One day last week, my wife Paulette and I found ourselves in a familiar place in a very unfamiliar way. We were standing in front of the entrance doors of our bank, both with masks on, knocking on the glass to get in. Now, not too long ago that would have not only NOT gained you entry, but would have necessitated a visit by the friendly neighborhood police. “The times, they are a changin’,” because we were let in with a presumed smile under the bank worker’s mask.
People are talking about “the new normal” and I understand the phrase, but this does NOT feel “normal” to me. And even though this is the world we must operate in, for a little while, there are things that, I am convinced, simply will not “be” normal. For example, no matter how long this “forced” physical separation between family members and friends lasts, due to the pandemic, it will NEVER feel normal for me. It will NEVER BE normal for me. It goes SO against the unique make-up that God created me to exhibit that I am constantly feeling a distinct rub against my emotional grain. Now, mind you, I understand and agree with the science behind the necessity for this physical separation, I just will NEVER like it. In other words, I am now convinced, it will NEVER become an acceptable part of me.
I know I’m not alone, of course. Likely every one of you are in the same emotional boat as I am, but it made me think…is this some of what Jesus’ disciples felt after He ascended to Heaven? They were IN the world but certainly didn’t feel OF the world. How could they be? After all, they had glimpsed glory in person! They had accompanied Jesus. And then after He died and was resurrected, they had confirmation that Jesus was who He said He was. They had firsthand evidence. And now they are living in a yet-to-be-convinced world by standards that world could not understand. Even as they were empowered by the Holy Spirit, how incredibly strange it must have felt to sort of live in-between two worlds, with one foot in the here and now and the other foot in eternity.
What were they to do? Good thing Jesus already had given them (and us) instruction. They just needed to remember what He said and then do it. “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT2)
I’m going to stop referring to this strange time as “the new normal” because it’s not. It will never be “normal” for me to not hug people I love. I’ll wear the masks and encourage others to do the same and I won’t hug until a later time when it is safer to do that. In my view, those are things I do as acts of love for others. But it will continue to feel strange to have one foot in the way the world is supposed to be and one foot in the way it is…for now.
Let your good deeds shine before others, not for your glory, but to bring glory to the One who deserves it!
Pastor Rusty <><
1. This coming week, June 1-5, 9am-3pm each day, we are collecting very specific snack items for the National Guard members who have been serving 6 days a week at the Food Pantry since March 24. The only items we need are single serving cookies and sports drinks. (If you’ve already purchased granola bars which we asked for last week, we’ll still take them). But what the Guard really enjoys and is in short supply is the cookies. Please note, we are unable to accept homemade treats. If you would like us to do the shopping you may donate online at www.oldbethel.org or send in a donation, marking your donation “Helping the Helpers”.
2. Someone PRETENDING to be Pastor Rusty in an emailing SCAM is asking for money. This is a hazard of actually having the staff names on our website. Please remember that NO ONE from Old Bethel Staff or Leadership will EVER solicit money out of the blue for some supposed “emergency,” especially one of your pastors. If you ever get contacted in that way, please contact the church office so we might notify others. It is sad to think how much “work” some do to steal from people who actually work for a living. Prayers for the thieves. After all, one of the two hanging beside Jesus made it to Heaven, so…
3. It is Pentecost on Sunday. Wear RED while engaging in worship this next week, take a picture, and send it to Pastor Rusty to share with next week’s email update.
4. The Message Notes for this Sunday are below.
May 31, 2020: The Holy Fire of Change
If I could change one thing about ________________, what would it be?
God is interested in change. He’s interested in changing ________ and ______.
Two major changes took place on Pentecost:
Change #1: the ______________
They were confused, and as a result, they were ___________. (People are never confident about sharing something they don’t really “get.”)
Acts 1:1-5 (NLT2)
In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. During the forty days after his crucifixion, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God. Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 2:1-11 (NIV)
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
Pentecost was a day of change for the disciples. Now they understood God’s plan of salvation is based entirely on God’s love! They knew the only question was how we individually _____________ to such an undeserved gift!
Change #2: those ____________ persons who came to faith and were baptized.
Pentecost can be summed up in one word, and that word is _____________.
There are far too many Christians who are like those disciples were before Pentecost--confused, weak, timid. We need the Holy Spirit to come to us, and change us like it did Peter so that God can use us also to help ___________ the world!
The Correct Question: “What is it about me that keeps me from being fully, and completely sold out to Jesus Christ, following him with everything I am and have in every single situation?”
“What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)