Now that vaccines for Covid 19 are becoming available, we have a new question, “Should I take it?”

There are strong opinions at AnchorPoint on both sides of that question, mostly focused on how great the danger of the disease is if caught, and the safety of the drugs. I’m a pastor not a prophet. It seems that some of our most healthy folks have had to spend more time in the hospital, while some more “at risk” folks have done quite well. Thankfully, we have had no Covid deaths at AnchorPoint. You can decide if taking the vaccine is wise for you. And pray. And, as for the safety of the drugs, you can do your own research. And pray.

The vaccine question I would like to answer is about their possible link to using the cells of recently aborted children. I wanted to lean into this question, even if it isn’t an issue with our two currently available vaccines. It could be for others going forward. I owe some of what follows to an excellent article by John Piper on the www.desiringgod.org site.

The Bible teaches that all people, regardless of color or age, are created in the image of God. Therefore, killing people, born or unborn, for research and experimentation should be abhorrent to us all. Of course, avoiding a vaccine because they used an innocent baby to develop it doesn’t bring the baby back. But it does make a statement of discouraging the use of innocent babies in research. Plus, you can sleep better. Our Christian conscience is then preserved while we demonstrate that Christ is our King. That’s all good.

Now for our two current vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna. One of the clearest and most honest answers to the question of using aborted cells I found came from this article in the Nebraska Medicine.

In short, neither the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines used fetal cell lines during the development or production of their vaccines.

But cells were used. And it gets complicated. Here is how it worked.

In 1973 fetal tissue was taken from the kidney of a healthy girl in the Netherlands. Over the last few decades, fetal cells were grown in a laboratory from this tissue. So, they are no longer cells directly from the baby, but cells grown from the original cells. The cell line is called HEK 293. These fetal cells were not used to develop or produce the vaccines, but they were used in the confirmation phase to insure the vaccines work. I suppose it is a bit like those first people willing taking the vaccine to see if it worked.

When Reinaldo read through my article, he brought up that Catholic Universities have been struggling with this issue for some time. They are using what they call “degrees of separation” to help determine what would or would not be ethical. For the cells used in these vaccines it has been so long and far since the fetal lines started that it is no longer an issue for them. You can read a full article from back in 1999 about how they try to make these ethical decisions here. Reinaldo also mentioned at some point everything we purchase has some evil in the past associated with it.

Considering the cells used in these two vaccines were not fetal cells, but cells grown years later, and that they were not used for either development or production, I don’t believe I would be promoting the use of fetal cells in research or development of vaccines if I took either of these current vaccines. Some other vaccines coming down the pike look to be different. If you disagree with me, I understand that too, and in that situation, I would not suggest you take it and violate your conscience. I’m a pastor, not a Pope.

I had a Catholic friend whose key reason for being Catholic was because they had someone to tell them what to do on debatable issues. “That’s the problem with you evangelicals,” he would say, “you all go to the Bible and make up what you believe for yourselves!” In a way, he was right. That’s the beauty of evangelicalism. We know we have direct access to God and His Word. He speaks to us. He wants relationship. Issues like this can then draw us to Him, instead of just to a church leader. Of course, going to God isn’t to “make up what you believe,” but to determine what God Himself thinks, so that we can believe and agree with what is ultimately True.

Whether it is masks, meetings or vaccines, lets go to God and His Word. The process of getting to know Him better as we seek an answer is more important than the answer we seek.

Just out, this article from Christianity Today; Three Bioethical Questions about the COVID-19 Vaccines.

The three questions they attempt to answer are:

  1. Does getting a vaccine made using cells from aborted fetuses violate pro-life convictions?
  2. Is mRNA technology safe and ethical to take?
  3. Do we have a Christian obligation to get a COVID-10 vaccine?

And finally, for those interested, here in NM you can register for the vaccine here, and see the order in which they’re scheduling people here.

As we go through these discussions, let’s remember: “in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity”

This Sunday we plan to be in Philippians 2:19-3:1. I hope you find a way to join us!

Prophet, Pope, Dan

 

 

 

From Dan:  I try to have my blog written by the end of the day on Wednesday, so that Diana in the office can get it uploaded and ready to send out by Friday morning.

I did that (writing on COVID vaccines and fetal cells, which I’ll save for next week), and then Wednesday night happened. What a mess. Rioters mobbed the U.S. Capital building to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College votes.

It seems to me that riots often do the very opposite of what the rioters say they want to do.

Ken Burns argues in his documentary series Vietnam that the protests which turned into riots actually lengthened that war. Had they stayed protests they might have achieved their desired ends, but once they turned violent people turned against the protestors (none of us like our businesses destroyed) and their cause. If he is correct, the riots of the 60s lengthened the war.

In 2020 we had protests after the appalling death of George Floyd, but then things turned violent. The protests could have been more helpful had they stayed peaceful, but did the riots of 2020 do anything to help stop racism? I think they only made it worse.

And this past Wednesday night we had an entirely different group of people (my assumption), storm the Capital. What will be the result? What will we remember of President Trump? The protests might have helped the cause had they stayed peaceful, but will the riot of Wednesday do anything to help the future aspirations of President Trump or the values of the rioters?

