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Where is God during this pandemic?

How could God allow this to happen?

Where is God?

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Have you thought these questions? I have heard them uttered. I have read them as well. I even heard them in the tone of the guy in line outside of Home Depot Saturday.

The truth of scripture reminds me when I am anxious or afraid that God is right where He has always been. He is on His throne. Isaiah 6:1 “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.” Exodus 24:10 “and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness.” Revelation 5:1 “Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.”

The rule of God has never been lessened. He is in control. He is steering and guiding and controlling the virus to bring about His will! Glory to His name! Also, He is extending His manifold mercies and abundant grace throughout the world! How could He allow this to happen? Because He is bringing about the plan He has been working before the foundation of the earth. “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all” (1 Chronicles 29:11).

Where is God during this pandemic? He is on the throne! We can be confident in His direction, even when there is upheaval. We can rejoice that even if His hand of provision is taken away, He has not left us or forsaken us!

Remember the great words of Psalm 46:10 when, like me, you find yourself anxious. “”Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Reach out!

Happy April’s Fool Day?

Are you looking for a new read? Most of that list is a great time investment. Specifically, the cheap Kindle version of Eric Metaxas’ Martin Luther and the free Pilgrim’s Progress are ones everyone should pick up.
I was moved by “I Didn’t Know I Love You Like This“. Glenna Marshall expresses much of what I am feeling during this time.
Virtual Coffee Hour continues Wednesdays and Fridays at 9 am. Drop in, stay the whole time, and learn something new about each other https://zoom.us/j/202192408.

man holding red heart poster

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Many of you have asked how they can help. Would you send a text, make a phone call, mail a card, or email the people you would regularly see on Sunday? This will help us to stay connected with each other.

This Sunday is Palm Sunday. Pastor Frank will be preaching Psalm 106 online. Read the Psalm before Sunday and see God’s Kingdom rule over the world. He is in control, guiding the affairs of life, and worthy of praise.

Building up

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Cornerstone Bible Church has been “building on Jesus verse by verse” for nearly 8 years. We have sought to reach our community with the gospel, encourage believers to grow in maturity, and train leaders for the days to come. All of this work has been done because men, women, and children to know the only Savior, Jesus.

How are we going to expand with the growth of Cornerstone? We are going to draw believers into fellowship, evangelize the lost, and equip those willing to serve. You can join in Building Up through drawing new families into fellowship. Invite them to eat with you, attend small group, or even sit near you Sunday. Take the time to share what the Lord is teaching you in your walk with Christ, or ask how you can pray for them this week. 
“Building on Jesus verse by verse”  will be our aim until He returns. After all, the Lord’s Supper reminds us, “for as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). We don’t know the day nor the hour, but we know He will return, and we will keep building up until that day.

Airline Seating

There is a viral video of woman experiencing literal push back from reclining her seat on an airplane. Whether you have seen the video or not, it is a reminder that we live in close proximity to one another.
There is danger in living in close proximity, if we are not guided by clear standard of conduct. Romans 12:16, 17 tell us “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.”
Our unity is through the work of the gospel to save us from the eternal consequences of sin, and to create a people who belong to Jesus and are zealous for good works. Pastor Frank reminded us of those good works this past Sunday. This Sunday, we are going to study the boundaries of good works, looking at John’s warnings to not misconstrue doing good with living in sin.
Living in harmony requires work on everyone’s part. Though poor choices (sin) will happen, we are always able to come back to living in harmony. The best way to live in harmony is to build on Jesus, verse by verse.

Technical Hiccups

Sunday, I set up the PowerPoint to have the announcements rotating before the service. What I did not know was my attempt to be helpful was disruptive to the Sunday morning worship service. I threw off the flow, created an awkward space in the service, and had to scramble to help solve the issue.

This is not the first time I was frazzled at the start of a Church service. Sometimes I have arrived frazzled because of what happened at the breakfast table or while getting ready Sunday morning; sometimes because of the events of the past week, as I was burdened or feeling defeated; and, sometimes because of whatever was going on inside of my head left me on edge.

Just as at those other times, as I sang of God’s wonderful work and reflected upon the Bible, I was reminded that I was at church to corporately praise His name, build others up in Jesus, and find ways to speak truth into the lives of those who are present. While I could have dwelt on whatever was weighing me down, I choose instead to cast my cares upon Jesus (1 Peter 5:7).

Sunday ended up being a really great service. Both my wife and I connected with some who were hurting and with some who were serving. I don’t go to church to be perfect. I go to church be a better follower of the One who is perfect. He has promised to use flawed people to bring about His perfect will.

If you find yourself considering skipping church because you’re frazzled, don’t stay home. You might think that it is too much, and you will find that it was just what you needed.

P.S. Cornerstone is looking for someone to manage the PowerPoint slides.

Who can God save?

7.5 billion people call earth home. There are 330,000,000 who live in the US. In Utah, there are 3.1 million people. In Davis County there are roughly 350,000 people. Every one of them is guilty of sin. 100% deserve wrath, because they have turned to their own way. Not one is righteous because of their deeds. Romans 2:6 and 8 read “He will render to each one according to his works: … but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.”

