From the Desk of the Associate: When Is It OK To Skip Church?

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It could go without saying that COVID-19 has caused countless discussions, meetings, and planning sessions regarding how we do life in these times. Nowhere has this been truer than in the realm of pastors and other church leaders. Now before you tune me out, this post will not largely be about COVID-19. I merely bring it up because it has caused almost every Christian to ask, “When it is OK to skip church?” Now there is a great deal of wisdom each Christian must use in deciding whether it would be best to avoid gathering in the short term, but I suspect that there are many, many people who did not really value the gathering as they should and this global pandemic is only too convenient for them to do what they were already inclined to do. I would like to explore the question here, “When is it OK to skip the assembling of ourselves together?”

For the vast majority of the history of Protestant churches, church attendance was completely expected of all church members and even many citizens in the broader culture. In the last several decades church attendance has declined precipitately even among individuals who hold membership in a church. There are multiple reasons for this, largely revolving around our busy schedules, the increase of work hours, and sporting events on Sundays. Ultimately though, it really reveals our skewed priorities and a deficiency in our understanding of what takes place (or should take place) during our regular Sunday morning gatherings.

The writer of Hebrews makes it very clear that this is not just a problem
for our day and time, but also during the setting at the time of his writing.
Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing
near.” It is not hard to see that this was a problem even in the first
century church. Now, do we view it as a sin to skip church for any reason?
Certainly not! There are very legitimate reasons for doing so, but I firmly believe that the American church has strayed far onto the side of regular church attendance being optional for the believer. Again, I believe this shows a deficiency in our priorities and view of church.

Some might say, “I do church online.” Now I think everyone can be
thankful for the wealth of good teaching content online as well as more and more churches being able to livestream their services. That said, I think you are missing at least half of the importance if you think that services are only about being fed the Word of God. That is a very important and primary ministry of our regular services, but is not sufficient in and of itself. You see, church is not really about you. I know, news flash, right? Look again at verse 24, we are called to encourage one another and build one another up. How can you do that if you are neglecting to see one another.

Another huge role of church is to be accountable to the pastors and other
church members. How can you do that if you are regularly skipping regular church services? Maybe you are an independent person by nature and an introvert. You want to deal with your own problems and let others do the same. I’m sorry, Christian, but you are not afforded that choice. You see, God gave us all a role to play in the mutual building up of the body of Christ. This is clear in many places including the command to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “weep with those who weep” or “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” I’ll ask again, how can you do that if you neglect the local body of Christ? Do you know that there are many, many brothers and sisters around the world who are literally willing to die to fulfill God’s command to meet together? And yet, we can find countless excuses to just stay home.

But what about you who say, “Pastor, I’d love to be at church, but my
work schedule just won’t allow it” or “I just don’t have good health” or “This is just a season…” These may all be reasonable and acceptable objections as reasons to miss church, but I believe most of the time we skip church is due to the fact that we just don’t view it with the priority we should. Also, many of you out there would respond, “My relationship is between me and Jesus,.and I have peace with this decision.” You are right and wrong. Remember that God has also commanded us to be accountable to one another. God will not command you to do something contrary to His Word.

Now, maybe you are offended at this point, but if you have read all the way to here than let me encourage you to truly evaluate whether you too are guilty of neglecting the body of Christ. Maybe you are in doubt about whether your situation demands you to not attend your church. Well, let me encourage you with this, invite your pastor to weigh in on your decision-making process. We pastors care for you and your situations. We are, after all, called to, “Care for your souls as ones who must give an account to God…”

PFBC: August’s Upcoming Events…

August is nearly here! Below you’ll find all the events and activities that are projected to take place out here on the prairie. Please keep these things in mind and in prayer…

Saturday, Aug. 1 – Friday, Aug. 7 = Family Camp 4 at IRBC (Pastor Dave is Program Chairman for this week of camp)

Sunday, Aug. 2 = Pastor Tim Officiating Corporate Prayer at 9 AM, Preaching at 10:15 AM, and Leading in Communion During the Morning Worship Service

Saturday, Aug. 8 = Bryce and Catherine’s Wedding at 2 PM (Pastor Dave is officiating this wedding)

Sunday, Aug. 9 = Baptism & Membership Sunday!

