Rosemont Re-opening

May 21, 2020

Dear Rosemont family,

As most of you know by now, Governor Cooper approved a modified move into Phase Two of the state’s re-opening process, to begin Friday evening, May 22.  That was welcomed news for many citizens, including some of our own members whose businesses and incomes have been waiting for this step.  But what does this mean for churches, for our church?

Well, to the glee of some and the dismay of others, churches are exempt from the governor’s executive order, which means there are no official, legal rules for when or how we begin to meet together.  The governor, under the advice of his scientific and medical experts, strongly urges churches to follow the guidelines laid out for all other mass gatherings, but he is not requiring it because of our first amendment right to assemble for our religion.

So for many Christians, this is the green light we’ve been waiting for to begin meeting together right away.  What will we do?  Your pastors have been praying, researching, talking, and planning for many weeks now to make that decision.  Here are the factors we’ve considered: (1) We all miss each other and the weekly fellowship in worship, and want to be together again as soon as possible, no one more than your pastors.  (2) This is a highly contagious virus which spreads most quickly where people have prolonged exposure to one another in enclosed spaces.  (3) The numbers of new infections, hospitalizations, and deaths from the virus have not decreased in Forsyth County in recent days.  (4) Most people with the virus are asymptomatic, which means they could be among us and no one realize they’re contagious.  (5) We have many people in our congregation who are at higher risk, not only to get the virus, but to get very sick from the virus.

So considering those factors, what will we do?  We’ve prayed for wisdom from the Lord, and we believe the Lord speaks most loudly through His word.  There is no chapter or verse concerning re-opening in pandemics, but there are many verses and chapters about our constant responsibility to each other as believers.  Here’s one example ( Phil. 2:3-4 ) – “in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”  Each of us is to consider and act for the best interests of others, and your pastors should lead the way in that effort.  While it is the desire of most of us to start meeting again this Sunday, and while most of us would probably not be sickened from doing that, it is our duty and desire to care for all of you, especially the weakest of you.  We feel that we can continue to care for you and feed you spiritually with the same resources we’ve been using since March 15th, but we’re not comfortable that we can protect you physically yet if we meet together in person.  Therefore, we have decided to wait until June 7 to resume our Sunday worship services at our church building.  This will give us time to see what the virus does as other congregations gather for a couple of Sundays, and it will give us time to inform you all on our new procedures for our worship services.

We realize how much this will disappoint most of you, but we’re hoping that love which so strongly pulls you to each other will just as strongly cause you to see the need protect each other for a little while longer.  Thank you for your prayers for us, your patience with us, and your submission to our leadership.  We realize we’re probably making some mistakes in this process, but we trust our sovereign, righteous, good God to overcome all our mistakes and work all things together for the good of you all.

We can’t wait for June 7th, and we’ll be sending you details for our new meeting format in the next few days.

For His glory and for our joy,

Pastors Kevin and Mark

 

Announcing Rosemont’s Youtube Channel

We want to introduce you to the Rosemont Baptist Church YouTube channel. We have primarily hosted audio only versions of our sermons, but to keep some continuity we are going to try to use this channel to host videos of sermons and lessons.

Pastor Mark will continue to preach through the book of 1 Corinthians, and we will be posting his sermons to this channel. We will try to have those up by 11 am on Sunday morning and we want to encourage you to try to listen together at that time so that we can continue to worship together as one body. We will leave those sermons up so that you can listen to them later at your convenience. I’ll try to announce when the sermons are up via social media, so you can stay tuned to those channels as well.

I will continue to work through the book of John with the adult Sunday school class. We will try to use zoom so that we can continue to have a more normal interactive experience. Those will be live meetings at 10 am. You can register here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYpcOyspjsqzxc6qQckSqDdRZlau_Bz6Q

We know that these are difficult times, but we also know that we have a God who is sovereign over all these events. There are several things that we want to urge you to do:

  1. Pray for those affected by the virus, especially in the areas that are hardest hit at this time. Pray for the authorities and medical professionals that are having to coordinate the response. And pray that God will use these events to bring many souls to Him. These are trying times and that will provoke many people to think about the state of their souls.
  2. Take time to call or message your brothers and sisters in Christ. God has designed man as a social creature and these times of separation are going to expose that need in all of us. Let’s make sure that we are reaching out and checking on each other and encouraging each other.
  3. Redeem the time. With so many events and businesses closed, the easiest thing to do will be to fritter our time away with entertainment. Use this time as an opportunity to spend more time in God’s Word, in prayer, and in reading other materials that are going to help your understanding of God and your spiritual life.

Pastor Mark, Len Freitas, and I are all still available to help you. Please let us know if there is anything you need, and we will try to help.

