Rehobeth Logo  
   
From the Pastor's Pen — 2008 Archive
 




Bob

 Bob Kerr

•   January   •   February   •   March   •   April   •   May   •   June   •   July   •   August   •   September   •   October   •   November   •   December   •   Archive Index   • 
 
January 2008: "The Officer, Mechanic, Nurse, PA, and the Adjuster — A Christmas Story about Special Gifts"

Dear Friends in Christ,

Well, Linda and I were making our list, checking it twice, and determined most of our family members hadn't been naughty, most had been nice, and we were getting ready for a wonderful Christmas with my parents in Florida this year. Linda headed out to Winston-Salem to take presents to her siblings and in-laws. Then I received one of those calls you hope you never get — "There's been an accident …" Your heart skips a beat or two, you suppress the lump in your throat, and then are immediately thankful that the voice on the other end of the line is your loved one. At least she can talk (that will be the last ability Linda loses, I'm convinced, on the day the Lord does call her home). I jumped into the truck and took off up Interstate 77 to Interstate 40 and headed east. When I arrived at the scene, Linda was sitting in a Highway Patrol car talking with the officer. Her car was pretty thoroughly demolished, and the officer was courteous and concerned. Couldn't figure out why she was alive. Her car had flown across the median, across two lanes of what should have been heavy oncoming traffic and stopped just short of a concrete bridge support. It was as though a window had been opened up for her between one group of tractor trailers and cars and the next group coming up the road. And through it she went, without collision.

The mechanic who came with the wrecker to retrieve the car, walked the accident site with me and was full of concern about Linda's well being. Before I left to take her to the hospital to be checked out, they both expressed genuine concern for her and expressed how thankful they were she hadn't been injured more seriously. And they both wished us a Merry Christmas.

We arrived shortly after at Lake Norman Hospital's Emergency Room, and we encountered the very same genuine concern and gracious attention to Linda's needs from the intake nurses and the physician's assistant who examined her. X-rays followed (nothing broken) and the prognosis was made that she would be pretty sore for a few days. And before we left, they wished us a Merry Christmas.

I called the insurance adjusters (you know, you go through the automated system for hours it seems before you get a live voice …) and when I heard that voice on the other end of the line, it was full of genuine concern about Linda before any "business" discussion took place. At the end of the phone conversation, the adjuster wished us a Merry Christmas.

For all the discussion out there in the culture about political correctness and the wishing of "Happy Holidays" in place of "Merry Christmas," our experience this year was quite reassuring. Everywhere we went, people were wishing us a "Merry Christmas," even store clerks — without apology. "Ah," I thought, "common sense has returned to the land." Linda hated the car had been demolished and right here at Christmas time (she gets emotionally attached to them). I took her in my arms and told her that I had received the best Christmas present I could ever have hoped for — she would be sharing Christmas with me. It could have turned out quite differently.

So I've reflected a lot these past couple of days. The richest blessings of Christmas are found not in the things we get or give, but in the relationships we cherish. We had a very powerful reminder this week that life is precious and fragile and each day is a wondrous gift. So, when Christmas is over, I hope you will have held those nearest and dearest to you a little closer. And as you begin this new year, resolve to live each day with gratitude in your heart for the gift of loved ones in your life.

Yours in the service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

Return to top 

   

 
February 2008: "Jesus's Journey Toward Jerusalem"

Dear Friends in Christ,

I had a friend who told me once, years ago, that it was a good thing that we didn't know what was actually out there in the future for us, or it would scare us to death! And during my doctoral studies at Drew Theological School back in the late 1980s (boy, doesn't that sound like a long time ago!) we read a book entitled The Denial of Death, in which the author stated that all of us live in a kind of denial about what will ultimately come to pass for every one of us. We can't dwell each day on the fact that none of us gets out of here alive — it would paralyze us into inactivity. So we tend to put that little fact on a shelf back there in some dusty storage room in our minds and go on each day as though we'll live forever. It's the only way we could conceivably function.

