August 1, 2019
It is amazing that it’s the first of August. It seems like only yesterday we were getting kids through school, thinking about Vacation Bible School, making summer plans, and now we’re almost ready for kids to go back to school and begin our fall routine. This past week we spent time with family in Pennsylvania. As we drove through the town of Gettysburg the words “four score and seven years ago” rode through my mind like a runaway horse on a dusty trail. I wonder if Abe Lincoln had any idea what all would transpire in the 200 years after that speech that is still quoted on a regular basis in schools across our country. He fought so hard to end slavery and bring equality to all people regardless of gender, race, or education. In fact, it’s interesting to note that President Lincoln did not go to school to be a lawyer, but did self-study to pass the bar exam and later went into politics. Two hundred years later we still wrestle with all the things he fought so hard for. Without wanting to go into a long political speech, I think the answers to the questions he asked in the 1800’s are the same answers we need today. In Mark chapter 12 Jesus says the greatest command is this, “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” And the second is like the first, “to love your neighbor as yourself.” The retreat center we stayed at with my wife’s family was hosting multiple groups. One of the groups that was there with us was an Evangelical Ethiopian fellowship from Alexandria, Virginia. And so I thought a lot about Abraham Lincoln’s speech and how I treat those around me that don’t look like me, that don’t talk like me, and that probably don’t think like me. These persons spoke an ethnic language other than English. I watched their faces in their conversations. There were times they were very serious, and they would nod in agreement with each other. There were other times they would say something and laugh and laugh and laugh. Their children played with our children. I heard them in their worship services, and it appeared to me that they were worshipping the same God that we worship. I say all this just to remind us that it’s easy for us to forget that our country was founded on the premise that all people have the right to dream dreams and pursue those dreams. But it is God who truly gives us freedom. When we follow the principle of loving God first, and loving those around us second with all our being, we don’t see gender, race, or inequality. What we see are persons that are created in the image of God. As it says in Romans, “those he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.”
This past week, Pastor Brad shared from Luke 5 about the trust it takes from us to put out into deep water and fish. I don’t know about you, but I’ve cast my line on the other side of the boat many times and I need to be encouraged to continue to go to the other side of the boat because the creator of all people says let down your nets. This coming week, you can read Galatians chapter 6. We are going to be talking about how we all have the freedom to be a new creation in Christ. This passage is the second time that Paul talks about us being a new creation in Christ. The other time is in 2 Corinthians 5. So, we will be looking at how Paul describes to us that our name does not get us entrance into heaven, our work does not get us entrance into heaven, it’s our relationship with the Creator and being made a new creation through Christ.
It’s now just four weeks away from when we start our Saturday evening service. Our reason for doing this service is to offer an evangelical service at a time other than Sunday mornings for people in our community. You will notice this week there are sign up sheets for volunteers to help in various ways. John F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what can you do for your country.” I would like to rephrase that and ask, “what can we do for our community?” I believe our mission statement says it well. That our task is that all may come to know and experience the fullness of Jesus Christ. So, invite your friends, your family, your neighbors, your coworkers, and anyone you would like to invite to join us. Have a great week!