Mar 12 20

Coronavirus Update

vmsmith

4.04.20  Update   6:50 p.m.

It’s now April and tomorrow is our third Sunday without church services; but who’s counting? I am! It doesn’t take long under these circumstances to realize that as a church we are not meant to be separated from each other. The New Testament word for church, ecclesia, means assembly and a church can’t be a church without assembling. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking we have any sort of corporate worship as taught in the New Testament when we are not together. A body unassembled is not a body—it’s body parts that can’t truly function in the capacity we were intended to as the body of Christ.

This being said, we still need some sort of contact with each other to get us by until we can see each other again. We are blessed to live in a time that we can talk to each other across distances and even see each other if we take that extra step towards face time messaging, Skype, Zoom or other social platforms that permit visuals as well as audio. Some of it I don’t use and don’t even understand. For more information, tackle a teenager! Or lasso one, which will help you maintain six feet distance.

Our best option is video preaching which most of the membership and others who attend were able to view last week. This week we have another video in which we’ve added music for you to sing at home. My thanks to Melissa and Tate Jarrell who helped put this together so you could enjoy singing some worship songs tomorrow. It’s not possible for us to implement a full music program due to the time-consuming rigors of video editing to make words available on the screen. This takes several hours to accomplish. Our thanks to Jason Guritz who is editing the videos remotely from Costa Rica and uploading them to YouTube. We’re still working out some bugs in the recording aspect here locally, so please be patient with us.

The social distancing order for Sonoma County is now in effect until May 3. I understand many are predicting it will need to be extended again but I am sure this won’t be known until we get much closer to that date. This of course means Easter Sunday will be spent in our homes. Accordingly, we will continue to produce videos and intend to add a little more music next week.

I continue to hear good news from members of the congregation who are concerned about others and are lending a helping hand. Yesterday, Jorge Henriquez contacted me to let me know he has a source of food for any members that might be experiencing economic hardship. If you have a need, please contact him at his email address, jorge@bbaptist.org. We also want to keep in touch with each other to pray and network between us to meet other needs of our people. If you are waiting for someone to call, don’t! Reach out first—be proactive to help or be helped. You should have your deacon’s phone number, and his email address is listed at the bottom of this page. Start here and your needs will be shared.

The video link for tomorrow’s message is at the end of this post. The title is “Christ, the Sure and Steady Anchor.” The link will be active at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. At 9:00 it is livestream and may not give you the ability to back up if you join the video late. After the original runtime, you may pause or restart as you would any video. If you have trouble, please let us know.

We urge you to gather your family at our normal worship time of 11:00 a.m. for viewing. There is no supernatural magic trick to the timing and viewing early or late does not invoke any curses. Neither is watching on time a talisman for protection from Coronavirus. It’s simply a way of knowing the entire church is thinking of our Lord and each other at the same time.

I would also like to add if you have a brief comment to make about your worship time and/or would like to send a family photo of your worship experience, we will post these comments and pictures for others to enjoy. Pajama worshippers may be censored!

Tithes and offerings may be mailed to the church at:

Berean Baptist Church

6298 Country Club Dr.

Rohnert Park, CA  94928

If this is not convenient for your situation, please let us know for other options.

Enjoy the video and we’ll talk soon.

Pastor

Christ, The Sure and Steady Anchor

Note: If you receive the video link by email, it will take you to our channel on the YouTube site. Be sure to check the subscribe button to receive updates when new videos are available. If from our web page, make the video full screen and a YouTube button on the lower right will take you to the YouTube site.

3.30.20    Update  11:45 a.m.

I am sure most of you are aware by now that the president has ordered the ban of gathering in groups of ten or more is extended to April 30. We were praying that we could be back in church by Easter, but now this is inadvisable if not impossible. The Lord has His purpose and we will accept it. I’ve been asked a few times what I think of defying the ban. I trust God for safety and protection but at the same time He expects us to use wisdom. Defying the ban would be the worst public relations nightmare for the church we could imagine. We would be considered uncaring, reckless, and irresponsible. Most of the time I don’t care what the world thinks. However, this is not about the public’s understanding of our theological positions. This is about public health safety which they will never agree is open for compromise in what they see as a blind faith attempt to satisfy ourselves. We will serve the community best by taking our opportunities to show our love in other ways. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of the faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10). We have some members helping those who can’t get out and many offering to help, if needed.

