Why I wear a mask at church – Guest blog

by Amy Jakes   May 27, 2020

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy for all people.

–Titus 3:1-2

Over the last couple of weeks, several from our church family have asked me this question. Giving a complete answer in the two minutes before church starts or when rushing off to my Sunday School class after church just didn’t seem possible. So, here are my thoughts:

I have no good reason to avoid wearing a mask.  It’s not a gospel issue. It costs me nothing. The governor, the health department, the church insurance company, and even The Family Leader all recommend wearing masks at church for those who are able.  If someone were to get sick from our church, the steps we have taken show due diligence…  The leadership is doing everything we can to help keep people “safe.” (Do I believe it will keep people safe? Do I believe it will make a difference?  That’s irrelevant. God’s Word tells me to submit to the authorities.  Paul and Jesus had much more corrupt authorities and yet they taught to submit on everything but preaching the gospel.)

Some people are scared.  If my wearing a mask when I am at church or even out and about comforts people, I’m all for that.  It seems like a common courtesy that again costs me nothing. I don’t want my preference about masks to give Christ a bad name in the marketplace of ideas.  Christians got a reputation for not caring about people when they met during shutdown, when they didn’t wear masks, when they didn’t social distance.  If I’m going to get called out, I want it to be for telling people Jesus is the only way.

Each of us needs to decide, thoughtfully, how we will handle the mask issue. This is something that Satan can’t wait to use to divide people.  Passions run deep on each side of the issue. Yet as believers we are told to live in grace with one another. This should not be an issue that divides us. Wear a mask.  Or don’t. But as with everything else in life, search the scriptures to know how God wants you to live. Be convinced in your own mind and let others be convinced in theirs.  

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

–Romans 12:18
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At Calvary – Ep 19 – Confirmation Bias… Is it a problem?

Sorry about the broken link… Come back and give it a listen now! Confirmation bias. What is it? How does it affect what we hear? When it comes to public policy decisions, this is a very important concept to acknowledge and seek to overcome. So it is in our everyday life as well!

On Android you can find past episodes here:

Listen on Google Play Music

Of course, you can always find all of the episodes right here…

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At Calvary – Ep 20 – Can You Have Professional Sports without Fans?

As we are approaching day 90 (in just two weeks) of the Corona virus pandemic, we are hearing of states and businesses reopening. However, everyone is still being VERY careful about mass gatherings where it is difficult (can we say impossible?) to avoid being exposed to water droplets from the person next to you. This includes professional sports. What have some professional sports organizations decided to do? They are choosing to have games, races, and matches without fans!

On Android you can find past episodes here:

Listen on Google Play Music

Of course, you can always find all of the episodes right here…

At Calvary – Ep 19 – Confirmation Bias… Is it a problem? At Calvary!

Sorry about the broken link… Come back and give it a listen now! Confirmation bias. What is it? How does it affect what we hear? When it comes to public policy decisions, this is a very important concept to acknowledge … Continue reading →
  1. At Calvary – Ep 19 – Confirmation Bias… Is it a problem?
  2. At Calvary – Ep 20 – Can You Have Professional Sports without Fans?
  3. At Calvary – Ep 18 – Heady Stuff… What is reality?
  4. At Calvary – Ep 17 – Deep Thinking about Struggles Makes Me Think Deeply about Blessings
  5. At Calvary – Ep 16 – A Book Review – Coronavirus and Christ by John Piper
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Forgiveness – What we want, we should give

There is nothing so nice as an encouraging verse. However, thinking deeply and carefully about those encouraging verses can be equally challenging! For example, consider the Scripture that invites us to forgive…

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:32

This verse, and many others like it, use very encouraging language to describe our relationships with one another. These words, like kind, tender-hearted, and forgive, describe feelings of closeness and friendship. What they don’t describe is how challenging these concepts will be for us. Other words, like hurt, anger, and betrayal, so often overshadow the encouraging words that we are truly shocked by their effects. We are shocked by how long hurts take to fade. We are shocked by the depth of betrayal we feel. We are shocked by the intensity of our anger. Suddenly a verse that seems so encouraging to us becomes a verse that almost mocks us in our frustration or pain.

We wonder… how can it be fair to be forgiving and tender-hearted when someone has wronged me like this! If you have asked that question, you are certainly not alone. However (and please don’t hear judgment or condemnation of how you feel – just deep thinking), when we are deeply hurt I don’t think that we are thinking clearly about our desire for fairness. We may feel that we want fairness in that moment, but we really don’t. And no, I don’t mean that we are always wanting something harsher that fairness, like vengeance. No, I mean that we may believe we want fairness in how we are hurt; but we don’t want fairness equally. We don’t hope for justice when we have wronged someone. Which means, in the moment we are hurting we may believe we long for fairness; but such longing is coming out of our pain and not out of who we are in the core of our being.

