No Longer Normal

In the month since I posted my blogs about prayer, our world and our lives have been turned on their heads. Many of us are having to self-quarantine due to Covid-19 (or the Coronavirus). This means except for shopping for essentials or walking by ourselves around the block, we are not going out. Most restaurants are closed, schools and colleges are closed, and even shopping malls and stores are closed.

Social distancing is a concept that many could not have articulated a month ago. Now, even grade school age children understand what this means. Many parents are now forced to be home, along with their children, because many work places are also shut-down. Many may no longer have a job and multiple businesses will close forever. The government is currently considering a massive stimulus package that will reimburse families and businesses for lost time and wages.

Everything that was normal is no longer normal.

On Monday of this week, I listened to the BBC News and heard the daily broadcast given by the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. A month ago, if the British people would have been told that police and government workers have the power to break up any gatherings of more than two people, they would have probably laughed and ridiculed you at the thought of such Draconian laws being put into place.

For those who have read or remember history, excessive or harsh laws were implemented in Europe and eventually the Jews were blamed for the problems of western Europe. Citizens were told that the laws were only temporary and in place for the “well-being” of all people. But I digress for that subject is for another day and another post.

However, the concern that I have is that the British government explicitly detailed what was to close. In the Prime Minister’s announcement, he specifically stated that all church gatherings are now banned!

Everything that was normal is no longer normal.

Local, state, and federal governments, here in America, have declared that we can no longer meet in groups larger than 10. Some are taking it even further and freedoms are being restricted beyond anything we could have imagined possible.

For almost half a century, I have read. I cannot begin to tell you how many books I have read in my lifetime, but I know they number in the thousands. From the Bible to classics to romance to modern day warfare to lawyer or military intrigue, turning pages in a book is a comfort to the soul. Yet, in all of my reading, what I see today seems like dystopian fiction come to life.

However, we in the western world now find ourselves at a crossroad. We are no longer allowed to meet for church in groups of more than 10, and some states in the USA have implemented emergency measures that allow for criminal prosecution for those breaking these new emergency laws.

This last Sunday was the first Sunday that the church where we serve closed down. We got up early and drove toward the building where our local assembly gathers. But, the services would not take place and so we turned around in a park. The day seemed to grow even more gray and dreary and I wondered aloud how much worse things could become. I realized afresh that —

Everything that was normal is no longer normal.

Yet, all that we see happening should not shock true believers. The apostle Paul wrote to a young man right before his own execution. In his short letter, he predicted that tough times would come. In fact, parts of this little epistle read as though Paul pulled his news directly from the front page headlines of 21st century newspapers.

2 Timothy 3:1-4 – “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

We who are true believers should remember that difficult or perilous times will come. The Bible is clear that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. I am not trying to predict that this is the final days before the time of great tribulation, but it is a possibility. What if through this time, a world leader should arise and promise to give the world a “happy ending?” What if that person were to bring prosperity, but at the cost of losing a few “freedoms”?

The truth is that the world deserves any and all judgment that may come at the hand of a holy and righteous God. We have rejected His ways and His commands for centuries and millennia. Even now in the 21st century, mankind thinks that he has been able to either destroy God or that he has re-created God is his own image.

The world mocks the remnant who have never bowed the knee to Baal. The world mocks those who proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that He will return one day just as He promised.

There are even so-called evangelical churches that no longer believe that Jesus will literally return to this sin-cursed world. It is a world that Romans reminds us cries out for redemption, along with all those who have been redeemed and bought by the precious blood of Christ.

2 Peter 3:1-4 – “This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’”

Like the prophets and preachers of yesteryear, it is important that true Christians proclaim the message of the gospel. Like Paul did to Felix, Festus, and Agrippa, we must preach about righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment.

Be not deceived, for God will not be mocked. Whatsoever a man sows, the same he will reap. We do not know when the day of judgment will arrive, but when it does, the current pandemic known as Covid-19 will not even be a distant memory to those who live through those terrible days.

Christians, we are called to be like a Bride who is making herself ready for her Bridegroom to appear. Jesus Christ is very much alive and He is coming again. It may be sooner than any of us think. And I know with 100% assurance that He is definitely coming back sooner than the world wishes to believe.

NO LONGER NORMAL should be the battle cry of every true child of God. Through every trial, every tragedy, every pandemic, every death that occurs in this world, and especially at times like we are currently experiencing in March 2020, we should be shouting to everybody who will listen that –

Life is no longer normal!

