It Could All Fall Apart and That is Ok

There is something about me that always wants to be in control. If I am sick, I want to outlearn the disease and overcome it. If relationships start to fail, I want to be able to charm them back to life. We all desire control. I think this is why we buy into so many fad diets promising snake-oil results. I do not say this as a judgment on eating right; it is a wise thing to do, but how much of it stems from the desire to bend reality to fit our ideals. If there is something I can do, then it is something I can control. “I am the master of my ship.” This desire to govern this world has even found its way into Christian circles. “If you can muster enough faith, all will go right. Positive thoughts create positive results.” The problem is, it is not true. We could do all of this, and it could still fall apart. We are not the masters our destinies.

The storm around me reminds me of this. I realize, with every peal of thunder, that I am not the center of the universe. When it comes to orchestrating the master plan for creation, I am no more special than the other 7 billion people on the planet. We all tend to live as if we are, but it is a delusion. You and I could come into contact with something in this fallen world that could end our lives within a matter of days, and there is nothing we could do about it.

Once we are gone, our co-workers would remember us and then replace us. Sure, they may even put up a picture for a few years to commemorate our contribution, but they would be able to continue without us. Our demise would most likely hit our family the hardest, but our children would move on with their lives just like we would want them to. Even the one we love, if the Lord wills, would find someone else to love and with whom to share the rest of their life.

I do not like to think about these things, but it is good. It reminds me that the world is not yet the way it should be, so I should not put my trust and hope in it. There is something eternal that deserves my devotion and attention. Something else should be my refuge.

Though the storm swells around me, I have found salvation in the cleft of the rock: Christ Jesus. All the sins that caused me to be fearful of God have been forgiven. The great and righteous judge of the universe has reconciled me to Himself through the cross. Yes, I, a sinner, am a friend of God. In fact, He calls me His child.

One of the problems is that we often interpret being a child of God to mean that we are now co-sovereigns with Him, but that is not the case. When the omnipotent God makes us His child, He does not stop being God. He does not hand us the reigns of the universe. Instead, He continues right on with His plan, and we should be grateful.

What tends to bother us, is that He still keeps much of his plan hidden. The hidden things belong to the Lord (Deuteronomy 29:29). His judgments and ways are past finding out, and none of us have been his counselor (Romans 11:34). He has not told us everything He is doing. He is operating in a fallen world in a multitude of ways that are unseen and unknown to us, but He has given us some revelation. One of the things revealed is that he will return and set all things right. We sometimes complain that He has not done it yet, but it is His patience that causes Him tarry (2 Peter 3:9). If it were not for His patience, none of us would be saved. The day He returns in glory will be a day of great trembling and delight for His child, but it will be a day of terror for those who do not know Him. Though we should desire His return, it is not something we should rush because he is still gathering his people.

Our salvation involves so much more than what we are currently experiencing, and even creation groans waiting for the sons of God to be revealed (Romans 8:19-23). Though we are to strive to give people a glimpse of glory in this life, it is only a dim reflection. We cannot place all our hope in what we are experiencing now. He has given us the Holy Spirit, and we know this is a guarantee of what is to come, but what we are experiencing now, in this life, is not the consummation of our salvation.

Everything could fall apart. The darkest things imaginable could happen, except one: that He would lose one of us who have been saved by faith and fail to complete the work He has begun in us. We will see Jesus face to face in all of His glory. One day, all believers will inhabit a place without sickness, without tears, and without death. A place where it can no longer come undone, but this is not it.

If we think that everything must fall into place right now for our salvation to be real and our faith to be true, we have a short-sighted view of both salvation and faith, and our understanding of God is too small. True faith will trust God even if He does not do what we want Him to do immediately. What He is doing is bigger and better than what we could ever imagine, even if we don’t fully understand it. One day the hidden things will be revealed, and we will stand in awestruck wonder at the wisdom of His plan. No matter how dark and painful it gets, children of God win in the end because we will stand in the presence of Jesus. It could all fall apart, and that’s OK. Deep and abiding faith in God has the ability to look at the worst possible scenario and still see our Lord’s goodness. From there, nothing we face can cause us to fear. God has not ceased being God, and he will be faithful to His promises. He is conforming us to his image and he will bring us home.

For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. – Isaiah 54:10

D. Eaton

Coronavirus in Light of Psalm 93 [Video]

I recently wrote a post with this same title, but today, I took the time to do something I have not done in a long time; record a new Youtube video. Psalm 93 recently ministered to me as I read it, and scripture says to comfort others as you have been comforted, so I wanted to put it to video as well.

