Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Hans here with a couple announcements. First of all, Awana is just around the corner. And yes, despite everything that has happened with this pandemic, we are not cancelling it this year. However, there will be a few adjustments. For instance, parents will need to register their children online. Due to Covid-19 concerns, we will not have an in-person sign-up this year. But registration is now open, and you can access the form on our church’s website (http://www.fbcarlington.com/awana.html).
Also, to help facilitate social distancing between the various age groups and improve sanitation, our clubs will meet on alternating nights. So, Cubbies and Sparkies will come together one week, while T∓T meets the next, and so forth. The older kids will still get together every week in their own space. So, T&T, Trek, and Journey will all begin on September 2nd with the little ones, Cubbies and Sparkies, beginning on September 9th. Please don’t forget to register as soon as possible.
And, speaking of registration, Men’s Summit is almost here. Unfortunately, we can’t have our typical Men’s Retreat at Stonewater Ranch this year because Chelan County is currently suspended in a modified Phase 1. So we decided to move the event closer to home. On Friday night, we will meet outside at Jim Duwe’s house for Session 1 followed by a bonfire. On Saturday, we’ll be at Pastor Jim Poyner’s and Lake Howard for Sessions 2 and 3 with yet another incredible steak dinner. Since we’re not spending the night together, the cost is only 20 bucks. So please, register online or call the church office so we can plan the event accordingly (http://www.fbcarlington.com/mens-summit.html).
Our guest speaker this year is Pastor Kirby Myers. He is the FCA Campus Director at the Navy Academy in Annapolis. He’s also a good friend of mine. Prior to attending seminary, he was my pastor at the Bible Church of Brownsburg in Indiana. Honestly, the Lord used him to play a significant role in my entering into full-time vocational ministry. So, hopefully, you won’t hold that against him and you’ll come out for a good time in God Word with God’s people.
In the meantime, let me encourage you with a brief preview of this Sunday’s text. Many of you thought this week would never come, but here we are… at the end of Philippians 2! As Paul finalizes the travel plans of his companions, he also highlights several honorable qualities of their character. Concerning Epaphroditus, he says...
I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.
Church, we have gold waiting for us this Sunday! I look forward to seeing you here. May the Lord bless you.
Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Hans here with a brief word of encouragement.
Last Sunday, Pastor Stephen preached an excellent message on “The Ministry of Reconciliation” from 2 Corinthians 5. If you missed that sermon, do yourself a favor and catch up on our church’s website or YouTube channel.
This Sunday, we’re going to look at Paul’s son in the faith, Timothy. In a way, we have already been introduced to Timothy at the beginning of this series. We saw that the church in Philippi was established in Acts 16 and at the beginning of that chapter, we meet this young disciple. Starting in verse 1, Luke writes...
Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.
I share that with you, because Timothy’s introduction in Scripture provides a lot of insight into his (and Paul’s) priorities. When Titus comes along, Paul flat-out refuses to circumcise him. Not only that, but chapter 16 comes right after the Jerusalem Council of chapter 15 where it was decreed that the Old Testament practice of circumcision was not binding on the early church. And yet, Paul does not hesitate to circumcise Timothy (a very painful procedure for an adult, by the way) as they deliver the news from town to town that circumcision is not a Christian requirement.
So, what gives? Why would these men subject themselves to such a practice when they had the liberty to avoid it? The decision to circumcise Timothy wasn’t a matter of conscience, liberty, or even ethics. It was an act of strategy. Having already determined that circumcision doesn’t matter one way or the other, they were free to do or not do it. They decided to do it in order to avoid scandal among the Jews who knew Timothy’s background. They wanted to open doors for the Gospel to work through them, not around them, and circumcising Timothy accomplished that goal.
I like what James Montgomery Boice has to say about this passage. He writes...
This might seem inconsistent in view of Paul’s stand against the legalizers at the Jerusalem council, but it was not. Paul’s concern was for the defense and propagation of the gospel. When the essence of the gospel was at stake, Paul refused any compromise whatever. However, when the gospel was not at stake, as was the case here, Paul was willing to compromise many things in order to win others to Jesus Christ.
Church family, let me encourage you to follow the example of these two spiritual giants. They weren’t weak for refusing to die on every hill. They cared about others more than their own comfort. And they prioritized the Gospel above everything else in their lives.
It’s been a couple of months since we opened the doors at FBC and started holding in-person services again. If you are not comfortable coming back yet because you or a family member are in the high-risk category for this virus, then, by all means, stay home. Stay home. Reach out to us and let us know how we can serve you during this time. We love you and we miss you, but we understand why you aren’t here during this season.
However, if you are young and healthy and still haven’t returned to church yet, why not? Is the hill you’re dying on worth it? Is it too uncomfortable to follow a relaxed set of rules at church when you think you shouldn’t have to? And, how important is the Gospel really and coming together as the Body and Bride of Christ to you? Because, I can tell you, for those of us who have been meeting these last couple of months, it has been sweet and precious. Especially, after not meeting at all for the first few months of this pandemic.
So come back, if you haven’t already. Don’t let anything prevent you from gathering together with your church family this Lord’s Day. Right out of the gate, Timothy is introduced as a man who exemplifies Philippians 2. And I look forward to unpacking that wonderful text with you this Sunday.
God bless you this week!
Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Hans here with a brief update.
Several members have approached us with questions about Pastor John MacArthur and the reopening of his church in California. For those of you who might not know who he is, Pastor John has faithfully served as the Senior Pastor at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley for over 50 years. Pastor Bill looks up to him as a spiritual mentor and Pastor Stephen and I both attended his seminary.
Additionally, Julia and I were members of his church for four and a half years. She was their accounting manager and I worked there too as a web developer. I also had the privilege of co-leading one of their weekly Bible studies under the leadership of godly men who poured into me and helped prepare me for a life of ministry. All that to say, we love Grace Community Church and we are thankful for the impact Pastor John continues to have for the Kingdom.
So, it’s no surprise that so many of you have come to us with questions about their reopening. In a very public way, their church has decided to defy their governor’s orders and hold indoor services which are currently illegal in California. Since then, Pastor John has conducted several television interviews and has encouraged other churches to stand with them in this hour of conflict.
