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The Pastor’s Piece – May 29, 2022

The Pastor’s Piece

FCFI

May 29, 2022

I’ve been serving the Lord in “my” church (it’s not mine at all) for almost three decades. The paradox of that is that it is a long time, but also, it’s not a long time. At this stage in my life, I look back and wonder where all the years have gone? It seems like yesterday my wife and I were moving across the country pursuing God’s will and purpose for our lives. Then we were moving back. Then our children were babies. Then toddlers. Then adolescence, teenagers and now married. Time flies. The Bible says our lives are like a vapor, here for a moment and then we “vanish away,” (James 4:14).  I try not to take life too seriously, but at the same time, life is serious. I deal with a lot of relatively happy people all the time, but I also deal with a lot of unhappy people much of the time. It goes with the job. I got a three-word note out of the blue just yesterday that said: “We’re getting divorced.” 

Happiness and/or unhappiness are dependent upon one’s circumstances. The pursuit of happiness is an endless pursuit. But the “joy of the Lord is my strength,” (Nehemiah 8:10). As the culture around us collapses, and by that I mean all the things we have held near and dear all of our lives and in generations past, things like good and evil, right and wrong, male and female – as they begin to crumble – our hope for the future begins to vanish away. It does not matter what religious affiliation one is or is not or even if they have one at all, it is obvious that what used to be considered wrong is now considered right and what was right, is now wrong. When one is threatened with hate speech or worse simply for teaching what the Bible says, it tells us we are in a new era of time. I liked it better reading about the 1950’s when mom was the gatekeeper of the home and dad was the one out clawing his way through the dog eat dog world. Now it’s considered a rare privilege for mom to get to stay home and tend to family. Some people cringe at the idea, but I believe most long for it. 

I get compliments sometimes for being bold in my preaching. But really, what is bold about speaking the truth in love? Truth is truth. Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” In our quest for answers in life we need to know the truth. The pursuit of truth, apart from the source of all truth, is an empty pursuit. I’ve heard many testimonies, as I’m sure you have, about people who searched their whole lives for something that was missing and every time they thought they had found it, it didn’t satisfy. Then as a last resort, usually in desperation, they cried out to God to save them, and at long last they found the peace that had eluded them their whole lives. 

I have a class reunion coming up. My classmates from a long time ago sent out a form seeking basic information about me. They weren’t seeking the basic information I would have suspected. I expected questions like: How many grandchildren? How long have you been married? What is your occupation? It was nothing like that. Rather they asked for my address and email and spouse/significant other. It’s sad they couldn’t just say spouse. And they left a blank for me to give advice to my younger self. Here’s what I wrote: 1) Remind yourself that God works all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. 2) Don’t be afraid to take chances once in a while. You don’t want to get old and look back on your life and wonder what if? 3) Don’t be stupid. Don’t do things you can’t undo and will regret. Also, “remember your Creator in the days of your youth before the evil days come and the years draw near,” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). 

The pursuit of happiness, minus the presence of God, will always leave one empty. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart,” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). I’m sure they don’t want a sermon from me at our reunion, but I’d like to give one – in a formal setting with our hearts set on listening to what God’s Word says. All the graduation speeches basically say the same thing: “The world is yours. Just get out there and conquer it.” But most of the time what happens is that people just get through it. There’s not a lot of conquering taking place which is mainly because in general, not many people pack the sword of truth with them when they go out there. Yet the Apostle Paul said we are more than conquerors in Jesus Christ. 

I asked a couple the other day how they were doing. They said “day by day.” That’s the reality of it. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a lamp unto my path.” That pretty much tells us it’s one step at a time in the illumination of God’s word as He leads us along. 

I have high hopes for the class of 2022 to get out there and conquer the world and lead us into the future. Those hopes are based on the hope that they will seek the Lord ,,, and find Him.    

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