This is the question that is on every church member’s mind. All of us would like to pick up exactly where we left off, but we know that this is just not possible. This process is going to be a gradual progression that we will work through together.
Here is our plan. We are keeping an eye on the state and local officials, and observing the effects of the coronavirus in our area. Obviously, strategies can change at any time.
The safety of our church family and obedience to God are of the greatest considerations in our choices. No matter what we do, opinions of what we are doing will vary. Some folks will think we are moving too fast, and others will think we are way too slow. The best our church can do is follow the Lord’s leading and not worry about outside noise.
If you are high risk please continue to make wise decisions regarding your health. All online worship will remain active.
Wednesday service is going to be the first to change back. We are going back into the auditorium on May 6TH at 7 PM. We have 150-200 chairs, so it will be no problem to social distance on Wednesday nights. There will be no handshaking or hugging, and everyone will observe the 6 feet distancing rules in place. We ask that you do not spend any time in the foyer. Our foyer is small, and it would be hard to social distance there. We will have sanitation stations in place for you to sanitize at any time. If you’d like to wear a mask while you attend, you’re welcome and even encouraged to do that.
Sunday morning and evening services will remain drive-in and livestream through May 31st. We would love to be back inside by the first Sunday in June, but that will remain to be determined.
One exciting change to our Sunday services starting May 3rd will be that we will be setting up chairs on the porch that you can use. All social distancing rules must be followed, but if you feel comfortable worshipping with your family from chairs instead of your car, you will be welcome to do so. You can even bring your own lawn chairs if you like. If you still feel safer in your car, that is what we want you to do.
We are keeping watch on the weather. We may be moving the morning service earlier and the evening service to 7 PM because of the heat. Check our Facebook page and website for updates on service changes.
We will refrain from any handshaking. If someone forgets and extends their hand, kindly remind them that we are not shaking hands. This is very important to your pastor, so please do not shake hands or make contact if at all possible.
Thursday Bible Study will remain livestream only. Monday night game night will remain livesteam only.
If you feel uncomfortable attending under any circumstances, please stay home.
After reassessing the national and local pandemic situation, we will make changes as the Lord leads.
VBS has been moved from June to August and may have to be canceled completely.
Important Note: At any point, if you are feeling sick, we want you to stay home, rest and recover. If you have pre-existing conditions or are considered unusually vulnerable because of a weakened immune system, please continue to benefit from our live stream ministry.
We encourage everyone to take certain steps to protect themselves and others from the Coronavirus, flu, and other illnesses, including:
Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
Using hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available;
Not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands;
Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
Staying home if you are sick;
Covering your cough or sneeze; wear a mask;
Disinfecting objects and surfaces regularly.
We love you and want to see you again soon! But we want you to stay safe and healthy. If you have any needs, please let us know.
Link to CDC Guidelines: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/guidance-community-faith-organizations.html
During these days of Covid-19, it is easy to become selfish in our focus. Face-coverings, gloves, and “sheltering in place” could make us begin to think only of our best interest. Of course, safety precautions are a wise step in the day we live, but do not let them make you forget the people around you.
General William Booth lay on his deathbed during the annual conference of the Salvation Army in London. Booth wrote a message on a paper and sent it by messenger to have it read from the podium. Silence fell as the moderator stood before the crowd to read the words. The moderator opened the paper and found just one word written— “others”.
This is a reminder of the “Good Samaritan” story in the Bible. The man who the Samaritan helped had been beaten badly and was probably unknown to him. He was also a Jew, and Jews hated Samaritans. If we could sum up one word to describe this Samaritan it would be—others. He lifted the man on his own donkey, cleaned his wounds, and paid for all the time he needed to recover and get back on his feet.
Philippians 2:4 says, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Being caring might take a lot of time, effort and cost, but what a difference maker! Sometimes it may only be a kind word or a listening ear that makes the way better for a hurting neighbor. Listening and loving speaks volumes about how you feel about others.
I Corinthians 13:1 says, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” This verse simply encourages us to not be “pretty” in our talk but be loving in our walk. Charles Meigs wrote in 1890: “Others, Lord, yes others; let this my motto be. Help me to live for others, that I may live like Thee. Lord help me live from day-to-day, in such a self-forgetful way, that even when I kneel to pray, my prayer shall be for – others.”
I Peter 5:10 says, “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
God’s grace is the unmerited favor of God. We do not deserve the grace of God, but it is freely given by Him. God has a reason for everything that happens in your life. He is working on your behalf even when it may seem like He is not. He is working on our behalf even during pandemics.
In the book The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom tells the story of her imprisonment at Ravensbruck. The barrack they lived in had an epidemic of terrible fleas. Corrie began to complain, but her sister told her they should give thanks for everything. Corrie retorted, “There’s no way even God could make me thankful for a flea.” As time went on, they realized that their lodging was the only place in the camp that the guards stayed out of simply because of the fleas. Corrie was able to hide the Bible and lead studies with the other prisoners.
