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Coronavirus and SGC: Biblical Encouragement and Practical Care Guidelines For This Sunday & Beyond

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Hugh, Allen and I wanted to send you a note of encouragement as we pray for you in the midst of coronavirus concerns and the 24 hour news and information that flows out of it.  God uses times like these to remind us how small we are and how little control we have over our world.  And, God uses times like these to remind us how big He is and how He is in complete control over His world.  
Because our God is faithful and wise, we are seeking to serve you motivated by faith rather than fear and with preparation instead of panic.  The email below is long and so we divided into two sections so that you could more quickly benefit from what you need and when you need it.  The first is an expression of pastoral care through Biblical encouragement.  We want you to be ministered to by God’s inspired, inerrant, sufficient and authoritative Word to your hearts.  The second is an expression of practical care as we provide you with updates on the steps we are taking to serve you during the coronavirus outbreak (not to mention flu, strep, stomach virus, etc.) in regard to church services, etc.
Pastoral Care Through Biblical Encouragement:
God Loves You and Paid the Highest Price to Make you His Own
 
  • 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  …. 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:31-35, 37
 
God is Lovingly, Wisely, Powerfully and Completely in Control and Ruling Over Every Moment and Molecule for His Glory and Your Godly Good…
 
  • “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2“He does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’” Daniel 4:35;  “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” Psalm 115:3, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other;  I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’  Isa. 46:9-10; "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28
 
God Gives You Grace to Stand Firm Against Fear
 
  • The  Lord is my light and my salvation;  whom shall I fear?  The  Lord is the stronghold of my life;  of whom shall I be afraid?  When evildoers assail me o eat up my flesh,  my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.  Though an army encamp against me,  my heart shall not fear;  though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.  One thing have I asked of the  Lordthat will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the  Lord all the days of my life,  to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.   For he will hide me in his shelter  in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.  I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the  Lord in the land of the living!  Wait for the  Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the  Lord!  Psalm 27:1-6,13-14
 
God is With You and Meditating on this Truth will Bring You Peace
  • The Lord is near; 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.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:5b-9
God’s Gospel Mission for Us Remains the Same…We Seek to Care for All Suffering Especially Eternal Suffering…
 
  • He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?  Micah 6:8; 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Mth. 28:18-20
 
 
Practical Care for One Another at SGC
 
  • It is our desire to serve you with an abundance of both care and caution as we seek to serve and worship the Lord together in challenging times.  We are staying current with the information and advisories being put out by the The Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and local health organizations.  We are constantly tracking the spread of the virus nationally and locally.  As of today, there are no confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Midland/Odessa.
 
  •  We are blessed to have several medical professionals in our church membership and are receiving continuing updates and counsel from our medical advisory team of Pastor Allen (a Nurse with many years of experience) and Phil Claybrooke (Nurse Practitioner).
 
  • Our church family is a very affectionate and hospitable group of people.  During this season of flu, strep throat and coronavirus we ask you to express your greetings through other avenues such as big smiles, encouraging words, fist bumps, elbow bumps, etc. and refrain from handshakes and hugs.
 
  • We will be performing extra cleaning at this time, especially in the foyer, restrooms, nursery, auditorium and classrooms.  Door handles, rails, and other surfaces which hands may touch will be disinfected for the Sunday morning service
 
  • Let’s be even more diligent to follow our nursery guidelines which we are modifying for this season.  Temperature - A temperature above 99.6 degrees with or without any other symptoms is not acceptable.  During this pandemic, your child must have been fever free for 48 hours prior to entrance into nursery.  Drainage - No runny nose, no cough.  Yellow or green drainage indicates the possibility of viral or bacterial infection and is not acceptable.  Bacterial Infections (i.e., ear infections) -  Your child must have been on antibiotics for a minimum of 48 hours prior to being presented to the nursery. Gastrointestinal (i.e., nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) - The child must be symptom free for 48 hours prior to being presented to the nursery.  No unexplained rashes.  No skin infections.  No eye infections.
 
  • If you or any of your family is feeling sick or has been sick in the last 48 hours, please enjoy our sermons online and pursue getting well and prevent the spread of illness by staying home.
  • Be diligent to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before finishing.  Medical professionals are all agreed that thorough hand washing is the best defense anyone can deploy to help thwart the spread of disease.
  • Your SGC eldership will follow any government mandated ban on public meetings (Sunday service, small group meetings, etc.) in keeping with Romans 13:1-3.  These temporary restrictions will not constrain our continued preaching of the gospel and it will allow us to participate in providing the best care possible to our church family and our local community given how contagious the virus is.
  • Should the spread of the virus necessitate, we will provide other means to keep us connected to care and teaching through such means as streaming the sermons, online resources, etc.
  • We are considering alternate ways to share communion as a church that limits the passing of the elements.  Some possibilities include purchasing prepackaged cups with sealed juice and wafers and placing the cups on a table to be picked up by each person receiving communion. 
  • Please pray for our church and for those most susceptible to this virus.  Pray that God would use this for his glory and to draw many to himself.
  • As Christians, we have the opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ in Midland/Odessa.  There are people all around us that are consumed with the COVID-19 virus and they are anxious and fearful. But Jesus offers hope and peace in the gospel.  Prayerfully be on the look out for opportunities to share the hope of the gospel in your neighborhoods.
  • We encourage you to spend the first moments of your morning and the last moments of your evening in God’s Word and prayer rather than focusing on cable news networks or online media.  There will be plenty of opportunities to catch up on the latest headlines later in your day.  You will be much better off hearing those headlines through a gospel-centered world view.  We are also providing a few resources below that we hope could serve you. 
We are continuing to monitor the situation and will send you another email this Saturday to let you know what our Sunday service schedule will be.  There will be no Sunday school this Sunday in order to prevent our children from gathering together in smaller spaces at this time.  If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to respond to this email.  God bless you, we love you and are praying for you!
Hugh, Allen and Billy, Your SGC Elders