Pastor's Corner - May 26th
We live in a world that prides its self in ingenuity and progress. There is an obsession with being cutting edge and moving forward. But a heavy focus on the future can come at the expense of learning from the past. Our culture does little to appreciate the advice of those who have gone before us. Thankfully God’s Word bucks this trend: “Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:32). In the church each person has a part to play and God placed elders in our midst to mentor, encourage and advise us. Those living in their “Twilight years” still have so much to offer to the family of Christ.
One of my favorite youth workers (who was in his 70s at the time) would often joke, “I’m getting to old for this _______.” But he also knew that we never retire from the work of God’s kingdom. In fact the Holy Spirit enables “old men [and women] to dream new dreams” (Acts 2:17). As Frank Sinatra put it, “Fairy tales can come true. It can happen to you if you're young at heart.” The Spirit empowers every disciple (regardless of age) to believe that God makes all things new, which means we are never too old to participate in the ministry of the Lord. Jesus can teach “old dogs new tricks!” The “autumn years” can actually be a season of newness. A time to be born again. So may you embrace the “golden years” like a child of God.
This week let’s honor, listen and learn from those who have gone before us. Let’s remember how the Lord used our elders in his great plan to spread his love and truth throughout the earth. Let’s never grow too old to believe that God makes all things new. Which includes me and you!
Previous Pastor Corner Blogs
A couple years ago it dawned on that many of my old relationships had unknowingly turned into the opposite of friendship. I realized my oldest and closest friends were only sharing their victories, promotions and successes with each other. It felt more like a competition than an authentic relationship. Social media lends to this way of life. I used to only post my best looking photos and share my finest moments. In his book, Scary Close, Donald Miler reveals the fallacy of only putting on our best face for others, “It’s true: if we live behind a mask we can impress but we can’t connect.”
But last year one of those old friends sent a group text sharing a very personal family struggle. His message totally caught me off guard. He was putting aside the mask and making himself completely vulnerable to being condescended, judged, and patronized. But instead his SOS caused the flood gates to open up. Our group chat just blew up! We all began sharing our true selves. Personally this was good news to my soul because it meant I could finally share some of my own imperfect struggles and failures. These people weren’t looking to be impressed. They were only looking for a friend. In Four Loves, C.S. Lewis notes, “Friendship ... is born at the moment when one man says to another "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”
In Genesis 2, the Lord looks at Adam and says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” The Bible constantly reminds us that we aren’t made go it alone. We also were not made with masks. The Lord actually made us naked. These truths remind us that were made for authentic relationships in which we lay our souls bare to one another. May the Lord send you authentic faithful friendships that allow you to be the real you.
Mothers. God knew we would need them. The women who birthed us were always intended to nurture us with the love of the Creator. As reformed theologian Lewis Smedes notes, “I found the love of my Heavenly Father nestled in my earthly mother.” I firmly believe God created the mother as a conduit of his unconditional love. Our Lord even desires to mother us, “How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings”(Matthew 23:37). This verse reminds us that the best qualities of any mother originate in our Maker.
But mothers make mistakes. In some cases these mistakes can have tragic and life altering effects on their children. Yet the Lord commands us to “honor thy mother” in his fifth commandment. But to honor doesn’t not mean we sugarcoat or gloss over hurts and bad choices. It means we pray for them and ask the Spirit to give us more patience and grace. I have personally seen Jesus redeem relationships between mothers and their children. But in some cases honoring our parents means we need to set up boundaries in order to ensure they can no longer hurt us or sin against God. In these moments we hope tough love enables to them face their Maker.
Today is a day to celebrate mothers. Maybe God sent several women to mother you over the years. We ought never take for granted those who made sacrifices to help us become children of God. Let’s remember to honor, thank and love those who nurtured us with the relentless love of our Creator.
~Pastor Chris Allen
Tulip Time is here. We are now on ground zero. Time to make endless stroopwafels, run and watch parades and get lost in the shuffle of huge crowds. It would be very easy to get caught up in the busyness of these 4 days and forget to enjoy this time. Personally I struggle to soak up a moment when life feels like a jam packed schedule. I often try to get everything done and then enjoy myself. This mindset causes me to miss out on the magic of moment God creates around me.
Luke 10 we find two sisters, Mary and Martha with somewhat different priorities. Martha has a lot of work to do. She wants to please her Lord with acts of service. But Mary doesn’t want to miss a thing. She wants to treasure this time with Jesus. Both have good intentions. But verse 40 tells us that “Martha was distracted with her preparations.” Essentially she let the work keep her away from the magic of the moment. God is here. It can be pretty easy to lose sight of him in the endless movement from one thing to the next.
The advice I am giving myself this week: don’t forget to stop and smell the tulips. Yes we have work to do. But don’t forget to look around and take these moments to heart. Tulip Time will be gone before we know it. Don’t let the schedule distract you from any moment created by God. Stop and smell the tulips.
Still looking for that perfect 1950’s TV family? Keep looking. Because real families have real flaws and blemishes. Every spouse is prone to make mistakes. There isn’t a parent out there without their fair share of embarrassing blunders. King David (a legendarily imperfect spouse and parent) might as well have been talking about family when he said, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Psalm 14). This is a reminder that every family needs a Savior. We all need Jesus to redeem our mistakes and repair the damages.
The forgiveness we experience through Jesus should naturally prompt us to forgive and repent. So why do these two things feel unnatural for so many parents, spouses and children? Romans 5:8 reveals the extraordinary lengths our Father in Heaven went in order to forgive us, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” So why do we find it so hard to wholeheartedly forgive our own flesh and blood for past mistakes and bad decisions?
Sometimes it’s even harder to admit guilt and say, “I’m sorry”. These are the times when our pride holds us back from making things right. It frightens me to think that a parent’s record of repentance is often passed down to their children. Please hold that thought for a moment. I need to apologize to my kids for not saying I am sorry enough!
The truth is that we can’t be the best parents, spouses or children without God’s help. Our own strength and wisdom will only get us so far. So, when was the last time you let Jesus to take the wheel? Maybe you feel like you have gone too far off the tracks to ever be the person you need to be for your family. We can’t forget that God left instructions, the Bible, to direct and inspire us to be so much more. He has also sent us a helper, the Holy Spirit! His Spirit has the power to give us patience, kindness and love when we have no more to give. We need to lean into the Holy Spirit through prayer. Let’s listen when the Spirit tells us to forgive and apologize. May the power of the Lord help us to confidently declare, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).