Some of you have wanted to know what my thoughts are because you know my history and you would love nothing more than to see our church’s regulations go away. Others have approached me with the opposite reaction. Some of you know my history and you are afraid that we will reject all regulations and make it more difficult for some of our elderly to return. So let me share a few considerations as we ponder our next steps.
While we thank God for the work that He is doing, both here at First Baptist Church and there at Grace Community Church, we need to remember the differences between our ministry and theirs. First of all, we are a modest congregation of about 200-250 people. GCC’s numbers are somewhere between 6-7,000. Also, their governor issued a mandate several weeks ago that bans the practice of congregational singing. When indoor services were banned as well, that was the last straw.
Now, let’s consider our context for ministry, here in Washington State. Much like our neighbors to the South, we have been leading the way with government mandates. Over the last couple weeks, our governor has added even more restrictions on restaurants and public gatherings of every kind… except religious services. Somehow, religious guidelines haven’t been revised or updated since mid-June and we praise God for that. For over a month and a half, we have been able to legally gather in person indoors. We have not been told that we can’t sing, take communion, or proclaim the Gospel.
As the goalposts have continually been moved against our neighbors and everyone around us, we have somehow flown under the radar. Apart from riots and protests, we are the only group allowed to meet with well over a hundred people. Even weddings and funerals have greater limitations placed on them than we do on a regular Sunday morning. I find it amazing that the current guidelines will not allow us to meet at a restaurant with someone outside of our own household, but we can still legally gather together as the Body of Christ every Sunday and throughout the week.
In other words, we are the exception, not the rule. The day might come (and it probably will) when we will need to defy the government. If they tell us to do something that God forbids or forbid us from doing something that God requires, we will be the first to engage in civil disobedience. But it’s important for us to recognize that for our church, here and now, that hasn’t happened yet.
While the current guidelines are inconvenient and stretch us in several ways, they haven’t prevented us from moving forward. If anything, they have forced us to practice what we preach. They encourage us to self-evaluate, to adopt a humble attitude, to consider others more significant than ourselves, and to look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others. They encourage us to not insist on our way, our own rights, but to look beyond ourselves and serve others sacrificially.
So, what is the plan moving forward? I would encourage you to support Grace Community Church in their decision. Pray for them, pray their elders, and pray for Pastor John as they face intense scrutiny and opposition in the days ahead. In many ways, they are blazing a path that we may very well have to follow as this great drama unfolds. But for now, we need to consider the ministry we have here in the setting where God has placed us. Until we are told to do something that God forbids, or forbidden from doing something that God requires, we will submit to our authorities for the Lord’s sake.
Let me leave you with a reminder of the passage we are currently looking at on Sunday mornings. Philippians 2:14-18 says...
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
Church, we love you and we look forward to rejoicing with you this Sunday!
Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Hans here with something that resembles more of a devotional than a mid-week announcement.
Masks... everyone has an opinion when it comes to masks. Some believe masks are worthless and those who wear them are social sheep. Others believe that those who don’t wear them are worthless and see them as social wolves with little consideration for others. How are we, as a church, to navigate these dangerous waters of face-covering convictions?
While there is so much to say about the issue of masks, let me encourage you to focus on just one aspect of the debate for now: your attitude. Prior to this pandemic, we spent a considerable amount of time unpacking the first eleven verses of Philippians chapter 2. In the first two verses, Paul sets the stage for spiritual unity. In verse 3, he provides a strong negative command, saying...
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
He then explains what that humility looks like in verse 4, saying...
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
And, he then goes on to tighten the screws by telling us that this is the same attitude Jesus has. He says...
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.
Now... let’s apply this attitude of Christlike humility (that is essential to spiritual unity) to the issue of masks. If you are a mask-hater, Christlike humility takes the form of a servant who actively looks towards the interests of others. It means doing the inconvenient thing whether you believe it’s silly, stupid, or stifling or not. If you are healthy and low risk for complications, praise God! Now, guard your heart from pride, self-defense, and resentment.
On the other hand, if you are a mask-lover, Christlike humility is slow to judge those who come to church without them because they can’t. Those with health and respiratory issues are not required to wear face-coverings around town. Why would we impose added restrictions upon them at church? So you too, need to guard your heart from pride, self-defense, and resentment.
Regardless of the side you fall on, ask yourself the following questions:
Look, this is a hard word for all of us. Having the right attitude is tough. But let’s not forget that this is what we are called to do as Christians because this is what Christ did. This the same mind (or attitude) He has, and we should have it too.
But wait! It gets better! In verse 3, we saw that strong command: “Do nothing from...” In verse 14, we have another strong command that we will look at this Sunday morning. Paul says... “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” While I doubt that Philippians 2:14 is anyone’s life-verse, I encourage you to be here this Sunday as we examine this important truth and take communion together as a church.
As for announcements, let me remind you that we have a prayer meeting this Friday at 6:30pm. We will meet outdoors, here at the church. It will likely be hot, so don’t forget to bring water and maybe an umbrella for shade. Also, this Saturday is door-to-door evangelism. Pastor Stephen will be here early to help first timers this Saturday and on August 8th. So, if this is your first time, please be here at 9am and plan on heading out sometime around 9:30am. And finally, if you have not anonymously submitted your favorite color scheme for repainting the church, Pastor Stephen needs to have that by tomorrow afternoon. So please don’t forget to do that.
Church, I hope you’re praying for your country, your community, and your church. Last week, our governor imposed even more restrictions on restaurants, businesses, and public gatherings of all kinds. And yet, somehow, the guidelines for religious services remained unaffected. In fact, they haven’t been modified since mid-June, despite several setbacks to virtually everyone else. Apart from riots and protests, we are the only group that can gather (like we do) with well over a hundred people.
I don’t know anyone who likes the current guidelines, myself included. Yet, we are still gathering together indoors, taking communion, congregationally singing, and opening ministries back up as people are coming back. We praise God for that. So keep on praying, forgiving, and trusting the Lord. And may our attitudes be shaped by these two commands:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing.
