Category Archives: coronavirus

An Open Letter to Pastors (and ministers) Delivering Regular Content During the Pandemic

Dear Pastors (and fellow Ministers)

As I write this, it is late Saturday night and I am thinking about my sermon for tomorrow. I’ve been looking at my notes, the Scripture, and thinking about the overall theme, paying particular attention to how I might be able to draw the sermon to a close. For some reason, I don’t know why, invitations have become more difficult for me in the last year or so.

But it’s not the Sunday morning sermon that concerns me – at least that’s not the reason for me writing this letter to you. It’s the content that you and I are expected to deliver to those watching on Facebook, YouTube, or whatever other streaming service you prefer.

I don’t want you to get tired of doing it. I don’t want you to get discouraged and give up too soon!

I don’t know about you guys, but I have been producing more Bible teaching since the pandemic began than any other time in my life! I literally post online content 6 days a week, twice on Sunday and Wednesday! That’s EIGHT original content presentations a week! Granted, what I produce during the week is not as deep as what I might deliver on a Sunday or Wednesday night, but sometimes it is deeper. Sometimes it could qualify for a full-fledged sermon. But is 8 times a week a little much?

Especially if you feel nobody is watching? Anybody with me?

Without a doubt we pastors are working harder than ever before. One reason I can say that with complete confidence is that we are, at the very least, using spiritual, mental, and emotional muscles we’ve never used before. We are in uncharted territory most days. That can drain a person.

Yet, what does your congregation expect out of you? How else are you able to stay in touch or connected throughout the week? I know this might sound self-serving or vain, but is what you are doing online partly due to the fact that you don’t want to appear as idle or taking advantage of the social distancing?

How many of you are beginning to question the efficacy of all the online content we are producing? How many of you are beginning to feel like you’re having little to no impact? I’m not going to lie; I’ve been feeling that way more often each day.

Nevertheless, what I don’t know is what God knows. What I am doing is the best I can with what I’ve been given. I am using every means possible to keep church (and all that’s involved with that word) in the lives of my flock. I’m doing all I can to make holy lemonade out of COVID-19 lemons. And only God knows what really happens on the other side of the computer or smartphone screen.

Though not exactly the same context, I am reminded of the following verse:

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)

No farmer expects to make pie out of the fruit of his labor the day after he plants the first seed. Likewise, we don’t have any idea what this surge of biblical content is going to affect in the future: no one has ever had the opportunity to calculate the germination times.

We are planting and watering in fields where the Word of God has never been sown. We are flooding the airwaves and the internet with more of the Gospel message than at any other single time in history! And all that we are doing, all that we are sowing, and in all the areas and hearts where our ministry is reaching… Have we forgotten it is guaranteed to produce fruit of some kind? His Word does not return void!.

Maybe you didn’t need the reminder. Maybe it’s just me. But I just want you to know that we were put here for this time. What we do in this time will affect not only today, but tomorrow, too. We may never live to see the results of our plowing and cultivating and planting, but future generations may be feeding on the fruit decades after we have left the plow.

Don’t grow weary, gentlemen. Be encouraged! Stay strong! Keep up the good work!

Sometimes the only one in the field is the farmer. Keep farming while the weather permits.

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, blogging, Christianity, Church, coronavirus, ministry, Preaching, the future

On Church Gatherings (a copied vent from a daughter who should be writing more often)

Folks, my middle daughter Katie has been sharp as a tack, as of late. At one point I asked something like, “When did you start using your brain?”

Anyway, she just updated her Facebook status with the following opinion piece. I was so impressed, how could I not share it?

When you’re done, show her some love, will you? Enjoy.


I have an opinion with which you might not agree. I have come to discover that I do not hold to the same values and morals of the masses, and that is quite expected as I am a believer in Christ.

My opinion today is thus:

Church gatherings are LESS LIKELY to spread the virus than going to Walmart.

