Keith’s Quill – August 2020
A very wise pastor and a very good man visited me during my first month of my first full time pastorate. He shared with me a verse from I Timothy. Actually he wrote it long hand in a handbook that he also gave me. His name was Marshall Shirer. In the New English translation the verse reminds us of this. “The aim of our charge (ministry) is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
This has been my mission statement over all these years of ministry. For me, to help people on to love has been my purpose and prayer. I know that means love that comes as a result of one’s faith in Jesus and the virtues that then surface in a faithful believer’s life. As I end my professional ministry it really is my prayer that God has enabled me to help believers to be loving servants of our Lord Jesus. I know that I have seen that in your lives as we have lived our lives together in the context of Christ’s Church. May love will continue to dominate everything we do.
Since this is the last quill that I will be writing it is important to me that I spend some time here thanking you that have served our church. What an amazingly wonderful people you are. There are far too many to thank each person individually. I wish I could. It is a very long list. You have gone far beyond normal to help and support Dianne and I through these years of ministry. And sense this article may very well go beyond Moab to a number who have supported and encouraged me over the years this thank you is for you too. I don’t feel like I have deserved the blessing that have come my way because of you. But know that as long as the Lord gives me the ability to remember anything I will be remembering you. If you could do one more thing for me, would you continue to serve our Lord with all your hearts and all your minds.
The next pastor of this church will be a very fortunate person. The reason that is, is because of you. Continue to seek the face of our Lord in all things. Be happy. We have gone through some deep water together over the years, but the Lord has brought us through every time, and He will continue to be faithful. Dianne and I want you all to know that we love each of you and that each one of you have been a blessing to our lives in some way. We plan for the time being to be around Moab until the Lord gives us a new plan. I will not be your pastor, but I will always be your friend. Give to your new pastoral family all the love and support that you have given to us.
The church will continue to be a light to the Moab community and a blessing to God. “The future is as bright as the promises of God.”
Keith’s Quill – August 2020
Have you ever considered the importance of making good decisions? Decisions actually determine the direction of our lives and often our success or failure. It is very important when making a decision that it takes into consideration a great number of factors. The one element that I would like to lift up in this article is the will of God. Of course, knowing the will of God is often the dilemma. The problem lies not in that God would hide this from us but that we are not in a position to allow God to disclose it to us. Paul knew that this would be a major issue in every Christian’s success as a follower of Jesus. He, through the Spirit of God, gives us what is necessary to know God’s will and to make the best decisions from that information. Hear the Word of the Lord from Romans chapter 12 verses 1 and 2.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (NIV)
Do you see the steps we all need to take to know or prove the will of God for our lives? The first is to present ourselves to God as living sacrifices. Knowing God’s will takes commitment from us. In fact it takes total commitment from us. Paul believes and teaches here that this sacrifice of ourselves to God is actually the normal thing to do for those who belong to Christ. Many of us never get beyond step one. We do wish a relationship with God but on our own terms, not His. This will keep us in the dark about His will. The next step, if we are able to get this far, is avoiding the world’s evil influence in our lives. This is all about our thinking and our minds. Once we begin to think like the world the will of God is probably lost to us. Yet most of us are heavily influenced by what is around us. We do allow the world, as some translations put it, to” squeeze us into its mold”. So we have this need to resist thinking like the world. The next step is helpful with this second step. We are to be in the continual process of having our minds renewed so that we can be transformed from what the world would have us believe to what God has revealed to us in His Son and in His Word. If we are not walking with Jesus every day and listening attentively to what God says in the Bible we will fail at this last step. Our human natures will lead us in the wrong direction every time. It is why Jesus big request to all of us is to follow Him. It is in this following that we will find His way and be able to discern the will of God for our own lives. Jesus said he that loses his life shall actually find it. We can make great decisions that will put us in a great place to be who God desires us to be. We can’t do it without following the plan. We need to stop asking what should I do? And start following the one who actually knows what we are to do. I really think this will make a great difference in how we live our lives and how fruitful we will be for the Kingdom of God.
