April 28, 2020

 

Craig's Comments

  
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! Habakkuk 3:17-18
 
Many people in our church families are journeying through a season of hardship, wilderness, or even a dark night of the soul. Whenever we face such, it is easy to feel forsaken. Our emotions often seek to censure that which we know to be truth. This makes our wilderness experience even more exaggerated when we find our hope under attack.
 
Has this difficult time taken God by surprise? Does God ever say, “Oops?”
 
I think we all know the answer to such, but in the midst of the slough of despond (cf. Pilgrim’s Progress) our minds are prone to wander into conclusions that simply are not true.
 
What is the answer when we find ourselves struggling with such realities in our human existence? First and foremost the answer is faith. Are we living in step with Christ as we once did so that God might feed us like Elijah being fed by the ravens at the brook Kerith? (1 Kings 17) Then we need to consider self care which is multi-faceted. Factors such as our diet, exercise, and social/family interaction all contribute to our well being also. We underestimate these many times because deep down we believe that we are indestructible. In reality they play a significant role in how we navigate seasons of hardship.
 
Taking all of these into account there is only one other factor that we must keep in mind…blessing others. A supreme focus upon ourselves often causes us to be depressed during challenging times. Take intentional time to help others as much as possible during this time of stay at home orders and social distancing. While that may seem daunting, there are ways that we can still legally help others and that often contribute to our well-being.
 
During these uncertain times many plans are tentative, but we are resolving to work closely with our churches to help as many people as possible. Here are a few reminders:
 
Food distribution: In cooperation with the Bread of Life Food Pantry we are seeking to receive donations of food as well as monetary support to equip our churches with food boxes that may be used in the community. A donation day was held on April 23rd and we had a wonderful response. Distribution is scheduled for May 7 and our goal is mostly to send boxes out to churches for them to distribute as needed. Special arrangements may be made for donations and distribution if our current dates are not tenable. Additional dates will be planned once we are able to assess the need on an ongoing basis. Updates will be sent via constant contact and on social media.
 
Mask the City: We also plan to partner with a service to provide masks for those who may not have access to them due to financial constraints or other reasons. This will be in partnership with Love Out Loud and the City of Winston. A limited supply will be available at the associational offices for churches to consider. They are also available on a larger scale for purchase or free of charge by clicking: https://forms.gle/wkojuDvYFtWsU6xQ9
 
Missions Blast: At this time, we would like to remain optimistic that schools will reopen in the Fall creating many needs that our churches can assist with. We are encouraging our churches to reach out to their local elementary schools and make known their interest in serving as needs arise. A guide has been released with some general principles for churches to keep in mind as they seek to do so for the month of August.