Letting Your Light Shine During Lockdown

Three Steps to Loving Your Neighbor in “Such a Time as This”

Dear North Wake Faith Family,

At the beginning of 2020, the elders set an annual priority for our church of engaging our community with compassion and hospitality, taking the risk to speak to them of Christ.  Of course, we could have never imagined that we would find ourselves facing an unprecedented pandemic just a few months later. Yet God has certainly not been caught unaware. In His providence, we recognize that there is an unprecedented opportunity to fulfill our mission and uphold our annual focus in these strange times, even as things potentially worsen over the next few weeks.

We want to offer you three familiar steps you can take to engage your own circles of influence with compassion and hospitality, even as our normal rhythms of life are severely disrupted.

Pray!

This is a season where it will be essential to draw near to Christ, cast our burdens upon Him, and bring the needs of our community to the throne of grace, with confidence. (Hebrews 4:16). Here’s a few suggestions to help you pray for your neighbors and community:

  • Use this time to draw near to God and reinvigorate your own prayer life. Feed upon Scripture as much or more than you consume your newsfeeds. The Gospel of Mark and the Psalms would be excellent places to begin if you need a starting place.

  • Prayer walk your neighborhood. You may be able to interact with some of your neighbors and build better relationships with them… even from 6+ feet apart! Even if you don’t get to chat, you can still pray for all the homes/apartments where you live. (We understand outdoor walking to be acceptable under a shelter in place order, provided you maintain distance from others.)

  • Join Bless Every Home where you can get daily prayer reminders for those who live near you. It’s easy to create a free account. After you do, you can link your account to our church and we can all keep track of our praying, caring, and sharing together. We feel this could be a critical tool in forming prayer habits for your neighbors, so we strongly encourage you to sign up!

Care

As you pray for those in your circles of influence, anticipate that God will grow your affections and expand your opportunities to serve them. Here’s a few suggestions to help you care for your community:

  • Make sure you have contact information for your neighbors and co-workers. This is a prime time to keep in touch by phone/text/video chat. It’s important to do this now!

  • Are you able to pick up groceries or other supplies for those nearby who would be at higher risk traveling to the store? Offer to help and take wise sanitation precautions along the way. Feel free to distribute the PDF attachment (included at the end of this email) through your neighborhood to gather info on how you can best serve your neighbors.

  • North Wake FEED Ministry is coordinating an effort to prepare deliveries for the most vulnerable in our community. More information on how you can be involved is coming soon, but if you’d like to go ahead and financially support this effort, go here. (Choose “FEED” under the fund tab.)

  • Get on nextdoor.com or see if your neighborhood has a social media page to see what’s going on in your neighborhood.

  • For more ideas, the NC Baptists on Mission website has an extended list of ways you can help, and Rosaria Butterfield has an excellent article on overcoming fear and extending wise Christian hospitality during this pandemic.

Share

This is not a time for the gospel message to be muted (as if there were ever a time for that…but it’s definitely not now!). Fear of death and disease tests our mettle, challenging us to hold fast to the truth that Christ has already taken the worst that life and death could possibly bring us. Use these days to let your roots grow down deeper into the unfailing security of God’s love, and think creatively about how you can share that rare hope with your unbelieving friends. Here’s a few suggestions on how to get started:

  • LISTEN. Take time to formulate poignant questions, and then listen to your neighbor/coworker/friend’s concerns, questions, doubts, and fears. Listen to the Holy Spirit as he provides open doors to speak of God’s incredible love! Gospel presentations like “The 3 Circles” are helpful “tools for your toolbelt” and can bring clarity to these kinds of conversations (even if you don’t draw any diagrams!) However, the most meaningful spiritual conversations with persons you already know will often take place over time and come from the heart. Pastor Jonathan Dodson wisely advises:

“Love is inefficient. It slows down long enough to understand people and their objections to the gospel. Love recognizes people are complex, and meets them in their need: suffering, despair, confusion, indifference, cynicism.” 

  • OFFER PRAYER. You might say something like “I’m trying to pray more (and worry less) in the middle of all this. Can I/my family pray for you or your family in any specific way?”

  • Be VULNERABLE. You can share about your own struggles and fears, and how your faith makes a difference in them. This also can serve as an incredible bridge to listening and sharing your faith.

  • SEND THEM A LINK TO OUR SUNDAY LIVESTREAM! More and more folks are thinking about “the big questions” and looking for hope. They may be willing to watch our service in their home, even if they wouldn’t usually attend a service in our building. This is a non-threatening way to introduce them to our North Wake family and to hear about Christ.

Experts seem to think that things will get worse here before they get better. When it’s all over with, what will be said of our response to this crisis? How will the people of North Wake Church respond?  This moment is not a vacation or retreat from the Great Commission. This is an incredible moment to advance our mission with wisdom and creativity.

May it be said of us that we engaged our community with compassion and hospitality, and that we took the risk to speak to them of Christ! We are here to help you do this, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if we can help you figure out what this looks like in your specific context.

In service to you and with you,

The “Love Neighbor” Team

Jason Burgess
Carson Cobb
Rob Craig
Shanna Heath
Noah Joyner
AD Miles
Josh Reed
George Robinson

Hello Neighbor Postcard

Christians Should Practice Hospitality, Especially Now!

Remember that during times of great uncertainty, Christians should be among those who move towards those in their community who have great need and not away from them. Christian author and speaker, Rosaria Butterfield, reminds us of how we, as followers of Christ, should practice radically ordinary hospitality in these troubled times.

