Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
Psalm 119 : 105
August 7th, 2020
C.S. Lewis "On Living in an Atomic Age" (1948) - Living with Covid-19
"In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. "How are we to live in an atomic age?" I am tempted to reply: "Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents."
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors-anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty."
"This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things-praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts-not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds."
So, let me add that in 2020 we have already added to C.S. Lewis list Malaria, Dengue fever, Ebola, and AIDS. To this list we now add Covid-19. In 2016, 445,000 people died of Malaria. Each year approximately 400 million people get Dengue fever and about 22,000 each year die from it. From 2014-2016 11,300 people died from Ebola, which is now in a controlled state. In 2019, 690,000 died from AIDS, that number was 1.1 million deaths in 2010, these are annual numbers. This year, 712,000 people have died from Covid. But then, every year 56 million babies are killed in the womb of their mothers. 1 in 4 conceived children are aborted. But then, 3 million people every year die from some sort of alcohol related event. Oh yes, more than 8 million people die every year from tobacco related illnesses. Almost half of all tobacco users face some type of tobacco related death. Nearly 1.25 million people are killed in car accidents each year. That means, on average, auto accidents cause 3,287 deaths per day. An additional 20-50 million people are injured or disabled in car accidents. These do not include any of the wars or government directed terrorism or genocide that goes on every year.
So, getting back to C.S. Lewis, how should we live in a Covid-19 world? Just like we lived in a world already affected by other diseases both natural and man caused. Let us get back to doing sensible things - praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts - not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about Covid germs.
Which of by thought can extend our lives by one day? If God already knows our birth date and our death date, then that is already set. Those who died from Covid are like those who die from cancer and from old age, it was God's time for them.
Matthew 6:25-27 (NIV) "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Yes, we practice caution; as a pastor, I have washed my hands often and always put on protective clothes when directed by nurses and doctors. But I still needed to care for the sick and God has always kept me, and my father, and my sons, from getting any disease from the sick.
In the Covid age, as in the nuclear age, we will continue to live, continue to work, continue to love and continue to worship the Lord God. We will continue to pray, to trust and to know that God's steadfast love and everlasting mercy is in full control of our lives just as much as He was six months ago. We will read God's word a bit different as we live with more suffering and with more sorrow and more death. We will walk by faith as our forefathers did and as our children and grandchildren will.
God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. God is not sitting in heaven wringing His omnipotent hands in frustration. We are seeing the omnipotent hand of God at work doing His bidding as He both mercifully and powerfully draws people to Himself.
JIBC is meeting on Sunday's at 9:00 AM and at 10:45 AM. To practice social distancing we only have chairs for around 60 people. Please call ahead to let us know which service you are planning to attend.
Have a great day in the Lord,
July 15th, 2020
A Psalm about God
100 A Psalm for giving thanks.
1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
3 Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
5 For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
This short Psalm of five verses has sixteen direct references to God! Yes, this Psalm is about God and calls us to praise Him for who He is and for all that He does. By God's grace we can enter into His presence and we are singing because of His great salvation to us. God made us; we are His people. Creation indicates both design and ownership. When we have the deep questions of life, we should take them to our Creator. When we have questions about where we belong, we should take them to our owner.
Entering into His gates speak of His city, the place where God lives, and we are called to enter it. Again, in our sin, according to Revelation 21:27, we cannot enter His city. Only by God's grace and through faith in the work of Christ for us, can we ever enter into God's gates, so we enter with thanksgiving and with praise. His name is worthy of all the praise and blessing we can bring.
All of this is because the Lord is good to us; His steadfast, undeserved, and unchangeable love never changes and never runs out. We are so very thankful that our Lord's steadfast love towards us endures forever. (Husbands, this is the example of love we are called with which to love our wives. Yes, this is a high calling.) Even when we are unfaithful, our God is faithful to us. We have so many reasons to come into His courts with praise and with thanksgiving.
Take a moment to re-read this Psalm and to enjoy this meditation on God.
As our world continues to live in fear, we are drawn to greater faith in the God above the world. All of us, Christians and non-Christians alike, have been sown seeds of great fear. We have and are still hearing conflicting reports from week to week. Many people are ignoring the warnings and the sickness is on the rise in some places. We must look to our Lord and Savior, the one who alone is called by Isaiah: "Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. No, I don't want to get sick. Yes, I want to live above the fear. Let us edify one another in love. We need to hear from one another all that God is doing for us today. We are called to live above the fear.
Have a great day in the Lord,
July 2nd, 2020
We all can dwell, live, in the refuge and protection of our Lord Most High
1 Lord, You have been our refuge
in every generation. (from generation to generation)
1 The one who lives under the protection of the Most High
dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the Lord, "My (source of) refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."
By the grace of God, my parents have found their refuge in the Lord, Most High. By the grace of God, their parents found their refuge in the Lord, Most High. And as far as I know, even my parents, parents, parents, found their refuge in the Lord, Most High. These ancestors of mine date back to the mid 1800's and would have been alive during the American Civil War. My grandparents were alive during WW I and WW II. My parents were alive during the Cold War, the Cuban missile crisis, the Korean War, and the Vietnam war. They all lived through outbreaks of diseases and viruses, plagues that took thousands of lives and crippled thousands more.
