Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I pray this letter finds you strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim 2:1) and that you are growing day by day in the joy of having an eternal inheritance, in the gospel alone, that cannot be taken, will never disappoint, and does not diminish or fade in any way (1 Pet 1:4)! I praise the Lord for the many wonderful lessons about the goodness and greatness of our God that we can and must learn through this time of uncertainty. I have personally thanked the Lord for how much the coronavirus continues to humble me in reminding me of how small, frail, and utterly dependent I am on the common grace and ultimate providence of God (Ps 90:1-17). Job was right that man is born to trouble just as surely as sparks fly upward (Job 5:7) and that his days really are few and full of trouble (Job 14:1). As Isaiah said, all men are like grass as this earthly life ultimately withers and fades rapidly (Isa 40:6 cf. 1 Pet 1:24), or as Job explained, “faster than a weaver’s shuttle” (Job 7:6). I pray that the brevity and fragility of earthly life humbles you this day and every day as we are reminded that every minute of every day is gift of God’s undeserved grace and that we should use it all for His praise as we live to fulfill His purpose with every ounce of our being (Js 1:18 cf. Rom 11:33-36; 1 Cor 10:31)! May the praise of the Psalmist for his affliction be ours every day, “Before I was afflicted I went astray but now I keep your word” (Ps 119:67).
The Believer’s Response to the Governor’s Mandate
Church, I wanted to encourage you regarding the governor’s state wide stay-at-home mandate and what our response as believers should be. God’s Word is crystal clear that all government is sovereignly given by God for the punishment of evil doers and the protection of the good for the glory of God (Rom 13:1-7 & 1 Pet 2:13-17). The Bible is very clear that those who resist the government are ultimately resisting God, and as you already know, that is never good because as the Scriptures say, those people will receive divine judgment (Rom 13:2). Please do not fight against the clear teaching from God with man centered ideas or thoughts, because the Lord is very clear that we are to be subject to “every human institution…” and for the Christians in Peter’s day, that even included emperor Nero (1 Pet 2:13-17). There is a lot of foolishness and ignorance (1 Pet 2:15) being spread in these times by many who call themselves Christians as they rebel against the government’s clear and good mandates.
Let’s strive at Belcroft to be faithful in setting Christ exalting examples of those who faithfully submit to their Lord as we eagerly and joyfully submit to our local and federal governing authorities, understanding they are all given by God for our protection. Never forget that we are commanded to pray for all of our governing authorities as we live peaceable and quiet lives marked by dignity and godliness which is pleasing in the sight of our God (1 Tim 2:1-3). Disobeying government, unless they demand you disobey God (Acts 5:29), is never a mark of true disciples of Christ! Therefore, as we move forward as a Church under the governor’s mandate, we should, as individual families, strive in every way to follow his direction and restrict our movements as described. This means we will need to be diligent in keeping ourselves inside more, only leaving our homes for those reasons clearly lined out in the governor’s mandate. While this has not been easy, let’s remember that we desire to serve one another in this and protect the precious life of all those around us as we could be spreading this virus and not even know it. There are many in our Church and in our families who are high risk and we want to do all that we can to protect them.
What does this mandate mean for our current “virtual” ministry of recording and live streaming sermons, personal messages, and teaching times? That is a good question! The leadership has been researching this to make sure that we do everything above reproach, and it has become clear that what I am doing through live streaming and recording sermons for our people to watch virtually is clearly allowed to continue under the governor’s mandate. Therefore, at this time, nothing will change in that area as I fully plan on continuing to teach and preach multiple times a week and thus flood your mind and heart with truth. In order to encourage you further in this, I have listed below a schedule for the upcoming sermon and/or teaching times so that you can take part in each of these shepherding and discipleship opportunities as you so desire.
- 4-1 = I will be teaching our Parenting for Life, lesson three, and recording another Pastor’s Heart afterwards to be released on 4-2
- 4-5 = I will be live streaming a sermon on worry and anxiety from Mt 6:25-34
- 4-5 = We will be doing our corporate monthly Concert of Prayer at 6:00 pm. We will be doing this through the “Zoom” platform with each elder specifically leading their individual family group through the prayer list. You will be getting more information about this from your elder, and I will see that the prayer list gets emailed to everyone on Friday. Again, more info on this is forthcoming, but start preparing yourself to participate in this church-wide time of prayer as it will be extremely encouraging for everyone!
- 4-8 = We will be releasing a lecture I recorded last week titled, A Theology of Suffering: Seeing Suffering through the Lens of Scripture. This will be the final installment in this 5-part mini sermon series I have been doing on fear/worry/suffering. This will take the place of the parenting class I normally teach on Wednesday and should serve as a very helpful final lesson on dealing with fear and suffering through having a sound theology of trials.
- 4-10 = This Good Friday I will be live streaming at 7:00 pm a special message on the centrality of the cross of Christ in our lives.
- 4-11 = I will be live streaming our men’s Bible study as we have been at 8:00 am. Ladies you are more than welcome to watch, and I highly recommend it! The current study topic is not gender specific in anyway but vital for every follower of Christ.
- 4-12 = This Easter I will be live streaming a special sermon on the necessity of the resurrection. This will begin as it has been at 10:30 am. Remember, every Sunday is in so many ways a celebration of the resurrection, so do not let the separated nature of this “Easter” discourage you too much. I know this is not easy, nor what any of us would have picked, but God knows best, and we will trust Him! By God’s grace, we will hopefully be back together before long. I know Ben is already working on the music for that first Sunday, and we will likely raise the roof on that day, praise the Lord!
- 4-15 = I will resume live streaming Parenting for Life at 7:00 pm as we have been.
- 4-19 = I will resume my sermon series in Mark, so I will be live streaming a sermon from Mark 6:7-13
While I have already planned out my preaching schedule for months in advance, I will not list out any further times beyond this point as we do not know what tomorrow will hold with this virus and our State’s response to it. As we gain greater clarity on what the days ahead look like, we will keep you posted on what we are planning. I am very excited to assemble and gather together publicly as the church and know you are eagerly anticipating that time as well. Until that blessed day, let’s not grow weary in well doing by remaining vigilant in striving for personal holiness as we individually kill sin and submit to the Scriptures daily and walk with and grow in the grace of Christ for the glory of God (2 Pet 3:18).
Please know I miss you and love you and cannot wait to be back with you worshipping and serving one another together!
For His Glory Alone,