Coronavirus Update



Saturday, May 2nd – A day of fasting and prayer


Grace and peace to you church family,


Last night the elders met to discuss the recent shelter in place extension and guidelines from Contra Costa County.


Please refer to our previous COVID-19 correspondence (this will be hyperlinked) as we still affirm our statements there, but we also want to say a few new things concerning the extension. Please know that your elders care for you (Acts 20:28) and for God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31). Therefore, we are prayerfully considering how to respond as a congregation in a way that obeys and fears God and honors the governing authorities. More information on that will be coming soon – most likely in video format.


In the meantime, we want to acknowledge that God is in control of all things and we want to be sure that we are seeking his will, and not our own in these matters. We have previously suggested topics for prayer (This will be hyperlinked), but we want to pray more as this crisis is persisting much longer than anyone initially thought. For followers of Christ, prayer is the first and the most important thing we can do in any crisis. Psalm 145:18 says “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”


On this Saturday, May 2nd, we invite you to fast and pray with us. Even though we can’t be together – we can fast and pray together. The details of the fast are up to you (sun-up to sundown, 24 hours, or whatever). Do what works best for you and your family. Fasting isn’t something to be legalistic about. The point of a fast is not to get God to do what we want, but to help us realize that we truly rely on God for all things as it highlights our weaknesses, and helps us to seek direction, correction and comfort from God.


We’d like to begin by praying early together. So please join us for a short zoom meeting at 8am (Shawn – can you get me a link).


Throughout the day, when you are prompted to pray (also – set up times to pray in your schedule), you can pray along these lines in addition to whatever you want –


Prayers for the sick and suffering

Prayers for first responders and those working with the sick.

Prayers for the economy

Prayers for the governing authorities to act in wisdom

Prayers for church

Prayers for families – for their spiritual, physical, and financial needs.

Prayers for the lost


We serve the living God church, and He is a very present help in our time of need.


For Christ’s glory,

The Elders of FFC


4/2/2020

Dear First Family Church,

We are about to enter our 4th week of not gathering as a church, of social distancing, job loss, and increasing numbers of infected people, due to the Covid-19 crisis. The link below will show you the new restrictions that our government is asking that we abide by to curb the spread of this virus. The current plan places us on home isolation orders until May 3rd, 2020.

http://firstfamily.us/mt-content/uploads/2020/04/3312020-ccc-restrictions.pdf

We do not know how long this will continue, nor what the outcome will be. We do not know what the future holds concerning our country or the extent and impact of this virus, but we know Him who holds the future. We need to prepare ourselves to be faithful Christians in the time and place in which the Lord has graciously placed us. This is no mistake, nor surprise, for the Lord. As Christ’s church, we are commanded to love and care for one another. We are also commanded to love our unbelieving neighbors. What are some ways we can do that well?

A. Pray
1. Pray for your pastors, elders, and deacons. Pray God gives us wisdom as we lead. We are shepherding Christ's flock through circumstances we have never faced. Pray we are wise in our care for one another, charitable to those with other opinions,  while also being concerned for our unbelieving neighbors.
2. Pray for your fellow members. Pray for their jobs, businesses, and health. Above all, pray for their trust in the Lord in isolated times. Loneliness and boredom are often like Satan's playground. The world, the flesh, and the devil can be quite tempting and difficult to overcome when we have little ability to encourage one another to love and good deeds.
3. Pray for your unbelieving neighbors. Pray for their health and finances. Pray above all for them to trust in the Lord who is at work in all this, even though we don't understand why He is doing this. Ask the Lord to give them eyes to see and ears to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.

B. Proclaim
1. We need to proclaim the truth of God's word to one another and be comforted therein. Our responsibility in this time is to encourage one another, not to fan the flames of conspiracy regarding the government, or public health officials. We have no idea whether the collective wisdom of public health professionals, nor the action of our government, is wise. You really don't either. It is not the church's responsibility to answer those questions. Our responsibility is to encourage one another with the word of God. Obviously, you are free to disagree with and question decisions being made by government leaders. However, we encourage you to let the majority of your speech to one another be encouragement in the Lord. We have no lasting city here, so let us set our eyes upon our citizenship in heaven, and encourage our fellow pilgrims on their journey there.
2. We need to proclaim the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ to our neighbors. The whole world is reeling. This is your opportunity to speak to them about the only sure foundation in the midst of a storm. Please don’t spend your time arguing with them about the nature of the storm, rather tell them about the rock who will anchor them securely through the storm. Have conversations with your neighbors about the Lord. Point your neighbors to helpful Bible teaching resources. Invite them to watch and read the materials our church is putting out.

