The Voyager: Encouragement for Life's Journey
Below you will find articles from our Church's leadership meant to encourage you and give you insight into questions about life, faith, and God.
COVID-19 has ripped from our grasp our past concepts of “normal.” Phrases like “shelter-in-place” and “social distancing” have been infused into our regular conversations. It is a time of apprehensive uncertainty.
It is also a time of great opportunity. It is a very personal, individualized opportunity that contains within it a vast potential for great benefit or immense disaster. To seize this opportunity for the greatest benefit, we must adopt a mindset like that which David expressed to God in the middle of the wilderness . . .
”O God, You are my God; I earnestly search for You. My soul thirsts for You; my whole body longs for You in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen You in Your sanctuary and gazed upon Your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise You! I will praise You as long as I live, lifting up my hands to You in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise You with songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of You, meditating on You through the night. Because You are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of Your wings. I cling to You; Your strong right hand holds me securely” (Psalms 63:1-8 NLT).
In the middle of great difficulty and uncertainty, David saw the potential of the opportunity before him and chose to seek God. He chose to allow the adverse conditions of the situation to propel him to pursue God in the context of personal relationship with Him. The scarcity of resources caused David to seek God as his Resource!
What about you? What will you do with this time? As we are “sheltering” at home, are we spending time growing closer to God, hungering to know more the practical reality of the fact that the greatest shelter we have in life is God Himself? David understood this reality, proclaiming it vividly in Psalms 61:1-4 . . .
“O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cry to You for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for You are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in Your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of Your wings!” (Psalms 61:1-4 NLT).
This mindset will translate into time that is intentionally set aside to spend with God, purposefully allocated to giving God one’s full attention. It is in this that the great potential of this time is realized. God’s desire for each of us is that this time is a context through which we grow to know Him more through intentional pursuit. He is using the fear and scarcity of this situation to urge us to seek Him. How will you respond?
I want to share with you another moment of isolation in David’s life. As he was isolated in the wilderness, he also had a time of isolation in his own home. It was a moment of great potential. This time, David misused the moment and experienced devastating results that impacted his entire family. The disastrous potential of the moment became reality. Let’s look at the following passage:
“In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem. Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, ‘She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’ Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her . . .” (2 Samuel 11:1-4 NLT).
Once again, David was in a time of great stress. A war was raging. By his own choice, he was at home. Perhaps Bathsheba was a means of distraction from the mental burden of the war, a way of momentarily relieving some stress. It was a decision in the moment that led to consequences that impacted David’s family forever. Bathsheba became pregnant. David tried to cover his sin through the murder of Bathsheba’s husband, using the war itself to facilitate the homicide. The baby that Bathsheba carried did not survive. See the consequences expressed to David by God through the prophet Nathan . . .
“From this time on, your family will live by the sword because you have despised me by taking Uriah's wife to be your own. This is what the LORD says: ‘Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes, and he will go to bed with them in public view. You did it secretly, but I will make this happen to you openly in the sight of all Israel.’ Then David confessed to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ Nathan replied, ‘Yes, but the LORD has forgiven you, and you won't die for this sin. Nevertheless, because you have shown utter contempt for the LORD by doing this, your child will die’” (2 Samuel 12:10-14 NLT).
David was forgiven, yet the consequences were immense. In his moment of isolation, he made a devastating decision. In our moment of isolation, the enemy wants us to do the same. The stress of this pandemic can easily push us to apply coping mechanisms. Some of those mechanisms are destructive due to their inherent, biblically-defined sinful contexts. These are things that open the door to life-controlling dependencies that are fundamentally contrary to one’s dependency on God. Other coping mechanisms may be hobbies and interests that are not wrong in themselves. The inherent danger here is found when one tries to rely on these things in the place of spending time with God. To rely upon hobbies and other means of diverting entertainment to the neglect of one’s relationship with God is to place oneself on a destructive path. This is a time in which God is teaching us to intentionally pursue Him, using the present situation to teach us principles by which the rest of our lives must be lived. God does not want us to learn to just cope. He wants us to live. That life is only found through one’s personal relationship with God.
How about you? What will you do with this opportunity? The choice is yours.
Article by Pastor Jeff Pfingston
We all have children at home, some because we home educate, others because the school is shut down for Covid-19. All of us need something to keep our children busy during the long days of spring. April 12 is Easter Sunday, and while I can't promise the church will be able to meet on site together at that time, as uncertain as these times are, I can give you a dozen suggestions for celebrating Easter at home with your family. One a day for April, if you desire.
1. Make a bunch of Easter treats and share them with our firemen, doctors and nurses, or pharmacy teams. Look up how to make crispy rice bunnies or birds nests. Country Living has 50 Easy Easter Treats to choose from.
2. Decorate with plastic eggs in the yard, making a wreath for your door or hanging garland around the porch. Hang eggs on a tree or bush to liven up the outside. Plastic eggs are waterproof and easy to close over a string making colorful, fun decorations.
3. Take Easter pictures from the internet or a coloring book and place tracing paper over top to make your own dot to dot pictures. Then trade and see who can make the best reproduction from connecting the dots. You can have a coloring contest as well and then decorate the refrigerator with the entries.
4. Use Kool-Aid or shaving cream to color Easter Eggs. Better Homes and Gardens has 43 creative ways to color eggs. Try a few new ones and the old standbys as well.
5. Celebrate Spring and new life by sprouting beans. You can use dried beans that are in your pantry and place them in a wet paper towel in a ziploc bag and see them sprout in just a few days. Transfer to a cup of dirt and grow your own plants in the kitchen window.
6. Speaking of windows, why not transform a window or glass doors into a stained glass masterpiece with finger paint and painters tape? See Pinterest for more ideas along this line.
