Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Hans here with (you guessed it) another important update from the elders!
I have two things that I want to share with you. First of all… we just celebrated Palm Sunday, meaning that Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday are almost here! With these important celebrations in mind, there is a raging debate going on right now concerning the Lord’s Table. Some churches have decided to take their communion services online with what they are calling “virtual communion.” Others have opted to hold off for now and wait until this pandemic has lifted to come together. So, what are we going to do? Well... we, the elders, have decided to hit pause and wait for this current crisis to pass.
If you would like more information as to our reasons for making this decision, please email myself or the church office. I have prepared a nifty little document (somewhere around a thousand words or so) outlining the biblical reasoning behind our decision. We would be more than happy to send you a copy if you are interested.
Secondly, I want to share a few verses from 1 Corinthians chapter 15. Starting in verse 17, Paul says…
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Friends, I just want to remind you today that we are not without hope!
So, here are the things I would ask you to do:
Friends, we love you. We are praying for you. And we long for the day when we can worship the Lord together with one voice around one table!
God bless you!
Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Hans here. I don’t have an update from the elders this week, but I do have something that I want to share with you.
Many of us have been discouraged with the recent news that we are required to stay at home for a while longer. The stay at home order has been extended through the month of April and let’s be honest. It’s only been a couple of weeks, but many of us are already starting to feel stir-crazy. If we’re going to be completely truthful and honest with ourselves, many of us are probably going on more walks today than we ever did before this quarantine because we just want to get out of the house! And that’s okay. That’s good. I hope that you are. I hope that you are able to get some exercise while still practicing that social distancing, of course, and all of the things that they tell us to do.
That being said though, I hope that you are spending time with the Lord. I hope that you are redeeming the time that you have in isolation. I wish that we could come together physically. I wish that we could worship together as we would like, but just know that even though we can’t get together, that you always have access to the God of the universe – that He hears you – that He is with you – that He is near. And I hope you are taking advantage of that fact. I hope that you are spending precious time with God in His Word.
That said, tomorrow is Palm Sunday and this next week is Passion Week. Which means, that we need to focus on Christ. We need to always focus on Christ, at all times in every way, but even more so this next week. I would encourage you, spend time in the Gospels. Spend time focusing on our Lord’s life, His death, His burial, His resurrection, and His ascension. And even that future hope that we have of Him coming back and reigning and ruling in glory. So focus on Christ!
Tomorrow for Palm Sunday, we are going to be looking at Psalm 118. And I would encourage you to study it tonight. Read over it today and prepare your heart even for the message tomorrow. It will be a longer message. I’m going to warn you about that right now. I have put a lot of time and preparation into the message and so... I don’t apologize for it being long. Just pop some popcorn before you go or get comfortable. And I hope that you have your Bible with you and that you will join us tomorrow at 10:30am at fbcarlington.com.
In the meantime, let me at least read for you a little bit from Psalm 118. The psalmist says, starting in verse 17...
I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the Lord.
The Lord has disciplined me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.
Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
This is the Lord's doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Save us, we pray, O Lord!
O Lord, we pray, give us success!
I hope and pray that the Lord will bless you and keep you during this time of isolation. Know that we are praying for you. Know that the elders have been gathering every week, that we have been going over the membership rolls. We have been praying for you. We have been reaching out to several of you and trying to find out how we can help. And please feel free to reach out to us because we want to serve you during this time.
So I pray that the Lord would bless you, keep you, that you would be safe, and that we would gather together again soon!
Hello Church Family!
Pastor Hans here with another update from the elders of First Baptist Church!
Each week brings a new set of challenges and opportunities for us as the church. On Monday, the governor issued the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. This order prohibits “all people in Washington State from leaving their homes or participating in social, spiritual and recreational gatherings of any kind regardless of the number of participants, and all non-essential businesses in Washington State from conducting business, within the limitations provided herein.” In other words, the recommended number for gatherings has gone from 250 down to 50 down to 10 to now 0.
As a result, some of the plans we were hoping to implement soon have been put on pause. The look and feel of our Sunday services will undergo some minor adjustments. And we will need to be both flexible and creative in the days ahead.
In the meantime, though, however... exciting things are still happening in our fellowship! You should have received 3 emails this week from the elders! I would encourage you, if you have not already, please sign up for the General Information email list by emailing the church at firstname.lastname@example.org... or go to fbcarlington.com/email.html. Either way!
Again, we just want to say that we love you! We’re praying for you! And we’re looking forward to the day when we can come together physically to worship the Lord as the body of Christ!
May the Lord bless you! And don’t forget to stream tomorrow’s service at 10:30am at fbcarlington.com.
See you then!
Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Hans here with another important message from the elders!
Let me begin with a little housekeeping. Last week, we asked for many of you to stay home… not out of fear, or even self-preservation, as much as love for our neighbors and those who are most vulnerable to this disease. Many of you took that call to heart. Many of you live streamed the service and even invited unsaved friends to join you in your living rooms. And for that, we are so grateful!
This week, in light of the virus’ spread and the many updates our authorities have provided, we have decided to be much more proactive than reactive. Our government has recommended for gatherings not to exceed ten people. So, starting this Sunday, we will limit attendance to only those who are serving in the service. If you are not performing a task such as preaching, announcements, or running sound, we ask that you stay home and live stream the message.
Why are we limiting our in-person interaction in the coming weeks? It’s simple. We want to honor the request of our governmental leaders and do what we can to keep each other safe.
But this quarantine does present a unique set of obstacles and opportunities for us as a church. How do we gather and serve as the body of Christ without sharing a physical space on Sunday morning? How can be both salt and light in a world of deadly pathogens?
