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Sunday Re open!

IMPORTANT CHURCH ANNOUNCEMENT
 
Per Governor of Virginia phase 1 for opening back up the economy will begin Friday, May 15th. Churches are included in phase 1, which means we will be able to open on Sunday, May 17th, and have service in our sanctuary!
 
As exciting as this is, we do not desire to return in full steam. Based on recommendations put forth by the VA state government these are some of the steps we as First Christian Church will be taking as we re-open this coming Sunday.
 
SERVICE START TIME:
We will continue to start our service at 10:30am! Please be aware of that service change, I have received a good handful of responses in favor of that start time.
 
Recommendations put forth:
  1. People 70 & older are advised to remain at home until we see how things play out during our phase 1 reopening
  2. People with disabilities, people with serious respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, people who are immunocompromised should not gather in person just yet
  3. It is recommended to wear face coverings and still practice social distancing
  4. It is recommended to not exceed 50% seating capacity (includes seats on the platform, main downstairs seating area and balcony)
 
Our request from First Christian Church leadership:
If you are symptomatic, have a fever, have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, or traveled internationally or to a domestic hot spot in the last two weeks PLEASE STAY HOME! For protection of others, we will have to ask you to return home if you come compromised in health. Please give us grace as we try our best to move forward with wisdom and in the heart of respecting others. Yes, we believe in healing and we are contending for the fullness of that to be manifest. With that belief we still feel it wise to be safe as we step out in faith, aligning ourselves with the Truth of what Jesus did and who He is for us!
 
What we have put in place as a church:
  1. A huge deep clean has been done to our church building
  2. Only every other pew will be able to be seated in. In the balcony, there must be a three-chair space between individuals or family units.
  3. Communion will be prepacked (handed to you as you walk in), no passing of the plate
  4. Offering plates will be at the front and back of the church, not passing plate around
  5. No children’s ministry is requested until after phase 1. They will sit with us in service.
  6. We will be able to check temperature if needed
  7. There will be one way in and one way out
  8. There will be sanitation areas for your hands

Church Mini Study During quarantine

First Christian Church Mini Study
 
The excitement in our church the past 12 weeks has been such an encouragement to me. I am so excited that it has NOT diminished during the trials we have had in the recent weeks.

I firmly believe the Lord is taking us into an explosive time of the manifest overflowing presence of God! Like you have heard me preach, these times are not just for us to receive and be blessed by. These times are also there for us receive and RELEASE what the Lord is doing so we can be an active participant in releasing and building the Kingdom of our Father (and our own by His adoption of us) here on earth.
 
I want to encourage you to dive deep in these verses. As you study these, I want you to ask yourself the questions after you read the passage. I encourage you to read these verses a couple times to marinate in them. My intent for this study was not to be a quick devotional. If you feel led please chew on this for as long as you want.
 
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Ephesians 1:3-6
3 Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm has already been lavished upon us as a love gift from our wonderful heavenly Father, the Father of our Lord Jesus—all because he sees us wrapped into Christ. This is why we celebrate him with all our hearts!
4 And he chose us to be his very own, joining us to himself even before he laid the foundation of the universe! Because of his great love, he ordained us, so that we would be seen as holy in his eyes with an unstained innocence.
5–6 For it was always in his perfect plan[g] to adopt us as his delightful children, through our union with Jesus, the Anointed One, so that his tremendous love that cascades over us would glorify his grace—for the same love he has for his Beloved One, Jesus, he has for us. And this unfolding plan brings him great pleasure!
  1. Understanding identity is so important. Meditate on the truth that “I have been joined to my Father”.
  2. Spend a couple seconds here to preach to myself of how I am wrapped up in Christ.
  3. Do I believe that my Father God has the type of love for me that verses 5-6 speak of?
(Please do not let yourself leave this study before acknowledging the full love of the Father for YOU!)
 