God is God

Sometimes we need reminders of the obvious. Sometimes we don’t even realize we’ve forgotten the obvious until we’re reminded of it. I share the following quote because it reminded me of the obvious, in a profound way. Elizabeth Elliot endured more loss in one day than I have in 47 years, yet ( or as a result ) she has a perspective on God’s sovereignty that I wish I had at all times.

God is God. If He is God, He is worthy of my worship and service. I will find rest nowhere but in His will, and that will is infinitely, immeasurably, unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to… There is always the urge to oversimplify, to weigh in at once with interpretations that cannot possibly cover all the data or stand up to close inspection. We know, for example, that time and again in the history of the Christian church, the blood of martyrs has been its seed. We are tempted to assume a simple equation here. Five men died. This will mean x-number of Waorani Christians. Perhaps so. Perhaps not. Cause and effect are in God’s hands. Is it not part of faith simply to let them rest there? God is God.”

Amen. And thanks, Mrs. Elliot.

Known by Grace

Our church is known by many labels, some I would rather not hear, but some we wear proudly. Most Christians describe us as “Calvinists” due to our agreement with John Calvin on the doctrine of salvation. But unfortunately, many Christians think that doctrine was developed by John Calvin. It wasn’t. John Calvin, and we, hold to the doctrine of salvation laid out in Scripture, taught by Christ to His apostles, whom He sent out to teach the same in His churches. I prefer to call what we believe “the doctrines of grace”, because that’s exactly what it is – the various aspects of God’s free, undeserved, unearned, unconditional gift of salvation to men.

Reading Arnold Dallimore’s biography of George Whitfield ( one of the greatest evangelists England and America has ever seen ), I came across a quote from Whitfield on his view of the doctrines of grace. I can only say Amen to his words. I hope you do as well.

“The doctrines of our election, and free justification in Christ Jesus are daily more and more pressed upon my heart. They fill my soul with a holy fire and afford me great confidence in God my Savior. I hope we shall catch fire from each other, and that there will be a holy emulation amongst us, who shall most debase man and exalt the Lord Jesus. Nothing but the doctrines of ( grace ) can do this. All others leave free will in man and make him, in part at least, a Savior to himself. My soul, come not thou near the secret of those who teach such things…I know Christ is all in all. Man is nothing: he hath a free will to go to hell, but none to go to heaven, till God worketh in him to will and to do of His good pleasure. Oh, the excellency of the doctrine of election and of the saints’ final perseverance! I am persuaded, till a man comes to believe and feel these important truths, he cannot come out of himself, but when convinced of these, and assured of their application to his own heart, he then walks by faith indeed! Was there any fitness foreseen in us, except a fitness for damnation? I believe not. No, God chose us from eternity, he called us in time, and I am persuaded will keep us from falling finally, till time shall be no more. Consider the gospel in this view, and it appears a consistent theme.”

Heart of Worship

I picked up a short book to read over our Christmas travels – “What the Bible Teaches About Worship”, by Robert Dickie, pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Grand Blanc, MI. Impatience got the best of me and I started reading today. Now, I don’t approve of impatience, but I’m glad I didn’t wait. I’ll share two quotes to get you thinking about your worship, the first from the author, the second from Dr. R.A. Torrey.

“Biblical and spiritual worship is the soul’s longing to see the glory and the beauty of Christ…Worship is at its fullest and richest point when our souls are lost in the wonder of the glory and majesty of God…If we are to worship biblically, we must make certain that our worship on earth reflects the example and direction of heavenly worship.”

“There is no higher, no deeper, no purer joy than that which springs from the adoring contemplation of God. I have walked miles, and climbed through underbrush and briers and over crags and precipice, just to get some beautiful view, and as I have looked out upon it, and feasted upon the never-to-be-forgotten vision of mountain and valley, forest and river, village and hamlet, cloud and sunshine, I have felt well repaid for the trial and suffering and weariness. I have sat by the hour before a great painting in joyous beholding of its beauty. Earth has fewer purer joys than these, but they are nothing (compared) to the profound and holy joy that fills the soul as we bow before God in worship, asking nothing, seeking nothing from Him, occupied with and satisfied with Himself.”

It would be heaven on earth to worship on earth as they do in heaven! “Delight yourself also in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” ( Ps. 37:4 ).

Driven by the Gospel

How does the gospel of Jesus Christ impact your life? By “gospel” I mean the incredible news that God the Son came in flesh, lived, died, and rose from the dead to free you and many others from your sins. I’m not asking about that day years ago when you first understood that truth and responded with repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. I’m asking what it does to your thoughts, feelings, desires, plans, and actions every day.

