Pastor's Note | Saturday, May 3rd
Sometimes it's easy to long for an earlier time of life - one that was simpler, for one reason or another. Having children of our own has prompted my wife, Cassie, and I to recognize the ways our culture is changing - at a rapid pace! - and reminisce for the simpler, easier time of life in the early 1980's!
This happens individually, but can also happen communally, in the life of a church. It's understandable that, as a community, we might think back to high points in Good Shepherd's history. We can think back to Good Shepherd's founding, building campaigns, those with whom we've journeyed in faith, as well as previous pastors and staff members who served the church wholeheartedy with their gifts for ministry.
This reminiscing can also happen when we turn to the Scriptures. Have you ever heard someone woefully ask, "Why can't we just get back to the early church? Let's be an Acts 2 church!" In Acts 2, we read that after Peter's impromptu Pentecost sermon, three thousand made decisions for Jesus. Out of nowhere, a megachurch! Then, Luke writes,
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
How could we not want that!?
But we need to remember that Acts 6 comes after Acts 2 (basic math, there). And in Acts 6 some members of the church show favoritism during the daily distribution of food. (So the "Acts 2 church" didn't have it all figured out!)
Further, Acts 15 comes after Acts 6 (it's shocking, isn't it?). In Acts 15, "a sharp dispute and debate" takes place with some members of the church who want to make specific requirements for those who want to join the church. (Apparently, the "Acts 6 church" hadn't been perfected either!)
After coming to one agreement, another - more personal disagreement - takes place. We read in Acts 15.36-41:
Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
WIthout minimizing the reality of their disagreement, Paul and Barnabas decide to part ways and continue ministry. In the words of Fleetwood Mac, they "go their own way." We have no indication anywhere in the New Testament that either Paul or Barnabas disrespected the other, even after this disagreement. As such, it has been written that their "division became multiplication."
Just as the Acts 2 church and the Acts 6 church and the Acts 15 church needed further refining by God's Spirit, we too need to be refined into His calling on our lives. So, we may reminisce for simpler times, but may we remember that God has called us to continue to follow Him into the future.
It is my sincere hope and prayer that just as Paul and Barnabas went their own way without losing respect for one another, Good Shepherd and the other churches being dismissed from Los Ranchos Presbytery will continue to partner in the gospel - that our division will become multiplication for the sake of the Kingdom! Without minimizing our differences, I pray that those remaining in the PC(USA) and those transferring to ECO will each be "commended by the believers in grace" and will focus on "strengthening churches" so we can reach those who don't yet know Jesus.
It was a long time ago that Peter preached that improptu sermon and three thousand were saved. And fifty-two years ago that Pastor Virgil Zirbel used his bag of dimes to extend the good news of the gospel in Los Alamitos. It can be good to remember these who've gone before us, because doing reminds us of God's faithfulness then, and helps us trust that His faithfulness continues today. May such reminiscing embolden us for the task ahead of us today, to continue declaring and enacting the good news that inspired both Pastor Virgil and Preacher Peter!
As we do so, I am convinced that Good Shepherd's best days are ahead!
Two other quick annoucements:
- Tomorrow morning we welcome our new Director of Modern Worship, Eric Grasmeyer. It has been eight long months of searching for the best candidate to fill this position, though Eric has continually risen to the top of all those who've applied. We are thrilled that God has called Eric and his wife, Erin, to join us in our mission to become disciples of Jesus Christ, who connect, grow and serve! Believe it or not, joining a new staff and church can sometimes be intimidating, so, while you're online, how 'bout sending Eric an e-mail at to welcome he and Erin to the family?
- Thank you to those of you who have already dropped off your pledges for our Joint Solution with Los Ranchos Presbytery. We already have $49,995.66 of $240,000 pledged! Pledge cards are available on campus or you can pledge here on our website.
I look forward to worshipping with you tomorrow,