Summer 2020 Newsletter

A Word from the Pastor: The End Is Near!

Here’s a brief recap of 2020, just to keep score:

January: Australia is on fire; WW3 almost happens

February: Trillions of locusts descend on Africa; Australia still burns

March: Coronavirus invades the U.S.—and the world; quarantine begins; NBA is canceled; school is canceled

April: Mass unemployment and widespread economic recession; continued quarantine; coronavirus pandemic

May: Murder hornets; death of George Floyd

June: Widespread protests, riots, looting; CHOP; Civil War 2.0

July: We are holding our breath.

August: Please, Jesus, come quickly.

You may smile a little, simply because your only other option is to cry. Sometimes we look at wild, outlandish circumstances and just have to shake our heads. And speaking of the bizarre circumstances of the last 6 months, the question has come up more than once: Is this the End? Are we approaching the End Times?

And to that question, I can say with utter confidence, “Yes, we are living in the End Times.” You know that I typically try to give nuanced, intelligent answers to faith questions. But this is a slam dunk: Yes, are approaching the End.

Let me explain my certainty. Jesus’ resurrection, ascension, and enthronement in heaven inaugurated the Age to Come. Already the final age of the world is dawning upon us, and the transformation of the world is decisively already underway. Ever since Jesus returned to heaven in his glorified body, we have been living in the End times. There is nothing left to happen in God’s plan of salvation except his return when he establishes his Kingdom. Peter declared in his first letter, “The end of all things is near.” (1 Peter 4:7) And the apostle John declared bluntly, “Dear children, this is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18)

It is tempting, of course, to interpret the things that Jesus said (and other biblical writers) in light of today’s circumstances. Jesus said, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” (Matthew 24:6-8) Wars and rumors of wars? Check. Nations rising up against each other? Check. Famine, pestilence, earthquakes? Check, check, and check. Add in Jesus’ promise of distress, tribulation, and persecution, and it sounds a lot like today’s headlines!

But we must always be careful and shrewd when contemplating things that are ultimately beyond our human capacity. There is nothing new under the sun. All of these things have been going on since the beginning and will continue until the very end. With better communication and widespread media, we are simply hearing about them more! Many people have speculated about End Times scenarios, creating elaborate timelines and synopses of what will precipitate the Day of the Lord. And that’s fine. If it scratches your itch to contemplate what the Bible says about eschatology (the fancy, theological word for the study of the End), then scratch away.

The more immediate task for us, though, is clear. Jesus said plainly, “Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:42, 44) Jesus’ friend Peter echoes the same sentiment: “Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:7b-8)

So, in response to the question “Are we living in the End Times?” the answer is a clear, unqualified Yes. But we have been ever since Jesus returned to heaven. And until he comes again, our job is equally clear: keep watch, be ready, pray, be sober, and love one another with reckless love. Oh, and please, Jesus, come quickly.

Pastor Ray

The Life of Our Church

Online or In-Person Services

We are open in a “new normal”! Feel free to worship in-person, with common-sense precautions (e.g., masks and keeping social distance). But if you are uncomfortable coming to worship, you may worship virtually through our YouTube channel. We will stream the service live, and the service will be archived after that.

Please visit and subscribe to our YouTube channel to discover our videos:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCo7rD-aUmWcKtM6wKohlKBw

One Great Hour of Sharing

Give generously to invest in the future! OGHS is a multi-denominational offering that supports disaster relief, development projects, and refugee ministries. This year, much of the proceeds are earmarked for response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:9 For more information, or to donate online, visit https://abc-oghs.org.

Quarterly Congregational Meeting

Our congregation will meet after worship on Sunday, July 12. All members are welcome to attend to our church’s business.

Worship in the Park and Potluck!

We will worship at the East Shelter House in Sunnyside Park on Sunday, July 19, at 10:30. Please bring your own table service and something to share.

Supporting Our Church

It is important that we all continue to support our church’s mission during this pandemic. Please give generously in worship or by mail (or drop in the mail slot): 710 Walnut Street, Atlantic, IA 50022. Thank you!

Sunday School

“Social-Distancing Sunday School” will take a hiatus for summer. We will meet Sunday, July 12, and then resume meeting on Sunday, August 23, at 9:30 a.m.

ABWM

Please stay tuned for information about ABWM during July, August, and September.

Diaconate

The deacons will gather after worship on August 9.

Please Pray for the Persecuted Church

Do you know where it’s hardest to be a Christian in the world? No, it’s not New York City or even Las Vegas. It’s North Korea. Christians are viciously persecuted there! Which countries are the next biggest offenders? Prayerfully visit Open Doors’ Watch List and pray for our sisters and brothers who are not free to worship our Lord.

Just Pray

Pray for each other. Pray for the world. Pray for God’s kingdom to come quickly. Just pray. There are many (free) resources to guide your prayers, so take advantage of them!

  1. The Secret Place: magazine (in our church), Web site, app for Apple or Android
  2. Our Daily Bread: Web site, app for Apple or Android
  3. The Upper Room: Web site, app for Apple or Android
  4. Daily Prayer (from the Church of England): Web site, app for Apple or Android

Stay Connected!

Facebook: Follow our Facebook page for updates and alerts.

(https://www.facebook.com/firstbaptistatlantic)

Text: Subscribe to our text message service for prayer requests and updates: Text (712) 250-1607 to be added.

YouTube: Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCo7rD-aUmWcKtM6wKohlKBwNewsletter: Visit our Web site and subscribe to receive our newsletter (blog) by email (at the bottom-left of the homepage). https://fbcatlantic.wordpress.com.

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