To God’s Beloved At Cloverdale Baptist Church:
Thank you to all of you who have emailed me, or called about the news this week that vaccine passports are coming to BC. As you are probably aware we have a lot of opinions on this (some very strong), and there are some of you who see this as a violation of what it means to be human, and others as a loving thing to do for the vulnerable and the good of society. Yes, we really are that far apart (at least some of us) on this issue.
Thank you for sharing your opinions with me.
As a leadership team we have been thankful that so many of you have stayed on God’s side in the midst of the chaos of the last 1 ½ years, even respecting those who might disagree with you on worldly issues. We know with the different worldly narratives, and the attacks of the demonic realm and flesh this has not been easy. So thank you for making an effort to stay on God’s side in difficult times!
I would like to share a few things with you, and let everyone else listen in…well, actually this is for the entire church body at CBC.
- We Would Like To Challenge You: Stay Thankful
The obvious is that thanksgiving is commanded always, and something we all should be at this time and all times, mainly because of the Gospel and the Sovereignty of God, but we should also look for glimpses of grace.
In listening to the government and PHO share about the vaccine, I was praying, and a little anxious about what was coming. Early on in this journey many were upset that the PHO might be singling out churches (I do not believe she did this, but many do and did) and bringing persecution to believers (think this is a massive misunderstanding of persecution, but some of you disagree with me). That said, in this latest news conference churches were singled out, and given special exemption, really essential qualification. For this I am thankful. We believe the church is essential, but do not expect the world to agree with us, and so this granted essential status is an answer to prayer, and that the church was singled out by those who may not believe like us, as a place where we are granted special status appreciated.
For that we are THANKFUL, and feel blessed by God’s glimpses of grace, where many are going in reverse in the New Normal, we do not have to. You might fear the future, and what might be coming, or be disappointed in the past, but take a moment now of thanksgiving for the present. This is something we pursued as an elders board, and prayed for as a church family, and we believe it has been granted to us at this time
Join me in being thankful. If you feel fear about what the government might do in the future, or fear about what the virus might cause in the coming days, seek to place your trust and fear in Jesus instead, and rest with Him in thanksgiving (Matthew 10:29-31). Remember He is OVER ALL, CARES ABOUT US, and is ALL WISE. You can trust Him and thank Him always.
We are also thankful for opportunities to minister to people, and show them the greatness of Jesus and the Gospel at a time where many are hurting. I love that God has placed us in the communities we are in, called us to minister faithfully to the community around us, and given us His Spirit so that we can do it with power!
Share with others things you are thankful for, and you can be confident that this is God’s will for you! 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Spend more time in thanksgiving than fear.
- I Would Like To Challenge You: STAY BIBLICAL
Don’t get caught up in the world, or narratives that bring fear, rather focus on Jesus, and where He has placed you, so that you can bring Him glory.
We are a BIBLICAL church, so we can disagree passionately about things that are not clearly addressed in His Word, because we believe so strongly that the central things are what unifies us. We will unify on His Word, His Gospel, His call to ministry for all of us. Obeying God’s Word at all times is right and loving!
From that unity, here are some things that if each of us do, we will find strength in the midst of the chaos that COVID has brought.
- Pray…Pray…Pray…and don’t stop praying. Pray for all of us that we would love God, love one another, and live on mission for Him. Find Biblical prayers and pray them for one another. Pray, Pray, Pray… this time is in God’s hands, and you have been placed where you are for such a time as this (Esther 4:14), walk in the good works He has prepared in advance for you to do (Ephesians 2:10).
- o If you find this a trial, consider it pure joy, and pursue sanctification (James 1; Romans 5).
- Obey God no matter what the cost (Luke 9:23; Matthew 7:21-27). Really…choose obedience to God and His Word even if people around you think differently about the vaccine, or masks, or anything else that is not clearly addressed in the Word. Obey what is clear, and the worldly things will become almost irrelevant to you, as you seek to live radically committed to Him, and His mission.
- Love one another self sacrificially (1 Peter 1:22; 4:8). I know 1 John uses obedience and love interchangeably (2 John 5-7), but I do think it is worth stating…we are to prefer one another (Romans 12:10), we are to choose to serve one another (John 13), and if a weaker brother or sister disagrees we are to love them enough to allow them to obey their conscience (Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 8). Yes, that is what the Bible says…in fact Jesus states that you can sum up the entire OT with loving God, and loving your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). Do not sell this short because you are inconvenienced by new rules, or mad at people not getting vaccinated. If each of us chooses to self sacrificially love one another, nothing will be able to divide us, as we center on God and His Word. Yes it is okay to disagree with one another, no it is not okay to disobey God, and bring division (Proverbs 6; Titus 3:10).
- Stay focused on your relationship with Jesus and live a life of repentance (Philippians 1:21; 1 John 1:8-10). This will keep you from judging others (Matthew 7), and help you pursue holiness (Hebrews 12:14).
- Share the Gospel with someone (2 Corinthians 5:11-21). We have said this other ways, talk about the Gospel with people 10 times for every once you talk about vaccines or government. The demonic realm would love for you to talk about worldly things, even if you are right, and not talk about Jesus, or actively build others up (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). Take stock of your life at the end of the day and make sure you are living as if you believe that Jesus is alive, or to use biblical language, WALK BY FAITH and not by SIGHT (2 Corinthians 5:7).
- Respect one another (Ephesians 4:1-5; Ephesians 5:1-2). I respect the responsibility and privilege of people to choose to stay home during these times, especially those who are vulnerable, or have been told by doctors to do so, if at this time you feel uncomfortable coming we respect that. Please feel free to follow your conscience on this and join us online, and in heart if that is your comfort level right now. God willing we will be through this soon! I am so thankful we can gather physically, and have been given what amounts to essential status as a church, and continue to ask for respect for my joy in this, and all who choose to come. A love for God will always yield a respectful life for one another. It is okay to disagree, it is not okay to disrespect.
- Encourage 3 Invite 1, and don’t stop doing this. Find people who are discouraged and share about God’s goodness, Sovereignty, and wisdom, so that they can rest in Him and be encouraged! Be an Ephesians 4:29 person, and let Philippians 4:8 drive your thoughts. Don’t let your heart be hardened, and be such an encourager that others are not hardened around you (Hebrews 3:12-14).
Okay, that is enough for today…if you disagree with anything said there, go back and read the verses so that you can align your thoughts with God’s.
Updates on how we will respond to the changes in COVID instructions from the PHO:
- We will not ask if you are vaccinated or not.
- We will expect/demand that you treat others with respect and tenderness who disagree with you.
- We expect many more of you will wear masks on Sunday (I will as well), we will not mandate this, and want you to walk in self-sacrifice and love if you know Jesus. Please also try to keep social distancing with one another. Again, we will not enforce this, but respect that many of us would prefer it, and in honour of those of us who would, please choose to love, not to demand your rights.
That was long, but I hope clear that we want to be WORD people, not WORLD people, so keep our focus on Christ, not COVID, on LOVE, not ENTITLEMENTS. Be biblical and seek to avoid the attacks on the flesh of the world and the demonic realm. The Battle is real.
Excited about a new year of ministry….stay informed.
As we re-engage please join us in serving Jesus bride, and one another. ASK NOT WHAT YOUR CHURCH CAN DO FOR YOU, BUT WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR CHURCH!
- I am very excited for the golf tournament. Invite a friend, sign up, and use this as a fun ministry opportunity as we re-connect!
Blessed to be a part of this family, and excited to be partners in the Gospel with you at such a time as this,
If you read all of this email, and are one of the first three to email me with something you are thankful for, we will give you a free book...surprise gift....