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Thanks to Pastor Edgar Carlisle for sharing this.
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
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Tiny baby Lucas was born 16 weeks premature and weighed 1lb 6oz – roughly the same weight as a loaf of bread. Lucas's parents, Allan and Laura, from Skipton found out about him 22 weeks into the pregnancy. When Lucas was born prematurely at 24 weeks, on 24 June 2021, the challenges he would face […]The post Miracle Baby Born at 24 Weeks Weighed as Much as a Loaf of Bread. Now He’s Doing Great appeared first on LifeNews.com.
Mohammad el-Halabi has refused plea deals that would “pollute” the image of Christian aid organization, lawyer says.Mohammad el-Halabi believes the truth will set him free.The former Gaza director of World Vision has now spent more than half a decade in prison, and according to his lawyer, the Israeli government has offered him plea deal after plea deal. He could potentially go home if he would only confess that funding for the Christian humanitarian aid organization was diverted to support terrorism.But Halabi has refused.“He is saying he will not admit to things he never did,” Maher Hanna, who represents Halabi, told CT. “He will not pollute the image of World Vision just to get a personal discount and go home to be with his children.”Hanna, himself a Christian, said this is one of the remarkable things about this case that has not been noted in the international headlines: A Muslim man who worked for a Christian organization is refusing, under severe pressure and at great personal risk, to betray one of the largest evangelical charities in the world and harm its future work.“We should admire that position that Muhammad is taking for himself. It’s a high Christian value,” Hanna said.Close observers and insiders say Halabi’s trial looks like it will conclude this fall. The Israeli court could reach a verdict as early as this month.The case has been making its way through the Israeli justice system—tediously and obscurely—since Halabi was arrested by the state security service while attempting to pass through the Erez checkpoint between Gaza and Israel on June 15, 2016.Halabi was subsequently accused of using his position with World Vision to aid Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist militant group that has governed Gaza since 2007. Israeli officials allege he was diverting funds meant ...Continue reading...
Mohammad el-Halabi has refused plea deals that would “pollute” the image of Christian aid organization, lawyer says.Mohammad el-Halabi believes the truth will set him free.The former Gaza director of World Vision has now spent more than half a decade in prison, and according to his lawyer, the Israeli government has offered him plea deal after plea deal. He could potentially go home if he would only confess that funding for the Christian humanitarian aid organization was diverted to support terrorism.But Halabi has refused.“He is saying he will not admit to things he never did,” Maher Hanna, who represents Halabi, told CT. “He will not pollute the image of World Vision just to get a personal discount and go home to be with his children.”Hanna, himself a Christian, said this is one of the remarkable things about this case that has not been noted in the international headlines: A Muslim man who worked for a Christian organization is refusing, under severe pressure and at great personal risk, to betray one of the largest evangelical charities in the world and harm its future work.“We should admire that position that Muhammad is taking for himself. It’s a high Christian value,” Hanna said.Close observers and insiders say Halabi’s trial looks like it will conclude this fall. The Israeli court could reach a verdict as early as this month.The case has been making its way through the Israeli justice system—tediously and obscurely—since Halabi was arrested by the state security service while attempting to pass through the Erez checkpoint between Gaza and Israel on June 15, 2016.Halabi was subsequently accused of using his position with World Vision to aid Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist militant group that has governed Gaza since 2007. Israeli officials allege he was diverting funds meant ...Continue reading...