In meditation on Psalm 90:1 and 91:1 today, I had the wonderful realization that from generation to generation the Lord has been the refuge of our family. In the hours of their trials, diseases, wars, political crisis, and death, they found their place of safety in the protection of the Lord Most High.
Furthermore, in the same way that Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, my grandparents at least twice back are also currently with the Lord Jesus who was their refuge in life and their Savior for eternity.
What does God want from me? He wants me to hold on to the same promises in Psalm 90 and 91 that were read by my family for generations past and will be read for generations forward. God is the same and His refuge, His place of protection, is where we can dwell, where we can live every day of this life and forevermore.
God's steadfast love never changes, and His mercies endure forever. Great is His faithfulness both to our generations past, present, and future.
So far, my dad and mom are at peace with their move. There are some moving issues that are being worked out but in talking to them, they are at peace. Thank you all for your prayers for them. Please continue to uphold them before the Lord. God is and has been their refuge for many years. He is not going to forsake them today. (For those of you who have my mom's cell phone, she still has that number and would enjoy a call.)
As the US approaches July 4th, this could be the most unusual, strange, and even most violent Independence Day ever. Let's join in prayer for our brothers and sisters in the US to know God's protection and care in the days and weeks ahead.
Have a great day in the Lord,
June 29th, 2020
God is always our Good Shepherd
1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh,
stir up your might
and come to save us!
3 Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
Jesus Christ called himself the Good Shepherd. The Psalmist knew God as his Shepherd. God, the Good Shepherd, is always leading his people with carefulness and with his steadfast love. From the family of Jacob, a dysfunctional family by any definition, God shepherded Joseph from the favorite son to the slave of Pharaoh, to the head prisoner, to the vizier of Egypt so that Joseph could prepare the way for God to save His nation. Only God can prepare a path like this.
God is still shepherding His people; Jesus is our Good Shepherd. Psalm 23 so carefully lays out our Shepherd's care in guiding, providing, and protecting us.
Even so, there are times we feel a need to cry out to God more. There are times when we will seek His face with greater fervency and desperation. This is one of those times. While nations are reopening, Covid is still here. It will be like malaria, influenza, polio, and AIDS; we will know it is here and try to live with it. However, since Covid has so many unknowns our fear level is high. We need to seek God's face with a greater fervency.
We agree with the Psalmist, "Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved."
Here at JIBC, we are thankful that we can have public services again. We are also thankful that God has protected us so far. We are thankful for the many Zoom groups that are meeting together for study, counsel, prayer, and encouragement. Furthermore, we are seeking the shine of God's face upon us to know His leading for us.
Today I need to ask your prayers for my parents. For 2 ½ years they lived with me. When I left the US, we found a place for them not far from my brother's house. For eight months or so they lived there until dad's physical condition required more care and my sister decided to take them into her home in Pennsylvania. After fourteen months with her both of my parent's health has become quite fragile and in need of more nursing care than my sister can provide. On Monday dad and mom will be moving into a nursing home near Philadelphia. Because of Covid my sister cannot go in with them to help them set up and get moved in, they can only bring them to the door and say goodbye. Dad and mom are people of great faith, they really are, and yet this transition is going to be difficult. Pray for their well being on every level as God shepherds them again.
Have a great day in the Lord,
June 22nd, 2020
God With Us
23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
28 But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works.
From the creation of man, God has enjoyed being with the men and women of His creation. In this Psalm we read that the Psalmist was continually with God and God held his right hand. When I walk with Jared, I often hold his hand, or he holds mine. Jared is much more secure in his walk when he is held on to. Perhaps that is the picture here. It is not that we cannot live apart from God holding on to us, but our life is much more secure when He does.
The Psalmist continues that when he is with God and held by His hand, he also hears the counsel of God both for the good of this life and for going into the next life. As we face life and death, God's close presence with us makes all the difference. We have God to look forward to in heaven and when we look to Him in this life, there is nothing on earth that compares. God is our strength when our human hearts fail; He is our portion forever.
The Psalmist ends stating even more clearly that it is good to be near God; God is His refuge, his place of safety. Jesus promised His disciples that He would be with them always. Jesus promised to send them, and us, His Holy Spirit to be with us always in this life. We too can say that we enjoy being with God as God enjoys being with us. God holds our right hand and we hear His counsel. God's presence is all the difference as we go through life and thus we know that we are prepared to see Him in heaven.
With this in mind, we tell others of all His wonderful works.
Open, yes, church is open. JIBC has been open for two Sundays now. We are thankful for those who have joined with us as we gather to sing, pray, read Scripture and hear God's word preached. The fellowship is sweet through the masks and distancing. We are still sanitizing the building, taking temperature, and keeping record of who comes so we can gather with a level of safety. We will again have service this coming Sunday.
Our services are still available on Facebook at "Jakarta International Baptist Church," as well as on YouTube at "JIBC Online Ministry."
We pray for each of you every week. Please send us any special requests you may have by email or WhatsApp.
Have a great day in the Lord,