Grace is present during the “flea” times of life. Grace brings clarity and reason to a world that says otherwise. “The Solid Rock” was written years ago by a Baptist pastor and is a favorite song of believers everywhere.
My hope is built on nothing less,
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
What if Covid-19 came to a screeching halt today?
Suddenly, with no warning, the virus ended and no one else got sick. Many would be slow to come out and really trust that it was over, and some would still wear masks for a while. Eventually everyone would realize that it was over. What if the Coronavirus ended today?
If it ended today, politicians would claim victory. The president would say it was because of his great wisdom and quick thinking. Democrats and Republicans alike would claim victory for their bold moves in their states.
Many that have pushed for social distancing, for national shutdowns, and staying home, would rejoice that their extreme measures were successful.
On the other hand, those that have scoffed at all the fuss would sure claim victory. They would write articles and speak to their neighbors and do interviews. They would brag about how they never wore a mask and still went anywhere they wished, and they were right in doing so.
Sadly, very few people would even consider that God might have a part in it. Even Christians seem to have forgotten God’s great ability to stop epidemics. I think of the time King David sinned against God, and God sent a plague.
2 Samuel 24:25 says, “And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.”
Might be if we stopped social distancing from God, and spent some time praying as a nation, we could see this thing stopped today. If not today, sooner than projected.
God does not have to follow the numbers. God created this earth, He made the sun to stand still, and He can sure stop Covid-19 in its tracks.
2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
My schedule for April looks nothing like what I pictured it would a month ago. Do you have this same problem?
Some of my changes have been hard. My schedule said I was traveling to five countries in Europe and Asia, but of course I had to cancel this trip. My wife had to cancel her flight to Atlanta to get together with her family. Also, we will have to continue to limit our church fellowship. While I’m thankful for technology and our “drive-ins” services, I still miss the in-house worship with my church family.
Things do not always work out the way that we want them too. We tell our children and grandchildren this, but it is time for us to own this fact. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” If we love God and serve His calling, things will work out for good.
I want to encourage you to take advantage of this time. Rather than crying over what we cannot do, let’s look for what we can do. Some of the greatest works of God have happened during times of national tragedy. The Holy Spirit has not been hindered by social distancing.
We can still pray. We can still read our Bibles. We can encourage others by email, social media, text, or a simple phone call. You can spend time getting to know your family again without the distraction of sports and competition.
Someday the Coronavirus will be a distant memory in the past. Do something now for God that will make you look back at it as a seized opportunity. Galatians 6:10 says, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
The Bible says in James 1:2-3, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”
When James uses this word temptations, he is speaking about difficulties or trials. These are the outside problems that threaten to steal our inside joy. We know trials are definitely going to come.
What are we counting during these days of trials? We can count the days and hope it ends. We can count the people who are sick or dying. Or we can do what this verse tells us to do and count the joy.
The word joy means a cheerfulness or calm delight. This does not mean you are jumping up and down over calamity, but you are cheerful, calm and steady through it.
Joy Strengthens us. There is great strength in putting our life in the hands of the Lord. I John 1:4 says, “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. The Bible will give us strength and is a book that we need during these days. Not Facebook, not the news, but the Bible.
Joy Serves. When we are trusting in the Lord, it is easy to serve others. Psalm 100:2 says, “Serve the Lord with gladness…” There are people all around us that need services and help.
Joy Surrenders. God sure did not ask my opinion on this Coronavirus. It is his will and not mine. Psalm 4:8 says, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.”
Joy Stabilizes. In the white-water rapids of the past couple of weeks, never have we needed our life stabilized like today. Nahum 1:7 says, “The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” Our community needs to see surrendered and stabile Christians during these coming days.
On a scale of one to ten, what is your joy count? We should all aim to get that count up near ten.
Seriously, have you ever seen anything like this? That is a rhetorical question, because we have never seen anything like this in the United States. As this highly contagious virus spreads rapidly, fear is spreading even more rapidly.
What is even more alarming is the deaths. Were the people ready to die? Were they ready to face eternity? People are stocking up on masks, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper for some reason, but don’t forget the preparation for the future. You can know that you are ready for eternity.
Please accept the diagnosis: no matter how healthy our body is, our soul is infected with sin. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. The glory of God is Heaven, and we come short of getting there because of our sin.
Please accept the consequences: you sin is going to separate you from God and heaven for all eternity. Romans 6 23 says, “For the wages of sin is death…”
Please accept the cure: the good news is that Jesus took the punishment of Hell in our place. He paid for our sin with His life. Romans 6:23 continues “….but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” God’s way is easy. God’s way is simple. God’s way is free.
To receive this gift and the cure from sin, all you must do is repent of your sin and ask Jesus to save you. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This virus is taking lives every day as it sweeps across our country. Are you prepared for eternity? If you would like to talk with someone, call our church office at (903)665-8865 or my cell at (903)235-9623. We would love to pray with you and share the Lord with you during this time.
The Rural Texas Pastor sharing some encouraging thoughts from a small East Texas town.