Almost fifty years after Roe v. Wade, abortion remains the moral issue in American public discourse and politics.There are very few profiles in courage in American politics. This seems especially true when it comes to the defense of unborn life. The political predicament of a pro-life politician is this – the political class and the New York-Hollywood-Silicon Valley axis reward those who abandon pro-life positions and condemn those who refuse to surrender.A particularly important profile in moral collapse now resides in the White House. The story of President Joe Biden’s slippery shape-shifting on the abortion issue is both revealing and horrifying.Brace yourself.In response to the law in Texas that outlaws abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, the fury of the Democratic Party and its national leadership has reached new levels of apoplexy.The fury has been predictable given the state of the Democratic Party and its commitment to abortion on demand. On Thursday and Friday of last week, President Joe Biden made comments condemning the law, calling it “un-American” and ambiguously described “whole of government” efforts to oppose the Texas legislation.The president, however, made another statement that deserves particular attention. For decades, Joe Biden rooted his views on abortion in his constantly repeated identity as a “devout Roman Catholic.” He routinely describes himself as Catholic, and has repeatedly affirmed his agreement with Catholic doctrine affirming the absolute sanctity of unborn human life. The central contradiction of Joe Biden’s public persona is that he has constantly claimed Catholic identity and “persona” [sic] pro-life convictions, while refusing to defend unborn life with any legislative consistency. From the beginning, he has opposed national efforts to reverse Roe v. Wade, which was handed down by the Supreme Court the very year that Joe Biden joined the United States Senate.This is important – Joe Biden has made clear, more than once, that he personally believes life begins at conception.Until last Friday, that is, when, in condemning the Texas law, President Biden said: “I respect those who believe that life begins at conception – I respect that. Don’t agree but I respect that.”With those words, President Biden, the “devout Roman Catholic,” threw the doctrine and teaching of the Roman Catholic Church out the window. Those of us who have been watching the moral collapse of Joe Biden knew this moment had to come. It came just days ago, but the story of Biden’s surrender to the radical pro-abortion position has been progressing over decades, slowly, and then suddenly.Tracing the “evolution” of President Biden’s view on abortion is vital for understanding our present moral crisis. The chronicle of his views on the sanctity of life encapsulates the trajectory of the Democratic Party. It tells us about the worldview divide in the United States. It tells us a great deal about where we are as a nation and how easily a politician’s convictions can evaporate in seconds.Consider this timeline:1972Joe Biden, who identified as a devout Roman Catholic, ran for the United States Senate from Delaware. Biden’s Roman Catholic identity largely shielded him from questions about abortion. His election to the Senate came a year before the moral convulsion of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.1976In the wake of Roe v. Wade in 1973, a bipartisan group of law makers gathered around what became known as the Hyde Amendment, which prevented the federal funding of abortions. The central issue was the understanding that American taxpayers, millions holding pro-life convictions, should not be forced by taxation to pay for abortions. Joe Biden supported this Amendment, voting for it in 1976. For context, the Hyde Amendment in 1976 did not carve out exemptions for rape or incest. He held this position supporting for forty-five years—that is until he didn’t. Biden bragged constantly about his principled defense of the Hyde Amendment. But, as we shall see, all that changed within 24 hours in June of 2019, when Biden knew he had to reverse his position if he had any chance of gaining the 2020 Democratic nomination.1977Senator Joe Biden voted against allowing Medicaid to fund abortions in the event of rape or incest.1981Joe Biden voted for a Constitutional amendment process that would have allowed states to overturn Roe v. Wade. He later described that vote as, “The single most difficult vote I’ve cast as a US Senator.” In that same year, he reaffirmed his opposition to federal funding of abortion in the cases of rape or incest. NPR News reported that Biden was “one of just two Democratic senators from the Northeast to vote to end federal funding for abortion for victims of rape and incest.”1982Joe Biden’s view shifted. A year after voting for the constitutional amendment that would have allowed states to overturn Roe, he reversed his vote. He cast a vote against the same constitutional amendment that he voted for in 1981.1983As a Senator, Joe Biden voted against allowing federal employees to use health insurance to pay for abortions.1986Senator Biden told the Catholic Diocese Newspaper, “Abortion is wrong from the moment of conception.” NBC News also reported that he “seemed to offer the National Conference of Catholic Bishops moral support in pushing for limits, noting that the most effective pro-life groups are those who keep trying to push back the frontier.” Speaking of that frontier, Senator Biden said, “I think medical science is moving the frontier back so that by the year 2000, we’re going to have more and more pressure, and rightfully so in my view, of moving back further and further the circumstances under which an abortion can be had.”1987After a scandal erupted over Biden’s use of a British politician’s speech, he withdrew from the race for the 1988 Democratic Party presidential nomination. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden orchestrates the effort to reject President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of a conservative legal scholar, Judge Robert Bork, to the Supreme Court. Biden facilitates the opposition to Bork, citing the need to defend abortion rights and other court precedents.1994Senator Biden wrote a letter to his constituents regarding a debate over the Clinton administration’s healthcare proposals. He bragged that on no fewer than “fifty occasions,” he voted against federal funding of abortion. He said, as a matter of principle, “Those of us who are opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them.”2006Still in the United States Senate, Joe Biden told CNN that he was the odd man out among Democrats on the issue of abortion. He explained that he did support bans on abortion later in pregnancy, and he supported a ban on federal funding for abortions. He said, “I do not vote for federal funding for abortion. I voted against partial birth abortion to limit it, and I vote for no restrictions on a woman’s right to be able to have an abortion under Roe v. Wade. I made everybody angry. I made the right angry because I won’t support a Constitutional amendment or limitations on a woman’s right to exercise their Constitutional right as defined by Roe v. Wade, and I’ve made the women’s groups and others very angry because I won’t support public funding and I won’t support partial birth.”Here, we see then Senator Biden trying to situate himself as a thoughtful moderate—a middleman not beholden to either side in the abortion debate. Of course, this posture, cast as political courage, just serves to underline the contradictions in Biden’s position.2007Biden published his New York Times bestselling book, Promises to Keep, which anticipated his run for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States in 2008. He described himself as personally opposed to abortion and middle-of-the-road. He stated, “I refuse to impose my beliefs on other people.” That language was the common moral evasion offered by politicians who supported abortion but claimed a religious identity that was pro-life. Figures such as Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, New York Governor Mario Cuomo, and many others, repeated this argument constantly. Liberal Catholic politicians tried to thread the needle of remaining faithful to Catholic doctrine while, on the other hand, satisfying their political base. To do this, the refrain of “not imposing my personal beliefs” became constant. But where is the consistency in believing that abortion is a grave moral evil and yet defending it as a “constitutional right?”In Promises to Keep, Biden held to the belief that life is sacred and that abortion is wrong, but he said that he refuses to impose that view on others. He described, in his book, an exchange between himself and another senator in an elevator. Biden wrote of himself, “Well, my position is that I personally am opposed to abortion, but I don’t think I have the right to impose my view on something I accept as a matter of faith on the rest of society. I’ve thought a lot about it and my position probably doesn’t please anyone. I think government should stay out completely.”The Senator responded to Biden, suggesting that Biden’s view was nonsensical and politically unhelpful, to which Biden quipped:“Well, I will not vote to overturn the court’s decision. I will not vote to curtail a woman’s right to choose abortion, but I will also not vote to use federal funds to fund abortion. . . . Yeah, everybody will be upset with me, except me. I’m intellectually and morally comfortable with my position. . . . I’ve made life difficult for myself by putting intellectual consistency and personal principles above expediency. I’m perfectly able to take the politically expedient way on issues that don’t seem fundamental, especially when a colleague I trust needs help, but by and large, I follow my own nose and I make no apologies for being difficult to pigeonhole.”In a way that should have been embarrassing, Biden presented himself in this autobiography as a paragon of moral courage—he claimed to live by intellectual consistency above political expediency. Nothing could have been further from the truth.2008When it comes to the abortion debate, the fundamental question everyone must answer is this: When does human life begin? The only consistent answer to that is from the moment of fertilization, and, in 2008, Joe Biden said, “I’m prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life beings at the moment of conception.”Upon reflection, those words, however, meant something different than what many Catholics and virtually all evangelical Christians