C. Prepare
1. Prepare to look after the needs of other members of the body. We have people who are single and elderly in our church. We have people who are physically weak due to preexisting health conditions. You can prepare to help them, and any others who lose their employment or get sick, in three ways:
a. Purchase extra necessities for them. You may have enough for yourself, but are you prepared to give away necessities for those who are lacking what is needed, and who are not able to go shopping? (Philippians 2:3-4)
b. Give to the benevolent fund. This will give our deacons the funds necessary to help members of the body who are in need financially or otherwise. You can get the church center app and give to our benevolent fund through it: https://firstfamilychurch.churchcenter.com/giving
c. Stay alert to the needs of the members of First Family Church. Check in on everyone you know, particularly those who are older, single, or who have pre-existing health challenges. This can be most effectively done through our phone calls and text messages. Did you recently receive our updated church directory?
d. Continue to pray for the missionaries we support. This epidemic is impacting them too. Check in on them, see what their needs are, and pray for them.

2. Prepare to look after the needs of your unbelieving neighbors. The Lord has given us neighbors whom he has commanded us to love. We need to embrace our biblical responsibility to do good to all, and to love others at cost to ourselves. You can prepare to help them in the same manner you help other members of the body. However, I also want to make 3 additional suggestions:
a. Regularly check in on them and their needs. You likely won’t have the same follow up with them which our elders and deacons are trying to facilitate for the members of our church. So please think of means to keep in contact with them.
b. Contact the Community Outreach Center, Options Health, and other ministries that care for those in need. These groups minister to the most vulnerable among us. Ask them what needs they have with which you can assist. There are many other ministries to vulnerable people which are not mentioned here. Make us aware of those ministries and their needs.
c. Prepare to engage other members of the church in helping with the needs of your neighbors. We are a community of faith. We want to serve and help one another, as we together serve our neighbors in need. Help one another be aware of needs so that we can all engage where we are able. Take advantage of the community needs list we made a few weeks back - https://forms.gle/HweCQQJg41qBZ5ir5

Our elders and deacons thank the Lord always for you in every prayer. It is our great privilege to worship and serve the Lord alongside you. We encourage you as you may feel anxious to go for a walk and consider the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. If your Father cares for these, how much more will he care for his children? We can’t add a single hour through worry about tomorrow. We can take care of what the Lord has given to us today. We don’t need to seek after even our basic necessities, as our Father knows what we need. We are free to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness. May the Lord be pleased to work in our church in such a manner that we joyfully trust the Lord and his word through this.

Matt. 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matt. 6:34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Every blessing in Christ Jesus to you,
Your elders at FFC

03/17/2020
Question 1 in the Heidelberg catechism reads - 
Q: What is your only comfort in life and death?
A: That I am not my own, 1 but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, 2 to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. 3 He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, 4 and has set me free from all the power of the devil. 5 He also preserves me in such a way 6 that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; 7 indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. 8 Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life 9 and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him.10
 
1.1 Cor 6:19, 20. 2.Rom 14:7-9. 3.1 Cor 3:23; Tit 2:14. 4.1 Pet 1:18, 19; 1 Jn 1:7; 2:2. 5.Jn 8:34-36; Heb 2:14, 15; 1 Jn 3:8. 6.Jn 6:39, 40; 10:27-30; 2 Thess 3:3; 1 Pet 1:5. 7.Mt 10:29-31; Lk 21:16-18. 8.Rom 8:28.
9.Rom 8:15, 16; 2 Cor 1:21, 22; 5:5; Eph 1:13, 14. 10 Romans 8:1-17

Church,
We need to be reminded of the truths taught in the Heidelberg catechism. Jesus is our comfort in life and death - and everything in between. While we are dealing with a particularly difficult "in-between time" - it's one that we are are all sharing in, and learning how to respond in as we go. By the grace of God, we hope to get better at doing that very thing as time goes on. There's no reason to fear or to be worried, as times of hardship and persecution, have historically caused Christ's church to grow in purity and strength. With His grace and power, He will sustain us. 

