What are Baptism and the Lord’s Supper meant to do? How do we make sense of them? Are they mere empty rituals? Things we can do to save ourselves? Something else?
What do the Olympics have to do with the life God has called us to? Let’s race to the answer tonight as we turn to the Letter to the Hebrews for 52 Verses from 52 Books in 52 Weeks!
It is apparently #NationalWhistleblowerDay and so it was fitting that Facebook served up this old status “memory” of mine from this day 12 years ago:
[Timothy] is thankful God comes along for the ride in adversity.
2009 was an incredibly hard year (understatement of understatements). That “adversity” I referred to was finding myself in the storm trying to stand against the onslaught of a spiritually abusive leader (see the related posts I’ve attached to this entry). Unfortunately I’ve encountered others since and I’ve met an awful lot of people who have been hurt by such leaders. Pray for those who are facing such things now. May we all stand against the abuse of power in the Church that is Jesus’s and His alone.
God does come along for the ride. He is with us and I pray that everyone who might feel alone — maybe someone reading this tonight — might know that God does this and He never sides with abuse.
What should we believe about God’s Word? What does God’s Word tell us about itself? How should we approach it if people have used God’s Word to hurt us? Those are questions we turn to as we dig into the next subject of “Pieces of Faith:” God’s Word.
Merry Christmas (in July)! I couldn’t resist jingling all the way into 1 Corinthians today! Oh what fun it is to share God’s Word with you! 🎄
The COVID Bell Tolls for Us All
A very dear friend of mine has “breakthrough COVID.” He is hospitalized with significant neurological symptoms. Please pray. And PLEASE get vaccinated. If you are a Christian and want to follow the Lord’s command to love your neighbor, this is a concrete application right now.
Yes, this is a “breakthrough” case, but that’s because even the best vaccines for any disease aren’t perfect. Missouri’s numbers are startling and headed towards the worst we’d seen of the pandemic thus far. Other places already are setting new records. There are simply too many people spreading COVID right now and too much resistance to basic safety measures that would reduce spread.
The question for the Christian who is not yet vaccinated boils down to the sanctity of life. If you are pro-life, are you willing to be “inconvenienced” by a vaccine for the sake of saving other bearers of the Image of God? There’s a selfish reason to get it too: vaccination does lower your chances of infection, serious illness and death. But it is not about iron clad protection. It is about reducing the likelihood.
Like so many things in life, our decisions affect others. As John Donne reflected,
No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
People deciding they didn’t have a responsibility to protect others from COVID gave my friend COVID even though he did the right thing and got the vaccine, because even greatly reduced chances of infection aren’t zero. And the amount of risk of “not zero” naturally rises when lots of other people are playing a risky game that exposes you. Here’s a thread on how vaccines can be both helpful and still fail in such a way that the loving answer isn’t just “Well, if you want to protect yourself, fine, get the vaccine — I have no obligation to you to get one, too.”
The Good Samaritan did what he did because it was loving, not convenient. Please get a vaccine and, while viral spread is really high, please follow WHO guidelines and mask up. Is this inconvenient? Yes. Is doing the right thing to love our neighbors inconvenient? Yes.
But, we all should care for whom the bell tolls. Our Lord does.
It is Better than a Thumb Drive
When the pandemic hit last year, it threw me into a world where I was doing vastly more video editing than I did previously. Anyone who has spent time splicing and dicing video files knows those files can fill up storage devices really quickly and they are a pain to transfer between computers. Enter the new class of tiny, pocketable, external SSDs like the RavPower Mini External SSD Pro.
Do I see myself as I am? Do I see how God sees me? Tonight on Steadfast, we look at those important questions and how God turns the “Fall from Grace” on its head.
Jim takes us to Hosea to think about how we fail to take God seriously and live in accordance to His will. It’s a great, challenging message worth a few moments of your time.
Central Asia has another nation starting to stan for religious freedom.
“In Kazakhstan, all denominations can freely follow their religion,” said Yerzhan Nukezhanov, chairman of the committee for religious affairs, “and we will continue to create all necessary conditions for religious freedom.”
And, that is a truly fantastic pun to start the story on this fantastic news.