Asking questions does not indicate disrespect, to question shows an intent to succeed.
My name is Byron Maltimore and I want to briefly share with you, a dream I had.
The rapture had happened and everyone was overjoyed seeing loved ones and friends that had died years before. Once everyone greeted each other they turned to see God! Among the gasps and awe one person spoke up and said, "Thank you Father for getting us off the earth when you did, things were really getting bad!" God answered and said, "The Holy Spirit wasn't enough?"
It was evident that no reply was needed, everyone understood and hung their head in shame.
I awoke and was shocked! Imagine if Christians, with the Holy Spirit, had the power to transform this earth into the "second best" version of the Garden of Eden!
Right now though, there is no doubt that this world is losing morals and common sense faster with each passing day! Corruption and greed are seemingly everywhere and within this "decay" are hurting people, Christian and non-Christian!
The following story is of my spiritual transformation that allows me now to say, "I am living in God's second "Garden of Eden", courtesy of Jesus!"
"Sit still, Aysha! And pay attention!" I heard those same words from my mother almost every Sunday of my life when we were at church. I guess I did start to fidget and look around sometimes, especially when the sermon was going on just a little too long. I wasn’t the only one. There seemed to be plenty of people who were getting restless and ready to go. Near the end of the service, it always seemed to feel hot and stuffy and my seat seemed to feel extra hard. I’d try to distract myself by looking around at our beautiful church.
The Tabernacle of Faith Church of Willow, North Carolina, was a fairly new church which the congregation had built in just the past few years. I was proud that my dad, who owns a construction company, helped build the church by donating labor and providing some materials free of charge. It was a lovely building. The church’s beautiful white-shingled spire pushed up toward heaven and was fitted with a shiny golden bell that rang with a pleasing resonance on Sunday mornings. The design of the church was semi-modern and brought distinction to the otherwise indistinct “skyline” of Willow.
Inside the church, the altar was tasteful and plain as most Christian churches were known to be. On this day, there was a large bouquet of yellow roses on one side of the altar and a bouquet of red flowers on the opposite side. I always like to watch how the sun filtered through the beautiful stained glass windows behind the altar and on the side walls. I remembered hearing the phrase that the Truth was the Light. If that was the case, our church had a good measure of both. The pews were made of shining dark walnut and were a few shades lighter than the gleaming hardwood floors. The center aisle of the church was covered with a plush, dark green carpet that led all the way to the altar, up the altar stairs and encompassed the area where the choir sang.
Our musical director, Charlie Duncan, was thrilled when a special area was built just for the choir. The choir, consisting of ten women and eight men, were dressed as usual in their long dark red robes that were all fitted with white, starched collars. There were some beautiful voices among the choir members but as I gazed at them now, near the end of the sermon when the singing was over, I could have sworn that a couple of them were nodding off.
I was just as guilty of “goofing off,” as anyone else and I was often pre-occupied with my thoughts or distracted by others who were looking around and seemed to be just as restless as I was.
My name is Aysha Conora, I'm twelve years old and I'm a Christian. I am not very tall and I’m fairly thin. I have long brown hair and brown eyes. My dad, John Conora, says I look just like my mother which is a great compliment because everyone says how pretty she is. And my mom, Audrey Conora, says I have my dad’s intelligence and leadership abilities. That’s another compliment because my dad is a well-respected businessman and is known for his good judgment and fairness. I myself think both my parents are good looking and smart! But, let’s just put it this way, I am very happy the way things turned out. I was blessed to have inherited the best from each of them.
It may not sound like it from what you just read, but I always loved church and I certainly love and am devoted to Jesus. But around this time, when I would soon be turning thirteen, I was becoming disenchanted with our church because it just seemed like something was missing and I wanted to find out what that was.
As I watched Pastor Shelton preach, I was amazed at how red his face would get when he was relating a story from the Bible or quoting scripture. Is that healthy for an old man to go through every week? And if it's not healthy, why doesn't someone speak up and tell him? Maybe someone should also tell him that a lot of people in the congregation aren’t paying much attention to him and therefore aren’t getting much out of his sermons.
When he paused to catch his breath and wipe the spit from his mouth — that always grossed me out—the congregation would begin to yell out, "Amen" or "Preach it, brother," or "That’s right!" Some of the church members were trying to encourage him. Obviously, they saw the lack of attention that he was getting and they were loyal churchgoers and wanted him to find his voice. I think a lot of the people probably thought Pastor Shelton was slipping a bit. But those exchanges, those words of encouragement, would drag on, sometimes for as long as an hour.
As the time wore on, I’d glance at my watch now and then, making sure to be discreet so mother wouldn’t notice. I was counting the minutes and waiting for my “break time.” My only chance to escape from the too-long sermon came around eleven-thirty. It was around then when I usually felt I just couldn’t take it any longer. I’d quietly get my mother’s attention and ask her if I could “Pleeeaaasssee, pretty please,” go to the bathroom. I knew she couldn’t say no and I’d be so happy that I’d finally get to leave for a while. Believe me I would take as long as possible in the restroom before I would tiptoe back in the sanctuary.
But today I did something I don't normally do after I took my usual 11:30 break in the ladies room. When I returned to the sanctuary, I stood out in the lobby and peeked in on the congregation. From that point of view, I could see the back of all the people who were sitting in the pews but, of course, they couldn’t see me. I was kind of spying on them. I had never observed our congregation from this vantage point before and I was shocked at what I saw! Eric and Tim were playing on the floor and they were both twelve, the same age as I was! I can only imagine what my mother would have said if I had tried to pull off that kind of behavior. Not that I’d ever think of trying it.
I was surprised to see Sister Charlotte glance up from her crossword puzzle to give the pastor an "Amen!" Sister Charlotte wasn’t a misbehaving kid. She was a grown woman, an elementary teacher, to be exact. And she was doing a crossword puzzle instead of giving her full attention to the pastor’s sermon?!
What would Sister Charlotte have to say if her students did word games while she was teaching her class? But I understood where Sister Charlotte was coming from. Just like me. She was bored. No one should be bored in church. What could be more exciting than to learn about your Creator, to hear the Word of the Lord? But yet, the simple truth was that we were bored. It was obvious that quite a few of us were not getting what we expected or needed to get out of our Sunday visits to church. An adult Christian needs "spiritual meat".
I saw other adults who were balancing their checkbooks or making out what looked to be grocery lists. I saw several kids passing notes to one another. Then, I saw someone talking that tickled me the most. I saw my own mother lean over and whisper something into dad's ear! I smiled and pictured myself running up to her and saying, “Now Mother, sit still and pay attention!” Of course, I wouldn’t talk like that to my mother but it gave me satisfaction to see that my mother was getting a little antsy, too.