Whether through Covid-19, an earthquake, cancer, the flu, an accident, or some other tragedy, death is coming. True believers should rejoice that our punishment was born by Christ on the cross of Calvary and there is no fear of any condemnation. For those who are not, we again plead to you to bow the knee to King Jesus before it is too late!

Pastors, if you are not preparing the hearts of your people for the return of our glorious King, then repent and humble yourself before His Majesty. He is coming and we need to live and preach like we actually believe it again!

It is no longer time for us to try and remind God of how big we think our problems are in this world. The time has come for us to tell the world how big our God is and always has been!

Only one life
It will soon be past,
And only what’s done
For Christ will last!

Worse Than Covid-19

Before you read any further, stop and take note of the time.

Write it down if you have to in order to remember. It is important because the next week is going to change the lives of millions.

1,209,600

This is the approximate number of people who will die from something worse than Covid-19. The coronavirus has nothing on this disease. There is no human cure or government intervention that can change what is going to happen. Not one single medical mega-corporation will ever find a cure to this deadly disease.

In fact, the number above is a close representation of the number of people who died since this exact time last week and the week before.

The Spanish Flu took the lives of approximately 50 million people in the three years between January 1918 and December 1920.

This disease I speak of is even worse.

The Black Plague or Bubonic Plague that ravaged the world from 1347-1351 took the estimated lives of 25-200 million.

But the disease I speak of is even worse.

If you had paid close attention to the news, you would still have missed the reality that in the last eight weeks, almost 10 MILLION people have died around the world. This is more than the population of New York City, New York. It is more than the population of Mexico City, Mexico. Actually, the approximate number of people who have died from this disease is the same as the population of Seoul, South Korea.

From March 17, 2020 until March 17, 2021, approximately 63 MILLION people will die from this ancient disease.

That is the combined population of: Tokyo, Japan; Jakarta, Indonesia; Beijing, China; New York City, New York; and Sao Paulo, Brazil!

Here is the worst news anybody in the world could ever read. Forget all of the statistics. This disease has a 100% mortality rate to anybody who contracts it. The news channels, magazines, government organizations, and not even the United Nations wants to talk about this because it is so scary.

Tragically, the news DOES get worse.

Everybody in the world has the disease and there is NOTHING that can be done about it from a human perspective. My friend, you have the disease in your body and you may not even know it. However, it is not a respecter of persons. I have it on perfect authority that you and I WILL die from this disease, although we do not know when death will visit us.

The symptoms are horrible and at the heart of each symptom is the brutal reality that the underlying issues are too blatant, gross, and vulgar to even print. The symptoms of this disease grow worse with each passing day, but are so subtle at times that the overwhelming majority of the world will never stop to think about what is happening in their body.

The disease I am speaking of is SIN.

Sin is a curse that has come upon all of mankind through the disobedience of Adam and Eve. Regardless of what modern psychology, humanistic philosophies, or even government mandates may try to dictate, they cannot stop the 100% mortality rate from taking place.

The effects of sin are evident all around for those with eyes to see. What seems like tragedies, illnesses, terrorist activities, natural disasters, and rampant disease are all the result of sin entering the world.

Further, because the disease of sin has entered the world, there is an even greater problem. Man has been separated from a holy God. God cannot bear to look upon sin and yet, man thinks he can become like God. This is the lie that has been the longest in existence and it comes from Satan.

Satan blinds the eyes of men, women, and children around the world. He does not want them to see the wonder of who God is. He does not want them to hear the good news that there is but one escape from this dreadful disease that has killed more people than all the wars and plagues to ever befall mankind.

Satan wants people to think that they can believe what they want, do what they want, live how they want, and then eventually die with no fear of eternity.

The Bible is clear though that there is a time that is appointed for ALL to die, and after death will come the judgment.

YOU CANNOT ESCAPE! The ravages of this death stare at you every day in your bathroom mirror, but you are ignoring them. Yet, they will not go away. Your flesh will decay until your body becomes dust in the grave.

But, there is a beacon of hope. It does not require hoarding toilet paper or food supplies. It does not require that you self-quarantine yourself in your home and hope for a better day.

The ONLY beacon of hope that you can escape is found in Jesus Christ ALONE. The Bible says ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Further, it proclaims that the wages of your sin is death.

Tired of the bad news, then hearken to the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 5:8, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Do you realize what this means?

For those who place their faith in Christ alone and plead to God for mercy, He will not reject them. He will grant forgiveness to those who ask for their sins to be forgiven. His love will and does extend to all who realize that Christ is the only escape.

