The Weekly Epistle 9/13/23

Hi Living Hope,

Back on April 1st (notice the date), the Laconia Daily Sun posted an article about bike week. It claimed that since this was the 100th year anniversary of bike week it was going to be extended to 100 days. I was all worked up. I didn’t put it together that this article was run on April 1st. The paper mentioned a race where “you push your motorcycle 100 miles away from Laconia”. Also, there would be a stunt jump six school buses long. 

I did the math in my head that 100 days would bring bike week to mid-September. I thought, “How to ruin the summer for locals.” Being the quick thinker that I am, it suddenly dawned on me that something wasn’t right. There was another article about expanding the downtown parking garage to 30 floors and building a state-of-the-art bridge across the broads of Lake Winnipesauke- the “Golden Gate of the Northeast”. 

You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. Now I get it! The name of the Sun’s special edition was dubbed, “The Laconia Nightly Moon.” They got me. I was fooled on April 1st.

I had to laugh. That was funny. That I, and others, fell for it makes it funnier. What isn’t so funny is when scammers make money off someone being fooled. I knew an elderly woman in NY where I was pastoring at the time, who was fooled by someone posing as her grandson and in need of some money. As a caring grandmother she turned over a large sum of money to this jerk! How low can you get to target a loving grandmother!!! 

As followers of Jesus, we look to give others the benefit of the doubt. In the love chapter, it mentions that “love always trusts” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Personally, I have struggled to love in this way as I tend to be suspicious rather than trusting. At times, that has served me and others well, to not be naïve when it comes to discerning a person’s character as being less than truthful. But it can also hinder my ability to love as I ought. 

Is it possible to be too trusting? Can you think of occasions when the Christian community has been duped because of their desire to be trusting? I have seen it. Well-intentioned believers falling for some teaching wrapped in a Christian label. That is no laughing matter. 

Scripture pulls no punches in addressing false teachers. The Bible gives numerous warnings to be on guard against deception. For example, Jesus warned, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). John writes, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). 

Church, be vigilant! Be watchful! One such example that may seem harmless is the recent email some of you have received that appears to be from me. The email created a sense of urgency and secrecy. As I said on Sunday, as your pastor, I would never ask for something in secret especially through a vague email. If you receive a message like that from me or someone else in the church, exercise wisdom and caution. 

Don’t believe everything you read and hear. Check the source. There are wolves in sheep clothing. This may come through false teachers, but it can also come through the world of technology. I long to protect you from such harm as one of your shepherds! 

Serving the Chief Shepherd Jesus Christ, Pastor Brian