Now, lest you think I've gone morbid on you in writing this article, I share those thoughts with you only to highlight the absolutely miraculous journey Jesus was willing to take, because he knew all along that his road would lead to the cross and to an agonizing death. Yet he journeyed on! And he journeyed on because he knew there was no other way to make the forgiveness of our sins a reality any believer could experience.

If I knew that taking a certain road would lead to my untimely death, I'd do everything I could to avoid it, and I'm pretty certain that most of you who are rational out there would do the same. But step by step, Jesus drew ever closer to death by crucifixion, and for one reason only. John 3:16 tells us that reason exactly: "For God so loved the world, he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life."

The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 6, a time of personal reflection and soul searching, a time to remember what Jesus was willing to suffer for us. We'll journey with him each Sunday morning as we examine the encounters he had with people along the way, and how his journey changed their lives forever. We'll follow him all the way to the cross. And then, on Easter Sunday morning, we'll celebrate with all the hosts of heaven that Jesus' willingness to embrace the cross and take our sins upon himself, frees us from that paralyzing fear of death. For He has already won the victory over both sin and death for us, and with His resurrection, the promise of life everlasting becomes God's promise to each one of us who believes in His name. Thanks be to God for the wondrous journey Jesus was willing to take for us — a journey from heaven to earth — and back again!

Yours in the service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

Return to top 

   

 
March 2008: "Linda, Jesus, and Therapy"

Dear Friends in Christ,

Therapy following shoulder surgery is not a pleasant experience. As many of you know, my wife, Linda, had surgery back in January and is now in her second week of therapy. It is a testimony to God's grace that both therapists who have been working with her are still alive! She takes a pain pill before leaving for the session, then afterward, ice helps with inflammation. Of course, it's the "in between" the two that's tough. The therapist rotates and manipulates, stretches and massages, then hooks her up to gadgets of one kind or another, all designed to help her get full use of her shoulder and arm back. When I say things to her like "no pain, no gain," I run a huge risk of eventual retaliation the next time I turn to her for comfort and understanding!

She knows the therapists are doing something for her, however, that she can't do for herself just now. And she does appreciate it. The one thing I've noticed as she goes through therapy is how important it is to trust the person who's working with you. She trusts that though what the therapist is doing causes her some pain, it is the kind of pain that promotes healing and strengthening. Without that trust, I don't think she'd go back for one more session!

Just now, we're going through the season of Lent, making our way toward Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter. During this time of reflection and renewal we look at what Jesus was willing to suffer for us so that we could experience the ultimate healing — the forgiveness of our sins and a reconciled relationship with God. Jesus isn't a therapist — one who assists us while we do the work necessary for healing. He actually takes our place, takes our sin and brokenness and pain upon himself so that we might be cleansed and forgiven and that our relationship with God might be restored. Haven't there been times when you've wished you could take the pain and suffering of a loved one on yourself if it would get them some relief? Well, that's exactly what Jesus did for you and me. Prior to faith in Him, there's no therapy that's going to cure the sin-sick soul. But trusting in Him and in the miracle of radical grace expressed in his suffering, death and resurrection, we find ourselves forgiven and restored! The cross is the sign of God's radical grace expressed in Jesus, and in the resurrection we find all the verification we need to trust that grace. 

Now, I know Linda wishes Jesus could come and take her shoulder therapy for her, but that's just not going to happen. But one thing I do know: Because she loves and trusts him, he will be with her, will never leave her nor forsake her. And when the pain gets tough, she'll hear him whisper in her soul, "Now Linda, harming the therapist would be wrong …"

Yours in the service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

Return to top 

   

 
April 2008: "The Resurrection and Spring Time"

Dear Friends in Christ,

Is there anything more sacred than our observance of Holy Week and Easter Sunday morning? I want to thank all who made the celebration of our Lord's resurrection such a memorable experience for us all this year. I was certainly blessed by the prayers of the people, the ministry of those who prepared communion, the music ministry of Carol and the choir, and the wonderful sense of the Spirit of God moving in our midst every Sunday during Lent, right up to our Easter Sunday celebration. Thanks to everyone!