With such a bleak picture of humanity who can God save? If all of mankind is guilty, how can any of them be justified? The Bible gives the answer clearly, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” And, Peter, preaching to those who many thought were beyond the possibility of salvation said “To Him (Jesus) all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.”

God can and will save all who believe in Jesus. There are no persons who are beyond the grace of God if they have breath in their lungs. For they can hear the word of God, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and be saved! May the Apostle Paul’s request for prayer be ours as well, “that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:20).

Crashing

Sunday, I mentioned that the church throughout history has not always been patient while people mature in their faith. We strongly desire for people to believe in Jesus and embrace the life as a child of God. Then, we expect those new believers to act mature, though they are immature in the Lord.

Thankfully, the Bible instructs us how we might improve. “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Like our biological family, we have an opportunity to help our family in Christ. Through patience, encouragement, and wise reminders, we can lead our brothers and sisters in Jesus to live the way the Bible teaches.

Our Lord says “let them lay hold of my protection, let them make peace with me, let them make peace with me” (Isaiah 27:5). While the church has not always done a great job, we can start now and be there for those who need help, and go to those who the Lord will use to help us.

You are the Problem

You are the problem. You make excuses. You delight in destructive tendencies. You don’t want to hear the truth.

Though the truth hurts, it is going to be more painful. If you continue in bad decision making, even worse results will follow. You are not able to do better, because your inward being is insatiably driving you forward.

You are likely trying to justify your behavior along the lines of, “why do you get to judge me,” “I’m not that bad,” or “I don’t have to listen to you.” You listen because you know what I wrote is true, you know you are actually worse than many think, and the reason I get to say these things flows from common experience (i.e. I, too, am the problem).

Our much needed solution is not in our power or ability, but in the One who created us and provided a solution. That solution was taking our place in paying the price of the penalty. However, His design is that when you receive the gift He freely offers, you would utilize and enjoy this new found freedom. Continued actions similar to those prior to the reception of His gift will result in discouragement, dissatisfaction, and disassociation, which is far the desired results.

So, quit being the problem by delighting in the Solution, in the end, He will use you to help those you love to also break the cycle and enjoy Him and the life He gives. Not sure how to begin? Start here, and if you already have done that, check this out.

Who am I to follow?

16487168_10155890756369012_4648992587089498487_oJerry Coyne in his book Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible, argues that that worldview that is based on knowledge gleaned through observation, testing, and skepticism is incompatible with faith in any deity that interacts with the world. In line with other “new” atheists (Dawkins, Harris, etc.), he attacks faith in general (and sometimes things done in the name of faith are right to attack, like the inquisition, bombings, willingly letting children die of operable tumors in the name of faith, etc.).

The premise is in line with his presumptions. A non-believer who writes a book espousing non-belief admits they cannot use the very tests he demands as a basis of truth on the subject of origins. He writes, “Are there times when it’s alright to hold strong beliefs that are supported by little or no evidence?” What he really means, “there is little to no evidence I and others who are pushing the atheist worldview accept, so why not let our worldview be your authority?” I encourage you to not let him and his worldview be your authority.

It may be surprising that I agree with his premise that that religion and science, as Coyne defines and articulates, are not compatible. I am not for dropping anything but Coyne’s worldview and retaining belief in the Bible. “Little to no evidence,” Coyne wrote, means there is some (and I dare say more than he would admit) for a biblical worldview. The numbers of those who believe in something among practicing scientists (22%) in America, quoted in his book, points to the majority of unbelievers in scientific community, but also to the hope that there are still those who believe. I suspect the work of those who believe the Bible is going to be under greater scrutiny, especially if pointing to Young Earth and Creation models. Thankfully, they are not absent, and their evidence may not be as readily accepted.

Writing an article telling you to not follow Coyne and the athiests, and instead follow religion “that is pure and undefiled” and to have faith in Christ, who did die on a cross and was raised from the dead is not surprising. To believe the Bible (including the specific and special creation, the worldwide flood of the earth, the exiting of the slaves from Egypt, the building of the nation of Israel, and the life of Christ as declared in the Gospels) and to go to a church that declares God’s Word as truth is in line with my role. The evidence may be slight and at times imperceptible, but it is not the first time the Bible has been put to the test and found reliable. In the face of Coyne’s premise that science alone gives knowledge, Proverbs 2:6 declares, ”For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” This is not a call to abandon science, discovery, and study. This is a call to study both the Bible and our universe, and in doing so, follow God.

Renew Your Mind

In stark contrast to the warning against being conformed to this world, Paul wrote in Romans 12:2 “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

This is for all those who are believers. We are all to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. As Paul addressed plural believers with the word “brothers,” so, here, the pronouns are plural. We are not to be conformed to the world, instead we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

To the put the rubber to the road: Where is your mind? What do you dwell upon? What do you find yourself thinking about, desiring, wanting? If one ponders the Bible throughout the day, even the most mundane aspects of life can be accomplished with a renewed mind.

If you are one who consistently and constantly complains, stop (for that is not the will of God, according to Philippians 2:14), and be transformed by the renewal of your mind. If you are one who is constantly dwelling upon inappropriate fantasies, stop, and dwell upon those things that are true, and lovely, and pure, and of good report (as Philippians 4:8 commands). If you are one given to lies, stop (Colossians 3:9), and be transformed in the renewal of your mind by only dwelling on truth.