As we all know, fame, fortune and success in itself doesn’t bring lasting happiness. (Right?) Sure, if you are going to be miserable, you’re probably better off being depressed and long-faced in your mansion. Nevertheless, I have worked daily, over the past 12 years with some of the country’s deepest, most personal financial issues. For many, this has become an extremely humbling, past few years laden with complexity beyond anyone’s expectation. The good thing, a silver-lining if you will, is that when you find yourself on your knees…that’s where God speaks to you in such a profound manner.
I was there, thirteen years ago facing my own personal financial distress. Talk about drama! I was dealing with my own bankruptcy and divorce, during the last two years of active duty service in the United State Marine Corps. Thankfully, a very successful entrepreneur in Tustin, CA named Angie Kardashian came into my life a few years prior. She owned an Italian Restaurant called, “Angie’s Cuisine Italiano.” For 22 years she operated the restaurant and became very involved in the community, specifically to the Marines stationed on Marine Corps Air Station Tustin and El Toro (unfortunately, which is now closed).
I recall each Thanksgiving, Angie would invite all the Marines to her restaurant for a free turkey meal. The Marine Corps Air Station’s newspaper, The Flight Jacket, announced her invitation and word of mouth spread. (Yes, this was before the Internet, Facebook, Tweet ups and text messaging!) Of course, many of my fellow brothers-in-arms would take advantage of this opportunity to have a Thanksgiving meal, to overcome the homesickness many of us felt.
There was something different about Angie. She always seemed to glow and radiate. At that time, I didn’t know how to take that. My world was all about discipline, toughness, competition and while carrying a “war-face”, at all times! Angie would politely and kindly, extend an invitation to her church for those interested in attending. Being a stubborn Marine, who felt that he didn’t need any help through his personal problems, declined her timely invitation for years.
As time passed and my personal problems never completely resolved, I recognized I would wake up each morning with such heaviness. I found myself not being able to focus and concentrate on my daily duties and responsibilities as a U.S. Marine. My mind would drift to my money problems and having to deal with the emotions of splitting up with my soon-to-be-ex-spouse. This became dangerous, as every Marine knows, because we depended on one another to take care of our tasks. Not doing so would cause serious bodily injury to ourselves, our fellow Marines…or even result in death.
Through my transition from active duty back into the civilian community, I got to know Angie much better through a mutual friend who also left active duty service after fourteen years in the Marine Corps. Starting my life anew, I decided to take up Angie on her offer to attend her church.
Now, what I was expecting was a simple neighborhood church down the corner. This was what I grew up to believe being raised in multiple neighborhoods in Chicago. Angie took us down the I-5 freeway to an exit I never took and ended up on what I thought was a college campus. As we began to walk across the large parking lot, people began to greet us and shake our hands, saying “Welcome!” Odd.
I entered this large auditorium, witnessed a large choir and band begin to play upbeat music and I thought to myself, “This is church?” Then the Pastor walked up, greeted us all and delivered a message about preparing for a change in our lives. Wow, how timely for me!
To make a long story short, since more of this story will be contained within my upcoming book release in 2011, I left that church completely refreshed and emotionally encouraged. Upon leaving the massive doors of the auditorium, a person handed me a cassette tape of the Pastor’s sermon, for free. Wow…now that was unexpected!
I continued to listen to this cassette tape and the words continued to become clearer and clearer. I noticed a change in my attitude and my work environment within my new job as a civilian. Beginning my financial services career became something I wanted deep inside my spirit. I wanted a fresh start and a new life. I found as I kept going to church and opening my heart and mind, that I was becoming a better person that would build and enjoy true wealth, along the way.
I looked back at the tape I had in my hand…I realized it recorded a pretty significant person. It was Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church who authored the best-selling book, The Purpose-Driven Life. AND, he was the Pastor chosen by President Barrack Obama to deliver the prayer during his Presidential inauguration!
The spiritual seeds that Angie Kardashian placed in me, her example and living testimony to extend the love of God that flowed through her work, is a big reason why I write this blog post today. It is the reason I can stand tall, run a nationally recognized financial coaching practice and host our Chicago-based financial talk show.