I am happy to report results from yesterday’s virtual church service. I see we’ve had 112 views as of this morning and I heard that many of you were watching at the normal church hours. I think this is good as perhaps for the first time we can applaud that being there in spirit actually means something! I’m working on some additions to our recording for next week which I will update you on as soon as I have more info.

Meanwhile, I need to address church finances. We are not a cold calculating prosperity preaching church.  We don’t ask people to step out on faith and give in hopes your pockets will be lined. I don’t usually need to talk about giving and I wouldn’t now except for the logistics of receiving offerings at this time. I am thankful that you are concerned about your tithes and offerings and this question was asked in our meeting on March 15th. At the time, I thought we would be back soon, and you should hold your offerings until then. Things have changed and it’s best that we work out a plan to receive your offerings. I was hesitant about mailing checks, but that issue has been resolved. If you can do this, it is our best option. Some have already mailed theirs.

Another option is online giving. We are set up to receive donations online, but we would prefer that you not use this option unless necessary. We lose part of the offering to processing fees. For example, if the entire church used this option, we would forfeit about $600/month in fees. We are considering a third option which is drop off at the church at limited hours. I’ll let you know if we need to do this.

We are not sure of the economic impact on church families because of the ban. We are sure that God’s plan of finance for the church does not change. Tithes and offerings belong to the Lord. The tithe (10%) is proportional based on income for the very reason of economic differences in our people. Always be faithful with the correct proportion according to what God gives you. Tithes are not sacrificial giving—and don’t forget we should practice some sacrificial giving.

Questions are welcome. Please contact me or your deacon if you need help.

Pastor

3.28.20  Update   11:30 a.m.

Today’s news is mixed as it appears our plans to meet again on Easter Sunday are in jeopardy. We haven’t made a final decision yet and we remain hopeful that next week will see an improvement and lives may begin to return to normal. Health professionals and our governor don’t think so and it may be that demands for social distancing are increased. I’ve heard for those of you living in Rohnert Park that the police department is going to step up enforcement against violators of the ban. The outlook for Easter does indeed look bleak. Keep praying that God will turn this around soon.

I do have some good news to report. Yesterday, I met with Steve Miller and we recorded a new sermon for Sunday morning. The title is Climate Change in which I discuss the God who controls this world and some important lessons we can learn from this time of turmoil. I’ve just asked you to pray that God would end this soon, but we don’t know all the reasons our country and the world have been plunged into this catastrophe. We pray with limited knowledge knowing that God will end this when His timing is right. It is important to know that He is not shaken by this. The world has experienced pandemics before. History says there were up to 200 million that died in the Black Plague in the 14th century. The world has been through two world wars and the explosion of atomic bombs that killed more people in one day than in the several weeks of the worldwide pandemic of Coronavirus. This too shall pass.

The link to the new sermon will follow this post. It is available for viewing tomorrow. It can be watched today because I wanted everyone to have time to find the link and be prepared for tomorrow. Save it for tomorrow unless you are so anxious to see me you can’t wait! Seriously, I know it is not me you want to see. You want to hear God’s word.

Next week the link availability will change. You will receive a link that will not be active until Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. My intent is to help us not to forget that Sunday is the Lord’s Day and should be used for worship. I also want to emphasize again that listening to a sermon at home is not the same as being in the fellowship of the church and interacting with others and with the sermon. When recording this, I felt it for sure. Preaching to an empty room drains much of the emotion that energizes the preacher as he sees the effects the word of God has on worshippers. The Holy Spirit is with us supernaturally when the church gathers. I look forward to seeing you sitting in your places again in each of our services.

More updates will follow as we get closer to Easter. I hope the next empty room recording is the last, but if not, we will march on as good soldiers of the cross and we will accept God’s good timing as our good pleasure. “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Pastor

Sunday Morning Sermon: Climate Change:

3.25.2020   Update   4:30 p.m.

I trust that everyone is doing well except for the cabin fever we endure. This past week has made me appreciate more than ever what my wife has gone through for many weeks being mostly confined to the house. I am anxious to be gathered with all of you again. I’ve heard from several about their home services this past Sunday. The mood is upbeat and if we can’t fellowship with each other, we know there is always sweet fellowship with our Lord. Thankfully, I haven’t heard of any illnesses among our church members. Please don’t forget to let us know if you have special prayer needs.

