Recently I read a text from the son of a famous football coach. He made a very interesting observation, “Have you noticed how many idols that we Americans ‘worship’, have been torn apart in a few months?” Sports, financial stability, even our health care system have all been shaken. None of these are necessarily bad in themselves, but how easily they become distractions from trusting and focusing on our Lord Jesus. Even our precious freedom to gather and worship has been at least temporarily taken away.
March 13: As we prepared for the onslaught of Spring Break skiers, two of our busiest weeks of the season, word began to spread through the locker room. “The ski area might close for a week to deal with this new virus”. Soon the word came, “Don’t come to work next week”, and then, “We’re closed for the season.” The county health department sent out orders not to gather in groups over 10 and no one over 60 years of age could attend any gathering.
I was caught off guard, to say the least. I had a church service to hold the next night and another on the mountain Sunday afternoon. I committed myself to prayer. Soon, the answers began to come. Since I was over 60 (barely by 10 years 😊) I couldn’t preach Saturday night, and the ski area closed the lifts. So began several weeks of adjusting to a new “normal”; social distancing, Bible teaching by video, limits on where you can go, etc. I’m sure you all are experiencing the same thing. **By the way, if you would like to receive a link to our video studies by email, just let us know. All you have to do is push a link on an email we send!
Who should we blame, who should we be angry with? Perhaps the answer is closer than we think. I became aware of 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 in a new light.
“13 If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
I had read verse 14 many times, but now I was drawn to verse 13. God says that if He should send pestilence. Yes, that is consistent with God disciplining His children when we begin to embrace evil ways. We continue to kill millions of innocent unborn children and call it a “choice”. We endorse and embrace immoral behavior and call it “alternate” lifestyles, when God calls it an abomination. God loves us but hates sin because of what it does to us. It alienates us from Him and leads to spiritual death. So, this “pestilence” may in fact be God calling His people back to Himself, back to a life of holiness and purity. A life that embraces life and sees children as gifts from Him.
Other March Happenings: Before all the virus interruptions, March started off great! Our Saturday night services were experiencing real blessings, our chapels on the mountain, and our ski area employee Bible studies were going very well. But God is still blessing! Just because we have to adapt, doesn’t mean we have to go “on hold”. We’re actually reaching more people than before because of the video link being passed on.
Upcoming events: As you can imagine, things are changing. The men’s retreat in Westcliff, CO has been postponed till May 8-9. The trip to share at Texas A&M has been cancelled since the school is closed.
Our revival meetings in Guthrie OK April 26-May 3rd are pending, depending on the virus situation. We know the Lord has everything under control! His plans are best and His timing is perfect!
Bibles: As we reported last month, we’ve had a wonderful surge of requests for Fire and Police New Testaments and devotionals! This has placed a strain on our “Bible Fund”. But Praise the Lord, several of you have sent in gifts to help replenish it. The majority of these Testaments go out to chaplains who have limited resources and we are committed to provide them at no charge. Thank you for helping us get God’s Word into the hands of 1st Responders!
Family: Thank you for praying for our family! All of us are still free from the virus, Praise the Lord! The quarantine is harder for those who live in small apartments (Steve, Annie, Samuel and Abigail as well as Tim, Sara and Elizabeth) because they’re working from home with small children in a very limited space. Please pray we all grow in patience and love during these times.
Finances: By God’s grace and your faithful giving, every need is being met. This month you have helped us assist Christian workers in need, returning missionaries, and send out Bibles in addition to our local ministries. We know that some of you are under financial pressure during this time and may not be able to give except to your church. We fully understand. All we ask is that you continue to pray for us! “For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have” (2 Corinthians 8:12). Thank you!
Prayer requests: For the anointing of the Holy Spirit to be upon us as we share. For our country, and especially His people, to turn our hearts to the Lord. For all our 1st Responders and caregivers to be protected from the virus (our county has been particularly hit hard since we are a resort community with many visitors). For the Lord to heal Rick Schneider at Yale. For the Lord to bring us the right man/family to assist us. Your prayers mean everything to us!
This is one of the most wonderful and blessed seasons of the year! A time of celebrating our Savior leaving His heavenly home to take our sins upon Himself on a cruel cross. To die, as payment in full for every sin we have committed, and to rise again victorious over sin and death! May you have a blessed, yet awe-struck time of contemplation of our Savior’s love and sacrifice, this Easter.
God bless you, Rick and Melva Barton
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Rick Barton Ministires