Thank you SO MUCH Angie…I love you more than you know…and I’m not the only one who feels that way! My family and children thank you along with all the other Marines and New York City Fireman you have touched with your life!!
I asked my friends that follow our community page on Facebook to share, if they would like to, what going to church means to them. Many openly shared their reasons and we picked the top twenty-one comments to share along with you.
Would you care to share yours? Please comment below and share with your Twitter followers and Facebook friends, too!
God bless you!!
What Many of You Said
BTW, if you feel moved by the comments from any of our readers and listeners to our financial talk show, please send a friend request to them on Facebook and let them know! (Sorry that some of your profile pics did not come through…Facebook and WordPress troubleshoot error. Just remember that you are still some of the prettiest people on the planet!)
I used to go because it was the thing to do but I now go to have a relationship with my creator and find out what He wants me to accomplish for the week. Thanks for posting this question!
I go because God has a plan for me and I like the way I feel when I go there are lots of messages I learn….
For me personally, it up lifts my week. Gives me hope in people and life. Without it, I feel empty. I hope this helps and thanks for asking.
It is an expression of our Love for God
It builds up our Spiritual Strength
It brings a special visitation of the Lord’s Presence
It provides fellowship with other Christians
It is an act of obedience to God (yes, it’s in the Bible that we should gather together to honor and praise Him, and offer encouragement to fellow Christians)It combines our spiritual strength in prayerOh, and I’m off to church right now!
Life is so filled with challenges, uncertainties, and other clutter I find attending service as a ultimate way to RECALIBRATE and REFOCUS. Moreover, their is a special manifestation of God and strength to be exchanged between the saints when we gather together. Hebrews 10: 22-25 & 1 Corinthians 12 (sorry, i usually try to back up my opinions with scripture)
I go, because even though he is with me all the time. The atmosphere is different when two or more are gathered in His name, with praise and expectation. We encourage each other and that can increase our awareness of His word, more aware of His love… That miracles happen. That he’s blessed us to be blessings. Not to mention, He’s told us not to forsake the assembly. He knows we need fellowship and friendship. Now let me stop typing with my thumbs so *I* can go! I’ve still got to make the cookies! I hope you’re well Matthew. 🙂
Because I believe the Bible when it says
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” -Matthew 18:20- …so you can imagine when there are several hundred or in case thousands, are!
Because I need the encouragement and presence of others who gather for the same reason I also go, and thats to worship and get wisdom and discernment for my walk with Christ! Its not easy…we all have a choice of what do any day of the week…for me, I work hard Mon-Sat to be consistent so when I show up Sunday, it really is a genuine choice, not just a check list thing I have to do. But, there have been times when my arrival at church was my Prodigal Son return back to Him, who always is there with open loving arms. I guess, its because of the understanding of grace and mercy why I go…Hebrews 4:14-16 (check it out) Good stuff here though everyone!
I believe and speaking for myself, people go to church because there is nowhere else to go when you hit rock bottom in life. Its sad but true and also great because it gives an opportunity for people to really know and learn who God is and have the chance to be saved by His redeeming son who is Jesus, Our Lord and Savior! That His mercy is new and fresh everyday which is nothing that you will EVER get from this world. Praise and glory to the King of Kings!
I go service to gather with fellow believers in prayer, sing praise to my Lord, re-connect with the Body of Christ, get re-energized and hear another insight into the scriptures.
I go to church, more than most, less than some. I don’t go every Sunday but as my Grandmother told me– you can pray and feel close to GOD from anywhere, so long as you believe. So I do but sometimes I have a strong need to be closer and I think his house does that– and to feel closer to my grandfather– he used to be an usher so I feel him when I’m there too…
I feel “COMPLETE” when i go to mass. From the moment I enter the Lord’s home I feel thankful, peaceful, hopeful, forgiven, and loved. I am able to search within, embrace that I am a child of God and yearn to do what He asks of me.
Thanks for writing an article about this. Ideally people should attend church because it is simply the WILL of GOD.
What I’ve come to understand is we need to be very careful which ideas we cultivate as valid reasons to attend church, I believe that we should not discourage people who are attending for the wrong reasons instead with careful correction teach them so they will begin attending for the right reasons….
