"…to the praise of the glory of His grace…" Ephesians 1:6


Dear Springs of Grace Church Family,

Grace and peace! I pray and trust for the Lord’s keeping mercies in each of your lives.
I want to give you a few updates and some additional pastoral counsel.

Our services this Sunday, March 22nd, will be live stream only. We will have the link to that on our website (www.springsofgrace.church) and sent to you by email and on our Facebook and Twitter and Instagram platforms.

We will be offering a livestream and zoom video interactive children’s service on Wednesday nights, starting next Wednesday, 3/25! Details to come.

I want to encourage you to pray. Let’s pray for our own hearts that we might love and know the Lord better and faithfully. Pray for the salvation of many who don’t know the Lord Jesus and the repentance of His people. Pray for those who are sick and those who have lost loved ones. Weep with those who weep. Pray for those who are isolated and are scared. Pray for the virus spread to stop. Pray for those who are experiencing joyful things in the midst of these days and don’t know how to express their joy (pregnancy, births, marriage, salvation of family or friends). Rejoice with those who rejoice. Pray for our doctors, nurses, and medical staff. One of our doctors shared with me today – “in a situation where there is fear that ‘there won’t be enough’ and the only constant is change, I think about the widow that Elisha visited. He gave her a word from God to gather as many jars as she could, and the little bit of oil she had would fill all the jars until there were no more to fill. Wherever you are, whether it’s from home, or in clinic, or at the hospital, or somewhere else…I invite you to be a jar, to be a vessel that God will use to provide more than enough of his life and hope and peace to our community.” Pray for our missionaries. I have communicated again today with those in the Middle East and the challenges there are immense. The Philippines is moving towards quarantine and lockdown. Pray for the Ukraine. It has had lesser impact so far, but they are preparing for how to care for the vulnerable if/when the virus spread intensifies there.

I want to encourage you to take seriously the social distancing guidelines given by the CDC, the White House and our Tulsa mayor. https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/03.16.20_coronavirus-guidance_8.5x11_315PM.pdf I am asking you, out of love for others and especially out of love to the most vulnerable, to keep safe distancing and to avoid unnecessary contact. Consider having a small group of people who are at the same risk level and quarantine level as you that you interact with, but realize that if you are moving around to several groups – then you are actually risking the spread of the virus in much greater ways. The medical doctors from our church have given me great explanations of the realities we are facing and the necessity of doing what we can now to “flatten the curve” in hopes of not overwhelming the hospitals and medical care facilities.

I want to encourage you to daily check on others through phone calls, texts, facetime, cards, and other safe social distancing methods. Contact the people you normally are in their lives and reach out to others as well. Let’s take our love to a higher level.

If you have any needs or are made aware of any needs that we can pray about or help meet, please let us know.

If you desire someone to pray with you or counsel with you, we are working on setting up regular opportunities for counseling for men, women, couples or families.

I will be hosting, hopefully along with a doctor or two from our church, an interactive question and answer time soon. We will get the details out to you about this.

As Christians, we are not to be motivated by self-protection or fear – and the church leadership at Springs is not motivated in those ways. We are motivated by love and hope. So, out of love for others – serve where you can, stay home as you should, and pray for the Lord’s sure and wise purposes to be known and realized.

As Christians, we should not be surprised by these things. The Scripture tell us that this world groans under a curse brought on by sin. This pandemic is a reminder to us that things are not like they are supposed to be. As I said in Sunday’s message in quoting Romans 8 – “Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

I keep mentioning the two storm events in the gospels with Jesus and His disciples. Once, Jesus stops the storm and in the other storm, He gets in the boat with the disciples. We are asking Him to still the storm, knowing that it will be at least as sweet, if He just gets in the boat with us. There is no guarantee that Christians will be spared when there are pandemics, food shortages or hand sanitizer shortages or even toilet paper shortages.

When Jesus says in Matthew 6 that we should not be anxious what we eat or drink because our Father knows what we need, He doesn’t mean that Christians will never be hungry or starve. He means that there will always be enough food so that we can do His will and glorify His name. And if tribulation or distress or famine strikes it will not cut us off from the love of God. This has been reality for Christians in much of the world for a long time – just not for us, but it might be, and if it is, it will not separate us from the love of Jesus Christ. Fear not.

Normal and safe are not guaranteed. The love of Jesus is.

Some believe that this is being overblown. As Christians, we know that this world is falling apart, and the end is coming. This probably isn’t the end. Maybe this is just a forerunner of what’s to come, but as Christians we are urged to stay alert and love well.

We have a sure hope and we are of a kingdom that will never end. We have the gift of eternal life. And as Christians we should live that way, while recognizing that God has us as citizens of BOTH heaven and earth. We ought to be the best citizens, the most loving, the most compliant if we are being asked to sacrifice for the good of others without violating God’s Word. Let’s ask God to give us creative acts of love and let’s excel at them.

Focus your efforts first on the most vulnerable – love the least of these. In this crisis, the most vulnerable appear to be the elderly, those with underlying health concerns, and those whose medical needs might be neglected if hospitals and medical resources become overwhelmed. Over time, the most vulnerable will likely change and expand and we should be alert to that as it happens.

Those of us who are at less risk should joyfully lay aside our freedoms for the good of the more vulnerable. Philippians 2 says that we are to have this attitude of Jesus in us – the law of love that esteems others as more important than ourselves.

It’s not about self-protection and fear. It is about love. Love others by helping minimize their risks.

One pastor I esteem said this: “Just as we shouldn’t rush to be hoarders, we shouldn’t lust to be heroes. Most small needs won’t feel desperate, and our meeting them won’t feel heroic. But such is our work in the kingdom of God, and blessed is the man who sees the magic of grace at work in the mundane.”

Let’s lead the way in passing on the mercies and love God has shown us by excelling more still in love to others.

We need each other. We were made for community. So, work hard at interacting without increasing risks.

May the love of Jesus and the knowledge of Him spread exponentially more rapidly than the COVID-19 virus.

With all love,

Joe Blankenship