Updates and Articles

June 1, 2020

FBCSCW E-Blast

Racism


While growing up, I didn’t realize how blessed I was…I mean really blessed. I was born
in the United States of America where freedom has been the cornerstone. I was born
healthy and to a loving family in a lower, medium income family. I was born into a home
where not only were the parents Christians but, into a Pastor’s home. The focus of the
love of Jesus and what He did for me was always in front of me, and at the age of six I
accepted Christ as my Savior. Blessed for sure.


I went to college and I saw that not many people had the kind of growing up that I had.
The longer I have lived, I think about the six billion people in this world and probably
99% didn’t have the blessings I have had over the years. I knew nothing of racism
during those young years.


Racism was not a part of our family. It was not part of my growing up years. That is
what I wanted for my kids. Where we lived in Seattle, in a two-block radius of our home,
we had 16 different nations represented. Our kids grew up with kids who were different
than they were. When we moved to Palatka, Florida it was an entirely different world.
That county was almost equal in black and white residents. There was certainly a
division between races in that community. Our kids would come home from school and
ask “What is wrong with these kids? The black and white kids are always at odds.”
They could not understand why kids couldn’t get along.


When I was pastor of the First Baptist Church, Palatka, Florida I had the best
relationship with many of the pastors in the community.


I had the privilege of becoming close friends with the prominent black pastor in the
community. Rev. Karl Flagg was born and raised in that county. He was called to
preach and had grown the church where he was into a wonderful fellowship, which
ministered well in the community. He was also the Mayor when I moved to Palatka. As
our friendship grew so did my understanding of the division and how the pastors and
churches could stand strong together. We made the best effort to bring peace in the
community. We were able to defuse some situations, which could have gotten out of
hand. He was of great help in the community. I would call Karl the chaplain of the
community.


Over the years, I was blessed to win the trust of many of the black pastors in town.
Most would not involve themselves with the Ministerial Fellowship because of mistrust.

Before my kidneys failed, I had the privilege of sitting down with many of the black
pastors and discussing the issues and roots of the mistrust they had of the white
community, churches, and pastors. It was hard to hear, or comprehend, what they were
saying. I had never experienced anything like those meetings. We met a second time
and explored some ways to move forward. It was a rewarding experience. The insight I
received has helped me immensely.


The KKK was still active; and in fact, the KKK had a peaceful march in Palatka before I
came. It was sobering. The history and viewpoint I learned has given me a perspective
on things we are experiencing now in our community and nation. There is a lot of history
I learned when I was in Palatka.


The actions taken by the officer in Minneapolis appears to be the use of excessive
force. Let justice take place in the case. The protests happening across the country
might have started because of the death of George Floyd, but what we are seeing
unfold in our nation runs much deeper than this one event. There is much anger,
frustration and rage that has been held in for a long time. I believe that people ought to
be able to protest without fear. That is a right given us by our forefathers. It can lead to
meaningful dialogue if done properly.


It is a different story when protests are taken over by elements who just want to riot,
loot, and promote violence that results in loss of property, businesses, and lives. The
powers that be must step in to protect the citizens. The story is far from over. There is
much work on racial reconciliation. We are part of the solution and must do our part.
What I think is important is for each of us, and our church, to review what the Southern
Baptist Convention has done to speak to this issue. The following are from various
Baptist people, or reports, over the last 25 years will help you to know what our official
belief is on racism, racial reconciliation, and actions that could help bridge the gap. I
have quoted portions of the documents below. There are links at the end of each one
that will allow you to go to the article and read it in its entirety. Right click on the link
and it will open a different window and just double-click with the left on Open
Hyperlink.


The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 under the doctrine of Man states:


“The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own
image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses
full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.” The BFM 1963 has basically the
same statement.


(Link: http://www.sbc.net/bfm2000/bfmcomparison.asp)


The Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting in 1995 adopted the following
Resolution on Racial Reconciliation in part:


“Therefore, be it RESOLVED, That we, the messengers to the Sesquicentennial
meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, assembled in Atlanta, Georgia, June 20-
22, 1995, unwaveringly denounce racism, in all its forms, as deplorable sin; and


Be it further RESOLVED, That we affirm the Bibles teaching that every human life is
sacred, and is of equal and immeasurable worth, made in Gods image, regardless of
race or ethnicity (Genesis 1:27), and that, with respect to salvation through Christ, there
is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor
female, for (we) are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28); and


Be it further RESOLVED, That we lament and repudiate historic acts of evil such as
slavery from which we continue to reap a bitter harvest, and we recognize that the
racism which yet plagues our culture today is inextricably tied to the past; and


Be it further RESOLVED, That we apologize to all African-Americans for condoning
and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime; and we genuinely
repent of racism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously (Psalm 19:13) or
unconsciously (Leviticus 4:27); and


Be it further RESOLVED, That we ask forgiveness from our African-American brothers
and sisters, acknowledging that our own healing is at stake; and


Be it further RESOLVED, That we hereby commit ourselves to eradicate racism in all its
forms from Southern Baptist life and ministry; and


Be it further RESOLVED, That we commit ourselves to be doers of the Word (James
1:22) by pursuing racial reconciliation in all our relationships, especially with our
brothers and sisters in Christ (1 John 2:6), to the end that our light would so shine
before others, that they may see (our) good works and glorify (our) Father in heaven
(Matthew 5:16)….”


(Link: http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/899/resolution-on-racial-reconciliation-on-the-
150th-anniversary-of-the-southern-baptist-convention
)


The Southern Baptist Convention at the Annual Meeting in 2015 adopted a
resolution on Race and stated in part:


“…WHEREAS, Racism is sin because it disregards the image of God in all people and
denies the truth of the Gospel that believers are all one in Him; and


WHEREAS, In 1995, the Southern Baptist Convention publicly repented of its own
complicity in the sin of racism that has divided both the body of Christ and the broader
culture; and

WHEREAS, We grieve over the continued presence of racism and the recent escalation
of racial tension in our nation; and


WHEREAS, The Southern Baptist Convention has taken numerous steps to enlist
qualified individuals of all races and ethnicities for leadership roles; and


WHEREAS, Southern Baptists, in both our congregations and entities, increasingly
reflect the racial and ethnic diversity in our communities and nation; now, therefore, be it


RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in
Columbus, Ohio, June 16–17, 2015, rededicate ourselves to the holy responsibility and
privilege of loving and discipling people of all races and ethnicities in our

communities….” (Link: http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/2254/on-racial-reconciliation)


Rev. Mike McClure stated at a Pre-Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting
in 2019
stated: "Any racial reconciliation that lacks relationship will be an ineffective,
powerless movement, because without connection -- the last thing Jesus said was 'Make them one,'"

If we can do that, we can come out together.


At the same meeting Rev. Noe Garcia, senior pastor of North Phoenix Baptist Church in
Phoenix and Second Vice President of the SBC said, “also indicated that true racial
reconciliation required substance, using the metaphor of a Christmas tree to describe
himself as once being on the periphery of solid race relations and not at its core. When
he became pastor of the church three years ago, Garcia realized that the diversity in
Phoenix wasn't represented at the church he led.” The church was 99% white and
declining. They began the painful process of reaching out to minorities in an intentional
way.


“,,,Garcia noted that now the racial makeup of the church is approximately 60% white
and 40% members of minority groups, and his responses to church member messages
discouraging his continued leadership were to re-emphasize the diversity that Luter (Dr.
Fred Luter who was the first black President of the SBC from 2012-2014) said will be
what heaven looks like.”


(Link: https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2019/jun/11/gathering-of-southern-
baptists-hears-ra
/
)


Our Executive Director of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. David
Johnson, wrote an article for the Baptist Press in 2017 about why racism is
wrong.
Listed below is his seven-point outline. For Dr. Johnson’s explanation for each
point, right click on the link and when the window appears click on “Open Hyperlink.”


1. God created all races – Genesis 1:27
2. All races are fallen and sinful – Romans 3: 10, 23
3. God loves all races – John 3:16; I John 4:14
4. Christ died for all races – 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Hebrews 9:12
5. Christ breaks down the wall between races – Ephesians 2:14-15
6. We are one in Christ – Galatians 3:28-29
7. All races will join together in heaven – Revelation 7:9-10


(Link: http://www.bpnews.net/48542/firstperson-the-bible-speaks-on-racism)


Dr. Tony Evans is a gifted communicator, author and pastor who is known nationwide.
The message Tony shares is about what is going on in our country right now. He
focuses on Social Justice which the Bible is clear on, and action plans for the church
and each of us. Please click on the link and follow the instructions from the introduction
and listen to his heart-felt 14-minute message.


(Evans Link: https://youtu.be/O7y4RD43vKA)


What do we do personally and as a church to help in this time of
crisis in our country?


As a church we need to pray. This is the most powerful action that we can take if we
take it seriously, fervently and expend time doing it.


As a church we need to be in the forefront in living out and leading by example the
truth that God has created all of us equal. He loves us all. Therefore, take a step by
reaching out to someone who is not like you, not necessarily a different race, but
someone who is not like you and that you don’t normally associate with. Reach out and
begin some fellowship. Take it another step, together then find someone who is in need
and together meet that need. That is how community is built.


As a church we need to be in a leadership role on the topic of race or injustice in our
community. When issues of inequality come to our attention, we should stand up and
let the community know that we are standing with justice and equality.


As an individual each of us need to pray fervently. We need to ask God to reveal any
racism that we harbor in our mind and heart. It is established in the scriptures that
racism is a sin. We need to seek God’s Spirit and let Him reveal any racism for which
we need to ask forgiveness. And, any other sin that He revels as well.


As an individual we need to action steps to be inclusive of all races and people who
are different from us. Take some time for coffee, a meal, or a short outing. Do not be a
person who only thinks about themselves. Take a look. Take a leap of faith and reach
out.


As a church and an individual, please spend time today, and this week, asking God to
intervene in the rioting and violence taking place across our nation. It is tearing us apart
and Satan is laughing. Pray for peace, justice, and changes to be made that will bring
this nation back together. Pray long and hard for revival and spiritual awakening.
May God Hear our urgent prayers.

Pastor Kirby

May 29, 2020

 

FBCSCW E-Blast

 

Compassion and Action

On Tuesday night, our family was outside on the back patio enjoying the last evening without being scorched.  My daughter’s dog all the sudden went crazy by the back of our fence.  We back up to a canal so there is a drainage opening on each of the properties.  We each have grates for water to drain. We had covered our grate with a heavy metal mesh so that it still drains, but our neighbor has the original grate cemented in like ours.  

My daughter and son-in-law went to find out what the fuss was all about.  They found seven baby quail that had fallen through the grate on our neighbor’s side in the water run off drain.  The mother quail was on the fence calling and, in my mind, crying for her young chicks.  I sensed it was more a cry of help from a hopeless situation. 

For a moment I thought, “How could that happen? How could seven babies fall in through the grate?  When the family walks, the father is in front and the mother trails behind.  Did they just not see the danger? I can hear all the ladies now, “Fathers/Husbands, where you are going!!!” 

My daughter Laura and her husband Derrick have sensitive and compassionate hearts. They were determined to retrieve those chicks.  They created a tool using a small net we use at the pool, a plastic hanger and tape.  With flashlights in hand and the tool ready for service, they began striving to catch those fast-little birds.  They were able to retrieve six of the chicks after 2.5 hours of trying.  Debbie was on the phone with a quail rescue group getting directions on what to do and not do, as well as, where to take them to be nourished and raised up to live a full life. 

They brought those six little chicks in the garage for safety and warmth.  My daughter was distraught that they could not re-unite the entire family.  She was determined that if that baby quail survived the night, she was going to get that baby.  Sure enough, she and her husband got up the next morning and off they went to find that seventh baby.  They used an app on their phone that was an adult quail calling her young.  When they played that song that quail came right up and was saved as well.  

What are the chances of retrieving seven out of seven chicks, two and a half feet down, with a homemade tool, striving to take that tool through a grate? The chances of success were low.  Yet, these two young people succeeded in their plan because of the time spent and the creativity.  The next part of their plan was trying to unite these chicks with their mom and dad.  Debbie and I got up early and watched for an adult quail to appear.  We did not see one.  We both had to head to work, so now it was up to the “kids.” 

 

Later in the morning I received a text that not only were they able to capture the seventh chick, but the mom and dad came back.  They followed the instructions that Dorothy, the rescue volunteer, gave them in case the parents did come back.  They were able to reunite the babies with the father and mother, while staying out of the way.  Off the family went to see more adventures in life.  I was so proud of my daughter and son-in-law. 

There were some lessons I learned that night that I think apply to the church.

  1. Stay together, unified and we can do anything. 

  2. Research and due diligence are essential, as we strive to make the church friendly and compassionate.

  3. It takes time and effort to achieve the goal.

  4. Opportunity knocks when we least expect it and usually takes us off our plan.

  5. We must use the resources that are made available to us.

  6. Compassion is critical. Sometimes we must get back out to the lost again before they will be “found.”

  7. Once the church has embraced those who were “lost who have been found” they must be encouraged. We must make them feel like family.  They must be discipled/mentored and then guide them to be assimilated in ministry and engaged in touching lives with the Gospel. 

 

I believe that these lessons are important for the church.  They need to start or continue now, even when we are “paused” during the pandemic. There are many of these lessons that are taking place right now at FBCSCW.  Let us know how you would like to be involved in ministries going on right now. 

 

Once we open for worship, then we must take these lessons to the next level and put them into action.  When we do, we are going to see growth and a great celebration in heaven. Let’s each do our part. 

 

Worship Service Enhancement

 

We continue to strive to enhance our website, online worship services and Bible Study to make it a meaningful experience for each of those watching and listening.  Please take the time to watch, or listen, and email me at drkirbykennedy@fbcscw.org with your comments or suggestions.  We always like to hear back from our people about what was meaningful and helpful, as well as things that we might improve on. 

 

Dr. Scott Williamson is teaching on Titus on our Sunday morning Bible Study.  That study is excellent and well-taught.  

We are offering both the full worship service with music, preaching and announcements and we are offering just the Sunday message. 

If you are interested in joining an interactive Bible Study class online with one of our Bible Study leaders, just let email me.

 

Three Years and Counting

On Saturday, May 30 I will be celebrating the three-year anniversary of my kidney transplant.  It is hard to believe that it has been three years.  The time goes by quickly.  As I look back, I am humbled by how many people prayed continually for me.  Many of those prayer warriors prayed every single day that God would provide a donor.  It took four and a half years, but God did provide.  I am a blessed man and Ricky Bybee, my donor is the man that God used to bless me.  

