The Pastor’s Piece – June 2, 2024

The Pastor’s Piece

June 2, 2024

We live in very turbulent times in the world and in our own country. The lust of man for power
and control over another is unending. The times change but people’s hearts don’t change –
unless God does the changing. This world is presently going where Jesus is taking it. So we
should be wise, and stop worrying.

It’s easy to think back on our own childhood and pine for the good old days. The days of
carefree living, endless summers, and pets that seemed to live forever. Adulthood has a way of
robbing you of your innocence. The Bible says: “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than
these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions,” (Ecclesiastes 7:10). The “good old days” is a
relevant term anyway. What was good for one, may not have been so good for another.

What got me thinking about this is when I received a video this week of one of my childhood
heroes – and that got me thinking about all of them. I will preface this by saying my childhood
consisted of very little television. I was five years old when my grandpa died in 1964, and my
mom inherited his television set. About the only thing we ever watched were the Chicago Cubs –
and that was only when we weren’t baling hay in the summer, which was most every day. My
heroes were not movie stars, as they were for some. I couldn’t name you one movie star from
my era, but I can give you the starting lineup for the Cubs dating back to 1969.

During these carefree days of my childhood I had uncles fighting in wars overseas. Later, when I
became of age, I realized the sacrifice so many people made for the cause of freedom. I have
friends who served in Vietnam and I don’t blame them if they have a cynical attitude and distrust
of politicians. Ultimately, they are my heroes. I heard about the Vietnam War on the news, but I
was too young to be drafted at the time. And when I became of age, they did away with the
draft. One of my friends, who was a Vietnam Veteran, just passed away. He told me how one of
his buddies died in his arms on the battlefield in Vietnam. That’s something he never forgot.
How could he? Ultimately, it was what brought him to saving faith in Jesus Christ 53 years later.
While the horrors of war were so real for so many, my brothers and I spent our days playing and
working on our dairy farm. We rode bikes, built forts in the haymow, camped out at the creek,
baled hay, and watched the Cubs whenever we could. I had no idea what was happening in the
rest of the world. And I didn’t need to know. I was ten years old when Dwight Eisenhower died in
1969, and that was a big deal. We all came inside to watch his funeral on TV – just like we did
the moon landing four months later on July 20th.

I was also about ten years old when we got our chores done early one night, and my parents
took us into Chicago, to the old McCormick Place to see Billy Graham. I remember how that
stadium was packed with people. There was not an empty seat in the house. George Beverly
Shea sang a couple of hymns and when Billy got up to talk, a brisk Chicago summer breeze
was blowing across the stage. It seemed like he was a mile away and when he gave the altar
call, people began streaming forward making their way to the podium. That sight is forever
stamped in my memory.

Another memory was when my favorite pitcher for the Cubs, Ken Holtzman pitched a no-hitter in
I was 12 years old and watched it on WGN. The last out of the game is also stamped in
my memory. It was a grounder to second baseman Glenn Beckert who gobbled it up and threw
to Ernie Banks at first and then everyone began celebrating. I liked Ken Holtzman because he
threw left and batted right – just like I did. He was later traded to the Oakland A’s, the Baltimore
Orioles and the New York Yankees. He had a total of four World Series rings when he passed
away last month at age 78.

After his retirement from baseball he was quoted as saying: “I’ve said many times, my biggest
thrill and accomplishment remains the first time I walked on the field in a Cubs uniform because
it validated all the hard work and sacrifices that I made to reach the big leagues. The other
milestones were very satisfying, but in a sense, anticlimactic. Achieving a childhood dream is
hard to surpass.”

So, time marches on. We enjoy the memories of the past, but we live in the present with our eye
on the future. Someone has wisely said, “I enjoyed the past, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”
“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his
commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil,” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

(Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor of Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin