Better Together with Missionary to Spain, Anthony Edgmond
The Theology Of Being Distracted By God
On numerous occasions and in various contexts, my wife and daughter like to point out to me, and consequently whoever happens to be in the vicinity, that I am easily distracted. At least I think that’s what they say…I don’t always listen.
Typically when we think about the word distraction, it has a negative connotation with it. What I am proposing is that we flip our thinking and look at it in a positive way. Whenever we face challenges, uncertain futures, or just too much time to think about the worst possible scenarios, why not pour ourselves into the things of God? A popular remedy for people who want to keep themselves out of trouble is to keep themselves busy. I get it. That makes sense. From a practical stance, it’s a solid way to combat desires and temptations that may creep up on us if we are idle. If you’re too busy to get into trouble, then so be it. So why not take this approach to our relationship with God and battling sin and temptations? Rather than stay idle, (the Bible never has anything good to say about that), let’s take an active stance with God’s word.
A perfect passage that captures combating idleness and distracting myself with the right things, is Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Such a simple, elementary practice, but it has profound impacts in your daily living. Most of us don’t truly understand the power and import of getting our thoughts on the right things. Paul reminded us of this in 2 Corinthians 10:5 when he said, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Make your thoughts captive to the right and holy things of God.
One of the definitions for distraction is “having one’s thoughts or attention drawn away”. So remember, I’m talking about us putting a different spin on this. Instead of distraction as a bad thing, let’s allow ourselves to be distracted (at least in the sense of being focused and consumed) with the things of God. Put your thoughts on Him. Remind yourself daily that this is not all there is. This world is broken and will continue to be broken as long as sin runs rampant. But if you are a child of God, you have a hope and a future in Paradise with the King of Kings! So what is there to stress about (Matthew 6:27)?
Going back to Paul’s plan of attack for our minds in this battlefield: this is not the same form of battle the world normally fights. We must plan accordingly. The present situation we find ourselves in, with an invisible enemy in the form of a virus, will eat up our thoughts. It will distract us, breed fear, and push us to forget Jesus. But since we understand this, let’s not give it any more control over us. Pick up God’s word. Colossians 3:1-2 seems a fitting way to end. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
I trust that you are all doing well, and are healthy! Needless to say we are all living some challenging times never before experienced.
The IM Development team just wants to touch base with you about what is going on in IM and especially our department. Our team is meeting several times a week trying to deal with the daily changes that our world and our churches are going through. Because you, all our pastors and denominational leaders are dealing with so many difficult and new situations, we are trying to adapt and be very sensitive to your situation and needs.
One of the changes that IM has made is the date of the WMO offering. Instead of April 26 that date has been changed to August 30. Our pastors and churches are struggling enough to stay afloat and minster to their members, and most will not be physically meeting that day. It would be difficult to receive a special offering.
April 26 will remain World Missions Sunday, not for the WMO offering, but for prayer. We are suggesting that this be a time of prayer for IM missionaries, those on the field who are isolated from their families, and for those in the US trying to raise support. We want it to be a time of prayer for our pastors here and around the world as they struggle to minister. And lastly, we can focus prayer on all those who have been touched by the virus.
There is no way of knowing the extent of the damage and the effects this pandemic will have on the local churches and world missions. What we do know is that our God is a sovereign God, He is still in control and that we are His.
Please let us know how we can assist you in any way as we continue to strive to get the Gospel to those who have never heard the Good News. God bless you and keep you safe.
“Good morning from Shumen!
Thank you to everyone who sent encouraging messages to Sevdi last week! I compiled them all and gave them to him. It meant a lot to him to know that other men and women of the faith are praying for him and supporting him. He did a really good job! I think it helped him that there were only six adults in the room with us, while another ten or so watched online.
It is a crazy time we are living in, isn’t it? Lydia waits in line in front of the grocery store. When I go for a run sometimes I have to run on the road to avoid being within six feet of someone on the sidewalk. Our kids left the yard only one or two times this week. There are patrol cars at all entrances to the city and no one can go in or out unless on approved business.
And yet, God continues to bless us with opportunities to stay active! I have been able to turn up the dial a little bit on studying Turkish. Lydia has been supermom all week, as the four older kids all have distance learning and each kid needs help printing off papers, watching video lessons, and turning in assignments. Yesterday we went on a walk in the woods with a few friends.
On Monday, I got together with E and we had a really good Bible study. Actually, I don’t have to call him E any longer. His name is Eray. I asked him this week if he was okay with me telling you all his name. Most people that are close to him know about his decision to follow Jesus, but his parents still don’t know, and that makes me nervous. But he said that he is happy for you to know about him and his new faith.
