I Don’t Want to Go Back to Normal!

COVID-19 has changed all of our worlds around the world!

In short order, our personal calendars have gone blank. Any attempt to reschedule has the word “hopefully” attached to it.

For thousands, there is a longing to get back to “normal” such as work, school, ballgames, shopping, eating out, not wearing a mask, etc.

There is one area of life that I hope does not return to “normal,” and that is what I will call “typical church life” here in America before the coronavirus.

My perception at times over the years has been that the church has been too reliant on programs and “business as usual.” (I remember attending a church growth conference in the 80’s that said if I would spend a $100 to buy their materials, my church would grow to 300 in one year.) With that in mind, there have been occasions where I have desired to announce on a Sunday, “Beginning now, all ministries of this local church are laid aside. For the next 40 days, we will give ourselves to fervent prayer and the reading of God’s Word to discern how Christ, the Head of the Church (Ephesians 5:23), would have us continue His ministry for His glory (Acts 1:1-14; 1 Corinthians 10:31) in the days to come.”

Well, guess what? It happened! We are living it out right now in April 2020. Indeed, these are uncharted waters for all of us. At the risk of sounding heartless for all who have suffered loss, I must say that I am optimistic! I believe God is up to something awesome right now, and because the Church is His vehicle to accomplish His redemptive purposes, and the Church is still here, having not been taken out (1 Thessalonians 4:13=18), I’m on my knees. I’m watching. I’m anticipating. I’m longing. I’m expecting. I’m reading. I’m listening. I’m rejoicing.

You see, who am I, but I will say with a broken, weary heart that I don’t want to return to “normal” if it’s more of . . .

  • Man-centered, convenience-driven, “I’ll serve if it doesn’t interfere with MY life” ministry. In other words, the self-life taking preeminence over the Christ-life. (Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 2:20)
  • Prayer meetings usually being the least attended gathering of God’s people on any given week. (Acts 1:13-14; 4:23-31;12:5-17)
  • Lost souls not hearing the gospel from the redeemed on a regular basis; few coming to Christ; and the baptismal pool having to be swept out because it’s become a den of cobwebs and dead bugs. (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15)
  • Dry, empty altars. Call me old-fashioned, legalistic, and/or emotional, but we need a fresh awareness of the holiness of God, a renewed vision of Christ and a visitation of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit that drives us to our knees in repentance and revival! (e.g. Judges 10:10; 2 Kings 11:17-20; 2 Chron. 15:1-19; Acts 2-5; 10-20)
  • Personal preferences and the fear of man being the driver of ministry decisions as well as the stated “biblical standard” which determines whether we are right or wrong. Since the virus has shuttered our Sunday meetings and weekly ministries, I don’t hear complaining about music preferences, Bible translation arguments, -ism discussions (whatever you wish to use to preface -ism, put it in there). By the way, I don’t think we are going to hear about many church splits during this time!!! (Proverbs 25;29; Romans 12:10; Ephesians 4:1-6; Philippians 2:14; Colossians 1:9-18)
  • Church membership being a take-it-or-leave-it decision. (1 Corinthians 5:1-12; 2 Corinthians 2:6; 1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1-5)
  • Pharisaical, hide-behind-my-looking-good-Sunday-attire and continuing to answer the “How you doing?” question with a “Fine!” Oh, that we would be transparent and genuine in our conversation acknowledging our dependence upon the Lord and His people. Oh, that we would enter into the hurts, sorrows, burdens, and sins of others through prayer and scripture reading to help them take the next step toward Christ during fellowship time rather than being upset that our favorite donut was no longer available. (Romans 14:19; 15:14; Ephesians 4:15; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 10:24-25; James 5:16)
  • Prayerless, powerless, going-through-the-motion preaching and teaching of God’s Word in every area of ministry. Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it this way, “If there is no power, there is no preaching.” (Isaiah 61:1; Zechariah 4:6; John 15:5; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2:14; 3:6-7; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Philippians 2:13; 2 Timothy 4:2)

Over the past few weeks, I have heard pastors say that they were attempting to keep things as normal as possible while using online services. I totally understand what they are saying. With all my heart, may I say, let’s not seek to keep things normal. Let’s cry out for a fresh touch from the Throne of God! Let’s be willing to go with God and not be timid about asking for a fresh movement of the power of God. And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31).

Perhaps we could begin that 40 day prayer movement now so we will be ready to follow the Head of the Church into this new territory of ministry when the Lord opens the doors.

I end this post truly from from my pastor’s heart, with two quotes from Vance Havner:

“Too many church services start at eleven sharp and end at twelve dull.”

“The church is so subnormal that if it ever got back to the New Testament normal it would seem to people to be abnormal.”

I don’t want to go back to normal!

A Quarantined Marriage

Monday, my in-laws celebrated 65 years of marriage!! Wow!! What a milestone by God’s grace! And let me say right now, they are still like two little love-birds continuing to feather their nest and keep their marriage fresh. But I will tell you, they made a major adjustment in their relationship when my father-in-law retired early as a plant engineer. My mother-in-law was not used to Dad being at home every day. Being the consummate servant that he is, well, he kept “getting under mom’s feet.” I promise you, there were indeed some adjustments for both of them.

Is that how you feel wives, now that many of the husbands are working at home or vice versa due to COVID-19? Perhaps at first it was a welcomed change. But if these weeks move forward at their projected pace, how’s your quarantined marriage going to look? Will it be like a brief video that is making its way around the internet that has a married man listening to a voice recording that says, “Because of coronavirus, you are going to be quarantined, but you have a choice. Do you A) quarantine with your wife and child or B? And before the voice can announce what “B” is, the father says, “B!” Or, will you make the adjustments and come out on the other side of this trial having put into your marriage the ingredients that can make it 65 years if the Lord wills?

May I say first of all, let’s not waste this opportunity. In spite of the trial, God has given us an opportunity to push the reset button, but not to go back to the way it was before. Reset priorities, schedule, goals, passion, direction, values, etc.

As for your marriage, this quarantine time gives you the opportunity to:

  1. Pray together (And not just at meal time). Stop and pray several times throughout the day. Share your fears, concerns, and anxieties with each other. Then compassionately pray for one another.
  2. Read God’s Word together at breakfast, lunch or supper or before bedtime.
  3. Read a devotional book together such as Paul Tripp’s, New Morning Mercies.
  4. Read a marriage book together such as Emerson Eggrich’s, Love and Respect.
  5. Memorize a passage of scripture together that is relevant to this trial such as Joshua 1:9; Psalms 27:1-4; 34:1-9; 119:92-93; Isaiah 41:10; 2 Timothy 1:7; 2 Peter 3:18.
  6. Spend time together on the couch cuddled up like you used to do when you were dating and/or first married. As a matter of fact, go back to some of the things you did when you were newlyweds that added spark to your relationship. Get out of the rut. (Saturday night, my wife and I cuddled on the couch listening to Kenny Roger’s love songs that we’ve enjoyed through our dating and married life. Sure was fun to just be still and hold each other!)
  7. Put your children to bed so you can have some quiet time together talking, praying, reading, playing a game, watching a movie, etc.
  8. Walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 22-23).
  9. Be forgiving (Ephesians 4:26, 29-32).
  10. Laugh (Proverbs 17:22).
  11. Be romantic with each other.
  12. Take a drive through the country . . . not a fast one either!
  13. Show love and respect for each other by your appearance. Don’t stay in your pjs all day.
  14. Take walks together (hand-in-hand) or work out together.
  15. Work with a pastor or a biblical counselor via the phone or Zoom to repair some hard places in your marriage.
  16. Build a better home for your children. They need the security on knowing that mom and dad really do love each other.
  17. Most of all, grow in your personal relationship with God. The very best thing you can be and do for your spouse and family is to be a growing, maturing believer in Christ (Ephesians 5:18-33; 2 Peter 3:18). Since you have extra time on your hands due to the gym being closed, ball games cancelled, restaurants shuttered, etc., prioritize the most important relationship!

“Divorce rates in China have risen sharply since the coronvirus pandemic began, and America may well be next. It’s understandable. With social distancing measures in place, people are stuck with their spouses in close quarters indefinitely, which eliminates the necessary space many of us need to actually miss our [husband/wife].” (Parade, March 18, 2020)

A marriage that lasts 65 years has to be worked at day-by-day with many adjustments along the way. Don’t let your marriage be a casualty to COVID-19. Make social distancing work for your marriage, not against your marriage. The grace of God defies all of man’s reasoning and ability. Don’t waste the opportunity!

Quarantined

A few weeks ago, the word “quarantine” was not a frequently used term in our every day vocabulary. Now it is a repeated visitor in our minds and speech along with the terms social distancing, pandemic, fear, worry, panic, cancelled, closed and isolation in light of the spreading coronavirus.

Merriam-Webster defines quarantine as “a restraint upon the activities or communication of persons . . . designed to prevent the spread of disease; a place of isolation; to isolate from normal relations or communication.”

Someone might say, “What’s the difference between isolation and quarantine?” While isolation serves the same purpose as quarantine, it’s reserved for those who are already sick. It keeps infected people away from healthy people to prevent the sickness from spreading. (clevelandclinic.org/covid-19)

President Trump has outlined a 15-day plan to slow the spread of the virus. The CDC is keeping us informed in real time. This virus has and is changing our world.

There is another “quarantine” of which every believer should be most familiar. This quarantine is the number one way to effectively deal with the virus. fear, panic, worry, as well as the moment-by-moment effects and news of this pandemic.

That quarantine is your “secret place,” the place where you get alone with God to pray. The place where you “restrain upon the activities or communication of persons,” and you share your heart with God and you listen to God. (Prayer is not a one-way communication.)

That “secret place” is where you “prevent the spread of disease” of worry, fear, doubt, anxiety, dread, panic, and stress.

Listen to these words from Psalm 91:1-6

1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the [a]fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
4 He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and [b]buckler.
5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

Where is your quarantined, secret place? Perhaps it is kneeling beside your bed in the middle of the night or when you arise each morning. Maybe it’s a special place in your den, living room, back porch, office, or outdoors.

For the Lord Jesus Christ, that secret place was a mountain (Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:46) or a secluded place (Mark 1:35) or a garden (Matthew 26:36) to name a few.

My friend, to have the eternal perspective on this virus, to have a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:6-8), to have wisdom from above (James 1:5), to have a genuine place of refuge (Psalm 91:4), to experience God’s mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:14-16), you must spend time quarantined in the secret place.

We don’t relish being quarantined or isolated in our American way of life. But there is a “quarantine” that you will never regret, and you will long for as the days go by.

I’ll see you at the Throne of Grace!

This Transcends Coronavirus Fears

Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors (Psalm 119:24).

In the midst of such uncertainty, distress, fear, anxiety, and sometimes minute-by-minute decision making, where are you finding your enjoyment? From whom are you receiving counsel?

The psalmist gives us the direct answer. Awesome delight as well as omniscient counsel is found in the testimonies of God’s Word.

During these days, you must counsel your own heart as well as the hearts of those around you from the life-giving, eternal, unchanging Word. How prone we are to listen to ourselves, to allow social media and the news to keep us on edge, and to rehearse the doubting lies of the devil.

The Lord Jesus Christ, the Living Word (John 1:1) is the Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6). Since He is the Righteous One (1 John 2:1), He will always give you righteous counsel that will be a delight to your soul (Psalm 19:8; 119:162).

Read the Word, meditate on the Word, memorize the Word, share the Word with your spouse, pray the Word, engage your family with the Word, and delight and counsel your heart in the Word! With so much of what normally fills our daily hours being removed from us, we have time to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn of Him and from Him (Matthew 11:28-30). Take advantage of it!

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.
(Psalm 19:7-11)

It’s Sunday!!!

Praise the Lord!

Praise, O servants of the Lord,
Praise the name of the Lord!
2 Blessed be the name of the Lord
From this time forth and forevermore!
3 From the rising of the sun to its going down
The Lord’s name is to be praised.

4 The Lord is high above all nations,
His glory above the heavens.
5 Who is like the Lord our God,
Who dwells on high,
6 Who humbles Himself to behold
The things that are in the heavens and in the earth?

7 He raises the poor out of the dust,
And lifts the needy out of the ash heap,
8 That He may seat him with princes—
With the princes of His people.
9 He grants the barren woman a home,
Like a joyful mother of children.

Praise the Lord! (Psalm 113)

Oh the joy of gathering on Sundays in the presence of the Lord to worship Him! What an awesome grace blessing is the Church, the body of Christ! And to think that every Sunday, we join with the multitude of saints around the world to magnify the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!! We, who have been brought out of the ash heap and seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6)!

Yesterday at Boones Creek Bible Church, we “practiced” for that glorious day when we are gathered around the Throne in Glory!! How graced we are to praise God, to proclaim His excellencies, to hear the Word read and preached, to pray corporately and one-on-one, to live out the Christ life, to pray for and encourage believers, and to seek the lost that they may come to Christ for salvation.

AM Gathering
Welcome and Introduction: Pastor C
Prayer: Hunter Addison
Call to Worship: Pastor Andrew (Romans 8:6)
Song: #111 And Can it Be (1,3,4)
Song: #529 It Well With My Soul (1,3,4)
Song: Forgiven
Offering Received/Offertory: Debbie Duncan and Alli Isbell (Abba Father)
Offertory Prayer: Andrew Newsome
Pastor’s Pals & Children Dismissed
Scripture Meditation: Clayton Van Huss (Isaiah 64; Romans 8:1, 6, 11, 15)
Preaching of God’s Word: Pastor C (Romans 8:3)
Invitation: Forgiven
Closing Prayer

PM Gathering
Call to Worship: Pastor Andrew

Sing to the LORD
Song: #327 He Lives (1,2)
Song: #98 My God is a Righteous God (1-3)

Offering to the Lord
Song: #13 Bow the Knee (1-2)
Prayer: Pastor Andrew
Song: #519 Spirit of the Living God

Testify of the Lord
Adopt-A-Missionary Presentation: Sams’ Family
Personal Testimonies

Hear from the Lord
Preaching of God’s Word: Pastor C (Romans 8:4)

Commune with the Lord
Corporate Prayer

O church, arise, and put your armor on;
Hear the call of Christ our captain.
For now the weak can say that they are strong
In the strength that God has given.
With shield of faith and belt of truth,
We’ll stand against the devil’s lies.
An army bold, whose battle cry is love,
Reaching out to those in darkness.

Chorus:
Arise, shine for your light has come
Arise, shine for the Risen Son
Lift your eyes, we are His radiant bride
Arise, o church arise!
(Keith & Kristen Getty)

$42,000????

A poll of 2,000 Americans who plan on getting married (aged 18–55) has determined that the perfect wedding would cost $42,310.48 total. For their ideal wedding, Americans desire an open bar, seeing as 61 percent would have free drinks at their dream wedding. In addition, 44 percent would want formal attire for their wedding, and 48 percent revealed they want a band instead of a DJ on their big day. (https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/average-american-dream-wedding-costs-around-42g-survey-open-bar

Wow! What a contrast to a triple wedding my wife and I attended last Saturday. Yes, I said . . . a triple wedding. Three sisters married on the same day in three separate ceremonies in the same church auditorium. Two of the grooms were brothers.

Two things stood out to me in this event:

  1. The ceremonies were simple yet elegant. There were no flowers on the platform. A small table held the unity candle accompanied by candles on either side. The music was performed by family and friends. At one point, the brides and grooms of the first two weddings (still in their wedding attire) formed an instrumental ensemble to accompany special music in the third wedding. For the reception, each couple had a small cake for the traditional cutting and serving of each other. The guests were treated to a small cupcake with a dollop of frosting along with deli meats for sandwiches and chips.
  2. The ceremonies exalted Christ. Marriage, created and ordained by God, should be an example of the gospel (Ephesians 5:18-32). Yes, this day is for the bride and groom, but unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain (Psalm 127:1), and whether you eat or drink or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Each groom began his ceremony with a brief message from God’s Word concerning the gospel and marriage. When Christ is your life (Romans 6:1-13; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27), then He will be magnified in your ceremony.

I assure you that each of these couples are as much married today on a low budget as those married in a $42,000 wedding.

Now I realize that a beautiful wedding is virtually every young ladies’ dream, and I am not trying to “burst someone’s bubble.” There is something that is so necessary to understand. You can have a great beginning to your marriage, i.e. an extravagant wedding, but how you finish is more important that how you began.

