Casting Our Cares

If there’s one thing I have noticed over the past few weeks during the COVID-19 crisis, it is that most people are anxious. It may be the uncertainty of the future, the apocalyptic predictions, or just trying to figure out who we should be listening to at a time like this. Or maybe it’s the lack of toilet paper. And I think many have watched a few too many episodes of The Walking Dead. 

Even those who don’t really fear catching the virus themselves are concerned that friends and family members who are at risk may soon be in harm’s way if the pandemic spreads. Others are more anxious about what the shutdown is doing to the economy, seeing their 401K evaporate before their eyes, and worrying how they are going to pay the bills without a steady income. And for that matter, many are wondering if they will still even have a job when all this is over.

Others still are stressed by what to do with their children who are out of school indefinitely. For all of us, the upheaval of our schedules and the radical changes to our normal routines has been stressful, even if our greatest sacrifice is that we are being asked to sit at home on our couch and watch television for a couple of weeks.

And, of course, there’s the required “social distancing” that disconnects us from so many relationships, and the cancellation of public gatherings that has impacted our church family life. For some, that’s not that big of a deal; for others, it means a traumatic absence of community, and missing the most anticipated and most enjoyed parts of our week.
I remember a Charlie Brown quote from the Peanuts comic strip from years ago. It went something like this: “I don’t mind change, I just don’t like it when things are different.” 

And things are very different. Change is hard. Being pushed from your comfort zone and having your daily routines interrupted can be overwhelming.

I think one of the reasons we are feeling the burden is a mixed-up view of life that many of us have, that we are losing control. The reality is, we never really were in control to begin with. It takes a lot of pride to somehow think you have the power to run the world, even if it’s your own little corner of it. And yet, most of us are under that illusion.

I read a tweet last week from one of my favorite pro athletes–and men of God–Ben Watson: “From the tragic loss of Kobe to the pandemic of Corona, 2020 seems to be reminding me that I am not omniscient, omnipresent or omnipotent. In fact, I have little control over life itself. Even the air I breathe is not mine. There is but one sovereign and we are not Him.”

That’s a pretty good perspective, one that most of us have to learn the hard way. And I think the answer to our stress and worry is a proper understanding of our place, a “fear of the Lord” if you will. Or put more simply, it is to lay down our pride–however it may be manifested–and embrace godly humility.

Here’s how 1 Peter 5 says it: “…God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (vs. 5-7)

Humility is not thinking that you are a lowly worm, with no value. It is understanding your place before God–living “under God’s mighty hand”–and recognizing ultimately that He is God, and you are not. There is something comforting about coming to the realization that we don’t have to run the world, that we can resign our position as masters of the universe, and let Him handle it. And we do that by casting our cares and our anxieties on Him, knowing that He cares for us.

So you don’t have to have all the answers for this pandemic, and you don’t have to know what’s around the corner. You don’t even have to be right about which “side” you are on–the deniers or the exaggerators. It really doesn’t matter. Just exhale, rest your soul a bit, and place your faith in the One who has it all under control, even if you don’t understand it.
 
Or, put another way, “Be still and know that He is God.” (Psalm 46:10)

These are certainly crazy times. I will miss seeing you on Sunday, but I do hope you can log on and tune in to our live-stream worship service on Facebook Live, at 10:30 a.m.. If you aren’t on Facebook, perhaps you can maybe use someone else’s account to participate, so we can all be together even when we are apart. Either way, please pray for God’s continued work in His church, wherever we are this week.

Nan and I love you, and we pray God’s protection and His blessings for each of you. I’m sure glad we’re in this thing together.

–Pastor Ken

Pandemic Pandemonium

I am not an epidemiologist, and I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. But it doesn’t take a smart guy to figure out that when the NBA, NHL, NCAA and Major League Baseball shut down because of the coronavirus, we must have the makings of a fairly serious viral outbreak on our hands. With that in mind, we at Shelby Crossings want to make sure we take every precaution we can to keep our church family safe.

I will admit, I have been pretty skeptical during the past month over the irrational reaction of so many to COVID-19, or coronavirus, particularly in the media. We live in a world where we don’t know who to believe, perhaps because of so-called experts who have “cried wolf” a few too many times on a myriad of issues. It is the nature of our social media driven world to always believe the worst, to promote fear and panic, and to over-exaggerate everything, so you can’t blame anyone for being a little cynical.

