The Quarantined Life - Skip Heitzig
Well, it's Wednesday night, we're usually have our midweek study, usually we're in the Bible from 30,000 feet. This is going to be a very different study tonight. It's going to be of a topical nature, not what I usually do, verse by verse, or book by book. I've selected a topic. And I'll explain it in a minute.
But this coming weekend, this coming Sunday, we had planned-- and it's funny when I say we had planned, because there's an old Yiddish Jewish proverb that says, we plan, and God laughs. You know, so it's like we have it all scoped out. And we're going to do a certain thing. God says, no, I don't think so. I'm going to edit your script.
So we had planned to bring in Joel Rosenberg, a friend of mine, who lives in Jerusalem. He is a New York Times best-selling author. He was going to be here, and he was going to talk about current events. And he was going to talk about his new book that he just put out, which is excellent, by the way, The Jerusalem Assassin. I read it, and it was fabulous.
So he was going to be here for a book signing and to do that. And he still planned on coming even with this crazy pandemic. He was going to get on a plane. And I was going to interview him like this for a live format for our weekend services. But the state of Israel, where he lives says if you don't get back by a certain time, you can't come back. You're going to be under quarantine out of the country. So he had to get back. That's where his wife and family live. So he called and says, I cannot make it.
Now, let me just explain to you what he had explained to him. He said to his wife on the phone, I can't wait to see you. It's been so long. I can't wait to give you a hug and a kiss. And she said, oh, no, no, no, no, no, that's not going to happen. You don't understand. We're going to drive to the airport in two cars.
We'll leave the keys to one of the cars on one of the tires. We'll wave to you from the other vehicle. You'll get in that car. You will drive to our home in Jerusalem. You will go straight upstairs to the master bedroom and bath, close the door. We will bring you meals and water and coffee at your door. You cannot touch us. You cannot have any contact with us for 14 days.
So he flies from here back to Israel to be quarantined. And this is a recent picture of Joel Rosenberg from his home. I want you to see it.
That is Joel in jail. Doesn't it look like he's in jail? So he's wearing his mask. That's from the window of his house. This is Joel Rosenberg. This is now a familiar sight to people around the world as they are self-quarantining. You know, our world looks a little bit different. I mean, the public places, the familiar sights that you're used to seeing around the world this week look like this. This is Disneyland, completely vacant of people. Usually, it's wall-to-wall.
Look at this next shot. Here's a picture of London. This is Trafalgar Square. Usually every time I'm there, it is elbow to elbow. People are just crammed in there. Now, it's empty. That's London. Here's a Los Angeles freeway. Now, I'm from this area. Even when I was a young child, the freeways never looked like this. And I don't know when this was taken. But that's just-- it's empty.
Here's a shot of Paris over by the Louvre, one of the bridges going over the Seine River-- again, usually, wall-to-wall people-- now empty. Here's the shot of St. Peter's Square at the Vatican-- complete-- almost completely empty. There's a few stragglers out there. But, you know, Italy has had some problems as we know, a little more that we need to keep that in prayer.
And here is a shot of--
--Las Vegas. This is the strip in Las Vegas--
--just a few days ago. It's insane. So I think that's all the pictures we have. But this is the world now as we know it. All these places have been designed to accommodate people, groups of people. They all have the mass meeting in mind. But now, we're down to groups of five or less or even two or less in some countries. And everybody's talking about quarantining and self-quarantining.
So I want to bring a message to you tonight called "The Quarantined Life." And I kind of want to-- what I want to do in this topical study is give you sort of a biblical theology of quarantining. Now, let me say that I know a little bit about quarantining, because when I was a teenager, my father actually quarantined me in my room, because I did something really bad. I won't even tell you what I did. It's really not germane to this study.
But he thought that I needed to be punished. And one of the few things he put into place was a full one-month quarantine in my room. I could only go out to go to the restroom. I had to go back in the room. All my meals were just brought to me like a little tray like I was a prisoner. But you're thinking, boy, that-- I want to find out what he did, because that was pretty bad. It was pretty bad what I did.
But I was quarantined. I was in lockdown for a whole month. That was during the summer when I was a teenager. We discover our world is very different. Everybody all the time says to me, this is surreal. I can't believe this is happening. This is like reading a sci-fi script.
And so what this is causing is some Christians to sort of try to figure this out prophetically and find out where we are. Are we in the Book of Revelation? Is this the tribulation period? I've had people suggest that we are experiencing some of what is predicted in the Book of Revelation and last-time events, like Revelation 13. This is the Antichrist about ready to be revealed. Who could control the whole world, and the mark of the beast?
Let me just say this is not Revelation 13. This is more like Leviticus 13, which I'm going to explain in a minute. But that should lead us to practice 1 Corinthians 13, which says love does not behave rudely. Love does not seek its own.
Now, there have been some pretty famous periods of quarantining both in our country, the United States, as well as Europe and other places. For example, I've told you before in the last few weeks about the bubonic plague during the Middle Ages that hit Europe. It actually hit Asia, Europe, North Africa. But I talked about in Europe it killed so many people.
And so what happened is because it is believed that people were bitten by fleas that came from a disease rats had and spread this bubonic plague across Europe so that ships arriving from Venice, Italy to different sea ports in Europe were kept under lockdown quarantine for a period of 40 days out at port before disembarkation, before they could land and people could go aboard.
Then when the United States was first established and states were given much more authority by the federal government, even then we enjoy today, and because of that states did not monitor infection rates. There was an outbreak of disease called yellow fever at the time, forcing the Congress to mandate quarantine laws at a federal level. That was back in 1878.
Moving a little bit closer to today, there was, in New York City in 1892 a typhoid, a typhus fever outbreak that hit the Lower East Side, that spread through the boarding houses. And quarantine measures had to be put in place. There was another outbreak of the bubonic plague in San Francisco, California in 1900. And an entire 12-block section of Chinatown was shut down and quarantined.
Then probably the most famous pandemic next to this one is what happened in 1918 with the Spanish influenza, the Spanish flu, but by the way, killed 50 million people in the United States and Europe. That's only a century ago. Quarantine laws were put into place. Schools were closed. Public gatherings were forbidden, very similar to what we are experiencing now.
And then there were famous people that were caught in quarantines. Mark Twain is one of them. He was in Europe, and he was visiting Europe in 1860c when a-- 1866 when a cholera outbreak took place. He was in Italy. He was on his way to the Holy Land. It's written about in a terrific book, by the way, that he wrote called Innocents Abroad. I recommend it to you. If you're shut down and you want to find out what traveling to Israel, the Holy Land, was like during Mark Twain's day, read Innocents Abroad.
But he talks about going through Europe on his way there. And because of this outbreak of cholera, he was aboard a ship in Naples Harbor for almost two weeks, almost a 14-day period, where he was quarantined. So all of that is a setup to where we are now, because this is now our present reality.
So what I want to do as much as possible is give to you, in the light of that, a biblical perspective, because there is a biblical perspective. The Jewish people have a long history of self-isolation, beginning with their own exodus, which is celebrated next month in Passover. So it goes all the way back to that period.
And then a little bit later on Moses acted really as the first public health official along with the priesthood. And I want to explain that tonight. Here's why it's all foreign to us as believers.
As believers, fellowship, being together is one of our cardinal values. It is so foreign for us not to be together. We're to share life with one another. So because of that, proximity is a necessity. Did you know, in the Bible in the New Testament the term "one another" appears over 60 different times? So one another, one another, one another-- it's how we do life, including the love feast, where they would get together. They would share a common meal. And they would break bread of communion.
In fact, the Bible says all the way back in Genesis, chapter 2, it is not good that man should be alone, not good that man should be alone. And yet we find ourselves in the exception to the rule. It's not good that man should be alone, but right now it is good.
So that's the exception to the rule. The rule is not good that man should be alone. The exception is be alone.
So there are exceptions to rules, by the way, in the Bible. Here's another exception to a rule. There's a rule that says it is appointed unto every man--
--once to die. But there are exceptions to that. There are some people, who die twice. For instance, Lazarus, who was raised from the dead had to die again. Jairus' daughter, raised from the dead, had to die twice. So that's an exception to a rule. Not good that man should be alone-- right now it is good in the foreseeable future that we are alone.
So I'm going to look at this in a few different ways. First of all, to quarantine is biblical, number 1. Number 2, to quarantine is beneficial. And number 3, to quarantine is practical. I want to show you that from this topical biblical method.
First of all to quarantine is biblical. Next month, as I mentioned, is Passover season. For us, it's Easter. But the Jewish people celebrate the Passover. They're celebrating a great deliverance that God made hundreds of thousands-- or not hundreds of thousands-- but thousands of years ago, as the children of Israel were in bondage in Egypt. And they went through the desert. And they were given a new land.
