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How to Change the World During a Pandemic 3

One month after we began this quarantine the newness has worn off. Reality begins to set in, and the reality is that each of us has experienced some loss. Some have lost loved ones, and it is easy to minimize the loss felt by those who have lost less. Loss, though, is still loss. Some have lost jobs, income, friends, projects they had been developing, or dreams for which they were planning. Students have lost school, graduation ceremonies, and proms. Businesses have lost income or closed. Churches have lost connection with people and now they are losing traditional Easter practices. Families are cancelling reunions and are not able to come together to grieve or celebrate.

Some losses are greater than others, but all losses are losses and must be grieved. It is easy to recommend some Pollyanna type advice and say, “Focus on the good.” It is easy to compare your loss to others and feel like you have no right to grieve. Stuffing down your losses and not feeling them will, however, lead you to an eventual collapse. You can’t change your world if you collapse. Grieving losses is essential work for this season so that you are prepared to help others.

It is easy to say you shouldn’t feel a certain way. Truthfully, feelings were made to be felt. Feelings can’t be helped, and feeling a loss is the only way to move forward. Suppressed feelings never go away, they just come out later when they are stronger and able to damage you more. In this age of Coronavirus, you need to feel whatever losses you are experiencing. You need to feel and not compare your loss to another person’s loss. It is ok to feel.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross taught us that you feel grief in five ways: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. They don’t follow any order, and each of the feelings may be seconds apart from another. Some deny loss, ignore it, or hide from it behind addiction. Some lash out in anger and try to make others feel their pain. Some try to bargain with God or others (Maybe the toilet paper hoarding has something to do with feeling in control of something and bargaining our way out of danger. “If I only have enough TP I will be ok?”) Some feel depression. Remember, each feeling is an expression of loss and must be felt in order to get to the place of acceptance. Feeling isn’t wrong. Actions are wrong. When we fail to feel, we tend to do wrong things.

We ask “why” in our loss, but we almost never get to a real “why.” Some pretend to know “why” but they fall short of the real “why.” God knows and He isn’t telling us. Maybe God doesn’t tell us why because we wouldn’t understand it anyhow. His plans are not our plans, and He sees our loss from an eternal perspective that at best we see through a “dark glass.” God does, however, tell us “what.” Once we feel our loss, we finally get to acceptance where we can hear His voice tell us what to do next.

Soon, our world is going to need Christians who have felt their own pain and loss. The world will need Christians who can hear God’s voice. We may never, on this side of Heaven, be able to say “why.” We will, however, be able to help others feel their own loss and hear God tell us what is next. We can’t get back what is lost; we can only accept it and look to our future.

Reinhold Niebuhr understood this in his great Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.

Feel your loss so you are free to change the things you can rather than being stuck in the things you can’t change.

How to Change Your World During a Pandemic 2

The decision to move all church activities to an online forum was a difficult decision for LCC’s board and staff leaders. We thought of drive-in options and considered the message we were sending to our community. I have received some criticism as the move appears to be a lack of faith to some. In the age of quarantine, faith is challenged, and the definition of faith can be ambiguous. How do we change the world when we aren’t meeting?
 
Many churches have chosen different responses. Lately there are some churches that chose to continue meetings. I don’t want to criticize any church’s decision, but news reports are full of churches whose expression of faith has led to outsiders seeing the church as uncaring. On the other hand, shouldn’t we stand in the face of this pandemic and proclaim faith?
 
Maybe we need to define faith. Faith is never in our ability to demonstrate our own power to stand against forces outside our control. Faith rather is in our ability to hear God and trust His guidance. For example, in Matthew 2:13 “the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you.’” Joseph had to wrestle with the seeming contradiction between standing in faith against the coming destruction under Herod and quarantining his family away from the danger. Faith, to Joseph, came in the form of hearing and obeying God not demonstrating his “faith.”
 
Jesus was tempted by the devil in Matthew 4 to demonstrate faith in spectacular ways. He chose instead to demonstrate faith in trusting God. Jumping from the temple ramparts would certainly force God’s hand and promote Jesus’ status, but He chose instead to trust God for promotion. Our decisions at LCC have been based on what God directs rather than what would demonstrate our ability to promote our “faith.”
 
In Exodus, we find a plague coming upon the land and we also find Moses leading his people to quarantine in their homes. Faith involves trusting God in the situation in which we find ourselves. God may call us to stand in some spectacular fashion, but more times than not He has a longer-range plan that involves hearing His voice in the storm.
 
We have met online for three weeks now and have trusted God to keep LCCers safe and to grow His church. Our online presence has grown exponentially. Every great move of God has been preceded by a technological breakthrough. The codex (bound books) preceded the early Church’s breakthrough growth. Gutenberg’s printing press preceded the Protestant Reformation. Radio and television preceded the Pentecostal revival of the 20th Century. Now, we have an internet and social media breakthrough that could be preceding the greatest revival ever seen. If we are willing to hear God, I believe He is leading us to a new season in which some of the old wineskins of church gatherings give way to new wineskins of effectiveness.
 
I like the old wineskins, and I am prone to spectacular demonstrations of faith in the now. Faith, however, means trusting God to reveal new methods and to bear fruit over time. This current pandemic provides a shaking in which we must hear God. Every believer now has an opportunity to trust God for bigger things. Some LCCers have posted videos and used the internet to reach people that we never could have reached before.
 
