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THIS is what Jesus would do!

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Well, life is certainly different today than it was just a few short weeks ago, isn’t it? Emotions are running high, fear and worry dominate the daily news, and Americans are dealing with the unnerving reality of being told what they can and cannot do and where they can and cannot go.

Yes…these are difficult days, are they not?

In addition to the countless businesses being forced to shut down, many churches have been forced to close their doors as well, at least temporarily. 

For those determined to conduct church services, this has necessitated a move to more creative methods of ministering to our congregations. Facebook Live, radio, YouTube videos, even ‘parking lot’ church are all examples of how churches have had to think outside the box.

Here in Florida, our Governor has included attending church services in the “essential” category, meaning that houses of worship may remain open as usual, with the caveat that worshipers stay a safe distance apart from one another.

Naturally, this decision has been received in either one of two ways. On one hand, you have those who are cautiously elated at the prospects of assembling together again for worship. Then there are those who think this was just about the worse decision that could have been made. Like most things in life, I guess it depends on which side of the fence you happen to be standing on.

While I readily admit that the current environment has thrown us all for a loop, it is a curious thing to me that so many in the church still cling to the notion that the church is the building that they attend services in.

The truth is, that is simply not correct. The church has never been a building, a temple, or a cathedral. The Church has always been you and me. It has always been those people who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

All of this gives me reason to suspect that what I’ve longed believed is true: the Church has lost its identity. We have supplanted the truth that we are the church with the error that the church is a building.

Looking at it another way, the church has adopted the very same mindset that the citizens of this country have adopted when explaining the nucleus of our government. “We The People” has been tossed aside in favor of the government being more readily identified as a conglomeration of buildings in Washington D.C.

This isn’t a mere play on words, nor is it a simple issue of semantics. This is a very important issue for several reasons, not the least of which is that the Church was never intended to become an institution, or a building.

Institutions are typically cold, lifeless, bureaucratic entities that exist (hopefully)to serve the greater good of society. This does not describe the Church that we read about throughout the New Testament!

The Church is a living extension of the Lord Himself. As such, we ought to be asking ourselves if Jesus were here today, how would he respond to the current worldwide crisis?

Would Jesus shutter himself behind locked doors and close all of the blinds? Would He sequester himself apart from every person on the planet?

Would he refuse to heal the sick out of fear on contracting COVID-19? Would he turn away the hungry mother who cannot feed her children? 

Would he turn out into the streets the struggling family who suddenly find themselves without a steady stream of income? Would he run to the store and hoard as many necessities as possible?

Well, the Good News is that Jesus is here today! He lives in each and every one of his children. So the question of WWJD, is actually a question of what are we doing to respond to this crisis?  

Since it is an established fact that you and I are the Church, the hands and feet of Jesus, and not some ornate building, wouldn’t you agree with me that right now the Church should be leading the efforts to minister to and provide for those who are in dire need today?

Wouldn’t this be a great opportunity to release some of the excess funds in our church treasuries in order to make a difference in the lives of people, the people that Jesus died for?

Perhaps you have heard about the church in Cincinnati that recently paid over $46 million dollars of medical bills for 45,000 families? Why should this be an aberration? Shouldn’t this be the norm?

As I keep reminding people whenever I can, as Christians we either are what we claim to be or we are not. There is no middle ground here. Either we are Christ’s representatives here on earth, or we are not. 

We cannot be Christian only when everything is going well in our lives. We cannot say we are followers of Christ and not follow Him wherever he may lead us…and that includes the current crisis we are experiencing.

Please understand me, I am certainly not advocating that you run straight to your nearest hospital and expose yourself to this virus. Absolutely not! We must be wise in times like these. We must follow the mandates of our local leaders. We must not do something that will prolong the crisis or put others in jeopardy.

Neither can we live in fear and torment however. We cannot be The Church if we are hiding behind closed doors. No, it is time for the true Church to arise. It is time to cast off the spirit of fear that is paralyzing our churches and leaving us incapable of serving others.

My prayer is that all of us would consider the needs of others during this time, and that we would remember that Jesus has called us for such a time as this to go forth and minister to them.  

That’s what Jesus would do.

Ron

Weeping may endure for a night…

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But joy comes in the morning!

Weeping and sorrow may compass us about, but joy comes in the morning!

Discouragement and trials may seem to over take us, but joy comes in the morning!

Sickness and afflictions of every sort might be our constant companions, but joy comes in the morning!

Pain may rack these mortal bodies of ours, but joy comes in the morning!

Fear and all it’s torments might confront us on every side, but joy comes in the morning!

Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.  Psalm 30:4,5

No matter what we are going through, it cannot outlast God. I want to say that again: no matter what we are going through, it cannot outlast God!

Many times in my life I have wondered where God was when I was dealing with things that were so much bigger than I. In those times it can be very hard not to put all of your focus on the problems because they can overwhelm the best of us.

All of us want our concerns addressed immediately, for that is our nature. We do not like pain, failure, or disappointments. Christians, especially, seem to have a built in tendency to think that we are somehow exempt from life’s struggles.

Of course, we know that to believe this way only serves to set ourselves up for discouragement when trials and temptations do come upon us.

I believe we would be better served to remember that what we really need to focus on is not how big our struggles are, but rather how big our God is!

The Psalmist David wrote a most comforting Psalm as he was comparing the heritage of God’s people vs. the certain destruction of the wicked. In this Psalm, David declares that while he once was a young man, the years have caught up with him.

Even so, in all of his many years David tells us that he had never seen the righteous forsaken! Think of that beloved. How many of us share David’s testimony? I know I certainly do.

I have been young, and now am old;
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
Nor his descendants begging bread.  Psalm 37:25

I have never seen the righteous forsaken. I have never been forsaken! God’s provision has carried me through in times when I could see no way out of a dark situation.

Like the time I had no grocery money and didn’t know where to turn. Only God could have provided in the manner in which He did. Watching a truck back into my driveway with bags and boxes of groceries is something I have never forgotten, and that was over 30 years ago!

If we will hold on to His promises, weeping will come to an end and in it’s place will be joy unspeakable! Hold on to His promises, and watch how God will move on your behalf to provide exactly what you need, exactly when you need it!

Be blessed,

Ron