COVID-19 UPDATES  —  

Pioneer invites worshipers to its Sanctuary on July 11, 2020 for both 9:00 AM and 11:45 AM worship services. Sabbath Schools remain meeting digitally or in smaller off-site groups. For details regarding prevention measures in place and the COVID-19 Pioneer response click here.

 
Thursday, July 9, 2020 - 21:02

The Fourth Watch

By Pastor Dwight K. Nelson

Apr
22
April 22, 2020

Maybe what we need to survive this pandemic is a CAN-DO-mic. Because as the news gets bleaker and badder, what’s wrong with focusing on the CAN-DO side of God? Seriously. Is there anything God can’t do? That’s what the mantled Stranger outside Abraham’s tent asked the patriarch: “Is there anything too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:14) I.e., “Come on, Abraham, can you think of anything at all God cannot do?” Rhetorical question, of course. And the answer came nine months later in the squalling infant Sarah gave birth to at her and Abraham's “ripe old age.”

God must love that side of Himself. After all, He instructed Abraham to call Him El Shaddai, the Almighty God (Genesis 17:1). He is the God who CAN DO it.

Hudson Taylor, the intrepid missionary to China—who served that great people for fifty years—remarked once to his friends: “‘I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done” (Rebecca McLaughlin Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion 41). 

I love that—while we’re nearly overwhelmed by what has befallen us—what appears to us as utterly impossible and absolutely difficult gets suddenly done. By whom? By the CAN DO God you and I worship and love. Done!

“Well then, I hope He is done with this pandemic.” So do I. Though, of course, I don’t believe the pandemic is His creation. I am persuaded Jesus nailed it when He announced, “An enemy has done this” (Matthew 13:28).

“Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous” (The Great Controversy 590).

So we know whom to thank. But even what the enemy has done to you, to me, to those who suffer, even to those who have died at the hands of this deadly pestilence is even yet reversible. “‘I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and [the grave]’” (Revelation 1:18).

El Shaddai gets the last word. Always. And you can be sure, it will be a CAN DO word.

So, as the little note card our daughter, Kristin attached to her bedroom mirror when she was a girl declares: “Don’t go to God to tell Him you have a big problem—go to your problem and tell it you have a BIG God!”

His name is El Shaddai, the Almighty CAN DO God. And He will do whatever it takes to get you through this lockdown, this life. He has nail-scarred hands to prove it.

Apr
15
April 15, 2020

No sense beating around the bush. Let's pretend we're kids once again and it’s very OK for us to pester our father with the familiar question: "Are we there yet?" Of course, I’m not thinking of our father, but rather our Father who is in heaven. 

I.e., God—are we close to calling this pandemic off (we, of course, meaning You)? Haven't we pretty much learned what we need to learn by now? You know—the lesson about how quickly life can irrevocably change—we got it. Or the lesson about how important patience is for our spiritual growth—got it again (sort of). So, dear Lord—since it's now been five weeks and we’ve learned our lessons—we promise—is it OK for us to ask: Are we there yet?

In The Atlantic science writer, Ed Yong describes the reality we face: "This physical-distancing strategy is working, but at such an economic cost that it can't be sustained indefinitely. When restrictions relax, as they are set to do on April 30, the coronavirus will likely surge back, as it is now doing in Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other Asian states that had briefly restrained it. As I wrote last month, the only viable endgame is to play whack-a-mole with the coronavirus, suppressing it until a vaccine can be produced. With luck, that will take 18 to 24 months. During that time, new outbreaks will probably arise. Much about that period is unclear, but the dozens of experts whom I have interviewed agree that life as most people knew it cannot fully return. ‘I think people haven’t understood that this isn't about the next couple of weeks," said Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota. “This is about the next two years.'" (www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/04/pandemic-summer-coronavirus-reopening-back-normal/609940/). 

Did you catch that? "Life as most people knew it cannot fully return." He means “ever."

