The numbers worldwide continue to rise: 181,377 cases, 7119 deaths, 78,085 recoveries. Worldwide reactions are dramatic: airline flights cancelled, large numbers of quarantined populations, countries with closed borders, bans on gatherings over 250 people, schools closed, colleges reverting to online classes, sports leagues cancelled, plummeting stock markets etc. Behold a pandemic! The cause of this chaos is a virus named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes is called “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
The Washington Post's Style Invitational asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here were some winners:
*Arachnoleptic fit: The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
*Beelzebug: Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at 3 a.m. and cannot be cast out.
I want to share with you a moment burned into my mind as a poignant testimony to generosity. My daughter, Sarah and I, experienced this moment in the city of Cerro de Pasco, Peru, in 2002. In the course of ministering to a small church in this town located at the top of the Andean mountains, we met street children who were collecting trash or anything of value they could find on the streets, in order to garner a handful of coins.
Although home to one of the deepest silver mines in the world, Cerro de Pasco’s 70,000 inhabitants are mostly poor. One would think that any money a child could scrape would be zealously guarded and used for food or clothing. But these joyful children tithed from what they had in order to give to missionaries. It was a demonstration of the poorest giving to the poor to honor and expand God’s work. Someday I hope to learn how God blessed them!
Genesis 26:21,22—Then they dug another well and quarreled over that one also, so he named it Hostility. He moved from there and dug another, and they did not quarrel over it. He named it Open Spaces and said, “For now the LORD has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.”
The Philistines inhabited the land of Canaan and because water was precious in that arid region there was competition over who controlled it. In the passage above, Isaac, the son of Abraham could not escape quarreling with Philistine herdsmen who, envious of his wealth, claimed any wells Isaac’s servants dug up as their own. They should have been thankful for more sources of water. Instead, by their hostile actions, they were sending a message to Isaac—“Get out of our land.”
Karen worked at Bethel Chapel in the children’s department for two years and was pretty good at her job. When she first started working there she was attracted to her boss, until she found out he was married. Then she did the appropriate thing and simply focused on her work. Her boss, Fred, learned that she was a single mom and he and his wife did their best to help her out. At some point in the process of helping, he became attracted to Karen. Soon, everyone in the office noticed Fred was spending a lot of time with her. Gradually she grew embarrassed by his increasing attention. He continuously texted her, often walked her to her car after work, and was overly aggressive about finding out about her personal life. Though the church office was filled with gossip about Fred and Karen, no one confronted Fred.
In 1915, Rabbi Jeremy’s grandfather as a teenager recognized that if he stayed in Russia he was likely to be persecuted and deprived of basic freedoms. So, he left his family and walked—all the way to Israel. It took him one and half years to reach the port of Jaffa. I would imagine it was a dangerous trip full of excitement, fighting cold and hunger as well as numerous other challenges. With a group of men touring Israel (including my two sons and son-in-law), we listened to Jeremy share life lessons at Yad Hashmona Country Hotel.
1 Chronicles 11:6—David said, “Whoever is the first to kill a Jebusite will become chief commander.” Joab son of Zeruiah went up first, so he became the chief.
Words definitely matter. So do our actions. On the surface, it appears that King David made a pretty smart decision. He needed to defeat the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem who had a successful history of repelling would-be conquerors. In fact, they told David, “You will never get in here” (vs. 5). David needed a general to lead Israel’s army so he issued the challenge in our verse for meditation. The king got what he wanted. Zeruiah’s three sons, Joab, Abishai and Asahel were all warriors and Joab seized the opportunity afforded by David’s challenge, and killed the first Jebusite.
Often I find Christians in the United States discouraged, wondering why it seems like there is little activity by God in our land. There is a sense that our nation is increasingly secular and a growing unease. I believe that materialism is a far greater threat to the growth of our faith than outright opposition. Why do I say this? My friends who face suffering, prison or the loss or rights because of their walk with God actually find renewal and supernatural strength in the testing of their faith. While those who live in comfort find it hard to die to self and actively proclaim truth. Yet contrary to what many of us may be thinking—there is a major work of God going on around much of the globe.