Marriage can be and should be an awesome joy and blessing, but it takes two people serving one another working at their marriage every day. There will be days of sorrow and hardship. There will be seasons of joy, fun, and happiness.There will be misunderstandings. There will be times of potential despair. There will be many accomplishments to celebrate. Yet, by the grace of God, obedience to and trust in God’s Word, and much prayer, marriage can become sweeter and richer and more intimate through the years.

If you can afford a $42,000 wedding, have at it! If you can spend any amount on your wedding and end up with a “$42,000 marriage,” then by all means, have at it!!

A Pastor’s Tuesday

Began the day with a cup of coffee and the Word!

Was encouraged and blessed by a daily Bible verse text from a dear brother in Christ.

Ministered the Word to two still-grieving hearts; shared from what I had read earlier in the morning.

Spoke an word of encouragement to one whose world has been shattered.

My wife and I attended the adoption ceremony at the county courthouse for a precious foster child who is now the daughter of one of our church member’s.

Made a Dunkin run for this first day of peppermint mocha coffee!

Reminded myself to think biblically.

Visited one of our church family who is recovering from heart-valve replacement surgery. Thankful for Psalm 4 and prayer!

Helped my wife pick up some things at Sam’s Club.

Fought my flesh.

Dropped off some books, a DVD, and a thank you note to a long-time Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:16) in my life.

Listened to Adrian Rogers preach as I traveled to Kingsport.

Reminded myself to think biblically.

Experienced another “iron sharpening iron” (Proverbs 27:17) men’s book lunch where we discussed a biblical theology of work, shared life events, and prayed together. A transparent, honest exchange among men.

Connected with a missionary friend via Whatsapp.

Listened to Chip Ingram teach on prayer as I traveled for my next appointment.

Met with our assistant pastor for our weekly ministry meeting. Another time of “iron sharpening iron.” God met with us in a very special way.

Received a text from my wife that her cousin has maybe a day or two left on this earth due to cancer. I called my wife on my drive home to come alongside her and hopefully bear her burden.

Was reminded that Jesus could come right now as I was exiting the interstate and saw the view from the top of the hill.

Received a humorous phone call from my oldest daughter that produced a needed “belly-laugh.”

Fought my flesh and the attacks of the devil.

While waiting for and helping with supper preparation, I answered texts and emails, called a church member to sing Happy Birthday, and chatted with my wife as I caught up on other events of the day. So very grateful for my wife who faithfully serves at home to make our home a place of refuge from this world. The meal was delicious comfort food.

Reminded myself of God’s promises.

Spent the evening helping my wife who was not really feeling well. Also, answered and read more emails, read some helpful blogs and worked on prep for Wednesday and Sunday’s messages.

Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, [b]unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for [c]instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. I charge you [a]therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead [b]at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (2 Timothy 2:22-3:5; 3:13-4:2)

Another day of experiencing the sufficient grace and eternal love of God!

Teammates

Whiteface Mt. New York

A dear friend recently said to me, “Every time I pray for you, I pray for your wife. You two are a team!”

He’s right! We are!

We became a team on June 20, 1981. We have worked through marriage, parenting, ministry, and the stuff of life as a team. That teamwork has had a strong presence in our lives in the past week or so.

Last Monday, while on our way for a supper date, I ran my car through the car wash. As I pulled up to clean out the inside of my auto, I noticed a dear pregnant lady struggling to vacuum her built-low-to-the-ground four-door. Denise and I looked at each having the same thought. Gently I approached the lady and asked if I could vacuum her car. I quickly pointed to Denise to help ease the situation. She was a bit reluctant but then gratefully received my invitation. While I worked through the debris in this lady’s automobile, Denise introduced herself and began a gospel conversation. Every once-in-awhile, I would look from my task and say to myself, “I’m so glad we are teammates!”

Thursday through Saturday, Denise had the rich privilege of ministering God’s Word at Wolf Mountain Camp, Grass Valley, CA. The three days were peppered with texts, photos, and phone calls between us. We prayed, wept, laughed and rejoiced together as we saw God’s grace in action from a front row seat! During her speaking sessions, I prayed. While sharing Christ on the plane with a 39 year-old, I prayed. While Denise listened and counseled with these ladies of many nationalities, I prayed. While leading a dear lady through the plan of salvation and witnessing her transformation by the power of God from darkness to light, I prayed. I’m so glad we are teammates!