Katie Marie

The people who want to gather in these churches wear masks and spread out while they are there. Families sit together while friends sit several pews away. After each meeting, I know that, in my church at least, most people leave promptly while a group of designated individuals disinfect the pews and all surfaces that may have been touched, including and not limited to the podium.

The people who are at risk stay home. The people who have children usually stay home. But when you go to the grocery store, you will find people who don’t wear masks, or they wear masks with their noses sticking out, therefore projecting to society their ignorance.

Furthermore, you have individuals who wear gloves inappropriately and cross-contaminate everything as they use gloves in the store, touch their phone, put the phone to their face, take the gloves off, touch the INFECTED PHONE again in their car…… all the while feeling as if they have done something well. In actuality, all they have done is further the pollution the world suffers from every day. Where is that glove going? Not in recycling, I’m sure. It’s going to either pollute the ground or it will pollute the ocean (WHICH, FOR YOUR INFORMATION, produces more oxygen than the trees).

So, KAREN, gather. Go to church if you feel like it. Just be smart. Be safe. Think through your actions.

But hope all the while the people who still shop for nonessential items in crowded stores will cease fire on the church’s doors and quench the fires that burn the buildings to the ground because of the so-called “hypocrisy.”

– Katie Marie

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Filed under Church, coronavirus, current events

Observations From a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: Silencing the Ignorance

My Mistake

Let me start by saying that I was one of the ones who early on thought this whole coronavirus thing was nothing more than an overblown media gimmick. And, honestly, who could blame me? Since when have you been able to trust the main-stream media’s hyperbole?

Seriously, when you look at the raw numbers, flu is still killing way more people than this virus. Yet, I guess the real question is how many people would have died if measure had not been made to limit the spread? It’s really anyone’s guess.

But I’m not here to argue about the killing ability of COVID-19. I want to discuss how the responses are affecting our ability to worship.

10 Or Less

I can’t speak for every state and every town, but from what I have been seeing, most state and local governments have made it illegal for people to meet in groups any more than 10. There are some places that make it less than that. But, for the most part, it’s limited to 10 . . . and six feet apart.

Yet, what some are trying to say is that the government has no right to impose this restriction on houses of worship. They claim that what is going on is an attack on our First Amendment rights of free speech, religious liberty, and the right to assemble. But is it, really? I don’t think so.

Look, if our state and local governments were placing more restrictions on churches than other places, then I would be the first to yell “Foul!” However, how can we say that Christians are being targeted when weddings, funerals, birthday parties, ball games, bingo, dance parties, school – you name it – are expected to abide by the same limitations?

It’s not discrimination if everyone is treated equally.

Fundamental Right

Yet, there are pastors being arrested in their homes. Churches are being threatened with permanent closure. And, we know there are government leaders out there who would like nothing more than to shutter every church in the country. “Social distancing” has become their favorite weapon.

I thank God that here in Georgia we have a God-fearing governor. Gov. Brian Kemp has been very transparent with the purpose for his mandates and has made it abundantly clear that he in no way wants to hinder or infringe upon the people’s right to worship. It’s just that there’s a deadly virus going around right now, and it doesn’t care who it affects, pagan or saint. So, for right now, everyone, not just church people, are going to have to limit their exposure to other people and “shelter at home.”

The whole reason I’m writing this is because there are some church folk, some pastors, who are saying things like: “The government can’t tell us we can’t have church!” They are screaming in protest, claiming the government has no right to impinge on our fundamental right to “forsake not the assembly.”

However, we must also remember that government has a biblical, God-given responsibility, too!

“Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval. For it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For it is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong.” – Romans 13:1-4 CSB

“Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the emperor as the supreme authority or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good.” – 1 Peter 2:13-15 CSB

So, now is a time when we need to remember each one of us has a role to play. As for government leaders, as long as they are about doing good and ensuring the safety of our citizens, as long as they don’t demand we violate any direct command from God or our consciences, then we need to obey the best we can … to “silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good.”

