The Pastor’s Piece – February 23, 2024

The Pastor’s Piece

February 25, 2024
This has been quite the winter so far. We had lots of snow to start out, the ground beneath the
snow never did freeze. While moving it along the edges of the lawn and the driveway I ended up
accidentally making huge divots in the yard. When the snow melted, I put them back in place.
The snow melt did not cause flooding, it all soaked into the ground. Somebody told me the other
day that this February was almost exactly the same as February 2012. His point was: expect a
drought. But I say, we’ll take what we get, and as is our nature, we’ll make the best of it.
This is an election year. Emotions are running high as they do every election year. People are
sending me notes constantly, trying to either pick my brain on what I think of certain political
issues, or to try to convince me one way or the other. I’m bracing myself for quite a bit of
turbulence over the next few months.

It’s been a year since my dad died. He was one week shy of 89 years old when God took him
home. Anyone who has lost a parent, realizes the process involved of analyzing your own life in
light of theirs. I miss my dad, and in retrospect this has been a good year of looking at his life
and mine in comparison. I didn’t realize how much about dad I didn’t really understand, until
now. The things he said and did, have much deeper meaning now that I am looking at it in the
realm of all his years put together, not just in the moment at hand.

I was helping mom with something in the house the other day and needed a tool so I went out to
dad’s shop to find what I needed. The fact that dad is no longer here kind of hit me with force at
that moment – again. We haven’t messed around much in dad’s shop since he died. His stuff is
all pretty much right where he left it. Dad always leaned toward keeping things as simple as he
could in life. His tools were no exception. His workbench was like a lot of workbenches. It is
cluttered with this and that tool, whatever he was working on before he got sick, and there was
an open space on the bench that he had cleared to make room so he could work. As I looked
around, I noticed one of the small drawers on the side of his toolbox was open and there was a
picture of our daughter when she was about 3 years old in plain view. Mom and Dad have about
a million grandkids, why only this one picture? To this day, I don’t know why. The picture was
encased in plastic which was attached to a keychain. I can only speculate that we gave it to dad
for Christmas one year and he ended up setting it down there for some reason and never picked
it back up. Or, our daughter held a special place in his heart. Yeah – that’s it.

One of the most difficult things about being a pastor and one of the most rewarding at the same
time is doing funerals for people I’ve grown attached to over the years. When I started out, I was
new in the church and didn’t really have very many emotional attachments to people, but as I
get to know each person who attends, I get attached to them. Now when someone dies, it tears
my heart out and I grieve right with the family. It’s bittersweet because we’re sad and happy at
the same time.

I was talking to a man the other day, and I asked him if he was ready to meet Jesus? He kind of
shrugged at me and said, “there’s only one way out of this world. Ready or not, I don’t have a
choice.” He’s right – there is only one way out. But I went on to explain to him that there’s also
only one way to heaven – and that is by praying and confessing your sins to God, and putting
your trust in Jesus to save you instead of yourself. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father
except through Me,” (John 14:6). He wasn’t quite sure what I was talking about, but he was
listening. I prayed with him before I left and I could sense God’s undeniable presence right
there. I believe the Bible is true in every way, and when God says, “If you seek me with all your
heart, you will find me,” He means it. And this man was seeking and I’m pretty sure he found
God that night.

Death is bitter, but when someone knows the Lord, it is also sweet. As the old hymn explains:
“This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through. My treasures are laid up, somewhere
beyond the blue … The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in
this world anymore.”

John, the Apostle wrote in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive
us, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

It’s now March 1st and that means my snow shoveling for this winter is over. My rule is that after
March 1, the snow will move itself. I know that seems like a no-brainer this year, but we still
have some winter left. We always do. It’s not even March yet.

Have a great day. Until we meet again – May God bless you!
(Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor of Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin