Happy Sunday! I haven't been online much lately. We decided to close out our storage unit and we have been busy transporting things back to the house. Amazing how much stuff you accumulate over the years. 😄
I have also been working on my website and re-doing some pages and checking links. Thankfully I have less than 100 pages still.
Church service today was moving. Justin, who is the Director of Music Ministry, played the flute amazingly, playing to the hymn COME BEHOLD THE WONDROUS MYSTERY.
I enjoy a service when you can walk away and have a wonderful feeling surround you. A feeling of encouragement and being uplifted. The pastor always ends service with a prayer and song of sending, which was beautiful today - All Glory Be to Christ (Tune: Auld Lang Syne).
I mentioned in a previous post that for years I have listened to a classical radio station that airs at least five church services every Sunday beginning as early as 7:30 AM. My daughter, who has also been listening to this station for years, texted me this morning, very upset and anxious, that the service that she woke up to left her with feelings of despair. 😔 Thankfully, I was able to give her a hug, send up a small prayer, and tell her services are usually not like that when they are the right ones. I wanted her to sleep for a while longer since she stayed up way too late last night.
I came across this article by Sarah Condie that mentions six signs of a healthy church. I have only been streaming church services from FWPC for a couple of months now, but I strongly feel that I can honestly say that this church would meet my expectations and match these healthy signs.
1. The heartbeat of God’s word.
Healthy churches exist for Christ and his honor, and therefore place God’s word at the center, seeking to live under it. They have faithful preaching that explains what the Bible says. Small groups gather to study God’s word, one of the marks of the early church (Acts 2:42). The New Testament is clear that the word of Christ grows people in maturity (1 Peter 1:22-2:3).
2. They recognize who they are—and aren’t—before God.
Healthy churches are filled with people who know they aren’t perfect, but who know God has chosen them for his purposes. When a newspaper asked the question, “What’s wrong with the world?” G.K. Chesterton responded with a letter that simply said, “Dear Sirs, I am.” This humble acknowledgement that our sin is real and God takes it seriously doesn’t lead to despair, but to thankfulness for the wonder of God’s grace. Christ forgives us, washes us clean and changes us.
3. Christian character matters.
Healthy churches seek to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). What matters most are not innovative programs or spectacular spiritual gifts, but Christ-like character that loves God and neighbor and displays the fruit of the Spirit through song, gratitude, prayer and deed.
4. They are family.
Healthy churches operate like a healthy family, sharing a common purpose and devotion. The New Testament has more than 135 references to our being “siblings” and 59 to our caring for “one another”! As God’s beloved family, a healthy church listens to one another, loves and prays for each other. They offer practical care when needed and every member is valued.
5. They look outward.
Healthy churches don’t just share the good news with the community; they are good news! That means they might offer practical ministries for the vulnerable or marginalized as well as instruction about Christianity, marriage or parenting skills. You get the idea. Stories of people welcomed, coming to faith, and encouraged to use their gifts to serve (1 Corinthians 12:12-31) are common as a result.
6. They know they belong.
Healthy churches are filled with men, women, and children confident they belong to God and his family. They regularly gather (Hebrews 10:24-25), knowing that despite their failings, God keeps calling them together.
I am going to let my daughter watch and listen to the service I attended online today, and I pray 🙏🏻 that she 'walks' away with a more uplifted spirit. Plus, I think seeing Justin play the flute will help, as she absolutely loves music!! 😉
Updated: Sep 4, 2022
I have listened to WRR 101.1 (a classical music station in Dallas) for years, and every Sunday morning several church services are aired over the radio, and different denominations. The more I listened and read about the different religious beliefs, the more I shied-away from my Baptist upbringing. I started questioning my beliefs and the way I was raised, and those that raised me. Both my husband and I come from strong Baptist church families. I was raised in a Baptist church, attending Bible school, going to VBS, and church camp during the summers. I was baptized when I was 11 years old and I still have my Bible that my grandparents presented me. Neither my husband or I, have been part of a church community for many years now. Our kids were not raised in church, but I was determined while homeschooling, that the Bible and theology were going to be a part of their curriculum. They are kind and caring humans who do believe in God. In my eyes, many people around me, more so family, are keen on passing judgment and quick to condemn. Over the years, I have chosen to separate myself from this, causing me to pull away from family. I believe they need to re-read Matthew 7 - Judge not, that ye be not judged.
A couple of months ago I started streaming a LIVE service from Fort Worth Presbyterian Church that I had found through Facebook. Of course this was after viewing a few services from different churches. But during one of the sermons, something shifted and I felt like this pastor from FWPC spoke directly to me. Spoke to me about my walk with Christ and the roller coaster of a ride that my life is currently traveling on. It has really been eye opening. 👀 My beliefs and my views have a new vision. I have started a new journey, and now on Sunday morning - I make sure to wake up, dress, make a cup of coffee, and boot up my computer to be online for church. I also love the hymns and the church bulletin can be downloaded to follow along with.
I know many people do not consider online worship as attending church, and it's not supposed to be a replacement for “the assembling of ourselves together”. There is nothing wrong with “doing church” this way. Streaming church service online does not invalidate my worship, or lessen the impact of God’s Word to me, or hinder my prayers. Maybe one day I will attend in person. Maybe my family will attend with me. But right now, I am more than happy to have found this service that is restoring my Faith and making me feel a little less lost, and that is what matters most. 😊