COVID-19, Week 7 – April 22, 2020
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COVID-19, Week 6 – April 15, 2020
COVID-19, Week 5 – April 8, 2020
The prescription for good mental health.
I’m trusting that you are all safe and following the government directives.
If you’re thinking, “That sounds the same as last week’s opening.” Your right.
All of us must be good citizens and obey those who are in authority.
This week the Quebec government released its COVID projections – they gave a worst-case and best-case scenario. The suggestion is that what will make the difference is whether or not we follow the advice and directives.
Three weeks ago, there was an article in Christianity Today by Ed Stetzer. At that time, he wrote:
“THIS is not the crisis… This is the calm before the storm,”
“This week, someone you know will probably be diagnosed with Coronavirus. Next month, someone you know will probably die from it.”
By now, most of you will at least know someone who has the virus. I do. We are coming to the time where someone we know will have died from it. I’m at that point.
It seems that we are all living with more stress than ever before – governments are starting to worry about the mental health of their citizens and not just their physical well-being.
It is saddening to hear the reports of escalating spousal abuse – even many couples and families that generally get along are experiencing the difficulty of prolonged enclosure together.
I notice that Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, is continuing to instruct people to physically distance themselves and is now also asking that we keep in touch with each other by phone or online. – The new worry is the effects of isolation on mental health and well-being.
In these challenging times, we must remember that God is not only concerned with our spiritual well-being but with our mental and physical health as well.
As I consider these things, God keeps bringing me back to Paul’s words to the Philippians:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:4-7 NIV
Paul encourages the Philippians to keep their joy during difficult times. He goes on to tell them that “the peace of God, … will guard their hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The Bible gives a prescription for how to maintain good mental health: Keep your joy!
But please notice, this is not an arbitrary joy. There is an object – a provider – Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.”
God – the Lord – is the focus – the object, and the provider, of our joy!
The next thing that I notice is the result. As we rejoice in the Lord and continue in everything to be grateful to Him, letting Him know our needs, the peace of God, guards our hearts and minds.
It would seem to me that as we allow our faith to be worked out in our lives, good mental health follows!
In his letters to the Ephesians and the Thessalonians, Paul borrows imagery from the Prophet Isaiah, referring to salvation as a helmet — something that protects the head – and the mind.
Put on “the hope of salvation as a helmet.”
1 Thessalonians 5:8
The Psalmist puts this together in several psalms. Here’s one:
Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
He sees our salvation as a helmet, a protection for the mind, and a rock, immovable, unchangeable.
From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Can I encourage you today — Let God’s salvation guard your heart and mind — Let the joy of the Lord be your strength and shield.
We continue to pray for all of you — in particular, those who are working in essential services and healthcare. Thank you for your work — we are praying for you.
COVID-19, Week 4 – April 1, 2020
I’m trusting that you are all safe and following the government directives.
I know that within our church, there are a number of people who are working in essential services and some in healthcare — Thank you for your work — we are praying for you.
While listening to the news, I noticed that there are some churches, particularly in the US, that continue to hold services and are refusing to follow the government’s directives.
They site faith as their reason for congregating. — They claim to believe that they will not be affected by this virus.
Interesting – maybe puzzling – even confusing for some people. Frankly, for me, it is disturbing.
It causes people to think that Christians believe they are above the law and can exercise civil disobedience.
We should have faith – great faith – but is this extreme really the faith that God is looking for?
It seems to me that there are two Extremes when we talk about faith.
And frankly, I’m not sure that you can call either extreme FAITH.
There is the one side where we run and hide in fear or are overwhelmed by worry — that is not faith.
But neither is the other extreme where we say – God will protect me and then we ignore all safeties and protocols.
— Is this faith, or does it fall into the category of tempting or testing God.
When the devil tempted Jesus, he took Him to top of the temple —
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
We need to have a balance between the two extremes.
In this life — in this world – we do not have all the answers.
Paul says we see dimly – just a poor reflection. — We lack knowledge – we don’t have a perfect understanding.
So how should we behave?
I suggest we look at Jesus – He put things in God’s hand — that’s trust – that’s Faith – even when we don’t like the prospects of what might happen.
In Gethsemane, Jesus prayed — “Not my will, but Yours.”
Can we accept that we do not know all the answers? – Frankly, there are times when we don’t even know the right questions!
A Balanced Faith means Trust not worry, but trust is not foolishness (don’t tempt God)
A friend sent me a quote from Martin Luther; it is from a letter he wrote to Jonathan Hess during the bubonic plague in Europe – in the 1500s Christians were wondering what to do and how to respond – should they flee the cities where the plague was the worst?
