The Shields of the Earth

Everything is hard right now, and for this pastor, not being able to do corporate singing is one of the harder things the pandemic has brought. That is one piece that we are struggling with as we consider when to re-gather for worship. Notice I didn’t say re-open. The church never closed, we just moved online. Many churches have seen an uptick in the number of people they can effectively reach because of this.

I call that the “Romans 8:28 factor.” In Romans 8:28, we are assured that God can use ALL things for the good of those who love him. So even in a pandemic, creative use of technology has enabled the church to not only remain open, but expand its witness.

But we can’t figure out a way to safely sing together. The droplets expelled from the mouth when singing are apparently significantly increased when the gathered people sing, so we have been discouraged from singing together once we re-gather.

Church without singing is like a day without sunshine for me. And I miss it to the point of tears.

Today’s Psalm makes many references to singing praises. In fact, “sing praise” is repeated five times. Way to rub it in, psalmist! In defense of the writer, one could hardly have ever imagined a time when singing praises was impossible, but here we are.

In concert with that instruction, we also are given an image of God as our most high King, who reigns over all the nations from his holy throne. Surely we can take comfort in that imagery. When Christ returns to establish his kingdom on earth, singing will not only be possible, but irresistible. Even the very rocks and stones will sing for joy.

Psalm 47 New King James Version

Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!
For the Lord Most High is awesome;
He is a great King over all the earth.
He will subdue the peoples under us,
And the nations under our feet.
He will choose our inheritance for us,
The excellence of Jacob whom He loves. Selah

God has gone up with a shout,
The Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with understanding.

So while we wait, know this: the shields of the earth belong to God. In this context, shields is synonymous with princes. In a prophetic way, the psalmist is pointing to a time when the people of the God of Abraham recognize their messiah has come, and have gathered with the kings of every tribe on the earth and submit to the authority of God.

God reigns over the nations;
God sits on His holy throne.
The princes of the people have gathered together,
The people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
He is greatly exalted.

So today our song is, “E’en So Lord Jesus! Quickly come.”

Until we sing again…

Nothing Stops a Lab from Singing

The Next Invasion

Did you know that cicadas, who have lived underground for 17 years, are planning their comeback? According to ABC News, millions of cicadas will soon make an appearance in the southern part of the United States. They can damage plants when they lay their eggs, causing branches and leaves to split and die. But the greatest threat is to our ears. Cicadas are LOUD, and in numbers estimated to be upwards of one and a half million cicadas per acre, that’s a lot of buggy volume.

I lived through a cicada invasion over 30 years ago when my husband and I were stationed in Texas with the Navy. Having grown up in the northeast, we had never heard of cicadas. All of a sudden we were experiencing the 11th plague. Noisy, flying bugs were literally dropping from the sky en masse. When you drove into the K-Mart parking lot, you could hear them crunching under your tires. We would make a mad dash from the car to the front door and were covered in them in the 30 seconds it took to run. There was no getting away. Picnics and outdoor events were cancelled. They were loud enough to keep us awake at night. Fortunately, the life span of a cicada only lasts four to six weeks, so at least there was an end in sight.

In defense of the cicada, the screeching sounds they make are part of their life cycle. Having no access to dating apps such as Tinder or eharmony, they default to their biology:

The noises that cicadas produce are mating calls from the males who are attempting to attract females. It could be an annoyance to some, considering it is described as an “alien-like wail,” according to Virginia Tech. (ABC News)

Surely this impending invasion will bring a new kind of suffering to the communities they invade.

In 1 Peter, we are given a word of encouragement about suffering. Christians all over the world were experiencing persecution for their belief in Jesus Christ. One of the most significant verses in scripture appears in this passage when we are invited to turn all our worries over to God:

1 Peter 5 (New Revised Standard Version)

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 

Are you experiencing anxiety? Do you worry about your life, your future, your health, your job, and your family? God cares for YOU. You are invited to cast your cares upon the creator of the universe. Imagine that!

Peter then offers sound advice about how to combat the source of many of our troubles. Be disciplined. Stay alert. Resist the devil. Look ahead to your deliverance.

Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. 10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

So when suffering comes, remember that you are in good company. Give all that anxiety over to the one who will restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. Your steadfast faith and God’s power will bring you through anything. Even a cicada invasion.

Sunlight Flowers by Jan Johnson

Periphery

Do you belong to a church?

Do you love your church?