May God bless you this week!
Hello First Baptist Church!
It’s time for your weekly briefing on what’s awesome and what’s not during this coronavirus season. I’m Pastor Stephen, and today we’ve got something fun, something sad, and some things that are new and exciting.
And in case you didn’t hear, Governor Jay Inslee just gave a new update this afternoon with new restrictions for our state. Thankfully, with the exception of weddings and funerals, none of the restrictions for church services were made any worse.
Now let’s start with the fun stuff! At last Sunday’s Business Meeting, the congregation approved the repainting of the exterior of the Worship Center and Office Building. This will both improve the look of our facility and more importantly increase the longevity of our siding.
But this brings us to the all-important question: What color should we paint it? And that’s where you come in! To help pick the color, we are holding an anonymous paint selection contest!
Everyone is welcome to submit ONE color scheme of how they would like to see the church painted. To enter, simply pick one color for the siding and one color for the trim and send those to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can send a picture of paint chips, a picture of any building painted the way you’d like it, or really anything that communicates a color for the siding and trim. You have until next Thursday, July 30th, to email in your paint color choice.
From what you submit, the Elders will then choose 3 or so color schemes as finalists, and we’ll have a corner of the office building painted with samples. We'll then make our decision on the color from those 3 finalists. The painters are set to start mid-August!
Now on to the sad news: Because of state parks restrictions on Group Sites, Family Camp this year is cancelled. ☹ This is the latest coronavirus casualty for us, the latest bummer in the summer.
We thought we were good to go because Rasar State Park is on the list of camps that are fully open, but then I just received an email saying Group sites are closed. Confused, I called the State Parks, and learned that while the park is open for day use and overnight camping, Group Camping across the state is closed until Phase 4. And since Phase 4 is miles away, we have to cancel our trip ☹
If you’ve already set the weekend aside, Rasar is open for overnight camping, as are other state parks. I’d encourage you to perhaps connect with another family or two and still make a camping weekend out of it! We just cannot do it as one big organized church group.
To round things off today, we’ve got a few new and exciting things to share.
First, next Friday night we’re holding an All-Church Prayer Meeting here at FBC at 6:30pm. With so much going on at our church, in our community, and our world, the Elders would like to set aside this evening for praying together as a church body. We’ll meet outdoors, weather permitting, so masks won’t be necessary. Please plan to set aside next Friday night, July 31st, for a time of prayer together as a church body.
Second, on August 15, a Saturday, we will be having our first women’s event in quite some time! Again that’s August 15, all women are invited to join us at 10am for food, fellowship, and spiritual refreshment from a few women who will share of how God has worked in their lives. We’ll be following social distancing requirements as they stand on that date.
And finally, this Sunday morning at the 9am Equipping Hour, we will be introducing two new evangelism ministries that YOU can take part in. These are our new Door-to-Door Ministry and Spiritual Foster Care Ministry. What are these and how can you participate? You’ll want to join us to find out! So come in person this Sunday at 9am, or join us live online at our church’s YouTube page. If you can’t make it in person at 9am, you can still watch online while you’re getting ready for the day!
And on that Outreach note, our first Door-To-Door Evangelism day will be next Saturday, August 1. If you want to learn and improve on how to share the gospel, and if you want to be a light to our church neighbors, put this morning on your calendar. Any first-timers will be partnered with experienced leaders, and it’ll be an edifying morning together sharing God’s Word with lost souls.
To close, let us consider the encouraging words that complete Psalm 46. In the most challenging of times, these verses remind us to be still and remind ourselves that God is in control—that God is our stronghold. Psalm 46:8-11 tells us:
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
May God be with you! And Lord willing, we’ll see you this Sunday!
Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Hans here with the shortest announcement yet! First of all, we’re bringing the bulletins and sermon notes back this week. Much like the communion elements a couple weeks ago, they will be laid out ahead of time. However, we will not have pens available. So if you are a note-taker, don’t forget to bring a pen with you when you come to church this Sunday.
Also, this Sunday night, we will have our first coronavirus business meeting. If we have your address, you should have received a letter in the mail last week explaining the various proposals up for a vote. We will affirm new members and remove those who have passed away or moved away from our roles. We will also discuss the possibility of painting the outside of the building and hiring a part-time intern since our search for an Associate Pastor of Family Ministries has been placed on hold. If you are a member and able to attend this week’s business meeting, we encourage you to come out to participate in these decisions.
But, more importantly than that even, come to church! The only thing more significant than coming alongside leadership in the decision-making process is to worship with us. We realize that some of you can’t right now and that is totally fine. But for those of you who can, make the effort to be here for the ministry of the Word and corporate worship.
Now, for those of you who still feel stuck at home and long for the day when we can all come together again as the church, let me remind you of a Psalm we looked at not too long ago. The first five verses of Psalm 42 describe a man who is far from the house of worship and is feeling the pain of separation. He says...
As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
Friends, stay thirsty for the living God. Hope in Him because He is your God and your salvation; and the day is coming when you will praise Him again, in the throng, surrounded by the praises of God’s people. We love you, we’re praying for you, and we hope to see you soon. God bless you this week!
Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Stephen here with this week’s update message. There’s a few key announcements today as we work towards a new normal in church life. We’ll look at Children’s Ministry Opening, Equipping Hour restarting, and Details of the upcoming Business Meeting.
First, Children’s Ministry will resume at both 9:00am and 10:30am THIS SUNDAY, July 12! We are excited to offer this ministry to our families with children, and we hope that you’ll come and bring your kids to fill the classes. Sanitation measures will be taken and no two classes will overlap in the same room between 9:00am and 10:30am except the Nursery. All new toys will be supplied at 10:30am that were not played with during the 9:00am class. The kids class ranges have been adjusted from the norm to the following:
At 9:00am, there will be Nursery for kids ages 1-4. In the Basement we’ll have Sunday School for age 5 through 4th grade. And in the Office Building at 9:00am will be Sunday School for grades 5 thru 8. High Schoolers will join Equipping Hour with the adults.
