This is a very strange Saturday. I’ve already preached my Sunday sermon. Most Saturdays my mind is consumed with thoughts of the upcoming message and how to enhance and bring it to life. However, we recorded the service on Friday and Lane has been getting it ready. Except for not making me look thinner, it looks great.
It is a very unique time in the history of our nation. As a church, we have chosen to do what we can to help minimize the risk of the virus and practice social distancing. We have decided not to meet as a church on March 22nd and 29th. We will reevaluate at that time. All of this to say, you will worship as a family in your home for at least the next two weeks. What will it look like?
Allow me an opportunity to encourage you in a few things.
- Keep your Sunday “normal.” Make Sunday as normal as possible. Wake up at your normal time. Eat breakfast as if it were a normal Sunday. You may even want to pile into the car, drive around the block, and get into a family fight before worship. Again, keep your Sunday normal. I know some will watch the service in the pajamas or sweats, and that’s sure ok. Others may want to dress in their Sunday best. But up to 10:30 am, create the atmosphere that you are actually attending church.
- Pray before the service. We will post our service at 10:30 am. Before the service, pray with your family. Expect God to speak to you. Expect to be moved by the Holy Spirit. You are going to church!
- Engage in the worship service. Our service will be streamed online. Our worship pastor, Shawn, did an amazing job leading in worship. Sing with him. Pray with him. Treat it just like you would if you were in the room with Shawn. Parents lead the way. Your children will follow your lead.
- Open the Bible. Follow along. Things are a little different this week. This is more a topical message on attributes of God. But take time to look at scripture. My next series will journey through the book of Colossians. It’s a great book. On Sunday, I’ll be looking at a passage in Isaiah 40 and 43.
- Give as a family. This is a great time to teach your children about the importance of giving and its worship implication. In your offering, you are worshiping God, stepping out in faith and acknowledging He is the source of all our blessings. You can give online at www.fsbcsalina.com. I’d encourage you to do this as an act of worship and as a family.
- Follow-up – After the service, take time to follow-up. Ask questions to your family. Dad, if you are able, ask your children if they have questions. If they don’t, ask them a question. It can be as simple as, “If God is all-powerful, what does that mean for you?” “How does that help us right now?” Your children need to be reassured this week. Let them know God is in control even over the coronavirus. Remind them it’s temporary and will not last forever.
- Plan on eating as a family. Take time to eat lunch as a family. This would be a great place for follow-up.
Be a part of our service. Actively engage in worship. Take notes. If you have any questions, please let me know. It’s not the ideal situation for corporate worship, but you and your family will be blessed. Remember, part of our desire is to take the gospel of Christ from our corner to every corner. This Sunday we will do just that. I’m a little excited. Join our church this Sunday at 10:30 am. Find us on our public Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/fsbcsalina/. It will be posted on a website later that day. The church may be online tomorrow, but remember, the church is not where you meet but who you are. We are the body of Jesus Christ.
It is an extraordinary time indeed. As you wake up today, Thursday, March 12, 2020, you find yourself in very uncharted waters. In my fifty some odd years, I’ve never seen anything like this. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization officially declared the Coronavirus a pandemic, The National Basketball Association suspended their season, and the NCAA have decided to play games in empty stadiums. It is a fascinating time. How should a Christian respond to events like this pandemic?
- Do not be afraid – God is sovereign. He knew this virus and has allowed it to hit the United States. Scripture tells us, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power, love, and of self-discipline” (2 Tim 1:7). God has sovereignly given us an excellent outline to follow in life. Don’t be afraid, love each other, and conduct yourself with self-discipline. That seems very wise to me. Don’t live in fear. Find practical ways to love others during this time and use measures of self-discipline.
- Do not worry – Likewise, don’t let yourself jump to a conclusion of worry. We find our contentment in Christ. Remember the Savage paraphrase I gave you on Sunday of Matthew 6:33. “Your commitment to God’s causes and His character will produce your contentment.” Don’t live in worry. Seek first God’s Kingdom, even during a pandemic. God is! God reigns! And God is in control! Live as if you believe these truths.
- Be Wise – Now for the flip side. Live wisely. If you have a suppressed or compromised immunity, be extremely careful. Do what you can to not put yourself in a position where you can contract this virus. Keep healthy hygiene habits. Wash your hands. Do everything you can not to spread a cold or flu to others. If you have symptoms, stay home. Some of this is merely using self-discipline and keeping yourself as healthy as possible. To our “older” population in the church, be very careful. I keep hearing you are at the most significant risk. It’s ok to stay at home. If you need anything, please let me know. Lane and I will be happy to serve you in any way possible. However, we can’t if you don’t contact us. Furthermore, if anyone has symptoms of the flu or a bad cold, please take appropriate actions. Again I say, it’s advisable to stay home.
- Be Salt and Light – Christians have an opportunity to respond with great faith in God and trust in His care. Let people see your faith. Talk to them. God may allow you to share why you are not afraid. Many people will be afraid and will be very worried. Let your world know in whom you believe and trust. We are holy, different, and we need others to see our confidence in God.
I want you to know I am taking the Coronavirus very seriously. I realize I am not an expert, but I am in communication with our experts. God has blessed our church with many doctors and nurses. As of today, we do not have plans to cancel our services or other events. I have opened a dialogue with our doctors and I’m taking their recommendations very seriously. They confirm we are safe to meet. There are no known cases in Salina. This might, and probably will change. At that time, we will readdress this issue and will get the recommendations of our doctors. This is a very fluid situation. Our decision to continue to meet may change if the virus spreads. If we must cancel services, we are set up very well. I will be able to teach and preach via our Facebook page. Our Life Group ministry will be even more critical. Please remember, you can continue to faithfully give your tithes and offerings through our online giving function on our website www.fsbcsalina.com.
Don’t be afraid and don’t worry. Be wise. Take good care of yourself and do what you can to personally limit the spread of any illness. Our older members must be especially diligent in this matter. If you are not connected to our church by Facebook or email, please do so. You can sign-up for our emails at www.fsbcsalina.com. We have a public and private Facebook page. Please contact me if you would like more information.
Let me close with two tweets from James Merritt, former President of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor. “I pray a cure will be developed, the infected will be healed and the healthy will be protected. From a divine perspective, I pray that God would be glorified, the gospel would be magnified, and the church would be edified.” Will you join me in this prayer? He also sent out this tweet, “The Coronavirus gives all Jesus followers a divine opportunity to display to the world how to respond rather than react. So today I choose worship over worry. I choose faith over fear. I choose peace over panic, believing in a sovereign God who gives saving grace.”
Join me in the same choice of living for the Kingdom of God. May God be glorified today and every day. How can God use you to advance His Kingdom during this virus for His glory and the good of others?