I pray you are doing well, and that the Lord is drawing you closer to his side during this distressing time.

-D. Eaton

Coronavirus in Light of Psalm 93

If we withhold the doctrine of the sovereignty of God while discussing coronavirus, we withhold one of the most precious balms of comfort for the Christian found in the word of God. Scripture does not shrink back from showing us God’s sovereign rule amid distress, and neither should we. We indeed only have two choices when it comes to the evils besetting us in covid-19, either our Lord is still in control, or something else is, and he is doing the best he can to manage the situation and turn it for our good. The latter would be an appalling reality because God would no longer be God, and we would have no reason to take comfort. Psalm 93 is an excellent place to find real comfort, especially if we read it in light of the multiple distresses that are coming our way due to coronavirus.

The Reign of God

1. The Lord reigns; he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed; he has put on strength as his belt.
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

The first two verses of this short psalm begin by focusing our attention on the attributes of God, primarily as they relate to his sovereign reign. It does not matter what we may face, his throne is established, and his eternal decree orders all things.

He is robed in majesty. Sovereignty is his garment. He is the supreme authority over all things, and He has put on strength as his belt. The belt that holds his rule in place is his power. His omnipotence can never be thwarted. No sin of man, no deadly virus, or any other calamity can ever diminish his perfections. He reigns on high.

Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. The world will stand as long as our Father wants it to stand. Humanity will endure as long as he sees fit. Even considering covid-19, the planet continues orbiting the sun and spins with perfection upon its axis, all because of our Father’s established rule.

2 Your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting.

His throne is established from of old; He is from everlasting. We may not have been paying much attention to it before now, but once a microscopic particle altered our lives, we began looking around for meaning. Our minds were turned to thoughts of our frailty and his strength. As Charles Spurgeon put it, though he may now appear in more conspicuous sovereignty, He is no upstart sovereignty. He is from everlasting. The Lord is eternal, and so are his glorious attributes.

Coronavirus Lifts Its Voice

3 The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
the floods have lifted up their voice;
the floods lift up their roaring.

The floods have lifted up, O Lord. We saw it first when a few people began to get sick and and some of them die. Then it began to spread, and the number of those infected began to grow. The whole world began to pay attention to the rising tide.

The floods have lifted up their voice. We heard its shouts of conquest as it began to conquer one country after another. Victory after victory, as it shut down enterprise after enterprise and sent people running for the cover of their homes.

The floods lift up their roaring. The market crashed, employment rates crumbled, and grocery stores were depleted. The sound of the roar sent anxiety and distress deep into the heart of nations as wave after wave was announced in real-time on the news and in social media.

God is More Mighty than the Virus

4 Mightier than the thunders of many waters,
mightier than the waves of the sea,
the Lord on high is mighty!

As we trembled before the tempest, we were reminded that there is one who is more mighty. The Lord can restrain it. His knowledge and power are far greater than that of any enemy. He can bring it to an end in an instant if he so chooses. He is the Almighty. This truth also means he could have prevented it if he had desired, but he did not. His ways are higher than ours.

5 Your decrees are very trustworthy;
holiness befits your house,
O Lord, forevermore.

His Decrees are very trustworthy. What he chooses to do is right, even if we do not fully understand. His word stands unmoved. His promises do not waiver amid chaos. We are to build our house on the rock, and when the waves crash upon it, it will stand. He is trustworthy.

Holiness befits his houseO Lord forevermore. All he does is good, and even the distress we face is for the good of those who love him. God is light, and in him, there is no darkness at all. As he wears the robe of majesty, the only proper adornment of his house is holiness. It is his beauty and splendor. It is also the only ornament appropriate for his people. Through the tumult, he is orchestrating it all to conform us to his image and adorn us in a similar beauty. He will complete the work he has begun in us, and we never need to fear because his reign will never end. He is the Lord forevermore.

-D. Eaton

Christian, All These Things Are For You

We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. -Romans 8:28

Oh truth most divine. Oh words most consolatory! All things under the government of an infinitely great, all wise, righteous, and beneficent God, work together for good. What that good may be, the shape it may assume, the complexion it may wear, the end to which it may be subservient–we cannot tell. To our dim view it may appear an evil, but to God’s far seeing eye it is a positive good. His glory secured by it, and His end accomplished–we are sure it must be good.

How many whose eye traces this page, it may be whose tears dampen it, whose sighs breathe over it, whose prayers hallow it, may be wading in deep waters, may be drinking bitter cups, and are ready to exclaim, “All these things are against me!”

