Out of Hiatus (Reflection)
During COVID-19, my wife Ashley and I have used our time to draw closer to the Lord. That is not to say that we are coming out of quarantine and social distancing like Franciscan monks, not at all! Although, honestly, if it were not for Abbie at Beautiful Blessings Salon, I probably would have looked like a Franciscan monk using my own clippers! (Thanks, Abbie!) However, as my wife wrapped up a Precept study on Luke and then delved into Biblical Counseling courses for her Masters, I dove into The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler and Creature of the Word by Chandler, Geiger and Patterson.
Together she and I started the Gospel-centered recovery study Steps by Chandler and Patterson. It has been enlightening and invigorating. There is no doubt, I believe in the ministry of Celebrate Recovery. I think that there are a lot of believers that could benefit from attending Celebrate Recovery, to hear testimonies of grace and to know what God can do even when we think that all is lost. However, I also think that there is a lot of benefit to anyone who has time in recovery to take a look at what the Gospel has to say about our hurts, habits and hang-ups while working through Steps the same way they would work the steps.
Ashley and I also sat down and watched The American Gospel: Christ Alone and The American Gospel: Christ Crucified together. If you have not watched those two documentaries, I would suggest doing so. Particularly if there is anything inside of you that leads you to believe that in order to be saved you have to do some sort of task to earn salvation or to stay on the right side of God. I am not even going to go down the rabbit hole of God’s Wrath and Hell, not in this blog. But, from those two documentaries, I agree wholeheartedly that a person repenting of sin and chasing after God due to a fear of Hell is a nice start but that definitely shows that they do not totally get the Gospel yet. The seed of repentance has been planted but they are still operating from the self-centered, self-preservation standpoint. They are still trying to save themselves from God’s wrath and eternal damnation. Definitely, God will use it and allow them to grow from fear to love. That becomes evident in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment. The one who fears has not been perfected in love.” Clearly, we will not be perfect until we stand before the Lord. But, for those of us who have accepted Christ and truly understand the gospel, fear of Hell and a notion that if we are not good we won’t get to enter into heaven—even if our faith began in that self-preservation state of trying to get out of Hell free—the truth is the Holy Spirit will perform the work in us to reveal that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. What was fear, should turn into reverential respect and love of the Lord for all that He is and has done for us.
So, being able to partake in these things has been amazing and eye opening and has certainly renewed my joy and hope in the Lord, to say the least.
Yet, part of what has given me joy and hope during COVID-19 has also been the fellowship and the love that we have experienced, in Christ, with those that we do life with within our faith community! From our neighbors who have invited us over for social-distanced hangouts, to fellow friends-in-Christ who have chosen faith over fear and opted to have us over for outdoor movie nights, coffee on back porches, trampoline extravaganzas and birthday parties to celebrate life during this difficult time. Not to mention the miles that have been walked around my neighborhood.
Plus, every Wednesday our pastor hosts a zoom meeting where he or one of the leaders has walked us through a devotional, and then we contribute our thoughts and pray for the needs that are known within the group. Those zoom meetings have been crucial to feeling gathered and connected to others within our church when we simply have not been able to gather on Sundays. I am grateful to the Lord that the Spirit guided Pastor Nick and our leadership to do that because it has filled me with hope and a place to share struggles, while also hearing the struggles of others so that I may be humbled!
Further, being able to rejoin friends and worship our Lord on Back Porch Worship has been such a blessing, too. The fellowship, finding that place of interconnectedness that comes with lending our talents to glorifying God in song. It has been refreshing in my spirit and such a gift!
In all of this, my takeaway is that in spite of the struggles that shelter-in-place has been on various levels, it has allowed me to slow down, it’s provided opportunities for me to help out my neighbors and my neighbors friends, to witness to other neighbors about Jesus, as well as to show love to others, strengthen my walk and relationships within my household, with faith-friends and with my Lord. I am grateful that God laid down His life so that I might believe and have eternal life, I am grateful that when gripped with fear, He has been able to remind me that to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). Ultimately, I am grateful that I have hope in the Kingdom of God, and that I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:21).
Thank you for understanding Word Servant’s blog post hiatus. There was a lot going on initially with homeschooling a kindergartener who did graduate and is off to 1st Grade in the fall!! (Congrats, Eli!!!) Not mention my finishing up my own semester of college with Theology II and Acts and the Pauline Epistles. Life was hectic and stressful. So, I appreciate those of you who have hung in there immensely. As I resume blogging, I am convicted to return to journaling through the Word. Pray that He directs me to the Scripture that He desires for me to start back with!
Until Next Time,God Bless