ESSENTIAL OR NON-ESSENTIAL?

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While driving my wife home from an “essential” doctor’s appointment, and traveling back into to Fostoria on Route 12, we passed the very packed Fostoria Country Club.

If you’ll regard the picture below, you’ll understand that I counted multiple golf carts; in fact, four parked bumper to bumper and lining the cart path parallel to Rt. 12. By my estimation, there were at least 20 golfers, many of whom were not applying “social distancing” or wearing masks to protect others.

Before all my golfing friends, begin to cry foul, I am not ratting on these folks, but asking, is the need to golf more essential, than the need for churches meeting together, albeit with appropriate precautions? The answer, PRACTICALLY, CONSTITUTIONALLY, and BIBLICALLY IS… NO! Golfing is not more “essential” than the Church gathering, for those who follow Christ.

Last week, the governor of the State of Ohio, upped the ante on a “Stay at home policy”, which by the way exempts church services; although not weddings and funerals, which carry the restriction of 10 or less people in attendance. In my estimation, liming the number of congregants together at a time is as common sensical as using Clorox wipes to clean and is even more conducive to the biblical pattern of fellowship.But last week, Ohio’s governor, who professes to be a Christian (I have not reason to doubt that profession), made statements that were not only in error, from a Christian perspective, but also potentially make being a faithful follower of Christ more difficult in the future (and I am not complaining of the difficulty of being a Christian).

Governor DeWine stated…

“any pastor who brings people together in close proximity, a large group of people, is making a huge mistake. “

“They’re endangering themselves, their family, and total strangers,”

Truth told, they may or may not be endangering themselves or others. His statements presupposed that one or more are infected with the virus. He simply does not have actionable intelligence concerning that. His statements are assumption.

DeWine further stated…

“It is not a Christian thing to do, it is not in the Judaeo-Christian tradition to hurt people, and I’m sure no one intends to do that. But by bringing people together you are risking their health, your health and total strangers’ health. This is just a huge mistake.”

His comments are of the straw man ilk.

1) Gathering together face to face is a Christian requirement; as well as Jewish requirement.

2) Any person regardless of the religious affiliation, who provides a service to the public, unless they are a sociopath, does not intend to hurt people. Consider a restaurant or grocer who receives produce tainted with E-coli bacterium, which leads to an outbreak. Have they intended to cause harm? E-coli outbreaks are frequent and nasty, should all restaurants shut down in an outbreak?

3) Look at the society we live in with mass shootings and violence everywhere. Being out in public is a risk for anyone, who goes out at any time.

Governor DeWine, in his sincerity to protect others (I am assuming), has turned to shaming churches, who have a mandate from God to continuing meeting together (and the internet is not God’s idea for that). This shaming despite a cornerstone constitutional foundation for them to meet as they believe necessary.

The First Amendment declares that a religion’s right to practice its faith, without government intrusion is inviolable. Mr. DeWine knows this, so rather than moxie up and declare martial law, suspending habeas corpus (which he can do legally), he chosen to judge thousands of Ohioans who hold Christ’s inviolable command to gather together, as not practicing Christianity correctly.

Why didn’t he just declare martial law? My hope is that it has nothing to do with the November elections. To be clear, I have appreciated much of what Governor DeWine has fought and stood for in his political career, but his words crossed a line last week. In an age and among a population that is post Christian, suggesting that Christians practicing their faith (by gathering) is harmful to others, is a recipe for disaster.

Sadly, many in the church in Ohio, before any order was given decided to cut fellowship. Many others have succumbed to fear, not of getting the virus or of death (for the most part), but of losing its image in the community.

Let me encourage you to get alone and search the scriptures… get alone and seek the leading of God’s Holy Spirit, for what is essential in His eyes.I am 100% for pragmatic and measured protocols for protection, but there does come a time where the church, in every age, must “obey God rather than man”. This is not done in belligerence, but humility.

When obeying Jesus Christ brings us into conflict with governing authorities, we do not fight back with weapons, but humility and love for our enemies as they take away the benefit of civil rights. This has been the pattern of the faithful since Pentecost and will be till He comes.

Remember Jesus words “If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world the world would love its own, yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, the world hates you”. (John 15:18-19).