Add to that the fact that like everything in the world these days this issue has polarized our nation, so that one side goes into panic mode while the other blows it off–and often people end up reacting to the reaction of others who were reacting to someone else’s reaction, instead of making informed, level-headed decisions. And, to hear and read some people almost excited about the looming outbreak so they can blame the “other side” politically is nothing short of shameful.

If you have been paying attention, you know that the hysteria about the virus really began to escalate the past couple of days and it has spiraled out of control like few things I remember in my lifetime. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be an international pandemic, more and more cases started popping up around the United States, colleges and universities cancelled all but online classes, the stock market continued to tumble, and every major sporting event was cancelled or postponed, even turning March Madness into March Sadness.

There have been some interesting–and dare I say even funny–events along the way, like the completely insane buying out of all the toilet paper, and a particular church in California that is known for its healing ministry deciding to shut down its special healing services because of fears of the coronavirus.

Somehow I think they may be missing the point. Because this very well may be the church’s moment to shine, to live out the gospel even in difficult times, serving people with compassion in the name of Jesus, sharing hope with the hopeless. Like Jesus who hung out with lepers, we too are still called to be salt and light to a dark world. And we can’t do that if we run into our bunkers and hide.

This whole episode has magnified the emphasis from our current message series from the book of Acts, on the 20/20 Vision for the Church. Acts 20:20 tells us that the early church ministered in the temple courts and house to house, and they understood that they were the church wherever they went–not just when they were gathered in public worship services. So, even if things were to develop so that we had to stop our congregational worship gatherings each week, we would not cease to be the church. We would still be able to meet together, and serve one another, house to house.

In fact, that has happened across the world on many occasions, when government pressure or persecution supposedly shut down the churches. They went “underground,” meeting in homes, and the church flourished like never before. Thus the 20/20 Vision of the church is that we will still be the church, and be His witnesses, wherever we are. Jesus will continue to build His church, and the gates of hell–nor any virus–will prevail against it.

In the mean time, we will not fear and we will not panic. God is still on the throne, we are safe in His hands, and His love still endures forever. As a church body, at this time we are planning to continue our current schedule of services and activities. We will be wise and prudent and extra careful in making sure that we take necessary precautions and are prepared and sanitized to prevent any spread of the virus.

Those who are particularly vulnerable and in the “at risk” categories because of advanced age or compromised immunity, we certainly understand if you want to err on the side of caution and stay home for a while. For those who do attend our services, we ask that you practice basic hygiene (hand-washing, covered coughs and sneezes) and refrain from handshakes as you greet one another. We will also forgo sharing communion in our worship services for a while. Also, if you feel that you may be showing symptoms of sickness, please “love your neighbor” enough to stay home and not share it with the rest of us (even if it’s just a common cold).

And I would ask that you join us in praying, for the Lord’s protection from the spread of this virus, but more than that, for the church to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this time, and point people to Him.

I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I do hope to see you Sunday. 

–Pastor Ken

The Time of Our Lives

It was Bob Dylan who sang, back in 1964, “The Times They Are A-Changin.” And since this weekend brings us the second Sunday of March, that also means it’s almost time to change our clocks again.

That’s right, this Sunday, March 8, marks the beginning of Daylight Savings Time, the day of the year when the “time fairy” sneaks into our homes during the cover of night and steals an hour of life from us. I know we got a free day this past week with “Leap Day,” but now it feels like they are going to try to take it back from us, one hour at a time. 

Most people I talk to think the time change and the whole Daylight Savings Time is a pretty dumb idea anyway. It reminds me of an old Indian saying I remember hearing that only a fool would believe that cutting a foot off the top of a blanket and sewing it on the bottom of a blanket would make a longer blanket.

For various reasons, a few states actually refuse to participate, keeping their clocks the same year round. That sounds pretty reasonable to me. The spring time change sure does affect our moods and our sleep patterns, among other things. And did you know that Daylight Savings Time may be hazardous to your health? 