Now, we move into the spring of the year, and how wonderful a reminder of the resurrection it is! Trees that have been bare all winter are beginning to bud; grass that has been brown for months due to drought has turned a rich green with renewing rains; lake, river and well water levels are on their way to being restored. All around us, what appeared to be dead or desolate is bursting forth with new life. That is precisely what we celebrated at Easter, isn't it? Because of the death and resurrection of our Lord, we who have been estranged from God and dying in our sin have been given the wondrous gift of forgiveness and newness of life through faith in Him. This is precisely what Paul meant when he referred to salvation as a "gift" from God. None of us could have accomplished this in our strength, by our own ingenuity or because of our own goodness. You see, as that beautiful song of faith says, "When He was on the cross, I was on his mind."

I hope with all my heart that as you read this, you will know that is true for you as well. When he was on the cross, he looked ahead in time and saw you! I love that Old Testament phrase, "Before you were formed in the womb, I knew you!" His suffering, his death, his resurrection were all for you. 

I recently read a statement by the author of "The Vampire Chronicles," Anne Rice. After having been an avowed atheist for 38 years, she awoke one morning and thought, "Lord Jesus, I love you. I want to come back to you." So she's stopped writing about the darkness, evil and death of the vampire myths, and her newest works are entitled, "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt" and "Christ the Lord: The Journey to Cana." After 38 years of atheism, now that's resurrection!

I pray that during this spring of the year, you will know the joy of such newness in your heart and life.

Yours in the service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

Return to top 

   

 
May 2008: "An Invitation to Sit at the Table"

Dear Friends in Christ,

Every now and then I discover a text in scripture that speaks to me in a new way. Recently in a Sunday morning message we shared such a reading from Peter's hand and I think it's of such importance that it bears repeating. Bear in mind that there is no question these words are Peter's — a man who actually knew Jesus, walked with him for three years, and experienced the power of the resurrection and Pentecost. The text is found in 1st Peter 2:2-3:

Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk,
that by it you may grow up to salvation;
for you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

There are two themes in this statement that I'd like to highlight for you and ask you to ponder.

The first states that we should long for what is necessary to "grow up to salvation." Peter understood that conversion is best understood not as an "event" but rather as a relationship that is ongoing. The Book of Hebrews states "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he is the one who marks you to be present on that day when salvation is made complete." Peter understood that a continuing walk with God was necessary for us to experience the fullness of salvation.

The second theme refers to our having "tasted the kindness of the Lord."" My wife Linda bakes an absolutely delicious cheese Danish dessert and the first time she did, she asked if I'd like a taste. I tried it and it was great! Immediately I wanted more! I wasn't willing to settle for just a taste, I wanted a full piece.

Peter is saying when we are in the infancy of our relationship with Christ, we've only just "tasted" the kindness and the goodness of the Lord. He's saying we've only just begun and God has more in store for us than we can imagine. So how do we get more than just a taste? We commit to the personal discipline of a daily devotional and prayer life. If we are unwilling to take this first small step, it's like being hungry but refusing to sit down at the table to take the time to eat. Now, if physically we didn't eat for weeks at a time, what would happen to us? Of course, we would get weak, sick, and eventually die. It's also true of our spiritual life. If we are not getting spiritually fed, then we aren't going to be spiritually healthy, either. So if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord, let me invite you to consider sitting at the table to enjoy a full meal!

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

Return to top 

   

 
June 2008: "The Potter's Touch"

Dear Friends in Christ,

It was a sight to behold! My wife, Linda, will try her hand at anything creative. Anything. She started with ceramics, then tole and decorative painting, then porcelain snow babies and angels, then porcelain dolls, and mixed in there was the day she decided she'd like to try her hand at Bob Ross' painting technique. Now, for those of you who may not be familiar with him, Bob Ross was that wonderfully soft-spoken artist on TV with the huge head of hair who taught how to create beautiful oil paintings using ordinary household brushes.

On the day of her first effort, I left for the office leaving behind this little artist of mine wearing a white frock, standing in front of an easel, a ladder and garbage can close by (which she was to use somehow to clean and dry brushes), a sheet of plastic covering the whole floor, and ready to push the "play" button on the VCR.