During that period of time, God afflicted their enemies with a number of plagues, including a disease, an outbreak on their animals, on their cattle, these plagues that hit them. And Passover-- think about it-- was a one-day mandatory quarantine. They had to go inside their house. And the Bible says, none of you shall go out of the door of his house. If they wanted to be safe from this death plague that was coming to all the firstborn, they had to stay inside. So it was a one-night mandatory quarantine.
Then later on, as God gave them laws for managing health and managing doing life together as a community, he gave, in their health laws, a quarantine for certain diseases-- very strict quarantine laws. Why? All based on love your neighbor as yourself.
It's one of the dictums even of the Old Testament law. So he gave quarantine laws. Leviticus, chapter 13 is where we find that. And there is a mandatory-- get this-- 14-day quarantine--
--for those, who have certain conditions of a certain kind of leprosy if they tested positive. And in Leviticus 13 I'm reading from, it goes like this. "And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron saying, when a man has on the skin of his body a swelling, a scab, or a bright spot, and it becomes on the skin of his body like a leprous sore, then he shall be brought to Aaron, the priest, or to one of the sons the priest.
The priest shall examine the sore on the skin of his body. And if the hair on the sore is turned white and the sore appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a leprous sore. Then the priest shall examine him and pronounce him unclean.
But if the bright spot is white on the skin of his body and does not appear to be deeper than the skin, and its hair has not turned white, then the priest shall isolate the one who has the sore seven days. And the priest shall examine him on the seventh day. And indeed, if the sore appears to be as it was and the sword has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall isolate him another seven days.
Then the priest shall examine him again on the seventh day. And indeed, if the sore has faded and the sore has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean. It is only a scab. He shall wash his clothes and be clean."
So if he tested positive, if it was a presumptive positive as we like to say today, he was unclean after this seven and then another seven, 14-day test. Now, once he was positive, he would have to shout out when he got near a crowd of people. He had to self-isolate. He had to shout out, unclean! Unclean! So the crowds would see him and go the other way.
So the priests in Leviticus 13 became, in effect, custodians of public health, which is pretty progressive for 1,500 years before Christ. You know, this is way before what we know in medical science. This is just what God mandated back then.
A little background-- if you go through Leviticus 13 and it kind of seems weird to you, it's because we call it leprosy. That's the translation in the English Bible. But it is believed that we're dealing with a variety of skin diseases in this chapter, some less serious and then some more serious. And the more serious is what we would call Hansen's disease, or leprosy.
It was called living death. It might begin as a little bit of a pain or a sore, then an oozing sore. Eventually, people lost hands and arms and legs. And they just slowly ebbed away and died away. So that's leprosy in the Old Testament. That's quarantining in the Old Testament.
Then the Old Testament laws were sort of expanded upon. Later on in Jewish literature, the Mishnah gave rules for triaging those with leprosy and sexually transmitted diseases. There were books and chapters written about how to quarantine, when to quarantine, how to confirm a case as positive or negative, how to declare somebody clean, eventually, to be integrated back into the community. So that's leprosy. That's infectious skin diseases in the Old Testament.
There was one of the kings of Israel-- they came down with leprosy-- named King Uzziah. And it says in 2 Chronicles 26 verse 21, King Uzziah was a leper until the day of his death. And he lived in a separate house, being the leper, for he was cut off from the house of the Lord. So he had to be quarantined, self-quarantined, living alone until the day of his death.
By the time we get to the New Testament, we also see leprosy. We know that our Lord Jesus, very compassionate, even on those who suffered this worse fatal disease called leprosy. And he was in contact with those, who had it. But we find that leprosies in the New Testament also practiced social distancing.
In Luke, chapter 17, Jesus, on his way up to Jerusalem in the 12th verse, we are told as he entered a village, 10 leprous men stood at a distance and met him. That's how they met him, at a distance. They didn't walk up to him and give them a hug or a high five or a holy kiss. They stood at a distance. Jesus healed them and/or-- and then two of them or one of them came back to give thanks, and the other nine did not.
So quarantining and social distancing finds itself in the Bible. And once again, to underscore, it is an act of loving your neighbor as yourself. Let me remind you. We were in Leviticus 13. Let me remind you of 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, that great love chapter.
He says in verse 2, though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, but if I have not love, I am nothing. Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and though I give my body to be burned, if I have not love, it prophets me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind.