Therefore, the elders met last night to discuss a plan for ministry throughout the week, and also for the Lord's Day. We greatly missed you all this past Lord's Day and are hoping these plans will be vey temporary. Though none of us liked the choices we are being forced to make, we are glad that we are all in union with these decisions and are willing to do what it takes to shepherd Christ's flock well.

Here are some documents that we are working from in making these decisions -
1.
CCC Health Services announcement (with important parts highlighted) 


2. CCC Health Services FAQ (a more readable version of the above document) 

All of the following points of interest extend to meetings up through April 7th (for now), but it's possible that things can change by next week as we try and figure things out, and in that, come up with better plans. Or, the government could impose further sanctions as well, causing us to make changes. Please be gracious with us, and know that we are concerned with God's glory, your safety, and the continuation of your maturation in Christ.

1.Lord's Day Worship: At this point we will continue with our plan that was implemented last week for the Lord's Day, with slight modifications. The elders and deacons won't be able to meet together in the morning any longer. The sermon is still allowed to be filmed at the church, but it will be done with a skeleton crew. We will try to film the sermon on Friday or Saturday so that it will be ready to go out early on Sunday. We are going to look into equipment for live-streaming our services, but we do not have a lot of confidence in our network and connectivity at our church property. Be on the look out for the "Guide to Worship at Home" in your email on Sunday morning.

2. Now that we have a little more time to prepare the music - we'll send it out in the "Guide to Worship at Home" with a youtube playlist that has the words on the screen. The student ministry used this format for a few months before recent events. Conversely - if you have an Apple TV and the songs in your library - you can play the songs there and have the words as well.

3. Please consider using
online giving on our website for the offering. You can also take a drive to the church and drop it off in our mailbox, which locks. The mail box is right below the driveway near the Somerset Apartments and it will be emptied every day by an elder.

4. All Sunday evening services (Theology Night) are postponed.

5. All midweek and Lord's Day small groups, including the Student Ministry are postponed.

6. The Abortion Clinic street ministry will be postponed. This was a hard decision for us as we think that people may be more inclined to take the life of their child in these turbulent times and the clinic will be open. But standing on the street would put us in violation of the recent mandates and could potentially incite an already hostile and fearful culture against the church. 

7. The Food Pantry will remain open. It appears that this is allowed according to the regulations that we received. Pick ups for the food-bank and our other distributors will happen at the usual times - though we are not sure what we will receive. Precautions are being put into place for the distribution of the food which will make us to be compliant with the recent mandate. We are considering making bags of food in advance and delivering them through the car window even. We are working toward a final plan.

8. Kids Club will be postponed as the schools are closed.

9. There will be no office hours during this time, but a pastor/elder will check on the building daily and will pick up the mail daily.

10. The Spanish congregation which uses our building (Iglesia Emanual Bautista) will also be postponing all of their services and practices.

11. The student ministry bowling night is canceled.

12. The student ministry taco dinner fundraiser is postponed until after the summer. We hope to be able to do summer camp still and the church will front the cost of camp if the student promises to work the fundraiser dinner after the camp.

13. For Resurrection Sunday (April 12th) - we are going to look into obtaining an outdoor permit just in case the restrictions extend beyond the 7th. Our Good Friday service is cancelled either way.

14. Street Care (homeless outreach) is postponed.

15. Members and regular visitors should expect a phone call/text message weekly from the elders and/deacons as we look to keep in contact.

16. We have put together an online community needs list where people can share prayer requests and physical needs. Once a prayer request or physical need is requested - it will be sent out in an email to the church. You can access this community needs list and learn how it is implemented by going to the home page of our website - 
www.firstfamily.us or by using this direct link - Community Needs Request. Conversely, if you have a prayer request - let an elder know and we'll get it out on the prayer chain as was our practice before COVID-19. If you did not receive this email in your inbox from "pastorpaul@firstfamily.us" or "office@firstfamily.us" - be sure to let us know so that we can put your email address in our database. We are communicating mostly through email.

