Cure for The Fear Pandemic

By Heather Walton

About 20 years ago, shortly after I became a Christian, I was participating in some job training. One day we took a lunch break at a local outdoor food court. As we ate, a bee took an interest in my food and wouldn’t leave me alone. I was terrified of insects, especially the stinging type, so I began panicking like a 3-year-old. One of my fellow trainees, a middle-aged Jewish woman, looked at me pointedly and said, “You know, I’m really surprised that someone with your great faith would be so scared of a little bee.”

At that moment, I was stung with such conviction that I determined that I would no longer fear insects, and to this day, I have succeeded. My fear had ruined my ability to enjoy lunch, but more than that, it had marred my testimony to an unbelieving friend.

A pastor told a story of a family taking a car trip in which a bee decided to ride along. One of the children was shrieking in terror, when his father decided to intervene. The father caught the bee in his hand, took the sting, and then let the bee continue to fly around the car. He assured his child that there was nothing more to fear, since he had already taken the stinger. The pastor likened this father to our Lord, who took the sting of death for those who trust in Him, that we might not fear the sting of death.

How many of us are doing just that, though? We are living in fear of so many things today:

  • a microscopic virus that could make us sick and has less than 1% chance of killing us
  • violent crime
  • losing our livelihood
  • losing our savings
  • being shamed for wearing/not wearing a mask
  • losing our civil liberties
  • who will win the election
  • being forced to take a vaccine
  • what the next big development of 2020 will be

Add to the list any personal fears we each carry, and it can be really overwhelming.

I’ve been considering a few questions lately:

What’s more important — surviving or living?

First, what’s more important — surviving or living? If I have to live in a bubble in order to stay alive, is that really living? If I have to fear every little thing when I walk out of my house and every little thing that comes into my house, is that really living? If I am missing out on relationships, is that really living? Would I rather live long or would I rather live well?

I’ve also pondered why this particular illness is the ONE that has us all paralyzed and isolated. We’ve never done anything like this before, as far as shutting down so systematically and for so long. Other illnesses and activities have killed far more people, but went virtually unnoticed. What’s the difference?

Part of the problem today, I think, is that we are so entitled as Americans. We believe that we simply should live to be very old and that we should have our needs provided for us. We expect life to be safe and sterile, and current events don’t fit our expectations.

I look at America today and, technological advances aside, I doubt our ancestors would recognize us. Think about it: People boarded ships, risking illness, starvation, and death, to come to America. Pioneers trekked across the country on foot and in wagons, risking life and limb, to make a better life for themselves and their posterity. America has been known for its independent spirit. Americans have historically been leaders who took risks to advance and rise above circumstances. Yet, here we are, allowing our country to be brought to a screeching halt by a microscopic organism that is not nearly as likely to affect us as the dangers our patriot predecessors faced.

At the turn of the 20th century, the average life expectancy was mid-forties, meaning I personally probably would have gone onto glory by my age if I had lived during that time. Today, we expect — even demand — to live twice that long. The average coronavirus death happens to those over the average life expectancy, and though every death is sad, it seems presumptuous for us to expect to cheat death. With the exception of two people in history (Enoch and Elijah), every single person has died or will die, barring the rapture. God has determined every one of our days before even one of them came to be, so for us to think we can come up with a humanistic solution to the problem of death is utterly prideful and foolish.

We are creating a generation of germaphobes and hypochondriacs. We need to remember that we shouldn’t fear death so much as we should fear and revere the One who determines how we spend eternity.

Another area of fear relates to our liberty. There are people threatening America’s freedoms, people who violate the Constitution in the name of peace and safety and people who push a Marxist agenda. Many of us know we need to stand against this, yet we are afraid to do so. We fear legal penalties, social stigma, family safety, and more. We would do well to look at the example of our nation’s founders. They put it all on the line for their families and their descendants. They risked all of this for us, people who were not yet born, but would benefit from their willingness to sacrifice. How would they feel, knowing we have taken this freedom so for granted that we don’t mind giving it up?

Let’s take it a step further: How must God feel toward us, knowing that He created our bodies to be resilient and our brains to be wise, yet we are so fearful? How must He feel, knowing that He sent His precious Son to die for us, that we may have the abundant, eternal life, yet we are so caught up in the physical existence? How must he feel, knowing that He died to set us free, never again to be enslaved, yet we willingly submit ourselves to multiple yokes of slavery? How must He feel, seeing us shaking our fists, kicking our legs, writhing in anger and fear, and demanding long life, prosperity, and security, when He has all of those things laid up for us, just not in the form we demand?

There are at least 100 verses that tell us not to fear. Why?

