Wise Words…

Just recently a motion picture icon passed away. His name was James Drury and he starred on the unusual western “The Virginian”. He of course was known as the Virginian and the show was different from others because it was actually almost an hour and twenty minutes long versus the typical hour. It is one of few shows that I can endorse without reservations. Some are funny with a little junk thrown in or they may be off color etc. but not the Virginian, it remained pure and committed to demonstrating the virtues of doing right.

I am not sure of Mr. Drury’s faith but he had a saying that is needed more today than ever.

“If it’s not yours, don’t take it; If it’s not true don’t say it; If it’s not right, don’t do it!” Mr. James Drury

Not exactly true..

Well in case you missed it the “experts” have determined the risk factors for our activities and the results are in rated from 1-10.

Bars and large music concerts = 9

Sports stadiums, gyms, amusement parks, churches and buffets = 8

Public pools = 7

Movie theaters, hair salons and barber shops = 6

Planes, beaches, bowling alleys and backyard BBQs = 5

Busy city sidewalks and dentist offices = 4

Libraries/museums, grocery stores, hotels and golf courses = 3

Pumping gas, walking/running and biking = 2

Restaurant takeout and tennis = 1

So as I read the list I had to wonder why churches are lumped in with buffets? I mean really, using the same tongs, hovering over the salad bars, walking by tables filled with diners not wearing masks! If you visit Faith Community Church you would find that it is far far less dangerous than going out for groceries ( a 3 mind you). You literally can park far from anyone else. The greeters are outside where known transmission is unlikely and they are masked. You are too and now you move inside where seats are marked and you sit down. Everyone wears a mask inside except for those up front and they are about 20 feet from folks up front. But you can sit in the back if you like and leave without shaking hands or getting within 6 feet of another person as rows are dismissed from the back. So the whole hour long service would involve you not touching a single thing. How simple is that and definitely not on par with Camden Yards or Golds Gym!

The Hypocrites are Exposed

Well it didn’t take long for the “officials” to shut down churches as we were warned about the consequences for our community and we complied. As the time came to reopen we were cautioned and told that it wasn’t quite time yet. In NJ my mothers church has been given several citations (not the good kind) for being open and they even have a court day in a few weeks. Nice… I don’t believe that they can still meet legally.

Now this excerpt from my personal Doctor here in Maryland, something that he does each week for the patients, a corona virus update is interesting:

“In response to the recent unrest, a group of 1200 healthcare professionals based at the University of Washington signed a letter supporting the protests, declaring that they were more important than the potential harm that could come from tens of thousands of people coughing on one another in close proximity during a Pandemic.   This prompts the questions, “where did you go to medical school?”   and “how long have you been taking that Prevagen?”  (I am not passing judgement on the protestors, only on the medical professionals who have recommended the equivalent of licking the handrails in Penn Station)” Dr. Katz

I appreciated his sarcasm and his humor but this points to a serious issue. In the mind of medical professionals it is more valuable to our society to protest on our cities streets but less valuable for Churches to be meeting! Yikes!

I think if more people attended church and heard the gospel of our Savior then none of this would be happening. Our society has been pushing God and His church out of the mainstream for a long time now and the fruit you can watch on your favorite news station. I imagine Jesus saying; “How do you like Me now?” But the attitude of these medical professionals speaks volumes about what many leaders in our country think about the value of Christ’s church.

Let’s us take the good news of Jesus to the streets and offer the things the world is desperate for (even if they don’t know it) and that is Peace with God and the Blessed Hope of the Redeemer and all the benefits that come from knowing Christ.

It was good to see some of you!

Well I must say that Sunday was a special day for the Church as we finally were able to meet. However it was different for all of us in attendance. As I looked out among the congregants I was at first taken back by all the masks being worn. I know it was required but it was shall I say odd. I actually was on my way over to greet what I thought was a visiting family and it was Brian and Meridith! Brian is our youth pastor but with the mask I didn’t recognize him at first.

So my title of the blog is “It was good to see some of you” because as I looked out there I could only see part of the person. Faces were obstructed by a mask of various colors and sizes. That said I probably should not have been so surprised because as a Christian my whole life as a believer is masked according to scripture.

1 Corinthians 13:9 “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

So while I am looking forward to a worship service when we don’t have to wear a mask but we can be “face to face” I am as you are looking forward to the day when we are face to face with our Savior Jesus the Christ. v. 10… But when that “perfect comes”, O what an amazing day that will be, when the followers of Jesus who now only know in part shall be as the Bible says fully known.

My friends I believe that Jesus is coming soon. Are you ready to take off the mask ??

We’re Back in Business!