Yong goes on: "The pandemic is not a hurricane or a wildfire. It is not comparable to Pearl Harbor or 9/11. Such disasters are confined in time and space. The SARS-CoV-2 virus will linger through the year and across the world. 'Everyone wants to know when this will end,’ said Devi Sridhar, a public-health expert at the University of Edinburgh. 'That's not the right question. The right question is: How do we continue?'" (ibid).

"How do we continue?"

That seemed to be on the mind of Jesus that Tuesday just before His Friday execution. I came across it a few days ago here in my lock-down study at home—one intriguing line: "'By your patience possess your souls'" (Luke 21:19 NKJV). The Greek word for "patience" is from hupomeno ("to remain under" or "to endure"), which of course is what patience is all about, remaining pinned down by circumstances utterly out of your control. You remember from our Livestream Agape Feast a couple of Sabbaths ago the same word described the four walls of dread that pressed in tighter and tighter on Jesus on Calvary. "He endured [hupomeno] the cross." Literally pinned down—not so much unable, but very much unwilling to extricate Himself, which defines the magnitude of what His love endured to save the likes of you and me.

And I complain about my circumstances after a few weeks of being pinned down in my comfortable space by this lock-down?

Interestingly this same hupomeno appears in another one-liner, this one in the Apocalypse, describing God's endgame friends before Jesus returns: "Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12). Pinned down-and-under kind of patience—the very patience I don't have but I want very much to possess. "By your patience possess your souls." Jesus did. His friends will. And by God’s grace, I seek to learn His lesson here in my lock-down.

"Are we there yet?" Turns out we are much closer than we ever realized before—which makes this a very good time to be learning our lesson.

Apr
8
April 8, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH's National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, has become the media's go-to authority amid these dark days of the coronavirus pandemic. His quick mind and candid assessments of the disease's strength and spread have become a daily mainstay for Americans. In an interview yesterday with Wall Street Journal's podcast he offered this candid advice for Americans when the pandemic finally ends: "Speaking about the eventual return to normal life, Dr. Fauci said: 'When you gradually come back, you don't jump into it with both feet. You say what are the things you could still do and still approach normal. One of them is absolute compulsive hand washing. The other is you don't ever shake anybody's hands'" (www.newsweek.com/dr-fauci-americans-should-never-shake-hands-again-coronavirus-influenza-1496772).

Lots of handwashing but no more handshaking? Has it come to that?

"The history of the handshake dates back to the 5th century B.C. in Greece. It was a symbol of peace, showing that neither person was carrying a weapon. During the Roman era, the handshake was actually more of an arm grab. . . . Some say that the shaking gesture of the handshake started in Medieval Europe. Knights would shake the hand of others in an attempt to shake loose any hidden weapons." But how about today? 

"While handshaking is still the most ubiquitous greeting around the world, it may be losing ground in the US. The fist bump was, until recently, a gesture mostly used by athletes and young people. Now it's becoming more and more common among everyone, including older people. Even the President of the United States is a fan of the fist bump. According to one survey, forty-nine percent of Americans sometimes choose the fist bump over a traditional handshake greeting . . . [F]or many it's a pragmatic choice. Many survey participants said they preferred the fist bump because they were afraid of catching germs by shaking hands" (www.deepenglish.com/2014/07/handshake-history-listening-fluency-116).

There you go—good-bye handshakes, hello fist bumps.

A block from our home yesterday, I was outdoors chatting with a couple (maintaining our requisite social distancing, of course). "This no-handshake business must be really hard on you," they commented. Are you kidding! My pastoral instincts (within proper bounds) are to shake a hand, touch a shoulder as part of a personal connect, an I'm-glad-to-meet-you gesture of warmth. But with no more handshakes, probably no more fist bumps—how will a pastor survive!

