No Time To Waste

     

      Last Sunday was awesome! I'm so glad we did this. It was so good to be together again and it was a very important start! Of course, it wasn't what we are all accustomed to, but we'll try to return to full normalcy just as soon as we possibly can.  

I was so glad that we re-opened on that very day, too, dear ones, and I'll tell you why. We are in a race against time! Pastor Dave and I are convinced of it, and we are not alone! Perhaps I should explain...

Last month as we continued week-by-week with our online worship services and prayer meetings, both Pastor Dave and I were starting to get concerned. We were picking up signals of despair and distress. We were starting to wonder: "What kind of toll is this going to take, if we continue in seclusion, scattered as a congregation, with no real presence of the fellowship or its pastors?" 

I must say that my overall impression of our congregation is a healthy one so far—praise God! But what will the long term look like? How long shall we play with this risk? We know what the government wants us to do; what does the Lord God want us to do?

It wasn't too long before other pastors were sharing similar concerns: "I'm facing outbreaks of depression, family discord, substance abuse," one pastor posted by video on social media. He pleaded for the Governor to allow churches to re-open. No one wants to dishonor our leaders in government. (Rom 13:1)  He asked to meet with the Governor to discuss it; to explain the need. The video was delivered. There's been no response. 

The pastor of another huge church announced: "I am now more concerned over an epidemic of suicide, depression, and despair."

That epidemic is real, dear ones; and may prove more direr than the virus itself. 36,000,000 people have now lost their livelihoods by government fiat. One-third of all of America's small businesses are already gone! 

A suicide hotline in San Diego reported a 6000% increase in calls. Another hotline right here in Orange County spoke up later and reported an increase of 8000%! 

With all of that happening to the American people; I know one thing: the church should not be shuttered against them too. Now more than ever, this church must gather with doors wide open! 

Early last month, Pastor Dave came into my office and made the announcement: "Rod,  we're going to have to open this church." He had just read the Governor's "four-stage plan",  with no mention of churches included in them. I'd read it too. I had been feeling the same way. It's time to reopen, before it's too late. 

For several weeks already, I had been getting calls, asking when we would open again; pleading for us to do so. On Sunday mornings and Sunday nights, as Dave and I recorded our sermons, church members just started coming to sit where they once used to worship! There was no way we were going to turn them away. This isn't my House, or Pastor Dave's. If God wants it shuttered He'll have to do it Himself! 

Pastor Dave had felt very strongly that the Lord was leading us to open on May 17. I didn't know why but I felt that was fine. We both discussed the benefits of having other churches re-open with us. How shocked I was, when I called Pastor Tom across town and heard him say: "We're opening too, Rod." 

"Oh, wonderful Tom. Have you picked a date?"

"We're planning on May 17." And they did, last Sunday, as we did. Later we learned that Sandals Church in Riverside had picked the same date for their full re-opening. We had our solidarity! 

As the weeks progressed toward that big day, news began to spread that some 3,000 churches all over California had felt moved to re-open as well. A great majority of them chose Pentecost Sunday, May 31. Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, a huge church, is one of them. 

That's when Dave and I sat back down and deliberated: Wow! 3000 churches! That is real solidarity! Perhaps we should postpone and take advantage of that; just for the sake of safety in numbers. Just to avoid being the 'brunt'. 

But Dave and I agreed that the 17th was better. If we waited, we would be abandoning our little 'brunt'—our little 'trio' of  Pastor Tom's church, our church, and Sandals. Besides, God had given us that date. Who'd want to tamper with it?  That evening when Sharilyn and I discussed it, she felt uneasy. She favored the 31st, just for our safety's sake: I don't want you to go to jail. (Oh, she's such a killjoy!) But when I explained the reasons, she felt better. 

So the word went out to the 3,000 churches, "these few churches are opening even earlier." 

One morning Sharilyn made the announcement: "I feel peace about the 17th now. And I think the Lord has been telling me why; why that date is the right one."

"Really? Why?" 

She had been praying about that date, even asking the Lord that we might change our minds if the 17th might be too risky for us. But, over and over, a thought kept recurring: "There is no time to waste and you will save lives." 

I don't know what that means, but I do believe it dear family! There's no time to waste!

And so you're the "brunt" dear faithful OT. Why am I not surprised? And how could I not be bursting with pride over you!  

 

See you (yes! literally!) Cya Sunday!    RAS

 

 

Who Rescued Jessica Lynch?
Prepare to Reopen!