April 1, 2020
I'm finally throwing in the towel. I've fought against shutting down our Church because I believe it is a good thing to be in Church to worship, to learn, and to fellowship with likeminded people. I understand that "worship" can be anytime, anywhere, and any place. You do not have to be in Church to worship. The same can be said of learning. Bibles come in many sizes and formats. You can have one with you all the time, and learning about God from it is available wherever you are. The third one, fellowship, isn't quite as easy with our current situation, but it is crucial. Sharing with others, encouraging, and sometimes helping with just a smile is more important than we may think. Even when there is so much available through the technology of today to hear and see Church services, generating the fellowship part of it is harder. You may have to work to reach out to people in your life through some of the appropriate technology. Call someone and just visit for a while. Send an email or a text and encourage them to keep up the good fight. Don't be afraid to share some of the struggles you are having. We do have ways that do not replace actually being together with believers. Still, it might help us until we can be together again.
When I cancel services, it was not taken lightly. I thought it might be useful for me to explain why I have canceled. There seems to be tension in the Word of God between being first of all obedient to God, and also being amenable to government authority. Both are found in scripture and, to some, seem to be in direct opposition to each other. It says in Acts 5:29 that "we ought to obey God rather than man."
On the other hand, it says in Romans 13:1, "Let every person be subject to governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God." (I’m sure that some of you would like to discuss this in greater detail, but I don't have time today) Can both be true at the same time? The first verse is taken from an episode in the life of Peter. He and other apostles had been arrested for mostly not obeying the authority. They were told by an angel of God in Acts 5:20, "Go your way, stand and speak to the people in the temple 'the whole message of this Life.” What or who was “this Life?” The context leads me to believe without hesitation that it was “Jesus.” In vs. 28, "We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name…." The apostles are being ordered by those in authority, not teach about Jesus or anything about Him. That brings about the response by Peter, “We must obey God rather than men.” They were telling the apostles not to preach and teach about Jesus Christ, who is at the core of our Christian faith. We cannot obey that command, but it is not to say that we can't change how we interact in the Church for this time. Jesus also says in Matthew 22:21, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's." And in Matthew 17, He paid tax.
Another important aspect of this is how we are told in scripture to love one another. I John 3 spells it out plainly. Jesus, in the gospels, said that the greatest command is to love God. He went on to say that the second greatest is to love one another. In this particular case, we can love by being careful that we don’t pass on this virus that may harm them.
For now, Community Bible Church is on hold. We can still continue in God’s Word in our respective homes. We can take advantage of some great teachers on both radio and TV. You can also access some of my past sermons at cbcmusselshell.wordpress.com.
Pastor Lynn Rettig
Community Bible Church
GOD IS FUNNY
You may remember that I wrote a few weeks ago that I make plans to do things for one reason and God makes plans for me to do the same thing for another reason. God always knows MY plans, but He doesn’t reveal to me His plans – He just springs them on me.
March 1 – I have a payday so I order groceries for the month. I ordered toilet paper (just one pack of 12), food that I usually eat to last a month because this month I knew I would be laid up for two weeks due to my scheduled eye surgeries on March 4 and 11. I wanted to be well supplied so that after the surgeries, I wouldn’t have to concern myself with shopping. The surgeries went well, by the way.
A second event in my life is that my children, 3 of whom live in the Quad-cities in Illinois and Iowa have been wanting me to move back there with them. Every time I would ask God about putting my house on the market, He would just say “NO”. I asked God again and this time He said I could move.
Suddenly, we are in the midst of a viral crisis and Illinois is a shut-down state. People are encouraged not to socialize with anyone. My sister, who was planning to come for me, is not even seeing her children or grandchildren (she lives in the Chicago area). Everything is crazy. But, I have enough food supplies and toilet paper to last me through this crisis. See, I was buying food for my surgeries and God was stocking me up for the virus crisis. Also, I cannot move anywhere at this point in time. I laughed and just said, “Good one, God, You got me again. Prepared me in advance for what You knew was coming, and not my plans”. I am sure the enemy, satan, has plenty of unknown viruses to plague us with. God knows his every move.
Now, I get Face Book stuff blaming God for this virus and saying it is His punishment. Nope, God isn’t doing this but God is allowing it. My reading this week has been Hosea. In the Old Covenant, God did DO it. But we are under the New Covenant of Grace since the coming of Jesus. However, God hasn’t changed, He still loves us and wants us to follow Him. Do we need this to STOP. Yes.
I will just quote a few of Hosea’s words. Chapter 14:3 Take with you words and return to the Lord; say to Him: “Forgive all iniquity, and accept that which is good; so we will render for bullocks the offering of our lips.” That’s all God wants anyway. Not animal sacrifices, but your heart which speaks through your lips. Chapter 13:4 “And I am the Lord thy God since the land of Egypt; and you know no God but Me, and beside Me there is no savior:” Chapter 14:10 “Whoever is wise, let them understand these things, whoever is prudent let them know them. For the ways of the Lord are right and the just do walk in them; but transgressors (sinners) do stumble in them”.
Pray that our nation turns back to God so that we can, once again, live under the protective shadow of His love and care. Reject the evil that has come into our midst and just turn to the Lord. He loves you and will welcome you with open arms, just as the father of the prodigal son welcomed him home. Luke 15.
Rev. Joyce Kaplan, M.Div., Retired United Church of Christ pastor