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CHIP: What does it look like to be a Christian who lives like a Christian in the midst of pandemic? How do we overcome our fear, bolster our faith, and really love the people around us? That’s today on Living on the Edge. Stay with me.
JERRY: Welcome to this addition of Living on the Edge. I’m Jerry McCauley and I’m responsible for product development and communications here at Living on the Edge. And today we are kind of going off script, because, well, we are all experiencing circumstances that I can truthfully say, the world has never, ever experienced. And if you have joined us today expecting to hear the next message in our How to Change for the Better series, I want you know that it still can be heard on the Chip Ingram app, the Living on the Edge podcast, or our website: livingontheedge.org. But today we just want to pause, we want to respond to where we are, and Chip wants to bring some truth and some encouragement to you right where you are today.
CHIP: Thanks for joining me today, Jerry. We, like everyone, we are really, really concerned about what is happening. It seems that, you know, with every presidential report, the news cycle, the virus grows, fear mounts, and living in California, we are on the very front end of this in that the county that I live in, half of all the people that are infected live in our county in all of California. And so, we really wanted to pause to encourage people, to help them deal with what was going on in their life. And actually, we did a survey where they told us, “Will you please address these three issues?” So, we thought we will interrupt our program, we really want to help you.
JERRY: I think that’s great, Chip. You know, with our mission being helping Christians live like Christians, every day in every way, everywhere to the glory of God and for the good of all mankind, this is one of those every day, every way, everywhere. And we really need help. We need perspective. So, I am so glad that we had so many of our listeners help us with that survey.
And, you know, the first question we asked them was: “What’s the most critical emotional issues that we, as Living on the Edge, need to address?” And you know what they said? Overwhelmingly, everyone responded, “It’s fear.” So, Chip, where are you? How are you doing with that issue for yourself?
CHIP: You know, well I don’t struggle with fear because I’m so spiritual, Jerry, I don’t have any problems like that. Believe me, forgive a little bit of levity, but it has been – I was in the grocery store last night and literally, people were not only standing apart, but you’d have thought we were all at a funeral. It was so sober. And it is serious. But I don’t want to lose my sense of humor. Of course, like everyone else, my initial thought was, I don’t think this is going to be all that bad. It started in China. It was interesting that two years ago, you and I were there in Wuhan and teaching. And, boy, in the sovereignty of God. And one of the things I want to remind people of is God really is in control. And I just, the thought came to me, we have talked about the things we have had to do and had the opportunity to do in China – in Wuhan was one of our most strategic places where we got to teach and supply people with resources to understand the The Real God. So, on the one hand I lean back and think, Oh Lord, if You knew that, if You knew what was going to happen there, I know that You know everything that is happening here and You’re going to help us. But, yeah, initially, I can’t say that I had some overwhelming sense of fear. I really do trust in God’s sovereignty and His provision. But deep concern. And especially as people that are older and with health issues and then as we saw it multiply and then pretty soon it went from, Wow, this is, this isn’t something that is just little. This is big. And then when it went throughout Europe and then what we see today, what I realized was, I am interacting with people that don’t have my worldview. They don’t have the assurance that no matter what, I am going to be with Christ, that God is in control. So, fear is a really big issue and I think it’s something we really want to address and help people with.
JERRY: You know, I think the same is for me, Chip. I was at Costco this weekend and we truly needed, we were the people who actually needed toilet paper and needed paper towels. It wasn’t a hoarding situation. And when we did, we went through the store and then all of a sudden I found myself in line, literally at the back of the store. Right? So, this line was at least a hundred carts deep. I am not a very anxious person in general. I tend to be “The cup is half full,” kind of optimistic point of view, and I – there was a pit in my stomach. Like, I have a stomach ache now, due to Costco. I think more, though, for me, what are some practical things that you would suggest that we can do when I have that pain in my stomach, when I realize I have an opportunity to encourage the people around me. I wanted to add value to at least the cart in front of me and the cart behind me. And so, for kind of what you just did, I did bring a little bit of levity to the conversation, but what are some practical, specific things that you would suggest that even I could do in the middle of that, Okay, my stomach hurts because I feel, I think it was because I felt out of control. And it was also because I was watching culture, even people that I love in my city, I’m in Colorado Springs here, I was watching people panic. And it’s an uncomfortable position to be in where: how do I help? How do I, how can I be the salt and light? How can I just be an encouraging neighbor? What would you tell me to do in the next – the next chance I have?
