Wisdom (a mini morsel)

By: G.J. Fortier

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)

Okay, I know that things are changing quickly, so if you need me to wait …

Done waiting.

Two weeks ago, was Easter and I wrote about the need for us to obey our leaders. In that case, I was referring specifically to Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia (among other officials) who were advising us to stay at home and celebrate our Lord’s resurrection there. Last week, I wrote about patience, and why it’s important for us to wait for our officials to give us the “all’s clear” before we venture out of our caves again and start acting like human beings instead of morlocks.

If you aren’t a fan of H. G. Wells—more’s the pity—you may not get that last reference.

Today, I’m going to roll with the hyperbolic punches, in keeping with those same officials, and write about the fact that restrictions are soon to be lifted (as of this writing) and how I will choose to conduct myself as a result.

With extreme caution!

Look, at some point, we all have to get back out there! We have livelihoods that won’t keep waiting for us, and the longer we’re stuck inside our homes, dwelling on every negative thing that there is to dwell on, especially in the media, the more risk there is of—this is not meant humorously—mental illness. We need to do stuff! We need to get busy and produce! We need—just like that old Cheap Trick song says—to be needed! Most of us are not people—regardless of what today’s educators tell us—who can just sit back and rely on others to provide us with our every need. We value a sense of accomplishment and tangible evidence of the good that we are doing for our communities. As far as I’ve heard, no one is saying we should go out and kiss a stranger on the mouth—an act that I would never, ever endorse or recommend under any circumstances that didn’t involve at least seven figures.

 Kidding.

As it happens, there’s emerging evidence that this COVID-19 virus may not be as deadly as was first feared. As of this writing, there have, in fact, been more fatalities from influenza in 2020 than the coronavirus. Am I saying that we have overestimated the seriousness of this illness? Not at all. That determination will be made by much smarter people than me. But, we will, at some point, have to learn how to live with this reality—whatever that may be—period. Whether we like it or not, we will have to go back to work. Why shouldn’t that time be now?

However

We must use the brains that the Good Lord gave us. We must be cautious. We need to be diligent with social distancing, especially when we’re around strangers or those who we’re unsure of. Wash your hands! Wear masks, whether they’re recommended or not! Wear gloves whenever possible when you’re out in public! Wash your hands … again!

And most importantly, remember that God is our Father, and Jesus Christ is our Savior! The Holy Spirit is within us believers, and He will lead us down the safest path through this … if we let Him!

Bottom line? You have a life to live. Go live it!

For the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared. Proverbs 3:26 (NIV)

Today is the day. Now is the time. The battle is on!


Patience (a mini morsel)

By: G.J. Fortier

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. Galatians 5:22 (NKJV)

Okay, it’s been … about a month. You’re antsy. You’re bored. You’re sick to death of bingeing on shows that you never seriously considered watching until this mess happened. It’s time! It’s time to get back out there! There are things that need doing! Games to be played! Bowling balls that need to be … bowl’d! There are jobs that need going to! There are bills that need payed! Careers are being, if not out-right destroyed, damaged beyond all understanding of what it will take to get them back on track. The President and all those smart people, doctors, scientists, men and women in suits who got where they are by winning popularity contests, who all say that they have a plan. Plans are good, right?

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry!

Sure, there’s light at the end of this tunnel. Things are looking—however slightly—up. We’ve reached the “peak” and—presumably—the number of new cases will begin to fall significantly in the coming weeks. Heck, there are even some areas of the country where there’s been only the slightest of impacts. So, c’mon! I mean, isn’t it time for things to get back to normal?

The fact is … we may not see what was viewed as “normal” before this coronavirus event hit … ever again … and I have absolutely no idea what that might look like. There might just be an emerging “new normal” that we will all have to adjust our very way of life to, and I really don’t think, no matter how much you resist it, that you’re gonna have a choice. You know what else? This is nothing new. Throughout our history things just like this have happened, and society had two choices:

  • Accept the change.
  • Die

I can think of countless examples of civilizations; the Toltecs, the Mayans, the Aztecs, Braves fans, who were face with an invisible enemy—disease—that was brought to them from a foreign land and completely devastated them. Yup, it wiped them out … literally. So, it really is time that we start taking this situation seriously, listen to the experts, and do what they tell us to do. Last week, I referenced 1 Peter 2:13:

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority

I know what you’re thinking:

We are a country that takes pride in our right to protest!

Believe me, I think that’s great too! I mean, who doesn’t want to be inconvenienced by throngs of people who are angry about something that we care, literally, nothing about, when we’re trying to get to work … after the alarm doesn’t go off … and we catch every … single … red .. light!

I’m all for that!  

But, in this particular situation, I think that patience—and faith in the Lord—is the way to go.

And not only that, we also glory in tribulation, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5 (NKJV)

Today is the day. Now is the time. The battle is on!


Easter! (a mini morsel)

By: G.J. Fortier

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. John 20: 1 (NIV)

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news. “I have seen the Lord!” John 20: 18 (NIV)

Now, y’all do remember last week’s article when I said that these are just opinion pieces, right?

