"We have a new song today," announced worship director Janet Werdowatz. "It's a new song by Chris Tomlin called, 'Made to Worship.' We were made to worship Him -- that is our first purpose of the five purposes. We're just excited to introduce this song to you this morning." The sound system sent the music ringing out loud and sharp and clear into the cozy, inverted-ark church -- a trio of vocalists, jingling acoustic guitar, tom-toms, keyboard, and electric bass. "Before the day, before the light/ Before the world revolved around the sun/ God on high stepped down into time/ And wrote the story of His love for everyone..." Songwriter Tomlin showed up again on the final song -- "How Great Is Our God" -- an anthemic piece that got the congregation inspired and the guitarist so enlivened that he broke a string (then soldiered on).
After the song set, Werdowatz prayed, "Father...we just ask, as the pastor brings your message...that we would daily surrender those things that we need to surrender in order to serve you and love you fully...."
Pastor Grant Horner opened his sermon with a story about a nightmare plane trip that had him saying, "God, I want to trust you to help me...but I'm kind of doubting," and God answering, "Just trust me a little bit." "Little did I know that, as I was flying...there was a group of people here in the church, praying... 'Dear God, help Pastor Greg get home today, but do it in a way so that there is no doubt in his mind that it was a miracle from You.'" The airline held up Horner's connecting flight ("They don't do that"), and he made it home.
Finances required similar trust, suggested Horner. This week's sermon dealt with financial discontent, introduced by a drama: a woman who identified herself as an "adaholic" and told the story of her worsening addiction to getting and spending. ("I would try anything -- Coke ads, roadside billboards, infomercials...")
Horner argued that discontentment was "something that we can't eliminate. We will always have it in our life. I like to think of discontentment as kind of like an appetite.... We might be able to temporarily satisfy it, but before we know it, we want something bigger." Further, "we live in a culture that completely fuels it. Every day, we are bombarded by ads that say, 'You deserve this,' and 'What you have now is old; you need something new.'
"How do we manage our discontent?... How do we...have it not overtake our life?... You don't manage it by sheer willpower -- by trying not to want something that you know you really want. The way to do it is...you shift your focus." He cited Paul's letter to Timothy, wherein he warns the rich that "the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil." Paul's remedy: "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds." Said Horner, "You intentionally become aware of the needs of those around you. That leads to a response of generosity, and that generosity is what manages your discontent."
He told a story about driving a group of affluent youngsters through Texas and into Mexico. "The entire trip, all I heard was, 'I've got this CD and I want to buy that CD, and I want this CD player.' They were talking about the next car they wanted to get.... We pulled into Mexico, and...there was all this poverty.... You could hear a pin drop in that van. They were looking around, and they had become aware of what other people needed. They started saying, 'I brought a whole bunch of extra clothes. Would it be okay if I just gave them away?' They became aware of a need, and that created a generosity, and you didn't hear any more talk about discontent."
Then Horner posed a question: "How are you doing in becoming aware of the needs of those around you?... Small group provides a great opportunity for accountability in this area.... A lot of us have needs in our small groups that we're not even aware of, because of our natural tendency to focus on ourselves.... Parents, how are you doing with helping your kids understand that the world does not revolve around them?" And then, the trust part: "When...we meet the needs of other people financially, God, in His crazy way, continues to meet our financial needs."
What happens when we die?
"My belief," said Horner, "is that the moment we die, we enter into the presence of God. We are asked to give an account of what we did with His son Jesus -- did we accept Him or did we reject Him? If we accepted Him, then we get to spend all eternity with God in heaven. If we rejected Him, then we spend all of eternity separated from God."
4955 Conrad Avenue, San Diego
- Denomination: Church of God
- Senior pastor: Grant Horner
- Congregation size: around 120
- Staff size: 4
- Sunday school enrollment: around 80
- Annual budget: $250,000
- Weekly giving: around $4800
- Singles program: yes
- Dress: casual but neat
- Diversity: mostly Caucasian, some African-American, Hispanic, Asian American, Pacific- Islander
- Sunday worship: 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m.
- Length of reviewed service: 1 hour
- Website: clairemontchurchofgod.org