Almost two of these three years, I have been with you.  What a wonderful place God has brought Debbie and me in this season of ministry. We want to Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your kindness, love, and concern. That means so much for both of us. We love you look forward to the years ahead with excitement and joy.  

Blessings.

Pastor Kirby

 

 

 

 

 

May 26, 2020


FBCSCW E-Blast

Anticipation

Have you ever been so excited about something that you wanted to do that you could
hardly stand it? The anticipation just builds and builds until you can almost not stand it.


When we lived in Seattle, and so far away from the girl’s grandparents, our church
allowed us to take our 3-4 weeks’ vacation all at one time. That allowed us to take the
kids to see the grandparents and have time for travel and for engagement. That was a
blessing.


Our strategy was to see Debbie’s parents in Florida every other year and see my mom
in New Mexico the alternate year. That plan allowed the kids to have quality time with
their grandparents.


When we would go to Florida, we would fly and then spend 23 days at their five-acre
spread. Since Debbie’s parents were passholders to Walt Disney World, we would
always buy tickets in advance so that the bulk of the vacation the kids enjoyed Disney
with the grandparents. The girls became so acquainted with WDW they thought they
were part owners. They, to this day, love WDW.


When we traveled to New Mexico, it was always a road trip. We had lots of options to
travel to New Mexico. That road trip was a sight-seeing trip. When people saw us
coming, I am sure they thought, “Oh, my, it’s the Beverly Hillbillies.”


With two kids, you had to have room for them to move around in the van and have room
for suitcases and everything else. We took out one row of seats in the van, which
provided them leg room and the ability to watch VHS tapes. That was in the late 90’s so
technology was not like it is today. I used my creative abilities to hook up a TV to a
VHS player and tied it all down on plastic shelves with bungy cords. It wasn’t fancy, but
kept the kids entertained on the 5000-mile round trip in three or so weeks. All of the
suitcases rode on top of the van in a top carrier. All the suitcases were brought in every
night to a different hotel and loaded back up the next morning. I do not miss that part.


On those road trips we would plan to see the National Parks, State Parks, and places of
interest. Each road trip was different and eventful. One year we went to 16 National
Parks. I am sure it was a blur to the kids, but Debbie and I enjoyed it. To this day if you
ask the kids the most fun part of growing-up, they will say “the vacations.”


The part that was so exciting to the kids was the Anticipation. Debbie would make up a
day-by-day calendar so that when the kids came downstairs each day that would be the
first thing they saw. It was a countdown calendar and the kids alternated which one tore
the day off. As the time drew closer, the more the excitement and anticipation would
build. The kids would ask what we were going to do, and where we were going on the
trips, and how many days were going to spend at WDW or on the road. We would
reflect on past vacations and funny experiences. We would remind the kids that this
year was going to be different than before. Things change and experiences are never
the same, but new memories can be built that are even better than before. Anticipation
is a powerful emotion.


The same is true for us at First Baptist Church, Sun City West. I can tell it when I speak
with people on the phone, when I read their emails and text messages. There is a great
anticipation for the time when we can safely gather for worship again. Oh, I look
forward to that day myself.


There is a great anticipation because we remember wonderful worship experiences of
the past. We remember special events that took place in the worship center. God has
spoken to us in that place. We have friends to catch up with and stories to share. We
know where just about everyone sits each Sunday and can’t wait to see their smiling
faces there again. We look forward to singing the great hymns of the faith, listening to
the choir sing, specials communicated, and prayers prayed. For some, when they think
about us re-opening for our worship service, they think it will be just like it was when we
last met on March 15. There is an exciting anticipation.


When we come back together, we will get to see many whom we haven’t seen face-to-
face for a while. There will be smiles and waves and there will be music, specials,
prayers, and a message. It will be something to anticipate…something exciting
because it is the first step back to what we remembered.


The fact is when we come back together it will be different. Because of the need of safe
distancing safety, the need to protect each other, you will be greeted and not hugged,
you will encounter sanitizers and the availability of masks to wear, you will have an
usher direct you to available seats that will we six feet apart. The good news is that
family members can sit together. You will leave the worship center out a different door
than when you came in. More good news is that you will be able to leave to the same
parking lot that your car is in.


The actual worship experience will be a little different as well. It will be a service that
glorifies God, that provides worshipful experiences which will be encouraging and
inspiring. This service is one that we pray you will prepare for and engage in. We will
not be able to have congregational singing in the beginning. Experts tell us the risk is
too high for all of us to be singing at one time, allowing droplets to stay in the air for
others to breathe in over the period of a worship service. In addition, wearing a mask
does not promote healthy singing. There will be a time in the future when we will be
able to sing as a congregation again. That is a day we will celebrate and recognize
publicly.

We will have music provided by soloist, ensembles, special guests and by video. There
will be creative ways, using various elements to give God the glory only He deserves.
The important point is that you prepare for worship in this new way, and not bemoan the
fact that it is not like it used to be.


In these days we have choices to make. It reminds me of the nation of Israel when they
went into captivity in Babylon. Ps. 137:1-4 says,


“By the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs,
Our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’
How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?”


For many of us it seems like we are in a foreign land. There are many things so
different and unfamiliar. When we gather back together, I would ask you to not be like
the Israelites even though it seems like we are in some type of captivity. They would
not worship God during their difficult times. Even though we might not be able to sing
as a congregation, we still can hum and enjoy as specials are sung to the glory of God.
“How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” We can participate
with joy in our hearts that God is leading us through this chaotic time with His ever-
guiding hand. We can praise God that He has carried us this far and will see His people
triumph and complete the work He has started in us. We can celebrate the forty years of
God’s ministry through First Baptist Church in some trying times and be committed to be
a part of the next forty years of God’s ministry to Sun City West.


I pray that will be a choice you make with God’s Spirit leading us to stand firm in our
faith through these days of trials. Hear from God in a new and refreshing way. Be an
open book for God to speak powerfully to in these “next step” days as we look to the
future full of hope and assurance.


Leadership Team Report will be sent on Wednesday through E-Blast.


Have a blessed day.


Pastor Kirby

May 22, 2020

FBCSCW E-Blast

 

Memorial Day

We are entering the Memorial Day Weekend. When many in our nation think about Memorial Day they think about a three-day weekend, a paid holiday, a barbecue with family.  For numbers of people, like the people of FBCSCW, they know the meaning of Memorial Day.  All four of my father’s siblings, like himself, were involved in World War II.  Thankfully, all of them returned home safe and sound.  They went on to live successful lives.  But they knew men, friends, and companions who did not make it home from this most difficult war.  Memorial Day is the time that we stop and honor those men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice in all American wars.  We honor each in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, not everyone understands the true meaning of this day.

I read that only about half of Americans know the true meaning of Memorial Day.  So, I found some treasures about Memorial Day on the website “All About History” – Meaning of Memorial Day. I thought I would share some of the information verbatim to help remind us to remember and be thankful.

Short Meaning

“In years since World War 1, the day has become a celebration of honor for those who died in all America’s wars, as well as those who are Veterans and current members of the US military.”

Memorial Day Speech to Remember (quoted in part)

“President Ronald Reagan is credited with reviving the practice of honoring Memorial Day and its meaning. One of his famous speeches was given at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day in 1986.”

“Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It's a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others. It's a day to be with the family and remember.

I was thinking this morning that across the country children and their parents will be going to the town parade and the young ones will sit on the sidewalks and wave their flags as the band goes by. Later, maybe, they'll have a cookout or a day at the beach. And that's good because today is a day to be with the family and to remember….

…And we owe them something, those boys. We owe them first a promise: That just as they did not forget their missing comrades, neither, ever, will we. And there are other promises. We must always remember that peace is a fragile thing that needs constant vigilance. We owe them a promise to look at the world with a steady gaze and, perhaps, a resigned toughness, knowing that we have adversaries in the world and challenges and the only way to meet them and maintain the peace is by staying strong.

That, of course, is the lesson of this century, a lesson learned in the Sudetenland, in Poland, in Hungary, in Czechoslovakia, in Cambodia. If we really care about peace, we must stay strong. If we really care about peace, we must, through our strength, demonstrate our unwillingness to accept an ending of the peace. We must be strong enough to create peace where it does not exist and strong enough to protect it where it does. That's the lesson of this century and, I think, of this day. And that's all I wanted to say. The rest of my contribution is to leave this great place to its peace, a peace it has earned.”

Ideas on How to Celebrate on Memorial Day

“It is important for Americans to take time to remember the sacrifices that bought their freedom. Here are some ideas on how to celebrate this important American holiday:

  • Send a note of thanks to Veterans you know.

  • If you know someone who has lost a loved one in battle, offer to help with a household project or help meet a special need they have.

  • Visit a local cemetery and place flags or flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers.

  • Fly the American flag at half-staff until noon.

  • Participate in the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 pm. Pause and think upon the meaning of Memorial Day.

  • Pray for God’s blessing on America. Ask for God’s protection over all branches of our military.”

 

Final Memorial Day Thoughts

Take time on Monday to pray…pray for the families of those who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms during wartime. Pray that God would help us to be instruments of peace as we proclaim the gospel of Christ and live the gospel out in our lives. If you know a veteran, please pray for that person and if you are able do something special for them.

Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions

We celebrate the faithfulness of each of our members and attenders who have generously given toward the Annie Armstrong Missions Offering.  This yearly offering makes up a vital portion of our North American Missions Board’s budget.  That budget is what places people and resources all over North America to share the gospel of Christ and touch lives with compassionate care in the name of Jesus.  Your faithfulness allowed us to meet our Annie Armstrong goal of $10,200.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow.  Thank you so much for your caring heart.

New Look on Sunday Morning Worship

This Sunday when you click on the link on the front page of our website (www.fbcscw.org) you will get two choices of worship to watch.  You will have the option of the sermon only and you will have the option of the entire worship service.  Click on the one that you want to see or have time to view.  In the weeks ahead, you will be blessed by better sound and picture on both links, thanks the hard work of our team. In addition, see if you notice anything different at the beginning of the video.  Encourage others to view as well. Both links should be on the site by 8:00am on Sunday morning, as well as the New Sunday Bible Study Class taught by Dr. Scott Williamson.

New Sunday Bible Study Class Online

 

Join Dr. Scott Williamson this Sunday, May 24, and any Sunday you are available, as he teaches the truth of scripture with a goal of practical application.  Each week the video will be available on our website (www.fbcscw.org) by 9:00am.  When you get on our website just click on the current Sermon and it will take you to three links.  Just click the Sunday Bible Study. You can also watch the Bible Study, or message, online during the week. Enjoy the opportunity to learn more about being a follower of Jesus.

 

The study of Titus will help you understand the unbreakable link between faith and practice, belief, and behavior. This truth is the basis for Paul’s criticism of false teaching, his instruction in Christian living, and standards he sets for church leaders.

 

Prayer for our Leadership Team

 

The Leadership Team will meet on Tuesday, May 26.  We ask that you continue to pray for our Leadership Team as they pray, study, and discuss when the right time for our church to begin having worship services again and how best to accomplish the task.

 

The most important issue for our Leadership Team is protecting our senior adult members and providing the healthiest environment possible.  The Leadership Team meets to share their advice and support and are made up of our Response Task Force, Deacons, and our Retired Ministers.  They appreciate your prayers.

 

Have a blessed Memorial Day Weekend.  Touch someone’s life.

 

Pastor Kirby

May 19, 2020

 

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The Unknown

Does anyone know where this quote is from: “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!”

If you are a Trekkie, you know.  Star Trek, the TV show, aired from 1966 to 1969.  It was a favorite of my father…therefore, it became a favorite for me and my brother.  We have also followed each movie that has spun off the TV series. 

One of the things that caught my attention early on was the phrase “To boldly go where no man has gone before.”  To go where no one has gone before…that is to go into the unknown.  Captain Kirk and crew were “boldly” going.

Frankly, the unknown does not really prompt most of us to “boldly go.”  In fact, we dread the unknown.  For instance, when we have a medical test done that could have serious consequences, we what to know the results now.  It is so hard to wait.  It is agonizing to wait for the test results and the possibility of the nurse calling and saying, “the doctor would like to see you in his office.” 

I remember when my doctor told me in Florida that I needed to get on the kidney transplant list.  It was 2010 and I had just moved to Florida from New Mexico.  They found my kidney issue when I was 18 years old.  I always knew there was a possibility that I might need a kidney transplant.  But when she told me those words, it was like I was in a dream. She sent me directly to a nephrologist in Gainesville, Florida who was a strong believer.  He worked with me to get me on the University of Florida Medical Center Transplant list and I was ready. In 2012, my kidneys begin failing and by 2015 they had failed, and I started dialysis. It was May 31, 2017 when I had my transplant and am so thankful.  I will celebrate three years in a week and a half. God is good.

I would not be truthful if I did not tell you that I did get frustrated at times. It took five years to get a matched donor for the transplant.  Honestly, I thought I would get a transplant quickly. My brother was being tested first and he was healthy and a shoe in.  It did not happen.  I was disappointed.  I reminded God that I had set my life apart for His service…in case he needed to be reminded. The journey really began then.  The unknown adventure that we all dislike.  Not sure if a donor would be found. Why is it taking so long?  Would we ever find one? Year after year we continued on trusting God with the unknown.  Then one day after I sent out a Facebook post God brings about His will in His timeframe. It was a man by the name of Ricky Bybee.  He became the “known” that God knew about the whole time.  I just needed to trust Him, His timing, His plan, and His techniques.

In a sense, this is where we are today with the COVID-19 and having Church Services…the unknown. When is the right time to begin our public worship?  How is the best way to keep our members and guests safe and protected?  Why are some churches starting and others not starting?  There are some denominations that are considering not starting until the fall.  Others have never stopped. 

The apostle Paul has an interesting experience and spoke truth during that encounter.  In Acts 17:22-34, Paul spoke to the people of Athens at the Areopagus.  In verse 23 he stated…” I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD….”  Paul started at that point to identify the Unknown God.  He continued, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else” (24-25).

There is truth in this experience of Paul that we need to apply. When things are unknown remember that God, “who gives everyone life and breath and everything else,” knows what is ahead for you.  He has plans for you amid the unknown and after the unknown becomes known. 

When life has unknowns in it, you must trust that God has got this.  He has you in His hand and He will never let you go.  He will strengthen you, guide you, encourage you and protect you through any trial, storm, and unknown life event.

During these days of the Unknown hold on to what the scripture says. 

Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?”

In the familiar passage of Proverbs 3:5-6 the writer said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Let us “boldly go” where God is taking us and strive to accomplish His will in this adventure.

