We will be regathering for worship in the sanctuary on Sundays at 11 AM & 6 PM. Services will also be broadcasted via SermonAudio and our new YouTube channel.

 

Dear Congregation,                                                                                                         May 27, 2020

I trust that you have each known grace and peace in your walk with Christ since the Lord’s Day. I’m working through Psalm 20 this morning, and have made the first two verses my prayer for all of you:  “The LORD hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee; send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion.”

As we have announced, we are adjusting our service schedule this coming Sunday, May 31. Rather than offering two identical services, we are returning to our regular format of an 11 AM morning worship service and a 6 PM evening worship service. We plan to livestream both services. Sunday School and our Sunday morning congregational prayer time will continue to be suspended for the time-being.

In order to make room for everyone as we attempt to follow social distancing recommendations, about ten families will be taking turns each week staying home from the morning service. Unless you are on that list and receive communication from us to that effect, we invite everyone to attend both Sunday services.

You may perceive a change in the wording of that announcement, and you are right. After watching attendance for the past two weeks, we feel that we do not need to “restrict” attendance in the Sunday evening service. So we are no longer asking everyone to only attend one service. You are free to attend both.

In an effort to be considerate towards everyone, all of the public health guidelines we have been communicating will continue to be in place as we gather. Please plan to follow those guidelines so that we are lovingly creating an atmosphere where those among us who are reluctant about gathering feel safe and comfortable.

Every Blessing,

Pastor Adam Eshleman

 

REFORMATION BIBLE CHURCH

Covid-19 Reopening Guidelines

Sunday May 17, 2020

We eagerly anticipate regathering for worship in the sanctuary on Sunday. Based upon the number who’ve confirmed that they will attend, we plan to conduct two services, one at 11 AM and one at 2 PM. If you are designated for the 2 PM service, you will receive notification from us. If you do not receive notification, plan to worship with us at 11 AM. Services will be broadcasted on SermonAudio and YouTube at 11 AM & 4 PM.

Because seating may take extra time, please plan to arrive 15 minutes before the service. And please prepare to follow these directions:

1. Please plan to wear a face mask whenever you are in near proximity to anyone other than members of your household. If you do not have a face mask, a supply will be available as you enter the church building.

2. Please observe carefully the social-distancing requirements imposed by the governor’s executive orders. (7 feet recommended for church services)

3. Entrance into the building will be via the two back, ramp entrances only. Please wait at the area that will be specified outside the entrances, observing social-distancing. One of our men will meet you/your party there. He will escort you into the sanctuary where someone will direct you to your seating. Please follow their instructions.

4. No one will be refused entry, unless presenting obvious health-related issues. All are welcome. Those who have underlying health issues, or are aged, or who have any other elevated-risk factor, are urged to worship with us in your home via live-streaming video.

5. If you have not yet informed us of your intentions to attend, and of the number who you anticipate to be in your party, please do so promptly.

6. We advise that all forgo hand-shaking.

7. There will be no nursery. Those with young children who may need to leave the service should be seated near the exit doors. The individual directing seating will accommodate your request.

8. Rest rooms will be open. However, we discourage your use of them.

9. Following the benediction, please be seated in your designated seat. We will dismiss you by row, beginning from back pews, and in a manner that provides ample distance between people. Please exit promptly to allow timely dismissal of all who are present. Fellowship in the parking lot, rather than in the sanctuary, with social-distancing, will diminish the risk of infection.

 

 

Dear Ones in Christ,                                                                                                       April 22, 2020

A cloudless blue sky, bright with sunshine, is the view I enjoy this morning from my home study. It is so bright, so pure, so beautiful. Only God can give us a cloudless day, and all of its beauty. It is a vivid reminder to me that He does all things beautifully, and that His way is perfect. It reminds me of the gospel song:

“O they tell me of a home far beyond the skies
O they tell me of a home far away
O they tell me of a place where no storm clouds rise
O they tell me of an uncloudy day.”

