Wednesday, July 16th

 

THE CHURCH BUILDING IS CLOSING AGAIN,

BUT THE CHURCH IS STILL OPEN

 

New Heights Nazarene Family,

I want to share with you a few things that have been on my heart and in my prayers as the continually evolving situation surrounding the COVID-19 virus begins to impact events in our community  and church once again. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has asked that all indoors worship services be cancelled for risk of contracting the virus and passing it on.  As good community members, we want to honor these requests. So it is with much sadness the Church Board has decided to cancel are in person Sunday Morning Worship Services indefinitely.  We will continue to stream the services live on Facebook every Sunday at 10:15 am.  We encourage you if you have not already connected to get connected and join in to watch our services online.  Even if you are not a Facebook member all you need to do is go to www.newheightsnazarene.org and click on the Facebook tab on the right side and it will take you to our Facebook page where you can view the services live. 

With everything going on in our community at present, we face uncharted waters in navigating our regular means of fellowship and gathering. It is our priority to keep our families and neighbors safe while continuing to keep the body of the church growing together.  To accomplish this are response to the closing of the church building is to maintain our regular midweek gatherings by again engaging together online through Facebook Live, Zoom meetings and to begin small group Bible studies in person in our homes. 

We realize how important it is to meet together and grow together so we will be introducing in home Bible study groups for up to 10 people.  I am encouraging you to be part of one of these groups that will be meeting at different times during the week.  I am reminded that God created us see hear, taste, touch and feel our way through the physical world that He has made.  We are not just pixels and screennames, headshots on Zoom and Facetime. We are human beings. We are designed to be physically together. In recent months, we’ve seen the power of our online world. But we have also felt its limitations, and we should still have a desire to meet together, and this will be your opportunity to do so joining in one of our in home Bible study groups.

As you practice social distancing please remember to not practice spiritual-distancing. Please continue to check in with each other through the day via texts, phone calls or video calls. Our best efforts are being put forth to continue furthering our faith and engaging in our community while keeping our families and neighbors safe and healthy.

I hope and pray you will take under consideration getting involved and participating in all the upcoming events and Bible study groups your leadership team is planning if you believe it is safe and safe for your family.  But even if you are not ready would you still stay connected somehow?  Would you continue to share the Good News of the Gospel?  And, would you still continue to be faithful in your generosity to the church?

I love each and every one of you and pray that each of you will get involved and stay connected as we grow together in Christ.

Blessings,

Pastor Don Rodriguez

 

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  –  Isaiah 41:10

 

Thursday, June 11th

 

Dear Church,

I am writing you regarding our plans for reopening the Church.

This Pandemic has showed me that the Church is not a building and the Holy Spirit does not need walls nor a crowd to move in people’s lives. Through the stories I’ve heard from church members, the lives reached through our sermons on Facebook, and the prayer visits to our congregation it is clear to me that we are committed to the work of God regardless of difficult circumstances or adversities.

But there’s no denying that there’s something special about gathering as the people of God to lift up the name of Jesus. However, we also have the responsibility to care for our community, therefore during this difficult time, we hold these two things in tension.  Through prayerful dialogue and discussions with our local Church Board and the Los Angeles District Church of the Nazarene we have put a plan together to meet again. 

Our plan, first and foremost, is to glorify Jesus in all that we do.  Jesus told us in 22:37-39:

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Our plans to reopen have taken prayerful consideration of these two commands.  It is important to reopen the church so we are preparing for our reopening date of Sunday, June 14.  I wanted to take some time and let you know the decisions that have been made, the plans that we have, and the changes you will see when you return to Church. We hope to prepare everyone and inform you all on what to expect.

