A Christian Response to the Corona Virus Crisis

I read a great article online from Relevant Magazine titled- COVID-19 and the Church: An Emergency Physician’s Thoughts by Dr. Chris Zalesky.

I would like to share some excerpts from his article. I also want to emphasize that following government guidelines that are based on the recommendations of doctors and the Center for Disease Control is using wisdom. It is not lacking faith.

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Diseases are the result of the curse on nature because of sin. Not all sickness is from the enemy, Satan. We live in a fallen world. We are not exempt from the troubles of this world. The difference is that we know Jesus is with us no matter what troubles we experience.

If we care about our neighbors, we will limit contact. We should be especially concerned for those who in the high risk categories- over 60 years old, lung diseases like asthma or emphysema, and chronic illnesses like lupus, arthritis etc or cancer resulting in being immune suppressed.

The question we who are Christians need to ask ourselves is whether we love our neighbors. If we do, we will care about limiting exposure. We will also care about helping those who are suffering because of the virus such as making sure our elderly neighbors or neighbors who are immuno compromised are okay,

Please read the excerpts from the article and even better read the whole article by clicking on the link above.

Thank you for reading. God Bless. Here are the excerpts.

Have a deep concern for the well-being of all people trying to ensure not one more person dies of this virus (Col 3:12-17).

  1. The idea that we should not have a spirit of fear does not mean we should not have an appropriate spirit of wise response. Fear does not drive our decisions but available information and a concern for the sanctity of all life should.
  2. We are being ask to follow social distancing directives to slow the spread of the virus but if we are ever called to serve the sick in person let us be the first to volunteer. Understand that right now social distancing is as much an act of service to those at risk than being at their side.

Care for those in your church and neighborhood who are at high risk (1 John 4: 17-21).

  1. Make sure they have the food, groceries and medicine they need as they may be scared to go get these things on their own and see if you can drop off groceries or needed supplies at their door for them
  2. Understand that loving people right now might involve more inaction than action. We often think serving the sick means being at the bedside, but this time is different. We are trying to prevent people from ever being sick by not being at their side. Distance during viral pandemics can be a gift. Pray for people, talk with them and be with them from distance. Let us be flexible and creative enough to still love people in ways that do not cause the spread of disease.

Follow the guidance of the Health Care Response to not gather remembering the church is not a building but God’s people. t. 

  1. Connect in different ways, online sermons, devotionals, prayer calls, text groups. In times such as these, we can be the church without being in a church.

Let our voice be one of calm preparedness that rests on Christ.

  1. Christianity never promises we will not get sick, but it does promise we will have a security greater than our health (Romans 5:3-5, 2 Corinthians 1:8–9).

As we walk through these days let us always know that Christ is not a savior who is unaware of our suffering. With Christ joining us together, we have the opportunity to shine as the Church, united as one people, in these days, to honor our leaders, and experience more deeply that the Church is more than a building. Amid the pandemic let us be marked with wisdom, calm and peace. Please pray those serving on the front lines of health care for wisdom, rest, and strength. Right now, we can help people through adhering to social distancing so we can slow the spread of if this pandemic but let us have hearts that are ready to serve in person if this pandemic worsens. 

Music Mondays- It Is Well by Kristene DiMarco

Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard

And through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
And through it all, through it all
It is well

In this time of crisis throughout the world, it certainly feels as if the earth has quaked. The times are so uncertain due to the virus pandemic and the chaos being inflicted on daily lives.

That is why I want to share It Is Well by Kristene DiMarco. It was one of the first videos I shared a few years ago when I first started doing Music Mondays. At that time it was because of how much Jesus blessed me through the song as I went through a period of months of doctor’s visits to find out a diagnosis of Celiacs. Celiacs is just one of the chronic illnesses I deal with.

The process of getting diagnosed is a long and winding road and involves dealing with the unknown much like what we are facing now- THE UNKNOWN.

We do not know what will happen. We do not feel certain during these times. It is an unsettling time for the whole world. But there is one thing that is certain- God.

I love the lyric- “through it all my eyes are on you.” In these troubled times, my source of encouragement is to look to Jesus to keep my eyes on him.

I pray that this video blesses you as much or more than it has me since that time in 2017 when I went from specialist to specialist.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Be Kind

In my citizenship class I have volunteers who give of their time to help the students. Three of them are university students. I had one last fall who is a high school student. She volunteered as part of her civics class in school. But she missed the last two hours she needed.

I received an email from her asking if she could finish the two hours and of course I said yes. She came last night and shared with me the reason she had not completed her hours.

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In December the doctor found that she had a benign brain tumor. She had surgery in early December and spent 45 days recovering. She returned to school January 20th. Her tumor was the size of a tennis ball.

I had her sit with a mom from Mexico and help her one on one. When it was time for her to leave, I walked her to the door and watched her walk to her mom’s car. As I walked her to the door, I told her I would be praying for her.