 

New Sunday Bible Study Class Online

 

Join Dr. Scott Williamson this Sunday, May 24, and any Sunday you are available, as he teaches the truth of scripture with a goal of practical application.  Each week the video will be available on our website (www.fbcscw.org) by 9:00am.  When you get on our website, click on the current Sermon and it will take you to three links.  Just click the “Sunday Bible Study” link. You can also watch the Bible Study, or message, online during the week. Enjoy the opportunity to learn more about being a follower of Jesus.

 

The study of Titus will help you understand the unbreakable link between faith and practice, belief, and behavior. This truth is the basis for Paul’s criticism of false teaching, his instruction in Christian living, and standards he sets for church leaders.

 

Zoom Bible Study Classes

 

If you like interactive Bible Study Classes, we have two available live on Sunday mornings.  Paul Dyksterhouse and Dr. Glenn Saul are teaching their classes online through an online platform called Zoom.  If you are interested in tuning in to one of these classes, please let me know (drkirbykennedy@fbcscw.org) and I will get them to send you an email with a link that will allow you to get to the Bible Study.

 

Prayer for our Leadership Team

 

The Leadership Team will meet on Tuesday, May 26.  We ask that you continue to pray for our Leadership Team as they pray, study, and discuss when the right time for our church to begin having worship services again and how best to accomplish the task.

 

The most important issue for our Leadership Team is protecting our senior adult members and providing the healthiest environment possible.  The Leadership Team meets to share their advice and support and are made up of our Response Task Force, Deacons, and our Retired Ministers.  They appreciate your prayers.

 

Have a blessed week and make sure and be a blessing to someone else.

 

Pastor Kirby

May 15, 2020

 

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New Sunday Bible Study Class Online

 

Beginning on Sunday, May 24 you will be able to enjoy a new Sunday Bible Study Class from the comfort of your home on our website.  For those who are not involved in a Zoom Sunday Bible Study Class, we have a new offering for you on Sunday morning.  Dr. Scott Williamson will be teaching on the book of Titus.  Each class will be 30 to 40 minutes in length.  Dr. Williamson is a long-time pastor of Baptist Churches in California, Alaska, and Arizona.  In his retirement, he and Trudy have been involved in our church’s ministries. 

 

The study of Titus will help you understand the unbreakable link between faith and practice, belief, and behavior. This truth is the basis for Paul’s criticism of false teaching, his instruction in Christian living, and standards he sets for church leaders.

 

Join Dr. Williamson Sunday, May 24, and any Sunday you are available as he teaches the truth of scripture with a goal of practical application.  Each week the video will be available on our website (www.fbcscw.org) by 9:00am.  Enjoy the Bible Study, then stay on the website and click on the current worship service and sermon by Dr. Kennedy.  You can also watch the Bible Study or message online during the week. Enjoy the opportunity to learn more about being a follower of Jesus.

 

Zoom Bible Study Classes

 

If you like interactive Bible Study Classes, we have two available live on Sunday mornings.  Paul Dyksterhouse and Dr. Glenn Saul are teaching their classes online through an online platform called Zoom.  If you are interested in tuning in to one of these classes, please let me know (drkirbykennedy@fbcscw.org) and I will get them to send you an email with a link that will allow you to get to the Bible Study.  You’ll be able to see each attendee if you have a camera on your laptop, or you can just call into the class, hear the discussion, and interject as you feel led.  All of this from the comfort of your home.  Paul’s class is at 9:00am and Dr. Saul’s class is at 10:00am.  After each class you will have the ability to watch our worship service on our website each week. 

 

Prayer for our Leadership Team

 

We ask that you continue to pray for our Leadership Team as they pray, study, and discuss when the best time for our church to begin having worship services again. There are many details to work out and things to consider. Please pray that we will remember that we are in a unique situation in Sun City West. Most of those who live here are the most vulnerable.  Most of us are 65 or older and a good percentage have underlying heath conditions.  The most important issue for our Leadership Team is protecting our senior adult members and providing the healthiest environment possible.  The Leadership Team meets to share their advice and support and are made up of our Response Task Force, Deacons, and our Retired Ministers.  They appreciate your prayers.

 

Life’s Most Important Lesson

 

Mother’s Day was a special day in our house.  I know I spent time reflecting on my mom and her investment in my life.  I reflected on the impact she made in the lives of people she never met.  Bessie L. Kennedy went to be with the Lord at the age of 91.  She had been a widow for almost 30 years.  How did she fill that void that was left when her pastor husband passed unexpectedly? 

 

She ministered to others.  Whether it was teaching her senior adult ladies’ class, making visits, serving on church committees, or her writing.  Her writing took up most of her time.  She was honored to write the 100th Anniversary history of the First Baptist Church of Las Cruces. It was a published book and creatively celebrated the ministry of 10 decades of her historic church.  She also wrote for the Baptist Sunday School Board/Lifeway Christian Resources for over 30 years.  In that time, she wrote over 500 Open Windows devotions, 160 articles for various publications and numerous teaching procedures and Sunday School lessons.  In the later part of her life she was asked to write monthly devotions for her church’s Senior Adult Newsletter.  I came across a devotion she wrote for their newsletter recently. I wanted to share it with you. This fits our Senior Adult Church right now in all that we are going through.  Read through it and be inspired.  Ask God to help you apply whatever lessons He reveals.

 

 

LIFE’S MOST IMPORTANT LESSON

 

As my Father hath loved me, so have I loved you; continue ye in my love. John 15:9

 

     The late Swiss theologian, Dr. Karl Barth, was once invited to speak to an academic audience in the U. S. In a session for questions following the speech, Dr. Barth was asked a question about the greatest thing he had ever learned. A hush must have fallen over the audience as the students anxiously waited to hear the great theologian’s reply. Imagine their surprise when Dr. Barth stated that the greatest thing he had ever learned was “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

 

     Dr. Radford Hutchison, a member of our church and former Director of Missions, shared this story with me along with an e-mail containing a similar event described on a televised broadcast out of Atlanta. An elderly senior pastor, being honored that day, was asked to tell the congregation about the greatest lesson he had learned in his 50-plus years of preaching. He spoke slowly as he answered: “The one thing that has made the most difference in my life and sustained me through my trials, the one thing that I could rely on when tears and heartbreak and pain and fear and sorrow paralyzed me… the only thing that would bring comfort was this verse: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so/ Little ones to Him belong; We are weak but He is strong.” 

 

      As older adults we can all relate to this senior version of “Jesus Loves Me.”

 

Jesus loves me. This I know, though my hair is white as snow

Though my sight is growing dim, Still He bids me trust in Him.

 

(CHORUS)

YES, JESUS LOVES ME…YES, JESUS LOVES ME, YES, JESUS

LOVES ME FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO.

 

Though my steps are, oh, so slow, with my hand in His I’ll go

On through life, come what may, He’ll be there to lead the way.

 

(CHORUS)

 

When the nights are dark and long, in my heart He puts a song,

Telling me in words so clear, have no fear, for I am here.

 

(CHORUS)

 

When my work on earth is done, and life’s victories have been won,

He will take me home above, Then I’ll understand His love.

 

(CHORUS)

 

I love Jesus, Does He know? Have I ever told Him so?

Jesus loves to hear me say, That I love Him, every day.

 

                                                                                        - Compiled by Bessie Kennedy

 

Have a great weekend.  Take time to sing to yourself “Jesus Loves Me this I Know, For the Bible tells me so.”

 

Blessings.

 

Pastor Kirby

 

 

 

 

 

May 12, 2020

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Caution Ahead

Last week I shared about the Mourning Doves who have built their nest on our security light in our back yard.  It has been fun to watch them take turns sitting on the nest.  I read that the female takes the nightshift, and the male the dayshift.  We normally would be outside in the pool exercising around 5:00pm, which seemed to be the time for the two doves to switch. 

The nest on our security light is attached to our house.  Just a few feet away from the nest is our pool.  The doves have been hesitant to just switch while we were in the pool.  The female sits on the fence an extended time, deciding what the risk is to her and her babies. We finally caught on to the pattern. When we saw her on the fence, we would go to the far side of the pool and just be silent.  Within a short time, she would fly to the bench which was closer and between us and the nest.  Once she felt it was safe, she would fly to the nest and the male would take off for his evening duties.  She took caution seriously.

Jesus said in Matthew 10:16, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

It seems to me that the female mourning dove at my house was illustrating what Jesus said.  Here was an innocent dove being shrewd and careful.  Jesus was communicating to His disciples that as they went out into the world, it was going to be tough. They were not going to be the hit of the party.  They were not going to be popular.  Rather, they were going to be where the vicious wolves have control.  Where one who is seeking whom he can devour is roaming.

He said, “I am sending you out….”  Jesus knew the danger and He was still sending them out.  The advice was simple…Watch out!  Be careful!!  Caution ahead!!!  He warns them, and then encourages them to face what comes head on.  As you face it head on, make sure you face it as gentle, innocent doves.  Doves who are patiently waiting (like our doves).  They are waiting on the fence, observing and watching.  They take smart steps like flying to the bench to observe and watch. Finally, they fly to the nest to do what they were meant to do. 

God has tasks for us to do and assignments to accomplish.  We are in the world by His desire and calling, and we must be patient.  We must watch out, be careful, and be cautious as we move to accomplish that which God has called us to do.  Accomplishing that call will allow us to achieve our God-given purpose and thus bring joy, fulfillment, and satisfaction to our lives and the lives of others.

Pastor Kirby

 

It is hard to have patience at times.  Dr. Hornecker has written a wonderful article on Patience which has some keen and practical helps.  Keep reading…

 

“Be Patient!”

“Are we there yet?”  How frequently do you recall hearing those words from your children or your grandchildren as you travelled?  And your response likely was something like:  “Be patient!”  Patience—it is, indeed, a quality to be desired.  It is listed in Gal. 5:22 as one of the “fruits of the Spirit.”  In its verb form in the Greek, it is the first descriptive term used in 1 Cor. 13:4 to characterize agape love.  That oft quoted author “Anonymous” said:  “Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.”  That quotation is consistent with a biblical definition:  “Patience is the quality that does not surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial.  It is the opposite of despondency and is associated with hope.”(1)  Patience truly is a virtue to be cultivated and sought.

Our current circumstances with COVID-19, and all its ramifications, calls for an abundance of patience, something that is far easier to talk about and advocate for than to practice.  But what makes “patience” such a struggle for many of us?  What causes us to become impatient when we confront challenges to our daily life such as we are currently experiencing?  As I reflected on those questions from a pastoral counselor perspective, it occurred to me that our lack of patience is really a symptom of something more basic.  Patience is not the main issue, although one’s actions because of impatience can become a problem. 

If you and I were to meet and you were to share with me your lack of patience about a particular matter, I would respond with something like:  “Tell me about that.  How is that a problem for you?”  And, likely, you would respond by telling me specifically what frustrates you.  In doing so, you would have identified the real issue which we then could seek to address.  Your impatience was an indication of something more specific.  If we are to increase our capacity for being more patient, one of the ways of doing that is to identify those things that contribute to our impatience.  That is the approach I want to take in this article.

One possible source of impatience is our expectations about what or how quickly we want something to occur.  This becomes a problem when those expectations are unrealistic, or they do not align with the current facts or reality. Those expectations may be based on limited or inadequate information or a false hope or perception.  With additional information, the possibility exists that we can adjust our expectations and in doing so become more patient.  Additionally, many carry within themselves a list of “should’s” and “ought’s,” of how things “should” be done or how they “ought” to be. These frequently are interpreted as reflecting “right” and “wrong,” which generally is not the case. Consequentially, when those “should’s” and “ought’s are not observed, we become frustrated and impatient.  Life would be less frustrating, and we likely would experience greater patience if, instead of using those terms, we said, “It would have been better if . . .”

A second possible source of impatience is a difference in values.  We see that currently being played out in the tension between those who want to resume normal activities and to move forward more quickly while others, such as the members of the medical community, are resistant and urge caution.  For the one group, protecting and maintaining life is their primary value.  For others, returning to “normalcy,” keeping their businesses afloat, or having an income again is their overriding value.  As long as these differences in values exist, one group will display their lack of patience by pressing their agenda, while the other group will continue to ask for further patience. Perhaps talking with one another in an attempt to understand, rather than to convince, would enable the two parties to find some common ground, which hopefully would contribute to greater patience on the part of each group.

Another potential source of impatience is having too narrow of a focus.  Some look at a situation and they view it only from their perspective.  Then, they immediately want to act based on that view.  They fail to consider the “bigger picture,” to consider other facts or factors that are not immediately obvious, or how others might potentially be affected by that action.  Additionally, they may have difficulty appreciating how others can see or approach the situation differently than they do.  For instance, Dr. Mike Osterholm, who is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, says that this virus will be around until we either have a vaccine or 60-70% of the population has been infected so that we have “herd immunity.”  Without a vaccine, he estimates this could take 18-24 months.  Not everyone shares that perspective.  In fact, some will question the validity of that conclusion.  However, if one considers that additional information in one’s assessment, it will impact how patient we will be in dealing with the ramifications of that potential reality and what that means for us personally.

Sometimes our lack of patience grows out of a sense of lack of control.  Most of us want to be in charge of all aspects of our lives and the circumstances related to them.  We want to go to the store when we want to go to the store.  We may resist wearing a mask because we believe it is unnecessary and is uncomfortable.  We dislike having others strongly recommend to us as individuals, as a church, or as a community what we should do.  Consequently, we become impatient when we perceive that we no longer have the freedom to do these things we once did without restrictions.  Recognizing and deciding that we can learn from others, that some of these practices may, indeed, be beneficial and contribute to the well-being of others as well as ourselves will potentially impact our level of impatience.

One final possible source is selfishness or self-centeredness.  Often, we want what we want when we want it.  And we want it now!  We become impatient with delayed gratification, or with anything that stands in the way of our doing or getting what we want.  Sometimes this may also involve an ulterior motive or some hidden agenda, which the individual may be reluctant to acknowledge or make known.  Being honest with ourselves, and with others, about what the real motive is likely will reduce some of the frustration related to our lack of patience, and it may even provide a greater possibility of accomplishing at least some of what we desire.

There likely are many other sources that tend to rob us or our patience:  being bored, having too much together time as a couple so that one or the other has little or no “alone time,” experiencing “cabin fever,” etc.  Regardless of the source of our impatience, I think the scripture is clear that God’s will for his people is that we are to be patient and steadfast in difficult situations, living out our Christian faith day-by-day.  If you struggle with patience, seek to identify what the real issue is behind the impatience. Then, once you have done that, develop a plan to address the issue or enlist the help of another believer to help you find a way of to do that.  Doing so will, I believe, enable you to be more at peace and to be more patient with people and with your life circumstances.  I anticipate both you and the Lord will be pleased with that outcome.

Ron Hornecker, Minister of Counseling
623-628-3796 or 2rhornecker@cox.net

 

 

  1. W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr.  Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville:  Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1985), 377

May 8, 2020

 

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Happy Mother’s Day

 

We look forward to this special day each year.  It is a day we set aside to honor the ladies who gave us birth, nurtured us and that helped to shape our moral compass. Moms are special people.  Most of our congregation have lost their moms.  We also recognize that many of the ladies in the congregation are moms or have taken on kids/adults and poured into their lives like a mom would. 

 

The Bible, in Proverbs 31, has much to say about moms of noble character: “… She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls…she sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.  She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night…When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothes in scarlet…She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children arise and call her blessed…Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.  Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” 

 

One of the mothers that I think of when I read that passage was my mother-in-law, Millie Klein. I had the best mother-in-law that a guy could have imagined.  When I met her for the first time on December 28, 1984, she welcomed me with open arms.  She was one who never interfered in our marriage, yet, was always available to give advice and wisdom when asked.

 

Millie Klein grew up in Baltimore.  Her childhood years were not ideal, but she did not let that stop her from becoming an amazing woman with many gifts and talents.  She served in the Navy prior to her and Mr. Klein getting married. Mr. Klein was an Air Force navigator during the Vietnam war. Consequently, he was gone much of the time. So, Mrs. Klein raised their three girls mostly on her own.  She provided a loving atmosphere with activities, quality time together and humor. Her desire was to provide a home that had what she did not have growing up. 

 

With college on the horizon for the three girls, Mrs. Klein decided to go into the workforce.  She began by being a ministry assistant at the local Baptist Associational office.  Getting the experience under her belt, she secured a job at the Pentagon working for one of the ranking generals.  She continued successfully working for this general until Mr. Klein retired and they moved from the Washington DC area to Florida.  Immediately, she secured a job working for the highest ranking general in Florida.  She knew what she wanted, and she worked hard to achieve it.  It was her commitment, dedication and work ethic that allowed her to be successful.

 

I found Mrs. Klein to be genuine.  She had a great sense of humor which was needed in a military family with three girls. She had insight and wisdom that she could present, in various ways, in those important teachable moments. She was compassionate and discerning.  She loved the ladies in her Sunday School class that she taught. She and Mr. Klein would spend much time visiting and helping people in their church.

 

Mrs. Klein was thrifty. We discovered that when we went to Disney World together.  They would pack all the water and food we needed for the day, put it in a cooler and rent a locker at the park which made it affordable to our family. She never wasted time or missed an opportunity to teach our kids.  The times we were in eternal lines for the rides at Disney World, she would keep the kids entertained.  She taught our girls how to knit crosses to send to missionaries she knew to be used in ministry in their country.

 

She made me feel comfortable all the time.  I have always been a slow eater during meals.  When we were at their home, she would always eat at my pace so that I had company at the dinner table. Mrs. Klein’s humor permeated the entire household and was passed on to her youngest daughter, my wife.  If you were having a hard day, she knew just what to do or say to make it all better much of which was accomplished by her humor.  She loved her family, her grandkids, and yes, even her sons-in-law.  I could go on and on…Millie Klein was the best mother-in-law a guy could ever have.  I have been blessed more than I can express with this Proverbs 31 Mother and Mother-in-Law.

 

Who is that special person in your life who influenced, nurtured, and inspired you most?  Was it your mom?  Some other special person? If they are living, let them know. If they have passed, thank God for them and follow their example.

 

Health Update

 

Several have asked how my health and shingles were progressing.  First, thank you for the continual prayers during this time.  Those prayers have given me strength and encouragement, as I have tried to use this time healing to sense what God is teaching me through this hardship.  He has taught me several lessons, which I am already working on.

 

The shingles are now in their eighth week.  They continue to heal, for which I am grateful.  I have nerve pain settling in the inside of my right leg.  I pray it does not last long.  The weakness in the right leg continues to be an issue, which has caused several falls.  Those falls have created secondary issues with the knee and hip.  I have some tests in the works to find the extent of the issues.  It does make it more difficult to walk, but I still am able to get around. Please pray for the doctors to have wisdom and for healing to take place prior to our gathering together for worship.  God has encouraged me and held me through this journey. I am a blessed and grateful man.

 

Inspirational Quotes About Moms

 

“A mother is the one who is still there when everyone else has deserted you.” Author Unknown

 

“Who ran to help me when I fell, and would pretty story tell, or kiss the place to make it well? My Mother!” Author Unknown

 

“Words cannot express my gratitude to you Mom for all the love and support you have given me.” Kate Summers

 

“Nothing else will ever make you as happy or as sad, as proud or as tired, as motherhood.” Ella Parsons

 

“Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” Prov. 17:6

 

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Prov. 31:28-31

 

Have a blessed weekend.

 

Pastor Kirby

May 5, 2020

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National Day of Prayer

The National Day of Prayer is this Thursday, May 7.  The Spiritual Leaders of Sun City West had planned a community event, but because of the virus we had to eliminate those plans.  The day is set aside for individuals to spend time, sometime during the day, to pray for God to intervene in our lives, country, and world.

The theme this year is “Pray God’s Glory Across the Earth.”  The theme verse is Habakkuk 2:14, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

We are encouraged to pray for America, effectively and fervently and specifically for the seven centers of influence: government, church, military, family, education, media and entertainment, and business.

In these times, we must pray for each of these seven areas and the healthcare workers who are putting their lives on the line every day.  Pray for those who have the virus.  Pray for complete healing and for the families of those who have died.

Since we cannot gather right now, I am asking our congregation, our Watchman Prayer Warriors, and our community to take time on Thursday to pray passionately for all the items mentioned above.

I have been asked if our church will be open for people to come and pray.  We will have our Prayer Room open for use from 9:00am to 3:00pm by reservation.  (We will have cleaning procedures in place after each hour of prayer.)  Each person who would like to reserve an hour in the Prayer Room, please call the church office to see which hours are available (623-584-5738).  If we have more requests than we have hours, we will gladly open a Bible Study room for those hours. When you arrive, please come through the office door and let our Ministry Assistant know you are there for your hour, and then let her know when you are leaving. We will have the National Day of Prayer Guides available in the room(s).  If you have questions, please just let me or the office know.

What’s Next…

It may seem like a long time that we have been under a “stay-at-home” request, but this time is passing.  It may seem like a long time until we have a public worship service again, but I promise the time will pass. We have plans in place to do our best to protect our congregation when we do start back, and it will be special. We have more detailed plans to phase in our other gatherings, ministries, and committees to keep the risk down and still get ministry accomplished.  So, as a church we have been preparing for the future, the new opportunities, and methods.  The days ahead are exciting, knowing that God is going to work through this pandemic to help us to touch our community for Christ more than ever before. How about you?  Have you been preparing for what is next?  Take time to read Dr. Hornecker’s article about What Next?  You will enjoy, learn, and be inspired. 

 

What Next?

Are you aware that the Chinese written word for “crisis” is composed of two characters signifying “danger” and “opportunity”? As I was verifying that fact, I found this additional statement: “The word ‘crisis’ comes from the Greek meaning ‘to separate, to sift,’ which means to pass judgment, to only keep what is worthwhile.  There is an opportunity in every crisis and the deeper the crisis, the better the opportunity can be” (emphasis added). Crisis and opportunity.  Most of us likely would not have linked those two ideas together.  But perhaps there is truth there.

For nearly eight weeks, we have been making changes in our lives to deal with the circumstances related to this crisis.  We have had to “sift” through our daily routines and practices.  We have had to decide what is “worthwhile” and where we want to focus our time and effort.  In this article, I thought it might be helpful to reflect on what has changed for us during this pandemic and what potential opportunities may exist or that we may have discovered during this time. 

Initially, I imagine most of us found the changes imposed to be rather frustrating, as well as limiting.  Few of us like change, especially when it is forced on us without our consent. While some of these changes appear to be temporary, others likely will be more permanent. Some we likely will experience as loss.  We are no longer free to jump into the car and drive to the grocery store for a gallon of milk without considering if the trip is necessary.  Restaurants only provide take-out, no in-person dining. The recreation centers remain closed.  Church worship services and activities are “paused” with the scheduled time of resuming uncertain.  Social distancing means not being able to get together to play card games, Mexican Train, etc., or to visit in one another’s homes, or to gather with the other members of our Bible study class as we have previously done.  We have had more time alone or with our spouse, more time that is unstructured, and more time to engage in projects we have been putting off.  However, after a few weeks of these disruptions, we have adjusted. We are finding a greater comfortableness with our new and developing routines.  Many of us are enjoying the slower pace of daily life.  We are less distracted with busyness and are choosing to engage in activities and pursuits that bring greater meaning and purpose to our lives.  We can give more time to personal reflection and to our own spiritual nurture.  We are finding new ways of ministering to others and, in some cases, sharing our faith.  Reaching out to others, to check on their well-being and just to connect or re-connect, has become a more intentional part of many of our days.  And some of us are doing a better job of self-care—doing more walking, relaxing on the patio, and giving more attention to a healthy diet. 

So, we have this “before” and “after” perspective on our lives.  We are no longer engaged in some past practices, but we may have found or rediscovered some that we are finding quite meaningful.  That, in turn, leads to the question, “What next?”  The question is being asked nationally, by our governor, by our local leaders, and by our church leaders.  We all will be impacted by the answers each entity gives.  However, regardless of what others may decide, you and I get to answer that question for ourselves. This is where new opportunities lie for us and, potentially, for our church.

For instance, what changes to your daily routine have you made that you are finding beneficial and that you want to retain for the future?  What effect has the slower daily pace, with fewer obligations, had on your stress level?  If it is lower, what are the implications of that for you as you think about the future?  How have you been able to nurture and give attention to your spiritual life during this time, and how do you want to continue or strengthen those practices in the days to come?  For us as a church, can all these changes result in our thinking about and discovering some new ways of “doing church,” new methods of reaching out, new ways of ministering to those in need? I could go on and on with these types of reflective questions, but I trust that you get the picture.

This crisis certainly has changed life as we have known it.  The “old normal” is likely gone and the “new normal” is not yet clearly in place—for us as a community, as a church, and individually.  As we face the future, the opportunity for further change and newness which can benefit our lives and the life of our church is present.  How open will we be to take advantage of those possibilities?  How do we want to answer the question “What next?” for ourselves as well as our congregation?

Ron Hornecker, Minister of Counseling
623-628-3796 or 2rhornecker@cox.net 

May 1, 2020

FBCSCW E-Blast

 

Perseverance

This is a peaceful morning. As I look out my kitchen window, I hear the quail calling, the mourning doves singing and other birds which I cannot recognize.  We have two mourning doves who have built a nest on one of our security lights on our back porch.  I have been impressed by this mourning dove team. I understand that the male and female mate for life. Yes, Debbie has named them Dory and Doug. They have been on that nest day and night with maybe a brief fly away.  I understand that the female is on the nest all night and the male during the day. I cannot wait to see those young mourning doves learn how to fly.  Although, I am a little worried because their nest is by the pool and when they kick those two little ones out of the nest it very well might be a lesson on “sinking or swimming” instead of flying.  As I have been watching these mourning doves the last two weeks, the word that comes to mind is perseverance.  They will wait, however long it takes to work, to get their babies flying and on their own.

It is my oldest daughter’s Birthday.  She happens to be visiting us for a few days.  We almost lost Sarah back on Nov. 13 as she was going through IVF treatments.  Our church family was fervently praying that entire day and night for her and the doctors.  God preserved her life that night and we praise Him for His special gift. 

Sarah told me a few weeks ago that she believed that God saved her because she “knew her husband was not a Christian and she did not want him to go to hell.”  Sarah continued to witness to James. God used her, and my good friend Rev. Garry Taylor, to lead James to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ on Palm Sunday.  He was baptized on Easter.  All of you celebrated with us as well.

What strikes me about this life event is that it took time. My daughter, knowing that James was a good guy, but he was not a believer, continued to encourage him for almost five years to come to Jesus.  God’s timing is wonderful. But perseverance is hard.  It is hard to wait for something that you want so bad or something or someone you miss. 

Sarah and James are on another journey that is requiring perseverance. We have located a clinic here in the Phoenix area that is exceptional for IVF treatments.  As Sarah goes through these treatments in the months ahead please pray that they are successful, and that God will bless these two young people who have persevered through much as they have been on this journey now for four years. 

Like you, it continues to be on my mind about how we miss the fellowship and worship together as a church family.  We have never known anything like this in our lives. It has always been our choice whether we go to church or not.  Now, it is out of our control if we want to protect and keep our church family safe and healthy until the peak of the coronavirus has passed.  It is hard when we want to see each other, catch up on what is going on, give each other a hug, an elbow, a smile, some sort of normalcy.

Since the exact time when we can get back to worship is not set in stone, it can be frustrating and sad.  That is true for all of us. Not seeing family for an extended time is difficult.  But, through our lives we have all had to have an experience not seeing family and loved ones for longer than we would have liked. For us to have done that shows that we do have perseverance.  

That is what we will need to have during this pandemic. You have done a great job these last six weeks.  You have made the best of it by calling, e-mailing or texting your family, your friends and church family to stay-in-touch.  We can still do this.  God will continue to use us in a great way during this “pause”. We can finish this strong, healthy, and safe. We can embrace Perseverance as our “calling” during this unique time in history.  Take time to read and think about the scriptures below and let God speak to you in a very personal and insightful way.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

“Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” Rev. 3:10

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

“…being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:11-12

Sunday

I am looking forward to Sunday as we continue the sermon series “Your World Is Not Falling Apart, It Is Falling Into Place”.  The sermon is entitled: “What Happens When Your World Falls Apart” from Job 40.  Be prepared to worship and be encouraged.

Pastor Kirby

April 29, 2020

E-Blast Special Edition

 

New Timeframe for Potential Worship Services

We “paused” all our gatherings and ministries on March 18 and set a potential date of returning to church as usual on Sunday, May 3.  The Response Task Force, Deacons, and Retired Ministers had hoped that the Coronavirus would have diminished to a point that it would be safe to hold services again.

This team met yesterday, April 28 for two hours, discussing what our next steps would be as a congregation. 

The unified consensus of the Leadership Team is that it is not in the best interest of our congregation to have worship services start in our facility at this time. Maintaining the health and protection of the congregation is the top priority during this pandemic. Therefore, our congregation will NOT meet at our facility on May 3.

It was decided by the Leadership Team that it is in the best interest of our congregation to continue our “pause” and set a potential timeframe of returning to churchwide worship in early to mid-June.  This timeframe is open to change, depending on what we find with the CDC guidelines and what is happening in our area. 

Below you will read the rationale and thought processes from the 17 people who are on the team that met Tuesday.  

Thank You

Thank you for taking the time to pray for our Leadership Team consisting of our Response Task Force, Deacons, and Retired Ministers.  We were blessed to have 17 of our Leadership Team members who were able to attend, and three others who sent their comments and thoughts for us to consider. We practiced social distancing as each person was at least 6 feet from the next person, and all wore masks, as well.  All had the opportunity to speak from a microphone to the topics we were discussing, and the microphone was sanitized after each speaker.

It was evident that you were praying for this team as there was such a sweet spirit and a concerned, compassionate heart for our congregation at this critical time in our lives.  On the one hand, we know that our congregation desires to get back together and have that sweet fellowship in-person, sharing with each other, and in Bible Study and worship of our Heavenly Father.  On the other hand, there is the deep concern that we are a high-risk community of faith, and we have the great responsibility to protect the congregation.

 

The Meeting

In the two-hour meeting on Tuesday, we discussed many topics and addressed many issues and questions. There was a spirit of unity, thoughtful discussion, and consensus on most issues, and on other issues a willingness to join the majority to make a consensus.

The Overarching Topics of Discussion Were Three-Fold

First, what criteria or entity should we be watching and following as to when the best time to have public worship services again? There were three options we reviewed and discussed. First is the CDC and National Coronavirus Task Force; second, Arizona and Governor Ducey; third, as an autonomous congregation, just do what we feel led to do that honors God.

There was excellent discussion on this topic. At the end of the discussion, there was a unanimous consensus that we follow the CDC/National Coronavirus Task Force guidelines.  Those guidelines follow a three-phase process for opening a state and the country.  Arizona is still growing in the numbers of cases and deaths.  The virus has now reached us.  In Sun City West last week, it was reported that we had 6-10 confirmed cases. That number jumped to 49 over this past weekend.  There could be several reasons for that jump.

The Leadership Team felt that the CDC focuses on the health aspect surrounding the virus.  Governors across the United States are concerned about the health, but to a larger degree, they are concerned about getting their communities going again and getting the economy up and running.

The team understood the need for both perspectives.  If Governor Ducey saw Arizona as all retirees, he would have a different plan in place.  He would work his hardest to take care of the health issues.

The Leadership Team felt what we need to do as a church is that we must, first and foremost, take the perspective of protecting and caring for the short and long-term health of our congregation. Therefore, it was decided that we would follow the CDC guidelines with the understanding that, as an autonomous congregation, we can be flexible if things change more quickly than we might have thought.

A second issue discussed was how to gradually integrate all the various ministries while using the CDC guidelines which include social distancing, washing hands a lot, wearing masks, etc. 

The team discussed our committees, councils and ministries, as to when and how they could safely be integrated back into the full church schedule. We addressed many details about each ministry, and how to make sure we can follow the CDC guidelines which is meant to keep us protected and safe.  At the end of the discussion, there was full consensus to gradually bring in each ministry group. When we have our first worship service, this more detailed plan will begin and move us down a path of celebration of ministries.

The third issue we addressed was when should we resume our meeting together for worship.  This decision was communicated at the beginning.  This was probably the one issue that did not require the group to reach a consensus.  The point for the Leadership Team was that they are charged with protection, nurturing, and caring for our congregation.  As a high-risk segment of society, we must realize how quickly health issues come on.  The team was unanimous on the timeframe of restarting our public worship service and how to make it as worshipful and safe as possible.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The ministerial staff will keep watch on all developments and continue to work as they have been, striving to communicate clearly to all leadership and congregation. The support staff will continue to serve faithfully while accomplishing their assignments. Many of those assignments are geared to communicate with the congregation to keep them informed.

The Leadership Team will continue to monitor things happening in the country, and in Arizona and with the CDC, to see if any adjustments need to be discussed. They will meet as needed to discuss any changes that have occurred that might give us a clue on the best time to start back in worship.

We are asking the church membership to continue to pray for this virus to be eliminated, to pray for our country and the world which is in pain, pray for your staff, and for your opportunity to find ways to not only grow and fellowship, but to touch your neighbor or friend with God’s compassionate care.  Keep calling, texting and e-mailing the members of your Bible study class, and your friends and other church members.  This encouragement is a blessing. This is a powerful season for God to bring about revival and spiritual awakening. “Lord, that is what we desire. Here am I, send me.”

 

Pastor Kirby for the Leadership Team

April 24, 2020

FBCSCW E-Blast

 

It is Friday!!!!  That means Sunday is coming!!  I hope you will take time to celebrate our Risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ today. He is our Hope.

Hope describes one of the key components of a Christian’s life in Christ. Paul summed up the present motivation and the future expectation of the Christian’s life when he said in I Tim. 4:10, “we have fixed our hope on the living God.” Do you see the key to our hope? It is not what we are feeling or experiencing in this season, rather our hope is in the Living God. Our trust is in Him.

Hope in the Old Testament is always positive. Eccl. 9:4 states, “Anyone who is among the living has hope – even a live dog is better off than a dead lion.” Hope is certain in the OT because God is the object of hope. Jeremiah stated in 17:13 that the Lord is the “Hope of Israel.”  

                              

He is also the hope of New Testament believers. Paul stated in I Tim. 1c “…and of Christ Jesus our hope.”  Paul said in Romans 8:24-25, “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all! Who hopes for what they already have? But, if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” That hope is a trust in God that He will take care of us today and in the future…the future that we can not see but rest in the peace that God will take care of us.

In this time of crisis, we must embrace this hope in the living God. If you will let Him, He will cuddle you in His strong, warm, everlasting arms and never let you go.

Sermon Series on Hope

This Sunday I will be preaching the second in the series “YOUR WORLD ISN’T FALLING APART, IT IS FALLING INTO PLACE.”  It is staggering the number of seniors who feel all alone. Isolation, loneliness, and depression are realities in our world today and our high-risk senior adult population right here in Sun City West. In fact, there are 42.6 million seniors who experience loneliness every day. Do you know someone who suffers in this way? Do you?

This Sunday, I will be speaking on the topic of what happens when you are lonely and depressed. We will be looking at Psalm 22, which details a season in David’s life when he felt he was all alone. I think you will find the topic of great interest.

On Tuesday, in our FBCSCW E-Blast, Dr. Hornecker will address the issues related to depression and give some very practical suggestions on how to deal with these feelings and emotions during this particularly challenging time.

Praying for God to Touch Hearts and for those on the Front Lines

God is moving in hearts all over our country and world as people are seeking Him during this time of uncertainty. People are realizing they cannot control all things, so they are searching. Google searches for prayer, God, Jesus, Spiritual, and church have all spiked during this time of quarantine. Continue to pray for many to come into His Kingdom and Christians to be ready to share and encourage.

Thank you for praying for all the doctors, nurses, all healthcare workers, EMT, Fire, Police and so many others who are on the front lines striving to save lives and help in this pandemic. Pray for our President, government officials and private sector leaders who are discerning the best directions for our country. Continue to pray for those battling the COVID-19 virus and their families. Ask God to console the families of the more than 47,000 who have died from this virus.

I have a pastor friend who has a member from his previous church who is an RN working in NYC. She said, “It’s horrible what I am experiencing here. I have never seen anything like this. This is not just the flu. Even younger and healthy people with no pre-existing conditions are in ICU and dying.” 

These are the times to go on our knees in “power” to pray fervently that Satan will not win this battle., but that God will bring about victory over this virus and in the hearts and minds of many in our country and around the globe.

I enjoyed an interview that Dr. Alveda King, the 70-year-old niece of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., gave recently about the stress of isolation during this coronavirus lockdown. She said, “I find I’m not finding other reasons to keep me from praying. And as a result, I find an abiding joy, great faith, enduring and increasing love during this season. Do I see the bad things? Yes. And I pray with, and for those who have experienced loss. And yet there is hope and joy ahead. So, I’m encouraged – more encouraged – than I’ve ever been in a long time.”  What an amazing attitude. For all of us who are quarantined, these are good words of advice. Prayer…fervent prayer, is the key.

Praying for Our FBCSCW Leadership Team

Please pray fervently for our Leadership Team who have been praying earnestly and striving to discern God’s direction concerning our church’s return to a “new normal” of worshiping together again. There are many factors and they are listening, researching, and praying about the safety of our high-risk membership and our gathering back together. They will be meeting this next week to determine what our next steps will be and how we should move forward.

Thank You for Your Generosity During These Epic Days

For those who have recently joined our E-Blast, here are the three ways you can give to support our on-going ministry.

INSTRUCTIONS ON GIVING ON THE WEBSITE

THERE ARE THREE WAYS TO CONTINUE TO GIVE FINANCIALLY DURING THESE CHALLENGING TIMES: E-GIVING; MAIL AND DROP OFF. Instructions for each are given below.

E-Giving - INSTRUCTIONS FOR ONLINE GIVING

From the home page of our website www.fbcscw.org

  • Click on the blue “GIVE” tab in the top right corner

  • Enter the “Amount” you wish to give

  • Select the “Fund” you wish to give to (General, Annie Armstrong, Missions, etc.)

  • Pick the “Date” you wish to give

  • Enter you “E-Mail Address”

  • Click “Continue”

  • Enter “Bank Account” or “Credit/Debit Card” Info

  • Click “Give”

Mailing - CHURCH MAILING ADDRESS

First Baptist Church, Sun City West

17419 N Conquistador Drive

Sun City West, AZ  85375

Drop Off - CHURCH OFFICE HOURS

The church office will be open Monday-Thursday from 8am-4pm.

Ministry Needs

 

Meals of Joy is looking for individuals to deliver means to seniors in the area of Sun City, Sun City West and Surprise.  Because of the COVID-19, they have grown from 200 meals a week to 600 a week.  The need is great.  We have at least two individuals in our church who are delivering right now.  If you would like more information, or would like to volunteer, please contact Priscilla at Meals of Joy, 623-594-9588 or via email at info@scosic.org.

 

God Bless –

Pastor Kirby

April 21, 2020

FBCSCW E-Blast

Praise this Morning

“Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.” Isaiah 25:1 NIV

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” Psalm 28:7

These are great verses to lift us up this morning and to celebrate the “perfect faithfulness” of our God. To know He protects us with His “strength and shield.” Make today that kind of day…a day to worship the God…Our God of creation.

Prayer Request

The Response Task Force, the Deacons and our Retired Ministers will be meeting in the next week to discuss FBCSCW’s next step as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, take lives, bring heartache, and create economic chaos.

These teams have been praying fervently, desiring God’s will and direction for these next steps. We will be discussing the data nationwide and here in Arizona, when it might be advisable to worship together at our facility again, seeking ways to bring us back together in all phases of our ministry and how to keep the “safe distancing” necessary to help our people stay healthy and comfortable.  We are a high-risk community of faith. My deepest desire and responsibility, as the shepherd, is to do my best to protect our family of faith. Please continue to pray fervently for this team, as they share their wisdom and discernment.

 

Turbulent Times

In these turbulent times have you been feeling anxiety or fear? If so, you would be with most people. The unknown certainly lends itself to these emotions and feelings.

Please take time to read Dr. Hornecker’s excellent article on Managing Anxiety below.

Blessings,

Pastor Kirby

 

Managing Anxiety in Turbulent Times

God’s purpose for us is that we live “abundant lives” (Jn 10:10), ones that are, among other things, free from a level of anxiety that is unhealthy and detrimental. However, having some level of anxiety in turbulent and uncertain times, like now, is understandable. Some of that anxiety likely is helping to keep us safe. Is that not why most of us are observing the recommendations for staying home, maintaining “social distancing,” engaging in more frequent and thorough hand washing, etc. At the same time, we are experiencing concern and anxiousness for family members in other places, wondering what the future holds, and what will constitute our “new normal.”

When I use the word “anxiety,” to what am I referring? One author defined it as: “a generalized state of apprehension, accompanied by restlessness and tension . . . a lack of inner peace and serenity.”[1]  That level of anxiety can range in intensity from slight to severe. Its effects on us are experienced emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Genetic factors also contribute to anxiety for some.

Because of the way God created us, there are multiple avenues available for seeking to manage our anxiety. A change in any one area will impact the other areas as well. Let us explore some of those possible ways.

Mental and Emotional:  Our thinking and the focus of our thoughts has much to do with the level of anxiety we experience. That, in turn, affects us emotionally. Remember: “We feel the way we feel because we think the way we think.” So, changing our thinking from that of catastrophizing or being obsessed about all the “What if’s” of the current crisis can make a difference in the level of anxiety we experience. As much as is possible, while being realistic, try to focus on all that is positive in your situation and how God has and is blessing you. Seek to avoid obsessing about all the uncertainty. Learn what Paul encouraged to be the focus of our thinking as recorded in Phil. 4:8.

The mental approach also includes differentiating between what we can and cannot change or influence. For instance:  make a list of your concerns, those matters that cause you anxiety or worry. As you reflect on the list, determine what matters you can influence or possibly change. Decide and then implement what actions you can take to address those concerns. Then, recognize that all the other matters on your list are beyond your ability to influence, control, or do anything about. You can pray about them, but otherwise, you need to release them to the Lord and no longer invest emotional energy in being anxious about them.

Physical:  Another avenue for dealing with anxiety is through our bodies. Physical exercise is a way of draining off some of the tension and stress anxiety produces. Engaging in deep breathing exercises, or other relaxation techniques, is a way of experiencing a deep sense of relaxation and a growing sense of peace. If you have not done this before, sit up straight in a comfortable chair with both feet on the floor and your hands resting in your lap. Take in a long, slow, deep breath that causes your abdomen to extend and then let it out. Slowly inhale through your nose and then slowly exhale through your mouth. Close your eyes and focus your mind on your breath—slowly breathing in and out, in and out. Continue doing this for three to five minutes. Notice how the muscles in your neck and shoulders begin to relax. Feel your arms getting heavy and your fingertips getting warm. Sense the stress leaving your body. For additional relaxation techniques, including guided-imagery and some audio-assist guides, check out:  www.helpguide.org/articles/relaxation-techniques-for-stress-relief.htm 

Spiritual:  There are several scripture passages that speak to the matter of worrying, being anxious, or being overly concerned. (Please read the passages cited. I do not have the space to quote them here.)  In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus encourages his followers not to worry, to trust their Heavenly Father, and to take life one day at a time (Matt 6:25-34). In the parable of the sower, Jesus warns how “the worries of this life” choked out the seed that was sown (Matt 13:22, Mk, 4:19, Luke 8:14). Both Paul and Peter encourage their readers to place their trust in God and to give their anxieties over to him (Phil 4:6-7 and 1 Pet 5:7). Jesus gently confronts Martha about being “worried and upset about many things” (Luke 10:41). The theme running throughout these passages and throughout the scripture is that we have a Heavenly Father who cares for us, who will walk with us, and on whom we can rely. While we may know that truth cognitively, it is often difficult to practice it. However, we must remember that our Christian walk is one of faith and of trust, not one of sight.

