Saturday, July 17, 2021

COVID CHRONICLES 2021 – "CHRIST WEARS THE CROWN!"


  • An (almost)  daily log of   Marcelle (M)  and  my (J)  journey with the Covid Delta variant. 
  • Surnames  have been abreviated to  protect the identity of individuals
  • Many people have not been mentioned. You know who you are, and we give thanks to God for you.

Thursday, 24th  June 2021

Day 1(J)

Dear church family and friends,

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12)

Having just been diagnosed  with  Covid 19 today, after  starting to feel unwell on Monday evening, 21st June,   I wanted to keep  an account  of my body and soul for the next few weeks,  but primarily  I want to be an encouragement  and  a provider of perspective   to you in it all.  I will provide physical  and spiritual updates on a separate WhatsApp group  for all that  are interested. Let me know, and I will add you. 

I have a sore head, a sore body, night fevers and a cough at this time. This has been the pattern of the last 4 days. Thankfully, my sense of smell is maintained and my bronchial passages are clear at this time.  Generally it is not too bad.  Marcelle is still fine.

It is very easy to sink into a spirit of pessimism and   fear at such a time. On a human level there are sufficient grounds for fear.  Daily deaths are being reported, and recovery periods can be extensive. I am not sure how these days will turn out for us. Our Heavenly Father knows.  

My greatest concern is that the present focus among us is almost entirely on the well-being of the body.  That’s what I see and hear. I see few of us urging one another to look after the wellness of our souls.  Little attention is given to the state of our eternal and immortal souls, which will have to give an account to the LORD after we die (Hebrews 9:27).  I see very little drawing near to God in these times.  The existence of the soul demands that I must spend much time in preparation   for the day I must leave this mortal body.   Remember too that eternity is much, much longer than 70 or 80 years.“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom”.

 

Friday, 25th June

Dear church family and friends,

“Christ wears the Crown”

Thank you for the outpouring of love and prayer for us.  It does our soul a lot of good. Please remember Danny, Zara and children your prayers.  They have all tested positive this week.

Jeane. K., our “soon- to –be- daughter- in- law” was our champion last night as she delivered a packet of prescription medication to our door step. I slept generally well last night, but woke up with body pains and a thick head this morning. Also, I discovered that my sense of taste had disappeared.  After dosing myself with my chemical factory, the day improved. The sunshine did me good. Thank God for our little garden. Marcelle feels fine at this stage. We currently live at opposite corners of our home.

I have  created a temporary WhatsApp platform, entitled, “Christ wears the Crown”.  Christ bore the little crown of the cross and He now bears the glorious crown of the eternal kingdom.  I trust that this isn’t lost on you. The Word “Corona” is the Latin Word for crown. This nasty little virus apparently has a crown shaped appearance.  A crown is a symbol of authority and power.  This vicious little ruler has induced a lot of fear in the world, and it rules the daily lives of billions of people right now.  This is where we desperately need perspective.

Thank God that our Lord Jesus wears the ultimate crown of authority in this universe. And He bore that nasty little crown which was thrust on His holy head for our sake (John 19:2), only to take up that crown that makes Him King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation19:16).

While  that  nasty little crown  was a reality  for  Jesus, and  while  this other nasty little crown is a  reality for us,  we must remember that  the nasty  crown that Jesus bore is infinitely  more  valuable for us, for in  bearing it He carried  the  sins away of all that truly trust in Him. This other little crown (at its very worst) can only kill the body, but not the soul.   

So, our dear  congregation and friends,  keep perspective  and  rejoice in the gospel of  our Christ who wears the crown.

Saturday, 26th June

Day 6 (J)

Christ wears the Crown!

“Lord, he whom you love is ill” (John 11:3)

These words were spoken by the sisters of Jesus’ good friend Lazarus.  This illness was in fact going to lead to Lazarus’s   death.  And when Jesus heard that he had died, he wept (John 11:35), because he loved him. The thrilling part of this story is that Jesus actually raised Lazarus from the dead after he had been in the grave for four days. This resurrection account has two points. Firstly, Jesus truly loved Lazarus and his sisters and therefore he gave Lazarus back to them for a while. But secondly, Jesus illustrated the fact that He was the One who had the ultimate authority over every disease and death. He is the One who will raise all people from the dead.

Most of us  who  have been afflicted with the corona (crown) virus are likely to survive by the grace of God.  But all of us will die sometime. The question is this: When you die, in what hope do you die?  If your hope is in Christ, who wears the Crown, and in whom you have trusted in this life, then you ALSO are the one  whom He loves.  Then you too are assured that you will live again (see John 11:25-27). By all means pray for and use effective vaccines and medication, but in the end you must put your hope in the gospel.  The only vaccine for the most lethal sin virus is Jesus who wore that terrible crown of  punishment  for you.

Today is day 6 since I started with my symptoms. Thank you for your continued assurances of care and prayer.  Today has been a dull and groggy day. My head feels thick, and I have slept a lot. I am thankful for the medication. It helps, although there is no cure at the moment for tastelessness ;-). Thank you to all who asked whether they might supply a meal or so. We are really ok at this time. We havevery little appetite for anything. We will use our church’s channel if the time should come in which we might need help.  Please continue to pray for Marcelle’s health, as we occupy the same square meters. 

There is no let up on the infections. Please pray for our good friend, pastor  Henning V. and  family. He has been diagnosed with Covid.

The Lord’s Day, 27th June

Dear friends,

“Our Help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8)

Today is day 7, and essentially there is no regression - for which we are thankful.  Thankfully the Oxygen levels are fine.  Marcelle’s colleague from school organized us an oxymeter. Thank you Leanne M.!  Marcelle went for the Covid test today and we expect to hear the results sometime soon.  Our daughter Kezia is watching over us with an eagle eye-and from a distance, BUT  we are very aware that over and above all is the hand of our gracious God.  Christ wears the victor’s crown.

“My days are in His hands; Everyone by Him is planned; So why should I fear,  when I know He is near.And my days are in His hands.” (Bill Bygroves)

Thank you to Frans B. (associate pastor and Uaundja K. (intern pastor) for the ministry of the Word this  Lord’s day morning and evening. Can’t wait to be in church again.

Monday, 28th  June

Day 8 (J) ;  4 (M)

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)

Day 8 wasn’t great. Fever and an aching body   and a fuzzy mind dominated the better part of the day. And then we got Marcelle’s test results back, and as expected, she tested positive. Mrs Lenia  Z.(senior)  expressed  her concern for us, and contacted her daughter  Dr. Umoyo Z. who came  to do a house visit this afternoon. She did a general check-up and drew blood samples.  She also made a few changes in our prescriptions. What a wonderful doctor! What a wonderful providence.

But the saddest part today was hearing of the death (Covid) of Lorenzo B., oldest son of Hansie and Louisa B. - long standing  friends in Baptist ministry. Please remember the family in your prayers.

Again we would remind you that our King who bore that crown of suffering for you is also the triumphant King who conquered death. Those who trust Him in this life shall   receive THE CROWN OF LIFE. Please be very concerned for the souls of many who may be entering into a Christ-less eternity at this time. Oh that God would have mercy upon this generation.   

Tuesday, 29th  June

Day 9 (J) ; 5 (M)  

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13,14)

– Dr. Umoyo Z. sent  and discussed the blood test  results  today. Marcelle seems to be doing ok under the circumstances. There are some concerns however with my situation.  There is a possibility of blood clotting. My medical knowledge unfortunately is insufficient to explain everything in detail. Dr. Z. will monitor the situation.  We continue trust the Lord to keep us in this situation. We have known this from the beginning.   

Otherwise the day has not been too bad. I certainly had no pain or fever today. Only tired.  Thank you for your prayers and  ongoing support. Thank you to our son Jonathan for topping up the gas for our heater  today. Thank you to  Frans, Janet and Jandri  B. who made food for tonight. Now pray that our sense of taste may return!

Wednesday,30th  June  

Day 10 (J); Day 6 (M)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5,6)  

Today was  a  better  day for both of us. Thank you for all the words and acts  of kindness. There are so many and it is scarcely possible to acknowledge them all. Be assured that they all matter to us.  We had another home visit and check- up  from Dr. Umoyo Z. this evening. Again, Marcelle and I want  to acknowledge God’s wonderful providence  in  sending her to us.

Today we want to acknowledge all medical professionals in our midst, and especially our  pharmacists, doctors and nurses. Please pray for Drs Youssef & NancyS., Dr. Anotida T., Ronja K. (Pharmacist), Carina W. (Student nurse), Darion and Demi R. (medical interns)   who have been working under much pressure.

And then please continue to pray for our sick. God is at work and He has been merciful. Thank you to all who have been helping with meals and other tangible helps. God sees! And Christ wears the crown!

 

THURSDAY,  1st July

Day 11 (J) ; Day 7 (M)

“And we know that  for those who love God  ALL THINGS work together for good, for those  who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)

Last night and today were not great. We both felt absolutely flat and wiped out. Even speaking on the phone was an effort. Later this  evening  we picked up strength as Alison B.’s  Goulash soup did the trick. Nothing better than a nourishing soup.

It is utterly astounding how  this illness drains you. I have not been able to pick up a book to read. Even reading my Bible has been a challenge. The brain feels foggy.  Even writing this takes effort. We are comforted by the fact that God promises  to carry us  at such times. This too is for our good, and in some way (though I wish this on no one) I am glad that we could enter into the shoes of  those  who have suffered this terrible  flu.

Once again we are thankful that we are in God’s hands.  We are thankful to be in the hands of   God’s people who pray for us and who care for us. Marcelle and I are particularly  thankful  to Kezia, Jonathan and Jeane – our children,  who have gone the extra mile  on many a day. 

I am  particularly  thankful to our elders who have been  in touch with the congregation. Remember those of your brothers and sisters  that are ill.  I just heard from Sean B. that he has contracted Covid.  Bear each others’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2)

Friday, 2nd  July

Day 12 (J)  (Day 8 (M)  

“Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68)

Once again we have found ourselves in the hands of a kind and gracious God who directs our footsteps. There have been some gains made. The blood tests showed some improvement. It has been a better day all round.

Please remember the R. family in your prayers. Eliphas R.  lost  his oldest sister  to Covid.   Also remember Jessey K. J.  who is really sick. Pray that she will respond to treatment. Thank you to all our doctors in the congregation who  have taken interest in  the sick.

Saturday, 3rd July

Day 13 (J); Day 9 (M)

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” (Psalm 119:71)

It feels as if we have been living in a haze and in a bubble. Most of today we spent resting. Marcelle had some stomach issues, which is no wonder as one looks at the medication levels. Today we finished our cortisone  treatment. Generally then we seem to be improving. 

Thank you once again  for your prayers and words of encouragement. I am thankful that there are so many of you taking care of the ill in tangible  ways. God bless you all. Remember to ask God to have mercy on our country, Namibia.  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting  all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)

 

Entries for  4th – 7th July are missing since these were  poor days. Oxygen levels were at an all time low.  A oxygenator was secured from Betsy K.. Renewed blood tests were done. Danger of blood- clotting detected. Stiff medication regime was imposed. There was even talk of being admitted to hospital. Mrs. Lenia Z. was instrumental in getting her  daughter,  Dr Umoyo Z. to   take another  good look at us. This was crucial intervention. There is talk ofhospitlisation

 

Thursday, 8th July 2021

“What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4)

Day 18(J) ; Day 14 (M). 

Marcelle and I had a good day today, considering that we are pumped full of medication. Our doctor heard some more noise in Marcelle’s lungs today. Please pray for this to clear.

The doctrine of God’s providence has become a precious reality to us. We are living in the experience of God’s providence  in so many  ways. Every day we wake up by His grace. Every day, in unexpected ways He takes care of us by lifting our spirits in so many ways. Every day significant medical help is granted. We even have had opportunity to day to be of use to others and share in the burdens of others.  And we played Scrabble…

So,  thank you dear friends once  again  for your prayers and  help  given in so many ways. Always  and with sincere love in our Lord Jesus, J & M

Friday , 9th July

“I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and  my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:1,2)

Day 19 (J) Day 15(M). 

Today was even better! The brain- fog has been lifting steadily, and today we have been experiencing  a renewed appetite to read, pray and rejoice. Even our physical  appetite is being restored. Again we thank God  for  His daily encouragements and providences  in the form of people  and  things we need. Thank God for  the internet (we had been down for 4 days),   by which means we are able to  have face to face interactions with our children in Wales.

Thank God for a medical aid!   Dr. Z. has been wonderful in terms of medical supplies and expertise. Please pray for her. She has a heavy workload. One of our young student doctors at Eastside, Darion R.   has stepped  into the gap to  administer the   daily intravenous dose of antibiotics for J.  We thank  God for him and his wife Demi (also a medical intern), working in a Covid ward. Pray for her.

Marcelle and I have become “experts” at giving each other daily  injections against blood clotting. Some of you have been giving us spiritual injections  by way of  written encouragements. Thank you! And continue  to remember  that Christ wears the true  crown – ALWAYS! With sincere love in Jesus, always.  J &M

 

Saturday, 10th July 10, 2021

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)

Day 20 (J) Day 15 (M). 

We continue to thank God for good progress. We look forward to the coming week when we shall, God willing,  be on reduced medication. Today, Marcelle and I took a short drive into the country. What a wonderful thing to enjoy some freedom after 20 days of being laid up.

We continue to remember our country and in particular  our health personnel  in our prayers. Remember those that have been afflicted and those who have lost loved ones today. Our young medical intern Dorian R., currently looking after us,  has lost another aunt today in the Covid  battle. NEVER forget that Christ wears the crown!

“Just as I am, without one plea, But that thy blood was shed for me; And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come!  (Charlotte Elliot:  1788-1871)

 

The Lord’s Day, 11th July 2021

Day 21(J); Day 16 (M)

My morning Psalm really encouraged me today…

“I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.2  Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.3The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.4  Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!” 5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful.6  The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.7  Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. (Psalm 116:1-7)

Well, what can we  say – except  that the Lord’s mercies  have been ours, once  again today,  and in abundance. We feel stronger  externally and internally.  Next week I want to (God willing) finally  share a few reflections  on the nature  of  bodily / spiritual  trials.

Thank God for the Word that went out from our Eastside pulpit today. Marcelle and I were so encouraged by  Le’ahm and Uaundja  this morning and  by Edgar and Josh tonight. His Word was nourishing to our souls: “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul…” (Ps. 19:7)

May you all have a good night’s rest. Remember the afflicted, particularly Joubert B's mom at this time. As we enter into a new working week may our Lord guard and keep you in all your ways. Yours, as always in the wonderful love of Jesus, J & M

Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon  His throne; Hark how the heavenly anthem drowns  all music but its own! Awake, my soul and sing, of Him who died for thee,And hail Him as thy matchless King throughout  eternity.  (Verse1: Matthew Bridges)

Monday, 12th July 2021

Day 22(J); 17(M)

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore  do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious  for  itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  (Matthew 6:33,34)

This verse has  walked with me  a long time – at least for 43 years, when I first  confessed the Name of Jesus  and  became a Christian through a series of marvelous providences.

We had a home medical  visit from our excellent Dr. Z. tonight. Whilst we are not completely out of the woods yet, we are making  good process.   Indeed,  each day is a gift from God, and that is why  the text speaks to  our hearts. And again we remind ourselves, that this is the way in which life is meant to be lived. Not in large chunks … but in daily and humble dependence upon God. He is the Giver and Taker of Life – ultimately. The Bible warns us repeatedly against presumptuous living. James warns us,

“… yet you do not know what tomorrow  will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that…” (James 4:14,15)

Well, there we are at the end of another day, and God has been good and kind. We had some special interactions with some people today. We remember you all with love and gratitude to God, from whom all blessings flow.  J& M

“Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed over the grave, And rose victorious in the strive, For those He came to save. His glorious now we sing, who died and rose on high; Who  died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.” (Verse 2: Crown Him with many crowns – Matthew Bridges- 1851)

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Day 23(J); 18(M)

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom“. (Psalm 90:12). I quoted this text right at  the beginning on the 24th June when I first fell ill with Covid. I want to get back to this text with the help of this text below:

“O LORD make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” (Psalm 39:4)

God has designed us to live! And every urge towards that end should be protected. For this reason Christians protect the life of the unborn. The hospital movement in the world  was essentially born out of a Christian compassion for the sick. Christians embrace the proper science and technology that accompanies healing. Think of how many Christians were used in the development of medical science which now works for our advantage. Praise the Lord!

