Why this Church?
I had planned to head downtown to Trinity Baptist Church today, but an overwhelming load of deadlines left me without even one hour to spare. So, last night, I logged onto VirtualChurch.com and virtually attended church.
What I know about Virtual Churches
Nada, zip, nary a thing! I’d heard about this unique form of worship through another blog, so I thought I’d try it out.
When you log onto VirtualChurch.com, you’ll immediately be instructed to pray for the unique service that will allow God to touch your heart. With more than 365 billion service option possibilities, only could be God that would get you there — the odds are just too astronomical for you to pick it out. As you’ll see below, getting to that service will also require divine tech intervention.
I first clicked on the “1st Time Visitors” button to figure out the nuts and bolts of attending a Virtual Church. I had some crazy idea that I’d choose the scripture, hymns or songs that I wanted to hear, then the message that fit those choices would appear, but no; my preconceived ideas failed again. This is just a completely random service.
Using my Mac, I clicked the “Start Service” button. Wouldn’t you know…that page said my Mac didn’t have up-to-date Media Player software. Clicked on the link provided to get that update and wouldn’t you know…again that took me to a defunct Microsoft page.
Convinced that I could make this work, I swiveled my office chair to the desktop PC sitting behind me. Logged on and got the same devilish error message. At that point, my patience ran thin. My patience often runs thin, so that’s probably the service God had in mind for me. However, some computer poltergeist intervened to keep God and me disconnected on that possible patience message. I piddled around with other things and suddenly the website started working; the Virtual Church commercial began. That just made me laugh. It’s one you must hear, so sign on just to catch the commercial, if nothing else.
After a prayer boomed over the computer speakers, the pastor (sorry…didn’t catch his name) went on to read a passage from 2nd Corinthians.
Following that, the service began with a great gospel song that quickly turned into some kind of Christian rap song. Is it just me, or do you feel odd hearing rap songs in church? I’m not much on hymns, but at least I can read the words to those hymns. Wish I could have seen the video of that rap song, but in my virtual church service, I had only audio, with some psychedelic colored wave pattern thingy going on in front of my eyes. Then came the “Jesus is Lord; bow a knee and get blessed song.” I will say that all this music had quite the beat. By the third song, which I didn’t care for, I discovered the first drawback to Virtual Church. When my interest waned in this less than satisfying song, I found myself pivoting back to my Mac to check proofread a press release.
Fifteen minutes into the service, I received another error message about some codec requirement from Windows Media Player. Really? Everything went into pause, so I clicked on the link to help me correct the pause problem and wouldn’t you know…an error page shows up again. So I go back to the “ignore” button (that’s my favorite computer button, by the way). That button worked! The audio came back up and then the pastor’s message began: “30 Ways to Live Longer.”
When I heard the title, I just smiled. God must be telling me something, because another article is in line of sight at the computer. Hanging just above the desk is: “Top 10 Fun Ways to Live Longer.” I note a coincidence here and file that synchronicity tidbit away. Changes may be in order to help my body make it through the next couple of decades. Most of the pastor’s “thirty ways to live longer” message involved lowering blood pressure and reducing stress. The premise of this message is based on Biblical principles, but some of these points were quite comical.
1. Stop smoking. Apparently if you take a cigarette drag first thing in the morning, your heart rate increases by at least 10 beats per minute.
2. Try the “alternate nostril breathing” technique. New one on me! To accomplish this, you cover your right nostril and breathe one full breath in through the opposite nostril, then switch sides to breathe out of the one you previously held shut. You do that for 60 seconds. By the end of that time, you should be relaxed.
3. Suck in your gut. This is supposed to help something or other; probably make you look less pudgy. I’ll try that tomorrow.
4. Gnaw on celery. Again, the pastor cited some statistic about reduction in blood pressure.
5. Pray. Citing some study that shows that prayer and meditation can reduce your blood pressure, the pastor said we should do this first thing in the morning and before we go to bed at night.
6. Get your mantra. Pick a mantra and chant it when you have a challenge in your life.
7. Smile. This one is also on my “above the desk” list. I do it often. 🙂
8. Get the unpleasant stuff done now. Oh no. That instruction is probably why this one-in-365-billion sermons showed up for me tonight. I’m so bad at that.
9. Socialize and have a friend. The pastor cited the statistic that married people live longer than single people.
10. Drink grape juice. Some doctors may disagree on this one, but had something to do with the power of the grape. Well, I do like wine…that’s a grape, right?
11. Drink orange juice. I sure like that advice, but again, doctors might disagree.
12. Can the cola. OH NO! My number one vice is TAB and other diet colas. Again, raises blood pressure. Are you noting a theme here?
13. Drink alcohol only with meals. He pointed to the Europeans who drink consistently, but only with meals.
14. Listen to David’s harp. This is a biblical reference to music and the pastor cites it as another way to lower blood pressure.
15. Get 8 hours sleep. No arguments here; I love to sleep.
16. Do the Saba Sana? Have no idea how to spell that, but it’s a relaxing technique where you lie on the floor and tense all the muscles in your body, then relax them all, then alternate that for a period of time.
17. Get the red out. Watermelon and tomatoes lower your blood pressure, as well.
18. Hug your honey. Studies show that holding hands for 10 minutes followed by hugging your honey will lower your stress level.
19. Avoid salt. How do you do that? Well, the pastor says you should never ingest more milligrams of salt than the number of calories in what you are eating, so if you pick up something with 100 calories, the package should indicate no more than 100 milligrams (or is that micrograms?) of salt.
20. Exercise. It’s a given; he didn’t elaborate. We all know the drill.
21. Do something exciting. Here’s where the list got funny. The pastor gave the example of those churches that use live rattlesnakes in their services. Yes, someone did a study on these people, (beyond their heads) and found that their bodies are less stressed during the week than yours and mine. The pastor’s take on that was, “After you deal with the stress of handling rattlesnakes in church, what can you face during the week that could be worse?” He has a point.
22. Take the TV out of the bedroom. Studies show that it will double the frequency of sex for married couples.
23. Have more sex. Here’s a study to note: Middle-aged men can reduce their risk of heart attack by as much as 50 percent when they have sex at least three times a week.
24. Do some public speaking. Maybe this one is about combating the number one fear in America.
25. Pray for peace.
26. Get high — not the drug kind. Breathing at a higher altitude is good for you. So get higher, he said.
27. Get a dog or a cat. Guess what that does? Drops your blood pressure.
28. Just say “so what.” My dad had a different word he used — whatever. I think they both work to quell the anxiety people feel in challenging situations.
29. For men only: Don’t look down at your manhood. Pastor says if you look down, it’s gonna look smaller anyway; better to look at it from the side. Now when is the last time you heard advice like that in church?
30. Forgive to live. Learn to forgive in order to live and you’ll be much happier.
Post Service Commentary
Service in a Virtual Church is interesting. Must say that my up-front parking spot was quite nice — leather chair and all. Can’t say I got greeted by many people while there, but the pastor did welcome first-time guests and I was instructed on how to give, if I so desired. I was even asked to become a member of Virtual Church, if I didn’t have a church home. I don’t, but I’ll pass; I need more personal interaction. For those who can’t get to church, I find the whole process fascinating. I just hope those people have a technical type standing by, because it could create frustration instead of peace for some.
Had a blog post mostly written about steeples this week and had planned to attend a church with a huge steeple. I know…these decisions are quite bizarre about the churches I pick, but maybe I can carry that out next week. Until then, have a look at VirtualChurch.com and let me know what you think. Maybe God will lead you to some insights about Christian rap music that I didn’t glean this time.