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encouragement from steve wise

Sunday, June 28 2020

Dear friends,

I hope you were able to worship with us either in person or via livestream this past Sunday! We announced the beginning of Phase 2 of our “Regathering” this coming Sunday morning – July 5th.

In case you missed it, I am excited to announce that we will continue to have two services and a livestream option as well. There are a few important changes.

  • Our “Outdoor Service” will be at 9:00 am under the tent in the Emory Road House backyard. This service will be led by our worship team from the deck of the Emory Road House. Expect this service to last around 45 minutes to an hour. Please bring your own chairs or blankets to sit on. Masks are not required but recommended.
  • Our “Indoor/Livestream Service” will be at 10:30 am in the sanctuary. We will no longer require sign-ups for this service. We will follow official guidelines and limit this service to 50% occupancy (220). (Overflow in the Fellowship Hall of 35 will also be available.) Every other pew will be open to maintain social distancing. Temperatures will be checked and masks required. Entry will continue from both ends of the long hall from Emory and Pineville Roads.

We continue to suspend all our other Sunday morning activities at this time. We are working hard as a staff and Regathering Team to find the wisest, healthiest, and most efficient ways of reopening our worship services and other ministries in the Church. Your prayers and patience are greatly appreciated. We understand that this is not an ideal plan and this is not an ideal situation. But it is an opportunity to learn to love Jesus and each other more and more, and better and better! I am looking forward to when we can all be together in worship and ministry again!

You can find more information on our website (here) and on our email blast on Friday.

Your friend

Steve Wise

Posted by: Steve AT 03:19 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, June 20 2020

Dear friends,

“The Lord is pleased with his people. 
He saves those who are not proud.
Let those who worship him rejoice in his glory.
 Let them sing for joy even in bed!
Let them shout his praise
    With their two-edged swords in their hands.”
- Psalm 149:4-6

Do you wonder what to do? Do you feel overwhelmed? For yourself? For your family? For your church? For your community?  This Psalm teaches us the most important thing and the most powerful thing we can do is to worship. 

Worship begins from the sense of pleasure that God takes in His people and arises from an attitude of humility. We choose to praise God with expressions of joy and we experience joy at the beginning and end of the day. 

The wisdom of shouting praise rests on several important thoughts. We shout about and for the things that matter most to us. We not only put words and voice to our thoughts but we also put effort into voicing them. Something happens in us when we say and sing words of praise because it is a conscious choice to assert truths about God and ourselves. 

Finally, the Psalmist sees our worship as battle against all the things that would seek to distract, discourage, and depress us. High praises of God are like battle-chants. The two-edged sword is a reference to the Word of God. In Ephesians 6, Paul lays out the “armor of God” that protects us from evil. The only offensive weapon is the “sword of the Spirit” which is the Word of God. Our worship includes both our words to God and receiving God’s Word to us. 

Our worship is always very important, but perhaps more important now than ever. It changes the atmosphere of our own souls, our own homes, our church, our community, our city, our county, our nation and our world. I hope you will join us live at 9:30 or 11:15 or via livestream at 9:30 tomorrow. 

For our 9:30am service, you can sign up here.  11:15 does not require a sign-up. 

Your friend,

Steve Wise

Posted by: Steve AT 03:18 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, June 10 2020

Dear friends,

“I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience…as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, longing to see you…so that I may be filled with joy.”

II Timothy 2:3-4

Gathering together for worship has brought me great joy! I look forward to seeing those who have not been able to attend in the near future. We greatly appreciate your engagement either via livestream or “live action.” We are grateful for the understanding and cooperation you have shown throughout this process! We did not expect less but have received even more – thank you!

We have addressed some difficulties with our sign-up process. If you have been unable to sign up for our 9:30am service - please try this week! You can sign up here. Please contact the church office if you have difficulty.

We know the mask requirement during the 9:30am service may feel a little onerous. We are following guidelines from appropriate channels to help keep people healthy. If this has kept you from worship, we do apologize but encourage you to be a part of our 11:15am service.

Our worship team works hard to provide leadership that incorporates elements from all of our normally scheduled services. Thank you for your patience and understanding. We hope that despite physical distancing you have been encouraged in our worship. And we hope to get back to normal sooner rather than later!

Our team is in the process of formulating our plans moving forward. Our present schedule will run through at least June 28th. We continue to ask our friends in the more vulnerable populations to worship from home. Please pray for wisdom for the re-opening team and for all of our continued good health at WPC and in our community. I hope to see you all soon.

Your friend

Steve Wise

Posted by: Steve AT 03:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, June 03 2020

I am weary, God, but I can prevail.” Proverbs 30:1 (NIV)

These words began a small group discussion first thing Monday morning.  It is a strange sentence in Hebrew.  Two words that may be personal names.  One means “weary” or “devoured” and the other means “God is with me.”  The night before, I fell asleep after a phone call from my daughter distressed by the situation in her city, our state, and our nation.  She said, “I am sad.” Weary and sad sum up how I feel right now. 

I am weary and sad for my friends of color – people I have known and loved for many years – who are so weary and sad.  I am weary and sad for my friends who look more like me – for what makes them weary and sad.  I am weary and sad for people who feel hated and I feel weary and sad for those who hate – “hatred corrodes the container that carries it” (quoted at George H.W. Bush’s funeral). I am weary and sad because I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me and because it seems all I can do is feel sorry for other people.  My heart breaks for the brokenness of people of every race, color, creed or any other identifier.   My heart breaks for parents trying to help their children make sense of a broken world.  My heart breaks for my own brokenness. 

Different things cause fear and anxiety in each of us but all of us know fear and anxiety.  When I understand my own, perhaps I can empathize with that of another. 

I do not know all my questions and I certainly do not know yours.  I do not have any answers, but this is what I know:

God created us in His image and chose to call Himself our Father.  Jesus taught us how to pray starting with “Our Father.”  It reminds me of two things.  God loves me like a Father and God loves everybody else like a Father – no matter where they are from or what they have done, the color of the skin or the sins they have committed.  How I treat another person is of utmost seriousness to God!  As a father, nothing hurts me more than what hurts my children – so I know the Father is hurting because I know all of His children are hurting. 

Jesus demonstrated God’s love for us – the self-sacrificial willing of our good at great cost to Himself.  Every life is worth the blood of Jesus; no life is worth more and no life is worth less.  Jesus bore our sins and the pain it causes us and others.  No one understands that pain more than He does.  Thus, we must be very careful with the pain of others – even when we do not understand it. When others are in pain, we are called to comfort.  The cross is the place where absolute justice meets abundant mercy.  May the cross be the lens through which we see everything!

The Holy Spirit jealously desires to dwell in all who welcome Him.  Every human life is one God wants to inhabit and transform – no matter skin tone or dress style, language or lifestyle.  The scene around the throne in heaven is Jesus in the center with redeemed people of every tribe, tongue, kindred and nation gathered around in adoring worship!  If this is God’s desire and dream, should we desire or dream any less.

So we are weary but this God is with us!  May we learn to feel what God feels, desire what God desires, think what God thinks, and do what God does.  May we learn to love what He loves because He loves us so much and love like He loves because He loves us so well. 

Your friend

Steve Wise

Posted by: Steve AT 03:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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