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Pastor's Note

A Thought from Reverend, Rickey Haynes

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Pastor Ricky haynes
Reverend, Rickey Haynes
Just a thought.

I have a confession to make…I don't know what to say about the world I live in today. It is a world divided by so many different points of view. Admittedly, that has always been the case. But now there are those who don't know how to disagree in a civil way. That eventually brings about violence which is very destructive to lives and the social order in a society where there are still other alternatives to violence. In the culture of the United States of America we still have numerous other alternatives to violence. What is the problem?

I cannot speak for culture in general, but I do believe that the problem with the church is that we are fighting against flesh and blood with methods and instruments of flesh and blood battles. We were never created to do so. Saint Paul says in Ephesians 6:12: "For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."

We were not intended to struggle with the weapons of the world. We were intended to struggle with different kind of weapons. For instance, we put on the belt of truth. We need this so badly today. We have information available to us on various cable and social media outlets 24 hours a day. The problem is that none of those sources can be completely trusted for the truth. Each source has an agenda. In most cases, the agenda is not even close to the agenda our Lord Jesus Christ has for us in the world. I suspect that some of the people who speak through these secular sources actually believe they are doing good, when they skew the information to achieve their particular purpose, rather than speak the facts. It makes things even more difficult when they say they are presenting the facts but just paint a partial picture. However, this is secular or worldly propaganda which is a weapon of the world. It has been used throughout history and the use of this weapon eventually results in evil. It is the responsibility of the Christian in such an environment to do what is necessary to discern the truth through the teaching of Jesus Christ and the church of Jesus Christ as handed down to us through the centuries. We cannot rely on any particular source…media, organization or group, political persuasion, even human religious organization or a particular religious person to hold the truth in each and every situation. Christians must seek the truth through Jesus Christ.

For certain all of the above can help us gather the information we need to look at the events, philosophies, and teachings of this world. However, that does not excuse us from examining that truth through Jesus Christ, who is the Truth. But are we willing to do so? So many in the church are not willing, because we know that our conclusions in many instances will be counter to the world we live in today. We don't want to be counter to the world we live in today. However, in this case it may be a good thing. We must remember not everyone wants to hear and know the truth. So we must wage the battle we are called to wage as Christians using the truth.

Then there is God's righteousness. By the way, you can't go here until you accept the truth. Therefore, if you are unable to think beyond the sources of information the culture offers you cannot take the step to God's righteousness. We can appear to be righteous, we can sound righteous but without the truth, without going through the discernment process of separating the grains of wheat from the useless portion of the wheat plant then our righteousness just looks good to the world around us. However, we must remember most of the world around us is not righteous. If it is confronted with God's righteousness it will be offended. God's righteousness means to know God's truth, which we receive through Jesus, and live that truthin the culture through the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. This will lead us to do the right thing in every circumstance without prejudice when we truly live out God's righteousness in our daily lives.

Paul mentions peace next. We must not only be at peace in our own lives. We must also be actively proclaiming the message of peace that comes with the Good News of Jesus Christ who is the truth and through whom we are led into a life of righteousness. You might have noticed that many of the worldly and cultural organizations who claim to desire justice do not promote an understanding dialogue between those who disagree. Instead they promote argument and debate which leads to anything but peace. These organizations do not promote conversation and relationships that could form mutual understanding. Many just promote words of anger and bitterness that lead to disorder. Peace comes when those who disagree can sit down at the table and come to terms that are life-giving and just to all involved. Temporary peace may come through a total surrender of one party to another. However, eventually that peace will be broken and the old issues will cause more disorder. The truth and righteousness of Jesus will never conquer the world through human effort. It seems very clear that such a blessing will not happen until Jesus returns and sets all things right. However, that does not excuse the people who call themselves followers of Jesus from proclaiming the message of peace to a violent world, and to honor Our Lord we must do so in a loving, kind, and generous manner.

Faith…this has become a weak word in our culture. Faith…what does it mean? It means more than saying "I believe". It means basing my thoughts, words, and actions on what I believe, not just saying it.

I think a great secular example of this might be the last line of the Declaration of Independence where the signers agreed to the following: "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor."

When we make a decision to become a follower of Jesus Christ by putting our faith in Him, we pledge our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor to each other, and to Jesus Christ. It is not about saying we believe so that we will one day have a free ticket into heaven. It is about living out a life of truth, righteousness, and peace with the faith that no matter what happens in this world we are in the care of a Savior who is already making His promises real in our lives. We do not put on the shield of faith when we hold anything back from Jesus. We do not put on the shield of faith when we are keeping little secret compartments in our lives. We separate those compartments from the control of Jesus truth and righteousness just because we don't want to pay the cost, or give up the worldly benefit we receive from that compartment of our life. I have discovered that my lack of full faith is most often the source of my lack of peace. The lack of a complete faith is also a denial of the truth and the righteousness of God. Too often we who are a part of the church give words to our version of faith but no hands, feet, or sacrifice. Therefore, our faith becomes irrelevant to the world we live in daily.

Next Saint Paul mentions the helmet of salvation. Salvation is of one person and His name is Jesus Christ. Over and over we are reminded through the Scriptures and through the traditional teaching of the church which has stood the test of time, that eternal salvation comes through Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. To receive eternal salvation we must be willing to receive the grace of God through Jesus Christ AND surrender every part of our lives to Jesus Christ. That means we must have a true and full faith in Jesus Christ. This means accepting the truth as we have received it from God the Father through the Scriptures and through the traditions of the church that have stood for these 2,000 plus years. It means accepting Jesus as the Truth. It means submitting to the "righteousness of God" even when everything in our world and culture tell us we are wrong, insensitive, or ignorant. It means receiving our peace from Jesus Christ even when our lives and the world we live in seem to be in chaos. It means having the faith to remember and keep our pledge to Jesus and His church no matter what the cost.

Finally, Saint Paul speaks of the Spirit, the word of God. The first becomes the last as Jesus said. We must first seek to know God through the Spirit before we will ever be able to know the truth, the righteousness of God, peace, faith, or salvation. To know the former and be able to use the former as weapons in the battle that we are fighting we must first know the word of God. When we don't know the word of God and understand that God is love and His desire is for all to be saved then we are in danger. We are in danger of beginning to use the weapons of this world and to fight the wrong battle. We are in danger of becoming offenders of the faith rather than defenders of the faith. In essence, we are in danger of becoming like the world. Then we end up with one foot in the world system and one foot in some kind of limbo, because you actually can't have one foot in the world system and one foot in the Kingdom of God. God has made that an impossible alternative. You are either all in or you are all out. The choice is yours.

The world and the culture we live in wants us to have faith in the ever-changing values or lack thereof in our culture. "The times they are a changing" is the mantra of the world. The times are changing, and we shall change with the times in many aspects of life. But we must hold firm to those things that have to do with values and living our lives together as human beings, even when the culture we live in denies the truth of such values. We must also be aware that the world will never be conquered by human effort. But the better part is that the whole of creation will one day be put right again by the Creator. This is our hope, this is our future, and this is the truth which we proclaim and put our faith in as we live for Jesus Christ in this world. The truth that salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone may be denied, but it will never change.

I close with these words from Saint Paul as he ends his letter to the Ephesians, "Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. May God's grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 6:23-24 New Living Translation)

Your comments are welcome. My contact information is on this web site.