would mean. Biden rooted his belief regarding the sanctity of life in his own personal faith, not in any absolute truth. For Biden, as a matter of faith clearly meant not as a matter of policy.2015Now serving as vice-president of the United States, Joe Biden gave an interview to America Magazine, a prominent Catholic periodical. The interviewer, Matt Malone, asked the vice-president about positions that he held which collided with the bishops, especially on issues like abortion. Oddly, Malone asked, “Has that been hard for you?”Biden responded, “It has been, it’s been hard in one sense because I’m prepared to accept de fide doctrine on a whole range of issues as a Catholic, even though, as you know, Aquinas argued about in his Summa Theologica, about human life and being when it occurs. I’m prepared to accept as a matter of faith—my wife and I, my family—the issue of abortion, but what I’m not prepared to do is impose a precise view that is born out of my faith on other people who are equally God-fearing, equally as committed to life, equally as committed to the sanctity of life. I’m prepared to say that to other God-fearing, non-God-fearing people that have a different view.”This was quintessential Biden. Here, he continues to try to thread the political needle. He tries to affirm his belief in the de fide doctrine of his church regarding abortion and the sanctity of human life. De fide, by the way, means an absolute doctrine of faith. To disagree with de fide doctrine is oppose official doctrine. Thus, while Biden attempts to position himself as in line with his church’s teaching, he also states that he will not use public policy to defend that view, even when the issue at stake is nothing less than human life.2019At this point, things for Joe Biden move quickly as he tries to keep up with the pro-abortion progression of his own party. By 2016, the Democratic platform had called for the elimination of the Hyde Amendment and for opposition to any restriction on abortion.In a crucial 24-hour period, with Biden’s chance at the 2020 nomination slipping away, he reversed himself in a 180-degree turn. His supposed stand on conviction just evaporated. On June 5, 2019, Joe Biden reaffirmed his commitment to the Hyde Amendment. Twenty-four hours later on June 6, Joe Biden did a complete turn. He said, “If I believe healthcare is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s zip code.”In other words, even as Biden had claimed intellectual consistency over political expediency, he surrendered a nearly fifty-year-old core conviction—and he did so, to be clear, because he so desperately wanted the 2020 nomination. Once it became clear that he would not be allowed within 100 yards of the Democratic nomination for president while clinging to Hyde, he sang a different tune, coming out as aggressively opposed to the Hyde Amendment.2021Biden ran in the election on a radically pro-abortion agenda and has made good on his promises. In 2021, he issued a series of executive orders such as striking down the Mexico City Policy, which limited American funds used for abortions and abortion advocacy overseas. He reinstated Title X funding for Planned Parenthood. He seeks the repeal of they [sic] Hyde Amendment and fully supports a taxpayer funded system for abortions on demand. His presidential appointments, ranging across the government and the judiciary, have been predictably “progressive.”Then, last Friday, came Biden’s final act of surrender.On September 3rd, 2021, Joe Biden stated, “I respect those who believe life begins at the moment of conception. I respect that—don’t agree—but I respect that.”So much for courage and conviction. So much for resisting the headwinds of political expediency. A half-century career of stating that life begins at conception and that the American taxpayer should not be forced into paying for abortions is now gone. This was a spectacular reversal on a fundamental issue of morality.This sad story is not just about an American politician’s compromise. It is not even just the story of an American president and his political “evolution.”The story of Joe Biden raises important questions we all must answer: How will we define when human life begins? Will we stand upon that conviction, no matter the cost?Our answer to those questions is, make no mistake, a matter of life or death.Republished with permission from AlbertMohler.comR. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as the ninth president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the author of numerous books including The Gathering Storm. His podcast The Briefing offers a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