When I returned at lunch time, there she stood in the middle of the living room, paint brush in hand, proud as she could be. She was covered in paint, there were splotches of paint on the plastic sheet, all over the ladder, garbage can, and easel; but there was evidently enough paint left to have created the beautiful painting on that easel. "You painted that?" I asked. She was so proud! (Some of her paintings are hanging in the parsonage.)

Then she informed me that she thought she'd like to try her hand at pottery. Every place I saw a splatter of paint, I could envision a splatter of pottery clay, perhaps even thrown against the wall by a pottery wheel going too fast in her enthusiasm! With all the husbandly tact I could master, I carefully put my arm around her shoulder and said, "Honey, why don't you just keep at this for a little while? This is beautiful."

At about the same time, I was part of an originating board of folks trying to put together a counseling and spiritual direction ministry in our conference's three westernmost districts — Asheville, Marion, and Waynesville. We struggled with what to name it. After wrestling with that for over thirty minutes, we were about to table the discussion and move on to another item, when I remembered a song I had recently learned. I went out to the car, retrieved my guitar, and came in and shared it with the group. The song described how God, as a master potter, shapes our lives, and then mends the fractures, brokenness and scars we experience and creates something beautiful of us once again. So today there is a Tri-District Counseling ministry in western North Carolina called "The Potter's Touch."

Each of us is an extension of the Potter's loving hands. And we are sometimes the instruments through which he helps mend the lives of others. It is our essential calling as children of God. "By this," Jesus said, "all will know you are my disciples, by the love you have one for another." By merely being present, sharing a loving, encouraging word, helping to bear a load, we become part of God's loving, renewing touch in the lives of others, and God is glorified every time we are willing to be used by Him.

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

Return to top 

   

 
July 2008: "Thanking God for Freedom"

Dear Friends in Christ,

Our celebration of the fourth of July is a reminder that this nation was founded on principles and beliefs that gave birth to incredible documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Within these documents acknowledgment of God and gratitude to God as the source of all life, happiness, prosperity, and freedom is given over and over again.

Freedom of religion is also guaranteed, and I've always taken that to mean freedom of religious expression and practice. There are those in our day who seem to want to interpret those lines to mean from religion, or freedom from the religious expression of others, and I am confident that was never the founding fathers' intent at all. The separation of Church and State (not stated that way anywhere in the documents, by the way) is clearly a provision that prohibits the establishment of a national religion and there is great wisdom in that. The history of Christian martyrdom in England and in Europe includes horrible times of persecution for those whose beliefs differed from those of the official State religion. So we can see in reviewing the lessons of history that though this "separation of Church and State" has great value, it was never the intent to silence people of faith from sharing that faith in the public market place.

Isn't it interesting (and reassuring) that in times of national crisis like September 11 our nation's leaders find themselves gathered on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington, DC for public, unapologetic, and heartfelt prayer for the nation.

Congressional sessions begin with prayer, and presidential addresses (and speeches by candidates for that office) almost always end with "May God bless you, and God bless the United States of America!"

So this July 4th, while cooking out, gathering with friends, and watching fireworks displays, give thanks to God that we live in a nation that allows us to worship God in the manner of our choosing, allows us our freedom of religious expression. So as long as that remains true, our nation will never lose its moral compass. May God bless you and your loved ones, and may God continue to bless America.

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

Return to top 

   

 
August 2008: "Endings and Beginnings — The Stuff of Life"

Dear Friends in Christ,

We've heard all those stories, yet each time we hear them again, we notice something we've not noticed before. When I read those stories of Jesus relating to the sick and outcast, the weak and desperate of his day, I often catch a glimpse of something I've not seen before. Every new reading of the Bible offers each of us the possibility of that same surprising new insight when we spend time with the Word. Can you imagine what a wondrous new beginning the lepers had when Jesus cured them with a touch? Their lives of suffering, alienation, and despair had come to an end and a new life had started for them because of Jesus. Imagine the burden that was lifted and the guilt and shame that ended in a person's heart who had just been forgiven his or her sins by the miracle worker of Galilee? A fresh new start had been given by the Lord. Endings and new beginnings are the stuff and substance of life.

