Leadership Is Hard: A Call To Respect, Decorum, & Prayer In An Uncivil Era

Hard Work

Leadership under the best circumstances is hard. Leading people to accomplish tasks and goals is easy to talk about in a classroom, but difficult to do in real life. Yes, leadership even in the best of times is hard, hard work.

But leadership becomes nearly overwhelming in a moment of crisis. In a crisis moment, the leader (who is very much human) is sometimes physically exhausted, mentally drained, and emotionally tapped out. There can be overwhelming pressure to make decisions with limited (even inconsistent) information. Providing leadership in a crisis can be beyond difficult.

Such is the case with many of our government leaders. The stress and uncertainty of COVID-19 is making leadership incredibly difficult. I see this with our Governor here in Iowa. Her name is Governor Reynolds and she is doing her absolute best to guide our state through these turbulent times. But there are some critics out there who think they know better and they’re all too eager to share their passionate opinions…

“You’re moving too slow!”

“You’re moving too fast!”

“Order the shelter in place!”

“It’s not that big of a deal so stop freaking people out!”

“You’re going to get us all killed!”

Listen…Here’s the thing with a crisis…Mistakes will be made. In hindsight, timing will (most likely) prove to be an issue in that we moved too slow or we moved too fast. Our Governor is having to make decisions, based upon facts and experts, under the enormous pressure of not only what the other state governors are doing, but also under the angry public opinion of some of her people.

I guess I just want to caution all of us, especially us out here on the prairie, to slow our roll with the criticisms of our government leaders. Certainly, you are entitled to your opinion, but leadership is hard even in the best of circumstances. What the Iowa Governor needs, and what all of our government leaders need, is not our nasty comments, but our respect…not our emotional opinions, but our decorum…and certainly they need not our disdain (“Oh, I could do it better!”), but our prayers…

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-2

Just some thoughts as we all weather this storm together. And Prairie Flower, as always, God bless you guys…I do love you guys…And I’ll see you when I see you…Take care.

Prairie Flower’s COVID-19 Response Plan


Dear Members and Friends Out Here On The Prairie,

We are certainly living in some crazy, turbulent times! The spread of the coronavirus in our country and around the world is troubling and we are taking it very seriously. What a relief to know that our God is still on the throne (Psalm 102:12) and we can run to Him for refuge, strength, and help (Psalm 46:1-3).

Last night, the Leadership Team of Prairie Flower Baptist Church held a Special Meeting to discuss Prairie Flower’s COVID-19 Response Plan. Below are the thoughtful, prayerful decisions that we came to as a unified team. These decisions were made with our faith in God, out of love for our neighbors, and in submission to our governing authorities.

Please note Prairie Flower’s COVID-19 Response Plan below:

  1. In compliance with the lawful orders of the Iowa Governor and the Washington Mayor, we will suspend all events and gatherings of Prairie Flower Baptist Church till at least March 31, 2020. To be clear, this means that Sunday School, Sunday Morning Worship, Growth Groups, Kids4Truth, Outfitters, and all other events and gatherings will not be meeting at our church building till at least March 31, 2020. Please call Pastor Dave (850-776-5504) or Pastor Tim (712-830-9554) with any questions or concerns.
  2. The Pastors of Prairie Flower Baptist Church will seek to encourage, equip, and edify our church family during this time by recording and publishing good biblical content in the form of blogs, podcasts, and the weekly sermon. Along with the weekly sermon, a Family Worship Guide will be made available so that families can hear and discuss the Word of God together. All these items will be made available by email, website, church app, and/or our Facebook page.
  3. The Deacons of Prairie Flower Baptist Church will seek to serve and care for our church family during this time by reaching out and facilitating help to meet the needs of our body. Their primary focus will be on the most vulnerable members of our congregation and meeting their physical needs. Please do not hesitate to bring any of your needs to their attention.
  4. As members and friends of our church, please continue to support our church family by faithfully giving of your tithes and offerings. Online giving is available through our church app. Also, please do your part to reach out to the other members of our body and encourage them by calling them and perhaps praying with them over the phone.

