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Pastor’s Corner Pastor Mark Keefer, pastor, Chapel Methodist Church Gladbrook, Iowa

October 11, 2018
Northern-Sun Print
It seems recently, I have not enjoyed being around me. I tried getting away but it seems wherever I went, there I was. There have been issues that have arisen in our state, national, and world politics, issues in our relationships with institutions and organizations, issues in finance, and issues in general. There is no point in listening to the news, for there seems to be reporting only on turmoil, crime, and, oh yes, politics – which seems rather redundant when I think about it. There is no point in watching prime time programs, for even the supposedly comedic programs seem to rely on turmoil, crime, and politics to gain my laughter. It seems the only time an audience will laugh at something is when a speaker throws in a profane word. You back up for a moment to consider the ‘joke’ that was spoken, consider if anything would have been funny if the profane word was excised, and you discover nothing funny was said. I have become a skeptic to a greater degree than I have been in the past. What can I do? I have recently been studying about early Christianity. Did you know that the early Christians, beyond being considered a sect of Judaism, were considered atheists? At the time that the early saints of the church were proclaiming that God had come to earth as a human, Jesus the Messiah, the empire was of a pagan nature, worshipped numerous gods, and considered the emperor to be an appointee of those numerous gods. So everyone worshipped the emperor as God. To not worship him as such was considered atheistic behavior, punishable by both persecution and death. A multitude (to say the least) of good, honest, hard-working, law-abiding, tax-paying people lost everything for committing to the One True God, as revealed in Jesus Christ. Those early Christians of integrity had plenty of reasons to become skeptics, and yet held on to the truth of Christ with such vigor that His teachings and examples have survived for two thousand years. It tends to have me ruminate on my own skepticism as being somewhat petty. That thought lead me to realize that maybe I have focused too often on the small gods that plague my skeptical life. Is it a ploy by the evil influences of this world to have me shift my focus away from the true God, only to be irritated by the small gods? I recently viewed a presentation by the noted football coach, Lou Holtz. He was speaking at a college commencement service. If you ever have a chance to hear him speak, take it. He is remarkably entertaining with wit and wisdom gained over many years of success and failure. His speech reminded me how our joy can be stolen by focusing on all the wrong things. There is no way to adequately reflect on all he shared. However these three points stand out in regard to having a fulfilling life: trust, commitment, love. With trust, he made this comment - ‘There is never a right time to do a wrong thing, and there is never a wrong time to do the right thing.’ Life is based on the choices we make and doing the right thing will never be out of place. This leads into commitment to doing our best and showing people we care. Lou’s belief in Jesus Christ as his Savior was spoken with no hesitation. His outlook on life and exhortation to the graduates in that assembly followed the exact outline that Christ laid out for all humankind – love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself. These have been the key to extracting skepticism from my life when I find myself wallowing in it. The prophet Jeremiah has been referred to as the weeping prophet, for he often wept about the condition of the people and of the country. Yet he found solace in what his Lord said, “I know the plans I have for you, plans that you will prosper and not be harmed; plans to give you a hope and a future. Seek me and find me, and I will bring you back from captivity (Jer. 29:11).’ I might replace ‘captivity’ with skepticism. You can replace it with the dilemma you find yourself in. Find a place of worship this week. Hear of the hope and the future that God will provide when you only turn your heart to Him. May your future be blessed with peace.


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