This pandemic has wreaked havoc with church-goers and their pastors. When we all built our churches, we had no thought that keeping people six feet apart would ever be necessary. We squeezed out every square inch of space and allocated it for classrooms, adequate fellowship halls, and as many pews as we could fit into a sanctuary. Even our hallways are the minimum width required for the amount of people we expect in the building.

Loving your church may be a bit challenging right now. You may be weary of watching your pastor sitting at his/her dining room table, talking into an iPhone. You may be frustrated when the sound is bad and the feed freezes. You probably miss the people who normally sit around you every Sunday. (Come on, now! We know that you sit in the same place every week and have gotten to know them…hahaha!)

We get it. We miss “us,” too. Until our ecclesiastical leaders, our government leaders, doctors, scientists, and our pastoral teams feel comfortable about your safety, we will likely be “open, but un-gathered” a little while longer. Be kind to your church leadership. They are likely losing more sleep over this than you are.

Paul loved his churches. He planted them all over the known world, and kept in touch with them by letter. In his letter to his people in Ephesus, he tells them how thankful he is for their witness and their outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus.

Ephesians 1 The Message

15-19 That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks.

Paul’s love for them turned into a constant prayer that God would help them discern and be smart in their pursuit of Christ, and help them manage the wonderful life to which God has called them. His churches were engaged in the “utter extravagance” of God’s work, and he prayed for their energy and strength:

But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!

Paul was very clear that while he had planted these churches, Christ was the head. Christ has the final word on everything, and rules the church:

20-23 All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything.

At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.

Did you catch that part about the church not being peripheral to the world? “The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world. The world is peripheral to the church.”

So what the world is doing doesn’t influence the church, nor should it. The church is Christ’s body, and it influences the world.

So as we wait to re-gather in our sanctuaries, remember this scripture. Let us take on Paul’s teaching and PRAY FOR (and not prey on) our church leaders.

Pray with thanksgiving for their outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus.

Pray that God would make them intelligent and discerning.

Pray that God would keep their eyes focused and clear.

Pray for endless energy and boundless strength.

Pray that they would experience the presence of Christ, who rules the church.

Are you praying for your Pastor? We sure could use it.

Oregon Inlet Wreck by Kami Trusz

Through Fire and Water

There is a great debate among the faithful about the pandemic and God’s activity in it. Some people believe that God has brought this upon the earth as a corrective measure. The effect of the stay-at-home orders on the environment is cited to support this notion. As the air and the waters clear up, people in that camp point to the lessening of pollution (due to the fact that we aren’t driving and flying as much) as part of God’s purpose in “causing” the pandemic. They point to the plagues of the Old Testament to solidify their argument.

Others are in the camp of “God allows.” This perspective suggests that there are things that simply happen that God allows. In other words, God didn’t cause it, but has allowed a virus like this to sweep the globe, which has brought needed changes and is teaching us many important things. God has allowed this situation, which has brought us a cleansing of the environment. This notion encourages us to know that what he “allows” is within his control, and in his time, it will end.

Wherever you stand on this, or if you don’t care either way, it is good to know certain things about God’s activity in a disaster.

We can know that he is with us.

We can know that he has brought us through fire and water, and he will bring us through this.

We can know that even when he corrects us, he does so with mercy and love.

We can know that he brings us through the refining fires of testing to a rich fulfillment that only he can provide.

Listen to how the Psalmist puts it:

Psalm 66 (New King James)

Oh, bless our God, you peoples!
And make the voice of His praise to be heard,
Who keeps our soul among the living,
And does not allow our feet to be moved.


10 For You, O God, have tested us;
You have refined us as silver is refined.
11 You brought us into the net;
You laid affliction on our backs.
12 You have caused men to ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water;
But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.

Our response, regardless of how we got here, should always be worship. Worship reminds us of who we are, and whose we are.

13 I will go into Your house with burnt offerings;
I will pay You my vows,
14 Which my lips have uttered
And my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer You burnt sacrifices of fat animals,
With the sweet aroma of rams;
I will offer bulls with goats. Selah

So if you are having a bad day/week/month, if you are worn out and ready for this pandemic to be OVER, remind yourself of all of the times that God has already rescued you. Can you name them?

Certainly God has heard us. And he always attends to the voice of our prayers.

16 Come and hear, all you who fear God,
And I will declare what He has done for my soul.
17 I cried to Him with my mouth,
And He was extolled with my tongue.
18 If I regard iniquity in my heart,
The Lord will not hear.
19 But certainly God has heard me;
He has attended to the voice of my prayer.

