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Best of Times, Worst of Times

October 11, 2023

Leadership Notes


It seems like this past week has reflected what Dickens captured in A Tale of Two Cities:


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age

of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of

belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it

was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the

winter of despair.”


I think if you take a ten year slice of any time in history, that observation would consistently ring true. Granted, you would find, at times, some weighing heavier on one over the other. But not all is bad and not all is good.


Here in our beautiful corner of God’s world, every Sunday morning our church is filled with joyful praise to Him for what He has done for us in Jesus Christ. As I’ve shared before, every Saturday night before I drift off to sleep, I thank God for the people He calls to worship Sunday morning. I thank Him for filling His sanctuary with song and praise and prayer. And it

has nothing to do with numbers. It’s all about the spirit and heart of worshipers. Amen? Covenant Church is a beautiful community of faith where we love God, love each other, love our community through acts of service. We couldn’t be happier to be who we are right here, right now.


Add to that living in this most pleasant place in the United States; how can we not say these are the best of times? Michigan fall is exquisite. I have always subscribed to the Biblical ethic that, wherever God plants you, that’s where you grow. There is no “grass is always greener” to it. Wherever you live is where the grass is greenest. Worship God, grow prosperous, be a reflection of God’s glory in how you live your life. It’s all good.


It has also been the worst of times. This past week, that tale has been writ large on the world stage. The Bible clearly diagnoses the problem. Isaiah reminds us that all we like sheep have gone astray, each one to his or her own way. The Book of Revelation makes clear that there will be no lasting peace until Jesus returns in all his glory. Paul says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Jesus acknowledges our sinful nature when he says, “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” Those with a Biblical worldview understand total depravity.


From one fallen person to another, here are a few thoughts on the current madness gripping the world:


> Once again, almost overnight, people somehow become experts on complex issues. I will try not to be one. All I know is that, as an amateur Biblical scholar, the Middle East has been a hotbed of violence and animosity for thousands of years. When you start placing blame, how far back do you go? How many centuries of cause-and-effect do you cite?


> It doesn’t seem like this is about human rights/Palestinian rights. Does anyone believe that militant Islam, funded by Iran and others, wants to live peaceably with Israel?


> I have no truck with large protests or demonstrations. I don’t care what others choose to do, but they’re not for me. The hive mind, or as I like to say, the sheeple mindset, is not my thing.


> It didn’t take too long for this situation to tilt pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel among certain camps.


> Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib – such a delightful human being – proudly displays a Palestinian flag

> A protest near Harvard University included chants calling for the destruction of Israel. They supported Hamas and their current actions. Were these demonstrators horrible people or simply people doing something horrible?


> Hamas is a murderous organization hellbent on killing people who are not them. Their strategy is to inflict suffering and tyranny on women, children, and the elderly. This is indefensible evil.


These a but a few strung-together thoughts. What to make of the current world crisis?


I am leaning toward the events of this past week the same way I was regarding Ukraine. What business is it of ours? I’m growing more isolationist in my outlook. Both are free to defend themselves. Why do other nations need to get involved? For how many years has the United States spent money it doesn’t have on wars of questionable value? I’m reminded here of what Jesus said in Matthew 24:6-13:


“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are

not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not

yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against

kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various

places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death,

and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then

many will fall away and betray one another and hate one

another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many

astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of

many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be

saved.”


What is our relationship to these wars and rumors of wars? Perhaps right now, the most important thing we can do is make our little corner of God’s world as peace-filled as possible.


Wherever we stand, we all struggle to make our way in this broken, fallen world. We worship God, we love our families, we love our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we love our community by helping others. We know that the answer to all of our problems has been, and always will be, found in being devoted followers of Jesus Christ. As Paul said in Romans 7:24-25:

“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of

death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I

myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I

serve the law of sin.”


As Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said:


“The nearer a man gets to God, the greater he sees his sin.”


With Much Love and Affection,


Richard

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