I feel it necessary to make this response to the COVID-19 coronavirus concerns in our world. I am going to attempt to do that with three succinct points.
1. I still believe that God is greater than ANYTHING that can or will come against us.
Matthew 28:18 “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”
2. I still believe that God would not have us to live in fear of anything because He is greater than anything that can or will come against us.
Isaiah 41:10 “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
3. I still believe that God gave us wisdom to utilize common sense at all times, but especially during times of trouble.
Proverbs 28:26 “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.”
So with those three things firmly fixed in my mind, I wanted to inform our church family and anyone desiring to come to the church of what we are intending to do as long as we can. The church will continue to host worship services until we are told that we cannot do so in our usual way. I am already working together with the board members and the leadership of the church to be able to minister in various ways if we are forced to suspend meeting at the church building. We will continue to minister and look out for the flock in the best way that we can as we move through this season.
Every person who currently attends our church has been put in a “Care Group” with a Director over that group. I have encouraged each of them to reach out to those families in their group on a regular basis, so we can assure that each family is being ministered to in whatever way is needed. With all this being said, I do want to strongly encourage our elder saints and anyone with a compromised immune system to consider eliminating as much contact with others as possible. That includes coming to church or even to small home groups (if we eventually are restricted in our gatherings). We will have every service at the church recorded, so if you have to miss and you have a CD player, just let us know and we will get it to you as soon as we can. This is not an easy decision for me to make because I understand the strength that each of us receive from being in the house of God and worshiping together. I am not an infectious disease expert, so at this time common sense says we must adhere to those who are and follow
what they have to say.
I know this has been lengthy, but please let me say one last thing. With all the isolation and "social distancing" that is being encouraged and mandated, please don’t allow yourself to be withdrawn from your church body. Pick up the phone and call someone. Send someone an encouraging and uplifting text. Share a great message that you found on a streaming service. Write a letter or card and send it to someone. This is not a time for the church to shrink or hide, but to shine as the light that God made us, into the darkness of uncertainty that is all around us.
Please continue to pray for God to help, heal, and minister,
Darkness, heights, snakes, clowns, enclosed spaces, spiders, and even running out of ice cream. All of us are afraid of something! What frightens you may not frighten me and what frightens me may not frighten you. However, we are all afraid of something. At the time of writing this article the world is starting to show fear about the spread of the Corona virus. Surely, this is something we should be informed about, but we cannot let it incapacitate us to the place that we hide away in fear. It can be a great motivator. Fear can get you to do positive things you wouldn’t normally do, but fear also gets us to do negative things we wouldn’t normally do. Fear is said to be the most powerful emotion known to humankind, even more powerful than love. Our very survival depends on it, as fear is triggered in the most primitive part of our brain responsible for alerting & protecting us from danger. It helps to keep us safe and it helps to keep us alive.
Fear is a powerful motivator, but the devil uses it as a negative one. The devil loves to motivate by fear. His whole tactic and technique relies on fear. Satan gets you and I to fear in so many ways:
2 Timothy 1:7 "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
Every time you feel fear in your life, it's a manifestation of the kingdom of darkness. It's the spirit Satan uses to try to rule people and keep them from coming under the leadership of Jesus Christ. The Lord prefers to motivate someone by eliminating doubt because God knows doubt destroys motivation. We cannot be incapacitated by fear. We cannot let hell get the upper hand by fear. We cannot be controlled through fear. It is not in God’s repertoire to motivate you with fear. God doesn’t even want you to serve Him out of fear. Everything God does is to eliminate fear, doubt and confusion in our lives. God’s not interested in showing you how things could go in the worst sense, but He wants you to see how things are going to go in the best sense. God only wants to bless you and uplift you. That’s what God has for you, the best.
Some don’t know how to feel about God wanting the best for them:
The Lord wants to break that chain of fear in your life. The Lord wants you to be free from the spirit of fear and His desire is to get you out of that fearful and unbelieving hole you’ve been in too long. It’s time to evict fear from your life before it destroys you.
1 John 4: 18 "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment."
Jesus has always loved you. Jesus loves you right now. Jesus will always love you. Don’t try to understand God’s love with a fleshly understanding. God’s love is perfect, full, and unconditional. We’ve probably never experienced that kind of love in any other place. Perfect love casteth out fear. God’s love is perfect and His love can cast out that fear. Fear exists in darkness and shadows, but when the love of God is shed abroad in our lives, it drives fear away. Let the light of God’s love into your life today.