Oh no, beloved of God, all these things are for you! “The Lord sits upon the flood.” “The voice of the Lord is upon the waters.” “He makes the clouds His chariot.”

Be not then afraid. Calmly stay your faith on this divinely assured truth, that “all things work together for good to those who love God.” Will it not be a good, if your present adversity results in the dethronement of some worshiped idol; in the endearing of Christ to your soul; in the closer conformity of your mind to God’s image; in the purification of your heart; in your more thorough fitness for Heaven; in a revival of God’s work within you; in stirring you up to more prayer?

Oh yes! good, real good, permanent good must result from all the Divine dispensations in your history. Bitter repentance shall end in the experienced sweetness of Christ’s love. The festering wound shall but elicit the healing balm. The overpowering burden shall but bring you to the tranquil rest. The storm shall but quicken your footsteps to the ‘hiding place’.

In a little while, oh, how soon! you shall pass away from earth to heaven, and in its clearer, serener light shall read the truth, often read with tears before, “All things work together for good to those who love God.”

-Octavius Winslow (1808-1878)

The Quarantine Chin-Up Challenge

Since they have closed the gyms, and we are all stuck at home, maybe it is time to bring out the chin-up challenge. Chin-ups are one of the best workouts because they impact so many muscle groups. Chin-ups develop grip strength, forearms, biceps, triceps, shoulder, but most significantly, back strength. They will also work your core. If you do not do chin-ups regularly, you will notice a significant difference after when you finish this challenge. The best part is it only takes about three to five minutes a day.

Here is how the challenge works. It lasts four weeks, and to start the challenge, you will need to be able to do ten chin-ups in a row. If you cannot do that, see below.*

Week 1

One set of ten each day for six days and one day of rest. I prefer Sunday to be my day of rest.

Week 2

Two sets of ten for six days and a day of rest. You do not have to do the two sets back to back. I tend to do one in the morning and one in the evening.

Week 3

Three sets of ten for six days and a day of rest. Again, feel free to spread out the sets throughout the day.

Week 4

Four sets of ten for six days and a day of rest. Again, feel free to spread out the sets over the course of the day.

*If you cannot do ten chin-ups in a row, and I know that is most of us, here is what you need to do. Every day do as many chin-ups as you can but stop one short of failure. Failure simply means, if you were to attempt one more chin-up, you would not be able to complete it. Be sure to stop before failure since you will be doing this six days a week with one day of rest. Even if you can only do one chin-up now, before long, you will be doing ten.

Good luck to you all!

-D. Eaton

The Lord Is With You Today

Surely I am with you all the days, to the very end of the age! -Matthew 28:20

The path in front of me may be full of flowers or full of thorns. Or, as is more probable, flower and thorn may be mingled together. The sky may be light or dark. The weather may be glorious summer or bleakest winter. But I go safely and happily, if the Lord Jesus, who can and will supply my every need, is with me all the days.

Days of Discipline

Some of the days will be days of discipline of the pruning knife and the cleansing fire. But when He is with me, the discipline is a blessing, and not a curse. It teaches me to grasp His strong right hand with a tighter hold,
to pray more earnestly, to find heights and depths of meaning in the promises of God, to feel for others who are in tribulation.Mind and heart and character are bettered by the endurance of affliction.

Days of Monotony

Many of the days, too, will be days of monotony. They must be spent in little things–household labors, common concerns, unnoticed toil. I may long for a more striking and interesting experience. But when He is with me, I know that He makes my life like His own–the blessed life He lived among carpenters’ tools, and village streets, and peasant people. The drudgery is a love-message; it is Jesus Christ in disguise!

Days of Temptation

Every day will be a day of temptation. In the home, in the business, in company, in loneliness; I shall encounter the devil’s subtle snares. But let my Lord be with me, and temptation will but reveal the closeness and blessedness of the tie. It will be an instrument which He uses to impart more maturity to my graces, more courage, more patience, more trust.

Day of Death

Perhaps one of the days will be the day of death. But if He does not leave or forsake me, then death will be an ingredient in the training that fits me for the glorious inheritance! As John Bunyan pictures it, I must cross the ‘River of Death’ to reach the ‘Celestial City’. Jesus did it Himself, and the disciple is not above the Master. His Everlasting Arms will sustain me in the flood; and, on the other side, I shall enter the ‘Beautiful Gate’ and see His face!

