Here are a few recent headlines from our local newspaper: “Midland Public Schools Approves Layoffs”; “Meridian Board Considers Revamping Education Philosophy”; “Meth Lab Found in Mills Twp. Home”

What a world we live in! Problems abound in every culture, in every nation, in every neighborhood – and even our own county faces economic, social, and material struggles on a daily basis. Perhaps this comes as no surprise to you, but there always seems to be a lack of good news in our community. These headlines are really not that surprising to me, but they cause me to think: why is our world so full of bad news all the time?

“Midland Public Schools Approves Layoffs”: This is not the first time (and it might not be the last) that we have read about teachers in our community losing their jobs due to decreased enrollment and decreased funding for schools. One of the strongest signs of a community’s hopes for the future is how well its schools are doing. Will this recession end any time soon? How will the unemployed find jobs? What should we as believers do in the meantime? “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…”

“Meridian Board Considers Revamping Education Philosophy”: If you saw this in the paper, it may have sounded like a good idea. The Meridian Public School system is considering becoming a “new technology” school – a label shared by only a handful of Michigan school systems. This could be a wonderful development for the Meridian school district; New Tech is a novel and exciting approach to education. But the article admitted that such a transition would be costly in terms of dollars, jobs, and perhaps student enrollment. At what cost comes progress? How do we as believers deal with a society that can be deeply divided and unwilling to negotiate on nearly any topic of discussion? “…and lean not on your own understanding…”

“Meth Lab Found in Mills Twp. Home”: The person who posted this article on the newspaper’s website commented, “some scary news – a little too close to home!” Friends, we should not be surprised or scared by the presence of drug activity in our community. The world is never too far from us, nor should it be. Drug use and trafficking, physical and emotional abuse, homelessness, poverty – all of these can be found in our county if we simply open our eyes. As followers of Christ, we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves, and in my understanding Christ defined “neighbor” as “anyone near you who is in need.” How do we engage a culture which wants to cast a blind eye toward the real problems in our society? “…in all your ways acknowledge him…”

In our Sunday evening services of late, we have been discussing many important issues, such as how we as a small church in Mt. Haley Township can impact our community for the sake of Christ. If you haven’t made a habit of coming on Sunday evenings, I invite you to give it a shot – the services are more informal, personal, and discussion-based. Where do we go from here? How do we join ideas, energies, and forces around the task of spreading Christ and his love to people in our community? How do we participate in transforming our culture by being the body of Christ? These are questions that we are dealing with as a church more and more frequently. As your pastor, I am glad to see these conversations take place! “…and he will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Friends, do not be discouraged by the daily news. Be encouraged by the word of God: the Lord will direct our paths when we trust in him with all our heart. Commit your ways to him this week, and let’s see what he will do in our midst in the days to come!

–Pastor David

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