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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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One in the Spirit

I recently attended the Midwest Leadership Conference held in Springfield, Illinois, on January 21st through the 23rd. I didn’t want to go. Scott Kallem made me.

Actually that’s not entirely true. I had decided not to go, since I was already committed to attend another conference in the spring. But Scott, who is our fearless leader—Moderator of the West Central Baptist Association—called me and said they needed one more person to go, to be a roommate with Tom Savage. I have never seen a person drink as much sweet tea as Tom Savage, and that’s always fun to watch. So I reluctantly looked over the list of breakout sessions offered, and found that there were several I was interested in. So I called Scott back and told him I’d go. And I said, “Tell Savage he’d better not snore!”

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Keeping On

I got a phone call recently from Alistair Begg.

Some of you are thinking, “You’re kidding!”  And some of you are thinking, “Who’s Alistair Begg?”

After I came to the church in 1997 I learned of a conference being held in Anaheim, California called “Preach the Word”. It was being hosted by Greg Laurie and Harvest Church, and featured the top three expository preachers in the country at that time: Chuck Swindoll, Chuck Smith and John MacArthur. I had benefited from the ministries of each of these men, through their radio broadcasts and their books.

Charles Swindoll’s wonderful sermons had impacted me several times at key moments in my life, and I loved his laughter. Chuck Smith had a wonderful, laid-back way of teaching the Bible. He used to say, “The secret that I seek to impart to those eager to enter the ministry is to simply teach the Word of God simply.” And John MacArthur, while extremely serious in his delivery, always put the Biblical text in its historical context and took pains to explain exactly what the Bible says. All three of these men were heroes to me in the ministry, and examples of what a Biblical preacher ought to be.

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An Attitude of Gratitude

I don’t remember where I first heard or read that phrase. I suspect it was in a book called Life Is Tremendous! , by Charles “Tremendous” Jones. He talked about seeing something positive in everything, saying something positive about everything, and seeing it big and keeping it simple. He warned against “hardening of the attitudes”. And he admonished us to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude.”

This is Biblical. In Philippians 2:14 the Apostle Paul says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” And in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 he tells us, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I’m not very good at doing these things, but I know the Bible teaches them.

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