The sad thing is that we fallen people  are rarely   able to give glory to God, but we very quickly  turn to worship the knowledge and things of and from God,  and make them  an end in itself (see Romans 1:18-23).  It is a wonderful provision when we are healed  because of medicine,  or when  illness can be prevented by way of  a vaccine. However,  remember  that  there is an appointed day  on which you will die (irrespective of vaccine or treatment) and you will   have to give an account God  (Romans 14:12; Hebrews 9:27).

How is it today  with your soul and God?  On what are you resting your final confidence following your death,  when you too must meet your Maker? The Bible has only one solution,  and it is not a thing, or a method or a medical application.  It is a Saviour! John says, “Look,  the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Dear one, if you are  uncertain  about your eternal future, then  look to Jesus NOW, and look no further. Trust in Him ALONE. He is your final resting place. He wears the Crown.

Again, thank you for praying  for us and loving us today in the wonderful marvelous  love of God. We are steadily improving under God’s good hand and we  trust Him  for further fruitful work in the gospel – until He finally  comes or calls. 

With sincere Christian love for you all, J&M

“Crown him the Lord of love; behold his hands and side, rich wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified; no angel in the sky can fully bear that sight, but downward bends his  burning eye at mysteries so bright.” (Verse  3: Crown Him with many crowns - Matthew Bridges 1851)  

  

Wednesday, July 14th

Day 24(J); 19 (M)

“O taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”(Psalm 34:8)

One of the significant  aspects of having  Covid  is that one’s taste-buds disappear! It’s been weeks since Marcelle and I have last  tasted  a meal  in the proper sense of that word.  We are encouraged that  there appears  to be  is a hint of “taste return”. Thank God for Susan M's  delicious  meal   tonight. Susan, we could taste the love in your cooking!  All that being said, we wanted to testify to an even  greater sense of  taste,  in terms  of  our spiritual appetites, and as indicated in our text.

We have really tasted God’s  wonderful goodness deep in our souls at this  strange time. We cannot explain this on a natural level. We simply say this and reiterate this: God has mercifully visited us in this time of affliction, and has given us more perspective, more love and more joy  at this time… and it is lovely. 

We live in a moralistic, therapeutic, deistic society . This is a term that was first introduced in the 2005 book “Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers” by the sociologists Christian Smith/ Melinda Lundquist Denton.  The term is used to describe what they consider to be the common beliefs among U.S. youths. In this society (like our own)   we  are close enough to God to know what is right and wrong, and we use him as a sort of heavenly extra, and we know  that He is there (in theory), but in reality He is so inconsequential when push comes to shove!  God is not central but peripheral in this way of thinking.  The point is that this sort of religion kills the  heart of  our Christian  faith.

Thank God then for suffering. Suffering has  peculiar qualities  in Christian  experience.  We see this in the Bible. Don’t look for it!  But when God sends you into that valley, embrace  that which  He has for you and see Him there! And there He is. More than sufficient, more than able and oh so good!

With these  thoughts we encourage you  to remain in the love of Jesus. Thank you once again for loving us and praying for us today, J&M

1.“God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. He plants his footsteps in the sea, And rides upon the storm.

2 You fearful saints, fresh courage take; The clouds you so much dread; Are big with mercy and shall break, In blessings on your head.  (William Cowper  1774)

  

 Thursday, 15th July 2021

Day 25(J); 20 (M)

“Will you not revive us again that your people may rejoice in you?”  (Psalm 85:6)

Today began with some effort, as the bodies need to adjust to medicine withdrawal and to rebuilding of capacity. Climbing stairs  takes some effort as  gravity interacts with some diminished muscle  tone. But we are glad to be moving again.  Marcelle and I went to the hairdresser today for the first time in ages. Marcelle’s hairdresser has become a Christian in this difficult season. Praise the Lord! Their talk was full of the joy of the God who saves.   I had another very meaningful spiritual  conversation  with  a young man who sometimes attends at Eastside, and he has testified to significant dealings of God  with his soul at this  time. Again, praise the Lord!   The thought occurs to me often these days … could this be a time when against all the odds, God might  pour out  His  Spirit in revival power… again, as per our text? Let’s pray, dear brothers and sisters. God,in history has often been pleased to work in adversity. My long standing  studies in,  and love for church history and the history of revival  makes me hope that this will be so!

