Dear Church family,

Last night I shared about “Step 1: Pause and Innovate.”
Pausing and innovating requires us to stop focusing only on our own personal needs and start thinking about new ways to impact the lives of others around us.

As I mentioned yesterday, our upcoming evening devotionals will focus on the next three steps,
Tonight, Step 2: Prepare and Plan
Tomorrow, Step 3: Engage and Execute
Thursday, Step 4: Recover and Reemerge

I’ve always considered myself an optimist. I believe it’s much better to see the brighter side of things instead of letting the negative bring you down.

That is why I love the perspective that instead of speaking of closing our church, we have opened new churches in each one of our homes!

Seeing it from that perspective, “social distancing” should be beneficial in each one of our households as we revitalize family worship!

Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Paul knew that the Christians in Rome were enduring severe persecution and so this may be part of the reason that he told them that whatever happened, they should trust and know that God intends that all things would “work together for their good.”

The word Paul uses for “know” is not just a “head” or theoretical knowledge but supernatural knowing because it is for those “who are called according to God’s purpose” so God is the One Who is responsible for what happens to them and all things, whether good or bad, will work out for their utmost best. That applies to each one of us, Christ-followers today.

Speaking of optimism, I read about a schoolboy who brought home his report card. It was heavy with poor grades. “What have you to say about this?” asked his father. “One thing for sure,” the boy replied, “Dad, you can be proud. You know I haven’t been cheating!”

An optimist believes we live in the best of all possible worlds. A pessimist fears this is true.

The tire is only flat on the bottom!

Winners see risk as an opportunity. They see the rewards of success in advance. They do not fear the penalties of failure.

The winning individual knows that “bad luck” is attracted by negative thinking and that an attitude of optimistic expectancy is the surest way to create an upward cycle and to attract the best of luck most of the time.

Winners know that so-called luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity.

If an individual is not prepared, he or she simply does not see or take advantage of a situation. Opportunities are always around, but only those who are prepared utilize them effectively.

Still, as optimistic as we may want to be in the current Pandemic we are facing, we are also required to be careful and to be realistic.

According to many medical experts, and unless something changes, the United States is about 2–3 weeks from what we are now reading and seeing happening in Italy.

In other words, the coronavirus wave has just begun.
Even though I would like to be extremely optimistic, there’s a problem I perceive with some stats about the number of people infected: Current numbers only show there has been a very limited amount of people tested.

In other words, numbers tend to be tricky since they only describe the results on a very small number of tests.

With more testing becoming available, experts expect we will see a significant rise in those infected by the virus as well as deaths from the virus.

That is why canceling our public gatherings has been the best option to crush the contagion curve. I value the leadership of our Conference officers as we take things on a month-by-month basis.

In other words, unless things drastically change, we will be preparing for what is being projected and cancel all of our April in-person meetings and continue with worship services online. In a few weeks, we will be assessing our May calendar in light of the national and state recommendations and planning accordingly.

As church members and leaders, it’s important that we begin making a list of how we can prepare as a church if we find ourselves in the eye of the crisis.

For instance, if we lived in an area that experiences hurricanes and the meteorologist tells us when we can expect the eye of the storm to come upon us, we begin making preparations at home in an effort to weather the storm.

The same principle applies here. The eye of the coronavirus is coming. Given the nature of this virus, it is impossible to predict when the eye will hit and how long it will endure.

In light of what is coming, we will need to make preparations for how we will:
• Maximize communication to leaders, members, and friends
• Pivot leadership roles and responsibilities
• Plan for generosity (and giving)
• Follow up with online visitors and new believers
• Wheather a financial crunch
• Care for our neighbors
• Serve the sick, hurting, and shut-ins
• Research in order to provide counseling options to those with mental illness, addictions, etc.
• Launch more virtual small groups
• Minister to families (including children and students)
• Love our community and city well
• Seek the peace and prosperity of our immediate neighborhoods and the city of San Marcos

Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Also, as we PREPARE and PLAN, in a couple more days our church will join Seventh-day Adventists all around the world in praying for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to be poured out on our church, to empower us for the mission, and to be a light to the world during this time of crisis.

As we optimistically wait for future developments related to the COVID-19 Pandemic, let’s depend more on God’s Spirit; let’s “be strong and courageous, do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the lord OUR God is with US wherever we go!”

Let’s PREPARE & PLAN as individuals and as a church family. Taking into consideration the areas I mentioned before.
Keep your eyes and ears open. I challenge you to PAUSE and INNOVATE. Also, PREPARE and PLAN for the potential developments.

Ultimately, remember that “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good.”

Have a good night’s rest!

In Christ’s perfect love,
Pastor Josh

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#smsda #growingtogether