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The Pastor’s Piece – January 17, 2021

Fellowship of Christian Farmers
Kevin Cernek
January 17, 2021

“Apple Pie And Liver”

Whenever someone comes to me for counsel, we meet and discuss the situation and talk about whatever their struggle is. As you know, I am a firm believer in the Bible – and I follow its teachings to their logical end all the way down to how it applies to the very soul of man – and apply them to every aspect of our lives. That is not always the easiest thing to do, especially when we have our own ideas on how to handle life, thinking we know more than God knows.

Once upon a time, I was mentoring a man from our church. He asked if we could meet at his mother’s house for our sessions because she was an elderly lady and would appreciate our company. Turns out, she loved to cook. When we arrived at her house every Wednesday at one o’clock, she always had a huge meal prepared for us. So first we ate, then we counseled. It took all afternoon.

One day when I arrived, she very enthusiastically announced that she had prepared liver for dinner (or lunch – whatever you call the noon meal). I’ve never liked liver but I didn’t want to disappoint this dear lady who was so excited about preparing it so I ate it all – and since I have always been taught to clean up my plate, I did like my Grandpa used to do – I took a piece of bread and wiped my plate completely clean in anticipation of dessert. But then, to my disappointment she announced that there wouldn’t be any dessert. It was supposed to be apple pie but she had burned it and it wasn’t fit for the dog.

“Ohh … apple pie?” I said.  “I love apple pie.” She had hidden it in the microwave but she got it out and showed it to me anyway.  Granted, it was a little crispy around the edges. But I like crispy. I like crispy cookies. I like the crispy around the edge of the crock pot and the roaster. Crispy is good. So this lady reluctantly served me a piece of crispy apple pie and by doing so, she was able to redeem the whole meal.

Not too long ago, I got into an extended conversation with a friend who was struggling with his faith.  He was filled with doubt and uncertainty and really just struggling at where he was in life. He said he needed to make some changes but didn’t know how. He said his faith was once vibrant and alive and now he didn’t even know for sure who he was and where he stood with the Lord. That’s a terrible place to be.

He told me that he needed to know who he was … but he did not want a Christian answer, so he had decided to work with a therapist who was not a Christian. So he found one and the therapist asked him, “So, who are you?”  My friend spoke about his job, and described what he did.

“You are more than your work,” his counselor said, “that’s what you do.  We have to get to who you are.”
“Well … I am a husband and a father.”

“You are more than your family.  That is who you love.  We need to get to who you are.”
The therapist said, “You can’t define yourself by your job or your family.”

So I asked my friend what he got out of the therapy. Who did you end up being? He said, “I really don’t know.”
The work of deconstruction had been done, but nothing had been put in its place. My friend was not in a place at that time of wanting to hear a Christian answer to that question, though I am glad to say that he has made progress since.  But that afternoon when I was driving home I began to think about what he said and when I got back to my study I wrote the following on a piece of scratch paper I found on my desk:

Who am I?
●      I am a creation of God who belongs to Him and exists for His glory.
●      I am a sinner who deserves nothing from God, but looks to Him for mercy.
●      I am a new creation in Christ, redeemed at inestimable cost, despite all the struggles that arise from the sin that remains in my flesh.
●      I am a child of God destined for unimaginable joy through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior alone.

If you were to try and take “the Lord” out of my answer, I would have no way of knowing who in the world I am.
When you meet Jesus, you get to know who you are.  It was John Calvin who said that all the wisdom we possess is divided into two parts – knowing God and knowing ourselves.  You never get one without the other.  And when you meet Jesus, you get both.

Life lies not in who you are, what you can do, or in what you have accomplished.  Life lies not in who you are, but in who He is.

(Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor at Martintown Community Church in Martintown).