Ebola in Frisco? One Pastor’s Response

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A friend texted me this afternoon.  “A second potential Ebola patient was found in Frisco.”

The patient was at a clinic not too far from my home.  Across the street from where I got gas last week.  Near a neighborhood where many of my friends live.  In the same parking lot used by a sister church in our area.

The news hit me like a punch in the gut.  I was alarmed, terrified, and paranoid all in one emotional reaction.  I retraced my mental log from the last week:

  • Did I run into anyone who seemed sick?
  • Did I walk near that clinic for any reason?
  • Was there anything suspicious that I was overlooking last week?

I called my wife in a calm panic.  We both desperately needed to confirm that we had not exposed our family or friends to a deadly infectious disease. My wife went immediately to the store to grab bleach and clorox disinfecting wipes.  She wiped down the house like it was a scene in a Jason Bourne film.  We both checked twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social media for up to date information on the patient, the situation, and the danger risk.

In my worry, I assumed a zombie-like presence. At work people came in and out of my office but I found it difficult to focus.  I was experiencing something I had not faced in quite a while.  Sheer terror.

**********

Ebola as an idea is not a pleasant thought to my 21st century sensibilities.  In Ebola there are no known antidotes.  This means that there is no opt-out protocol.  I cannot unsubscribe from Ebola.  I can’t negotiate with the disease.  I am unable to “keep my options open.”  It is the airplane turbulence of diseases and I am sitting in a passenger seat. There is no way to insulate myself from that which Ebola represents — namely, that when it comes down to it, I am not in control.

And so it is in this moment that I must consider a deeply important question about ultimate reality — how do I function in a world where I am not in control?

The Israelites found themselves in a similar situation on the shores of the Red Sea in Exodus 14.  Pharaoh’s chariots were visibly approaching along the shoreline and their intent was destruction.  There in that place, roughly 3 million former slaves were trapped between an impending army of doom and an impassable body of water. They were faced with a similar reality – No negotiating.  No other options. No ability to control the situation.

And in that moment, God graciously stepped into their context and provided a way where there was no way.  He parted the Red Sea, providing dry land upon which they could cross.  And then he enclosed the waters over their captors.

In this moment, God reminded them of an important principle about His character.  The author of Hebrews attests to this principle in Hebrews 12:27 (NIV):

“The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.”

Sometimes, God will allow our world to be shaken so that what cannot be shaken will stand out as our only option. 

Sometimes God will permit us to become aware of our own lack of control. And, in that moment He will graciously remind us that He remains in control.  Sometimes God permits an potential Ebola scare on Main Street in your town, a few blocks away from where you get your groceries, in your own neighborhood, across the street from where you get gas, all to remind you that you are not in control and that He remains in control. Ebola may shake us, but the realization of our own anxiety contrasts with the reality that He cannot be shaken.

Today I am aware that Ebola potentially exists in my city.  And I am honestly scared.  But I am also honestly reminded of God’s sovereign rule over all things, including Ebola.  And so I am also resolved to bless the Lord whilst quoting Psalm 20:7:

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

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Is This The End Of The World?

A team of scientists are headed to a northern area of Siberia appropriately named, “Yamal,” which is translated “The End of The World.”  The reason?  They found a 250 foot wide gaping hole in the ground.

I have only three explanatory theories for this gaping hole:

  • This is a social media scheme that is using NPR to promote the new Avengers film.
  • This is the beginning of the end of the world.
  • This is just a weird phenomenon of science and natural processes.

If it is the first theory, well played Marvel.

If it is the second theory, I am glad I know Jesus. And you can too.

If it is the third theory, then…cool.  I hope geologists have a field day (pun intended).

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Sermon: Guardians of The Galaxy – A Biblical Vision For Community

Food, Fellowship, Bible, Prayer.  These are the well-known and oft discussed components of Acts 2 community.  But these components must be practiced within the dynamic of community. And when they are practiced in this way, the results may just change the universe.  Find out more in the sermon below.

The text I used for this sermon is Acts 2:42-47. It reads:

[42] And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. [43] And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. [44] And all who believed were together and had all things in common. [45] And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. [46] And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, [47] praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

(Acts 2:42-47 ESV)

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Sermon: Frozen – The Problem of Isolation

Are rear-entry garages, commute times, customizable mobile devices, and “no soliciting” signs nudging us towards more isolation?  Does the Bible have anything to say about feeling alone?  Does God want something more for our lives?  I weigh in to these questions in the sermon below. 

The text I use for this sermon is Genesis 2:18-22.  It reads:

[18] Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” [19] Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. [20] The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. [21] So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. [22] And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

(Genesis 2:18-22 ESV)

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The Gospel: The Foundation For Our Character

 

[3] For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. [4] But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, [5] he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, [6] whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, [7] so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. [8] The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

 

(Titus 3:3-8 ESV)

 

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Mentors: Supers For Our Soul

[2] Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. [3] Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, [4] and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, [5] to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. [6] Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. [7] Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, [8] and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. [9] Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, [10] not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

(Titus 2:2-10 ESV)

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Sermon: Pastors and Church Discipline

 

[9] He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.  (Titus 1:9 ESV)

 

[9] But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. [10] As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, [11] knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:9-11 ESV)

 

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