"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

THE REAL CURSE OF COVID by Dr. Joel Gregory

Thus says the Lord:

"Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength, whose hearts turn away from the Lord.

They shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes. They shall live in the parched places in the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land" (Jer. 17:5-6).
__________________

The curse of covid is not a tiny, invisible virus. The curse of covid is misplaced faith. Jeremiah’s generation placed its faith in political alliances and the presence of a mere institution, Solomon’s temple. Both vanished. We might get a clue from them. Where does our ultimate confidence rest? What are you depending on in all honesty?

Do you put your ultimate trust in government? Daily you hear the harangue against the President or the Speaker of the House. It sounds as if millions think the ultimate solution in life is only political. Please pardon an observation. I have known politicians. A few of them are godly. The rest of them are as vain, self-seeking, and pretentious as I am. They do not deserve your ultimate dependence for life itself.

Do you depend finally on institutions? This current crisis will permanently close some institutions. Colleges will disappear. Brands will vanish. Ask Sears, Kodak, or Oldsmobile if that can’t happen. If you put your ultimate trust in any human institution you will be disappointed every time. They change beyond recognition or they vanish.

At the end, do you depend on family? The tragic scenes of dying spouses isolated in critical care and insulated from their beloved has horrified the nation. Most of us thought that at the least someone we love would hold our hand when we die. Beyond that, lawyers in New York City have claimed a 25% increase in divorces filed during the quarantine. Folks who could not stand one another have been locked in a room together and one of them wants out right now. Family can disappear.

Are you prompted to say your friends will always be there? You are to be pitied if that is the case. Some of us can testify that friends of a lifetime can disappear at your hardest moments. People you helped get into high positions forget your existence. Human friendship is not a rock; it can quickly vaporize.

Are you leaning on your own ministry? Those of us who are certain kinds of ministers have watched the scaffold of our ministry collapse in a month. No more trains, hotels, conferences, or seminars. Poof. What seemed inevitable and sturdy is liminal and wobbly. There is a difference in trusting the Lord of the ministry or the ministry of the Lord.

I know. You may be saying to yourself, “Joel sure is in a minor key today.” Not at all. I have read the next verse: “Blessed are those whose trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.” Note, it is not just trust in the Lord but those whose trust is the Lord. In 1834 Edward Mote, a preacher and carpenter, wrote On Christ the Solid Rock. Do recall the unusual words, “I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name”? Mote knew shaky buildings. He warned against putting your weight on a frame that collapses. These covid quarantines have given me, and I pray you, the moment to be certain that every other frame can collapse except the LORD. “My hope is built on nothing less.” Not politicians, institutions, or even ministry itself. Lean on the right frame.

26 comments:

Christiane said...

what stands guard over any civilization’s survival
but the civility of honour and the humane reckoning of the value of a single human life?

and who do you sacrifice in the triage that is demanded in this new distopia?
the weak? the old? the helpless sick? the voiceless?

while the powerful observe through heavy lenses from a high tower, what do they see? what do they see?

when ‘Jesus spent a long time watching from a lonely wooden tower’, what did He see? what did He see?

Who are we who honor Jesus Christ and Him Crucified?

Are we who we protect and who we stand up for?
or
Are we them who give others over to sacrifice in order to save ourselves?

The time to choose ‘has found us’. May this time that has come find us faithful.

Rex Ray said...

I’d like to ask Gregory, does a drowning person need the Lord or a life-guard? In my opinion that about sums up his comment.

He reminds me of the fiction story of a guy on his roof as flood waters get higher. A boat comes by but he tells them, “Yawl save someone else, the Lord’s going take care of me.”

A helicopter drops a rope down, but he yells, “Yawl save someone else, the Lord’s going take care of me.”

In heaven, he asked God, “Why didn’t you save me?”
“I sent a boat and a helicopter.”

I believe Gregory is guilty of taking Scripture out of context.

Rex Ray said...

This guy Gregory rubs me the wrong way. Does he want his name spelled with “Dr.”? Does that degree make him smarter? My father who had a Master’s Degree, said all a degree did was put a little more curl in the pig’s tail.

Gregory said, “The curse of covid is misplaced faith.” (‘spell-check’ put a red line under the way he spelled COVID-19. He spelled it wrong three times.)

His last advice was: “Lean on the right frame.” He’s saying the right frame is the Lord. He acts like the 31,000 that have died from COVID-19 in America (John Hopkins University) didn’t have faith in God.

Chris said...

Trust is such a difficult thing. I contemplate on Proverbs 3:5-6 on a regular basis, and try and totally comprehend what it means to Trust the Lord with ALL my heart. I wouldn't say I have ever put my total trust in any one human or object or institution or even myself. I believe that is often where the trouble lies, it is so difficult to FULLY trust in the Lord because so many people, circumstances, or ourselves fail that trust.

I have heard messages on the fact that the more you Trust the Lord, the more you will Trust the Lord. I have tried many times to REALLY and SINCERELY trust God in all things, but inevitably I quickly lean on my own understanding (or really misunderstanding).

As with many passages of the Bible, it is always easier to read or speak than do, but I struggle with Trusting the Lord with ALL my heart - the most.

