Keep the faith

Dear Benchmark Church and Fenton Alano Club Family

As I write this letter today I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all healthcare workers and those in our grocery stores, food distribution and other essential businesses, who have so selflessly and bravely taken their place out on the front lines in the battle against this Covid-19 pandemic. Also, I hope that you can take some comfort in knowing that you are all being earnestly prayed for on a continual basis.

I would also like to thank the leadership who are so instrumental in navigating through the work that is being accomplished at both of our campuses. First to both my administrative assistants, Amy at the Fenton Alano Club and Tina here at the main church as there is no loss of things to do as we try to maneuver through these uncharted waters. Their eagerness to serve and the diligence with which these ladies serve is unpresented. I am also very appreciative of Pastor Dave with his availability and eagerness to help maintain contact with you all in the church. I am sure many of you can attest to the joy his calls and prayers bring, in this troublesome time.

Thank you as well, to all those on the Executive Board at the Fenton Alano Club who make the AA meetings possible by faithfully chairing meetings several times a week and to the worship & tech team here at Benchmark Church who make the weekly online services possible. If not for the dedication and abilities of all these people it would be impossible to keep the operations of both institutions moving forward.

“Keep the Faith”... In the past few days, the Holy Spirit has placed this cliche’ upon my heart and mind. He seemed to be showing me that as patience and understanding begin to wear thin with the practice of this national shutdown, that encouragement and hope are also becoming an essential commodity that has begun to be in short supply.

As the phrase seemed to reverberate in my head, I wondered from where within the pages of scripture did that phrase originate. Then the Spirit directed me towards the Apostle Peter’s comments, as he closes his letter to the first century christians, who found themselves in a very obscure and troublesome place. They had just begun to press forward with God’s plan and design for his Church for which they were in the midst of enduring tremendous resistance and persecution. At the end of his epistle, Peter placed this charge before them;

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. - 1 Peter 5:8-11 NKJV

Friends, today we also find ourselves in a very obscure predicament and troublesome place. Never in any of our lifetimes have we faced such challenges. The temporary loss of our God given freedoms to come or go in travel, the freedom to assemble when and how as we please, the right to pursue financial gain and personal contentment.

There is restlessness along with a fear and anxiety as to how long this will last or even how long we can last under these restrictions. Alongside all those uncertainties there is a certain amount of apprehension as to when and how these freedoms will be back in place.

All of these questions and concerns are entirely valid and truly are questions that need to be asked. We should look to God and bring these petitions before him, trusting him to restore what this virus has temporarily stolen.

With that being said I would like to remind us of Peter’s words to be sober and vigilant understanding who our adversary truly is.

Our adversary is Satan and he is responsible for unleashing this despair, death and destruction upon this world and its inhabitants.

We must be ever so cautious of being lured into a snare of disbelief, baited by the evil one, as he attempts to instill a loss of hope and faith in our gracious and loving Heavenly Father to lead out of this valley of death.

Instead we must stand strong and tall in the hope, promise and overwhelming power of God Almighty, to deliver us from the pit of despair the devil is trying to entrap us within. We must hear his words and his heart that he speaks towards us, his beloved people. We must remember we are the people of the most high God and he will never leave or forsake us.

Let us take heed to the words of Apostle Peter in the above passage and Resist him, (the Devil) steadfast in the faith, (or in other words KEEP THE FAITH) knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

"We are all in this together", is the slogan we repeatedly hear, and it is true.

Not only are we in this together but there are many who need us as the people of God to be in this with them. They need us to pray and bring hope, to love and to console those who have suffered loss, or have loved ones precariously hanging on to life in a battle with this insidious disease. Many need us to stand in the gap between them and God to intercede on their behalf to help build a relationship that they now realize that they truly need. Many may need us to introduce them to the Higher Power for the very first time in their lives.

We must also always remember the words found in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Hebrews 12: 1-2, when he reminded them and us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, ... looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,”

We must realize that a great multitude of us are in the very same predicament, and we all must resist the enemy’s offer to aid us giving up and giving in, we must reject the temptation to listen to his futile and destructive mumbling, instead listening to the words of scripture, taking to heart the Apostle’s words in;

Romans 8:37-39 NKJV 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We are more than conquerors, stand in that passage from our God's Word and rest in the knowledge that nothing can separate us from him, nothing.

Now more than ever, it is imperative that we set our eyes firmly upon the only One who has the absolute total control as to how the entirety of chaos and calamity culminates.

The One True God of all things, for it is He, who is the author and finisher of our faith, for he indeed, he and he alone has the final word in all of this.

“Keep your Faith” in Him, for He is the God of the mountain as well as the God of the valley. He will undoubtedly lead us through.

To him be the honor,the glory and the dominion forever and ever.