We have all honed our skills as health risk assessors and managers lately. We have been developing these skills all our lives. Many of us still hear a parent’s voice in our head when we start to do something risky or dangerous. The riskiest thing we do is driving while multitasking. Multitasking is eating a hamburger, changing the radio, and trying to find where the napkin went while driving 65 mph down the expressway during the lunch hour. It is safer to fly with the Blue Angels than to drive in rush hour traffic faster than the speed limit with cars all around you looking to change lanes so they can get there faster than you.
Going back to church for in-person gatherings is a new risk for us to assess. Hand sanitizing, face masks and social distancing are the best actions for all to take to keep ourselves and others safe in this time of coronavirus. I have been listening to the stories of the churches who have begun their services this month. Most are working well and tailoring the worship time to the health and age groups within the congregation. Face masks should be worn by everyone while singing and going in and out of the building. Always sanitize your hands when entering and leaving.
I heard of one church who wanted to have some fun with the idea of social distancing. On their first Sunday back, they provided everyone one of those colorful foam water “noodles.” The instruction was to keep the distance of the float and your extended arm from those around you. It was a fun idea and made the point, although they underestimated the pent-up need to play with others. “You’re too close!” “No, you’re to close!” The bonking began, sword fights broke out and the kids howled with excitement. That is what I heard about one church. I could not verify the truthfulness of the story, but it sounds about right. What an amazing time to be alive.
I am more than ready to return to in-church worship. It is very hard to keep postponing our first time back. The Hebrew people spent 70 years in exile before some were able to return to Jerusalem. They wept. They rebuilt. And they sang, I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the House of the Lord.’ (Psalm 122)
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Be glad. And let’s experience the love and power of God together while apart.
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I just completed the first 10 weeks of what I am calling God’s School of Church Technology. It is a self-directed program initiated by the Great Pandemic of 2020. The next 10 weeks will proceed with the same directive—learn what I need to understand about using technology to advance the effectiveness of the church. I have written of this before. Imagine my surprise when I discovered I was also enrolled in God’s post-graduate School of Church Sanitation and Disease Control. My only experience in this field was two months as a janitor in charge of changing incandescent light bulbs (fluorescent fixtures require skill), floor sweeping, and wrestling a buffer. Also, I once had a food handler’s permit for meals on wheels that expired years ago. Now, in concert with our Hispanic congregation, I have become acquainted with the intrinsic differences between hand soap, antibiotic foams and sprays, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic sanitizers. A support group has become a necessity.
Immediately following our March 15 closure of the building, some volunteers from Monte Los Olivos cleaned and sanitized the restrooms, kitchen, hard surface floors and doors. Later, the water fountains were sealed off from use and the pews, microphones and other surfaces cleaned. Each week now, three teams rotate through the church cleaning before and after any gatherings. As the Hispanic church has begun weekly services, this procedure has worked well. We have focused on the restrooms by replacing the soap bottles with automatic antibacterial hand soap dispensers and providing flushable toilet seat covers. In the main foyer, in the entrance by the kitchen and in Fellowship Hall, we are installing foam hand sanitizers. We have placed sanitizing stations in the sanctuary.
We are considering ways to keep all of us safe during and between Sunday morning worship, while both churches are in the building at our usual times. Occasionally my mother would send us off to bathe saying, Cleanliness is next to Godliness. The saying is not found in the Bible. It is attributed to the Methodist evangelist John Wesley, but probably had its origin in an admonition to wash thoroughly dating from the times of the Black plague. The Bible does advocate clean hands and a clean heart when approaching God in prayer and worship.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Stay clean and safe. And let’s experience the love and power of God together, while apart.
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It was one of those teachable moments. You know the kind; where the teacher shows up in the spontaneity of the moment and everyone “gets it.” We were going over the elements of the Lord’s Supper for the children’s moment. What do the bread and the cup of juice represent? “Skin and blood,” was the child’s answer. We all suddenly learned an amazing truth. It was a teachable moment. God, through Jesus, was real. He had skin and blood. He loved us that much.
I’ve begun to have concerns about “teaching for the test.” Tests teach one thing—there is but one right answer to every question. So students want to please by trying to discern the “right” answer that a teacher wants to hear. That’s why children tend to respond with “Jesus” to every question a Baptist preacher asks about God. Most of the school teachers I know understand the place of tests, but dislike being required to teach to mandatory tests that may unduly shape a student’s life and self-respect. In real life there are many answers to every question. But absolute answers, without exceptions, seem to be what is to be expected.