All Your Days

All the days He is with me to the end, and through the end, and beyond the end forever and ever! Whether I live, therefore, or whether I die, I am His and He is mine!

-Alexander Smellie (1907)

Online Worship is Good, But it is Not Church

I am thankful for the option of online worship in times like these, but we need to be clear, it is not church. During this time, when we are sheltering at home to slow the spread to coronavirus, having the option for watching our local churches conduct some kind of worship program is a good thing. I recently wrote a post that argued that deciding on temporary online gatherings is a matter of Christian liberty during this unprecedented time. Each church must make its decisions based on its context and convictions. However, church is much more than watching worship leaders and pastors over the internet. Yes, we can listen to the music, and some might even sing along. We can also listen to the word preached, but there is way too much we are missing out on online to call it church. Here are some of them.

1. Fellowship and Accountability

The Bible is clear that iron sharpens iron, and so one man sharpens another. If you have never been intimately involved in a local church, you may not know what I am getting at. It is difficult to put into words, but if you have experienced it, you will immediately understand. If you have attended church virtually for only one or two weeks, I know you are already missing it.

The music and preaching of the word are necessary means of grace in the life of a believer, but there is another thing the Holy Spirit uses just as much as those two things to keep us walking in his ways; I do not want to let my fellow church members down. We have covenanted together to place our lives under the lordship of Christ Jesus, and when we gather, I know we will interact with the scriptures and pray together. When temptations surround me during the week, my mind often imagines what it would be like to look at my brothers and sisters in Christ in the eyes and act like I have been living holy during the week. It is unbearable. I also know that when I do fall, they will be there to point me to the nail-scarred hands to find forgiveness. Online worship misses out on this aspect entirely.

2. Undivided Attention

We need to be honest here; we are easily distracted people. Even in church, the enemy tries to pull our thoughts away from our good and gracious King, but, remotely, on a device with so many notifications ready to alert us to other shiny things, it is almost impossible. We also must admit that we rarely take “corporate” prayer seriously when watching online. You may be better at this than I am, but for me, there is no comparison to my level of engagement when I am at church and when I am sitting in front of a live stream.

3. Encouraging Your Pastor and Other Leaders in the Church

Pastors and church leaders need the corporate nature of worship just as much or more than we do. They face the same temptations we face and need us to be there for them just as much as we need them to be there for us. There are also temptations to despair that pastors face that we laypeople may never know because the enemy is after them. Teaching online is a way to keep ministering during a time like this covid-19 pandemic, but it can quickly steal their strength.

I currently teach a class at the church where I am a member, and since the students were not able to meet this week, I sent out a quick video covering the material in the curriculum. I was glad I was able to do it, and several people responded with appreciation, but I assume, if they are like me, they probably did not spend much time with the video. A few may have watched it all the way through, but most of them probably just clicked on it for a few minutes to see what it was all about and then went on to something else. Please, do not get me wrong; I am not blaming them for anything. I know this is how most people responded to the video because that is what I do with many similar videos. We cannot encourage our pastors and leaders virtually like we can when we gather, and the enemy will tempt them to discouragement. Perhaps we should all email our pastors today to tell them we are thankful for them.

4. Bearing the Burdens of Others

When we gather, we are not only nourished by our fellow believers, but we nourish them as well. They have time to let us know about their praises and their pains, and we can speak the word of God to them. They may already know what the scripture says, and they might have read the verses themselves earlier that week, but when they know that someone else understands and can comfort them because they have been through it too, it is priceless. Though this may happen to a small degree in virtual communities, it does not occur as frequently or as profoundly as when it is face to face.

5. Ordinances

I am sure in all the worship services you have watched online; you have never been served communion by your church leaders. Biblically, two of the most important means of grace are word and sacrament, and the latter is always missing online worship. This point alone to should be enough to convince us that an online service is not church.

6. Putting Our Gifts Into Practice

As believers, God has given all of us spiritual gifts, and most of the gifts, like service, encouragement, helps, and showing mercy, among others, do not happen when the people of the church watch the leaders online.

7. A Taste of Heaven

Finally, corporate worship gives us a small glimpse of heaven. In this fallen world, we may only get that glimpse as through a dark glass, but it is a glimpse none-the-less. Hearing the other voices singing with you when you sing praises to your God, reminds you that you are not alone. To borrow an example from the life of Elijah, God has kept thousands of others who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Someday, all believers will gather in Christ’s presence in heaven. Corporate worship should remind us of this, and that is missed when we are unable to come together to praise his name..