We didn’t have Catan Bible study this week, but we did have Alpha yesterday. There were six of us in the room, and one guy participated on Zoom.
This morning I am preaching for the church in Svishtov. On Friday I recorded the sermon and sent it to Tim. And in a little bit there will be a Facebook Watch Party, so that I can watch it with them and field any questions they might have about the topic. Then this afternoon we will do a video call with R in Vehtovo. We will sing a few songs together, then I will do a quick devotion and we will pray together. And finally this evening we will have our regular church service in Shumen, again with the majority of people watching online.
It is a crazy time we are living in, but I think that many of us in ministry have been forced to expand out of our comfort zones. Many of us have had to hone new skills and to lean on the Spirit’s strength in ways that we often neglect. To God be the glory!
p.s. At this moment we do not know if our Stateside Assignment this summer will happen or not. The US is not granting visas until further notice, and Pavel can’t come without one. But here is what I would like to do: many of you are having online services, and I am getting used to recording myself and creating video presentations. I would love to either create a video presentation that can be a part of your online worship service, or even schedule a time throughout the week to do a live video in your church Facebook group. People are staying indoors. How cool would it be for us to do a Monday morning Q and A session with your church? Let’s be creative and make it happen!
May the Lord bless you and keep you!”
May Central Tx Meeting Cancelled
“I hope you, your family and Church are staying healthy and making the most of our difficult times. During these unprecedented times we are all struggling with how to ‘do’ Church services and stay in touch with our people. May God truly lead you and Bless you. Due to the ongoing COVID19 crisis and concerns we are cancelling our May meetingthat was scheduled for May 9th at Eastside. Our next scheduled meeting is August 8th at Authentic (in Victoria) with John Hancock as our preacher.
We will be in touch with you in advance of this next meeting.
If you have any questions or suggestions then please let me know,”
Directories – Please Check Your Information
See the note below that the national FWB directory has moved online. Please visit the site and check your church’s information to verify that it is correct.
(While you’re at it, if you haven’t checked the state online directory in awhile, please visit http://www.texasfwb.org/churches.shtml and verify your information there as well.)
I hope you all continue to stay well and safe!
Moderator/State Office Coordinator
Texas State Association of Free Will Baptists”
For Such A Time As This
As the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been recognized in my city, many are becoming restless and anxious. There’s an ominous feeling floating around. What’s going to happen? How far will this spread? How many already have it? Will I get it? My social media sites are inundated with everything virus related. Not to mention the conspiracy theories are growing like weeds after a spring rain. So what is the response of the church and Christians?
William Faulkner once said, “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” I’m speaking to the church here. For many in the church, this could be analogous to you coming of age and asked to contribute to society, or simply to get a job. “Oh look at my baby! They’re growing up. Now it’s time for them to leave.” For a temporary period, the church (all Christians) is being forced to live and worship like it never has before (at least in the free countries where we’ve had it made). We’re figuring this out as we go. The first week is down (maybe for others the second week) of live streaming. You’re either more confident now going into the next week of online church, or you’re regretting not having taken technology more seriously! This is step one. Some of us have only been thinking about this stage.
Again, what should we now do? I have been getting multiple messages from people I both know and have never met who are now wrestling with spiritual questions that they may have not previously given much attention to. When something shakes up our lives, stops everything from it’s normal path, and has no clear end in sight, it inevitably draws us to deeper questions. Why is this happening? Is there a God? If there is a God, why would He allow this? Then, of course, there are others that don’t need convincing of God’s existence. They are just reminded that they need to follow Him, or start following Him more sincerely.
While the forced spread of Christianity in the early church is not identical to our situation we are living in, there is some semblance. As we read the historical account of the church in Acts, we come to chapter eight and see that persecution broke out in the church; and it forced the church to expand! In the middle of the persecution it must have been ridiculously impossible to see what was happening as a good thing. It’s like a small child seeing the Pediatrician sticking them with a needle. All they know is this hurts and I don’t trust this person. They don’t understand the help that the medicine can provide them. The same can be said for the church today. “This is an incredibly difficult time to be doing church. We can’t even meet in the same building together. How can we be effective, let alone grow!?”
Maybe it’s a perspective change we need. I was massively encouraged when I saw how many people were online “attending” church! Yeah it’s not ideal. Of course we want to be meeting in person and we’ll get there. But, I personally know of some people who worshipped online with us who had not been to our church and others who hadn’t been to a church in quite a while.
