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Saturday, February 9, 2013

WHY I ATTEND EVERY ASSEMBLY: By Wendell Ingram

                                                     Wendell  (3)  Cara Lynn  (14 mo.)

 
WHY I ATTEND EVERY ASSEMBLY
By Wendell Ingram
 
 
I have now been preaching full time for more than fifteen years and a big part of my job as a preacher is being present at every assembly to present sermons and Bible class lessons for which I have spent the week preparing. Attending every assembly of the church could be considered a part of my job and certainly, if I were to be absent from the assemblies, it would be impossible for me to do the work the church is paying me to do.
 
I must admit it is easier to attend every assembly when you are a full time preacher because your job requires you to be there. But I do not attend every assembly of the church simply because it is a part of my job to be here.
 
My parents became Christians when I was only a year old and they grew to understand the commitment they were making to Christ and to his church. I grew up in a family that would not even entertain the thought of being absent when the church met together. They impressed that commitment upon me and when I was baptized into Christ at age 13, I understood the commitment I was making to Christ and to his church.
 
Like all other Christians, my family faced the struggles of having to choose between work, family, and school activities and being at the assemblies. I can remember, when I was a sophomore in high school, having to walk off of the ball field in the 6th inning of a district playoff baseball game because the game had been scheduled on Wednesday evening and it was time to be at the assembly.
 
That was a difficult thing to do and though I had made a commitment to the team, I realized that the commitment I had made to Christ was of higher priority. (By the way, the boy that was sent in to take my place at second base was later baptized into Christ and is a faithful member of the Lord’s church today).
 
I grew up watching my dad earn a living for our family and not once allowing his work schedule to interfere with his being at the assemblies. One thing he always did when considering a job was to inform his potential employer of the schedule of assemblies and make it clear that he would not be available for work at those times. He was always honest and up front and I never once saw him compromise his convictions, though I did see him turn down some very high paying jobs.  
 
When I got out of school and entered the work force, I was faced with these challenges of putting Christ first. The first really good job I was offered was driving a delivery truck for a large milk company. My uncle had recommended me and the job was mine if I wanted it. The job came with a good salary and all the benefits that big companies have to offer, but when I went for the interview, I found that I would be working every other Sunday. I would have been unable to attend the assemblies on those Sundays so I politely refused the job. I’ll never forget how angry my uncle got with me. He couldn’t understand why someone would put “church” before making a living.
 
At age 19 I moved to Borger, TX, and went to work servicing heavy equipment for a dirt contractor. I had an agreement with the supervisor before I took the job that I would not miss the assemblies and he was always accommodating with my schedule. While living in Borger, I applied for a job with Phillips Petroleum Company. Three times I was offered a very good paying job with the company and all three times I had to turn down the offer because the work schedule conflicted with the schedule of assemblies.
 
After I got married and had children, the responsibilities of having a family made it even more  challenging  to hold to my convictions and commitment to Christ. While working as a mechanic for a truck dealership, my supervisor asked me to stay late one Wednesday evening and work on a truck. I told him I couldn’t stay, but I could come back after the assembly and work all night if need be. He threatened to fire me, and though I now had a wife and family, I put my trust in God, held to my convictions and attended the assembly. I was not fired.
 
The owner of the dealership honored the agreement we had made when I hired on, which was that I would not be asked to miss the assembly of the church. God did not let me down!
 
Throughout my working life, I have had a number of jobs and working experiences. I have worked for a number of small companies and worked for one of the largest companies in the world, Wal-Mart, owned and operated my own business, both as a partnership and as a sole proprietor. For the last 24 years we have owned and operated a small farm where we have worked with livestock, hay and produce. As our children were growing up they were involved in work, school activities and sporting events. We did not allow work, or the farm, or school, or sports to keep us from the assembly of the Lord’s church.
 
I do not hold these convictions because I am a preacher. I hold these convictions because I want to obey the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:33, But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,... and because I believe and trust the promise of Jesus as he continues, ...and all these things will be given to you as well.
 
I have done my best, as did my parents before me, to put Christ and his kingdom first in my life. I have made every effort to pass these convictions on to my children and it is my prayer that they will put Christ and his kingdom first in their lives and pass these convictions on to their children as well.
 
I have found that holding to these convictions is not easy and at times leads to persecution. But, I have also found that Jesus keeps his promise to those who seek first his kingdom. This is why I attend every assembly of the Lord’s church.     -Wendell Ingram