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Prepared for Pasta

By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted November 18, 2014

RELIGION – I missed it! Back on September 22 The Olive Garden ran a promotion where they sold 1,000 unlimited pasta passes. It was the "Never Ending Pasta Pass" -- which, for $100, gives the holder the right to consume all of the pasta, salad, bread and Coca-Cola branded soft drinks that they can stuff down for seven weeks. Not a bad deal if you were one of the lucky thousand and love pasta. So the question is how much pasta could you eat with an unlimited seven-week pass to Olive Garden?

Well, for one North Carolina minister and father-of-two he ate about $1,840 worth of food from Olive Garden with his $100, seven-week “pasta pass.” Alan Martin ate 115 meals in seven weeks – two meals per day – and he said he didn’t even get sick of it. “It’s great food,” he said. Martin also kindly gave away some of the food to the needy, and he still has about 25 meals left in his freezer.

Amazingly Martin said he was prepared to gain about 30 pounds, he actually dropped four pounds! “In today’s economy, it’s all about the value for me.” He clearly got a nice return on his $100 investment. On his last day, the Olive Garden staff signed a menu for him. He said that “I went into the whole thing determined to eat $1,500 worth of food and get my value and it became fun.”

Now why did I share this with? Besides this is my wife’s favorite restaurant and it involved a preacher, it also highlighted someone determined to get the most out of something. I want to ask you, are you determined to get as much benefit as you can from the time you spend in church? How can you get the most from your investment of time when it comes to church?

The reality is that many people have sat through hundreds of Sunday meetings. On far too many of those Sundays, we have: woken up late, walked into church groggy, worshiped distractedly (thinking where to go and what to eat later), listened occasionally, and remembered very little.
Is this the kind of worship service God wants us to have? How much more you could have gained if your Sundays had been prepared for in advance, fully enjoyed and engaged in with vigor and purpose? Because the truth is, Sunday for a child of God is the best day of the week. For us, those few hours have a strategic and irreplaceable value. They're meant to be packed with promise, encountering God and his people! Every Sunday is meant to be a great day, and we should approach it expectantly and in full awareness.

So, do we really need to prepare for the service? If we have something to wear and our hair combed, what's the big deal? But getting ready for the service is more than putting on clean clothes and making a quick run past the mirror.

We need to get our hearts ready. We shouldn't expect a rich spiritual experience in the service if we're not willing to prepare our hearts and minds. Think about other parts of life: Before we play sports, we warm up. Before a big presentation at work, we review our notes. Before we take exams, we study. Why should we assume that we can show up on Sunday with no spiritual preparation?

Joshua Harris, in his book “Stop dating the church, fall in love with the family of God,” notes that:
1. A great Sunday starts Saturday night. One of the wisest decisions you can make is to get to bed early so that you're rested and ready for the next morning.
2. On Sunday morning, wake up early enough to give yourself time to get ready for church and spend some unhurried moments in God's Word and in prayer. Psalm 19 is a good passage to meditate on.
3. Take time to thank God for His Word and for His goodness in saving you. Recount His many blessings in your life.
4. Avoid intrusions and distractions such as news, work around the house, video games, anything that could hinder yourself to be fully prepared to come before a holy and transcendent God.
5. Do whatever it takes to protect the 'Great Day' ahead and help your family and friends arrive at church with ready, expectant hearts.

So as true in most things, you will get back from church what you put into church. If you barely show up, complain when you do, and play angry birds during preaching, you will not change into the conformity of Christ. Come often, listen well, and apply what you learn, and you will be an ambassador of Christ.

Craving a breadstick!
Pastor Phillip

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