Love does not envy, does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own. It is not provoked. It thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things. It believes all things. It hopes all things. It endures all things. Love never fails.
We find ourself in unusual circumstances, where we learn to apply the love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 to a situation similar to Leviticus, chapter 13, showing love by isolating ourselves so that others don't get this disease. Now, there is another chapter 13. It's not Revelation 13. I said, it's more akin to Leviticus 13. We talked about 1 Corinthians 13. But there's another famous 13th chapter.
That is Romans, chapter 13, where the Bible squarely says that God has given to civil authorities, his own authorities. So it says, the authority that exist are appointed by God. What does that mean? It means that when Christians follow government regulations and medicinal regulations, that is not an expression of unbelief. Rather, that is an application of love and obedience. It's a simple equation. The flatter the rate of viral infection, the smaller number of people that get killed.
So that's where we come in. We can help that. So the coronavirus-- once again, let's kind of go through the 13s. The coronavirus isn't about Revelation 13. It's more like Leviticus 13. So let's act according to 1 Corinthians 13 until Romans 13 runs its course.
All right, that kind of is the formula for all this. Romans 13, verse 1 and 2-- let everyone be subject to governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. So to quarantine is biblical. That's number 1. Number 2, to quarantine is beneficial. We've got more time on our hands. We're forced to stay home. Many people-- many of us have jobs, where the job has closed. The restaurant has closed. The business has closed. You're wondering about your next paycheck. You're wondering about the future. You're wondering about your retirement-- all of those things.
But let's just think of the short term. You have more time on your hands, which can be good, even if you find yourself alone. Let me explain that. Throughout church history, throughout church tradition, there have been what are called spiritual disciplines throughout history for the last 2000 years, especially in the earlier part of the church. They took activities of life, and they put them into a couple of different categories called disciplines.
There was one category called disciplines of engagement. There was another category called disciplines of abstinence. So in disciplines of engagement, it's things like a prayer, study, a service to your fellow believer. Then there's disciplines of abstinence. So things like fasting, chastity, and solitude is one of the early church disciplines.
So Dallas Willard in his great book on this says-- and I'm quoting-- "Of all the disciplines of abstinence, solitude is generally the most fundamental in the beginning of the spiritual life. And it must be returned to again and again, as that life develops."
Let me explain what he's talking about. The very foundation of what we call our quiet time comes from this discipline of solitude. We get alone. There's no distraction. There's no competition. We isolate ourselves. If you want to use the term, we self-quarantine that we might hear God's voice and find out how He wants us to live.
So besides medical reasons and social reasons, let me give you four benefits of being quarantined. First of all, physical restoration-- it can restore you physically. When we shut down external stimulation, we get renewed physically.
Do you remember when Jesus and his Galilean ministry and his disciples-- he was going everywhere with them? And it says in Mark, chapter 6, then, because so many people were coming and going, that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.
So when they went away by themselves in a boat, they came to a solitary place.
They were alone. This is to get rest. This is physical restoration. You know, I've had to rest lately by force. Any of you who have followed my life and ministry the last few months know I mentioned in the last couple of studies I've had three surgeries. And the doctors always say, now, go home and rest. That's very difficult for me to do.
And in fact, there's a verse in Psalm 23-- you know, the Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. You know the chapter. It says, He makes me lie down in green pastures.
That verse came alive to me in the hospital. He makes me lie down.
I'm not good at lying down. For most of my ministry life, I have maintained a schedule that probably isn't a good schedule. I've worked six days, and I've kind of taken that from the Old Testament model of six days you shall work. One day you shall rest. The only thing is I didn't always rest on that Sabbath, which is for me on Monday. I worked six days a week, sometimes 10, sometimes 12, sometimes 16 hours a day, depending on what day it was.
And so the Lord is just showing me, you know what? If you're not going to do it, I'm going to make you do it.
And we're all in that boat now.
The Lord has made us rest. And maybe he wants us to get physically renewed for whatever is coming next.
Oh, that's good.
So Christian, dear brother and sister, please use this time for physical restoration.
Here's a second benefit, not just physical restoration, spiritual edification. Hey, enjoy God's presence during this time. In the midst of the chaos, I think this is when Christians really come alive. This is when we shine. This is when-- this shows the difference between being a believer and an unbeliever. You know, we have a peace that passes all understanding.