Sometimes new beginnings are hard to embrace, for even such things as the loss of a loved one or a critical illness frame the course of our lives with endings and new beginnings. The enjoyment of good health that has been ours for years, or a relationship that has defined who we are comes to an end, and we face illness and a death and feel overwhelmed by these endings and the new challenges they create for us. The Scriptures say this about God in Christ: "I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end." Not only does this mean that God is there at the beginning of all that is, and will be there at the end of all things, it means also that He inhabits our endings and new beginnings as well. For those who are critically ill, and for those who have lost a loved one, God is there in the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit. And that same Holy Spirit who goes with us through our trials and difficulties is the same Holy Spirit who brings us our new beginnings.

As a church, we also experience endings and new beginnings. I'm excited about our new Episcopal Leader, Bishop Larry Goodpaster (don't you just love that name?). Newly assigned to our Conference, he is a man of deep personal faith and conviction, who prays "in the strong name of our risen Lord," and who feels it profoundly important to celebrate and build upon our Biblical and Wesleyan foundations. He has previously served as the Bishop for the Alabama-West Florida Conference, and he and his lovely wife Deborah will come to our Conference in September. Pray for Bishop Goodpaster as he comes to lead us.

Another exciting new beginning is our inclusion in the newly formed Lake Norman District. One of the fastest growing areas in North Carolina, the Lake Norman District will be led by the Rev. Dr. Lillie Jones, our new District Superintendent. Pray for her as she embraces the new challenges before her.

In all of these things we acknowledge that nothing stays the same in life. It is full of endings and new beginnings and every new beginning gives us an opportunity to see something of God's love and Presence that we've perhaps not experienced before. May God bless us all as we move forward together in this, the start of Linda's and my third year among you.

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

Return to top 

   

 
September 2008: "A Year after the Launch …"

Dear Friends in Christ,

I was rereading the newsletter article I wrote last September in which I shared with you that the boat building project my grandson Cody and I finished had culminated in a successful float test over at Jack and Rosie Sailstad's place.

Well, here we are a year later, and the boat still floats! No leaks, and we've had the boat on the lake in all kinds of weather and she's still sea worthy. (Don't get alarmed, we're not heading to the ocean with this 9'7" boat — it's just a descriptive phrase!). At the time of last September's newsletter, we were under "oar power," but now we have a 40-year-old 61 hp kicker we use, and it's perfect for us. The first time or two on the lake it ran great. Then one weekend I ran up to Asheville, picked up Cody, and brought him back here so we could head out real early Saturday morning to fish before the ocean-going vessels of Lake Norman appeared along with an armada of jet skis. We headed out across the lake and fished for a while. When we got ready to come back in, the motor wouldn't start. So Cody decided he would try his hand at rowing back across the lake. We were rowing along, out in the middle of the lake, when Cody said there was a large boat coming up behind us. Sure enough, a gracious fellow asked if we needed help. I responded that Cody had decided he wanted to row across the lake and we were fine. As he prepared to pull away he said, "It's great to see a young person learning 'old school ways'!" and wished us well.

Later, when I took apart the carburetor to find out what was going on, I discovered that the small needle that regulated gas flow was stuck. So I replaced it and all is well and the motor runs great. So, being a preacher, it seemed to me there had to be a spiritual message in all this somewhere (occupational hazard). So here it is: The power of God's Holy Spirit is available to every believer. But often some little thing interferes with that power flowing into our lives in ways that benefit us. I may be a professional believer, but if I'm holding a grudge against someone else, or engaged in repetitive sin, my needle's stuck, and the power of the Holy Spirit can't flow through me in the ways I need to experience it. Though a believer, if I spend no time in daily prayer and reflection, again, my needle's stuck and the flow of the power of God's Holy Spirit that grants us encouragement, insight, understanding, and direction in life is interrupted.