I thank God that we have such days to remind of the sky-blue beauty of our God in all of His ways. Such days should pry discouragement and fear from believers’ minds.

But not every day comes with a blue sky; in this sin-cursed world we are usually confronted with evidences of the curse. So the pandemic continues, uncertainty abounds, confinement persists.

We just completed our morning prayer meeting via ZOOM. Pastor Eshleman directed our attention to Psalm 90:15, “Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.” This was Moses’ prayer as he tarried with the people of Israel in the confinement of their wilderness wandering. What an apt prayer for us to employ in these uncertain days.

Israel seemed lost in the wilderness, but the cloud and fire of God’s presence continued with them, as it does with us. Daniel shared the lion’s den with hungry lions, but also (and especially) with the angel God sent to shut their mouths. It was the king who suffered a sleepless night. In the fiery furnace, the fourth man appeared with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, whose likeness was as the Son of God.

“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.”

We know that the present circumstances have not taken God by surprise. We are never victims, but recipients of divine mercy wrought amidst a perfect plan that God has authored for each of His people. Once again, let us pray, “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast” (Psalm 57:1). Let us pray for one another, communicate with one another, and rejoice in the One Who makes us whole, and orders all things for our good.

By grace,

Pastor John McKnight

 

Beloved in Christ,                                                                                                           April 10, 2020

It is Easter week, but it may not seem so. We’re not planning the usual family gatherings with sumptuous feast and celebration. We’ll not be together to sing triumphantly, “Hallelujah! Christ Arose.” We won’t look one another in the eye with the greeting “He is risen,” and the response, “He is risen indeed!”

But He is risen! He is risen indeed! Hallelujah, Christ arose! He “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25). He “saw no corruption” (Acts 13:37). Peter addressed the astonished multitude at Pentecost declaring, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it” (Acts 2:23, 24).

Peter continued from Psalm 16: “For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses” (Acts 2:25-32).

With torn and heavy hearts, the women went to Christ’s tomb to anoint His corpse. What a devastating week they had suffered! Their world was “turned upside down.” They were grief-smitten, dismayed and greatly discouraged. Celebration was not to be. But what did they find? An empty tomb. They’ve been celebrating ever since. So shall all of God’s people.

We plan to worship together separately again this Lord’s Day. But it will be a special worship time. Tune to SermonAudio or YouTube at 3:30 PM, not 4 o’clock. At 3:30 we will worship in song, songs that we all love to sing together, accompanied by congregational singing recorded in the sanctuary almost three years ago. We will then continue with the scheduled worship service. Invite friends to join us. Amidst the obstacles and disappointments that try us, let us rejoice together with the One who gives us more than we deserve, Who loves us with an everlasting love, and Who will glorify us together with Himself.

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20, 21).

He is risen, Halleluhjah!

Pastor John McKnight

 

Precious Congregation,                                                                                                  April 8, 2020

May these days of confinement and separation from one another prompt reverent, grateful focus upon the blessings owned by every believer: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:6-9).

On the Lord’s Day, the sanctuary is a lonely place without you. I’m thankful for those few who gather to assist in conducting and broadcasting the service. But we yearn for that day when we can all assemble again with our Savior among us.

Doubtless most of you have some change in daily routine. Such interruption of the norm can be wonderful times to reorder our spiritual lives as well, spending more time in prayer, more time in reading Scripture. Surely we should pray that God will give us spiritual growth amid these circumstances; such as we would never experience if everything continued as normal.

I want to especially request your prayer for several people connected to our congregation who are in the healthcare professions. These individuals have a calling which may expose them to this virus. Moreover, the strain placed upon the healthcare system has in some cases enlarged their duties by the need to compensate for colleagues who are sidelined by the illness. Pray for their protection, their health, their stamina and for protection of their families at home.

Pray also for our police forces who are impacted by the illness, resulting in increased duties for healthy officers, as well as potential for increased criminal activity. They need our prayers.