Truth is this pandemic has pretty much rewritten a host of social proprieties. But we can't let the disease erase our commitment to the genuine, Christian community. Look at Jesus, the master of touch and champion of community. With His disciples "He took the Twelve aside" (Mark 10:32). With the young "He took the children in His arms, placed His hands on them and blessed them" (Mark 10:16). Miracle after miracle He touches the seeker. There was nothing suggestive about Jesus' touch and His quest for community. Over the creation of the human race “in the beginning," the pre-incarnate Christ pronounced our essential humanity, "It is not good for them to be alone" (see Genesis 2:18). We were made for community, and we will have to work hard at preserving it in our parish whatever the readjusted social norms become.

No handshakes in heaven? Who said so? "And what is the happiness of heaven but to see God? What greater joy could come to the sinner saved by the grace of Christ than to look on the face of God and know Him as Father" (Last Day Events 298). That won't be a handshake. That will be a hug only a Father could give!

Apr
1
April 1, 2020

Elijah remains one of the great heroes of Scripture. And everybody remembers that moment, when after three and half debilitating years of drought and famine, he and the wicked king Ahab meet once again.

But don't forget the backstory of their meeting. Three and half years earlier, unannounced Elijah strode into the monarch’s throne room with a thundering pronouncement: "'As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word'" (1 Kings 17:1). With that, he vanished. But don't miss the key phrase, "except at my word." I.e., this vagabond prophet held the key to any recovery from the nation's devastating calamity.

Insert here one more line from the New Testament to further illumine the backstory: "Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years" (James 5:17). Catch that? Elijah's prayers personally solicited the divine judgment on the land! So it was no idle threat for the prophet to declare the crisis would not end until he said so.

Another writer agrees: "Viewing this [national] apostasy from his mountain retreat, Elijah was overwhelmed with sorrow. In anguish of soul he besought God to arrest the once-favored people in their wicked course, to visit them with judgments, if need be, that they might be led to see in its true light their departure from Heaven" (Prophets and Kings 120 emphasis supplied).

He prayed it would not rain—and it did not rain. King Ahab's futile search for the pronouncer of doom over the intervening 1,260 days finally ends when the haughty monarch spots the prophet. "When he saw Elijah, he said to him, 'Is that you, you troubler of Israel?'" The blame game! "'I have not made trouble for Israel,' Elijah replied, 'But you and your father's family have. You have abandoned the LORD's commandments and have followed the Baals'" (1 Kings 18:17-18).

Guess what. It's going to happen again, this notion of the majority blaming the minority for their ills. I did a double-take when a physician friend of mine out West alerted me to an op-ed headline a few days ago, "The Religious Right's Hostility to Science Is Crippling Our Response [to the Coronavirus Pandemic]" (New York Times, March 27, 2020). Using a paint-everybody-with-the-same-brush sort of logic, the op-ed writer essentially attempts to draw a line from hyper-reactionary evangelical responses to science over the last century and a half to the government’s response to our national pandemic today. Are evangelical Christians to blame? Hardly! But Ahab’s blame game is an easy one to play.

And it will happen again one day. "Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence [like the coronavirus]. These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous. . . . And then the great deceiver will persuade men that those who serve God are causing these evils. . . . Thus [Ahab's] accusation urged of old against the servant of God [Elijah] will be repeated and upon grounds equally well established. . . . [The nation] will pursue a course toward God's ambassadors very similar to that which apostate Israel pursued toward Elijah" (The Great Controversy 590).

How then shall we survive, we who wait out this calamitous pandemic? The same way Elijah and all of God's friends through history have survived—casting ourselves upon His saving grace night and day, loving and caring for our neighbors, reflecting the self-sacrificing compassion of our Lord Jesus, volunteering to help in communities desperate for assistance, heeding the government’s mandated protocols for social isolation and virus containment, praying for those on the healthcare frontlines, interceding on behalf of a planet under siege, and calling upon God to open a new door through which we might yet reach our little worlds before Christ our King returns. We don’t have time to blame. God gives us the grace to help and to heal.