Keith’s Quill – July 2020
We are getting ready this week to celebrate our Independence as a nation. It seems like only a while back that I was graduating from seminary in 1976. It was the bi-centennial year. I still have a bag of bi-centennial money that I collected during that year and a few years beyond. That two hundredth year anniversary has now come to be two hundred and forty-four. Those years have seen our country live through a lot. We have made tremendous progress in some areas. Who would have thought you could talk to someone around the world from just about anywhere else. The internet is still a puzzle to most of us, but we use it every day and would be lost without it. Very few if any knew. How could we have imagined that sitting in Moab, Utah we could order most anything for sale and have it delivered to our door in two days. Most of us are not good at photography, yet most all of us can now take a great picture using a phone. That picture can be sent anywhere to another phone or computer instantly. Who knew that we would be able to chat with our family and watch our grandchildren take their first steps live and in beautiful color right from our couch hundreds of miles away? Who would have thought when I graduated from seminary that all the books I could possible ever want to read or study would be available on my computer screen or on my phone? And just think that you can have any word spelled for you and about any bit of information you might desire just by asking a little digital assistant we call Alexa. Or for that matter, Googling it. I have satellite receiver in my car and in my house. And they are not very large dishes anymore but very capable of amazing things. Yet with all these advancements we are still struggling to have a civil discussion on anything the slight bit controversial. Technology keeps growing but people keep growing apart. Now we have a problem with a virus that we can’t seem to solve that is tearing us further apart. I might be so bold to write here that forty-four years ago I finished 20 years of school believing that I had the answer to everything. I just knew that Jesus could solve any problem and fix any situation if we would allow Him to do so. I still think so. My pessimism comes from watching so many for so long not turning His direction even when they know they should. Our confidence in our science and technology has taken over our minds and our hearts. When they fail we are so lost! There is hope. We are constantly reminded in Scripture to turn back to the Lord. If we do so He will hear us and heal our hearts. I wonder if our culture might be racing toward a break, but even so we don’t need to be. God can save us one person at a time. We must be born again. The same message that I began with forth-four years ago is still the solution. Without personal faith in Jesus there is really no hope for us. Let’s continue to be the light even if the world hides it’s face from it. Never give up and never give in.
God is transcendent and He will prevail.
Keith’s Quill – June 2020
Greetings everyone! We are now beginning the thirteenth week of the shutdown due to the coved-19 Coronavirus. We have now met on three weeks with a limited program and a few attendees. I thought I would take my space in the Newsletter to assess how we are doing as a church through this time. The general atmosphere among our people is good.We all wish to be back at church in a normal service schedule. The praise team is practicing and providing worship in their normal pattern. I am still working on Sunday messages and we are getting those to you either in video or audio formats.
At this time we are not having any youth activities. We do provide each week a Sunday School lesson from Group Publishing. As of May 31st packets are available for children to use during the worship service. The Boards met for the first time on May 27th. The main topic of discussion was the pastoral search. Arrangements are being made and a search committee will be formed in the next few weeks. Your prayers are asked for this important committee as they begin their work. The virus will make it more difficult for the committee as they seek a new pastor.
We did cancel Vacation Bible School this year. It is the first year in many, many years that we have not had a vibrant Bible School. I read the other day that Cheyenne Frontier Days is cancelled this year. They have not had to do that for 124 years. These days are definitely challenging for many people. We surprisingly have not had many requests for aid during this crisis. It could be that when the workman’s compensation ends that we will. It is hoped by then that people in our community will be back to their normal jobs and incomes.
Our financial situation in the church is still very good. Thank you to all of you who have kept up with your giving to the church during this time. Mark Curnutte continues to keep our church property in wonderful shape during this time. He works very hard at it and puts in many hours each week. Be sure and thank him when you see him. I am sure that this crisis has been difficult for our missionaries. It not only has kept them from their work but has additionally caused a drop in their support. They also need our prayers. With the loosening of the government restrictions we anticipate opening back up our church office to normal operations.
If you would like to drop by and chat feel free to do so. This is going to be a crazy and perhaps a difficult summer. We do need to stay together as a family even though we might see less of each other for this season. I would suggest that we make it a priority to keep in touch with those people we know in our church. It is okay at this time to get together in small groups for study and prayer or just as an encouragement. A phone call or text is another great way to stay connected. I trust we will be willing to do so. God is good.God is good, all the time!
Keith’s Quill – May 2020
These have been weird and strange days! Especially for the church. We have been worshipping in new ways now for seven weeks. There have been some blessings that have come out of this for us as a church. We are learning to do online worship. This we hope to continue in the future even when we are able to come together again. This ministry has reached people that we have never been able to minister to before. I even have family members that have never seen me preach that are tuning in. The messages are available on our Facebook page at Moab Community Church on Sunday’s at 8:00 a.m. They are also placed on our webpage, moabcommunitychurch.com, where they remain for you to access.
