Join us on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2020 for a time of singing Christ-centered Christmas songs and a message from Galatians 4:4-5 about how the Son of God came to us so that we could become children of God.
My friend Nate Morris is the pastor of a great church: Mountain Life Calvary Chapel, which has campuses in Edwards and Carbondale, Colorado, serving the communities of the Vail Valley and the Roaring Fork Valley.
Recently Nate started a podcast: the New Day Podcast, which aims, in his words, “to talk about the topics which you shouldn’t talk about around the dinner table,” such as religion, race, politics, and so on.
I was honored to be a guest on his podcast; you can check out our discussion here: Special Guest: Pastor Nick Cady – A Biblical discussion of current politics and where our true citizenship lies.
In the episode, we talk about how my decade as a missionary in Hungary has affected my views on politics, as well as my concerns and hopes for the church in our current political and social situation.
Check it out the episode and leave a comment on this post with your thoughts and reactions, and make sure to subscribe to the New Day Podcast with Pastor Nate Morris!
In my recent post, I answered some questions about what the “Mark of the Beast” is: Reader Questions: Could the Mark of the Beast Be Transmitted Through a COVID-19 Vaccine?
In that study, we read 1 Kings 10:14, which says:
Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold…1 Kings 10:14
This is the only time this number, 666, appears in the Bible other than in Revelation 13:18, where we read about the beast who rises from the earth and it says:
This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.Revelation 13:18
Is this just a coincidence or is there some significance to this number having been used to describe Solomon’s annual income?
Pastor Mike and I discuss that question in this week’s Sermon Extra video:
This Sunday, June 7, will be our first Sunday of in-person services since the COVID-19 pandemic required churches to stop meeting in person. For the past three months we have gone online with our services (you can watch them here) and community groups, but we are excited to begin in-person services in our new building!
We will continue to provide our services online for those who cannot or should not join us in person, and we are taking precautions according to the guidelines issued by the CDC and the State of Colorado to make sure our gatherings are safe and we spread nothing but love, kindness, hope, and encouragement.
If you are local, there will be a prayer walk around the new building on Saturday, June 6 at 9:00 AM, and we would love to see you there!
Details for our in-person and online worship services:
These will be family services, which means there will be no NextGen classes for kids during service, but we will have a Wiggle Room and a Nursing Mothers Room available for those who need them.
In this video I give a walk-through of our building and share about some of the precautions we are taking:
In this video our NextGen director Michelle Pearl gives some information for family with children, including picking up NextGen lessons, what kids can do during service, and a walk through of the Wiggle Room.
We are so glad to serve the Lord and to serve you, both online and in person!
We have been monitoring very closely the COVID-19 situation from multiple angles, and are excited to announce that our church will begin gathering for in-person worship in our new building on June 7!
This is consistent with our previously announced Reopening Plan, and is in accordance with the state and federal guidelines.
In preparation for opening on June 7, we will be:
- Rearranging our sanctuary and setting up an overflow room to accommodate social distancing
- Working out the kinks with live-streaming our services
- Setting up audio and video in the overflow room
- Having the building cleaned by a professional cleaning company
- Hanging our big sign on the outside of the building
- Coordinating with our service teams to ensure a welcoming and safe environment for worship
We look forward to seeing you on June 7! Remember that we will be having two services, at 9:00 & 11:00 AM. These are family services, which means that there will not be NextGen classes for children or youth, but there will be a “Wiggle Room” available for parents with niños who need to get out their wiggles, as well as a Nursing Mothers room, complete with a screen where you can watch the service as you take care of your babies!
The wearing of masks is recommended, and we will be disinfecting between services. Those leading from the stage will not be wearing masks while they lead worship or teach, so please plan your seating accordingly if that is a concern for you. Families are encouraged to sit together, otherwise seating will be done with 6 foot distance (2 empty chairs between you and the next person). Hand sanitizer stations will be available.
If you are experiencing symptoms, or are not yet ready for public gatherings, you will still be able to join us online on our YouTube channel, our Facebook page, and whitefieldschurch.com live at 9:00 & 11:00 AM starting June 7. On May 31 we will still be broadcasting our service at 10:00 AM.
