Church.

One Sunday, we decided to have church as a family. My original dream to join a local congregation here in Brazil was naïve. The idea of 2-3 hour service in Portuguese is not only painful for the kids but for me (and even Darla) as well.

Our own services have been so fun. Each of us chooses a song off the iPod to play. We sing together out loud mostly, but also in our hearts. Some of the sweetest times of worship I’ve ever had. We pray together. We spend some time reading stories from God’s Word and discussing them. The first story was selected by Libby. We read the story of the daughters of Zelophehad from Numbers and Joshua (look it up it’s a great story). This led to a great discussion about how God cares for all his children alike and provides for us.

In the midst of this I was reading a book by John & Joanna Stumbo. While our “family church” was fun, I was reminded of why attending church is so important. John was the lead pastor at the church where Darla worked in Oregon. He has an incredible life story. Impossible to summarize here, basically he became incredibly ill but in the end survived to tell the story in his book “An Honest Look at a Mysterious Journey.” Everyone should read the book, but here is a poignant section he wrote upon reentering church from the pew rather than the pulpit; on his realization of why attending church matters.

“By attending church…

  • I think thoughts I would not otherwise think
  • I hear truths I would not otherwise hear
  • I sing songs I would not otherwise sing
  • I meet people I would not otherwise meet
  • I give offerings I may not otherwise give
  • I rejoice in mission efforts and in new followers of Jesus I would not otherwise know about
  • I receive encouragement and challenge I would not otherwise receive
  • I shed tears I would not have otherwise shed
  • I receive a blessing I would not have otherwise received
  • I pray prayers I would not have thought to pray
  • I meet God in a way I would not have met Him had I stayed home in my chair
  • And perhaps, my attendance is an encouragement or testimony to someone else.”

Amen. We all miss church. We all miss you, the church. We all miss the thoughts, the truths, the songs, the people, the offerings, the encouragement and more. We miss Coast Hills.

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