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Calvary Baptist Gathering Online Sunday’s 10:30 Am & Wednesday’s 7:00Pm

Dear Calvary Family,

In the sovereign providence of our God, the Governor of the State of Michigan sent out an executive order yesterday “temporarily requiring the suspension of activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life.”  You can read this executive order here: https://www.michigan.gov/whitmer/0,9309,7-387-90499_90705-522626–,00.html.  This means that for the next three weeks we are prohibited from meeting in person, in order to give some time to the state health care system to be equipped to sustain the medical demands that may occur from the virus.  So, for the time being here is how we will strive to function as a local body:

1. We will continue to meet online through Facebook live-streaming Sunday mornings at 10:30am and Wednesday evenings at 7:00pm.  We will be enjoying a series of Bible studies called Precious and Very Great Promises from Our Powerful and Glorious God: Familiar Verses for Unfamiliar Situations.

2. As God provides, we will continue to give our offerings by mail or through the online giving tool on our website – www.calvarychurchesc.org.

3. We will continue to pray for one another daily.

4. We will continue to look for ways to exercise our love and care for one another as our Lord has commanded and as He enables us to do so.

5. We will continue to walk together in unity as we strive to communicate with one another and encourage one another in Christ.

I look forward very much to seeing how God has planned to work in us and through us in this situation for His glory!

For Him,
Brian Swillum

COVID – 19 Response Update

March 17th, 2020

Dear Church Family,
“I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.  I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.  You way, O God, is holy.  What god is great like our God?  You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples.  You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph.  Selah.  You led your people like a flock…”  Psalm 77:11-15, 20a

Because we as individuals know relatively nothing about the nature of COVID-19, and because God has sovereignly ordained the governing authorities of both our state and our nation, as well as the medical experts that are advising them, it is our responsibility as a church to work together in humility with those God-ordained authorities to slow the spread of the virus, if the Lord wills.  Therefore, we are going to strive to abide by the guidelines that the White House has put into action over the last couple of days (Romans 13; 1 Peter 2).  I have attached to this email the pamphlet that the White House has issued.  It is called “15 Days to Slow the Spread.”  Please take a few moments to look at it carefully.

As a result of the practical response plan outlined in this pamphlet, we are going to make an effort to avoid meeting in groups greater than 10 people, and therefore, we will be planning to hold our worship service for this coming Sunday through Facebook live streaming.  We will be sending to you information within the next few days to help you join our live stream service on Sunday.  Thank you so much for your cooperation and please pass the word as you are able.  As we pray for our physical safety according to God’s will, let’s make it our first priority to pray that God will be glorified through these events, God’s people will be edified, and the gospel will be proclaimed fearlessly and in love!  Let’s wait and see with eager excitement what God has planned to accomplish!
For Him,

Brian Swillum

For the leadership team at CBC 

COVID – 19 Response

Beloved Calvary Baptist Church Family,

“1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear…” – Psalm 46:1-2a.

As the world around us is buzzing with news, statistics, possible sources, causes, and plans of response concerning COVID-19, it is important that we, the Body of Christ, respond to these events in a way that is glorifying to God and loving to one another. May our glorious God grant us the grace to do so as His children in whom His Spirit lives! He is at work in us to will and to work for His good pleasure – Philippians 2:12-13.

How can we glorify God with COVID-19?

Psalm 46:1-11 is one of the many texts from God’s Word that provides the help we need to glorify God. We must learn not to turn to the world as our first response in seeking help, but rather the God who is our refuge and strength. Turning to God and looking to Him as our first source of help brings glory to Him. Let us receive this help from our glorious God.

Receive Help – Psalm 46
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Notice in this first verse that God is our place of safety. God is our source of strength. In every and any time of trouble God is our help and He and His help is nearer to us than any other help. God’s help is nearer to us than our own hands. God’s help to us is stronger than the help that any mere man can give to us. But why is this true? If you came down with the Coronavirus and you had the choice between having a family member at your bedside or God at your bedside, who would you choose? Of course you would want God to be with you, because God has attributes that no mere human being has. God is self-existent, meaning He has no beginning and no end. He was not created, but He is the Creator. He has life in Himself and is the source of all life. Therefore He alone has the power of life and death. He is self-sufficient. This means God has no need or deficiency. His resources cannot be depleted. Therefore He alone sustains the life of all of His creation without any need, strain, or rival. He upholds everything by the Word of His power. In Him we live and move and have our being. God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere present, meaning that His knowledge is measureless, His power is limitless, and His presence is boundless, throughout and beyond time, space, matter, and into eternity. Therefore God is sovereign, meaning He is in perfect control of all things, including COVID-19. God is good. That means He only does what is righteous, just, and fitting with all of His perfections. He only does what brings Himself glory and allows what will work for the good of His blood-bought people. God is love. That means He has set His gracious affection upon us, purchased us by the blood of His Son, made us His children, and had eternally bound Himself to us in covenant relationship. God does not change. This is why He is our refuge and strength during this season of COVID-19. This is why you would want Him at your bedside. And He IS our very present help, nearer to you than anyone else. Receive His help by realizing this virus in light of the attributes of God and who He is to you.

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
This is the only God-glorifying response in light of who God is – fearlessness. We will not fear. We must not fear. To fear is to turn our eyes away from the glory of God’s attributes and His love for us as His children.