Monday, Aug. 10 = Women’s Prayer Group from 10 – 11 AM

Tuesday, Aug. 11 = Men’s Prayer Group from 6:30 – 7:30 AM

Sunday, Aug. 16 = Joseph Frerichs (Peru) Presenting During the Morning Worship Service; Pastor Dave Preaching at Ankeny Free Church at 6:00 PM

Wednesday, August 19 = Bill Mouser Surgery at the University Hopsital

Sunday, August 23 = Leadership Team Meeting at 2 PM

Friday, Aug. 28 – Saturday, Aug. 29 = Men’s Revive at IRBC!

Guest Blogger: David Gunn, “Absolutely Sure”

Director of Regular Baptist Press, David Gunn, wrote an encouraging and reassuring article on the guarantee of our salvation by grace through faith in Jesus…

In the nineteenth century, a fascinating exchange of letters took place between Queen Victoria and the English evangelist John Townsend. After attending a service at St. Paul’s cathedral, the queen had asked her chaplain, “Can one be absolutely sure in this life of eternal safety?” The chaplain replied that he knew of no way to attain such certainty.

The conversation was published in the court news. When John Townsend learned of it, he undertook to write a letter to the queen. It read, “To her gracious Majesty, our beloved Queen Victoria, from one of her most humble subjects: With trembling hands, but heartfelt love, and because I know that we can be absolutely sure now of our eternal life in the Home that Jesus went to prepare, may I ask your Most Gracious Majesty to read the following passages of Scripture: John 3:16; Romans 10:9,10? These passages prove that there is full assurance of salvation by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ for those who believe and accept His finished work. I sign myself, your servant for Jesus’ sake, John Townsend.”

About two weeks later, Townsend received a response from the queen. “To John Townsend: Your letter of recent date I received and in reply would state that I have carefully and prayerfully read the portions of Scripture referred to. I believe in the finished work of Christ for me, and trust by God’s grace to meet you in that Home of which He said, ‘I go to prepare a place for you.’ Signed, Victoria Guelph.”

The uniform teaching of the New Testament on this matter is clear. Jesus said, “He who believes in [the Son] is not condemned” (John 3:18). Paul taught, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). John wrote, “He who has the Son has life. . . . These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” What a blessing it is to know with absolute, unshakable confidence that our salvation is forever secured by the One Who loved us and gave Himself for us!

Two Things Millennials (Like Me) Need To Gravitate Towards: Humility and History…

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “humility” as the “freedom from pride or arrogance; the quality or state of being humble.” The Bible declares in Proverbs 11:2, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Even the business world recognizes the value and wisdom of humility. For instance, The Economist in 2013 wrote, “If leadership has a secret sauce, it may well be humility. A humble boss understands that there are things he doesn’t know. He listens: not only to the other bigwigs in Davos, but also to the kind of people who don’t get invited, such as his customers.”

Humility, though so important, seems to be lacking in today’s culture, especially among us Millennials. Indeed, I like what Alyssa Ahlgren recently posted on social media. She wrote…

“My Generation Is Blind to the Prosperity Around Us! I’m sitting in a small coffee shop near Nokomis (Florida) trying to think of what to write about. I scroll through my newsfeed on my phone looking at the latest headlines of presidential candidates calling for policies to “fix” the so-called injustices of capitalism. I put my phone down and continue to look around.

I see people talking freely, working on their MacBook’s and ordering food they get in an instant, seeing cars go by outside, and it dawned on me; we live in the most privileged time in the most prosperous Nation and we’ve become completely blind to it.

Vehicles, food, technology, freedom to associate with whom we choose. These things are so ingrained in our American way of life we don’t give them a second thought.

We are so well off here in the United States that our poverty line begins 31 times above the global average. Thirty One Times!!!

Virtually no one in the United States is considered poor by global standards. Yet, in a time where we can order a product off Amazon with one click and have it at our doorstep the next day, we are unappreciative, unsatisfied, and ungrateful?

