by Buzz Dahlen
I can remember as a young person, while watching TV there would be commercials about going to church. They seemed generic in nature and would always end with, “attend the church of your choice.” Of course, as a young person, I never got to attend the church of my choice; I always had to go to church with my mom, until I got older, a little independent and a lot more mobile. At first, I began to put up some resistance when it came to going to church. It was during my early teen years, as I look back, when I began to want to skip church and maybe sleep in a little longer on Sundays. For the most part, I got up and went to church, but I don’t remember enjoying much of it.
Then in the winter of my 15th year, I heard that you could have a personal relationship with God. That really amazed me, just the thought that God knew who I was amazed me. Sure, I grew up hearing the same thing that all my other classmates heard, “God created us because He loved us.” Sure, I could some how accept that God loved everybody, but to think that He knew everybody, just did not compute. I was told many times that “God is watching” so I could accept that God saw everything that I did, but it never dawned on me that He knew who I was. I certainly wasn’t concerned that He would tell my mom what He has seen me do; and if we are honest with ourselves, as kids we were more concerned about what our moms knew we were doing then what God knew we were doing.
It was January 1969 when I heard that Jesus Christ would have died, even if I were the only sinner on earth. It was then that I heard that I could invite Jesus into my heart. I heard that I could give my life to him and He would forgive all of my sins and give me eternal life. It took a few months for all of that to take root but on April 18th, 1969, I gave my life to Jesus Christ and I have not resisted going to church since.
So what changed? I know I did, that’s for sure. I was a different person inside. As a matter of fact, this young teenager who didn’t want to go to church even once a week started going to church 3 times on Sundays and even attended on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings. I was going to three different churches and frankly, I couldn’t get enough. I was hungry…
That all started over thirty-five years ago and I thank God for keeping His promises: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." Romans 10:9-11 and Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Revelations 3:20
Now there are folks “out there” who do not want to go to church. Many think that their life is so bad that if they entered a church building it would fall down. I have heard many people say that they do not want to go to church because it is full of hypocrites. To you folks I say, the church is full of sinners. Sinners who have given their lives to Jesus Christ. Sinners who are saved by grace. Sinners who are forgiven. Jesus said, “For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Let me encourage you to “attend the church or your choice.” When you get there, look around and you will see that people just like you, sinners, surround you. When you give your life to Jesus, you will be just like them, forgiven. You can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ…