Practice Verbal Distancing from These Terms

As our nation and our world continue to battle Covid-19, maybe battle is the wrong word, as we learn to survive in the world of Covid-19, there are terms that are becoming part of our everyday vocabulary.

Two of those terms are “social distancing” and “new normal.”

I’d like to propose that we practice verbal distancing from both of those terms.

I know that another name for social distancing is physical distancing and that is the term I am trying to use more and more. The reason for this is that why we need to maintain physical space to keep the virus from spreading, we should still seek every opportunity to engage socially.

In the very first book of the Bible and the second chapter we are told very directly,

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone. . .

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ge 2:18). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Genesis 2:18 is most often referenced regarding the topic of marriage; but we can’t limit it to marriage otherwise when Paul instructs people later in the Bible to stay unmarried if they are able in 1st Corinthians 7 he would be counseling against God’s direct feeling. So while Genesis 2:18 fully encompasses the union of a man and a woman in marriage it also encompasses the need for humans to have social interaction with other humans.

For the vast majority of history, one would need to have physical proximity to another person to also have social proximity to them. This would have been the reality in 1918 during the great influenza pandemic. I have heard a lot of comparisons to that horrific pandemic in our world’s history. I think there are many dissimilarities with that pandemic and what we are facing now, but one of the key differences is that this is not 1918, it is 2020 and 2020 has a multitude of ways to socially engage while keeping physical distance.

So I want to encourage all of us to stop speaking of social distancing and instead practice physical distancing while drawing near socially.

I am back on Facebook in a limit format, for this very purpose, so I can draw nearer to our church members and others that may wish to engage in the midst of this crisis.

I am making more phone calls. I spoke to my dad for forty-five minutes on the phone two Sabbath’s ago. I have not talked on the phone to my dad for forty-five minutes at one time in the five years since I moved to Maryland.

We can text. We can FaceTime. We can email. We can send a card through snail mail. Rain, shine, or Covid-19 the United States Post Office still runs strong. This last Sabbath while our family was out on a walk some church members drove by, they pulled their car over and while we stayed on the sidewalk and they in their car we had a 30+ minute Sabbath afternoon conversation. Practice physical distancing but draw near socially to someone every day!

The second phrase the “new normal” I didn’t realize how much I dislike it until today. I was looking at the news and they had a clip of Hoda Kotb breaking down in tears on NBC’s Today Show. She had just interviewed Drew Brees, the quarterback of the New Orleans Saints who was sharing what he was doing to help Louisiana to fight Covid-19. When the interview ended and Hoda tried to speak she couldn’t . . . her voice broke and tears started to come. Savannah Guthrie her co-host who is in another studio, because they are practicing physical distancing (do you like how I didn’t say social distancing? :)) had to step in and read the tease into the next segment of the show. Later when Hoda had collected herself she said one aspect of her losing it, is that she looked around to hug someone, and no one is there, and then she said, “I guess that is part of it too. Our new normal and we’ll just get used to it.” And that is when I realized I don’t like the term “new normal” either.

I understand by actual definition “new normal” is acknowledging that it isn’t normal. But when Hoda said, “I’ll get used to it.” I thought, “NO!” Because we live in a world where “new normals” those things which seem odd because they have never been this way before. Those things which have never been accepted practices of society before and were previously considered odd or out of place are suddenly accepted, and people say, “I guess this is just the new normal.” And then one day they aren’t the “new normal” any longer, they are just “normal.”

Odd — > New Normal — > Normal

And getting comfortable with not having a friend to hug, should never become normal–so let’s not even think of getting used to this, “new normal.” Let’s just keep calling this physical distancing what it is = odd!

Isaiah 55 and Covid-19

I was kicking myself after about 30 minutes had passed and I learned I would be needing a crown on one of my teeth. This past Sabbath before virtual church I had broken a tooth–I’ve known it was cracked since early December and my dentist had been encouraging me to get it fixed . . . but who has the time? So Sabbath morning the tooth broke, and today my doc told me to get into her office for an emergency appointment–which I obeyed . . . because now I do have the time.