Remember dear saints, risk of health, livelihood, freedom and loss of life are part of the normal life of a sincere Christian (Philippians 1:29; II Timothy 3:12)

Let’s pray for Governor DeWine, that he will lead our state to seek God, in repentance for mercy from this pestilence, which has yet to happen. Pray for Him to truly have God’s heart and wisdom rather than data and opinions which change hour to hour if not minute by minute.

Pray for every Christian leader to stop listening to the wisdom of the world, with its echo chambers, fear and glad-handing, that they may ask Almighty God to lay hold of their hearts, to truly lead His redeemed children as we ought to.

And this Resurrection week, consider the importance Jesus placed on fellowship in those who are members of the body of Christ (I John 1:7-9). He suffered the shedding of His blood, filling the wounds of His passion, with our infirmities and sickness (Isaiah 53:4-5; I Thessalonians 5:23; I Peter 21-25).

Having considered His atoning sacrifice and victory over death, let Him lead you to celebrate His resurrection, with others. Be careful, proactive and guarded as you apply the common sense, rules applied to churches; but celebrate His resurrection as He desires… as the Church Triumphant, filled with faith, joy and power. This is what the lost world need understand concerning our faith in the Risen Christ.

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Praying Away Pestilence?

Click the video below and remember my message notes are below the video.

Over the last three weeks, where the world has for the most part ceased normal activity (based on the fear of the Covid-19 [SARS-II] pandemic), many American Christians have been praying for God to eradicate the corona virus—some have suggested the binding of the evil of the enemy (Satan), as this death blow to millions must be coming from the enemy of humanity. Recently, a pastor proclaimed in a service that had they shut this virus down “in the Spirit” and proclaimed its negation.

It is not my desire to mock, such sincere efforts, even if they are not founded in truth. In addition, some are using this virus to continuing fleece the flock, with oily hands and anointed prayer cloths, that are as useless in protecting anyone from this virus. Despite these flock fleecing false prophets, there are many sincere Christian leaders, as well as secular leaders, who believe eradicating this disease will restore America’s economy and way of life.

As sincere as this belief may be, it is also short sighted especially for followers of Christ, who understand that all nations are a drop in the bucket to the Lord Jesus Christ, even these United States. Considering this biblical truth, we must understand that Covid-19 fits into the biblical definition of pestilence. Therefore, the corona virus fits into Jesus prophetic message of the time of His return in Matthew 24 (as well as Luke 21:19), especially the section we understand as the time of the beginning of the sorrows.

(Matthew 24:4-14) And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

You’ll note with me that all the uncomfortable events take place during what is referred to by Jesus as “the beginning of the sorrows. Interestingly, Jesus did not pull this phrase from the thin air but was referring by metaphor to the circumstances surrounding the birth of a child. The “beginning of sorrows” refers to the process of contractions, before the child hits the birth canal, which is referred too, in Jesus time, as “the tribulation”.

The first contractions are not too difficult (as my wife attests), a tightening in the abdomen and pelvic regions. These cramp-like contractions alert the woman that labor (the sorrows) has begun. As the birth event progresses, the contractions come more frequently and consistently, as well with an increasing intensity and pain. This is the beginning of the sorrows. At some point the contractions come only minutes apart and with greater intensity and pain, which is the ending of sorrows… still not “the tribulation”. The “beginning of the sorrows” and ending of sorrows, put the baby in correct position to bring him down the birth canal (the tribulation), for arrival.

In like fashion, the beginning of the sorrows, is a time of events which occur more frequently and with greater intensity, to position the church and the world for Christ’s glorious appearing.

It is for this reason, we must ask if it is prudent or even biblical for us to pray that God would take away any of the discomfort of these events, because the church is a part of this the time period of the beginning of the sorrows. Should we pray that God eradicate persecution? Not if it is contrary to His plan, and it is not, as persecution like any trial refines and strengthens our faith and even works out for our good (Romans 8:28; I Peter 1:6-7). Should we pray for wars and nations to end fighting? Not if we are praying according to His will in the end times, unless we are asking for His return sooner than later.

So what should we be praying concerning this virus? Could God have a purpose for it? Is it possible this virus is not devil originated, but God ordained or allowed? In the first place let’s ask the question, where do viruses come from and do they have a purpose?

