4/20/20

I’m on our screen porch, sipping coffee, listening to the rain, and counting my blessings this Easter morning.  I am sad that we are not able to congregate today of all days, but I’m excited that the real tie that binds us is still intact. 

 

As the gospel song says “The Anchor Holds.”   We are bound by a common experience – salvation - and a common excitement - our Savior.  We have been touched by the reality of the resurrection.  Like those two on the Damascus road, we say, “He is risen indeed!

 

I long for the day when our hearts will be united and our voices raised once again side by side in corporate worship.  The truth is as the church- we need to be at church.  This desire is birthed not out of some legalistic distortion, but rather on a realistic design.  We have been spiritually born into a family and are part of an intricate fellowship known as the Body of Christ. 

  

            “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one a member of it”

                                                            I Corinthians 12:27

We need to be together, but until then, we will continue to press on in Jesus’ name.  There are significant lessons to be learned in the midst of this that I am convinced will, in the long run, strengthen His body for the task before us.

 

For such a time as this we must forgo assembling, but we will not forsake that ultimate desire.  I miss my church family.

 

Shepherding from a distance,


James Lewis

4/5/20

If you are like me, it seems like information about and instructions for COVID-19 are changing almost daily.   This is unsettling, but the reality is we are dealing with a very deadly virus that, quite frankly, has caught the global community off guard.  No one has seen anything like this before.  As they say, hindsight is 20/20.  It’s easy to say what should have been done.  We will get through this and come out on the other side both stronger and wiser.  In the meantime, we will continue to deal with a very changing landscape… a new norm that is anything but normal.

 

Please continue to pray for our national, state, and local officials who are faced with making tough decisions everyday in an attempt to stem the tide of this outbreak.  Pray for all the health care workers, first responders, and other essential folks who are working diligently in the midst of this pandemic.  

 

Someone recently sent me this and I pass it on to you.   Perhaps it will serve as a reminder to pray for ALL those who are attempting to lead out during these difficult days.


Your pastor has never pastored a church through a pandemic before.

 

When he opens, people will say he should have closed.  

When he closes, people will say he should have opened.

 

When he shakes hands people are going to say he has faith or that he is being foolish.

         

He is going to make some difficult decisions to protect the flock, considering everything from your spiritual growth to legal liabilities that you aren’t even thinking about.

 

I pastor the most amazing group of people, and your pastor probably thinks the same about you.

 

Remember this:

            No one wants things to go well at church as much as your pastor.  He needs your prayers and support right now.  And although you can’t touch him, give him an air high five.

Copied from an Unknown Source

 

Missing my flock.

 

Much love, 

Bro. James

3/18/20

The Shepherd’s Nook,

 

Someone recently complimented my preaching by saying I put the bread on the bottom shelf so everyone could take a bite. I liked that analogy.    Hopefully, I can put some “bottom shelf” perspective on the epidemic known officially as COVID-19.  We need to:    

           

            WADE

                        A tremendous amount of information is coming at us from all directions. We need to carefully and prayerfully wade through it.  Being prepared is one thing, but being paranoid is quite another.  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matt. 6:25-27 

           

            WASH

                        Common sense, which tends to be in short supply these days, tells us that taking personal responsibility is critical to limiting exposure.  Wash those hands! 

           

            WIPE

                        Our church has high traffic areas sanitized by a professional company on a regular basis.  This is done in addition to the thorough cleaning our facility receives weekly.  However, these days wiping down surfaces is taking on a new urgency.

           

            WAVE

                        For now, wherever we are, we need to greet others with a wave and smile as opposed to a hug or handshake.   This will be difficult, especially for this preacher, but it is simply a much-needed precaution.  Please don’t feel slighted.  It is intended to keep us safe.   You may even want to wiggle your “jazz hands”!  Insert wink

                       

            WEIGH

                        We will continue to assess the situation and make adjustments here as necessary.  You must weigh your own health concerns and act accordingly.  Also, please remember to weigh in with your offerings. Services may be suspended, but the bills are still coming.

           

            WATCH

                        Certainly we want to watch out for our family, friends, and neighbors.

                        Don’t forget to lend a hand, if needed.

           

            WORSHIP

                        We may not be able to worship together for a little while longer, but we will be providing a videocast each week. It is a wonderful time for you to personally be still and KNOW that He is God.   Each of us who belong to the Lord have full access to Him and should be praising His name for His goodness, even in the midst of these difficult times.

            

            “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 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 8:38-39

 

From the bottom shelf

3/8/20

Unfortunately, security is on everyone’s radar these days, even at medical facilities.  I hope you don’t ever have the occasion to visit Regional One (formerly known as The Med), but if you do, be prepared to encounter some extra security measures.  


First of all, everyone is required to empty their pockets or purse before going through a metal detector.  Word to the wise, if you carry a pocketknife; leave it in your vehicle.  Otherwise, be prepared to either throw it away or walk it back to your vehicle. Parking in and around Regional One is a premium, so if you return it, you are probably looking at a 6 to 8 block hike. This is not a hypothetical situation - believe me.  ☹.  


Anyway, on with my story…  After passing through the metal detector, you are then required to hand a photo I.D. to the receptionist.  You give them the name of the patient, then they take your photo and hand you an adhesive visitor’s pass.  

