The First Day of the Week

Women went to look for Jesus’ body on Sunday morning.  They had rested on the Sabbath, or Saturday, and rose early to go to the tomb.  Men would have been getting ready to go back to work and grind out another six days.  But something radical happened, Jesus rose from the dead, changing both humanity and religion forever. 

In the book of Acts, the early Church followed the story and decided to worship on the first day of the week as a congregation of believers (note – Acts 20:7). This was also influenced by the Jewish believers trying to hold onto the old law while following Jesus. Therefore, they could have a Sabbath on Saturday and then worship Jesus on Sunday. 

As the Church grew and expanded, so did their knowledge of God’s plan for his people.  They understood that Christianity did not require them to have a Sabbath.  People continued to worship on Sunday, and for a long time, they worked the rest of the time.

Fast forward several hundred years.  It wasn’t until the 1800’s that a movement came about to form the two-day weekend we have now.  Slowly the concept gained traction, and by the 1930’s it was adopted as a regular practice.  People then had a day for fun, followed by a day for worship and leisure before returning to work on Monday morning. 

Because of this transition in our culture, it is easy to think of Monday as the first day of the week.  It is, for many people, the first day of the workweek.  We must be cautious not to let this affect our view of Sunday as believers. 

Every Sunday morning, the Church gathers on the first day of the week.  Here we start our week by connecting with the resurrection of Jesus by the day, his cross by communion, and his community by our participation.  We remember a Jesus who died for us and rose again, and there is nothing that happens each week that will change that fact. That should motivate us to live for Jesus at work in the coming days. 

This Sunday morning, our Church, along with thousands of others, will join together in worship.  Let me encourage you to connect to one of them.  It is a great way to start your week. 


Christianity is not about something you have accomplished, like, “Look what I have done.” Rather a Christian is something you are becoming.

I have often wondered why Jesus doesn’t immediately take us to heaven when we come to faith in him.  Once we claim him as our Savior, then why not usher us into his presence. 

One reason is that it takes a lifetime to become the person God desires.  We become like him inch by inch and decision by decision.  Sometimes that means we will do things wrong and learn from them.  Other times we walk through difficult seasons to mold our character and thoughts.  We expand our knowledge, soften our hearts, use our hands, and worship with our souls. 

Each day God gives us is a chance to become a better version of ourselves.  We can become like Jesus in all you do and say.  God has you and me here today for a reason, and maybe it is just to become more like him in every way.   

An Easy Jesus

I never want to be a person who inhibits someone from following Jesus.  I have spent my ministry trying to explain the story and message of Jesus quickly and efficiently to others.  I want them to know why he came, what he accomplished and how to follow him. Lord willing, I can do that in one sitting and lead people to a saving relationship with Jesus. 

What bothers me is that Jesus never seems to make following him seem like an easy task.  Whenever people came to him, he seemed to discourage them.  In John 6, the crowds have swelled, and he preaches a sermon on the bread of life, and the masses walk away because it is a hard teaching.  All the gospels tell of a rich, young ruler who comes to Jesus and wants to find eternal life.  Jesus tells him to keep the commands, and then he says there is only one other thing.  Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor.  And he goes away sad. 

Still another time, people come to Jesus, and they have some other tasks to handle before they follow him.  He doesn’t care about their comfort, their funerals, or their family.  He says that following him is complex, and you will have times without a bed, the ability to grieve, or even say goodbye. So the people go away sad, and I am sure, a little confused. 

Jesus seems harsh and, at times, a little obstinate toward people who want to follow him. He does not give them easy steps, simple changes to make, or a short list of things to believe.  He is not easy to access, follow or sometimes understand.  To be a follower of his, you will have to surrender your life and all that goes with it. 

It has been said that Jesus is not interested in fair-weather fans who think he is a good guy. Instead, he desires to have followers who are totally committed to him and his work.  Jesus is full of grace, but that grace does not come cheap; it will take everything you have.

