He is Risen!

1 Corinthians 15:3-8: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance. Or you at the first: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas. That is, Peter and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”

Mark 16:5-7: “As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.””

Luke 23:46-47: “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last. The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, ‘Surely this was a righteous man.'”

2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

Mark 15:46-47: So, Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.

Luke 24:2-3: “They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”

Colossians 1:13-14: “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Acts 4:33: “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all.”

Ephesians 1:20: “He exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.”

John 20:17-18: “Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ And she told them that he had said these things to her.

She, Being Dead, Still Speaks

While the language of Hebrews 11:4 was a reference to Abel (not Mabel), I’d like to appropriate and apply that phrase to a unique set of persons we read about in Matthew’s genealogy (Matt 1:1-17).

Matthew’s genealogy, unlike Luke’s, is typical of Jewish genealogies in most respects, as it proceeds from Abraham (no need to go back any further than that for his Jewish readership) to Matthew’s current day. On the other hand, it has at least one distinctive and unexpected characteristic; it includes references to five women. In our day, the reference to these women as important players God’s plan would not be surprising. In Matthew’s day, however, this would have been extraordinary.

These women are not included because of their flawless character. In fact, each of them might have had a bit of a “black eye” in her own day (deserved or not). Despite that, like the men in this genealogy, they are named because God used them to bring the Messiah into the world. Not only that, however, He continues to use them even today to show us something about Himself. What can we learn about God from these women?

Tamar (Gen 38:6-30): God keeps his promises even when others don’t. Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah, left childless due to the wickedness of two of Judah’s sons (and Judah’s own breach of promise) resorted to trickery to provide for her future security. Though God would not condone her actions in that case, He does use her to accomplish his plan. Application: God can and will use us too, despite what others may have done (or not done).

Rahab (Josh 2:1-21):  God’s forgiveness opens up possibilities for our future. Rahab is described as a “prostitute” (cf. James 2:25) at the time she hid the spies before the Israelites took possession of the land of Canaan. Yet her faith is commended in that moment and she becomes a part of the lineage of Christ. Application: Regardless of the mistakes of our past, it is never too late to act in faith and be used by God for His glory.

Ruth (Ruth 1-4): God notices faithfulness regardless of background. Like Rahab, Ruth is not an Israelite, though her mother-in-law (Naomi) is. Like the other women we have considered so far, she has not had the best fortune when we meet her. However, her loyalty to Naomi and her discretion even in difficult circumstances are pleasing to God, and Ruth, a widowed Moabite woman, finds a place in the lineage of Jesus as the wife of Boaz, a faithful Israelite. Application: Your ethnicity and socio-economic status do not matter to God. He can use you regardless of where you come from.

Bathsheba (2 Sam 11:1-12:24): God won’t tolerate sin, but He doesn’t hold a grudge. Bathsheba was King David’s partner in adultery (we do not know for sure about her willingness, but it doesn’t look good). She lost the child from that illicit relationship, but after her husband’s death, when she became David’s wife, she bore the heir to the throne, Solomon. Application: There are no “second-class” Christians. When we repent and follow Him the guilt of sin is forgotten.

Mary (Luke 1:26-56): God asks us to do things that don’t make sense to the world. When the angel appeared to Mary and told her that she would soon bear a child, she was unmarried. What God had chosen her to do put her at risk of death if Joseph doesn’t marry her immediately (pregnancy outside marriage looks a lot like fornication, right?) and causes her to accept a life of shame (cf. John 8:41). Yet her submission to God’s will resulted in the accomplishment of God’s mission. Application: God still asks us to do things that don’t make sense from the world’s perspective. When we submit to Him, He can work powerfully in our lives too.

These five women still speak to us—not so much about their own faithfulness but about the faithfulness of God. Will our genealogy say the same?

Photo by Artem Kovalev on Unsplash

The “New Name” of Revelation 3:12?

“The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name” (Rev. 3:12 ESV).

The book of Revelation is filled with terminology and images borrowed from the OT. Isaiah had prophesied that the people of God would be called by “a new name” (Isa. 62:2; 65:15). In the NT the name exalted above all others is that of Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:9-11), through whom salvation is granted (Acts 4:12) and the identifying moniker of the new-covenant people of God (Acts 11:26; Jas. 2:7).

