We are in prayer…..We love you all……….
Please be very careful, please be aware of all people. Love on them by phone, email, text, send greeting cards through your email. Pastor Ruben Gomez from Midland, Texas has been doing that so I started doing it!!!! Many of my elderly friends have email, no Facebook for many of them. CALLING ON THE PHONE STILL WORKS!
This morning I am thinking of all the health care workers. As many of you know Sharon is an RN and our daughter Gretchen is a Respiratory Therapist. My heart and prayers go out to all health care workers all over God’s World. I weep for them, pray for them and all those that have COVID-19 and all those families that have lost loved ones in this world we live in. We are all one.
I also think of all those working at the grocery stores! I pray for them all the time. The Truck Drivers, Postal Workers, UPS, Fed Ex….. I pray for all those that have lost loved ones and cannot hold the funeral. So many things to pray about. That is why we are to be in prayer constantly. We need to pray ourselves through life, not plow our way through.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18
What can you do at home? Read God’s Word, seek His face like never before. Pray and love.
Is the government violating religious freedom by restricting church services? A Holy Wednesday invitation to solitude
In The Daily Article for April 8, 2020
This is the first Holy Week in Christian history to be observed primarily online.
From livestreamed services at the Vatican to video sermons recorded and shared on cell phones, Christians and Christian churches all over the world are meeting virtually these days.
This is a controversial subject. Some claim that governmental restrictions on worship services are an infringement of religious liberty and a violation of the separation of church and state. Others disagree, noting that such prohibitions do not single out religious gatherings but include all events at which people could become infected with coronavirus. Still others claim that church services should be classified as “essential” functions and allowed to continue under social distancing guidelines.
I agree with Dr. Albert Mohler and Kelly Shackelford’s statement in the Washington Post: “Asking houses of worship to briefly suspend large gatherings is neither hostile toward religion nor unreasonable in light of the threat. Rather, this is a time for all of us to exercise prudence over defiance. Love for God and neighbor demands nothing less.”
However, my purpose today is not to litigate this issue. Rather, it is to encourage us to reframe social distancing in a way that aligns with this day in Holy Week.
You might respond by noting that the Gospels do not record any activities of our Lord on the Wednesday before he died. I agree.
“God goes where he’s wanted”
Jesus spent the first four nights of Holy Week in Bethany, a suburb east of Jerusalem, at the home of his friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (cf. Matthew 21:17).
Making the homes of others his own was customary for our Lord. He stayed with Peter and his family when in Capernaum (cf. Matthew 8:14; Mark 1:29). He once said, “the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).
But as Philip Yancey noted, “God goes where he’s wanted.”
When Samaritans, an ethnic group hated by the Jews, “believed in Jesus” and “asked him to stay with them,” our Lord “stayed there two days” (John 4:39–40). As a result, “many more believed because of his word” (v. 41).
When Paul led Lydia to Christ, she “prevailed” upon Paul and his team to “come to my house and stay” (Acts 16:15). It’s hard to imagine that Saul the Pharisee would have stayed at the home of this Gentile woman, but as Paul noted, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
After the apostle was subsequently released from prison, he “visited Lydia” and “the brothers” who were there (v. 40). He later told elders in Ephesus, “I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house” (Acts 20:20).
Christianity was a house movement centuries before it became a building-centered institution. Today, if someone asks you, “Where is your church?”, you’ll probably give them an address. If someone had asked you that question in the first century, you would have been baffled. It would have been like identifying a physical location for democracy or Stoicism.
The Christian faith is a movement, not a denomination; an army, not an institution (cf. Ephesians 6:10–18). And this army marches on its knees.
“Be filled with the Holy Spirit”
Jesus spent Holy Wednesday in solitude, preparing spiritually for what lay ahead. If the divine Son of God needed such a time of intimacy with his Father, how much more do we in these days of crisis?
We need the power of God to fulfill the purpose of God.
For instance, after Jesus met Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, the Lord sent a disciple named Ananias to him. Ananias told Saul that he had been sent “so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17). Saul was then healed (v. 18) and “immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God’” (v. 20). Despite opposition, “Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ” (v. 22).
Note that nothing had changed in his life except the fact that he had met Jesus and had been “filled” with his Spirit. Saul had not yet met other believers or received Christian theological training (cf. Galatians 1:16–17). But he was empowered by the Spirit to partner with the Spirit in declaring spiritual truth that advanced God’s kingdom in powerful ways.
If you’re a Christian, you’ve met the same risen Lord. If you will ask the same Holy Spirit to “fill” or control you, he will (cf. Ephesians 5:18).
The best way to observe Holy Wednesday
Social distancing does not mean spiritual distancing. In fact, the opposite can be the case.
I cannot think of a better way to observe Holy Wednesday than by doing what Jesus did on this day. So, make time to be with your Lord. Remember all that he did for you this week and thank him for each act of grace, from his intense prayer in Gethsemane to the scourging, mocking, and crucifixion he endured on your behalf. And know that he would do it all again, just for you.
