Abba Father, I come to you asking and begging that You will guide me and lead me. I ask and pray that You will draw Your people together and that we may be one. Lord, I pray that You rebuke the devil and that you diffuse any discord or division among us. Humble us, forgive us, and fill us with the Holy Spirit. And may the words I share now be Your words and not return void (Isaiah 55:11). Amen
Dear Church Family,
Last week’s Pastor’s Message included in the weekly newsletter generated some feedback and some confusion. As I have reflected on what I wrote and discussed it with several people, I am compelled to emphasize the main point and clear up some of the confusion.
Note: this isn’t short but, please read everything.
First of all, please know that I have deep concern and love in my heart for each of you. My words, may not prove that but I hope in time I will be able to build deep trusting relationships with many of you. Secondly, I include myself in these reflections because I know that, “Many of those carrying heavy responsibilities need to be converted. Christ says to them as He said to Nicodemus: ‘Ye must be born again’” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 149). This is talking to leaders in our church like myself. All of us must watch and pray lest we enter temptation. I am not condemning anyone, because I do not know the true condition of anyone’s heart. However, the Bible teaches us that the fruit of our lives is a testimony to what is happening in our hearts. More on this in a moment.
Thirdly, to further emphasize the main point from last week, let me share this quote from Ellen White. Talking about Jesus’ relationship with His mother we read,
“As Son of the Most High, and Saviour of the world, no earthly ties must hold Him from His mission, or influence His conduct. He must stand free to do the will of God. This lesson is also for us. The claims of God are paramount even to the ties of human relationship. No earthly attraction should turn our feet from the path in which He bids us walk”.
Here’s the point, and the reason I felt compelled to write what I did last week about 1 in 20. I fear that the fruit of what I see happening all around, including in our church, and including the strong temptations that I face—is to be absorbed with the attractions around us and/or the survival of day to day living. Let me share a couple specific things that concern me. Namely, low prayer meeting attendance, and a lack of small group involvement.
During the last year and a half, all of us have experienced a global crisis. Most of us have lived through this challenging time, some around us have died (including family members)—and all of us have struggled. Yet, for many it ‘seems’ this crisis has not been serious enough to effect real change in our lives and in our priorities. In other words, it ‘seems’ that many of us have missed this wake up call. But isn’t that what the Bible tells us, that all of us have slumbered and slept (Matthew 25:5)? So what are we waiting for? Again, I include myself.
I have made several appeals for people to come together for prayer, for Bible study, for small groups, and for prayer meeting. All, with very little response. In fact, for prayer meeting there has been less response than when I first started pastoring here before the pandemic. We have provided zoom options, in person options, early morning options—and again, almost no response. I know there are reasons, some very good reasons, but I also know my own heart and that there comes a point I have to make a change or else I will suffer the consequence of the neglect in whatever area of my life. There will come a point, when all of these reasons will simply evaporate, but must we wait until that future time?
Please know I that I also see many good things happening. And I affirm this with my whole heart. Pastoring in this district has become the most encouraging ministry experience of my life, because so many of you are wonderful people and amazing leaders. Many of you are actively engaged in different forms of outreach and ministry which are impacting peoples lives in big ways. I praise God for so many people in our church who are serious about their relationship with God and service for Him—yet, there seems to be a disconnect somewhere. How can this be?
So for now, I must end with saying, I don’t know what’s happening in your life, but if something is out of alignment or out of balance or lacking—get help. That’s it. That’s the point, that’s the message I hope you will hear.
If something is out of alignment or out of balance or lacking—get help.
Between you and God seek a greater awareness of your real heart condition and then get help. If I can help, please let me know. We also have a great team of elders, please reach out to us.
Finally, my statement about “educating” ourselves was a separate matter. It was not at all a condemnation of those who are not comfortable with the vaccine, have certain political views, or are upset and disagree with the ongoing Provincial COVID protocols and restrictions that are affecting our church gatherings, etc. Nor was I implying that if you have any of the afore mentioned views that you are not part of the 1 in 20. As discussed at length in this message, the 1 in 20 was an appeal for self-reflection.
The reasons I tied them together, was because no matter what we believe about the vaccine or COVID-19, future viruses, politics, or any other hot button issue—the question is what affect does it have on our heart, our involvement in church, our relationship with others and with God? Are we more concerned with being right than with how we treat each others and what we post on Facebook? Have we forgotten that there are good, genuine, Godly people on all sides of these issues? What do you think about them in your heart and mind? How do you feel about someone in our church or in your family or friendship circle who thinks differently than you? I’m talking to everyone who reads this, no matter what positions/beliefs you hold.
It does not matter what the issues are, or even if you are right. Head knowledge does not equal salvation. The only thing that matters is if we follow the Lamb and help others follow Him wherever He goes (Revelation 14:4).
(May 21, 2021)