  1. God is on His throne.
  2. He is never taken by surprise.
  3. He has promised never to leave or forsake us.
  4. He has our best interest in mind.
  5. He takes care of the lilies and the birds, and will certainly take care of us.
  6. He loves us.
  7. He is our father and we are His children.
  8. He determined our times and places, and knew all of our days before even one came to be.
  9. He gave us a spirit of power and a sound mind.
  10. He has promised us the abundant life.
  11. Our eternal life is secure if we trust in Him.
  12. He delights to take care of us.
  13. He will provide for us in the midst of our enemies.
  14. He will not allow evil to triumph.
  15. Nothing can separate us from His love.
  16. He is the One with the power over life and death.
  17. Greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world.
  18. He will uphold us with His righteous right hand.
  19. He has already told us how it ends. Spoiler: He wins and we get the spoils.
  20. He has prepared a place for us.
  21. We are already seated with Him in heaven.
  22. He has freed us from slavery.
  23. He has taken away the sting of death.
  24. He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear.
  25. He is in control!

I could go on forever …

If you’re a Christ follower and you’re fearful or anxious, this is understandable, especially given the uncertainty we currently face, yet the Lord has given us the remedy:

… do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

This is the believer’s prescription for peace. It’s not necessarily easy, but it is attainable.

If you don’t yet know the Lord, then no wonder you are anxious or concerned; not only is this life precarious, but your eternity is unsettled. I have good news: That can change today!

Simply acknowledge that you are a sinner, meaning you agree with God that you’ve done bad things, and that you have offended Him with those actions. Because of this, you don’t deserve to spend eternity in His presence. However, God sent His Son, Jesus, to live as a man, to identify with our weaknesses, to live a perfect life, and to die an atoning death, not for His own sins, because He was sinless, but for our sins. Accept that payment for your sins and transfer your allegiance from this world and your flesh to Him. Commit to allowing Him to be in charge of your life from here on out. Confess Him as your Lord, knowing that He died for your sins and rose from the dead, confirming that He is God and that He has authority to forgive sins and power to give you eternal life. When you do, He will save you and begin the process of sanctifying you, which means making you a more Christlike person. Your eternity will be secure, and you will be reconciled to Him. This will give you peace, joy, and comfort, no matter what circumstances come your way. Out of response for what He has done, get plugged into a local congregation, get baptized, read the Bible, pray, and serve others, all in order to know Him better and to glorify God to others, all because you’re grateful for His free gift. We can’t earn any of this; we simply accept it and it’s ours.

A right relationship with God, one in which we believe His promises are true and that He has our best interest in mind, is the cure for the fear pandemic.

A Message to the Church in America

The Biblical book of Judges has much to speak into our culture today. Here are some thoughts the Lord impressed upon me as I studied this book.

It’s all about control

Rosie the RiviterBy Heather Walton

We need to protect the most vulnerable.

We must protect our Constitutional rights.

Where is my unemployment?

I will not wear a mask!

It’s my body, and my choice.

Everyone needs to take the vaccine before we can get back to normal.

I will not take a vaccine.

Answer the phone when the health department calls, and cooperate with the contact tracers.

I will not answer the phone. In fact, I’m not doing any updates on my phone and I’ll leave it at home when I go out. 

You don’t value my life!

You don’t value my livelihood!

Since the beginning of the human race, it’s been about control. Did God really say you should not eat of any tree in the garden? … He knows that when you eat of it, you’ll be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3). In other words, He is in control, but if you eat this fruit, you can be in control.

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but the enemy of old, Satan, sure wants us to think it is (Ephesians 6:12). We get angry because we want to be in control. We fear because we want to be in control.

Guess what: we are NOT in control! We never have been. It’s an illusion. God is in control, but He has temporarily allowed Satan to be in control of certain aspects of the world (Matthew 4:8-9; Luke 4:5-6; John 14:30; John 12:31-33; Ephesians 2:1-3). I believe that the “spirit of the antichrist” which has been in the world since the beginning, is largely a spirit of control (1 John 2:18; 1 John 4:3). Satan himself, as Lucifer, fell from heaven because he wanted to be in control, rather than trusting God to be in control (Isaiah 14:12-15; Luke 10:18).

When we allow God to be in control of our lives (Romans 10:9-11) by accepting Jesus as Lord (master, one in charge), we gain a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). The very things we desire to have control for — peace, provision, victory over death — we gain by giving up control. It seems like a paradox, doesn’t it? However, it is true.

