Tonk Talk by Mark T. Tonkery
What I have learned from the Covid-19 Pandemic?
The coronavirus which started in China last fall and now has spread to over four million people, causing over 284,732 deaths worldwide (as of the writing of this article). This pandemic is still not over, and the effects will be felt for a long time. But as we deal with this virus, I wanted to share some things I have learned and observed so far:
- Covid-19 is like sin. Covid-19 has quickly spread around the globe, and although not everyone gets this virus dies, it has caused many deaths and has disrupted many lives. It reminds me a lot like sin, yet sin is far more dangerous. Rom. 3:23 states, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Remember, Rom. 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death…”. Everyone who sins dies the second death if one does not repent (Lk. 13:3,5).
- Covid-19 reminds us we can evangelize the world. It was about eight months ago, and no one ever heard about the coronavirus or Covid-19, now almost the entire world knows about it. Just think if we took the gospel of Jesus as seriously as we have taken the message about the Covid-19, we could reach the whole world with the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Remember Jesus tells us to “go into the entire world…” (Mk. 16:15), Covid-19 reminds us that a message can be spread throughout the world, in a relatively short time, what about the gospel of Jesus?
- Covid-19 has taught us to connect with people in different ways. Eight months ago, I would never have believed that I would be learning how to preach and teach over the internet. Now for the past few weeks, many Christians have assembled around their computers and cell phones, listening to God’s word preached. This situation reminds us of Jesus’ teaching in Jn. 4:24, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
- Covid-19 has taught me to appreciate what I have because you never know when it will be taken away. Now, I am not just talking about toilet paper, or eating at a restaurant, although that might apply. But for the past few weeks, we have been prevented from assembly with the Saints. This is a freedom we have in this country, but many Christians throughout history, and even in many countries in our world today do not have this freedom. Many Christians are persecuted, imprisoned, or even put to death for assembling in the name of Christ. May we realize what a blessing we have when we can gather with our brothers and sisters in Christ and not take it for granite. When we can meet may we make the most of it and appreciate what God has allowed us to have.
These are just a few things that I have learned, I am sure there will be many more lessons that will be learned as this pandemic continues. It is so easy, to be frustrated, and be discouraged during this time, but let us not give into despair. May we look at this situation and ask, “What can we learn from this?” Let us use this pandemic as a learning time and most important use it to draw closer to the Lord. Think about it! Mark T. Tonkery
Sin is deadly
It was 1987 in Brazil, some children who were playing in a junkyard found a silver metal container. Someone cracked it open to reveal the most exquisite blue, round blob nesting inside. It was different from anything they had ever seen. It glowed even in the daylight!
Before long, a crowd had gathered to look at the glowing ball. Everybody wanted to hold this odd substance. One man dipped his finger in it and wrote his initials on his bare chest. Another couple of people played catch with it like it was a ball. Another man worked the pliable ball into various shapes while the crowd around him laughed.
Later that day, strange symptoms began to appear on the bodies of all the people who had touched the blue blob. Each person began to feel chilled, feverish, and generally weak. Every bit of skin that had come into contact with this glowing glob had burn marks. Within 24 hours the man who had written his initials on his chest had deep burns etched into his skin.
After some investigation, it was discovered that the canister had been stolen from an abandon hospital and sold to the junkyard. The contents had at one time been used to save lives by treating cancer. The highly radioactive material was never intended to be touched by human hands. Within a week all the people who had handled the radioactive material either died or were very sick. (Taken from Conspiracy of Kindness, by Steve Sjogren. For more info. on this story go to https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/accidental-poisoning-in-brazil)
As I read this story, I could not help but think how this incident with the radioactive material is much like sin. Humans were not designed to deal with it, yet we see in Gen. 3 that Adam and Eve, along with Satan introduced sin into our world. Now people are fascinated with sin’s pleasure, gratification, and excitement just as those people in Brazil with the radioactive material; yet not knowing what they were playing with. Then disaster hits those who continue to play with sin, they get the disease, a broken relationship, a lost job, or hundreds of other ill effects. Rom. 6:23 tells us that the ultimate problem with sin is that it causes spiritual death.
Rom. 6:23 continues and reminds us that Jesus Christ came to rescue us from our sin and gives us eternal life. Jesus had to give His life for us by dying on the cross for our sins. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
God will save and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins, this is where we begin our new life in Christ and die to sin (Rom. 6:1-6). Christ will continue to cleanse us from sin as we continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).
Sin like radioactive material is dangerous, lets follow Jesus so we will not suffer from eternal death. Think about it! Mark T. Tonkery
Tonk Talk by Mark T. Tonkery
I am going to rejoice anyway!
Bad news. It seems like there is a lot of it these days. Our country is a pandemic, there are people losing their jobs, some of our dear friends are fighting life threatening diseases with little hope, and many of us are still grieving the deaths of dear friends and family members. Now I am not sure that these are the worst of times we have ever lived in, but nevertheless we are still living in some difficult times.
The question often is asked of me how will we cope? How will we deal with all these problems? Well what I like to do is go to the Bible and see how the servants of God dealt with their problems, their difficulties, and their struggles. One example is the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk he prophesied in Judah just before Nebuchadnezzar first invaded Jerusalem in 605 BC, this was about the time when the prophet Daniel was taken in Babylonian captivity.
Now The Lord had spoke to Habakkuk and commissioned him to carry the message that He was going to punish Judah by the hand of the Babylonians. The result of this was that the Jews were going to be taken out of their homeland and carried off to another land because of their refusal to obey God and repent of their sins.
Now talk about bad news, Habakkuk is commissioned to tell the people of Judah they are going to lose their homes, land, and be put in slavery. This was such a difficult message for Habakkuk to preach that he spends most of the book of Habakkuk questioning why God would do this and of all things use the evil Babylonians as His instrument of punishment.
