Dear friends,

To whom you flee in time of trial, that is your God.

When disturbances come, when fears arise, when “pestilence stalks in darkness,” (Psa. 91:6), we are tested as to whom we are truly attached. Who does your heart flee to for comfort, for relief, for encouragement, for inner strength and fortitude?

In our day of social media and immediate access to endless numbers of websites, it is easy to lose oneself in the deluge of thoughts that are on the internet. There is of course nothing wrong with using the many resources available in the internet, yet with every advance in technology come fresh temptations to the human soul. One temptation might be to dilute your emotional life by constant fluttering about among the words of people. It reminds me of Puritan Thomas Watson’s warning about people whose spirits are light and feathery and who merely skim over the tops of things. Another temptation might be to take comfort in the crowd of voices and to let God’s Voice dwindle to a distant echo. Who do you listen to? Who has your ear? Who gets the bulk of your attention? Who has your heart? Whose voice calms and settles you?

“We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Heb. 2:1). Our choice as to which thoughts we will bend our mind upon, mingle our own thoughts with, says so much about us. It shows the state of our hearts and of our spiritual lives.

I want to encourage you to use this time of isolation to “draw near to God” (James 4:8). Rather than increase your time on social media, or whatever else you may fill up your time with, increase your time in the Scripture and in prayer for your world, your country, your city, your church, your family. I want to encourage you to read good spiritual books. Perhaps you can choose from the list that Mark and I put together and placed on the Resources page of our website. A great book of short one-page devotional readings is Spurgeon’s Faith’s Checkbook. You can also listen to sermons on our church website. Or listen to sermons preached by the greatest preacher of the last century, Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Have warm family devotions and be sure your speech is edifying (Eph. 4:29). Of course, keep connected with each other in Christian fellowship through whatever means is safe in this current situation.

I’m often reminded of Paul’s comment in Philippians to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4). I probably think of this statement nearly every day, because it tells us not merely what to think about but its effect on our emotions. God wants us to be enthralled with the Lord and to be constantly happy at biblical thoughts about him! A way to do this: Choose a psalm or an epistle and isolate all the individual statements about the Lord in it; reflect on each one and respond in prayer and praise. I will pray that you all will experience the joy of the Lord as your strength during this odd time where we are isolated from each other and might be tempted to slip into depression. Flee to the Lord for comfort and joy.

As far as the immediate future goes, at this point I plan periodically to send out some pastoral emails like this one and to record a sermon like I did for last Sunday. There may be more ways to minister at this time, and Mark and I are currently discussing options.

May this time of difficulty and isolation end up being for you a God-blessed spiritual oasis! And may we be able to meet again soon.

Pastor Tom