This evening we had  our   very first  special dinner guests in a long time. Our son Jonathan and his bride to be, Jeané K. came for supper,  for  the first  of six of our pre-marital counselling sessions. It was indeed a special time.  At the end of this  I hope to have   my pre-marital  counselling booklet  re-written,  and  for further use  in  fighting the good fight for God-centered marriages.

In the meantime  the  work of the virus continues. The sad news reached us today  of the Covid related death of   the wife of a  very dear pastor under whom I served as a pastoral-intern in 1989, at Bellville Baptist Church. May the Lord  comfort  Pastor Andre  B. (Benoni Baptist Church)  and his children  at this time.

Pray for all our health-workers. Pray for   the renewal of the church in the midst of these days. The church in God’s economy  remains  the primary salt and light distributor on earth!  (Matthew 5:13-16)

Again, with sincere love in Jesus, J &M

1 We praise thee, O God, for the Son of thy love, for Jesus who died, and is now gone above. Refrain: Hallelujah! Thine the glory, hallelujah! Amen! Hallelujah! Thine the glory, revive us again.

2 We praise thee, O God, for thy Spirit of light  who has shown us our Savior and scattered our night. Hallelujah! Thine the glory, hallelujah! Amen! Hallelujah! Thine the glory, revive us again.

3 We praise thee, O God, for the joy thou hast giv’n  to thy saints in communion, these foretastes of heav’n. Hallelujah! Thine the glory, hallelujah! Amen! Hallelujah! Thine the glory, revive us again.

4 Revive us again, fill each heart with thy love. May each soul be rekindled with fire from above. Hallelujah! Thine the glory, hallelujah! Amen! Hallelujah! Thine the glory, revive us again.

(WP McKay 1863 – written in a time of Revival)

Friday, 16th  July 16, 2021

 FINAL REFLECTIONS – CHRIST WEARS THE CROWN

Day 26(J); 21 (M)

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.(Eph. 2:4-8 ESV)

Last week I said  that I  intended this  daily ‘accountability page’ to come to a close.  Today is the day. In this final  reflection  I wanted to say  a little  something    about  the physical realities  in terms of  this virus.

1.       Be careful! This isn’t a common flu.

2.        If you suspect that you have flu-like  symptoms, get tested immediately.

3.       Start treatment immediately.  Many people may have died because they may have waited simply too long. You may have noticed that   the real struggle for us did not occur in the first week, but well into the second week.  On a medical level our treatment began   immediately, and that action may have saved us later. Maintaining good oxygen levels is the  key to recovery. 

4.       If you are older, you may have to expect a longer recovery season. Therefore take care and rest and   be sensible. Your family and church family still need you to be around.

5.       Make sure that you have your house in order (2 Ki. 20:1). Now is the time  to  make sure that your will is up to date and accessible.

6.       Settle  family matters   and make peace  with people, as far as it depends on you (Romans 12:18).

7.       If  you happen  to   find yourself   with Covid, embrace  the season, and see the good hand of the God who is rich in mercy, at work in you.  And don’t give into a spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:7).  Let the joy of the Lord be your strength (Neh.8:10).  Remember  that Christ wears the crown, and He is utterly sufficient for such days. If you must die, be sure  that you  do this leaning on the strong arms of Jesus.

8.       Do whatever is reasonable and sensible to prevent the spread of this virus, whether that means vaccination or social distancing, observing hygiene protocols  etc.   

Once again, thank you so very, very  much  for encouraging us so much in word and deed at this time.

And now let us pray that this Covid season will not be wasted on us, our families, our churches and nation.  Pray for revival (Psalm 85:6). Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (Jas. 4:8)

Yours in the deep love of Jesus, J &M

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free! Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me! Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love; Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

(Samuel T.  Francis – 1875)

Thursday, August 20, 2020

YOUR ESCHATOLOGY DETERMINES HOW YOU THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE


The word  eschatology" is  composed  of the  Greek  words 'eschatos' and 'logos' - literally translated  as  "the word about the last things".  Eschatology   is the doctrine or the word about the last things, or if you like, the doctrine of the future

Everybody has a view about the future, even if it is vague or not thoroughly thought through.