by Phil Johnson Note (31 Aug 2021):I wrote this post last year to answer some evangelical critics who insisted that our church could easily follow all government-mandated shutdown protocols without sacrificing our freedoms or compromising our worship. Almost as soon as I posted it, the attorneys handling the church's court case asked us to refrain from discussing the case online—to make sure the legal argument they were making did not get clouded by a social-media debate. So I removed the post. Now that the legal case has been settled, here is that information. Internal links will take you to documentation that proves what an impossible burden the government-mandated restrictions imposed on the church. (This is kind of long. Pack a lunch.) For the past eight weeks or longer, Sunday morning worship services at Grace Community Church have been open to anyone who wants to attend. John MacArthur and the elders made that fact as public as possible in a statement they issued on July 24, saying they would continue to have normal worship services despite a July 13 edict from the California Governor ordering churches to close again after a brief respite from the original quarantine. The most common question sent to me about the elders' position is, "Why not just avoid conflict with the government by downsizing your congregation, meeting outdoors, and following the simple masks-and-social-distancing guidelines?" For those who have ears to hear, the elders' statement itself gives a carefully reasoned answer to that question. I've explained how and why my own thinking changed on the relative weight of Romans 13:2 vs. Acts 5:29 as those texts apply to the church's current circumstances. I've also answered a number of honest questions about the elders' statement here on the blog. But there is a small group of ill-tempered cyberhecklers who endlessly Tweet and retweet variations of the same protestation: "Why not just comply with the government's guidelines? You could easily do that if you were willing to have your worship services outdoors with masks and social distancing." For readers who still aren't sure of our answers to that question, this blogpost is a compendium of my replies. A few splenetic people (the kind who put the "Twit" in Twitter) have been relentlessly posting shrill criticisms of Grace Church's decision to stay open for congregational worship in spite of the California Governor's edicts ordering church doors closed. All the criticisms we get echo the same basic claims—namely, that the shutdown hasn't resulted in any actual "persecution" of churches, just inconvenience; that the Governor's orders don't really "target" churches, because they apply to sporting events and concerts as well; and that Grace Church would be perfectly free to meet and worship as a congregation if the elders would simply enforce the experts' guidelines for social distancing and keep everyone outdoors. Some typical examples: Here's a guy, for example, who Tweets, "The Church is free 2 meet in California. Not restricted. Truth matters." That Tweet was accompanied by more than 75 additional Tweets from the same Twitter account in 48 hours' time, all sharply critical of Grace Church's elders' decision. Another person likewise insists that "churches are free to meet in California, provided they comply with social distancing rules re: masking and not singing. . . Those are facts." There is also a persistent stream of people who want to dispute whether there's any element of persecution in the constraints California officials have placed on worship. More noisome foes of the elders' position have gone even further, challenging the fundamental integrity of John MacArthur and the elders, or imputing evil motives to them for wanting the church to meet. Some of our critics have seized the opportunity to vent accusations of greed, racism, pride—or whatever nasty bitterness they might have stored up in their hearts. I'm not surprised that we would get criticism. But I am somewhat surprised that the most angry, ill-tempered, accusatory—even imprecatory— remarks have come from within the evangelical community. Some preliminary comments So before I deal with the central question, let me clarify some facts the critics tend to misconstrue. First, the elders' statement gave a clear and simple reason why the church is continuing to meet—namely, that the State has no legitimate authority to determine what churches teach or how they worship. The document's key sentence is italicized for emphasis on page 1: "God has not granted civic rulers authority over the doctrine, practice, or polity of the church." Christ is the Lord of the church, and he mediates his rule in the church through duly qualified elders. Open-ended executive orders from State officials dictating how, when, or whether the church can meet for worship overstep the bounds of Caesar's authority. That is the whole argument we are making. It doesn't hinge on the question of whether the government's restrictions qualify as "persecution" or not. Our protest is not because we think there's something sacrosanct about the church building. We have not refused to hold services outdoors. We erected the largest tent available in the church parking lot, and it has been filled with worshipers every Sunday morning. Our refusal to limit attendance is not driven by any of the crass motives some pathologically cynical critics have ascribed to Grace's elders. Second, the elders of Grace Church would not flippantly or injudiciously defy a legitimate government-imposed quarantine if it were clear that a deadly pestilence posed a real and present threat to life and well-being in our community. By "legitimate," I mean a quarantine with 1) a well-defined, quantifiable objective; 2) trustworthy monitoring and honest reporting from qualified health officials; and 3) well-considered restrictions that are impartially enforced in every public gathering. In other words, every event that draws a crowd, including