Out of My Mind

Barbara Heckman on April 1, 2021

It’s an unfortunate truth that we live in a bad news world. Every day we are bombarded with more bad news. It may be another report of a surge in COVID19, another report of a mass shooting, terrorist bombing, or other form of violence or abuse, another incident of injustice, discrimination or prejudice, another report of sex trafficking, another report of political partisan division; or another report on the growing consequences of climate change. There seems to be no end to all of the bad news.

And that doesn’t even begin to add up all the bad news we encounter on a more personal level concerning health, finances, jobs, families, relationships and other problems.

If you’re like me, at times the bad news can seem overwhelming. All the wrong and wickedness in this world can leave you feeling discouraged, distressed and disillusioned.

That’s when we need to remember that in the midst of all the bad news we have the very best of news. The Lord is Risen! Jesus Christ has conquered sin and death and is alive! Because of Easter there is hope, hope for you, hope for me, and hope for this world. For if God can resurrect Jesus from the dead it means that he can do anything. Hearts and minds and lives can be changed in amazing ways.

The resurrection means that all the bad news will not have the last word. Evil will not win. As the Apostle Paul wrote: “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV)

Even in the midst of these unexpected, uncertain, unprecedented and unwanted times that we find ourselves living in, filled as they are with so much bad news, may the good news of Easter fill you with great joy and unshakeable hope.

Never forget that we are Easter people, and hallelujah is our song.

Your Pastor,

Mike


 

Out of My Mind - March 2021

I know that you are looking forward to the day when we can finally worship together again in the sanctuary. Like you, I hope that time will be sooner rather than later. The Deacons are actively monitoring the COVID19 rates for our area and as soon as they meet our criteria for meeting in person again, they will let us know.
In the meantime, we have hope that one day, things are going to be better. One day we’ll be back in the sanctuary for worship together, have in person Sunday School classes, have covered dish dinners and maybe even a church picnic!
But even though those things will happen one day, I want to caution you that even when we are able to be back together, things still won’t be like they used to be. As my father would often tell me “Used to be doesn’t live here anymore.”
We all yearn for life to get back to normal, for things to return to the way they were, to get back to the former, the familiar, the previous comfortable routine. The problem is that time has passed and it won’t ever quite be like the way it used to be again.
There are people who were a part of our church family then who now reside in heaven, there are people who were active in our  gatherings then who, for a variety of reasons, may not come back, at least for a while. And we will miss seeing each of them when we regather.
When we do come back together, at least at first, we will still need to wear masks, practice social distancing as well as refrain from singing. And all those hugs we long to give and receive will need to wait for a while longer. And then there is the fact that this time of the Pandemic has changed us all. Because of everything we’ve gone through, witnessed and experienced in these unsettling and unprecedented times we’re different people than we were before. We can’t simply go back to the way things were.
And while it is right to miss those days, and even grieve over lost opportunities, lost loved ones and friends, I remind you that God is in the business of making all things new. Rather than recreating what was, God is leading us into a new day as a church – a day with new opportunities, new times of fellowship, new joys, and new chances to serve him. With Jesus, the best is always yet to be.
So rather than focusing on what was, let us look forward with joy to what will be. For “this is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24 NRSV)
Your Pastor,
Mike

 

 

OUT OF MY MIND - Feb 2021

As some of you know, I have a fondness for comic strips. I recently came across an old Dennis the Menace cartoon. In one Dennis and his friend Joey are leaving Mrs. Wilson's house, their hands full of cookies. Joey says, "I wonder what we did to deserve this." Dennis answers, "Look, Joey. Mrs. Wilson gives us cookies not because we're nice, but because she's nice."
That comic reminded me of a truth from the Bible. God loves us, not because we’re particularly loveable, but because he is love. (1 John 4:16 NIV) And because he has loved us, we’re now to love others in his name. (1 John 4:19)
It’s not news to you that there are lots of people around who are acting in so many unlovely ways right now. As if living in these days with the pandemic weren’t difficult enough, we also have to navigate the divisions and disunity of our times. There is so much partisanship and prejudice, so much suspicion and squabbling that it makes us nervous about even having a conversation with a neighbor, co-worker, friend or family member out of concern for how they will react.
I don’t claim to have all the answers for how we’re to proceed in these unprecedented times, but I do know this, we’re to love others because God first loved us. We’re to love those we agree with, and love those we don’t agree with. We’re to love those who look like us, think like us and vote like us, and we’re to love those who don’t look like us, think like us, or vote like us. We’re to love others because God first loved us.
Let me be the first to admit that loving others isn’t always easy, but it is essential if we’re going to be followers of Jesus Christ. In fact Jesus said: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35 NIV) 
May we who are a part of the Manly Baptist Church family, set an example for others to follow, as we “love one another.”
Your Pastor,
Mike