Atheists or Agnostics believe that there is no God.  If this is what you believe, then it is also likely that you will believe that after you die, you will simply will vanish into a state of non- existence.  The effect that this eschatology has on your thinking  will probably lead you towards  living a self-centered, hedonistic (pleasure centered) lifestyle. Since if there is no afterlife, you  have  to get the maximum out of this life. According to this view  there  is no point in living a moral life.

Other major world religions  such as  Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism believe in the existence of  gods or  God. Their followers tend to be mindful of   their continued existence of life after death. They all believe in some form of future judgement and a golden new age. All these religions have a moral or ethical code associated with their respective religion. The fear  of their god(s) will inspire them to restrain themselves  in  areas  which that religion may prescribe,  because they know  that they will have to give an account  of their deeds before their god(s)  in the  afterlife.

In Islamic eschatology, the day of judgement is characterized by the annihilation of all life, which will then be followed by the resurrection and judgment by God. The righteous are rewarded with the pleasures of Jannah (Paradise), while the unrighteous are punished in Jahannam (Hell)[1]. A Muslim will think of the performance of  the  5 pillars of Islam [2] as  his  door  into paradise.  A  radical Muslim suicide bomber will think of his suicide as a pleasing work to Allah, and he will think of paradise and its sensuous rewards in the afterlife.

Salvation and  the future  for a Hindu is called Moksha. Moksha is when an enlightened human being is freed from the cycle of life-and-death (the endless cycle of death and reincarnation) and comes into a state of completeness (Nirvana). He then becomes one with God.  There are four ways to Moksha[3].

The Buddhist sees human evil not primarily as sin against God. Human evil is grounded in fundamental ignorance and blindness  to  our true nature.  A Buddhist  works  for his future salvation  by seeking  liberty  from such bondage through the transformation of his  consciousness  towards  an awakening  of his true  Buddha nature.

The Jew will think of his salvation has been primarily conceived in terms of the destiny of Israel as the elect people of Yahweh. Good works and the keeping of religious rites are  seen as sufficient grounds of acceptance before God and entrance into the afterlife.  

This also goes for the many pseudo- Christian groups who teach their followers that their entrance into a heavenly future is by means of keeping a system of religious rites and good works. 

Jehovah’s  witnesses  believe in an afterlife  but  not in  an eternal hell.The Seventh day adventists similarly  believe in an afterlife, but teach the  annihilation of the wicked. 

We thus  see that all these religions  have a future state  in view. Their followers think, work and  act accordingly.

BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY

Biblical  Christians  similarly live in anticipation of the future life.  Christians believe that they must give a future  account of themselves to God. Whilst biblical Christians have an ethical and moral code and an understanding of the importance of good works   in this life, they know that ultimately they will be admitted into God’s presence only through trusting in  the merits of Christ’s righteousness alone.  Salvation is  through faith alone, by God’s  grace alone, in Christ alone.

FURTHER THOUGHTS  ABOUT CHRISTIAN   ESCHATOLOGY

It is very clear that the Bible points Christians towards  an optimistic  future. 

Jesus  the Christ, the  promised Messiah of the Old Testament  was miraculously conceived by Mary [4], and born in time to  bring about  God’s  consistent promise  to redeem  a chosen  people  for Himself.  When Jesus [5]  entered upon His ministry, He taught that with Him the kingdom of God had arrived[6]. By His death on the cross He had secured the salvation of His people and by His death He had destroyed the stronghold of Satan[7]. When He  ascended back to the Father[8], He promised to come again to judge this earth, and  to usher in  the new heavens and earth[9] and to crush Satan's present dominion. Christians have a strong and positive eschatology of victory. They have a strong view of the future.

Much of the  New Testament is concerned directly or indirectly with eschatology- with future issues.   So,  in terms of eschatology Christians  are not dealing with a minor doctrine. The doctrine  of the last things  strongly affects how Christians think and bhave NOW.