Pray for one another in the congregation, and communicate often. Consider having your own telephone/internet prayer companions. May the Lord use these circumstances to draw us closer to him, and to one another.

By grace,

Pastor John McKnight

 

Dear Ones in Christ,                                                                                                        March 31, 2020

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (Numbers 6:24-26). Aaron was instructed to affirm this blessing upon the people of Israel. Indeed, it is a blessing to be prayed upon all of God’s people. May it be your experience as we pass through these dark days.

Like you, Diane and I worshipped in our home last Lord’s Day, blessed by the reminder that we heard from the pulpit; that we need be anxious “for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Yet it was strange to be absent from one another. Our hearts were bound together with yours in the gospel. We were voicing praise and confidence simultaneously in song. We heard the supplications and preaching of Pastor Adam. Yet that delight of being with God’s people, of hearing them sing His praise and “Amen” the prayers of our brethren, was absent.

How blessed we are that even when “assembling” remotely as we are doing, we are assured that Christ is with us; that is all that really matters. But we yearn for the day when we can again gather in the house of worship to blend our praises as one.

The Sunday afternoon broadcasts at 4 PM will continue on SermonAudio and YouTube. As usual, the sidebar on the church website will include a copy of the bulletin.

All meetings at the church building are cancelled until further notice. This includes the Reformation Bible Women meetings on April 6 and May 4, and the Ladies Spring Luncheon scheduled on May 9th. We will plan to reschedule the luncheon when meeting restrictions are lifted.

Some of you may already have received my letter appealing for gifts to the Annual Easter Offering. Two of the four missions projects named in it must be postponed: the Jamaica VBS and the East African pastor training. As soon as we are able to reschedule these, we plan to move forward with plans. Funds from the offering will be scrupulously held until that time, and everything given in the offering will be utilized exactly as specified.

All tithes and offerings may be mailed to the office. And, do remember the Agape Fund, as there will doubtless be special needs that it will address.

Are you feeling boxed in by the “shelter in place” restrictions? Amid these trials, let us not forget that our Savior willingly boxed Himself in to the limitations and infirmities of humanity when all the options and powers of deity were His. He did this that He might save His people from their sin and its consequences. He did this in order to be tested like we are, and thus to know our infirmities.

“Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17).

Christ was made like unto us in order that He might suffer our humiliation. We suffer these humiliations in order that we might be made like Him, and experience His glorification.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:28-29).

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

By Grace,

Pastor John McKnight

 

Dear Ones in Christ,                                                                                                       March 26, 2020

As David fled from Saul, he sought refuge in a cave. Amid those circumstances he prayed, “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast” (Psalm 57:1). In the cave, David perceived that it was not the cave, but “the shadow of thy wings” that was his true refuge.

Shut up in our homes, and cut off by “social distancing,” we are all “encaved” to some extent by the world-wide COVID-19 epidemic. But we know that “these calamities [will] be overpast.” We know that God is merciful to every soul that trusts in Him. And, we do trust in Him. “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:17).” “Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence” (Psalm 91:3).

It is a great encouragement to me to observe the vibrant life of the congregation as we pass through this season “together.” Last Sunday’s response to the live streaming broadcast displays a lively body bound together by faith in Christ. How blessed we are to have one another!

We will plan to meet again at 4 PM on the Lord’s Day via SermonAudio and YouTube. Spread the word to all you know. If you know someone who does not have internet, and would be willing to invite them to your home for the service, please do so. Every Thursday or Friday, a copy of the bulletin is uploaded to our website (see the sidebar) for any who would like to review the order of service in advance. During the COVID-19 epidemic, we are embedding links to the lyrics from our Trinity hymns so you can sing along.

Let us be in continual prayer that this illness will pass quickly, that few will be seriously affected by it, that the congregation will be spared, that we will all be made better for this experience, and that the Word of God might go forth mightily as a result of all that is happening.