Lissa Roberson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lissa Roberson said...

It's sad that the 24/7 news feed keeps us focused on fear and panic. I pray for Pres. Trump and his task force because I think they're trying to do their best, based on the wisdom God gives them. If it's lacking, maybe we should pray that they seek Him more!

My daughter came home from work last week with the news that her co-worker tested positive. This means she may have been exposed, which of course means our entire family may be "incubating." Do I panic and lose sleep over the possibility that an invisible enemy might make me ill in 14 days, possibly sending me to an ICU onto a ventilator? As a Christian I don't fear death, but I don't relish the idea of suffering. I think that's probably the biggest fear of most people -- the symptoms of this illness, which have been truly horrifying in some cases.

I'm reminded of Psalm 139:16, "...And in your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them." My time on earth has already been determined. I don't want to put my entire life on pause when there's still life to be lived...though I'll wear a mask if I suspect I may be contagious, while going out and about "living life".

Could this be a dress rehearsal for the end-times when a catastrophe sends the world into chaos...when we're soothed and brought together by a charismatic world leader that ushers in a unifying government...that takes away freedoms we hold dear, all in the name of global unity? Even our current policies of quarantine "for the good of society" feed into an end-times scenario.

Rex Ray said...

Chris,

You picked up on the main thing that Gregory brought out. That is, Christians should trust God. His comments would be great if he had NOT mentioned COVID-19.

He said: “The curse of covid [COVID-19] is misplaced faith.” In my opinion, his words imply God is punishing us for not having faith in Him.

What do you think?

Lissa Roberson, I just read your comment. My heart and prayers go out for you and your family.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Could you get Gregory to give a comment to Lesa Roberson about “THE REAL CURSE OF COVID”?

Mary/Paul Burleson said...

Wade,

Am I missing something here or what? It seems to me Dr. Joel Gregory has done his usual masterful job of encouraging us to "depend on," or to "rest in" the correct object of true faith.[His "depend on" is synonymous with my "rest in"]

Faith is only as good as its object. To encourage us to never have faith in the wrong object is the point of his post it would seem to me. Joel Gregory is encouraging us to not focus on our faith, in and of itself, and forget about the true object of our faith. The evidence of doing that is we would spend all our time talking about “just having faith”, or bragging that we do have faith, or worrying about the strength of our faith, all the while forgetting that the true object of faith is one thing [Person] alone.

Faith in Christ is valid only because of its object. When the One that we believe in is the crucified and risen One, Jesus Christ our Lord, the very Son of God, enthroned at the right hand of the Father, then our faith will stand no matter the circumstance.

That is what Gregory is declaring.

Someone has said, "A god is that to which we look for all good and in which we find refuge in every time of need. To have a false god is nothing other than to trust and believe with our whole heart, in the wrong thing. Joel Gregory has pointed this out in a marvelous fashion.

The question is, as you know Wade, not whether we have faith or not; the question is whether we believe in the right thing. We can have the ‘strongest’ faith a person could possibly have, but if the thing we believe in is uncertain at best or false at worse, [which are the nature of the objects being explained by Joel Gregory] then our faith is worthless. It is not just any faith that delivers us, but faith in Christ.

I'm thinking Joel has delivered a worthy and sound encouragement to all of us. I, for one, appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

This pandemic is surely shaking up a lot of systems.

One system it is shaking up is the local 501(c)3 known as a "church." That prop is being knocked out from under us, I suspect to get us to focus on being in Christ and sharing Christ rather than a specific church or denomination. I believe this effect is a good thing, a good bath for the Bride.

As to the idea of living one's life as one pleases without anymore regard for others than a face mask in case you are contagious, all I can say is shame on you.

My beloved child by marriage, having had bilateral PE's, is placing his life on the line without proper PPE to keep you alive, to keep those you love alive, and yet your precious lifestyle means more to you than his life?

Yeah, we need a heartcleansing for sure!

linda

Sandy said...

I always thought Edward Mote’s words, “I dare not trust the sweetest frame”, was a reference to emotions. Meaning: I dare not trust the happiest frame of mind, the feelings I have that I am in good shape with God. Rather, I trust in Jesus—who he really was and what he accomplished.

Rex Ray said...

Mary/Paul Burleson,

It’s always good to hear from you. If I ‘read’ you right, you’re saying Gregory is declaring if our faith is in Jesus, our faith will stand no matter the circumstance.

That’s well and good, but the heading of his article is: “THE REAL CURSE OF COVID”.

He goes on to say, “The curse of covid is misplaced faith.”

Is God punishing the world for not having faith? Can you explain what he means?

Mary/Paul Burleson said...

Rex,

Just a couple of things in response to your request to explain what he means. I'm not wanting to put words in his mouth, so I'll go cautiously here.

One thing I DON'T think he is meaning is that the virus is God's punishment for sin. He and I both believe that God settled that issue a couple of thousand years ago on a Cross. Neither he nor I would think any natural disaster is to be viewed as God’s punishment for sin.Natural processes have consequences and sometimes we reap what we sow,. Then, we do live in an evil world, but "punishment" is not in the ballpark it seems to me.

