There are many phrases that have become common during this COVID 19 crisis including one I hear a lot, "social distancing". I have to be honest, I kind of hate this term. I believe that we do need to give ourselves 6 (or more) feet between people right now to help slow the spread of germs; but I wish they had used a different phrase. I prefer the term "physical distancing" rather than social. Maybe i am nitpicking here, but I think this matters.
Even in Genesis, in the very beginning, we see that "man was not meant to be alone" and this is true throughout the Bible and true in life still today. People are social creatures. We crave friendship, love, intimacy and human contact. So while I agree that we need to keep distance between ourselves physically, I hope we don't avoid socializing (in safe ways) with others.
Over the past month I have used phone calls, zoom meetings, Facetime, writing letters and safe distance visits to help keep myself feeling connected with others who I love. I have had friends drop off treats at my house...all in an effort to keep our bonds of love strong during a hard time.
So by all means, keep physical distance from others as a safeguard, but don't cut off social relationships...just find new ways to socialize safely. Remember that God made you with a desire for human relationships and work, in new and creative ways, to maintain those relationships.
Let's work to have "social closeness" while we maintain "physical distance."
I don't remember the Blizzard of '78, I was only a baby, but I have seen pictures and heard stories about it. My dad talks about weeks off of school and work while people dug out and recovered. I am sure this closed churches for a time; but the thing with a blizzard is that the end is always in sight...you know that eventually it will warm up and the snow will melt and life will go back to normal.
A blizzard is different than a winter though. A blizzard is a one time event while a winter (especially a cold one) is a season of life that might last for a while. But even with a winter, we can prepare. We know roughly when it will start (late November or early December) and when it will end (March) and so we know to buy supplies like salt or shovels. Even a season has an end we can plan on.
But this event, the COVID 19 crisis, isn't much like a blizzard or even a winter...but more like an ice age. An ice age starts unexpectedly and its ending is undefined. It might last a few years or decades or centuries. It lasts long enough that the people and animals have to learn to adapt to a "new normal" not just a gap in their everyday lives. This crisis is starting to seem like an ice age.
I don't know when this crisis will end. I don't know when we will be able to have church again. I have heard estimates from a few weeks or months and some say all the way until September until it might be safe to meet in our building again as we used to! Wow! So what do we do?
1. Be patient. The board and I will work to make sure that we make the best decision to keep people safe AND feed people spiritually.
2. Learn to live in a new normal. This means making your own spiritual health a priority. In the past we may have gone to the church building for our "weekly fill up" and now we need to learn to feed ourselves to a certain extent. Read your Bible regularly. Pray often. Spend time (virtually maybe) with others to encourage and pray for each other. And yes, make online worship a priority each week as we still try (in new and creative ways) to teach and worship God together.
3. Show Grace!! This season is stressful. Some of us are lonely, some are overwhelmed, some are struggling financially, some are stressed about health...but almost nobody is immune from the effects of this crisis. So show some grace to your kids who are driving you nuts. Show some grace to your spouse who is off their normal routine. Show some grace to each other as we may be easily frustrated right now. And show some grace to yourself as you may be stressed even more than you realize.
And let me know, as your Pastor, what I can do to be helpful. If you need food, toilet paper, prayer or just to talk. Feel free to connect and see how the church can help.
God bless you all,
When I was about 6 or 7 years old my parents set up an Easter Egg Hunt in our house on Easter morning. This was a tradition at our home and one we looked forward to. I was so excited to
A) beat my siblings by getting more eggs
B) eat candy till I felt sick
So when we woke up, I rushed downstairs to eat breakfast quickly and then get my egg hunt on. Once my parents said go, we raced around the house looking for eggs, shoving them in our baskets and then heading for the living room where we could count our winnings.
But as I sat down to count I noticed the eggs were making more noise than normal; which I thought was odd, a rattling noise. I opened the first egg to find one single penny. I opened another egg, another penny. I opened egg after egg after egg and all I found were pennies. I looked up at my father, who was holding the family video camera, and said "Pennies!?!? This is the worst Easter ever!"
In truth, sometimes this feels like the worst Easter ever. We wont' have our normal church services with all our church family and many guests. We won't get to dress our kids up in cute outfits or see some of our ladies wear special hats. We won't get to gather together with family around a big table full of food and we won't get to participate in egg hunts and other special Easter traditions. In fact, it hardly feels like Easter at all.
