Dear Church Family,
Grace and peace to you all from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Given the current situation in our country with the coronavirus and the recommendations of both the medical community and government leaders, the Session last night voted to keep the church building closed through Sunday, April 26. If circumstances should change, the Session will revisit this decision and let you know of any changes in our schedule.
This means we will not gather for our usual Holy Week activities and our Easter Sunday Worship, as well as Worship and other church gatherings that would ordinarily take place in the next several weeks.
We will continue to livestream our Worship services each Sunday at 10:30 AM, and hope you will join us on YouTube (Click here) or via the link on the home page of the church web site.
As I mentioned yesterday, your continued financial giving to support the ministry of our church is as important as ever in these unusual times. You can send contributions to the church in the mail, or give online via the link on the home page of the church web site.
During this time of social distancing, we urge you, if possible, to use technology to remain connected with your small group or Bible study by gathering via Skype or Zoom or some other platform for fellowship, prayer, support, and growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As we go through this extraordinary time together, remember that God is with you, God is for you, and God is at work in you. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Grace and peace,
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
We trust that none of us has been diagnosed with COVID-19, and pray that, by God’s grace, none of us will contract it. For those who are dealing with other health problems, whether minor, chronic, or serious, know that you have the support and prayers of your church family.
If any of you have needs with which we can help during this period of social distancing, please let me or the Church Office or your Care Group Elder or Deacon know.
As already announced, our church is closed through this Sunday, March 22. The Session will meet this evening by teleconference and make decisions regarding additional closures due to the coronavirus. We will let you know of further developments.
We will again livestream a Worship service at 10:30 AM on Sunday. Even though we will not be together in the same physical location, this is an opportunity for us to ‘gather’ as a church family via the blessings of technology. The message this Sunday will be Opportunities to Trust God — one of which, surely, is the situation in which we all, and our nation, and the peoples of every nation, find ourselves amid the coronavirus pandemic. This is an opportunity for us to trust God.
You can tune in to our livestream on Sunday by going to our YouTube channel (Click here). There is also a link on the home page of our church web site (www.faithepchurch.org). We hope every individual, couple, and family in our church family will join us for worship on Sunday.
Do you have prayer concerns for which you would like us to pray? You can email your prayer requests to me ([email protected]) or Daniel at the Church Office ([email protected]). We will be happy to share your prayer requests with the Faith Church family.
Giving: Even though church activities have been temporarily halted, we remain dependent on your faithful giving to the church. There are still bills to be paid, as well as church staff, missionaries, and ministries to support. Please continue to support the church financially with your tithes and offerings. You can mail checks to the church or give online by clicking the ‘GIVE’ button at the top of the church website. We are grateful for the contributions received in the mail since the cancellation of Worship and other church activities went into effect on March 15.
As has been the case at other times in history, ‘these are the times that try men’s souls.’ Women’s souls, too. And the souls of girls and boys, young and old, rich and poor. By the grace of God, may it be a time that strengthens our souls’ trust in God and dependence upon Him. May it be a time in which millions turn or return to the Lord. May this crisis be the spark that lights the flame of revival among God’s people and a new great awakening in which millions and millions of unbelievers recognize their need of God and come to personal, saving faith and new life in the Lord Jesus Christ. Lord, let it be so.
One of our missionaries, Greg Livingstone, passed on an article with some very timely and wise thoughts for living in the age of coronavirus. He doesn’t say who wrote it, but I think it reflects the wisdom of God. Here, slightly altered, are the 14 truths from the article:
1. Coronavirus doesn’t mean that God has stopped being our Father. We continue to live under His daily care, provision, and protection.
2. Our Father has not lost control of His world. He is absolutely in control of every single thing in our life and in His world.
3. Our infection with coronavirus will ultimately depend, not on statistics or risk factors or age, but on the Lord’s explicit decision and permission to allow it. This, of course, is not a license to be careless or to indulge in activities that unnecessarily place ourselves or others at risk. Good judgment, common sense, and compassion for others are needed now as much as ever.
4. Fear the Lord more than coronavirus, and love the Lord more than health.
5. Sin is far more deadly than coronavirus, so be more concerned with it than with infection.
6. Beware of how fear can drive you to self-centeredness. Keep serving and caring for others as they deal with the virus. Be generous with your resources.
7. Read the Bible, and think on God’s Word more than obsessing about the latest news. (Think: Take ten looks at Jesus.*)
8. Give thanks for God’s provision of the CDC, NIH, and all the medical experts and government officials hard at work to get us through this crisis.
9. Let your ultimate sense of security and comfort come more from the Lord’s care and control than from the government and medical community.
10. In God’s mysterious plan, the appearance of this virus will be one of God’s means of making us more dependent on Him.
11. The coronavirus and its effects can wean us off worldliness, as the virus reminds us of the fallenness of this world, the reality of death, and the transience of everything here.
12. Our ultimate hope is not to be free from infection, but to be found in Christ and glorifying Him.
13. What your mind meditates on affects your worship. Don’t let your mind be overrun and obsessed with fears and anxieties about the coronavirus.
14. Our true hope is not health in this world, but being in the presence of God forever.
* For every look at yourself or your circumstances, take ten looks at Jesus.
For every look at the coronavirus, take ten looks at Jesus.
For every look at your favorite cable news channel, take ten looks at Jesus.
For every look at the internet or twitter or any other social media tool, take ten looks at Jesus.
(With appreciation to Robert Murray M’Cheyne for the original quote: ‘For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Jesus.’)
As we look to Jesus together, let’s reach out to one another in love and compassion. Let’s pray for one another. Let’s stay in touch with one another. Let’s encourage one another to ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 3:18). ‘Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out’ (Hebrews 10:24, The Message).
God bless you — God bless us all — in these days of social distancing!