When Will It End?
Certainly that is the question on everyone’s mind, but with news reports of growing numbers, we slowly realize the end is nowhere in sight. I would be the first to admit this virus has been a major interruption in our lives. While there is little good to be said for a virus that will ultimately cost lives; surprisingly, there is some good that has come from this viral situation that was greatly needed in our society. In families: slowing down from our rat race lives has forced us to once again focus on what is important - our loved ones. Another good from my perspective is my greater appreciation for many of the things we all take for granted: the ability to come and go as we please. The importance of our social relationships [outside of our immediate families] (I can’t tell you how much I miss seeing and hugging you all). I miss our time in worship and the special time we had after - sharing a meal together at a local restaurant. And naturally, I would never again take my groceries, local businesses, and workers for granted. I could go on and on.
So back to the question, “When will it end?” The answer to that question is easy - when the God that allowed it, decides His purpose has been fulfilled, then it will end. One thing for certain, ultra-super-busy lives have been stopped “on a dime” and now God has captured the attention, not just of this country, but the world. It is easy to see how far reaching is His power in something seemingly as small as a virus. Let us thank God for not using something harsher to get our attention. And now that He has the attention of the world - allow your light to shine brightly into the world of darkness.
As many bemoan this virus, let us praise our God for His infinite wisdom, and the good that is coming from it. I want to encourage all to look for ways to be a part of Gods’ solution - not caught up in digesting the problem - God has that.
The Best/Worst of Times
As hard as I try, I keep coming back to the infamous words of Charles Dickens, when he penned the opening line of his book: A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Being confined to our homes has certainly stymied our lives, and after 9 days of self-distancing, many are finding our confinement almost unbearable. If we look at the effects of this confinement, we will soon see (in the age of electronics ) something greater taking place. Families are once again sitting together for dinner, husbands and wives are re-discovering the magic of marriage, and families are growing in togetherness and spirituality, as they put their faith in God. In essence, what appears on the surface to be a bad thing (self-distancing) - much good can come from it.
In the process of learning more about our families, we are also learning much about ourselves. Perhaps the words of Psalm 46:10 is the message God is telling us all. “Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations.” In an era of personal busyness, being still may be just what we all need. It is in this stillness, we can clearly see God, and his work. I am convinced, God is at work in the midst of this virus situation, and it is through these works he will be glorified; and all will know he is indeed God.
Be encouraged during this most unusual time to do something only a child of God would do. It is through our
love for others, that they shall see God. Be still, and keep safe.
Follow Me (part 2)
I began a conversation last week which I intended to conclude this week. That was before the Corona virus captivated our lives. It’s hard to think of much else right now, because every thought has to be filtered through the lens of this virus.
Last week, I began a discussion based on the statement of Jesus to Peter and Andrew, that he would make them fishers of men, and related this to our present work in 2020. In fact, nothing much in this charge has changed, and we too are to seek to be fishers of men, women and children everywhere. The challenge of this quest is being the “type” of people that can adapt to the different types of people that can potentially seek us out, to assist them in finding the cross. Our society has become saturated with individuals who have very challenging lives filled with all types of addictions, abuse, etc. So where does that leave us? Right in the middle of the battlefield faithfully serving our Lord. In order to fulfill our mandate, we must first arrive at the conclusion that we cannot do things as we always have. Times are different, and people are different, so we must adapt, or be willing to settle for being ineffective.
With that said, we are going to march under the flag of the apostle Paul when he said “I become all things to all men that I might win some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). The operative phrase here is “winning some.” It is the desire to “win some” that will fuel our efforts and determine “what” we are willing to do, to serve our God. This could potentially involve us in works that are historically unconventional, and a bit foreign to us; but we must be willing to press on into these unknowns as long as we are glorifying God in our efforts. What makes us the people of God, is our desire to look beyond ourselves, and to love all men unconditionally - serving God fully with everything in us. Together we will always seek to Love God…Love people…. with no limits.
Follow Me (part 1)
“Follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men.” These were the words of Jesus in Matthew 4:19, to Peter and his brother Andrew (who were professional fishermen). In the text, Jesus is calling them into a greater work - fishing for the souls of men. These same words are spoken to us in Matthew 28, in what is known as the Great Commission. It is the Great Commission that frames the work of the church. We are to seek and save the lost. The challenge in fulfilling Matthew 28 is the ”who” we are to seek and save. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not what many would like. Jesus is not calling us to the easy. He is calling us to do something very difficult for the average person, and that is to refrain from seeing people as they are, but instead to see beyond that, to whom God created them to be.
It is sad to see what life does to humanity, and the desperate shape many find their lives in. God is looking for a people. A special people that he can point these desperate people to, who will not judge them, make them feel less than, different, or unwanted. The challenge is for us is to be those special people, and to see with the eyes of Jesus, which is to see all as being worthy of the sacrifice of Jesus and the cross, regardless what their lives currently look like. Jesus is calling us to, Love God…and…Love people…with no Limits. To do this, we must remember who we were BEFORE we met the cross. This should soften our hearts, so that we long to reach out to lost humanity. The work of our congregation is moving in a direction which this congregation has never moved before in its history. We are going to take bold steps to reach out to the lost wherever they are, whatever they are into, with no concern for what is on them. We are going to go into greater detail of this new work next week, so stay tuned.
Continued next week…………
God Sends the Teacher
There is a line found in one of my favorite movies - Grace Card, (a must-see movie). It’s a movie about the struggle and power of forgiveness. The struggle to extend it, and the power of the freedom it releases in the hearts of those who execute it. The line in the movie I am referencing is when one of the characters is talking to the person who needs to forgive and tells him, “when there is something we need to learn, God sends a teacher.” At first glance that doesn’t sound like much of a profound statement, until you consider the teacher could be the most unlikely person or circumstance one can imagine.
So why do you ask, is this so prevalent on my mind? It’s because I am convinced God is leading us through this very territory with the medical issue experienced by our beloved brother Ken Catanzaro. In this scenario, the teacher is the circumstance, which we cannot control or change. The lesson: wait on the Lord faithfully regardless what you think, suspect, hope, fear, all the above. Also, this all moves at the pace of the God of creation, and not us. Ahhh - Patience, a very difficult teacher in a world of instant everything. In a moment, an instant, God slams the brakes on our lives and makes us slow down, refocus on him, and wait day by day, minute by minute, inch by inch as Ken progresses through the stroke he suffered. What we all want is for Ken to wake up, say the usual Ken line “I’m good, where are my clothes, I’m outta here.” But unfortunately that his not his reality, nor ours either. God is teaching me to be faithful and trusting in prayer one inch at a time, one day at a time. The teacher has come and has shined a bright light on the source of all things (God), and He tells us “I got this, put your trust and hope in me.” So, we wait with great anticipation as God works His work. Let us all learn this important lesson, from our Heavenly Father.