Now, when the government gets too big for its britches and starts singling out places of worship (like China is doing), then we’ll have a reason to do more than stream our singing and preaching.

In the meantime, we are reaching more people now than ever before! I’m not complaining about that!

Myself and Dr. David Self (Washington Baptist Association) discussing Proverbs LIVE on Wednesday night.

 

 

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, Bible Study, Church, community, coronavirus, worship

At Least I’m Not In Jail

Phone Calls

I can only imagine what it would be like (and I’m not quoting a song) if real-life, honest-to-goodness shepherds had to deal with things the way we pastors are having to these days. Just think about it:

  • Sheep in the field, day in and day out, wandering around six feet apart.
  • The shepherd having to set up a large screen in the pasture so he can live-stream commands.
  • Each sheep getting it’s own cell number so the shepherd could make individual calls.
  • “How are you doing today, Fluffy?” “It’s baaaaaad, Shepherd! Could I trade you my wool for some toilet paper?”

Photo by Trinity Kubassek on Pexels.com

Thankfully, I’ve not received any distressing news from the church members I’ve called. Nevertheless, making phone calls and sending notes through the mail is about the only way I can personally stay in contact with my “sheep.” It’s alienating.

But, just like I said a moment ago to a dear lady in our church – her name is June – “at least I’m not in a jail cell.”

Perspective

It really all comes down to perspective, you know? If we sit and dwell on how limited we are, about how much we can’t do during this time of self-isolation (quarantine), then things will only get more nerve-wracking. Now, more than ever, we need to be looking for silver linings.

Photo by Donald Tong on Pexels.com

No, I might not be able to visit with people in my congregation, have people over for dinner and a game night, or simply go out to dinner and movie with my wife, but at least I’m not locked up in a 6×8 ft. jail or prison cell! Seriously, things could be a lot worse!

I don’t know about you, but I can still eat when I want, play with my dog, go to the grocery store, and even go to my office at the church (where I am now). When I’m home I can sleep in my own bed, wear whatever I want, and not have to worry about dropping soap in the shower.

Really, things could be a lot worse than “social distancing”… Try social abandonment.

The Ultimate Quarantine

So, this got me to thinking about something else, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t share it. When I was thinking about being isolated, alone, quarantined, and abandoned … and when I tried to think about what could be worse than what we are experiencing, even jail … I thought of something else:

Hell.

If you think about if for just a moment, hell is the epitome of social distancing, quarantining, and literal abandonment. It’s even worse than the worst prison cell.

Prison cells do have beds, running water (even if it’s from the back of a toilet), regular meals, air conditioning, and in most cases, hope. Not so with hell.

Actually, aside from the lack of amenities, probably the worst aspect of an eternity in Hades is the idea of being utterly alone in one’s suffering and regret. Totally…forever…never a kind voice…never a tear of compassion…never look of pity… alone.

I’m glad I still have my freedom and am not locked up somewhere. But I’m even more thankful that, worse comes to worse, should things get so bad I even die from COVID-19, at least I’m not alone (God’s always with me) and because of Jesus, I’ll never have to go to hell!

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

Yep, things could be worse. Time to binge-watch something else.

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Filed under Christianity, community, coronavirus

Palm Sunday Sermons (April 5, 2020)

What a wonderful opportunity to be living during this historical time! 

Oh, most certainly it is a trying and sad time in so many ways. But in other ways it’s amazing.

On Sunday morning I preached from 2 Timothy 1:7 and the “spirit of fear” God has not given us. That evening I covered the meaning of Palm Sunday by looking at the event as described in the Gospels.

As a bonus, I’m including the video from this morning.

If you have any comments, thoughts, or suggestions you’d like to share, I’d love to read them. Please leave them in the comment section below, or email me at PastorACBaker@yahoo.com.

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Filed under Bible Study, Christianity, Church, community, coronavirus, Easter, ministry, music, Preaching, Revival