CHIP: Well, I may have not felt overwhelming sense of fear, and part of that is because I have been through some pretty fearful times before. My wife and I went through cancer. We have been through some times where we couldn’t pay the bills. We have been through some times where what we did is we focused and claimed God’s promise in the midst of those things and renewed our mind and said, Lord, even though I can’t see and even though my emotions are screaming, here’s the two questions I always ask myself, and I tie them to a promise, Jerry. Number one is: where is my focus? Where is my focus? And it’s some of the most classic Bible stories, but Peter is walking on the water and we know the story, but here’s the application: your eyes are on the Lord or they are on the waves. And if your eyes are on the Lord, He promises the peace of God that surpasses understanding. And again, sometimes that means you just take one verse. Just one verse, “Casting all your care upon Him, because He cares for you.” That’s 1 Peter 5:7. And every moment that it comes up, Well, what about this? Or, What about my parents? Or, What if there’s not enough food? Or, What if I don’t have a job? Or, What if the economy tanks? Or, What if…you are in a situation, I mean, twenty-four hours ago when your daughter was coming home from Ireland from a mission and is she going to get here? And she happened to make it on the very last plane in. And you picked her up and now she’s quarantined. But it’s in the middle of that where you claim the promise of God and that’s why it’s so important to have, I think, a few key passages memorized and even earlier this week, you know, Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My victorious right hand.” And so, I think it’s that focus and sometimes you have to be pedantic. You write it on a card, you put it on the coffee table, you put it on the refrigerator, you make it your new screen saver. Your mind is going to go somewhere and that’s why, too, I think it’s also going to be very important for people to be informed, but not inundated by the news.
JERRY: Yeah, you know, I think there’s so many, there’s so many competing values in all of our minds right now. I’ve got three teenagers at home, and so we are navigating: how do we keep them focused on education, because they are doing this online learning sort of a thing, because the schools are all closed. I am in a unique situation where I have, we have three generations in our home. So, my parents live with us. And so, even bringing my daughter home from Ireland, which is like a risk, it’s a level three risk, and then having her interact with my folks who are in their mid-seventies, they are considered vulnerable because of their age. So, think for me, it was really hard for me to even tend to my own emotions. Like, how am I really feeling? Because I was in this air traffic control, not to be punny, but I was like, okay, I’ve got to get her home from the airport, I’ve got to solve for how do I keep my parents safe? And at the same time, I can’t disregard my other two daughters and my wife and their needs. And so, I think this is really great, this is a really great thing, this focus word, because in the middle of it, I didn’t ever doubt that God was good. I didn’t. Because that’s sort of a bedrock of who I am and how I see Him. But I do think that the God being in control part, that’s really easy for that to get blurry and for that to get clouded when all I am doing is solving problems, silly things, like getting toilet paper for my family.
Or when I’m trying to solve logistics with: how do I keep these people safe and healthy and away from this? But also, I think my quiet time doesn’t become priority when I’m trying to solve problems, when I’m trying to get supplies, and also, when everywhere I turn, whether it’s social media or if it’s the news and here’s the deal, those twenty-four hour news channels are danger zone for me. I’m so susceptible to, Chip, you talk about the streams that flow into our hearts.
And you talk about Romans 12:2 and kind of what fills our minds. And I really do think that right now, this focus concept, at least for Jerry McCauley, for this guy, I have to be so careful what I allow into my mind and I have to be so thoughtful about what I am really meditating on, what I am really focusing on, and that Isaiah 41:10 verse, you know, for me that’s one of those victory march kind of verses to have in my head and to have in my heart.
CHIP: Yes, and I think we have to navigate this, because early on, there’s so much new information. And what fear does, it causes us to get inwardly focused, it causes us to think about ourselves, it creates panic, it creates this mentality, this victim mentality and this, “What about us,” and scarcity. “There won’t be enough so I’ve got to take care of me.” And then you see people act in ways that are very unkind and very unchristian. And so, I think number one is to say your personal time with God has got to be one of the biggest priorities and can I just say this kindly? You’re not taking any kids to sports. For where we’re at right now, you’re not going to watch the NCAA. There’s no good basketball or football games on. People are pulling out the oldest movies that, you know. And I think the danger, in terms of focus, Jerry, is that people will either binge on Netflix or be on social media all the time, instead of saying, “You know something? How many of us have said, Oh Lord, if I just had more time, I really have longed to cultivate a deep relationship with You. I want to learn to pray at a new level. I would love to learn to not just hear podcasts or what other people say, but learn to get into the Scriptures in a way that You would speak to me with great power. Lord, I wish we could eat more together as family and sit around a table and have deep relationships. And what I would say is God, in His providence, the evil is the evil of death. But God always wants to take bad things and bring about good through them. And we at Living on the Edge right now, we want to help people with their focus. We want to help people kind of do, I would call it a great judo move, if you will. We have got all this negative coming in at us. And Genesis 50:20, it was when Joseph was speaking to his brothers. And he went through all that and they betrayed him and they lied about him and they tried to kill him. But he had this perspective. And that’s what focus on God does. He says, “As for you, you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good to bring about this present result, to keep many people alive.” And our dream and the reason we are pausing in our broadcast is to say to you personally: we want to help you shift your focus. We want to take some of the most negative experiences and kids at home and school and fear and what about money? And join with you in the days ahead and say, “Let’s trust God. Let’s go deep with Him. Let’s go deep with one another.”