At 10:30am, there will be nursery for those 6 months to 30 months, so up to 2 ½ years old. Nursery kids can be dropped off before the service. During the service, with one worship song left, kids 2.5 years old through 3rd grade will be dismissed to their classes. 2 ½ years through preschool will be in the Basement, and kids in Kindergarten through 3rd grade will gather in the Foyer and walk together to the Upper Room.
As for volunteers for Children’s Ministry, we’ve got this Sunday covered, but Shelly Struiksma is still working to put together volunteers for future classes. If you’re a previous volunteer ready to jump in again in Children’s Ministry, please email Shelly directly at email@example.com and let her know! If you’ve not volunteered with children before but would like to start, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to see this joy-filled ministry thriving once again!
Also resuming this Sunday is our 9:00am Equipping Hour service. We will jump back into our Evangelism class, with some good review this Sunday to bring us all up to speed. This class will also be live streamed at 9:00am. If you’re interested, you can hear previous class’s audio here. I personally can’t wait to get back into it with you!
I am really looking forward to the class that’s upcoming on July 26, in which we will introduce you to our church’s new Neighborhood Outreach Ministry where we go door-to-door with the gospel! A few of us have been going door-to-door monthly since February and are ready and eager to welcome you into this invigorating ministry. Built into the monthly door-to-door Neighborhood Outreach is training for you on how to share your faith, so no previous experience is necessary. Being involved in the Evangelism class will certainly help you share door-to-door and in all walks of life, so plan to join us at 9:00am this Sunday. We look forward to reaching the lost with the gospel and helping you grow in your joy of sharing and the ability to do so.
Lastly for this week’s updates is our upcoming Church Business Meeting on July 19th at 6pm. This is our first meeting in a long time, and we want to encourage all members to attend, if possible. All FBC attendees are welcome at the meeting, but it is the privilege and responsibility of the members to vote.
We have three items to cover at the meeting, two of which require a vote. We’ll be affirming our six new members to the member roles, Lord willing, and voting on two proposals. The first proposal is regarding painting the exterior of our Worship Center and Office Building. Not only will a new coat of paint look really nice, but it is essential to the longevity of the building’s siding, which is beginning to deteriorate from moss and weathering.
The second proposal is regarding a new Ministry Internship Position at FBC. This is for a part-time paid internship with a 9 to 12 month commitment. Not only will this position prove valuable to the church and its ministries, but we would love to train up and give experience to a younger adult in our church who is interested in a life of ministry. We see this as a win-win opportunity for both the church and the intern.
The details of both of these proposals and the prospective members’ names were posted in the Foyer this past Sunday, and in light of many who are staying home because of the pandemic, these documents are being mailed out to you as we speak.
As I close, I want to leave you with this parting thought from the Scriptures. This Sunday night I’ll be preaching at Sunday Evening service in Pastor Bill’s absence. We’re going to look at the last 9 verses of the book of James. Part of that passage says this, and I’ll leave you with this thought:
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Amen. Let’s be a righteous church with powerful prayers, lifting up the sick and yearning for the healing of bodies and the salvation of souls.
If the Lord allows, we’ll see you Sunday!
Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Hans here with several updates from the elders. As previously announced, this Sunday, we will return to one service at 10:30am. So, for those of you at home, if you log onto the live stream at 11 o’clock, you will not be one time… but at least 30 minutes late! So don’t forget… this Sunday, we are back to normal with one service at 10:30am.
Also, this Sunday, we will take Communion for the first time in a long time. The elements are prepackaged and sealed. They will be set out ahead of time to avoid contact as much as possible. We will not be sharing the elements outside of the physical service or encouraging members to participate at home.
The theological nature of Communion requires that only those who are physically present participate, so the live stream will be shut off during that portion of the service. Last April, the elders put together a document explaining why Communion will not be administered virtually during this pandemic season. If you would like a copy of that file, we would be more than happy to send it to you or anyone else who might be interested.
In other good news, we are in the process of slowly bringing back Children’s Ministries. This Sunday, ages 1 to 4 will be dismissed for Children’s Church during the main service. As the month progresses, we hope to implement more opportunities for ministering to more age groups.
Likewise, the elders have several things planned for the month of July. Despite this pandemic, we have six new members to instate, several projects in flux, new ministry opportunities on the horizon, and a business meeting later this month. Much of which will be posted and communicated this Sunday.
As for preaching, consider July... the month of sanctification, because that’s the theme for the next four weeks. Philippians 2 verses 12 and 13 provide one of the most succinct and comprehensive explanations for the doctrine of spiritual growth in the entire Bible. So we will explore this essential doctrine of sanctification before transitioning into everyone’s favorite verse, Philippians 2:14: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.”
Now, I realize that Saturday night happens to be our loudest and most explosive holiday (literally)! Sleep on July 4th is next to impossible (whether you have the urge to blow something up in the name of freedom or not). When Sunday morning rolls around, you might not feel like putting on a mask and coming to church. But, if you are able to come here and be here in person, please make every effort to join us this Sunday for the ministry of the Word, congregational singing, and the Lord’s Table.
In the meantime, I would like to remind you of Philippians and express my heart for you at the same time. A lot has happened in the last four months. We have seen the beginnings of a global pandemic, reports of murder, riots, vandalism, and very little of each other this season. So let me share with you Paul’s words from Philippians chapter 1 because this is how I feel about you. Starting in verse 3...
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Church, the elders and I love you, we’re thankful for you, we’re praying for you, and we yearn for you with all the affection of Christ Jesus. Stay safe and God bless you this holiday weekend!
Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Hans here with an update from the elders. This Sunday, Pastor Bill will bring us the Word with Psalm 89, so I encourage you to be here if you can. We will still have two services, at 9am and 11am with the second service livestreamed for those of you at home.
However, starting July 5th, we will return to one service and one livestream at 10:30am. We will also resume our study of Philippians and enjoy communion for the first time in a long time. We have purchased pre-packaged elements where the bread is sealed on top of the cup. If you are able, please make the effort to join us as we gather together in one service, as one body around the Lord’s Table.
