Recognizing God’s gracious deliverance, the Psalmist declared, “Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet . . . Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness” (107:28-31a NKJV). Hear the progression of the writer’s thoughts—they cried out, God calmed the storm, and then they gave thanks to Him with gladness. That sounds eerily familiar to my (and maybe your) experience last week about this time. The tall pine trees were swaying as the wind howled through the hills of North Louisiana, and many of them along with their oak cousins surrendered to the assailing gusts. Like many of you, I found myself pleading with the Lord for His power and protection. Gratefully, the weather calmed as the God moved the storm out of the area; and I remember the feeling of relief. A survey of our parish demonstrated extensive damage and even revealed homes that had taken the brunt of falling trees. Even more so, the eventual reports and pictures from our friends and family members to the south revealed tremendous devastation. Yet, I believe that we still have reason to give thanks to the Lord for His goodness. In this moment of quietness, we should praise Him for calming the storm and for allowing us to experience recovery/renewal. Storms are difficult; their consequences, devastating. But praise be to the Lord that He has kept us through the storm and given us a spirit of hope!
Of course, I am grateful for how our church family has continued to respond with an eye to ministry. Our “official” Chainsaw Crew as well as numerous volunteers have aided in the cleanup. In many instances, neighbor just helped neighbor. Our churches have even worked together. Specifically, the Bridge Community Church and Calvary Baptist Church helped us feed lineman, volunteers, & people in the community at The Springs. What an example of the body of Christ! Indeed, we have a way to go . . . especially our brothers and sisters in the Lake Charles area. If you would like to contribute to the ongoing disaster relief efforts, you can give directly to Rolling Hills or you can give to Temple. Either way, we will make sure that your funds undergird Southern Baptist disaster relief response in our state. Additionally, there may be some volunteer ministry opportunities in the Lake Charles and DeRridder areas. If you are interested in serving, I encourage you again to contact Rolling Hills and/or the Church Office.
Other ministries still continue here at Temple as well! We have been planning for the return of the Tech students to Ruston. (It has been a while!) And in that preparation, we are making some adjustments to our Sunday morning worship service locations. We will still have our 9 a.m. Blended Worship Service in the Sanctuary and the gathering Worship Service at 9 a.m. in The Gathering Space; however, our 10:30 a.m. the gathering Worship Service at 10:30 a.m. will meet in the Sanctuary. This move will allow us to promote social distancing with what we pray is an ever-growing worship service. (Our Wednesday night college MidWeek service will also meet in the Sanctuary at 8 p.m.)
Furthermore, we are planning to offer a class/service for senior adults only on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. beginning September 8. Dr. Galen Turner, III will lead this study from the book of Isaiah in the Sanctuary. Masks are required. Please know this will not take the place of senior adult Sunday School indefinitely. We want to get our classes/departments up and going again as soon as possible, but we also recognize the reality of the COVID-19 challenges. We are attempting to do everything we can to help provide contexts where people feel comfortable returning to campus to study and worship. We firmly believe that these opportunities are necessary to reconnect with one another in ways that technological means cannot. It is essential that we maintain fellowship and connection!
During these unprecedented days, we are committed to love the Lord and to love one another. That way, we will continue to look for ways to serve Him and our community. We may have to change some things around and be flexible as we move forward. But again, we are determined to do what we must do to make a difference for the Kingdom. Never forget, you are loved! See you Sunday!