But back to why I was kicking myself. I didn’t bring a book. I looked right at three books I’m reading when I was getting ready to leave the house and decided I wouldn’t be that long. One, there aren’t many patients going to the dentist in the season of Covid-19 and two, she’ll probably just throw some temporary fill in the hole and we’ll get to it when all this passes.

But no–things were too close to the nerve and so there I was wishing I had a book.

But since I didn’t I open the Bible app on my phone and I read the following (stay tuned after the text I have some thoughts):

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a ruler, and commander of the peoples. 5 Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations you do not know will come running to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.” Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.” 

Isaih 55:1-13

After I read that text I wasn’t kicking myself quite as hard, because it started me ruminating.

Here were my thoughts:

Verses 1-2: There is food right now we need that is above and beyond physical food. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” -Matthew 4:4

In this time of Covid-19 while we are worrying about the economy and what we will and won’t have does the Lord have a plan to draw us to return to His Word and His instruction for our lives? Is He calling us to take our eyes off of the world’s economy and place them on the Lord’s economy.

Verses 3-5: Verse 3 begins with an imperative to “listen” and our “listening” to what God is saying will lead us to another level of living. And then there is an expansion on that promise in verses 3b-5.

Verse 6: My heart was touched as I read these words. I thought about the people that will die due to this virus. Maybe someone I know and love. Maybe someone you know and love. I think about the people that will die prior to Jesus returning that have not yet accepted Him as their Savior. This is their time that He may be found. But this is not just about others, this is about the time I have now to seek Jesus more deeply than I have previously. In fact those things that have often sucked-up my time have been removed. The things I would subconsciously and consciously allow to pull me away from Jesus time–an abundance of meetings–I don’t have those right now. Sports–I don’t have those right now. Kids school activities–I don’t have those right now. I have a lot more time–Chad “seek me in this extra time, while I may be found.”

Verse 7: When we truly seek The Lord we will see wicked things in our lives, we will see all kinds of levels of unrighteousness. But when we see those things we don’t need to despair! Jesus through His death on the cross has given us a better option than the wicked ways and the unrighteous thoughts, the option to turn away from the wicked things and live, because “He will freely pardon.”

Verses 8-9: I pondered how is God thinking about Covid-19. It didn’t catch Him off guard like it did the leader of our country and so many others. Is God working in a way through this horrible situation that we cannot even comprehend? In history when there are calamities, crises, and persecution the church grows. But what about when the calamity is forced isolation? The question has been in my mind, “how can a church grow when can’t “go”? I hear God saying to me, “my ways are not your ways.” Maybe God is preparing a people that will come through this Covid-19 time more convicted of the times in which we are living. Ready to put everything else aside and live only for reaching people for Jesus. I don’t know. But I do know God’s ways are not my ways.

Verses 10-11: My favorite verses in the entire passage. Verses 10 and 11 assure me even in this time of isolation, somehow God’s Word is going out and it will not return to Him void. Just in the last couple weeks the grass in our back yard that has lied dormant all winter is letting me know it is ready to be cut, and today as the rain fell I thought, “after the off and on of rain and sun all week our yard is really going to need cutting.” Just like that dormant grass bursts forth. God’s word I know will do that in people’s hearts! That is how His ways, whatever they are will be fulfilled. People open to God’s word, and God’s word doing the work only it can!

Verses 12-13: I had not thought about verse 12 and 13–I don’t think ever before today. But in my heart, there in the dentist chair I thought . . . well let me first say, I don’t mean for this to sound callous. I understand there is a lot of suffering going on in our world right now, and that some will die from Covid-19, maybe even us . . . but as I pondered this verse in the chair while I was waiting for the machine to finish making my new tooth (crown) my heart thought, “could there a people who spiritually come through this virus more joyful? Seeing the good things of God rather than the thorn bush?”

Those are my thoughts. I pray Isaiah 55 leads us in this time of Covid-19.

I believe it was a good thing I chose not to bring a book to the dentist today.  