The curse of the covid-19, according to the way I understand Joel, is a misplacing of our faith for outcomes. The curse of the coronavirus would be our trusting for ultimate outcomes from sources other than the true object of our faith.

Lissa Roberson said...

Hey, Rex Ray, you're great to think of our family and pray for us. Thank you! God has brought me through a couple of other near-brushes with death in my "adventuresome" life, and I've endured a long season of physical affliction, so this is just something we will take in stride. If anything, I have to guard against an attitude of nonchalance while living by faith through the pandemic. God's got us all.

Christiane said...

On January 11th, China posted the genome for the new mystery virus

within the week, German scientists (virologists) had developed AND PRODUCED the first diagnostic test for this new virus

By the end of February, the World Health Organization had shipped tests to nearly 60 countries.

These tests, offered by the WHO, might have been a bridge for our country to use until we could get our own act together,
but it was refused.

“Please provide an explanation for why the Covid-19 diagnostic test approved by the World Health Organization was not used,” Sen. Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the Senate health committee, who represents the hard-hit state of Washington, asked in a 3½-page letter on the testing fiasco to Pence, Health Secretary Alex Azar, CDC director Robert Redfield, and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn.

So far, none has been provided.

What happened? Why the delay, as this virus spread through our country and now even threatens those good people in our beloved heartland?

For all the cries of 'HOAX' and claims of 'conspiracy theories' and the blame game out there that is raging,
it was in the TESTING process that we dropped the ball big time.

So I hope when and if Patty Murray gets some responses, she shares them with us.

The important thing is to protect the vulnerable as a humane and, yes, Christian act of love, while we attempt to 'get a handle' on making it safe enough for our people so no one has to suffer FROM OUR COLLECTIVE SINS OF OMISSION.

What is best to do going forward? Kudos to Oklahoma for taking specific action to protect its nursing homes. That these most vulnerable are cared for MATTERS to the preservation of our OWN humanity. That is important. That is how a civilized people live.


Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

I do not believe Dr. Joel Gregory is saying "God is punishing the world" for a lack of faith in Him. Rather, I think Joel is simply encouraging us to place our faith in Christ - the most solid place for any trust.

As Sandy said, "My HOPE is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frames, but wholly lean on Jesus' name!"

On Christ the solid Rock I stand!

Stay safe!

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

Lissa,

PRAYERS for your family and you and Stu!

Anonymous said...

"In every chain of reasoning, the evidence of the last conclusion can be no greater than that of the weakest link of the chain, whatever may be the strength of the rest."

Thomas Reid (1786)

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

“Joel is simply encouraging us to place our faith in Christ - the most solid place for any trust.”

That statement has been true for 2,000 years, but how does that apply to “THE REAL CURSE OF COVID”?

I wish someone would tell me what the curse is because he didn’t. Unless he’s implying
we have COVID because we’re NOT placing our faith in Christ.

Anonymous said...

" . . . the owner of a magnificent castle took a long journey. Before he departed, he instructed his chief steward to protect the castle in his absence. Upon returning, the owner rejoiced to find a splendid wall guarding his property. But devastation greeted him when he passed through the gate. He learned the steward used the castle’s stones to build the wall "

allegory fails among those who require more concrete explanations

so it is, and so it has always been

Rex Ray said...

Anonymous,

Funny story; what’s the point?

Anonymous said...

it was told by Dr. Joel Gregory long ago, and even then, the good man was much misunderstood

https://baptistnews.com/article/the-rise-and-fall-and-rise-again-of-joel-gregory/#.XpzMfshKi70

Rex Ray said...

Anonymous,

Your link is much shorter than this link, but they tell pretty much the same story.

https://baptistnews.com/article/the-rise-and-fall-and-rise-again-of-joel-gregory/?gclid=CjwKCAjw7e_0BRB7EiwAlH-goOUBVI7kUInpE7GiF14wrxhJuGKlwI6tJfup9R6jXRoc2_mg5ZnnphoCJToQAvD_BwE#.XpzUoUBFw2w

The rise and fall and rise again of Joel Gregory
NEWSMARV KNOX | SEPTEMBER 16, 2014
“Everybody who’s heard Gregory preach insists he surely sounds like: God Almighty.

He assumes Baptistdom’s most prominent pulpit. Only two years later, he resigns abruptly, later endures divorce and supports himself selling “pre-need funeral plans” door-to-door.

Gregory returns to Baylor. Oxymoronically, the last great exemplar of 19th-century pulpit oratory invests his final years teaching 21st-century ministers to preach.”

Scott Shaver said...

From an alternate perspective. I was very encouraged by this meditation from Joel Gregory.

A piece I will certainly share wholeheartedly with my friends and family. Thanks for posting.

Scott Shaver said...

You forgot to add that the sky is falling­čśÄ

Scott Shaver said...

Gregory is absolutely right IMO.

Once they slapped a name on a coronavirus strain (i.e. COVID19),it became obvious that the spirit behind all of this had more to do with manipulation of the masses through a subtle suggestion that mankind (collectively) is ultimately in control of its own destination via science and political power.

I don't think mankind is in ultimate control.