The spirit of the antichrist may soon be revealed as world leaders navigate this global crisis (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 1 John 2:18). They have a global answer: They believe we need to seek world peace through a concept called globalism. They believe all people need to unite to end world hunger, poverty, inequality, illiteracy, “overpopulation,” and so on; however, God called us to scatter, to fill the earth and subdue it. Granted, our greed has tempted us to become bad stewards of the earth and to oppress people. That doesn’t change the fact that God wills us to populate, to work, and to be diverse. At the tower of Babel, the people wanted to stick together. They defied God by building a tower, not so they could reach heaven, but so they could keep from wandering too far. God had told them to scatter, but they reasoned that if they could build a tall enough tower, they could make sure that they could all see it, and that way they wouldn’t go too far. They would stay one global community, in defiance of God’s clear command to spread out. He confounded their language so that they would not remain together (Genesis 11).

Today, some of the world’s most powerful people want to control the world once again by uniting us all in a global community. This global crisis calls for a global solution, they say. They want control, pure and simple. Their motives may look noble and pure, but in reality, they don’t trust God. Did God really say? Is there really even a God? Don’t you know that we can do anything we set our minds to? 

Many people believe would agree with Bill Gates:

“I’ve been very lucky, and therefore I owe it to try and reduce the inequity in the world. And that’s kind of a religious belief. I mean, it’s at least a moral belief,” said Gates. “I agree with people like Richard Dawkins that mankind felt the need for creation myths. Before we really began to understand disease and the weather and things like that, we sought false explanations for them. Now science has filled in some of the realm – not all – that religion used to fill.” (Rolling Stone, March 13, 2014)

You see, if science is the answer, we can control that. We can’t control God, but we can, at least in some ways, control science. We can control what we understand, but we cannot understand God because His ways are so far above our ways that they are beyond comprehension (Isaiah 55:8-9). We don’t like that. We want to understand. We want to know. We want to control.

We cannot control, but we can put our lives in the hands of the One who is in control, the One who can give us the abundant life now and eternal life when we die (Deuteronomy 30:19; Joshua 24:15; John 3:16-17; John 10:9-10).

It seems to me that so many of us are addressing the things we can’t control and are angry at those who seem to hinder our control. In the end, though, we are all going to die and our fortunes will be given to another (Psalm 39:6; Psalm 49:10; Proverbs 27:1; Luke 12). We aren’t guaranteed our next breath or our next paycheck, no matter how hard we try. We should take good care of our bodies, we should work hard to earn a living, and we should try to keep our country free from tyranny. However, we also must recognize that our days are numbered and the world can change in a moment’s notice. We could literally be ushered into the presence of our Creator at any moment. We need to be ready.

The one thing we can do to control our future is to put our lives and our eternity into the hands of the One who possesses ultimate control.

If you have never accepted Jesus as Lord, you can do that right now. This takes an honest and genuine acknowledgement that you are a sinner, that you can’t do enough good deeds to be right with God because He is holy and we are unholy, that you need Him to save you, and that you are willing to follow Him and allow Him to govern your life. Baptism is the outward expression of this inward decision and should be done publicly and by immersion, in an act of obedience, submission, and testimonial to others. You also should read the Bible, pray, gather with other believers, and obey God’s commands, not to be saved, but out of gratitude for salvation, a desire to grow in your relationship with God, and in hopes of winning others to the Lord. If you have any questions about that, reach out to a believer you know, begin fellowship with a local church, and/or reach out by filling out the contact form below.  

We Have Sinned

sad woman 1Dear Lord,

You have said, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).”

Father, we, your children, have sinned. We, the church, have abdicated our responsibility to speak into the culture, preferring to blend in instead. We have allowed the religion of secular humanism to infiltrate our culture. We have allowed our children to be carried off to “Babylon,” a culture that says, “I am, and there is no other (Isaiah 47:8).” We have allowed ourselves to become complacent and entitled, believing that the world exists to serve us. We have devalued human life of many kinds, allowing the unborn to be slaughtered, the immigrant to be mistreated, those of other races to be abused, and the disabled to be devalued.

We have voted for people according to economics, rather than character. We have taken your Word and prayer out of our schools and the public square. We have given lip service to prayer. We have neglected to disciple our children according to your Word.

We have forgotten our first love, and have grown cold and self-absorbed. We have bowed down to many idols, including money, power, ease, comfort, and pleasure. We spend more time on our phones and computers than on in-person relationships. We have allowed our society to become sexualized and violent. We see people as objects. We play games, watch movies, and listen to music full of sex and gratuitous violence. We waste much of our time on mindless entertainment. We have allowed our children to absorb it all.

We lie to one another, cheat each other, steal from each other, and talk badly about each other. Instead of going directly to each other in loving confrontation of sin, we gossip and slander. We justify ourselves under the guise of venting or making prayer requests.

We no longer value marriage and family. Instead, we stand by and watch as others trample these institutions that were entrusted to us by God. We worry that if we speak up we will seem intolerant or culturally irrelevant.