17. We are looking to appoint specific days and times for church wide prayer and providing points of prayer that we can all engage with. Even though we can't all be together - we can all pray at the same time together. An example of this may be - praying for the end of Abortion at 8:30am on Friday's (when our team is usually ministering) or at 2:30pm on Thursday's for the students who attend Kid's Club. We will get out a list soon.

18. The elders will begin to share short blog posts every day (most likely put on our Facebook page), so that we may collectively all have our hearts and minds on Christ and His Word together.

19. It appears that the Walk for Life might be canceled. We will let you know when we learn more. Be praying for Options Health as this a main way they obtain money for their services.

Also - along that vein, if you're able to use this time of home isolation for study of God's Word, you should.
This link on our website will put you in contact with many helpful resources, or if there is a certain theological topic that interests you - let us know and we can direct you toward a helpful book. 

Church family - this is also not the time for us to shrink back in fear. We can, because of the strength and faith that Christ provides, run toward this crisis and help those in need. Please make an effort to stay in contact with one another. Don't be ashamed of asking for help either. We pray that the Lord will soon deliver us from this crisis, that He will deepen and strengthen our love for one another and grant us mercy that we may be able to gather and exalt Christ together soon.Let us not lose heart, but keep our eyes on Christ, preach the gospel to ourselves daily, and grow in our love for another as we walk through the weeks ahead
If you need anything at all - please don't hesitate to call your elders and deacons. 

For Christ's glory,
The elders of FFC

03/14/2020

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. Psalm 27:4

 

First Family Church members and friends,

After much thought and prayerful consideration, we have made the decision to postpone our Lord’s Day services through the month of March. This was not an easy decision as we appreciate and love the ministry of the Word preached, and realize how essential it is to our fellowship and discipleship. It is our great joy and privilege to be able to gather for worship, and our hope and prayer is that making this decision now, will make it so that we can all (not just those outside of the high-risk category) gather together again sooner than later. We realize that canceling our Lord’s Day services is a different plan than what had been put forth the last two days, so we apologize for any confusion and inconvenience this new decision creates. The following is what has influenced our decision.

 

1. We learned today that Contra Costa County has mandated that gatherings of 100 or more are now being prohibited from meeting.  

 

http://antiochherald.com/2020/03/contra-costa-health-services-prohibits-mass-gatherings-of-100-people-through-end-of-march/

 

Though it is possible that we would have had less than 100 people at either of our services tomorrow due to the wise precautions people are taking – we felt it is best to not chance it and have to turn people away.

 

2. We are taking into consideration that we are blessed to be a multi-generational congregation, but that also means that we have many who fall into the higher risk category. We felt it would be compassionate to them, to postpone meeting so they don’t feel like they have to make a choice that could potentially put them in danger. Our desire is to protect all the saints in our care (Acts 20:28) with great effort, even if it is uncomfortable because Christ Jesus went to the length of taking on flesh, and then dying for his bride.

 

3. Our role in caring for the saints is largely soul care (Hebrews 13:17). We are doctors of the souls and not really doctors of the body (though of course – a person is body and soul). We don’t feel that we are in the place of making public health decisions, so we are trusting the wisdom of others in this matter.

 

4. The state is not looking to prohibit the church from gathering because they don’t like what we believe or teach. They are making what they believe is a wisdom move to prevent the spreading of CORVID-19. Romans 13 serves as a guide in this issue - Romans 13:1–4

 

[1] Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. [2] Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. [3] For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, [4] for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. (ESV)

 

5. In 1918, the Spanish Flu was a pandemic. In those times, churches willingly complied with the call for social distancing and it helped slow down the virus. The concern right now is that hospitals will be overrun in the near future – but isolating now will help to prevent that. It is therefore an act of loving our neighbor that also compels us to comply with this mandate. Also, God fearing churches cancel the Lord’s Day service every year in the face of severe storms (not a California issue, we know). This is really no different than that.

 

As a result of these matters, it is our decision to postpone our Lord’s Day services through the month of March. This means, Lord willing, that we will be able to gather again on April 5th. Our midweek gatherings will still take place (more on that later). Please understand that this plan is fluid as we are dealing with an unprecedented situation, and we are looking to respond with your best interests in view. That said – shepherding must still continue as the church is still in fact continuing. This virus will not be the end of God’s church.

