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Ebola or God?

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No, this is not one of those lectures on the idea the God has sent Ebola as some plague upon people of this or that country. In saying “Ebola or God” I am more interested in peoples’ response to one and not the other.

Fear, if not panic, in many cases is the word for multitudes of people concerning Ebola. Living in the DFW area where the first reported cases of Ebola in the United States occurred has left most of us wondering if there is any other news in the world, since that seems to have taken up 25 of the 30 minute news’ broadcasts every night. Social media certainly hasn’t helped because everyone, myself included by the writing of the letter, has had an opinion they felt they had to share about Ebola. Some are educated opinions and many opinions backed more by hysteria.

Ebola is deadly, there is no doubt about it. But, as we also know so are many other threats which account for the loss of many lives every year. Ebola has claimed one person in the U.S. Everyone else that was infected, all 2 of them, are improving. Using data going back to September 7 of this year, at that time around the world, Ebola had claimed 2,218 lives. In comparison at that point: HIV/Aids 1.6 million, TB 1.3 million, Pneumonia 1.1 million, Infectious Diarrhea – 760,000 children under the age of 5. (1) The year 2010 was a down year for Ebola, there were actually no deaths at all that year. On the other hand, “About 10 million people around the world died of communicable diseases in 2010, the most recent year for which fully comparable international figures are available.”(2)  Will Ebola get worse? Quite possibly. Should we also be concerned about these noted and other deadly communicable diseases? Certainly.

Where is God in all of this? He’s not, and that’s my point. First the fear concerning diseases needs to be countered with a good dose of prayer, alongside the antibiotics, bleach, masks and rubber gloves. Then I want folks to remember what really should cause fear. Yes, people are dying from these horrible contagions and we are so attentive and concerned perhaps even fearful. But, what happened to the fear of God.

If you really want to show concern, consider the 150,000 people who die every day around the world from whatever the cause, and then ask yourself “Did they know Jesus?” Let’s keep fear in perspective. Fear and love of God is what we as Christians should have more focus on. I hear more Christians worried about people dying from Ebola, than ever talking about people dying in sin who do not have a relationship with Christ. I see Christians everywhere taking precautions not to get sick, using hand sanitizers, not visiting the sick, not flying, or not doing this, that and the other to avoid getting sick.  But, then they are also not attending church, not reading the Bible, not going to Sunday school, not telling their neighbor about Jesus. People have developed more fear of worldly sicknesses than of God. They certainly pay diseases more attention. They are more involved with school, with work, with play, with self, with everything than they are with God, His church and His mission and ministry.

How have so many Christians forgotten to FEAR, LOVE and TRUST God above all things? Why are people not running to get to church, to pray, to witness to their neighbor? Why isn’t our relationship with God taking up at least 25 of 30 minutes (or wishfully more) of our day as do other things that get our attention? Where is our fear, and what have we taken for granted? Ebola or God? That is my question.

Pastor Bill

1 http://tinyurl.com/o8p924z

2 http://tinyurl.com/pcb68uu

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What Are You For or Against?

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Many states have finished their primary elections. As this is written, a few are still going on, including Texas where we vote on May 27. The onslaught of commercials attacking each other in the run-offs have been horrible. Then millions of dollars spent used to body slam an opponent that would go a long way toward helping the needy, is sickening.

These people, who may have at one time supported the person they are now running against are blasting the other for this or that issue, cause, voting record or transgression. The most offensive aspect of all this is yet to come, when they will all suddenly become friends on whatever side of the political fence they sit. There they will rally behind the one chosen in their specific primary to run against the candidate from the other party in the main elections.

I recall the trash talk in the campaigns of then Senator Barak Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and even Comedian Stephen Colbert as they all were vying for the presidential nomination in 2008. There were many derisive cutthroat things said. But then, as they withdrew one by one, they were all buddy-buddy. And how much did they spend? To get elected – President Obama, over 750 million dollars, for just the primaries another 85 million. Clinton – 106 million. Edwards – 36.4 million and Biden a mere 9.5 million. (Colbert spent $2,500.) Most of these monies were so they could speak negatively about their opposition.

The church seems to operate in that same way far too often. We are better known for what we are against, than for what we confess. If you are Baptist, you’re against infant baptism. If you are Lutheran, you’re against open communion. If you are Catholic, you’re against birth control. If you are Pentecostal, you’re against wearing makeup. The list goes on. However, once you come over to “our” way of thinking, then all that past animosity we may have shared is suddenly forgotten as we rally together against someone else.

Jesus did speak about things that He was against. But, more of His focus was on what He was for, the forgiveness of sins. Speaking the Law is important, but not as important as assuring people of the truth of the Gospel. Jesus came to bring forgiveness to a people who could not earn it for themselves, no matter what their works, doctrines or practices might be. He said “Believe in Me,” “Abide in Me,” “Follow Me”.  Not once did Jesus say you have to know so many doctrines, memorize so many passages of Scripture, answer so many questions, or a host of other things that churches tend to require for one to be considered part of their fellowship. He did say, “he who believes and is baptized will be saved,” “he who endures will be saved” and “Your faith has saved you.”

How many things must we agree on to acknowledge each other’s salvation. Per the Bible’s own words “Salvation belongs to our God,” and “No one comes to the Father except through Me (Jesus).” So it is not a church, or a certain catechesis, or denominational affiliation that makes one holy, sanctifies one’s life, or guarantees their name is in the Book of Life.” Yet we argue and look at each other with mistrust.

Oh for the day when we (all those who have faith in Jesus) are together in the glories of heaven and finding ourselves suddenly in agreement and support for one another. That day when we are all on the same side, Jesus’ side, and we remember that it is about Him and not us or our understanding anyway. Last I read, He “Jesus” is still “the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

What are you for or against? I’m for Jesus, that means I’m forgiven and I’m saved. It doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say.

Pastor Bill