Here’s a fantastic way to test your life pace. How long can you wait without uttering derogatory words or pressing your hands against the wheel, behind a car that is not moving when the traffic light turns green? Today on my way to a function, the red light changed but the car to my left did not move. In less than four seconds horns were blowing. At the next light I did not move fast enough and again there was honking. I guess the drivers in Houston have even less patience than the drivers in Portland. So what’s the big hurry?
Solomon writes of the bride who is awakened to the sound of her beloved knocking at her door. Unfortunately she takes too long to answer . . .
How often do you seek answers from the Bible so as to know what to do? For years Kathleen and I have not been able to sell our home and because of this our equity is tied up. Not having the ability to free up this money is frustrating. I wonder how many hours I have spent trying to identify a solution to our situation. Recently, I read in Psalm 16:5, “The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot” (ESV). What a great reminder that He is in control of my lot (in context lot refers to the future but here it makes a nice property statement)! He will resolve our housing situation when the time is right. Occasionally finding answers is not the issue. What I need is to be at peace with the Answer.
She was a wealthy woman of the best kind— thoughtful and generous. She noticed a man of God in need and she fed him. As he often frequented her town, she talked her husband into building a home addition so the man would have his own room furnished to meet his needs. Grateful for her kindness, the godly man asked her what he could do for her. She declined his offer. So he asked his helper what could be done for her. He noticed that her husband was old and she had no children. So he called her to his room and as she stood in the doorway told her she would have a son the following spring. She asked him not to lie to her, but sure enough she gave birth to a boy. Years later the woman’s son became ill and died. His mother immediately traveled to Mount Carmel where she found Elisha, fell on the ground and grabbed his feet.
It was early in the morning and Doris was cold. She asked Dan if he would warm up the house. So he got up and only barely awake emptied the ashes from the wood stove into the cardboard box and set it behind the stove. Then he built a new fire and went back to bed. It wasn’t long before he awoke to the screams of Doris yelling his name. Their home was rapidly filling with smoke. Dan ran into the family room just in time to see flames darting up the corner wall. Quickly he found the fire extinguisher but instead of attacking the flames he sprayed directly into the box below and the blaze was contained.
Have you ever gone through periods in your life where you knew what God wanted you to do but were afraid to obey because of circumstances? I have a friend whose marriage is going badly. He knows from the counsel he has received and from God’s Word that divorce is wrong and, in his situation, not an option. But his wife treats him badly and he is tired of trying to improve their relationship. He is reluctant to apply any advice he receives. He says it is time he took care of himself and was free to do what he wants to do. So he filed for divorce and bought a new car thinking now his problems should end.
Luke 6:47,48-- I will show you what someone is like who comes to Me, hears My words, and acts on them: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built.
My office is the scene of constant battle. On the front line of my desk, two forces are engaged—the Pile Army led by General Intentions versus the Orderly Army led by General Tidy. The Pile Army constantly bombs the white-painted plain where I work with papers, books, writing instruments, mail, business cards, pictures and occasionally food and drink. Tidy is outgunned, outmaneuvered and so seldom wins victories that his army is often prone to quit fighting. Bills, deadlines and voting ballots are sporadically missed—all casualties beneath the deadly aim of Intention’s battle captain—Procrastination. On occasion, when I take trips, my wife visits the frontlines and brilliantly supports the Orderly forces with such pragmatic movements that I can actually see my desktop when I return.
Labor Day is a holiday celebrated in America the first Monday in September. It is unclear who first conceived of this day but for over 100 years it has served as a tribute and dedication to the social and economic achievements of American workers. Regardless of what country we live in, work is an important facet of our everyday lives.
1 John 4:7, 21-- Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God . . . And we have this command from Him: The one who loves God must also love his brother.