you value being in the presence of Jesus? Is it good for you to be here? Worship gets good when God is the focus of our assembly, when we worship in spirit and truth, and when we understand that worship is about what pleases God, not about what pleases us. Peter said it is good for us to be here. Can you say that, too?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