Free to Choose

There are thousands of things you can do each day. 

You can get up early and exercise or sleep late.

You can do the minimal amount of work required or give each task a total effort.

You can choose to be happy and smile or be angry and frown.

You can spend time together as a family or allow everyone to go their own way each evening.

You can let your children be involved in every sport offered or choose to limit their participation.

You can choose to be on social media or shut it off when you are around people you love.

You can throw yourself into your hobbies or enjoy quiet evenings at home. 

Life has numerous choices ranging from our attitudes, words, actions, and even reactions.  The way to change your life is to acknowledge that you have a choice to live differently.  Then make adjustments one decision at a time.

When the Music Makes Sense

Love songs make the most sense to a person who is falling in love. 

Songs about heartbreak and leaving appeal to those going through loss, divorce, and separation. 

Jimmy Buffet music is meant for lying on the beach and looking out at the ocean. 

Country music is for sitting by the fire out under the stars with good friends. 

Dance music fits in a club of crowded young people out for an evening of fun. 

Praise and worship music is written for people who follow Jesus. 

The people who have faith in God and try to please him daily understand the words without explanation.  Each song touches something deep in the soul that cannot be explained entirely; it must be felt. 

Perhaps the problem with your connection to God in song has little to do with the style of music or quality of the songs. Instead, maybe it has something to do with what is going on inside of you. 

The Preacher as Sinner

I sinned. 

My first thought was, “What if people find out?” 

Initially, I was not concerned about what God thought. Instead, I was focused on the reaction of the people I lead. 

I knew people would be disappointed in me if they knew.  Some might even be shocked.  Others would gossip.  Some people might celebrate my failure as a form of victory because they always knew I was a terrible person.  Reactions would vary depending on your relationship with me now. 

One of the weights that preachers carry is the desire to be perfect in the eyes of their congregation.  Preachers are to speak of their sins in the past tense, as people who are victorious in the name of Jesus.  Well, I am here to tell you that even preachers commit sins.  We do things that violate God’s will, and there are times we are filled with guilt, remorse, and regrets.

The good news is that preachers are saved by the grace of God.  They are not perfect, even though they are trying to be.  They, just like you, can go back to the cross and plead for God’s mercy because of the work of Jesus.  And as a preacher, I am continually confessing my sins, trying to make the necessary changes, and pleading with God for his ongoing compassion. 

I am a preacher of God’s grace because I am a receiver of that same grace.   

A Name for Ourselves

There is a drive inside of many people that wants their name to be known by others.  They want to be well-known, recognized, and adored. For some, this is about fame with its pleasures, and for others, it is about money, and still, others long for power.

I will admit, it feels good to walk into a room of your peers and have them whispering to each other because of something you have accomplished.  A sense of satisfaction comes with having other people recognize your work in whatever field you find yourself.  Even Christians feel something when they are known by others for their good deed. 

Social media has magnified this desire.  If we can share the right information, make a great video or say something witty, we can move from obscurity into a place of recognition.  The rush that comes with having 100 people like your post increases with 1,000 or 10,000 or more. 

There can be a problem for believers in our quest to be known, or as some people call it, enlarge our platform.  The concern is, “Whose kingdom are you building?” Are you seeking to get your name known or make the name of Jesus famous?

Back in the Old Testament, there is a story from the early days of humanity.  Everyone is speaking the same language, and they start talking.  This is what the Bible says happened next.

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:4 – NIV 2011)

The people wanted to build a city and make their name great, above the name of God. The result is he confused their language, and the people were scattered.  The differences in our language are a reminder of the limits of building our own kingdoms. 

My encouragement is quite simple, the next time you engage in social media or take on a project, ask yourself, “Do I want to be known by others, or do I want others to know God?”

Passion and Information

When you have a passion for something, it drives your desire to get more information.  The more information you obtain, the more you fuel your passion. 