Our unappreciation is evident as the popularity of Socialist policies among my generation continues to grow. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently said to Newsweek talking about the millennial generation, “An entire generation which is now becoming one of the largest electorates in America came of age and never saw American prosperity.

“Never saw American prosperity?? Let that sink in.

When I first read that statement, I thought to myself, that was quite literally the most entitled and factually illiterate thing I’ve ever heard in my 26 years on this earth. Many young people agree with her, which is entirely misguided.

My generation is being indoctrinated by a mainstream narrative to actually believe we have never seen prosperity. I know this first hand, I went to college, let’s just say I didn’t have the popular opinion, but I disagree.

Why then, with all of the overwhelming evidence around us, evidence that I can even see sitting at a coffee shop, do we not view this as prosperity? We have people who are dying to get into our country!

People around the world destitute and truly impoverished. Yet, we have a young generation convinced they’ve never seen prosperity and, as a result, we elect some politicians who are dead set on taking steps towards abolishing Capitalism!!

Why? The answer is this, my generation has only seen prosperity. We have no contrast! We didn’t live in the great depression or live through two World Wars, the Korean War, The Vietnam War and we didn’t see the rise and fall of Socialism and Communism.

We don’t know what it’s like to live without the internet, without cars, without smartphones. We don’t have a prosperity problem. We have an entitlement problem, an ungratefulness problem, and it’s spreading like a plague.”

Indeed, I couldn’t have said it any better myself. But in addition to cultivating humility by means of pursuing thankfulness, all of us (including and especially Millennials) need to gravitate towards history. Let me explain…

Being young is a great thing. I’m only 33 so I’m still very young. Indeed, those of us who are young can be so passionate, energetic, and creative. But some of us in our youthful zeal have forgotten to temper our good traits with other good traits, such as patience, wisdom, and knowledge. In fact, zeal without knowledge is a dangerous, dangerous thing…

For instance, zeal without knowledge causes us to bite the hands that fed us. That’s why some of us are so self-righteously critical of our parents. We’re so dialed into their faults and failures and hypocrisies (as if we don’t have our own issues and blindspots that our children will be all too eager to showcase to us when they’re just as old and experienced as we are today), but we’re so dialed into the imperfections of our parents that we fail to realize that they were (and are) merely human, and (please hear me on this) they did the best they could. Instead of being so critical of our parents, we should be grateful.

Zeal without knowledge also causes us to disregard or forget our American history. That is to say, we become so immersed, as young people, in the present-day injustices and problems of our nation, that we disregard or forget the fact that many, many Americans (who were just as passionate, energetic, and creative as we are today) died for some of the very injustices and problems that we are protesting and marching for today. Indeed, some of us act like our forefathers throughout our great and complicated history never cared about these issues and dilemmas. Oh, how self-righteous and arrogant we can be as young people! Indeed, many in our nation’s history cared deeply (and cared to the death) on many of the issues we feel so passionately about today.

“Yeah, but they didn’t fix all the issues! There are still many, many problems! It’s all up to us now!” Really? Don’t you think that our fellow citizens of years gone by did the best they could for us and for our freedoms? Do you really think that we are all-together wiser, smarter, and better able to handle the mess of problems in our nation today? Oh, we will certainly do our very best to right the many wrongs in our country and, after all is said and done, history will record the same verdict that so few of us give to our ancient forefathers…”They did the best they could.”

Speaking of historical figures who fought for justice and liberty, did you know that over 360,000 Union Soldiers gave up their very lives in order to free the oppressed and grant freedom for all? 360,000 deaths…Let that number sink in, and humble you, and engender within you one major thing…gratefulness. Yes, thousands and thousands and thousands of men (many of them white males), during the American Civil War, were willing to put a bullet into the head of another human being just so that we all could live free today. They certainly didn’t do it all correctly. We certainly have much work to do in our own moment in history. But in all our passion, fellow Millennials, let’s not forget our history. Let’s be grateful for the very broad, but imperfect shoulders of the men that we stand on today…

Thinking Biblically About Black Lives Matter…

The words “Black Lives Matter” is pure Gospel gold. Indeed, biblically-speaking, every black life matters immensely to God. Thus, all black lives should matter to us, especially us Bible-believing, Gospel-loving Christians. But the words, “Black Lives Matter”, has been hijacked by the movement/organization that calls themselves by the same words, “Black Lives Matter.” Indeed, their very own words condemn them. Just go to to see, in their very own words, what they believe and what they are trying to do.