It’s time to trade your fear for peace, in Jesus Christ.
Recently while reading a book, I saw this statement: “I heard once that most people who choke to death on food do it in close proximity to someone who could have saved them.” My thought at first is why? Why wouldn't I ask for help, whether I have the knowledge or not that they do in fact, know the Heimlich? I feel like its the perfect time to start playing Charades, make smoke signals, shake them, or whatever is needed to ask for help and save your life.
But then I continued reading: “What happens is that they're sitting at a table eating with a group, and when they begin to choke they feel embarrassed that they're struggling. Inevitably, they stand up from the table, and when their friends ask if they're okay or need help, they wave them away like everything's fine. They go to another room so their struggle won't be a bother to anyone. It's not until they're alone and really fighting for breath that they realize they need assistance, but by then it's too late.” This is where I said out loud, “Ah okay, now I get it.” There is a very big chance I would do the same thing to avoid embarrassment. I would do many, many things to avoid embarrassment.
One of the biggest embarrassments of my life was because I was trying, without success, to avoid embarrassment. I know I've spoken about it before, but I don't believe I've used it here before, and if I have...well enjoy the ride again. I didn't. In fifth grade I went to my elementary school's fall fest. I lived near by, so my dad told me I could go if I took my sisters. I enjoyed all the things they had to offer; face painting, carnival games, and treats. Then my friends and I decided to enjoy the main event - the hay ride. Our school was outside of town, so this weekend family event brought out many people and everyone was interested in taking a lap on the hay ride. When it came my turn, the ride itself wasn't really anything to write home about. We circled the school on an highly packed trailer, only to be at the starting point once again. My friends hurried off the ride and stood waiting for me to get off too, but the only thing was I couldn't. I didn't know how and so many people were getting on the trailer as many other people were getting off. It was just chaos. My friends stood by helplessly as I sat back down for the next ride because I didn't know what else to do.
Let me tell you, the ride didn't get any more thrilling that time around. To be honest, I was too distracted making my exit plan when the ride stopped again. Once we stopped, the chaos again ensued. So I decided to go to the front of the trailer by the hitch to step off. As I stepped, my foot slipped and I fell hitting my head on the hitch and I imagine it was as painful as that sounds. I wouldn't know because I was consumed with the embarrassing truth that my dress was no longer pointed towards my feet the way it was designed, but had instead joined me up by my face. I was so worried about drawing attention to myself by asking for help off the ride, that I instead drew all the attention with my dress up over my face and a possible head injury.
Proverbs 12:15 "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise."
“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.” said Ziad K. Abdelnour. Sometimes we choke, sometimes we need help, and being too afraid to admit it will only hurt us in the long run. When those hurts come, they come heavy and can be overwhelming. It takes action from us to make it different. Get help. First, go to God. You weren't meant to face life on your own and your creator (the one who loves you more than you know) is just waiting for you to ask for Him to step in. There is also a church full of people who want to carry your burden with you and hold you up when you can't stand. You aren't alone and you don't deserve to choke when you're in such close proximity to help. Take advantage of the spirit led family here at FPC that wants to see you succeed.
Seek help, don't choke.
What a strange, almost non-existent winter we have had this year. Very little snow (some are singing Hallelujah) and very little real cold (all are singing Hallelujah). But, with this warmer than usual winter, the germs that normally die in the cold are playing havoc with our human bodies. I understand that going viral can be a good thing in certain realms, but this has been insane in the realm of colds and flu. I’m sure we will all agree we are sick and tired of sickness going around and then coming back around again. We are literally sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I began to think about how this works in the spiritual realm as well. It is only when people get sick and tired of being where they are that any real spiritual change takes place. Jonah decided he didn’t want to answer the call of God on his life, so he went away from it and then his life continued to head in a downward path. He went down to Joppa, down in the boat, down into the sea, and then down into the fish's belly. We have to go down to be able to look up. Look at what Jonah said when he got sick and tired.
Jonah 2:2-3, 7-9
2 I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.
3 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.
7 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.
8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
9 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.