This is a slogan that my father used to say quite a bit and I imagine that if he were still alive this would have been his line. Of course I am speaking about the reopening of the Church. Yes I did say reopening! The earlier post was written on Monday and by Wednesday the landscape changed

The county executive has given us the green light to meet this week. There are restrictions and recommendations but there is nothing that we did not anticipate. To this end we are preparing for a single service this Sunday June 7th at 10:00 am. This will be a family service so feel free to bring your children into the auditorium with you and don’t forget your mask. Our website will have a list of steps we are taking to comply with recommendations and maintain a high level of safety for all those who attend. We recognize that we cannot guarantee your total safety from this virus or from the common cold for that matter but we want to do our best. We all live with risk every day it is something that we often don’t even think about but still it’s there. So everything is sanitized, even the filters in the AC have been changed and they are some kind of high end filter. So all we need is you!

I hope we see you this Sunday at 10 am. and again don’t forget to check the website for details regarding do’s and don’t for this week.

What they can’t understand

PLEASE NOTE THIS POST WAS WRITTEN FOUR DAYS AGO AND SCHEDULED TO GO OUT TODAY. AS OF TODAY, THURSDAY, JUNE 4 WE ARE PLANNING TO RE-GATHER FOR WORSHIP BEGINNING JUNE 7 PER OUR COUNTY’S LIFTING OF THE RESTRICTIONS ON CHURCHES.

The astronauts were ready to launch last week and at the last moment they had to postpone due to poor weather conditions. Later they were able to take off and reach their destination. Recently we proposed opening up the church on June 7th however the local county executive is not allowing the church to meet in Anne Arundel, despite the go sign from the governor.

Last week the county executive met with 50 clergy/officials to discuss what churches were to do in order to open and the discussion did not result in any clear direction or timetable. Someone who was present on the call told me that some on this special board were suggesting August openings as the earliest or more likely the fall would be when the Church could meet again.

Only time will tell when the Church is given the “green light” to restore worship. The same person who was present on the call stated to me that many pastors were considering reopening without permission. Why would they do this, you may ask ?

What the magistrates can’t understand is simply a question of authority. In some of their minds the highest authority is government. Yes the Apostle Paul instructs us to be subject to the higher powers in Romans 13. Paul also makes the assumption in that passage that they are operating with our “good” in mind or that they are enforcing the God given ethics displayed in the Bible. Peter however acknowledges that for the Christian we must obey God rather than man, ie government.

Even Jesus determined that obedience to God the Father was more important than obeying the Jewish leaders. Consider the healings that took place on the Sabbath. Even though the Sanhedrin was irate and forbid Jesus to heal on the Sabbath He continued to do so as the opportunity arose.

We as a church have to decide who is our authority when it comes to worship. The world cannot understand our allegiance to the Word of God as it pertains to life, worship or morality. They see no valid reason for the church to assemble. However we are reminded that the Bible instructs us to not to forsake assembling together as this is necessary to carryout our stated purposes. Pray today for the churches in Anne Arundel county and around the country who are considering their actions in light of the governing policy.

Keeping the right perspective

I recently came across a testimonial from a 9 yr old girl who got sick in 1957 during the Asian flu epidemic.  This flu spread like wildfire from China to the Philippines and then to India and Pakistan and then to Europe, Latin America and the United States. 

The flu affected Latin America in such a way that they said that nothing like this had ever been so bad there. 

In the U.S. the flu hit hardest in 1958 where almost 70,000 people died. Worldwide there would be an estimated one to two million deaths.  Current statistics indicate the U.S. has just now hit 100,000 deaths after three months of sickness. Don’t forget the population of the U. S. was about 40% less than it is now, back in 1958. 

Reading the description of the Asian flu it sounds very similar to this Covid 19. Remember Solomon says that there is nothing new under the sun. So much for a “novel” virus.

Here’s the quote: “Similar to the 1968 flu pandemic, the 1957 outbreak was associated with variation in susceptibility and course of illness. Whereas some infected individuals experienced only minor symptoms, such as cough and mild fever, others experienced life-threatening complications such as pneumonia.” 

During the Asian Flu pandemic there was never the hysteria that exists today with Covid 19. No economies were halted, sports didn’t shut down, no gestapo actions were taken to force people to stay inside and lastly churches were not closed.  It seems it all comes down to what your perspective happens to be and that largely depends on the information that in this case “science” is telling us.

The science on this has been all over the road from the very beginning. Do you recall a couple of months ago we were told NOT to wear masks and that they did no good? They had to know differently but they told us that so we didn’t buy them up at that time. Now the CDC has come out and formally stated that they don’t think the virus is being transmitted on solid surfaces. I think it’s time to get the mail out of the garage! I’m sorry folks but I think the science on this subject was well known. Either you tested the virus on solid surfaces and found it alive for “weeks” or you didn’t. Which one is it?

The bottom line from where I sit is that this is having a huge negative impact on the church which has in some ways continued to function digitally but in almost every ministry related area ceased to accomplish the mission. Certain things can be done online but most areas of ministry have been placed on the shelf. This is my perspective today, I realize that. But the question we should be asking is what is God’s perspective on Covid-19?? Doesn’t the church exist to bring God glory through corporate worship? Of course that is just one of the reasons for Christ’s Church.