In part, they say that they believe, and thus act to, “dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work ‘double shifts’ so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work. We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.”

Dismantling and disrupting Western civilization, and our American way of life, is indeed the end state of this movement/organization. Indeed, the founders of this movement are “trained Marxists” (their very own words) and are seeking to capitalize on the real fears, experiences, and problems of our nation in order to drive us all to a very scary end state.

But should we dismantle and then reconstruct Western civilization, and the American way of life, simply to rectify the wrongs of the past and present? I think not. Let me explain…

You see, you can have real fears, rooted in real experiences, and based in real problems, and yet come to the wrong solution for how to solve these problems. This is the travesty of the Black Lives Matter movement/organization and their desire to restructure the whole of America to right the wrongs of the past and present. Perhaps an illustration would help…

As a pastor, I experienced the worst year of my entire life back in March 2018…Even my two tours to Iraq don’t even compare to the weight of darkness and depression I was experiencing back then…Indeed, suicide was a very real and appealing option in the Spring of 2018. I mean, everything had come to a head…As a church, we were experiencing a mini church split, a high-profile adultery case, and a tragic drug overdose. It. Was. Insane. I felt like my whole ministry was falling apart…Now, zoom with me to the end of this heartbreaking story, and here’s the gist of it: I made mistakes in handling this awful situation, but God was gracious and merciful, and me and my precious church family made it through the darkest night of soul…

Now, to this day, I have real fears about this situation happening again. That’s understandable, right? I mean, these fears are rooted in actual experiences of severe Satanic insanity erupting in my church family. I’ve even been able to identify part of the problem in this whole situation, namely, the Church! You heard me right…The Church, though it be the Bride of Christ, is jacked up and messed up – BIG time. Many pastors, with similar fears and experiences, would heartily agree with me! Indeed, anyone who’s been around the Church, for any length of time, knows how broken the Church really is…

So, you’re tracking, right? I have real fears, rooted in real experiences, and now I’ve identified a very real problem, the Church itself. But like a kid during a math exam, I make a fatal error in judgment when I come to this conclusion: “All we have to do is dismantle and restructure the way we do Church and these things will never happen again.” False…True fears. True experiences. True problem. False solution.

Will changing the way we do Church here in the West prevent people from dividing the Church, having adultery with one another, and ingesting different types of drugs into their body? Absolutely not. Why? Because the heart is the problem…

The same is true with “systemic racism.” There are real fears out there – listen to them. There are real experiences out there – learn from them. And there are real problems out there – lament over them. But do not make the dastardly assumption that the solution to these fears, experiences, and problems is to dismantle and restructure the whole of Western Civilization and the American way of life. Dismantling and restructuring our society will not prevent racism, injustices, and hatred. At best, it will merely quell these sins while giving birth to a whole new slew of bigger and better sins.

Why do I say this? Because Jesus said this…Mark 7:20-23, “And he said, ‘What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from WITHIN, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from WITHIN, and they defile a person.’”

Our only solution is the Gospel. The Gospel proclaimed, believed, and lived out. True change comes from the inside out, not from the outside in. Our hearts (not our systems) is the ultimate problem. Indeed, our hearts are desperately sick, wicked, and downright dead…It needs to be brought to life. Only the Gospel can do that…Only Jesus can save us.

Prairie Flower, the Gospel (and only the Gospel) has been and will always be enough. Indeed, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. For as Paul would phrase it, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.'”

Guest Blogger: Aline Schipper, “An Unbreakable Spiritual Lifeline”

July marks the halfway point of 2020. Sometimes it seems this year has been going on forever and, at other times, it seems it has gone by like a whirlwind.

Given the current local and global circumstances, have you met anyone that is discouraged, “down on their luck”, or without hope? I have. Have you seen the rioters on TV that lash out in anger at anyone or anything around them? I watch in horror and disgust, wondering how such behavior will change anything. Then I curl up in my easy chair and take a nap, trying to shut it all out, which seldom works. Face it, the world’s problems are not amenable to any solutions man can come up with.

