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Many of you will remember teaching a child the simple hand motions to “Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors, and see all the people.”  That’s one illustration that definitely doesn’t ring true in this crazy time as we weather the virus called COVID-19.  It’s a time when we’re challenged as a church not only locally but really globally as everything we have come to expect from church is disrupted.  Everything we find comfortable, normal or even sacred just isn’t the same.  It’s times like this that should cause great reflection not only in regards to the moment we’re in but also when everything that is normal is stripped away…what’s left of who we are?  As a church, what’s left of who we are?  From there, we have to ask, is what we see after everything was stripped away what God desires of us as individuals and as the church or have we been exposed?

While we’re still in the midst of COVID-19 and none of us honestly know exactly when things will go back to “normal”, I think everyone realizes it’s events in history like this that alter life, that alter focus, that alter what we do.  This is a time when as the church, we can bemoan what we’ve lost or ask the Lord what we could be.  This is a time when as an individual, we can throw a pity party about our current quarantine situation, or we can ask the Lord how He might want to dramatically change us.  If we’re honest with ourselves, some of us have been exposed…not to the Coronavirus…but exposed to the reality that God needs to do some work on you during this time. 

I think the biggest thing to remember right now is that the church is still the church.  You remember how many times you’ve told a child or maybe others that the church isn’t the building, it’s the people.  That’s always been a true statement and it rings true more than ever right now.  By virtue of the Coronavirus, the church can’t be a building.  I fear that for some of us that we feel like we’ve lost our church right now.  While gathering digitally can’t replace…and shouldn’t replace…the physical gathering of the church…that’s not all that the church is.  We can’t tell people we’re “going to church” anymore.  We can’t invite someone and give them a ride to church anymore.  We can’t have big events where people will hear the gospel anymore.  We can’t physically serve people in our gatherings at the church anymore.  But if everything that the church is ends when the building is gone…were we really a church to begin with?  Were you really the church to begin with?  If you were called by God to do something…you weren’t called to how to do it, you were called to do it.  We have to continue to be the church, even in creative ways.

There are multiple facets to what God has called us to be as a church.  All of that hangs under the umbrella of the greatest commands to Love God and Love People.  For some of us this has been a time to refocus our relationship with the Lord.  Praise God for that time to learn to love God more than ever before.  At the same time, it’s created a massive challenge to how we typically love people.  We can’t even get near them right now.  So the question becomes, how are we going to love people?  We can’t just stop loving people.  To stop loving people would be to say God has made it impossible for us to do exactly what He told us to do.  That’s not consistent with who He is.  In our efforts to strengthen our own relationship with the Lord we need to plead with Him for direction on how to love people right now…not after restrictions and Coronavirus are gone.  Don’t take that as instruction to violate the government’s restrictions related to social distancing and gathering size.  We have to get creative, we have to improvise.  Maybe one of the best things God could do to His church is to break all the normal that we have, break all our ministries, break all our traditions and get us to rethink what it looks like to Love God and Love People.

The last thing we really need to put some thought into as the church is that the gospel can’t be quarantined.  The gospel needs to go out more than ever before.  It’s a time when people are in fear, when they’re losing their jobs, when they’re sick or potentially going to get sick, a time when they can’t go to the grocery and get what they need for their family, a time when sports are gone and when all the clutter of our calendars is gone.   The gospel must go out now!  I think one of the biggest questions for all of us as we reflect on our lives right now is who do I know that’s lost that I can I pick up the phone and call that I have enough of a relationship with to bare the weight of the gospel message?  For some of us, we quarantined the gospel in a church ministry or in our houses long before Coronavirus.  If we’re going to be the church, the gospel can’t be quarantined.  What a great opportunity to evaluate how intentional we are being in our “normal” lives to develop relationships with the lost in hopes of getting the gospel to them. 

I don’t believe God wastes moments.  I don’t believe for a second that this crazy time in our history was unexpected to God.  I’m confident that God didn’t just allow this to happen to inconvenience us.  Do I know specifically what God is trying to do through all of this…no!  At the same time, during this time when we’re all so concerned about being exposed to the Coronavirus let’s take time to reflect because for some of us we’ve been exposed as Christians who aren’t really acting like the church in certain areas of our life.