Now ask him to show you his personal love for you. Listen for his voice in your mind and heart. Feel his holy presence and experience his transforming grace.
If we will make today a Holy Wednesday with our Savior, we will never be the same.
Did someone forward this email to you?
To subscribe to The Daily Article, visit denisonforum.org/subscribe.
|Denison Ministries, 17304 Preston Rd, Suite 1060, Dallas, TX 75252|
NMDOT and State Police discourage
Good Friday Pilgrimages
This Holy Week, home is the holy place
SANTA FE –– The New Mexico Department of Transportation is asking the faithful to stay home during Holy Week.
The annual pilgrimages to El Santuario de Chimayo and Tome Hill have been cancelled due to the imposed health order to prohibit gathering of five or more people.
In addition, the grounds, chapel and restrooms at El Santuario de Chimayo will be closed Holy Thursday through Easter Monday (April 9-13). Pilgrims are discouraged from visiting the sacred site.
The New Mexico Department of Transportation and State Police strongly discourages anyone from making the trek to the church this year. Safety arrangements will not be provided on the pilgrimage route roadways and traffic control will not be provided. Message boards will tell the public to turn back and stay home.
Transportation Secretary Mike Sandoval said he had to make the difficult decision. “I’m from Santa Fe and I have made the Good Friday walk to El Santuario de Chimayo in the past,” said Sandoval. “I know this is painful but we don’t want anyone getting hurt or killed on the roadways. Please stay home.”
State Police and the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office will be present on the routes but will stand in solidarity with the governor’s order and clergy recommendation to stay home. They will be asking walkers to go home.
“While the New Mexico State Police respect the religious liberty of all New Mexico residents, we are urging the public to refrain from participating in these pilgrimages out of concern for their safety, as traditional safety measures, like traffic control, will not be in place this year,” said New Mexico State Police Chief Tim Johnson. “We ask that you stay home to keep yourself and our officers safe.”
Archbishop John Wester also strongly discourages the faithful from making the annual trek.
“In unity with all Christians, we call on the faithful to make home the holy place for the sake of all families during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is imperative we heed the advice of our global scientists, medical and public health experts,” Archbishop Wester said. “Stay home. By practicing social distancing, together we can save lives.”
Pastor Vince Torres of Blaze Christian Fellowship in Santa Fe said, “Though these guidelines may prevent our physical communion with one another, they cannot prevent our spiritual communion with God. In other words, we can continue to be spiritually faithful Christians while serving as socially responsible citizens.”
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham strongly urged all New Mexicans of every denomination to avoid large gatherings during Holy Week, even in places of worship.
“We understand this is a terrible hardship for the faithful, but public health is the first and foremost consideration,” the governor said. “And large groups are an enormous public health risk to our communities right now. I am immensely grateful to the Archbishop and to faith leaders from all across the state who have voluntarily canceled Holy Week congregations and encourage everyone to heed the guidance: This week, home is the holy place.”
Here is the good news from Pastor Paul Holt of of the First Baptist Church in Magdalena, NM:
At the risk of stating the obvious, we live in troubled times. Christians and especially those in ministry should understand that for the last few decades we have had it fairly easy compared to those who came before.
Jesus warned that we would have trouble or tribulation:
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33
Now is not the time to lose heart but rather, now is the time to look at how we can best obey the Lord in reaching this world for Christ while obeying the authorities placed over us.
When I read of church leaders being arrested for holding church services, my natural aversion to government is activated.
There should be concern for religious liberty even during a time of emergency such as this.
Of course, we want to obey the command in Hebrews to not forsake the gathering of ourselves, while balancing the instruction of Romans 13 to submit to the governing authorities and the use of quarantine in Leviticus 13.
Pastors should always look to the health and safety of their respective flocks and recall that the Lord provides for the needs of His people.
We live in an amazing age where we can meet for bible study on the internet but we can also use older technology to meet just a little bit closer without violating the social distancing orders issued by governors and mayors.
Last week, I was reading several articles proposing ideas that churches could try for Resurrection Sunday. One idea really appealed to me, using a legal low power FM transmitter to hold parking lot services where people tuned in on the car radio.
The great thing about this idea, as you can imagine, is that people can still see one another without violating the social distance directives.
So, I started searching for a solution for our church. With the help of Kevin at the New Mexico Baptist Convention, I found a transmitter for just under $60! I didn’t think it would arrive until after Easter but the Lord moved it along and it arrived today!
I will test it out tonight and verify how far along the parking lot it will broadcast but I believe this is a good solution in this difficult environment.
This will be one of many ways we can reach people for Jesus. Already, we have people joining us on Zoom from outside Magdalena and the state. The Lord will use these times in great and mighty ways.
We should not allow the pandemic to stop the Great Commission but look for opportunities to be overcomers.