First, we have gathered all the needed supplies and volunteers to keep the church and sanctuary disinfected before, during, and after service.  As you approach on Sunday, June 14th here is what you can expect:

  • Service will begin promptly at 10:15am. It is important you get there early so you can be reviewed and ushered to your seat.
  • You will only be able to enter through the front door. The parking lot door will be locked
  • We will be limited to only 50 people as per County of Los Angeles Health Department
  • You will need to supply your own mask for entry
  • Your temperature will be taken before you are permitted to enter
  • You will have to keep a social distance at all times before, during, and after the service (there will be markers and signs to help you achieve this)
  • You will be ushered to a seat in the sanctuary (therefore you might not get your usual spot)
  • There will be no refreshments before, during or after the service
  • There will be no children’s church or nursery services available at this time
  • You will have to remain in your seat until the service ends and then wait to be ushered out by rows
  • Please refrain from extended gatherings and greeting in the lobby or hallway

On Sunday, June 7th your Church Board did a soft opening. We attended the service, tested the procedures, and made certain we would be prepared to open to the public on Sunday, June 14th.  As time progresses, we will be removing some of the restrictions such as opening up Sunday morning Children’s programs and Sunday School for everyone. However, for the time being we want to make sure everyone stays safe.  We appreciate your understanding in all that we are trying to do to get the church reopened. 

We know that a lot of things are going to be different coming and going, but our worship service is going to remain the same.  It is important that each of us bear in mind the example that Christ has called us to be and to love others first.  In saying this, it is important that we keep social distances, use hand sanitizers, and keep our masks on during the service to protect others first.  Remember, the COVID-19 virus is still present so we all have to do our part to protect each other.

This is a great time for the church!  We have done so well throughout this pandemic; staying connected, attending Bible studies, sharing our services, reaching out to others, and giving faithfully.  I am praying that our momentum does not falter, but that we continue to share the hope we know to the world around us.  Hope to see you all very soon!

Blessing,

Pastor Don Rodriguez

 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Dear Church,

I hope this letter find you well in the midst of this Pandemic. It has been almost two months since we last gathered together at the Church of the Nazarene. First and foremost, I wanted to express that I miss all of you! And I cannot wait to see and embrace every one of you when this is all over! I also wanted to express how encouraging it’s been to see and talk to some of you.

There has been some talk about re-opening the Church and I wanted to let you know where we are in the process. I know many of you are anxious about returning to Church. It is for this reason we are working hard to implement necessary sanitary protocols to ensure the safety of our Church members.

When this public health crisis first began, God conveyed a message to me. That message was, “Your church is prepared and ready for this.”   I have been reflecting on that message and I realize/ recognize that as a Church, we are prepared.  Our reach on the world has been expanded/ become widespread through our live stream videos of our Church services and Bible studies. More and more people are tuning in and hearing about the Good News of Jesus Christ.  We have continued to help those in need and pray for those in need of prayer. We have stayed connected with everyone to the best of our ability. We have also been able to feed our community by handing out food related gift cards on Saturday mornings.  Not only have we not missed a beat, but  have also expanded our ministry, received additional resources, and have impacted more people. Praise the Lord for His chosen people of the New Heights Church of the Nazarene.

This is a significant moment for the Church as we determine how to prayerfully move forward at this time. Even though we are all experiencing the same storm, we may not all be in the same boat. We all have different perspectives regarding how to deal with the Pandemic because of our different experiences. Therefore, as we move forward in re-opening the Church, we wanted to communicate that all perspectives are being considered as we determine an appropriate plan of action with the recommended guidelines.

 In this storm, called the COVID-19 Pandemic, there seem to be three different groups of people who are positioned in separate boats. In the first boat, we have the people who are very cautious in all that they do. They are not ready to go back to normal yet and have not been away from their homes much, if at all. They are mostly in the vulnerable category and are very uneasy about going out in public.  In the second boat, we have the people who are cautious but ready for the re-opening of the church. They are ready to move forward however are proceeding with caution.  Finally, in the third boat we have the people who have been long ready to return to normal. We understand that many of our Church members are scattered throughout these 3 groups. We also acknowledge the truth found in each of these perspectives and positions.  Therefore, as we prepare to re-open the Church, we will take these 3 groups into account alongside our calling as a Church. Jesus has called us to be the salt and the light of the world. This means that our decisions should be life-giving to our community and should not prompt fear.  Consequently, it is important to consider all groups of people, traveling through this storm in different boats and at different junctures, in order to re-open the church in a way that ensures everyone’s best interest. 