When Jonah got sick and tired of being where he was, he changed his thinking and God could finally get him going in the right direction. Sometimes we need a situation or a circumstance that we have to get sick and tired of to finally do what we need to do. So if you find yourself in the same place, doing the same thing, getting the same results, while you continue to expect something new (that’s the definition of insanity), and you know God wants more out of you, then maybe it’s time to get sick and tired. I’m not sure why we are like this, but it seems we have to get so completely fed up with where we are, that we are willing to go someplace new in God. And no, I’m not talking about a different church, a different physical address, or even a different man or woman in your life. I’m talking about not being content with being sick and tired of where you are in God. Instead that you’ll answer the call! Move up, move out, or at the least, move somehow. God has plans for you, but being sick and tired is not part of any of them.
May God richly bless you out of your sick and tired state,
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
There is a popular story that Sir Isaac Newton was sitting under an apple tree, an apple fell on his head, and he suddenly thought of the Universal Law of Gravitation. As in all such legends, this is almost certainly not true in its details, but the story contains elements of what actually happened. Probably the more correct version of the story is that Newton, upon observing an apple fall from a tree, began to think along the following lines:
• The apple is accelerated, since its velocity changes from zero as it releases from the tree and moves toward the ground.
• Thus, by Newton's 2nd Law there must be a force that acts on the apple to cause this acceleration.
• This force was called gravity, and the associated acceleration the "acceleration due to gravity".
Gravity is a law that you and I cannot defy. But, there is another law that comes into play. As an airplane takes off and builds up momentum, it lifts off the ground to begin to soar and even while the plane is building momentum the law of gravity is present all around trying to keep the plane on the ground. Another law is applied that lifts that aircraft off the ground and pulls it upward defying the law of gravity. That law is called Aerodynamics. Turns out you can actually break the law of gravity with enough lift and thrust.
In Romans 7 Paul introduces us to another law:
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
There is the law of sin present with every human being that pulls us down to this temporal earth because we are living in this sinful flesh. But, God has provided a law that can render the law of sin ineffective in our lives.
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
We can break the law of sin, but only with the law of the Spirit of Life in Jesus Christ.
And listen to Galatians 5:
16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
We shouldn't be surprised when our flesh wants to do wrong, because those feelings, desires, and inclinations are real and there is no amount of spiritual experiences that will ever take them completely away. Bro. Thomson said in one of his messages "It’s the devil’s plan through the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life to keep our focus on the Earth and Earthly things." This is why Jesus came. Because keeping of the law was just another activity of this Earthly flesh. It was self-induced righteousness and it fell short of God’s requirements. The law could set the speed limit and even convict you if you broke it, but the law could never help you to obey.
The way that we can break the law of sin and death was found in the midst of Romans 8:5-6, when Paul wrote "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."
So the key to walking in the Spirit and breaking the law of sin and spiritual death is what we set our minds on.
1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
If we continue to tie our thoughts to the things of this earth, then we miss out on what God thinks about us.
God says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
God sees us as a new creature.
God says old things are passed away.
God makes all things become new.
I don't need to walk in this flesh anymore.
I don't need to fulfill the lusts of this flesh anymore.
It turns out you can break the law of sin and death, but only through the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
Go ahead and break the law...of sin,
What did your 2018 look like? Don't freak out. You read that right. I'm asking if you remember much from nearly 2 years ago. It very well could be that you remember a few monumental things that happened that year. Maybe you bought a house or a car. Maybe you started a new relationship or ended a toxic one. Maybe you attempted a try-out for the Chicago Cubs and are now a starting pitcher getting paid millions of dollars to play the game you love. Ok, more than likely that last one didn't happen (but I'll keep daydreaming about it). All things considered, the odds are that most of us can't remember much that happened last week let alone two years ago. Again, don't freak out. It's something we all struggle with throughout our lives.
While pursuing my Bachelor's Degree, I minored in Psychology purely because the way we as humans work has always fascinated me. One of the courses that I took was on the subject of Abnormal Psychology which involved a few chapters focused exclusively on memory. The unfortunate outcome that I mentioned earlier was a part of a book that our professor recommended titled "The Seven Sins of Memory" which is on my reading list for this year (a little late I know, seeing I graduated 4 years ago). Anyway, the process of forgetting over time is called "Transience Memory" and it is when the brain swaps out older memories to make room for new ones. The more time that goes by between an experience and when you want to remember it, the more likely you are to have forgotten much of it. This is why we have a harder time remembering things that happened 2 years ago. Our memories from 2019 have taken over most of them and more than likely 2020 memories will do the same for our memories of last year. It's not a bad thing necessarily. It's just a flaw in our nature. Or is it?