Ephesians 2:6 The Passion Translation (TPT)
6 He raised us up with Christ the exalted One, and we ascended with him into the glorious perfection and authority of the heavenly realm, for we are now co-seated as one with Christ!
  • Ephesians 2:6 To be “placed” or “seated” in heaven means we have been given the perfection and authority to be there.
 
  1. Do I really believe that I am seated with Christ in heavenly places?
  2. Is there anything preventing me from fully believing this truth? If so, Lord what Biblical truth do I need to seek out to dispel this uncertainty?
  3. Ponder this reality: how should my life begin to look once I start walking in the fullness of this belief? It is not just a place I sit; it is a place of authority. How does that impact my life?
 
Colossians 3:1-4
Christ’s resurrection is your resurrection too. This is why we are to yearn for all that is above, for that’s where Christ sits enthroned at the place of all power, honor, and authority! 2 Yes, feast on all the treasures of the heavenly realm and fill your thoughts with heavenly realities, and not with the distractions of the natural realm.
3 Your crucifixion with Christ has severed the tie to this life, and now your true life is hidden away in God in Christ. 4 And as Christ himself is seen for who he really is, who you really are will also be revealed, for you are now one with him in his glory!
 
  1. How am I personally feasting on the treasures of the heavenly realm?
  2. Remind myself why the truths and realities of heaven are treasures to me.
  3. Am I beginning to realize (the more I mediate on this), that I have more access to heaven’s culture and reality than I previously thought?
  4. Think about the depth of verse 4! The more I see the Truth of who Christ is, the more that I will be revealed. My life is called to action NOT to spectate. How do I think I will be revealed?
 
Hebrews 3:12-19
12 So search your hearts every day, my brothers and sisters, and make sure that none of you has evil or unbelief hiding within you. For it will lead you astray, and make you unresponsive to the living God. 13 This is the time to encourage each other to never be stubborn or hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 For we are mingled with the Messiah, if we will continue unshaken in this confident assurance from the beginning until the end.
15 For again, the Scriptures say,
If only today you would listen to his voice.
    Don’t make him angry by hardening your hearts,
    as you did in the wilderness rebellion.

16 The same people who were delivered from bondage and brought out of Egypt by Moses, were the ones who heard and still rebelled. 17 They grieved God for forty years by sinning in their unbelief, until they dropped dead in the desert. 18 So God swore an oath that they would never enter into his calming place of rest all because they disobeyed him. 19 It is clear that they could not enter into their inheritance because they wrapped their hearts in unbelief.
  • Hebrews 3:14 Or “We are all business partners of Christ.” The Aramaic can be translated “We are all sewn [together] with Christ.”
 
  1. This tells us the dangers of unbelief. Rest is not a vacation from Kingdom work. Out of God’s rest flows the authority and reality to be a part of Kingdom building. What are areas of unbelief I am struggling with? Am I being aggressive to slay this unbelief? How can I be more proactive in replacing my unbelief with belief?
  2. Visualize the picture of myself literally being mingled with Christ. How is that an encouragement to me?
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I believe that the 40 days Jesus spent with the disciples after His resurrection was talking about such truths above. (Acts 1:2-5)
I believe the gist of Jesus’ message was “Because of who you are in ME, here is what you can now do through ME)
Your understanding of identity will affect how you live your life as a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven here on earth.
Yes, I want Jesus to come very soon! I also want to make sure I have done my Fathers desire for me in releasing the Kingdom and doing my part in Kingdom building before I reach eternity.
Remember: because of Jesus, the Kingdom of our Father is now something we have. Not only do we have it, but as we stay in line with the will of our Father in heaven it is something we can give or release!
 
Acts 3:4-6
4 Peter and John, looking straight into the eyes of the crippled man, said, “Look at us!” 5 Expecting a gift, he readily gave them his attention. 6 Then Peter said, “I don’t have money, but I’ll give you this—by the power of the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk!”
 
May you be truly be blessed in this study as you seek deeper revelation truth of who you are in Christ!
 