Here are a few thoughts:
First of all, we can glorify God by obeying the authorities He has placed over us. Twenty years ago today, I was probably screaming my guts out for my punk rock band in a garage somewhere surrounded by a bunch of sweaty dudes! Let me tell you, that young, passionate, and rebellious Hans Kaufman would have been horrified by what I am about to say. But God’s Word trumps our feelings when it comes to authority. Romans 13, verses 1 through 5, say:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
Friends, our government is not recommending us to sin. We have not been commanded (or even asked) to murder, lie, or commit evil against anyone else. So let’s do what our local and national leaders have asked us to do while loving our neighbors and maintaining a good witness.
Secondly, we can glorify God as the body of Christ by maintaining a good attitude during this crisis. That means:
Let everyone else on social media whine, grumble, and complain about how inconvenient it is to stay at home. As the church, we should stand out above the crowd. I want to remind you of what we have studied for the last several months in Philippians chapter 2. You know it well! Paul says:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
And here it is...
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.
Let’s think before we speak online and pray that our attitude would be the same as our Savior’s.
Finally, we can glorify God by continuing to serve and support the ministry of our local church. As we, the elders, work through these challenging times, we will share practical steps for serving as the church in the weeks ahead. For now, we encourage you to carefully host others who are not at risk and invite those who would typically not attend one of our services to live stream on Sunday morning.
We also encourage you to remain faithful in your worship to the Lord through giving. These are tough times for everyone… but listen to what Paul told the Philippians in chapter 4, verses 16 through 19. He writes:
Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
By giving, you please God and like Paul, we want to see the fruit that increases to your credit. You can do so by mailing a check to the church or signing up to give at fbcarlington.com/give. The process is simple and easy. If you have ever purchased anything online before, it’s that simple.
Christian, please continue to pray for your church’s elders. Pray for our nation’s leaders. And pray for a frightened world that is perishing without hope in the Lord Jesus.
So to sum it all up, let’s...
I look forward to worshipping with you live this Sunday at 10:30am at fbcarlington.com!
God bless you!
Hello Church Family!
Pastor Hans here with a message from the elders at First Baptist Church.
The spread of COVID-19 is on everyone’s mind right now. In Washington state, there are at least 457 confirmed cases and 31 deaths. Meetings that exceed 250 people have been banned in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties. Meetings under 250 are also prohibited unless social distancing measures have been put in place.
Therefore, starting immediately, all Sunday School and Equipping Hour classes have been cancelled as well as all childcare services such as the nursery. Additionally, Sunday night services and mid-week meetings have been cancelled. This includes Awana and the upcoming Women’s Retreat. Small Group leaders will decide what is best for their individual groups, but no one is under any obligation to attend.
The question on everyone’s mind is, “What about Sunday morning?” Many churches have cancelled their services altogether. Others are driving a stake into the ground and shouting, “We will not be moved by the perceived risk of a life-threatening virus!”
Well, last night, after a lengthy discussion, we the elders have decided to take a hybrid approach to the issue. On one hand, we are not cancelling the main service. On the other hand, our services will look dramatically different in the weeks ahead and we encourage as many people as possible to stay home. Let me explain.
Obviously, the meet-and-greet portion of our gathering will need to go away for a while (as well as snacks, door greeting, etc.). At 10:30am, I will open the service with a Scripture reading and a pastoral prayer before transitioning directly into the sermon. After the message is over, we may or may not have a few songs of praise before being dismissed. So like I said, we are not cancelling the service! I will be here... but keeping my distance... and I will explain what I mean by that in just a moment.
Unfortunately, we have a couple more weeks until we know for certain whether or not this virus is truly out of control in our area. So we encourage you to stay safe! That means...
In other words, we the elders will not be disappointed if only five people show up this Sunday! We have a number of senior saints in our church... and we all have people in our lives who might be at risk. Proverbs 22:3 says, “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” At this time, let’s be people of prudence!
That said, corporate worship is still one of the most important spiritual disciplines in the Christian life. So while we encourage wisdom above all else, we need to make the best of this bad situation. Yesterday, we introduced live streaming and online giving to our church’s website. So, if you decide to stay home this Sunday, please make every effort to stream the service at 10:30am. Since giving is also an important part of our worship and ongoing ministry here, we ask that you drop off your offering with the secretary during our church office hours, or by mail, or go online to give.
As for preaching, we have been slowly digesting the book of Philippians on Sunday mornings. In light of these changes, I have decided to take to a break from our current study to focus on selected Psalms for the next couple months. This mini-series will be titled, “Psalms of Hope: Be Thou My Vision.” Again, I would encourage you to tune in and share these message with each other.
On a personal note, my son Benji has already spent 14 days in the hospital this year with respiratory issues. Within the last two months, he has had influenza b, viral pneumonia, bacterial pneumonia, and RSV. So I will be limiting my personal contact with everyone for the next several weeks, as I can’t afford to put my precious baby boy at risk. So please don’t be offended if I don’t go in for a hug... and please understand... I love you!
Thankfully, our identity as the church of Christ does not depend on us being in the same room or even in the same building. We are a family, joined not by proximity or social distancing, but by the blood of Christ, and that union is something no degree of prudence can destroy. More than ever, we need to keep our eye on the prize... and that’s Jesus! Philippians 4:4-9, says...
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
That is my prayer for you and for our church. In the days ahead, let’s not be anxious or afraid. At the same time, let’s not mock those who are troubled... but in everything, let’s turn to the God of peace and pray that His gospel would spread faster than this virus!
May the Lord bless you and keep you in the shadow of His sovereign care! And please don’t forget to tune in on Sunday at 10:30am, right here at fbcarlington.com.
God bless you!