Saturday, August 21, 2010

Preparing for Church, part 1

Do you think we should prepare ourselves to go to church? Do you think it will make a difference in how you listen to the preaching of God's Word, how you will minister your spiritual gifts, how you will worship? As many of you know, I have written a book, Helping Johnny Listen, in which I share some biblical thoughts on how you can be the best listener to sermons you can be. Some of you may have read it. And some of you haven't, but that's okay (but I would love for you to read it). 

I wanted to do a series of blog posts reminding us how important it is for us to prepare for church. For this first week, let me reiterate a fictional story of a normal Sunday morning...

Sue woke up to the monotonous sound of her alarm and quickly realized, as she glanced at the clock, that she had snoozed a few too many times. She realized that they were late and were going to struggle to get to church on time. Sue woke Johnny up and told him to get breakfast going for their two children, Sammy (eight-year-old boy) and Allison (six-year-old girl). Johnny incoher¬ently agreed. Sue quickly jumped out of bed and attempted to set a world record in what she knew was impossible: a fast shower. She was rushed, felt overwhelmed, and got out of the shower only to find Johnny still under the covers. “Johnny,” she yelled, “we are late; you said you would get breakfast going.”

He rolled out of bed and said, “I just wanted five more minutes,” which was actually more like fifteen. As he strolled to the kitchen to set the cereal and bowls out, he disgustingly yelled back, “What? Are you telling me that we have no milk?” And then he quickly remembered that he was supposed to pick it up the previous day when he was at the store and had forgotten. “What?” Sue replied. Johnny responded, “How about toasted waffles for breakfast?”

After getting breakfast ready, Johnny set world records getting his shower. Sue stirred the children. It was amazing, she thought, that on days when nothing was going on they were up before the crack of dawn; but when there was school or something to do, it was like trying to wake up the dead. She yelled at them to wake up for the fifth time as Johnny walked out of the bathroom with toilet paper stuck all over his face. “I cut myself shaving again because I was rushed,” he muttered.

They finally got the kids up, inhaled some food, and headed out the door to the garage only to realize that Sue had left the family van outside instead of putting it in the garage. “Why didn’t you park it in the garage?” asked Johnny. “I can’t believe you did this. Who is going to start the van now in this torrential rain storm?” Sue said, “I’ll do it.” But then Johnny felt a bit guilty and played the part of the victim, “No, I’m the man. I am supposed to do this.”

The entire ten minutes to church nobody talked; but Sue was thinking of how she let her husband down and her children down and wondered if she would ever be a good wife or mother. She was feeling depressed and sad and hated what she had be¬come. She was feeling a little bitter towards Johnny and the kids because they were making her late to her favorite part of church, the music.

Johnny was quiet as well, drifting between wondering if he could play this victim card (for having to go out in the rain to start the car) long enough to have nothing to do with the fam¬ily after church because his favorite football team was playing their rivals. He was scheming and thinking and couldn’t wait till church was over.

Finally, they arrived, not talking about anything that happened that morning. They rushed their kids to their classes and walked into the worship center (now almost ten minutes late), grabbed seats in the back, sang the remaining couple of songs, and took deep breaths as the pastor got up to preach.

What do the next next fourty-five minutes have in store for Johnny and Sue?

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