Again, these are some crazy, unprecedented times in the life of our church, community, and country. Let’s keep trusting our great God and loving our neighbors despite this pandemic. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of being on mission “for such a time as this.” Indeed, our mission has not changed. We still desire to be a strong church that makes disciples for the glory of God. How can we do this during this crazy time? Here’s a better question…How can we not do this during this crazy time? People are ripe with questions. They are ready to hear the truth. So, share the Gospel boldly! And don’t forget to keep bathing yourself in truth, prayer, and (of course) hand sanitizer.

God bless you guys…I do love you guys…And I’ll see you when I see you…Take care,

David Cotner

Lead Pastor, PFBC

“Why We Care About COVID-19” By Mike Hess


From the desk of our GARBC National Representative, Mike Hess…

Biblically minded Christians should be the most caring people in the world. But the care we demonstrate goes well beyond a simple humanitarian or philanthropic concern. It should come from hearts that have personally experienced God’s compassion and care through faith in Jesus Christ. The love of Christ compels us to compassionately love those who are suffering.

The reason we should display God’s compassionate heart to others stems from our desire to please our Heavenly Father. Scripture shows us a portrait of Jesus as a loving and compassionate Savior, but it also explains the motivation behind His actions: “for I [Jesus] always do the things that are pleasing to Him [God the Father]” (John 8:29, NASB).

We Christians should care about others because our hearts have been transformed so that, not only are our actions changed, but our motivations are as well. We desire to help needy people who are sick, panic stricken, impoverished, and grieving because we want to exalt the One Who has shown so much love and compassion to us.

Here are four reasons Christians should sincerely care about the current COVID-19 crisis:

  • We care because we love our neighbors. The second greatest commandment, according to Jesus, is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39). Notice the command does not say to “love yourself.” The fact that we naturally love ourselves is already assumed. Jesus teaches that in the same way we care, feed, and nurture ourselves, we should also endeavor to care, feed, and nurture the people God has brought into our lives. The transformative power of the gospel moves us from an attitude of self-love to one of loving God supremely and loving others sacrificially. This means there should be a deep concern in our hearts when others are suffering. The same health that we desire for ourselves, we should want others to have. When we prioritize our love for God, we will also prioritize our love and care for our neighbors.
  • We care because we cherish life. Scripture places an incredibly high value on human life—from the very moment of conception to the last dying breath (Ps. 139:13–16). Christians should likewise cherish and guard the sanctity of human life, which motivates us to not only speak out against the barbaric dismemberment of unborn children, but also against the devaluing of the lives of the elderly, mentally handicapped, or terminally ill. We care about life because God is the Creator of all life from conception to death. Therefore, we see the value of helping those who are suffering physically. We’re moved with compassion when others suffer through sickness. We care about life because we know and worship the Creator of all life. And He tells us that every human being is created in His image.
  • We care because of the value of human souls. The Bible is an amazingly honest book. It warns us about the brevity of life compared to eternity (James 4:14). It teaches that death is an inescapable reality for every living person (Heb. 9:27). Every human being, without exception, will spend eternity somewhere. We care about those suffering from any kind of incurable disease because we care deeply about the condition of their souls. Caring for people’s physical needs can provide great temporary relief, but our message—the gospel—has ramifications that extend far beyond the physical life we experience now, to eternity. Those who have been eternally saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone know a security that no earthly vaccination or cure can ever give. So we care about people because we’re concerned about where they will spend eternity after they’ve taken their last breath.
  • We care because we know that our groans will turn to glory. Something just doesn’t seem right with the world. The suffering, pain, sorrow, grief, and death that are common to all human experience indicate to us that this just isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. The Bible affirms this impression and teaches us that one day there will be no more disease, death, or sorrow (Rev. 21:3–4). All of creation is presently suffering from the Fall (Rom. 8:21–23), and every believer in Christ inwardly “groans” for the redemption of our world and the redemption of our bodies. Someday we will receive glorified bodies—raised in the likeness of Jesus’ resurrected body—that will not need medication, surgeries, vitamins, insulin shots, chemotherapy, or funeral coffins. Jesus will return for His church and will take our “lowly” bodies, prone as they are to sickness and pain, and He will gloriously raise up and transform them “by the power that enables him to subject everything to himself” (Phil. 3:21, CBS).

