HUNKER DOWN WEEK #6: LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
I hope everyone is enjoying the extremely pleasant weather the Lord has blessed us with! Take advantage of these days to enjoy God's good creation.
Sunday was our sixth Lord's Day of the "church in exile." Preparing virtual worship services has been interesting and stretching for us. It has made for some long and late Saturday nights for Pastor Kyle, our "editor-in-chief." It has had some unexpectedly positive effects, but I think I speak for everyone when I say it is not an acceptable long-term substitute for meeting together in person.
But there is good news! Here is our short-term plan for returning to in-person worship as we go forward. These plans should all be taken to be "D. v." that is "Deo volente" (God willing). I'm going to put it in bullet form for ease of reading:
Hear these words which are our Fighter Verses for May 3:
"The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."
The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
Lamentations 3:24-26, ESV
Grace and peace to you,
HUNKER DOWN WEEK 5
Good Lord's Day morning, everyone!
TODAY will be our fifth consecutive week of online-only services. I hope you are able to join us either on our Facebook page or on our YouTube channel, those will be up at 10:40 am. (Most of the time, the video service will be available on YouTube well before that time).
This morning, we launch a short sermon series entitled "Resurrection Scenes." Today we will study John 20:19-29 and Jesus' appearances to ten of his disciples without Thomas, and then later with him.
Please allow me to give a little "shout-out" to our team members who work together to make our video services not only possible but pleasant to watch and listen to. I won't embarrass them by calling them by name here, but we couldn't do it without them. Thank you all!
On Wednesday evenings, we host a ZOOM meeting for prayer and devotional time in God's word. If you would like to join us, please let me know by e-mail, text, or call. The best way to reach me is on my cell phone at 479-238-3772.
Some of our Bible study groups have begun to meet via ZOOM. If you would like to be a part of one of these, just let me know and I will put you in touch with the right person.
One of the best ways to stay in touch during this time of social distancing is by phone. If you are a Sunday School class leader or Bible study leader, make it a point to call your class members.
Our deacons are making every effort to stay in touch with our widows and shut-ins. We have other volunteers who are available to run errands, deliver groceries, pick up medications, etc. Just let me know.
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”
In closing, I would like to offer a pastoral word. While we are able to do much with technology, it is not a substitute for meeting in person for prayer, worship, and Bible study. This time of not meeting in person has the potential to grow very discouraging. There are positive things happening, like folks watching/listening to the service who had not do so and likely would not have. I am very glad we are able to provide this service, but it is not the same as the gathered church. May this time apart cause us to long for the day when we meet again.
When we finally do get back together, one thing is for sure: it won't be business as usual (or business as before). Ken Braddy, director of Sunday School for LifeWay, has written a helpful article for us entitled
24 Questions Your Church Should Answer Before People Return
Lots of food for thought and preparation. Not every question will apply specifically to us, but many will. You may think of other things to add to the list.
May the Lord bless and keep you until we meet again.
Grace and peace,
HUNKER DOWN WEEK #4
Good afternoon, everyone! I realize this is a little early in the week for an "update" but I wanted to help you get a head start on the weekend. I want to encourage you to reach out to one another with a phone call, text, or old-fashioned letter. It is easy for us to feel disconnected in these days of quasi-quarantine and self-policed isolation.
As we gathered on ZOOM last evening for prayer and encouragement from God's word, we were reminded that, with all the concern over COVID-19, the fact that this is Holy Week is easily overshadowed. No, our normal activities won't be held. But we do have the opportunity to render uncommon service to the Lord and to one another, especially as related to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Resurrection (Easter) Sunday. (By the way, it isn't wrong to refer to the day as "Easter." That word has nothing to do with the pagan worship of the fertility goddess Ishtar as is sometimes mistakenly thought. Imaginative English Neo-Pagans of the late 18th-century needed a myth to hang their made-up religion on, and this is what they came up with. They made it up by sewing a bunch of existing legends together. And they did so to make it look as though Christians had borrowed the idea of "Easter" from them. Nothing could be further from the truth. And "Resurrection Sunday" could refer to every Lord's Day because that is what we come together to celebrate on a weekly basis. So you will likely hear me using both terms interchangeably and in good conscience. I will, likewise, not fault you for conscientiously objecting to or avoiding the term so as not to confuse it with the secular emphasis on bunnies, eggs, and the return of spring. If you want to visit about this, just reach out).
