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Pastor Kidwell Blog


Nursery Rhymes
(by Pastor 2020-06-05)

Starting Sunday, our church is resuming live-stream-only services. We were already in this "online mode" from March 18 to April 29. On May 3, when we were able to start meeting in person again, most of the church was enthusiastic. And even after I announced that we were having to go back to online-only services, our church people have been graciously supportive, and positive in their responses.

Having to close the church, then getting to open, and then closing again is a repeat cycle that made me start thinking of nursery rhymes. I found myself singing, "All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel, all around the mulberry bush, Pop! goes the weasel." That song seemed to capture the cyclical nature of this situation. Then I found lyrics of other nursery rhymes that also seemed to speak to me. A second more obscure verse of "London Bridge" says, "Take the key and, Lock her up, lock her up, lock her up. Take the key and, lock her up, My fair lady." Our fair lady clearly knew all about isolation! And then there's "Ring-Around-The-Rosy"--a giddy tune which some believed to be in reference to the bubonic plague--which may be an apropos ditty for today, as well!

Fortunately, not all nursery rhymes are so apocalyptic. Let's remember the courage of the "Itsy Bitsy Spider," who climbs the water spout, only to be washed out by the rain. But in the end, he climbs up again!

A Trip to the Zoo
(by Pastor 2020-03-27)

In the New Oxford American Dictionary, the word zoo has two different definitions. The first definition is the literal one, describing the place where wild animals are kept, either for display to the public, for study, or for conservation. The second definition is the figurative one, which is “a situation characterized by confusion and disorder.”

The United States of America has been operating for the past 12 days under recommendations from the White House and the CDC, what has been called “The 15 Day Pause.” Businesses and organizations were asked to let people work from home where possible, and to respect a suggested ban on gatherings of ten or more people. Some governors and mayors (e.g. Chicago) have taken the advice to such extremes that they are threatening to arrest people if they go for long walks or bike rides! After all, the media has led us to believe that this is for our conservation–it is for our safety that we are under lock down. And in Washington, legislation intended to bring relief money has been delayed for several days because of senators (e.g. Pelosi) demanding money for things like the John Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and “Obamaphones”–the importance of these things to the caged and hungry citizens should be obvious.

At least we all got a trip to the zoo.

Lies, Lies, Lies
(by Pastor 2020-03-25)

We have always known that certain media outlets were not to be trusted. When I was young, The National Enquirer was the quintessential tabloid exemplifying sensationalistic reporting. And major newspapers prided their journalism upon unbiased no-nonsense views. Nowadays, major news outlets like The New York Times, CNN, and Comcast/NBC (just to name a few) have been repeatedly busted for reporting bold-faced lies that have been disproved by several independent fact-checkers.

In my youth, I was introduced to boolean logic during my studies of electronics and computer science. I later studied logic within the discipline of philosophy, and how to use it to be able to distinguish between truth and fallacy. Using basic logic, I would like to consider some of the logical fallacies that have been presented in the news:

  • Report: COVID–19 is being reported as if it always causes certain death.
    • Fact: 64-year-old actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson were both tested positive for COVID–19, and released after about one week of quarantine. (They did not die.)
    • Fact: 98.77% of COVID–19 cases reported to the CDC have survived. (Of the 44,183 cases currently reported by the CDC, there have been 544 deaths [and the deaths are usually related to preexisting health issues exacerbated by COVID–19, not caused by it].)
    • Conclusion: COVID–19 infection does not always cause certain death, and even those over 60 (e.g. Tom Hanks) can quickly recover if there are no preexisting health issues.
  • Report: Social Distancing is being reported as if any people who get together are intentionally killing others. (One journalist went to the extreme of saying that to go to a restaurant was “immoral.”)
    • Fact: As of this minute, there are 356 “cases” in Arizona, 313 of which are “Ruled Out,” and only 43 POSITIVE (6 out of every million people).
      • Statistically speaking, this means that you’d have to be coughed on by 167,000 Arizonians before one of the postive cases touched you. (And most restaurants can’t sit that many.)
    • Fact: People who are not infected with COVID–19 cannot infect others.
    • Conclusion: Social Distancing is effective if those who have tested positive for COVID–19 follow it, but it is not “killing people” if non-infected people decide to assemble. (I realize that, according to the CDC, some people may be carriers for 2–14 days before symptoms appear. But the point remains that only those infected can infect others, and healthy people are not killers just because they assemble.)