20 Blessed be God,
Who has not turned away my prayer,
Nor His mercy from me!

God has not turned away. So let us learn everything from him that he is trying to teach us right now. His mercy is always ready to be given! Blessed be the Lord.

Blessed be God! By Margaret Brushwood

Living Stones

When I was a kid, I was fascinated with stones. Every time we traveled, I brought home some kind of rock or stone in my pocket. One time we were camping at the Greenwood State Furnace in Central Pennsylvania, and my cousin and I discovered the jackpot of rocks. The old iron furnace that was on the property was surrounded by “slag,” which was a by-product of the iron smelting process that had taken place there. Slag was a glossy black and green glass-rock, and it could be tumbled and polished into beautiful objects. I probably had over a hundred pieces of slag stones.

In 1 Peter, we see Christ referred to as a “living stone.” This image contrasts the hard permanence of a stone with the qualities of living, breathing vibrancy. It is then expanded to include us, and paints a picture of a spiritual house being built with our sturdy, living stones:

1 Peter 2

Come to Jesus Christ. He is the living stone that people have rejected, but which God has chosen and highly honored. And now you are living stones that are being used to build a spiritual house. You are also a group of holy priests, and with the help of Jesus Christ you will offer sacrifices that please God. It is just as God says in the Scriptures,

“Look! I am placing in Zion
a choice and precious
    cornerstone.
No one who has faith
in that one
    will be disappointed.”

This is a beautiful image for us when we feel as though our own houses are crumbling around us. Life-changes such as death, job loss, divorce, and pandemics leave us feeling vulnerable and insecure. Remembering the sure foundation that is Christ, our rock, helps us to know that we are standing on his solid cornerstone. We cannot be moved.

You are followers of the Lord, and that stone is precious to you. But it isn’t precious to those who refuse to follow him. They are the builders who tossed aside the stone that turned out to be the most important one of all. They disobeyed the message and stumbled and fell over that stone, because they were doomed.

My parents understood my fascination with the slag rocks, and took a small and particularly beautiful one to a friend who had a rock tumbler. It came back shiny and polished, and the tumbling revealed the marbleized streaks that were hidden under the rock’s bubbly exterior. My Dad had it mounted on a necklace for me. It was oddly shaped, but I loved it.

I proudly wore this the next time we went camping with our camping club. A somewhat tactless dad took one look at it and said, “What an ugly rock!” I was devastated. His wife chastised him, and the poor fellow spent the rest of the weekend trying to apologize for his hastily spoken words. My parents encouraged me to realize that not everyone saw beauty the same way. But obviously the sting of that critical remark stayed with me.

Rejection of our ideals and theology can feel that way. When a family member or good friend ridicules our faith, we feel the sting. Jesus isn’t precious to those who refuse to follow him. When that happens, and it will, try to remember that you are God’s chosen one. You are special to God. You belong to a royal family. Not everyone sees beauty the same way.

But you are God’s chosen and special people. You are a group of royal priests and a holy nation. God has brought you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Now you must tell all the wonderful things that he has done. The Scriptures say,

10 “Once you were nobody.
    Now you are God’s people.
At one time no one
    had pity on you.
Now God has treated you
    with kindness.

On Christ the solid rock we stand…all other ground is sinking sand. Now go and tell all the wonderful things that he has done.

Greenwood State Furnace by Mary Anne Mong Cramer

Reunion

This is the time of year when our thoughts naturally turn to summer plans. The month of May typically includes the winding down of the school year, and Memorial Day weekend signals the beginning of summer. Vacations, trips to the beach, watching the sun set, and traveling to family reunions are just some of the things we anticipate. Or did, before the pandemic.

This year there will not likely be a big family reunion at the Haas farm outside of Pittsburgh. Run by my third-removed cousin, the “other” Betsy Haas, this glorious location sits nestled among the hills and valleys of green fields and picturesque farmlands. Our family reunion is filled with story telling, (some of them are even true!) hugging, laughing, and most of all, EATING. Popular family recipes show up every year, and we get our annual fill of fresh-from-the-garden three-bean salad, Aunt Judy’s Lemon Lust, and hot buffalo chicken dip on salty Fritos. It is a gastronomic delight. Hay rides and blueberry picking round out the day, and we delight in the company of family.

It always makes me think that heaven must be exactly like that. A big family reunion, a warm summer day, lots of feasting at the heavenly banquet, and seeing people we love from whom we are separated by distance and time.

