Dear members and friends of Valley Park,
It has been a challenging and concerning month for our Valley Parker’s, family, friends, community, city, country and world. I know many of you are following the news and that there is not much of anything else to follow that is of equal relevance. I am trusting that our church family and friends have been and will be spared from the health threat of the virus. I am praying God will continue to protect His children and give us boldness to share the hope that is in Christ Jesus.
Managing the church ministries and encouragement of our family members has become a different kind of challenge for the church. There are many among us who are continuing to call people, pray for people, serve the food pantry, manage the Sunday morning service for on-line viewing and utilize on-line Bible studies where all participants are visible. We are doing our best and we are learning new venues for communication and fellowship.
Our on-line Sunday morning worship service is streaming. This means you can obtain directions to connect at www.valleyparkchurch.com after 10 a.m. on Sundays. You will actually view the band rehearsal and be present when we begin. It appears that the Sunday service is our most effective way to connect with our members and extended family. After two weeks we are apparently showing the following results:
- Sunday, March 22: 293 views and 41 comments
- Sunday, March 29: 196 views and 12 comments
It was apparent on March 22 that many people commented to affirm the value of the “streaming service.” I even read comments from people in other states. So, it was an encouraging effort.
Several reported that the streaming was, at times interrupted. We are certain that it had to do with our upload speed which was 4-6G. We upgraded this past week to Fiber Optics and now have an upload speed of 400-500G. We hope there will be an obvious improvement in what is viewed as we stream.
Our giving appears to have suffered a little and we are anticipating adjustments to our spending into the future. Some members of our family are getting used to mailing in their offerings or using “Tithely” on our website. The most serious concern is for our members who have lost jobs and income. There is going to be a time of struggle for these members and the budget of our church is much less of a concern than their need to provide for the necessities of life for self and family. We need to be praying for economic stability and a healthy revival from this time of isolation with no income for many. You can review church giving for the month of March below.
Our Christian focus in times of world-wide distress is of extreme importance because it represents our faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, it is in times of trouble that those who do not know Jesus are watching us the most intensely. They want to see what kind of difference Jesus is making in our attitude toward life under duress. Are we happy? Are we confident in the future? Are we grateful for life and are we praying to God with confidence that He is in control?
There are truths that all people of faith throughout history have embraced that provide the foundation for walking through the valleys of life with confidence in times of trouble.
Heb. 11:1-2: Our hope is not based upon things we see or experience in this life but rather on things we have not yet seen but are confident God will provide in the future.
Heb. 11:13-16, 39-40: We are anticipating a place in the future where we will live in peace and harmony with God. We are confident in what God has promised for us in the future rather than what we have in this world.
Rev. 21:3-4: Once we enter the place God has prepared for us, there will be no more suffering or pain or death. It will be much better than anything this world can provide.
Mat. 6:9-13: Until that day comes, we pray for God’s kingdom to come by any means possible. We surrender to His will as long as we have life.
These are interesting and challenging passages to read and contemplate. They inform a prioritization of things beyond what we see. I would say, they indicate that we should not be taking this life too seriously as the source of our joy. We should have a vision for what will one day be reality that can never be destroyed by man, nature or virus. With a forward vision we cannot get consumed with fear for what we see happening in the world. In a very real sense, we can live detached from it. The psalmist said this.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”Psalm 23:4
This other-worldly perspective is worthy of conversation with people who are placing too much hope in the things offered in this life. What this world offers is subject to death and decay. A virus is only one of many things that can destroy life. Our hope is in what God offers that cannot be destroyed by death, disease or decay. Our confidence is in what will one day be a new reality that will last forever. It will be amazing.
It appears that a majority of us have more time on our hands to consider the things that people of faith have prioritized since the beginning of time. We can find encouragement in their disposition through times of trouble. Knowing the God who controls the future and His commitment to us is the foundation for joy in the midst of trouble, gratitude in the midst of suffering, praise in spite of what we see, and surrender to Him who is able to do beyond what we could ever hope or imagine. Guard your heart with truth in this time of trouble and look for opportunities to talk about what Jesus has done for us in the past and will do for us in the future.
May God be glorified by our faith in the present time of trouble,
April 1 Adriane Borkin
April 2 Evonne Rice
April 5 Barry Press
April 8 Gavyn Rivadeneira
April 12 Bernie Mills
April 16 Wilma Daniels
April 17 Marc Honles
April 19 Max Beugnon
April 24 Michel Beugnon
April 28 Claudere Figuerroa
April 29 Jessica Barb
April 30 Gary Marsden