Mailbag

The Mailbag: Quelling Your Quarantine Anxiety

 

I just wanted to say, I appreciate all that you do! I love visiting your page regularly because I have found it to be a trustworthy, biblical source.

My heart is aching to be with my church family and worship together. I’ve been BEGGING God to give pastors and elders the courage to open the doors again. I completely understand that there are several interpretations of Romans 13 and what that looks like in our current situation. I do know that the virus is a real threat and many are fearful. I do. 

The areas I’m struggling with are:

  • Would/when would civil disobedience be OK?
  • All the things that go along with isolation/lockdown: depression, suicide, domestic abuse, child abuse and neglect, economic crash resulting in more death and poverty, etc.
  • I see an inconsistency with believers inviting families and friends over to their homes (breaking the mandate) and yet saying that in order to uphold Romans 13 we ought to keep the church closed.
  • I look around at my fellow believers that seem to be totally content with “watching church” every week and are in no hurry to get back.
  • I’m in distress that my [young] children are growing up thinking this is normal.

I’m just trying to figure it all out and wondered if you had any light to shed on the situation. My spirit has been SO unsettled. I’m not sure if you’ve already seen this [podcast episode by a doctrinally sound theologian], but this is probably the most biblical piece that I’ve come across. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thank you so much for your kind words. I appreciate your passion on this issue. Some of your concerns were answered in my article The Mailbag: Why no COVID weigh-in?. Here are my thoughts on your questions and comments above;

• I totally understand your feelings about wanting to get back to church. I feel the same way, and I think most genuinely regenerated Believers would agree.

• Have you and your husband sat down and discussed all of your feelings about the issues? I know it always helps me to process my thoughts and unburden myself by talking things out with my husband.

• Have you talked to your husband about the possibility of discussing all of these things with your pastor? He can probably help alleviate some of your concerns or at least provide you with information about your own church and situation.

• I’m sensing that you’re experiencing a bit of anxiety over this issue, and it sounds like a lot of your concerns have to do with the way other people are acting and thinking. Can I make a few suggestions that may help you to be more at peace?

· Stop worrying about what other people are thinking, saying, and doing about all of these issues. That’s not a burden God has called you to carry. I don’t want to be so blunt as to say, “Mind your own business,” but keeping your focus on managing your own household and family will go a long way to reducing your anxiety about this.

· Get off social media and stop watching the news. You won’t be able to worry about how other people are responding or not responding to the issue if it’s not constantly in front of you.

· Keep busy. If you have free time, read a (non-COVID-related) book, learn how to knit, bake, garden, do a project with the kids. Ask your pastor if there’s anything you can do to help get things ready for meeting together again at your church (phone calls, e-mails, cleaning, etc.).

· Here are some Scriptures that may help:

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:25-34

and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 1 Thessalonians 4:11

Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. Psalm 37:1-8

• Ask God to help you stay in the mindset of trusting your pastor, praying for him, and joyfully submitting to his leadership. Remind yourself it’s not your job to set policy for your church, that’s your pastor’s/elders’ job. Also, you don’t need to concern yourself with how other pastors are handling their churches. Focus on your own church and how you can pray for and help it.

• Stop worrying about hypotheticals and what ifs (civil disobedience in the future, abuse, suicide, reasons for shutting the doors of the church, etc.). God does not require you to have the answers to those questions, and if/when they do happen, He will carry you through it then. Focus on glorifying God in what He has given you to do today.

• I have six kids ranging in age from 32 to 17, so as an older mom to a younger mom, relax. Your children are not as fragile as you think and they are not “growing up” thinking this is normal. A) It’s only been a couple of months. B) If your kids are young, I can practically guarantee you that, even if this goes on for a few more months, they’ll never remember it. Ask them when they’re in their 20s and see if I’m right. :0)

• I love the theologian you mentioned and I listen to his podcast regularly, but I know my own tendency to be fearful of the future, and I’ve noticed that when he starts “doomsaying” about how terrible things are going to get, my anxiety shoots up. He may be 100% right about everything that’s going to happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to listen to him say it if that makes you anxious. (That may be an “eye” you need to gouge out if it causes you to sin by worrying.)

You don’t have to have all the answers. It really is OK to loosen your grip, put all these unknowns in God’s hands, and trust Him to work everything out His way and in His timing – not yours – as you practice “waiting upon the Lord.”

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8

 

Additional Resources

Spurring each other on! COVID-19 Quarantine Encouragement on A Word Fitly Spoken

Church was never meant to be remote: Reuniting after COVID-19 on A Word Fitly Spoken


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Discernment, Doctrinally Sound Teachers, False Doctrine, False Teachers, New Apostolic Reformation, Sermons

Justin Peters: The Modern Prophets and Faith Healers Utterly Destroyed by COVID-19

 

Last week, Justin Peters released this excellent teaching video demonstrating how the COVID-19 virus totally debunks the claims of these heretical charlatans. Prophets and miraculous healers, they are not. Invest the time to watch it, and consider sharing it (kindly and lovingly, of course) with those you know who are enamored with this kind of “Christianity.”