John 3:16, 17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

The ravages and effects of your sin will still end your life one day. It may not be this month, this year, or even this decade. But death is still coming and it comes to all.

However, for those who become true believers in Jesus Christ have the promise that there is NOTHING to fear when death comes. We will pass from this life into eternity where we will forever be with the Lord.

If your name has been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, then rejoice in this truth.

Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Today is the day of salvation though. Tomorrow may be too late. Over the next week, another 1,209,600 people will pass from this life into eternity and you may be one of that number. The results for those without Christ will be far worse than Covid-19, the black plague, or anything found in a chemical warfare lab.

Come to Christ while there is still time. Do not worry about the effects of Covid-19 if you have a right relationship with God.

If you are a true believer in Jesus Christ, then rejoice and lift up your eyes for our redemption draws near. Our Lord is, has been, and always will be sovereign and in control of this world. If we get sick, or grow old, or die in an accident, death has been swallowed up in victory because Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose again so that we too can have the eternal hope that we will be raised to newness of life when this life is over.

Covid-19 Virus and It’s Implications For the Christian

This is quite the world we’re living in right now. Talking with my family on occasion regarding the various ‘Apocalypse’ style scenarios one could live through and how best to navigate them, one never really thinks he’ll actually find himself in that sort of trial.

But here we are. The Covid-19, or more commonly called ‘Coronavirus’ is sweeping the earth and many have been affected and many more will be before this is all over.

That’s fine, and I’m not really concerned about the virus, because we as a family are already very clean and do more than most people to keep it that way. I am more concerned with society as a whole and how the Christian will be regarded after everything calms down.

I hear about how companies, governments, sports teams and just about every institution out there is closing down and cancelling events and that means a whole lot of money and business down the drain.

I see myriads of people in the stores fighting over toilet paper and food, and can only imagine it getting worse.

Here’s the scenario I see: Lock-down of our towns and cities. Businesses close, schools close, no one is allowed to go to work but some, only some will be able to telecommute. Most will not have enough money to pay their bills, and after their credit cards have been maxed out, most will either walk away from their homes, declare bankruptcy or worse.

We as a family own a janitorial business, and just today, our biggest contract was cancelled on us. What is going to happen when more and more businesses we cater to, close their doors? We won’t have work either. My wife teaches piano and has been scrabbling to set up online lessons for those who are too afraid to leave their homes anymore. Yes, it’s getting that bad. This, if it works, will be our only source of income. It won’t be much, but if we are not allowed to leave our homes, what good will it do?

We saw images in China where food was being hoisted up on ropes to people who were trapped in their homes. Can this sort of thing happen in Canada? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Yet, with all the trials and tests we, as a people, and we as Christians are facing now, we have to remember that God is sovereign. He is supreme and He is in control of this virus and the implications surrounding it. Its invention/discovery didn’t catch God by surprise. He’s not losing sleep, wringing His hands in worry. He is in control of this! God is not a worried and tense bystander downing Rolaids and milk trying to calm His ulcers. He is the majestic God of all, King of heaven and earth and is moving His chess pieces across the board where He wants them to go. Not one thought, word or action from the whole of mankind is beyond His control (Proverbs 16). Not one death escapes His notice. Not one germ is allowed to proceed unless He gives it permission.

How does this apply to us as Christians? We read in various places in Scripture where God promises us protection through trials, yet we also see where He allowed His children to suffer horribly. Psalm 23 and 91 come to mind where we can derive great comfort knowing that God will take good care of us. We read in Proverbs where He controls everything from the big to the small. From turning the king in the direction He wants him to go, to the rolling of the die. Everything that happens in this world of ours is under His constant control. EVERYTHING! Not most things. Not the big stuff. But everything.

We can count on God to guide us through the valley of death. We can trust that He will open His arms to us when we run for cover and need His sanctuary. We can rely on the fact that no matter how big the giants of life are, God is the biggest giant of all!

Yes, we may suffer. We are told in Acts that the road to heaven is paved with many tribulations. The narrow way is losing its elbow room, and we as His children are feeling the pressure.

As we see inevitable changes to society and how things are run, where do we put our trust? If we are forced to live in a cashless society and most business is run online, then what? Then we trust in God and adapt.

As the store shelves empty, as our so called freedoms wain, and as society inches closer to a one world government run by an all-seeing computer generated dictator, we will continue to give and sacrifice as God calls us to. We will continue to love and serve, pray and forgive and live out this life of Christ to the best of our ability.

If this virus leads to us being persecuted and martyred for God’s glory then so be it. It won’t be nice to live through, but it will bring us to our Lord’s protective side early.