We should be enjoying that. We should experience the joy of the Lord, who is our strength. So enjoy spending time in God's presence. You know, for me in this period of rest, I find myself getting up early, 5:30, 6:00. I like to go on prayer walks. I like to have time in the word. I go on walks just talking to the Lord, pouring out my heart before Him on a couple mile walk. And I find it very, very spiritually edifying.
Let me ask you a question. How often in the past have you said, man, I wish I had more time to read the Bible?
Man, I wish I had more time to pray. Man, I wish I had more time to read that book. Now, you got the time.
So use it.
Good. Oh, yeah.
Use it. Psalm 46, verse 10-- you know it. Q still and know that I am God."
You know, it's much easier to be still when you're alone in solitude. Lamentations, chapter 3-- here's a great verse that speaks to that or sort of buttresses that. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Let him sit alone and keep silent, because God has laid that on him.
So God has laid this on us all around the world. As Christians, we can take this time to meet alone with God regularly. Moses did that. Moses met with God, the Bible says face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. Deepen your friendship with God during this time.
Not only did Moses do it. Elijah did it. Jacob did it. Several others in the Bible did it. But, you know, our best example is the Lord Jesus Christ. He did it. He withdrew himself, the Bible says, regularly into the wilderness. And there, He prayed.
For example, Mark, chapter 1-- now, in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, he went out and departed to a solitary place. And there He prayed. The words of that great old hymn by Helen Lemmel-- most of us know it. "Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face. And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."
Now is the time to put that into practice.
So two good benefits-- to quarantine is beneficial-- physical restoration; number 2, spiritual edification. Here's a third-- self-evaluation. You know when you're alone, you can think about you. Oh, you say, well, I do that quite well anyway. Well, I know. We all do. We're all self-centered by nature.
But when you're alone and you are in the presence of God-- so you are letting God evaluate you, and then you evaluate yourself in the light of that-- that becomes very powerful. This is what David meant in Psalm 139 when he said, search me, oh, God. And know me. Try me, and know my anxious thoughts. And reveal to me, show me if there's anything wicked in my life.
God already knows you, right? All things are naked and open before the one to whom we must give an account, the Bible says in Hebrews, chapter 4. But then as you evaluate yourself in the light of God's presence and let him reveal yourself, that self-evaluation becomes powerful.
You know that even Jesus, though He knew all things-- before He made a very what we would call difficult choice or weighty choice, He spent time alone. So before He chose his 12 disciples, He spent time alone with God. It says in Luke 6, it came to pass in those days, as He went into the mountain to pray and continued all night in prayer to God-- He was all alone with his Father-- and when it was day, he called His disciples to Himself. And from them, He chose 12 whom he also named apostles.
So even Jesus, though He knew all things, spent time alone with the Father in prayer before making a very weighty choice that was confronting Him. Now, all of this being alone, self-quarantining, self-evaluation helps us to refocus our priorities on what is truly important.
You know, one of the things this crisis does in a good way is lets us know what is important and what's not important, right? Relationships are important. We're reaching out to people. I've heard from so many people, who have texted me or emailed me or have seen it on posts, how they're reconnecting with their family. They're forgiving past sins. And sons and daughters, who've been alienated are suddenly coming back. And a lot of that stuff is just going away as chaff to the wheat.
That's good. Those are good things for to happen. We're reshuffling and reorganizing our priorities. In fact, I was listening to one apologetics professor, who said, suffering is beneficial, because not only does it make us aware of our own mortality-- and God doesn't want us to be secure in this life-- but one of the great things it does is helps us fulfill the mandate in 1 John 4. He said, do not love the world, nor the things that are in this world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
God didn't want us to be loving this world. And this time of suffering and hopefully self-evaluation helps you realize, yep, I've been loving the world a little too much. I need to get away from that. God accomplishes that through suffering.
So we have three things so far as benefits to a quarantine-- physical restoration, spiritual edification, and self-evaluation. Let me throw out a fourth-- inner consolation-- inner consolation. When you're alone, you can deal with things like grief at its deepest level.
Now, don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying that when you are going through a period of grief, if you are, that you should be alone and deal with it by yourself, because we do need to share it with others. And we need to pour out our griefs to those, who can give us counsel and give us wisdom.
But when you're alone with God, that's when it's most powerful. You know, our Lord Jesus was informed one day of the death of His good friend and His forerunner, John the Baptist. It was grieving to the disciples of John the Baptist, grieving to the disciples of Jesus, and even sad for our Lord Jesus Himself.
