Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It is not often that a movie stirs me emotionally; and it is less often that a movie impacts me spiritually. But, I saw one with my wife recently that made such a positive impression. It is based on a true story and is called Soul Surfer. I recommend it as a high quality film that amplifies the truth of Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Seeing it reminded me of another such film I saw several years ago called Chariots of Fire. If you have not seen this one, I would encourage you to rent or buy it and watch it with your family. It is the true story of legendary British athlete, Eric Liddell. He was Britain’s star sprinter, scheduled to compete in the 1924 Olympic games. Upon arrival at the games he learned that his first race, the 100-meter dash, was to be run on Sunday. Liddell determined that he would not run that race because of his consistent practice/personal commitment to honor God by being in corporate worship in church on the Lord’s Day.

Craig Groeschel wrote, “Just because he was in Paris to compete in the Olympics did not justify changing his lifelong commitment. Most normal people today would think him more than just weird – they would think him foolish for passing up a chance at personal glory and international acclaim. Many in Liddell’s country called him a traitor for his bold and unusual stand. Even the Prince of Wales begged him to change his mind. But this uncommon man made an uncommon stand. In the next race, the 400 meters [not run on Sunday], Liddell beat the runner up by an amazing fifteen meters! He won the Olympic gold and set a new world record. Though he could have done almost anything with his life after this success, Eric and his family moved back to China to serve as missionaries.”

While we are studying The Church Alive at Crossroads this summer, I thought it relevant to spotlight a man who was a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ and a man who was faithful to worship in the church. No excuses. No exceptions. No rationalizations. For followers of Christ, worship is not something they have to do. It’s something they love to do and want to do because of their love for God and their love for their brothers and sisters in Christ. Of the early church it says in Acts 2:46, “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.” Paul said of the church in Troas in Acts 20:7, “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.” And the Hebrews writer encourages Christians then and now in 10:25, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

The fact is, each of us, like Eric Liddell, determine our own convictions. No one else can do that for us. Our decisions and actions are a direct result of the priorities we establish based on those convictions. There is so much more to say here, but suffice it to say…. The 3300-3700 people who find their way to Crossroads to faithfully worship each weekend represent a faith community of probably 4500-5000 who consider Crossroads their church home. But, some come once or twice a month. Some come twice a year. Some come when they ‘feel’ like it. It is my pastoral prayer that a growing number of people will make worship, every Lord’s Day, without exception, the highest priority of your life regardless of what other opportunities/activities present themselves. And, if you are ever in the Olympics on a Sunday you will be found in God’s house, numbered among God’s people, faithfully worshipping Him.

Pray with me…. Lord, we agree with the Psalmist who said, “I was glad when they said to me, let us go into the house of the Lord.” It is part of our covenant relationship with You. It is part of our training in righteousness. And it is part of our witness to the world about the number one priority of our life. The pendulum has swung too far in the direction of casual Christianity; and so Lord, we want to swing it back hard today, back in the direction of exercising our wills to recommit our time and energy to faithfulness in worship. In the name of Jesus, amen.

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