John 14 is a common funeral text, and it references the place we will go upon our death as a family reunion of sorts. The dwelling place that God has prepared for us has enough room for the entire clan:

John 14:1-14

 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

In the midst of reminding his disciples that they already know the way to their heavenly reunion when their time comes, Jesus clarifies that the host is his Father, who is the one who sent Jesus to show them the way:

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

Coming home at the end of our lives will be a reunion with the Father and the Son, and all of our loved ones. This is why Jesus begins with “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Jesus will come and take us to a homestead that he has prepared for us himself. No matter what trouble the world gives, these things are guaranteed: a heavenly family reunion, a feast of good things, and the comfort of a home made ready by the Lord himself.

I wonder if there will be Lemon Lust??

Maybe Next Summer by Tim Neal

Deliverance

Deliverance. What a curious word! Think of the many things that get delivered. Mail gets delivered. Pizzas get delivered. Newspapers get delivered. Babies get delivered. People in jeopardy get delivered. Souls get delivered.

Have you ever asked God to deliver you from something?

It is not uncommon when you find yourself in a place of great distress to ask God to deliver you from it. Illness, abuse, violence, unfulfilling jobs, hateful bosses, out-of-control teenagers….Lord, in your mercy, deliver us. Even atheists pray in foxholes.

I have had many a broken-hearted spouse come to me seeking God’s deliverance from the awful pain of betrayal. Sometimes he delivers them from the marriage, and freedom is restored. Other times he delivers them from their own grudge-holding, and facilitates forgiveness and reconciliation.

One thing is sure: God is our refuge and strength. He is our Deliverer.

Take a look at the beautiful language of Psalm 31, but before you do, ponder this: is there something from which you need to be delivered? Some sin, a destructive habit, an overwhelming loneliness, a feeling of shame, debilitating anger, or a negative personality trait? These things can feel like a fishing net that has wound itself around your ankles. You can’t move. You are trapped.

Think of that net, and imagine that you are at the foot of the cross asking Jesus to cut you loose as you pray this prayer:

Psalm 31

In You, O Lord, I put my trust;
Let me never be ashamed;
Deliver me in Your righteousness.
Bow down Your ear to me,
Deliver me speedily;
Be my rock of refuge,
A fortress of defense to save me.

For You are my rock and my fortress;
Therefore, for Your name’s sake,
Lead me and guide me.
Pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me,
For You are my strength.
Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.

I’m sure you recognize verse 5 as the last thing Jesus said as he died on the cross. Jesus was quoting this scripture at the moment that God delivered him, cutting the crucifixion-net free and releasing his spirit as he left the earth.

So too will he do for you, if you trust him to release you from whatever has entangled you.

You don’t have to stay entrapped. You don’t have to be caught in despair. You may have done things that led you straight into a net that was laid out for you, but you don’t have to stay there. All you have to do is ask to be pulled out.

Behold! Your deliverer comes.

Old Net by Michelle Robertson

The Classics

Sometimes in life, you just want the classics. A classic New Jersey hoagie…Italian of course, not tuna and avocado. A pepperoni pizza, not Hawaiian with pineapple. (Who does that??) A ‘63 Mustang convertible, not a Mini Cooper. Beethoven’s Fifth, not the Electric Slide.

If I were to ask you which scripture you think is the most recognized, you would probably default to the classics. John 3:16. Genesis 1:1. Psalm 23. These passages are well known because they are memorable and timeless.

One of the reasons that the 23rd Psalm pops up to the top of the classics chart is our familiarity with it. Many of us memorized it as children. Bible Study writer Dick Murray once said that it was while crouching in a foxhole in the war that he realized that the only available “bible” he could access in that moment was the one he had in his mind, and it was sadly limited to the few passages he had memorized. He was trying to calm himself by reciting scripture, only to discover that the ones he had memorized were few and far between. This motivated him to go back and memorize more when the war was over.

So, what’s in your bible?

The 23rd Psalm is said at every funeral in my denomination. It conveys a timeless message of beauty, hope, assurance, and peace. It is a classic for a reason.

Psalm 23 (New King James Version)

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

My challenge for you today is to spend time memorizing this beautiful piece. Take it apart, study it line by line, make picture-memories of it, walk around your house saying it out loud, and add it to your mind. This one will never let you down. We need it now more than ever.

Like you, it‘s a classic!

Still Waters at Sunset by Bonnie Bennett

Great Assembly

OK, here’s the truth. I am tired of everybody’s online worship. I am tired of watching myself on TV on Sunday mornings in my jammies, with a cup of coffee in my hand. We are all tired of trying to think of new and creative ways to tell the story of Jesus while making eye contact with the cold, hard lens of a camera.