We shrink back from boldly declaring your Word, and blindly believe that we must not speak up because of the supposed “separation of church and state.” We prefer to offend You, our creator and just judge, rather than risk offending our fellow man. We turn a blind eye to others who claim to be Christian while living like the world.

We have allowed ourselves to be lulled to sleep by the design of secular humanists, and have given the sleeping potion to our children by allowing them to attend schools that teach them that You don’t exist, or that if you do, You are irrelevant. We have allowed them to be given atheistic sex education and taught that they descended from primordial goo. We have allowed them to be programmed to follow their hearts and to do whatever makes them happy, “as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.” What about You, Lord? Sin hurts You. You gave us Your Son, who lived perfectly and died a horrific death for these very sins. His death and resurrection alone save us, yet we flippantly allow His Name to be used as a common curse word. We don’t even flinch anymore when Your Name is taken in vain.

We have forsaken Your design for marriage. We have created unstable families for our children. We have preferred to make a name for ourselves than to invest personally in our children. We have not corrected our children’s disobedience.

We have created idols of athletes, actors, musicians, and philanthropists. We have enthroned people who have money, power, and influence, regardless of their faith, values, or actions. We have dismissed scandals in our leaders, because we idolize the economy and pragmatically vote for Supreme Court nominations. We overlook character defects in favor of policies. We have created false messiahs in our government officials. We have not called those into account who claim to follow You, minimizing their sin, because we believe they are benefitting us.

We sit by, fattening ourselves up on our riches, while much of the world lives in unfit conditions, and many are marginalized, mutilated, and slaughtered. We believe we are entitled to live long and prosper, neglecting to consider that much of the world truly must pray for their daily bread. We believe we deserve honor and abundance while others languish in life and die without Christ.

We have bought into the lie that government can solve our problems. We have tried to treat this worldwide crisis as something we can solve with the right brain power, techniques, policies, and vaccines. But we cannot! We need you to heal our land. We need you to heal the coronavirus, but more than that, we need you to heal our pride, our obstinacy, our apathy, our faithlessness, and our selfishness. We need you to heal our families, our government, our schools and our churches.

I need You to heal me. We all need You to heal us. We are so independent, self-sufficient, and content in our sin that have a form of godliness but we deny your power (2 Timothy 3:5).

You have said, “You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure (James 4:2-3).

Lord, where our motives are tainted, purify us. I pray for a revival, the likes of which the world has never seen. I pray that we would wake up from our slumber so that the “new normal” we keep hearing about is Your new normal. I pray You defeat the enemy and his purposes, that many more may come to know You and to glorify Your Name. I pray you have mercy on us for our great sins, for the sake of those who don’t yet know you, and for the sake of Your glorious Name.

You are the Great I Am, the First and the Last, the Living God. We are your people. We humble ourselves. We ask you to heal our land.

On behalf of the church in America, I ask this in Jesus Precious and Holy Name, Amen!

If you would like to add to this prayer, you may post it in the comments. Any other comments will not be posted, as this is a prayer addressed to the Lord. This post is not for airing opinions or arguments. If you do not know the Lord and would like to turn your life over to Him, and have questions about that, or want to leave a comment for me, please fill out the contact form below.  

 

Obedience and Justice: An Open Letter to All Who Follow Jesus Christ

20170804_163841Dear Church,

There are many opinions and divisions today among us. Some of them are due to personal preferences and simply illuminate the diversity of the people God created. Others simply should not be. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise (Galatians 3:27-29)”

As those who profess Jesus as Lord (meaning master, one who is in charge), we should strive to live as He lived (1 Peter 2:21). Jesus gave up His rights when he became man (Philippians 2:5-11). He did so for our benefit. We also should be willing to give up our rights for the benefit of others.

I should not exert my rights simply because I can. However, I am called to fight for the rights of those who cannot fight for theirs. I am called to stand against injustice (Proverbs 6:16-19; Proverbs 24:11-12; Nehemiah 4:4-5; Psalm 94:1-7, 20-23; Isaiah 10:1-3; Revelation 6:10). Sometimes that means participating in civil disobedience.

I know that there have been many in the Bible and church history who disobeyed the earthly authorities, but it was because the alternative was to disobey God. So I have to ask, with each executive order and law issued in our state and in our country, am I being asked to disobey God? For example, I don’t think I’m being asked to disobey God to wear a mask, but I may very well be disobeying Him if I don’t sing in church (Ephesians 5:19). As much as I don’t like the thought of it, I don’t think I’m disobeying God to submit to a temperature check, but I definitely believe I would be disobeying to take a vaccine that was developed with fetal stem cells and/or was accompanied by a chip, mark, or other detection system.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t protest and petition the government, because I think we should, but I know we are to do it respectfully. I see too many Christians being disrespectful to governing officials. We are called to kindness (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). We are called to submission, so that we may glorify God to the unbelievers (“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:12). We are told to be unified as believers and to let our gentleness be known to all, because the Lord is near (Phil. 4:5). I believe He is very near. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16).