Lessons from Acts 8 in the Time of Covid-19

As we enter into another week of being the church scattered rather than the church gathered, due to Covid-19,  the first verses of Acts, chapter 8, are ringing in my ears.  Acts chapter 8 for those of you that may not recall tells the story of when the church went from a work primarily focused in Jerusalem, to a church scattered around the then known world. The scattering came about through persecution, Stephen, a leader in the early church, was stoned to death for his faith, and then the Bible states, 

And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.[1] (Acts 8:1)

If there was no further explanation after verse one, a reader could deduce this scattering destroyed the church, but then we read verse 4, 

“Now, those who were scattered went about preaching the word.”[2] (Acts 8:4)

When the church could no longer be in one place due to the circumstances of their world, the church began to spread and grow.

Ellen G. White in the book Acts of the Apostles sheds further light on the importance of this occasion, 

The persecution that came upon the church in Jerusalem resulted in giving a great impetus to the work of the gospel. Success had attended the ministry of the word in that place, and there was danger that the disciples would linger there too long, unmindful of the Saviour’s commission to go to all the world. Forgetting that strength to resist evil is best gained by aggressive service, they began to think that they had no work so important as that of shielding the church in Jerusalem from the attacks of the enemy. Instead of educating the new converts to carry the gospel to those who had not heard it, they were in danger of taking a course that would lead all to be satisfied with what had been accomplished. To scatter His representatives abroad, where they could work for others, God permitted persecution to come upon them. Driven from Jerusalem, the believers “went everywhere preaching the word.” (Acts of the Apostles,105)

Notice some critical points in that paragraph:

  • The persecution resulted in a great impetus to share the gospel.
  • The success, the comfort of what was happening in Jerusalem, caused the people to forget Jesus’ commission to “Go.”
  • The people were losing strength by no longer serving Jesus aggressively.
  • God used the trouble of their day to get his people back on mission.

Does any of this sound familiar to your local church context? Maybe even you personally? 

I love the previous paragraph, but it is the following paragraph in Acts of the Apostles that hits me like a club over the head,

Among those to whom the Saviour had given the commission, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19), were many from the humbler walks of life—men and women who had learned to love their Lord and who had determined to follow His example of unselfish service. To these lowly ones, as well as to the disciples who had been with the Saviour during His earthly ministry, had been given a precious trust. They were to carry to the world the glad tidings of salvation through Christ. (Acts of the Apostles, 105).

The above paragraph, along with the last phrase of verse 1, “except the apostles,” tells us one of the reasons why the gospel began to spread the way it did. The “laity” went out to spread the gospel, not the apostles. People that learned to love Jesus and decided to follow Him along with some of the people who followed Jesus while He was still walking the earth, excluding the apostles, went out to share the message. The “members,” as we may call them, did not see it as the role of the “clergy,” as we may call them to establish the ways and means by which to share Jesus in this time of scattering. They just went out and, in unselfish service, carried the love of Jesus to their world.  

And the kingdom of God grew each day. 

Sometimes it takes a crisis to remind us of the role each one of us has played in becoming the “satisfied church of Jerusalem.” Covid-19 has served as just such a reminder to me. It has awakened me to my failures as a member of the “professional clergy.” I have allowed there to be too much priority on programming and “come to us” type of events, which are pointless in this crisis. I have called people to many committees, but not to training. I have inadvertently taught people that attending worship one day of the week is the primary role of their Christian walk, rather than teaching them that the purpose of the gathering is to be refreshed for the sending the other six days of the week. We occupy members’ lives with so much busyness at church (school) that they don’t have time to be ministers in their neighborhoods and to their co-workers.

I pray this crisis has also helped our members to reflect on their role in surrendering their God-given call to ministry over to the paid professionals. That would start to call us to and hold us accountable for training them to go out and do the work of ministry rather than doing the work of ministry for them.

I pray our members when they have an idea of how they can help their neighbors, won’t make that suggestion to the church, but they will just do it. That if they feel a Bible verse can comfort someone in need, they will share it, not ask the pastor to come over and share it. That if someone around them requires prayer, they will pray, not call the pastor to come and pray.

