Dear Church Family,
As we enter August and the unknown of this strange new reality that we are living in, I want to encourage us to live our lives free from the spirit of fear. Let me first say that I know that some people can get very upset when you talk about not living in fear. Right away they get offended or say that they are not fearful, they are just very concerned about things that are going on. But I believe the reality is that there are many people living in fear of a lot of things. Some live in fear of the unknown, others live in fear of Covid 19, others live in fear of government overreach, and still others live in the fear of not being in control. People are very concerned and often rightly so, but we must never allow fear to set in and be the controlling factor of our lives. Fear is real and we all experience it at some point and time in life.
But the good news for us is that God’s Word speaks to the reality of fear. There are many places in scripture where we can find insight as to how to approach fearful times, or feelings of fear that can paralyze us. But let me just point you to two simple verse for now.
First Isaiah 41:10 reminds us…Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10) These are not suggestions. These are commands for us to follow. We are to not fear or be dismayed!
But I must admit that I have recently participated in both. I have been afraid. For me it is the fear of the unknown, and fear of not making right decisions. I have been distressed over the events going on in our world. What does all this mean? What facts are to be believed? Which experts are right? I love what one pastor reminds us though about Isaiah 41:10…
“God is calling all of you to not be afraid. Fear not, because God is with you. Fear not, because God is your God. Fear not,
because God will strengthen you. Fear not, because God will help you. Fear not, because God will support you and hold you up by his victorious right hand.
“I am your God.” That is, I am above you. I am over you with my mighty hand. Over you. I am with you. Beside you. I will help you from whatever angle the enemy may come — or the attack or threat. I am all around you as your help. I will strengthen you from inside out. I will be your strength. And I will uphold you from underneath you. Do not be afraid.
And there is one great ground for fearlessness: God. You have a God who is infinitely more powerful! He is God! He is God! Do you believe him? Do not be afraid.”
Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God” (John 14:1). What else can we say? “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
As we go forward let’s apply both Isaiah 41:10 and John 14:1 and make up our minds that…
1. We Will Not Fear.
2. We Will Not be Dismayed.
3. We Will Not Let Our Hearts be Troubled.
4. We Will Believe in God.
5. We Will Remember that God is With Us.
6. We Will Remember that Ge Will Strengthen Us.
7. We Will Remember that God Will Help Us.
8. We Will Remember that we are secure in His Hand and He assures us victory!
I love you and I love being your pastor!!
Dear Church Family,
Is Covid Making It Too Easy to Drop Out of Church?
Usually, pastors can always tell when the church attendance will be down. It happens when the weather is bad...or really good, when there is a holiday, in the summer, or when something big in the community is going on. Do you sense a little bit of a trend? It doesn't take much for people to find a reason to miss church. This is especially true during this global pandemic. A recent Barna research study says that 32% of Christians have essentially dropped out of church during this time. They no longer attend church or watch their church online. This is a shocking revelation! One third of regular church attenders are not participating in church at all.
Participating in church is essential for believers. God created the church to bring glory to His name through worship, discipleship, and evangelism. Church is the place where we take time to prioritize the things of God. By not engaging during this time many Christians are putting their spiritual health in great danger. We need to re-engage in church!
I understand what is going on in our world. I know there is a pandemic going on; however, the church has made unprecedented strides in creating access to spiritual teaching, preaching, worship, and discipleship through online avenues. There is no excuse for not taking advantage of what our church is making available. I know there are many that are in high risk categories that cannot attend in person. If that is you, you should stay home for your health and safety, but that doesn’t mean you should disengage from church. Even now, our deacons are making home deliveries of sermon DVDs and CDs for those that don’t have internet access. We are doing all we can to engage with our church body and if there is something else we need to be doing please let us know!
If you are not in a high risk category and you can safely be out in public then you should come to church. We, like many churches, have figured out appropriate safety measures and have embraced the recommendations put forth by our government officials. We encourage masks when social distancing is not an option. We have gallons of hand sanitizer throughout the building. We are spraying down the chairs with disinfecting solution after each service. We encourage people not to shake hands or hug. These are just a few of the safety measures we have implemented.
All this to say that you don’t really have an excuse as to why you are not attending church, or at the very least participating online. Of course, like we have always said, we understand that you can’t attend when you have to work, have an illness, or when you go on vacation. Those are valid reasons, but on the whole, you should be at church most every Sunday.
You need church not only for your own spiritual health, but your child’s as well. LifeWay research found that each drop in regular attendance has a corresponding 1.25% drop in a child’s overall spiritual health as an adult. This may not seem like much but if a child experiences 4 or 5 drops in attendance it can add up. Church is important for the spiritual health of your children. That doesn’t mean they will be spiritually mature as they grow up, simply because they attend church, but it will help to give them a gospel foundation for life.
Also, making church a priority in your family tells your children that the things of God are important! Think about all the things you spend time and money doing. Are the things of God less important than those? Of course not! But for some reason church is the first thing to go when we get busy, tired, or just plain lazy.
This is assuredly a temporary crisis that we are facing, don’t let it permanently keep you out of church! Make sure to engage with your church. Come in person, if you can, and please serve! We need people to serve as volunteers like never before. There are so many people that want to serve but are in a high risk category. We need younger people to step up and serve in the nursery, drive the church van, help at the food pantry, etc. If you can’t come in person then please go online and keep up with all our content that we are putting out. You will surely be blessed.
● For more on this topic listen to episode 9 of the Families for Life Podcast at www.oakhillbc.org/f4l
● Find the Barna Research study here https://www.barna.com/research/new-sunday-morning-part2/
● The LifeWay Research study is found in Settle for Nothing Less by Jana Magruder on page 105