Coronavirus Fears

Mark 4:35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. 36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. 37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

This story holds a profound lesson challenging our response to fear.

It is important to recognize that the fear in this story was valid. This is not a story about irrational anxiety. Notice the language in the text describing “a great windstorm,” “the waves beat[ing] the boat” and “that the boat was already being swamped.” This was real. The disciples were lifelong fishermen who knew the sea and could recognize genuine danger, and they were convinced they’d die.

This makes the contrast with Jesus all the more remarkable. Look at how Jesus acted: “He was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.” Mark paints a picture of serenity, but one surrounded by chaos. I wonder how the disciples viewed Jesus at this moment. He was one of the few in the boat who was not a trained fisherman. Perhaps they viewed his nonchalant attitude as a symptom of ignorance rather than an enduring sign of faith. They faced real danger, one they expertly understood, while their teacher seemed oblivious and out of touch.

It was at that moment Jesus awoke. I like to picture Him slowly sitting up, maybe stretching for a moment and then stepping out to command the waves to “be still!” Instantly, the wind died and seas calmed. At His word. The very word that spoke the sea into existence.

His question is one we must all answer, “Why are you afraid?”

Take a moment and ask yourself.

Fear can be a symptom of a lack of faith. It is human to imagine a worst-case scenario occurring in the future—whether a pandemic, economic collapse or something else entirely. But, do we remember that God will be with us in that future? Do we see only waves or is our attention fixed on Jesus who still rests in the boat? Fear is a form of thinking in which when we imagine a future in which God will not be present. Even in a “worst-case scenario,” Jesus has a funny habit of showing up and transforming into something else entirely.

This does not negate the reality of human suffering and grief. Jesus repeatedly demonstrates His compassion for those suffering. Furthermore, we should not feel condemned for the fear we feel. It’s natural to worry and, no matter how strong your faith, you’ll probably still deal with it to some extent. But this does challenge us to lift our perspective so we are not defined by fear. No matter what occurs in this life, Jesus—the very Word of God—is still with us. He still has authority over the storm, and He has conquered death itself. We may go through trials, but we live in hope.

It is all-too-easy and all-too-human to let fear grow bigger than God. Like the disciples, we follow Jesus during everyday life, but what happens when a storm appears out of nowhere and threatens to swamp us? How do we view Jesus? As a man who doesn’t understand the danger of the situation? Or as a God who reigns over all the earth? Our perspective changes everything.

 

FRIDAY FUNNIES

FISH FOR COKES

“Poor Old fool,” thought the well-dressed gentleman as he watched an old man fish in a puddle outside a cafe. So he invited the old man inside for a drink. As they sipped their coke, the gentleman thought he’d humor the old man and asked, “So how many have you caught today?”

The old man replied, “You’re the fourth.”\

NEED A PASSWORD

While he was visiting, my father asked for the password to our Wi-Fi.

“It’s taped under the modem,”  I told him.

After three failed attempts to log on, he asked, “Am I spelling this right? T-A-P-E-D-U-N-D-E-R-T-H-E-M-O-D-E-M?”

WHAT IS A HIPSTER?

“What’s a hipster?” asked my four-year-old cousin.

“Someone who will wear something just to look different,” I said. “They’ll often buy clothes in thrift shops and wear thick glasses.”“Is Grandma a hipster?” he asked.

JURY DUTY

Just as she was celebrating her 80th birthday, our friend received a jury-duty notice. She called the clerk’s office to remind them that she was exempt because of her age.

“You need to come in and fill out the exemption forms,” the clerk said.

“But I filled them out last year,” she replied.

“You have to fill them out every year.”

“Why? Do you think I’m getting younger?”

Plot

by Phillip Yancey

In its “plot,” the story of the Bible ends up very much where it began. The broken relationship between God and human beings has healed over at last, and the curse of Genesis 3 is lifted. Borrowing images from Eden, Revelation pictures a river and a tree of life (Rev. 22:1-2). But this time a great city replaces the garden setting—a city filled with worshipers of God. No death or sadness will ever darken that scene. When we awake in the new heaven and new earth, we will have at last a happy ending.

Heaven is not an afterthought or an optional belief. It is the final justification of all creation. The Bible never belittles human tragedy and disappointment—is any book more painfully honest?—but it does add one key word: temporary. What we feel now, we will not always feel. The time for re-creation will come.

