Dear friends, thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and generosity. The text messages, notes, cards, and occasional monetary gifts have blessed our souls. You have sustained us and reminded us of God’s presence during this time. For that, we are especially grateful. Some have asked what resources I might point them to during this time of pandemic. Two of my favorite preachers are Steven Smith from Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock and H.B. Charles of Shiloh Church in Jacksonville, FL. Mac Brunson of Valleydale Church in Birmingham features a great morning devotional, and there are many others to check out during this time of sheltering in place. Of course, you’re welcome to peruse this website to listen to my sermons as well. Simply search for a text or keyword under the Preaching and Writing tab.
Just a word of update on our family: The kids are growing! We can’t keep them in shoes. We can’t keep them in clothes. Milk and Cereal don’t stand a chance! Augustus has recently begun helping me mow the yard and is a great helper. Lucius has been really good at bible verse memorization. Maximus has excelled in his math, and Alessia is a constant reader. They’ve been exceptional at handling this season of transition.
As always, Heather is doing a wonderful job turning our house into a home. We’ve recently rearranged the living room and tinkered with our setup to keep things new and fresh. I’m very blessed to have her as a helpmate and consummate supporter. Life, in some respects, remains unchanged. Heather and the kids continue in their homeschooling. I continue to work on my PhD studies. In fact, I’ve just completed the research paper and reading required for my final semester of seminars. The only hurdles remaining are my Oral Comprehensive Examination this summer and a completed dissertation.
Allow me to offer a word of devotional for you during this time of pandemic. Consider the book of Ecclesiastes chapter one. It says:
The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem.
“Absolute futility,” says the Teacher.
“Absolute futility. Everything is futile.”
What does a person gain for all his efforts
that he labors at under the sun?
A generation goes and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets;
panting, it returns to the place
where it rises.
Gusting to the south,
turning to the north,
turning, turning, goes the wind,
and the wind returns in its cycles.
All the streams flow to the sea,
yet the sea is never full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
All things are wearisome,
more than anyone can say.
The eye is not satisfied by seeing
or the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing new under the sun.
As you reflect on this time in the world, it’s very tempting to think we are navigating uncharted waters; as if the Coronavirus is the first pandemic to ever distress humanity. But we are reminded by the author of Ecclesiastes there is truly nothing new under the sun. In fact, if you were to look a hundred years ago at this time, you would find pastors, teachers, and governing officials attempting to navigate the Spanish flu pandemic coming out of World War I. If you were to make your way to the United Kingdom in the mid-1850’s you would find the formidable Charles Spurgeon pastoring his congregation through the cholera outbreak.
There is truly nothing new under the sun.
The world has seen these times before. And so, the question is “How is the Christian to react during such a season?” Firstly, we are to reflect the hope of Jesus Christ. We reflect a reality that we are not long for this world, but that Jesus Christ is going to make all things new again. In fact, creation groans for him to do just that. Secondly, this pandemic reminds us of our own mortality. It is good and right for us to urge people to Christ as they consider their finite earthly existence. They will truly know us by our hopeful love during this season. We have a hope in Jesus, so live as people with hope!
Practically, there are some things that we should probably refrain from, and also, some things we should probably do. In that spirit, let me suggest a few to consider:
- Turn off the TV. It’s good to watch the news and to be informed. However, there is quite a difference between being informed and being stirred up. Get your thirty minutes of news a day. Understand what’s going on in the world. But don’t be afraid to turn that TV off. Sometimes watching the news on a 24-hour loop can lead us to a place of worry and anxiety.
- Treat this time as a Sabbatical. I would encourage you to do those things during this season you have been putting off. Do those projects around the house or take care of the yard work requiring your attention. Get out and take a walk in the refreshment of Spring or grab a book you’ve been meaning to read. Perhaps there is something that God is calling you to do now that your schedule has been cleared. Embrace this as God’s provision in your life. As Mark 2:27 reminds us, “the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.”
Let me also give you some specific prayer requests for us.
- Pray for our health. It was just two years ago that Heather was coming through a season of difficult health challenges. God has demonstrated his kindness in restoring her health in many ways, and she is miraculously in a much better place. But we continue to pray that the gains that have been made will continue to be maintained for the sake of the calling in her life. Continue to pray for her health specifically, but also for the health and wellness of our family. We know that God is providing for us supernaturally, but every time someone gets a boo-boo on the trampoline you hold your breath. Pray that God would continue to give us health even during this season transition and pandemic.
- Pray for my studies. Pray that God would help me during my preparation for my upcoming comprehensive exam. It is a two-hour oral examination that tests me on everything I’ve learned in the PhD program. I’ve recently put together a study guide which is over 700 pages. The exam is a daunting task that you are permitted only two attempts to pass. In these days as we await our next ministry calling, I’m committed to sinking my teeth into my studies, knowing that life will get busy when a church does call. Please pray that the Lord would grant retention and recollection in a supernatural way.
- Pray for our next ministry. Pray for us as we wait for the Lord to open that next door. We’ve had the privilege of being considered by a number of great churches. In fact, we’ve continued in faith by closing the door on opportunities which we didn’t believe the Lord was in. Our commitment is to go where the Lord directs our path. Many have our resume and some made preliminary inquiries. We have great confidence that our resume is in the hands of those God will direct in our journey. We will accept nothing less than His perfect call and will for our life.
- Pray for our finances. Reading the story of the feeding of the five-thousand reminds us that the Lord can multiply the provision of our fishes and loves. Let me assure you that He has done that over and again during this season of transition. His provision has included the prayers and gifts of His people, and has exceeded anything we could have imagined. We have not lacked for anything which is a testimony to God’s goodness. Continue to pray for our daily bread.
Let me conclude with this thought from the end of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes 12:13 says, “When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands.” When all has been said and done with a Coronavirus, our responsibility in the matter is to fear God and keep his commands. Do the next right thing. Pray more and worry less. Be a better version of yourself today than you were yesterday. Enjoy the nearness of His presence in this season of uncertainty. Embrace the sabbath that God has given you!