The past two and a half years have been a steady trial, and it continues. Some things occurred on Sunday that I permitted to create a spirit of despondency in my heart on Monday. Denise is my cheer-leading teammate. Throughout Monday and Tuesday, she prayed, cared, encouraged, and ministered to my heart. Her cry to the Lord Tuesday morning was, “Lord, would you fulfill Jeremiah 33:3 for Dale today?” By noontime, that prayer had been answered in an Ephesians 3:20 way. Furthermore, when I came home for supper, she had prepared an appetizer to enjoy while she completed her final meal prep. That was her way of saying, “I love you. I’m for you.” I’m so very glad we are teammates!

May I strongly encourage you husbands and wives by the grace of God—be teammates. Work through your conflicts together. Pray together. Serve together. Worship together. Parent together. Play together. Walk through this life hand-in-hand. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Ephesians 5:33). This is teamwork as God planned it. I’m glad Denise and I are teammates!!

An Epidemic in the Church

Image result for Epidemic images
UPI.com

There is a plague that has been and continues to sweep through the body of Christ around the world! This scourge has the power to hurt, ruin, maim, tarnish, destroy and kill. It is an epidemic!

What is it? GOSSIP!

The Apostle Paul in his concern for the Corinthian Church said, For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder (2 Cor. 12:20). Gossip here is defined as “whispering, secret slander; of the magical murmuring of a charmer of snakes.”

Romans 1:29-31 describes the sinful, rebellious actions of the unrighteous as being filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanders, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,  foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Here gossip is “a whisperer, secret slanderer, detractor.”

“Sinful gossip is bearing bad news behind someone’s back out of a bad heart” (Pastor Matt Mitchell). This “bad news” may be the truth, but it becomes “bad news” when brought up out of the well of a deceitful, selfish, proud heart.

Within the church, it is much easier to talk to other people about someone with whom you have issue than to talk to that person directly with the desire to humbly understand, listen, and biblically correct the situation (Matthew 5:23-24; James 4:11)

It is also easier to talk to other people about someone than to talk to God about it in humble prayer. A gossiper does not believe in the power of a sovereign God to perfectly handle any situation or issue.

You see, if you slander, gossip, speak evil of another to someone, that thought is hard to be removed the next time the one gossiped about is seen again by the “informed.”

How many pastors, deacons, Sunday School teachers, laymen, brothers and sisters in Christ have been maligned by an evil tongue?

How many churches have been split or damaged because of one tongue hinged to an evil heart?

For now, I leave you with God’s viewpoint on this issue. Instead of destroying others with our tongue, lets destroy gossip!

Proverbs 18:21 – Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Proverbs 26:20 – For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.

James 1:26 – If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

Ephesians 4:29 – Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Facing Opposition

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While preparing to record my weekly radio broadcast, the Lord led me to this illustration and used it to speak a needed word of exhortation to my own heart. Hence, I share it below in hopes it will encourage you, especially pastors and their flock.

When he was appointed as the pastor of a church in Cambridge, England, in 1783, Charles Simeon was delighted. The people of the church did not share his joy. Many of the prominent members of the church opposed his convictions on reaching the lost with the gospel. To show their displeasure they locked their pew boxes during the service and left them empty so that those who came to hear Simeon preach had to stand or sit in the aisles. Eventually God began to work, and Simeon’s ministry had a powerful influence on the nation of England and the world through his efforts to encourage missionary work.

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During the dark days of opposition Simeon wrote: “In this state of things I saw no remedy but faith and patience…. It was painful indeed to see the church, with the exception of the aisles, almost forsaken; but I thought that if God would only give a double blessing to the congregation that did attend, there would on the whole be as much good done as if the congregation were doubled and the blessing limited to only half the amount. This comforted me many, many times, when without such a reflection, I should have sunk under my burden.”

Opposition does not mean that we are doing things wrong—often it is evidence that we are doing things right. If we allow ourselves to be deterred from doing anything unless we have complete approval, it is certain that we will never accomplish anything of value. Rather than being discouraged by opposition, we should take comfort in God’s faithfulness and keep on doing what is right.

( https://ministry127.com/resources/illustration/standing-strong-in-the-face-of-opposition )