Mar
25
March 25, 2020

Three days into our Michigan coronavirus lockdown, I'm already wondering, "How long does all this last?" Not that I'm impatient, mind you. But like you, I'm eager for the pandemic to be conquered, for the sick to be healed, for the rest of us to be saved, and for life to move beyond these four walls!

But assuming we're going to be here for a bit (home-bound), I’ll be sending you a weekly blog that connects the life of the Spirit with life in a pandemic. (If you wish to subscribe to the blog, go to www.pmchurch.org/blog.)

Let's open with this story (USA Today) sent me by a friend—about a 60-year-old pet-sitter named Amy McDonald (Fishers, Indiana). Her business, Amy’s Critter Care, focuses on giving day-time TLC (like long walks) to pets whose owners work away from home. But with the advent of the pandemic, her clients obviously aren't needing anybody to watch their pets—everybody’s home. So Amy has been seeking ways to look out for some of her elderly neighbors.

Nearby Amy is 89-year-old Jo Trimble, who lives in a neighborhood filled with elderly, one of the higher risk populations for the pandemic. For Jo and the senior community, "the threat of infection hangs over every interaction as coronavirus spreads."

Tuesday, Amy headed out to collect grocery orders from some of these elderly neighbors. She knocked on Trimble's door, knowing Jo lived alone. "When Trimble opened the door, she told McDonald to stay back: She had a stomach virus and didn’t feel well." Amy could have walked away, but she insisted Jo give her a grocery list. 

When McDonald returned with the groceries, the elderly Jo looked paler than before. "'I feel horrible,' she said.'" Again, Amy "could have set down the groceries and backed away." But instead, she took the bags to the kitchen, while Jo laid down on the sofa. "McDonald was going to leave, but something in her couldn't. She texted a neighbor who was a retired nurse for advice." When Jo's daughter called to check how her sick mother was faring, Trimble handed the phone to Amy, who instructed the daughter to hurry down. "'I'm not going to leave your mother,' she said.”

A little while later, Trimble vomited, complained of chest pains, and mumbled, I need help. Amy called 911. When the paramedics arrived, they were in full coronavirus mode with masks and talking to Jo from a distance. "Trimble was having a heart attack. The symptoms for women can be subtle, manifesting as uncomfortable pressure or shortness of breath. Her left anterior descending artery was completely blocked, a type of heart attack so lethal it is called a widow maker."

At Community Hospital North Trimble was rushed into surgery. It saved her life. Isolated now in the hospital she can talk to family over the phone. Daughter Kelly remarked, "'I saw three clear distinct times where Amy had contact with my mother where she could've easily walked away. [But] Amy persisted.'"

And it all began with Amy taking an interest in an elderly neighbor. She showed up—and that was the life-saving difference. 

What can we be going in this season of the pandemic, we who are not in the at-risk populace? This idea of grocery shopping on behalf of our senior citizens (who would prefer not stepping into the environment of a well-traveled store) makes sense, doesn't it? So much so we have put together just such a ministry for our Pioneer parish. Please go to pmchurch.org/covid-19. You may volunteer to be a community shopper, you may let us know you’d like to have one of your fellow members shop for you, or you may check out the community resources—three easy buttons to click.

Be clear about this—the story of Amy and Jo is not advocating we ignore the issue of contagion and infection. All contact during this state of emergency needs to be within the boundaries of medically recommended/CDC protocol and distance. (Leaving groceries on a doorstep, sending payment by check through the mail, et al.)

The point of this story is with one website click (I Want to Volunteer), you can become Love on the Move for someone in need. So I say, God bless all of us who are willing to step outside our four walls and maybe even our comfort zone to be Love on the Move for Jesus. "'Truly I tell you, whatever you [do] for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you [do] for Me'" (Matthew 25:40).

Mar
4
March 4, 2020

The well-known line from Psalm 2 actually reads like this: “The One enthroned in heaven laughs” (v 4). QUES: What would cause God to break out in such laughter? ANS: A political coalition here on earth—one targeting His kingdom (vv 1-3). In this season when the coronavirus and the US political scene are the preoccupations of the media, I know well the axiom: politics is the third rail of polite company—touch it and it is curtains for you. But let me seek to be non-partisan and still touch on it.

For months both national and international news media (themselves aligned politically) have been engrossed in American politics. Given this election year, who’s surprised? But I wonder sometimes if God doesn’t look down from heaven and sadly shake His head, or, as the psalmist suggests, “laughs.” How puny our political alliances and machinations must appear to the Supreme One of the universe! Not that God hasn’t suffered at the hands of those alliances Himself.

The arrest, trial, and execution of Jesus of Nazareth remain a classic demonstration of political alliances between strange bedfellows—Pilate and Herod, Rome and Judea, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, et al. Heaven knows the meaning and pain of political confederacies. The followers of Christ (before and after His incarnation) have been ravaged for millennia by such alliances.

But in this season when political stratagems and intrigue are the parlor game of American households, we do well to remember the psalmist’s sober depiction of God laughing over humanity’s alliances. His followers know that human politics can neither deter nor deflect the divine agenda for this civilization. As the converted king Nebuchadnezzar himself testified of God: “‘His dominion is an eternal dominion . . . He does what He pleases . . . All His ways are just and those who walk in pride He is able to humble’” (Daniel 4:34-37).

I’m reading Jen Pollock Michel’s new book, Surprised by Paradox: The Promise of And in an Either-Or World—“. . . for that matter the kingdom does not grow because of political influence and social clout. In fact, Scripture makes clear, God’s kingdom is frequently in conflict with the pharaohs and caesars of its day. Paradoxically, the kingdom of God seems to have all the vulnerability—and virulence—of a little seed. Even more surprising, the only way this seed is ultimately harvested is through suffering. Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, Jesus said. God’s holy hill isn’t Capitol Hill but Golgatha” (93).

How true—but how easily we are captivated by Capitol Hill more than Golgatha.

Pray for Capitol Hill and the White House, we should and we must, Paul is clear (1 Timothy 2:1-4). But to become consumed by politics and feed on its detritus is surely a dangerous mistake for third millennial followers of Jesus. Go ahead and laugh—God does. But beware of the very forces (the strange bedfellows) that one day will unite themselves against God’s endgame community. To silence the voice(s) of the conscience-pricking minority (as at Golgotha) has always been the rebel angel’s stratagem. Which is why now is the time to declare our sole loyalty to the God of heaven, who may be laughing now, but who will be returning soon.

Feb
26
February 26, 2020

A colleague of mine sent me a YouTube clip reporting on the efficacy (or the lack thereof) of the now ubiquitous face masks popping up globally (www.youtube.com/watch?v=5M7saVTtBQI). Turns out the drug store variety surgical masks (while they do help you from spreading your cold to others) provide too flimsy a seal to keep airborne viruses away from your mouth and nose. The more expensive n95 respirator mask offers a tighter seal, but all day usage ends up restricting necessary oxygen flow to the wearer. 

Meanwhile, the plunge of global financial markets this week, in reaction to the spreading coronavirus, reflects investors’ jittery nerves, worried over how the contagion will negatively impact economic expansion and interrupt global supply chains. The health minister of Iran, after warning the nation of the coronavirus now inside its borders, contracted the virus. And the mayor of San Francisco this week declared a state of emergency for the city over the coronavirus, without a single case reported there! All of this a telling reflection of the alarm that itself is spreading along with the virus.

Health authorities continue to emphasize common-sense hygiene practices may be the best deterrent to contracting the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The World Health Organization’s website offers these recommendations: (1) wash your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub; (2) maintain social distance (at least 3 feet from someone coughing or sneezing—good luck with that on a plane!); (3) avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; (4) cover your mouth and nose with bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze; (5) if you have a fever and are coughing with difficulty breathing, "seek medical care early”; and (6) stay informed and follow your health provider’s advice (www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public).

“Dear friends, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (3 John 2).

Sometimes the best deterrent to the infection of common sin is to emphasize common sense spiritual hygiene: (1) spend 15-20 minutes every morning meditating on a fresh story about Jesus from the Gospels (or Desire of Ages); (2) spend ten minutes on your knees in quiet conversation with your Savior; (3) don’t forget to ask Him for a fresh, daily baptism of the Holy Spirit in your life (Luke 11:13); (4) ask Him to help you connect with someone today who needs your contagious witness of Jesus’ love (become Love on the Move); (5) be available all day long for God’s promptings to help someone (even a stranger) in need; and (6) do not wear a mask over your heart—let the goodness, grace, peace, hope, and love of Christ spread from you to all you meet.

And what’s the benefit of this common-sense spiritual hygiene? “The effort to bless others will react in blessings upon ourselves. This was the purpose of God in giving us a part to act in the plan of redemption. . . . This is the highest honor, the greatest joy, that it is possible for God to bestow upon [us]. Those who thus become participants in labors of love are brought nearest to their Creator” (Steps to Christ 79).

And when you’re that near to your Creator, there really is no need for a mask at all.

Feb
19
February 19, 2020

For a kid who was born in Japan and grew up in Asia, I’d consider it a dream to spend twenty-one days sailing the Orient on a luxury cruise liner like the Diamond Princess. But for the 2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew aboard that floating 5-star hotel, their heavenly cruise morphed overnight into a hellish nightmare. Quarantined now in the port of Yokohama, the Diamond Princess lists in the harbor, a nova coronavirus battlefield since February 4. On this day that marks the end of the two-week quarantine imposed by Japanese authorities, liberated passengers—one by one, family by family, the infected and the spared—limp off the vessel with prayers for a quick trip home.

Earlier this week the U.S. government dispatched two jumbo 747 airliners to transport the approximately 380 Americans (at least forty of them testing positive for the coronavirus) back to their homeland—for two more weeks of added quarantine in two stateside bases. Anybody homesick yet?

Truth be told this planet we call home has been under a moral quarantine for millennia now. Only three human beings we know by name have been granted travel permission beyond the quarantine belt—three one-way trips to the paradise headquarters of the Kingdom of God. The rest of us have spent a lifetime knowing all too well the reality of confinement to this planet’s quarantine zone.

Stretching the metaphor or simile even further, it turns out a radical life-saving intervention was launched two millennia ago, when the divine Lord of the universe morphed into human form and being, taking up residence with the infected, quarantined race for nearly three and a half decades. His death at the hands of morally diseased and dying earth-dwellers—in a dramatic, counter-intuitive strategy—precipitated the eventual rescue of all infected humans throughout planetary history (if they chose), as well as the eventual re-creation of the ecosystem of this disease-ridden planet. One Life, one death, one resurrection, one return, one Savior. And the stunning history of a rebellion crushed, a disease eradicated and a universe secured—all through the omnipotent intervention of incarnated love.

Quarantine abolished forever and ever. Amen.

Anybody homesick yet?

Feb
5
February 5, 2020

Have you been able to figure out this coronavirus contagion? I am no epidemiologist; but, if you listen to the news, you get the impression this viral epidemic is in rapid spread mode. It is at least in the coronavirus epicenter in China—where new ten-day hospitals are springing up—that’s right a 1000-bed hospital in ten days (www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/02/china-races-build-hospitals-coronavirus-outbreak-grows-200205033913557.html). 

Hong Kong has partially closed its borders to travelers from the mainland, and medical workers are striking until the border is completely sealed, while all travelers to Hong Kong from the mainland now face a 14-day mandatory quarantine (www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-51389490). The BBC further reports 24,300 confirmed cases and 490 deaths on the mainland in China.

The global infection has now spread to 26 countries, leading the World Health Organization to declare the coronavirus a global health emergency, infecting more than 20,000 people outside of China (www.cnn.com/2020/02/04/health/who-coronavirus-not-pandemic/index.html).

I'm no epidemiologist, but like you, I am an observer of life on this planet. Every fresh crisis triggers fears. The markets tumble. Oil prices now are predicted to drop $5 a barrel. Hyundai is suspending production in South Korea because of supply chain problems in China. Airlines are canceling their flights to Hong Kong and China. All in reaction to the coronavirus.

How shall we respond? Buying face masks is one way people are reacting. But medical specialists doubt the efficacy of masks, especially for those trying to keep viruses out. The protocol recommended is frequent hand-washing and refraining from touching your face with unwashed hands (www.cnbc.com/2020/02/04/coronavirus-who-on-the-lessons-learned-from-the-sars-epidemic.html).

But beyond that, we who follow Jesus can respond in two ways. First, we can pray for the victims of the coronavirus and for the medical staff who attend the ill. Our Love on the Move prayers can intercede for sufferers and care-givers near and far, country by country, bringing a fresh focus to the biblical admonition that “petitions, prayers, intercessions . . . be made for all people” (1 Timothy 2:1).

Second, we can remember the somber prediction of Jesus, “‘There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places. . . . People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world” (Luke 21:11, 26). It is fear and apprehension “of what is coming on the world” that triggers so much of human reaction to global crises. Nobody said the times before the return of our Lord would be a cakewalk. But in contrast to a jittery public, let us move among our neighbors and through our communities as Love on the Move would do. It isn’t the coronavirus sufferers we are meeting, but people all around us suffer for a host of other reasons. For each “neighbor” we meet, for each person in need along our pathway, let’s stop beside them and let the genuine compassion and care of Jesus for them reflect from our actions to them.

We can't cure the whole world, but we can become healing Love on the Move right now—like the Good Samaritan—just like Jesus.

Jan
15
January 15, 2020

Ten-year-old Athena Nastasia has to pinch herself to make sure it’s true. The young resident of Phoenix, Arizona, learned at school this last fall about a national contest NASA is sponsoring to name the new Mars rover. 

Contestants must write an essay, defending the name they are suggesting: “‘It was such an ambitious journey just to take this rover, and this rover will be transported to this amazing planet, and it will find things that could depend on future life or figure out past life on Mars,’ said Athena” (www.azfamily.com).

So, if you were a school kid, what name would you submit? Twenty-eight thousand children took the challenge. And just a few days ago NASA whittled the 28,000 down to 155—and Athena is ecstatically one of them!

Talking about a shot at making space history. When she got the word, “‘I was crying, and my eyes were full of tears like happy tears, and I was in the car when it happened, and I was just so amazed,’” the ten-year-old told a reporter (ibid). 

And her mom? “I’m beyond the moon excited!” Come February 18, Athena and Mom will learn if the name she submitted will be emblazoned on the side of this high-tech other-world wonder.

Athena’s suggested name? “Ambition.” I like that.

Because let’s face it, ambition certainly drove the creation of this out-of-the-world invention—and ambition will be the intangible fuel that rockets the rover in its 193 million mile voyage to Mars.

Ambition. Come to think of it, that’s what fuels Love on the Move, too. Not a lofty ambition to make a name, but rather the ambition to live out the love of the One whose steps we follow. Not just Pioneer’s new vision/mission theme, Love on the Move is, in fact, the single phrase that captures the life of Jesus and every man, woman, and child who chooses to follow Him.

Love on the Move. In the steps of Jesus: “But we need not go to Nazareth, to Capernaum, or to Bethany, in order to walk in the steps of Jesus. We shall find His footprints beside the sickbed, in the hovels of poverty, in the crowded alleys of the great city, and in every place where there are human hearts in need of consolation. In doing as Jesus did when on earth, we shall walk in His steps” (Desire of Ages 640).

It’s called Love on the Move. Because when you walk in His steps, better yet by His side, you become Love on the Move to everyone you seek to love for Him. And what could possibly be a higher ambition than that?