Hello, dear church family!

Tonight is the third night I get to post a night devotional before going to bed.

On Monday we focused on Step 1 of our response to the coronavirus pandemic. Step 1 was: “Pause and Innovate,” inviting everyone to start thinking creatively to positively impact the lives of those around us in the midst of this crisis.

Yesterday we focused on Step 2, “Prepare and Plan”. We learned that we can be at peace, trusting God is in full control, and at the same time, He expects us to ask for wisdom to develop a response strategy.

If things continue the way they’re going, we may soon be in the same situation as Spain or Italy, and it is time for us to be proactive, making plans both individually and collectively, fully depending and trusting that “for those who love God all things work together for good”

Tonight, we will focus on Step 3, “Engage and Execute” and tomorrow, on Step 4: Recover and Reemerge

One of the most interesting interviews I’ve heard happened before a boxing fight. Several years ago, the former heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson said, “People were asking me [before a fight], ‘What’s going to happen?’ ” Tyson said. “They were talking about his style. ‘He’s going to give you a lot of lateral movement. He’s going to move; he’s going to dance. He’s going to do this, do that.’ I said, “Everybody has a plan until they get hit. Then, like a rat, they stop in fear and freeze.’ ”

What I liked so much about the quote is that its application stretches far beyond boxing. It really has meaning in any area of life, whether the blow comes from a pandemic, a health issue, losing your job, making a bad investment, a traffic jam, whatever. It’s how you react to that adversity that defines you, not the adversity itself.

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Once we are faced with troubles, it’s difficult to execute, it’s difficult to adjust and to manage the situation.

As they say, “talk is cheap”. God’s Word puts it this way, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22

Step 3 is all about execution, management, and flexibility.
Think of it this way, preparation is the VISION whereas engagement is the EXECUTION.

We can prepare all day long and have an incredible vision for how we will respond as and lead our families through the crisis. But if we don’t do the hard work of execution, we will notice it when the eye of the crisis hits.

I understand it may be a daunting task for us mortal human beings. We may feel we aren’t ready yet, we aren’t capable, or we may start doubting ourselves.

I love this quote from A.W. Tozer, “God is looking for people through whom He can do the impossible. What a pity that we plan only the things we can do by ourselves.”

The same principle that applies to our homes, applies to the church.

There are four elements to engage and execute: communication, delegation, dependence, and flexibility.

First, we need to establish effective communication between all parties. In the case of churches, there needs to be healthy communication between the leadership body, so everyone is on the same page with regards to the plan. In addition, there need to be solid channels of communication to the larger church body regarding the plan.

The idea is to work together in the midst of a crisis. In this new world, one of our greatest innovations needs to be collaboration.

Second, delegation is also a major key in the engagement phase. A time of crisis is a time where all hands should be on deck. It’s easy for some leaders and members to do all the work while others sit in pause.

In a crisis, we cannot live in pause, but rather we all must mobilize engaging in the mission. With that said, our engagement in crisis might be different than our engagement in calm.

In Exodus 18:17-23 we find Moses having a huge burden on his shoulders and not much time, energy or resources. His Father in law shared words of wisdom:
“What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”

During this Pandemic, we need men and women, young and old, willing to step up and utilize their God-given talents to bring more than good ideas but to execute according to their passion and strength.

Please be ready to step up, cooperate and invest your time and talents in meaningful ministry!

Third, as we fully depend on God to take us through this, we must also care for each other and learn to depend on each other.
Jethro recommended Moses to appoint different individuals as “officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.”
He was able to effectively communicate and delegate responsibilities and place the right people to depend on each other.

In 1999 John F. Kennedy Jr. flew his small airplane from New York City to his family home in Massachusetts for a wedding. Onboard were his wife Carolyn and her sister. Though Kennedy was a licensed pilot, he had not yet been approved for instrument flight (using only instruments to navigate). When their takeoff was delayed until after dark, Kennedy should have waited for daylight or sought a more experienced pilot to help. Yet, Kennedy took off into the darkness. The plane never reached its destination, and all three passengers were killed in the crash.

Investigators determined that the crash was likely caused by disorientation from flying over open water at night without any landmarks or visible horizon. Kennedy’s lack of experience may well have led him to trust what he thought he was seeing more than what his instrument panel was telling him.

All of us face the temptation to walk on our own, according to sight instead of faith. Faith in God and support from others will keep us from crashing.

Human reason will fail us at times, but our God never fails.
His Word keeps us on the right course as long as we obey it.

Last, and this cannot be overstated, we will learn to adjust, we will need to be flexible. You’ll have to be more flexible than a rubber chicken! Why? Because what may be true (or work) today will not be true or work tomorrow.

For instance, in a period of three days, the recommendation of public gatherings to crash the curve in the COVID-19 Pandemic went from 250 to 50, to less than 10. Even now, for a few states and cities, there is a “shelter in place” announcement for residents.

In short, as a church family, we must be able to manage the whirlwind of crisis by being flexible.

Let the following maxim guide our team in times of crisis: “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be broken!”

Plans and expectations may change from one day to another, but we must remain moving forward together!

So tonight, I challenge you to not allow fear to paralyze you. Remember we have a Lord that will never leave us alone.

Isaiah 43:2 says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

We serve a God that, before we face the next crisis, is already there. Let’s trust in Him, who executed the plan of Salvation and promised to never leave us alone.

Let’s be creative, let’s plan ahead of time, and let’s execute knowing there’s nothing to fear.

Have a good night!
In Christ’s love,

Pastor Josh

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#smsda #growingtogether