"I was thinking..."
I was thinking…Pastor Steve
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the
road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is
the gate and narrow the road that leads to life,and only a few find it.”
Matthew 7: 13, 14 (NIV)
I have been thinking about this, and so much more, as I’ve been going through the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus had lots to say about those who were self-righteous, who thought they could get by with prayers, fasting, and alms-giving (giving to the poor). He spoke of those who would be blessed and persecuted for His name’s sake. He gave examples of what it meant to be one of His followers. And, in Chapter 7, Jesus gives us the application to the Sermon. It is simple to receive God’s Grace and Forgiveness. What is hard is changing our sinful behaviors, those that the culture would say, “Hey, it’s your life, live it the way you want.” Jesus says there is a cost to discipleship…in fact, He lost many followers when He spoke of how much it would cost them to stick it out.
How is it with your soul? Are you sticking it out or are you complacent? Are you happy where you are and not needing any deeper understanding of what it means to be a disciple? I’m going to look for some Sunday evening lessons that will hopefully challenge you in your faith. I have used video series before the virus began, and I look to start that back up soon. I’ll let you know when those will begin.
Also, I have added a couple of items in this newsletter: a summary of the West Ohio Annual Conference from Greg Stover and a chart by Chris Ritter that shows what the post-separation Methodist Church and Global Methodist Church would look like. I am trying to keep you all informed on the progress that is being made in preparation for a future separation.
One other bit of business, in July, we will start taking up the offering by passing the plates again. We’ll still have the boxes out for a bit in case anyone forgets or has that as a preference, but when the boxes routinely are found empty, we will remove them altogether. Thank you all for being flexible with your offerings this last year or so. You have blessed my heart more than you know.
I was also thinking about the new federal holiday for Juneteenth. If you know history, and I had to go back and look it up on Brittanica.com, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. The Proclamation had no real effect on blacks until Union forces could win back territory. As they did, the blacks in those regions were freed. The Civil War ended on April 15, 1865, but there were blacks in Galveston, Texas, who had not heard about the Emancipation until Union soldiers arrived on June 19, 1865. The following year, the blacks of Galveston celebrated their freedom on June 19, and it has grown to other cities, states, and countries ever since. Now, I would have thought the signing of the Proclamation would have been a better day to celebrate, but since it is already a holiday (New Year’s Day), possibly June 19th is as good as any other day.
The thing with holidays is – we can celebrate them if we want or not. It seems that there are groups who want to rid America of traditional holidays (Christian and patriotic, specifically) and elevate holidays that are more recently invented. We should celebrate freedom of any peoples. For Christians, Resurrection Day comes to mind, and for Americans, Independence Day would be appropriate. These two days are extremely important for each of us, and we should always remember them and celebrate. We can celebrate our freedom from England that has changed how people can govern themselves and, especially, celebrate our freedom from the chains of sin that condemns us to death…we now have everlasting life! Be safe and have a glorious Independence Day. God bless.