Studies have shown a marked increase in accidents the week immediately following the spring time change, when we lose the hour of sleep. In a two-year study of Canadian traffic accidents, psychologist Stanley Coren of the University of British Columbia found that accidents jumped about 8 percent the Monday after the spring shift, perhaps because of the drivers’ loss of an hour of shut-eye.

Coincidence? Perhaps not. Coren also noted a New England Journal of Medicine study that accidents dropped about 8 percent from normal the Monday after the shift back to standard time in the fall (and the gain of an extra hour of sleep). No one knows the correlation between those who had accidents and those who didn’t go to church….but let me just say, you don’t want to be one of those statistics!

So don’t forget to set your clocks forward an hour on Saturday night, and get to bed early so you can “beat the clock” and come well rested and ready for worship on Sunday. Don’t sleep in, and put it off until Monday; that will only make your Monday worse, in more ways than one!

You might also want to be extra careful on the road this coming Monday. For that matter, maybe all of us should pay a little more attention to how we use the precious allotment of time we have been given each and every day. It is, after all, the time of our lives!

“Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”  (Ephesians 5:15-16)

I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday. 

–Pastor Ken

A Contagious Gospel

We’ve been hearing about the COVID-19 virus–better known as coronavirus–for several weeks now, but the news reports have certainly ramped up this week, especially in our area as there was talk of the government bringing infected patients to our state to be quarantined until they got better. Our governor nixed that idea, so I guess those sick folks will have to find someplace else to convalesce.

Of course, the other reason for the increased media hysteria and the exaggerated fears of a pandemic are because of the politicization of the virus, which has turned tragic sickness into a political football to be kicked back and forth. Sadly, this has become the norm, whatever the issue is, especially during a season of presidential primary debates and elections, as people seek to find someone else to blame and even use a virus for their own political gain.

Indeed the virus is a very serious thing. Depending on whose numbers you read, about 80,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus worldwide, though most of those have been in China where it originated. And nearly 3,000 people have died from the virus, and those numbers are going up every day. That sounds like a lot, until you compare that to the World Health Organization’s estimates that the flu kills somewhere between 290,000 and 650,000 people every year around the world. The U.S. Center for Disease Control estimates that total to be much lower–only about 60,000–but either way, you get the idea.

And yes, there’s always the possibility of a worldwide outbreak of any virus, not unlike the SARS and the Asian bird flu of a decade or so ago. And even as recently as a hundred years ago, the influenza outbreak of 1918-19 killed more people than “the war to end all wars,” with an estimated 20 to 40 million people killed by the flu around the world.

Amidst the panic, Americans are buying up all the sanitizers and face masks they can find, even though the CDC tells us those things won’t really help us avoid catching the virus. But facts rarely get in the way of fear when social media takes over, and people continue to empty shelves as fast as they can get them stocked. And speaking of stocks, our 401K’s and IRA’s are sure taking a hit, as the stock market reacts to the effects on the Chinese economy already and the fears of what might happen here in America.

In the mean time, we are told to keep washing our hands and covering our mouths when we sneeze or cough, just as we would to avoid catching or spreading the common cold, the flu or any other virus that is not out of the ordinary this time of year.

What is the Christian perspective on all this? First, we have hope–and not for this life only. The reality is, no matter what gets us, something will, eventually, and we have nothing to fear, because, as the apostle Paul said, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Not that we shouldn’t be concerned about any illness or irresponsible in spreading it, but fear is never a right response for those whose hope is fixed on heaven, beyond this world.

I also can’t help but be reminded that we as Christ-followers are carriers of a contagion of our very own–except that ours is not a disease, but a cure. Sin has a deadly effect on all humanity, but Jesus came and died for our sin, and He has given us His gospel to take to the world to rescue them from their fatal affliction. Just as we have been reading in the book of Acts in our current message series, the gospel was contagious in the the first-century church, spreading like wildfire first in Jerusalem, and then to all Judea and Samaria, and to “the uttermost parts of the earth.” That little group of believers huddled together in the upper room would go on to change their world after the Spirit came at Pentecost.

And here we are, 20 centuries later, still sharing the contagious gospel with everyone we come in contact with, the only hope for the world today. So, who are you “infecting” with His hope this week? 

I will pray for your protection from sickness, but also that the Lord would fill you with His Spirit as you are available to be used to impact our world for eternity, one person at a time.  I look forward to seeing you Sunday. 