Hundreds, yea, thousands, who have heard the message of salvation are still idlers in the market place, when they might be engaged in some line of active service. To these Christ is saying, “Why stand ye here all the day idle?” and He adds, “Go ye also into the vineyard.” Matthew 20:6, 7. Why is it that many more do not respond to the call? Is it because they think themselves excused in that they do not stand in the pulpit? Let them understand that there is a large work to be done outside the pulpit by thousands of consecrated lay members. Long has God waited for the spirit of service to take possession of the whole church so that everyone shall be working for Him according to his ability. When the members of the church of God do their appointed work in the needy fields at home and abroad, in fulfillment of the gospel commission, the whole world will soon be warned and the Lord Jesus will return to this earth with power and great glory. “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:14. (Acts of the Apostles, 110)

No one wants to go through a crisis, but a crisis offers opportunities to learn and come out better on the other side. I pray myself as a leader, and our church comes out on the other side better—better workers for Jesus.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 8:1). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 8:4). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

January 22, 2020, Genesis 22

There are scriptures and stories I accept by faith, but I do not understand.

This is just such a scripture.

The challenge of the scripture to me is in God’s request. Such a request is more painful than physical pain.

When my oldest son was just two years old, he had to have surgery. The thought of my two year going under anesthesia was immensely painful to my heart.

As they wheeled him away and he cried out for my wife and I, I would have done anything to comfort him.

The request of God in Genesis 22 is that pain I had multiplied to infinity.

I understand that Abraham reasoned God could Isaac back to life (Hebrews 11:19), but I also knew my son would wake-up from anesthesia–but it was still a pain my heart will forever remember.

So again, this is a scripture I accept in faith, but struggle with in my humaneness.

January 21, 2020, Genesis 21

Tim Keller once stated,

the reason people disbelieve in the gospel is not because it promises too little but because it promises too much. If you don’t understand that, you don’t even know what you’re rejecting. To reject the gospel with tears, to say, “I can’t believe in it,” with tears, that has integrity, and that shows you know what you’re rejecting. To reject it with laughter, to scoff at it, “People like that who believe things like that,” that shows ignorance.”

 Keller, T. J. (2013). The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive. New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

Sarah and Abraham both laughed at God when He promised them a child. They laughed because they could not understand.

If someone laughs at what your Christian beliefs and convictions do not be offended, pray for them.

Laughter is a sign of ignorance not a sign of true rejection.

So don’t reject those that laugh, teach them, show them, help them to understand.

January 20, 2020, Genesis 20

A quick note on the text today.

This story reminds us that simply because a person is a “pagan” does not mean they are less honorable than the “believer” in God.

Abraham shows dishonor once again to his wife Sarah,

Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ 12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And when God had me wander from my father’s household, I said to her, ‘This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’”

Genesis 20:11-13, NIV

But Abimelek seeks to restore Sarah’s reputation,

To Sarah he said, “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.”

Genesis 20:16

Abraham = I want to ask you to put yourself in a position of compromise for me.

Abimelek = I want to completely clear you from any blame or suspicion.

In verse 16, I also appreciated this subtle jab by the King, he tells Sarah, “I am giving your brother.” He doesn’t call Abraham her husband. Why? My guess is because Abimelek will not give the title of husband to Abraham when he has not earned such a respectful title.

Being a husband is to be earned.

January 19, 2020, Genesis 19

Genesis 19 illustrates the combined wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah and its impact on Lots family through sexual sin:

Before they (Lot and male guests) had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” 

 The New International Version. (2011). (Ge 19:4–5). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them.

The New International Version. (2011). (Ge 19:6–8). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth. 32 Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.” 33 That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up. 34 The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” 35 So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went in and slept with him.

 The New International Version. (2011). (Ge 19:31–35). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Due to the inference of homosexual acts in the first scripture reference above and our modern societies desire to avoid all condemnation of homosexual activity, there are efforts to minimize this sin of Sodom and Gomorrah,

It may be that sexual disorder is one aspect of a general disorder. But that issue is presented in a way scarcely pertinent to contemporary discussions of homosexuality.

Brueggemann, W. (1982). Genesis (p. 164). Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press.