Absolutes are easier to grade and judge. You either get right or you are wrong. Getting it wrong too often means you are a failure. Being a failure means you just don’t get it. If you can’t get it, then what is the point of school? If there is no point to school, because you are a failure, why try at anything else? If you believe you have no future you do not have a dream for your life. Without a dream, you perish. Do you know anyone who has no dream for the rest of their life? Are they boxed-in, with no “right answers” about tomorrow? I suggest we “teach for the life.” Help others find their dream.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Put some skin in your relationships. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
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We are passing through the days of the holiest week of the year. Easter is this Sunday. We are overwhelmed by never-ending pandemic news. We are confronted with inconvenient choices involving face masks, gloves and sheltering at home. Some want to confront this from a self-centered position of empty fatalism, “Who cares? If I die, I die.” Others come from a position of paralysis, which is a position of inaction, fear or personal terror. Others were never good at being told how to act or behave, so they come from a position of rebellion. Many come from a position of anger and grief, mad at their loss of financial security and personal freedoms or even mad at God Himself for allowing/causing this to happen at all. Some find comfort in conspiracies and blame, which is a position of self-insulation. Others come from a place of service, giving and self-sacrifice. Many may find themselves going in and out of most of these positions multiple times. Know these are normal emotions working their way through our bodies, hearts and minds. Interrupted sleep, restlessness, trouble concentrating, numbness, overcompensation, too much eating or sleeping, or too little food and rest are the instinctive ways our bodies react to times like these.
Always look to the life of Jesus to teach us how to face these kinds of days. This week is an opportune time to see these similar emotions played out in the events leading to the cruel death of Jesus. As preparation for this Easter, read one of the Gospel accounts of Holy Week, from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday. Read the Gospel, looking for the emotions of Jesus in each day’s stories, and the reactions of those He loves.
Today pray for those who are separated from those they love. Pray for the most vulnerable and frail in our hospitals, nursing centers and home alone. Continue to pray for the near exhausted caregivers, doctors, nurses and health care workers. Pray for the suddenly jobless, the homeless, and anxious professionals whose lifework may be at risk.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Easter is coming! Let’s experience the love and power of God together.
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Are we there yet? You know that little voice from the backseat when you hear it. It is the famous refrain from the family road trip. Everyone is in the same car, but someone wants to go at their own speed. Are we there yet? is usually followed by an, I’m bored, or, Stop touching me. Television sports fans have been reduced to highlight reels and championship league bowling tournaments reruns. Others are binge-watching the last 20 years of The Simpsons or the first 20 years of I Love Lucy. Anything to escape this road trip of fear and sorrow called a pandemic.
Who is driving this car anyway? Can we at least stop the car for a while or look at some different scenery? When will we get there? Everyone wants an estimated arrival day. This road trip so far has been marked by flat tires, empty gas tanks, rocks in the windshield and near misses. We have our plans and ideas on how to keep the car running, which roads are fastest and where the shortcuts are, but we are not driving the car. We still do not know what hazards may be in the road ahead, what storms may slow us down, or tail winds which might push us forward faster. There may be a bridge out across mountains, or a superhighway that opens the way. The answer to how long may depend on how many of us stay buckled up in the car and let the journey take care of itself. Nothing to do can be your enemy or your friend. Exhaustion in activity holds the very same challenge.
The Scriptures help us to navigate days of uncertainty and waiting in a simple prayer: So teach us to order our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12) Today pray for those infected and those they love. Pray for the most alone, vulnerable and frail. Love your neighbors. Keep in touch with all whom the Lord brings to mind. Pray for yourself, that you will find patience and perseverance for the whole journey.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Keep your seatbelt on. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
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When fears assail, stay connected to God. When resources run low, depend on Christ. When strength runs out, fill-up with the power of the Spirit. When friends and family cannot be hugged, wrap your love around them in prayer. When boredom engulfs, make a joyful noise. When your mind won’t settle down, read God’s Holy Word. When life seems out of control, draw near to your Creator. When grief brings sorrows deep, look high with tears to the Shepherd who holds you close. The Lord appeared to us in the past saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again…’ Read the whole promise in Jeremiah 31:1-9.
How do we live faithfully when we are endangered by an unseen enemy and confined for our whole community’s good? We practice the JOY we were taught in Sunday School. Jesus first. Others second. Yourself last. We take care of each other. We stay connected. I discovered this little formula one night while reading. I reposted it on Facebook:
Daily Quarantine Questions
- What am I grateful for today?