An additional action we can take spiritually, which should go without saying, is to spend time reading the scriptures, meditating on them, allowing them to quiet our sense of unrest while giving our concerns and anxieties over to the Lord through prayer.

Chronic Anxiety:  For those who struggle with chronic anxiety or who experience repeated anxiety attacks, please consult with your primary care physician. There is medication available that can assist with both these conditions. Talking with a trusted counselor can also be of help.

Hopefully, some of these thoughts and suggestions, of which there are additional ones not included here, will help you better manage whatever anxiety you are experiencing. In doing that, may you find peace and calm in your circumstances. And again, if I can be of assistance, please feel free to contact me.

Ron Hornecker, Minister of Counseling


623-628-3796 or 2rhornecker@cox.net

____________________________

[1] Cecil Osborne, Release from Fear and Anxiety, 113).

April 17, 2020

FBCSCW E-Blast

 

NEW SERMON SERIES ON HOPE

What a challenging time we live in right now. What we need is hope. Hope is what gets us though the most difficult times in life. We need that glimmer that says, “It’s going to be okay,” “better days are ahead,” “someone is coming to our aid.”  There is a phase in the Casting Crown’s song “Just Be Held” that says, “Your World’s Not Falling Apart, It’s Falling Into Place” * That was the perfect title of this seven week series, which begins this Sunday, April 19 and concludes on Sunday, May 31. 

In times like these it seems like there is no rhyme and reason in our world. That could be because we are not seeing what God is seeing and what He can do for you and His Kingdom through you in this most trying time. The words of this song say much:

“When the world falls apart

And you fear for your heart

There’s a tower of peace

It’s still the cross

So, bring your sick and your poor

And your longing for more

To the place of belief

It’s still the cross.”  *

The cross is our symbol of HOPE. The cross is our “tower of peace.”  Jesus is our Hope and Salvation. He is the One who will cradle us in His arms even when it seems like we are in a freefall…if we will allow Him. This series of messages are meant to help each of us during this difficult time. No matter where each of us is in our emotions or feelings these messages provide biblical truth to guide us to trust in His cradling arms. Please take time to watch/listen and be encouraged by this Hope we have!!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Title: What Happens When You Face a Crisis?

Text: Phi. 1:12-20

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Title: What Happens When You Are Lonely and Depressed?

Text: Ps. 22

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Title: What Happens When Your Life Falls Apart?

Text: Job 40:9

Sunday, May 10, 2020 (Mother’s Day)

Title: The Woman of Wisdom

Text: Proverbs 31:10-31

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Title: Hope for Uncertain Times

Text: Habakkuk 3:17-19

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Title: When You Are Ready to Quit

Text: Jeremiah 9:2

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Title: How God Helps Us

Text: II Timothy 4: 16-17

 *A line taken from the song “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns

GOD CONTINUES TO WORK IN HEARTS

In times like these many realize that they really are not in control of their lives. People begin questioning life as they knew It before everything was disrupted. The Google search engine has shown that searches on topics like prayer, church, spiritual, God, etc. have soared in these recent weeks. This is a time when people are hungry to find out what is missing, why they feel so lost. It is a wonderful time to connect with people in whatever way we can to be available to meet their needs, be a listener and share spiritual matters as they are seeking answers. I don’t mean be “heavy-handed” but be available. Engage in listening, praying, and reaching out. God and His Spirit will do the rest.

My oldest daughter’s husband, James, accepted Christ on Palm Sunday in the study of my good friend’s church in Florida. Debbie and I cried when they Face-Timed us to tell us the great news. It is something we had been praying to happen for six years. He was baptized on Easter Sunday during Life Church’s streaming service, so we were able to view it. He is on fire right now. God is working in amazing ways during these days.

One of the attorneys Debbie worked for in Florida connected with her just before Palm Sunday. He is an analytical man…a deep thinker. Debbie had quietly shared her faith all the time she had been working with him  He told her that he had come to the place after all of his research and reading “A Case for Christ” and “Evidence That Demands a Verdict” that he realized that Christ was the way and has given his life to Christ.  There were shouts of Joy in our household. God is working even in this time of chaos.

He always has. The Bible is full of testimonials about how God works in crisis. Please take the time to see how God can work through your life as you strive to make a difference in someone else’s life in these challenging times.

CHURCHWIDE UPDATE ON SERVICES

The target date of when we might be able to return to gathering for services at our church building is Sunday, May 3. That is just a target date, which was the consensus of the Response Task Force, Deacons and Retired Ministers. This group was assembled as an advisory team which represents many of our church family.

This Team will be meeting again over the next two weeks to revisit what is the best and safest way for us to return together. This team is praying fervently, researching, and discussing what is best for the members of our church. We are a high-risk congregation.

Please pray for me, and this team, as we strive to discern what is the best plan, and how and when to implement that process when the time comes. Arizona has not even reached the peak of the virus’ deadly potential. The key for the leaders of this church is to do everything we can to keep our family of faith as safe as possible. Stay tuned for more information over the next two weeks.

THANK YOU

Debbie and I have been overwhelmed by the love and support from so many of you. We have received many cards, emails, text messages and phone calls, letting us know that you are praying for, and encouraging us, through my time dealing with shingles. It has been quite an adventure. I had shingles on my face back in 2007, but this time around has dwarfed that experience.

I have four doctors from Mayo that have been working with me on this ordeal. They have been great. Unfortunately, these shingles developed on the upper right leg and encompassed then entire upper right leg to just below the knee. The dermatologist at Mayo called it “extraordinary.” The pain has been intense and has shown itself in three different ways. Instead of the normal 2-4 weeks for the shingles to heal, they are looking at 6-8 weeks. The nerve pain can continue for weeks beyond that.

Because of my kidney transplant they are more limited in the pain medicine they can prescribe. That has certainly caused issues with sleeping and I have lost most of the strength in my right leg. They have indicated that more times than not, that loss of strength will return after the shingles are gone.

It is amazing that this has happened during our church’s time of “pause.”  This has allowed me to get most of my work done at home through the computer and cell phone. Even in physically challenging times, God has us covered. He takes care of us.

I ask that you pray for the pain to ease, pray for the shingles to be healed, and pray for the strength in my right leg to return. We love our church family and cannot wait to get back together with you. You are prayer warriors and we appreciate all your fervent prayers during this time.

Have a Blessed weekend…tune in to one of the Zoom Bible Studies on Sunday morning and get on our website to watch the sermon as we start this new series on Hope. If you need anything, please call our church office or email any of our staff. That information is on the website or just respond to this E-Blast.

Blessings,

Pastor Kirby

April 14, 2020

 

FBCSCW E-Blast

 

Holy Week

Holy Week was a very special time.  It was a change from what we normally do, but God spoke boldly.  I want to thank each of the pastors who wrote articles.  Dr. Bob Marti, Dr. Glenn Saul, Dr. Scott Williamson and Dr. Ron Hornecker.  Each presented their assignment for the last week of Jesus’ life in a powerful, insightful and scholarly message.  We have been blessed. 

I also appreciate each of those who participated in the Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday services.  Nancy Jakes invited several participants to be involved in the music which enhanced each service.  Thank you to Nancy Jakes, Ruth Wood, Lynn Bailey, Ruthie East and Keith Jones.

We would never have had a chance to enjoy these services if we didn’t have the great folks in the sound booth.  We appreciate Caroll Swinney, Mike Bronenberg and Jim Crump. In addition, thank you, Bill Freeman, who edits the audio and Alex Dennis who is our webmaster.

I want to personally say thank you to Dick & Gloria Schroeder.  They were some of the inspiration behind the format of Holy Week.  During one of their prayer times, God spoke to them about the possibility of having Holy Week in a different way -- the written word and to video the Lord’s Supper.  I was praying hard about how to make this week special and when they shared what God had said I prayed about it, and it was a great Holy Week.  I love it when God speaks when we are in fervent prayer with Him.

Growing?

This Easter was different from any that we have ever experienced.  But God was glorified.  It is interesting though…I read an article by a well-known pastor/author/communicator among pastors, Carey Nieuwhof.  In this time since churches have not been able to meet, 49% of all churches are growing right now. Before this started, that number was 8-15%.  It doesn’t matter the size of church. The reason for this is the digital…presenting sermons on the websites, Facebook, all social media.  It is one of the best outreach bargains out there. 

People are going to all these avenues of social media because it is available and there is no obligation to “test” it out before possibly going in person. The spike right now is for several reasons. First, there is a big spike in spiritual curiosity during this pandemic.  Second, people are seeing digital as real…probably for the first time.  Third, digital church has a much lower barrier to participation.  The digital church may very well be the next front door to the church.  This opportunity will not last long, so we should be praying about how we should engage now. 

You might think that doesn’t apply to our church.  To the contrary, I have been following the views and the analytics of our online services before and after we “paused” our services.  Before, we might have 12 views of the sermon, which equals about 18 people viewing.  Afterwards, it has been anywhere from 189 to 228 views, which means 284 people to 342 people viewing.  Yes, many of those are church members.  But, on Sundays we might have 200 in our worship service.  Online we have anywhere from 84 to 142 additional people viewing.  I believe that a healthy percentage of those are people in the region who are seeking hope and encouragement during these times.  Pray for wisdom in striving to look ahead to how we can best bring hope to our community and region.

Sermon Series on Hope

This Sunday, April 19, I will begin the sermon series “Your World Is Not Falling Apart, It’s Falling Into Place.”  It will continue through the end of May.  I will give more details in Friday’s FBCSCW E-Blast. 

Until then, please read the following article from Dr. Ron Hornecker.  It is just what we need today, and it is excellent.

 

Pastor Kirby

 

Grieving Our Losses

LOSSES!!! SO MANY, MANY LOSSES!  Financial losses.  Job losses.  Retirement fund losses.  Safety and security losses.  Loss of the freedom to move about.  Loss of the physical presence of loved ones and friends.  Loss of the ability to gather for corporate worship.  The list could go on and on.  But the greatest loss of all is the loss of life, hundreds and thousands of deaths from COVID-19.  Each of those numbers represents a face and a name, a person, as well as a family affected by the death of their loved one, who in some cases died without a family member present.  Such a heart-breaking tragedy!  So many impacted!  It is a time of great national sadness, a time to “weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15).  We cannot help but be affected mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as we reflect on the reality of these losses.

Connected to each of these losses is the element of grief.  As humans, whenever we experience a significant loss, there is grief associated with that.  Of course, the intensity of that grief is related to the significance of that loss.  Christian writer and grief specialist H. Norman Wright in his book Recovering from Losses in Life writes: “It is important to isolate each loss, see it for what it is, respond to it, and then deal with the other losses individually.  Otherwise our losses will compound” (12).  As we go through this crisis, I wonder what specific losses you may need to identify and acknowledge as being present for you?

A multitude of emotions may arise amid one’s grief.  It is not unusual to feel sadness, depression, anger, anxiety, fear, and uncertainty, among other possible emotions.  Finding ways of expressing those either verbally or in writing is important so they are not internalized to cause further difficulty in future days.  Find someone who is a good listener to whom you can express those emotions and/or concerns.  Or, journal about what you are experiencing and then share that with someone whom you trust.

Yet, amid our losses and our grief, there is a word of hope.  The Apostle Paul was convinced that God was still at work during difficult and trying times.  He said:  “And we know (beyond a shadow of doubt, with absolute certainty, is the emphasis in the Greek) that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28).  Wright affirms that truth when he writes:  “Yet, with each and every loss comes the potential for change, growth, new insights, understanding, and refinement.  But they are often in the future and we fail to see that far ahead when we are in the midst of our grief” (8).  I believe that in every grief experience, if there is to be recovery and healing, there must come a time when our focus moves from the past, and all we have lost, to the future and what positive things that future may hold.  We all will be changed in some way by what we are currently experiencing.  Perhaps we will have discovered that we have benefited from not being so busy and always on the go and that we do not want to go back to that lifestyle.  Maybe we have realized how much our friends mean to us; and when we can get out again, we want to spend more time investing in others.  Possibly we have come to a new understanding about what is ultimately important in life, and we have determined to have fewer distractions from our focus on that which is of lasting and eternal importance. 

As you grieve your losses, take time also to consider how you want to live your life now, as well as following this crisis, and begin to plan for that now.  If I can be of assistance in any way, feel free to contact me.

Ron Hornecker, Minister of Counseling
623-628-3796 or 2rhornecker@cox.net

 

 

 

April 3, 2020

Holy Week

Holy Week begins this Palm Sunday.  I hope that you will tune in to the sermon on our website Palm Sunday at 10:00am.  This is the last sermon on the “Seven Sayings of Jesus on the Cross.” Christ’s Cry of Victory is shown in his last two sayings – “It is Finished” and “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” The message is powerful.

Holy Week will be different than at any other time in our church’s history. With the Social-Distancing order we are under, we will not be able to meet daily for lunch, music and a message related to Christ’s last week on earth. This is very hard on so many of our people who love this week and the significance. 

A couple in our church texted me and shared an idea for Holy Week that would help us celebrate the week together, even though we are in our homes.  Their idea that came during their hour of prayer was a perfect solution to the prayers I have been praying about that week.

The Plan

The four retired pastors who were scheduled to speak during Holy Week have written their messages for us to use.  The plan is that our office will send out an E-Blast like this on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday with their messages.  We will send them each day by 11:00am with the hopes that all our people would read the Holy Week message at 11:30am with a sense of unity, and then pray as God leads us after reading the messages.  While we would not be present in the same room, we would be worshiping together in spirit. The schedule for Holy Week is below, as is the bios of our speakers.  God is going to bless this…their messages will touch your heart and challenge you in ways that only God can do.

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday commemorates the Washing of the Feet and the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the disciples.  The term “Maundy” means commandment. During the washing of feet, Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment.  In John 13:34-35 Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  Jesus’ command is a challenge and encouragement each should reflect on.