In Revelation 3:12, a message to the first-century church in the Asian city of Philadelphia, Christians are being encouraged to persevere and to overcome the challenges they are facing in order to be established in God’s “temple” (= the church, 1 Cor. 3:16-17; Eph. 2:21-22; 1 Tim. 3:15), wearing God’s name (1 Cor. 10:32; 11:22; 15:9; 2 Tim. 2:19; Rev. 14:1) and the name of God’s city (= the church, Heb. 12:22-23; Rev. 21:2-3; 22:14) and “my new name” (Jesus Christ) – a threefold emphasis identifying and confirming to whom the Lord’s faithful ones belong.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

On Things Above

According to a July 2021 article in the Orlando Sentinel, the average attention span for a human being is now eight seconds. Interestingly, this total is down from a twelve-second daily attention span in the year 2000. If this calculation is accurate then in the minute-and-a-half that it might take to read this article, our attention will be diverted away a minimum of eleven times! Why is this? I suppose some would blame our current climate: its smartphones, the 24-hour news cycle, social media, or politics. While there are certainly many things that distract us, I believe the number one reason that it is hard to stay focused sometimes is that we are human.

Frequently in Scripture readers are called to focus or pay attention to the things that are most important. God’s Word repeats divine instruction and recalls teachings that have already been delivered because the reality is that people often pull their focus away from the things that matter the most. It is because of this reality, and the fact that since the beginning of the pandemic early in 2020 there has been a lot of things vying for our attention, that the Estes elders have determined that our congregational theme for 2022 will be “On Things Above.” This phrase comes from Colossians 3:1-2 where the apostle Paul by inspiration wrote, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth.”

While “the things on earth” must be noted and dealt with, it is the things above that are to be primary focus of God’s people. In the context of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Colossae, those Christians were dealing with all sorts of distractions, including the ungodly works (Col. 3:5-7) and words (Col. 3:8-9) that defined earthly things. Paul did not encourage these readers to give up on being godly or to completely disengage from their daily engagements, but instead he challenged them to change their focus. Look to the things of God, not worldly things that are just temporary and terrible.

God’s Word is still as relevant now as it has ever been (Heb. 4:12). As we begin a new year, may we strive to focus on things above. May we desire to be a people who do not dwell on the things of earth. May our attitudes and actions reflect eternal perspectives. May we set our attention spans, however short they may be, on spiritual things that always return to the Word of God for a centering in the things that matter the most. May we strive to build up others within the body of Christ, while also sharing the good news of Jesus with as many people as possible. Father, help us to focus on things above.

Reflections on 2020

Jeremiah 17:7–8

7 Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
8 He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.

You know, I know, everyone knows that 2020 was a difficult year for multitudes of folks, in many different ways. But often it is through serious adversity that the greatest of character traits are seen, cultivated and forged.

2020 is not gone (in a sense), but neither are the blessings that God can bring from the difficulties. Don’t just wish 2021 away because it may bring great trials. Every year God gives us is a blessing and an opportunity.

Just like being down by 17 at halftime of a football game, we don’t quit. We go forward. We find strength. We reach down deeper. We learn from mistakes. We extend encouragement. We refocus and approach our task with the right attitude.

Allow tough times to help refine you. Count the blessings you have. Turn to Him. Turn to His Word. Turn to His Son. Make the most of this year whatever it may bring.

Be safe, look up, and seek Him.

by Daren Schroeder

A message from the Estes Elders

Dear church family,

Over the past month as we have been transitioning back into meeting at the building, we have heard from many of you about concerns related to the use, or lack of use, of face masks or coverings in our worship assembly. Thank you for taking the time to express your concerns to us. We appreciate all the input we have received. The elders have prayerfully considered how we should respond to a situation in which there are many different strong opinions and feelings.