Also, tomorrow we will have a memorial service for Pam Fisk here at the church at 5pm. Again, if you able to come, please come. If not, perhaps you can take a moment to pray for Ron (her husband) or send him a gift or write him an encouraging note. If you do not have an FBC directory, you can contact the church office for his address.
Also, on Saturday, our church is throwing a Drive-By Wedding Shower for Michaela Herbrandson. Ladies, feel free to swing by the Herbrandson house anytime between 1 and 2pm. Just follow the signs for curbside treats and a chance to encourage the bride-to-be.
This is a difficult time for weddings and funerals. This weekend, we have both a memorial service and a bridal shower back-to-back. Even if you can’t be present (in person or in your car), extraordinary times call for extraordinary acts of love. So please take a moment to encourage your brothers and sisters in Christ.
On a related note... let me give you another passage to consider this weekend. In Ephesians 4, Paul reminds us, the church, what a godly attitude towards one another looks like. He says...
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. ― Ephesians 4:29-32
As the ground continues to shift beneath our feet on an almost weekly basis, let’s remember the call to keep all corruption, bitterness, anger, slander, and noisiness out of our mouths. Let’s build each other up instead... by being kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving. And let’s not forget, just how much we’ve been forgiven and to the same degree, let’s forgive others. As always, we’re praying for you and look forward to seeing you again soon. God bless!
Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Hans here with a few encouragements from the elders. First of all, we want to say thank you to everyone who has signed up for the Back to Church Volunteer Initiative. The church property is beginning to look a lot less like a jungle of weeds and several projects are beginning to take shape. If you haven’t signed up yet or if you are looking for practical ways to serve the body during this transitionary season, please reach out to one of the leaders on the list. You can find it on our website or contact the church office for assistance.
Also, we have some good news. A new set of religious guidelines were released this afternoon. So, as of this week, our services can now hold up to 90 people per location. You no longer need to preregister your attendance or let us know which service you plan on attending. You can just show up for church on Sunday morning. For now, we will plan on keeping two services at 9am and 11am.
Face coverings and social distancing are still required. So ladies, if you can’t wear a mask for one reason or another, but show up with a light scarf, or beekeepers hat, or even your old wedding veil... so long as you keep your face covered, you’re good to go. Like last week, we will have disposable masks available for anyone who shows up empty handed.
Again, if you are sick or fall into a high-risk category, please do not feel pressured to be here. In fact, we encourage you to stay home and livestream the service until this pandemic has passed. On the other hand, if you are healthy and able to make it, come to church. Don’t let something silly like a piece of cloth over your mouth prevent you from fellowshipping with other believers. We would love to see you this Sunday!
In other news, today is Bob and Yvonne Bagley’s 60th wedding anniversary! That’s a long time! For a little perspective, the original First Baptist Church building was purchased on February 15th, 1961 and we received our first pastor the following September. So Bob and Yvonne have been married one year longer than our church has been around. If you can, be sure to congratulate them and let them know you appreciate their example sometime this week.
And for the rest of the week, let me encourage you to spend a little more time in 1 Peter. You have heard me say that 1 Peter is full of comfort theology and, right now, many of us could use a little comfort. As things slowly begin to transition back and opportunities for serving at the church continue to grow, I want to encourage you to remember who you are serving, where your strength to serve comes from, and why it is important to stay the course. In 1 Peter chapter 4, verses 10 and 11, Peter writes...
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Beloved, we have been commissioned to serve one another and to do so with the strength that God supplies (not our strength, but His). Our primary goal should be to glorify God through Jesus Christ in everything that we do. Let’s not forget that all glory, authority, and dominion belongs to Him forever and ever. Amen.
God bless you this week!
Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Hans here with an important update about this Sunday. With Phase 2 in full effect, we are excited to open our doors and resume Sunday services at our church property.
Here are the details:
A copy of our FBC Reopening Plan with Indoor Service Requirements document will be emailed to the church and made available online later this week.
Again, I can’t emphasize enough, the importance of reserving a spot for this Sunday. Once we reach our legal capacity, those who have not preregistered will need to return to their car and livestream the service on their phone. Obviously, we don’t want that to happen. If we know you are coming, we can plan accordingly and better accommodate you. So please, please take time to RSVP.
Last week, we had our first drive-in service. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was a lot of fun! We will have to do it again sometime here once this pandemic has passed and we will have to do it right. We’ll have to do it with lots of food and lots of fellowship. But, what I’m looking forward to the most this week is seeing so many of you again for the first time in months.
As for the preaching, we will conclude our micro-series on government, For King and Country, with an encouraging look at our responsibilities as Christian citizens. After that, we might examine a few standalone passages, I haven’t really decided yet. But I am chomping at the bit to return back to Philippians. We started that little letter almost a year ago and we still have so much gold waiting for us!
And speaking of Philippians, let me turn your attention to Philippians chapter 2. Before this quarantine began, we spent several weeks focusing on church unity in the opening verses. As we look forward to coming back together, let’s not forget how Paul encourages us to think and act as a unified church. Starting in verse 14, he writes...
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
Church family, let’s hold fast to the Word that gives us life; let’s make it our goal to never grumble, never complain; and let’s maintain a good witness by shining like stars in the midst of this crooked and twisted generation. As always, we are praying for you and look forward to seeing you soon! (Don’t forget to RSVP!)
God bless you!
Please take a quick moment to preregister your attendance:
9:00am Service: https://forms.gle/dHi3PJGKUAtpmjAt8
11:00am Service: https://forms.gle/w4GcTbdR9bgoeXd59
6:00pm Service: https://forms.gle/mJEgdeLwRpki3vDc6
Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Hans here with a rather lengthy update from the elders. Let me begin with a couple quick announcements. Equipping Hour has been moved to Thursday nights, starting tomorrow at 7pm. Pastor Stephen will continue to facilitate our study through the Love of God series. If you have not joined us yet on a Sunday morning, tomorrow is a great time to start as each lesson provides a different perspective on the love of God. Again, that’s tomorrow night at 7pm.
Also, our Back to Church Volunteer Initiative is in full swing, as you can see. A banner has been added to our church’s homepage. Please take a moment to look at that information and reach out to the contact person assigned to each service opportunity. We have something there for everyone, so let’s get busy and ready ourselves for coming back together.