Please consider her thoughts and challenge.

Paul’s Recipe for Fighting Anxiety During COVID-19

Paul’s Recipe for Fighting Anxiety During COVID-19

…do not be anxious about anything,

but in everything
by prayer
and supplication

with thanksgiving

let your requests be made known to God.

And the peace of God,
which surpasses all understanding,
will guard
your hearts
and your minds
in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)

In Everything. It’s easy to feel like this Coronavirus pandemic is one enormous, overwhelming catastrophe. The mixture of sad stories from elsewhere blends with the local health warnings, the disruption in the economy, many suddenly without work, and the drop in the stock market. You might feel petty discouraged by your disrupted work and school routines, but those are also part of the mix.

Requests. Paul teaches us in Philippians to give to God all the requests — plural. Each and every request should be spelled out for God. Make each of your prayer needs clear and distinct. God has no time limit for hearing from you; he’s glad to hear each and every request. So instead of treating it all like one giant ball of wax, bring each one to God. Make a list of each anxiety, each strain, each problem, each concern, each issue no matter how minor.

With Thanksgiving. But don’t bring the request alone — bundle it with thanksgiving. The way we honor God and make it a request: “Father, I admit and thank you that you have given me good in the past [this is the thanks part] — and so I ask you for more good now [this is the request].”

Do not be anxious, but… “You say not to be anxious, Paul. But how do I do that? How do I will my self to not be anxious!?” Paul gives us his method: DON’T be anxious, but DO make known to God your requests & thanks.
Requests with Thanksgiving are Paul’s method for fighting anxiety.

Giving God each request, wrapped in thanks, is Paul’s method for fighting anxiety.

Prayers with Thanksgiving

The prayers below are my personal attempt to unpack all the different layers of problem that make me feel anxious. I’m writing from my perspective in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

MY HEALTH. Thank you for my safety, health and family’s health. Please keep us healthy, and protect us from this disease.

FAMILY. Thank you for my family here in my home with me, and for giving us a place of safety and shelter. Please help us to care well for one another, to be patient and compassionate and gentle with one another.

FRIENDS and NEIGHBORS. Thank you for the friends you’ve given me, and the neighbors you have put me near. Thank you for their funny words online and encouraging waves. Please heal all of them from their illnesses; especially protect those who are at special risk of the disease!

JOB and INCOME. Thank you for the work you’ve allowed me to do, income you’ve provided through that work. Thank you for modern technology allowing so much work to keep going on. Please provide me with income and work I need.

LOCAL HEALTH. Thank you that there are so few cases of this virus near me, and you’ve provided care for each one. Thank you that there are only 52 cases out of over a million people in my county; thank you for keeping most of the counties around me completely free of the disease! Please prevent and end this disease in my neighborhood, my town, and my county.

GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS. Thank you for diligent officials who are willing to serve and take responsibility in this situation. Please give them wisdom to lead and govern well, and make them healthy and strong as they do so. Let them seek your wisdom.

LOCAL BUSINESSES. Thank you for so many local businesses that provide jobs and services to so many people, and for good infrastructure for them to do it in. Please provide all that these local business people need; keep their doors open and keep their staff employed. Please guide them in applying for financial assistance.

NATIONAL ECONOMY. Thank you for our businesses and economy that gives so much freedom and does so much good for people, and that allows people to invest freely in other companies. Please help the managers at these companies to guide their companies well. Please give everyone involved in the market wisdom about their investing, to act wisely and prudently, and let them see that You provide all we need — sometimes even through the market.

NATIONWIDE HEALTH. Thank you for a strong health care system with so many millions of dedicated, professional caregivers. Please provide all they need to maintain health. Protect all of those healthcare workers from disease and hopelessness.

WORLDWIDE HEALTH. Thank you for the diligent scientists and doctors around the world who have warned us of this danger. Please guide people in every country to learn of the risk, and act to stop spreading the virus. Please help the researchers working on vaccines and antivirals; use their work to save many.

While we are here on earth we should never attempt to make such a distinction between prayer and praise that we should either praise without prayer or pray without praise; but with every prayer and supplication we should mingle thanksgiving, and thus make known our requests unto God.

Charles Spurgeon, “A Prayer Perfumed with Praise”, April 20, 1879

 

Martin Luther and the Coronavirus

Just got this insightful quote from NWer Daphne Woodall.  It’s from Martin Luther when he was ministering to those facing the Black Death.  Love this line, “if God should wish to take me, he will surely find me… if my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person.”

Trusting with you all,

Pastor Larry

“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash no foolhardy and does not tempt God.” (Luther’s Works; Vol. 43, pg. 132)

Kids At-Home Devotional Resource

Looking for a fun family devotional for this weekend since North Wake is meeting remotely? Check out this excellent resource from our friends at Lifeway Kids!

Materials include a Bible Story video, Life Application video, a kids connection video, a missions video and gospel presentation resources. New sessions will be updated weekly at midnight on Thursday nights so that families can have fresh content every weekend.

Step 1: Go to my.lifeway.com/redeem

Step 2: Register if you are a new user or login if you already have an account

Step 3: Enter this redemption code: VZMD4SSQ38

Step 4: Click “Access” (if prompted to sign in again, sign in) and then click “My Dashboard,” and go to LifeWay Kids at Home

Step 5: Download your Activity Page and One Conversation Sheet to use as you watch the video session