Pastors Pen
 
July 2022
 
Some of you may remember the days when cars and trucks were not as reliable as they are today. The lack of reliability seemed to quickly increase after the first few years. The joy of a new car moved to questioning “will it start?” or “will I able to get to work and back?”. However, with the onset of modern technology, those concerns are gone for the most part. Overheating is one of the issues we seldom, if ever, think about; yet, if you are old enough, you may remember that was somewhat of a common occurrence on road trips. Perhaps you remember packing extra water and coolant in the trunk just incase overheating occurred.
 
We seem to be living in a time when our societal “engine” is running without the necessary coolant. We seem to have surpassed the boiling point and steam is pouring out from under the hood. Whether it be the extreme political divide, the border crisis, abortion, same-gender marriage, men competing in women’s sports, the rising of food and gas prices, the promise of the “summer of rage and threats of violence if Roe v. Wade is overturned, baby formula shortages, and the war in Ukraine – to name a few, have caused a rise in our temperature gauge. These are national issues that bring about anger, fear, and anxiety. What about the unheard struggles at home? To name a few – addictions, hopelessness, broken family relationships, domestic violence, child abuse, suicide, the scary diagnosis.
 
Did anyone remember to grab the coolant for this trip? It would seem the answer is no. To continue with this engine analogy, we have a tank full of expensive gas and fire in the cylinders but no coolant to keep the temperature in check. Or do we? Yes, we do. His name is Jesus! Christians have been called to be salt and light, to be Jesus’ ambassadors, and coolant -if you will- for a steaming nation.
 
The question is – how? How do we care for and pour grace (coolant) into a steaming engine (culture)? The radiator cap is too hot to touch, so should we wait for things to cool down? Is waiting the best option? Do we put on heat-resistant gloves and take immediate action? I believe the latter to be the best choice. One of the best examples of jumping into the steam is Stephen, who was martyred, in the book of Acts. It will be difficult, and possibly painful, to engage our current culture but sitting on the sidelines is not an option for the Christ follower. It is possible to engage our current culture with Christ in us and the hope of glory (See Philippians 4:13 and John 15:5).
 
Stephen, who the Bible states “was full of grace and power”, was in the cauldron of burning anger as he was doing great “signs and wonders”. God was using Stephen in mighty ways and the Church was growing! Even so, Stephen was falsely accused of blaspheme and others gave false testimony. Moreover, the false accusers were stirring up anger in others in the hopes of stopping Stephen from preaching the Gospel. Yet, Stephen being filled with the Holy Spirit, gives one of the most winsome, yet firm, truthful, and compassionate pleas for surrendering to Jesus’ lordship in the Bible. In response to Stephen’s testimony, the Bible states that “they were enraged and they ground their teeth at him” (Acts 7:54). So, how do we do it? Through the power of Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit following Stephen’s lead. You can read more about Stephen beginning in Acts 6:8 through Acts 7.
 
“Only be strong and very courageous…” Joshua 1:7
 
In Christ,
Pastor Steve