Something Far Worse than Covid

“Covid is real!” “Covid is deadly!” “People need to take Covid seriously!” Such statements ring resoundingly from both national news and social media outlets alike…And they’re absolutely right! Many Americans who had reportedly tested positive for Covid, had passed away.

Yes, there are more important things…

Now, as an aside, the reason I write it like that is because of the somewhat deceptive way in which such data is chronicled, conveyed to, and consumed by, us. Hopefully we all understand by now that only a portion of the total number of deaths being reported as resulting from Covid actually are. Check it out for yourself. Consider:

1). As a story in the Denver Post confirmed earlier this year, such categorization “has been used by the health department since the start of the pandemic and includes the total number of people who died who have COVID-19, regardless of whether it was the virus that ultimately killed them. (Emph. mine – DED)

2). It is also noteworthy that health care facilities can receive vastly more federal funding for each case of Covid that they list that they had to deal with.

3). When you add to that, the fact that in states like Oklahoma where the less dependable rapid test results that used to be considered as probable are now counted as positive. Well, you can see how that if one doesn’t understand the parameters behind which these numbers are arrived at, that the daily reported Covid “death toll” numbers can, at the very least appear to be quite deceptive, if not outright overly and grossly exaggerated.

However, the point of this article is neither to minimize the impact of the Coronavirus or to downplay the tragic loss of life that it is legitimately causing daily in our society. Any one life lost to this monster is one life too many! But what the point of this article actually is, is to bring to our attention a far, far, infinitely far greater and more deadly and dangerous event, and subsequently, the unbelievable irony that accompanies it. Consider…

Using these overly exaggerated numbers partly because even slightly more accurate ones are nowhere readily available as far as I know, that means that while 8,393,773 Americans have reportedly contracted the Coronavirus as of October 19th, that the other 322.5 or so million, or roughly 97.5% of Americans, have not. And yet, as to the infinitely more far reaching and life-changing event of which I speak, it will be experienced by every single American, as well as every other person on the entire planet to boot – 100% of us, no exceptions!

Also, while the recently-chronicled amount of Covid cases that have had an outcome in America as of the 19th of October numbered 5,688,234, some 5,463,410(or roughly 96%) of those people who once had it, had also recovered from and ultimately survived it. However, as to the far more fatal future event to which I refer, there will be no such overwhelming survival rate. In fact, there will be far more who will perish in it – and for all eternity – than there will be of those who survive it (Matt. 7:13-27).

Obviously by now you’ve figured out that the event to which I refer is the coming Judgment Day (Rev. 20:10-15). And the obvious irony is how so many unsaved folks who so adamantly claim that we must all take the Coronavirus more seriously – a disease that has only infected less than 3% of our population; a disease which, amongst those whom it has infected, have experienced about a 96% recovery rate; and a disease which can, only at its absolute most, take away one’s momentary earthly life–seem to want nothing whatsoever to do with taking far more seriously the eternal death that so many – including all of them if they don’t become Biblical New Testament Christians – will most certainly experience come Judgement Day! Talk about needing to take something far more seriously? Talk about messed up priorities! Talk about straining out a gnat to swallow a camel (Matt. 23:23-24)?!?

But before we get too far down on those who know neither Christ, His word, or about the judgement to come (like Felix in Acts 24:25), what about us? Where do our priorities lie? In discussing and/or seeking to help others avoid and/or survive the Coronavirus? Or, in discussing and seeking to help others avoid the wrath of God on Judgement Day, by teaching them how to better know and to obey Jesus, so they can survive it by virtue of His blood and be guaranteed entrance into His eternal heavenly home?

Yes: Covid is indeed real; and it needs to be taken very seriously. However, the question we as Christians must answer is: “Have we been helping to stem the tide of something far more destructive by sharing the gospel instead?”

Doug Dingley (www.Godswordistruth.org)

Will Your Anchor Hold?

“Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
when the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
will your anchor drift, or firm remain?”

This is the opening stanza of the hymn “We Have an Anchor.” It is found in most songbooks that religious organizations use.

This question, “Will your anchor hold” is asked metaphorically to describe one’s life.  We have all used various metaphors on occasion to describe some aspect of ours or someone else’s life. So, when asked if your anchor will hold, we understand it is not a tangible (or actual) device. An anchor is defined as: “a device usually of metal attached to a ship or boat by a cable and cast overboard to hold it in a particular place by means of a fluke that digs into the bottom” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)When this question is asked, we should look to see what it is that fulfills the deeper meaning of the anchor.

