Faith, like love, is best practiced as an intentional, day to day, series of choices

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:15

Sunday morning I drove into North Raleigh to attend worship with the good folk at Hudson Memorial Presbyterian Church. I missed being with Rebekah, of course, but I sat with my friend Roger and it is always good to be part of a community rooted in faith.

– Derek Maul at church

I was doing great until Roger’s grandson escaped from his mother and came down to sit with us. He is a beautiful child, almost the exact same age as Mr. T. (our grandson in Bahrain) and with the same squared off face and light brown hair. All I could think of was wanting to be there in Manama with Rebekah, getting to know our grandson. And my eyes filled up, I couldn’t help it.

Church is a good place to get in touch with your emotions; or – maybe sometimes – to watch them come off the rails. Regardless, if I am going to be undone then church is the best place to shed the tears.

The Ministry of Showing Up:

Talking about Sunday mornings, and the best place for us to be if we are serious about being disciples, I have to share this story from our daughter Naomi.

Over the weekend, one of her husband Craig’s cousins came to Miami for a visit. He and his partner came Saturday afternoon, joined the family for dinner, then ended up staying overnight.

“The house is a mess but you are welcome,” Naomi said. “You need to know we get going early Sunday mornings and we go to church. Why don’t you join us?”

They were not church-going people, but they came along with the family because church is part of how Naomi and Craig do life. And Craig’s cousin was not just in Miami for bed and breakfast, he was visiting Craig and Naomi’s life.

– Naomi filled her pew this week!

I don’t know why more people do not get this!

Almost every Sunday over the course of forty years of ministry, Rebekah and I would talk with some family or other at church and say something along the lines of: “We really missed your family in worship last week.”

And they would respond with: “We couldn’t come because we had people/family/friends visiting.”

Like that means you’re not allowed to go to church??!!

Consider the following:

  • The visitors are staying in your house, good grief!
  • Church is what your family does.
  • You say the community of faith is at the core of your life together.
  • Even if your guests won’t come, how does their, “No, thank you” get to veto something so important to your life as a family?

This has always driven me crazy. I guess it always will.

But Naomi and Craig get it. Commitment to them means commitment.

Either way, what happens is the response to an invitation. How I would love to see more of you fill a pew every Sunday with people you are inviting to church, rather than missing out yourselves because someone invited you not to!

Family Devotion:

Along the same thread. After breakfast Sunday morning I poured an extra cup of coffee so Rebekah and I could have our morning prayers together via messenger video.

– morning prayers

Currently, we are reading through a collection of “Devotional Classics,” featuring writings by people like C.S. Lewis, Richard Foster, and Dallas Willard. Our companion book is an anthology of prayers from around the world. One day we pray with someone from Brazil, another we are guided by a church in Ghana, then we follow words from a community in the U.K., or prayers from a Christian in Korea.

Faith, like love, is best experienced – and practiced – as an intentional, day by day, series of choices. Like Rebekah always says in response to challenges to timestamp her relationship with God:

“Exactly when did you give your life to Jesus?

“This morning,” she will say, “right after Derek brought me that first cup of coffee. And I will give my life to Jesus once more tomorrow, then the next day, and again the day after that.”

Simply put, friends, we don’t just slide by when it comes to Jesus. We are either committed disciples, or we have not really made the important decision.

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

No turning back – DEREK

4 thoughts on “Faith, like love, is best practiced as an intentional, day to day, series of choices

  1. Aaron

    Derek,

    This was a very good message. My child is part of the LGBTQ community and regrettably the church community we used to attend would not except them. Last time we attended my father in laws church and the pastor was not welcoming of my child. I want my child to know God but keeps getting rejected by churches so it’s difficult. Hopefully this will be better some day.

    Thank you,
    Aaron

    Like

    1. This is heartbreaking, Aaron. My personal journey regarding LGBTQ etc. has been ongoing and eye-opening, and I have grown a lot in terms of understanding and accepting the wide, generous love God has for all people. I pray that these pastors and churches are also open to learning – that God’s spirit may teach them that Jesus is God’s invitation, not God’s gate-keeper. I love this from 1 John 3: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
      Peace to you, and to your child – DEREK

      Like

      1. Aaron

        Derek,

        Thank you so much for your kind words and Scripture. Having a child in the LGBTQ community has helped me to understand that my child is beautiful for the person they are. I think God’s love is so unfathomable and sometimes I forget this when dealing with people. Life is a journey and I think our goal is listening to the little whispers of God while learning to love and understand more.

        Thank You,
        Aaron V. Lopez

        Like

    2. I can’t do better than repeat my response to your other comment this week:
      This is heartbreaking, Aaron. My personal journey regarding LGBTQ etc. has been ongoing and eye-opening, and I have grown a lot in terms of understanding and accepting the wide, generous love God has for all people. I pray that these pastors and churches are also open to learning – that God’s spirit may teach them that Jesus is God’s invitation, not God’s gate-keeper. I love this from 1 John 3: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
      Peace to you, and to your child – DEREK

      Like

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