Of course, all of us wish for the regular services to begin again. We are preparing for this to happen. As long as the virus is a threat we will need to make a number of modifications to how we meet. Social distancing needs to stay in affect so sitting together with friends takes on a new challenge. We will not pass out bulletins or really pass anything that requires anyone to touch it. This changes how we receive offerings and take communion. For a while I am sure that we will be required to wear masks. I’m talking about the ones that cover the nose and mouth now! It will be difficult to be together and not have our usual hugs and handshakes but refraining from them will be a necessity. Also I feel like I must caution those in the older age brackets to think about their participation. With the wave of tourists that begin to come back to Moab this weekend we will be at higher risk then has been true for the first two months of this crisis.
The last thing I want to happen is for our older congregants to get sick with this virus. Since I am actually in the age group at jeopardy I will try to be careful of my interactions as well. Initially we will opt out of Children’s church and fellowship time. We will have something for the kids during the worship service. Everyone will be invited to bring their own coffee. Extra cleaning and sanitizing will be done, and the use of restrooms might be limited. (Maybe we should rethink bringing coffee.) Our plan at the moment is to see how the new normal with tourists back in town affects the amount of positive cases. If there is nominal affect we might be able to begin with services by mid-May. This will be in some regard dictated by the state and local authorities.
We have been put into a position by this situation to either grow or diminish in our faith. My prayer is that we all grow and develop during this time. God is still good and good all the time. May Jesus bring us all comfort, peace and great hope as we wait upon Him. Love to each of you. -PK
Keith’s Quill – March 2020
As I am writing this quill, it is the Tuesday before what we call Ash Wednesday. Some people celebrate today as “Fat Tuesday”. It is called that I suppose because of the practice of eating very high calorie desserts on this day. Of course, it is Mardi Gras also with all the celebrating that goes along with it. All of this festivity and eating of sweets is to prepare folks for the sacrifices called for during the Lenten season. Lent is a time of repentance and dedication that is to prepare the hearts of Christians for Easter and the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. A number of Christian groups have ashes put on their foreheads as a symbol of repentance and as a reminder that life is short and there is a need to prepare for eternity. Ash Wednesday to Easter is a reminder of the forty days that Jesus fasted and prayed in the desert while dealing with the great temptations. There are obviously more than forty days between Easter and Ash Wednesday. The churches that participate in these liturgical rituals generally will not count the Sundays that occur during the Lenten season thus the forty days. Even though as a church we do not observe the Lenten season we do like to remind each other that these days approaching the Resurrection Day can be very special to us and occasions for us to seek a more intentional relationship with the Lord through repentance and faith.
Some of us have actually had times in our lives when during this season we gave something we really liked up as a sacrifice to the Lord. I gave up chocolate one year. I don’t know that this induced anything in me but perhaps pride. Here is a list of things we might give up in preparation of our resurrection celebration that might actually encourage us and bless others. We might give up gossip, lying, unforgiveness, hate, greed, malice, envy, and cursing. You may add to the list of those evil actions that tear people down and do nothing to add to anyone’s spiritual growth. It is necessary when we are giving things up to add something to our lives. So a short list of those actions might be helpful here. How about adding to our lives love, faith, hope, joy, prayer, fellowshipping with others, walking with Jesus daily, and sharing our faith.
One of the reasons that people walk around with ashes on their foreheads when it would be quite acceptable to immediately wash them off is to have people ask them what is going on with their messy faces. It is an opportunity to witness to the love of Christ and His wonderful gift of redemption by His death and Resurrection. I think that when we sacrifice something for the Lord during Lent there is a tendency to look at ourselves with pride in what we have done. The purpose of Lent, if we are indeed to celebrate it at all, should be to give glory to the Lord. The Apostle Peter in his second letter writes this to the church concerning adding things to their lives. “To your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8) Have a wonderful month. Make it profitable for you and for the kingdom. -PK
Keith’s Quill – February 2020
Love is in the air! Do you sense it? Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to express our love to the people in our lives. I know that it is one of those commercialized days that make chocolate makers and card distributors, and florists very happy. But still, even those folks give us a way to express our affection. Love is the way we show ourselves loyal to Jesus too. Christians are to be identified in the world by showing love to people.
This includes everyone. It is not about showing love to the people we like but even the people who we don’t. Jesus taught us to love our enemies. I think we have probably forgotten how to do this. Most of us are more skilled at taking advantage of our enemies then we are at loving them.
Our polarized world puts us into different camps. Loving the opposition party or the people we differ with theologically is an easy fail. When we think of what it means to love those who we don’t actually like we need to consider what our faith teaches us. Turning the other check or going the extra mile are concepts that Jesus taught us. He instructed us in this behavior in the context of those who abuse us, or seek to take advantage of us. It is during these testing times that our love for people and their broken condition stands out to them and to the world around us. We are also to have compassion upon those who are struggling. When we see anyone hurting it really should be very difficult for a believer to look away.