These are just some examples of bold-faced lies that are being reported in the media, and the facts that logically contradict them. It is possible that even you have personally been victimized by the fear instilled by these lies, lies, lies. But the truth will set you free!

Balancing Rights With Right
(by Pastor 2020-03-23)

Churches worldwide have scrambled to comply with the COVID–19 situation, many of which turned to modern technology to fill the gap. Personally, I decided to use YouTube to live-stream our church services as a stop-gap measure. Having ZERO experience live-streaming video, I spent about two days researching and overcoming the technical aspects. The effort seemed to be rewarded as our first few live-stream services have gone (in my humble opinion) relatively well. That is, until later.

After the fact, when I logged in to our YouTube account, two of our services had warnings of a “Copyright Claim.” I thought to myself, “How ridiculous! I wrote those sermons myself!” Upon further investigation, it appeared that some of the songs we used for worship are copyright protected, and thus our service videos (and potentially our entire ability to live-stream) were under threat.

As an author, song writer, and publisher, I understand and respect the importance of copyright protection. Although my publishing company has only a dozen titles, I am required to pay out royalties to authors for any sales of their work, and as Christ Himself said, they are “worthy of their pay.” And this brings us to the complicated problem of worship songs.

When we hear modern worship songs, we tend to think that the writers and performers are simply worshipping Christ with their uplifting melodies and lyrics. And since it is worship, we assume it is therefore free. While this might seem right from our perspective, many worship song writers are expecting royalties for their songs. And it certainly falls within their legal rights to receive pay. So churches must now learn to balance rights with right.

Everyone's Feeling Fevered
(by Pastor 2020-03-20)

Before you panic, I’m not talking about COVID–19. I’m talking about cabin fever.

Human beings are gregarious creatures by nature, and it is built into our nature to need social interaction. Some people put on a facade of independence, as though they’re somehow above the need for others. For example, one person came to church with a shirt that said, “I used to be a people person, but people ruined it.” I thought it was funny that they wore this bold message to church, where people are expected to be friendly and interactive. But despite the shirt, that person was actually pleasant and responsive.

As governments scamble to control the spread of the COVID–19 virus, many people are feeling the strain of being isolated from others, or to being confined with just their household. In order to cope with the effects of these times, there are some practical steps we can take:

  • Remember that we are not actually locked at home.
    • Go outside! Go to the park!
    • Take a drive!
    • Read a book in the sun!
  • Open your blinds or curtains, and let in the sun.
    • If the weather permits, open your windows, and air out your living space.
  • Use FaceTime, Skype, or even a regular phone call to keep in touch with others.
    • It is satisfying to hear the voice of others, to be able to laugh together, and even to cry together.
    • Texting a sad-face-emoji, or “LOL” is not the same, and social media is not really socializing.

I agree with being reasonably prudent to prevent the spread of biological disease. But the media would have us to believe that other human beings are our enemies, that everyone is sick, and that we need to stay away from others. And now, everyone IS sick–with cabin fever.

Perspective on COVID-19
(by Pastor 2020-03-18)

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) has caused one of the greatest reactions of any health issue in history. In the past, quarantine procedures were used to isolate those who were sick or exposed to sickness so that public places remained as safe as possible. In our current global climate, the word quarantine has been redefined to apply to those who are healthy, and have had no contact with the contagion. In the past, public places were perceived as being safe, but now they are being perceived as being dangerous.

As Christians, we are often reminded (and sometimes even commanded) in God's Word to not fall into the fears of the world around us:

  • 2 Thess. 2:2a do not be soon shaken in mind or troubled ...
  • John 14:1a Let not your heart be troubled ...
  • Isaiah 41:13 For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, "Fear not, I will help you."

I believe that we should be prudent in preventing sickness and disease (which is why our church is following the recommendations of the CDC). But we need to keep a proper perspective during these times so that our faith in God, and our love for others are not destroyed by fear. When the times change and the crisis is over, what will be left of the person you are today?

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Verse of the Day

Philippians 3:14
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”