What a week! Fear of disease, social distancing, earthquake, aftershocks, — Oh My!
But this is not a time to pull back, this is a time to connect. Several times this week I’ve gotten calls from friends. People who just were checking in and wanted to visit. It was amazing how great it felt to get to talk and visit with these friends. I felt loved. I remembered that we have other friends out there. We are not alone.
Just because we can’t (and shouldn’t) physically get together, should not stop us from being together on the phone, on Skype, on FaceTime, you name it! Let us BE THE ONES WHO CALL! I really encourage each of you to pick up your phone and call someone—call that person who pops into your mind (maybe that is the Holy Spirit nudging you!). Merely saying “Hi—I just wanted to see how you are doing” is probably enough to launch a good conversation. Listen for needs. Maybe it is picking up food or supplies at the store. Maybe it is a regular call just to visit or pray together. Maybe it is getting a group together for a conversation. You can do that online easily—both FaceTime and Skype can easily have small groups on a call, as well as Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, etc. Another option for more organized meetings is zoom.com . They let you have video or audio conferences for free. You can get a free account and then set up meetings that people call into or log into on their computer/phone/tablet. Really easy—I promise!
So don’t sit at home, pick up the phone! If each of us made 2 or 3 calls a day, think about many people we could connect with! Think about how many people would feel God’s love through you. Don’t wait, start dialing!
This is also a great time to deepen our connection with God. We have worship on line, our Tuesday Evening Prayer and Praise on Facebook live, and many of our groups, studies and classes are moving to meet using zoom (look at our website, www.fpcslc.org for more information!). But each of us needs to spend time with God directly. As our days for many of us are more unscheduled, it is important to impose a schedule on ourselves. What a great time to start or renew a discipline of reading scripture and praying! I am attaching a 14 day devotional retreat that you may find useful (you can also find it on our homepage ).
One great way to read and pray is with the reading plan from the Bible Project. Just click here and scroll down to “Read the Bible in One Year” Or download their “Read Scripture” app for your phone.
I can’t encourage you enough to use this time of disruption to CONNECT. Connect with your friends, your neighbors, your loved ones—just call! And connect with God in new ways.
I am praying for each of you and your health and safety in these crazy times! God is still in control, and you can trust him!
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
As Christians, we move in faith, not fear. We trust in and serve a God who is able to work all things, even bad things, for our good. But how do we live that out? How do we act prudently in a time when so many rush to panic or to willful ignorance? Neither extreme is right for us.
Here are some thoughts for us during these challenging times:
1. Trust God.
In the midst of uncertainty, we trust God. He is sovereign over human history and over our lives. He is the Lord, “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). And he is loving and merciful. Psalm 100:5 assures us, “For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”
We witness to our Christian faith when we resist panic, knowing that our times are in the Lord’s hand (Psalm 31:15). No one can snatch us out of the Father’s hand (John 10:28-29). And so, “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Pray for those affected, and for their loved ones and caregivers. Pray for those making decisions impacting us. Pray for wisdom. Pray for peace. Here are some psalms that may be helpful to pray—read them and make them into your own prayers. That is what the psalms are for!
Psalm 27 is one of my personal favorites.
The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
Just meditate on that—even ask God for help in believing it!
If you would like prayer or otherwise need help, please don’t hesitate to call, text or email the church or Pastor Chris or me.
2. Be informed.
There is much on the internet this is unhelpful or misleading. Focus on information from trusted, informed sources. The CDC website provides a wealth of information. Here is their latest update. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html This page has information for people at higher risk (older adults and those with serious chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes or lung disease. https://www.cdc.gov/…/specific…/high-risk-complications.html
You may wish to subscribe to the CDC’s COVID-19 newsletter to get regular updates. Go to their newsletter subscription page and choose the newsletter entitled, “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).”
Our Utah Health Department also has good information. https://coronavirus.utah.gov/latest-information
This Sunday Dr Vic MacIntosh will share about how to protect ourselves and respond to this challenging situation. We will be sharing that talk on line.
3. Be prudent.
Wash your hands! Wash them frequently and thoroughly, for a minimum of 20 seconds using soap and warm water. Praying the Lord’s Prayer takes about 20 seconds, so try that! There is no substitute for good handwashing.
For cleaning surfaces, such as doorknobs, countertops, etc., the CDC recommends using bleach (1 part bleach to 100 parts water). We use an even stronger bleach solution in cleaning at the church.
If you have symptoms of a cough, disease, or a fever within the last 24 hours, please stay at home.
If you are returning from known areas of higher prevalence of COVID-19, we encourage you NOT to attend church for two weeks. The list of affected areas and the period of self-quarantine will likely change in the weeks ahead.
4. Act in love.
Reach out to your neighbors, particularly the elderly and those who are vulnerable or alone. If you have a neighbor who can’t go out right now, maybe you can help drop off groceries to them. If you can’t go out right now, you have your church family to help—call a deacon or a pastor or a friend and we will get you help. Christians have always been the ones who rush in to help when others run away. We do not have to be swept up in panic because we have the Rock. Prayerfully consider ways you can be reach out to your neighbors and check in on your co-workers. We are all carrying apprehension and uncertainty, this is a great opportunity to connect with them. This is an opportunity for us to care for our neighbors.
As we worship together online only for the next few weeks, we will be taking special steps to reach out to one another and make sure that everyone is connected to the Body. If you would like to make calls, please let the church office know.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, our strong tower of defense in time of trouble: We offer you praise and heartfelt thanks for our deliverance from the dangers which lately surrounded us and for your gracious gift of peace. We confess that your goodness alone has preserved us; and we ask you still to continue your mercies toward us, that we may always know and acknowledge you as our Savior and mighty Deliverer; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
What are you feeling this week? Fear? Hope? Trust? Excitement? Worry? I am grateful that in these unsettled times we (and the whole world) truly are in God’s hands and can trust him.
When the sun is shining and the crocus are blooming it is hard to not start to smile and feel grateful. That is a very healthy thing to do. Time magazine reports that practicing gratitude can: make you more patient, improve your relationships, help you take better care of yourself, help you sleep (count your blessings, not your sheep!), protect you from overeating, ease depression, and give you lasting happiness.
So how can we practice gratitude? Here are two ideas:
“Three Good Things”—each day identify three good moments or things that happened that day. They can be little things, but try to do that every day for a few weeks—see what happens!
“Pray” – since God is the source of our blessings, say thank you! Here is a prayer of Thanksgiving that may help you think about some other things you have to be thankful for. Practice using this prayer as a launch pad for thanking God for his many blessings to you:
Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us.
We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.
We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.
We thank you for setting us at tasks that demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments that satisfy and delight us.
We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.
Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he conquered death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.
Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know Christ and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.
Amen! Can I get an amen?
This Sunday we will continue with our We Believe series. Pastor Chris will lead us as we look at God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. I hope you can join us!
Blessings and peace to you this week in the name of Jesus!