I guess I’m just tired of the isolation of attending church in my living room. I bet you are, too. I need my people.

I believe we were created for corporate worship. I believe heaven rejoices when God’s people gather in a place and raise their combined voices as one melody of adoration. I believe kids should be noisy and fidgety, older people should snooze, and young people should text each other during church…like we normally do every Sunday!

(Look, I’m like Santa sitting up there in the front….I see you when you’re sleeping, I know when you’re awake…)

I also believe we should listen with open hearts and minds, and in my church, that is what we do every Sunday together. I miss my congregation’s attentiveness to the Word as it is spoken, proclaimed, sung, and experienced. You see, I also see people leaning in when the Word is offered.

So today’s Psalm sent a ping straight to my heart with the very first verse:

Psalm 22 (New King James Version)

My praise shall be of You in the great assembly;
I will pay My vows before those who fear Him.
26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
Those who seek Him will praise the Lord.
Let your heart live forever!

But then we get to a verse that reminds us that we worship as all the families of the nations. In that context, we couldn’t possibly be together in one place, and thus we are reminded that God’s kingdom is so much larger than the sanctuary that we are all missing:

27 All the ends of the world
Shall remember and turn to the Lord,
And all the families of the nations
Shall worship before You.
28 For the kingdom is the Lord’s,
And He rules over the nations.

29 All the prosperous of the earth
Shall eat and worship;
All those who go down to the dust
Shall bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep himself alive.

So what do you suppose our children are learning from this? Parents, what you are doing right now is teaching your children, who are the “posterity and the next generation,” about what YOU really feel about worship. Are you finding it less and less convenient to set Sunday morning aside for family worship? Is the beach, a sunny walk, picking strawberries, a bike ride to the woods, etc. more enticing to you as this pandemic wears on? Be careful with your priorities. The children are watching.

30 A posterity shall serve Him.
It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation,
31 They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born,
That He has done this.

If you are a regular church goer, please hang in there. Your pastor did not receive training as a televangelist in seminary. We are doing the best we can. God still requires that we keep the Sabbath holy, even in a pandemic.

The good news is, the great assembly will return! So in the meantime, let us continue to set Sunday mornings aside for “corporate” worship. God is still here, and he is worthy of our praise.

New Normal

Jesus Freaks

I suppose every generation has a version of religious zealots that takes on a unique persona. In the early 1800’s, the Second Great Awakening produced charismatic Camp Meetings, where fiery Revivalists converted the masses. Salvation was their focus.

In the prohibition era, we had lace-hatted ladies who marched with the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, proclaiming that “lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine.” (I had a grandmother who was a proud WCTU card-carrier.) Sobriety was their focus.

In the ‘60s, we had free-spirited “Jesus Freaks,” a counter-cultural group who shared things in common and proclaimed a message of love. Community was their focus. All these groups in their own way were Jesus Freaks of a sort, but the hippie culture may have been the closest to the original:

Acts 2:42-47 (English Standard Version)

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.

 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

One of the blessings to arise from the pandemic is that the Jesus Freaks among us have revived the notion that we should share our possessions and belongings, and break bread across our community with those who are hungry due to losing jobs. Several restaurants in the Outer Banks have taken the lead with offering free breakfasts, chicken and dumplings lunches, and hearty meatloaf dinners, all free of charge. Some have set up tents for distribution.

Our local homeless ministry has extended their program during a time when they would normally be closed, and churches continue to take turns volunteering and delivering meals.

Churches are expanding their Care Ministries to include any need that comes to their attention. Last week my church had a request to help a non-member who lives almost an hour away from our location. She is hospitalized in another state with a high risk pregnancy, and her husband is struggling to care for their children on his own while working and trying to visit his wife. So my church will deliver meals for the next four weeks, because that’s what Jesus Freaks do.

In the passage above, we see that these acts of community were met with awe, which came upon every soul. This witness of sharing resulted in people coming to Christ in great numbers every day. That is what happens when people see the love of God in action.

Where is God calling you to be the evidence of his love today? Where can you invite awe into someone’s soul by sharing what you have in his name?

God calls us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and offer water to the thirsty. There is a need in your community that you can meet. You can produce many wonders and signs of God’s reign right where you are. Go out and find a way to be a Jesus Freak for someone today!

Free Chicken N Dumplings Photo courtesy of the Jolly Roger Restaurant