Here are some of the things that we have done to prepare:   

  • Gather a group of leaders with special talents to assist in the re-opening
  • Obtain stocks of sanitary supplies)
  • Execute a plan of action to keep the Church germ-free & members safe
  • Implement social distancing guidelines)
  • Expand our technology to offer online services/ Bible studies for those who wish to stay home
  • Brainstorm/ Contemplate how to safely worship, pray, have communion, and conduct baptisms together
  • Collaborate/ Work with our L.A. District Church of the Nazarene on how to best re-open

We are working hard in preparation to re-open the Church once it is appropriate to do so. We want to move forward in a way that glorifies God, while considering all perspectives from our Church members. We will actively communicate to the Church body… as we implement a Plan of Action for the re-opening of the Church.

Blessings,

Pastor Don Rodriguez
 
 

Thursday, April 30th

 

As the weeks continue to fly by we have still been unable to meet in person.  Even though there is much talk on the news and in the media about the lifting of the Stay at Home order and the talk of possible openings in the near future we are choosing to be very cautious in all of our choices. 

With everything going on in our community at present, we face uncharted waters in navigating our regular means of fellowship and gathering. It is our priority to keep our families and neighbors safe while continuing the bonds of community we hold so dear as a church. Our response as a church to COVID-19 is to maintain our regular midweek and weekend gatherings by engaging together online through social media and live streamed videos.

The spread of the coronavirus has impacted us all directly or indirectly and has made us rethink many things. Much of this situation is out of our control BUT we can control our response and we want our response to be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

The risk of the coronavirus, especially to senior adults, is simply a risk we are not ready to take. Some people may feel compelled to attend if our church doors are open, and clearly, there are several potential risks to all people exposed to a large gathering.  We will do our best to keep this page up-to-date with the latest information related to all of our gatherings

Below are other ways we communicate on a regular basis along with resources for information and inspiration.

  1. Our church website www.newheightsnazarene.org
  2. Our church Facebook page @NewHeightsNaz
  3. Sunday morning Bible study @ 9:00 am every Sunday on Zoom
  4. Sunday Morning Worship @ 10:15 am on Facebook Live
  5. Wednesday Night Bible study @ 7:00 pm on Zoom
  6. REAL Women’s Ministry the 3rd Saturday @ 10:00 am on Zoom
  7. Mighty Naz Kids resources on our website

 

 

 

Friday, April 10th

 

We Are All Separated but Together

Wherever you find yourself today, I want you to know you are not alone. I want you to know we love you and we miss gathering with you. I also want you to know God is with you and, while we are not physically together, we are together spiritually, and we continue to the Church.

Thriving Not Just Surviving

As we continue to be in isolation our opportunities for connecting and ministering is thriving.  As we continue to find new and creative ways to reach out to each other and those in our larger community. New Heights Naz is thriving through many different avenues of ministry. 

Our Connector’s group is calling, texting and sending out special cards to everyone encouraging others to stay in the Lord and know that no one needs to feel alone right now. 

Our R.E.A.L. Women’s ministry has started a new Bible study together and will be meeting Saturday’s at 10:00 am online. 

Our Dynamite Youth group is also thriving as they have an online Scavenger Hunt planned for next Friday, April 17th with prizes to win.

Our younger kids, The Mighty Naz Kids, have videos and activities on the website that they can go and stay connected.  They also have a special Easter Egg Hunt planned for kids during our Sunday Morning Worship (keep a look out on Facebook and our website for more info)

Our online Wednesday Night Bible study, and Sunday Morning Sunday School also continue to grow week after week.

