3/17/20 - Good evening Church family! Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all!
I realize that many people may be struggling to understand how to keep their eyes fixed on Christ, and their hearts far from fear. As I said in my letter from Saturday, our God is not panicked, and He is fully in control of this situation. While I recognize that is an easier truth to hold on to during times where the waters are calm, we must realize that it is far more applicable and meaningful when a season of storms hits our lives. As I’ve said before, this is when all of our study, preparation and pursuit of our God, becomes meaningful and real!
Please know that the leadership team and I have been diligently praying, meeting and discussing the best course of action for our church as we move forward. No decisions we have made, or are making moving forward, have been made without considerable thought, prayer and wise counsel. With information and regulations changing by the hour, we are doing our best to seek God and His direction for us, while respecting and heeding the instructions of the authorities that we are under at the local, state and national level. While I realize that there are many people who share conflicting views on how these events are being handled, I would ask that we remember that we are all trying to do our best to navigate them well, and for us in the Church, in a God honoring way. We would be wise to pray for our elected officials, and the tremendous weight that comes with making decisions that will impact millions of individuals in our nation.
With all of this being said, I wanted to send out a message to let you know that we at The Village have decided to move our Sunday morning worship services to a livestream only event for the time being. Meaning, we will not be meeting at the church for services. Please know, we have explored as many options as possible, and if you notice, we even held out as long as we could in an attempt to work with the 50 person maximum gathering that was previously being mandated. We white boarded pros and cons of every scenario, and brainstormed ways to be able to continue to worship together as a church family. While we were hopeful that our plan would come to fruition, the most recent mandate of gathering sizes being no more than 10 people has caused us to have to embrace the livestream option as our only plan of action. While we are greatly disappointed, we are incredibly thankful that we have such technology to be able to bring us together to worship God and hear from His word. Please remember, the church is not a building… but rather the believers who make up the body of Christ! What an opportunity for us to put that on display in the coming weeks!
While I know that this is disappointing news (and trust me, there might be no one more disappointed than the person writing this letter to you all), we are fully confident that the Lord will lead us through this! Remember church, we are not the first people in the history of the planet to face hardship, and we won’t be the last. As it says in the 11th chapter of Hebrews…
“Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. For our ancestors won God’s approval by it.By faith we understand that the universe was created by God’s command, so that what is seen has been made from things that are not visible.By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was approved as a righteous man, because God approved his gifts, and even though he is dead, he still speaks through his faith.By faith Enoch was taken away so he did not experience death, and he was not to be found because God took him away.For prior to his removal he was approved, since he had pleased God.Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.By faith Noah, after he was warned about what was not yet seen and motivated by godly fear, built an ark to deliver his family. By faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, coheirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.By faith even Sarah herself, when she was unable to have children, received power to conceive offspring, even though she was past the age, since she considered that the One who had promised was faithful. Therefore from one man—in fact, from one as good as dead—came offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as innumerable as the grains of sand by the seashore.These all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth. Now those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they were thinking about where they came from, they would have had an opportunity to return. But they now desire a better place—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. He received the promises and he was offering his unique son,the one it had been said about, Your seed will be traced through Isaac.He considered God to be able even to raise someone from the dead, and as an illustration, he received him back.By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and he worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.By faith Joseph, as he was nearing the end of his life, mentioned the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions concerning his bones.By faith, after Moses was born, he was hidden by his parents for three months, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they didn’t fear the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the short-lived pleasure of sin. For he considered the reproach because of the Messiah to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, since his attention was on the reward.By faith he left Egypt behind, not being afraid of the king’s anger, for Moses persevered as one who sees Him who is invisible. By faith he instituted the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn might not touch the Israelites. By faith they crossed the Red Sea as though they were on dry land. When the Egyptians attempted to do this, they were drowned.By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after being encircled by the Israelites for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute received the spies in peace and didn’t perish with those who disobeyed.And what more can I say? Time is too short for me to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the raging of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength after being weak, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead—they were raised to life again. Some men were tortured, not accepting release, so that they might gain a better resurrection, and others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and on mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.”
- Hebrews 11:1-40
What a unique opportunity we have to join the “heroes of faith” outlined in that amazing chapter of God’s word! We were born for such a time as this my friends! God has provided us with His grace, and the ability to be a light in this ever present darkness! So, while we mourn the fact that we may not be able to gather for corporate worship for a time. Let us be reminded that God has said…
“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
- James 1:2-3
So let us embrace this trial as men and women of God. Trusting that…
“He who started a good work in (us) will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
- Philippians 1:6
Church, our God is faithful, and He is still on the throne! For that, I am incredibly thankful, and we are able to come to Him in fear, in heartache, in anxiety, in loneliness… and to know that He will be able to meet your every need. Praise be to God for those amazing truths!
As I close this letter for today, I realize that many of you have many more questions that you are probably wondering about. While this letter was not meant to be inclusive of all of that information. I did want to get it out to you to make you aware of our plans moving forward. Tomorrow, I will try to provide an update on our plans for the weekend, and also our plans to continue to maintain community throughout our time apart. Remember, while we may not be able to gather corporately, we are still the Church. Make calls to one another, send texts, go for a walk (6 feet apart of course 🙂 ), or share a meal together. I told our team last night, I cannot wait until we are together again! What a joyous Sunday that will be!!!
It is with that in mind that I sign off for this evening. Know that I am praying for you, love you, and am beyond thankful for each and every one of you!
May the Lord bless you until we talk again. More tomorrow.
P.S. Enjoy the new trees and mountains picture above 🙂