Lord what is your perspective ?

Avoiding Double Mindedness…

While out riding recently I looked up and noticed a motorcycle coming toward me. The bike was loud and the rider was about my age. His hair in a pony tail was white and blowing in the wind. But the things that really stood out to me was the fact that he was wearing a mask. Now I am not sure that a mask is necessary when you are out in the country whipping around at a high speed but the crazy part was what I didn’t see. The mask was evident immediately but it took me a moment to realize that he was not wearing a helmet.

To him the risk of the virus was greater than the risk of having an accident. It struck me as being double minded thinking on his part. Concerned about a possible risk and unconcerned about another.

The problem with double mindedness is that you never are fully at peace in your heart. The Bible speaks to the man who is unstable in all his ways. This refers to our prayers of course. James says that if a man is double minded he is unstable in everything. James 1:8

On the one hand the motorcyclist was concerned about disease but not so much about the consequences of a crash without a helmet. But it was his decision to make..

Often times we are very concerned about our current situations in life and we ignore the reality of eternity. The Bible teaches us that we must live life in light of eternity. What this statement means is that our actions here today or tomorrow have far reaching implications for us. If we choose to lay up treasures in heaven as Jesus taught should be our goal we will live accordingly. But if we are consumed by living for today we have to be reminded that there are consequences that will be felt in the near and distant future.

As a follower of Jesus Christ I find it imperative to be of a single focus. Will you decide to today to yield your life to Him in all things ?

How are choosing to live your life? With today in mind or with eternity in mind. Just like the guy on the Bike we have a choice to make. Choose wisely…

I want it my way…

As I was reading through today’s chapter in “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers I encountered this sobering reminder.

John 17:21 “that they all may be one, as You, Father are in Me, and I in You; that they may be one in Us…”

Chambers writes, “If you are going through a time of isolation, seemingly all alone, read John 17. It will explain exactly why you are where you are- because Jesus has prayed that you “may be one” with the Father as He is. Are you helping God to answer that prayer, or do you have some other goal for your life? Since you became a disciple, you cannot be as independent as you used to be.

He adds..”God is not concerned about our plans; He doesn’t ask, Do you want to go through this loss of a loved one, this difficulty, or this defeat?” No, He allows these things for His own purpose. The things we are going through are either making us sweeter, better and nobler men and women, or they are making us more critical, fault finding, and more insistent on our own way.”

While Jesus is a caring and loving Lord we do well to be reminded that in whatever situation we find ourselves, we are here to bring glory to God and not to ourselves. Our passion to carry out the will of God should drive us each and every day. May today be a reflection of our desire to live according to His plan for our lives. Remember that He desires the best for us and that sometimes includes things we would naturally avoid at all costs.

Another One Called Home

It was a quite a shock on Tuesday to learn that Ravi Zacharias had been called into the presence of his Savior, at the age of 74. You may have listened to Ravi at 8:30 am. Sundays on our local Christian radio station. His passion for young people who were confused about their belief’s was inspirational to me personally. He will be greatly missed as his voice was in my mind and greatly needed today.

However in God’s mind and His is the only mind that matters, it was time. John 17 tells us of the excitement in the heart of Jesus over one of His children who is called home to be with Him. Jesus is truly excited about sharing the sight of His glory with those He loves. I am certain this was a special time for Ravi as he entered the presence of his beloved Savior Jesus.

I started to think that if this pandemic was going to create a huge awakening (which is yet to be seen) a voice like Dr. Zacharias’ would be pivotal. Basing this on my finite mind this seems to make sense but we just don’t know.

Nonetheless we have lost a great many influential voices of the faith in recent years. Some we may or may not agree on everything with they were still a voice crying in the proverbial wilderness. Men like Billy Graham 2018, D. James Kennedy 2007, Warren Wiersbe 2019, Jerry Falwell 2007, Norman Geisler 2019, Jack Van Impe 2020, Haddon Robinson 2017, Lloyd John Ogilvie 2019 to name a few have preceded Ravi Zacharias in glory. In addition many others are now in their 70’s or 80’s.

I have to wonder out loud if God plans to replace these influential folk and if so who will be the next generation of leaders for tomorrow and where will they come from ? Certainly there are some great young preachers and God is certainly capable of replacing us all with more articulate, Godly, men and women who can lead His church for the next century. But the challenge to be frank is beyond people like us. Seminaries are not well attended and many have closed or were planning to close before the pandemic as newer generations don’t see the value of theological training like previous generations. The pandemic is taking it’s toll on retail businesses and colleges, both secular and religious. These are not exempt from going under and this causes me to wonder what the landscape will look like once the sky clears.

Once again I am falling back on Proverbs 3:5,6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding.” I am so thankful for the wisdom of our God.

Ravi Zacharias
March 26, 1946 – May 19, 2020