I’m definitely open to insights about all of this. I know I don’t have all of the right answers, because I’m fallible and because this question is downright baffling. Experts don’t agree and the Bible doesn’t specifically address our current situation. I hope that, in the midst of our varying perspectives, we can be united as believers, because the world is watching.

In Christ’s Love,

Heather Walton

 

 

Judge not … ?

20200514_145222By Heather Walton

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3 ESV)

This is probably the most well-known verse in all of scripture. Why? Because people inherently like to justify themselves and their behavior. If a Christian confronts sin, this Bible verse inevitably glides smoothly off someone’s tongue in hasty rebuke, in an attempt to shame the messenger into silence. How dare you? is the implication. Don’t you know Jesus told us not to judge one another? We all sin; you just prefer your own brand of sin. 

Here’s the problem with that logic: Most people know the first part of Matthew 7:1, and some know all the way through the end of verse 3, but many neglect what comes next:

Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:4-5 ESV)

Notice here that Jesus said to remove your own log, meaning do everything you can to be right with God and free from sin (albeit not perfect), and then yes, remove the speck from your brother’s eye. So if you have some glaring sin problem in your life (log) then get that straight before criticizing your brother for a smaller infraction (speck). So Jesus wasn’t, in fact, telling us we are not to judge at all, but that we’re not to be hypocritical, which in the Greek carried the idea of acting. In essence, I’m not to live a phony life, acting the part of a Christian, while I have this glaring area of sin in my life, and then call a believer out for some small behavior that pales in comparison with my own issues.

In Matthew 18, we’re told to confront our brother or sister who is caught in sin. We should do so first between the two of us, next with a witness, and lastly we should bring our concern to the church. (This doesn’t apply to every situation, by the way, but it does to most.) This passage is for dealing with a brother caught in sin, which could mean they wronged us personally or that they simply were, as the text states, caught in sin.

In 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, believers are specifically told to judge those inside the church who are sexually immoral, greedy, swindlers, idolaters, revilers, drunkards or swindlers. Paul stated that God would judge those outside the church, but commanded Christians to hold one another accountable. He went so far to say, “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:13b ESV). Believers were not even to eat with someone who called himself a Christian, yet had blatant sin in his life.

It is a lie from the pit of hell that we are not ever to judge anyone for anything. As Christians, we should not be shocked when an unbeliever lives a sinful lifestyle. We should instead lovingly show him the truth and share the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20), challenging him to accept Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-11), and discipling him toward a Biblical lifestyle (Matthew 28:18-20). However, when someone claims to be a Christ-follower, we are commanded to lovingly and truthfully call him out, not out of self-satisfaction, but out of love, out of a desire for his benefit, that He may repent for his good and God’s glory.

This is not comfortable. I have found myself needing to confront brothers and sisters on multiple occasions, and I never enjoy it. I generally feel some anxiety over it. I do it because I must. On a handful of occasions, I’ve spoken out about public officials’ behavior. (I’ve written about officials on both sides of the aisle.) I know these people already have been confronted about their sin, yet they continue. I do not expect these types of posts to go over well with everyone, yet I share them, believing God wants me to speak up about injustice, rather than to stay silent.

“Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?” 
(Proverbs 24:11-12)

In Ezekiel 3, the prophet was told to be a watchman for Israel, delivering messages to those whom God directed. He was to warn the wicked and the righteous if they were not in God’s will, to change their ways. If he did, and they didn’t listen, he would be blameless, but if he shied away from sharing the truth that God told him to share, he would have their blood on his hands.

Therefore, when God lays it on my heart that I’m to address someone about sin, I know I shouldn’t shy away. I don’t like doing it, but there’s nothing in Scripture that says I’m only to do what I feel like doing. Knowing others will judge me, as they tell me not to judge, I do it anyway, in obedience to the Judge who is above all judges, and with whom I will spend eternity.

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10 ESV)

An Open Letter to Gov. Andy Beshear

Gov. Beshear

May 11, 2020

Governor Beshear,

I want to begin by saying that, for the first several weeks of your COVID-19 response, I was one of your strongest supporters. I watched your briefings every day and I was quite impressed with your handling of the situation. I also noted that you used your faith to support your reasoning, and I believed you used it well. I truly appreciated your desire to protect the lives of all Kentuckians, even those many seemed to discount as less important than the economy. I did wonder, however, why the abortion clinics were allowed to remain open. Even so, I supported you in the rest of your response measures. I defended you on social media multiple times and I used the hashtags you asked us to use. To this day, we turn on our green light nightly to honor those who have died of the coronavirus.

