Monday, May 18, 2020

Moving forward to a new normal in Christ

Do you like doing new things? Most people would probably answer yes, as long as that new thing was your own idea! But often we’re pretty resistant to change. We like doing things the way we’ve become used to doing them. It seems to work for us, and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” So we’re hearing a lot of talk about wanting things to go back to normal.

Here’s another well-worn phrase, made famous by many rock-solid church-goers throughout the ages: “We’ve never done it that way before.”

Welcome to the era of change!

We’ve never had a “Drive-in Worship Celebration” before. We’ve never done a Facebook live-stream before. We’ve never pre-recorded our services and uploaded them to YouTube before. We never had a YouTube channel before. We never offered online giving before. We never had Zoom prayer meetings before. We never had Sunday School class on that internet thing before.

So welcome to the new normal! What if, instead of talking about things going back to normal, we start looking to see where God is leading us to go forward? What if the old ways weren’t really in line with where God wanted us to be in the first place, so we start moving forward to the new normal kind of life in Christ that we should have been living all along anyway?

What a time in the history of the church to re-evaluate what we’re doing and why we’re doing it and how we’re getting it done! God is graciously giving us a chance to hit the pause button and to reset the priorities of our lives according to His plan for His glory.

And I believe that reset begins with personal and corporate revival.

If ever there has been a time in our generation to allow the Lord to breathe new life into His church, it’s now! It’s time for the dry bones to hear the Word of the Lord and come to life!

It’s time for the church to wake from her slumber, her lethargy, her apathy, and return to the Lord with her whole heart, to seek the Lord with laser-focused pursuit, and embrace a new normal life in Christ Jesus in which we capture a new passion for holiness, a new devotion to prayer, a new love for the Word of God, a new joy in Christ Jesus, a new spirit of gratitude and praise, a new hunger for corporate worship, a new desire for fellowship with God’s church, a new compassion for people in need, a new zeal for evangelism, and a new realization of our stewardship responsibilities.

Friend, let me assure you that God delights to do a new work in the lives of those who are willing to come to Him. And even if you’ve never before put your faith in Jesus for salvation, now’s a great time to let Him give you a new life. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Perhaps the old things were broken after all.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

I should stay outside

Despite some seasonal allergy issues, I love being outside in the spring, enjoying the glory of God’s creation. “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1).

But on the rainy days when I’m stuck indoors I’m trying to wrap my head around this reopening plan for Illinois. Maybe I’m wrong, but it feels like we’re playing a game with the kid who keeps changing the rules along the way, cheats on the score, and moves the bases farther apart when you’re not looking.

I want to believe that these lockdown efforts have been sincerely made in the interests of protecting peoples’ physical health. And I’m willing to give some benefit of the doubt regarding decisions made from the early models and curves based on very limited data, so that we didn’t end up with a worst-case scenario.

But my confidence in the opinions of “experts” has significantly eroded. Obviously, not even all the experts agree on the models used or the means employed to reduce the spread of the virus. And when you hear too many conflicting reports and changing scenarios and interesting death counts and curious funding incentives combined with increased governmental control, isn’t it time to rethink things?

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m all for protecting people, especially the most vulnerable among us, and I believe we should wash our hands frequently and exercise commonsense approaches to safety.

But when Pritzker says he’s following the science to save as many lives as possible, yet has already defied all science in championing the causes of abortion and transgender dysphoria, you’ll have to pardon me for my suspicions.

And when his family is allowed to travel freely while the rest of us are urged to stay home; and when Mayor Lightfoot can get her hair done, but you can’t; and when one former President could go golfing before the golf courses were allowed to open, but you couldn’t, doesn’t that at least give us reason to say, “Now, wait a minute here…”?

Well, I’ve probably said too much. I’m complying so far, but I’m praying for wisdom. I’m praying for those who’ve suffered from this sickness and for those who are grieving the loss of loved ones. I’m praying for those who have lost their jobs and for small businesses that are having to make excruciating decisions. I’m praying for the farmers who haven’t lost their jobs but are losing their farms. I’m praying for the children staying at home, but whose home is not a safe place for them to be. I’m praying for the isolated widows who need contact with other people and for our collective emotional and mental health, as well.

My list is long, but mostly I pray that God will give us all the faith to trust in Him no matter what. In the meantime, maybe I’d better just stay outside.