We are also inviting everyone to have a Good Friday Home Service.  You can go to our website and click on the EVENTS page and then go to GOOD FRIDAY service and everything is there for you and your family to have service tonight in your own homes. 

Also, our Sunday morning worship services are reaching close to 200 views each week.  Continue to invite friends, family and neighbors to connect with us online and watch our services.

And….Have you been G.A.P.ed yet?  Pastor Paul has started something creative again.  He calls it G.A.P. which stands for Greet – And – Pray.  Follow the GAP challenge on our Facebook page and keep a look out just in case you are GAPed!

As you can see, we have created new avenues for people to be shaped by Jesus as we connect with God and one another. From groups and classes meeting via digital platforms to services being hosted online God is using technology to communicate the hope we have in Jesus.

Generosity Not Scarcity

I want to invite you to be a part of the kingdom work taking place during this unique season. We understand everyone’s financial situation is different and is being impacted to varying degrees during this time. I want to simply invite you to join us in choosing generosity over scarcity and listening to God’s direction for how you can be a part of financially supporting the ministry of Jesus taking place through New Heights Naz. We believe generosity is an act of worship and we know God is going to move in our lives as we place our trust in Him. Thank you for continuing to join us in helping people become fully alive in Jesus.

Blessings,

Pastor Don Rodriguez

 

Saturday, April 4th

A note from Pastor Don,

We still find ourselves quarantined in our homes and not being able to go anywhere during this unexpected season.  It certainly is not how I pictured the Lenten Season to be or coming up on Holy Week and Easter Sunday.  But I believe some of God’s greatest movements have always happened during some of the most unlikely and most difficult times.  Like I have said before, God has prepared us for this moment in time.  God is beginning to unleash himself and his ways upon us.  I have seen this in so many of you as your ministries begin to search out and take hold of things and ways you never thought you would.  I have seen many of you stretch yourselves out to places that make you a little uncomfortable as we learn to and continue to be the church, to stay connected, and love our neighbors.

As a church we have learned to be faithful in all things and one of our most treasured gifts is to love others as they are and lifting others in prayer.  I know it is easy to become discouraged and disconnected during this isolation time but as we have done before I pray that we can ‘Keep on Keeping On.’  Keep on being creative in reaching others and staying connected.  Keep on reaching out to pray for each other, and keep on trusting God because he is faithful. 

I would encourage everyone to stay connected through our website, Facebook and Zoom meetings if you haven’t already; continue to reach out to at least two people every week and…

REMEMBER: Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation…its actually physical distancing and distance socializing.  So stay in touch through video chats, text or good old phone calls. When you do go out for essential services CDC recommends keeping a distance of 6 feet, not going to crowded places, and always remembering to wash your hands before and after interactions. Also, if you are feeling any symptoms at all, it’s probably best to just stay home. That’s the best way to be a good neighbor this season!

As the stay at home order has been extended through the end of April, we will be celebrating Holy Week with online activities. 

April 5th at 9:00am for our Sunday School Class for all ages led by Pastor Paul on Zoom

April 5th at 10:15am for our Sunday Morning Worship Service on Facebook Live

April 7th at 9:00am Coffee with the Pastors on Zoom Every Tuesday

April 10th at 7:00pm for our weekly Wednesday Night Bible Study on Zoom

April 6th – 11th daily devotionals on Pastor Don’s Blog on our website

April 6th – 11th special children’s activities which will be found on website

April 12th at 9:00am for our Sunday School Class for all ages led by Pastor Paul on Zoom

April 12th at 10:15am for our special Easter Celebration Worship Service on Facebook Live

We will be gathering ONLINE ONLY at least through the month of April.  We hope you will choose to join us during one or more of our service times from the comfort of your living room.  We encourage everyone to pause, take a breath and center your hearts on Jesus.  Hope to see you soon.