If I am honest, if it weren’t for the Lord, I would be in the same boat of anger and hopelessness as those on TV. A life without Christ breeds behavior that doesn’t care about consequences; doesn’t care about others; and doesn’t care about the future because they believe there is none. And without Christ, they indeed will not have a good future.

But thank God, the Bible is infused with verses about HOPE…

Hebrews 6:19-20 presents a wonderful word picture…Lord, help me to hear you saying, “I am your hope”, over all the other voices…Lord, your Word says you are the hope for the hopeless. So, I am running to you with both hands stretched out and grabbing on to you. Fill me up with hope and give me a tangible reminder today that hope is an unbreakable spiritual lifeline.

How about Psalms? “As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.” Ps. 71:14

Here’s another one: “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits and in His Word I put my hope.” Ps. 130:5

I found about 30 verses directly speaking about hope. I am sure there are even more to encourage and lift up your sagging spirit if you look for them. Let me close with Romans 15:13 that says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

So don’t let this world take your hope. Instead, give an overflow of hope to those around you that may not have it. Give generously every chance you get. Someone’s life may depend on it. 

It’s Been One Month Since George Floyd…

Below is a poem I wrote, as well as some helpful resources from theologians and thinkers I respect, to help us all process the injustices and turmoil in our great country…

The Gospel (A Poem)

I will take your place, George Floyd. I will die for you.

I will take your place, Derek Chauvin…Step off of George’s neck and step onto my neck…I will die for you.

I will take your place, Outraged Protester. I will die for you.

I will take your place, regardless of your Race or your Case. And I will die for you.




Then I will lie, cold & lifeless, in a Pharisees’ tomb. Yes, crucified by GENTILES, but buried by JEWS.

BUT my death will be the death of Death. I will rise again – for ALL!

Indeed, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Resources To Help You Truly Listen, Learn, Lament, and Leverage… – “In a first-of-its-kind episode, Darrell Harrison and Virgil “Omaha” Walker get behind their respective microphones for a no-holds-barred, completely impromptu, unscheduled, and unscripted (no notes) discussion about how believers in Christ should respond to events surrounding the death of Mr. George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minnesota. Buckle up.” An excellent breakdown of Black Lives Matter as mere words v. a menacing movement…

There are other good blogs, articles, and books to consider. Contact me and I will be glad to offer some suggestions…Good content is key in this thick battle for the truth!

Indeed, Prairie Flower, life is short…So live for Him…The battle is now…So fight for truth…And Heaven awaits us…So what do we really have to lose?

“One Race, One Remedy” By Darrell Harrison and Cameron Buettel

Most of us have heard of Charles Darwin’s landmark work, The Origin of Species. But its full title exposes the dark philosophy and motivation behind Darwin’s theories: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.

One Humanity

Darwin believed that every ethnic group descended from different primates­—and that some of these groups were more “favored” than others. The idea that mankind should be divided into various “races” only took root with the advent of Darwin’s evolutionary theory in the mid-nineteenth century.

That divisive worldview has no place among God’s people. Neither does the current sanctimonious quest for racial diversity within the church which ignores the reality of mankind’s common parentage—that God “made from one man every nation [ethnicity] of mankind to live on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26, emphasis added). In other words, we are all Adam’s children.

There is only one race. One. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is not speaking biblically.

One Depravity

The byproduct of our shared heritage is that every member of the human race has the same problem: “Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Man’s depravity levels the playing field. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Although we’re not all as evil as we could be, there’s no part of our being that hasn’t been corrupted by sin, and we all stand equally guilty before our righteous and holy Judge.

Moreover, the truth of our corruption highlights the one dividing line that matters—the wall of enmity and separation between holy God and sinful men. From heaven’s perspective, humanity’s fundamental identity is not that of victims, but of perpetrators. In light of that reality, any form of prejudicial favoritism is an obscenity and an absurdity. Even the most legitimate claims to victimhood evaporate in light of to our offenses against God. The prophet Jeremiah raised an important question: “Why should any living mortal, or any man, offer complaint in view of his sins?” (Lamentations 3:39). And yet depraved humanity is still looking for an excuse to plead its case.