We will celebrate Maundy Thursday through our video capability on Thursday evening at 6:00pm.  Just go to our website ( www.fbcscw.org ) and click on Sermons and it will pop up. The video service will include the reading of scripture surrounding the events of Thursday night, special music and then I will lead our congregation in observing the Lord’s Supper. 

“Pastor, how can that be done if we do not have the elements to use at home?” Good question. The reality is that the elements are symbolic.  The true meaning of the Lord’s Supper for each of us is not the elements we use, rather the motive and commitment of the heart.  So, find some crackers, bread, something that you can relate to symbolize Christ’s body.  As far as juice, find some juice, iced tea, water, whatever you can use that relates to the symbol of Christ’s blood.  Then, just follow my lead to observe the Lord’s Supper. This can be a very special and meaningful service if we allow it and if participate.

Holy Week Schedule

April 6-10, 2020

Theme: Christ’s Journey to the Cross

Monday, April 6 – Dr. Bob Marti

“The Triumphal Entry” Matthew 21:6-11

Tuesday – April 7 – Dr. Scott Williamson

“The Upper Room” Luke 22:14-23

Wednesday – April 8 – Dr. Glenn Saul

“The Garden of Gethsemane” Luke 22:39-46

Thursday – April 9 – Dr. Kirby Kennedy

The Lord’s Supper by Video 6:00pm at www.fbcscw.org

Friday – April 10 – Dr. Ron Hornecker

“The Hill Called Golgotha” Mark 15:21-39

 

Biographies of the Speakers

Dr. Bob Marti:  April 5 “The Triumphal Entry”

Dr. Bob Marti has pastored churches for over 50 years.  He attended Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth and received his doctorate from Midwestern in Kansas City.  Bob and his wife, Barbara, have five children, fourteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Dr. Scott Williamson:  April 6 “The Upper Room”

Dr. Scott Williamson is a graduate of Golden Gate Seminary and has served churches as pastor for 45 years in California, Alaska, and Arizona. He served as trustee for California Baptist University for 15 years and served the California Southern Baptist Convention staff for four years as director of the Leadership Development Division. He enjoys retirement by making sawdust in his garage.

Dr. Glenn Saul:  April 7 “The Garden of Gethsemane”

Dr. Glenn Saul is a retired Senior Pastor of FBCSCW.  He was Professor Emeritus at Wayland Baptist University and a professor at Gateway Baptist Seminary for 12 years.  He received a B.A. from Wayland Baptist University, a B.D. from Golden Gate Baptist Seminary and a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He is married to Rosemary Saul; he has three children and five grandchildren. He and Rosemary have been members of FBCSCW since 2006.

Dr. Ron Hornecker:  April 9 “The Hill Called Golgotha”

Dr. Ron Hornecker is and has served as the Minister of Counseling at FBCSCW since 2007.  For 22 years, he served as a pastor of churches in Northwest Missouri, having graduated from Midwestern Baptist Seminary.  He served as the Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program, as well as the Field Education Program at Golden Gate Seminary for 21 years. He and his wife Loretta have two adult-married children and four grandchildren.

 

Final Thoughts

Take time to prepare for this special week.  Enjoy the beautiful fragrance that this week has in store. The important thing is to worship our Heavenly Father and His Precious Son.

On a different topic, thank you for all your prayers during this time I have been dealing with shingles.  I am progressing, for which I am thankful.  The pain, on the other hand, has diminished slightly but is still persistent.  Please keep praying that I may get rest at night.  Debbie and I love our congregation and miss you all.

 

Pastor Kirby

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

 

Dear Church Family,

 

The news from our President and his team over the weekend that extended our social distancing until April 30 is discouraging. It is also discouraging to look at the numbers in our country and around the world.  The US is nowhere near our peak and as of today we have over 160,000 cases, 16K of that since yesterday.  We are just under 3,000 deaths.  This is a serious time.  Dr. Hornecker has a new column below where he shares “Tips” of encouragement in times like these.  Enjoy his excellent article at the end.

Staying encouraged is vital, as is continued ministry. Keep looking for ways to serve the needs of people and keeping safe and healthy at the same time.  I received a text a short while ago from Meals of Joy.  There are so many of our seniors who are ordering meals because they do not what to get out.  Because of the influx of seniors, Meals of Joy is in desperate need of people who would volunteer to deliver those meals.  If that is something you would like to get more information about their number is 623-594-9588.

 

This will be a challenging month as we look forward to Sunday, May 3.  As you continue to give generously, I wanted to remind you to remember the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North America.  Our churchwide goal is $10,200.  We are short of our goal by a couple of thousand dollars. We will continue to accept offerings through April. 

Thank you for your continued prayers.  I believe I am getting better slowly.  Hopefully, I will be back to somewhat normal in the next few days.  I appreciated Dr. Bob Marti filling the pulpit for me this past week.  He did a wonderful job. This Sunday I will be combining the last two sayings of Jesus from the cross.  It should be a powerful time hearing the declaration of the Victor of the Universe.  Come ready and prepared as you watch/listen from home.

Holy Week – While we will not be meeting together for Holy Week Services (April 6-10), we will be celebrating in a different way.  Each of the retired pastors who were going to speak this year will be writing a homily/short message with the theme and text they were invited to speak on.  Instead of seeing them each day, our office will be E-Blasting the message around 11:00am and we are asking as many of you that can to read the message at 11:30am in unison of spirit.  There will be more information and the schedule in Friday’s FBCSCW E-Blast.

Pastor Kirby

Now to a very important message from Dr. Ron Hornecker:

Tips for Managing the Coronavirus Pandemic
(Second Article)

Well, how goes it after several days of largely staying at home?  This change in our ability to move about in our community, to meet with family and friends, and to recognize that we are limited in our activities and options can result in emotional and mental stress.  We may feel a sense of isolation, loneliness, and/or boredom.  We may experience a heightened sense of concern for ourselves, family members, and friends, as well as the future.  We may find ourselves being more irritable and short-tempered.  And we may perceive ourselves as victims of this crisis resulting in a sense of helplessness.  I would characterize all these as relatively normal and to-be-expected responses.  But, as with the previous article, what are some constructive things we can do that will help us to manage these emotional and mental-health challenges?

  • Structure Your Day.  Years ago, a mentor taught me:  “Structure binds anxiety.”  Rather than allowing your day to unfold without a sense of direction or purpose, develop a plan for your day and/or week.  Establish some routine(s) that will help you to use your time more effectively.  Consider using a “to do list” that might include some of the things I will suggest below.  The goal is that you would find a way of making each day productive and coming to the end of the day with a sense of satisfaction regarding what you accomplished.  This is a way of being a good steward of your time.

  • Be Physically Active.  Being physically active is one way of caring for ourselves.  When we walk briskly or engage in vigorous physical exercise, the brain releases chemicals called “endorphins.”  These are natural pain killers and contribute to a more positive mood and a general sense of well-being.  One suggestion I read was to choose five exercises you like, do each for one minute, and then repeat the process three to five times a day.  For those who are limited in what they can do physically, consider “chair exercises.”  Go to the Internet and Google:  “chair workouts for seniors.”  Scroll down a bit and you will find some short videos that will guide you.  You also will find several other sites with other videos or suggestions which you can check out. 

  • Get Outside.  Try to get outside some each day.  Enjoy the sunshine and the sweet smell of spring in the air.  Take note of the beautiful blooming plants and flowering cacti. Listen to the chirping of the birds.  Perhaps go for a short drive or use one of the many walking paths available to us.  Enjoy this part of God’s beautiful creation in which we have the privilege of living.  It will lift your spirits (unless your allergies are too bad).

  • Stay Busy.  Most of us have a list of projects we have been intending to get to:  that shoebox of photos to sort or put into albums; file drawers, closets, or a garage to be cleaned out; those “honey-do” jobs you have been putting off.   Well, now is the time.  What about that hobby your started years ago but has gone unattended for the past several years?  Also, consider writing an account of your life, particularly your childhood, to give to your children or grandchildren.  They will be appreciative.  Any or all of these are possibilities that can result in a sense of accomplishment, will make the day(s) go faster, and, potentially, bring you joy in doing them.

  • Reach Out to Others.  It really is important in these times of “social distancing” that we stay connected with others.  We need to do so not only for our own emotional well-being, but for that of others as well.  While we are limited in our ability to meet together as a congregation, we still are a part of this body, the church; and we need to do all we can to stay in touch, to care for, and to support one another.  Further, we also are a part of the larger community in which we live where there are individuals who need the tangible expressions of care and concern we can offer.  So, let me offer some suggestions.  Reconnect with friends or family you have not communicated with in some time.  Update your situation with current friends and family who will be concerned about you.  Check on neighbors or fellow church members, especially those who live alone and do not have family in the area.  We have multiple means of connecting or reconnecting: our phone, text messages, email, Skype, FaceTime, Facebook, or any other means you may have.  One writer said she had set a personal goal of talking by phone (not just texting) with one or two of her friends, elderly neighbors, or family members every day until this pandemic ends.  That could be a worthy goal for each of us.  Additionally, offer to get groceries or other necessities for those who are limited in their ability to get out.  And if you customarily go out to eat on a regular basis, order take-out as a way of supporting those businesses and those whom they employ.  We are all in this together.  We need one another.  Jesus called us to be “salt” and “light,” to make a difference where we are.  We can do that.  Read of Jesus’ teaching about these kinds of actions in Matthew 25:31-45.

A final word.  In the beginning of this article, I mentioned that because of our current circumstances, some may tend to feel “helpless.”  I want to point out that we are not “helpless.”  Being “helpless” conveys we have no choices nor options.  But we do.  We can choose how we are going to confront our current situation.  We can choose what our attitude is going to be.  We can determine what actions we are going to take to care for ourselves and to care for others.  We can decide how we are going to live out our Christian faith in a difficult time.  We can decide to what extent we are going to allow God to work in our lives and to what extent he may use us as his instruments of ministry.  “Helpless?” No.  “Helpful?” Hopefully, yes.

Ron Hornecker, Minister of Counseling
623-628-3796 or 2rhornecker@cox.net

 

March 27, 2020

 

Generosity

Each of you are awesome.  Thank you, First Baptist Church Family for your generosity during the month of March.  Even with missing two Sundays together your faithfulness allowed us to make budget for the month.  You are to be highly commended. 

 

If things continue as planned for our congregation not meeting until May 3rd then April could be our biggest challenge.  I have no doubt that we will rise to the occasion. I believe God will enlarge our gifts and faithfulness to meet the needs He has for us in the days ahead.  I want to remind you there are three ways you can give: e-giving on the website, mail your gifts or drop it by the church office during office hours.  The Upbeat Newsletter and the website have all the detailed information.  Call the church office if you need any help.

 

Thank You

Many of you have been praying for me during this bout with shingles.  Thank you so much.  Prayers mean the world and we are deeply appreciative.  I have enjoyed the text and email messages.  They are encouraging and touching.

 

This has taken me out of the office all week and according to my Mayo doctors (I have seen several this week) they are not sure when this will play out.  I had shingles in 2007, but this episode dwarfs that first experience.  My wife has been an amazing caregiver in these days.  Keep praying.

 

Due to my illness Dr. Bob Marti will be preaching for this Sunday’s video on the website.  You will be blessed by his message and how it will touch your life.  My intention is to combine the last two sayings on the cross for next week’s message.  Pray that all comes together.

 

Now…from our family to yours…enjoy this family event from years ago and hold to the lessons it presents.

 

Family Story with a Meaning

 

OPEN YOUR EYES!

 

Several years ago, our family went to the state fair in Washington.  This was going to be a year to remember for years to come. So, what did we do?  We rode the Extreme Scream.  We had looked at this towering giant every year we had gone to the fair.  Never in my wildest imagination would I have ever thought that our family would ride this tower.  There were two main reasons.  Number one, Debbie won’t ride rides that are too high, too fast or too scary. Second, I’m too cheap to spend the amount of money that they want per person.

 

There were two miracles that took place that day.  The first miracle was that Debbie came up with the idea that we should make a memory and that we should all ride the Extreme Scream as a family.  The second miracle happened when I agreed to spend the money.  My thinking was, “if she’s willing to go, I can’t pass up this opportunity.”  We headed over to the ride to buy our tickets.

 

Well, I got our tickets and, after the sticker shock, I led our adventuresome crew to get in line.  We were all excited about this family adventure…this memory that would be forever imprinted in our minds (my hope was that the imprint would be figurative not literal).  A slight change began to take place as we watched group after group go up and come down.  That change became more apparent as we moved closer to the front of the line and Debbie said, “I’m not sure I can do this!”  As any loving husband would say who had non-refundable tickets, I said, “Honey, it’s all going to be alright.  You know I wouldn’t put our family in imminent danger.  Besides, no one has fallen…yet.” 

 

Our time had come.  We settled into our seats.  I was on the right outside and Laura was beside me on the inside.  Debbie had firmly stated that she would not be on the outside so she was on the left inside and fearless Sarah was on the left outside.  The safety attachment came down over our heads and we were locked into position.  At least that was our hope and prayer.  We began to float knowing that at any moment they would launch us twenty stories into the air at the speed of three G’s.

 

All of the sudden Debbie said, “I can’t do this.”  I thought she was kidding.  Then she looked at the ride support staff, and she said it again this time more emphatic, “I mean it, I can’t do this.  You need to get me off.”  While the worker went to try to halt the ride, all I could do was think of the non-refundable ticket and in my mind yelling, “Push the button!”  At the same time I was encouraging to my wife saying, “Honey, it is going to be just fine.  Hang in there.” 

 

It was about that time that Debbie realized that they weren’t going to stop the launch, so she said, “Everybody, keep you heads back against the headrest!”  At that moment we were catapulted straight up!  It was the most incredible experience.  We shot up about 160 feet at three G’s in about three seconds and then down 100 feet in what seemed to be an instant.  Then we jetted up to the top, 240 feet above the ground with just the seat and that safety device between us and the asphalt.  What an experience!  It was quiet up there, well, except for those of us expressing how beautiful it was at the top of our lungs.  You could see for miles and miles the beauty of God’s creation.  All the time at the top we were anxiously waiting for the unknown, that is, when they would let us free fall the 240 feet straight down at one G!  It happened.  We fell.  On the way down I thought I was just floating on air…at a rapid speed.  It was a magnificent feeling. 

 

At the bottom, the ride supervisor was waiting to see if Debbie had survived.  She made some typical east coast humorous comments and said everything was fine.  She found the nearest pillar and embraced it saying that she would never leave the ground again.  She also had no feeling in her legs and her heart wasn’t beating!  She stabilized quickly, and I asked her what she thought of the view at the top.  She said, “View?  I never opened my eyes!”  