Blessings,

Pastor Don

 

Saturday, March 28th

Update from Pastor Don,
As we all find ourselves waiting patiently in our homes, we pray that God is meeting you there in fresh new ways. At this time we can say that we will not be holding any events here at the church until at least until mid April with the exception of handing out food for our Saturday Morning Breakfast.   We should be able to update you further next week on our plans beyond that. In the mean time we hope to keep you connected online and provide you with resources to bless and encourage you. You are in our prayers. 
 
Don’t for get that we will be having online Sunday School tomorrow morning at 9:00 am led by Pastor Paul.  All you need to to is to log into www.zoom.us and click on ENTER MEETING.  When it prompts you for a meeting ID put in 158 051 898 and you are all set..
 
We will still be streaming live the Sunday Morning Worship at 10:15am on Facebook Live.  But if you want to see some of those that you missed you can again log onto www.zoom.us and click on ENTER MEETING.  When it prompts you for a meeting ID put in 797 236 553 and you are all set.
 
Grace, Peace and Safety to all,
Pastor Don

 

Wednesday, March 25th

 

Update from Pastor Don,

I hope you don’t feel I’m over communicating these days. With our “shelter in place” mandate, I don’t want anyone to get lost or isolated. And I don’t want anyone to be uninformed or discouraged. So, here are some things that are going on at New Heights Naz.

First thing is:

Church isn’t cancelled, we’re just meeting online.
The church is open, the building is closed.

Next things….

Our Wednesday Night Bible study is still meeting online. We are having our first online study tonight at 7:00pm.  To join us go on your computer or smartphone to www.zoom.us

             
To join Zoom meeting follow one of the following:
  1. https://us04web.zoom.us/j/140129690
  2. Or go to www.zoom.us  and click on the tab on the top right corner ‘JOIN MEETING’ and then enter the meeting ID number          below

             Meeting ID: 140 129 690

Every Wednesday night at 7:00 pm we will be meeting. With the zoom application we will be able to interact and see each other which I know a lot of us miss seeing each other.  So please join us.

NOTE:  If you need any help with the technology of getting into any of these meetings please call Ricardo for assistance at 323-273-2833
 
This Sunday we will also be having our normal Sunday School class online as well on Zoom. You   will be sent an email or text for the meeting ID number. The only different with our Sunday School is that we will all be meeting together in one class which will be led by Pastor Paul.
 
Our Sunday morning service on Facebook Live was a great success. Our number of viewers doubles from a normal week.  We will be still broadcasting on Facebook Live this week, but we will also be broadcasting on Zoom so you are able to see each other and talk with each other (when pastor is not preaching).  We are working on a way to get the words to the songs we are singing so you can sing along during worship time if you don’t know the words. You might want to invite some friends to join us too. This may be a time when they need what the Lord has to offer.
 
We are actively trying to ensure that no one gets lost, isolated, lonely, or un-cared for. Our Connectors Ministry has been reaching out to many who are isolated or need help. It is important that each of us reach out at least a few times a week to each other just to check in to make sure everyone is okay and doesn’t need anything.  If you would like to be part of the Connectors Ministry call Debbie Banta at 626-825-9043.  If you have a need today, please call Debbie and we will respond to all needs. 

 

Know that I love you, and am praying for your physical, mental, and spiritual health daily.
 

Blessing,

Pastor Don

 

Monday, March 23rd

 

We announced in church this Sunday that we will be using the ZOOM app to meet together online for our Wednesday night Bible study and Sunday School on Sunday mornings.  The application is easy to use and free, all you have to do is download the app to either your phone, tablet or desktop computer and you will be able to connect with us for these meetings.  Below are the instructions to get you started:

INSTRUCTIONS FOR ZOOM

  1. Go to www.zoom.us
  2. Once on the ZOOM page click on the blue SIGN UP, IT’S FREE button on the top right hand corner of the page
  3. Put in your email and click on the blue SIGN UP button
  4. You will be sent a confirmation email.  When received click ACTIVATE ACCOUNT button and you are all set
  5. Wait for invite from Pastor Don or Pastor Paul to be invited to the next meeting.
 