The church should not encourage such cosmic myopia. We are called to indict sinners and invite them to repentance and faith—not to arm them with excuses that will fail to convince the Judge.

This current fixation on tabulating perceived temporal unfairness and injustice only blinds us to the fact that we’re all in the same boat—and it’s sinking fast.

One Remedy

R. C. Sproul was once asked why bad things happen to good people. Sproul responded, “That only happened once, and He volunteered.”

God sees one race of humanity with one universal problem: sin. And in the person of Christ, God provides the only acceptable payment for our sins. As the apostle Paul explains, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

In his commentary on 2 Corinthians, John MacArthur explains the profundity of that verse.

Christ was not made a sinner, nor was He punished for any sin of His own. Instead, the Father treated Him as if He were a sinner by charging to His account the sins of everyone who would ever believe. All those sins were charged against Him as if He had personally committed them, and He was punished with the penalty for them on the cross, experiencing the full fury of God’s wrath unleashed against them all. . . . Our iniquitous life was legally charged to Him on the cross, as if He had lived it, so that His righteous life could be credited to us, as if we lived it.

Thankfully, at the cross of Christ, God didn’t give His people justice. He turned justice in our favor, using an act of human injustice, punishing the righteous One in place of the wicked. Now He is faithful and just to forgive our sins rather than damning us.

One Community

Having been regenerated and redeemed, we now belong to the Body of Christ. Paul writes, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Our new life in Christ erases the dividing lines that the sinful world loves to draw. And Paul charges us not to redraw them: “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

In fact, the unity of the church ought to defy such selfish social distinctions. In Christ we have been set free from viewing each other through lenses that accentuate ethnic strife, economic inequality, and other perceived social disparities that occupy the world’s attention. We don’t need to cater to the institutionalized partiality of this wretched world. We don’t need to think in terms of oppressed and oppressors, disadvantaged and privileged, black and white. We don’t need to subscribe to the value the world places on victim status. And we must not follow the world’s lead in the futile attempt to combat partiality with more partiality.

That’s not to say believers should turn a blind eye to real instances of injustice—Scripture doesn’t excuse willful ignorance and inaction (cf. Deuteronomy 10:18Leviticus 19:15Psalm 82:2–4). Instead, it means we must not mistake temporal injustice for God’s primary concern. We need to cultivate heaven’s perspective on the world’s maladies, understanding that instances of injustice are not necessarily ills to be cured but symptoms of the comprehensive corruption of sin’s spiritual cancer. The church needs to get out of the business of putting Band-Aids on severed limbs and chest wounds.

As believers, we know the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only cure for what ails this world. We have firsthand knowledge of its regenerating power, and we ought to be putting all our efforts into delivering the truth of the gospel to those who are lost and dying without it.

Because of Christ’s redemptive work, there is only one distinction now worth making: those who are in Adam and those who are in Christ (Romans 5:12-21). And those who are in Adam are not our enemies—they’re our mission field. Our job is not to stroke their perceived hurts. It’s to faithfully preach the gospel to them and call them to repentance, faith, and oneness with the rest of God’s redeemed.

Dear Sons…Dear Daughters…

Against the backdrop of one of the most turbulent years I’ve ever experienced, I’ve asked myself this singular question many times: What can I do to make a difference? Perhaps you’ve asked yourself this same question amidst all the white (and black) noise in our culture…What can I do to make a difference? It’s a good question. It deserves a good answer.

Indeed, the turbulence of 2020 is one for the books: a presidential impeachment, a global pandemic, an economic recession, and (now) nationwide unrest. Are we headed towards a full-blown Civil War? It seems to me that the presidential election in 2020 holds for us a powder keg of emotions ready to explode. I could be wrong, and I hope I’m wrong, but our nation is truly fragile right now. As the people of God, we will certainly keep trusting the Lord, fighting for justice, and praying for law and order, but these are certainly some tense and terrible days to be living through.

