What I am learning from a “down” Sunday

Most Sundays at church, there is a sense of excitement and anticipation. People are there because they want to be, and they believe that it’s important to come together as a church. This past Sunday, however, was different. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but it seemed most people weren’t feeling very joyful or excited. For some, they were just simply exhausted after having worked 6 days in a row. Others had experienced deep family problems. A few were facing another week of looking for a job when it seems there are none to be had. One had worked all month and now his boss was refusing to pay him. Then there were several people who weren’t there that hadn’t made an appearance in a long time. I was worried about them.

Despite this, we sang songs of praise to God. We prayed for each other. We read the Bible together. I preached as best as I could. Afterwards, we talked about our families and the week ahead. Then we each went home. At first glance, not much happened, but I have been thinking about it more since then. For me, this “down” Sunday did several things in my life.

1. Not every Sunday (or every day for that matter) will be filled with shouts of joy and warm feelings of fellowship. That’s okay. God works in our lives when we are tired, sad, disappointed, and frustrated as well as he does when we are happy.

2. This Sunday made me realize that every good thing that happens is a gift from God. Without him, we are nothing. Over the past year, we have taken many positive steps. We have had weeks where we have seen God do great things. Sometimes the hard weeks help us see how great the “good” weeks really are.

3. It made me pray more for the people in my church. Seeing people hurting and with deep needs made me realize how much I need to be praying for each of these brothers and sisters in Christ. It made me see that the growth of this church does not depend so much upon my ability, creativity or dynamic leadership. It depends on prayer.

4. It made me thank God that He is faithful and remains the same even when our emotions, and the emotions of an entire church, ebb and flow.

Those are some things I have been learning since last Sunday. What about you? What has God been teaching you?

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Come visit beautiful Lisboa

We are blessed to live so close to one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We never get tired of exploring Lisbon. Recently, we took a friend of ours who was visiting us on a tour. Here are some of our pictures:

Downtown Lisbon
Downtown Lisbon
This church was nearly destroyed by a terrible fire in the 1950s. It has been restored since then, but the damage from the fire is still evident.
This church was nearly destroyed by a terrible fire in the 1950s. It has been restored since then, but the damage from the fire is still evident.
Candles inside church
Candles inside church

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Beautiful old streets
Beautiful old streets
This little nifty gadget is so that you can place your clothes line pole on it so that it will extend from the wall
This little nifty gadget is so that you can place your clothes line pole on it so that it will extend from the wall

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Blue door. Blue tiles.
Blue door. Blue tiles.
Sé Cathedral. I think it is the oldest church in Lisbon.
Sé Cathedral. I think it is the oldest church in Lisbon.
Doors into Sé Cathedral
Doors into Sé Cathedral
Inside the Sé Cathedral
Inside the Sé Cathedral
Rossio train station
Rossio train station