Important note:  If you want to attend either the Wednesday Night Bible study (7:00pm) or the Sunday School class (9:00am) you MUST text or call Pastor Don that you are planning to attend.
 
 

Sunday, March 22nd

 
Here is the Help Card that Pastor Don explained at the end of his message.  Please click on link below, print out and share it with two neighbors, friends, or family.  This is an important tool that you can use to help someone who is being compromised during this time we are to be in isolation.  
 
 
 

Friday, March 20th

 

COVID-19 UPDATE

We know these are strange times. We have been praying fervently and we hope you have been too. Things are changing quickly and we are doing everything we can to learn how we can adapt in order to continue to provide support, community, guidance, and wisdom while also taking all precautions to protect the vulnerable.

Below you’ll see some updates to the ways we are conducting ministry. There are a lot of things we don’t know right now…but what we DO know, is that church is not a building and we as a church will CONTINUE to do the ministry God has called us too. We also KNOW that this is not bigger than our God as our children learn in VBS this year that Jesus is our Superhero and nothing is impossible for Him. 

SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP

We will continue to observe the new mandate “Safer at Home” and ask that you continue to watch the Sunday morning worship online on our Facebook page (@NewHeightsNaz) at 10:15 am probably at least through March 29th.  Even if you are not a Facebooker you can go to this page and watch. 

We hope you will choose to join us from the comfort of your living room! Grab a cup of coffee and worship and grow along with us. We hope you will participate in all aspects of a typical service. We also hope that you will even start some conversations on social media about what God is doing in your life!

TITHES AND OFFERINGS

New Heights Naz continues to have financial obligations without a large reserve and as we attend church in a different manner, it is important that we pray about how we continue to tithe and/or give of our offerings to Jesus and His Church on a mission

We are currently working on finding the best alternative to be able to accept donations and tithes and offerings online.  Many of the companies that offer these services come with high processing fees so we are reluctant to do this until we check all possibilities.  In the meantime, we would really appreciate you continuing to give of your tithes and offerings because the church still has obligations, ministries and a building to maintain.  So we are asking that you either mail in your check to the church to:

New Heights Church of the Nazarene

15518 E. Gale Avenue, Hacienda Heights, CA.  91745

 

Or, you can drop it off anytime into our secure mailbox on east side of the church office attached to the wall.  If you cannot get out and want someone to come by and pick it up just call Pastor Don at 626-217-4042 and we will come by and pick it up.  We appreciate your faithful stewardship to the church and are blessed by your faithfulness. 

YOUTH AND KIDS

We value our kids and we want to offer something for our kids to stay connected during this time where they also cannot meet at the church.  We will be posting material to be used at home in the next few days on our website where you will be able to download and print out lessons and materials online. 

OTHER GATHERINGS AND MEETINGS

With new “shelter in place” orders from our county officials, I’m sure you can understand that we’ve suspended all gatherings, groups, and Bible studies until the order is lifted. Therefore, we will be taking a week by week approach as we continue to seek God’s direction and listen to wise counsel. We will be diligent to keep you informed. Keep an eye out for more information through our website at www.newheightsnazarene.org or our Facebook page at @NewHeightsNaz in the coming days. 

We are close to announcing a platform that we can use to continue our Wednesday Night Bible Study, R.E.A.L. Women’s ministry meetings and Board meetings.  Keep a look out on our website and Facebook page for this important announcement. 

STAY CONNECTED

We need each other more than ever. Even though we are needing to physically isolate ourselves, if we allow ourselves to be socially and spiritually isolated, that can have a detrimental effect on our mental health. We encourage you… REACH OUT to your community, to your family, to those in the church and ministry teams. We truly are in this together. It is as easy as calling someone, texting someone, emailing them, or maybe even Facetime, Skype, or Zoom them so you can visually see each other.  Whatever way you decide I challenge everyone to start if you haven’t already reached out and continue if you already have. 