 

Well, I was proud that she went up.  It really has been a great family memory.  It will be one that we will be able to tell our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  But I can’t help but think that after all that work, she missed the most beautiful part at the top.  I considered that view the fruitful blessing of a courageous spirit.

 

While the COVID-19 Virus is opposite of what I saw that September morning there is a lesson to be learned. Don’t close your eyes. Even in mostly isolation, as many of our church family are, this is a time to keep your eyes open.  There are several reasons that will help you in these difficult days.

 

First is Psalm 121 where the Psalmist reminds us that no matter what God is our Hope and always watches over us.

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

 

Second, is our Lord’s command in John 4:35b which reminds us that no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, there are always people who need our help.  Help to know about Christ and help because they have genuine needs. 

 

“I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”

 

During these stressful, and at times, lonely days remember that God has not forsaken you.  He is your hope every day.  He watches out for you every day. In addition, He still has work for you to do right where you are.  Reach out by phone and call some folks today who might be by themselves.  Stay in-touch with your classmates, your friends, neighbors to see if there is anything they need.  Sometimes it is just hearing a voice and that someone thought of them.  In fact, look in your directory and find a couple of people you do not know and give them a call.  That will make their day…and, a new friendship might just develop.  Use this time to worship and stay close to God and minister to the “fields ripe unto harvest.”

 

On Tuesday, Dr. Hornecker will share his second article on dealing with these times in the Email Blast.  Look forward to his wisdom and encouragement.

 

Pastor Kirby

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Dear Church Family,

We made it through our first Sunday during this crisis with our virtual church.  There were some good things that happened.  I noticed that the sermon on Sunday was viewed 134 times, which means approximately 200 people viewed it.  That is good news!  I appreciated the numerous emails and texts that you sent with encouraging messages.  Thank you!

In addition, Jack Roberts’ Bible Study class decided to meet online for their study Sunday morning at 9:00am.  Using the interactive video technology Zoom, 20 people were able to join on their computers, I-Pads, and call-in via phones.  Paul Dyksterhouse convened the class and taught the lesson.  People were able to see each other, ask questions and read scripture.  It is one more way to connect.  If you are interested in being invited to that online class, please respond to this email blast to let us know and give us your email address.

 

These are challenging times for sure.  I have already had several adults share with me that they are bored staying home and concerned about what is ahead.  I have asked our Minister of Counseling, Dr. Ron Hornecker, to share information about what to do during these very difficult times. Here is the first of several articles he will be writing.

 

“Making Christ Known”

 

Pastor Kirby

 

 

Tips for Managing During the Coronavirus Pandemic

“Coronavirus.”  “COVID-19.”  “Social distancing.”  “Shelter in place.”  “Closed.”  “Cancelled.”  WOW!  We are learning an entirely new vocabulary and dealing with a whole new reality.  None of us have experienced anything like this before.  And for many, if not most, heightened fear and anxiety are the result.  So how are we to cope and manage?  As we find ourselves largely “homebound,” at least temporarily, what can we do to avoid “cabin fever” and becoming overly anxious and depressed?  Let me offer some perspectives and some suggestions I hope you will find helpful.

First, anxiety and fear are healthy parts of our being human.  An element of anxiety keeps us from becoming complacent and can contribute to motivation, growth, and making preparation for future realities.  An element of fear can result in our taking measures to protect ourselves and in our making wise decisions.  Both are gifts from God.  The problem arises when we become overly anxious and when we allow fear to begin to govern our lives.  The current times can provide the occasion for that to occur.

A second perspective that can be helpful is to realize how much our thoughts influence our feelings.  A good counselor friend taught me, “We feel the way we feel because we think the way we think.”  Reflect on that.  In other words, the more negative information we let in, the more we focus our thinking on all the things that “could” happen, the greater the likelihood our anxiety will increase along with the possibility of depression.

 

So, what are some practical things we can do to get through this crisis and remain healthy and whole?  Hopefully, this partial list will stimulate your thinking about other possibilities that will be personally beneficial for you.  I hope to send additional suggestions in a week or so.

  • Give attention to the protocols.  The guidelines about hand washing, social distancing, etc., are given for valid, practical, and scientific reasons.  It is to your benefit and the benefit of others to observe those guidelines.

  • View this “down time” as a gift.  This is a place to begin.  For the next few weeks, you are going to be limited in activities that involve going places and interacting with others.  Consider how you might use this time in a way that would be beneficial for you and for those who are part of your household and family.   

  • Focus on your faith.  The Scriptures have much to say about dealing with anxious times.  The promise of God is to walk with us regardless of our circumstances.  Perhaps this is a time for you to do more by way of Bible reading and study, to pray for others and yourself, as well as a time to deepen your relationship with the Lord.  Check out these scripture passages:  Matthew 6:25-34; Romans 8:18-39; and Philippians 4:4-9, 10-13, 19.  See also:  Psalm 55:22; Isaiah 41:10; and 1 Peter 5:7.

  • Limit your exposure to negative news.  Cut back on the amount of time you invest in seeking or reading news (regardless of the source) about the virus, how it has spread, what the government is or is not doing, etc.  Learning the basics once every 24 hours will provide you with what you need to know.  Spending more time than that likely will only contribute to a sense of anxiety, frustration, and possibly depression.

  • Recognize your limits.  There is so much about the current situation that is beyond our ability to control.  You are responsible for yourself and those in your household.  Let that be your focus.  Pray for those in charge of this crisis (at the local and national level) that they will have wisdom in the decisions they must make.  Recognize what you and your household need to do and then invest your energy accordingly.  Try to release your other concerns about this crisis to the Lord.

  • Move your focus to others.  During a time like this, it is easy to become solely focused on ourselves.  However, there are others who are struggling equally as much, if not more, with the uncertainties we all are facing.  Find ways of reaching out to others you know by way of phone calls, text messages, email, or whatever other ways you might have of contacting them.  You will bless and minister to them by doing so; and, in the process, you will find yourself blessed as well.

A final reminder:  “This too shall pass.”  Back in the 80’s our family dealt with a challenging crisis.  As the result of a fall and a herniated disc, my wife had been confined to bed for several weeks, dealing with excruciating pain and living on pain medication.  Our daughter was in junior high, our son was in elementary school, and I was serving as pastor of a suburban church.  During that time, we adopted this saying, “this too shall pass.”  With the assistance of good medical people, consistent work on our part, and the support of our church family, we got through the crisis—and we grew because of it.  This crisis also will come to an end at some point.  Hopefully, as individuals and as a nation, we can and will grow through it.  In the meantime, be sensitive and caring to one another as we deal with the days ahead.

 

If you believe it would be helpful for us to have a conversation, do not hesitate to contact me either by phone or text (623-628-3796) or email (2rhornecker@cox.net).  I will respond to your text or email and we can always talk by phone.  Until next time. 

Ron Hornecker,
Minister of Counseling

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is our FBCSCW Update for March 20, 2020.

It is a sad and sorrowful time for our congregation to “pause” meeting together for the next 45 days.  This decision was not an easy one, but your church leadership feels it is the best way to protect our beloved congregation.  As your pastor, it grieves me more than I am able to convey.

While having never experienced persecution, I wonder, if in some small way, it is how the persecuted believers from the first century felt.  They had an external force trying to eliminate them because of their beliefs, and many could not meet as an assembly but rather in small house churches or in very small groups.  In other words, they went underground.  This has happened many times throughout history.   They key for them was their faith and commitment to God and the continued communication, albeit limited, between believers.

The culprit for our not meeting together is not a human external force wanting to eliminate us but rather an external virus that is spreading and has the ability to do grave harm to our senior adult family.  Like those who have gone before us the key will be our faith, commitment to God and the continued communication between our family of faith.  

My goal is to use all the avenues available to me to clearly communicate to you with updates, encouragement, sermons, devotions and ways to cope in this unprecedented time.

As we face the future together, let us remember these things:  1) the COVID-19 crisis did not catch God unaware.  He knows all.  2) God will see us through these times of testing because He is Lord of all creation.  It may not be quick, it may not be painless, but we will get through it.  

When you get a moment, read Psalm 139.  Also, keep reading and studying God’s word daily, continue to read Returning to Holiness by Dr. Frizzell, have your daily devotion/prayer time, view the sermons and devotions on our website and stand tall during your Watchman Prayer Hour.  If you are not a part of the Watchman Prayer Ministry there is no better time to start.  Call the church office for more details.

Debbie and I love each of you and are praying for all of you for God’s protection, encouragement and peace.

 

Pastor Kirby

 

 

BELOW IS A LIST OF WAYS THAT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO ACCESS OUR COMMUNICATION

Sunday Morning Sermons

Each Sunday morning at 9am that Sunday’s Sermon will be on our website ready to view in your home. Instructions at the end of this document explain how to get on our website and to the Sunday sermon and sermon archive.  You can watch the video of the sermon or just listen to the audio.

Pastor’s Blog/Devotions

Late next week we should have the content for my Pastor’s Blog/Devotion as a link on our Website.  These devotions will be approximately one-minute videos taken from my Joshua 1:9 Ministries which will appear 3-4 times a week.  They will also be in a written format as well.  These are meant for encouragement and inspiration. 

Articles/Updates

We are planning on giving the congregation updates a couple of times a week, and more if needed.  In addition to the updates there will also be articles posted for encouragement and information.  Next week Dr. Hornecker will have an article dealing with encouragement during isolation.  We will also have additional articles on how to remain mentally, emotionally and physically healthy during this challenging time.

Upbeat

The Upbeat Newsletter will continue to be mailed on a normal schedule.

 

Churchwide Email Blasts

Our goal is to send out our Churchwide Email Blasts twice a week giving updates and articles of encouragement and inspiration.

 

Website Updates - www.fbcscw.org

Our website will have the most current updates and information. In addition, there will be articles, sermons, devotions, prayer request opportunities and contact information.

Letters and Phone Calls

As need dictates, we will communicate with the congregation through churchwide letters and Phone Calls.  We are asking the Bible Study classes to continue to call the members of their classes to make sure they are okay. Deacons will also be contacting individuals to make sure that needs are being met.

Office Contacts

The Church Office will be open Monday through Thursday from 8:00am to 4:00pm as long as it is deemed safe.  It is fine to drop by as long as you are not ill and we are asking that you keep safe social-distancing space which is 6 feet.  Below is the office number and the email addresses for contact purposes.

Office Phone – 623-584-5738

Office Email – office@fbcscw.org

Pastor Kirby – drkirbykennedy@fbcscw.org

Nancy – njakes@fbcscw.org

 

Finally, below are instructions on how to get to our Website to access current sermons, blog/devotions/articles/updates and Ministry Opportunities during this time.

Type www.fbcscw.org in the browser of your choice (Google, Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.)

 

INSTRUCTIONS TO WATCH SERMONS ON WEBSITE

  • From the home page of our website www.fbcscw.org

  • Go to the LEFT BAR in the MIDDLE OF THE PAGE and click on the word SERMONS

  • The current sermon video is right there.  Click play to start watching.

  • To watch older sermons, click on MORE VIDEO SERMONS and choose the one

OR

  • from the TOP menu bar, click on RESOURCES, then SERMONS

  • The current sermon video is right there.  Click play to start watching.

  • To watch older sermons, click on MORE VIDEO SERMONS and choose the one

 

INSTRUCTIONS TO LISTEN TO SERMONS ON WEBSITE

  • From the home page of our website www.fbcscw.org

  • Go to the LEFT BAR in the MIDDLE OF THE PAGE and click on the word SERMONS

  • Click on LISTEN ONLINE

  • Choose the sermon you wish to listen to and click play

OR

  • from the TOP menu bar, click on RESOURCES, then SERMONS

  • Click on LISTEN ONLINE

  • Choose the sermon you wish to listen to and click play

INSTRUCTIONS TO THE PASTOR BLOGS AND DEVOTIONS ON THE WEBSITE

From the home page of our website www.fbcscw.org

Go to the MIDDLE BAR in the MIDDLE OF THE PAGE and click on the word Blogs/Devotions and click.

INSTRUCTIONS TO THE ARTICLE/UPDATES ON THE WEBSITE

From the home page of our website www.fbcscw.org

Go to the RIGHT BAR in the MIDDLE OF THE PAGE and click on the word Blogs/Devotions and click.

 

INSTRUCTIONS ON GIVING ON THE WEBSITE

THERE ARE THREE WAYS TO CONTINUE TO GIVE FINANCIALLY DURING THESE CHALLENGING TIMES: E-GIVING; MAIL AND DROP OFF. Instructions for each are given below.

E-Giving - INSTRUCTIONS FOR ONLINE GIVING

 

From the home page of our website www.fbcscw.org

  • Click on the blue “GIVE” tab in the top right corner

  • Enter the “Amount” you wish to give

  • Select the “Fund” you wish to give to (General, Annie Armstrong, Missions, etc.)

  • Pick the “Date” you wish to give

  • Enter you “E-Mail Address”

  • Click “Continue”

  • Enter “Bank Account” or “Credit/Debit Card” Info

  • Click “Give”

Mailing - CHURCH MAILING ADDRESS

First Baptist Church, Sun City West

17419 N Conquistador Drive

Sun City West, AZ  85375

 

Drop Off - CHURCH OFFICE HOURS

The church office will be open Monday-Thursday from 8am-4pm.

MINISTRY OPPORTUNITITES

During this time of pause, there are some Ministry Opportunities available to you to help others:

Meals of Joy:  There is a greater need for meal delivery.  If you would like more information on volunteering for Meals of Joy, please contact them via phone 623-594-9588; via email info@scosic.org or through their website www.mealsofjoy.org.

Solutions Church:  They are no longer able to get the food vouchers for their residents.  To help them out during this time, the Mission Committee is requesting that we collect canned goods.  Please bring any canned goods you wish to donate to the church and leave them in the library during office hours (M-Th, 8am-4pm).  We will deliver them to Solutions Church.

 

Keep in Touch with Your Neighbor: There will be many in our community who will be filled with fear and anxiousness.  Some will have issues of illness, loneliness and discouragement.  Take the time to just stay in contact with a neighbor on each side of you to make sure they are doing well and encouraged.

Keep in touch Church Members: This will be a good time to stay in contact with members of the congregation who you know, are vulnerable or by themselves. Take this opportunity to call, text or email those you know to encourage them, check on their well-being and to pray with them. This will be critical in the weeks ahead.

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© 2020 by First Baptist Church - Sun City West

17419 N. Conquistador Drive, Sun City West | 623-584-5738 | office@fbcscw.org