I was disheartened to make a possible connection between campaign contributions and your refusal to close the clinics, but when you chose to veto SB9, which would require babies who survived to be cared for, I was astonished. This bill passed by a landslide and had clear bipartisan support. You reasoned that this would reduce our unity and ability to defeat the coronavirus and reopening of the economy. However, if every Kentucky life matters, it’s worth doing, even if it’s not popular, could cause law suits, or could hinder reopening the economy. Isn’t this the very thing you have done and continue to do in the COVID-19 response? You have said you don’t care if it’s popular, you don’t care if people disagree, and you don’t care if people sue you. You also have been willing to keep our economy shut down indefinitely. I realize you’re doing some reopening, but it’s really not very quick and it’s also not highly practical. Your argument has consistently been that we need to save as many Kentucky lives as possible. In fact, you’ve been willing to do absolutely everything, including allowing many businesses to close permanently and overriding the First Amendment rights of our citizenry, to make sure that our losses are as minimal as possible.

You have cited your faith many times. Therefore, I feel compelled to tell you what is on my heart as a believer. The blood of many, many children is on your hands. You have accepted blood money from Planned Parenthood and from abortion clinic owners Ernest and Ona Marshall, and likely many others who practice and champion abortion. Even without the veto, you support abortion. You may argue that there need to be exceptions for the life and health of the mother, but as one who had to have a pregnancy terminated because of the baby implanted ectopically, I did not need to go to an abortion clinic, and would not have been able to have been serviced there.

Abortion is murder, as God has created each life. Most abortions are the result of previous sin, whether from the mother, the father, or usually both. Taking a child’s life because of his parents’ sins is not ethical, moral, or Scriptural. So when you vetoed SB9, I woke as if from sleeping and began to question why you are willing to inconvenience so many and even devastate some on the grounds of caring for all Kentuckians, yet far more have died through abortion than from the coronavirus. At first, it seemed these measures were necessary, but as we’ve learned more, it just doesn’t add up. I’m willing to believe you began with the best of intentions regarding the COVID-19 response, but now, why not go ahead and open up the economy, allow people to resume church services as normal, and allow us to get back to what hopefully will be a new and better normal?

I also have concerns about your handling of churches. Biblically, we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. It’s great that we are able to have online services, but that’s simply not the same as meeting in person. And being told not to even sing together is disheartening. Being told not to meet together, sing together, or participate in sacraments goes directly against Scripture. If this were as bad as health officials originally had projected, I would be more open to the idea of church being conducted alternatively, but I would also expect most other organizations and businesses to be closed. If I can’t go to church and worship in the normal way, I also shouldn’t be able to go to an abortion clinic, a liquor store, or a hardware store.

I work hard to be respectful and pleasant toward those with whom I disagree, but I don’t believe in shying away from the truth, because the truth sets us free. No law can take away our freedom in Christ, but it’s still crucial that Christ followers petition the authorities when injustice prevails. There are clear injustices when some human lives are considered expendable or less valuable than others, and there are clear injustices when people’s livelihoods are lost due to excessive government control.

After the fall of man, God commanded Adam and Eve to fill the earth and subdue it. These are related to two main realms – childbearing and work. Your actions affect each of these in the opposite ways that God intended, because you are allowing childbearing to be unnaturally restrained, while not allowing people to work. Please prayerfully read the Scriptures. I ask you, on behalf of all citizens of Kentucky, to change your stance on abortion, to fully open Kentucky’s churches, and to allow Kentuckians to go back to work. There are ways to protect the vulnerable that don’t require so many others to suffer in countless ways.

I am praying for you, and am open to discussing this with you if you would like to.

Sincerely,

Heather Walton

 

 

How shall we then live?

Be very careful Scripture

By Heather Walton

I am continually surprised by the comments I’m seeing on social media and in the news, regarding this outbreak of coronavirus. I completely understand feeling frustrated by having to stay at home, not being able to attend church, having to suddenly “homeschool” children of various ages, and facing possible financial ruin. These are all huge challenges.

However, when hundreds of people are dying in Italy in one day, and our governing authorities and medical professionals are telling us we need to stay home for the good of everyone, it baffles me that people don’t heed the warnings. A few weeks ago, I too thought this was overblown. I simply lacked understanding. As a nation, we were going along, business as usual. There were murmurs of this potential threat, but honestly, I was oblivious. Today, though, how can anyone be oblivious?

It concerns me to hear Christians say they aren’t going to obey the government. In Romans 13, we are told to obey the governing authorities. What kind of a witness is it for us to blatantly defy the government? It disturbs me that some people are adamant that we meet in person in order to fulfill Biblical commands, and therefore asserting our rights to meet. What about loving one another, being living sacrifices, denying ourselves, and living quiet lives among the unbelievers (Matthew 16, John 13, Romans 12-13, 1 Thessalonians 4)?