Now, for the big update. What are we going to do this Sunday? Well, we have been studying the state requirements for both outdoor and drive-in services. After much discussion, we have decided to ease back into regathering with a drive-in service this weekend. In some ways, the guidelines for drive-in services allow for more flexibility and fellowship than the new rules for outdoor services. For the sake of perspective, there are four times as many requirements for outdoor services than there are for drive-ins. (If you would like to see them for yourself, both documents have been linked with this message.)
One of our primary concerns is space. Unfortunately, our parking lot is not large enough (or laid out well enough) to accommodate a drive-in service comfortably. So we have been talking with Arlington Christian Schools and they have graciously agreed for us to use the large field on their property. So that’s the spot for this week’s service. We will meet at ACS this Sunday morning at 10:30am for a drive-in service.
In the meantime, we are still diligently working hard to get all our ducks in a row for regathering safely and legally. Again, after much discussion, we all agree that drive-in services are the better option for the immediate future (especially since they are predicting at least an 80% chance of rain this weekend). I know I’ll be there, preaching from a flatbed trailer through an FM transmitter.
So here’s what to expect. When you arrive, you will be shown where to park by a volunteer. We will begin with songs of praise, the Scripture reading, announcements, more music, the preaching, and a closing hymn. Lyrics will be made available online this Saturday so you can print them off ahead of time or access them on your smartphone during the service. The preaching will be piped through an FM station on your car radio.
Now, we do ask that you respectfully follow the guidelines provided by the state. Essentially, you will need to arrive in an enclosed vehicle, stay in that vehicle the entire time, and limit the number of passengers to ten people or less from the same household. Also, you do not have to wear a mask. You can roll down your windows (even if it’s pouring down rain, your choice) and hold conversations with the folks around you. Once the service is over, we will file out of the field and head back home (since all in-person dining options are still closed for phase 1).
That said, many of you might not feel comfortable getting back together at all right now. Perhaps, you miss the fellowship of the body, but you or someone you love falls into the high-risk category for this new disease. If that is the case, please do not feel pressured to come back immediately!
Nothing about this situation is ideal, but we will eventually come back together again. One of the benefits of a drive-in service is the ability to self-isolate (especially for our elderly) while being able to see other people. But honestly, we don’t know what to expect this weekend. If the weather is really bad, hardly anyone might come out at all, we’ll see. Regardless, our plan is to prerecord and premier the service online for those who are not able to attend.
Our streaming services will remain unchanged in the weeks ahead. The only difference you might see is a funky looking countdown clock at the very beginning. Honestly, it looks like something that belongs on a white t-shirt from the 1990s, but YouTube leaves us no other option without someone physically being present to turn on the livestream. So the video will premiere at 10:30am with a goofy animation at the start. Other than that, the experience should remain exactly the same as it has been for weeks now.
Let me remind you that (like everything else during this season) the measures we take today are temporary. One of the elders pointed out at our last meeting that the goalposts are continually being moved week after week after week.
You need to know that your elders are prayerfully coming together on Zoom and working through these difficult circumstances with three primary goals in mind. We want to first of all, honor the Lord in all we do; secondly, remain faithful in the care and oversight of the church; and finally, make every effort to strategically regather again quickly and safely in the days ahead.
For now, let me direct your attention back to Philippians chapter 3. Our Scripture reading this Sunday begins with verse 12. After encouraging the Philippians to know Christ and gain Christ above everything else, Paul writes...
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.
Church, as citizens of heaven, let’s eagerly await our Savior with the single-minded focus of straining forward in Christlikeness. Let’s not set our minds on earthly things or seek to please ourselves. Rather, let’s stay focused on knowing Christ and making Him known.
While we don’t know how long this pandemic will drag on, as a church, we want to finish this quarantine well. As your elders, we love you, we miss you, and we are praying for you every day.
God bless you!
Drive-In Service Requirements:
Outdoor Service Requirements:
Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Hans here with an important update from the elders. But, before we get to that, let me just say “thank you” to those of you who have been praying for our son, Benji. He had a rough start to the year in 2020, but thankfully last night he had a very successful sleep study. He slept the entire night and he didn’t require oxygen even once. So for those of you who have been praying for our little boy, I just want to say “thank you so much” and we praise the Lord for what He is doing in our son this year. Having said that, here’s the update from the elders.
On Wednesday, the state issued new guidelines for religious services as businesses all over Washington are preparing to open back up. We, the elders, downloaded the requirements, read them, discussed them, and determined that they are still incredibly restrictive (especially for our county, since we are still in Phase 1). They also require a substantial amount of documentation and preparation. So, we have decided not to conduct an outside service this Sunday.
However, we are planning an in-person service of some kind on the following Sunday, June 7th. The elders and I have been working through a number of options and we appreciate your prayers. As you know, it takes time to prepare for services even without a worldwide pandemic. So the details for the June 7th service will be announced next week. Please know that we are working hard and fast to ensure that everything we do is safe, legal, and most of all honoring to the Lord.
In the meantime, I would encourage you (if you have not done so already) to sign up for the Back to Church Volunteer Initiative. You can find information about that in the online weekly bulletin or you can email the church office.
Finally, this Sunday, we will continue our short series on government, For King and Country. Last week, we kicked things off with Romans 13. This week, we will dive into my favorite New Testament letter, First Peter. I highly encourage you to livestream this Sunday’s service at 10:30am at fbcarlington.com/live and join us for Equipping Hour before that at 9am.
One last thought...
As this quarantine drags on, there is so much opportunity for Satan, the world, and our flesh to distract us from the things that matter most to the Lord. Many of us are tired, over-worked, under-worked, and stretched in all directions as we try to make sense of what’s happening. If we are not careful, we run the risk of unleashing our tongues and saying things that we will later regret. First Peter 3 gives us the perspective we need when frustrations are high, and patience is low. First Peter chapter 3, starting in verse 8, Peter writes...
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For...
“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and His ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?