But again, as I ponder the days that God has allotted for us, I ask myself: Can I really make a difference in this multi-layered, highly nuanced, and increasingly disturbing situation? I mean, what can I really do? Just pray more? Listen to more of my friends of color and their thoughts, feelings, and opinions? Perhaps participate in a march myself? Maybe all these things are good and necessary, but I am convinced that more and better parenting is an absolute must. More and better parenting? Doesn’t that seem random and boring in terms of an effective solution?

I think not…Here’s what initially primed my thinking…

John MacArthur (Pastor, Author, and Bible Teacher at Grace To You) recently suggested four layers of accountability and discipline that are absolutely vital to a thriving society (and civilization as a whole): conscience, family (specifically, one’s parents), the government, and the Church. MacArthur suggests that in recent decades, the conscience of the American people has been seared shut; and the family has altogether been attacked and decimated (look at how many absentee fathers plague our family units today, along with the rise of homosexuality and transgenderism). Now, in recent weeks, that third layer of accountability and discipline is being severely attacked, namely, our government and those who have sworn to protect us and serve us. Oh, how we need to pray that justice prevails along with law and order! But if this third layer of accountability and discipline falls, what’s next? That’s right, the Church. And when the Church can no longer do an effective job of restraining evil, that’s when God Himself will snatch the Church out of this world. That’s when full blown Satanic insanity will erupt as the Chief Restrainer (i.e. the Holy Spirit) is completely removed from the presence and psyche of this world.

So, as I’ve digested content from people like John MacArthur, as well as other theological, political, sociological, and cultural resources (from articles to blogs to videos), I again ask myself: What can I do? Again, I think more and better parenting is one vital piece to moving forward, as Christians, in an increasingly decaying culture. It’s by no means the silver bullet, but more and better parenting is a huge piece in us moving forward in an honest, healthy, and holistic fashion. Yes, we as parents, and especially us fathers, need to stand up and speak up, to our children, in our own homes. We need to hold them accountable and discipline them in the way of truth, justice, and beauty.

Indeed, my wife and I are in the process of adoption. We will most likely adopt a bi-racial or black infant. That’s just the way most adoption cases work. We cannot wait to bring our son or daughter home, no matter how much melanin they have in their skin! And what rejoicing will come to our home on the day we bring our adopted child home…So, all that to say, here is what I plan to teach my four bi-racial, white, and/or black sons and daughters…Yes, here is how I plan to stand up and speak up, by God’s grace, in my own home…

Dear Sons…Dear Daughters…

May you always know and live in light of these six wonderful realities…

  1. God created you and loves you. Indeed, your skin color (no matter what it is – white, brown, black, or mixed) was knitted into you by a Master Artist who made you “fearfully and wonderfully” (Psalm 139:14). Furthermore, this Master Artist loves you with a fierce love and proved His love for you by sending His Son, Jesus, to die in your place and for your sins (Romans 5:8). You are loved by your Mommy and Daddy, but God loves you more.
  2. The Bible gives to us objective truth. You never have to doubt who you really are and how much you are really worth because the Bible gives to you plain and powerful objective truth (Gen. 1:27). Indeed, you never have to worry if the Bible is going to lead you astray into false narratives or fake news because God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). Yes, you can always count on the Bible, God’s Holy Word, to give you light and life (Psalm 119).
  3. America is not perfect, but we are blessed to live in the U.S.A. This country of ours is something I love, and you should love it too (James 1:17). Indeed, America is not our final home, and our ultimate citizenship lies in Heaven (Philippians 3:20-21), but to love this country is not wrong and no one should ever make you feel ashamed for loving the red, white, and blue. Yes, do your part to strengthen the areas of our country that need fixing, but always thank God for this land of the free because of the brave (Psalm 113).
  4. People are crazy, but we love them anyways. Hate is a powerful reality in our world (1 John 3:11-18). But so is love (1 John 5:1-5)! Let’s choose to love the difficult, the uniformed, the rebellious, the hypocritical, and the downright hurtful people in our lives. Why? Because that’s what Jesus did…and does (Matt. 5:43-48).
  5. The Church is God’s plan A to reach the world with hope and healing despite so much sin and suffering. Indeed, the Church can be so broken and messed up, but God is using the Church despite all that we are and all that we are not (Ephesians 3:10). So, let’s be a family that stays on mission (Matthew 28:18-20). “Won’t it be hard? Won’t it be difficult?”, you ask. Certainly, but God made a promise that His purposes will prevail in and through the Church, no matter how broken or attacked it becomes (Matthew 16:18).
  6. This world is not it, there’s an eternity that awaits us. We can be a family that fights for justice, helps the poor, and ministers to the marginalized of society, and yet the world gets worse and worse, and we suffer persecution. And that’s more than OK. Why? Because “this world is not our home, we’re just a passing through…” Indeed, God has imprinted the idea of eternity onto our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Furthermore, He’s guaranteed a perfection of peace in eternity for all who trust in Jesus. “Will you believe?” (John 11:25-27).