So take a few minutes to reflect on this. Ask yourself, "Am I allowing the Holy Spirit free flowing access to my heart and life, or is there something 'sticking' in my life that I need to leave behind so once again I can experience the abundance of life that Jesus wants me to know?" We all need something, or someone to give us the power we need to move through life, and the Biblical promise is that God's Holy Spirit is precisely that powerful presence within us. Open your heart daily to His presence, and you'll find his grace and strength are sufficient for all your needs. And the next time you see me rowing across the lake, you'll know — "Uh-oh, the needle's stuck again!"

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

Return to top 

   

 
October 2008: "From Good to Great"

Dear Friends in Christ,

September has been a challenging and exciting month for me! We have a new Bishop, Larry Goodpaster, and he's written a book entitled There's Power in the Connection. I've spent the last several days carefully working my way through its pages and have come to the conclusion that God will bless us in the Western North Carolina Conference and its local churches through his leadership among us.

His is a hopeful message about the United Methodist Church. Acknowledging the steady decline in the denomination, he also affirms the 20% growth occurring in the Alabama-West Florida Conference, from whence he has come to us, and attributes that growth to three things: a passionate commitment to Jesus Christ, which returns the focus of the church to where it belongs; a demonstrative love for others expressed in mission and ministry designed to lead others unapologetically into the kingdom and to nurture and mentor them; and a return to Wesleyan evangelical theology. (Now, before that word "evangelical" turns you cold, given its misuse in both political and religious realms, let me remind you that the word itself in the Greek means to share the good news!) As Bishop Goodpaster says, "If you're not following Jesus, who are you following?"

Bishop Goodpaster points out that the church's focus in United Methodism has often been diverted to other things, and until we recapture Wesley's call to personal and social holiness — a holiness that grows out of a passionate commitment to Jesus Christ, a willingness to introduce him to others, and to compassionately love others — the denomination will continue to decline. So what's one of our biggest stumbling blocks? The fact that the church is doing so much good. Seems strange to say that, doesn't it? But the Bishop has a point, I think. We can celebrate a great many good things we are doing in the body of Christ called Methodist, while at the same time failing to realize that we have substituted those good things we do for the essential things we must both do and be as the people of God.

So what do we do with these insights? I told my wife Linda this morning as I prepared for the day that I judge the worth of a book by two things: Does it reaffirm what I have always known to be true in my heart of hearts, and does it provoke a self-examination of my own personal commitments to Christ and the church, and a reassessment of the leadership I am providing for the flock in my care. On both counts, There's Power in the Connection has spoken loudly to me. I would encourage you to pick up a copy, read it, think about it, and pray about what it speaks to your own heart. And soon, I'm going to make an opportunity available for us to sit down together and discuss its assertions and suggestions, and its invitation for us to reassess where we are as the body of Christ called Rehobeth United Methodist Church. Ours is a wonderful congregation, doing lots of good things. But as Bishop Goodpaster suggests, why settle for good when we can experience great? Remember what Jesus said to those who follow him as disciples — "Greater things than I have done, you will do …"

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

Note: You can order Bishop Goodpaster's book online through Rehobeth's virtual bookstore. Go to the Media Gallery page and click the Virtual Bookstore link.

Return to top 

   

 
November 2008: "The Seasons of the Soul"

Dear Friends in Christ,

One of the things that I have thoroughly enjoyed about North Carolina was the changing of the seasons. Having grown up in Miami, Florida, I'd never seen snow or the changing of the seasons — the absolutely gorgeous changing of the leaves in the autumn of the year. Winter in Miami is not much more than the changing of the temperature. As kids, we'd wear a winter coat in the morning on our way to school and generally by mid-morning we'd be carrying that coat around for the rest of the day! In my last year of seminary, I had to decide whether to return to Florida or remain in the Western North Carolina Conference to be ordained into the ministry.