Her story reminded me of the Philo quote:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

We don’t know what is going on in people’s lives until they tell us, but Jesus does. By being kind to others, we keep open the possibility of being able to share the love of Jesus with them.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Living with Chronic Illness- Spotlight on a New Blogger

Living with chronic illness opens up a myriad of issues. For a long time, I did not say much about my chronic pain and fatigue because I do not want to be defined by it and also do not want to miss out on opportunities such as the 11 ministry trips to other countries Jesus has blessed me with.

Chronic illness is often referred to as an invisible illness because people will say things like, “You don’t look sick.”

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There are also people with usually good intentions that want to offer advice and the majority of the time it is something the person with chronic illness has already tried.

Living with chronic illness can mean saying you plan to join in an activity but then the fatigue or pain flares up and boom you stay home on a sofa, in a comfy chair, or in bed.

A blogger I follow, Tracey, of Tracey’s World, lives with Lupus. She shares about her experience. In her post yesterday she shared something significant about herself that she is a blogger with disabilities not disabled. Her post is- Labeled Disabled. The Struggle.

The only reason I began to share about living with chronic illness in my blog is in hopes of encouraging others. My theme verses from the bible for that are in 2 Corinthians 1:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 

I have many mornings that I am not sure how I will make it through the day, so I pray and ask for strength. Sometimes the answer is something small like having a parking space close to the door at the school where I teach in the mornings. Even little things can be a big blessing.

Fortunately, as a teacher I can sit most of the class time if I need to and in ministry I can sit most of the time as well. My schedule is such that I do have time in the afternoon to rest if need be.

I video I watched of a sister in Christ sharing about the difference between being sick like with a cold and chronic illness is a humorous way to understand the difference. Here it is.

God Bless. Thank you for reading.

Music Mondays- Broken Vessels by Hillsong

All these pieces
Broken and scattered
In mercy gathered
Mended and whole
Empty-handed
But not forsaken

Many things in life can leave us feeling broken inside and feeling we are scattered. Family problems, financial problems. loss of a loved one, illness, the list could go on.

The good news is that Jesus loves us and loves to take our broken pieces and put us back together. He can do what seems impossible. He can make us whole again.

There have been many times in my life that Jesus has made me whole again. The one that sticks out in my mind at this time is when I was sick and dying 25 years ago. He helped me to recover, but my life was shattered and in pieces. Step by step he led me to a ministry, work and purpose I had not even imagined before I was sick. Now my life is full as I share his love with refugees and immigrants in my city.

If you are feeling broken, shattered, and in pieces, the good news is that Jesus is in the mending business. He loves to mend what has been shattered because he loves us.

I hope this song blessed you as it has me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Let’s Pray For Them

Tuesday has been the day that I usually do the awards and tags. Today I want to do something different.

There are three bloggers I follow who are dealing with serious illnesses. I would like to share about their blogs and if you are not already following them, perhaps you can follow them. Also let them know you prayed for them. If you already follow them, please let them know you prayed for them.

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Hannah is dealing with multiple system atrophy. She is married and a young mother with children. She is in a wheelchair. In her most recent post she shared about her dream to run a 5K, but since she can not, her husband pushed her in her chair for a 5K. Her blog is Choosing Hope at choosinghope.live

Abigail shares about dealing with metastatic breast cancer in her blog No Half Measures at nohalfmeasures.blog.

Bill has ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He shares about it in his blog Unshakable Hope at unshakablehope.com

Please check out their blogs and pray for them.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When God Gives Confirmation

A little over a year go, I began to share in my blog about living with depression and anxiety which for me were symptoms of living with chronic illness. It felt a bit risky at the time, but I found that many people responded to my posts whether through comments, likes etc.

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Yesterday a woman I respect a great deal for her work with children who have been traumatized, responded to me sharing a few posts on her Facebook Wall. She had given me permission. I let her know that I share from a Christian perspective. She responded that we should seek to bring Christ into mental health issues. After I posted a few links on her Facebook wall:

Jesus Understands Trauma

World Mental Health Day-October 10

She responded with this message:

“Matt, Thank you for sharing these blogs. I pray others read it as you candidly shared your personal experience in a very relatable way. We are all searching to be heard & understood. Especially searching for our deepest desire: Jesus. Some might not believe or understand His healing power & gift of Salvation is waiting for them in the most deepest hurts, mental health, medical problems & any sin. He indeed experienced trauma. Stories like yours lead people to the Lord because you spoke biblical truth & love in despite how hurtful your trauma was you looked Him & found healing & peace.”

To receive such a message from a woman who is a Christian and also a Licensed Mental Health Counselor meant a lot to me. I felt it gave me confirmation to continue to share.

My desire is to share with others the comfort Jesus has given me whether it is regarding depression/anxiety or about living with chronic illness. I always think about the truth of 2 Corinthians 1:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Her message was confirmation for me to continue to share about how God has helped and is helping me to press on with my ministry and life living with chronic illness and also with depression/anxiety. After my day Friday with friends, and also with the extra support from my home church, seeing my colleagues message Saturday, I feel God is telling me to continue.

On another note, a few of my followers on this blog recently went to my short stories blog- Encounters with the Ancients. I am thinking about making one of my short stories into a book. I would like HONEST feedback from my followers on this blog. I would like to ask you to read a story I wrote a year and a half ago- Jessica’s Encounter at the Harbor Coffee Shop.. What I want HONEST feedback about is if a book version would be of interest.

