Prayers from the Quarantined Church – Day 19 – The Power of the Air

His name was John Romulus Brinkley, but he called himself “Doctor.” Attending a school that taught non-traditional medicine and receiving a certificate valid in only eight states gave him the supposed right to confer such a title upon himself to lend reputability to his “practice.” In 1923, he began selling his cure-alls via a radio show broadcast beamed from a 1000-watt tower in Milford, Kansas.

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Prayers from the Quarantined Church – Day 18 – First Response

COVID-19 has changed our lives; we must be honest about that fact. Even after this season passes and we return to somewhat-familiar schedules and routines, the way we navigate crisis situations as well as the details of our everyday lives will be different in the future. There will not be a complete return to “the way things were before.” Systems, structures, policies, mindsets and people themselves are changing and will continue to do so. If there is a common theme running through conversations, news reports and the hearts of people the world over, it is uncertainty.

“How long will this last?”
“What does the rest of the summer and the remainder of 2020 look like?”
“Should I cancel my plans now or wait to see what happens?”
“What will we look like as a nation when this is over?”

These and countless other questions recirculate daily, and as of now, no solid answers emerge. Though some people may be weathering this season with a high degree of adaptation, for many others, the unknowns are proving to be major challenges. So what do we do when we face this degree of nearly-crushing uncertainty? If we turn to the pages of the Old Testament, we find a single statement that swings our compass needle to true north when the normal landmarks are lost in the fog.

King Jehoshaphat had a problem. Actually, the entire nation of Judah had a problem: their enemies were closing in. The people of Moab and Ammon, long-time adversaries of the people of God, had crept around the southern end of the Dead Sea and had made their way northward to the oasis of Engedi. Because this region lies alongside a rolling mountain range, enemies could move stealthily using the cover offered by the landscape along the western shore of the Dead Sea and be upon the people of Judah without advance warning.

When word of the eminent attack reaches Jehoshaphat, his first response might be the last resort for many people: he prays. He gathers the people together and leads them in a prayer. He calls upon God, and remembers the Lord’s sovereign control, his goodness and his promises (2 Chronicles 20:5-11).

At the end of his prayer, he speaks these words to God: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (v. 12). To give you a spoiler alert, God does answer the prayer and deals decisively with the gathered enemies. But let’s not skip ahead to the closure and miss the lesson. Jehoshaphat acknowledges the brutal reality of the situation (“We do not know what to do…”) and pairs it with a biblical response (“…But our eyes are upon you”). This should be our response as well. We must address the reality of the difficulty and uncertainty before us, but follow that admission with the unwavering focus upon God’s sovereignty, goodness and promises.

In other words: your vision must be greater than your struggle.

It’s also important to note why Jehoshaphat could respond in the way he did when facing enemies bent on his destruction. The king immediately and boldly turned to God in the struggle because he sought to live for God daily. Earlier in the book of 2 Chronicles, we find that God was with Jehoshaphat because of his obedience (17:3-4), and “he was courageous in the ways of the Lord” (17:6). Walking by faith in difficulty was not a new idea for him because walking by faith was his everyday practice.

The things you depend on in comfort are the things you default to in crisis. In this season, are the things you have depended upon in the past for peace, hope and guidance starting to show their limits? Or are you finding that the practice of daily faith is revealing Christ to be more than enough in the midst of all uncertainty?

Pray that…  

In every situation, prayer will be our first response and not our last resort. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

God would reveal to us anything that we are placing as a priority before seeking him. – Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

In every uncertainty, we will cling to the unchanging nature of God. – Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Prayers from the Quarantined Church – Day 17 – Suspended Faith

I once portrayed Jesus in a Christmas production. I grew my hair out for nearly a year, added extensions and slathered on a fake tan. By the time of the December rehearsals, the look was complete. The show dramatized the teachings and miracles of Jesus as well as his death and resurrection. Onstage, everything was smooth and flowing; backstage was a flurry of activity from propmasters, stage crews, lighting and sound technicians, and a host of makeup and wardrobe volunteers. Near the end of the production, there was one scene requiring a specialized technical team.

