Sent April 3, 2020
Hello, West Side. As a public service, I’ll start by reminding you today is Friday. (Since we are out of our usual rhythms, knowing the day of the week has become a luxury!)
Although God is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1), humor is a helpful coping mechanism. The funniest tweet I’ve seen recently was from someone who rewrote the little poem that helped many of us memorize how many days there are in each month:
Thirty days has September
April, June and November
All the rest have thirty-one
Except for March of 2020, which had 8000
Friend, keep the faith – but keep your sense of humor, too.
Yesterday I read a just-released study by a scholar from the University of Copenhagen. While the author isn’t a proponent of faith, the data presented shows that Google searches for “prayer” skyrocketed during the month of March. The graph representing this trend looks almost opposite of the recent stock market graphs we’ve all seen. As market confidence and value have dropped, spiritual hunger has peaked.
I don’t like it when believers callously overstate the “spiritual silver lining” when discussing the very real difficulties people are facing. But even though it can be expressed clumsily and unwisely, the spiritual bottom line is the bottom line. Loss and uncertainty are real. People need comfort and help and compassion when hurting. That’s why I’m ready to see things turn in a better direction as soon as possible – I’m praying for it and ask you to join me in praying for relief.
But I do trust the sovereignty of God and I celebrate the reality that when life is difficult, many look to God. That’s one reason why we’ve seen large numbers of online worshippers with us recently. That’s also the history of Israel in the Old Testament in a nutshell. During good times, Israel tended to ignore and dishonor God. But when things got tough, they rediscovered their need for God. Let’s pray the current season will end soon – but let’s pray the Holy Spirit will use this difficult time well. The word “revival” is overused in some Christian circles, but it simply means people are finding their way back to God. Lord, please rescue our health and economies. But please bring revival.
Sunday Worship Online
Our musicians have prepared another excellent worship set for Sunday’s online gatherings – and I will lead us in a look at one of God’s most reassuring names, a name that couldn’t be more relevant in our current circumstances. Please be intentional about setting aside time to worship online. Minimize distractions and ask everyone in your home to put down their phones to worship together. And don’t underestimate how much your social media posts can point others toward Jehovah-Jireh, the God who will provide, during a time when we all need what only God can provide (yes, that’s a sermon theme hint).
By the way, while many on our team are making me proud during this time, I want to give a huge shout-out to our KIDS and STUDENT ministry teams. Make sure the kids/students in your world tap into what they are doing. Family worship resources can be accessed at https://www.wschurch.org/familyworship. Students can visit: https://www.wschurch.org/studentworship.
Be the Hope
Although my wife and I have everything we need and more, some friends dropped-off some goodies at our house a couple days ago. It really lifted our spirits. Let’s all look for people to love and encourage, while staying as safe as possible. Pray for our first responders and health care workers – they are doing heroic work. Remain aware of the things West Side is doing weekly to bless others.
Easter Is Coming
Easter Sunday is just over a week away – and I am asking you to saturate your circles of people (which include some of those spiritually hungry people who are asking Google how to pray) with digital and verbal invitations to join us at West Side for worship. Yes, we’ll be online-only for Easter (and for at least the remainder of April). But we are adding a Saturday at 4pm service to our usual Sunday schedule for Easter weekend. Remember the web address? TryChurchOnline.com.
I love you all,