Thank you for being there, for your heart-warming fellowship in the gospel, and for your prayers. WE ARE BLESSED!

May divine mercies be multiplied to you.

By grace,

Pastor John McKnight

 

Dear Ones in Christ,                                                                                                        March 23, 2020

I missed you yesterday. I know that you were there via live-streaming video, for a record number of devices were tuned in to our SermonAudio and YouTube broadcasts. A kind communication has come from Memphis, Tennessee, expressing appreciation for the broadcast. People joined us from seven other countries. But the sanctuary was so empty without your presence. May the Lord hasten the day when we can assemble once again. Yesterday I learned more of what it means when we say “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

We anticipate following the same schedule next weekend, lamenting that we probably will not be able to assemble. Before the service starts at 4 PM, please click on the bulletin tab on our website so you can be prepared to sing with us. Hymn texts can be found here.

Yesterday, one of our families called two parties who did not have internet service. Placing phones beside their computer, they were able to transmit the service to two who otherwise would not have had access. Perhaps you know others in similar situations, to whom you can transmit next Sunday’s service.

Please pray for our nation and leaders, and for the members of our congregation, particularly those who have been furloughed from their jobs amid this crisis. Doubtless special needs will arise soon, so I am asking everyone who can to contribute to our Agapé Fund in addition to your usual tithe. This fund exists to help with personal needs within the church family. I anticipate there will be many such needs, and that we need to fortify the fund for this event.

“The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26

By grace,

Pastor John McKnight

 

Beloved Ones in Christ,                                                                                                 March 18, 2020

Due to COVID-19, we will not meet for Sunday school or congregational prayer on Sunday, nor will we meet on Sunday evening. Rather than assembling at 11 AM for worship, we plan to broadcast one message at 4 PM ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON via SermonAudio.com or our new YouTube channel. We are investigating a Youtube broadcast as well, and will let you know if that materializes. It seems best to remain in our homes rather than to assemble.

We encourage everyone to tune in at 4 PM, and to invite any acquaintance to join us for worship via that medium. If you know any regular viewers, tell them that there will not be an 11 AM broadcast, but that we plan to do so at 4 PM. And for any who do not have internet access, please let them know that no meeting is planned for Sunday morning or evening at the church.

It militates against every element of our practice to refrain from assembling on the Lord’s Day. But amid extreme circumstances, that is best. After speaking with two physicians and a respiratory therapist manager at Johns Hopkins Hospital, the prudence of “social distancing” is evident.

If large numbers become infected with this virus simultaneously, our health-care system will be overwhelmed to the point of collapse. Many uninfected patients who need care for other ailments will also be without care. Many will suffer; many will die. But if the spread of this disease is slowed, medical facilities will not be so overburdened, care will be accessible, and many lives will be spared. The virus, if deprived of multiple hosts, may subside.

Scripture instructs us to assemble. It also instructs, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). In the present context, the good we can do to “all men,” as well as to “them who are of the household of faith,” is to cooperate in the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Governor Hogan has stipulated assembly limits of 50 people. President Trump has suggested no more than 10.

Last Sunday, heeding warnings not to assemble, some endeavored to view our service via Sermonaudio.com. Evidently, many nationwide did the same, overwhelming Sermonaudio. Our equipment functioned well, but the massive spike in users caused the network to crash.

That is why we are planning Sunday’s broadcast when Sermonaudio is not at peak use. Please tune in at 4 PM, and invite as many people as you know to worship with us at that hour.

We will let you know from week to week how we will be handling the service schedule. Prayer meetings and all other congregation meetings and events are cancelled until further notice.

Finally, please stay in communication with one another. Call our elderly often to check on their well-being. Pray together via phone, Skype, or any other medium you use. Pray for one another. And pray for our nation, for its spiritual healing, and its protection.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.” Psalm 46:1-3

By Grace,

Pastor John McKnight