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Prayers from the Quarantined Church – Day 16 – One or Two?

I was in fifth grade when I first got glasses. Sitting in the optometrist’s chair with the phoropter (the big swing arm device with all the lenses and focus wheels on it) against my face the doctor would ask, “Which is better: one or two?” As he flipped through the lens options, I always felt like I was taking a test that I was going to fail.

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Prayers from the Quarantined Church – Day 15 – Melt Me, God

“A butterfly comes from a chrysalis; a moth comes from a cocoon.” I remember that from Science class as a kid. But I have discovered the teachers didn’t tell us everything about this topic. A caterpillar encases itself in a chrysalis to become a butterfly, but to go from ground-dwelling to airborne takes some doing. Until recently, I thought it had to be a simple process. Caterpillar goes to sleep, wings sprout, chrysalis pops open, butterfly stretches for a while, then one flap, two, and it takes to the breeze. That’s what I was taught.

Turns out, a caterpillar, well…melts.

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Prayers from the Quarantined Church – Day 14 – A Light Through the Cracks

The Instagram account of one of my friends revealed the downward spiral. She and her husband have been at home with their children for the last three weeks. At first, she was posting creative activities that she had given her children. Smiles abounded. Shots of the kids playing on the lawn came often. Family bonds were strengthened.

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Prayers from the Quarantined Church – Day 13 – Two Feet from Comfort

At the time, it was the highest and fastest roller coaster in the Southeastern United States. Rising above the city like a giant, green silly straw, The Kumba reached 65 miles per hour in the initial drop and continued into a maze of track wrapped and woven through the trees and walkways in the amusement park. It was the first roller coaster I had ever ridden. I rode it once, went back through the line again, then again. On the third trip, like the previous two, I sat in the same car, but I sat in a seat that had been vacant on the other trips.

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Prayers from the Quarantined Church – Day 12 – God Honest

Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts, nor measure words, but to pour them all out just as they are, chaff and grain together knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.

                                                                                        –George Eliot

When was the last time that you talked to somebody else?  Really talked?  About the hard, rough, and bothersome parts of your life? 

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Prayers from the Quarantined Church – Day 11 – The Possible Impossible

“An impossibility, with God, becomes a glorious impossibility.” -Larry Watson

I remember helping my father set a corner post for a fence once. My brother and I were just little kids, and the post was a section cut from a heavy electrical pole. To sink this post, the required hole was deep and wide. To make matters even more difficult, the section was lying on a flatbed trailer and needed to be moved to the hole and dropped in place.

I looked at the hole, then the giant-sized post, then at my brother and then at my own hands. “This is will not happen,” I thought. My father looked at the pole, then at the hole, then at us. Lowering himself into a crouch beside the trailer, he said, “Roll it off on my back.”

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Prayers from the Quarantined Church – Day 10 – Dropping Weight

(Since we may be in this season for a longer period of time than 30 days, after praying it over, I’ll be posting a new prayer focus every day until most of us are back to the new normal. That is the reason that the “30 Days…” title has changed. Praying for you during this season. – DCG)

I read an article recently about a man who started on a seven-month, 7000-mile hike. He began along the Pacific Crest Trail (running from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington State) before connecting with the Continental Divide Trail (running along the backbone of the Rockies from Canada to Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico to the Mexican border). The hiker explained how he prepared the supplies that he carried with him in order to reduce overall weight.

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Prayers from the Quarantined Church – Day 9 – Take Up Your Cross

“Sometimes we must experience a death to our own vision before we can catch a glimpse of God’s perfect plan.”  –Dr. Don Rauniker

“If you knew you that today was your last day on earth, what would you do differently?” I’ve been asked that question at times, and I always tell people that I would want to live the day as well as I try to live out every other day. But I suppose that we would all live differently if we knew with certainty that today was our final day of life. 

