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Mt Airy North Carolina (NC)
The world has turned to us for more than twenty years for rare and antique Bibles and ancient Biblical materials.
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This is fictious, but I can imagine that old devil feels this way
What the Bible Says, Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
Read this and make a copy for your files in case you need to refer to it someday.
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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Christian organizations World Vision and Samaritan's Purse have deployed aid to Haiti after a powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the island nation on Saturday, killing at least 1,297 people.
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
Dr. David Vanderpool, the founder of LiveBeyond, explained how the organization is operating in the Caribbean country at the present time. Despite problems with food scarcity after the disaster, as well as the popularity of Voodoo practices in Haiti, Vanderpool said that "many Haitians with faith have turned to God more now than ever.”
A new Gallup survey reports that for the first time in American history, church membership nationwide has dropped below 50 percent. This past year has been a challenging one for pastors and churches. Although there are multiple factors that have contributed to decreased church attendance and membership, the Covid-19 pandemic has certainly brought them to a head. Consider these reasons that may factor into the decline: Government mandates and media: Having liberal governors and secular news media tell people for months on end that they should not to go to church has taken its toll. Some of the decrease in membership we're seeing is a result of the onerous activities of overreaching government and fear-mongering media. Broken homes: In our church, we have many single parents who are raising their family in church. I greatly respect them and thank the Lord for their faithfulness. But across our nation, as the fabric of the family is being torn apart, one staple of life that has fallen by the wayside is church attendance. Where there used to be continuity of values passed down to children through the family, now there is strife and sometimes even a ridiculing of those values. Secular humanism in education: After more than a generation of secular humanism being taught in public schools and universities, the unavoidable result is young people believing they don't need God. In fact, as you look at the church membership poll from Gallup, you see that while the majority of Baby Boomers and older are holding strong in church affiliation, the younger generations are seeing less of a need for God or church. Retiring leaders: Many pastors are retiring, and fewer younger men are responding to God's call to ministry. The two-fold result is that more churches are left without pastors and fewer new churches are being planted. The churches without a pastor struggle to sustain meaningful gospel outreach. Meanwhile cities around our nation are expanding, but church planting efforts are not even close to keeping up. Simply put, we need more young men to surrender their lives to preach the gospel and to train for soulwinning-based ministry. This is why we continue to train laborers for Christ at West Coast Baptist College.Laodicean church: It's no surprise that unsaved people would become less interested in things of God. The real grief is that churches, like the Laodicean church of Revelation 3:14–20, are lukewarm to the Lord and to the needs around them. In fact, it may be that the real story behind the decreasing church membership is decreasing gospel outreach. If fewer churches are passionately and strategically saturating their communities with the good news of Christ's death, burial, resurrection, and offer of salvation, it stands to reason that fewer people would be trusting Christ and following the Lord in baptism and church membership.So, considering the data and these contributing factors, why do I say that local churches can flourish in 2021? 1. The World Needs the Message We HaveThink of it this way. The first three factors—government mandates, broken homes, and secular humanism—are all reasons people need the Lord more than ever. You may remember a Gallup survey in December that revealed the only group of Americans whose mental health improved during the pandemic were those who attended church frequently. It may be that the decline in membership represents churches that didn't actually preach the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation from sin. Or it may be that churches that do preach that message have become less bold in doing so. In either case, the fact remains, Bible-believing churches still have the only message every person in this world needs. 2. The Lord Is Able to Revive His ChurchBut if the first three reasons point to a world that needs the Lord, the last two point to churches that need the Lord. Where we have become lukewarm in our zeal for Christ and sharing the gospel, we need to heed our Lord's words to the church at Laodicea and repent:And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:14–20)Could it be that fewer young people are surrendering their lives to gospel ministry because they are not exposed to a fervent faith?Could it be that when Bible-believing churches return to their first love for Christ that the young people in these churches will have a desire to invest their lives in that which will last for eternity? Could it be that our communities are full of people who would gladly respond to the message of the gospel if people from our churches would go into the community and share our faith? A Fox News article commenting on the below-majority church membership poll pointed out similar possibilities:The poll suggested that major factors in helping spiritual leaders regain some of that lost membership included “spiritual programs geared toward children and teenagers, community outreach and volunteer opportunities, and dynamic leaders were also factors in their attendance.”“A focus on some of these factors may also help local church leaders encourage people who share their faith to join their church.”3. We Live in the Perfect Moment to Declare the GospelI believe that God has allowed this past year with the Coronavirus pandemic, in part, to expose our need for Him and for His power in ministry. I also believe that there are people in every city in whose heart the Holy Spirit is already working (Acts 20:23) and who will respond to the gospel if you and I will share it.Because our world needs the gospel and because the Holy Spirit will empower Christians to witness (Acts 1:8), gospel-preaching churches can flourish regardless of the cultural religious apathy of our day. So, I encourage you, pastor, preach the gospel this Sunday. People need the Lord. There are plenty of news articles to discourage you. There are statistics to distract you. But you have a message this world needs. Lift up Christ!And I encourage you, Christian, share the gospel this week. Don't let the media tell you the world is hopeless. You and I serve a risen Savior who gives hope and renewed purpose for living. And you and I know Him and can introduce others to Him. The church can flourish if we will, in the power of the Holy Spirit, declare the gospel.____________If you would like to be encouraged in both motivation and methods for declaring the gospel in this moment of history, I invite you to join us October 3–6, 2021, for Spiritual Leadership Conference here in Lancaster, California. Our theme for this year's conference is “Declare the Gospel.” Every service and every session will be centered on Christ and the why and how to share the good news of His death, burial, and resurrection. Additionally, we have added some afternoon opportunities to connect and collaborate with every conference speaker as well as the staff of Lancaster Baptist Church. I believe this will be the most encouraging and equipping Spiritual Leadership Conference we have ever had. I hope you will join us.
As the COVID-19 situation begins to overwhelm the healthcare system in India, Christian humanitarian aid organizations have deployed aid to the nation.
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