OPINION

Pastoral Commentary: We must reflect a loving God

Michael Blackford, Pratt Free Methodist Church
Pratt Tribune

Hello, I am Michael Wayne Blackford, and I am the new pastor for the Pratt Free Methodist Church. I am working part-time right now because of budgets. All nonprofits have felt a decline in attendance and giving during the lockdown of the covid pandemic. 

I am a native Kansan, born in Hutchinson and raised mostly in the Buhler and Hutchinson area. I still spend half of my week in McPherson, where I own a home. I am getting to know Pratt, the city and the county, and I am excited by what I see. I have lived in five other states, but love Kansas weather and sunrises/sunsets better than anywhere else. I have worked, played and ministered in 42 of our states (only eight to go). And I have worked, played and ministered in six other countries. I see the beauty in people everywhere and in their land as well. 

I am transitioning into ministry later in life than most. My wife and I believed that ministry was supposed to be a part of all Christians daily life, and so we incorporated it into the businesses we ran and into our work environment when we worked for other people. I believe the moral downfall of our country has nothing to do with politicians and everything to do with the church. Pastors are supposed to speak for God and help people develop and maintain a great relationship with God. They are not supposed to rely on their own thoughts and wisdom to lead. Pastors have walked away from belief that the Bible is God’s inspired words recorded and preserved for us to learn who God is, how He wants to be in relationship with us and what He has done to make it possible for us to once again be called children of God and not just His creation.

I also believe it is because those who call themselves Christian have no or little desire to reflect the true image of God in their lives. We are meant to be image bearers of our creator for God created us in His image. We have failed to accurately reflect the character that God reveals of Himself in the Bible and in nature. People will not connect with a God they see as unloving, untrustworthy, selfish and vindictive. It is critical for us to know God and live a holy life so others can hear and see the message that God loves them and wants to have a personal relationship with them. 

I was husband to one for 27 years and have been a widower for 15. I am the father of five and grandfather of five. I was foster dad to over 200 teenagers, and one has maintained a relationship through the years. My children have moved around, and currently only two live in Kansas, and the other three are in three different states. 

Currently, I am preaching through the Bible. In January, I began a journey that will take us into February of 2022. Except for Genesis, I am covering one book of the Bible each week. It is not intended to be a survey, but I do summarize the book, so everyone knows what is going on throughout the timeframe of that book. The focus is to find the character of God. If God speaks and reveals Himself that way, I point it out. If God takes action for or against someone, we look at it to see what that says about who God is. And then we also explore what people say about and to God and look at how they act towards God and what He has told them to do.  

We are doing this because we believe that God wants to do something “big” in Pratt. But He cannot do that if we only ask for and expect easy answers to our problems. We shortchange ourselves by telling God how to answer our prayers instead of asking Him what His solution is. It is dangerous to ask God for His plan because if it is to be “big,” then it will have to become something we cannot fix ourselves. That means we will be inconvenienced and must have patience. And the only way to trust God to deliver and have the patience required to wait is to know and rest in who God is. So, we are learning about, being reminded of, and trusting in the character of God. 

If you are interested in joining us, we meet for church at 11 a.m. Sundays at 1024 Maple St. I also record the service and post it to our Facebook page: PrattFMC . I also post a Facebook video at 6:30 a.m. of me reading one chapter of the Bible, giving some commentary to help us see its relationship to the rest of the Bible and what it means to us today and praying for a different country each day. Monday through Saturday, one chapter and on Sunday morning one chapter of Psalms and one from Proverbs. After posted Facebook keeps the videos available for people to see. Join us in person or online. 

May you see and connect to God’s love for you and all people.