A Plan for Us All Along

Hi everyone!
For months now, nothing has been the same for us. My children spent all spring at home. Jen and I have been working from home offices almost exclusively. And our church has been meeting primarily virtually.
Then, showing even more how weird things have gotten, Walmart is requiring us to wear masks, is no longer 24 hours, and has done the unthinkable by pre-emptively cancelling Black Friday!
I can’t believe how much has changed in our society over the past few months. Who could have expected it?
I know all of us have been experiencing the weirdness and upheaval of these days in different ways, so I want to take the time to give you some encouragement.
God has chosen you, and me, and our church to be here in this community for this moment. He knew this was going to happen. He knew exactly how bad this was going to be. He knew it back in 2006 when he moved my family to Lafayette. He knew it back in 2015 when we bought our building on Concord Road. He knew it back at the beginning of this year when we decided to go to one worship gathering to “shake things up” to do something different and to refocus on our unity.
It just fascinates me how we started this year with a focus on getting all of us together in one place and how God has brought us into a moment where we aren’t physically together at all. I believe he has had a plan for us this whole time.

The question now for us is how we will live into that plan.
Above all else, one thought has been a burden on my heart for months now.
If Christians are feeling out of control, frustrated, or confused by these days, how much more is that confusion, frustration, and helplessness felt by people who don’t know God?
Have you thought about that?
The astonishing truth of this moment is that as Christians, WE are the ones with a firm foundation. For us, it doesn’t matter who wins the election because we follow the King of Kings. For us, it doesn’t matter if we catch a virus, or face hardship, because we, like generations of Christians before us, have the assurance of a guaranteed inheritance set aside for us in heaven. For us, it doesn’t matter if our daily lives are filled with inconvenience because we have a higher purpose anyway.
As hard as it has been for us, as Christians, we are the most well-equipped of all people to handle the craziness of the time.
And therefore, as Christians, it is our calling to be the rock and the stability for all those around us not by denying the problems of the world, but by proclaiming a better solution, and by using our position of safety and security to be strong for those who are weak, to stand up for those who are unable, to defend the cause of those who have less safety and less security.
This is our time to be light in the dark.
This is our time to be salt for the world.
This is our time to be a blessing to those who feel anything but blessed right now.
And if God is for us, who can be against us!?
And if the power that raised Jesus from the dead is alive in us we can have life that is truly life!
And if God has put us here for such a time as this, what have we to fear?
 
And so, I’m calling us to action, and I’ll be calling us all to action continually for the next few months.

  • I’m asking you to pray and to focus on your own personal spiritual health. Your relationship to God will empower your confidence and your strength in being able to serve and bless others.
  • I’m asking you to learn the plight of others. Don’t focus on the issues and problems that impact you (remember that you are firmly secure in God’s hands), but feed yourself with knowledge of how people unlike you are experiencing difficulty in this world.
  • I’m asking you to walk through your neighborhood with a prayerful heart and mind. See the condition of the cars, houses and lawns in your neighborhood. With everyone staying home more these days, a poorly maintained home is not a sign of neglect as much as it is a sign of despair or inability. Pray for what you see. Pray for God’s blessing and intervention, and pray for an opportunity for you to be a blessing to that family.
  • I’m asking you to join in a month-long service project in your neighborhood. This September, we are going to love our neighbors. We are going to do small things like pick up trash and drop off gifts. We are going to do bigger things like rake leaves and clean gutters. And maybe we will even take the risks of inviting an unbelieving neighbor over for a backyard BBQ.
  • And I’m asking you to maintain your financial support of our church. We are saving a lot of money these days on lower utility bills at our building, but we still have the mortgages to pay and the staff compensation to cover. Specifically, last Spring, we took the financial risk to hire Reggie Alderman on a part-time basis to be a pastor of counseling for our church. We made that decision knowing we might have to dip into our church missions and benevolent money to pay him, and to date, we have not needed to do that or to reduce any of our staff compensation. However, our monthly giving has been significantly down from the Spring, and we have some pretty big concerns as we look forward to the rest of the year.
  • On that note: I feel that now, more than ever, we all need the confidence that we are being transparent with each other. Toward that end, I’ve made a live, automatically updating, financial report available to you at the following link: https://lafayettecc.org/financials/. Clicking on that link will take you to a page with charts of our giving and expenses for the whole year, so you can see exactly what money has come in and where it all goes.

Honestly, the financials are really causing me concern. I’m in that place where I am tempted to worry about myself, my “success,” and the “success” of our church. I’m also worried a lot about all of you. It’s been so long since I’ve seen your faces to ask you how you are doing. I’m worried about your health, your finances, and your spiritual condition, so I’m just hoping and praying that God is holding you close and that you are experiencing his strength and comfort right now.
The bottom line is that I’m tempted to do a lot of worrying right now about myself and the things and people I care about. However, even though this feels like a time to worry about ourselves, the truth is that this is the perfect time to concern ourselves with others. This is our time to shine, to be the church God has created us to be, and to let the world know that there is joy and peace and hope in the arms of Our Heavenly Father who has chosen us for his good purposes in this world and in the age to come!
How do we do that during a pandemic? I don’t really know. But would you join me in prayer? Let’s seek God for insight and wisdom from him regarding how we can be more effective in the coming months than ever before!
 
I’m still very glad to be on this journey with you!
Grace and Peace!