Security and stability

What is it that provides the needed “security”, “stability”, and grounding one needs spiritually? The answer to this question should be easy, but too many seem to fail to be properly “anchored”. Hope in God’s Word of course is the answer. The apostle Paul makes that very clear when he said, “If indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister” (Colossians 1:23).

However, many seek their hope from other sources. Obviously the things of the world cannot provide the stability needed, nor the promise of life beyond this one because, “the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). Thus, the physical things of the world will be destroyed when the trumpet sounds. And in 1 Corinthians 3:19, Paul writes that even the intangible things of this world are ineffective as an anchor for the soul. The world’s wisdom will also be destroyed with the world.

What is this anchor?

The Word of God is that in which we are to be anchored. “‘BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.’ And this is the word which was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:25).  So, having having established in what we are to be anchored, let’s make certain we understand each of us have responsibility in this. 

Considering the Word is sure, steadfast and unfailing, if our anchor does not hold, who’s fault is it? It would stand to reason it has to be ours. If we are in a boat, and toss the anchor out on smooth solid rock, it won’t catch, let alone hold. That’s why it is so important to be anchored in the gospel, the Word of God. Once we place our anchor in the Word of God, the only one that can release it is us!  

How an anchor works

Having spent some time fishing on Lake Cachuma and having to hold the boat in place, I know the anchor rope must become slack in order to release the anchor. If the boat maintains the tautness on the anchor (and it is properly seated), the anchor will not release. Now, apply this spiritually and we should see that we must maintain the proper tightness on the anchor, that which keeps us properly moored or connected to God. When we become slack or fail to do as we should, we allow our anchor to slip. Then we begin to drift just as a vessel on the water does. This could be devastating. And from a spiritual standpoint, it is eternally disastrous. Perhaps this is the reason we have so many passages warning Christians to hold fast, or to stand fast. Is this not what a properly engaged anchor does, hold fast?  

In Philippians 1:27, “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so…I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” The same applies to us. We see this same idea directed toward the brethren in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 16:13. The point of what Paul is saying is that if they stand fast in the faith, they can remain strong. In fact, 1 Thessalonians 3:8 tells us we are “alive” (spiritually) if we stand fast in Christ.

Leaders must have stability

The elders (bishops) are also to have the characteristic of “stability” as they “hold fast” the Word of God. Titus 1:9 tells us this and tells us how the elders (and all others) can defend the Word of God if they hold it fast. And then we see those Christians of Jewish descent being exhorted to remain anchored in their profession in Hebrews 10:23 . We could site many more places, but these should be enough to show that we have full control of our stability.

“Will your anchor hold in the storms of life, When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?” Don’t become slack and let your anchor drift. Seek the strength and stability in His Word.

12 Simple Ways to Share Your Faith

Reprinted From TEACHING HELP THE WRITINGS OF KIM HIGGINBOTHAM

Sharing a Bible

I’m an introvert. I have trouble talking to people. I wouldn’t know what to say. People don’t seem that interested. I’m don’t know how. I’m scared. I don’t have time. I don’t know enough. Evangelism isn’t my talent.

Excuses! We all have them, but we need to realize that evangelism is not a talent. It’s a command. Because I may not have a talent for singing, does not mean I can let someone else sing for me in worship. Singing is a command that I am required to do and so is evangelism!

Our view of evangelism is too limited if we only think of open Bible studies, door knocking, and mission trips. Those are great, but not everyone can do them. However, everyone is capable of evangelism, else God wouldn’t have commanded it.

Here are a few thoughts about sharing our faith:

1. Live it.

This isn’t necessarily evangelism, but it is important. No one will listen to a word you say if you are a hypocrite. Not only should your speech, dress, attitudes, and behaviors reflect Christ when people see you, but also when they “see” you on social media. Haven’t we all seen people proclaiming their Christianity on Facebook, but a quick scroll through their “Likes” or photos gives a completely different picture of who they are? Maybe you’ve changed from the person you used to be. Go through your social media posts, likes, and pictures to be sure you are reflecting Christ.

2. Publicly identify yourself as Christian on social media. 

Share Christian blog posts, scriptures, sermon links, and upcoming church events. However, do not be that person who fills your friends’ Facebook feed with too much sharing. I’ve had Facebook friends who post one thing after another in a single day. That’s a sure way to have people “unfriend” or “unfollow” you.

3. Keep something at your work space that identifies you as a Christian.

When I was teaching in public school, I kept a picture frame on my desk with a meaningful Bible verse in it. I had a principal who kept a devotional book on his desk. You may keep a Bible or other religious book that lets people know to whom you belong.