I encourage you to hear from God and try something. The safety of the old ways are passing away, and a revival is in the making if we are bold enough to trust God to lead us. Using the new technology of FB, Zoom, FaceTime, etc. to reach the nations is our only path forward right now, but it could be that God provided the path if we are bold enough to leave our comfort zone and try new things. Mark Batterson once said that the greatest ways of doing ministry have yet to be discovered.
 
I have discovered that Linda and I can’t hold the church together on our own. LCCers have to rise together in faith and see the coming revival. Faith always involves action, and if each of us rises up to “be the church” we will see a revival across our land. We will one day meet again face to face, but the church will never be the same. We have retreated from the old and are trusting God for the new!

How to Change Your World During a Pandemic 1

One of the hardest parts of quarantined life in a pandemic for world-changing believers is that many of the ways we worked to change the world are now difficult or impossible. LCC is not doing our large outreaches, our children’s outreach team is not face painting or twisting balloons, and it seems like we are observers rather than game-changers.

One thing we can still do (as of 4/1) is walk around our neighborhoods. As long as you maintain distance, walking is good for you and your immune system. Instead of just walking, let’s try prayer walking. LCC’s prayer walking guide says, “We bring the light of Christ into the area and impact spiritual darkness just by our presence as the children of light.”

Some Practical tips: Wear comfortable shoes & appropriate attire; pray for protection before you walk, pray out loud and maintain a prayer focus throughout your walk; if walking with others pray in agreement and reinforce each other (of course make sure your group is small and only made up of those already in your quarantine circle); ask God to reveal the things that are on His heart; ask God to help you see our community as He sees it; ask the Holy Spirit to give us insights and specifics so we can pray more effectively.

Start with praise & worship: Praise God for who He is the only True & Living God, the Creator, Almighty God who desires that all people to be saved & know Him.

Claim the Community for Christ: God’s promise to Moses that wherever his foot touched, that land would be his and his ancestors (Deut 11:24) Joshua 1:3: “Every place upon which the sole of your foot shall tread, that have I given to you, as I promised Moses.”

Declare Christ’s truth in a place filled with falsehood.
Proclaim Christ as the answer.
Pronounce blessing in the name of Jesus on homes, schools, businesses, churches, etc…

Intercede:
-Intercede on behalf of the community coming against authorities and powers that bring corruption & bondage.
-Pray with authority in the Name of Jesus; Bind & loose as directed by the Holy Spirit (Matt 18:18); Pull down strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
-Intercede on behalf of the community for a spiritual awakening that will lift the standard of righteousness and bring an end to violence, crime, and evil manifestations in the area and most importantly for the salvation of the people.
-Pray in the Spirit – the perfect will of God

You might even ask those you meet if you can pray for them (from a safe distance).

We are not powerless in a pandemic! Pray for each home you walk past and bring the Spirit of Hope and Healing to your neighborhood.

Spiritual Disciplines for Tough Times 7

Fasting is a way to more clearly hear God’s voice and to prepare ourselves for ministry. In a time when we are hearing many conflicting voices concerning the current crisis we need to hear the voice of God in how to protect our family and be the Church in our community. I believe we are called to be salt and light in this season, and every LCCer needs to prepare for the coming season. If we could hear God’s voice and prepare, we can be a powerful force in helping our neighbors.

I encourage you to fast during this season and to hear God’s voice. Every LCCer has a call to do something.

Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough by Elmer L. Towns is a great resource, and much of this post is drawn from Dr. Towns’ work. Fasting is not an end in itself; it is a means by which we can hear God’s voice and submit ourselves in obedience to Him. We don’t make God love us any more than He already does if we fast or if we fast longer! One of the greatest spiritual benefits of fasting is becoming more in tune to what He wants us to become and do.

Jesus taught us that fasting is for today. He says, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth; they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, pour oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Matt. 6:16-18
Christians should fast when faced with situations requiring extra strength. Jesus said that the disciples would fast when He was taken from them. This implies that fasting can be associated with mourning. Thus, one purpose of fasting is to express grief while being close to God and receiving His help to get us through difficult times.

Fasting is useful before temptation (Mt. 4:1-2), during worship (Lk. 2:37), in preparation for ministry (Acts 13:3), and in times of deeper commitment to Him (Acts 14:23). Fasting allows us to more clearly hear God’s word for accomplishing His will in the world. Isaiah teaches us: “Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (58:5-7) Fasting will give each of us a clear plan of action for responding to this crisis. Isaiah continues, “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.” (8-9)

Some practical suggestions for fasting: 1) Take fasting seriously and prayerfully. Fast when you face a difficult situation or decision seeking divine intervention in your life. 2) Start slowly and end slowly. Skip a meal or two and take that time to pray. Increase your fasting time gradually. 3) Consider your personal health. If you have any health problem, you should check with your physician before fasting, especially for extended periods. Currently, use wisdom in length. Do not compromise your health. Longer is not better.

Linda and I usually spend a lot of money eating out. I believe we can and should use the money we are not spending to help others. We have committed to donating this money to local food pantries. If you want to share this commitment with us, designate this money as “Crisis Help” and we will pass it on to our community. You can give through Tith.ly, our PayPal link at https://www.positivelifechange.org/contact , or mail a check to PO Box 130 Bealeton, VA 22712.