From the Pastor's Desk
July is the month we in the United States celebrate Independence
Day. July 4th is the anniversary date of the signing of our "Declaration of Independence" from British rule.
This document expresses our desire to be able to live under our own rule. We want our nation to have the freedom to
make our own laws and set our own standards. In the ideal world - that would be ideal. But in reality, we cannot
be truly free to act the way we may want to. Even at the time of signing, we found ourselves dependent on some other
nations who were giving us assistance in our fight for freedom. They had expectations of us as they helped us.
As long as there is another nation, or another person, involved in our lives we can never be 100% free. Every living
thing, whether animal (including humans) or plant, or some type of organization including businesses, churches, and countries,
has some type of responsibility to another organism. We are never really free if we have any kind of relationship.
How we respond to that relationship identifies who we are in God's family.
One of the scriptures read in our June
30 worship service included these verses:
Galatians 5:1 - We have freedom now, because Christ made us free.
So stand strong in that freedom. Don't go back into slavery again.
13 - My brothers and sisters, God chose
you to be free. But don't use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful selves. Instead, serve
each other with love. 14 The whole law is made complete in this one command: "Love your neighbor the same
as you love yourself."
Christ made us free? Well, YES. But if we follow Christ, we are not really
free to do whatever we CAN do. We are free to do what we WANT to do -- because Christ will guide our wants. The
Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, did not give them, or us, the kind of freedom some people seek. Paul defines
some of the limitations we need to consider. They are the kinds of limitations that our world and our society are more
than ever throwing out.
What Paul is basically saying is that people who follow Christ are not free to run roughshod
over others. That action is the desire of the worldly people. Followers are not to have the, "It's all about
me" attitude or the, "If I want it I'll take it" attitude. There are consequences for our actions that
affect us and others. Freedom-in-Christ requires us to consider those consequences.
Live Free and Love Pure.
PREVIOUS NOTE FROM THE PASTOR
"Keep Your Fork"
I read a sermon illustration
several years ago entitled, "Keep Your Fork." That is an old expression that many of you may remember.
This story involved a Bible study group. The group was discussing what each member thought heaven was going to be like.
There were many good ideas about large family reunions with deceased relatives, pain-free days, no depression, and so on.
One of the women in the group said when she thought about heaven, she was reminded of her grandmother saying, "Keep your
fork." This idea caused several confused looks among the group. One person admitted he didn’t understand
and he asked her what she meant.
Her explanation recalled family dinners when she was a young child. They
would gather at her grandmother’s house and have all kinds of delicious things to eat. At the end of the meal
her grandmother would get up and clear the plates from the table. Before she would start she would say, "Keep
your fork." That meant there was going to be dessert. That meant the best part of the meal was yet to come.
So going to heaven is a "Keep Your Fork" kind of experience. It will not matter how good or bad your life
here has been - the best is yet to come.
Nobody knows what heaven will be like. Scripture gives us some
broad hints but it doesn’t give us the kind of details people today want. We may think about pearly gates, streets
of gold, mansions, angels on clouds, or many other beautiful visions.
Heaven may be different for each person
there. God made us different in this life where we each have our own likes and dislikes. We may have different
tastes in heaven also.
There are lots of stories and jokes about what we want or may find in heaven, but I think
it all will boil down to heaven being a place of total peace for us. We will feel completely safe and completely loved.
We won’t have anything to complain about or worry about, and we won’t have any need unfilled. The people
who lived with hardships beyond our imagining will have them no more. Relationships that were broken here on earth
will be healed.
Heaven will be better than a bowl of warm blackberry cobbler with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
You may be someone who doesn't like desserts or believe in heaven, but for the rest of you, "Keep Your Fork, The Best
Is Yet To Come."