It says, when Jesus heard about it, he departed from there by a boat to a deserted place by Himself. He could deal with that grief with the Father in the presence of God at its deepest level. In Luke, chapter 22, Jesus was distressed again, this time not because of the death of a friend, but his own suffering. He was facing the cross.
It says, He withdrew from His disciples about a stone's throw, knelt down. And He prayed, Father, if it is Your will, take this cup from me. He's wrestling with it. He's dealing with it alone before His Father.
So to sum it up, there are certainly physical benefits and medical benefits to being quarantined. There are spiritual benefits and emotional benefits to being quarantined. So I see this as a time of purification for the church, for believers, you know. We're dealing with life at a whole different level.
Don Whitney said, and I quote, "One of the costs of technological advancement, which is where we are in this day and age, is a greater temptation to avoid quietness." How many of us are captivated by our phones, captivated by our devices, captivated to binge watching a show on television? It's like we abhor quietness. And he continues and says, "So many of us need to realize the addiction we have to noise."
Modern life tends to rob us of the benefits of solitude. So we have to things so far. The quarantine is biblical, and the quarantine is also beneficial. Let me give you a third. To quarantine is practical.
We can turn this into one of our most productive times ever. And I'm glad I have worship leaders up here around me. So I'm going to throw out a challenge in a minute to our worship community and those who are watching online. Think of it this way. Paul the Apostle gave to us some of the best New Testament letters while he was in jail.
He was quarantined in a Roman prison, and he wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, those four letters in one single bout of being quarantined. Here's another one, though not a spiritual source necessarily. But in 1606 when a plague struck England, William Shakespeare was quarantined in his home. During his quarantine, he wrote these three works-- see if they ring a bell-- Macbeth, King Lear, and Antony and Cleopatra. That's while he was quarantined during an outbreak of a disease. So here's my challenge, worship leaders.
Some of your best work ought to come from this time. As you're on downtime and you have time to think, you could produce the next set of hymns for the church.
So we have some practical things we can do. One of the most practical things is more family time. Get to know your family better. You say, oh, man, I got my kids at home. They can't go to school. We're all quarantined together. Again, how many times in the past have you longed for more deeper authentic family time?
Now, you have it.
One father on Twitter said, at last I'm practicing more homeschooling for our boys. He went on to explain, my wife did all the homeschooling. Now, I am able to participate in that. We've even had one, who uses that Connect with Skip and Lenya, that table talk that we're doing live on Tuesdays and Thursdays as homeschooling curriculum for his kids and his group. So that's very, very creative.
I was on a website this week called Crosswalk.com, which is a Christian site. They gave all sorts of great practical ideas for families, who are stuck at home. Let me toss out a few to you-- board games. It's a great way to know somebody and great way to deal with frustration and anger--
--during a board game. Putting a puzzle together--
--that can be a challenge. How about projects as the family-- cleaning out the garage, cleaning out the pantry, both of which my wife says we need to do? Here's another thing. Journal this experience. I don't know if you practice that spiritual discipline, but it's a good thing to journal what is happening in the world today. It's something that I do. And we're living in historic times. Teach your children the value of a journal.
How about this? Say, kids your assignment is to, in newspapers or magazines, cut out headlines. And we'll paste them in a little family scrapbook. I'll do the writing, and we can all contribute together. Or you assign one child one aspect of it one day, one child another. But learn about this together. The more you talk about it, the better and easier it will be for them.
Here's another example on Crosswalk.com. Teach your kids a new skill. If they're older kids, teach them how to change the oil in their car.
Teach them how to play an instrument if you're a musician, you know. You've got time to do that. Teach them to weed the yard, if you'd like.
Another good practical thing would be is to sit down and look over old photographs, whether you have old photo albums, or you have them on your device. Kind of take your kids, your family through your own family history. And go through those photographs. And talk about what life was like as you share those memories and make memories. And by the way, be sure to photograph this time of quarantine.
You're going to want that later on for the future, for posterity. Another practical thing is make cards to send to people. This is where you actually have to use something called a pen--
--and you pick up the pen. And you actually write words with your hand instead of typing or texting it. You write it out. You even draw pictures. My granddaughter is a beautiful little artist. And my grandson and granddaughter, when I was sick in the hospital, wrote out by hand what they were feeling and what they were wishing and what they were praying and drew pictures. You could make cards, like one a day, and send them to loved ones, even people in the neighborhood.
