New This Week

May 12th Devotional


So, it seems that some restrictions are being loosened and that there is a  “Light at the end of the tunnel!”  I have been praying for God to use this time apart in a mighty way, and for Him to bless us upon our return.  It seems that prayer is being answered. . .

 

As I recently mentioned, the Deacon’s and I have a plan in place for our return to our church building.  We will have safeguards in place, and ask all to adhere to these safeguards.  


On May 17th, as previously scheduled, we will continue to worship online when we will hear the message, “ENOUGH!

On May 24th, we will have a drive-in worship service where we will remain in our cars and worship through live music and the message presented through speakers in our parking lot.  


As for May 31st, we have not made a decision for hosting our Worship Service.  At this point, I am leaning toward our first Sunday back in the building being on June 7th, for our Communion Service.

Please pray as decisions are made and we make plans for a safe return for our membership.  There have been many God Moments and blessings during this time of distancing and closure, and one of the greatest events is something I want to share with you.

 

When I met with my Deacons recently, 10 of us entered the building; we each wore mask; we sat at different tables in the fellowship hall.  We discussed the business of the church and I was asked about the NA group that meets outside in our field.  I shared the story of my meeting with our NA group at the beginning of our facility closure--they came to me and requested the use of our field.  So ever since our building has been closed they have been meeting outside, in our field, every Monday and Friday night.  They bring their own chairs, and they do not come inside the building except to get their literature, which is kept downstairs.

 

That night, during our Deacons’ meeting, the NA leader came in to return the literature and he thanked the Deacons for allowing them to use our property and allowing them to continue meeting.  The Deacons and I discussed the essential need of this group to continue meeting and how much we appreciated that they respected our guidelines and restrictions.  During discussion, the question was raised, “how can we bless this group?”  We decided to bake cookies and deliver them to the group this past Monday night.

 

I am not sure how many cookies we delivered but it was more than enough for these two groups!  I want to thank you, Parham Road, for not only hosting two Narcotic Anonymous groups, but for blessing them and letting them know they are welcome here!  As my friend with NA told me, “not all churches are excited about this ministry or even consider it a ministry, but Parham Road has been very receptive!”  This is a God Moment!  The people need to know that the church supports them and does not reject them.  So thank you for offering this blessing and for being a light into their world.


As we get closer to re-entry into the building, we will put out procedures and guidelines that we will follow. A lot of information is on our website if you would like to read it and start your preparations.  Please continue to join us online for worship at 10:00am, and I hope you will make plans to join us for our drive-in worship on the 24th. 


Continue to pray about our re-entry date and prepare to come into the House of God with a new and refreshed spirit of worship.  I miss you and hope to see you soon!


God bless you Parham Road!   - Spencer

On My Mind

Spencer Dillard

Senior Pastor

Grief 

One of the most difficult responsibilities of a pastor is helping lead our loved ones through their time of grief.  I believe that one of the main reasons God called me to Parham Road is for this purpose.  I have been able to conduct funeral services for many people that I love dearly and have loved most of my life.  I have been able to sit with families and talk with them and help them navigate this “new way” of life.  I thank God for this blessing, but it is also the most difficult part of my ministry.  As I have talked to many of our church members these last few weeks, I have been burdened with the grief that many of us are experiencing.  I want to address this today and also, I want to ask that you call me so we can talk and work through what we call, “the grief process.”  It is a process that we all go through and is a part of each and every life.  But, the good news in the midst of this difficult time is that God is with us, and HE provides the way to get through this and to restore our joy!  Grief is real and it’s a part of life, but God knows that and has sent us a Helper for times such as this.

Grief is defined as, “a deep and poignant distress, caused by bereavement after one’s death.”  It is a deep sorrow, even misery and agony.  Grief is so real, and friends, it’s necessary.  The grief process helps us get through our loss and pain, and leads us to the new way of life that offers us hope and eventually back to joy.  As I have worked with many of our bereaved Parham Road families, I have found there is no equation, no simple solution, or a format for this process—it’s different in every situation.  The only answer I have is that it is a unique  process for each individual and we can work through the process and get our lives back to where we live in the hope and joy we once had.  This is what I would like to offer you today: the opportunity to walk with you through this process.


The truth is that your world is different now and you may be different.  You may not enjoy doing some of the things you use to do, and that ok!  You may find “new things” that will bring you joy.  Things that were once important to you may no longer be so important.  Your focus on life may change and that can be very healthy at times.  Some experience anger—which is normal—and some fear, and others doubt.  It’s okay for Christians to have these feelings, but never forget that “God is with us and will never leave us , nor forsake us.”  He has made preparations for you during this time.