And yet, the grave is still empty. The stone is still rolled away. Jesus is still alive and we still have hope.
Christians are Easter people. We are resurrection people. We are people who have learned (sometimes the hard way) that we should never give up because God is always in control no matter how dark the night may be.
It's still Easter because Jesus is still King!
During this time of social distancing and self quarantine (phrases that have suddenly become common in our society), many of us feel isolated and alone, especially those of us who live alone or just with our spouse this can be a time of loneliness or even boredom. Many of us have been cut off from our social support systems like church, work, going out to eat or just hanging out with friends. Many of us have been holed up in our homes for days or weeks and though we have phones, social media and trv to stay in touch with the world; it just isn't the same. I've spoken with many of our older members who feel alone or even bored during these strange days.
It got me thinking about someone in the Bible who was isolated, even more than us right now. Jonah was swallowed by a big fish and spent three days totally alone (he didn't even have facebook to scroll or cable news to watch)...and yet, he quickly realized he was not alone at all; he had God with him. Jonah spent his isolated time in prayer and I thought maybe his prayer would be helpful to you today.
"To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.
When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple" Jonah 2:6-7
The good news from Jonah is that no matter where you are (even the belly of a fish or your living room), God is with you. The church was never a building, it was always the people of God. So when Jonah tells us that his prayer rose to the temple of God it was because God is ALWAYS on the throne no matter where we are or who we are with.
God is with you today. You are not alone. You are not forgotten. We are the church, we will always be the church, and our prayers are still rising to the throne of God from our isolation or our self quarantine...He hears you, He sees you, He loves you.
P.S.. During these days, if you are in need of help, prayer, food, toilet paper...please let us know so that we can care for you or connect with you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know how we can bless you!
One of the most common understandings of the modern pastor is that of a shepherd who cares for their flock. Jesus tells us that he is the good shepherd (John 10:11-18). We are told to tend to those in our care (1 Peter 5:2-3). And so over the years, I have developed an understanding through the example of other Pastors, through my training and experience to try and care for my church members as if I was a gentle shepherd who lovingly cares for them and tries to protect them.
But, I have always led by proximity. I was always close to people. Saw people. Touched people (in appropriate ways of course). How does a shepherd care for those he cannot see? This has been my dilemma since the COVID crisis began and it will likely be my problem for a while as the future is uncertain.
One thing I ask is this, if you need help or assistance, please let someone (or the church) know. I am not psychic and do not know your needs unless you tell me. If you need prayer, to talk or even a roll of toilet paper or some food, please let us know by emailing the office at email@example.com.
We will do all we can, in these crazy days, to love and help one another. As Jesus commanded Peter in John 21, we will work to "feed" the sheep (spiritually, emotionally and even physically).
God bless you all,
The Israelites had spent 40 long years in the desert and though it was difficult, they had grown used to the manna and the tents and the travel. They had become a people and were accustomed to following Moses and the new laws they had been given.
All of a sudden everything changed. Moses was dead. Joshua was in charge. They were crossing the river and entering the promised land. They would go from wanderers to warriors overnight. It was all new and sudden and terrifying.
God saw the fear and spoke these words in Joshua 1,
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
God repeated himself over and over in chapter 1, telling Joshua (who would then tell the people) not to be afraid.
Now why do you need to tell people not to be afraid? There is only one reason...because they are afraid. Joshua is afraid, the people are afraid and so God seeks to reassure them that He is in control and that they will be ok.
It seems today, for very different reasons, many of us are afraid. We are afraid of the Corona virus, afraid we won't have toilet paper or flour to buy, afraid our jobs will get shut down and we won't have enough money to buy things...we are afraid for a lot of reasons.
I get it, I am afraid too. But I do remember that God is still in control. I do remember His word is unchanging. I do remember how He has been faithful in the past. I do remember that He loves me. I do remember to pray for you all. I do remember his words "Be strong and courageous" and it does give me hope.
By the way, God was with the Israelites and they were successful everywhere they went.
And God will be with you too. So be strong. Be courageous. God is with you.
Pastor Scott McDermid
There are only a few types of email checkers in the world, based on my observation. There are those who mostly keep their email counts up to date (this is me by the way) and try to stay mostly caught up with a handful (or on a bad day several hundred) emails that haven't been read or responded to. There are those who have thousands of unread messages and no intention of ever catching up (to their credit they just ignore the junk emails rather than delete them). And then there are the rare "inbox zero" people out there who are determined to get each and every email (junk or real) read, responded to and/or deleted each and every day. There must be a wonderful feeling to know that in some part of life, your email account, you have completed all your work and are finished.