With all the questions Habakkuk has, he does come to a point of surrender and relies on his faith in Almighty God. Notice how Habakkuk concludes his book:
Hab 3:16-19, “I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places.”
Now I don’t know what you are struggling with but I wonder if we could have the faith of Habakkuk and look at our struggles and rejoice anyway? Despite the bad, the struggles, and hardships can we see the goodness of God still and rejoice?
Matthew Henry, a well-known Bible commentator who lived in the late 1700s, was one day robbed. He made the following entry in his diary: “Let me be thankful- first, because I was never robbed before. Second, because although they took my wallet they did not take my life. Third, because although they took my all, it was not much. And fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”
May we too give thanks and rejoice that “God, the Lord, is my strength…” even when we do not understand the evil around us. Think about it! MTT
Tonk Talk by Mark T. Tonkery
A little girl walking in a garden noticed a particularly beautiful flower. She admired its beauty and enjoyed its fragrance. “It’s so pretty!” she exclaimed. As she gazed on it, her eyes followed the stem down to the soil in which it grew. “This flower is too pretty to be planted in such dirt!” she cried. So she pulled it up by its roots and ran to the water faucet to wash away the soil. It wasn’t long until the flower wilted and died.
When the gardener saw what the little girl had done, he exclaimed, “You have destroyed my finest plant!”
“I’m sorry, but I didn’t like it in that dirt,” she said. The gardener replied, “I chose that spot and mixed the soil because I knew that only there could it grow to be a beautiful flower.”
Often we murmur because of the circumstances into which God has placed us. We fail to realize that He is using our pressures, trials, and difficulties to bring us to a new degree of spiritual beauty.
The Apostle Paul reminds in 2 Corinthians 5:1-7, “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”
Christian there will be struggles, trails, temptations, and moments of pain in this life. It is important to develop and maintain a Christian attitude in the midst of our suffering. Remember in Romans 8:37 “… in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. Every day, he prayed intently for God to rescue him, but it seemed He just wasn’t listening. He eventually managed to build himself a hut out of driftwood to protect him from the weather and store what few possessions he had managed to salvage. Then, one day after scavenging for food, he arrived ‘home’ to find his hut was on fire after being struck by lightning. The worst he could imagine had happened. Everything he had was lost. He would surely just give up and die now.
“God, how could you do this to me!?” he cried.
Early the next morning, as he lie on the shore distraught, he was startled by a group of men who had arrived by boat to rescue him.
“How did you know I was here?” he asked.
They replied, “We saw your smoke signal.”
It is so easy to get discouraged when things are going wrong and we are facing many trials. We may even blame God for the things that happen, or complain because He doesn’t answer our prayers in the way we want Him to. But God is always at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering. Remember, next time ‘your hut is burning’...it may be a ‘smoke signal’ given by the grace of God. He loves you and cares for you even if you can’t always see it.
I have been asked is the coronavirus or Covid-19, a plague from God?
Well, I do know that in Exodus 7–10, we read about the ten plagues God inflicted upon the Egyptians, that were used to free the Israelites from bondage.
Then three times during the Israelites wandering in the wilderness God sent plagues upon them. The first time was when they were eating the quail that God sent to satisfy their longing for meat (Num. 11:33). The second time, a “plague” claimed the lives of spies who discouraged the Israelites from entering the Promised Land (Num. 14:37). The third plague came as God’s punishment upon the Israelites. Aaron stopped this “plague” by offering incense to God (Num. 16:46–47). On one other occasion, Phinehas saved the Israelites from a plague by killing a man who brought a Midianite woman into their midst. Nevertheless, 24,000 people died (Num. 25:8–9).
The Old Testament describes many cases in which God sent “plagues” to discipline His people. One example is found in 2 Samuel, where David built an altar unto the Lord and prayed that the plague would stop; it did after 70,000 men died (2 Sam. 24:15; 25).
We know these plagues were brought on by God as punishment and served His purposes because we have the Bible to explain to us what happened.
But our world has known other plagues, not recorded in the Bible. Such as the black plague which emigrated from the Orient in the fourteenth century, spread westward and wiped out one-third to one-half of Europe’s population. Cholera that began in India in 1816 reached Russia and the Near East by 1830. By 1832, it had swept through Europe and England. Irishmen brought it to Canada, and from there it was brought into the United States via Lake Champlain, killing thousands in the most severe plague since the black plague.
Then between July and October 1918 over 50 million died from swine or the Spanish flu. Now most recently we have experienced the coronavirus, which has killed over 15,000 people worldwide, as of the writing of this article.
The question is raised again, are these plagues from God? The Bible tells us at least two things: First in Matthew 24:5-7, where Jesus tells us that living on this earth there will be a continuous cycle of bad things that will happen, but the end will not be yet. So, we live in a world where disease, war, and all kinds of calamity will take place. Jesus will go on to encourage His followers in Mt. 24:13 to endure and those who do will be saved. Second, in John 9, Jesus’ disciples asked Him when they saw a blind man, whose sin had caused his blindness? In their thinking, birth deformities, sickness, and suffering were the result of sin or even God’s judgment. Jesus goes on to state in, John 9:2, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
So what we can understand from these two passages is that we live in a world of continued chaos, where there is going to be things like Covid-19 that wreak havoc on our world and yet we are not to lose heart because God’s work can be displayed during difficult times.
It just might be God is using this virus as a reminder for spiritual renewal as He used the plagues in the Old Testament, but if not it is still a reminder that in the most trying times God still is in control and as in John 9:2 the works of God might be displayed. Think about it! By Mark T. Tonkery