While we recognize that there is still much that we do not know about COVID-19, the elders have looked at mountains of data from medical professionals about things to do to slow or prevent spreading the virus. With cases on the rise again nationally, as well as in West Tennessee, it is especially important to do what we can to limit this viral spread. After careful consideration, we have concluded that we have much to gain, and little to lose, by continuing to abide by “best-practice” guidelines for our assembly together. These practices include maintaining 6-feet social distancing, limiting the size of crowds, using hand sanitizer, washing our hands thoroughly and frequently, avoiding congregating in small areas, and wearing a face mask or other facial covering.

Therefore, in the interest of looking out for each other, the Estes elders are requesting that everyone – if they are physically able – wear masks from the time we enter the building until we are away from the crowd. Of course, masks or face coverings will be removed for a short time while participating in the Lord’s supper, but we also request face coverings be used during singing.

If you are unable to wear a face covering, we do not expect you to be miserable or put yourself in any danger, or feel that you are not welcome. But if you are physically able, we ask you to submit to this decision, whatever your preference might be. We realize some members disagree with this, but we ask that you submit to our decision in this matter. We strongly believe it is in everyone’s best interest, physically and spiritually. We do not think this is too big a request or too hard a thing to do. If we, who are able, all wear masks and follow the other guidelines, we should cut the risk of spreading the virus by a substantial degree.

While the elders are concerned for the physical wellbeing of the body, our greater responsibility is for the spiritual wellbeing of the flock.

Shortly after the quarantine was proclaimed, we moved to an online-only service, which seemed the best short-term option to prevent widespread disease. The problem: this eliminated personal interaction and fellowship. The lessons and sermons that were so ably given helped, but we are a social people, and we need time together. Proverbs 27:17 states that “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another,” and though this can be accomplished to some extent even while we are physically apart, God meant for the church to be together.

However, if a significant percentage of our members is not abiding by these guidelines, this prohibits some in our church family from being able to attend services. Some members are in a more physically vulnerable condition than others. While we understand the wearing of face coverings and maintaining social distancing cannot entirely protect someone from catching the virus, these measures do help; and if our wearing masks and maintaining social distancing can help others to be back at Estes with the church body, we should all do that, if we are able.

In numerous passages in the Bible, our relationship with each other, and our dealings with each other, are addressed as vital parts of Christian fellowship. In Romans 12:4 and following, Paul writes that “as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” We belong to one another. Paul uses very similar language in 1 Corinthians 12, where he writes that “the body does not consist of one member but of many.” Just as in the human body, where the foot needs the hand, and where the eye needs the ear, in order to be complete and to function as it should, so in the church, we need each other to function in the way that God intends for us to live. This means that we give special consideration to others and their needs. This is the example that Jesus set for us. Philippians 2 reminds us how Jesus, in humility, counted others (us – and our needs) more significant than his own needs.  Paul in this chapter urges us to do the same in our treatment of each other: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (2:4). With these mandates from scripture and the example of the Sacrifice that allows eternal life, our walk as Christians is first of all to be an imitation of Christ’s love for us. We show our love by considering our brothers’ and sisters’ needs in this regard, even if that sometimes impinges upon our own preferences.

Finally, let us avoid resentful judgments of one another (Romans 14:1-13). “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” (vv. 7-8).

If you would like to discuss this with any of us, we welcome your calls or emails. It is our prayer that we all will continue, with humility and gentleness, with patience, to bear with one another in love, eagerly maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:2-3).

The Estes Elders

2020 High School Graduates

The Estes family is very proud of our 2020 graduates. We wish you the best as you enter the next stage of life.

Masks – What’s the big deal?

By Dr. Paul Schwartz, M.D. and elder, Estes Church of Christ

Our trash tells on us!

Did you ever notice that litter on the highway tells something about what’s going on?

A chunk of sheet rock wall board?  There is remodeling or construction somewhere.
Beer cans?  Usually more after a long weekend.
Take out wrappers and cups?  Majority are McDonald’s.
Black rubber tiedowns? Lots of truck traffic.
Styrofoam coolers?  Must be fishing weather.
Bible?  Someone left one on the roof while buckling up the kids.
IPad?  OOPS!  See previous line.
Surgical masks?  That’s a new one for me!  I found two on the Estes church building right of way this week.