JERRY: I love that shift from the fear to the positives, to the positive is God is making room in our lives for – it’s incredible, Chip. You know, the second question that we asked our listeners was: what is the most critical spiritual issue that we at Living on the Edge need to address? And here’s their answer. Everyone, overwhelming again, said, “Faith.” So, how do we help people grow in faith in this season, Chip?
CHIP: What we know from Scripture is that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. We know that God has already given us, 2 Peter chapter 1, everything we need. Think of that. He has already given us everything we need for life and godliness. So, for all of life, He has given it to us, and to become the kind of people He wants us to be, He has given to us. And then it says, “Through His precious promises.”
And so, here’s what I want to say to people. And for those of you who have been listening for a long time, I don’t mean this as a broken record, I mean this as a refreshing reminder: you can listen to podcasts, you can watch a video, you can read a book by a good, Christian author. And I think all of that is very, very, very important. But what I want you to know is that a deep faith isn’t birthed by you getting the processed food of someone else. A deep faith, the kind of convictions – and I can say this. I don’t mean this arrogantly at all. Part of the absolute peace I have and I have visited some people and gone to some places, and was ready to get on a plane to do some things, is if I would die today, I am one hundred percent certain I would be ushered into the presence of God. That’s not because I’m a wonderful person, that’s because over time, I have personally digested in God’s Word personally, and the Holy Spirit has taken His Word, and He has sealed it in my heart in such a way I actually believe it. I don’t believe what some other great teacher says about God, I believe God because He spoke to me. And so, Jerry, I think this may be one of the greatest opportunities, maybe in all of some people’s lifetime, that we could help them not just get good teaching. That’s certainly important. But where we could teach them to feed themselves. In fact, we had a number of meetings in the last couple days that went long as we, as a team, prayed and said, “Lord, we will do whatever. We will change every broadcast if You want us to, we will do something different on social media, we will do whatever You want us to do and it has really been pretty exciting. God has given us a plan and a way that we could kind of reach into everyone at the Living on the Edge family and help them actually learn how – I hear people say, “No one has ever discipled me.” Well here is the offer: if your open to it, I will. Okay? I will do with you what that bricklayer did with me. I will take a little time, beginning next week, and I will help you get into God’s Word in bite-sized chunks and learn to talk to Him in ways that He will actually speak to you. And don’t, there’s no silver bullets, there’s going to be a process. But we are going to do something together, if you want to. And then we will do some things that help you with your family in a way that we want to help you connect deeply with God, deeply with your family, and then deeply with your friends in a way that keeps that interaction going. And maybe, Jerry, maybe you could just share a little bit about what that is going to look like and what we are going to call it. And just, here’s the deal, I can’t leave my house, or at least I can’t, I have an office here where there’s no other people around. And that’s probably going to be for the next three or four weeks, maybe more, and it’s pretty intense here in California, and it seems to be moving eastward. I am praying it’s going to stop, stop, stop. But I want you to know that I want to use this time that if you and I could sit down, you and me personally, with a cup of coffee and an open Bible, and you would look at me and say, “Chip, would you help me learn to open the Bible and understand it in a way where God would whisper to me and give me direction and give me faith,” because the kind of faith that will allow you to go through whatever you face, whenever it comes, forever, not just through this crisis, it comes from that kind of process and I’m actually kind of excited about getting the opportunity to do it, Jerry.
