Archive for June 9, 2021

When the Cicadas Come

Posted: June 9, 2021 in Uncategorized

Photo by Dewayne Heck

This morning the silence was deafening. The 17 year cicadas had already started their impromptu concert as I began my morning walk. It’s a time when I try to pray and meditate, but I have to be honest that droning song was so loud it was distracting. Because the traffic around our rural church moves very quickly with lots of blind turns, I often drive to our parking lot and just do laps. I was just getting started when the dear sister in the Lord who lives across the street came walking across to deliver the church’s mail as she has done faithfully since long before I made this church my home. We spoke a little bit about the loudness of the morning and I made the comment, “Well at least we won’t have it again for 17 years.” To which she laughingly replied, “I won’t be here.” She’s probably right, though with her character and vitality, I wouldn’t count her out, but she got me thinking. 

17 years is a long time. The first Cicada hatch in my lifetime was in 1970. I was seven years old and to be honest, I don’t remember it and that is probably a good thing. I never liked bugs and those bulging red eyes would have freaked me out. 17 years later it was 1987 and life had changed dramatically. The last few years had passed by in a wretched drunken blur that nearly ended my life, but all that changed in 1986 when I met the love of my life and later that same year I met my Lord and Savior. By 1987 we were planning a wedding. I still had a long way to go, my struggles in some areas of life would continue for quite some time but things were starting to look up. I was sort of a working artist (designing grocery circulars, does that count?). Surely in the next few years I would make it and become a raging success in the world of art.

By the next time the Cicadas came in 2004, another dramatic change had occurred. I was two years into a pastoring a church plant while working full time in publication design. I had just had a mild heart attack because I had been burning the candle at both ends and trying to light the middle, working as if it all depended on me. The heart attack had rocked my world and was trying to find balance. I remember being at the Creation Festival that year with some of our youth and other folks from the church. Somewhere there is a picture of my son Chris who was 10 years old at the time with a big cicada sitting on his Newsboys Cap’n Crunch shirt. I was still pretty sure I would be a professional artist for the rest of my working life. 

Finally here we are in 2021. I’ve given up on being a professional artist and strangely I am making the best art of my life. I’ve been married for 33 years, and I’m a grandfather. The church plant closed in 2012 and I started to do a traveling speaking ministry on the side. I use speed painting in the ministry and art started to be fun again. I lost my publication design job in 2015 and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I surrendered completely to God’s call to the ministry. For the first four+ years I was part time as a pastor and part time on the road speaking. In 2019 the church, asked if I would consider going full time. I agreed just three months before a worldwide pandemic decimated what would have been my travel schedule. Now the pandemic has faded, and doors are opening for a few traveling opportunities that will work around my church schedule and I am truly happier than I have ever been in my working life. The funny thing is I had plans for all these phases of life, and while I had inklings of what would happen, there have been many surprises and a lot of what has happened I could not have anticipated. The one thing I can attest to is through it all, God was faithful. That will not change but it does cause me to wonder, where will I be next time, when the cicadas come?

Where will you be?

Three Kinds of Law

Posted: June 9, 2021 in Uncategorized

It happened to me again a little while ago. I can’t remember if it was on the youth ministry list I follow or the one for people who’ve been to seminary, all I know ius either group should have known better. They were talking about something they were teaching that was clearly blatant sin, and I could not hold myself back. Someone confronted me by saying, but I bet you wear blended fabrics. They were talking about blatant sin but they wanted to silence me by saying because I wear a cotton rayon blend, I was just as guilty. People do things like that when they want to shout down a valid point, especially when that point brings about conviction. Sorry if I am sounding like a hard liner this morning, but it was just plain absurd.

Now I am going to give this person the benefit of the doubt and assume that no one taught them this principle, so I will teach it now. When it comes to Old Testament law, there is not one kind, there are three. The ceremonial law, the civil law and the moral law.

Ceremonial law deals with things that were unique to ancient Jewish worship. These are things like animal sacrifices. We know these are no longer needed because of the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As Jesus said, He came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. The Ceremonial laws are no longer required because they pointed to Jesus and now that Jesus is here, they are no longer needed. While this is true, they do point to a larger point. While the ceremonial law is no longer needed, there are still proper and improper ways to approach a Holy God. The spirit of that law remains.

Civil law deals with life in ancient Israel. Some of these laws just no longer fit. If your neighbor puts up their cloak as collateral for a loan, you need to return it by nightfall so they can sleep in it and keep warm. Don’t get me wrong, it would be nice to be able to put up my coat as collateral for a mortgage, but it’s not likely to happen in 2021. These thing are largely obsolete laws in our current day, but that being said, once again the principle behind the law remains, in this case do not take advantage of the poor or demand more from them than they can afford. I would say the blended fibers probably fall here.

But then we come to the moral law. This is largely the Ten Commandments and other laws that regulate the morals of society. (the point I was arguing would be an example). These are laws that remain in effect. They are timeless principles and they are eternal, at least until the return of Christ, when He sets all things right once and for all. You shall not murder will not go out of style folks, no matter what society says. These are laws that remain in effect and are for the good of society, among many other things. If someone tries to shoot you down on a moral law, by holding up a civil or ceremonial law, they are misinformed at best, disingenuous or deceitful at worst. Don’t fall into the trap or let it confuse you. Their argument is not legitimate. Blended fabrics and gross immorality are just flat out not the same thing.

Now I know you might want to argue we are not under the law, we are under grace. That is correct, but let us not forget Jesus also said the one who loves me will obey me. No we are not saved by keeping the law, which is good because no one but Jesus has kept it perfectly, but again Jesus didn’t abolish the law, He fulfilled it. If we love Him and if we value the price He paid to free us from our sin, our response should be to stay away from the things He died to save us from. Just because God’s law doesn’t save us, doesn’t mean we should not obey it, and we who have been entrusted with teaching others need to be especially careful. After all Jesus said, “ For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:18-19 NIV)

Obey God and teach others to do the same.