Psalm 91 is a wonderful comfort, and I have read it multiple times, especially in the past week. It upsets me, though, that some people are using this beautiful passage to justify meeting or going about their business as usual, because they believe God has promised that believers are protected from the coronavirus. I’m not saying that everyone who cites or shares this verse feels that way, but I’ve definitely seen it used to justify negligence. Even if no believer were to contract the virus or to die from it, isn’t it possible that a believer could carry it to an unbeliever?

What kind of witness is it to non-Christians that so many Christians deny that this virus is as destructive as it is, or are even willing to endanger others simply because of their rights? I remember a teacher in grade school saying that our rights end where our neighbors’ rights begin. So if I were healthy and I decided to just exercise my rights, regardless of the fact that it could compromise my neighbors’ health, would I be acting in a Godly way? Of course not!

Another argument I hear is that we shouldn’t live in fear. I agree completely! Why is it, then, that people are unwilling to protect their health and their neighbors’ health because they are afraid it will harm the economy, and specifically because they are concerned about their own financial status? Isn’t that giving in to fear? As someone who has struggled with a variety of health issues, I can tell you that I’d rather have my health than to have money in the bank. More than that, I’d rather have my loved ones’ health than financial security. Don’t most people feel that way?

Medical professionals continually tell us that, if we don’t follow the guidelines given out by the government, we are going to be in for greater sickness and death rates, longer time of having things shut down, and perhaps even forced confinement at home. Is that what we want? I don’t think so. However, what we say we want seems to be at odds with our actions. If we want this to end sooner and elicit fewer casualties, we need to submit to the governing authorities.

Better yet, brothers and sisters in Christ, rather than bemoaning the fact that we can’t be at church, let’s joyfully be the church! The church is not a building. We can assemble together online, and we can worship as households. Even more importantly, we can worship best by serving one another in the name of Jesus Christ.

In John 4, Jesus stopped in Samaria at a well, and he asked a woman for a drink of water. She proceeded to engage Him in a theological discussion about where to properly worship God. Jesus answered her essentially like this: “Woman, you’re asking the wrong question! It’s not about where you worship. It’s about how you worship. True believers worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:22-24, author’s paraphrase). Spirit and truth — neither is a physical thing, and neither can be contained in a physical building. Church, wake up! Stop being legalistic and demanding! It’s time for the church in America to take advantage of the time we’re living in and the situation at hand. Many are already doing this, but if you’re one of the holdouts who is bellyaching about what you can’t do, it’s time to consider what the Holy Spirit may be calling you to do right now. We are called to make the most of every opportunity, to redeem the time, to be wise, and to understand the Lord’s will, because we are living in dark times (Ephesians 5:14-17).

A few weeks ago, I hadn’t given the coronavirus more than a few minutes thought. Right now I’m sitting at home, unable even to go out and practice social distancing at the grocery store, because I’m waiting for the results of a test. According to the medical professionals, it will take a week to get the results. I wish I would get the results sooner than that, and so do a lot of people I’ve been in contact with, but perhaps the Lord is using this whole situation to create patience in many people, myself included. Because I’m not feeling great and I’m contagious, I may not be able to do the same things to serve others that I wish I could, but I’m trying to do what I can from right here on my couch. I hope that my perspective helps people.

So, if you’re a believer, here’s my challenge to you: What can you do today, in your present circumstances, to bless others, to be the church, to fulfill the Great Commission, and to advance the Gospel? If you’re not a believer, consider that God may be using current events to get your attention. This world is temporary and flawed, but God has something eternal and perfect for everyone who submits to His Lordship. Consider turning your life, your health, your finances, and your eternity over to Him today. And here’s my challenge to everyone: Let’s evaluate how we can live, making the most of our time and circumstances, that we may emerge better people when it’s once again time for social closeness.

 

COVID-19: Has it changed the world?

Corona Doctor Office PicBy Heather Walton

A week ago at this time I honestly wondered what all the hype was about. I questioned whether people were overreacting. Later that evening, after hearing from the president and the local school superintendent, and learning that our local megachurch was closing, I began to reconsider my perspective.

I think most of us have been impacted in some way by this crisis. At minimum, most of us have had some change to our routines and give up our freedom to go where we want. It seems a bit surreal for many. Depending on your perspective, you could be stir crazy, frustrated, skeptical, anxious, relieved, refreshed, or maybe all of these things in the same day! And if you have children, they may be struggling too, especially if their routines have been majorly disrupted.