For people who feel trapped in pain or in a broken home, in economic misery or in fear—for all of us—heaven promises a timeless future of health and wholeness and pleasure and peace. The Bible begins with the promise of a Redeemer in the book of Genesis (3:15) and ends with that same promise (Rev. 21:1-7)—a guarantee of future reality. The end will be the beginning.

Beyond earth’s sorrows, the joys of heaven;
Eternal blessings with Christ my Lord;
Earth’s weeping ended, earth’s trials over,
Sweet rest in Jesus, O blest reward! —Gilmore

Wade’s Wednesday

funny-misspelled-sign-good-brakeBy David McCasland

Like many people, when I read a newspaper or magazine I notice the misteaks in grammar and spelling. (You saw that, didn’t you!) I’m not trying to find errors; they leap off the page at me! My usual reaction is to criticize the publication and the people who produce it. “Why don’t they use ‘spell check’ or hire a proofreader?”

You may have a similar experience in your area of expertise. It seems that often, the more we know about something, the more judgmental we become over mistakes. It can infect our relationships with people as well.

Yet Philippians 1:9 expresses a different approach. Paul wrote, “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;” God’s plan is that the more we know and understand, the more we love. Rather than cultivating a critical spirit and pretending we don’t notice or don’t care, our understanding should nourish empathy. Criticism is replaced by compassion.

Instead of our being faultfinders, the Lord calls us to be “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” (v. 11).

When the Lord fills our hearts, we can overlook mistakes, hold our criticism, and love others, no matter how much we know about them!

Lord, by Your grace, please replace my critical spirit with Your love and compassion for others.  

To err is human; to forgive, divine. —Alexander Pope

Tuesday With Karen

by Karen Icenhour

Moreover, Abundantly

Moreover, abundantly, is how God’s hand works,
He gives us special blessings within His church;
He loads us with benefits each day afresh & anew,
It’s awesome to just think upon all God can do!
Moreover, abundantly, God gives us loving care,
There’s nothing His touch can’t handle or repair;
He listens when we humbly call upon His name,
Supplying every need, giving joy that remains!
Moreover, abundantly, God guides us how to live,
His wisdom will lead us in how to love & forgive;
When our heart learns to earnestly seek His face,
We’ll come to know His wonderful mercy & grace!
Moreover, abundantly, is how God’s heart operates,
Faithful, holy, & just are are a few of His Godly traits;
His work in our life brings sweet riches & treasures,
By Him, we’re abundantly blessed beyond measure!
                              
**Written after the sermon by Bro. Paul Hebert
@Second Baptist of Dallas(a.m.)

Set For Cold Weather

by Julia Bettencourt

“…in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”   Philippians 4:11-13

Growing up in Ohio, I learned the meaning of cold and winter. Of course I didn’t truly understand it until I grew up and moved to a warmer climate. Now if I go back to Ohio in the winter, I can barely stand the cold. When I was little my whole world was Ohio and I actually thought it was normal to wear several layers of clothing and be bundled up so much you couldn’t move, dig out driveways of snow, scrape ice off your car, and do all the other things that go along with snow, ice, and winter.

In our spiritual lives, we all have “winters” too and we have to winterize for them in order to face them. When winter comes it is a time of bleak and dark dreary days. We must face the fact that winter can be hard and trials are hard. Just like the season of winter, our spiritual “winters” can leave us discouraged, lonely, and depressed.

There are some things that can make the cold of our winter very intense. We need to winterize and guard against them.

    1. The Cold Air Culprit of the World.
      When we are going through trials and hardships, we sometimes tend to let our guard down and it’s so easy for worldly influences to take over in our lives. It seeps through the cracks around the doors and windows just like the winter air. It may be the influence of worldly friends, worldly music, worldly thinking. It all can work overtime on us as we face trials in our lives. We’ve got to dig out the caulk and weather stripping and block those cracks and holes. Using God’s Word is the best way to do this. If we have it in our hearts, it can help stop the winter air of the world from seeping into our lives.“Thy word have I hid in mine heart,
      that I might not sin against thee.”   Psalm 119:11

 

