Sing in a mask – are you serious?  5/29/20

5ea9ac6f175cd.imageIn Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8, Paul addresses an issue in the First-Century church that was causing very real division.  Meat sold in the markets in those cities was apparently sold after being offered to an idol.  Some church members, recognizing that idols are just man-made carvings, ate meat without any conscious thought.  Others were pricked in the conscience at the thought of eating something offered to an idol (demon?).  The strong meat eaters sneered at the weak abstainers.  And the principled vegans judged the reckless carnivores.

Paul came down supporting the logic of the meat eaters but supporting the consciences of the vegans.  He pointed out that he had the freedom to eat meat, but if he led someone to eat with him in violation of their conscience, he would be causing them to sin AND he would be sinning himself.  He ends by pointing out that we have liberty, but we ought to let love regulate that liberty.

I’m watching this same type of thing play out in the world with regard to safety measures (masks, socials distancing, etc.) after two months of virus concerns.*  

Populous states/counties experienced high infection/death rates and are still very focused on safety, as is the news coverage coming out of those areas, and there are myriads of stories and studies supporting a bunker mentality.  They tend to be “judgy” of those who yearn to be free.

Less densely populated areas experienced fewer infections/deaths and are far more focused on getting the economy running again, as is the news coverage tailored to them, and there are a myriad of stories and studies supporting that point of view.  They tend to sneer at those who appear to value safety more than freedom.

Obviously, that’s counterproductive, but that’s politics, and the country/world is only going to get more divided until The King is on The Throne.  The thing is we need to NOT bring political division into the church.  (1 Cor 1:10)

So whether you fall into the camp that believes that masks save lives or you fall into the camp that believes masks are a silly affectation, as long as the county health department asks us to wear them or not sing at all; let’s wear them and make a joyful noise unto the Lord!

Pastor Scott

*May 26, 2020

By Chris Stirewalt


America is such a political basket case that even our viral infections break along partisan lines.

 At least that’s how it looks when you start investigating the political geography of coronavirus. We’ve talked from the beginning how red America and blue America are having very different experiences and reactions to the pandemic and the measures taken to control it.

 Now we’ve got some very useful evidence to help quantify the split.

 Here’s what the NYT found: “Counties won by President Trump in 2016 have reported just 27 percent of the virus infections and 21 percent of the deaths — even though 45 percent of Americans live in these communities.”

 It’s no wonder that Republicans and Democrats are talking past each other.

 A plague that hits major population centers hardest is as old as plagues themselves. Population density is a dominant factor in the transmission of every communicable disease we know.

What’s different now is how well sorted politically Americans are and how little empathy partisans have for each other. With urban Republicans and rural Democrats all but extinct, there’s far less political pressure for compassion and compromise than there would have once been.

Viruses exploit the body’s weakness, so perhaps the same goes for entire nations.

Not even Paul Harvey’s “If I Were The Devil” would have a nightmare dream of something so wicked as a politically skewed virus arriving just at the moment when we’re most seriously testing the ties that bind this union: This ugly election year.

It took little imagination to know what people like that would do with a natural disaster that follows political and socioeconomic fault lines. 

 We have a political class that works those same levers every day. They find new and more potent ways to arouse suspicion and resentments against their fellow Americans. They happily ignore the good news when it’s better for someone else. They present every decision as good/evil, us/them, black/white. They question every motive but their own.

 They do all the things that would undermine dealing effectively with the deadly virus and its economic aftermath. Cheerful cooperation and mutual respect are desperately needed in a natural disaster like this one. But those things are deadly to more than viruses; they would also kill off the brain-dead negative partisanship that passes for civic discourse these days.

 The good news is that if we can summon the collective strength to deal with a virus that exploits our tribal partisanship, we will help roll back one of our leading societal ills in the process. 

Conspiratorial Watchfulness – May 22, 2020


I watched a very thoughtful talk, from a Christian perspective, regarding how we ought not be so quick to jump aboard all of these conspiracy theories. Without going into all the details, a single point that stood out was that if one listened to more than one of them, they tended to neutralize one another. The talk counseled grace toward the decision makers in government and patient trust in God. I appreciated the wisdom and scriptural application of the presenters, but the moment they were done there were dozens of sincere “Yes, buts.”