THE CREATION AND CORRUPTION OF LIFE

God alone creates life and he did in 6 days and on the seventh day He rested, not because of tiredness, but to behold all He had made that was good. Viruses are living organisms, like bacteria and therefore God created them, and they were good as much as humanity or any other part of the created order was good. In that knowledge let us understand that our bodies have viruses, bacteria and yeast in them; they are there for our benefit and balance our digestive and immune systems as well as other important body functions.

What was it that made good things go bad? The simple answer is the fall of man. We understand that not only was the ground cursed, as a result of Adam’s sin, but that his sin against God brought the curse upon all of creation. This is seen clearly in Romans 5:12Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—“. This truth can also be seen in in I Corinthians 15:21-22.

The curse did not only extend to humanity but brought the corruption of all creation so that as we approach Christ’s return and the revelation of His followers in glory, the whole of creation is groaning and travailing under the weight of the curse.

Romans 8:18-23 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

Translation: the earthquakes are more earth shaking—the wars in humanity are more violent—the lovelessness of man grows more immeasurably chilling—the hate of men against God grows to persecuting all Christians world over—and pestilence comes faster and more furious.

This virus, corrupted from what is good, is pestilence, and there is a purpose. Let’s look a little further.

PESTILENCE AND GOD’S PURPOSE IN IT

When looking into the etymology of the word pestilence in Matthew 24:8, we understand that the Greek word refers to disease or an uprising of pests against humanity and the product of that uprising. Consider the Black Death which by some estimates killed as many as 200 million (by some estimates) during four years from 1347 to 1351. This “Bubonic Plague” was spread by fleas which transferred from rodents to humans. Here we see how an invasion of rodents carrying infected fleas not native to Europe brought about a bacterial illness such as has not been yet equaled in the world.

Pestilence can also be locusts which destroy crops or other naturally occurring things, like viruses, which reek havoc in illness and death upon humanity. When looking into the occurrence of pestilence in the O.T. Psalm 91 particularly verses 3 and 6 are helpful in giving us an understanding of the Hebrew idea of the word. The phrase “perilous pestilence” means to snatch up quickly or coming upon quickly or without warning, as a plague or murrain (cattle disease) or illness like disease.

Interestingly in reference to “murrain” this was a disease carried by ticks upon the cattle of the early Israelite’s. This is seen in our modern understanding of lime disease, which infects 300,000 Americans per year. We understand pestilence to be a disease or invasion pest, which uproots our food systems, affects our health adversely, without much warning, breaking up the relative peace and safety we live in—where hundreds of thousands if not millions or more are affected. This title certainly applies to Covid-19.

So why not seek to pray it away? God certainly would want us to do so? Or would He. Could God have allowed this pestilence or even ordained it? The answer to that question can be found in the O.T. and New Testament.

  • (Genesis 12:17) God strikes Pharaoh’s house with great plagues (strokes and leprosy), for Pharaoh taking Abraham’s wife into his harem.
  • (Genesis 20:18) The LORD strikes Abimelech’s household with a plague of barrenness of children, for Abimelech taking Sarah into his harem.
  • (Exodus 15:25-26) The LORD declares Israel protected from the diseases (plagues and pestilence) He brought on Egypt, if the Jewish nation obeys Him without question.
  • (Numbers 11:33) Because Israel complained about their provision in manna from heaven, not only does He bring quail up to their knee’s, in His anger He also struck His people with a very great plague—which looked like sores with bruising and stripes (they looked painfully chastised).
  • (Numbers 12:9) Although not a plague, God does strike Moses prideful and insubordinate sister with leprosy.
  • (Numbers 16:31-35) In Korah’s rebellion all the families associated with this man, as well as 250 others, were snuffed out in the ground opening and fire coming from the LORD.
  • (Numbers 21:6) The LORD sent fiery serpents to bite the rebellious Israelites; killing many. We see God’s purpose in His use of pestilence for His people Israel… To cause them to repent, for the purpose of purifying their devotion to Him.
  • (Exodus) The ten plagues, sent by God, killing millions of pagans, for the purpose of defeating false god’s and humbling a prideful nation.
  • (II Samuel 24:1-17) Because of David’s sin of number the people, where he trusted in the arm of the flesh rather than the LORD, vs. 15 says God sent a plague on the people where 70, 000 died.
  • (Deuteronomy 28) The LORD prophesies what will happen to His people if they do not obey the voice of the Lord. He says they will be cursed wherever they go, in their food production, health, and livestock (vs. 16-19). In verse 20-32 the LORD declares if they would not obey Him they would experience confusion as individuals and a nation, plagues on livestock, consumption (or tuberculosis), fever, arthritis, blight on crops, a lack of rain for crops, no crops, lose wars they should win. They would be smitten with boils, tumors, scabs, the itch, find no healing, suffer mental illness and madness, physical blindness, have society overrun by sexual immorality, be plagued by socialism (where kings steal their provision and land), find themselves in slavery.

