Why do we go to church every Sunday? Well some of you are saying we don’t. Glad you reminded me. You should. We come to church every Sunday if we’re Christians to have our faith revitalized, re-energized and built up again. It’s nothing new that we invented. It’s been the tradition of great historic religions. The Jewish people once a week following the commandment of God who said that the seventh day should be the Lord Gods. And that’s because God knows we need one day in seven to come alive with excitement, enthusiasm, to be re-strengthened and redirected and if we stopped going to church regularly there will be a difference in our lives and I’ve seen that happening more in my current times of living. When I was a little boy everybody went to church every Sunday; Catholic, Protestant it was wonderful. So I encourage you to change some of your schedules.
It’s interesting I use the word change because change is the title of my morning message. What your life amounts to, how you handle the hurts of the past, how you handle the opportunities of today, how you set your goals for the future. It’s all up to you. There probably is not a more important verb than the verb change. And it’s really used a lot in today’s world because with businesses that are running into problems and with cultures that are in conflict and with denominations that are going down hill and churches that are emptying out in many, many places. We’re looking at the word change. What’s changing? Why is it changing? Is it good or is it fearful? Where does the change come from? A lot of good change happens in our life, I can say in mine because people pray for us. And our mother’s prayers never die.
Now that’s one of the more recent insights I’ve had on the subject of prayer that is prayer does not have a life span. The bible doesn’t say if you pray and God will keep that prayer in front of Him for a week a month or a year or until you die. I am convinced a lot of great things that are happening in your life and surely that’s happened in my life happened because people prayed for me and the prayers are right still on the front desk of the Lord Almighty. Beautiful, wonderful.
Now look, it’s all around us, you can’t escape it. It’s in culture, in the clothes you wear. I remember my first trip to Eastern Europe maybe forty, fifty years ago and I noticed, I think the first country was Romania all the women wore the same dress. It was always a black dress. There was no style. Arms for the arms, covering of the body, but that was the style. And I said why don’t they change? Oh, I was told, some of these dresses are over a hundred years old. They were their mother’s dress. When they die the dress will go to their daughter. They don’t throw clothes away. If the clothing is damaged and can’t be repaired that’s something. And so all of the Eastern European countries that I visited black dresses, no colors, no style, permanent life span.
What makes these changes? Not wearing out, not becoming dysfunctional. The shape, the style, the color, there are a variety of factors that make it. I’m just saying change: we all live with it in one way or another. And it can be very dangerous of course especially in communications.
I remember attending a very important meeting of about twenty people in New York City in a very fashionable meeting room. And the people there were named people. All very sophisticated and this is only about four years ago. It was a contentious meeting and finally the one woman who held strong positions got upset and she jumped up and she said, I can’t repeat the words, in that colony and that collection of people she used the “F” word more than once. I was just shocked. There was silence. She went to the front door, opened it to leave and used the word again. “You all” slammed the door.
There have been changes in our culture, changes in our society. I have tried to raise my children to use certain words and not to use other words. And I’ve been criticized by people saying what’s in a word anyway? A word is an awfully lot to do with the self-image of the people who have to listen to it. Words have a lot to do with your self-image and your respect. And there are no rules against it. Most people don’t have principles anymore. Boundaries have been set aside. What happens to us when the changes that come upon us affect our immediate environment?
This is an important sermon, very important because I don’t have the answers. If I had the answers it would be pretty simple but I don’t. I don’t think Juan Carlos does either. Changes; how do you handle them? Evaluate them up front. They may be good changes, they may come to you today because a mother prayed for you or a father prayed for you or you prayed for yourself. It may have happened years ago, but when God catches a prayer, He doesn’t read it and throw it in the basket. He puts it on the shelf and looks at it from time to time. And I’ve lived through times when I wondered what happened and I look back and I can spot the time in history when certain people prayed for me and their prayers were answered with positive changes. It’s why this faith gives you hope. This faith gives you optimism. Wow. The faith today.
I have friends in the entertainment industry that had to watch their careers go down because entertainment changed and what was once considered absolutely impossible public entertainment was broken by new generations that came along and they got by with it. And pretty soon you have a new cultural change. In ethics, in morality. I don’t need to preach to you to tell you look at the morals that are tolerated today in America and publicity personalities and celebrities in the entertainment and other businesses are doing what is considered immoral.
And what changes are going to happen in America’s culture in the next twenty years? In the next forty years? In the next one hundred years? We are living in change and nothing is going to stop that, nothing. It will keep on going. How the changes are shaped is something else. How do we handle changes? Well first of all let’s see if we can’t make the changes instead of having to follow the changes. I’m giving everybody an assignment today. I’ve never done this before in my earthly life. When you get out of here, go home or an office or wherever, take a sheet of paper and title it “Changes I’d like to see made around my life” and be courageous. Dare to write it. Look at all of your life: The economics, the spiritual, the morals, the sexual, everything. Make a list of the changes you’d like to see made. You have the freedom to do that. You have the power to go home and get a paper and pen and write it down. Very important because in all of this thinking business, whether it’s positive or negative, you do have the right to make the decision what changes you’d like to see made.
I can tell all of you should put one thing at the top of that list and with this I close. I’d like to see God more real in my life. And it should come from your heart, not from this pulpit. I really don’t think I can change people except I think I’m changing people now when I’m asking you to make a list of the changes you’d like to see in the weeks, days, months and years to come. Our world is not going to be the same world in ten years, and surely not in twenty, and what will be the ideas that will take providence. Who will be the persons that make a difference? It may be you writing a letter to the editor. They have to make changes. It may be you coming to church and receiving a challenge to become a Christian of a kind and a type and a lifestyle and a depth that you never imagined you’d be there. And you’re going there. I’m asking you to go there. And you can do it. The biggest changes in your life are yet to happen. Hallelujah, Amen.