The ones that stood out were the ones that cited such passages as the Matthew 25 admonition about not letting your lamp oil run out. The objectors reminded the presenters that we are supposed to “watch for His return” and we aren’t supposed to be caught “sleeping.”  While that’s true, nowhere in scripture are we told to wring our hands wondering if this or that might be the next sign!  We are told specifically to be sober, having put on the armor, to recognize we are NOT destined for wrath but for SALVATION, and to spend our time building each other up! (1 Thess 5:8-11).  And even if we are being persecuted or imprisoned, the Word of God is not (2 Timothy 2:9).  We can still, from wherever we are, be His ministers, His servants and His prayer warriors until He comes to take us home!   

Waiting – May 15, 2020

waiting w clockAs I sat to write this week’s blog, all that came to mind was this concept of  “waiting.”  It feels like God has me – us – in a holding pattern as He works His will in the world.  I’m sure it’s more complicated than that, and I’m sure there is much we can be doing to both improve ourselves and minister to others, but His primary message to me, and perhaps to you, is PATIENCE!!  Accordingly, I went looking for an illustration and couldn’t pick just one. Enjoy! 🙂


The purposes of God often develop slowly because His grand designs are never hurried. The great New England preacher Phillips Brooks was noted for his poise and quiet manner. At times, however, even he suffered moments of frustration and irritability. One day a friend saw him feverishly pacing the floor like a caged lion. “What’s the trouble, Mr. Brooks?” he asked. 

“The trouble is that I’m in a hurry, but God isn’t!” Haven’t we felt the same way many times?

Some of the greatest missionaries of history devotedly spread the seed of God’s Word and yet had to wait long periods before seeing the fruit of their efforts. William Carey, for example, labored 7 years before the first Hindu convert was brought to Christ in Burma, and Adoniram Judson toiled 7 years before his faithful preaching was rewarded. In western Africa it was 14 years before one convert was received into the Christian church. In New Zealand it took 9 years, and in Tahiti it was 16 years before the first harvest of souls began.

Thomas Kempis described that kind of patience in these words: “He deserves not the name of patient who is only willing to suffer as much as he thinks proper, and for whom he pleases. The truly patient man asks (nothing) from whom he suffers, (whether) his superior, his equal, or his inferior… But from whomever, or how much, or how often wrong is done to him, he accepts it all as from the hand of God, and counts it gain!” 

Our Daily Bread.

True patience is waiting without worrying.

  1. Swindoll, Growing Strong, p. 124.

“Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases it will have no power to hurt you. So in like manner you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.” 

Leonardo da Vinci.

Patience is a virtue;

Possess it if you can.

Found seldom in a woman,

Never in a man.

 Source Unknown.

To those Christians who are always in a hurry, here’s some good advice from the 19th-Century preacher A.B. Simpson:

“Beloved, have you ever thought that someday you will not have anything to try you, or anyone to vex you again? There will be no opportunity in heaven to learn or to show the spirit of patience, forbearance, and longsuffering. If you are to practice these things, it must be now.” Yes, each day affords countless opportunities to learn patience. Let’s not waste them.

Commenting on our need for this virtue, M.H. Lount has said, “God’s best gifts come slowly. We could not use them if they did not. Many a man, called of God to… a work in which he is pouring out his life, is convinced that the Lord means to bring his efforts to a successful conclusion. Nevertheless, even such a confident worker grows discouraged at times and worries because results do not come as rapidly as he would desire. But growth and strength in waiting are results often greater than the end so impatiently longed for. Paul had time to realize this as he lay in prison. Moses must have asked, ‘Why?’ many times during the delays in Midian and in the wilderness. Jesus Himself experienced the discipline of delay in His silent years before His great public ministry began.”

God wants us to see results as we work for Him, but His first concern is our growth. That’s why He often withholds success until we have learned patience. The Lord teaches us this needed lesson through the blessed discipline of delay. 