7. Make home made cards with colored paper and send them to loved ones who are unable to get out of the house. Bunny stamps can be made from toilet paper rolls glued together. Check out CraftyMorning.com for the samples.
8. Make an Easter Basket full of things around the house for loved ones and leave it on the porch. Then call and watch them open it from the car.
9. Watch a family Easter movie on YouTube, like the Story Keepers Easter. These were always a favorite of my children as they tell the tale of Easter in a cartoon way but with Bible truths.
10. Bake some Resurrection Rolls for Easter morning. These are marshmallows wrapped in crescent rolls with cinnamon and sugar spices. When you bake them, the marshmallow melts, and you open an empty tomb.
11. Watch Easter Contatas or plays on YouTube. There are many church productions from past years that can be very entertaining and moving. The Day He Wore My Crown is an excellent musical piece,
12. Have an Easter Egg hunt in the yard. Do a theme like each child has an assigned color of egg that they can only pick up, or a limit to the number so that everyone gets eggs. Or if your family is very competitive, see who can find all the eggs in the shortest amount of time. Hide and rehide for all day fun!
These are just some suggestions. Use websites like those mentioned above to find more fun ideas. Always remember to teach the true Easter story as children can get confused with lots of different themes. Read the story from the Bible to older children. Tell the story in a child friendly way to younger ones. It is not necessary to give graffic detail to young children, but focus on the fact that Jesus beat death and rose again to save us from our sins. Explain to chlldren that all the festivities like eggs and bunnies and chicks are to celebrate springtime and new life, like we have in Jesus. Have fun!
Article by Lowanda Mullican, Children’s Ministries Director
Everyone has a worldview. In other words, we all have lenses through which we see the world. As Christians those lenses should be the Bible because the Bible communicates the authoritative standards of God’s truth to us. As I have watched the world and the church respond to this crisis, I see how far we have gotten from a biblical worldview. I see some of my brothers and sisters in Christ responding like the world with fear and conspiracy theories. On the other side of the spectrum, I also see believers responding with a presumptuous faith that lacks wisdom and is irresponsible with the lives of others. Below are three biblical truths we should consider as those who claim to love God and follow his Word. While this is not an exhaustive list, it will help us adjust our lenses as we begin to seek answers about how God would have us respond to this crisis.
1. God's Sovereignty does not dismiss our responsibility.
When we say that God is sovereign we mean that God is in charge of everything. He is after all the creator of everything so he should be in charge. However, God, in his sovereignty, created human beings to have a free will. It was God’s will that we would be able to choose to obey him or not. It was also God’s will to delegate responsibility to human beings as caretakers of his creation. God created Adam and Eve not to be robots that carry out his every dictate, but to be in relationship with him and to have a part to play in his sovereign will being done on earth.
When we choose not to obey God and not to be good caretakers then bad things happen. I have often heard people ask why God allows bad things to happen. That is a faulty question. God is not to blame for the bad things that happen in the world. Evil, suffering and sickness is a result of humanity choosing not to obey God and in so doing we side with the one who first rebelled against God, the devil. Sometimes we pay the consequences of our own choices. Other times the suffering we endure is because of a world system that has come under the influence of evil as a result of humanity’s disobedience. Either way, God is not to blame.
The good news is that God will use whatever we go through for our good if we trust him. He is always available to us through prayer. He hasn’t just left us to our own devices but he wants to help us in our weakness, often times in miraculous ways. It is our responsibility in a crisis such as this to turn to God, seek his will, obey his will, and ask for his supernatural help. He has promised that if we call to him he will answer us and show us “great and unsearchable things we do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).
2. Faith is not irresponsible.
Many times faith seems risky. Unreasonable even. But faith is never irresponsible or apathetic towards those impacted by our leaps of faith.
When your choices impact the lives of others then the governing parameter must be love. In fact, whenever our faith is not motivated by love we have to question who our faith is in because the Bible tells us that, “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and that “what is important is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6, NLT).
This is especially important for Christian leaders whether of churches or businesses. You may have full assurance that your faith protects you from Covid-19 but do you have enough faith for your entire congregation or employees? Are you willing to make amends if your faith ends up not covering them and they contract the virus? Everyone is at different levels of faith. Jesus did not give up on the disciples when they were still growing in their faith but rescued them when their faith fell short (Matthew 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; 17:20). As Christian leaders we should encourage believers to have faith in God and at the same time make allowances if necessary to protect them should they waver in their faith.
3. Faith in God displaces fear.
Notice that I didn’t say faith that everything is going to work out or faith that we will overcome. Our faith must be in who God is – his faithfulness and power. The greatest example of faith in Scripture is Abraham and we are told in Romans 4:21 that against all the evidence to the contrary, he believed God would do what he promised. He knew the nature of God. That he was good and faithful and loving and able. In the same way our faith must be founded in who God is.
During a time in my life where I was struggling with fear and wavering in my faith, the Lord spoke to me and asked me what exactly my faith was based on? I realized at that time my faith was in God doing what I wanted him to do. I wanted him to come through for me in a specific way instead of trusting that no matter what my circumstances looked like he would work it all out for my good because he loves me. As I learned to trust God and not my circumstances the feelings of fear and instability decreased and my peace increased.
I learned that the way to increase faith is to feed my heart and mind with who God is. To meditate on his faithfulness and worship him for his goodness. This isn’t a denial of the circumstances, just a realization that God is bigger than any problem and loves me so much he will never abandon me to my circumstances. I don’t deny the reality of Covid-19. But I deny the power of fear and chaos in my life because my God is greater than any virus.
If you are battling fear during this pandemic, please let us agree in prayer with you. Contact us for prayer using this link.
article by Pastor Shawna Carpenter