Time for Church

empty-churchOver the Christmas holiday weekend, someone from the other side of the fence…..prison fence, that is……had this great idea to purchase a softball, hollow it out, stuff it with tobacco products, and throw it over the fence into our recreation yard. Of course, an officer found the ball, and shut the rec yard down the entire three day weekend. The temperatures just happened to be in the 70’s which made it even tougher to sit inside all day.

Because the rec yard was shut down, along with the library, the chapel was the only place open to everyone. It was amazing to see all kinds of inmates come to attend the Christmas night service. Yes, God works in all sorts of ways !!

In the two and half years that I have been living here, I’ve never seen the chapel so full. It was incredible. Yes, a lot of them only came to get away from their unit for an hour, but still they came. This made me do some thinking about church attendance. Why are the Christmas church services and the Easter Sunday services always the most attended services of the year, not just in prison, but outside of prison, too?? Are those the only times people feel the urge to worship God? Are those the only times they feel the need to put God first? Too bad for them, and too bad for God.

For the most part, I go to church every weekend, unless someone has come to visit me or the compound is in lockdown. I have a group of guys that I regularly sit with. There is one guy in our group who usually needs to be reminded and asked if he’ll be going. Even if he doesn’t feel like attending, we still urge him to come along, and he usually does. This guy is not even a Christian, but yet regularly attends church more than most and has been attending church with us for the last year. His view on religion is that he is open to all of them. But yet, he only attends the Christian services. He hardly sings, and sometimes even falls asleep, but he keeps being drawn back week after week. A few guys and I have had our talk with him about God, and he does listen and asks questions. But he just doesn’t want to commit. I pray one day that someone or something will get through to him and the Holy Spirit will move in his heart.

Why is it that people only attend church when they feel the need to, like a personal problem they are going through, or a special occasion or holiday? When inmates are asked to come to church with us, the number one reason is “I don’t worship with hypocrites.” Isn’t that like saying I don’t worship with sinners. Imagine if Jesus didn’t hang out with sinners!!! Where would we all be?

What kind of church goer are you? Are you that person that only attends during special seasons and only to please your Mom? Are you that person that puts God first and knows that weekly church attendance is what He wants? Why not make this the year of your resolution to attend church on a more frequent basis. Attend weekly, like my friend, even if you don’t feel like it. Just imagine what blessings God could have in store for you if you put Him first each week. Your relationship with Jesus will grow, and He will work in your life in ways you cannot even imagine. May He lead you this year to new heights in your walk with Him as you meet Him each week in worship.

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