Updated: Mar 29
"Whatever crisis we face it never defines us, our faith, love and perhaps a good dose of stubbornness, or tenacity does." - Ronald Cooley
Dear Church Family,
What a difference just one day can make! Last Saturday, March 14th I was getting ready for Sunday’s worship service and talking with Church Council folks about possibly canceling worship services for the following two Sundays. Thank a lot Corona virus Covid-19! The situation quickly got worse so we cancelled the next day’s service too. Most of our church family are care receivers, care providers, and children all of whom we did not want to put at risk. We love you all.
So, what were your plans that got stopped, besides of course church on Sunday? Shopping, eating out, and looking for supplies like bottled water or toilet paper? Next thing you know our world changed, almost overnight, or so it seemed. Not since 9/11 has our country been hit so hard, and even then children went to school, restaurants and stores were open, and we went to church. It seems hardly any country in our world is left unaffected by this pandemic. Plans changed whether we liked it or not, so what’s next?
The good news is God still is alive and in control… even we occasionally get reminded that we are not God, nor are we as in control as we might like to think. We all come from a rich heritage of overcoming whatever gets thrown at us. Sometimes it’s war, perhaps major health problems, financial hardships, or the tragic loss of a loved one. Whatever crisis we face it never defines us, our faith, love and perhaps a good dose of stubbornness, or tenacity does. Jesus will certainly see us as His people, His church, and I believe our world through this Corona virus problem, as serious as it is, as He has been faithful through the ages.
So what can we do? I’m going to share a few thoughts that you have probably already thought of: 1. Pray. Your prayers make a difference! 2. Call. Friends, family, shut-ins, people without families and are especially alone during this time. Shelter in place doesn’t mean to stop caring. 3. Play, read, color, do puzzles, sing and listen to music, take walks if able. Read the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs and learn how other people of faith could praise the Lord even in the toughest of times. 4. Believe. You may feel alone but Jesus promised to be with you always. 5. Be careful. Please follow national, state and county health/safety guidelines. 6. Worship. As Christians we don’t just worship on Sundays, we worship seven days a week, even home. The devil can’t stop us and neither will this challenge. Hopefully we will celebrate together, still being health conscious, this coming Easter. He is risen! Jesus is risen indeed. 7. Give. Please remember that First Baptist still needs all of us to be faithful stewards of First Baptist Church that Christ Jesus entrusted to us.
STEWARDSHIP THROUGH MARCH & APRIL
Giving back to God as an extension of our faith. Bills still need to be paid, insurance is due in April, and even though closed up we still have to pay them. Also, I have asked not to be paid the second half of this month and if things continue as they are probably not in April either. However our family is still sending tithes and offerings because it’s our church too. I’m not personally needing money from you but your church does need all of us to be faithful, even during these difficult times. While there are no group meetings of any kind still individual church leaders will be sanitizing the church pews, bathrooms, tables, chairs, etc. preparing to reopen when the state and county health say it’s okay to meet again. Much of our cleaning supplies, stamps for mailings and much more are love gifts above tithes by your church leaders, so please prayerfully consider how you can continue to financially support your church. Please mail any checks to: Jeri Reed 60710 Natoma Trail Joshua Tree, CA 92252 This is to prevent checks from being stolen from the Church mail box while unattended but still please make them out to First Baptist Church, Joshua Tree.
STEWARDSHIP, AN IMPORTANT PART OF WORSHIP I don’t hate many things but I really and sincerely don’t like talking about money. I love talking about Jesus’ church at First Baptist and what you all, who really are the His church, are constantly doing for God’s Kingdom. What you give is between you and the Lord but faithfully giving is Biblically an important part of our faith and worship. Tonight, as I was reading a book by Tod Bolsinger titled, “Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Unchartered Territory”, I saw something that helped me understand stewardship better and I hope you too will receive a blessing. ,,, Stewardship precedes leadership. Biblically, stewardship is about faithfully protecting and preserving what is most important, about growing and developing the potential of everything and everyone under one’s care. It is about faithfully discharging the duties and carrying out the responsibilities that we have been authorized to do. It is the first and most basic act of being human, the first charge given in the garden [Eden] to “cultivate and keep” (Genesis 2:15).
Jesus used the metaphor of the steward (manager) to describe the basic faithfulness of the disciple (Luke 16:1-15). To be sure, stewardship is not just maintenance; it is also about growth, protection and taking care of all God has delegated to us (Matthew 25:14-30), so that God will be revealed in the world. Stewardship is a response to God’s “manifold grace” and is expressed in serving “one another with whatever gift” we have received and with the “strength that God supplies” (1 Peter 4:10-11). Christ Jesus bless and protect you and all you are called to love, Ron Cooley, Pastor Let Him lead thee blindfold onwards, Love needs not to know; Children whom the Father leadeth Ask not where they go. Though the path be all unknown, Over moors and mountain lone. Gerhard Tersteegen