Isaiah 43:18-19 has the answer. "Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert." Forgetting is part of being a Christian. For goodness sake, it's what God does every day when we repent! Forgetting isn't a flaw, it's a God-given gift. No, I am not saying that you should be thankful when you forget where you put your keys the morning that you are already late to work. That's just called having a bad day. It does prove my point though. More than likely, you had some bad days in 2018 and probably 2019 too. There is the chance that you remember a few of those specifically, but I can guarantee you can't remember every single one of them. Why? Because we were made to forget the former things. Forget the things that so easily beset (Bible way of saying trip) us. Did you sin in 2018? Yes. Did you repent? Hopefully. Therefore, you can forget. Don't remember the things you did or the things that were done to you years ago and let it keep you from the "New Thing" God wants to do in 2020. If you want to remember something, remember all the times his grace was sufficient and his mercy was made new.
Forget the former things. Look for the new things.
Rachel was a preschooler and she had a problem with waking up in the middle of the night and growing frightened. The only thing that could calm her fears was running down the hall and crawling into bed with her parents. Hoping to fix this, Rachel’s Dad tucked her into the lower bunk on her bed one night and said, “Go to sleep, honey. I will be back later and will sleep in the top bunk.” She thought it was a great idea and she fell asleep immediately. A few hours later, when her father came to the room, she was still sleeping. He quietly crawled into the top bunk and stayed there the rest of the night. The next morning, he congratulated his daughter on sleeping the full night in her own bed. She said, “It was because you were in the room with me, Dad.” "But, how did you know I was there?" he asked. "You were asleep when I came in and you never woke up the whole night." Rachel answered, “Because you said you would be there.”
To Rachel, that was all she needed - a promise! That was enough. A promise can see you through the night. Our heavenly father promised to come to us. In the dark of the night, while Bethlehem suffered under the combined oppression of King Herod and the Roman Empire, He came softly as a baby to Bethlehem. When the angel appeared and declared “I bring you good tidings of great joy” there was a ray of light that split the darkness. Jesus came without the lavish life that he should have been afforded, but His coming was like a “light shining in the darkness”.
Max Lucado wrote:
If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.
In the nativity we are blessed to see a God that cared so much that he robed himself in the flesh of mankind and came to live a life as an example unto us. We do not witness a God who sent someone else to save us. He did not and could not simply make a new commandment. The only way to save His finest creation was to come in the imperfectness of flesh to show us the way home. He came to bring hope to a world that has no hope! He came to dispel fear in a world that is full of panic and dread! He is the one that Isaiah gave many titles to, who has only one name:
He is Wonderful.
He is Counselor.
He is the Mighty God.
He is the Everlasting Father.
He is the Prince of Peace.
Bethlehem’s Child is the man with many titles, but He has only one name! Matthew 1:21 reads "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS : for he shall save his people from their sins." That’s the promise we really need. Not just that Jesus is going to be there to see us through the night, through the trial, through the season, or even through the uncertainty of our life, but that he can save us from the sin that seeks to destroy us. If you haven’t availed yourself of this most perfect promise, seek the Savior today, for He is calling you.
Thank God for the promise,
Sandwiched between the world’s weird Fright Fest and ”the most wonderful time of the year" is a day that many people have forgotten. They still celebrate it, but the meaning has been forgotten in way too many families. Retail sales roll from their 7 billion dollar increase at Halloween into the expected 48% of their yearly sales at Christmas and so really, Thanksgiving just gets in the way. If you are lucky, you might be able to find a package of napkins or a cardboard turkey centerpiece that somehow acknowledges Thanksgiving, but in most regards it is the forgotten day. This day has not only been forgotten for what it truly is, but it has been relegated to 4 other activities:
4.Sadly, the start of Christmas shopping
I think I could find scriptures that could loosely condemn all four of those activities, but I am not against them as much as I am about us getting Thanksgiving back to what it needs to be.
1 Thess. 5:18 "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
So what can we do as Christians to acknowledge and celebrate this glorious day as it should be? Here are four ways to counteract the forgetfulness.
1. Inventory God’s blessings in our lives:
If we take the time, we will see that we are overwhelmed by all that God has truly given to us. Material things do not equal blessings. There are blessings all around us that we have never purchased and cannot put a price tag on.
