Author Archives: deefduke

About deefduke

Pastor of Jefferson Baptist Church, ride a bicycle, fish, hunt, and have 25 grandchildren.

Is this Pandemic a Judgment from God

I have been asked this question often in the last month. I don’t know the answer to that question for sure, but some observations. God brought severe judgment on the world in the past, and the Bible promises very severe judgment from God in the future. Some don’t like the idea of a God who would judge a country or the world with disease, it doesn’t fit their picture of who God is, but check out this passage in the book of Revelation.

Revelation 2:21-24 I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.

I remember the picture in the news of Governor Cuomo signing into law the right to abort a baby right up to the point of birth, and he and the city celebrated with glee. New York City has 60,000 abortions occur annually, and it seems to be the epicenter of this global pandemic, but it could just be coincidence, I don’t know.

Between Passover and Resurrection Sunday some models have predicted the US death toll will be very close to 3000 deaths per day, which is roughly the number of abortions performed per day in America. It could just be coincidence, I don’t know. If this Pandemic is from God it has a purpose, check out this Bible passage.

Psalms 78:31-34 The anger of God rose against them
and killed some of their stoutest ones. In spite of all this they still sinned and did not believe in His wonderful works. . .When He killed them, then they sought Him, and returned and searched diligently for God.

I am praying a lot during these days. I am not praying and asking God to take away the virus. I am praying that many, many people will turn to God and live with Him for all eternity, and escape from the ultimate judgment of God.

Revelation 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,

Five Days of Prayer

Our 4 times a year ” Five Days of Prayer” event starts tomorrow morning at 5 am. We have been having these prayer events for 30 years and this will be the first time doing it online via ”Zoom” as we pray together. Our praying together won’t really be together physically but in spirit and voice and visually via a computer screen. It will be interesting to see how this turns out, we will give it our most creative shot.

Gathering together is a major emphasis for the church in the New Testament. The writer to the Hebrews commands the churches who were experiencing persecution for their gathering together, never the less to not forsake gathering together. That gathering was for teaching, worship and especially for prayer. Gathering was commanded by God because He knew we would not grow or maintain our devotion to Christ on our own. I am becoming increasingly more discontent with this ”electronic gathering”, and I am not convinced at this point that it is a viable substitute for the real thing. But I am cooperating and I will be praying tomorrow for 6 hours looking and listening to people on a computer screen trusting in God to work powerfully in our nation, our State, our town and our church in spite of the lack of ”oneness” that God commands and values.

Hebrews 10:24-25 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

One of my major frustrations as a pastor over the last 40 years, who wants with all my heart for the people in JBC to grow in character, is the low value that many have put on ”gathering” in the past. People have looked at it as an option not a major necessity to know and experience God. Many have been haphazard in gathering for worship and teaching thinking that listening to worship music on the radio and sermon podcasts will do just fine. And people have especially been apathetic about praying together, thinking that praying by themselves is enough, it isn’t, but we will give this ”Zoom” thing our best shot and see what happens.

Exercise and Diet

1 Timothy 4:7-10 ”discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.”

I exercise for an hour every day, I fast for 24 hours 2 days a week, and I don’t eat anything with refined sugar in it. I figure I am going to die when it is God’s plan for me to die, but between now and then I want to be able to serve Him with a lot of energy and a sharp mind, so I am doing my part to help make it happen.

Exercise and diet are disciplines. Our physical bodies including our brains are hard-wired for comfort and easy, so anything outside of that requires discipline. That is why most don’t exercise or diet, to hard.

Our spiritual growth is like our physical growth and health. We need to read our Bibles every day, spend time with God every day in prayer, memorize scripture and meditate on it daily, read good books, listen to good sermons, listen to good music and worship, examine our life for sin and confess them to God every day.

We won’t do the spiritual disciplines unless we make a goal that is specific, read them every day, and share them with some friends who will hold us accountable.

Most don’t do the spiritual disciplines, and as a result they will grow at a very slow rate if at all. These verses describe the problem well.

Matthew 7:13-14 Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

My, How you have Grown

Babies are born and normally weigh in the vicinity of 6 pounds, but then they start to grow and end up like me at a couple of hundred pounds. When I was in the 6th grade I was the second smallest kid in the class including the girls, but the next year I went on a growth spurt and grew 11 inches in one year. I went from being 5 feet tall to 5 feet 11 inches tall, and never grew a fraction of an inch more after that. But then I started growing in weight and strength, my eighth-grade year when I stopped growing in height I weighed right at 100 pounds and by the end of my Sophomore year in High School I weighed in at almost 200 pounds. Through those years I remember friends and family saying constantly, ”my how you have grown”!

Spiritual growth, becoming more and more like Jesus in character is patterned after the nature of physical growth. A baby takes quite a few years to grow physically and we take most of a lifetime to grow spiritually. Some observations; growth happens in spurts, it isn’t a nice consistent line climbing upward. Our spiritual life has seasons of radical growth, but a serious problem shows up at this point, the cause of our radical spiritual growth is almost always unpleasant to downright painful. Growth takes cooperation on our part. When I was growing 11 inches and 130 lbs in 4 years I cooperated with my physical body by eating, I ate a lot, all the time as my Mom said. I don’t know why I would have, but I could have chosen to not eat and then I wouldn’t have grown, simple as that. Spiritual growth spurts take place at the point of suffering, pain, and trials, almost always, but we can short circuit the whole natural process of spiritual growth by simply complaining, grumbling, and feeling sorry for ourselves. Simple as that.

This coronavirus thing has been driving me nuts, but it would be cool if this was possibly a time of a spiritual growth spurt, and when it is all over someone would look at me and say, ”My, how you have grown”!

Jesus is Coming

The title of this blog doesn’t mean that I know when or even have a guess, but He is coming for sure for those of us who are His followers.

1 Thessalonians 4:16–18  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Corinthians 15:50–53  Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.

There are many things written in the Bible about the conditions that will exist when Jesus does come back and take us to heaven, they are called “the signs of the times” by those who study this topic.  One of them mentioned in the book of Daniel  is that things will be changing very rapidly, that certainly seems to be true now. Another major one is that the conditions in the world will get worse and worse, again which seems to be the case now.

2 Thessalonians 1:1–12  . . . your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. For after all it is only just for God. . . . to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire . . . . when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed

This passage seems to indicate that when Jesus comes He will be “giving us relief from affliction”. It isn’t like we are being burned at the stake or anything that bad, but I certainly would rejoice if Jesus came back today. Every morning in my morning prayer of commitment a part of my prayer is, “I will live today as if it is the last one I have to grow and to accomplish before Jesus comes and takes me to heaven”. Those who manage trials the best are those who have their eyes on eternity, their new body, and being with Jesus.

Definition of Hard

Why would someone call a certain activity hard or a day hard, what makes something hard? We don’t like certain things in life and when they happen then all of a sudden hard comes to mind.

We don’t like unexpected change, so when change happens it is hard. One of the issues with my Parkinson’s is when I stay in one position for very long my muscles get rigid and then when I move it hurts. It is a major problem at night because when I move the pain wakes me up. I have semi solved the problem by moving and changing positions often so I don’t get froze up. I have even trained myself to role over, stretch my legs, or my arms while I am sleeping and I am able to stay asleep for longer periods of time. Same thing during the day, I get up walk around, ride my stationary bike, and then go back to writing or reading. I change positions so much now that I rarely experience the “broke the froze” as I call it.

For most of us “regular routine” is comfortable and when something comes along and messes with our routine it irritates us and life becomes hard. We like to predict with relative accuracy what tomorrow is going to be like, and when something comes along and messes with our security in knowing what the future will be like life becomes hard.

So we need to change our programming by our self talk. Variety is good, change is awesome, the challenge of finding new ways of doing things is fun, predictability is boring, comfort is for wimps. Try and come up with at least one new slogan that you will program your thinking with every day. Most won’t take the effort to think creatively to do that, it is easier to just stay in the rut, but those who want to grow, excel, and accomplish much will.

Hard, hard hard

There are a lot of hard things in life, and probably everything in life is hard to someone. So many people say hard like a cuss word. One of the phrases that we need to say over and over to ourselves is, ”hard is good”. Try it, ”Hard is good”, once more, ”hard is good”, was that so hard (pun intended), one more time, ”hard is good. The goal is to truly believe it, not just say it. So many people get to the end of a day, heave a big sigh and say, ” what a hard day”, dragging out the word haaarrrrrd”. Winners and champions get to the end of the same kind of day and with a smile say, ”Wow, this was a challenging day, but I won”, or ”wow, stuff today that I didn’t do so well on, but tomorrow I will master it”, or ”Super, I haven’t had a day that pushed me to the limit like today did for a while, common Lord, give me another one”. Winners are always reminding themselves that this world is not their home, they are just passing through, that life is short and then we are in heaven. This world is not heaven, it is hard because it is supposed to be to make us like Jesus. It won’t be long and I will be in heaven, in the meantime run the race with endurance, and rejoice always. “Today was tough and I am so tired, but that is the best feeling in the world, means I did something that mattered”.

The problem is that all of our life the world has programmed us to be whiners. We have been programmed to believe and expect that life is going to get better, meaning easier, but in fact it gets harder. So we have to reprogram our brain and our self talk. It isn’t easy but it is very doable, many have done it. Keep listening to and monitoring your self talk, and correct it, change it every day. One person gets to the end of a day mentally beaten, the other person with the same kind of day is high fiving anybody and everybody.