Upon observation most people attend for the following:
– Most enjoy the services & fellowship
– Some people believe it or not will go because it’s a HABIT
– To socialize and meet business contacts
– Pressure from family and friends (ex: Not wanting to look bad in front of our family and friends)
It is sad to say but most people attend church for their own selfish reasons.
Personally, my focus is in the God’s doctrine. It is simply the TRUTH. Certain churches I’ve attended regard the doctrine as of less importance than fellowship and salvation. Almost to the point where they make you feel that the doctrine itself undermined God. The doctrine was an intellectual manifestation of the TRUTH and that the TRUTH represented God himself who is TRUTH. I attend church to celebrate God and Jesus love for us. Gods words washes, cleanses, and purifies my heart, mind, and soul every time I read them.
With TRUTH in our heart, forgiveness can happen and then the most beautiful thing happens when we reach this point – complete and utter PEACE. It’s a beautiful thing! Truly is.
We know that if we’re serious & want to get fit, strong & in shape to live longer & healthier, we need to go to the gym and/or workout on a regular basis. If we want to build & strengthen our relationship with the Lord, we need to take that seriously and workout on that strengthening on a daily basis. Part of this strengthening is going to service w/other brothers and sisters in Christ. God is Gr8.
Matt, have you ever considered the ministry? You might be called. 🙂
While not as profound as others that posted, I simply go to keep this jarhead driving straight down the right road and so I can chat with the big Guy in his house.
It is hard enough to live out your Christian life on your own. No man is an island for sure, and this is reflected in the scriptures. Heb 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” I need to be spurred on and encouraged!!! I am not going to pretend to be a pious and spiritual giant. I don’t want to hide behind such masks. Attending Church is going to make me the best I can be, not because of me, but because of my interactions with my spiritual brothers and sisters!!!!
I go because I’m edified by God’s word and fortified by God’s people. This is a hard life. Everyone has their own particular cross to bear and I can’t imagine going through this world without my faith. It makes no sense to me, personally, to recognize that I have a God who created me and somehow I have no need to pursue a relationship with Him… that’s like acknowledging that my parents gave me life but now I owe them nothing more than a casual nod whenever I see them.
I was raised as a prostestant and went to a private catholic school. My experiences on both catholic and prostent religions were not really powerful for me.
Back in the day, when it was sunday, my parents would wake me up and nag me to hurry up and get dressed for church. Our maids comb my long hair and it hurt the way she combed it that by the time I was ready, my head hurt. Then my parents told me to wear this lily white dress which I hated so much and I used to do all kinds of things to vandalize all the dresses they made me wear to church. So every week, by saturday, I used to plan or make a list of things of how can I ruin this lilly white dress, until both my parents gave up on me….That was cool!
Being in a private catholic school, the priests and sister’s would round up all protestants, muslims, and students who are non catholic and lock us in one room every friday morning for about 2 hours. For a child, that experience was not cool at all. So, as an adult, I know I go to a protestant church, catholic church, and episcopal church just when ever I feel like it, but I pray everyday and read my bible. There are times when I go to a catholic church just to talk to a priest in the confession box and light candles and say a prayer. 🙂
Matthew, I believe most of the time, a person has to hit rock bottom to cry out to God, genuinely. Because of the desperation and anguish that is experienced at the time makes the call to God more real than other times like praying to get a car or hoping noone seen you do something, etc. I believe God may destine certain events to happen so we can find Him through the darkness and use His strength to make it through. God is a relational god and He wants his people to always call on his name. And in order to know that God is real is to experience His love through the hardest points in our life.
Why do any of want to be with our loved ones??? Because we long to be in their presence!! I don’t wait until I’m depressed before I go to my husband! I don’t take my children to the park just to look like a “good” person!!! I do these things because I LOVE THEM. So it should be the same when we go to church. For if you truly know who Jesus Christ is, you feel empty when you leave Him, you feel lonely and incomplete….you would long for Him once you know what you are missing. But, if you have not experienced Him fully, then you will go because you’re expected to, or to please the world.
You guys ROCK! I am glad to be on this journey along with you!! Until next update!!! (Give us a call and/or leave us a message too –
Your brother in battle,
Matthew “Money Smart Guy” Sapaula