Thank you for reading. God bless.

Here We Go Again

I was feeling good after finishing a 15 day treatment of Prednisone for bronchitis. I thought okay the coast is clear for a while. I started to feel a little of something starting up and went to the doctor in hopes of changing my asthma medicine to prevent problems. I got there and, well, something was noticed.

This is how I normally look. I tend to keep my tan on my face all year. I get that from my father who always had a tanned face. The problem with that is sometimes what would be obvious for other people is not so easily noticed on me. But Monday when I went to the doctor I looked like this.

I had a pink rash on my nose and cheeks. The PA didn’t notice until she looked more closely because it doesn’t show as much on me. When she looked closer she said, :”That is a sign of inflammation.” So instead of walking out with a prescription for a different inhaler, I walked out with a prescription for 15 more days of Prednisone. Yippee.

So here we go again. By the time I finish this 15 days, it will total to 35 days out of 40.

But Jesus is giving me strength. I have not missed teaching a class the whole time. I have been able to also be there for my weekend groups,. visit people in their homes, so in other words- Jesus has given me the strength to keep going with teaching and ministry.

Fortunately, Thursday and Friday will be fall break for my morning class, so I can sleep in, get more rest, and be ready to go. I hope. Anyone living with chronic illness can tell you that one never knows how one will be day to day.

The one thing I know for sure is that Jesus is with me to give me strength. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When Hopeless Meets Real Hope

So many times in my life the situation looked hopeless from a human perspective.

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There was growing up with an alcoholic father and a mother with an untreated mental illness who was highly manipulative.

There was the experience of getting sick and almost dying.

There was the process of having to rebuild my life after my 3 years of being sick and recovering.

So many other examples from my life that would cause others to think at many times in my life that things looked hopeless.

BUT

With Jesus there is always hope.

1 Peter 1 says:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”

With Jesus, we can have a living hope because he defeated death. Think of it. He conquered death. If he can conquer death, he can help in any situation. There is always hope for us with Jesus.

Ali of mynotsopoeticstories.wordpress.com is a new blogger I follow. She shared in her first post about how Jesus came to her and brought her hope in a beautiful post- Amazing Grace. It is an excellent post to read and be encouraged by.

I know how it feels to feel there is no hope. I also know what it is like to meet Jesus and have him change my life. I know what it is like to have Jesus do the seemingly impossible in my life.

Whatever situation we are in, whatever problem we face, Jesus can and will work in our lives. He is hope because he defeated death for us and he invites us to come to him. n Matthew 11 he said:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

His invitation is for ALL. No one is excluded from his invitation. His arms are open wide.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Chronic Illness Warrior Recognition

Having lived with chronic illness for over 25 years, I have an admiration for others who live with chronic illnesses or who support those who do. Today I want to start a Chronic Illness Warrior Recognition Award for those who live with one or support a loved one who has a chronic illness or condition. Please check out the blogs of the five nominees if you don’t already follow them. I have identified the illness/condition each of them lives with.

The rules are simple- Acknowledge the person who nominated you, ask how ever many questions you want, and nominate others. I will answer the questions I am asking first.

For me living with chronic illness the worst parts are the constant fatigue and pain. I have Fibromyalgia, Celiacs and a few other issues. I am being monitored for other possibilities. The people I am recognizing today deal with other chronic illnesses.

My faith in Jesus helps me keep going. I have days that I literally ask him to carry me through the day.

I think the main thing I wish people would understand is that yes I have bad days and cancel plans, but I still like to be invited because I can’t plan on when I have good days or bad days.

When I have good days, I love to visit friends, go to the park, meet friends in coffee shops.

I am not sure I have any great advice other than to be careful what you eat, rest when you need to, and don’t give up. My main advice is to seek Jesus.

As anyone living with a chronic illness can tell you, there are days that I don’t have much energy at all and simple watching TV is about all I accomplish. I love to watch shows like The Voice, America’s Got Talent, American Idol and Amazing Race. I tend to save them up to be able to binge watch on bad days.

Questions for you:

1- What is your of your loved one’s chronic illness/condition and its symptoms?

2- What do you wish others would understand about your life with chronic illness?

3- What helps you or your loved one keep going in life?

4- What do you enjoy doing on your good days?

5- What advice would you give to someone else living with your or your loved one’s chronic illness?

6- What books, movies, TV programs do you enjoy?

My Nominees are:

Lily of Retrospective Lily at retrospectivelily.com. She has Friedreich’s Ataxia. She recently wrote about exercise and her disablity.

Viola of Epilepsy Awareness at violatogon.wordpress.com. Viola lives with Epilesy.

Parkinsons Care at parkinsonscaregivernet.wordpress.com. She shares about being a caregiver for a loved one with Parkinsons,

Poets Afterthought at poeticjourney521.com. She lives with Sickle Cell Anemia and shared a post about her experience with sickle cell.

Vivian of God’s Whispers of Truth at godswhispersoftruth.wordpress.com. She has been living with a Traumatic Brain Injury which she shared about in her My Story.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.