–Pastor Ken

Your Walk Talks

You may have heard the story before about the woman who was driving down the road with her 4-year old daughter, and beeped the horn by mistake. The little girl turned and looked a her mother for an explanation for the unexpected honk. “I did that by accident,” Mom said. “I know that,” the daughter replied, “’cause you didn’t say ‘JERK!’ afterward.”

It’s amazing how insightful little ones can be, and how easily they can figure us as adults out. Their impressionable little minds do pick up on what we do and say in different circumstances, and that is how they learn to respond to similar events as they grow up.  We can tell them all we want, but what we show them is what really counts. As the old saying goes, there’s much more caught than taught.

When you teach your children to be kind to one another, do they see that in the way you respond in a traffic jam? When you tell them to be honest, do they get the same message when you explain why you weren’t able to be at church last week? When you teach them about sharing, do they see you do likewise with your precious “stuff?” They will imitate you more than you know.

Even more so, when you teach them to love God, do they see your love for Him in your daily life? Does your life truly communicate the priority of a personal relationship with Christ, or is that just Sunday talk? Do the core values you say you hold dear play themselves out in your daily decisions involving people and work and time and money?

I mentioned not too long ago in a sermon a cartoon I came across a while back. It’s a picture of a little boy, who looks to be arriving home from church to see his dad, sitting in his favorite chair reading the Sunday paper. The look on the father’s face says it all, as the child somewhat innocently asks, “Want to know what I learned in Sunday School today, hypocrite?”  Ouch!

Like the old saying, “Your walk talks, and your talk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.”

The question for all of us is, does what we say and believe and teach match what we do and who we are? We must be careful, for we are being watched–not just by little eyes beneath us, but by the omniscient, omnipresent eyes of our Heavenly Father. My prayer for you is that those who know you best will truly respect you most, because your words and actions are consistent, and your life, both publicly and privately, honors our Lord.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday. 

–Pastor Ken

All You Need Is Love

“All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!”  –Lucy Van Pelt (from Peanuts)

It was the Beatles who, almost 53 years ago, sang that “all you need is love.” Of course, everyone from Barry White to Barry Manilow to Barry Gibb has been weighing in on the subject ever since, just as they were singing about love long before John, Paul, George and Ringo came on the scene. Everybody, it seems is singing about love, but like the weather, few people are doing much about it.

I bring this up today on the day of the year that focuses on “love” more than anything else: St. Valentine’s Day. You can usually tell when the day is drawing near even without the benefit of a calendar–just check out the sweat accumulating on the brow of most married men who are clueless about what they are going to do for the big day. Or go by Walmart or a grocery store later today and watch the men fight over the leftover Valentines and picked over flowers.

The truth is, most people have no idea what they are celebrating when they talk of St. Valentine’s Day. In fact, there is plenty of confusion about the history of the holiday itself. We do know that there were two early Christian martyrs–both named Valentine–who were killed in Rome, supposedly on Feb. 14. In AD 496, Pope Galasius I named Feb. 14 as St. Valentine’s Day.

Actually, like many other “Christian” holidays, Valentine’s Day was probably a replacement for a pagan festival already in place on that date; it was called Lupercalia.  That festival was intended to ensure protection from wolves. During the celebration, young men struck people with strips of animal hide. Women took the blows because they thought that the whipping made them more fertile. Now that’s romantic!

So in 15 centuries, we’ve moved from that…..to this. Obligatory cards, flowers, candy, dinner reservations, and romantic weekend getaways, all for a price. I think some of us would just as well go back to the Lupercalia festival and make sure we keep the wolves away. Except for that part about the fertility.

The point here is–and yes, there is a point–that we shouldn’t have to have a special day to celebrate and remember the love we have for one another, either sweetheart-to-sweetheart, or Christian-to-Christian, or just human to human. Jesus even said that it would be love that would be the distinguishing mark of His followers.

“They will know you are My disciples by your love for one another,” He said. Well, do they? May I suggest that in all of your Valentine’s celebrations (and yes, guys, it’s time to start preparing!), you remember first how Jesus showed love, and that was by giving of Himself. That’s what real love is all about.

So, have a blessed, love-filled St. Valentine’s Day–and the other 364 days of the year as well. I’m praying for you, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday. 