Riots are wrong, period. I don’t care how much you love Trump or hate racism, destroying other people’s property and putting their lives at risk isn’t a Christian response to not getting your way. It’s evil, and it doesn’t work.

What does work? That is what we will be talking about on Sunday. Paul tells the Philippians how to work in a “warped and crooked generation” (generation meaning time; Phil 2:15). He doesn’t tell them to riot. God has a better way. A way that works. I hope you can find a way to join us this Sunday. Our country needs you and I to know His way.

Dan

From Reinaldo:  I very much like what Dan wrote in this blog, and I wanted to add to it some of my personal sentiments.

This past Wednesday, the day that rioters mobbed the U.S. Capital Building to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College votes, Hope and I watched as the events unfolded live before our eyes. As we sat in front of her PC in shock and disbelief—holding each other’s’ hands, in tears (and I was filled with further shame and sorrow, for no symbol of Christianity should be flaunted as sacred while committing an unsacred act).

But there is hope, for I believe that God is doing a great work in His Church. I am reminded of what Christ said to the Church at Ephesus in Revelation 2.2-5,

2 “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the works you did at first.”

He tells the Ephesian Christians that they are doing excellent things as they patiently endure hostilities, weed out false teachers, profess Christ, and such. But in the process, they took their focus away from the simplicity of worship and devotion to Christ and focused instead on different priorities, albeit good ones. And so, He tells them “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the works you did at first.

I believe that God is showing us the bad fruits of some things that we have focused on regardless of our good intentions. I also believe that since He loves His Church so much, He will bring us back around to the love we had at first. And so, as we enter a new year let us strive to “love the Lord [our] God with all [our] heart and with all [our] soul and with all [our] mind and with all [our] strength, … [to] love your neighbor as [ourselves] (Mark 12.30-31). Nothing matters more than this.

Reinaldo

 

 

 

 

Did you wait till 2021 to make a positive change?

I did.

The gyms have been open, closed, open, closed since mid-March. I used it as an excuse to punt going till 2021.

I was reminded of myself when I saw an article in the satire magazine “The Babylon Bee” with the title, “Man Has A Few Days Left to Be A Disgusting Slob Before Completely Turning Life Around on January 1st.” The first paragraph said,

"Yeah-- January 1st! That will be the day my life changes forever!" said Greenman while eating a breakfast of Christmas cookies, leftover ham, pumpkin pie, and beer. "It's gonna be great! I'm going to get in the best shape of my life, read at least 30 books, get that promotion at work, start reading that Bible again! But first I need to clean out all these leftovers and re-watch The Office and every Indiana Jones movie. Then, it's 'go' time!"

That’s the problem with New Years Resolutions. It consists of a bunch of stuff we know is good for us, but we lose sight of the goal, of the WHY, while there is still pie and beer in the fridge. Spiritually we could set resolutions to worry less and trust more, to drink less, yell less, learn Biblical Greek, and to set the alarm for 2am to pray for four hours before getting up. We could even break each resolution down into smaller SMART goals, but we would still be missing something.

We need to remember why.

Here is my one question to ask for 2021.

What is the one single thing I can do this year to increase my enjoyment of God?

I assume more enjoyment will result in more trust and less worry, less drinking and yelling, and a relationship with God that doesn’t need an alarm clock.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

If there wasn’t much enjoyment in God in 2020, it wasn’t God’s fault.

What is the one thing you can do to increase your enjoyment of God in 2021?

Do it. You’ll be glad you did.

I hope you can join us Sunday as we Redeem the Rooster, a look at the bird that caused Peter so much grief.

Blessings,

Dan

 

 

 

So, I looked back on my Outlook Calendar to the first week in 2020. It began on Sunday, January 29, 2019. That Sunday I taught a message titled, “CalvinCuban’s ‘sage’ advice for 2020, infinity, and beyond.” My message began with a reenactment of some of Jonathan Edwards’ life resolutions which he formulated in 1722 when he was but 19 years old. As usual, I asked Phil Bryant to play the part of Edwards, and as always, he played the part with utmost excellence. I will sorely miss Phil playing Edwards. Mostly, I will miss Jennifer and Phil as they’ve moved to Columbia, Missouri.


I also mentioned two of Martin Luther’s life resolutions. And then, based on Luther’s and Edwards’ resolutions, I concluded my message with some resolutions of my own for 2020—and beyond. I resolved—and encouraged others to resolve—to …


1. be a glory to God, make the gospel “tasty,” shed light on the truth, do good in your family, church, world,
2. be it (i.e., “a glory to God”) in the communion of saints, but solo if need be,
3. as you be it (ibid) and do it (ibid), enjoy Jesus, enjoy His word, enjoy praying, enjoy fellowship with the saints, and
4. walk & talk in wisdom, be gracious in word & deed, remember that the world is watching how we love.


So, how well did I do? Well, the professor will now grade himself … I give myself a “C-,“ meaning that, although it is not a failing grade, I did not successfully complete the course (that would require a minimum grade of “C”) and will need to repeat it in 2021. This is not to say that I didn’t learn anything in 2020, just that the things I had hoped to learn I did not learn nearly as well as I had hoped.


