“A Pastoral Letter…”
Hope in the midst of crisis and fear
The Rev. Louis B. Tiscione, Pastor
Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Fear, anger, uncertainty are all emotions that come to the surface when confronted with something out of our control. I am the Pastor of a Reformed Presbyterian Church. I preach and teach the sovereignty of God. I seek to live under the word of God for His glory. I know that God is in charge. The Bible teaches that there is nothing that comes to pass that He has not ordained. There are no coincidences.
I write these weekly articles not only for our community but also for our congregation. I would not write anything that I have not preached or taught in the church.
I have observed over these past few weeks fear and panic within the Christian community. We are indeed traveling in uncharted waters. Our country, the entire world is trying to deal with a virus that in some cases causes severe illness and even death. None of us can say with any certainty how this will turn out or when it will end.
But, we are those who have hope! “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) The faith that the writer declared under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is the gift that God gives at conversion. The hope that we have is grounded in this gift of faith. Note that the word assurance is used in the English translation. The original word’s range of meaning includes conviction or confidence. That is, the gift of faith, genuine saving faith is a certainty, a conviction of a hope. This conviction, assurance is of “things hoped for”. The “things hoped for” are those things promised by God to all who trust in Him! Ultimately, heaven is not some doubtful or uncertain destination for a believer. No! Heaven is assured to those who live trusting in the. Person and Work of Christ!
But there are other “things”. We have God’s promise never to leave us or forsake us, Hebrews13:5 Therefore, we know that God is with His people. He is walking along side of us. Beloved, it is wise to be concerned over this virus. But, it is essential that we know in our head and heart that God is in charge even of this. We know, as those who have been given the gift of faith, “that for those who love Go all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (ESV)
The question that I ask myself every day is, “Are my actions testifying to the certain hope that God has given to me?”
Before this “pandemic” it was easy to remind ourselves that God made us for worship. He expects those who have certain hope to worship Him. But now, in light of the government’s restrictions on gathering for worship, that basic and clear exhortation is not so easy to apply. Virtual worship, watching on our computers or TV’s is not the same as gathering with God’s people for worship. It’s something like the difference between “face time” with your family versus visiting them. Ask any “shut-ins” and they will tell you that there’s nothing like worshiping God with His people on the Lord’s Day.
Yet, for a time, churches are working to find means by which their members can stay connected. We need to praise God, confess our sins and hear His word read and proclaimed. We all need to be reminded of the certain hope that we have. We need to be reminded that God is in charge!
Likewise, our elders are working to use whatever technology is available to us to provide an electronic means to remind us of whose we are. Our intention is to offer whatever means we can so that our congregation will stay connected. Our prayer is that we will increase our desire to gather to worship our King and Lord when this pandemic is over.
In the interim, for this coming Lord’s Day we have set up a link for you all to praise God in your homes:
Further, our web site will continue to have my full sermon in audio format. Our church web site is: www.weatherfordpca.org.
Pray that our sovereign Lord will deliver us from this viral disease. Pray for God’s protection for all those physicians and medical workers who are on the “front line” fighting this virus.