–Pastor Ken

Benefiting from our Benefactor

A young man asked an old rich man how he made his money. The old guy slowly and meticulously ran his fingers across his wool vest and reflected on his long life.

“Well son,” he began. “It was 1932, the depth of the Great Depression. I was down to my last nickel. I invested that nickel in an apple. I spent the entire day polishing that apple and, at the end of the day, I sold the apple for ten cents.” “The next morning,” he continued, “I invested those ten cents in two apples. I spent the entire day polishing them and sold them at 5:00 p.m. for 20 cents. I continued this system for a month, by the end of which I’d accumulated a fortune of $3.50.”

“Then my wife’s father died and left us ten million dollars.”

There’s certainly a lot to be said for hard work and perseverance, but in this man’s case his wealth had less to do with his own character than with the generosity of his wife’s father. All he had, in the end, came because he was a beneficiary of a rich benefactor. 

I am inclined on occasion to remember all the apples I’ve polished and the good things I’ve tried to do that have taken me to this place in life. But then I am also faced with the stark reality that had I not had a gracious Heavenly Father who came looking for me, and then amazingly lavished His grace upon me, I would have nothing. I have certainly benefited from God’s grace, and do so with every breath I take.

It’s a good lesson for all of us when we get on our spiritual high horse and think we brought something to the table that has somehow made us worthy of God’s love, and His work in and through our lives. But it’s not about what we did–and do–but what He did, and does.

He loved us, so much that He sent His Son to die for us, and He loves us still, granting us grace every single day. Our riches never run out, because they’re not dependent on our ability to keep them, but on His abundant supply.

“Oh, to grace, how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be!”  My prayer for each of you is that you know the depths of the Father’s love for you and that you bask in the beneficence of our great and gracious God and benefactor.  I count it a privilege to be your pastor, and look forward to seeing you Sunday.

–Pastor Ken

On Mortality and the Brevity of Life

I was sitting at lunch last Sunday when my son texted me. It was a simple message with breaking news about a sports star, which is not out of the ordinary for our typical father-son text conversations. Except this one was a little different: “Did you hear that Kobe Bryant died?”

I shared the message with others at the table, and everyone proceeded to click their phones to social media or Google to check to see if this news was really true, or another cruel hoax about a celebrity’s death. Obviously, it didn’t take long for us to discover this was a reality, that the basketball legend’s helicopter had gone down Sunday morning outside of Calabasas, California.

I don’t remember when the sudden death of a celebrity hit so many people so hard. People of all ages, basketball fans and not, seemed to be overcome with deep emotion and grief at the loss of Bryant, along with his daughter Giana and seven others who died in the crash. I have seen more public grappling with issues of life and death over this tragedy than anything I can remember, maybe since Sept. 11, 2001.

And as sad as the tragic loss of life may be–whether it’s a celebrity or a family member or friend close to us–such a time can be a healthy reminder for all of us of our mortality and the brevity of our lives. Sometimes we need to be shocked into remembering that life is short, eternity is forever, and none of us ever know when our time will come.

Hebrews 9:27 reminds us, “It is appointed for a man to die once, and after that judgment.” In other words, like everyone else you and I have an appointment with physical death, which means all of our days here on earth are numbered. We only have a limited time to live, to love, to give, to serve, to make a difference, so it’s best we not waste our days on frivolous pursuits, when eternity stares us in the face very day.

The Psalmist wrote: “Teach us to number our days so we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  (Psalm 90:12)  We count our days, so we can make our days count. Whatever it takes, we all need to be reminded sometimes in the ebb and flow of life to “be careful how you live, not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”  (Ephesians 5:15-16).

By the way, I’m glad that we don’t have anything to fear about dying, since Jesus has conquered death and the grave on our behalf, and we have the assurance that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” “O death where is your sting?” the apostle Paul asked. It’s gone. Thanks be to God, it’s long gone. I hope you know that blessed assurance.

In the meantime, I’m sure glad the Lord has allowed us to spend this little bit of time we have here on earth together, serving Him through such a wonderful church like Shelby Crossings. I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday. 