Why do I say that? I say that because we consistently long for mercy (which, by definition, isn’t fair) if we are the ones who hurt someone else. We long for forgiveness. We long for restoration. We plead for it. In fact, we are sometimes even impatient for it when a friend delays in giving it to us. Why do we live in such contradiction? Why do we want justice when we are hurt and mercy when we have hurt others? Two words: pain and life. These are imperatives for us. We avoid pain when we can, and seek life whenever we can. Both when we have been hurt and when we have hurt others, we feel the tug of war between these two imperatives. Too often when we are hurt we are tempted to minimize the call of life in our hearts. We want to protect ourselves from more pain. This is where God’s teaching about forgiveness challenges us. He calls us to value life over protection. This is who He is.

Jesus tells us several times in the gospels that the way we forgive others is the way that God will forgive us (see the Lord’s prayer and His parable of the unmerciful servant). I don’t know about you, but that scares me a bit! In our verse today, Paul encourages us to forgive just like God has forgiven us. These aren’t separate truths. They are the same truth said from the flip side. Paul takes what Jesus says in the gospels and flips it over as our challenge. How would I put these two parallel encouragements together?

We, as Christians, must always let how much we have been forgiven by God influence how much we will forgive those who have hurt us. Anything less is a horrible forgetfulness of God’s gracious work in us.

This isn’t easy. Re-read what Jesus experienced on the cross and then tell me if it was easy for Him. He was stripped, whipped, beaten, mocked, and crucified. He even cried out over His feelings of abandonment while hanging on the cross. No, His path to forgive us was not easy, but it was the path of life for us. Living in forgiveness today is an extension of that path lived out in us. First, it is the path of life because as we live this way we are living out the revealed character of our God. If Jesus has so changed us that we can do this, it assures our hearts that we are truly His. Second, it is the path of life because in our relationships things like bitterness and grudge holding are the path of death.

So, when I am hurt or feel betrayed, I keep choosing forgiveness. It is not simple or easy. Yet, it is the path of life. It is the path Jesus has walked before us. I want to walk with Him in this path. If it is the path of life, why would I want to walk in any other?

Be encouraged!

Pastor John

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At Calvary – Ep 18 – Heady Stuff… What is reality?

Of the first fifteen most commonly asked questions on Google regarding theology, one of those questions is, “What is reality?” What makes real, real? That is heady stuff! For some of us, that question seems obvious – it’s all around us! However, is that all that is real? How can you know? Is there a good definition of reality that is true and satisfying?

On Android you can find past episodes here:

Listen on Google Play Music

Of course, you can always find all of the episodes right here…

At Calvary – Ep 19 – Confirmation Bias… Is it a problem? At Calvary!

Sorry about the broken link… Come back and give it a listen now! Confirmation bias. What is it? How does it affect what we hear? When it comes to public policy decisions, this is a very important concept to acknowledge … Continue reading →
  1. At Calvary – Ep 19 – Confirmation Bias… Is it a problem?
  2. At Calvary – Ep 20 – Can You Have Professional Sports without Fans?
  3. At Calvary – Ep 18 – Heady Stuff… What is reality?
  4. At Calvary – Ep 17 – Deep Thinking about Struggles Makes Me Think Deeply about Blessings
  5. At Calvary – Ep 16 – A Book Review – Coronavirus and Christ by John Piper
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Jesus is my Enough

When was the last time you heard people sing with abandon about Jesus? I have two events every year when I am surrounded by people who are doing that. The first is my pastors’ conference in February. The second is camp. Being a part of a group like that reminds me of how precious our relationship with God is.  What do you see in such gatherings? You see people singing with abandon.  They are praising God with their whole hearts.  I believe God receives such praise with love.

Isn’t that the most wonderful reality of our God?  He loves us!  He receives our praise!  He longs to be our friend!  What a glorious invitation! Consider what James says about Abraham:

“Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.

James 2:23 NASB

When you think about how little we know and how often we sin, it is absolutely wonderful that God accepts us. Think about how little of the Bible had been written during Abraham’s day. Yet, the Bible declares boldly that Abraham was God’s friend! How does God do that? How can he call we who know so little and make so many mistakes His friend?! He does it through faith. When we believe what God has said about His Son and apply it to ourselves, He fully and completely receives us. God considers our faith enough to call us His friend. How glorious!

I was reminded of that this week. Jesus made the way to God, and Jesus is the way to God.  When our life is in Him, God accepts us, our praise, and our friendship. That is so good for my heart to hear. That is enough for me. What about you?

Something to think about,

Pastor John

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At Calvary – Ep 17 – Deep Thinking about Struggles Makes Me Think Deeply about Blessings

Struggles happen in all of our lives. In philosophy and theology this subject is called the problem of evil. Today, let’s flip the topic over and talk about the wonder of blessing. Specifically, why are we geared to expect life to be good instead of hard? Why don’t we ask, “Why do good things seem to happen to good people?”

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