Steve’s Letter – June 2014
JUNE 2, 2014
Don’t you hate what is happening in our country?
“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”
Don’t send me letters. I didn’t say it. Socrates said it over 2,000 years ago.
Things haven’t changed much, have they?
Well…uh…actually, things have changed a lot but people haven’t. We still think that the “way it was” was better than the “way it is,” that the “good old days” (whether that was last year or 50 years ago) were really as good as we remember, and that if we only return to the pristine past, all our problems will vanish and we’ll hold hands and sing “Kumbaya” around the campfire.
I still remember when I was a pastor on Cape Cod, people were complaining about the great number of tourists, cars and chaos. Patti Page had a hit song popular at the time, “Old Cape Cod.” Folks really believed that her song was a reflection of the way it really was.
A member of that congregation (an old “Cape Codder”) who had lived on “Old Cape Cod” much of his life would laugh. “They don’t know what they’re talking about,” he would say. “I was there and it was terrible. We had dirt roads, animals everywhere, manure all over the place, and no money, no central heating and no air conditioning. It was hot as Hades in the summer and cold as a toilet seat in an igloo in the winter. They can have it!”
Speaking of change, as I write this, we’re going through some major changes at Key Life and I hate that too.
If you haven’t noticed, we have a brand new website. Not only that, we’ve installed a new computer software system to handle the hundreds of thousands of names in our database to interface with the new website (Columbus gave us our old software just after he came to America). And in the middle of all that change, our “state of the art” phone system went haywire. The months of planning and hassle our staff have gone through to create all of that will be rewarded with more crowns in heaven than they can wear…or even carry. With flexibility, creativity and incredible skill, the folks at Key Life have done the almost impossible. The fact it is all coming together is amazing and what’s more amazing is that George (our president) hasn’t had to deal with mass resignations or, alternatively, mass suicide.
But if you think anybody around here has enjoyed the changes, you’re crazy.
I was just thinking the other day how much I hate all these changes. I never had a pencil and sheet of paper crash on me, and the old fashioned calendar never needed technological assistance. We do Twitter and Facebook, and if you called, I would be glad to tell you what I said on those things…well…I would if the phones worked.
I have a friend who loves me and Key Life who asked me to explain all the new things. I told him pretty much what I just told you. “One good thing about being a senior citizen like you,” he said with a laugh, “is that you can express your opinion and people will blame it on old age. My prayers will be with you and the ministry that whatever happens, it will continue to bring God glory and make Jesus smile.”
Prayers, God’s glory, Jesus smiling? I thought. Spit! Why did you have to bring God into it?
And then the Scripture started coming (I can hardly think a thought without a text).
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
In talking about the change his life was bringing to the world, Jesus said, “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins” (Mark 2:21-22).
Enough already! I get it. I repent.
The truth is that there will always be change…seasons, the writer of Ecclesiastes says, to be born, to die, to plant, to pluck up, to kill, to heal, to break down, to build up, to laugh, to weep, to mourn, to dance…and at the heart of it, God is using all things for his glory. Jesus smiles as we move to the end of seasons when there won’t be change, computers won’t crash, websites will always work right, and phones will make and receive calls the way they’re supposed to. In fact, now that I think about it, when we get Home we won’t need computers, websites or phones, and if we need to have IT people in heaven, I’m in the other place.
Until then, I think God said in essence, deal with it and rejoice in it.
God is immutable and I sometimes forget that in my complaints about changes. He’s always the same, always there, and there is no perspiration on his upper lip. He’s also sovereign which means not only does he not change, he is in charge of every change. Further, God is good all the time and through every change, every cultural movement in history, every dark period, every bit of confusion and every painful time, he is there working toward a grand and glorious end when Jesus will return and fix everything permanently “for we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:22-23).
That works for me most of the time.
Years ago, I travelled around the world with two friends of mine. One was a member of the church I served and the other was Dr. Sam Rowan who probably knew more about cross-cultural stuff than any man alive. We visited missionaries in a bunch of countries so that the preacher (that would be me) might have a passion for world missions beyond a cerebral commitment.
Given that I’m a mountain boy who doesn’t like to go anywhere beyond the next mountain and don’t do “different” well, that time was rather jarring for me. I saw people who dressed funny speaking in languages I didn’t understand and eating stuff that I wouldn’t have eaten…that is, if I had even known what it was. I preached with translators, never sure that they told the people what I really said or composed their own sermons. I talked with people the entire time who, I think, didn’t understand what I was saying.
Sam (God bless him) said to me a thousand times on that trip when he saw the expression on my face, “Steve! It’s not wrong. It’s different!”
So things change. Deal with it. Some of the changes are good, some are bad (at least for now) and some we’re not sure about, but just remember…It’s not wrong. It’s different. It’s him.
I still don’t like change, but he told me to remember and then he told me to remind you.
The image used with this post is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Attribution: Antonio Litterio.