"Getting Someone Sick" Is Not a Moral Failure

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"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God" (1 John 4:7).

"Beloved, let the Cautious and the Confident love one another by respecting one another's personal freedoms, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God" (1 John 4:7, COVID-19 translation).
I recently read an article by Costi Hinn which has been the most beneficial piece I have read so far on the Christian's handling of COVID-19. I want to expand his ideas practically here. My main goal is to help Christians balance their differing responses and opinions to COVID-19 by appealing to mutual respect and freedom.

"My People!"

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"For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility" (Ephesians 2:14-16).

Christ has made a new people in himself, based not on ethnicity, ancestry, sex, or common interests. By his Holy Spirit he has taken former sinners - both Jews and Gentiles - and reconciled them both to God and to each other! Hallelujah!

Masks and Issues of Conscience: Part 2

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Perhaps what is the most dangerous threat in regards to the many mandates today due to Covid is fear. To say it succinctly: Fear, not disease, is the greatest threat we face in 2020. The fear of God, of course, is a good thing, but we are fearing (placing a greater emphasis on) the wrong things: disease, death, and others.

Our consciences are fragile things. The apostle Paul says that our consciences are constantly approving of the good that what we do or accusing us of the wrong that we do. Each person's conscience is influenced throughout one's life. Regardless, God has given all human beings a conscience to distinguish between right and wrong. It is the first restraint given by God after the fall against sin: humans have an innate knowledge of moral right and wrong.

But I want to return to the idea that each person's conscience is influenced by various ideas throughout one's life, and it can change. I'll get right to the point: I have found my conscience accusing me of things that it previously did not because of the various mandates surrounding Covid, specifically in regards to the various and sometimes conflicting scientific findings on the effectiveness of masks and the spreading of the disease.

Masks and Issues of Conscience: Part 1

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To begin, the conscience is the part of us that accuses or defends our actions, says Paul in Romans 4. Consciences cannot and should not be broken in either way. The result is extremely damaging. 

For the last several months, during the COVID-19 hype, face masks have been touted as issues of conscience among Christian circles. The argument stems from Romans 14 and claims that anyone not wearing a mask is living in sin because they are not loving their weaker brother by wearing masks. Not wearing a mask is viewed as a sin by some because non-wearers are offending their brothers and sisters by being unloving and uncaring.

The Garden of Marxism (I mean, Eden)

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Assuming you are aware of the current trends and talking points in today's world, I will jump right into the conversation. What prompted me to write this piece was that I was challenged by a few people in recent weeks to become more informed and more educated about the Black Lives Matter movement because I wouldn't view them "as the enemy" if I only understood more about them. Each person seemed to think that if I was more enlightened, I would see the justification for one class's anger and violence.

Realistic Expectations

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Yesterday was Father's Day, but I wasn't feeling especially like a good father. I have been rather the opposite: irritable and short-tempered. Last night before bed, Lauren and I prayed for our kids and our patience as parents. I woke up in the middle of the night to a still, small voice teaching me that I need to have realistic expectations for my children, depending on their age and ability. I woke up thankful for the Lord's answer to our prayer!

Truth, Lies, and Hope During Coronavirus

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Briefly, my story of coronavirus: Anna Grace was in the NICU for five weeks in January. That's when we first heard of this new virus that was threatening the world - other countries like China and Italy. There's no way could that happen in the United States, I thought to myself.

Needless to say, it did happen here in the USA. At first, I was very sympathetic. I wanted to do the right thing as a Christian, so I encouraged people not to be afraid and to do what the government wanted us to do. After all, the Bible stands true no matter what is going on: "Submit yourselves to the governing authorities, for all authority is instituted by God" (Romans 13). I handled it pretty submissively for the first two weeks.

He Came To Dwell With Us

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"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). 
"Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. ... Moses said, 'Please show me your glory'" (Exodus 33:7, 18).

Christ, Our Substitute

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On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn - both men and animals - and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt (Exodus 12:12-13).
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgement he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth (Isaiah 53:4-9).
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people (Psalm 22:1-6).
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has one, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

Letting Go

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It's been said many times: "Let go and let God." And while we cannot free ourselves of all responsibility in our quest of surrender, there is much truth to this simple saying.

My wife and I would both describe ourselves as "perfectionists." We like to have our "ducks in a row" you might say. Having a plan is pretty important to us and sticking to that plan is almost as equally as important. But perfectionism is really just a nice, socially-acceptable way of saying what wisdom would call "an unhealthy desire for power and control" - with a tad bit of pride as the cherry on the top.

Think about it, for all those who would say you are perfectionists: do you get upset when things don't go your way? Do you grumble and complain when the way you have things ordered gets messed up? Do you find yourself worried and anxious often? If so, you might just have a power and control problem.

3 Examples of Patience in Suffering

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"Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful" (James 5:7-11).
I don't know why bad things have to happen, but I do know that God has a plan. That is the essence of faith: trusting God even when things don't make sense. It is trusting the Lord and not relying on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Give Thanks in All Circumstances

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Our second daughter, Anna Grace, was born on December 18, 2019 at 11 A.M. on the dot. She is blonde and beautiful. She is strong and the Lord is good.

As I write this, the date is January 20, 2020. Wow. I didn’t realize it has been over a month since she was born. She’s in the NICU with Lauren, fighting to heal from pneumonia. She is expected to have heart surgery within the next few months, along with her brother who has a similar heart condition. Our family has been separated – with limited time together – for the past month. What a trial.

I have been joyful, happy, elated, depressed, burdened, frustrated, angry, full of faith, full of doubt, full of energy, full of despair, and all the in-between over the last month. So where do I stand now?

On Christ the solid rock I stand, ALL other ground is sinking sand… all other ground is sinking sand.

I have been amazed by how many people have also seen their foundations shaken from watching our trial. I am both touched by their tears and burdened by their pain. Today, I hope to comfort us - myself included - with the mercy of God.

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