MAUNDY THURSDAY (TODAY)
This is a day we don't routinely incorporate into our calendar of events. Here is a pretty good brief article on the subject entitled "What is Maundy Thursday?," complete with ways you may want to observe it this evening.
Maundy Thursday is not only when the Lord's Supper was instituted, it is also the night Jesus washed His disciples' feet as an act of humble service. Find a way to serve someone over these days, someone who cannot repay the favor. Do so in the spirit of Jesus who said "so you should wash one another's feet," that is, be willing to take up the basin and towel of service to your brothers and sisters. Take a listen to The Basin and The Towel by Michael Card for a good musical application of this act of service.
The celebration of Passover began last evening and continues through April 16. You may want to take some time to read the story of the first Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread found in Exodus 12 and 13. Remember how Jesus is our Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
GOOD FRIDAY (TOMORROW)
What makes Good Friday good? It is the fact that on the cross, Jesus became our "malediction" (curse) so that we could receive God's "benediction" (blessing) of Christ's imputed righteousness by faith. Derek Thomas makes this plain in this brief video from Ligonier Conference West Coast, "His Malediction for Our Benediction."
Some Scriptures to consider as you think about the cross on this day are:
Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 22; Hebrews 10:16-25; John 18:1-19:42.
Also, in lieu of our community Good Friday service, the host church, Hopewell Baptist, will stream the message on their Facebook page and also on their website yourhopewellchurch.com at 7 pm Friday.
RESURRECTION (EASTER) SUNDAY
As I mentioned previously, every Lord's Day is Resurrection Sunday. We will once again encourage you to watch the service by Facebook or on our YouTube channel. you can find both on our church website www.fbcmaysvillemo.org. It will premier on Facebook at 10:40 am, Lord willing, and is usually available on YouTube a good bit earlier (for you early risers). We will sing and celebrate all that Christ has done for us. We will greet one another with the traditional "Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!" I intend to bring the sermon from Acts 10:34-43 in which Peter preaches the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ to a group of Gentiles who believe the message and are given the gift of the Holy Spirit to the astonishment of the Jewish believers. "...But God Raised Him..."
I've shared this before, but Stuart Townend's Resurrection Hymn is among the very best of modern hymns on Jesus' resurrection. I hope you enjoy listening.
DAYS OF PRAYER AND FASTING
I want to encourage everyone who is in good health and physically able to do so to join us in fasting through the lunch hour each Wednesday. Spend the hour (or whatever time you have for lunch) in prayer and praise, asking the Lord to send spiritual renewal personally, in your family, in our church, among Christians in our community, and spiritual awakening to our land. A number of churches in our association (St. Joseph Baptist Association) have joined together in this effort of focused prayer.
Some thoughts taken from our Director of Missions Roger Brumley may help you to direct your prayers:
HOW TO SPEND AN HOUR IN PRAYER
Remember that prayer is simply talking to God. But it isn't a one-way conversation. He speaks to us through His word, the Bible. So the best way to start an hour of prayer is by reading Scripture. This could be whichever book(s) of the Bible you are currently reading; it could be the "Psalms of the Day" meaning if it is the 9th day of the month, the psalms of that day are 9, 39, 69, 99, and 129. Whatever the date is, add 30, and another 30, and so on, to get the daily psalms. I also recommend reading something from the New Testament, preferably the Gospels. George Mueller always started his prayer time by reading a passage from the New Testament in order to "get his heart happy" in preparation for meditation and prayer.
So here is an example of an hour spent in prayer:
AAEO (Annie Armstrong Easter Offering)
Thank you for giving! Our goal was $500 and as of today, we have received $501. We have extended the "official" time of the offering through Easter Sunday, but of course you can give to North American missions anytime. If you haven't given yet, there is still time.
GIVING: Thanks to everyone for your continued faithfulness in giving across these Sundays when we have determined it in everyone's best interest not to meet physically. You have given approximately 96% of current requirements to date. Just as a reminder, our counters make the weekly deposit on Tuesday afternoon, so anything we receive in the office after that goes on the next weeks deposit.
THIS WEEK'S FIGHTER VERSE
1 Timothy 1:15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
I leave you with these words from Jeremiah Rankin from about 1880:
"God be with you till we meet again!
Keep love's banner floating 'er you,
Smite death's threat'ning wave before you;
God be with you till we meet again!