I was asked the other day about the final words of Jesus and I told the person that his final phrase was "it is finished." While I am confident that Jesus wasn't talking about email, he was talking about his work. Jesus had taught us what we needed to know, he had shown us what he needed to show and now he had paid the price for our sins on the cross. He had done all he needed to do and so he could say to the Father "it is finished." (John 19:30).
Now it's up to us to apply his teaching, follow in his example and live like we are free from the bondage of sin. We have inherited the benefit of his life's work and we are urged to "run the race with perseverance" (Hebrews 12:1) as it is marked out for us (with his teaching and example as our guide).
But remember, as you seek to live a life of holiness, the victory is already won, the price has already been paid. You are free, so live like it.
Pastor Scott McDermid
As I was shaving last night (yes, I do shave some of my face), I noticed that my razor was getting dull and my shave wasn't quite as smooth as I would like it to be. I buy my razors in bulk online so I have plenty, but being frugal, I try and use each blade as long as I can before I throw it out. Eventually, despite my cheapskate nature, I do throw out a dull blade because they just don't work as well as one that is sharp.
Proverbs 27:17 says "as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another"
I like to think of myself as one who helps others live out their faith well. I try to encourage, challenge and speak life into people. I know that in my own life there have been many who have helped me grow sharper through their regular and intentional effort to build me up, make me stronger and sharper. Over time, our love for God can grow dull if we allow it to. Just like a muscle that doesn't get used, our faith can weaken without use.
A friend, or pastor, or spouse who encourages you in your faith is a great gift from God. They will make you sharper, stronger and better equipped in your life to go with God's strength. Seek these people out, spend time with them...you will be better for it.
But, it's a double edged sword. You need to be encouraging, challenging and helping others in their faith. We each are sharpened and we each need to do the work of sharpening others.
Find a friend like that. Be a friend like that. Sharpen each other so you don't grow dull and useless.
Pastor Scott McDermid
They say that everything is bigger in Texas (and that may be true) and it seems that all Americans believe that bigger is better...but small can be powerful.
In 1 Kings 19, God speaks through the "still small voice". In Matthew 17, Jesus tell us that we only need faith as small as a mustard seed and we can tell the mountains to move. Jesus is born into a small town (Micah 5:2) but He would go on to save the world.
Small isn't bad, in fact small can be powerful.
In just a few weeks we are launching 9 new "small" groups at Six Points Church. In many ways these groups are small (only about 10 people per group, meeting for only 4 weeks, reading a short book of the Bible) and yet I believe that these groups can have HUGE power!
People in these groups (and the the groups that currently exist and are joining this study) will grow in fellowship, grow in Biblical knowledge and can help us grow together in grace. I can't wait to see what friendships might be formed or strengthened and how God uses these small groups to make a big impact in our church and community.
This week is the last Sunday to sign up for one of these groups before they start...so don't miss out on God's big plans for our small groups!
Pastor Scott McDermid
I get a LOT of emails and a whole bunch of them are junk or spam from companies that I bought one thing from a long time ago or who gave me 20% off if I signed up for their email list. Every morning I wake up and check my email and then spend a few minutes cleaning out the junk.
Yesterday, I had enough. I spent 30 minutes going through my email and hitting "unsubscribe" to all those junk email senders. It wasn't easy, they make that unsubscribe button hard to find or make you go to multiple pages to tell them that you are sure you don't want their spam emails anymore...but I can officially say that I will now be getting a lot less junk each day.
Sometimes in life, we have to look around our hearts and get rid of the junk that is cluttering everything. Are there places you spend time that you should not? Are there people you talk to who are a drag on your heart? Are there TV shows or websites that are all spam and no positive content?
The season of Lent is coming up (starting on Ash Wednesday which is February 26 this year). Lent is typically a time to fast and for many people, that means giving up sweets or meat; but for many of us, it means getting rid of things that are cluttering up our hearts.
Proverbs 4:23 says we should "guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."
Do you need to spend some time cleaning out your heart this Lent? Join us on Wednesday the 26th at 6:30 pm for a special service where we can reflect on fasting (from food or other things), prayer and repentance. I think you'll come away feeling like I did yesterday...uncluttered and free.
Pastor Scott McDermid