Here is another reason why I love reading Trevin Wax:


“A sparse sanctuary can discourage a pastor.

Surveys show that, in the past twenty years, the definition of a “faithfully attending church member” has fallen from three times a week to three times a month, resulting in sparser attendance in many evangelical churches, even if membership has climbed or plateaued.

Loving God, Loving His People

Church attendance came up in discussion with my small group recently, in a study on Joshua’s statement about his family choosing to “serve the Lord.” We asked the question: How do you cultivate in your family a love for God and a desire to gather with His people?

Some of the group members said you must do more than simply talk about the importance of gathering with God’s people; you’ve got to demonstrate that importance by the commitment and consistency you maintain as a family. Others mentioned how “forcing” your family to go to church, if it is done solely as a duty or as an obligation, can backfire and lead to resentment from your kids.

Writing at Christianity Today, Michelle Van Loon warns against using church attendance as a scorecard of faithfulness:

“When I hear a pastor talking about how true commitment and godly character requires being at church every week, I imagine him tapping his foot impatiently while holding a scorecard in one hand and a red Sharpie in the other.”

But while Michelle is right to say that “perfect attendance is not a reliable metric of one’s fidelity to Jesus,” gathering with God’s people is one of the primary ways we are reminded of Jesus’ fidelity to us.

That’s why we need to turn this conversation around. If you think of attending a worship service as merely a duty or an obligation that you are bound to fulfill, then you are speaking of worship as if it were a chore. Regular church attendance may feel like that at times, just as a daily “work out” sometimes does. But we’re off base if we regularly conceive of our weekly efforts to “meet together” and to “stir one another to love and good works” as merely an obligation.

Having To, Getting To

One of the dads in my small group said that he corrects his kids if they ever ask about having to go to church on a weekend. “We never have to,” he says, “we get to go.” I like that. He’s policing the language of the house because he knows that the way he talks about church will send a signal to the rest of the family about how to view Sundays – as chore or as privilege.

Here are three ways we should see gathering with God’s people as privilege:

1. Culturally

In some places, church attendance is regulated by the government. Unless you are registered, you cannot legally meet. Or you must meet in small numbers. Or you can meet, but are constantly afraid of what might happen. The news of church bombings across the world, often during worship services, is a frightening reminder of the high cost of meeting with other believers.

We have the privilege of living in a society where we are free to get to go to church. It is hard to imagine persecuted believers whose baptismal services are secret, dangerous affairs ever saying they have to go to church. Listen to the global church, and be renewed in your gratitude for the privilege of freely worshipping with believers.

2. Theologically

In some religions, adherents must fulfill elaborate rituals and sacrifices before gaining access to a holy space or the ability to appease the gods. Christianity, however, teaches that we have direct access to God because of the final, perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf. The gateway to God has been opened by Jesus, the Door.

Whenever we conceive of our praying and singing and listening to God’s Word as merely a duty or obligation, we forget that we are responding to a precious invitation. We have the privilege of speaking to and hearing from the King of the Universe. Do we have to meet with God Himself? Or do we get to address “our Father”?

3. Corporately

One of the reasons I love meeting with other believers is because I feel like I have a front-row seat at what God is doing in the lives of people around me. Over time, I see how God’s Word slowly transforms us into His image. I see how God brings people from different backgrounds and interests, different ethnicities and generations, and unifies them by the gospel without obliterating their differences, thus shining a spotlight on the goodness and grace of God from gloriously different angles.

We are not lonely pilgrims on individual journeys to glory; we are a community of faith, marching forward as exiles in this world, beloved by God and beloved by each other. It is a privilege to be part of each other’s lives, to cheer one another on in the faith, to chasten and chide with holy reverence when needed, and to love one another as Christ has loved us.


We do not go to church because of guilt. We are the church because of grace.

As Jonathan Leeman writes, we “gather to hear the Lord’s words, to affirm [our] accountability to it, and to extend its ministry in one another’s lives.” What an honor! Do we have to extend the ministry of God’s Word in the lives of others? Or do we get to see and show Jesus in the lives of our fellow church members?

Church attendance is not a chore. It’s a gift. Therefore, it should elicit gratitude, not griping.”

Overcoming Gluttony & Drunkenness at the Lord’s Table


Worshiping at the Lord’s Table not only conquers the symptoms of Selfishness (gluttony and drunkenness), but Selfishness itself.

This banner hangs in the entrance lobby of our church. It reminds us as we enter that Jesus not only gave his life for us, but also that our lives are sustained by his. It is therefore, anti-christian, anti-christ, and anti-church, to live a Selfish life, a life that keeps to Self. In the most expansive instruction and correction worshiping at the Lord’s Table, Paul speaks to the church to expose what underlies the selfish, over-consumption of food and wine:

“But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

Our lives precede the sacrament on Sunday, and flows from it. A gluttonous, drunken, self-absorbed life does not begin on Sunday morning. It’s a worldview that permeates life. Likewise, the selflessness of Jesus’ life is more than Sunday morning, but it is not less than. When we, the church, live for one another during the week as individual family units, and then “come together as a church” – we are proclaiming that Jesus’ death has triumphed over our selfish hearts and has freed us from an over-consuming lifestyle that vacuums rather than gives. To worship the Lord with a gluttonous and drunken heart that spills over into the very acts, comes with a very stern warning:

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.”