 

The past several times we’ve been there, the same receptionist has been working at the desk.  I know it must be a stressful job because Regional One primarily deals with trauma situations.  However, I have marveled at the patience and politeness of this particular staff person.  She always responds to any inquiry with the same statement, “It would be my pleasure to help you!”  


Recently, after receiving our badges, Bro. Grant told her to have a good day.  Her reply was, “I will.”  What a marvelous attitude!  The truth is we probably allow others to determine whether or not our day is going to be good when in reality, it is mainly up to us.  We don’t always have a choice in what we are going to face, but we do have a choice in how we face it.


            “…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.”

                                                                                                

Philippians 4:8


3/1/20

From time to time I am asked why we don’t do a weekly newsletter.  My answer is always the same.  We do!  Our Sunday morning worship guide is our weekly newsletter.  We probably take it for granted, but a lot of thought, not to mention a considerable amount of energy, goes into this weekly publication.  We want you to be well informed.  With that in mind, let me remind you about some upcoming events.

 

Don’t forget that we return to Daylight Savings Time on Sunday morning, March 8.  We will “spring forward” so you’ll need to set your clocks ahead.  The days are already getting longer in terms of the amount of daylight.  This will only add to it and move us ever closer to springtime! ☺

 

Don’t fail to save the date.   Vacation Bible School at DHBC will be June 8-12.  This annual event is always one of the highlights of our year.  We aren’t signing workers up quite yet, but as always, we’ll need all hands-on deck.  If you are able, I hope you will volunteer.  In the meantime, please be praying for this special event.

 

Don’t miss the Summer Book Series 2020 starting in May on Wednesday evenings.  This year we will be studying a book authored by a very familiar face and rich voice, particularly to those living in the Mid-South.  The book is titled:

 

What Every Christian Ought To Know

Solid Grounding for a Growing Faith

By

Adrian Rogers

 

The bulk of the material is based on a new members class that Dr. Rogers taught for many years while he was pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church.  It is a very practical, but profound book from one of America’s most respected Bible teachers.   Not only will his insight help ground you in your faith, but also guide you as you share that faith with others.  Copies can be purchased ($13.00) at the Welcome Center. 

 

Now you know,

2/23/20


I suppose the best way to sum up our recent break-in at the church is to say, “all’s well that ends well.”  We think the person responsible has been apprehended and the stolen items were recovered from a ditch behind the church.  Thankfully, they were discovered before the rain set back in.  In the midst of this, some valuable lessons have been learned:


Lesson # 1

            Don’t automatically dismiss the security call as just another false alarm.  I received the call about 3:30 AM Sunday morning and without hesitation told them not to dispatch the police.   We’ve never had a break-in before and the many calls we’ve had up to this point have always been false alarms. So without the presence of law officers, I came to check on the church, along with my sidekick, Kathy, who

had insisted on riding along. There were no vehicles or activity in sight. After slowly driving the perimeter of the building and head lighting the playground area, I came inside, and reset the alarm without seeing the broken door just yards away from me in the dark hallway. Little did I know that the intruder was still inside the building.  I won’t make that mistake again.


Lesson # 2

            Don’t feel overly confident in the security system.  It is good, but we must be ever diligent.  We now know that we have some blind spots in our building that must be addressed.  Because of the way he accessed the building and the route he took once inside; our motion detectors did not immediately catch his movements.   We will be taking some measures to correct this problem.


Lesson # 3

            Don’t forget to say thank you to those who give you a helping hand every day. I am especially grateful for the overwhelming support you gave on this particular day. To be honest, I was pretty bummed about the whole ordeal.  I really felt bad for Marc. He loves and cares for his instruments.  All of this was whirling in my head as I tried to stay focused, knowing that what we most needed that day

was to have church and worship our Lord.  So many of you stepped up to help that happen.  Thanks go out to the staff, our very own security team, the deacons, the Southaven Police Department, and countless others who helped us get through and even beyond the incident.


Lesson #4

                        “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…where thieves do not break in and steal.”           Matthew 6:19-20

                                                                                                

2/16/20

As previously noted via “the nook”, digital signs seem to be all the rage these days. No DeSoto county business, or for that matter, church seems to be complete without one. Our sign is certainly in a very prominent place as countless vehicles pass by it daily. The new one we installed last year looks great.  Although we have the capacity to run it in color, we continue to wait for the thumbs up from the city officials before doing so. There is presently a code in place that prohibits this, although some, especially other local churches are obviously ignoring the code. Hopefully, this restriction will be lifted in the very near future and we will also change to living color. 


Speaking of signs, I saw one the other day that reminded me of the old saying “the light is on, but no one is at home.” In this case, the sign was on, but no one was home, even though the digital message read, “flu shots are now available.” I knew they weren’t temporarily closed for the day but were permanently out of business. This very familiar and iconic “preWal-Mart” variety chain store was now a thing of the past. They had locked the doors but forgotten to turn off their sign.


Let’s be sure that at DeSoto Hills we keep the sign running, the lights on, the doors open, and the message clear…Jesus Saves!


“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected…which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

                                                                                                                                       Acts 4:11-12