John Paton left Scotland as a missionary to the New Hebrides islands in the South Pacific in 1858. Previous missionaries to the same people had been killed and eaten by cannibals. Within seven months of his arrival he had buried his wife and newborn baby, both of whom died of fever; he dug their graves with his own hands. He was sick almost to death at least fourteen times himself. Always under threat of attack by the natives, he often slept in his clothes to be able to run quickly in the night. Once he was called to the bedside of a dying man and when John leaned over him to pray the man pulled a knife and held it to his throat. And if the hardship wasn’t bad enough on the field, Christian friends and family in Scotland criticized him relentlessly for his foolish decision to leave a fruitful ministry there for the certain failure of this mission.

Yet near the end of his life John explained his attitude through it all. “Let me record my immovable conviction that this is the noblest service in which any human being can spend or be spent; and that, if God gave me back my life to be lived over again, I would without one quiver of hesitation lay it on the altar to Christ, that He might use it as before in similar ministries of love, especially amongst those who have never yet heard the name of Jesus. Nothing that has been endured, and nothing that can now befall me, makes me tremble – on the contrary, I deeply rejoice – when I breathe the prayer that it may please the blessed Lord to turn the hearts of all my children to the mission field and that He may open up their way and make it their pride and joy to live and die in carrying Jesus and His gospel in to the heart of the heathen world.”

I’m not saying every Christian must go as a missionary to unreached people to prove his or her commitment to the gospel. But I am saying if that gospel is truly the “great news” we say it is then it should motivate a constant, active gratitude to the One who came, lived, died, and rose again to free us from our sins. Our devotion to His service and His glory should be just as strong as Paton’s, no matter where and how we live it out.

So how is the gospel impacting you?

Good for All

My fellow-pastor and I are reading Charles Bridges’ book “The Christian Ministry”. One section of the book deals with particular personal struggles pastors deal with which can cause their ministry to be inefficient. One of those struggles is not just a pastoral struggle, but a Christian struggle, maybe your struggle – lack of faith. I share Bridges’ conclusion without commentary for those who struggle with me in this area of sin.

“Our Blessed Master will make us sensible of our weakness; but He will not suffer us to faint under it. Our store of sufficiency is treasured up in His inexhaustible fulness; while our insufficiency is covered up in His compassionate acceptance. He engages to supply not only rules and directions, but ability and grace, for our momentous work. And if He enables us with a dependent spirit, a single eye, and a single heart, to make an unreserved surrender of ourselves and our talents to His service, He will overcome for us every apprehended difficulty, and we shall ‘go on our way rejoicing’ in our work. But the power of unbelief will be a matter of daily conflict to the end. We shall probably find it our chief hindrance. It will induce a faintness under (lack) of success, or self-confidence under apparent usefulness; in either case inverting the Scripture order of life and comfort, and leading us to walk by sight, not by faith…”

A Thanksgiving Thought

A portion of one of David’s psalms caught my attention recently ( Ps. 69:29-34 ). David has been living under the reproach and persecution of enemies, and even his family has turned against him. Yet he is trusting in God to save him, and he is promising to praise God with music and magnify Him with thanksgiving for that salvation, something that will please the Lord better than an ox or bull. That is a remarkable thing for a Jew to say, someone who lives under a system of worship, designed by God, commanding people to approach Him with animal sacrifices. So not only is David going against the system God created, but he says God will enjoy it more. Why? Because God knows the heart, and He knows that David could bring hundreds of bulls without praise and thanksgiving in the heart.

Then David talks about the impact his offering will have on others – the humble will see it and be glad. Why? Well, what if David had brought oxen and bulls to express his worship to God? Then the humble/poor might think that is the only way to worship God, and be discouraged because they can’t do the same as David. If that’s what it takes to say thank you to God, we’re doomed! But seeing God more pleased with praise and thanksgiving gives them hope and encouragement to worship God with what they do have.

And that’s the point – God doesn’t need us to give Him anything, He wants us to be thankful for all that He has given us. If David had brought a thousand bulls it would not have improved God one bit. What God wants most, we can give Him; in fact, we have as much as David to give to Him. And He has given us a salvation much better than David’s in this scene. He has saved us from the consequences of our sin: His wrath and justice, the penalty of His law, eternal death. He has saved us from our fear of death, from our slavery to sin, from Satan’s domination of us, from our empty lives lived for temporal pleasures, from our spiritual blindness, and on and on.

We have much to praise and thank God for, not just on “Thanksgiving” Thursday, but every day, and we have the promise and thrill of knowing God is more pleased with it than with a one hundred dollar “seed”, and just as pleased with it from the pauper as from the king! So, humble people, magnify Him with thanksgiving and be glad, because He is glad!