Random Ramblings Ruminations Resources

Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources

Great balls of fire, the world has gone ya ya and we haven’t had a 4R since last July. Goodness. Well, we’ll fix that faster than a Costco shopper on a pallet of toilet paper.

Let’s jump into some Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources, shall we?

Photo Credit

M-m-m-my Corona(virus)

The other day I asked on Facebook if y’all wanted an article about Christians and the Coronavirus or something else. The overwhelming response was, “Something else! Anything else!” It seems many of us have reached out saturation point when it comes to hearing about the virus:
But there were a few hardy souls who wanted to hear a Christian perspective on how we and our churches should be reacting to all the ramifications of quarantines, social distancing, and church closures. So here are a few brief thoughts I had:

😷Wash your hands like your life depends on it, because it might. Instead of singing a song while you’re washing your hands, recite your memory verses. Or if you’re in a public restroom, share the gospel with the poor sap lady who’s washing her hands in the sink next to you. You know she’s going to be there a while- captive audience!

😷You shouldn’t have to be told to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. You should already be doing it. That is basic home training and basic loving and serving your neighbor.

😷Stay home if at all possible (I thought this was just called “being normal, but it turns out I’m an introvert. Or a hermit.). The sooner this thing stops spreading, the sooner we can all get back to church, work, and normal life (which, for me, is staying home if at all possible – it’s the circle of life. Or something.).

😷Christians are not hoarders. Christians are sharers. It’s one thing to lay in a reasonable supply. It’s a whole ‘nother animal to buy into the mindset that purchasing huge amounts of supplies will somehow magically ward off harm. It won’t. That’s superstition. It is failing to trust God to provide for you. Do business with God and discern whether or not you’ve been hoarding. If you have, repent, and make like Zacchaeus and give it away to people who need it. 

😷If you have a godly pastor, he has probably agonized over whether or not to cancel worship service or modify your church’s regular activities. It doesn’t matter what decision he makes, somebody is going to be unhappy about it and give him an earful. Don’t be that person. Give him some love and encouragement (from a safe social distance). He probably needs it now more than usual. And on that same note, whatever decision he makes, just roll with it for the time being, OK? We’re all playing this thing by ear right now, including your pastor. Don’t make me go all Hebrews 13:17 on y’all.

😷If you think nothing of skipping church for frivolous reasons, it’s hypocritical to complain now about your church’s services being canceled or modified for a much more important reason. (I’m not talking about First Amendment stuff here, I’m talking about your heart.)

😷”Online church” can be a blessing in an emergency situation like this, but this virus is going to pass and things are going to get back to normal. Do not fall into the fleshly mindset of, “Online church worked out just fine during the crisis, so I’ll just keep doing that instead of physically going back to church.” Uh uh. That’s spiritually lazy, and it’s sinfully forsaking the assembly. For Christians, Church is Not Optional, and that’s Non-Negotiable.

😷Have you ever stopped to think that this whole quarantine and limiting of meeting sizes thing could be God giving us a dry run of what it’s going to be like when real persecution comes, our church buildings are shuttered for good, and we have to meet in small groups in secret? That’s already real life for many of our brothers and sisters across the world. Maybe we should quit complaining and use this as a drill.

😷Where are Benny Hinn, Todd White, Bethel, and the rest of the faith healing crowd in all this? Time to put up or shut up.

😷Take reasonable precautions, but look for opportunities to help others and to share the gospel. Let your faith in God be greater than your fear of illness.

That’s pretty much my take on the whole shebang. If you haven’t had enough of all things Coronavirus, here are some more good resources:

Coronavirus Articles at The Cripplegate

Coronavirus and the Christian Faith on The Sword and the Trowel Podcast

The Coronavirus Pandemic – Bringing Hope to Those in Fear on Voice of Reason Radio

Q&A Corona Virus, Saturday Podcast, the Bible Project? at When We Understand the Text

Wisdom, Not Worry on Relatable with Allie Beth Stuckey

Kudos to one of my followers, Camille, who has been hard at work curating the best Coronavirus memes on the web, part 1 and part 2. (This is meant to be lighthearted and funny. If you only do serious, please don’t click.)

Get Your Worship On

This kind of goes along with my TBT article from yesterday, God’s Not Like “Whatever, Dude,” About The Way He’s Approached in Worship. (Also meant to be lighthearted and funny, so please don’t click if that’s not your bag.). And some of you youngsters wonder why us old codgers like hymns so much!

The Real Deal, or the Fake Heal?

I was reading Acts 3, the story of Peter and John healing the lame beggar, and it struck me how starkly different this account is from the chicanery of New Apostolic Reformation “faith healers” today…

💥Peter and John didn’t have a “healing ministry”, they had a “preaching the gospel ministry.”

