For its annual winter revival week of prayer, Pacific Union College welcomed Pastor Michael B. Kelly II to the pulpit, January 22-26. Meetings were held each evening, with a special Colloquy service on Thursday morning, January 25. His powerful words and message brought a blessing to all who attended the meetings and resonated with faculty, staff, and students alike.
For the last several years, Pastor Kelly has served as the senior pastor at Mt. Rubidoux Seventh-day Adventist Church in Riverside, Calif. Previously, he served as senior pastor for several churches in Colorado, and in Lincoln, Neb., where he also taught a Christian Ethics course at Union College. His ministry has taken him throughout the United States and around the globe, including giving a seminar in the Philippines that resulted in 120 baptisms, and leading in several weeks of spiritual emphasis in England and Kenya. Pastor Kelly graduated from Columbia Union College with a degree in theology in 2001 and completed his master of divinity degree from Andrews University Theological Seminary in 2003, where he also served as chaplain for the Black Seminary Student Association.
“It’s nice to have extra time during the week to take a break and worship together as a campus,” said Nephtali Marin, a junior film and television major. “I really liked Pastor Kelly's energy and what he shared with us.”
On Thursday, Pastor Kelly reflected on Psalm 139, David’s prayer to God where he marvels at God’s power and omnipresence in even the darkest of places, and how that prayer has application for our everyday lives. Pastor Kelly talked about the abundance of superhero movies that rake in billions of dollars, despite the fact we all know how they’re going to end, and asked the audience to think about why we love these movies. He continued on to note that today’s world is a scary place, with frequent acts of domestic terrorism and natural disasters, and 95 percent of events are completely out of our control. Because of this, we long for something or someone bigger than ourselves who can handle these problems, and want to be rescued. We turn to regular people, and find that they’re flawed, and so we look to superheros because they give us a sense of peace that there is something bigger than ourselves that can handle and solve these problems.
Pastor Kelly noted as Christians, we know there’s a bigger part of a universal story: a hero does save us from the evil within us and around us, and that hero is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We know in this world, none of us are significant or good enough, and we’re all on a journey to try to find some kind of significance. Superheros started as insignificant people until something extraordinary happened to them, and then they became significant. For Christians, that extraordinary moment is when we meet Jesus. Superheros are always fighting; whether it’s an alien invasion or a villain, but ultimately, what needs conquering is themselves.
Pastor Kelly used the example of the popular superhero Iron Man to illustrate how we all put on a suit that hides who we are. Iron Man has many suits with a variety of functions, and they make him feel significant, and he doesn’t want to take them off to be regular Tony Stark. Humans aren’t any different; we wear a plethora of suits, sometimes one on top of the other, but just like Tony Stark, we still have a problem.
Pastor Kelly challenged the audience, saying we need to change our behavior beyond cosmetic things, like chewing gum for bad breath, which eventually wears off. Our problems are on the inside, and that’s what needs to be fixed. We need to have the courage to live by our principles and God’s guidance in our lives every day, recognizing our external story is what we show to others and what they know about us, while our inner life and our heart holds our passions, dreams, and fears. “Your reputation is who people think you are, your character is who you really are,” Pastor Kelly said. He noted the true story of every person is likely not the external story you see, and to be mindful, and God is most interested in the journey of our characters.
In closing, referencing David’s prayer in Psalm 139, Pastor Kelly said David is asking God to investigate his heart and show him who he really is. God can do that for each of us and show us what we’re capable of, and what we can be outside of Him. We need to say we would rather have Jesus than all our sinful things, and let Jesus shape our character and place Himself in us. That way when God looks at us, He doesn’t see us—He sees the perfection of his Son Jesus.
“I always look forward to Week of Prayer because it allows me to take a break from studies and classwork to focus on God. I really appreciated Pastor Kelly's energy and enthusiasm as he spoke to us about our own spiritual journey with Christ,” said Carissa Paw, a senior health communication major.