But I did learn some new things in 2020; things I neither expected nor particularly wanted to learn. Here are the top six that come to mind:


1. Wearing a face mask. Honestly, prior to March 2020, I had never once in 69½ years of life donned a face mask. I mean, why hide my beautiful face.
2. Social distancing. This meant that I could not hug people as they arrived at church, not even shake hands. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to give up. I am, after all, a Cuban, and we Cubans are huggy folks.
3. The lust for toilet paper. I’d rather not talk about it.
4. Zoom meetings. Other than “Hollywood Squares” and the opening scene to “The Brady Bunch,” I’d never seen people stacked up like crates at a warehouse.
5. What it feels like to have an industrial-sized bottle brush jabbed up your nose. OK, so I’m exaggerating a little, but that’s what it felt like when I had a COVID test done back this summer. Thankfully, the results were negative.
6. Q. That would be “QAnon,” the shadowy far-right conspiracy theory site. Q has been around since 2017, but until this year I had not heard much about it. Then in May of this year I began reading more stories about it on various media, Christian and secular, and I became alarmed at the potential detrimental effect such things could have on the Church.


So, what do I hope to learn in 2021? I already said that I would repeat the four resolutions I previously mentioned. But I now see that I need to flesh them out a little more. With that said, here are six things I hope we learn (i.e., knowledge, affection, and behavior) in 2021:


1. We are not our own but are owned by God—body, soul, and spirit. We don’t get to do as we please but must be transformed by the Spirit so that what we want to do is pleasing God, and with an end to making all thing count for eternity and to the glory of God.
2. We don’t want to come across as a people who are unloving. And in this we strive not just for appearance’s sake but because God is love, we are God’s, and therefore we are loving. Knowing that, 1) Jesus died for sinners (us), 2) the Church is the embassy of the kingdom of God on earth, 3) we’re ambassadors for Christ, and 4) what we do is closely observed by the world, we therefore endeavor to act in such a way so as not to dishonor Christ and His Church.
3. We must esteem others as more important than ourselves. If Christ laid down His life for us, should we not want to lay down our lives for others, or at the very least, some of our rights?
4. We must not espouse ideas which are inconsistent with Scripture or contrary to good science. Doing so makes us look like fools, gives the opposition a reason to ridicule and persecute us, and compromises the gospel.
5. We must meet together. The assembly of believers is not an option. The COVID pandemic has made it difficult for our church not only w/regards to our Sunday morning services, but also with small groups. And I don’t need to mention that disagreement over some medical matters has not been helpful.
6. We need not fear death because Christ defeated death at the cross and death no longer has any power over us. If 2021 is the year some of us are called to be with the Lord, then so be it. It will be a great sadness for our loved ones but eternal peace, rest, and joy for those of us who pass on.


This coming Sunday I will go over these six resolutions with some supporting Scripture, further explanations, and practical applications. Please remember that we will only have one service this coming Sunday at 10.30a. The recording will be online and the stream will be on Facebook only.


Grace to you!


Pastor Reinaldo

Whenever my grandson Memphis comes over, I like to bug him by asking, “Hey Memphis, is it Christmas yet? Is it? Is it? Is this Christmas, Memphis?” Of course, he always answers, “Not yet, Papa.”

But really, it is Christmas. Christmas is the anticipation more than the day. It’s Advent candles, the decorations and lights, watching the kids get excited, making family plans, wrapping presents, Hot Cocoa and movies. It was the announcement to Mary and Joseph and nine months of pregnancy and the trip to Bethlehem. The birth was the pinnacle, but the run-up was full of joy and shock and amazement. Even the announcement by the angels to the shepherds and the run to the stable made the arrival that much more special.

That’s this week. 

Christmas Sunday is THIS Sunday, and Christmas Eve is Thursday! 

THIS SUNDAY

This Sunday services will run like normal.

  • In Person 9 & 10:30 am, inside, on the grass, or in your car on 101.5fm
  • YouTube LiveStream - Both services should be live at this link.
  • Online: Due to our recent issues, the latest recorded copy of the sermon is always available at this link, and a recorded copy will be up before Sunday. Go to our website for previous sermons here. 

CHRISTMAS EVE IS THURSDAY!

and Wednesday is eve, eve

SIGN UP HERE 

Our plan is to gather around fire pits, meet Mary and Joseph and some shepherds, sing some carols, and hear the Christmas story—all in well under an hour. Of course, we also plan to have COVID safe hot cocoa and such around, maybe roast marshmallow after the service for kids like me.

Please sign up so we know if we need more fire pits.

Bring:

  • Your Parka, it will be COLD
  • A lawn chair if you have one, although I suppose most of us will just stand to keep warm
  • Your phone. We plan to have the Christmas Carol lyrics and Scripture reading on this blog page, so that you can sing along, and we won’t need to mess with slides. ALSO – you may want to take some pictures.

Wednesday, Christmas Eve: 6pm only.

Thursday, Christmas Eve: 4 and 6pm.

Is this Christmas? Yup, all week.

Dan