But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face – 1 Thessalonians 2:17
We are excited for this new season for our church!
Love and blessings,
In this video I explain our church’s 3-stage plan to reopen and resume physical gatherings in light of COVID-19 and the end of stay-at-home orders:
Recently Hulk Hogan posted this on Facebook, which garnered a lot of attention, and a reader asked me to comment on it.
In three short months, just like He did with the plagues of Egypt, God has taken away everything we worship. God said, “you want to worship athletes, I will shut down the stadiums. You want to worship musicians, I will shut down Civic Centers. You want to worship actors, I will shut down theaters. You want to worship money, I will shut down the economy and collapse the stock market. You don’t want to go to church and worship Me, I will make it where you can’t go to church”
“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Maybe we don’t need a vaccine, Maybe we need to take this time of isolation from the distractions of the world and have a personal revival where we focus on the ONLY thing in the world that really matters. Jesus.
Matters of the Soul and the Body
I agree with Hulk’s statement that we should take this time of isolation from the distractions of the world and have a personal revival.
I agree with his call to repentance, prayer, and seeking the Lord from 2 Chronicles 7:14.
I don’t see why this repentance and revival would exclude the need for a vaccine however, but just as Jesus said: “What does it benefit a person if they gain the whole world but lose their soul?”, (Mark 8:36) that question could easily be applied to our current situation: “What does it benefit a person if they survive the COVID-19 crisis but lose their soul?”
Personally, I have seen a significantly greater openness to the gospel and to prayer in many people during this crisis, and I praise God for that. I believe that God is more concerned with the well-being of our souls than with our physical comfort. At the same time, it is also the call of the people of God to relieve suffering when possible (see Matthew 25:31-46), as we look forward to the end of sickness and death forever for those in Christ because of what He accomplished in his life, death, and resurrection.
The Human Heart is an Idol Factory
Hulk claims that “in three short months, just like He did with the plagues of Egypt, God has taken away everything we worship.”
The thing is, just taking away people’s money doesn’t make them stop worshiping money. Oftentimes it is not what we have that we worship, but what we want – that’s what it means to covet.
One of the things I learned working with refugees and the impoverished Roma population in Hungary, is that some of the people who worship money the most are those who don’t have any of it. They seek after it, believing that if they had it, they would be content and fulfilled. Some of the most materialistic people I have known are people who lacked materially. On the contrary, I have known many wealthy people who were incredibly generous – having learned firsthand that money and possessions will never fill the God-shaped void in one’s soul.
Martin Luther stated that “the human heart is an idol factory.” In other words, even if God did take away these idols, (which are all clearly still here, with the exception of sports) the underlying problem would still exist, and we would just make and find new idols to worship with our time, energy, resources, and attention.
What we need is something deeper: regeneration, new birth, a transformation from the inside out, which is the work of God in our lives.
The Name of God
I find it absurd that Hulk uses the name of God as his personal motto: “I am that I am.”
The name Yahweh derives from the Hebrew word for “to be” – which is why God told Moses to tell Pharaoh that “I am who I am” if Pharaoh asked the name of the God who had sent Moses.
To use this name as a personal motto is borderline, or perhaps blatant blasphemy, in my opinion.
While it is a bit ironic that Hulk Hogan, a celebrity, is calling out the cultural idol of celebrity worship, and his point about God taking away our idols is dubious at best (if God shut down stadiums to stop our worship of athletes, how does he then reason that the shutting of churches is to be understood as punishment for people not going to church???), his core point is a good one: rather than just waiting for this to be over, we should take this time to refocus on our relationship with God and repent where necessary of giving other things the place in our hearts which rightly belongs to Him.
A Time For Celebration?
For Christians, Easter is our biggest celebration of the year. And yet, how do you celebrate in the midst of a crisis in which thousands of people are sick and dying, and millions are out of work and hurting financially?
Some churches have suggested that celebrations of Easter should be delayed until this crisis gets better. I disagree. In fact, I would say that there is no more appropriate time for us to celebrate Easter than in the face of sickness, instability, and death, because these things are the very reasons why Easter is good news worth celebrating!
In fact, this may be the one moment in all of our lives when we understand the weight of what Easter means, and the hope that it brings, more than ever.