(Deuteronomy 28:58-62) “If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, THE LORD YOUR GOD, then the LORD will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues—great and prolonged plagues—and serious and prolonged sicknesses. Moreover, He will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you. Also every sickness and every plague, which is not written in this Book of the Law, will the LORD bring upon you until you are destroyed. You shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of heaven in multitude, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God.

In the O.T. we clearly see that God brings pestilence and disease, to HUMBLE NATIONS AND TRY His own people. This is not different in the N.T.

Many in the church want to forget Acts 5:1-11 or Revelation Chapters 2 and 3 where the Lord Jesus Himself, promises disease, calamity and expulsion from the kingdom of God, upon unrepentant Christians.

With this in view. Let us not pray away the virus, but…

  1. Make sure you are obeying the LORD and being filled with His Holy Spirit. This is the only true antidote to effects of sin, sickness and death. As He promises (Exodus 15:26; Psalm 103:1-5; Isaiah 53:5; Psalm 91)
  2. Pray for Christian in America to grow up into the reality that the difficulty economically and socially, is for the purpose of pulling us away from the world. Don’t long for the freedom of yesterday, but the holiness of Christ which guarantees we see Him forever (Hebrews 12:14:15).
  3. Pray that this virus and the death associated the virus is for the purpose of humbling the people of America to seek God through repentance and faith. National revival does not look like a party, but the funeral of the independent self seeking that keeps people from Christ (II Corinthians 7:10).
  4. Pray for national leaders to repent over the abominations of immorality in America and atrocious and barbarous murder of millions of preborn children, not that we would avoid judgment as a nation (which is already ordained), but that in mercy, many would come to faith, before judgment falls.
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He is the Light of the World… We are the are the light of the world

Below is the Facebook video of our worship and word of God fellowship. The message from John 8:12-20 is entitled “He is the Light of the world… by Proxy we are the light of the world. The message was longer than normal, but it needed to be said. The sermon begins at the 25:00 minute mark (if you don’t want to listen to the worship. Below the video is a PDF of the sermon notes.

#21 John 8.12-18- He is the Light of the World… by Proxy so are We

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It’s the End of the World as… Part 1 and 2

Below is a scriptural walk through God’s will after this latest change to life as we knew it. May God enable us to see, His will and work are the same now as they were prior to the difficulty of our current circumstances.

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PRAY it AWAY… or PRAY it will HUMBLE a NATION?

Below are the three videos that make up this message, after which I have included the PDF notes. Thank you for watching and considering this teaching prayerfully.

VIDEO #1

VIDEO #2

VIDEO #3

click the link below to download the PDF notes

Pray it Away or May it Humble a Nation and Awaken the Church

Image result for praying during  diffcult times

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No Fear, only Faith and the Peace of God!

May you be blessed my the word of God and Praise to Jesus Christ!

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“For Such a Time as This” A Message of Hope and Mission in Uncertain Times

Dear Friends below are parts 1, 2, and 3 from the message preached this past Sunday morning (March 15th, 2020) at Encounter Church. The video from our morning service time ran out, so after I spoke it for you all in my office. This week we will publish the next video blogs in the Hebrews series. Sorry for the delay, but my wife had our sixth child Elena Grace Erdel, This past February 21st. May God bless you as you consider His word.

For Such a Time as This Part 1

For Such a Time as This Part 2

For Such a Time as This Part 3

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