Archive for March, 2020

I wrote this for my church and thought I’d share it here.

We live in a world of great complexity these days. Everyone around us is telling us we need to be apart, by at least six feet and never in groups of more than ten. It sounds simple enough until you decide to go to work, or have a celebration, or be the church. That can be a real head scratcher. In these nearly unprecedented days, it begs the question “What do you do?” Now the answer to some is to rebel. I saw there was an arrest warrant issued for a pastor in Florida who kept his church open. Truth be known the church ended up being full. The comments ran the gamut from a man standing for our constitutional rights to everything that is wrong with the church. I will leave that up to His God to decide. At Springfield we have taken a different tack.

Part of what makes this complex is we have a pretty clear Scriptural command. Some will say you can worship God anywhere, and that is true and you should, but the Bible also says in Hebrews 10:25: “Do not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” It seems pretty clear that the Bible is telling us that gathering for worship is not just important, it’s commanded, especially when the world, and the church for that matter, are in need of encouragement in a way I can scarcely remember in my lifetime, as least sing 9/11. So how can we be together when we can’t be together. It seems to me we need to learn to be together/apart.

For example, one of the things that brings people together is shared experiences. It is for this reason that we have started to share our services on line. Our facility is such that wi-fi does not work particularly well. Old buildings with two foot thick walls tend to not be as conducive to bouncing signals off of satellites. For this reason, live streaming is not really a good option, but nonetheless we can make sure that everyone hears the same message and sees the same images. For those who do not have internet access, we mail the messages so that they too can keep up with what’s going on.

Another way to be together apart is to have our Bible study on Zoom, which we are also doing. That way we can have some face to face contact even though we are separated by quite a few miles. We are also making efforts to connect more via social media and my hope is in creating all this very sharable media, that we are also creating tools to take the Gospel beyond our walls.

Other than that we have to go with the old tried and true methods. We can call each other, write letters and send cards. Now I’ll be the first to admit, none of these solutions is perfect, but what is in a pandemic situation? All of us are learning as we go. We will get some things right and we will get some things wrong. My prayer is that nothing we do will go too wrong. Please know, we’re trying, even as we pray this soon comes to an end. I long for the day when we can worship together again, but until them, There may be a “shelter-at-home” order in place, but we can still stay connected and if we do that, we can still be together even when we’re apart.

The second message in our series on the Songs Jesus Sang, other wise known as the Hallel, a series of six Psalms from 113-118. This week we will look at Psalm 114, a song that demonstrates God’s power over nature and how He fights for His people. It’s a very encouraging message in a time of uncertainty.

I’ve been hearing this story a lot lately. The idea is pretty simple. Sometimes the best way to move forward is to eliminate the possibility of turning back. Here’s a little tip, the way forward very rarely involves going backwards. Where in your life do you need to burn the boats?

My friend Kerry Jackson asked me if I would be a part of his Stations of the Cross art exhibit. I was delighted to join in. Now since he is in Georgia and I am in Pennsylvania, I opened to do digital animation. My portion was on the flogging of Jesus. Now of course, like pretty much everything else in our world these days, the exhibition was cancelled, but I decided to share it here.

There are several views of the flogging aspect of the story as I understand it. The Israelites has a limitation of 39 lashes. The thought was that 40 lashes would be fatal and they stopped just short. The Roman view as I understand it was that the floggers would beat the person until they were two exhausted to continue. Not surprisingly many people never made it to the cross. Now in my video, I used a more traditional whip. What was because of the limitation of my skills and technology. The Romans would have used a whip with multiple straps, each one tipped with a piece of metal or bone, for the purpose of tearing the flesh. Yes it was gruesome. Yes it was a terrible way to die, so why do I share this. Because Jesus willingly took this beating for someone else, and that someone was me. It was you too. He took our punishment. Isaiah’s prophecy says The punishment that brought US (emphasis mine) peace was on Him and by His wounds we are healed. Jesus died so that we could have peace with God. He died so that we could be reconciled to the Father. Having no sin of His own, He took yours and mine upon Himself.

I call this video 39. It’s short, simple and deliberately uncomfortable. This was just part of what Jesus was willing to do for you, so that you could place your faith and trust in Him and live with Him forever. Trust Him today. If you need more information, contact me.

