It has certainly been a crazy couple of weeks... If you follow the Worship Notes blog, you may have noticed that last week there was no entry on Thursday! Like almost everyone in our nation, our sense of "normal" was severely disrupted as we worked diligently to find new and creative ways of serving the people of First Free. On March 15th, the staff gathered together for our first-ever streamed service. While we had been talking for quite some time about how to use this method of interacting with our people, it had been something we would do "later" and not necessarily NOW.
COVID-19 changed all of that.
We quickly worked to find creative ways of continuing to serve, even if we couldn't gather in the typical way. One of the things we value highly here at First Free is our gathering each week... we take seriously Hebrews 10:25 where we are charged to not neglect meeting together. And yet, in this crisis we are asked to physically distance ourselves from one another out of care for one another! With nothing but a cell phone and a tripod, the staff put together a service that we were able to stream out via Facebook Live. During the morning, we had over 400 views... exceeding our normal attendance on a Sunday morning!
With the distance that we are all keeping, the need for community has become increasingly present. Here at First Free, we have been working tirelessly to find ways of keeping that community! We started to utilize the Zoom Conferencing App to have prayer meeting and Life Groups together, allowing us to still be a part of each others lives, even if we aren't sharing the same space.
When the Apostle Paul was looking to preach the Gospel, he used every method at his disposal to effectively preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. I imagine if he was here in the 21st Century he would be sitting in his living room, preaching the Gospel through his smartphone. He'd be using FaceTime to meet with his co-laborers to encourage and instruct them. He'd be writing blogs so that his Church Family would be encouraged. He'd be using every tool he had to make sure that those around him knew that Jesus is Lord, that He came to redeem His people, and that through Christ - and Christ alone - they would be saved.
I encourage you, brothers and sisters, to reach out to your church family. We are still a community of believers and we still need to be in one another's lives, sharpening as iron sharpens iron. We need to ask one another (and respond honestly), "Are you OK?"
I cannot wait to see how God continues to use this unique time in our lives for His glory. I am praying for you all, and I know you echo my prayers.
For His Glory,
As I write this, our nation and our world is caught up in the increasing presence of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Some have chosen to deal with it by using humor to remind us to wash our hands (see it here) while others have begun frantically stocking up on shelf-stable essentials like rice, beans, and toilet paper. It has become, for many, the greatest concern of our day. Partially in response to the Coronavirus' spread the US Stock market have taken historic losses, adding financial concerns to health concerns. Colleges across the nation have suspended physical classes and required students in residence to return home and finish the classes online. Parts of our nation have had governments requesting people to stay in home, limiting any gatherings - including for Sunday Worship.
It would be easy to look at all that is going on and become fixated on what feels like a world that is rapidly spinning out of control. It shouldn't cause us to doubt God's sovereignty or His power. Instead, we should turn to His word as we are reminded that our hope is not in any system that is made by man, but in the name of the Lord our God. As a friend once said in a sermon some trust in (fill in the blank), but we trust in the name of the Lord our God!
May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!
May He send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion!
May He remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices!
May He grant you your heart's desire and fulfill all your plans!
May we shout for joy over your salvation,
and in the name of our God set up our banners!
May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!
Now I know that the Lord saves His annointed;
He will answer him from His holy heaven
with the saving might of His mighty right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.
O Lord, save the king! May he answer us when we call.
From time to time, I will share an article that I have read during the week that I think would be beneficial for you to read. This week, I’m sharing an article from author Tim Challies that he originally posted a couple years ago about how we as followers of Christ need to understand how we fit into the History of the Church… there are 2,000 years of Christ followers that have come before us!
Particularly in the “Worship Culture” of today, it is easy to get caught up in the allure of the “new” without seeing the vast legacy we are stepping into. Enjoy this blog from a prominent author today, and maybe spend some time on his website and see how you can be blessed by what he writes each week.
For His Glory,