  • The Bible strongly encourages Christians to think about the future and plan for it with the wisdom that God has given them in His Word.
  • Christians are encouraged to think of and plan for their day of death.
  • Christians  think about their  future standing before God.
  • Christians think about  their  material investments now in terms of gaining riches in heaven. Christians think about the doctrine of  future rewards in heaven.  (e.g. Matt 6:1-6)
  • A significant component  of the  completion of their  salvation (death- glorification and  resurrection)  is still before  the Christian. 
  • Eternity  awaits. The most significant part of a Christian’s  life is yet before them.

Eschatology makes a difference  to the way Christians  view  and  act in their world.

Christians believe that  their  world must become a better place as it  comes under the progressive influence  of the gospel, as each  Christian  takes responsibility for  the gospel in their sphere  of influence.  This pattern of thinking  was deeply embedded  in  the 16th Century Reformation, particularly under  John Calvin’s teaching. John Calvin consistently taught that all of life was  under the rule of  God  and needed  to be redeemed for His glory. This led to the incredible spread of   the Protestant theology of the 16th century.

Sadly,  following  the  spread of God centered  Protestantism and  its resultant blessings,   Christians  became increasingly passive  about their future. This may have been  the result of increasing material  prosperity, which tended  to make them unguarded, lukewarm and apathetic about the future.

A number  of thinking Christians  have also argued  that the  advent of the 19th century   pre-millenial,  and  in particular the  dispensational form of eschatology did much to destroy  the  a-millenial and  post millennial  optimistic eschatological frameworks  that once governed 16th century  Protestantism.

One of the strong tenets  of the pre-millenial  view is that the world would  get more and  more wicked. The thought that the world  would get steadily  worse before Christ’s  return, plus the thought that the great tribulation, and the rapture of the church  was on  the  doorstep,  gave rise to  the popular idea that Christians  had to withdraw  from society until Jesus came  to deliver them.

Many Christians influenced by such thinking  have withdrawn  from many major battles that  were being fought  in the  20th century e.g. the battle for the authority, inerrancy  and sufficiency of the Bible. Many Christians  have been quiet  in the recent  battles of the 21st century  over  issues of biblical  marriage, gender identity, human sexuality  and  anthropology.

Christians now more than ever must remember that the future  belongs to God and to them. 

Eschatological ideas – the way we think about the  Bible and hence the future  do have consequences!

It does matter how Christians think, pray, work, save, plan, invest, and commit or don’t commit to do things in the present.

Our view of the future affects our philosophy of life.  If there is no faith in the power  and promises of God then  there is no power in the present.  

It seems  as if  the present  church and society are  driven  far too little by biblical  eschatological realities. Modern Christians  tend to  be  more concerned  about existential  issues (personal safety, what shall we eat, what shall we wear, what car shall we drive and  where  do we live)  than they  are  about  the  future life to come. In that sense few are future minded.

Make this a matter of self- examination and prayer.  Ask God to help you to rethink your life's ultimate  priorities in  the light  of  what the Bible teaches about the future.  





[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_eschatology

[2]  THE 5 PILLARS  OF ISLAM: 1. Profession of Faith (shahada). The belief that "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God" is central to Islam. 2. Prayer (salat) Muslims pray facing Mecca five times a day: at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and after dark 3.Alms giving(zakat). 4. Fasting (sawm) 5. Pilgrimage (hajj).

[3]FOUR WAYS TO MOKSHA 1. The Way of Action: This involves carrying out certain religious ceremonies, duties and rites. The objective is to perform works without regard for personal gain.2. The Way of Knowledge: This requires using your mind and philosophy to come to a complete comprehension of the universe.3. The Way of Devotion: Salvation is reached through acts of worship, based upon the love for a God (there are thousands of gods in Hinduism).4.The Royal Road: The use of meditation and yoga techniques. This method of reaching salvation is typically only used by wandering monks.

 [4] Matthew 1:18-25

[5] Jesus’  name – means Yahweh saves ( Matt 1:21)

[6] Matthew  3:2,4:17,23; 16:19; Luke 11: 20 ; 17:20,21

[7] Luke 11:14-23;

[8] Luke 24:50-53

[9] The Olivet Discourse in Matthew  24 & 25

COVID CHRONICLES 2021 – "CHRIST WEARS THE CROWN!"

An (almost)  daily log of   Marcelle (M)  and  my (J)  journey with the Covid Delta variant.  Surnames  have been abreviated to  protect the...