2. Consider the invaluable:
As you find yourself around the table this Thanksgiving, truly look into the faces of your family and friends and realize their worth to you. We spend so much time dressing up our bodies, renovating our homes, and accessorizing our cars, but your spouse and your children are worth more than all of those. We need to get gratitude right because if we are discontent we pass that on to our kids and to those who need to see Jesus through us. Our happiness and our peace have nothing to do with what this world has to offer. Our happiness and our peace must be anchored in Jesus Christ. He does not have good days and bad days. He is Jesus Christ and He is always the same.
3. Do something for someone else:
By doing something for someone else, it gets our minds off of what we think that we are missing.
Opportunities for volunteering and doing for others are all around us. You can find something to do for so many people and in the midst of it you just may realize how blessed you are.
4. Practice thanksgiving throughout the year:
Not only should we pray with thanksgiving and enter the house of God with thanksgiving, but we should live our lives with thanksgiving. Thanks ought to become part of our everyday language. The discipline of gratitude brings natural wealth by freeing us from the snare of comparison living and the trap of unrealistic expectations. It is impossible to be truly grateful for what God has given to us and discontent at the same time.
As children we were born with a propensity toward greed, envy, and numerous other vices that can bring us into a state of discontent. We need to understand as we grow and develop as adults and especially as Christian adults that there are numerous reasons that we should live our lives giving thanks.
Don’t let Thanksgiving become a forgotten day, but be filled with Thanks!
In my home we are blessed to live with a 126 pound Great Dane named Gimli. A big...BIG boy, who also has big paws and big teeth. It's a different experience living with a Great Dane. His rough housing has left bruises, deep scratches (currently sporting one under my eye from the big lug), and fear of death or bodily injury from jumping on us. He also has been a force to reckon with when it comes to our furniture. He has some separation issues and is convinced that we are never coming back, so he takes it out on our belongings. Our two cats are also convinced that he was brought into our house as a form of punishment and look at him with contempt or hatred like we've never seen before. It may be easier to just get a trough and horse feed to let him eat daily. Finally, if an unexpected guest arrives without his consent...well he isn't what you want to see on the other side of the door. Sure, that isn’t a very lovely resume, but there are so many benefits as well.
A huge dog also has a huge heart and so much love to give. He loves to cuddle and if you have never cuddled a Great Dane, you are missing out. The love and excitement that is received as soon as I walk in the door cannot be compared to any person greeting me anywhere I've ever been! He is an excellent bug hunter (and stomper). While it is frustrating for him to bark at our guests, an intruder is no match for our doggy home security system. He protects us at all costs. Also, we were blessed with Gimli at the beginning of March. Ten days later we lost my dad and Gimli was right there to crawl up beside me to let me cry on him. He has continued to do so for every bad day we've had. I love my dog and I'm so glad he's become a part of our family, but not everyone can get past his exterior to see what a good boy he is on the inside. We go to the dog park and I've watched people go to the opposite fenced in area because "oh that's a big scary boy we don’t want to get too close to him!" All he wants to do is to play with you and your dog! He loves meeting new friends (again on his terms) and it makes me sad that they run away from him.
I can relate though, being a 6'2" lady myself, I intimidate new people as well. I don't know how many friends have said, "You are completely different than I thought you'd be." or "I use to think you were scary."
1 Samuel 16:7 says "But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."
Samuel was there to anoint a king and Jesse excitedly presented his big burly boys who, from outward appearance, had what it took to be a king. God was looking for something different and knew what the people needed: someone after His own heart. He found that in David and He can find it in you. He looks beyond what the imperfect human eye sees. He sees what is in our hearts. The good, the bad, and the what could be. The way others look at us may make us self-conscience. It can cause us to think less of who we are. But what you have to remember is the world can't tell us our value. What they see isn’t what God sees. As a matter of fact, what we see isn’t even what God sees. He sees our potential when we may still be stuck on our past. God loves us when we consider ourselves unlovable. He knows us...really knows us! No matter what any person thinks about you, or even what you think about yourself, what really matters is what God thinks about you. So what does God think about you?
Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."
God loves us and wants the best for us. Stay in His will and maybe follow the lead of my dog too. Just enjoy the life you’ve been given no matter what people think!
God loves you and I do too!
Sister Amber Klein