If you have any questions about this study, please reach out! GOD BLESS YOU!
 
Through His Love,
 
Jeremy Burden
 

HOUSE CHURCH INFORMATION

NEW TEMPOARY SERVICE FORMAT STARTING SUNDAY MARCH 22
Due to government request we have decided to replace Sunday morning service with House Church service that will live stream from the main campus until further notice. We did not feel comfortable going to live stream only. We feel it is important to keep a level of church community during this time. If efforts to do this we have established specific home locations where the service will be live streamed to groups of 10 or less who are gathered together. Our Sunday morning live stream will start at 10:30am. Our service will stream live on our webpage (firstchristianchurchofbristol.org), our church Facebook page, and our church Youtube  “FirstChristianChurchofBristol”

If you would still prefer to stay at home, we encourage you to do so. Our heart is to provide a place to worship for those who are still wanting to be in community. Please select a House Church group leader and call them earlier in the week before attending. This is IMPORTANT as we want to assure their home is not yet full. If it is, please contact another group. Phone numbers will be posted in our closed Facebook group due to privacy reasons. If you are reading this outside the group and need this information, please contact the church at 276-669-2014 so we can help connect you to a house church leader.

Sunday Services will start streaming at 10:30am.

Also, please remember that Wednesday night service will be livestream only. We will not be using our House Church format for our Wednesday night services.
 
SUNDAY HOUSE CHURCH GROUP LEADERS
 
  1. Jesse and Kristen Evans
  2. Mick and Wilma Arnold
  3. Harold and Priscilla Dowell
  4. Nina Jesse (not available March 29th)
  5. Adam Barker (In Bristol)
  6. Scott Peak
  7. Allen Anderson (not available March 22nd)
  8. Ed and Jenny Redmond

A few days ago I actually took a moment to sit on our deck enjoying my morning coffee as I read the scripture verse for the day.  If you donʼt have “The Bible” app I highly recommend it.

As I sat, taking in the moment, I began to notice the chirping of the birds...so many different sounds. There was a conversation going on, from tree to tree.  I felt a gentle morning breeze and could hear its calm sound as it too came from the beautiful green, lush trees.  Then I looked up to see a beautiful blue sky with a few puffy white clouds floating along.  The sun began to send out its rays of light as it warmed the air.  Flowers were blooming , the grass rich and green with weeds peeking through here and there.  Do you have the picture in your mind?

I thought to myself, “that is like God’s voice saying, “Evelyn, itʼs Me!” Wow! For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and in earth, visible and invisible, ......all things have been created by Him. (Colossians 1:16). Yes, yes, it definitely was His voice I was hearing.  With a moment of awe in my heart, my response was, “God, itʼs me” as I began my prayer.  The great thing, I knew He knew it was me because scripture tells me the shepherd knows his sheep, he knows their voice.  He’s my Shepherd so He recognized my voice, He knew it was me.  Wow again! 

How precious it is to be aware of His presence, aware of His creation, feel His love.
So, as I Echo out my message to you Iʼm saying, “itʼs me” via computer land to tell you that you are dear to my heart.  Iʼm blessed and honored you are a part of my life!  Which leads me to say another “wow” what a birthday celebration you gave us.  Thank you, thank you for everything you did for us!
I hope you will have a moment this week when you stop and hear God say to you, “itʼs Me!”
 

Did you hear me?

Did You Hear Me?

Maybe your mind goes back to hear your parents saying those words to you!!  
There were a few other sentences, especially my momma, would say to me.
"Are you paying attention to me?"
"I told you once, do I need to tell you again?"
"You better not forget what I just told you!"
"And I mean it!"
"Did you hear what I just said?"
Or my most used phrase to the boys, ""You look me in the eyes!"

"Hear me!" How many times in scripture has God spoken to us and we didn't listen or we didn't pay attention. Through the course of life we’ve all found ourselves saying, "If only I had listened." I can't tell you the times I've wished I had listened in many situations.  More importantly the times I wish I would have been much more attentive to the Lord!

