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I Don’t Understand

There doesn’t seem to be much to celebrate in America right now, does there? Our country is a mess. My grandfather once told me politics was a dirty business. I thought he was just being cynical. But I don’t think so anymore.

I know I’m supposed to write these articles to help you understand spiritual things better. Instead, this time I’m going to tell you some things I just don’t understand.

I don’t understand why some politicians will say the most outrageous things just to score points with potential voters. I don’t understand how politicians can reverse themselves and say something with a straight face that is diametrically opposite of something they’d said before.

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Process

There’s an old curse which says “May you live in interesting times.” It sounds fairly innocuous, but on reflection you can see the meaning: uninteresting times are times of peace and tranquility; interesting times are times of upheaval and unrest. We are certainly living in interesting times! Historic, in fact.

I wanted to take a few moments to elaborate on something I spoke about from the pulpit last Sunday. I’d like you to know the process the Deacons and I went through in deciding about reopening the church for services on Sunday mornings. It was not a snap decision.

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Quarantine

Well, this was all very surreal.

After Easter morning I was just exhausted. We had put on the service with a “skeleton crew” worship team for our live radio broadcast on WQTY 93.3 FM. I always feel extra keyed-up for Easter, and I still felt that way even though the stay-at-home order had left us without a congregation. In order to limit the number of people who needed to come in to put on the service, I played all the music on my guitar. I confess I felt some extra pressure because of that. Normally if I miss a chord or a beat, I know Charlene will carry the music with the piano. Without her there I had to make sure I played things right!

And I always feel a keen anticipation about the Easter sermon. I love to preach about the resurrection of Christ and why there are solid reasons to believe that it actually happened. Easter is my favorite Sunday of the year, and while I was disappointed that we didn’t get to have a Sunrise Service or an Easter breakfast, I still anticipated preaching the resurrection sermon.

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The Church is Empty

I just started crying. 

I was quite unprepared for the wave of emotion I felt when I walked in the church. It was Sunday morning, March 22, the first “quarantine Sunday”. I had just arrived, unlocked the east doors and turned on the lights. And as I walked across the east entry area, my throat tightened and I began to cry. I thought, “A church is supposed to be met in!” Not the best grammar, I know, but that’s what I thought. And I continued to be choked up as I went around turning on some lights and getting things ready for the stripped-down worship service we were about to do for the radio broadcast and over the internet. 

When the federal and state government’s guidelines were announced the previous week, this was a situation none of us had faced before. Not knowing exactly what to do or what was safe, I consulted with Dennis Babcock, our chairman of Trustees, and we gave our church secretary and church custodian some “emergency days” and encouraged them to stay home. Without Wednesday or Sunday services to get ready for, there was no need to print bulletins or prayer lists, or to have the building “spic and span”. So until we had a clearer idea of what we should and shouldn’t do, we told our employees to stay home.

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Services Canceled Sunday, March 29, 2020

Loved ones, we are taking this one week at a time, but there will be no services at the church again this Sunday because of the coronavirus, and because of the Governor’s stay-at-home order. We’re all praying for a soon end to this crisis, but things will have to improve before we can resume our services again. Our Wednesday evening meetings are suspended for the time being as well. As always, you can join us for Sunday morning service at 10 AM on WQTY 93.3 FM or on our Listen Live page

A special “thank you” to all of you who mailed or brought in your offerings. I was especially touched that church members asked about doing this even before our chairman of Deacons, Gary Woodall, made his appeal.

I have been praying for everyone on our congregation prayer list, families and individuals, members and non-members. May God keep you and your family safe and healthy!

May the LORD bless you and keep you; may the LORD make his face to shine upon you; may the LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

Deuteronomy 6:24-26

Pastor David

Services Canceled Sunday, March 22, 2020

This breaks my heart, but after much consulting back and forth with our Deacons, and pastors and leaders from other churches, here’s what we have decided:

We will NOT be having services at the church this Sunday. We don’t want to do anything that would put any of our people at risk. We don’t want to do anything that would contribute to the spread of this coronavirus.

It’s likely that this may extend even beyond this Sunday, but we will decide that on a week by week basis. I don’t have the heart to cancel more than one Sunday at a time. Also for time being we will not be having our Wednesday evening Bible Study and Prayer Time at church.

Our state government has requested that we avoid gatherings of more than 50 people. The Federal government is asking that we avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. It’s important to remember that they aren’t targeting RELIGIOUS gatherings, but applying this to ALL gatherings. Romans 13:1-7 tells us to submit to those in authority, as long as they don’t contradict God’s commands. We ARE commanded to gather together to worship God (Hebrews 10:24-25). But remember that where two or three are gathered in His name, Jesus is there (Matthew 18:20).

Our church has a built-in alternative in our radio broadcast on WQTY 93.3 FM at 10:00 AM Sunday mornings. You can also listen to the service live or find recordings afterward on our podcast page.

I long for the day when we can gather together again to worship God! Sometimes we don’t realize how important something is until we don’t have it. People from outside our church have told me how important our church is to this town. First Baptist Church needs to go on. By God’s grace we will.

Keep praying! May God keep us all safe and healthy!

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

– Isaiah 41:10

Coronavirus Update

A message from Pastor Dave about Wednesday services during corona virus quarantine:

Well, we’ve never done it this way before!

I have really mixed emotions about saying this, but after consulting with the Deacons, we will not be having our Wednesday evening Bible Study and Prayer Time at church this week. It’s likely that we will not have services on Sunday, but I will put out another OneCall later in the week to confirm that.

At this point the government has issued a guideline/request that we avoid gatherings larger than 10 people. We want to be good citizens, as Romans 13:1-7 tells us. And we don’t want to do anything that would put any of our people at risk. Please pray for the spread of this virus to peak and diminish.

Our church has a built-in alternative in our radio broadcast on WQTY 93.3 FM on Sunday mornings. You can also listen to the service live at 10 AM or find recordings afterward on our podcast page.

This is, God willing, a unique, once-in-a-lifetime crisis situation. Things seem to change daily. We will keep you posted as to our worship gatherings.

Isaiah 26:3-4 says , “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” Please trust in God, stay safe and healthy, and keep praying!

God bless! -DT

John Montgomery

Last week I lost a good friend. His name was John Montgomery. He was about ten years older and six inches shorter than me. He had iron gray hair, a gravelly voice, a ready smile, and a great laugh. He was a Southern Baptist preacher from the Northeast. He’d been a chaplain in the Federal prison system in the Washington DC area, pastored three churches, and worked as a chaplain in a retirement complex. And he was a left-handed guitar player with arthritis, who still loved to hear the guitar. And he could make a lamp out of anything…even old guitars.

I first met him at the weekly Pastors’ coffee and donut thing at the Baptist Collegiate Mission house in Terre Haute. It didn’t take long for his gentle, genial laughter to draw my attention. Somebody told him I played guitar, and his face lit up. “Hey, I’m a guitar player, too!” After that, John and I didn’t really hear much of what the brethren discussed. We had our heads together, talking about guitars and guitar playing and bands we’ve been in and places we’d played. It was great! He did played left-handed, though.

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