PRAYER

We know that navigating a season of uncertainty is no easy feat. We believe that a commitment to prayer at this time from people throughout all our great local churches is what is going to usher in God’s mighty movement.  Earlier this week we posted a prayer list on our church’s Facebook page (@NewHeightsNaz) and our website (www.newheightsnazarene.org) so we can all be praying in unity throughout this crazy season.

IN CLOSING…

These are uncertain days but we worship a certain God! Your pastors look forward to worshipping with you in a different way again this weekend. God still moves, even in the midst of chaos; God is still sovereign in this. Let us throw up our hands and worship in the trials before us.

Blessings,

Pastor Don

 

Thursday, March 19th

 
A NOTE FROM PASTOR DON
 

Dear New Heights Naz family,

As we all continue to deal with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic we are called as a church to pray.  The crisis is urgent, and sometimes you may feel powerless, but perhaps feeling small is the best reminder to pray.  Prayer is how we actively practice believing, so simply, so confidently, that God has the whole world in his hands. It’s where we “let petitions and praises shape our worries into prayers, letting God know our concerns” (Phil. 4:6–7, The Message). Prayer is never the last resort of God’s people. It is our first point of action.  So, to help us pray together as a church, here is a list that we can pray during our daily prayer time.  New Heights Naz has been called to pray so please pray these things…

 

  1. For the sick and infected: God, heal and help. Sustain bodies and spirits. Contain the spread of infection.                                   
  2. For our vulnerable populations: God, protect our elderly and those suffering from chronic disease. Provide for the poor, especially the uninsured.                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  3. For the young and the strong: God, give them the necessary caution to keep them from unwittingly spreading this disease. Inspire them to help.                                                                                                                                                                               
  4. For our local, state, and federal governments: God, help our elected officials as they allocate the necessary resources for combating this pandemic. Help them to provide more tests.                                                                                                                  
  5. For our scientific community, leading the charge to understand the disease and communicate its gravity: God, give them knowledge, wisdom, and a persuasive voice.                                                                                                                                           
  6. For the media, committed to providing up-to-date information: God, help them to communicate with appropriate seriousness without causing panic.                                                                                                                                                                             
  7. For consumers of media, looking to be well-informed: God, help us find the most helpful local information to equip us to be good neighbors. Keep us from anxiety and panic, and enable us to            implement the recommended strategies, even at a cost to ourselves.                                                                                                                                                                                    
  8. For those with mental health challenges who feel isolated, anxious, and helpless: God, provide them every necessary support    
  9. For the homeless, unable to practice the protocols of social distancing in the shelter system: Protect them from disease, and provide isolation shelters in every city.                                                                                                                                                          
  10. For international travelers stuck in foreign countries: God, help them return home safely and quickly.                                                         
  11. For Christian missionaries throughout the world, especially in areas with high rates of infection: God, provide them with words of hope, and equip them to love and serve those around them.                                                                                                              
  12. For workers in a variety of industries facing layoffs and financial hardship: God, keep them from panic, and inspire your church to generously support them.                                                                                                                                                        
  13. For families with young children at home for the foreseeable future: God, help mothers and fathers to partner together creatively for the care and flourishing of their children. For single   mothers and fathers, grow their networks of support.                 
  14. For parents who cannot stay home from work but must find care for their children: God, present them with creative solutions.   
  15. For those in need of regular therapies and treatments that must now be postponed: God, help them to stay patient and positive.                                                                                                                                                                                                          
  16. For business leaders making difficult decisions that affect the lives of their employees: God, give these women and men wisdom, and help them to lead self-sacrificially.                                                                                                                                            
  17. For pastors and church leaders faced with the challenges of social distancing: God, help them to creatively imagine how to pastor their congregants and love their cities well.                                                                                                                                 
  18. For college and university students, whose courses of study are changing, whose placements are cancelled, whose graduation is uncertain: God, show them that while life is uncertain, their trust is in you.                                                                               
  19. For Christians in every neighborhood, community, and city: May your Holy Spirit inspire us to pray, to give, to love, to serve, and to proclaim the gospel, that the name of Jesus Christ might        be glorified around the world.                                                    
  20. For frontline health care workers, we thank you for their vocational call to serve us.