JERRY: I think it’s so kind of you, Chip. We look at you as our spiritual leader, not only here at Living on the Edge, but all of our audience looks at you as our spiritual leader and we are so thankful for the confidence that you have because of the way that you have studied the Bible, because this is your own. You’re not, again, prescribing something else. You’re saying it’s God’s Word. And so, thank you first for being so willing to step into the gap. One of the things you mentioned that you are I were in Wuhan, one of the things that is etched in my memory is the level of faith that our Chinese brothers and sisters have. And one of the most remarkable things that I have ever seen in my life is, you know, thousands of Chinese people standing and reading the Bible out loud together in their church gathering. That’s how they start their churches there. And they treasure the Word of God at a whole different level than I have ever seen. And it’s because it’s hard to come by. And so, I am reminded by that and I am so encouraged and excited about this opportunity that we have to help people. Living on the Edge, internally, we call it LOTE, because Living on the Edge is sometimes too long to say. Definitely too long to handwrite, and often too long to type out. So, we do L-O-T-E. Living on the Edge. So, we want to help you guys and we want to help you at home. So, we are going to call it LOTE at Home. That’s L-O-T-E at Home. Because we know a lot of you guys are at home. And the reality is, just what Chip is saying, our faith grows when we are in God’s Word. And so, just like he offered, Chip is going to walk you through how he studies the Bible, how he reads it, how he interprets it, how he responds. Even how he processes it, whether it’s in his heart, through prayer, or through journaling. So, what we are going to offer is daily videos from Chip, they will be short, they will be casual, they will be informal, it’ll be Chip walking you through a passage.
And in this case, we are going to start with Philippians because we feel that in this time of crisis, it’s going to really allow us as a group to find peace, peace in God’s Word. Second, we want to help your family. I am feeling this reality of, Okay, lots of togetherness. Lots of together time. And, yeah, we are in Colorado, but guess what guys, it’s winter still here. So, we are not really going to get to be outside all that much. There might be a day or two here and there. But while we are doing all this social distancing, we can be together as a family. And, here’s the thing. We are not going to be going out for meals, at least where I am, all the restaurants are closed, except for takeout. So, we are going to be sitting down together to eat.
So, we want to give you guys a tool that we are just going to call Mealtime Conversation Guides. We want to help you maybe break the ice. Here’s my deal with my teenage girls. It’s always like, “Hey, guys, put down your phones.” Put down those phones so we can actually make some eye contact, and in this case, so that I can invest in them, hopefully building more faith instead of fear, and really growing the conversation. Back to that survey, the third question we asked, “What’s the most practical thing we can help you with?” And everyone said, “People.” And so, the reality is, we all have people in our lives who are either asking us questions or looking to us for guidance. And what do we do? And so, with this LOTE at Home strategy, we not only want to give you these daily videos with Chip really teaching you on how to study the Bible. We not only want to give you these mealtime conversation guides for your family, but we want to create a forum where you can ask your questions and we can interact with you. So, we, we’re going to be doing a weekly Facebook Live. I know everybody is on Facebook, or pretty much everybody is. So, we want to meet you there and just give you an opportunity to ask the questions that are really gnawing at you, at the people in your life. Maybe it’s co-workers that are needing a dose of help and a dose of faith. We want to help meet you in that gap when you can’t answer those questions.
CHIP: And what I would say is, you know, one of the things that will happen is that if we can encourage one another and if we are in God’s Word, He is going to speak and the fact of the matter is is that we are not victims. We are people that are the salt and light and the change agent of the world. We don’t need to react. We can be proactive. We are the kind of people that don’t have to be anxious, we can be calm and confident. Of course, we don’t have answers to: what is going to happen to small business? I have a son who has his own physical therapy clinic and no one is showing up and he’s got employees. And people are living that and hourly wages and there are tons of issues. We are a part of that solution. God will use us as we get into His Word, as we gather around the table, and as we share some time in conversation, as we learn to pray at maybe a bit deeper level. And then He’s going to show us, Here’s how you can help your neighbors. Here’s some safe and good ways that the elderly are going to need a hand up. Here’s how we are going to say, “What does God want us to do?”
We are a body. You look at Acts chapter 2. There were some people in that crisis that had resources. There were other people that didn’t have any resources. And they came together and they helped each other. We have, I believe, maybe one of the greatest opportunities to demonstrate a radical, loving, supernatural concern for one another and for those that are hurting. You know, the Scripture says, “Be careful to do your good works.” And he says, “First to the household of the faith,” but God promises, as we love other people and reach out, we can really make a difference. So, LOTE at home is going to be our way to help you personally, to help your family, and then to help your friends. And we are going to connect daily, we are going to connect weekly, and we are going to say, Lord, we are open. We want You to use this time and we want You to shift it from a crisis to an opportunity and a platform to do great good in our neighborhood, our families, our relationships, and to go deeper like never before.
JERRY: We really want to stay connected with you. So, if you haven’t already, please follow us on Facebook. Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Also, be sure to download the Chip Ingram app. And then if you’d prefer for us to send you all of this information by email, please go to our website, that’s livingontheedge.org, and sign up to receive those emails. But we are so excited to be able to connect with you and to help you grow in your faith through LOTE at Home.