 

First Family Church’s elders and deacons are committed to caring for the flock in this time as in any. What follows is our plan for ministry through Sunday April 5th, when we hope to be able to meet again.

 

A. On Sunday’s, the elders and deacons will gather early in the morning for a time of prayer. This is in place of the “pastors prayer partners” ministry. After a time of prayer, a sermon will be recorded with the elders and deacons in attendance. We won’t be attempting a live stream because of our lack of confidence in our internet connectivity, but we will record the sermon and upload it right away. Ideally, the sermon will be online and available before 12 noon that same day. We will also include with the sermon, the worship bulletin, prayer corner sheet, sermon note sheet/outline. We’ll get you the songs we had planned to sing that day and put them in a Spotify link. You will need a Spotify account to listen to the songs.

 

Please know that is not a substitute for being able to gather with the saints. This is a temporary method we are going to employ for the time being, while we long to meet together again.

 

Suggested Plan for Worship on the Lord’s Day while we can’t gather:

·      Plan your morning around being able to view the sermon around 11am – 12noon. When you notice the video is uploaded –

·      Begin with prayer. Thank the Lord for the grace given to be able to worship still, to be able to gather in person soon, for your church and the lost, and for help from the Holy Spirit to grant understanding.

·      Begin with first 5 songs in the Spotify link. Spend some time praying in between the songs, reflecting on what was taught through singing.

·      Listen to the sermon.

·      Listen to the last song.

·      Close in prayer.

 

B. Worship through giving is still possible during the pandemic. You can give by putting your offering in the mail to 3195 Contra Loma Blvd., Antioch CA. 94509. You can give through online giving here (minimal fees so don’t worry about that) - http://firstfamily.us/giving/. You can drop your offering off at the church during the week, during normal office hours.

 

C. We plan to continue pastoral visitations as long as we are healthy. If you would like a visit, please don’t hesitate to ask. If you’re elderly or are concerned about your health, let us know as we are happy to make whatever accommodations you need.

 

D. We are encouraging the midweek small groups to continue meeting, and to take advantage of those times by spending time in prayer for those who have contracted COVID-19 and for the end of it’s advancement. Please follow the wisdom guidelines for public gatherings contained in the email given on 3/13/2020 – which is just below this one.

 

E. Our Kid’s Club ministry is postponed through March because Sutter Elementary is closed through then.

 

F. Our Somerset Bible Study is postponed through March because the retirement community is not allowing group meetings due to many residents being in the higher risk category.

 

G. It’s hard to say what will happen with the Food Pantry and Street Care (ministry to the homeless) ministries as of now. It will depend on what the Food Bank and our other distributors do.

 

H. We have been very grateful to all who have been attending our Sunday evening service and don’t want to lose momentum as we move to this being a weekly occurrence. We were scheduled to have our next one on the last Sunday of this month, but will for now be canceling that service. Perhaps it will change.

 

In closing church – we would like to remind you once again that we have much to be joyful for right now. See the first message given on 3/12/2020 for more there – also below this one. Sanctify Christ in your hearts as Lord (1 Peter 3:15) and be ready to serve others in this time. We don’t have reason to fear, nor have we been given a spirit of fear. In a time when people are stockpiling – we are given an opportunity to be generous. Look for ways to bless others in your church first, and then those in your community. Stay in contact with your church family – whether that is by phone, social media, email, or making time to meet with one another. Be quick to share your needs and prayer requests with your church family.

 

We are still very much in the planning stage of responding to everything going on. Perhaps we will be able to orchestrate some small prayer meetings over the coming weeks. As always – please do reach out to us with any concerns or ideas you may have. You are not alone – you are a son or a daughter of God Almighty because of the redemptive work of Christ Jesus, and he has placed you in his family - Ephesians 2:19–21

 

[19] So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, [20] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, [21] in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. (ESV)

 

Please don’t worry in this time. We know the Father is aware of all that is going on, and even that this all is part of sovereign plan. So look to him. Philippians 4:6–7

 

[6] do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. [7] And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

 

For Christ’s glory,

The Elders of First Family Church

 

Q: What is your only comfort in life and death?