The meaning of Easter is that the Lord of Life died in order to destroy death, and make it possible for us to be reconciled to Him and resurrected to “a better life” (Hebrews 11:35, 40).
How We’re Doing Church This Weekend
This year we will be having our church’s first ever Good Friday service, but since we cannot gather physically we put out pre-packaged communion supplies for people to pick up outside of the church.
We have been pre-recording our services in order to create a worshipful experience for those who watch at home.
See also: Pastoring in the Midst of Crisis
Join Us for Good Friday and Easter Online
- Good Friday: 6:00 PM Mountain Time
- Easter Sunday: 10:00 AM Mountain Time
This latest episode of the Expositors Collective podcast is one you should definitely check out: in it Mike Neglia, Pete Nelson, and I have a conversation about strategies and methods we are employing in order to pastor, shepherd, lead, and preach during this global pandemic which has caused so much upheaval in lives and in our churches.
Pete Nelson, by the way, was the founding pastor of the church I now lead in Longmont: White Fields Community Church. Pete now pastors in Thousand Oaks, California at One Love Church. Mike Neglia pastors a vibrant, thriving church in Cork, Ireland called Calvary Cork.
From preaching through YouTube and Facebook Live, to how to use the “premiere” features on those services instead of going live, to how to do fellowship through Zoom – as well as questions about doing communion remotely and what we miss about gathered corporate worship – it is an enriching conversation.
Here’s the link to listen: Episode 98 – Pastoring in the Midst of Crisis
As Mike always says: “May this episode, and everything we do at Expositors Collective help you in your private study and your public proclamation of God’s Word!”
Governor Polis issued a stay at home order yesterday that went into effect this morning at 6:00 AM Mountain Time and is scheduled to last until Saturday, April 11. Here is a link to the FAQ sheet from the State of Colorado outlining what this stay at home order means.
What does this order mean for churches? Here’s a brief synopsis of what we know:
This is not specifically addressed, but it seems to be implied that in-person worship gatherings as well as home group gatherings, even of 10 people or less, are discouraged and people should rather connect online if possible.
Recording and Live-streaming Worship Services
This is an area that many churches wanted clarity on, since it is not directly addressed. A petition even went around last night asking for clarity on this issue. Colorado pastors networks reached out to the governor’s office as well, to which this response came back:
The Governor’s office is aware that there is some confusion on this and we are working to clarify clergy exemptions on the “stay at home order.” I do know for sure that pastors & staff have the green light to go to their facilities and record content so it can be used online. They would ask that you practice social distancing with the others on your team while doing it. More details to come on other possible exemptions for faith leaders.
We look forward to an official statement, but this response brings needed clarity.
Considering that we are in a large, empty church building, I think this is fair and safe. It is worth mentioning that we would never require anyone to come help with recording who is even the least bit uncomfortable with doing so.
UPDATE – March 26 – 11:55 AM
The State of Colorado just released an updated Public Health order which can be found here. Here is what it states about churches:
Houses of worship may remain open, however, these institutions are encouraged to implement electronic platforms to conduct services whenever possible or to conduct smaller (10 or fewer congregants), more frequent services to allow strict compliance with Social Distancing Requirements.
The order states that in-person pastoral services for individuals who are in crisis or in need of end-of-life services are allowed, provided social distancing is observed to the greatest extent possible.
Benevolence Ministries & Food Pantries
Food banks are specifically mentioned in the order, as well as any services which help provide relief for those in need. Additionally, delivering supplies to other people is also allowed.
Our food pantry ministry is planning to continue providing services, and will continue to follow the protocol of sanitizing items as they are received. See: Longmont Food Pantry Opening
My hope and prayer is that as a result of this crisis, our churches will end up more connected than before, and more focused on ministering to and praying for one another, and serving our communities.
To those in our communities who serve in the medical field, have sick loved ones, have lost jobs, are having babies, or have loved ones who have passed away: I know this is a particularly hard time for you. May God strengthen you, protect you, comfort you, and provide for you at this time.
I pray that God will use this situation in a myriad of good ways, and as our society is faced with the reality of mortality, may God use this to turn many hearts to Him and receive the gift of His grace through Jesus Christ.