What does it mean? We’re meeting together again!

And that brings me to the point of this article: Face masks.

Wearing them is uncomfortable!  It’s claustrophobic.  It’s hot.  My breath stinks.  I have trouble recognizing other people when they wear masks.  I have pretty bad hearing loss and it’s much harder to understand conversation when I can’t see your lips moving.  I forget to put mine on when I get out of the car to go to Lowe’s or Home Depot for some “essential” purchase. There are lots of understandable reasons not to bother to wear one.  I used to think it looked funny (I still do) to see pictures of Chinese people wearing masks during flu outbreaks.  That’s just not us!  We are tougher and not as fearful of a silly little virus we can’t even see?

So why bother?  Why discuss it?  Why do blowhards like me keep harping on it?  Harping on it. . . . . .

By the way, I have a cute, smart granddaughter, 7 years old, whose name is Harper.  To look at her you would think she is a healthy, normal, precocious 2nd grader.  And in many ways she is. . .  except for one little problem:  she was born lacking one silly little enzyme (chemical in her body) that is needed to handle sodium excretion in her sweat glands and mucous in her lungs and enzymes that digest food.  She takes a hand full of enzyme capsules with every meal or she would starve to death. She drinks her milk with salt added.  She undergoes over an hour of lung therapy twice a day to clear lung mucous.  She has already had two sinus surgeries and her appendix out.  Because her lungs can’t clear out trash and infection, she is at very high risk of dying if she gets lung infections like flu, pneumonia and Covid-19.

Diabetics, people over 60, heart disease, kidney failure . . .  the list is quite long . . . of friends and family who are at risk of a bad outcome– if they get a full-blown infection of this crummy virus that’s going around.   But you don’t have to be in the high-risk category to get really sick and end up on a respirator for a week or 6 or 10.

Our first case of Covid-19 in Chester county was a young healthy educator.

Like Yogi Berra said about the baseball pennant race, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

We are in a bubble in rural West Tennessee.  We have only had 12 cases identified in Chester County and that number has not changed in several weeks.  The rural counties with high numbers are either big city suburbs or have large prison populations.

What is the big deal?

Here is the problem.  This pandemic ain’t over yet. . . not by a long shot.  (I pray I’m wrong, but all my career and study and reading says I’m not.)  We do not have any great effective drugs to stop the infection from progressing if you are infected.  There are 12 people in Chester County that are likely (not for sure) at least partially and temporarily immune to this infection.  That means the rest of us are not immune and may be carriers or will get sick.  So, we just have to wait our turn. Que Sera, Sera. Whatever happens will happen.  Can’t change fate.  You are either doomed or not.

We are not helpless to protect ourselves and our loved ones.  We can slow and essentially stop the spread of this infection. Frequent hand washing and sanitizers do work.  Maintaining distances is no fun, but it works. We know that wearing face masks helps control the spread of the virus in our cough, sneeze, speak and sing droplets.

No one wants to make personal, uncomfortable things mandatory, but we do it all the time.  We all complain about seat belt and cell phone laws, but we know these laws save lives—they work better if we all comply with these laws.  I would never have been allowed to continue in medical school if I had refused to wear a mask and gloves and sterile gown in surgery.  I don’t think any of us would patronize a surgeon who refused to wash his hands or wear a surgical mask.  It becomes second nature when you use one regularly—just like wearing a seat belt.  (BTW seat belts protect other passengers, not just the wearer.)

Are the interventions perfect?  Of course not, but they definitely help.

I will be wearing a mask when we meet for worship—to protect Harper, you, and myself. I will remove it only when we observe the Lord’s Supper.  I may have to take my glasses off when they fog up, but the mask stays on.  If you see me in public without it, please remind me.  Harper and I would appreciate it if you wore one, too.

If you lost your mask in the parking lot, there are more available when you enter the building.
(And no, we are not making it mandatory.)

P.S.  Don’t throw used masks out the window.
And wash your hands.
And use the sanitizer that’s provided.

What’s A Christian to do?

