Pastor Steve Aguzzi

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September 1, 2019


Steve Aguzzi


"When in Rome "


27:1-44; 28:1-24

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August 29, 2019

"Indeed, I count everything else as loss because of the
surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." 
        Philippians 3:8

Dearly Beloved in Christ,
There is an old adage that states the following: "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going." There is certainly a lot of truth to that statement. For example, Arden and I had a chance to go away for a few days last week to visit central PA, and we took one morning to visit the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, PA. It was hard to imagine that the events of 9/11 took place only nine years before Arden was born, yet they completely changed how we live our lives now as Americans. Two armed conflicts came about after 9/11 (The War in Afghanistan, code named "Operation Enduring Freedom," and later, "Operation Freedom's Sentinel," and also the 2003 invasion of Iraq, code named "Operation Iraqi Freedom"). The attacks on the U.S. started the Global War on Terrorism, which is still in effect today to a large degree, and a series of intense security protocols took root with the organization of the Department of Homeland Security. Explaining all these changes to a nine-year old was challenging, but I was amazed at how interested Arden was in the history and the events that unfolded. But the "moral of the story" from Shanksville, PA was the resolve, courage, and selflessness of those on-board Flight 93. Instead of trying, even in vain, to somehow save their own lives, the crew and passengers deliberately downed the airliner in a field in the middle of PA so it might avoid collision with the nation's capital.

Shifting gears, the inversion of our adage can also be true. Sometimes "When the Tough Get Going, the Going Gets Tough." That was true for Jesus. He started his itinerant preaching, his travels, his visitation of other towns in order to preach, teach, and heal, and He was often met with extreme resistance, and even violence. As we will learn this coming Sunday in our Sharpening Your Acts series, Paul got going, this time to Rome, by ship, and the going got very, very tough. In fact, if it was not for the intercession and interjection of God Himself, Paul would have died. But time after time, God showed Himself faithful to Paul, rewarded Paul's obedience (though sometimes it is hard to conceive of it as a 'reward' because of Paul's trials), protected Paul and his fellow travelers, and most importantly, God glorified Himself through Paul's travels, trials, and successes. Ultimately, Paul appealed all the way to the central authority in Rome, and the gospel was "preached to the Gentiles" and across the known world at that time.

The moral for us from that story is simple. We can anticipate the going to get tough, really, because that is simply how life is sometimes. But shouldn't we also anticipate that God has called us to go somewhere, to some people group, regardless? Every single major narrative paradigm within the entire Bible starts with a call for a man or a woman of God to leave what they know and go to what is unknown to them. Noah is called to build an ark and to travel in order to save a remnant. Abraham is called to leave his own land and go to a land that will be shown to him. Isaac, Jacob, and all the major and minor Patriarchs, Matriarchs, and prophets are on the move. Moses isn't even allowed to grow up before he is on the move, set up by God's design. By the time we get to the New Testament, Jesus, God incarnate, is simply following in line with the will of the Father, and calls the disciples, both men and women, to "Come, and Follow." There are no real "fishers of men," unless those fishers are inspired to set sail for unknown and unchartered spaces, looking to reach an unknown group of people for the sake of a very knowable gospel.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Steve

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