From: Rich Carlson
Date: March 20, 2020
Subject: It's March 20; Good Evening Union and Happy Sabbath

I usually don’t write GMUs during breaks but I have decided this should be an exception because we are going through some exceptional things right now!! I am safely home from Africa though I am quarantined, NOT because I am sick, but as a part of the precautions Union College (and the US government) are encouraging all those who have returned from international travel. I am well but limited to working from home right now. I agree with the decision of the College; I don’t like it but I think it is the right thing to do. I am amazed at all the changes that happened in response to the C-virus, while I was gone. I am proud of our school for all the extra efforts that are being put forth to ensure our safety first, and then the quality of our plans to help you all successfully finish this semester, even if it has to be at home. We’re going to make it through!!

We are going to try and develop some type of virtual spiritual life for our whole campus family. I’m still trying to catch up on everything but hopefully, in the next week, I’ll be able to share our plans. To do this I would REALLY love to hear from you if you have any ideas of things we could do to support you and “create the virtual environment and opportunity for you to grow in your relationship with Jesus.” Please share with me any ideas you have.

I’m not a reader on planes because I fall asleep, but I did have plenty of time for musing, while in the air, about this whole crisis and how best to respond. I DON’T have the answers but today, as I restart GMU early, I want to share my musings and my encouragement so you know that I continue to be faithful to God and He continues to be faithful to me so I can have something so share with you. Here are some of my airline musings, in no particular order; just things I want to share with you because YOU are my family and I love you all and want to see all of us come through this crisis stronger people.

  1. God loves us. This is NOT His plan! He is the author of good, not evil. He has to allow the evil sometimes because humanity chose to sin and sometimes he has to let that play out so no one can accuse Him of not honoring His gift of “freedom of choice” to each of us.
  2. God wins! Satan still distracts and confuses us, and we sometimes get confused in our priorities resulting in some bad stuff in this world and in our lives. Some of it I cause by my poor choices, some of it is just the devil causing trouble, and some of it is just the result of having to live in a sinful world.
  3. James 1:2 says that tough times give me a chance to grow because they show me where my strengths and weaknesses are. Faithfulness to God gives me an anchor and a foundation when the storms blow. I can also learn in those storms more about what I have practiced or developed in the good times. Time with God in the good times gives me a better chance of knowing where to turn in the tough times.
  4. Everything currently seems to be unraveling and falling apart. All my security points seem to be challenged. I cannot give up! I need to use the spiritual resources I have developed in the good times, or I need to establish a connection with God so I have spiritual resources available to me. Start now if you have not started earlier! Find a friend so you have support. Start in the book of John. I find reading slowly and out loud give God time to communicate with me and teach me. Pray like you are talking to a friend. Continue practicing, or start practicing the gift of talking with God.
  5. Don’t become an alarmist! It’s easy, in times like this, to try and calculate the Lord’s coming or develop a new understanding of last day events and the fulfillment of prophecy. I believe Jesus IS coming, but I don’t know when. I believe in His word and that He has given us great guidance for live and hope. I don’t think now is the time to make a new timeline for Him to come, but to faithfully keep trusting Him and believing He is in charge. As my brother said in a recent video to his Kansas Nebraska church members, rather than trying to interpret the 7 last plagues in light of the current “pestilence” try caring for your 7 isolated neighbors, or 7 lonely elderly church members, or 7 of your classmates who may not have a big circle of friends.
  6. ALL of our student missionaries are safely home!! I don’t know about the ACA students because that program does not run under Campus Ministries and I’m isolated from knowing much more. But I have heard that they are being taken care of as well.
  7. Watch CVC virtual worship service tomorrow at 11:15 on CVC Facebook page, Instagram account, and the usual livestream feed


Hope you have a blessed and restful Sabbath. Remember as we virtually light our Sabbath candle tonight that one of the meanings of the Hebrew word “Shabat” is ----- you know!! So Shabat, and remember God is still in charge.

Happy Sabbath,

Pastor Rich

Quote for the day:      “In all our associations it should be remembered that in the experience of others there are chapters sealed from mortal sight. On the pages of memory are sad histories that are sacredly guarded from curious eyes. There stand registered long hard battles with trying circumstances, perhaps troubles in the home life, that day by day weaken courage, confidence, and faith. Those who are fighting the battle of life at great odds may be strengthened and encouraged by little attentions that cost only a loving effort. To such the strong helpful grasp of the hand by a true friend in worth more than gold or silver. Words of kindness are as welcome as the smile of angels.”     Ellen White, Ministry of Healing, pg 158