We are still cautiously optimistic about resuming services on Easter. Most of what I hear is negative although I’m sure you are aware the President believes the country will be up and running again by that time. I know if our local government does not agree it is not likely many of you would risk being in public. I still have great concern for my wife whose liver disease and diabetes would make recovery from the virus a miracle. I’m thankful we believe in a miracle working God which always gives us reasoned hope that others don’t have.

I am happy to report we have another plan in place for Sunday sermons. I’ve reached out to Steve Miller who will help me video record a new sermon from the pulpit for this Sunday and for as long as necessary barring any unforeseen complications. We will record the sermon on Friday afternoon and have it ready for viewing on Sunday morning. Jason Guritz will upload the sermon for us. I’m sorry we won’t have music—you will need to provide it at home unless I can get Steve to agree to sing for you acapella! The message will be in the video section of the sermon page. Note that the title is Climate Change. Gary will send out a link by email and I will update this page with the link as well.

I want to express my special thanks to those who have checked on us and offered help. We have many offers. Randy and Linda live close and they’ve included us if we need anything while they are out. Many thanks to Lino, Jorge, and Steve Bianchini who graciously arranged supplies from Costco yesterday. Lino brought them over and I never realized how glad I would be to see him! We have great people at Berean. I don’t think a pastor could be taken care of any better anywhere. Because of Pam and the danger to her, I’m very cautious about going out although I’ve made a few runs for groceries. Still required to do those frequent lab visits with her to Kaiser as well. If you risk yourselves for us, what greater love is there that a person lay down his life for his friends? Surely the love of Christ is evident in our church. Please continue to pray for Pam. We also continue to pray for you. I am happy to report she’s felt a little better this week. I also appreciate those who call and talk to her and the numerous cards she receives. She loves to hear from you.

I encourage you to check on each other. You shouldn’t have any trouble thinking of someone to contact but if you do, think about those who sit close to you in church. Reach out and let’s make a network that holds us together. Wait…we already have one. We are members of Christ’s body and that makes us united to each other. Keep faith, love, and hope in your heart. This is the great doctrinal triumvirate of our Christianity.

Pastor

3.21.20  11:20 a.m.    Update

Tomorrow morning will be our first Sunday without services. We are following the government’s orders that we should distance ourselves from each other so as not to promote the spread of this dreaded virus that is increasingly infecting our community. I want to emphasize there has been no order that churches can’t meet because the government is trying to shut down gospel preaching. This is a health order, and we are not cowards or spineless Christians because we don’t defy the government in this order.

Jesus taught us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. How can we do both in this circumstance? We can be wise to use this as an opportunity to give hope to people who live without hope. Many are fearful because they’ve put all their stock in this life and have no hope for eternity. We can give them a reason of the hope within us because we have an exceedingly better life awaiting us by faith in Jesus Christ. We can be harmless by considering their welfare. We must follow all precautions so that we don’t get sick, and follow more precautions so they don’t get sick. This means social distancing. It means staying home and not venturing into crowds and gathering with others.

I know what this means for those without Christ and I understand it to be far more significant for those who know Christ. Christians are designed to interact, if not with the world, especially with each other. I promise that the most agonizing aspect of this pandemic is knowing tomorrow I can’t go to church to fellowship with our church family. I was speaking to one of our members recently and commented that I was built to go to church. I can’t imagine my life without church. At this moment, my life is upside down because every day I spend time preparing for church. To me, it is mysterious how Christians so easily miss the services of THEIR church. Perhaps these next weeks, however many there are, will teach them not to easily take for granted the privilege of being with God’s people. I need to be careful now because I’m getting into preaching mode!

Accordingly, I’ve looked over some past sermons and I’ve chosen two for you to listen to tomorrow. First let me say that tomorrow is the Lord’s Day wherever you are. Some Christians don’t seem to get that. When we can meet, they do something else. I don’t have much hope they will serve the Lord when we can’t meet (preaching mode again…). I encourage you to get up, get your mind in gear, assemble the family, and spend time in those things we do at church. Sing a song or two, read the scriptures, and listen to the sermons. This is a temporary fix not to be continued in place of gathering when the ban is lifted!