    1. The Icicles of Cold Attitudes.
      During the winter it is easy to develop a bad attitude. It doesn’t take much at all for some of us. In comes the dreary days, the cold and chill, and drip…drip…we have formed those icicle attitudes. We become cranky and out of sorts with our family and anyone who we come in contact with. We also tend to complain more about anyone and anything.When we are in the midst of a trial we sometimes automatically go into icicle attitude mode. We don’t have any fellowship with anyone to help encourage us through our trial because who wants to be around us? We have to remember that no one else can fix our bad attitudes. Only we can do that. It’s not easy either to adjust your attitude during a “winter” because the weight of that ice is bearing down on us. I’ve found that the simplest way to start working on adjusting a bad attitude is to take a step back and just remember who God is and who we are not.“Be still, and know that I am God:”   Psalm 46:10

 

    1. The Blizzards of Circumstances.
      Winter can bring so many things along with it. Blizzards being one of the worst as the effects it leaves is so devastating. Circumstances in our lives can also be devastating. Bills mount up. Family members get sick or even die. Relationships get sour, and many other circumstances weigh down on us until we think we can’t go on because we can’t see what’s down the road. I think that during these times we need to remember that God sees the outcome. He’s our Potter and we are the clay.“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he
      hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”   Job 23:10

 

  1. The Jack Frost of Depression.
    Better bundle up because if you are going trough a trial, then depression is going to come nipping at your heels sooner or later. Just like the dark and bleak days of winter have a depressing effect on us, trials seem to frost our lives with depression. The problem is that when we are in the midst of a “winter”, it is so easy to just let it nip away at us. I think depression is one of the worst things of a “winter” because I’ve had my problem with it and it still seems like it is always there looming and wanting to nip…nip away. There’s no easy way out of depression but keeping our lives in tune with God can help guard against it. Regular personal devotions and a time with God each day can go a long way in dealing with it.“Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry
    aloud: and he shall hear my voice.”   Psalm 55:17

 

Games

by Julia Bettencourt

“…Choose you this day whom ye will serve…” Joshua 24:15

When I was growing up we always played board games and I still enjoy playing them with my kids. My favorites are games like Boggle and Scrabble because I love words. Guess you can tell how much I like words by how much I write. I think the game all my family likes to play the most is Monopoly. We don’t do that one as much except when my kids are off from school because the game usually lasts so long we end up taking breaks and then coming back to it. Sometimes we go back to it the next day.

Our board games are all stacked up in the corner of our family room (not so neatly) and I was looking at that stack recently and thinking of all the strange names they all have. Those words they use for game names have stuck around in my head for several days now and after thinking about them for awhile, I decided we could learn a little about choices we make in our lives from some of them.

  • Monopoly
    What’s monopolizing your time? What is monopolizing your thoughts? What is monopolizing your life?Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8
  • Clue
    Are you seeking the answers? Finding out all the mysteries of the Bible? Do you have a clue about what you believe and why?Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. Psalm 119:18

    With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Psalm 119:10

  • Twister
    Are you twisted up with sin? Sin has a way of entangling you. You can’t serve two masters.No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 6:24
  • Risk
    Do you take chances with your witness? Are you showing up in places or doing things that you know could tempt you? That can cause some risky consequences.Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. James 1:13-15
  • Sorry
    Do you confess your sins so you keep your fellowship with the Lord? Do you follow the biblical guidance on forgiving others?If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

    Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. Colossians 3:13

  • Trouble
    Are you a troublemaker? Do your actions cause others to fall?Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge
    this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to
    fall in his brother’s way. Romans 14:13

    Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the
    believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith,
    in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

  • Chutes and Ladders
    Are you climbing higher in your Christian life or are you sliding down? Are you growing and moving forward?Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13,14

    I noticed this game wasn’t in our topsy-turvy stack of games in our family room, but as I was thinking about these game names, that one came to mind. My kids have outgrown it now but when they were pretty little, they loved it. So like our Christian lives, here we are moving ahead and climbing higher, and we don’t stay in the Word or start skipping church, and swish, we slide down that chute and have to pick ourselves back up and push forward again.

Conclusion:
We play games as entertainment, to spend time with our kids, or just for the plain enjoyment of the game. We think of games as light hearted things, but everyday living isn’t quite so light hearted. We move space to space and hit high-points and low-points on the way. The thing is that we don’t move around that great game-board of life by taking some dice in our hands, rolling, and seeing what numbers come up before we move. Our spaces and directions we move in are all by our own choices. Only we have the power to decide which way we are going to go, how many steps we are taking, and how long we will stay at a point.