With All My Love (An Imperfect, Incomplete Love For Sure) But With All The Love I Can Muster,

Your Dad

Moving Forward From COVID-19

Dear Members and Friends Out Here On The Prairie,

The last 2 1/2 months have been some of the most turbulent days we’ve ever faced as a world, nation, and church family. Truth be told, there might be more turbulence ahead. But no matter what, we will continue to trust our great and sovereign King Jesus!

I realize that many of you have been inundated with various news articles, blog posts, videos, and other communication platforms, so I’ll keep my words here succinct. Please note the information below. And please know that we are in this together and will get through this together by God’s amazing, sustaining grace…

  1. Face Masks: We are moving forward from the strange and oftentimes confusing world of COVID-19. Practices that were once deemed necessary because of our lack of knowledge about the virus are now deemed unnecessary at best and detrimental to our health at worst. Such is the case with the use of face masks. Now, let me be as clear as I can, you may wear a face mask if you want to for the protection of your health, but we will not make face masks mandatory or commonplace in our church building. Again, you may wear one if you wish, and some of you, for health reasons, should wear one, and we’ll be glad you’re wearing one, but not everyone needs to wear a face mask.
  2. Social Distancing: Despite reducing some restrictions, I do believe we will continue to feel the effects of this virus for quite some time. This is especially true in regards to social distancing and increased hygiene protocols. So, out of compliance with our Governor’s desires, and out of love for our fellow neighbor, we will continue to exercise social distancing and proper hygiene as we congregate week after week. We do this, not motivated by fear, but out of submission to our governing authorities and out of love for our neighbors.
  3. Child Care: As it relates to our Child Care ministries, as a Leadership Team, we have decided to make the downstairs Fellowship Hall a designated Child Care area for parents to use. To be clear, this area will not be staffed with volunteer teachers, but parents are welcome to use this area in order to more easily occupy their children and participate in the Sunday Morning Worship Service. No other Child Care ministries will be offered (i.e. Sunday School, Nursery, etc.). It is our desire to relaunch all of our Child Care ministries this fall. But may God’s will be done!
  4. Important Dates: Finally, we would like all of you to be aware of some very important dates. This includes our Women’s Prayer Group relaunching this Monday, June 8 at 10 AM (continuing every second Monday of every month), our Men’s Prayer Group this Tuesday, June 9 at 6:30 AM (AKA: Donuts, Coffee, and Prayer…continuing every second Tuesday of every month), a Reno Informational Meeting on Sunday, June 14 immediately following the Morning Worship Service (this meeting will prepare us for a vote on this project at our next Quarterly Meeting), All Church Work Day on Saturday, June 27 (the purpose of this Work Day is to do indoor and outdoor maintenance on our building and grounds, especially as it relates to our Pavilion Project), and our Quarterly Meeting on Sunday, June 28 immediately following the Morning Worship Service (there will be several vital issues to vote on in this meeting…all members are strongly encouraged to be in attendance). Also, all Small Group Bible Studies may begin to regather at their Bible Study Leader’s discretion. Please use proper social distancing at each of these events/gatherings. It is also important to note that the Leadership Team has decided that there will be no VBS this summer, but alternate activities are being discussed.

Well, there you have it! I tried to be as clear and concise as possible. If you have any questions whatsoever, please reach out to either Pastor Tim or me. We are here for you!

Moving Forward Together,

David Cotner

Lead Pastor, PFBC