So what do we do?

“Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another—if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.”

(1 Corinthians 11:17-34 ESV)

discern the Lord’s body > examine your heart as self-judgment/repentance and confession of a self-absorbed lifestyle > put away gluttony and drunkenness > now eat and drink as gifts from the Lord to you and your brother and sister in Christ > continue to live in self-control and selflessness with your eating and drinking, lest you fall back into gluttony and drunkenness >

As we worship at the Lord’s Table, we feast on the benefits of his sacrifice for us. To further our love for Christ, we’ll acknowledge this Sunday that our weakness as selfish self-absorbed sinners has been healed – he had to carry us to the table!  Here is a song by Leeland that we’ll use to worship. Enjoy!




When God Ordains Delay, Scratch Your Head and Let Your Questions Take You to the Lord

A trip to the Emergency Room is not big news when it’s almost routine. Not to highlight the event, but to exalt the Lord: instead of keeping this routine hush-hush, maybe it would encourage someone to trust the Lord – again!

Cheryl got up Wednesday (April 13) and felt a pain in her right kidney that resembled the pain that led to her near death back in 2011. Same kidney. Same pain. By yesterday, Thursday morning, and now with a slight temp, it was time to delay no longer: we called her Surgeon at Loyola University. By yesterday afternoon, 2:30 pm, she was admitted through the Emergency Room.

Full Stop!

Have you ever been delayed, side-tracked, and thought:

“What’s going on? Did I do something wrong? What did I miss? – Lord, are you there? Why this? Why now? Life’s too busy for this? Here we go again! Where will this trip end?”

To keep this post short (because I’m now a full day behind and so is Cheryl), I offer this:

  1. The Mystery of Delay is annoying, but the alternative is idolatry: you are not in control of your destiny – God is. Ordained Delay from God’s loving hand is our reminder that we are not nearly in control as we think we are. So scratch your head and be patient – the Lord will not fail to lead you through.
  2. Say to your heart, “This [too] is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice [in the fact that God is sovereign] and be glad in it [because God is sovereign over this too] – Psalm 118:24. This verse is often misused to plaster a smiling face on a grieving heart. God does not give you this psalm to dismiss your pain, but to remind you of his nearness. He does not expect you to be happy when your heart is broken, again.
  3. Finally, God might re-fry his beans, but he does not re-fry his grace. My point: God does not reuse a past grace for your present trial. He uses new grace!

Jesus the Great High Priest Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV)

Do you See? Your new delay is met with grace for this time of need. Which means, Jesus does not sympathize with your present weakness, and then pull out a used handkerchief to wipe your face. No, “in every respect”, which includes, the uniqueness of this day’s delay. God never yawns in the face of your sorrow as if he’s saying, “been there – done that.” Every trial and delay has it’s own unique temptations to fear and despair, and so also comes a new grace for each morning.

After 11 hours, Renal Ultrasound, CT, antibiotics, pain meds, labwork, much consultation (this is a tertiary research hospital), they discharged her and we were in bed by 1 am this morning. Her kidney got infected – but no maverick stones detected. Praise the Lord.

Back to work for both of us with a little more humility. Cheryl’s taking it easy as her kidney slowly heals. Still scratching our heads. But we trust the Lord.


Why you need a good dose of Grace today.


This 8 ft. banner hangs in our church as a reminder, a motto, a mission and purpose statement: Everything to the Praise of the Glory of His Grace.

Where did we get this overarching theme? From heaven itself!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory . . . and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 1:3-14; 2:6-7)

Why is it such good news to believe that the reason why we are saved is to display how gracious God is?


  1. You need to know that your salvation is not nearly as precious as God’s grace is.
  2. You need to know that your life has never been about you, it’s always been about displaying how gracious God is.
  3. You need to be comforted in knowing that every suffering in this life will one day be swallowed up in ecstasy and praise. Notice the future tense – “so that in the coming ages he might show . . .” One day, God is going to show you the infinite wisdom of his ways.
  4. You need assurance that he will “unite all things in heaven and on earth” to further your enjoyment of his grace in your life. Everything, all causes of both joy and sorrow will be brought to bear upon how gracious God is to you in Christ. Not one tear drop or pleasurable moment watching a sunrise will be lost. Everything is yours in Christ!
  5. You need a solid foundation from which to live for Christ. The promise of Grace precedes and is the basis for obedience (chapters 4-6 of Ephesians).
  6. You need to know that the ultimate reason why you’re on your way to eternal joy of the Lord is because of grace – a grace that preceded and caused your destiny. This means that no future sin can derail what grace has purposed.
  7. Finally, your enjoyment of Christ and all that you have in him will not be experienced alone or in a corner. Every pronoun used in this passage is plural; the Church is made up of every kind of person, every language, every people group, every class and caste of society, and every time period since Adam and Eve to the last martyr in Revelation. One day, the whole Universe will be filled with sinners saved by grace, enjoying all that they have in Christ.

Believe these things and all of this life’s troubles begin to take their proper small place.