A: That I am not my own, 1

but belong with body and soul,

both in life and in death, 2

to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. 3

He has fully paid for all my sins

with his precious blood, 4

and has set me free

from all the power of the devil. 5

He also preserves me in such a way 6

that without the will of my heavenly Father

not a hair can fall from my head; 7

indeed, all things must work together

for my salvation. 8

Therefore, by his Holy Spirit

he also assures me

of eternal life 9

and makes me heartily willing and ready

from now on to live for him. 10

 

1.1 Cor 6:19, 20.

2.Rom 14:7-9.

3.1 Cor 3:23; Tit 2:14.

4.1 Pet 1:18, 19; 1 Jn 1:7; 2:2.

5.Jn 8:34-36; Heb 2:14, 15; 1 Jn 3:8.

6.Jn 6:39, 40; 10:27-30; 2 Thess 3:3; 1 Pet 1:5.

7.Mt 10:29-31; Lk 21:16-18.

8.Rom 8:28.

9.Rom 8:15, 16; 2 Cor 1:21, 22; 5:5; Eph 1:13, 14.

03/12/2020

Greetings First Family Church,


We hope this message finds you well and at rest in the peace that only God can provide. Some of you may have heard that the Contra Costa County Health Services (CCCHS from here on) released a statement on their Facebook page about the local transmission of the novel coronavirus. In that message, they advise this – “Cancel or postpone large gatherings such as concerts, sporting events, celebrations, conventions, religious services and community events where 50 or more people are within arm’s length of each other” (this statement on their FB page isn’t quite accurate. To read it in its context, click the link below.)


You can read the whole release here - http://bit.ly/2veiIxC


Please know that the elders of FFC are monitoring the situation and that we care a great deal about your well-being. Presently it is our desire to continue to gather together on the Lord's Day as this is part of our continued public witness to Christ and consistent with our need for God's Word. However, we understand completely if you choose to remain home, particularly if you are in a higher risk category (according to the CCCHS – that is people over 80 or people with pre-existing medical conditions – especially immunocompromised conditions, and people displaying cold like symptoms). We encourage you to exercise wisdom by taking common sense precautions. We especially also encourage you to not give in to fear or panic. "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control" (2 Timothy 1:7).


While much of the world around submits itself to fear, we would do well to remember that a virus, just like every other thing in God’s creation is under the sovereign control of our God. Isaiah 46:9-10 reads -

“Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,”


Consider also - Psalm 46:1–3 [1] God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. [2] Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, [3] though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah (ESV)


Find comfort in the doctrine affirmed and expressed in the London Baptist Confession:


1689 LBCF, Chapter 5: 1. God the good Creator of all things, in his infinite power and wisdom, upholds, directs, arranges, and governs all creatures and things,1 from the greatest to the least,2 by his perfectly wise and holy providence, to the purpose for which they were created. He governs according to his infallible foreknowledge and the free and unchangeable counsel of his own will. His providence leads to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy.3

1Hebrews 1:3; Job 38:11; Isaiah 46:10, 11; Psalms 135:6. 2Matthew 10:29–31. 3Ephesians 1:11.


Church, it is hard to know what will happen over the coming days and weeks (remember – its possible nothing could come from this). But we know that God knows! A worldwide response to a virus like this, with widespread closures and sanctions is unheard of in our generation. We hope to respond to whatever restrictions may be put in place with wisdom from the Scriptures. At a time like this, we need to take care to not interpret the Bible through the news, but the news through God’s infallible word. Much of the response in the unbelieving world has been fear and worry and this is therefore a good opportunity for us to be a city on a hill, and to shine the light of Christ into the despair of our neighbors. Remember, God is sovereign, and nothing can befall us outside of his will. While our neighbors may find themselves in a pit of despair – may we be ready to show them the hope we have - Psalm 40:2–3 [2] He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. [3] He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. (ESV)


We must remember church, that our hope and confidence are not in our circumstances, but in Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead, reigns in heaven, has authority in heaven and on earth, and will return in glory. What a comfort to know that we belong to Him in body and in soul, in life and in death!

In closing, we must also remember that prayer is the right response for the Christian. Below are some prayer points from a missionary in Italy, where the government has quarantined people into their homes. Nevertheless, the petitions are applicable for us.