As a homeschooler and as one who works from home, my family’s life has not been as disrupted as many people’s have. We have had changes though: My husband is a pastor, so a family whose lives are intertwined with church, that aspect has looked very different. He also works for the school system, so he’s been home this week, which I have found refreshing. I also have moved my regular students and my tutoring clients to an online platform, rather than having them come into my home.

The biggest issue for me has been that I personally have been sick for the past few days. Today I developed a fever, so my doctor sent me for COVID-19 testing. They say it will be a week or so before I get the results. A week ago, getting sick with this virus was the furthest thing from my mind.

While all of this is unexpected and somewhat unsettling, I don’t think the world has actually changed. Yes, it feels different, but I think that’s largely because, a week ago, it felt like we were in control, and today not so much. The truth is, though, that control is an illusion, at least as far as we’re concerned. However, God is always on His throne and in control of the universe — always. Nothing occurs that He doesn’t allow. And nothing catches Him by surprise.

No, I don’t think the world has changed. I think it has been exposed for what it is: a temporary, unpredictable home. It hasn’t changed, but perhaps we can change as a result of this revelation. Perhaps we can change for the better. Maybe we can value relationships more fully, worship God more fervently, serve our neighbors more intentionally, worry less, and simply live the life God has graciously allowed us to live, for however long that will be. Most importantly, maybe we will consider the fact that this home truly is temporary, and therefore prepare for our eternal home by accepting Christ as Lord and following Him, who has control of everything, rather than the crowd, which truly has control of nothing.

Coronavirus: How Seriously Should We Take It?

1 Cor 13 on WallBy Heather Walton

I believe in following the requests of our governing officials, as long as they don’t ask us to go against Scriptural commands or principles (Mark 12:17; Romans 13:1-7). I also believe in not giving in to fear (Joshua 1:9; Psalm 23:4; Isaiah 41:10; Philippians 4:6-7, etc.). In this time of heightened health sensitivity due to COVID-19, my approach, both as a community member and a community leader, has been to follow the direction of our governing officials. Since the seriousness of the situation began to become clear, I have not attended any large gatherings, and as director of a para-church organization, I have worked with our board to cancel all events and meetings for at least the next three weeks. However, I also have conducted the rest of my life as normal, attending smaller meetings, going to the grocery store, and hosting people in my home.

I have watched as people have given in to fear or greed, buying ridiculous amounts of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and bottled water. I have witnessed others making light of the situation, posting insensitive memes or flaunting how they really don’t care because they aren’t giving into fear or they aren’t at risk. Still others are more worried about the effect on the economy than on people’s health. Really I was taking it all in as more of an observer than anything else, but I have to admit I was skeptical.

Until last night …

At around 10 p.m., I suddenly started coughing. Suddenly. No warning. Before that, I had felt great. A few days ago I had blood work, and all of it was good.

Overnight the cough got worse, and now I have a sore throat and chest pain. No fever, though. I’ve consulted with a health provider online and they just want me to stay at home. They are having to be very careful about whom they test, as there are a limited number of tests available. There are so many things going around that it’s likely I just have a regular cold.

Am I worried? No, not about myself. But I do think of all the people I’ve come into contact with during the last 7 days. I have been around multiple people over 60, and I’ve been around at least one immune-compromised person. I’ve also been around an unknown number of people who will be around others over 60 or with immune challenges. This concerns me.

I probably don’t have coronavirus. Nevertheless, this has all gotten me thinking. I would hate to be oblivious to the need for caution, and because I personally didn’t think it was a big deal, to have caused problems for someone else who can’t handle getting sick. I know there are sicknesses going around all the time, but this one seems to be more contagious and more problematic to specific populations.

I encourage you, even if you’re as healthy as can be, to avoid unnecessary contact with others. I fully believe God determines our times and places and that He remains on His throne and in control of the universe. I also know He calls us to be considerate of others, even when it inconveniences us (Philippians 2:3; John 15:13). A few days ago, I didn’t understand what all the hype was about. Now, whether or not I have COVID-19, I more fully understand the importance of doing our best not to spread it.

I also encourage you to find creative and practical ways to support those impacted economically by this crisis. The effects are potentially serious for many; as one who earns money by being consistently in contact with other people, I understand this.

I believe the answer to this and to every situation is love, because “perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18),”  “is not self-seeking (1 Corinthians 13:5),” “always protects (1 Corinthians 13:7),” and “does no harm to a neighbor (Romans 13:9-10).” So please don’t join in the panic, and don’t buy unnecessary amounts of supplies, therefore depriving others of those same necessities. Please consider your reasons for doing business as usual. And please consider those vulnerable people with whom you may not normally even cross paths. And in all things, prayerfully consider what is the most loving choice.

(Author’s Note: Here is an article that lays out the risks, from a physician’s point of view, better than anything else I’ve seen so far.)

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