I always ask my people to read the 14th chapter of the Gospel of John.  This is when Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure.  Jesus blessed all people with the words of comfort to help us navigate our grief in this life.  Jesus tells us:

Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father's house

there are many dwellings.  If it had not been so, I should have told you, for I am going to

prepare a place for you.  And, since I go and prepare a place for you, I will return and

take you to be with me, so that you may be where I am;

and you know the way to the place where I am going.   -John 14:1-4 (OEB™)

In this passage we are told that we will all face these feelings that we have, and we will all face the loss of a loved one.  It’s part of every life. But for us, for Christians, it truly is our passageway.  It’s our reward: leaving this sin-filled world and having Jesus usher us into a heavenly realm where there is joy—joy that WE can only imagine.  The truth of this scripture is that Jesus really did go to prepare a place for our loved ones.  This did not surprise Jesus!  He made great and eternal plans for his.  He was actually ready for this time and was readied to receive our loved ones to enter into the gates of heaven, and to sit at the table and have a great celebration!  You see, for our loved ones who went to heaven, they are experiencing the exact opposite of what we are feeling.  They are glad they are there and no longer suffering.  This is the reward they’ve always hoped for when they placed their faith in Jesus!  They have received “The Promise!”  Jesus promised He would come back and take us back to where He is, and Jesus has now fulfilled that promise for our loved ones.  And now, we can have the blessed assurance that one great day we too will be in that same place, with the same joy that our loved ones are living—forever and ever.  Amen!

In my next devotion I will deal with the 7 stages of grief.  I want to list them so you can think about them and prepare.  I also want to encourage you to call me to discuss the grief you are experiencing.  This is not a bother, it is the greatest part of my ministry and part of shepherding my flock.  I love you Parham Road, and I thank you for all you are doing during this difficult time, and I pray God’s blessing upon you!


Here are the 7 stages of grief that we will discuss tomorrow:

  • Shock & Denial

  • Pain & Guilt

  • Anger & Bargaining

  • Depression, Reflection, & Loneliness

  • The Upward Turn

  • Reconstruction & Moving Forward

  • Acceptance & Hope

Blessings, Spencer

Grief, Continued 

When we lose someone that we love, it's hard to imagine life without them.  It changes everything for us who remain, as we search to live life in a new way.  Grief comes in stages; these stages help us deal with our grief and navigate our way through our grief to find this new way of life.  This time of mourning and grief is normal, and it's also necessary for us to heal. But friends, healing does come.

 

We find encouragement from the Psalms in chapter 30, verse 5, when we hear these familiar words, “Weeping my last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”  For many of us, we have found that, in these deep valleys of death, God is so present.  In time, we will realize God’s plan and how He worked and orchestrated everything for His good.  Our worldly loss is part of God’s plan and part of our salvation story.

I want to say that there is no set formula—no one can tell you how to grieve.  Grieving is very personal.  But, there are things we can do to help because grief is an active process.  Throughout this process, we need to find balance.  Balance comes from making a plan on how we will spend our time.  Life does go on, and sometimes it is such a struggle that “the plan” is the only way to keep moving forward.  So plan how to spend your time.  Plan time to work on your grief.  Plan to spend time with others and for time alone.  Plan to seek help from others whom can care for you and can help you through the process. 

 

When we are grieving, we need to accept help from others when it is offered.  Friends are a vital part of this process.  I believe God often sends people at the perfect time to minister to us through loving friendships.  I also believe that journaling during this process is crucial.  There are many feelings and emotions we have never experienced before—journaling is a concrete way for us to work through these emotions.

Knowing that there are seven stages to grief, and realizing that we must process through these stages, will help us navigate the emotions and feelings in a healthy way.  Again, the seven stages are:

  • Shock & Denial

  • Pain & Guilt

  • Anger & Bargaining

  • Depression, Reflection, & Loneliness

  • The Upward Turn

  • Reconstruction & Moving Forward

  • Acceptance & Hope

 
As believers WE KNOW the promise that our loving God and Savior will never leave us nor forsake us.  Death makes us question this at times, but I have never met a Christian who did not find this promise to be true!  Friends, the pain and loss of this world is just that—of this world. One great day there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away:

Behold, God’s dwelling is with people; and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God
himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will
be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more. The first things have
passed away
.  -Revelation 21:4-5 (WEB™)

 

Our loss makes many things new in our lives.  This “new normal” can and will lead to a “new happiness.”  And finding happiness after a loss is not wrong—it's healthy!  It is what we do as people of hope!  Our hope is not in the things of this world, but in the promises of God.

Now, Lord, what do I wait for?  My hope is in you.  -Psalm 39:7 (WEB™)  

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,

that you may abound in hope in the power of the Holy Spirit.  -Romans 15:13 (WEB™)

God bless you my friends, stay strong through this difficult season and take care of one another.  Encourage each other and love one another.  Thank you for all you are doing and I look forward to worshiping with you Sunday!

Blessings, Spencer

Scripture quotations are from either The World English Bible™ (WEB™) or the Open English Bible™ (OEB™).

Both of these bible versions are in the Public Domain.   See www.worldenglish.bible or www.openenglishbible.org for details.

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