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Prayers from the Quarantined Church – Day 8 – Big Cats, Fear and the Coronavirus

Not all things that make noise beside the path come down the path.
-Traditional African proverb

My grandfather loved to talk the Wampus Cat. We would listen wide-eyed as he wove tales of the massive, mythical, predatory cat. I learned that it’s big: “Once, I heard about a Wampus Cat carrying off an adult cow.” It’s fast: “He can outrun cars, so you can’t get away in one.” And it has some kind of special power over its prey: “If you look at his eyes, he will hypnotize you, your feet will stick to the ground, and you won’t be able to call for help.” As a small child, I had a healthy fear of the Wampus Cat because of the powers it was said to possess, but that wasn’t the most terrifying aspect.

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Prayers from the Quarantined Church – Day 7 – True Hope

Biblical hope is not wishful thinking, like “hoping” that it doesn’t rain during a baseball game, nor is it the power of positive thought: “think good thoughts and good will come to you.” To say that Biblical hope is either of those things is to make it less than it is. Biblical hope is a confident and favorable expectation of a future reality.

That sounds like a solid definition, but how does that play our in our everyday lives? Glad you asked.

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Prayers from the Quarantined Church – Day 6 – Hard Reset

A common reality of our digital age is that at certain times a device will require resetting. The problem can lie within the hardware of the device (the actual physical components) or the software (the programs and systems installed on the device). Sometimes the reset requires removing excess data or reinstalling a newer operating system. Often it is as simple as pressing a single button, and other times, an increasingly complex procedure must take place in order to restore the normal operation of the device. A reset may take time and may be disruptive, but when it is needed, nothing else will restore everything to its correct state.

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Prayers from the Quarantined Church – Day 5 – Tested Hearts

Proverbs 17:3 The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts.

1 Peter 1:6-7 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

A man watched a silversmith sitting quietly while he gazed at the molten metal in a crucible. As the flame steadily burned underneath the container, the smith would periodically skim the silver and remove the impurities that floated to the surface.

“When do you know that it is pure?” the man asked the silversmith.

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Prayers from the Quarantined Church – Day 4 – Togetherness

As COVID-19 spreads across our country, people are social-distancing more and more out of commonsense caution. Because of this, many families are finding that they are spending more time together, and with that comes more opportunities for families to invest in quality time with each other. And, if you are like most people in the modern age, time is at a premium.

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Some Helpful Resources During This Season

I have been trying to limit the flood of (often-conflicting) information that comes my way, not only for personal sanity, but also because I am seeking the best resources for my safety as well as the safety of those I lead.

These are some of the clearest and most-helpful sources for information I have found; these are the places I go for updates.

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Prayers from the Quarantined Church – Day 3 – It’s Not Persecution

A few months ago, one of the pastors on our staff and I were talking about the church culture in America. He said, “I think too many times we look at the church as one of multiple options we can engage in on any given Sunday morning. There are plenty of other things people could be doing during that time. Often, we operate as though “the church will always be there,” so we can falsely think that we can occupy that time with other things, knowing that, if we ever have a “real need” to go to church, it’s still there.”

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Prayers from the Quarantined Church – Day 2 – Who We Are, Not Where We Go

Many years ago, a man had grown upset with some things within his church. As a result, he made a choice to disconnect from other members and refused to be a part of any of the church’s gatherings. After a while, on a cold evening, one of the man’s friends knocked on his door. The disgruntled church member eyed him suspiciously and growled, “If you plan to try and convince me to come back, you are wasting your time.”

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Prayers from the Quarantined Church – Day 1 – Still Moments

Last Sunday, I arrived at our church’s campus a little earlier than I normally do. The parking lot was nearly vacant since we were hosting our service online, and as I stepped out of the car, I was struck by the stillness of the moment. I stood there for a long while, and just thought about everything that has happened in our nation over these weeks. We have seen both concern and panic, legitimate information and unhelpful rumors, public cooperation and partisan bickering. It has been a study of contrasts.

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