We’re reading books nonstop. I’ve opened another 1,000 pc jigsaw puzzle. Storms are arriving this Sunday afternoon. This morning we “went” to church at three different places and heard three sermons. I’ve decided that if enough pastors do this–that is, watch a lot of preachers they would not ordinarily–it’s going to change forever the way many of us preach. There are few things better at getting us out of our ruts than being exposed to those who do well.
Sunday morning, Bertha made us a peanut butter pie. It took all morning, in addition to the other things she was doing. But it’s to die for.
- I think most people have learned that watching the news continuously only multiplies their stress. Bertha watches none of it and I watch some, but read the morning newspaper thoroughly.
- I’ve recorded my messages for the church I’m serving this month. Wednesday, I recorded a short Bible study to be used however the church wishes–Sunday night or Wednesday night–on Acts 1:1-4, four gifts the risen Christ gave to the Church in the forty days between His resurrection and His ascension. He gave 1) commandments and instructions; 2) Proofs of His resurrection; 3) Insights about the Kingdom of God, and 4) Promises, two in particular: the coming and indwelling with power of the Holy Spirit and the Second Coming. These are gifts given only to believers, not to the outside world.
- Thursday morning, I recorded the sermon to be broadcast on the church’s website as well as live-streamed on the church’s Facebook page. I called it “Why the resurrection matters,” and began by reading almost all the 24th chapter of Luke’s Gospel. I sat at the dining room table. Bertha cooperates by remaining in the bedroom during this time, silencing the phones, and shutting off the A/C so as not to have any background noises. We’re trying to learn to do this well.
- Thursday afternoon, we tried “once more” to record my two brief banquet messages to be used later this month in Atlanta. Dr. Bobby Gilstrap is the executive with New Work Foundation which funds new church plants throughout the Atlanta area. This is their annual banquet, at which I was to be the keynote speaker on March 26. When the pandemic canceled that, Bobby made plans to livestream the banquet program to everyone. As a result, he asked me to video my part. Instead of a 15-min message as originally planned, he asked me to break it up into two 6-minute pieces. We have had a lot of trouble getting this right. First, last Thursday after doing the sermon for Sunday, I did the first “take” on these short pieces and the minister in Columbus was to send it on to Atlanta. But Bobby was displeased with my effort. So, Wednesday of this week, we made plans to do it by Zoom. We met online, worked hard to get it right, and I thought we’d finished it. Then, I received a call from Bobby that the audio was recorded but not the video. We would have to do it again. So, Thursday, we met online (Zoom again) and did take after take, finally ending the agony. Bobby decided his people could splice together the efforts into one. Having done the sermon in the morning and then this business in the afternoon, when it was over, I was completely drained. My nap was a lifesaver.
- (written on Saturday) People are predicting that this Sunday being Easter, the audience for church services will be the greatest ever. When I asked on Facebook why they would expect that, some responded that the services they are livestreaming and telecasting are pulling in vast audiences, far more than they would have had in person. A church that runs 40 has indication that their online services are being viewed by hundreds. I checked the FB page for the Columbus church to see what last Sunday’s service showed. The number was just over 800, which means 800 “views.” Whether some of those were repeats, some were quick visits but not actually watching the service, there is no way to know.
- They’re predicting storms for Sunday. I put on television that with bad weather being forecast, I supposed we would just stay home from church. I thought it was humorous, but people want to get out of their homes so badly, no one is laughing. (Sunday afternoon, we’re getting the storms.)
- I’ve been out of the neighborhood several times this week, but each time in a restricted way. On Tuesdays I drive around behind my neighbor’s home and get his recycling bin and wheel to the street (about half a block) and empty my recycling materials into it. Wednesday, after the truck has run, I drive back around (the equivalent of 2 blocks) and return the empty bin. I also went to the bank, the drive-through (the lobby is closed), and today I drove to Outback restaurant and picked up dinner. The person brings the bag to the right side of the car and sits it on the seat, and I handed her $25, and drove away. Not risky, I’m thinking.
- The pest control man came today to spray our house. He was not wearing a mask. Since he is in and out of houses all day long, I urged him to begin wearing one. He did have on gloves.
- The other productive thing I’ve done in the last 24 hours is to write my quarterly column for Lifeway’s Deacon Magazine called “My Favorite Deacon.” Editor Craig Webb notified me that the theme of the upcoming issue is prayer, and I should write about a deacon who was a prayer warrior or exhibited a lifetime of prayer. The deadline is April 22, he said. Bertha and I talked about this over dinner on the back deck and I quickly realized that my best friend during college and afterwards, Joel Davis, is perfect for this. I sent texts to his son Kenny, to a minister at his church, and to the wife of another minister. They replied, I wrote a first draft, and two more this morning, then emailed it to the editor. I’m hoping he’s impressed by the quick turnaround.