political protests, would have to be treated even-handedly. Not one of those conditions is being met in the current shutdown.The stated goal when the quarantine was announced in March was "15 days to flatten the curve." It quickly morphed into a months-long stay-at-home order. Here in California, that phase, in turn, became an "indefinite" lockdown that now threatens to keep schools, businesses, and churches closed through the Fall season and beyond. Given the early cancellation of the Rose Parade on New Year's Day, there's little doubt our political overlords have every intention of not allowing life to return to normal for the remainder of the calendar year—if ever.The "science" behind the predictions that started the pandemic panic turned out to be false and absurdly fluid. The model that originally motivated so many world leaders to shut down their economies and put their people under quarantine was grossly wrong in virtually every prediction it made. Most experts admit that the data being reported on the spread of the virus even now is untrustworthy. The majority of them signed a letter in support of the "Black Lives Matter" mass protests, saying "we do not condemn these gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission." The nation's top infectious disease expert has admitted to lying to the American public about the effectiveness of masks. California's top public health official quit this week because the computer system used to gather statistics was hopelessly faulty. There is no rational reason to trust the fear-mongering spin that politicians and the media continue to put on coronavirus statistics.When large crowds of angry protestors are permitted free reign to gather in the streets and spawn riotous behavior (often with support and encouragement from the same government officials who say they intend to keep lockdown restrictions in place indefinitely), that's not a legitimate quarantine.Third, for context, remember that the State of California and others have consistently categorized churches as non-essential while keeping liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries, casinos, and abortion clinics open for business as usual. Perhaps no institution is more vital during a time of fear and uncertainty than a church where the gospel is preached. We wouldn't necessarily expect an increasingly secular government to recognize or celebrate that fact, but we do expect American officials to safeguard our unalienable, God-given rights to freedom of worship and assembly. They are sworn to uphold the U. S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The fact that they have not done so is perhaps the most telling sign that religious liberty in the United States is indeed being threatened. Fourth, I might also mention the fact that hardened felons are being released from prison lest they risk being infected with COVID-19. Recidivism in the wake of that experiment has already exacted a costly toll. It is also well known that political demonstrations have been held in various places around Southern California every day since June, and no legal pressure has been put on participants to abide by social-distancing guidelines. In fact, some of the same experts and officials who insist severe restrictions are absolutely necessary for the rest of us have winked at or encouraged the protests. Meanwhile, pastors holding regular worship services are routinely hectored by public officials and threatened with legal action. Back to the original question: Here's my reply to those who wonder why we don't simply accept the restrictions and alter our worship services accordingly in order to comply as much as possible with the quarantine restrictions. The list that follows is taken from official guidelines that have been issued for places of worship in California. You'll find those documents linked below. (If you can't find where a specific bullet point can be documented, email me or comment below, and I'll give you specifics. I didn't want to clutter this list with references.) So here is a short list of just some of the things that our Governor's edict and the State of California's current guidelines would require of us: All "indoor operations" must close and remain closed indefinitely.Congregants must pre-register in order to come on campus. They are not permitted on campus at all except during scheduled events.Attendees must be screened for symptoms and have their temperature taken as they come onto campus.Everyone at all times must remain at least 6 feet away from anyone else who is not a household member. (That applies to the tent, the parking lot, restrooms, and the open areas of our campus.)Maximum occupancy of the tent is therefore determined by how many people can stand or sit inside the tent with a six-foot radius around each family group, with extra space allocated for aisles. We have the largest available tent that will fit in our parking lot. (The tent is 20,000 sq. ft.) At most, it can hold 350-400 people with social distancing. That's not even a tenth of our congregation.Attendees must therefore be counted as they come onto campus, and once the maximum occupancy of the tent is reached (400 people), anyone else who comes must be turned away.Every other parking space must be closed in order to maintain social distancing even in the