For example, I enjoy metal detecting.  Therefore, I am a part of several Facebook groups about metal detecting.  I had a couple of magazine subscriptions for years, along with purchasing their annual special issues.  I watch videos on TV and YouTube to learn from people who know how to get the most out of each trip. 

With each new piece of material I view or read, I get more excited to be out in the field with my machine.  Then, whenever I go out hunting, I realize there is so much more to learn that I go home and reread the same material to get all the parts that I missed the first time.

Passion and information are intimately linked.  It doesn’t matter what your passion in life is today. The same principle applies if you like running, dogs, race cars, cigars, model airplanes, or possibly faith. 

When you are walking with the Lord, you should want to know about God.  The more you know, should fuel your passion for serving and loving him.  And on and on, this merry-go-round goes. 

If you lack passion in your faith, then get more information. On the other hand, if you are on fire for God right now, be sure to gather information about your faith at the same time, so you do not run out of gas.  One will fuel the other and make you into all the God desires.   

Under Further Review

It all happened so fast that even trained professionals had a hard time figuring out what exactly happened. Finally, the official walked to the middle of the football field, turned on a microphone, and announced to the fans, “The previous play is under further review.”

People in booths with monitors and access to the latest technology will watch the play from all camera angles.  They will use slow motion and stop the play to get an exact look at what happened. Then, after a couple of minutes, the replay officials arrive at their decision, and the man on the field announces it to the fans. 

How many times have I wished I could stop my life and say, “The previous interaction is under further review?” There are things in my life, marriage, parenting, work, and Church that I wish I had time to review in detail before moving forward.  But alas, life does not come with the option of a booth review. 

Before instant replays were a part of the game, there were so many blown calls.  This led to many questions, angry participants, critics, division, and sportscasters calling for a change.  The goal of the replay was to make the game better and please everyone involved. 

Unfortunately, since life doesn’t have a review plan, feelings get hurt, stories get retold negatively, division occurs, and people are angry over what happened.  The result is that we need to develop a plan to review our actions regularly.  We need to spend a few quiet moments and think through all we have said and done at the end of the day. 

We cannot go back and change the past, but I imagine if you spent a little time in further review, you would become a person who says, “I am sorry” more often.  A regular part of your conversations will be, “Please forgive me.” This will also lead us to be more gracious people because we will see how much grace we need ourselves.  Finally, it will help us to appreciate all we have in Jesus. 

Mistakes are always made; how you handle them after the fact is a true sign of your character.

Congregational Appreciation Month

The month of October is recognized as Pastor Appreciation Month.  I love it what people show their appreciation for my work and know many have pure motives who participate.  But I hate the concept.  There are reasons for this that I have written about, and if you have thirty minutes, I will explain it to you.  But I do not want to focus on the negative; I desire to flip the month over and call it Congregational Appreciation Month.

The truth is that I get paid to do my job.  I draw a salary from the Church, and there are weeks that I work 60 hours or more and other weeks that I work 35 or less.  It all balances out, and I am compensated nicely for the work I do each week. 

What I appreciate as a pastor is all the people who help our Church without a cent of compensation.  They show up night after night and week after week, pouring their life into our community of believers because they want to serve Jesus.  Without them, there would be no childcare, no youth group, no worship, no leadership, no dinners, no greeters, no guest gifts, no small groups, no Sunday schools, and a host of other things. 

Every week, Churches across the world will open their doors to worship, serve, and bless the lives of others because of a volunteer force that is beyond number.  The people who keep the Church community vibrant and growing are those unpaid heroes who give themselves selflessly because of their love for Jesus. 

Today, as a Pastor, I want to say, “Thank you” and “I appreciate you” to all the people who served in their Church in the past month.  It is because of you that the faith is spreading and reaching you.  It is because of you that the Church is able to help and heal broken and hurting people.  It is because of the average congregational member that the Church is a wonderful place to belong. 

For everyone who serves their God in any local Church, I want you to know that Pastors appreciate you far more than we could ever say.