Posted by Jeremy Shirley with
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I saw a meme on Facebook that said, “And just like that, homeschooling is mandatory!”  I think that it was supposed to be funny, but for a lot of moms and dads this is a daunting task.  Especially if you are still working!  I laughed because after 17 years of homeschooling my kids, I started working and now I am homeschooling again!  So, on top of all the other things that need tending to at home, I go to work and also have to educate the kids.  How are we supposed to manage it all?  I am going to share some of my best practices, as well as some ideas from other moms who are trying to balance everything!  There are just a few things you can focus on and if you do nothing else, you will be successful to the Kingdom of God.  Quiet time, a good schedule with fun things built in and mercy are key to making it through these times with everyone’s heart intact!  “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13.

As you know, it has to start with the Lord!  I only survive because I start my day focusing on the One who holds it all.  He is our firm foundation, so start the day grounding yourself in His Word!  You will find that when you start the day here, with Him, that even when it is a hard day you can manage it much better than a day started off without your quiet time! “Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ” Colossians 3:24. “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established” Proverbs 16:3.   My friend, Lindsey Euton reminds us not to compare yourself to other people and what they post on social media.  Comparison is a mighty tool of Satan to keep us down in defeat.  God never intended for us to be the same as everyone else.  We are the body of Christ, each with unique gifts from the Lord to be use for His glory!  Embrace that He made you and your children with a special purpose, not like anyone else.  (See 1 Corinthians 12).  

When I homeschooled, I would spend some time each Sunday making a master schedule of the week, then every evening I would spend some time adjusting to the “life” that happened every day to upset my best plans. The time I spent planning on Sunday afforded me the opportunity to orchestrate some order into our days as well as make a list of the things I would need that week to ensure everything could go according to those plans.  Yes, meal planning was also part of this time.  This worked well because I could go through my days with direction, and things ran smoother.  It also made the kids calm and happy because they knew what was expected of them and what was supposed to happen and at what time.  This time stuck at home is difficult for everyone.  Kids miss their friends, their routines and their teachers.  Parents are left having to manage heavy workloads from school, home and work!  With the quarantine there seems to be little relief from this and we can’t even be around other people!  When it gets to be overwhelming, our family likes to go for a walk, explore the woods or ride dirt bikes.  Lindsey Euton goes on YouTube for the girls to watch the different “Brain Breaks” videos.  I liked the Brain Breaks Just Dance videos!  It is also helpful to serve others.  Call people and check in on them, see if they need anything.  Pray with each other. 

Remember, everyone needs a lot of mercy during this time.  Our family is a “normal” family with “normal” kids.  One of my homeschool mentors once told me something that I found very freeing, she said, “Somedays, if the only thing I get done is sitting down with the kids and reading the Bible with them, I have been successful.”  She’s right, we are here for one reason, and one reason only.  To bring glory to God our Father.  So, if the only thing you happen to accomplish some days is pointing your child to Christ, you are winning!  “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when your rise.” Deuteronomy 6:7. There are many precious moments in these times that we are crammed together in the house!  My daughter, Grace is home from college and she taught us a new game for the big kids called Catan!  It was great to hang out with the kids playing and laughing at each other.  I was able to sit with my son, Jake and listen to the new songs he learned on the guitar.  Sophie is learning every dance ever made and showing me each one!  These are important things to them.  They will remember that you took the time to care.  The little guys are probably watching more videos than they should be right now, but I have had the opportunity to pour into them some of God’s truth about who they are in the Lord also.  Give yourself a break!  You need mercy too!  This is a difficult time of not knowing what lies ahead.  I have often prayed for some “downtime”, where I don’t have to run around and do all of the things that I have to do.  I know many of you have desired that as well.  Now we have it!  Some time to do all of the things that we never have had time for in the past.  My good friend, Esther Huse had this advice, “First, remember children are a heritage from the Lord Psalm 127:3, so being a gift from God it doesn’t get much better than that.  Just be patient and remember this too will pass.”  She is right!  Soon, this quarantine will be a distant memory as we engage in our normal hustle. 

All I can say is, many of us have experienced the loss of someone that we love deeply.  I remember that when my brother died, the only thing that mattered was whether or not he was Saved.  Did he know the Lord, repent and accept Jesus to be his Lord and Savior?  We are here to glorify the Lord.  That’s what matters.  Not whether or not we raise a brood of baby geniuses!  Yes, be diligent! “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” Colossians 3:23.  For the Lord, not for men!  I pray that we will make precious memories, enjoy this gift of calm from the Lord and give each other a ton of mercy. 

Posted by Nickole Jude with 1 Comments

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