Go before our Father’s throne of grace and:

  • Pray that the Lord will use the coronavirus outbreak for His glory and for the spread of the gospel;
  • Pray that God will mercifully bring the suffering and economic devastation caused by the reaction to this virus to an end;
  • Pray that the Lord will allow our family and congregation to remain healthy;
  • Pray that those in the congregation who are suffering financially as a result of the outbreak will find relief.


We are here to help you church, and will be praying with you. We hope to see you this Lord’s Day, Lord willing.


Every Blessing in Christ Jesus to you,

The Elders of FFC.


03/13/2020

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” –

We have a few more things that we wanted to let you all know concerning our Lord's Day services. Please know that we are trying to respond with grace and wisdom in light of the virus and the directives that our local and state governments are requiring. Because of that - things may be the same for the next few weeks, or they may change by 3/22. As we figure things out, we will certainly communicate them to you all. There are cases of covid-19 in Contra Costa County (25 and no deaths thankfully) so please continue to pray along the lines mentioned in the first email. We understand that some of these things may be an inconvenience, but we are better off seeing it as an opportunity to express Christian charity - Philippians 2:3–4

 

[3] Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. [4] Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (ESV)

 

Here are some things to be aware of, and precautions we are taking, and asking you to take for this coming weekend and Lord's Day. As we said in our first note, we aren't operating out of fear, but we are simply looking out for your well-being and we believe these precautions are reasonable, honoring to the Lord and sensitive to the needs of our people.

 

  • Please remember to wash your hands frequently – more than you normally would, and especially before coming to church. Soap is a good defense against the spread of a virus.
  • We have placed hand sanitizer stations in the sanctuary, fellowship hall, kitchen, the check-in desk for Sunday School, and in the nursery – 2nd grade classrooms.
  • When checking a child in or out on the iPad, please use hand sanitizer before using the iPad.
  • We are spraying disinfectant on high traffic areas such as door handles and will do so between services also.
  • Please be mindful of how you greet people. We’re not preventing any touching, but we don’t want people to feel pressured to shake hands or embrace.
  • Our Food Pantry will be open. But we will not be serving coffee and snacks to those in attendance.
  • We will have our normal Sunday School classes. We won’t be eating or serving drinks in them though, with the exception of individually packaged snacks for children.
  • We will pray for the offering at the normal time in our service, but the collection of the offering won’t happen at the normal time. At the end of the service, deacons will be holding the offering bags by the door on your way out. Feel free to take advantage of online giving as well -http://firstfamily.us/giving/
  • Note sheets and worship bulletins will not be passed out, but will be available for you to grab on the name tag table.
  • Please bring your own Bible and pencil as they will not be available for passing out.
  • After the announcements – we’ll transition to another song. There will be no greeting at this time.
  • We will be waiting until the health precautions are over before officially welcoming John Williams Jr. and Amanda Linder into membership. This way we can celebrate their joining as we normally do.
  • The New Members class is postponed.
  • All of our midweek activities and small groups are still happening, with the exception of the Somerset study. Use your own discretion on your involvement with them.

 

One last preventive measure: In an attempt to prevent the spread of covid-19 or any other flu like illness, anyone with a fever (even a low grade one), cough, runny nose, or sore throat should stay home and rest up so that you may attend next week. Let us know, and we'll be sure to be praying for you and seeking to help if possible. 

Those who fall into the higher risk category, or who live with those in that category - we are asking to use good judgment and determine if you should stay home and watch the service after it is uploaded that afternoon. Higher risk categories include those 60 and over, and the following pre-existing conditions: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, abnormally high blood pressure, or cancer.

 

We realize that many congregations are choosing to not meet in person right now, and are taking advantage of technology so that people may stay home. Our church is small enough (under 250) that we are not in violation of our governments wishes. Churches that are not gathering during this precautionary time are doing so within their Christian right and compassion. If the government was telling us that we couldn’t meet because of a Biblical doctrine we observed, we would pay them no heed and continue to meet. But in this situation, we should see our government as the agent which God has ordained (Romans 13), as they are looking to prevent the spreading of the virus. In the early part of the 20th century, churches did the same thing for the Spanish Flu. In the 16th century, Geneva did the same thing with the plague. As time goes on, we’ll continue to reevaluate our response in light of the God’s Word.

 

For Christ’s glory,

The Elders of FFC