Our Daily Bread.

Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “run with endurance” the race set before us. George Matheson wrote, “We commonly associate patience with lying down. We think of it as the angel that guards the couch of the invalid. Yet there is a patience that I believe to be harder – the patience that can run. To lie down in the time of grief, to be quiet under the stroke of adverse fortune, implies a great strength; but I know of something that implies a strength greater still: it is the power to work under stress; to have a great weight at your heart and still run; to have a deep anguish in your spirit and still perform the daily tasks. It is a Christ-like thing! The hardest thing is that most of us are called to exercise our patience, not in the sickbed but in the street.” To wait is hard, to do it with “good courage” is harder! 

Our Daily Bread

According to a traditional Hebrew story, Abraham was sitting outside his tent one evening when he saw an old man, weary from age and journey, coming toward him. Abraham rushed out, greeted him, and then invited him into his tent. There he washed the old man’s feet and gave him food and drink.

The old man immediately began eating without saying any prayer or blessing. So Abraham asked him, “Don’t you worship God?”

The old traveler replied, “I worship fire only and reverence no other god.”

When he heard this, Abraham became incensed, grabbed the old man by the shoulders, and threw him out of his tent into the cold night air.

When the old man had departed, God called to his friend Abraham and asked where the stranger was. Abraham replied, “I forced him out because he did not worship you.”

God answered, “I have suffered him these eighty years although he dishonors me. Could you not endure him one night?”

Thomas Lindberg.


Reopening Delayed -May 8, 2020

When the KC Mayor began making noise about extending the stay-home order (calling it Phase #1 which is not much different from the Church’s perspective), I reached out to a contact we’d developed within the Jackson County Health Department.   This person has maintained “no change” (full re-opening on May 15) all along – and then on Wednesday, May 6 the County Commissioner brought Jackson County in line with the rest of the KC Metro Area and delayed our opening, indefinitely.

I’m hopeful that we will again be able to gather some time before Fall.  In the meantime lets’ keep loving each other in deed as well as word.  Let’s look for ways to be a blessing.  Let’s not forget to bring our full tithe into the storehouse.  And let’s pray for each other and for our elected and appointed officials to strike a good balance of security and freedom.  ~Pastor Scott

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

Why? – May 1, 2020

big question markI am frequently asked for my opinion on what God is doing.  Why a world-wide pandemic?  Truth is, we may never get a satisfying answer to the big why, remember how He answered Job?  God is God and God only answers to Himself.  That said, because He is God, He is the Master multi-tasker; and I imagine we can each find some little (personal) whys if we just take a minute and quiet our hearts.   I would also ask us each to pray that God would use this crisis to draw people everywhere closer to Himself and that He might use you and me in that process.

I really like what J.I. Packer said about how God uses these hardships:

Grace is God drawing sinners closer and closer to him. How does God in grace prosecute this purpose? Not by shielding us from assault by the work, the flesh, and the devil, nor by protecting us from burdensome and frustrating circumstance, not yet by shielding us from troubles created by our own temperament and psychology, but rather by exposing us to all these things, so as to overwhelm us with a sense of our own inadequacy, and to drive us to cling to him more closely.

This is the ultimate reason, from our standpoint, why God fills our lives with troubles and perplexities of one sort and another — it is to ensure that we shall learn to hold him fast. The reason why the Bible spends so much of its time reiterating that God is a strong rock, a firm defense, and a sure refuge and help for the weak is that God spends so much of his time showing us that we are weak, both mentally and morally, and dare not trust ourselves to find or follow the right road. When we walk along a clear road feeling fine, and someone takes our arm to help us, likely we would impatiently shake him off; but when we are caught in rough country in the dark, with a storm brewing and our strength spent, and someone takes our arm to help us, we would thankfully lean on him. And God wants us to feel that our way through life is rough and perplexing, so that we may learn to lean on him thankfully. Therefore he takes steps to drive us out of self-confidence to trust in himself, to — in the classic scriptural phrase for the secret of the godly man’s life — “wait on the Lord.”

James Packer, Your Father Loves You, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986.