Although we have read and heard the message of 1 Corinthians 13 many, many times it is still important that we buy into the real essence of love. It has very little to do with feelings, and very much to do with our actions toward others.
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-8
If you could pick one of those virtues to practice that Paul tells us de- scribes love, what would you pick? I think I would like to be identified with kindness. It just seems to me that if we are kind then we probably
will demonstrate most of those other virtues also. May you give and receive love in these days. And may it extend far beyond this month. Be kind.
Keith’s Quill – November 2019
It seems like we have gone from summer to winter. I know that all of you living in Moab and most every other place in the country have the same feeling. There is just something about change that makes us uncomfortable. Most of us are not even happy with changing the time forward and back every year. However, change is constantly happening around us. The better we adapt to it the better off we will be. Most of you know that our church will be headed for a change next fall. I will be retiring so there will need to be a change of pastor and all the things that change with such an event. This can be and we hope will be, a good change for the church. It is impossible for us to estimate the blessings of being in Moab for all these years. We certainly hope that you reading this have felt the same way. Moving on to new leadership and new, fresh ideas and energy will be exciting for the church. I hope that you will all join me in praying for these next ten months and for the work that will be done to prepare for this transition in our church. Prayer is the key to seeing a wonderful thing happen, as you find a new person to come and share your lives and encourage your faith. I will be working diligently in these last months to make this time very profitable for you. May I encourage you to get even more engaged in this church’s life? We are going to need every person being a part of this new thing that God will be doing. God has gifted each of you with a gift that you can use to make the ministry here a strong and healthy one. We do need you. I know that it is a temptation to withdraw at times like these and just wait to see what is going to happen. I hope none of you do that. Now is the time to build new excitement about the future of this church. The best gift you can give me as I leave the leadership of Community Church is a commitment to make this church very successful in the future. Let me say a word to those of you under fifty. The future of this church ultimately rests in your hands. Much of the leadership now is well over sixty. They are still active and very much the heart of our leadership now. But they will not be able to carry the load for much longer. They need younger people with families and with families that are growing up to come and take your place at the head of the table. I have been here long enough to have watched that happen in the past. It has to happen again. Moab Community Church is a church that needs to help lead this community in the causes God holds dear. We are an important part of what God is doing and what He is able to do for this community. I just pray that many of you will catch the vision of who the church can be, what an influence it has had, and can have in the future.
So let’s work together without fear, but with great hope for what the Lord is going to do in the next decade in the life of our church. I am so excited about where you as a body of Christ will go from here. I am committed to you for the next ten months to getting us ready for the next big thing. Now is the time for each of you to pray about your part and come together to see God do great things. Have an amazing, Thanksgiving! In love and great hope, Pastor Keith.
Keith’s Quill – September 2019
September has always been one of my favorite months. This is especially true since coming to Moab. The weather turns really nice here for a rather long time now. Going outside anytime of the day is comfortable and doing whatever you wish to do is generally possible.
So now that we have choices concerning what we will do with our time? I know that some of you are looking forward to a hunt or two. Some of us are signed up for Fantasy football so that wonderful season is underway. High school sports will take up some of our time and for some of you most of your time. So we have all these choices and all this time.
God has given us these gifts. We won’t always have them. For everyone time runs out. For most of us the choices we are making now will be made for us. I have been so privileged to have walked with so many of our church family through this transition. I know that most of those who have passed through it generally wish they had some of those days back. It wasn’t that the choices of how they used their time was bad or immoral in any way. It generally comes down to having chosen selfishly and spent their time doing their own thing.
That in itself is sometimes important to do. But a life spent entirely on oneself is a life wasted. We are not called to please ourselves and indulge ourselves at every turn. We are to be sacrificial with both our time and the choices we make in this world. Those who make these kinds of choices generally end up with little regret.
So, in this amazing season that we are into this year. It will be easy to choose to be self-absorbed. Being able to do what we want is a gift that is better given away and exchanged for doing what God has called us to do. If we have one common psychological problem as a nation it is Narcissism.
The term originated from Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. Do we wish to see our own image or the image of God within us reflected to our world? Absolutely, do enjoy your fall! I plan to! It is great to have this season. My point is that we can be productive for the Kingdom of God while we enjoy His world. It is wrong for us who know Him to enjoy His world without being productive for His Kingdom.