Good.

It’s five something in the afternoon on Wednesday, April 8th, 2020. I just got home from work and took the dog out. Then I realized that I had a short article to write for publication on Friday, the 10th of April, 2020 … which is two days before Easter Sunday … and, up to now, I had no idea what I was going to write about. This is not, by any means, the first time that this has happened either. Often times I realize that a deadline is fast approaching and I’m at a loss for what to write about. And then, just like so many other times, the Holy Spirit spoke to me, telling me what the subject will be this time around.

Only this time He looked exactly like Georgia’s Governor, Brian Kemp, wearing a blue oxford shirt and khakis.

Huh.

Now, the Lord—I mean Brian—was talking at a press conference concerning the COVID-19 task force’s efforts to combat this scourge, when He—through Brian—mentioned something about church members gathering for worship at their sanctuaries. Well, naturally, I thought, “How stupid can people possibly be? Don’t they know that one of the most virulent viruses’ the world has ever seen is infecting hundreds of thousands of people across the globe? Didn’t they hear the Governor’s decree last week about staying home and not gathering in groups larger than ten?

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority … 1 Peter 2:13 (NIV)

Easter is the celebration, as it says in the verses above, of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It’s one of two Sunday’s each year when even the laziest among us who call themselves Christians—whether they are or not is debatable—diligently gather in our houses of worship. And rightly so. But not this year.

And you know what? That’s okay!

I could tell you … again … about our collective unprecedented situation, but I’m pretty sure that you’re aware. So, instead, I’ll just say this: it is fine that you can’t get to the “church” for morning worship for the foreseeable future. I’m confident that the Lord understands. Sure, Matthew 18:20 says something about wherever two or three are gathered in His name is a “church”, but when they wrote that, they didn’t have cellphones and the internet! For the past few weeks, my own church family has done tele-Sunday School and online worship on Facebook. God gave us these tools for just this kind of event. Be thankful that He’s done that! We don’t have to risk ourselves and our families in the sanctuary where we could be sitting too close to someone who is sick, or we might be sick ourselves and not even know it! Use your heads! Don’t be an idiot—in my opinion—by exposing yourself to the killer that COVID-19 is. Oh, it might not kill you, but if you become a carrier, how many others will you infect?

Today is the day. Now is the time. The battle is on!


Finding Peace in the Chaos

By: G. J. Fortier

Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me (Jesus). John 14:10 (NIV)

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24 (NIV)

For me to say that there’s a lot going on in our lives right now would be a bit of an oxymoron. Sure, there is a lot going on, but at the same time, it really seems to me as if our very way of life is in jeopardy of coming to a slow and painfully grinding halt. It feels—at least to me—like we just learned about COVID-19 only weeks ago. Okay, we knew it was “out there”, and that it was “serious”, but that it was “over there”, and we knew that things “like this” happen “all the time”, and that they don’t ever really seem to affect us that much. It does make for some interesting viewing on the nightly news though. Whether it was legionnaires disease back in the day, the swine Flu, bird flu, plain ole everyday flu-flu, SARS, zika, ebola, Spanish … I could go on, but I think you get the idea. There have been so many over the years that it’s easy to lose count. And, with the exception of the plain ole everyday flu-flu, influenza, most of us have only heard about them. And, concerning influenza, we were all vaguely aware that, tragically, tens of thousands of people in the United States alone die each year from this illness, to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands who die worldwide. It’s a shame that it happened to those “other people”, but I just got a headache and some sniffles for a week and a half. No big deal, right?


Prudence! (a mini morsel)

By: G.J. Fortier

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. Matthew 24: 6-8 (NIV)

For years, I’ve had a feeling, deep in my gut, that something was going to happen. Some of you may remember the predictions that I made about the “mini ice age”, the coming food shortages and the general unrest that the world was about to experience. While I stand by those predictions, I didn’t see this current crisis, that truly is of monumental proportions, coming.

I sincerely believe that people are making this much worse than it needs to be—just my opinion. But there are many reasons about which each and every one of us should be concerned. After all, you simply can’t have a crisis without people. I, personally, worry more about the actions and reactions of people during this emergency than I do about the emergency itself. By-and-large, people are irrational creatures. We tend to act impulsively based on current needs. Have you ever heard that you should never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach? Well, with what’s going on right now, multiply the craving that you develop for Twinkies (as you’re passing the shelf in the store—that you were trying to ignore—where they’re kept) by about … oh … say … a thousand, and you’ll get an idea of what motivates people to do what they do.

They panic buy.

If you’ve visited the grocery store—any grocery store—in the past few weeks, you’ve seen exactly what I’m talking about. Empty shelves; people fighting over toilet paper, tissue, hand towels, etc.

This is where we Christians come in.

Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. Isiah 26:20 (NIV)

If you are able, stay home! If you aren’t, then be the example, be the light of Jesus for everyone who you encounter, to see. Make them wonder what makes you act the way you do, and hopefully, they’ll see in you what they’d like to see in themselves. We are Christ’s representatives. His ambassadors. We have an incredible opportunity to show the lost what it is to be a Christian. We are not what they think we are! They only know about us what they’ve seen in the movies or on TV. Or worse, they’ve been there in church on Sunday, seen those of “us” who have taken off the spiritual cloak that they wore to the church service, and tossed it in the floorboard behind the seat, on Monday—gulp!

That ain’t us!

God has challenged us with this crisis! How will you respond?

What-so-ever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.

Today is the day. Now is the time. The battle is on!


Diligence!

By: G. J. Fortier

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him. Nahum 1:7 (NIV)

I’m guilty, I admit it. I’m one of those people who said, “Oh, they’re blowin’ this coronavirus stuff all outta proportion. I don’t even drink that brand!” Or, “I’m more worried about gettin’ the flu than I am in gettin’ the coronavirus!” Or, “All they’re tryin’ to do is make Trump look bad!” While all of these statements are true, there’s one thing that I failed to consider: People will panic about what they don’t understand.

They say that, in any crisis, 10% of the people will freeze, 80% will panic, and 10% will keep their heads and remain calm. They also say that the majority of that latter 10% are people of faith.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ … Romans 5:1(NIV)

In case you haven’t noticed, we are living through an historical event. The world hasn’t experienced anything like the COVID-19 pandemic—yes, it is a pandemic—in a century. Not since the so-called Spanish Flu of 1918 have people been exposed to a virus on such a scale. That’s the reason for all the—I prefer to call it—hype, all the hype buying, the stock market’s plunge, and-so-on, an-so-on. This too shall pass.

The coronavirus is a very serious event. That’s why we must take very serious precautions. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has “recommended” that people not gather in groups of more than fifty for the next few weeks. The White House prefers no assemblies of more than ten. Me? I say, Get outta my house! The idea being that, although the mortality rate is (relatively) very low, we don’t allow this contagion to spread any further than is humanly possible.

For this reason … Ironmen Ministries will be suspending the Ironmen Friday morning Prayer Breakfast for the next two weeks, March 20th and 27th. I recommend that you utilize the time that you would have normally spent at the breakfast by augmenting your “quiet time”. Let’s not let this attack on rationality interfere with the time that we need to spend with the Lord. Also, we should be checking-up on one another by phone, email, text, etc. By-the-way, nobody ever said that you can’t or shouldn’t gather in small groups at your homes during this time. Christian fellowship is essential, especially now.

Wherever two or more are gathered in His name …

Today is the day. Now is the time. The battle is on!


Friday Morning Prayer Breakfast Shutting Down For The Rest Of March

Men,
With the current state of things surrounding the coronavirus and with churches canceling services, we made the decision to follow suit and not meet for at least the next 2 weeks. If conditions improve by next month we will plan our next meeting for Friday, April 3rd. You can check back here and on Facebook for updates as April approaches. Please share this with other Ironmen so that we insure everyone has been informed. Thank you and we look forward to seeing you again in April. God bless!


Current Events

By: G. J. Fortier

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

When they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;

“by his wounds you have been healed”.

For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the shepherd and overseer of your souls. 2 Peter 2:21-25 (NIV)

We are living in strange times. Would you agree?

I often wonder if the state of the world, and the United States in particular, is worse now than it was in the past. After all, we, the generations who are alive today, cannot be blamed for placing much more emphasis on what we are actually experiencing, as opposed to what we haven’t personally witnessed (on TV), but only read about in books or (more likely) watched on the History Channel. I’ve heard people say that “it’s definitely worse now”, or things have always been “this bad”, it’s just that we hear about more of “it” because of today’s technology, social media, etc. That’s a valid point. But these people have chosen a more cynical view of the happenings around the globe than I do.


In Memoriam

By: G. J. Fortier

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (NIV)

These words are heartfelt. While there have been Christian men in my life—whom I will not attempt to list here, simply because I will forget one or more of them—who have passed through the years, I haven’t chosen to write about them, and I have no plans to write about others who may pass in the future.

I mean no disrespect.

I debated internally about what the title of this article should be. I chose In memoriam solely for selfish reasons. I chose it for me, because I cannot help but be solemn as I write this. What I could have titled it is:

In celebration!


Is 2020 The Year?

By: G. J. Fortier

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:36-37 (NIV)

Is this the year?

I’ve heard this question, or some form of it, asked hundreds, if not thousands of times over the years. Heck, I’ve asked it too. Many a New Year’s Eve I’ve pondered whether the coming year would be better (usually hoping for financial prosperity and not the really important stuff), as good as or, Lord forbid, worse than the previous one. The sad truth of it is that the future is entirely what we make of it. There is no luck involved. No amount of kissing pretty women at midnight will harbor good tidings. The coming year will be what it will be. There will be good times and, unfortunately, there will be bad—possibly even tragic times ahead, and the only thing that we can do about them is place whatever situations we might face squarely in the lap of Jesus. Good, bad or indifferent, how we deal with our trials should always honor Him.