My Uncle Joy used to always greet me, “hello, Mr. Dillon.” This was because I often dressed up like a cowboy. Chester Goode called U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon, “Mr. Dillon.” Festus called him Matthew.

Gunsmoke was a great television show. When it aired its last episode, it was, at that time, the longest running serial.

The good old days. We miss the the days of yesteryear; the good guys wore white, the bad guys wore black. TV went off after Johnny Carson. I don’t mean turning the tv off; I mean the station went off.

Yes, the good old days. Your neighbors could listen in to your phone conversation if they wanted to. Most of us didn’t have air conditioning. Many didn’t have one car; much less two cars. You know, the good old days. 🙂

In these difficult days, our faith and our commitment to Christ and His mission if often obscured by what we “don’t have” compared to what we have. In our well intentioned longing for things to “get back to normal” we miss what God is doing.

I am a son of the church. In the good old days, we had Sunday School, Sunday morning, Sunday night, well attended revivals, Wednesday night Family Training Hour, Thursday night visitation, and quite often Saturday activities at the church or for the church. There was the Ladies Willing Worker Band, district rallies, summer Camp Meeting, youth camp, vacation Bible school, and hosting the Pioneers for Christ in the summer for door to door witnessing campaigns.

In my teen years, it was normal to arrive early to ride the bus to get kids to church, teach Sunday School, worship, go home and eat lunch, and feed our animals, go to a “singing” at another church in the afternoon, go back to our church for Sunday evening service, and go out to eat with a group after that service. We seldom got home before 11:00 PM on Sunday nights.

I do not regret the good old days for one moment. Those are memories, and they are not intended to be road signs, but landmarks.

Many have concluded that the pandemic has the power to squelch the efficacy of the church because of quarantines. Perhaps we don’t believe that in words, but our actions tell on us.

The early church had no buildings to gather in, but on Day One of The Church, 3,000 were baptized in water, and with the Holy Spirit, (not including the 120). A few chapters into Acts, God’s people are beheaded, beaten, tossed in jail…and the church grew!

The early church had no organized Sunday School, graded choirs, B3 Hammond Organ, or Camp Meeting tents.

In Acts 15, some of the good brethren got concerned. Their traditions – good traditions – were being challenged. They were observing that many non Jewish people were joining the church. Things were changing.

What we often do when things are moving different, or challenges our tradition, is that we make it “spiritual.” “Unless you are circumcised after the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.” (Acts 15:1). The text calls them “certain men.”

You know who “certain men” are? Over the years, I’ve heard this, “pastor, people are saying…” Certain men. The writer of Acts, Luke, either precludes their names because he doesn’t know who are they are, or because he does know who they are!

Certain men are folks who are “certain” that they are correct, and everyone else is wrong. Traditions can hold onto us strong.

Acts 15 records the event. This controversy picked up steam, and they had a convention in Jerusalem to discuss the matter. In the end, tradition did not prevail; because God had shown them what He was doing! A new thing!

We all have creature comforts and preferences. I miss Mr. Dillon, too! There is absolutely nothing wrong with that! I love Mexican food. If my stomach would allow, I would eat it every day of the week. Now, imagine me saying to you, “unless you eat Mexican food, you’re not right with God.”

That’s a ridiculous notion for sure.

What about our landmarks of our faith? Have we made them a required road map for all to travel?

Can God move mightily on the computer as well as in a church building? He already is.

The early church was building a bridge one plank at a time. The Holy Spirit was moving them at a pace they had never known.

What about now? Can we imagine that God is working through all of the challenges, calling us to a place we’ve never been?

I sure hope so!