Thoughts on Preaching

Reading Ian Murray’s biography of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, I was struck with Dr. Lloyd-Jones’ illustration of right preaching.  His firm belief was that “conviction of sin is the essential prelude to salvation”, and it is not enough to tell a man he is a sinner, we must prove it to him, point it out, make him look at it in himself.  He lamented the lack of that kind of preaching and the disastrous results in Wales in his day. Drawing from his experience as a medical doctor, he used this illustration.  I hope it helps you if you are a preacher, or if you listen to preaching:

“If a man goes to a doctor with a bad liver as the result of constant drinking of alcoholic beverages and the doctor says to him, ‘Well, of course, you are an ill man, that is to say, you are not well.  I will give you some medicine and then perhaps you will be as well as Mr. Davies round the corner’, is the man likely to get well?  Of course not, because he has not been told the cause of his trouble.   He thinks the alcohol is the one thing that keeps him going, especially when he feels faint.  The only thing to do with such a man is to tell him plainly that his troubles are all due to the drink and that if he persists in drinking there is no hope for him.  Keep on telling him until you make him think, then he will realize the truth and mend his ways.  Of course the patient will go home and say, ‘The doctor is not a sport.’ He may not be a sport but he is certainly a good doctor, an honest doctor, a doctor who does not merely wish to please his patient at the time, but to save him, whatever the patient may think of him.”

Oh that all of us preachers would stop worrying about what men think of us and start worrying about their eternal souls!

Taking Inventory

I’m reading Francis Chan’s best-selling book “Crazy Love” with a few guys from our congregation.  The author’s point is that God is so great and we are so small and sinful, which makes it crazy, incomprehensible, even shocking that God would love us and how He loves us.  The obvious application ( at least to me ) is what Paul told the Corinthians – “the love of Christ compels us”, and what John wrote in his first epistle – “we love Him because He first loved us”.

Now, this blog is not meant to be a review or critique of the book.  I only want to share one of his statements with the hope that it will impact you as it did me.  The statement was made within a section which listed characteristics of lukewarm people.  His specific point was that lukewarm people do not live by faith.  To further explain what he meant he said this – “their lives wouldn’t look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God.”  Up until then I had been breezing through that chapter, not paying much attention, not really expecting to see anything “new”.  But for some reason that statement stopped me in my tracks, and it was almost like someone asked me out loud, “would your life look much different if you suddenly stopped believing in God?”  The knee-jerk, defensive reaction of every professing Christian would be, “Well, sure it would!”  But would it really?

Think about it.  How much does your belief in God really impact your daily life: how you do your job, how you spend your non-work time, what you watch on TV, how you spend your money, how you interact with your neighbors and strangers and the poor, what your conversations sound like, what you get excited about, how you raise your kids, what you do for vacation, how you treat your spouse, even how you spend the Lord’s Day?  For many professing Christians, if they stopped believing in God today, the only thing that would really change about their lives is where they are for a couple of hours on Sunday mornings.  Most areas of their lives would not change at all. Honestly, we do most of what we do for reasons other than God.  We work hard because that’s how we were raised, or to get a raise.  We treat our wife well because “if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”, and if we scratch her back she’ll scratch ours.  Our greatest goals for our kids are for them to stay out of trouble and get good grades. We help those who deserve our help, and only out of our “extra”.  You see, most of the things we do and why we do them could be done by atheists in the same ways and for the same reasons.

But shouldn’t the opposite be true?  Shouldn’t our belief in and appreciation for God radically impact every facet of our lives?  Shouldn’t our belief in God cause us to work as hard as we can at all times, never stealing time, doing even what we’re not required to do, helping co-workers to do their jobs well, having a gracious/grateful attitude toward our employers?  Shouldn’t our belief in God drive us to use our spare time to learn more about Christ and to serve others?  Shouldn’t our belief in God dictate what we do with our money, supporting the local church, sending out missionaries, meeting the needs of the poor, rescuing orphans and widows in need, even sacrificing to do it?  Shouldn’t our belief in God flavor all of our conversations, not just eliminating all cursing, but speaking what is true, pure, righteous, edifying, and Christ-centered?  Shouldn’t our belief in God produce the desire to hear as much biblical teaching as possible and be with the body of Christ as much as possible on the Lords’ Day?  If our belief in God was impacting our lives in these ways, we would look radically different if we stopped believing in Him today.

So let’s turn the question around to make it clearer.  How does your belief in God shape your life?  What impact does your belief in God really have on where you work, how you do your job, how you spend your money, how you use your spare time, how you treat your wife, how you raise your children, how you speak to people, how you treat strangers, what you do for the poor, what you watch on TV, what you find funny, what you do on the rest of the Lord’s Day, how you deal with sickness, how you choose your friends, etc…Does the evidence convict you of being lukewarm or cold or hot concerning the God you claim to love?  The facts don’t lie.  Take inventory and respond accordingly.