By Greg Massey

The tragic events currently engaging our attention and driving our public discourse serve as a reminder, if we needed one, that the United States is a broken nation in need of a Savior. Our country is facing a pandemic that has taken over 100,000 lives, a crisis in our cities born of endemic racism, and the divisiveness of our politics in a presidential election year. It’s a perfect storm for outrage upon outrage. Perhaps you’ve wondered, as I have, “What’s a Christian to do in these times?” I present here a draft of an answer to that question, offered as a starting point, to stimulate a discussion we should have as a community, as disciples of Christ who assemble together at Estes:

1. As Christians, we do a careful, thorough self-inventory. What identity do we wear in our hearts? What identity do we project to others? Is our identity (or idol) American nationalism? Is our identity conservative? Is our identity liberal? Does our identity reside in the Republican Party? Does our identity reside in the Democratic Party? While citizens of the United States of America are blessed to reside in a nation of political liberty and economic affluence, Christians who regularly examine their hearts, immerse themselves in Scripture, and pray through the intercession of the Holy Spirit, realize that they are sojourners living in the USA. Our citizenship resides first in the Kingdom of God. Our liberty was purchased, not by the American War of Independence, but by the sinless Son of Man who hung on the Cross. Jesus’s sacrifice freed us from sin and death so we can love and serve (Galatians 5:1, 13).

2. As Christians living in the twenty-first century, we recognize that we have a ripple-effect influence unavailable to previous generations. Social media is a powerful instrument for evil, fostering simplistic narratives that heighten our cultural and political divisions. Social media can also be a powerful instrument for healing. We can have a healing effect on Facebook or Twitter, but only if we publish posts that clearly identify us as disciples promoting reconciliation through Christ. If we’re in the process of writing a post on social media and take time to read it, then realize that the post identifies us first as a Democrat or Republican or as a liberal or conservative, the next step is simple: Press the “Delete” button.

3. As Christians, we recognize that our God, who is ultimately beyond our comprehension, whose holiness eludes us, whose power is far greater than we can imagine, created men and women in His image, and He created image-bearers who are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” (Psalm 139:4)  and complicated, driven by multiple motivating factors, sometimes unware of why they do the things they do. The divisions in our country are as complicated as its people, deeply embedded in our history and our collective psyche. There’s a natural human desire for simplicity—to see our cultural and political battles as Good versus Evil, Us against Them. Christians recognize that the reality is different. There is pure evil in the world, to be sure, but bad people sometimes do good, and good people sometimes do bad. Christians also recognize that many of our neighbors are simply afraid. Amid division there is also hope for resolution. Despite differences of race, ethnicity, social class, and gender, Americans share common aspirations and fears as they navigate today’s uncertainties. God created complicated humans, but He also gifted them with common needs. Conversations of graceful listening and speaking can reveal that our current problems are complicated and do not admit easy solutions, that we often share common concerns, and, above all, that we share a common humanity. Those conversations can lead toward conflict resolution. Let us pray for opportunities to foster these conversations and help our neighbors see that already in their midst is the answer to our nation’s sickness.

Our Savior is the answer. Jesus is Spirit. His disciples are spirit but also flesh and blood, incarnate. Our neighbors won’t see or hear Jesus unless they see and hear Him through us.

The elders convey our appreciation to Greg for expressing so eloquently what has been on the hearts of so many these past couple of weeks.  May we all continue to grow in the grace, knowledge, and likeness of our Lord Jesus.

COVID-19 Update

Update 6/5/2020

Worship at the building resumes on Sunday, June 7. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Update 5/28/2020

Dear Estes Family,

As we stated last week, the elders have determined that June 7 will be the day for us to come back together at the Estes building for worship. We are so much looking forward to that day when we can start meeting again in person!  Until then, please join us at 10:00 a.m. every day, or what works best for you in your schedule, as we go to our Father in prayer and ask Him to give us wisdom as decisions are made and continued protection as we come together as His church.