Life is short, life is precious, there isn't a second go around, Harken to (listen, hear) His voice. It is a dangerous thing to turn a deaf ear to what the Lord has to say to us

““Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it. Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For those who find me find life and receive favor from the LORD.”
Proverbs 8:32-35 NIV
Christ is Wisdom, and He is Life to all believers. ( Matthew Henry commentary notes)

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27

"Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it." Hebrews 2:1

“This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”
Isaiah 48:17 NIV

It is good to be back with you again, to “echo” my thoughts. Why do I call this Echo’s from Ev?”  It’s simply a reverberation, a reflection or a ringing from my heart to yours. Maybe in some way as I share my heart my thoughts might lift you up, encourage you, or maybe give you a chuckle.
Until next time.....remember, I love you!

 

Fear Not

As we enter into 2016 it seems there is one thing prominent in our world . . . FEAR. To name a few: • Fear of getting sick • Fear of finances/not having enough money • Fear of weather • Fear of political issues • Fear of crime/violence • Fear of aging • Fear of losing our freedom • Fear of the unknown • Fear of pain • Fear of disappointment • Fear of rejection • Fear of loneliness • Fear of death • Fear of failure A pretty grim list of very realistic fears. We’ve just had Christmas and heard the account of Jesus’ birth: the shepherds were in the fields, doing their job, keeping watch over their flock when an angel appeared and said, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11 NKJV) Because God loved this world so much, and He knew there would be fears on every hand, He sent the message that we weren’t to be afraid because of the great gi of His Son. One who would wrap His loving arms around us during times of our greatest fears, one who would encourage us, one who would bring calm, one who would love us like an earthly father who holds his child tightly when fear has come. Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba Father.” (NKJV) I face fear. I believe we all do. I feel certain the message from Luke is still the same for 2016 . . . “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy. . . .” And in Romans, we find the instruction Paul gave to those in Rome, the beloved of God, “cry out, Abba, Father.” During this new year, whenever you face fear, cry out, Abba Father, and speak the words the Psalmist cried, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust You.” A favorite song from this year, “Fear not tomorrow, God is already there.” > E v’s E c h o

The Longer I Serve Him

I've (we've) had some experiences of late I will most definitely not put in the easy column of life. Lest I weary you with too many stories, I will go back to December when Pastor had surgery to remove the tumor from around his sciatic nerve. At the very same time, our dear Iler Walden was in intensive care, very ill. As I went to visit Pastor, I would also go see Iler. Seeing her sweet expressions of love and trust in the Lord was encouragement I can’t describe. It so happened, during the same stretch of time, our dear Laura Anderson was also in the hospital. I would go visit with her, and the smile on her face and the sweetness of her spirit made me so ashamed. My attitude during difficulty wasn’t always with a smile. I’ve watched Iler and Laura, both with terrible physical problems, and I knew without a doubt that during the years of their lives Jesus had become sweeter and sweeter. Both ladies (and those two are exactly that, ladies) very countenance told me the longer they served Him the sweeter He had grown. Let me come to more recent days. Our dear Ralph Branson . . . his mind may have declined, but start talking about Jesus and His face lit up. Jesus had become dearer to him with each day—he never stopped loving or trusting Jesus. Now I come to this week. I go to help at my in-law’s house. It’s time to bless the food at the meal. I  ask Beth,  my mother-in-law, if she would like to pray. The words that came from a sometimes confused mind had no confusion as to the sweetness of Jesus to her. Before leaving their house, we went to the living room to sit by the piano and sing precious songs of hope and encouragement. We had a beautiful trio going. Mom and dad Peak had not lost their song. Jesus had become sweeter. Each of these I’ve mentioned are not youngsters anymore but I can tell you I had not one doubt of how sweet Jesus was to them. They each told me so . . . not always in words but, oh, I heard them loud and clear saying,  “The Longer I Serve Him the Sweeter He Grows.” How is it in your life? Does Jesus become sweeter to you? Do you find yourself singing, “‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus" with more fervor? Take a moment to stop and think how sweet Jesus is to you. Is He growing sweeter the longer you serve him? 
EV’SECHO 

Does Anybody Care

DOES ANYBODY REALLY CARE?

I think I could safely say that question has probably come from everyone’s mouth or mind at one time or other in their lifetime. Sad to say, the truth be known, the words “I care” may be spoken to us in stormy circumstances of our lives but are not truthfully lived out. Disappointing, but true. Peter wrote to the Jewish believers who were struggling in the midst of persecution. He encouraged them to conduct themselves in such a way that their character and conduct would be above reproach as they represented Christ. Peter left them with a message they could count on: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for HE CARES FOR YOU (I Peter 5:5b-7 NKJV, emphasis mine). Tuck that message deep in your heart! It will be with you everywhere you go.

Evie

Under His Wings

UNDER HIS WINGS 
I know you would be disappointed if I didn’t use some reference to a song in my Echo, therefore, here ‘tis . . .

Under His wings, Under His wings, who from His love can sever,
Under His wings, my soul shall abide, safely abide forever.

I’ve been listening to this old hymn repeatedly this week. Each time my heart is stirred and it has made me ask myself some questions.

What does it look like “under His wings?” In my mind’s eye it would first look safe, and it would look inviting, snuggly, warm, comfortable, calming, a good place to go when I needed that environment.

Why would I want to go “under His wings?” Because there would be loving refuge, protection, help, comfort, someone to hold me close during troubled times, or perhaps for healing, and safety from the storms of life.

Have I been there? Oh yes, many times.

Under His wings I am safely abiding, Though the night deepens and tempests are wild, Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me, He has redeemed me, and I am His child.

Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow! How the heart yearningly turns to His rest! Often when earth has no balm for my healing, There I find comfort, and there I am blessed.

nder His wings, oh, what precious enjoyment! There will I hide till life’s trials are o’er; Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me, Resting in Jesus, I’m safe evermore.

Ps. 91:4 – He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and protector.

As Jesus spoke to Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37, He said, “How often I wanted to gather your children to- gether, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”  What a sad, sad verse.

There is a place of refuge to go . . . don’t be too proud, don’t refuse that place thinking you can take care of yourself. If you are at a place in life where this is what you need, then go the Jesus and tell Him you need Him to open His wings and let you in. When you do, you will be singing with great assurance, resting in Jesus, I’m safe evermore. 

Many Thanks

                                      MANY THANKS

I would like to “echo” the words of Paul in Philippians 1:3 . . . “I thank my
God upon every remembrance of you.”
 
Pastor and I remember with much thanks the very special Birthday
Party you gave us. The ice creams were WONDERFUL, all
the cards were BEAUTIFUL, and the fellowship of nearly 60 folks
was SWEET (ice cream and cake…ha!). You made turning 66 not
so bad after all. We both give thanks to the Lord for the blessings
of those years.

I would like to add a thank you to EVERYONE who worked tirelessly
for a successful VBS. Many days before, a team of people
decorated the sanctuary and Bethany Hall for the theme of a spy
agency for our Agency D-3 Bible School. The D-3 stands for Discover,
Decide, Defend—the Bible verse was I Peter 3:15 :
Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: be ready always
to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason
of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.
I will not even begin to name names but off the top of my head
we had 30+ workers. Pastor and I honor and appreciate each one
for everything that was done to make VBS a success.
I would be amiss to leave out giving thanks to the Lord. I Thessalonians
5:18 tells us, “In everything give thanks for this is the
will of God.” At the top of the list would be God sending His son
Jesus to save us from our sins; the list could go on from there—
too lengthy for me to even begin.

Therefore, sometime soon after reading this Echo, get a pen and
paper and list the many things that come to your mind for which
you can give thanks with a grateful heart . . . give thanks to the
Holy One.

EV
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