💥The lame beggar didn’t show up at “church” (i.e. the temple) to be healed, and didn’t seek Peter and John out for healing.

💥The lame beggar asked them for money rather than them asking him for money.

💥Peter and John had no silver, no gold, no Rolexes, no mansions, no private jets…

💥Peter said, “…what I have, I give to you.” The beggar was not asked to “sow a seed” into Peter and John’s ministry.

💥Faith isn’t mentioned once prior to the healing. Peter didn’t tell the beggar that if he just had enough faith, God would heal him.

💥No faith or money was required. The beggar played no part in “earning” his healing with his own good works. God healed him for His own glory.

💥The beggar was healed from a lifelong, obvious, eyewitnessed disability, and his healing was immediate and permanent.

💥Peter downplays both himself and the miracle and points to the Miracle Worker, Jesus.

💥Peter uses the opportunity of the gathered crowd to preach the gospel.

💥The gospel Peter preached was not, “Come to Jesus for miracles,” but “Jesus came to you, and you killed Him. Repent.”

💥Peter didn’t make crazy prophecies that didn’t come true. He pointed to the prophets of Scripture, and their prophecies fulfilled in Christ.

NAR preachers and faith healers want us to think they’re just like the apostles – even calling themselves “apostles” – but their words and actions don’t match up with what the apostles said and did.

They Aren’t Heretics Because You Disagree with Them

Of course not. So I’m not going to call Jared Wilson – who I have no reason to believe is anything other than a good, solid brother in Christ – a heretic because I disagree with the thrust of his article, They Aren’t Heretics Because You Disagree with Them. But, with genuine respect, I am going to call him “perhaps under educated” and “possibly somewhat lacking in experience” when it comes to the depth of the seemingly bottomless pit of false teaching and heresy out there.

Or perhaps our experiences are just different. Perhaps, in his world, there are throngs of people running around calling Presbyterians heretics because they believe in paedo-baptism. Or who cry “Heretic!” on anyone with a different eschatalogical view from their own.

That’s not the world I – and I would guess, most Christians – live in. In my world, the people who get called heretics and false teachers have generally earned the label by their biblically demonstrable false teaching and sinful behavior. There might be a few Baptists calling Presbyterians heretics and vice versa, but in my experience they are the rare exception, not the rule Jared’s article – putting the best possible construction on it – seems to be trying to address. And I get the feeling I swim in these particular waters much more frequently than he does.

I would certainly agree with Jared that the aforementioned types of issues are not matters of heresy, they are secondary issues on which Christians in good standing can disagree. But he lumps in some other issues (the role of women, extra-biblical revelation, yoking in ministry with “people who teach wacky things”) we cannot “agree to disagree” on because they are sin or false teaching that undermine the authority of Scripture, the sufficiency of Scripture, and the spiritual health of the church.

Jared has made the same categorization error regarding “secondary issues” that I believe Al Mohler made in his article on “theological triage” (which Jared links to in his article) – namely, that issues of sin (disobedience to clear Scripture) are not the same thing as secondary theological issues. Sin belongs all in its own category: sin. (I discussed this categorization error at length in my article Women Preaching: It’s Not a Secondary Doctrinal Issue.)

Jared uses no Scripture used to back up his opinions, making them no more valid than the “opinions” he critiques. He cites the Baptist Faith and Message (the statement of faith of the Southern Baptist Convention), but the BFM is not Scripture, and we are Christians first, Baptists second. We are Bible first, BFM second. So anywhere the BFM might contradict Scripture, go beyond Scripture, or not rise to the level of Scripture (and it does not rise to the level of Scripture regarding the role of women in the church, restricting only the office of pastor, but not the function of preaching), it is moot and useless.

Does Jared not recall that Scripture says, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”? And that we are to “cleanse out the old leaven…and celebrate with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth“? Yet the thrust of his article seems to be akin to saying, “Don’t worry about that little misshapen mole on your arm. It’s just your arm having a ‘different view’ of skin. Only rampant, stage 4 cancer should be called cancer and treated.” That is not a biblical approach to false teaching.

How would Jared have advised Old Testament people who had a “different view” of worshiping household gods alongside God? Or offering strange fire in worship? Or syncretism and idol worship taking place inside the house of God? Or marrying and divorcing foreign wives? Or, in the New Testament, Ananias and Saphira? Or those who forbid marriage and certain foods? None of these are soteriological heresies, and yet look how strenuously God dealt with each situation. Most involved the death of the perpetrators.

As much as many Christians would like us all to get along and play nice with anyone and everyone who names the name of Christ, we cannot do that and still be faithful and obedient to the Word of God that tells us to contend for for the faith and silence false teachers. False teaching, even non-soteriological false teaching, is a big deal to God, and it should be to us, too.