We Christians must care for others because God has cared so much for us. We care because of the truth that has been revealed to us, a truth that looks beyond the present realities of temporary pain and physical suffering, that sees no dire situation as hopeless because we have placed our hope in a great and mighty God (Ps. 146:5). So instead of allowing fear and panic to control our hearts, let’s fixate on Jesus Christ and mobilize to provide care, compassion and prayer, because God has given so much love and compassion to us. We care for others because we know what it is to be loved.

The Unexpected: A Testimony of God’s Unexpected Grace During My Army Years…

Army Times

Life has a way of handing us the unexpected. For all of our plans and preconceived ideas of how life should play out, there always seems to be a surprise, a turn in the road, or an unexpected diversion from the original plan. I have come to appreciate the unexpected, embrace them, and, most importantly, learn from them.

I served in the U.S. Army from 2006-2010. While many of my memories from this time are pleasant, I did walk down some dark, painful roads – physically and spiritually. You see, I had come into the Army a bitter and cold young man…

I grew up as a preacher’s kid. Over the years, I had seen and heard things from church people that both shocked and angered me. In fact, one particular church situation really rocked my world and devastated me in big ways. So, by the time I was ready to join the Army, as far as I was concerned, I was all together done with church and God, and the Army provided me the perfect escape plan from both…or so I thought.

During my first two years in the Army, I had shed all remnants of my faith and Christian beliefs. I didn’t go to church, read my Bible, and I never talked to anyone about religion or faith. The Army made it easy for me to do this.

There were so many opportunities and distractions in the Army. There were promotions to get, awards to be earned, and respect to be gained. I quickly replaced the one true God with my new set of “gods” – promotion, awards, and respect.

Through hard work, I was able to get all three of these things. I was promoted quickly (eventually I attained Sergeant in three years’ time), received awards for excellence/service, and I had earned the respect of my fellow soldiers. But with all I had attained, my heart was still cold, and I was still very angry.

I was deep into myself, my interests, and my pursuits, when I received orders in the summer of 2008 to go to Iraq for a tour of duty. I was super excited! I had trained for this moment and was so ready to go prove myself as a soldier and as a man. Iraq was going to be a great experience for me, or so I had planned. What I wasn’t planning on was the unexpected…

Two weeks after I arrived in Iraq, one of our men was killed when his vehicle rolled over during a firefight in Mosul, Iraq. I remember the day well and was completely devastated when we got the news. You see, all soldiers train to bring death to bad guys, we don’t train to die ourselves.

The solider who died was young. He had a wife and five kids. In my moment of pain and anger, my thoughts went to God. For years God was the farthest thing from my mind, but now I wanted answers. I gave an angry prayer to God as I questioned His goodness and His ability to control life’s circumstances. I was hurt, angry, and sad beyond words.

God answered that very angry prayer about a week or so later when my father sent me a care package with a CD from Faith Baptist Bible College in it. I listened to that CD and encountered the song, “Bow the Knee.” In that song, I heard these words, “And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan, in the presence of the King, bow the knee.” God broke my heart right then and there. I was driven to my knees in prayer, and with tears streaming down my face, I asked God to forgive me and use me for His service. This too was unexpected. I hadn’t expected God to humble me and forgive me, but God did…

Fast forward to the present, I am amazed to see how God used that time in my life to bring me to the place that I’m at right now. I now realize that people can hurt me, but God is always good. I now realize that my plans may change, but with God there are no accidents. And I now realize that in this life pain is a reality, but with God that pain has a purpose. I now know that no matter what life looks like or feels like, God is in control. With God I can always expect His unexpected grace to meet my every need.