- Who am I checking in on or connecting with today?
- What expectations of “normal” am I letting go of today?
- How am I getting outside today?
- How am I moving my body today?
- What beauty am I either creating, cultivating, or inviting in today?
Today pray for yourself and your well-being. Open the front door and pray about what you see. Pray for your church leaders and church families. Pray for those already infected and those they love. Pray for the most vulnerable and frail. Pray for the caregivers, doctors, nurses and health care workers. Pray for those whose life work, jobs and businesses are in jeopardy.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Stay connected. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
- Facebook: Darryl S. DeBorde
- Phone: (918) 230-0781
- Email: BroDarryl@cox.net
- Church Facebook: Braden Park Church Tulsa
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Our daughters have grounded us, sort of. They are starting to get really bossy about it. They quiz me about what my plan for the day is, then reprimand me when I report my necessary trips to tie up loose ends at the church. And the bank. And the store. Dayna is pleading with us to stop going anywhere, for anything. She says it will be worth it in the long run, and her home cooking has improved immensely. Her report today is, “There are 16 coronavirus cases in all of China, four from the Wuhan region, and 12 from Chinese citizens who just flew back to their country.” If you are on Facebook, go to her page at Dayna DeBorde Avery, and read her post about sheltering-at-home from a missionary friend, Jessica McFarland Cannell, serving in Dalian in northeast China, who says in part: “We would say ‘this too shall pass.’ But we really weren’t sure when. Nor did we know if all these restrictions were actually necessary. . .They say hindsight is 20/20 and looking back I can say with a resounding YES! it was completely, totally necessary. And it was successful! …Please take advantage of other countries’ experiences. Don’t be selfish. Be inconvenienced. Be wise…Please, everyone, just stay home. YOU will make a difference.”
I will shelter in place. I will be inconvenienced. I will seek to set aside my pride in believing that I am somehow so important that I am the exception. I am also asking myself, what if I get the virus and never know that I am a carrier like Typhoid Mary, infecting others who might eventually die? I am exploring how best to proceed in worship, prayer and counsel to the church. I am learning about live-streaming, podcasting, and other ways to bring encouragement. Even though we are all becoming “homebound” for now, we can still connect. I may not be able to send you an EVANGEL every week. Let’s stay grounded. Friend me on Facebook. My phone will always be charged so call me anytime. I have set up an email to use for such a time as this.
Today pray for those already infected and those they love. Pray for the most vulnerable and frail. Pray for the caregivers, doctors, nurses and health care workers. Pray for the first responders who are always on call whatever the emergency. Pray for yourself, that you will find peace in this time of crisis. Love your neighbors. Keep in touch will all the Lord brings to mind.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Stay grounded! And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
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I love libraries. I worked my way through college and seminary as a staff librarian. In that life long ago, I worked in the Special Collections Department of the Harwell G. Davis Library of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. I was a Micro-photographer, which meant I photographed historical books, maps, newspapers and documents for researchers and writers to read on an old technology called Microfilm and Microfiche. After college I served about 3 years as the full-time Serials Librarian at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Fleming Library. That’s serials with an “s,” not with a “c.” We did not serve breakfast. Serials are periodicals, magazines and annuals. I had a staff of eight people to supervise and over 4,000 different titles to catalog and file. It was an amazing and diverse job with the opportunity to help students, professors and Biblical scholars research the most current materials available in religious studies.
I went to the local branch of the library in hopes of finding a certain book. The Tulsa City County Library System is amazing. The young librarian was very kind and helpful as she directed me to the big Start Here sign over a brightly decorated computer, since the card catalog drawers were recycled long ago. No luck finding the book. I had lost my library card and needed a new one. After completing the proper form back at the computer, the librarian gave me a plastic library card with my personal barcode to use with everything. She taught me the intricacies of downloading library books through the various kinds of apps for my devices and even gave me a list of the apps needed for the many different e-book platforms that publishers use. All free and done in less than 10 minutes. Before saying farewell and sending me on my way, she patiently listened to my stories of microfiche and serials.
I am continually grateful for the skills I learned working in libraries. I learned vast amounts of history while filming newspapers from colonial times through World War 2. I learned how to read quickly with comprehension, and how to research current ideas through periodicals. Technology is always changing, but libraries open the world to us all. Andrew Carnegie, the giver of libraries to the small towns of America, once said, There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, or wealth receives the slightest consideration.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Expand your world. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
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