Here's another thing. And then I'll end with this practical stuff on family time. Have a picnic as a family.
You go to the mountains. You go to your backyard. You could camp in your backyard. You could camp inside your house. You could go outside and cloud watch and say, what does that shape remind you of? Let's make animals in the sky-- all those silly little things that your kids will treasure in years to come.
I even say this. Get a pair of binoculars or telescope-- I love to do this with my grandson-- and look up at the stars and the moon and talk about God's goodness and God's greatness. So all of those are practical more family time type of activities.
Then finally, as a practical adventure, more ministry time, more ministry opportunity-- one of the things I have noticed and I've been so happy for and proud of you for is how you've all stepped up to the plate to see how you could minister to the community, especially the most vulnerable. Thank you for getting involved in our Kindness Campaign. We're collecting food, items-- toilet paper, disinfectants, bleach cleaner. We're sending it out to different homes. We've been making runs all day long in the last several days.
Here's a few highlights from our Kindness Campaign. There was one man who had COPD-- has COPD, chronic onset pulmonary disorder. He's on oxygen. So he has to have a cannula in his nose. He has arthritis. He cannot leave his room. We sent somebody out. And when he saw our staff member show up on the second story, where he lives, apartment with a bag of food and supplies, he was so elated. It was so excited. It made his day. That's one story.
And then there was a, mom who had her one-year-old baby hospitalized, suspecting coronavirus. When the baby was cleared to go home, they said, you can only go home if the house is cleaned and disinfected. And so the grandmother, who was in the area, didn't have cleaning supplies. So we were able to go out there with bleach, go out there with a cleaner, and give those supplies to disinfect that house to allow that family to go back in. So that's just a practical and beautiful way.
And then number three-- a disabled man who had no food-- we were able to bring him food and just change his hopeless state into a more hopeful estate. This is what Christians do. During times of challenge, they step up to the challenge. They meet the challenge. They go above and beyond. And I'm so thankful to be able to do church a different way. Yes, we have to come to you this way. But we can go out to the community in that way, delivering these items curbside.
Now, I want to take you back to the early days of the church in closing. The scene is the Roman Empire, first couple of centuries. In 165, a plague, an outbreak of smallpox pervaded Rome and started spreading through the Roman Empire. And here's from a book that I found.
In 165 AD, a plague swept through the mighty Roman Empire, wiping out one in every three people in the population. It happened again in 251 when 5,000 people per day were dying in the city of Rome alone.
"Those infected were abandoned by their families to die in the streets. The government was helpless. And the emperor himself succumbed to the plague. So the emperor died of this outbreak. Pagan priests fled their temples, where people had flocked for comfort and explanation. People were too weak to help themselves. If the smallpox did not kill you, hunger, thirst, and loneliness would.
The effect on the wider society was catastrophic. Yet, following the plagues, the good reputation of Christianity was confirmed, and its population grew exponentially. Why is this? Christians did not come armed with intellectual answers to the problem of evil. They did not enjoy a supernatural ability to avoid pain and suffering. What they did have was water and food and their presence. In short, if you knew a Christian, you were statistically more likely to survive. And if you survived, it was the Church that offered you the most loving stable and social environment" close quote.
That's right out of the pages of history, and we're able to make history right now.
So we're making history in coming to you live this way, through this technology. We're making history by be able-- giving you all sorts of resources on the internet. And we're making history by going out into our community in a whole different way to spread the love of Jesus Christ.
Let's pray together, and we'll close in worship. Father, we want to thank You for Your love for us. We don't doubt Your love for us during this time. And we don't doubt to say God is good all the time. All the time, God is good. We believe that today more than ever before.
We have hope in our hearts. We have joy in our lives. And we have peace. It's the peace that passes all human understanding.
We don't know if we're going to be symptomatic in a day or two or week. We don't know the future. We do know that is appointed to every man once to die, after this, the judgment. So Lord, we want to say, we're ready. And until then, we're hopeful.
And we want to be the Church. We want to be engaged in our community. We want to offer prayer and love and support to those around us. We pray, Lord, that you'd fill us with your spirit in a very new, dynamic, and fresh way. And I pray, Lord, that during this time of isolation or self-quarantining, we would be most productive in our creative abilities of writing songs, making phone calls, writing cards, ministering to our family, ministering to the community. Help us to do that. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.