parking lots.There must be marked, designated pathways from the parking lots to the tent. Staff members must be positioned along those pathways to remind people to maintain social distancing and stay masked at all times.Everyone who attends must wear a mask at all times, and anyone who comes within six feet of a maskless non-household member should self-quarantine for two weeks.Children are required to stay with their parents at all times and not intrude on the six-foot radius of non-household members. "Children should remain in the care of those in their household unit and not interact with children of other parties at any time while visiting facilities. [The church must] close play areas and discontinue activities and services for children where physical distancing of at least six feet cannot be maintained."Restrooms must be guarded by a monitor—a staff member tasked with making sure the six-foot rule isn't violated and that everyone who enters stays masked. (If those standards are strictly followed, most of our restrooms will accommodate only one person at a time.)Tape must be laid out on the ground outside the restroom to indicate where people in the queue should stand in order to maintain social distancing.Congregants should be encouraged to use the restroom during the service to minimize the rush before and after the service.Hand sanitizer must be provided at places around the campus. (We do that already.) In addition, all surfaces in high traffic areas must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected throughout the day. That includes "lobbies, halls, chapels, meeting rooms, offices, libraries, and study areas and areas of ingress and egress including stairways, stairwells, handrails, and elevator controls. . . . [also] doorknobs, toilets, handwashing facilities, pulpits and podiums, donation boxes or plates, altars, and pews and seating areas."Hymnbooks, seat cushions, offering plates, communion trays, and any other shared items are not to be used at all.If there is more than one service, disposable seat covers must be provided and changed between services.Signs must be posted at all entrances reminding people to wear masks, maintain social distancing, and go home if they are sick. Additional signs must be posted around the campus forbidding hugs and handshakes. And still more signs must be placed in the restrooms reminding people to wash their hands frequently and with soap—for at least 20 seconds each time.A list of all rules governing behavior for attendees must be posted on social media so that people can be informed of these restrictions before they come for worship.Church services must be "shortened to limit time spent at the site." (The guidelines aren't specific about the amount of time that must be shaved from our services.)The entire campus must be closed to the public when the service ends.If three people from the church test positive for COVID-19, church staff must report that to the Department of Health. The State will then send a representative to come and give us additional instructions on how to respond. To that guy who Tweeted that churches in California are "free 2 meet . . . Not Restricted"—and then had the chutzpah to add, "Truth matters," my answer is that I don't believe truth really matters very much at all to someone who is as militantly determined as he is to perpetuate that false narrative. To that guy who Tweeted that churches in California are "free 2 meet . . . Not Restricted"—and then had the chutzpah to add, "Truth matters," my answer is that I don't believe truth really matters very much at all to someone who is as militantly determined as he is to perpetuate that false narrative. To those who have had questions of conscience regarding the position our church has taken, I hope this information is helpful. Professing Christians who bow to tyranny under these circumstances are setting a bad precedent. It will be very hard for them to justify the position the Apostles took in Acts 5:29 when they finally realize that is what they need to do. And finally, for anyone seeking my sources, here are some of the documents issued by various government agencies listing restrictions for places of worship in California: From the California Department of Public Health, Health and Human Services Agency: "Statewide Public Health Officer Order," July 13, 2020. This was Governor Newsom's edict renewing and tightening the restrictions of his stay-at-home order after Californians had enjoyed a few days' respite from the original quarantine."COVID-19 INDUSTRY GUIDANCE: Places of Worship and Providers of Religious Services and Cultural Ceremonies"—from the California Department of Public Health.COVID-19 FAQ—from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health."Protocol for Places of Worship: Appendix F"—from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. No end to these draconian restrictions is anywhere in sight. The Governor says, "These closures shall remain in effect until I determine it is appropriate to modify the order." We answer: "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge" (Acts 4:19). God's Word says, "Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:24-25). "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). Phil's signature
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