‘What Lies Ahead’

I considered sharing my thoughts on the goings-on in our nation’s capitol this week, but decided you had probably heard enough opinions by now so I will just keep my frustrations and embarrassment to myself. In fact, I think one of the problems with our entire culture is that everyone not only feels entitled to their opinion, but they also feel obligated to tell everyone else what they think. And of course social media affords us the opportunity to share those opinions with everyone, every day. Sometimes it’s okay just to not say anything, especially when you don’t have anything good to say. Or maybe, if you just have to talk to someone about it, talk to God. Prayer is always a good idea.

Also, I have always tried to be careful here to never confuse our purpose and priorities at Shelby Crossings. It is not now, nor has it ever been–and hopefully, it will never will be–political. This is not our calling, any more than it was for the church of in the first century days of the New Testament, living in the Roman Empire. Sure, we would encourage people to be involved in the political process, as citizens of our nation, but we must also remember that our primary citizenship is in heaven, that we are just passing through here, and our purpose is so much more than politics. We are called to honor Jesus, and to point people to Him–not to any politician or any cause.

I will say, in light of that calling, I am so tired of the hypocrisy on every side. Double standards and inconsistency and “whataboutisms”…as in, every time your side does something foolish, you justify it by asking “what about” the other side? I see so many people who suspend their values and convictions when it applies to their side, but are ready to rail on the other side for the same thing. We as the people of God must humbly stand for truth, consistently and persistently. And humility seems to be the one thing that is most lacking in all of this.

So, let me talk about something else that is dear to my heart. Yesterday marked the twentieth anniversary of the first official worship service of The Church at Shelby Crossings. It was Jan. 7, 2001 when the church gathered for its first public service at Valley Intermediate School in Pelham. We had planned a big churchwide celebration this week, to commemorate that big day, but like so many other things over the past year, we had to postpone that because of COVID. Maybe we’ll throw a big party next year, when we turn 21 and officially reach church “adulthood.”

Over the past two decades, much has transpired in the life of this community of faith, and there are many things God has done worthy of celebration. And I would certainly encourage each of us to stop, and reflect, and remember, and thank God for all the great things He has done in the life of our church over these twenty years. 

The reality is, there are not a lot of people left among us who were there for that first worship service, but for those faithful few who have hung in there for the whole twenty years, we say again…thank you. And, even as we celebrate our first two decades, we hold to the words of the apostle Paul, who wrote of “forgetting what lies behind, and reaching forward to what lies ahead, we press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13)

So we celebrate God’s goodness and faithfulness, and all that He has done in each of our lives through this body of believers, we do so with an eye to a promising future the Lord has for us as we walk with Him and share His gospel faithfully with our community. No doubt, the season of ministry of ahead of us–after this pandemic and all of this political strife and division–will be different, and it will likely get more and more difficult. But I trust God will use us in the “new normal” that is to come.

Let me close with more words from Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi, which speak to us even in the midst of this crazy time in our land:  “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Phil. 1:6) 

May the Lord bless each of you. I’m praying for you, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

–Pastor Ken