Okay let’s start with the basics. I’m not actually isolated. I am here with my wife and my son and yet if I want to be vulnerable, and I do, there is something about being told you can’t really go anywhere, and seeing everything that is closing around you that makes one, or at least me, feel almost claustrophobic. It’s scarcely over a week since all this began, and today our governor added at least two more weeks to the “quarantine.” I know it’s all about flattening the curve, and I’m trying really hard to take everything our leaders are saying at face value, but I must confess it’s hard sometimes. On one hand, I’d like to rebel and try to get back to normal, but then I heard today about a young friend in Texas who’s been infected and a friend of a family member in another state, a health care worker who’s also been diagnosed and so I wait and I obey, and forgive me for handing out orders, but so should you.

Part of what makes this hard is I have a ministry that I love, and it seems as if most of that has been at least temporarily been stripped away. Oh I am still able to do my online services and zoom for now and for that I am grateful, but today I got two calls thanking me for writing my sermon in manuscript form and mailing it out to my congregants without online capabilities. Today our governor issues a shelter at home order for the county my church is in so now I have no access even to my own office to make the copies and mail them. Our district leadership said recently that it is unlikely that we will be able to meet for Easter, nursing home and hospital visits and pretty much visits in general are out of bounds now as well. I’m concerned for all the small business owners in our community and for loved ones whose jobs are affected, and even for my own status if weeks turn to months. I have to tell you it’s been tough inside this head of mine at times.

It’s about this time that I started to think of my friend Tom. Tom is one of the campers at a camp I do for adults with special needs each year. That camp is a highlight of my year and a highlight of the camp is always the talent show. In it that campers will sing or do a skit. Well Tom loves to sing, and he almost always picks the same song, Rend Collective’s song More than Conquerors. The chorus of the song repeats one word over and over again.


Tom shouts that word so loudly that I assumed the recording did it as well. Well today I listened to the song and realized the band does not shout the word at all, but maybe I need to. The fact of the matter is Tom is extremely confident that God will be VICTORIOUS and he shouts it for all the world to see. That is Tom’s declaration and I want it to be mind. God can and will overcome this and everything else. My anxieties, fears and frustrations are pointless. I need to take a cue from Tom and remember, Jesus wins and I am one of His. We will be VICTORIOUS. Remember we are not really isolated. I am more blessed than many, my loving wife is here, my son is here and I have so many others as close as a phone call. Even in a season of “social distancing” I am surrounded by loved ones and I have the technology to be with them even when I can’t be with them. Even more than that I serve a God who has promised never to leave nor forsake me. We are not alone. We need to be in prayer first and foremost. Beyond that, we need to make the effort to connect. We need to give some of this time to the people with whom we can still be physically present and we need to creatively reach out to the rest. Maybe we need to disconnect from some the things that are dragging us into feelings of isolation, and make the effort to connect in whatever way we can, whether it seems ideal or not. Except for a few rare exceptions (and we should be seeking those people out), isolation is a choice. We serve a God who has promised to make all things work for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Maybe instead of fear and stress and anxiety, we should spend our time seeking God’s purpose and living it out.

You’re not really isolated, and in Christ, you’re never alone. So the first step is to pray and then let’s follow Tom’s lead. Shout it from the rooftops. Let’s be VICTORIOUS!

Over the last few weeks or so, I have been spending a lot of time working on building online community and other stuff, so today I had a little bit of a break and I decided to stretch my creative muscled and do a little art. My friends at Kul Pong Klub in Croatia have their creative prompts called Marchartoon. So I decided to make a little art today.
The challenge this year was to combine an animal and a sport. These were fun and a good distraction. I don’t know if I’ll be able to finish them all, but I had a good time and they lowered my stress a bit.

You can see the rest at my Beware of Artists Page.

This week, in addition to my own attempt at an online prayer meeting, I was able to sit in on two friends attempts at online creative community. Both did a really good job. One did Facebook live and the other did Zoom. Personally they both went well, but I think you get more community from Zoom. I also got to listen in on musician and former Kansas lead singer John Elefante’s Facebook live. It’s all kind of cool. Now here’s the thing, is it as good as being face to face? No, probably not, but my friends were in Michigan and Idaho, and yet we could communicate, I’m not even sure where Mr. Elefante is, but I’ve been a fan for quite some time, and all of the sudden it was as if I was sitting in his living room hearing about his creative life, with the ability to ask him my questions.

The point is, online community is not the same as live community, but it has it’s positives and that is sort of the point. As you know I always advocate that we don’t focus on what we don’t have but to make the most of what you do have. We may not have the opportunity to meet face to face, and let’s be real, that can be hard, but we do have a great tool to connect with each other and maybe even expand our reach. I plan to use Zoom more so stay tuned and I’d love to know how you’re doing online community and if you’re doing something, send me an invite, I’d love to connect if I can.