Change Your Seat!

Change Your Seat! for urban faithWhen my usual pew was filled, I was almost panic-stricken as the usher led me to a different section of the church. Little did I know, I needed a change in perspective.

Some years ago, I walked into my church late and could not find a seat in the house. Actually, I could not find “my” seat in the house because all of the seats in my usual section were taken.

I felt uneasy, as I followed the usher to an open seat on the other side of the church. I had been so used to sitting in “my” seat that the thought of parking in a different pew — especially one on the complete opposite side of the church — actually bothered me. It was as if I was in a foreign country.

But as the service progressed, I was suddenly aware of the new level of freedom that I had as I praised and worshiped God in this strange, new location.

At one point, I was the only one standing and worshiping God with my whole body and with the words of my mouth. As I continued to shout praises to His name, others in my new seating area began to worship the Lord with me. Soon, we were swept up in a spirit of worship that seemed to last forever.

After the service, a brother and sister in Christ told me that they were glad that I sat in “their” section because my praise was infectious and they were encouraged by it to forget about their inhibitions and worship God even more. I was inspired by their testimony, and grateful to God for using me to encourage them and others in that section to worship Him with their whole beings.

As I drove home, I realized the Lord had allowed these circumstances to get me to see how silly it was to have “my” seat in church anyway. It’s not a restaurant, a theater, or a football stadium. It’s the house of God, where all are welcome and urged to gather together to praise and worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. It is a place where there are no “Big I’s” or “little you’s” because God does not regard a person’s status or outward appearance, but looks at the heart and a person’s commitment to Him. It is a place where the focus should be on exalting the Lord for who He is and all that He has done.

The very next Sunday, I intentionally found a different place to sit and have done so ever since. Sometimes I’ve thought about those people who were encouraged to praise the Lord because I changed my seat. Maybe they got a breakthrough on some problem they were having. Maybe that day ignited a flame in them that the world and troubles could not extinguish. Maybe they were inspired to seek a more meaningful relationship with God. Maybe that Sunday changed their lives in some way. I may never know. But I have wondered, What would’ve happened if I had sat in my old seat instead?

Do you have a favorite spot to sit in church? Are you upset when you can’t sit in “your” seat? I encourage you to break that tradition. It may seem like a simple thing, but I’ve discovered that it’s often the simple things that lead to my most profound moments of growth as a person — as a Christian. Take a chance and let God move in you by moving yourself. When you walk into church this Sunday, make up your mind that you will Change Your Seat!

‘The Civil Rights Issue of Our Time’

'The Civil Rights Issue of Our Time' for urban faithAre the disparities in our nation’s educational system the most crucial civil rights issue of our time? Former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige thinks so, and he’s written a book to help move us toward the solution.

A copy of former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige’s new book, The Black-White Achievement Gap, arrived in our offices this week. Co-authored with Elaine Witty, Ed.D., Paige’s book tackles what it calls “the greatest civil rights issue of our time.” Paige, of course, served under President George W. Bush, from 2001 to 2005, during which time the controversial No Child Left Behind Act was put into effect.

To learn more about The Black-White Achievement Gap, check out an interview with Dr. Paige at our Daily Digest blog.

‘The Greatest Civil Rights Issue of Our Time’

Rod-Paige140x160.jpgA copy of former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige’s new book, The Black-White Achievement Gap, arrived in our offices this week. Co-authored with Elaine Witty, Ed.D., Paige’s book tackles what it calls “the greatest civil rights issue of our time.” Paige, of course, served under President George W. Bush, from 2001 to 2005, during which time the controversial No Child Left Behind Act was put into effect.

We hope to review the book at length later on, and perhaps snag an interview with Mr. Paige himself. But in the meantime, we thought this interview from the book’s PR materials would be a good way to give readers an overview of the book and the formidable issue that it’s taking on.

(more…)