–Pastor Ken

Living Water

I am excited about our study of the book of Acts on Sunday mornings, especially in these early chapters as we examine the importance of the Holy Spirit in the early church’s living out their mission. I was looking for an illustration this week, and came across one of my favorite stories. It is supposedly true, and it certainly illustrates a simple, yet profound truth.

The story is about one of the great heroes of World War I, a British army lieutenant  named T.E. Lawrence. You may have heard of him–Lawrence of Arabia–since his life story was depicted in the 1962 epic film by the same name. 

After the war, Lawrence was in Paris with some of his Arab friends. He showed them the sights of the city: the Arch of Triumph, the Louvre, Napoleon’s tomb, and the Champs Elysees, but none of those impressed them. The one thing that did interest them the most was the faucet in the bathtub at their hotel room.

They spent much of their time in the room, turning the water on and off. They found it amazing that one could simply turn a handle and get all the water he wanted. Later, when they were ready to leave Paris and return to the Middle East, Lawrence found them in the bathroom with wrenches trying to disconnect the faucet. 

“It is very dry in Arabia,” they reminded Lawrence. “What we need are faucets. If we have them, we will have all the water we want.” He had to explain to them that the effectiveness of the faucets did not lie in themselves but in the vast reservoirs of water to which they were attached. And even beyond that it was the rain and snowfalls of the Alps that produced the water for the reservoirs. 

It’s a funny story, and a century later it sounds downright silly in our enlightened world. But I wonder how often we settle for the faucet, spiritually speaking, when it’s the “living water” we really need. It is the human condition that makes us prone to substitute the instrument for the water that Jesus promised would quench our thirst. And so, we focus more on externals than internals, on form instead of substance. 

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink,” Jesus once said.  “Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” Then John added this commentary about what Jesus said: “By this He meant the Spirit,  whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.”  (John 7:37-39)

My prayer for you is that you would know the living water of His Spirit that would flow from within, and that you would never settle for the forms of empty religion instead. I look forward to seeing you Sunday.

 –Pastor Ken

Some Telling Statistics

This past Sunday we were reminded of the “great co-mission” Jesus gave us to be His witnesses wherever we go. That simply means we are to tell those around us of what we have seen and heard and experienced in our relationship with Christ. That could also include an invitation to our friends and neighbors to join us in church.

And I wonder, how long has it been since you’ve told someone about the difference Christ makes in your life? How long since you’ve invited an unbelieving or unchurched friend to come and worship with you at Shelby Crossings?

I read some statistics this week that got my attention. Did you know that 82% of unchurched Americans say they would come to church if someone invited them. That’s right, even in our increasingly irreligious culture, eight in ten people would come to worship if only there was someone who would extend to them an invitation.

If that surprises you, then how about this: 89% of lost, unbelieving people in this country say they would go to church if someone–a friend, neighbor or relative–walked in the door with them. That is, not just inviting them verbally, but offering them a ride or meeting them at the door, and walking in with them.

I don’t know about you, but I’m more than a little encouraged by those numbers. We have often been led to believe that in today’s culture our lost friends and neighbors are antagonistic against all things church-related, when in fact they are just waiting for us to care enough to invite them to join us.

In another survey, people who are actively involved in their churches were asked, “What or who was responsible for your coming to Christ and your church?” Here are the results: Special need, 1-2%; Walk-in, 2-3%; Pastor, 5-6%, Visitation, 1-2%, Sunday School, 4-5%, Evangelistic crusade 1/2-1%; Church Program, 2-3%; Friend/Relative, 79-86%.

In other words, it was almost always the influence and invitation of a friend or relative that brought them to Christ and church, and had the greatest lasting spiritual impact on their lives. Not a pastor, and not a program–but a friend.

But that brings me to a more disturbing statistic: only 2% of church members in America actually invite unchurched folks to attend on a regular basis. It’s not hard to do the math to realize that if they are waiting on an invitation, and we are not inviting them, then they will continue down the same hopeless path, without Christ and without the loving community we experience in His family.

“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (Romans 10:14, NLT)

Let’s tell them. Let’s invite them. Let’s reach out to our lost and hurting world with the love of Christ this week. Let’s be His witnesses, empowered by the Holy Spirit to share the good news of the gospel wherever we go.

I am sure glad we are on mission together. I am praying for you, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

–Pastor Ken