I, for one, am thankful for the technology we can use in these trying days, but the time cannot come soon enough for me when we will all come together and enter his courts with praise.

-D. Eaton

A Pandemic in the Hand of God

The Lord is on my side, I will not fear. – Psalm 118:6

What can illness do to the Christian? Is it not in the sovereign hands of the Lord? Every pain and every distress is under the supreme authority of our God. Even if Satan and his legions are involved, they are only permitted to go as far as His hand allows, and He could reverse their work in an instant if he decided to do so. Even if the illness is due to sinful choices, is not Jesus the forgiver of sins and restorer?

If we face any illness, no matter the cause, God does not cease to be in control. Did He know this was coming? Does He have the power to stop it? Most certainly. The logic that flows from these two truths is that God is the final decision-maker for everything that comes against us.

What, then, can illness do to us if it is under the providence of God? It can afflict, but not crush. It can perplex, but cannot drive us to despair. It can even strike down, but it cannot destroy.

On the contrary, sickness, sovereignly wielded like a scalpel in the hand of our good God, can only heal us. For all things work together for those that love Him (Rom. 8:28), and disease certainly does not fall outside the category of “all things.” By it, He weans us from the passing treasure of this world, and He teaches us to redeem the time. In all of it, He is spurring us on to holiness, and holiness is where we will find our true happiness.

Lord, we resign ourselves to your perfect will. We will fight for our health because your word tells us our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and anyone who destroys the temple will also be destroyed (1 Cor. 3:16-17). However, we leave the results of our fight in your hands because we know that even if the outward man is wasting away, the inward man is being renewed day by day (2 Cor. 4:16).

We will not look on the things that are seen but the things that are unseen, for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Cor. 4:18). In this way, we will not lose hope, and we will find peace in the pain, deliverance in the distress, and healing in the hurt.

-D. Eaton

Take Time to Appreciate Grocery Store Workers

Grocery store and supermarket workers are some of the most valuable members of society right now, and they look exhausted. We must realize that not only are they working extremely hard; they are also vulnerable to cornavirus because of their constant interaction with large groups of people.

Almost every job in society is important. Though most of them tend to be under-appreciated, there are times when events highlight the importance of their role in our way of life. Grocery workers, this is your time. Typically, you meet our demands so well we do not even realize you are doing it, but we notice you now.

Imagine the chaos that would ensue if you were not there to keep things running. I am sure you have experienced anxious customers over the past several days, please be patient with us. For all of us who will be shopping these stores, let us go out of our way to show our gratitude. Grocery store workers, thank you for your work. We appreciate you.

-D. Eaton

Church and Social Distancing: Not An Issue of Faith Over Fear

To say the decision to cancel church or not because of coronavirus is an issue of faith over fear is uncharitable, or at least unthoughtful. Dealing with covid-19 has us in an unprecedented time, and local congregations must decide how to continue to worship, protect its people, and be good citizens as well. Too often, people speak of this issue as a matter of whether the local church has enough faith, or if they will fail to trust God and let fear control them. Though fear may have played a role in some congregations’ decision to cancel its worship service this weekend, to speak of this issue in this way in general, exposes a failure to think deeply about what we are facing.

It would be just as wrong to say that all churches should opt for virtual services as it would be to say that all churches should gather as usual. Each church has a different context. Some are large, and some are small. Some are in rural settings that are naturally socially distanced, and others are in urban areas. Each church must evaluate what to do based on their context. To assume if a church opts not to gather, they are letting fear rule them, not only disparages our brothers and sisters in Christ; it is patently untrue for most congregations.

For those who say altering a church service due to covid-19 is a lack of faith, it is easy to point out their inconsistency by asking them some questions. Did you cancel your greeting time? Did you provide hand sanitizer for those in attendance? Did you ask the sick to stay home? Did you make any changes to protect your people? If they answer “yes” to any of these questions, simply apply their argument to them and ask why they failed to trust God? Of course, we need to do it in love. We must do it in a way that lets them know we care for them. We do not want to be uncharitable ourselves.

It is not a matter of faith over fear; it is a matter of where each congregation needs to draw the line to protect its people and society as a whole. Christ calls us to love our neighbors, and if it is in the best interest of those around us to keep our distance, it would be unloving to meet in person. Each church needs to make the decision that best fits their situation. If anything is an example of Christian liberty, this should be it. Hopefully, with a little more thought, we will stop speaking of this as a matter of faith over fear out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are only doing what they need to do to be wise stewards of what God has entrusted to them.

-D. Eaton