4. Invite a non-Christian to church services. 

How is it that we can invite a non-Christian friend to go shopping or lunch, but get shy and awkward about inviting them to church? You never know what their response will be and they may just come! Throw in an invitation to go to lunch afterward and take the opportunity to talk about the worship service.

5. Tell people that you went (or are going) to church. 

When someone asks what you did (or are going to do) on the weekend, tell them about church. Mention the sermon. Tell them about the great ministry program that is going on. Find positive, interesting tidbits to share.

6. Teach Bible class. 

Whether it is teaching children who are just learning about God or adults, teaching is a way we can share our faith.

7. Invite non-Christians to church events outside of services.

This could be VBS, seminar, fall festival, youth event, ladies’ day or anything where the non-Christian is introduced and welcomed by your church family. This can open doors to future invitations.

8. Go to lunch with a Christian friend and invite a non-Christian friend to join you.

Turn the conversation to spiritual things. Mention that you’d like to do more Bible study and ask if they would, too. Begin a group study.

9. Read the Bible on your lunch break.

Others may notice and ask you what you are reading or you may start the conversation.

10. Reach out to those who are in difficult circumstances.

Often people having hard times will be the most receptive to the gospel. That may include those who face illness, disability, grief, homelessness, prison,unplanned pregnancy, or special-needs. Talk with them, listen to their stories, offer hope and prayers for them.

11. Serve someone.

Look for non-Christian co-workers, neighbors, or friends to serve. Reach out with a homemade treats delivered with an invitation to worship. Email a note of appreciation and gratitude to someone with an appropriate scripture. Go out of your way to extend a kindness and be sure to connect your service with your Christianity.

12. Send & grade Bible correspondence courses.

 At our congregation, there have been Bible courses sent to thousands of individuals. People are needed to grade and send out lessons.

We are required to plant and water the seed of God’s word. It is God who gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6-8). Stop making evangelism harder than it has to be. It doesn’t have to be hard, but it does have to be intentional!

Note: Kim Higginbotham’s husband, Steve, preaches for Karns Church of Christ in Knoxville, TN.

Remaining Strong in the Lord

It is hard to remain strong when one is discouraged. And discouragement is one of the nastiest tools the devil has at his disposal. If he can discourage a Christian, he can keep him from doing the will of God. Discouragement creates a type of spiritual paralysis within the heart that keeps a Christian inactive before the Lord. It then becomes a question of how do we keep ourselves strong in the Lord when the devil is working so hard against us? Let’s look at some suggestions.

Listen to the word of God

The word of God tells us He will always be there for us (Hebrews 13:5-6) So, the best way to overcome any adversity in life is to go to God’s word. Contained within is all the instructions we will ever need to fight the good fight of faith and rise victoriously. In the eighteenth chapter of the book of Luke we read, “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart” (Luke 18:1).

Jesus then tells the parable about the “Persistent Widow”. The judge in the parable did not fear God nor regard man. But, because of the widow’s persistence, he finally gave in and gave her the justice that she craved. What we must understand is that the judge is by no means a comparison to our heavenly Father, but rather he serves as a direct contrast to Him.

When we read in the word of God about our heavenly Father, we find that He is very much in tune with our needs. Matthew 6:8 tells us that God knows our needs even before we ask. Matthew 7:7-11 reminds us that human fathers know how to give good gifts to their children. The question is then raised, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him” (Matthew 7:11).

Cast your anxiety (cares, worries) on God

Peter wrote, “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). When we are faced with adversity, it is easy to forget the strength and comfort we find in the Lord. Too often we wait until the world is in shambles before we remember the great love God has for us. Too often, we forget to approach Him in prayer.

Some may contend that worry is simply part of life. They may even call the burdens that weigh heavily upon their minds “legitimate concerns”. But whatever a person may call them, they are not healthy for productive Christian living. Therefore, we must always remember to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. If we do so, all these other concerns will be taken care of (Matthew 6:25-34).

Remain Thankful

It may sound strange, but thankfulness before God goes a long way in keeping us strong in the faith. All can remember struggles of the past that they thought they would never make it through. Yet, it happened. The struggles were overcome because one’s faith was grounded in the Lord. The key was looking to Him in prayer and remaining steadfast.

Therefore, we look to the current obstacles in our path and face them with newfound confidence knowing that our God is still with us. This was exactly what David did before facing Goliath. He remembered God’s deliverance from the lion and the bear. Then he looked at the Philistine and boldly stated that he would be defeated like one of them. The next time you are faced with adversity and discouragement, remember the great power of prayer. When we bow our heads in prayer, the line of communication between our hearts and our heavenly Father is open. He hears us and will answer speedily (Luke 18:8).