Till we meet! Till we meet!
Till we meet at Jesus' feet;
Till we meet! Till we meet!
God be with you till we meet again!"
Grace and peace,
Hunker Down Week #3
As I write this, some freezing rain has moved into the area adding more weight to the adage, "If you don't like the weather in Missouri, just wait 5 minutes." I hope everyone is safe, warm, and dry, with plenty of supplies to get you through the current crisis. Please, if you have a need or know someone who does, let me know. We have folks who are willing to help you with errands, medications, groceries, and the like. Just ask.
SUSPENSION OF IN-PERSON SERVICES
It will come as no surprise to most of you that our in-person services are suspended until further notice. The COVID-19 advice at the state level says that the pandemic may peak around the end of April in our part of the state (St. Louis/eastern Missouri are about a week ahead of us). As I am writing, we wait to hear possible new directives from Governor Parson in his press conference. Until we can meet in person, we will continue to provide online Sunday worship services, prayer meetings and Bible studies via Zoom, and point you to helpful resources for personal and family discipleship.
As we have for the past two Sundays, we will offer a video of Sunday worship service on Facebook Premier from our Facebook page at 10:40 am Sunday. It will also be available on YouTube with a link from our church website www.fbcmaysvillemo.org
We have also been meeting for prayer via ZOOM on Wednesdays at 6:30 pm. If you would like to join us, use the following link: Join Zoom Meeting https://us04web.zoom.us/j/262755727 Meeting ID: 262 755 727
Of course, part of the sadness of not gathering is that we are coming up on the biggest day on the Christian calendar, Easter Sunday (or Resurrection Sunday, if you prefer). I had held out hope that we might be able to have "drive-in" worship that day, but the long range forecasts point to uncertain weather conditions, possible storms. Therefore, we will spend this Easter in eager anticipation of that day when we will meet again.
Speaking of which, here are four weekly devotional guides for family discipleship from the North American Mission Board entitled "Seeing Jesus Through the Uncertainty." Feel free to download and use them for your family devotionals.
Here is a Bible Study adapted from the Gospel Project curriculum for this week.
One of the greatest tools for individual and group discipleship is the hymnal. Here is an article entitled "14 Hymns of Hope to Sing During COVID-19."
And speaking of hymns, Keith and Kristyn Getty have been posting videos of their family hymn sing with their three small daughters. I think you will be blessed by watching. Here they are singing "Blessed Assurance," "His Mercy is More," and "He Will Hold Me Fast" (which we sang several Sundays).
We are still working on an automated giving solution for you through the website. It should be set up soon, and I hope to make an announcement about it. Until then, thank you for your continued faithfulness in giving. Many of you have stopped by the church office with you tithes and other contributions. Others have sent contributions by mail. Every gift, large and small, is a blessing since the financial needs of the church continue despite our not meeting. So thank you, once again.
FYI: Contributions received during the week will be deposited on Tuesday, usually late in the afternoon. Thank you to those counters who have volunteered to serve the past couple of weeks.
Perhaps you saw that Samaritan's Purse had set up a 68-bed mobile field hospital in New York City's Central Park. I think you will enjoy this little video with BreakPoint's Eric Metaxas making a visit to this mobile hospital.
In closing, I just want to say how much I miss you all. Seeing you, talking with you, interacting with you. I know it has only been a couple of weeks, but it isn't normal for us to be without the regular assembly of the saints. I never want it to start feeling normal to us. A pastor friend said he "had no words for what this feels like" (he was talking specifically about missing Communion Sunday). I replied with the following: "I can tell you what this feels like and what this is: fasting. Fasting from the gathered corporate life of the church and, therefore, fasting from all the corporate means of grace, Lord's Table included. For those of us who only observe the service of the Table quarterly, it just doesn't quite feel like a fast yet. But it is. And one day we will break the fast when we gather once again. Until then we wait in quiet anticipation, with patience and calm assurance that that day will come, Lord willing, very soon."
Amen. Come Lord Jesus.
Grace and peace,
Preview YouTube video Getty Family Hymn Sing LIVE | March 31, 2020
Getty Family Hymn Sing LIVE | March 31, 2020
Preview YouTube video Eric Metaxas visits the Samaritan's Purse field hospital in the East Meadow of Central Park
Eric Metaxas visits the Samaritan's Purse field hospital in the East Meadow of Central Park