Dear Members and Friends of West Lisbon Church,
Greetings to you in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the love of God the Father, and in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit!
I have really loved my devotional time in the prison epistles of Paul. One of the things that is always clear in his letters is his concern for the well-being of the churches while he was imprisoned. I pray you are safe and well in every way. I welcome drop-ins here at the church office, especially in the afternoon. If you need to talk or to get out of the house for a bit, feel free to drop-in and say hi. If you’d like a special visit from me, just ask. I don’t want to impose at such a time as this, but if you request a visit—I’ll mask-up and come say hello. Speaking of drop-ins, council members will be making the rounds this month to your houses to deliver a little book that I’d like us all to read together. It’s called Lessons from a Sheep Dog: A True Story of Transforming Love by Phillip Keller. Keller tells the story of his sheep dog “Lass” and of the spiritual principles he learned for his walk with God through his friendship with a “man’s best friend.”
In the last week, I have read a few, short articles that I believe express biblical thinking and approaches to the spiritual challenges of the coronavirus epidemic. First, Martin Luther in 1527 wrote an open letter entitled, “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague.” Luther knew that there are two great dangers in the time of a pandemic or plague. The first is that Christians might abandon the sick out of fear instead of being available out of love. The second is that some may tempt God by taking circumstances too lightheartedly or acting too independently, without a care for others. Rather, he encouraged everyone to do their part in “putting out the fire of the burning city.” For what else is a plague or pandemic, but a “fire” that must be treated with caution, an overcoming spirit, and the fellowship of a community?
All this to say, stay the course. Slow and steady. Love everyone in need. Do not neglect good and practical medical advice, as Luther advised people in his day. People—our elderly and our sick—are still at risk. The temptation to hastily return to “normal” and ease restrictions to the neglect of expert medical guidelines is real. Let’s industriously turn our circumstances into opportunities. We can always promote Christ’s agenda—no matter our circumstances. Just like Paul did while imprisoned. Our next sermon series will focus on 4 liberating truths for Christians from the imprisoned apostle. I hope you’ll continue to dial-up the live stream and stay connected.
For our own state and region, it appears that we are in a phase where we can enjoy and utilize gatherings of 10 or less people. We have already welcomed the worship team back into Sunday’s live stream worship service. At our Council Meeting on Monday, we’ll be evaluating how else or whether we may be able to utilize this in order to bring people together. One of my growing concerns in addition to bodily health is mental health. My hope is that we can create and utilize ten-person gatherings as a first step in restoring in-person fellowship.
Finally, thank you for sticking with it. Keep going. Have compassion for one another, especially when we get angry and frustrated. Our compassion now will enrich our fellowship later. Stay safe, but look for industrious and creative ways to do what we can. Remember our graduates in prayer this month. Our teachers, administrators, 8th graders, high school seniors, and students of all kinds have had quite the unexpected school year. Memorable for sure, but also, they’re missing out on many of the enjoyable celebrations and traditions, or at least experiencing them in ways that they never imagined. I want to extend my personal thanks for the impressive way I’ve seen local teachers, administrators, and parents handle all the adjustments. Our 8th grade graduates are Clay Friestad (LGS), Brooklyn Hatteberg (LGS), Kiara Wesseh (LGS), Lily Britz (Homeschool), and Gabi Maxwell (Milton Pope). Our high school seniors include Molly Breen (Yorkville Christian), Zach Szobar (Serena), Kenna Borton (NCHS), Meggie Scott (NCHS), and Lexi Long (NCHS). I wish all of our grads a hearty congratulations for their accomplishments and pray for perseverance and grace from God as they continue their studies or training in such a time as this.
Before ending my letter, please be aware that some have reported having received suspicious emails from an email address that looks like mine, but it is not. If you receive any strange emails that you aren’t sure are from me, please call me to verify.
God’s Richest Blessings to You in Christ,