I been doing a lot of thinking and musing over the long-term implications of the spread of this virus. Here are just three of my thoughts and projections:
1. This could be the catalyst to launch the beginnings of a house church movement.
With the financial shaking, many of the really large churches may not be able to financially sustain their debt load of buildings and staff salaries resulting in bankruptcy. Many are already telling people to stay home and hold a small group gathering or watch via their live stream.
If people self-isolate it will eventually drive them to crave some kind of human interaction. The longer the isolation the stronger the desire for social interaction. Many will see the emptiness of social media connections vs face-to-face interaction with another human being. We will, of course, have to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, but that sweet spot will provide the opportune time to invite people into small group/house church interaction. Again, house churches will spring up across the nations as a result of this crisis. Will we have the vision for them and the labors trained to facilitate them?
2. The reality of suffering and death, as a result of this virus, provides an open door to discuss the brevity of life and an opportunity to share the gospel.
I have spoke to dozens of people over the last month about the need to get preparations for a coming pandemic. Almost all of them have waved it off as over reaction or “it’s no different than the flu,” or, it won’t be a problem here in America. My follow up line is, “People are dying from this. What if you get it? Are you prepared to die?” To which I get a very nervous laugh in response or a wave-off and shake of the head, like, “no way, what are you talking about?” However, for most, it jars their mind to temporarily consider the the question, even if they are outwardly brushing it off.
Most people will not pay much attention to the questions posed above until someone they know dies. Then, with their heart’s opened, we must be ready to share our faith. (1 Peter 3:14-17)
3. This is a wonderful opportunity for believers to go deep in the Word and prayer and focus on the revelation of God as - The God of Refuge.
The Lord has promised to “shake everything that can be shaken” and cause “the things that cannot be shaken to remain (Heb.12:26-27). The Corona virus is being used of the Lord to shake the nations. Let us be prepared because, as the shakings increase, the first enemy we need to conquer is fear.
The good news is that Jesus and his kingdom cannot be shaken. “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb.12:28-29)
In the midst of the shakings we are invited to take refuge in the Lord. There are some incredible promises made by the LORD concerning this revelation of His nature. We must get this revelation deep in our spirits if we hope to be effective messengers in the days ahead. In the not-to-distant future, we will look back on these days as “training for reigning” in light of the things that will be coming upon the nations.
Jesus warned of: “men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Luke 21:26)
In contrast, Isaiah gives this promise to the people of God: “ You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you. Trust in the LORD forever, because in Yah, the LORD, is an everlasting rock! (Isa. 26:3-4)
As we embody this revelation of the LORD, we will truly come to know our God more deeply, and as a result, we will be strong and do exploits. (Dan 11:32)
I am attaching a PDF version of a presentation I put together on the topic of “The God of Refuge.” You could air play it to a TV or a monitor and use it at a small group gathering. It will help build people’s faith and trust in the Lord and the Holy Spirit will use it to bring peace to their hearts.
I recently had the privilege of getting to know Mark Virkler at a conference where we were both were speaking. He is a true servant of the Lord and has developed some very helpful materials to help people hear the voice of God. There is probably no more important skill to learn for surviving a disaster or crisis the the ability to hear the voice of the Lord. It can mean the difference between life and death, safety and injury. I highly recommend Mark's teachings and materials to equipping you to grow deeper in you walk with the Lord. Chuck Reber
Dr. Mark Virkler
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The following link is to an article from the entirety of chapter 8 of this book,
Unto Death: Martyrdom, Missions And The Maturity Of The Church.
On the subject of spiritual preparedness, there is no better teacher, in my opinion, than Dallas Willard. Here is a series of teachings by Dallas Willard dealing in detail with the topic of the inner transformation of the believer in Christ. The lectures are based on his book The Divine Conspiracy, Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God, which I highly recommend.
For more information on Dallas Willard and links to his books and teachings: dwillard.org
Most of us who have been living a preparedness lifestyle are inundated with information and ideas about the how-to’s of preparing. I’ve personally amassed hundreds of helpful articles and videos on every subject imaginable. I’m thankful for the wealth of wisdom, information and training available today.
As a Christian, however, there’s one subject that gets very little focus – spiritual preparedness. When I study the forecasts and indicators of the coming crisis in America, I realize that I’m going to need a lot more than skill sets, resources, and a network of like-minded people to get the next several years. I need a deeper walk with the Lord.
I’m reminded of the parable Jesus told to the crowd in answer to someone’s concern about splitting an inheritance (more stuff). Jesus warned,
“Take care, and be on guard against covetousness, for a one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).
Then He launches into this story about a man who decided to build bigger barns to store his bumper crop that year. Jesus says the guy’s attitude was; “Now I’ll sit back because I have enough stored away for years to come. Now (I’ll) take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!” (Come to think of it, I’ve heard this attitude verbalized among several preppers.)
But what the guy didn’t know was that God was watching the attitude of his heart and that his life would end that night. Jesus said the man was a fool. Why?
“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God” (Luke 12:21 NLT).
Sure there is wisdom in preparedness. But, it’s foolish to neglect our relationship with God while making our preparations to care for our families, neighbors and others in crisis. So how do we keep that balance? How do we keep the main thing - the main thing?
What are some practical spiritual preparedness steps we can take? Here are a few I’m focusing on. You may want to join me in the pursuit.
I plan to unpack these five suggestions in more detail over the next several postings. Meanwhile, set aside some time to think through this list and tailor it to fit your own life and belief system. Let’s build a deep stockpile of spiritual preparedness.