 

 
 

Tuesday, March 17th

 
Dear New Heights Church Family,
 

I am sure everyone is as concerned as I am about the Coronavirus and its effects on our lives, families, friends, and church, so I wanted to write you some thoughts I have and how we might navigate the next few weeks. 

As concern mounts about the spread of the coronavirus, we cannot afford to ignore it. This virus has affected the more than 100,000 people who have been infected by it, and millions of others who live and work in affected regions. The spread of COVID-19 has led to thousands of deaths, quarantines, school closures, and large-scale fear around the globe.

But in the midst of every crisis, the Church, New Heights Nazarene has an opportunity to show the love of Jesus and the hope we find in him. When things are darkest, that’s when the light of Jesus shines brightest.

There seems to be a lot of panic going on especially at the grocery store as people are buying everything out and stocking up in case of a quarantine.  As the church we need to remember that people are watching us and how we are reacting to the situation.  When we speak about this issue, we should convey a sense of empathy, concern, and unmoving hope.  Because we should model how Jesus reacted to times of distress.

On the night that Jesus was going to be betrayed, he shared a meal with his disciples. I can only imagine the amount of fear he felt thinking of what was about to happen to him. And he knew that his disciples would also be afraid. So in that moment, this is what he said to them:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)

In times of turmoil, Jesus tells us that we have no need to fear. He has given us peace. And not the kind of peace that the world offers—which is based on our moment-to-moment circumstances—but a real and enduring sense of peace.

And it is not that Jesus denies that difficult and painful things will happen to us and around us. He’s not unaware of the legitimate fears we have. It is just that those things have no power over us. Here is what he says later during that same meal with his disciples.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

We will experience troubles. But we are over-comers. So we don’t shrink back in fear. And we don’t panic, even when a dangerous illness spreads throughout the world.

But, while we don’t want to panic, we do want to be wise, discerning, and safe. And the coronavirus outbreak brings with it very real and practical health concerns with regard to large in-person gatherings. We need to have faith, but we also need to be smart.

So as much as we all look forward to gathering for Sunday morning worship, we will continue to look first at the safety of those attending, as well as peace of mind and continue another week of online only services.  We will continue to take all into account concerning this situation and make the wisest decisions to continue with online only church or begin again to worship together in person.  Keep checking our Facebook page and our website for the newest information.  We will be re-evaluating the situation week by week.  This definitely isn’t an ideal situation. But we need to continue to be flexible and attentive to our churches’ need for safety.

So, during this time communication is key.  We need to make every effort to stay connected when we aren’t able to see each other in person.  Continue to reach out to your neighbors, friends and relatives to see if there is anything they need—and pray for them.  Prayer seems like the spiritual answer to everything, but that is probably because it really is the actual answer to most things. So, instead of panicking, pray.

Part of the fear we feel about the coronavirus exists because it forces us to come to grips with some uncomfortable truths. Life is fragile and fleeting. And while we do everything we can to ensure our health and longevity, we still don’t have ultimate control. Our bodies are not built to last. We get sick, and we die.  But followers of Jesus know that this isn’t the end of the story. We have the hope of redemption, hope of healing, hope of a newness of life that lasts forever. Jesus died and rose again that we might have life abundant.

And nothing, not even the coronavirus, can separate us from the love of God, which is ours in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

Please pray for those affected by this virus, whether they are affected directly or indirectly. Pray for wisdom for our leaders about the church and decisions that are being made. And pray for peace of mind as people continue to worship online together. 

When a crisis hits, we have a tendency to spring into action to address it. But before we jump up, let’s spend some time praying. It will give us some perspective and focus, and it will fix our hearts on Jesus. Sometimes prayer is the most active thing we should be doing. 

I love you all,

Pastor Don