I mentioned in last week’s message that our hearts reveal themselves by the words that come out of our mouths. I am praying for each and every one of you... that you will bless those who talk badly about you; that you will keep your tongue from evil; and will remain diligent in your pursuit of peace.
Church, we love you and we look forward to seeing all of you soon (and some of you even sooner)!
Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Hans here with a few important updates. The President made an interesting announcement this morning. He declared that our nation’s places of worship are essential and are allowed to open their doors. He has been working with the CDC to create guidelines for coming together safely and has promised to overrule any governor who tries to prevent churches from gathering.
So... what does this mean for us? Well, it means that we might legally open our doors sooner than we thought. Obviously, we will need to see what happens on a national and local level in the days ahead, but once we have wrapped our arms around the CDC’s guidelines and finalized our plans for moving forward, our hope is to resume services quickly and carefully. Until then, we are going to error on the side of caution and remain online this Sunday.
Now, with that said, we still live in a very liberal state. It will be fascinating to see how the governor responds to today’s announcement. I imagine it might come to fisticuffs between our President and our governor. So, as Christians, we should all pop some popcorn and pray.
In the meantime, I want to make you aware of the “Back to Church Volunteer Initiative.” We have compiled a list of opportunities for each phase of the rollout plan as we get closer and closer to reopening. These opportunities include: maintenance projects, ministry volunteer help, and general ways for us to serve one another. The initiative will be included in this week’s bulletin, so please look for it and let us know if you are aware of any additional opportunities.
And speaking of opportunities... all over the country, churches are maximizing their quarantine with building projects while their doors are closed. So we, the elders, have been assessing our facilities, pouring over the budget, and sharing possibilities for well over a month now. And we’re excited to announce that the flooring in our bathrooms, foyer, and hallway will finally be replaced. Honestly, it’s in pretty bad shape and right now is the perfect time for us to tackle a project like flooring. The carpet and linoleum will be replaced with a consistent vinyl all throughout. However, we will need volunteers to help with the installation. So if you are interested in joining the crew in the coming weeks, please reach out to Pastor Stephen and let him know you are available.
Also, on this Sunday’s livestream, we will begin our new series “For King and Country: What God Says About Government.” I encourage you to tune in - ready to take notes with an open Bible. Our first passage is Romans 13 verses 1 through 5. That’s this Sunday morning at 10:30am on fbcarlington.com/live.
In the meantime, let me direct your attention to 1 Timothy chapter 2. With so much going on, we can’t afford to forget our social responsibilities in Christ. 1 Timothy 2, verses 1 and 2, say...
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
Christian, I hope you’re praying for your leaders (whether you like them or not). I hope you’re thankful for them, even if you can’t stand their leadership. And I hope you are doing everything you can to lead a peaceful and quiet life, one that is godly and dignified in every way. I’m praying for you and I miss you like crazy.
God bless you!
Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Hans here with a quick update. First of all, I want to remind you of the book of Philippians. Last June, we began our journey through that incredible book with a series titled, Indestructible Joy. We got as far as chapter 2 verse 12 before the pandemic hit. My hope is to pick up where we left off as soon as we get back together. Until then, I hope you have been encouraged as much as I have through the psalms. Between Pastor Stephen and myself, our church has unpacked 11 psalms this year. That means that we only have 139 left to go! And I’m sure, someday, we will get to them all.
But for now, we all have questions. Questions like...
These are difficult questions, but thankfully, the Bible does have answers.
This Sunday, I would like to address a common question that has become more popular in light of the recent stay-at-home extension.
What about Hebrews 10:25? By obeying our state and local governments, are we not disobeying God? Are we not “forsaking the assembly” and therefore sinning against the Lord by choosing not to gather?
It’s an excellent question and it fills my heart with joy to hear it asked because it tells me two things. Number one, you care about the gathering of the church. Number two, you care about what Scripture has to say. So, I believe it’s worth our time to examine the context, the authorial intent, and divine imperatives surrounding this passage. I know, for a fact that it is a highly evangelistic and Gospel-saturated text. So I would encourage you to invite your friends and unsaved family members to join you for the livestream or tune in for themselves at 10:30am at fbcarlington.com/live this Sunday.
In the weeks that follow, we will continue to mine God’s Word for answers with a really small, tightly packed little mini-series titled, For King and Country: What God Says About Government. Thanks to this pandemic, we all have way too much time on our hands and way too much information to sift through. With so much contradiction and confusion competing for our attention online, we need the clarity of Scripture now more than ever. Because, regardless of what we hear elsewhere, we know that God’s way is always the best way.
First Baptist Church, I hope you will continue to pray for each other and minister to one another in love as we eagerly long for the day when we can safely come back together to worship Christ as His church.
We love you, we miss you, and we’re praying for you.
God bless you!
Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Hans here. As you know, the original Stay-at-Home order for our state was scheduled to be lifted today. Like many of you, I was looking forward to getting out of the house to see friends at a distance as we ease back into normal life. However, last week, the governor extended that order through the month of May with a four phase plan that will likely affect our summer ministries. So, for now, that easing back into normal life has been pushed back for at least another month or two.
The news has certainly had a polarizing effect on our community. Some people are outraged. Others are relieved. And, honestly, it’s okay to fall into either category. The important thing is for us to think and act like Jesus for the duration of this crisis. So, today, I want to briefly remind you of seven (that’s right, seven) obligations you have right now as an active follower of Christ!
So, if you have your Bible, go ahead and turn with me to Titus 3. This isn’t a full on devotional, just a quick reminder. However, I would encourage you to go back and study this passage for yourself this week. Titus 3 verses 1 and 2. God’s Word says...
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
Now, you might be thinking... Hans! I’m not happy with what’s going on right now! So please keep your reminders to yourself! Don’t ask me to obey all seven of these commands! Don’t remind me...
Look, I will be the first to admit, this is hard. But this is what Christians do! We submit to our authorities as we rise above the disobedience, the slander, and the quarreling of others to do good works and show perfect courtesy toward all people. Not because our government demands it, but because God commands it. Titus 3 verses 1 and 2 is a good reminder for all of us as we continually point others back to Christ in everything that we do.