Obviously, I decided to remain in the Western North Carolina Conference for one reason — I really felt this was where God wanted me to serve in ministry, for purposes known only to our Lord. Today, as I look back over the thirty-six years I've served here, I believe that our Lord has been accomplishing those purposes--some unknown to me-and I continue to enjoy ministry here among the good folks of the Western North Carolina Conference. The only regret I have is not being closer to my parents as their needs change with the passing of the years. Yet our folks here have been so gracious in allowing me adequate time off for checking on them, for which I am deeply appreciative.

So how strong a pull was this "changing of the seasons" in my decision to stay? In retrospect, I think observing seasonal changes touched a truth deep within me that has to do with the whole of life.

Life is about change. Every single day brings changes of one kind or another. Some are anticipated. Some are complete surprises. And as we grown and mature, some are part of the natural course of things. And in these days of uncertainty, it's important that people know there are some things that do not ever change. Love is one of those things. Paul tells us in the thirteenth chapter of 1st Corinthians that "prophecies will pass away, tongues will cease, knowledge will pass away," but "love never ends!"

Consider this: In the fall the leaves change, fall to the ground. Crops are harvested. The trees look skeletal to us as winter comes, and with it snow and ice and freezing temperatures (and the warmth of fireplaces and sweaters!). Spring follows with all its brilliance of color and glorious reaffirmation of new life! Summer follows--a lazy, relaxed time (unless your wife has had you plant a garden, or are producing a crop!) toward the end of which we begin to anticipate the cycle starting all over again. Some winters are milder than others, some summers hotter than others. Some years bring drought, some too much rain! But the cycle itself remains the same. Never changes or varies.

God's love for us is like that. Throughout all the changing seasons of life for each of us, God's love undergirds us and sustains us. It is a dynamic unchanging force within us and at work in our world. When all else seems to be in flux, changing seemingly without rhyme or reason, we can hold to the certainty of God's love for us no matter what.

Yours in the Service of Christ and the Church,

Bob

Return to top 

   

 
December 2008: "Peace on Earth, Good Will to All"

Dear Friends in Christ,

Thanksgiving was a time of mixed emotions for me, as it has been for many of you. With a father in declining health and a mother who is doing her best to care for him, I found myself reflecting on all the blessings God has brought into every member of our family's lives through these two wonderful people. Over the years they have demonstrated the power of unconditional love and practiced it faithfully. Through them we have seen the testimony of what a vital, heart-held faith in Jesus Christ can do in good times and in bad; in them we have always seen the strong witness of what it meant for a family to be committed to Christ and the Church. We were nurtured by that commitment and profoundly affected by it. While growing up, my brothers and I knew that Sunday meant Sunday School, Church, and in the evening, youth fellowship, worship, and recreation. No other activities were allowed to be more important that our grounding in the faith and our attendance at Church and Youth.

Perhaps more important than that, we witnessed first hand what it meant for parents to sacrifice for their children — to give of themselves and to give up some of their own dreams and desires to make things possible for us. They modeled what Christ-centered parenting looked like. Whether it was supporting my older brother's desire to purchase a little red Ford convertible with a continental kit on the back, or his love of horticulture and raising orchids in his backyard greenhouse, to supporting me in my scouting and Indian dancing activities, or my younger brother's track star career, they were always there for us. During my younger brother's tour in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division, they prayed fervently for his safe return and for peace on earth — the same yearnings and prayers for our military so many of us still lift up today.

Every Christmas reminds us that the hope of the world is named "Jesus," proclaimed "Prince of Peace." It is only as he enters the human heart and cleanses it of evil, sin, hatred, greed, and unrighteousness, that the world stands a chance for lasting peace.

So this Christmas, let us count our many blessings, commit ourselves to true discipleship, fervently nurture our children in the faith, setting a good and Godly example for them. Let us pray daily that God's Holy Spirit will work in us, through us, and in the lives of enough people around the world to create a renewed good will, and eventual peace among all the nations of the earth. It's not too much to ask for …

May God continue to bless you with Grace and Peace.

Bob

Return to top 

   
   
   
 
 
Rehobeth United Methodist Church • 9297 Sherrills Ford Road • P.O. Box 356 • Terrell, NC 28682
Copyright © 2008 Robert L. Kerr, D.Min
Used by permission