I suppose the most popular text tomorrow for churches that can livestream is to preach from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6. In verses 25-34, Jesus addressed the subject of worry and its counterpart of trust in God. He taught us not to concern ourselves with how we will live. God gives life and sustains it. He has an eternal plan for His children that encompasses our entire life and it includes supplying every need we have. As He tells us not to concern ourselves with material needs, He also instructs on our proper concern which is the kingdom of God.

In April of 2010, I preached three sermons from this text. The title of these sermons is Worrywarts. Parts one and two will be good for listening tomorrow morning and evening and then part three can replace the Wednesday evening study. I hope these are a blessing to you. Although these sermons are ten years old and so are some of the references, the principles of God’s word never change. I hope you have a blessed and healthy Sunday!

Worry Warts, pt. 1

https://bbaptist.org/mp3/100411_11am_bbaptistdotorg.mp3

Worry Warts, pt. 2

https://bbaptist.org/mp3/100418_11am_bbaptistdotorg.mp3

Worry Warts, pt. 3

https://bbaptist.org/mp3/100425_11am_bbaptistdotorg.mp3

March 19, 2020  Update

While we are without church services for these next few weeks, I thought I might recommend some old sermons that might help you. The first is from the Philippians series in 2008. The title of this message is Standing Straight in a Crooked World, pt. 1. The reference is Philippians 2:14-16. This sermon is dated with references to circumstances in 2008, but I think you can easily update it and use it to compare to our current troubles in 2020. The Christian response does change. Click on the link and enjoy listening.

http://mp3.bbaptist.org/081231_7pm_bbaptistdotorg.mp3

Pastor

March 17, 2020    Update

Today the Sonoma County Health Officer issued a mandatory shelter in place order effective until April 7th. No groups are permitted to meet. Travel outside the home is restricted for purposes of essential services only. Accordingly, our plans for a workday on April 4th are cancelled as well as services for April 5th. We will update and evaluate as more information is available.

I want to report to those unable to attend last week’s service, there was a sweet sense of fellowship, love, and genuine concern for the well-being of our church and community. Prayers were offered, our hymns about the sovereignty of God were sung with conviction, and the preaching of God’s word was received with all due attention. I must emphasize none were fearful or without hope. We know our God has the whole world in His hands.

During these three weeks, I encourage you to increase your daily Bible reading and prayers. You should have more time on your hands—use it wisely! We have hundreds of sermons available for listening on our website and a few videos as well. On this blog page, there are also links to many articles. Use these resources and be encouraged in your faith. Anticipate our soon gathering again and earnestly pray we will be able to meet on April 12th for Easter services.

March 12, 2020

Due to the continuing threat of Coronavirus infection, the leadership of Berean is currently considering options that will protect our church family. We have many elderlies in the congregation that are the most vulnerable to serious consequences of infection. Even if the elderly stay home, other family members might take the virus home with them. We ask you first to pray for our church and for others not to contract the virus. We trust God to protect us, but we also understand God uses means. Often His means is prudence to follow advice from those who are experts in areas that we are not. You’ve heard many competing voices about what should be done but one thing most agree on is the need to stay away from crowds until we are sure the virus is under control.

This coming Sunday (March 15) we will hold the 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. services. There will be no services on Sunday afternoon. After the morning service, we will have a congregational meeting to discuss what we plan do next. After a meeting on Wednesday evening (March 11), the consensus was to cancel all services after March 15 until Sunday, April 5. This is the current evaluation. Until then, we will continually evaluate for changes to this schedule. We invite everyone to stay after the services this Sunday to ask questions.

We will post updates to the website as they are available. We will also send updates by email for subscribers to the email list. If you have not signed up, please do so at the bottom of the home page. If you are not receiving updates, please check your spam folder as sometimes spam filters do not recognize the bbaptist.org addresses. If you have questions, first contact your deacon by phone or at his email address. The email addresses are at the end of this post. The church office has limited hours, but you may leave a message if you are unable to contact your deacon. The pastor is also available for urgent requests.

We hope to see you at services on Sunday. We pray for your safekeeping both physically and spiritually.

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:19-20)

John Bunn               john@bbaptist.org

Jorge Henriquez     jorge@bbaptist.org

Brian Petro             brian@bbaptist.org

Lino Zamacona      lino@bbaptist.org

Mathieu Kosinski   mat@bbaptist.org

Pastor                    vmsmith@bbaptist.org