We also want all the congregation to feel safe as we come together.  Please know that we are in constant review of the effects of the Coronavirus, not only nationally but also locally in Chester County and its surrounding counties. The Tennessee Department of Health is providing updates on a county by county basis, and we review those updates on a daily basis.  From our analysis, as it stands today, we believe we can now come together in a limited way and know it is safe to do so. With that in mind we have outlined, using the guidelines from the state health department and the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), what we believe are good practices to help keep us safe.  Please know these are not mandates.  These are temporary recommendations that, if we choose to follow them, should help each of us know we have a safe environment in which to meet.

Here is our plan for June 7:

  • We ask that you assemble in the auditorium by 10:30 a.m. The doors will be opened no earlier than 10:00 a.m. The service will be live streamed on the Estes website for those not yet comfortable assembling.
  • If we reach our capacity, the overflow will be directed to meet in the basement.
  • Hand sanitizer and masks will be available in the foyer, and we encourage usage. Remember, the wearing of a mask is not necessarily for the benefit of the wearer but instead to help protect those of our congregation that may be more vulnerable.  We want everyone to feel safe as we come together as a family.  This is just one way to help make that a reality and demonstrate our love for one another.
  • Individual communion packets will be available on tables in the foyer to collect as you enter.
  • Contribution boxes will also be stationed in the foyer for you to contribute upon entering or exiting the building.
  • To ensure we stay within social distancing guidelines, every other pew will be roped off for non-use. Except for those of the same household sitting together, everyone is to sit at least six feet apart.
  • We ask that you refrain from shaking hands, hugging, or congregating for the time being. We know how difficult this will be but please do so for everyone’s safety.
  • The exterior doors will be propped open to avoid contact as you enter and exit.
  • If restroom use is necessary, avoid congregating and wash your hands.
  • When the service is concluded, please exit the building immediately.

We ask that you consider worshiping at home if you are (or someone in your home is) in one or more of the following categories:

  • Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Immunocompromised
  • Diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or liver disease

Please do not attend if you have been …

  • Infected by COVID or suspect you may have been.
  • In contact within 14 days with someone who has tested positive for COVID.
  • Sick or had a fever in the last 48 hours.

We understand that some may delay returning to the assembly for a while for various reasons.  We want you to consider your own health and make a determination that you feel is wise and appropriate.  We do not feel you are neglecting services when your health is compromised or jeopardized.  We pray as the Coronavirus threat subsides and your health improves, we can all be together.

Please call us if you have questions or concerns and we will address those with love and compassion.  Above all, know God is with us and for us, even during a pandemic!  May He be glorified in all we say and do.

https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/governorsoffice-documents/House%20of%20Worship%20Guidance%20FBCI.pdf

The elders


Update 5/23/2020

After many hours of discussion and research and with focused prayer, the elders feel the time is nearing in which we may once again assemble at the building for joint worship. Although things are still uncertain with many facets of the pandemic, the best information at hand suggests that, with caution, June 7 is a reasonable time to plan to have the Sunday morning worship service at the building. Sunday evening, Wednesday evening worship services, and Bible classes will remain online for another two weeks or so as we carefully watch this transition back to normalcy. This initial approach may need some tweaking as we continue learning about Covid-19, but with everyone’s patience and support, we feel things should go well. One special thing we need your help with is prayer. We ask that for the next two weeks, you take a moment every day at 10:00 a.m., or a time that works best for you, and join the elders in praying (Phil. 4:6) about the June 7 return to Estes. Ask our God for wisdom and understanding (James 1:5) in discerning His will and for the safety and good health of us all during this return home.

Our worship assemblies will look very different than what we’re accustomed to, so we ask for your patience and cooperation. It seems nearly everyone has a different opinion about how we ought to proceed, so use this as an opportunity to be loving and kind and promote a spirit of unity. In these less-than-ideal circumstances, if we err in any direction, we prefer to err on the side of the health and safety of each member of the congregation and our community. More information will be shared in the days ahead explaining in detail what June 7 will look like.

May our God be honored and glorified as we return home!

The elders


Update 3/17/2020

Dear Estes family,

As we continue to learn more from medical professionals about the risks of the coronavirus and the best ways to protect those who are most vulnerable, we must constantly re-evaluate our plans.  The most recent guidelines from the federal government suggest that group meetings should be limited to ten people.   Because of these changing realities, we believe we must temporarily change the way we meet for worship on Sundays.

Beginning this Sunday we will move to streaming an online Bible class and worship service until further notice.  This week, we will be working with our ministers and song leaders to plan for these classes and for worship.  A link will be made available no later than Sunday morning for you to join.  We will have class as usual at 9:30, followed by worship at 10:30. One of our preachers will bring a lesson.  An option for online giving will also be made available, and we ask that you would continue to give generously, which enables Estes to support a number of missions and ministries locally and around the world.

Plans are being developed to make communion supplies available.  More information about this will be shared later in week.  Or you may choose to purchase your own communion supplies.  Some of you may want to meet in small groups with other members of the Estes family in homes.  However, we strongly encourage all of our members over the age of 60, and those with pre-existing health conditions, to stay in.

We realize that this is an unsettling time for many.  We do not want to be alarmists, and we certainly put our confidence in our God, who is mighty to save and the greatest of physicians.  But we believe these measures are reasonable and are in keeping with our Lord’s desire for us to care for each other and for our community.  We trust you will find peace in Him, and we look forward to the time when we can all be together again in our building.  These changes are temporary, and the elders will continue to assess the situation in order to bring us back together as soon as the imminent threat is over.

Until then, please know that we are concerned not only for your physical well-being, but especially for your spiritual well-being.  If you need anything, please do not hesitate to call one of us.

Romans 8.38-39 – For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Update 3/15/2020

In addition to our spiritual well-being, the elders are also mindful of our physical and social well-being, and we want to be good stewards in our community.

In consideration of health concerns for our community and church family, there will be no services at the building tonight or Wednesday night, March 18.

We will be streaming a message tonight at 5:00 p.m., and you can view it on Facebook Live (even if you do not have a Facebook account). You can join us online or use this time for Bible reading, study, prayer and reflection.

Our Hispanic ministry will meet tonight at 5:00 p.m. at the building.

All other services and events are postponed for the time being.

Check your email for announcements and information on upcoming worship assemblies and church activities.


An update from the Estes Elders 3/14/2020

The Estes Elders have been following the developments of COVID-19, or novel coronavirus 2019, closely. While the risk to the general population appears to be low, the situation is changing day by day and exercising caution is prudent. We are carefully evaluating options and responses that will protect the health and well-being of our entire Estes family.

With that in mind, please consider the following.

Join us in prayer regarding this developing situation. Pray for our Estes family. Pray for our community. Pray for our nation and our world.  We serve the Great Physician, and during times of uncertainty there is nothing better we can do than bring our cares and concerns to Him.

As of now, we will hold our regular class and worship assemblies on Sunday, March 15. However, all fellowship activities, including visitation team meetings, youth events, Incite, and other events taking place at the Estes building, are postponed until further notice.

The virus appears to pose a greater risk to our senior saints and those with compromised immune systems.  Because of this, the elders encourage these members of our Estes family to avoid gatherings – including worship assemblies – until more information is known or the situation changes. You can stream our worship services and classes online. Please let us know if you need assistance setting this up.

If you do not feel well, stay home. Before attending any event, including our worship assembly, we ask that you pay close attention to symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you believe you are developing symptoms, please consider the health and wellbeing of your Estes family and remain home.

Be mindful of good hygiene. Whether at Estes or at any public place, be aware of the recommendations provided by the Centers for Disease Control, including avoiding close contact with people who are sick, covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, avoiding contact with your eyes, nose or mouth, and washing your hands often with soap and water. You may wish to bring personal hand sanitizer for use before and after communion service to minimize the spread of germs. You can find more tips at CDC.gov.

Look for opportunities to serve. We are a family. Be on the lookout for unique opportunities to love your brothers and sisters. The next time you go to the grocery store, consider asking one of our senior saints if you can pick up anything for them so they don’t have to get out.

This is a fluid situation, and the elders are prepared to take reasonable and responsible actions to protect the well-being of the Estes family. There will likely be more decisions and changes made in the coming weeks, so check your email often. We will keep you updated and informed.

We love our Estes family, and we are praying for your health – both physical and spiritual.

The Estes Elders