Crises and uncertain times draw people together. It makes people prioritize their lives. It inescapably forces us to consider what is most important. I submit to you church, that rather than this being a time for us to pause and wait for an opportune time to “have church”, we see this more as a “the fields are ripe” time. The people cannot come to our church buildings, but they most certainly are open to spiritual topics. So what are you doing about that? Let’s not waste this time talking with each other about how crazy this is, or when we think it will be over. Let’s strike while the iron is hot, so to say. Don’t spend all your time trying to figure out the full-proof plan that will take weeks and months to incorporate. Respond now!
James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” I picture that as the fuse at the end of the church. I want to put an exclamation point at the end of that and light it into action! Love God! Love others! And tell everyone about Him! So how do we do those two greatest commandments? We love God taking His word serious. We put Him above everything (Matt. 22:37). We obey His commands (Jn. 14:15). Over and over He tells us not to fear, but to trust Him (2 Tim. 1:7). We trust Him even in times such as these.
The world is in chaos, but God is not. The world is searching for answers, while Jesus claimed to be the answer. Our orders are simple: Love God (trust and obey Him) and love others (be a servant to all and point them to Jesus).
Pray for our Colleges and Universities
“As our faculty and staff return to campus today, we ask that you remember our university in prayer as we begin the training to move our courses online. Everyone is hard at work to ensure that Randall University is able to fulfill the mission God has entrusted to us. Please pray with us as we seek the Lord’s direction in these uncertain times.”
Taken from Randall University Facebook Post
Welch Letter to Students
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“ A Letter to Students from President and Mrs. Pinson
This is a time of mixed emotions for the Welch College family. Combined with the changes and difficulties the Coronavirus is bringing to our daily lives, and the suffering wrought by it, we see all around us people who are responding with wisdom and hard work and the love of Christ.
We have seen this in our Welch College family and its students, faculty, and staff. We are especially thankful for all the outstanding work we have seen from our Welch Coronavirus Special Committee (co-chaired by Craig Mahler and Greg Fawbush), which got out ahead of this pandemic very early on, as well as our Provost Dr. Matthew McAffee.
We wish we didn’t have to write this email, because we so miss you being on campus. Yet, like so many other colleges and universities, our college leadership has concluded that it will be necessary to finish the spring semester remotely. This online format will include the taking of exams, and the ending date for the semester will be the same as it originally was.
As we said to you in a previous email, our faculty is already skilled at teaching remotely/online. Unlike most college faculties, they have the advantage of having already done this two years ago, when the opening of our newly constructed campus was delayed by several weeks.
Sadly, we will not be able to have commencement ceremonies on the regularly scheduled date in May. We are considering our options for a ceremony later in the year. We know how much of a blow this is to our seniors and their families, as it is to us, and will have everyone on campus as soon as possible to celebrate our graduates and the signal accomplishments for which they’ve worked so hard.
The Special Committee in concert with the Offices of the President and the Provost are developing plans for keeping in touch with you and for delivering online chapel content from the faculty. Like you, the sense of community at Welch is one of the things we love the most about the college. So a committee has been appointed to keep faculty and staff in touch with students, one-on-one, to give spiritual and emotional support over the coming weeks. We are also planning pro-rated credits for room and board. We will get you details on that as soon as we finalize them.
We know you have a lot of questions. The Office of the Provost and the Special Committee on Coronavirus will be communicating with you soon with more detail and answers to your questions. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please email them to email@example.com. Continue to check your email for further updates from the college.
We want to remind you of God’s promise to you in life’s worst circumstances. We urge you to meditate prayerfully on this promise from Isaiah 41:
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with
My righteous right hand.
We also encourage you to observe the widely communicated guidelines on social distancing and stay safe. Use the technological means at your disposal to keep in touch with your fellow students, as well as faculty and staff, and to show Christ’s love to those in need. We’d even recommend that you call the people who love you, especially the elderly in your church, family, and neighborhood, to let them hear your voice. We know you’ll continue to join us in prayer for those affected by the Coronavirus.
We’ll never forget when we had “survived” the move from the old campus to the new one, having been separated from our students for all that time—Christmas break, followed by several weeks of online instruction with our faculty and staff working from home as campus construction was completed. When it came time for everyone to come back, a sign was hung out in front of the campus that said, “Welcome home!” The reunion was sweet. Please know that you are dear to us, and we are looking forward to seeing our wonderful Welch students back on this campus and saying, “Welcome home!”
In the meantime, let’s keep praying and being who the Spirit is leading us to be in Christ.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
Matt and Melinda Pinson