So those that want to condone the homosexual acts within our society often point out that Sodom and Gomorrah were condemned in other parts of scripture for overall injustice (Isaiah 1:10; 3:9), adultery and deceit (Jeremiah 23:14), and the most popular explanation for their destruction,

Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Eze 16:49–50). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

I concur with commentators that there were other ills in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, but that does not mean one of those ills was not homosexual activity.

On the other hand, I would push against those who focus primarily on the sin of sexual activity between two individuals of the same gender, that the sexual sins in the rest of Genesis 19 and the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah listed in other parts of scripture need to be condemned just as strongly as the homosexual activity.

We as Christians that believe sexual activity, as God designed it, is to be reserved for heterosexual marriage, lose credibility when we ignore other sins of a society or within our own groups.

For Christians to condemn homosexual acts out of one side of their mouths and condone the vitriol, lies, and greed of a president out of the other side of their mouths destroy Christian credibility.

Sex between individuals of the same gender is sin. So is avarice, gluttony, pride, dishonesty, oppression of the poor, heterosexual sins, etc.

Christians, let us be consistent!


January 18, 2020, Genesis 18

Reading the Bible is unlike any other book for a multitude of reasons, but in one way that is so fascinating is how with each reading the Holy Spirit impresses a new emphasis.

Normally when I read Genesis 18 I focus on Sarah laughing or Abraham “bargaining” with God for Sodom–at least that is what the notes in my margins all tell me have been on my mind in the past.

But this time I thought about Abraham’s hospitality. This was an expectation of their culture, but there is a reason. The bedouin culture understood the value of hospitality and sharing a meal with another.

Recently we had a church meeting with some of our leaders and we decided to host it at our house. We provided food . . . my wife or I did not go and kill a calf . . . we catered Chipotle . . . but still, the meeting was different because before we got to business people took off their coats, some took off their shoes, and they sat together and ate.

It made me want to have a meal around every meeting . . .

I don’t know that we could afford that, but I do think we’ll do it more often than we have in the past.

Show hospitality, eat with people.

These aspects of human, and even in the case of Abraham, divine relationships seem to be very important in the Bible!

January 17, 2020, Genesis 17

The focus of this chapter is the covenant of circumcision.

But what jumped out at me, were the names.

Abram to Abraham.

Sarai to Sarah.

The name of the unborn Isaac, to remind Abraham that he laughed at God’s promise.

And my favorite of all, El Shaddai. Our English Bibles translate this, “God almighty,” but it is the name God gives to Himself,

“I am El Shaddai”

El is the term for God and Shaddai is often viewed as a translation for all powerful —

but there is also “the suggestion that Shaddai is a composite term of sha (“the one who”) and dai (“is sufficient”). The later Greek versions have adopted this meaning.”

Van Groningen, G. (1988). God, Names Of. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 882). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

 Sarai and Abram who could not have children, became,

Sarah and Abraham because God is sufficient to make a great nation out of the infertile–where there is nothing, God is sufficient to make something.


January 16, 2020, Genesis 16

Proverbs 30:21-23 states,

21  Under three things the earth trembles; under four it cannot bear up:  22  a slave when he becomes king, and a fool when he is filled with food; 23  an unloved woman when she gets a husband, and a maidservant when she displaces her mistress. 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Pr 30:21–23). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.


We see Abram’s earth begin to tremble when the latter of the above becomes Hagar and Sarai’s reality.

Abram has shown moments of great faith and he will continue to, but he has also shown moments of great timidity and he will continue to do this also.

It is evidence that overcoming our character flaws is not the work of single moment, but the work of a lifetime . . .

As one with greater insight than I wrote,

Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, a day, but of a lifetime.

White, E. G. (1911). The Acts of the Apostles. Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 560.

Abram let’s Sarai rule the day in every part of this chapter. She recommends he sleep with her servant to get a child. He acquiesces–it might have been a little more intentional than acquiescing.

Sarai then gets mad at Hagar and when she asks Abram to do something about it, his response,

“Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ge 16:6). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

“Hey, I only slept with her and now she’s carrying my child, but what business is it of mine.”

Actually sounds like too many modern men that impregnate women.

It’s your body, I don’t want anything to do with it . . . it is not my problem.

Abram still a work in progress . . .

Praise God for grace!

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