Dear Friends,

Well, it’s been two years since I first preached here as your pastor.  Wow!  What a challenging two years it has been!  However, as I sit here in my Covid induced quarantine I am remined over and over how blessed I truly am.  Yes, there will be storms in life, bad storms that threaten to blow us over with fear, uncertainty or grief.  We will lose loved ones along the way and we will encounter failures and mishaps.  God, however, is always near and He will always give us the strength to carry-on when we live surrendered completely to Him.

It is so easy for us to try and hold on to things, people, practices, and ideas in this life.  They are comfortable and provide structure and definition to who we are and how we live.  Unfortunately, time, like sand through a sieve, constantly changes the landscape of our lives.  What is here today may be gone tomorrow.  What was relevant yesterday may be struggling for recognition today.

Many of you may have watched the popular BBC television show, Downton Abby.  It follows the lives of an aristocratic English family from pre-World War I through the post-war years.  Before the war, the landed aristocracy was the backbone of English society.  Everything and everyone revolved around these families and their large estates.  The war and its terrible human toll broke down their society and began elevating the common man.  Industrialization moved wealth away from the landowners and countryside into the hands of merchants and cities.  New ideologies like Marxism, Socialism and Capitalism replaced the old feudal norms and gave the common man hopes and dreams of becoming more than what they were born into.  The television show does a wonderful job of showing the struggle of the various classes dealing with these monumental societal changes that occurred quickly over just a few decades.  Those who tried to ignore the new order of things soon failed and were replaced.  Those who adapted, albeit reluctantly, were successfully relevant in their new culture.

Charles Dickens once wrote, “Change begets change. Nothing propagates so fast. If a man habituated to a narrow circle of cares and pleasures, out of which he seldom travels, steps beyond it… his departure from the monotonous scene on which he has been an actor of importance would seem to be the signal for instant confusion…. The mine which Time has slowly dug beneath familiar objects is sprung in an instant and what was rock before, becomes but sand and dust.”  Change, I think, is like a line of dominoes.  Once they start falling onto each other, there is very little we can do to stop them.  Take a moment and look back at society and culture along the timeline of your own life.  Consider all the changes, some good and some bad.  Doesn’t it seem, however, that the pace of change has somehow sped up?  What was once without question is now challenged.

As Christians, as a church, our rock and foundation is the Bible, the Word of God.  The Bible contains divine laws, principles and intentions given by the inspiration of unchanging God.  To these alone we must cling and dig in our heels.  However, everything else is subject to change as long as they do not oppose what we find in God’s Word.  These changes, for some, may be uncomfortable.  That is to be expected and respected.    I heard a preacher once say, “When I’m 80 years old, the only thing in my church I should be comfortable with is my Bible!”  Those who were visionaries 19 years ago, starting Frederica Baptist, may be wary of anything that alters what they began.  It could be music, style, artwork, colors, dress, outreach techniques or any number of things we could come up with.  Our new building, to many, is their crowning achievement but even it will be vastly different from what we are used to.  God is not unchanging because He’s stubborn.  He’s unchanging because He is perfect and any change would mean that He either was or is becoming less than perfect.  Since He is perfect, He is always relevant so no change is ever needed.  That can never be said of us as individuals or collectively as the church.  So, for us, change for the right reasons can be very good!

Change for the sake of change alone is unnecessary and uncomfortable.  Change for the sake of the gospel, for the sake of reaching lost souls is imperative and should be done with joy!  Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:20-23 “When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.  When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.”  I don’t believe that God cares what type of building we meet in or what color scheme we choose or what we wear to worship.  He cares about the hearts and eternal souls of His children because this world and everything we have built here will one day all pass away.  How we act and what we look like then has less to do with what we like or are comfortable with and much more to do with who we are trying to reach with the gospel!

John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”  My life has changed a lot!  This past year alone has been fundamental.  But I must look forward.  I don’t want to miss the future!  I believe that in this present life we must contend with death and life, angels and demons, the present and the future, powers that I don’t understand, things high and things low…  However, the Bible tells us that nothing in all creation can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord (Rom. 8:38-39)!  Taken in that light, change is the easy part!

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike