8 But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. 9 Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials, (Daniel 1:8-9 – NASB95)
The Word of God makes it extremely clear that we are to submit ourselves to our governing authorities (Rom. 13:1-7; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-17). It also gives us examples of people who submitted to the government but appealed to them for the freedom to do something contrary to the normal rules or laws. Daniel did this in Daniel 1:8-9 and 2:14-18. Queen Esther did this in Esther 4-5. Please note how prayer and even fasting was involved when these appeals were made.
Covid-19 restrictions have been hard on all of us. Social distancing, masks, stay-at-home orders, no indoor dining, etc., has profoundly impacted our lives and relationships. I want to personally thank you for your flexibility as we have adjusted our METHODS for carrying out our MANDATE as a church, yet without changing our MESSAGE. And I am so grateful that many of you have been able to come to our outdoor worship services on Sunday evenings. Seeing you, hearing you sing God’s praise, and sharing God’s truth with you has filled my heart with great joy. Some of the evenings have been cold & windy and I appreciate your adventurous spirit as we braved the elements. As we move closer to the winter months, we know the potential for colder weather and even rain will increase. That is why we have been seeking solutions to our passionate desire to gather together while still being under regulations that prevent us from doing it indoors. Let me share four:
- Meet in Simi Valley. Current regulations in Ventura County allow churches to meet indoors with limited numbers (like we did briefly in June & July). If we could find a location to rent in East Simi Valley, we could meet there until restrictions ease in L.A. County. The problem might be if Ventura County has their restrictions tightened due to increased numbers of infections.
- Purchase a tent.A. County allows churches to meet outdoors in tents (no wall on 3 sides). This would protect us from rain but wind and cold could still be a problem. Tents are also expensive to rent or purchase.
- Drive-in church. During our outdoor worship service this Sunday at 4pm, we will try a radio transmitter that sends an FM signal to a small area (about the size of our church property). Those who would like to do so can sit in their cars and listen to the service on their radio. Churches across the country have been doing this and it has been very well received. It is especially meaningful for people who are high risk of Covid-19 infection and have not been able to get out very much. With the radio signal, they can stay in the safety of their car, hear the service, sing at the top of their lungs, and see other church members who are either in their cars or sitting outside. It is safe, warm, and encouraging.
- Appeal to L.A. County to allow us to meet indoors. We have written an appeal letter that we are going to send to the top L.A. County health officers requesting permission to meet indoors with strict guidelines. We are asking other churches in the area to sign on to the letter. These health officers believe that lengthy indoor meetings (even Thanksgiving at your house) are where the highest number of infections are taking place. But we are offering to leave doors open, utilize fans for improved circulation, and even increase the social distancing to protect against infections. We hope this appeal letter will at a minimum open the door for dialogue with our government officials going forward. We ask you to join us in crying out to God that He would grant us favor in the eyes of the health officers.
On a personal health note, many of you are aware that I had two recent episodes with Atrial fibrillation (A fib). I am on medication to help control it. I have also been undergoing tests to see what is causing it as well as any other problems that need to be addressed. Three years ago, a CT scan revealed that my ascending aorta is enlarged (aortic aneurysm) and it causes my aortic heart valve to leak a little. This week my cardiologist noticed that the leak has increased, so I had a CT scan yesterday to see if the aneurysm has become larger (I am waiting for those results). If it has not grown, they will simply monitor it in the months and years ahead. If it has grown beyond a certain size, they will have to surgically repair the ascending aorta and possibly the heart valve as well. I would appreciate your prayers as we go forward. I know the Lord can heal me if He so chooses. If He doesn’t, please pray that the doctors would have wisdom and skill to fix the problems, and that I would have numerous opportunities and boldness to talk to people about the Divine Heart Surgery that we all need. Before my time on earth is over, I want to reach as many people as possible with the Gospel of Jesus so they can spend eternity with us in heaven. I hope that, like the Apostle Paul in Phil. 1:12ff, I can make the most of every circumstance to advance the cause of Christ. I am totally at peace with whatever the Lord desires to do with my life.
Thank you for your love for Jesus, for His Church, and for me. I am blessed to serve Him alongside of you. I look forward to seeing you as soon as possible and hopefully even INDOORS.