But what if the mountains slide off the face of the ground and avalanche into the sea? What if the water rises high and threatens to wash away the ground upon which we stand and cause the mountains to shake and crumble? What if there is threat of nuclear warfare? What if the economy is faltering? What if my relationships break? What if my health fails? What if the government is corrupted? What if COVID-19 continues to spread? The people of God throughout the centuries have had one unified answer. We will not fear! Let us join them in that answer as we turn our eyes from the manifold threats to the majesty of God.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
In the midst of threatening, fear-tempting circumstances, God makes His people glad. God inhabits us. God is in our midst. God will help us in His perfect time. Therefore we need not be moved from our faith and our fearlessness. We need not be moved from our confidence in God alone! And when we feel ourselves begin to move toward fear and panic, let us open the Word of God, be constant in prayer, meet with one another for encouragement, in order to refocus our eyes upon the immediate presence of God and the unmatched beauty of His attributes.

6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
The people of the world, the nations of the globe will always be God-less in their responses, ambitions, plans, strategies, and schemes. They will be self-exalting, self-sufficient, and arrogant. They will be angry and anxious when their kingdoms are threatened and begin to “totter.” But what is all of their raging compared to the voice of God that can melt the earth? Nothing is a threat to the sovereignty of God. Nothing! Nothing is a threat to any of His attributes, and He is with us. He is our fortress! Think about that!

8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.
Just look at the works of Yahweh. In light of who He is, consider what He does. EVERYTHING that happens in the earth happens as a result of a gesture from His scepter. And NOTHING happens in the earth without first being allowed by Him. He is the one who decrees things that bring desolation to the earth. He is the one who decrees times of peace. There is no human army nor viral army that can threaten the works of Yahweh. Therefore all that He does, all that He decrees is for His glory and the good of His people. Does this mean that we do not grieve and groan with the sick and dying? Does this mean that we do not make efforts to uphold peace, health, safety, and justice? No, we grieve and we work with one another in love, but we do so submissively under God’s mighty hand, and we do so fearlessly in light of God’s majestic perfections.

10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
If you are child of God and you feel yourself begin to panic at the things you are seeing and hearing about COVID-19, take the time to be still, cease your striving, and know that Yahweh is God. Let the virus work for your good by using it as a spur to get to know more about the attributes of your God and His ultimate purposes and plans for the church, the world, time, and eternity. Open the Word of God and see the glory of your God! He will be exalted. He will be glorified through COVID-19. And He is with us. Remind yourself of the promises that God makes to everyone of His children. The God who makes eternal promises to His people is our fortress! Be still, and know that He is God! This is how we receive His help.

A second important response to COVID-19 that brings glory to God is to give hope.

Give Hope – 1 Peter 3:14b-15
“Have no fear…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
While the context of these verses is speaking of the persecution of Christians for the sake of Christ, there is a principle here that applies to our current situation. Even though our natural response in such situations is to fear, we are exhorted to see the Lord for who He is and honor Him in His holiness. This, in part, is what has already been expressed through Psalm 46 above. But beyond that, the body of Christ has a unique opportunity and responsibility in situations like this to be ready to give hope and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with a humble attitude and gentle words. The fear that so many people are feeling, whether understandable or overreactive, provides a wonderful opportunity for us to point people to the glory of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. The fearlessness of the Church against the fearfulness of so many in the world provides a distinction that can incite questions about things that really matter. Let us use this season to proclaim to the world the majesty of our God and the message of salvation in His Son. Whether we live or die we are the Lord’s, but the world cannot say this with us. We must tell them of our hope. There is no better time than the present.

May God enable us to receive His help and give His hope!

How can we love one another with COVID-19?

We can love one another in the presence of any affliction by praying for and with one another, reminding one another of the glory of God, proclaiming the gospel of Christ, and helping one another and others practically. The Body of Christ, down through the centuries and through the many epidemics our world has encountered, has consistently served one another and others in humble, sacrificial love. The body of Christ has faithfully ministered, by the grace of God, to the those in need even without fear for their own lives. Let us ask God to give us wisdom and strength to follow Christ in this way. While we are not to cave in to fear, we must also listen submissively and respectfully to what we are being instructed to do by the governing authorities, but do

so in a way that honors Christ and shows love to one another – Romans 13:1-10. So here are a few precautionary measures that we can take with one another in love, and they are based on things that have been communicated to us by the State of Michigan:

Serving One-Another In Sacrificial Love:

– One of the most important things we can do at this point is to continue to meet on Sunday for Sunday School, Corporate worship, and mutual encouragement, but we will continue to keep ourselves informed and keep our church family informed of any changes as we are able. –  We want to care for those who are elderly and/or have lung diseases or immune system disorders, so if that is your situation and you feel the need to stay home, please do not feel guilty. Instead please know that the Lord is with you and we love you and are planning ways of ministering to you right in your home via live streaming, online video, and/or dvd, as the Lord enables us to do so. We want you to know you are a loved member of our local body.

–  It is also important that we stay home if we are sick, cover our coughs and sneezes with something other than our hands, give a little more personal space, avoid hand-shaking, and wash our hands more often and for 20 seconds. Please talk with your children about these things and make sure they also stay home if they are sick. Again, the most vulnerable demographic is the elderly, and we do not want to pass anything on to them if we can help it.

–  We will be taking extra efforts to clean surfaces, leave doors open, and make hand hygiene products available at our place of meeting.

–  We will also be collecting the offering in the foyer instead of by passing the plate, and we may also decide to share at the Lord’s Table in a way that avoids the passing of the bread and the cup.

–  Let us be thinking of one another and offer to help one another in any way that we are able, especially those most susceptible to this virus – for example, going out to the store for someone to get some groceries for them.

–  Continue in prayer for one another and the world around us. We are excited about what God has for us to learn over the next several weeks as we look to Him and respond to one another and the world around us in faith and love. We are planning to share some relevant Scripture texts and responses over the next couple of weeks during corporate worship so that we may be equipped and enabled by the Holy Spirit to glorify God and love one another. We love you and are praying for you! For Him,

The Leadership Team of CBC