Also, this Sunday is Mother’s Day and Pastor Stephen will bring an encouraging message from Psalm 5. So please don’t forget to tune in at 10:30am this Sunday at fbcarlington.com/live.
For now, keep serving the Lord and God bless you!
Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Hans here. This week’s update is super brief. As we get closer to opening our doors again, we will have a lot of housekeeping and important information to share. But, for now, I just want to make you aware of a couple of things.
First of all, I want to introduce you to a new resource. Occasionally, someone will ask me for a copy of my sermon notes after a particular message. And, unfortunately, the notes I take with me into the pulpit are not written or formatted in a way that benefits anyone but myself. So, I decided, this week, to start a pastor’s blog with the goal of providing expositional notes, points of application, illustrations, and reference materials associated with each message. Essentially, it’s a micro-commentary for those who would like to dig deeper into each week’s passage.
I have titled it, “The Preacher’s Folly” which comes from 1 Corinthians chapter 1 verse 21. Paul writes...
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
You can access the blog at preachersfolly.com and we should have a link on our church’s website sometime here soon in the near future. As for how often it gets updated, I can’t promise to consistently deconstruct every sermon, but I will do my best to update it when I can and particularly honor those requests for specific messages. And, speaking of messages...
This Sunday, we are going to dive deep into a passage on spiritual depression, Psalm 42. There are times in life when we all fall prey to the circumstances of life. We lose hope, we turn to created things rather than the creator, and we spiral deeper into the depths of depression despite what we know is true. The question, then, is: how do we get out of that? How do we pull ourselves back when we know the truth, but we just aren’t feeling it?
Recently, we looked at Psalm 61 and Psalm 116. Both of which encourage us to cry out to the Lord in our distress. They highlight the fact that we are helpless without God. This week, we will unpack the root causes for depression and discover what we can do about them as we wait upon the Lord for deliverance. This is an incredibly relatable and useful section of God’s truth. And I hope you will join us this Sunday by tuning in to fbcarlington.com/live at 10:30am.
God bless you!
Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Hans here. Well, we are still in quarantine, our perfect weather has transitioned to a week of rain, and many of us find ourselves (once again) basking in the soft glow of our smartphones and computer screens. While technology has enriched our lives in so many ways (through communication, travel, medicine, and so much more), it has also provided the human heart with innovative methods of wickedly expressing itself! So this week, I just want to encourage you... as you sit at home, frustrated, tired, stir crazy, surrounded by touch screens and LEDs... I want to encourage you to watch your heart by watching your witness.
As we study Scripture, it becomes clear that our worship and our witness are closely connected in the sense that what is on the inside will eventually make its way to the outside. In Luke 6:43-45, during His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said...
For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
In today’s world, you could just as easily say, “out of the abundance of the heart his fingers type.” And whatever fruit appears online (for good or bad) it is reflective of the tree, or deep treasures of the heart, that put it there.
So, with that in mind, what does the good fruit of a believer’s heart look like? Well, there are several places we can turn all throughout the New Testament to find answers to that question. However, I would like to direct your attention to Romans 12.
We are all familiar with the first two verses. But look at verses 9 through 21. Here are the marching orders for those who want to think and act like Christ. He says...
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Listen, the online world is a dangerous place and, much like the real world, it is full of evil. So let’s bless and not curse. When it comes to all the information out there, let’s not pick a cause or pick a side and claim to be experts about things we know little about. In other words, let’s not be haughty or wise in our own sight. Instead, let’s give thought to our actions and do what is honorable in the sight of all. And let God defend you as you refuse to be overwhelmed and overcome by evil. Instead, let’s overcome evil with the good that comes from genuine love.
Friends, the world is watching you through their screens... and sometimes they see you clearer than you see yourself. Because all they see is the fruit that comes from the treasure of our heart. So please don’t forget to watch your heart by watching your witness. After all, out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks and the fingers type.
And, while you are online, don’t forget to visit fbcarlington.com/live this Sunday at 10:30am as we will continue our series through the Psalms. I hope you stay dry and stay focused on the Lord Jesus Christ.
May the Lord bless you this week!
Hello First Baptist Church!
Pastor Hans here. We, the elders, have met online every week since this “Stay at Home” order was first initiated. Much of that time has been spent praying for you, sharing needs from within the congregation, and brainstorming our way through many of the unique challenges that this season brings. We are thankful that our church has, by and large, been protected during the current crisis.
Currently, one in four Americans are unemployed. Small business owners are at risk of losing their companies and over half a million people have contracted the virus in the United States. People are fearful, restless, and lonely. And we really don’t know how much longer it will be until we things can get back to normal (if they ever really will). This current road that we’re on hasn’t been easy for anyone. But, like I said, God has been good to First Baptist Church (and even the weather outside has been beautiful)!
In the midst of it all, I really hope that our current preaching series, Psalms of Hope, has been an encouragement to you. I know it has been for me! This Sunday, we will look at Psalm 61. After collapsing from a busy week last week, I asked Julia which psalm she thought I should preach this week (only half expecting an answer). To my surprise, she didn’t even have to think about it. Immediately, she fired off Psalm 61!
Most of you are aware of the challenges that we faced last year with my son Benji when he was born. He has down syndrome and a rare intestinal disease called Hirschsprung’s. And from the very beginning, he couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t keep his food down, and the doctors weren’t sure at first what to do. We spent the first three weeks of his life at Seattle Children’s where they removed six inches of his intestines. Needless to say, it was a very emotional and trying time for our family.
Psalm 61 is the psalm my wife turned to for comfort during that time. So this is a very personal and special psalm for our family. It’s only 8 verses long, so I would like to read it for you now and encourage you to meditate on it throughout the week. David writes...
Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah
For you, O God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
Prolong the life of the king;
may his years endure to all generations!
May he be enthroned forever before God;
appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!
So will I ever sing praises to your name,
as I perform my vows day after day.
Friend, whatever you’re going through right now... your God hears your cries and He listens to your prayers! I hope you will join us online for this week’s message, For the Faint of Heart, this Sunday at 10:30am at fbcarlington.com.
God bless you!
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 email@example.com... 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!