Luther answers: ‘You wish to know whether it is proper for a Christian to run away from a deadly plague.”
He then addresses many of the opinions of the time – the idea of faith, and even those who said that the plague was God’s punishment.
His conclusion was that each person should decide for themselves what to do.
And then said what he would do – I’ll paraphrase:
I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. I will disinfect and sanitize. I will give medicine and take it if needed.
“I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence.”
If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others.
If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely.
See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.
I believe we should continually ask “God mercifully to protect us” those are good words to follow today.
COVID-19, Week 3 – March 25, 2020
We are now three weeks into the shutdowns from this crisis, and the Quebec Government has now asked that ALL non-essential businesses close and for people to stay at home.
In our wildest dreams (or nightmares), we could not have imagined a situation like this one.
I know it is difficult it is to be confronted by all the ramifications of the situation—the fear of the virus itself, the loss of work and finances. Just thinking about it can cause us fear and anxiety. But you can make a choice: you can let anxiety overwhelm you, or you can trust God.
Remember the words of Moses to Joshua and the people of Israel when they were about to fight the armies of Canaan.
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
I thank God that we have governments that are doing their best to care for us and the economy. And I ask you to be good citizens and obey the directives they are giving. If you can—stay at home.
Don’t be overcome fear and anxiety. Remember that God is still in control.
He has not left us He has not forsaken His people.
One of my favourite names for God is the one Hagar used in Genesis. She called Him “the God who sees me.” He sees you today, He is aware of your needs, and He cares.
As I ask God for guidance, I remember the words of an old hymn:
Jesus, Saviour, pilot me
Over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treach’rous shoal.
We are definitely going through a “tempestuous sea” with unknown times before us.
The next line in that song says:
Chart and compass come from Thee.
Jesus, Saviour, pilot me.
As we thank God for governments who are doing their best, we should remember that God is our strength and guide. He is the provider of wisdom and knowledge, and He is our “present help in times of trouble.”
God has not changed, and as He went before His people in the past, He will go before us. We may not see a physical cloud or pillar of fire, but we can know that His presence is with us, and His hand will guide us.
If you are feeling anxious, remember that God is still in control. AND try to keep your JOY. Paul tells the Philippians:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! … The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)
As the waves roll, hold on tight to God and to your joy.
Let me remind you that at LCA, we are continuing to do ministry. We are adding online group meetings to encourage fellowship and church life.
Please take a moment to visit the website and sign up for one of the online meetings and Bible studies.
Here is the link:
COVID-19, Week 2 – March 18, 2020
We are indeed living in interesting days. My hope today is that you are well and living in peace.
We are adapting to the daily changes taking place and the new information and instruction from the government. Today, new recommendations include limiting the size of gatherings and staying at home where possible.
This Sunday, March 22, 2020, we are continuing to invite people to watch from home, adding that we are inviting EVERYONE to stay home.
**Only those involved in the worship and technical teams, should be attending in person.**
We are improving the sound and video quality of our live streaming and hope that this will make the experience more enjoyable. If you can, hook your computers, phones, etc., to your TV’s and watch big as well as live. Watch as a family and take the time to pray together.
In the weeks to come, should the crisis continue, we will look to provide online gatherings via Zoom etc. so that we can have Bible studies and times together. Further information will follow in the days to come.
This Sunday, Lord willing, I will be speaking from Matthew 5:9:
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Not to give away the message, but that word Peace is “Shalom” in Hebrew, “Pace” in Italian, and I think Romanian too!!!
Shalom means peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility.
In the Bible, peace is not only the absence of conflict or trouble, but it is also (and perhaps primarily) the presence and enjoyment of all good things.
Today so many are in a state of ‘unrest,’ their hearts, minds and souls are troubled, not peaceful or serene. Peace is something that seems to be in short supply.
Peace – in the way that Jesus intends it – that is something that we all could use.
Let me encourage you by saying peace is something that can exist in the midst (right in the middle) of all kinds of trials and difficulties – and yes, even in times of crisis. Peace is something that we can have when we have the presence of God in our lives. No matter the crisis, no matter your particular emotional state, you can be assured of His presence.
Jesus has promised us:
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” -John 14:27
We can be peacemakers in this world and in this time of crisis by living as a reflection of God’s character and love. As we hold out the hope of the gospel, we are inviting others to find peace in their lives and hearts as they find peace with God.
My prayer today is from the Apostle Paul:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” -Romans 15:13
Today and throughout this week and the days ahead, may you know the presence of the God of peace!