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Green Pastures and Still Waters

Since October is Pastor Appreciation Month, MCC hosts an Annual Luncheon to say thanks to the area pastors.  It was cancelled this month because the Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists bullied the College into cancelling.  The MACRA viewed this appreciation as a public institution’s promotion of religion.  In other words, we’re the bad guys.  The clergy and the churches we represent are seen as a threat to the world around us.  And, in my opinion, we should be viewed that way.  The fact is, the world is upside down and under the reign of Jesus, we’d like to set it right side up!  We have another King!  His name is Jesus the Christ and He does not tolerate idolatry and self-rule.  He died on the cross and rose from the dead to deliver us from those evils.  His Kingdom is among us and it is a threat to the autonomy this world craves.  I don’t blame MCC for cancelling, no one wants to face legal battles over a lunch meeting!  What would be worse, is if the church was viewed as benign.  “Somebody” out there believes we are a threat to “life as we know it” and they are right.  We are.  We’d like to see the people of Montcalm County flourish and live life as it was intended to be lived but life will never be right without allegiance to the one true King.  So, yes MACRA, we’re a threat and we’ll be a threat to a godless, autonomous culture as long as God gives us breath.  By the grace of God and using the tools of the Word of God and prayer, we’ll continue.  And, we pray you’ll see the goodness of God in the land of the living and find out how marvelous it would be to live under His gracious reign.  We have room for you!

In commenting on the text we plan to study this coming Sunday, Acts 16:25ff, Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Any fool can sing in the day.”  Admittedly, there are times when it is hard to sing.  When we are suffering, struggling, discouraged and/or sad, it’s hard to muster up a song.  Songs are easier when we’re happy, when we’re celebrating and when good things happen.  Paul and Silas had been arrested on false charges, beaten with rods and placed in maximum security with their feet in stocks.  You can read for yourself what they were doing in spite of their circumstances.  They were singing!  Thankfully we are not commanded to sing every time we suffer.  This is one of those texts that are descriptive and not prescriptive.  Dr. Luke simply wrote about what happened, he didn’t make a new law about it.  Interestingly, Paul would later write to this same group of believers, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” We can rejoice in the Lord in spite of our circumstances because He never changes.  Our circumstances change daily but the Lord, His love, His presence and His goodness NEVER change.  Nothing can separate us from His love.  He will never leave us nor forsake us.  He is our light and our salvation…a very present help in time of trouble.  He prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies and leads us in right paths.  The benefits of being God’s child are too numerous to list here but if you are in a rough patch, it wouldn’t hurt to start a list of your own.  It may not bring about an earthquake but it will likely change your perspective.  Singin’ in the rain requires more than Sinatra like optimism; it requires confidence in our Father in the Heavens who knows our needs before we do and is present and able to do something about them.  “Rejoice in the Lord.  Always.  Again.  Again.  Again.  I will say it again so we do it again.  Rejoice in the Lord!”