We don’t go along and have to stop and pick up a card that says, “Today you will spend time with the Lord in prayer” or “Today you will sin”. It doesn’t work that way. We choose what we end up doing. We have control of the board. Sure, circumstances and things come up in our lives but only we choose how we deal with them. Only we choose how we are going to live from day to day.

In Joshua chapter 24, it is talking about where Joshua brought all the tribes of Israel together and reminded them Who God was. The people had gone off to serve other gods and Joshua gave them a powerful demand that day, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve”. It’s what we’ve got to think about ourselves every day. Are we going to serve the Lord today as we take life step by step?

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15

Hero

Charles Whittlesey was a hero’s hero. Leader of the so-called “Lost Battalion” in World War I, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery when his unit was trapped behind enemy lines. When the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was dedicated, Charles was chosen to serve as pallbearer for the first soldier laid to rest there. Two weeks later, it is presumed that he ended his own life by stepping off a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean.

Like Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-7), Charles was publicly strong, but in the quiet, post-public moments, his feelings of despair set in. People today frequently face situations bigger than they can handle. Sometimes it’s temporary despair brought on by fatigue, as in Elijah’s case. He had been part of a great victory over the prophets of Baal (18:20-40), but then he feared for his life and ran into the wilderness (19:1-3). But often, it’s more than despair and it’s more than temporary. That’s why it is imperative that we talk about depression openly and compassionately.

God offers His presence to us in life’s darkest moments, which enables us, in turn, to be His presence to the hurting. Crying out for help—from others and from God—may be the strongest moment of our lives.

Friday Funnies

I’M FINE

A farmer named Clyde had a tractor accident. In court, the trucking company’s fancy hot shot lawyer, was questioning Clyde. “Didn’t you say, at the scene of the accident, ‘I’m fine,’?” asked the lawyer.

Clyde responded, “Well, I’ll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite cow, Bessie, into the…”

“I didn’t ask for any details”, the lawyer interrupted. “Just answer the question, …please. Did you, or did you not say, at the scene of the accident, ‘I’m fine!’?”

Clyde said, “Well, I had just got Bessie into the trailer behind the tractor and I was driving down the road….”

The lawyer interrupted again and said, “Your Honor, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the Highway Patrolman on the scene that he was just fine. Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question.”

By this time, the Judge was fairly interested in Clyde’s answer and said to the lawyer, “I’d like to hear what he has to say about his favorite cow, Bessie”.

Clyde thanked the Judge and proceeded. “Well, as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie, my favorite cow, into the trailer and was driving her down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my John Deer Tractor right in the side. I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurting, real bad and didn’t want to move. However, I could hear old Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans.

Shortly after the accident a Highway Patrolman came on the scene. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning, so he went over to her. After he looked at her, and saw her fatal condition, he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes. Then the Patrolman came across the road, gun still in hand, looked at me, and said, “How are you feeling?” “Now tell me, what would you say?”

THE FAN

An Alabama fan, an Auburn fan, a Georgia fan, and a Tennessee fan are all climbing a mountain, arguing about who loves their team the most.

The Tennessee fan insists that he is the most loyal. He yells out, “This is for Tennessee!!!” and jumps off of the mountain.

Not to be outdone, the Georgia fan then yells out, “This is for Georgia!!!” and jumps off of the mountain.

Of course, the Alabama fan refuses to lose, so he yells out, “This is for Alabama! ROLL TIDE ROLL!!!” … and pushes the Auburn fan off of the mountain.

Full

from ODB

In the book Kisses from Katie, Katie Davis recounts the joy of moving to Uganda and adopting several Ugandan girls. One day, one of her daughters asked, “Mommy, if I let Jesus come into my heart, will I explode?” At first, Katie said no. When Jesus enters our heart, it is a spiritual event.

However, after she thought more about the question, Katie explained that when we decide to give our lives and hearts to Jesus “we will explode with love, with compassion, with hurt for those who are hurting, and with joy for those who rejoice.” In essence, knowing Christ results in a deep care for the people in our world.

The Bible challenges us to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15). We can consistently display this loving response because of the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts. When we receive Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside us. The apostle Paul described it this way, “Having believed [in Christ,] you were sealed with the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 1:13).

Caring for others—with God’s supernatural assistance—shows the world that we are His followers (John 13:35). It also reminds us of His love for us. Jesus said, “As I have loved you, . . . you also love one another” (v.34).