Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” —Matthew 28:18-20 NLT
In This Issue
5 On the Road to Emmaus By Rev. Dr. Dale D. Thorngate
The Lord is watching By Levi Bond
Hope of the World By Tyler Chroniger
10 The Book of Revelation: The Risen Savior by Dennis Coleman 12 Staying Visible By Nathan Crandall
Awards Information Excellence in Preaching Award David L. Taylor Pastor’s Heart Award
Restored for a Purpose by Carl Greene Executive Director Restored or Replica? by Kevin Butler Conference President 2021
A Legacy of Work in Phoenix by Steve Crouch and Ardith Dundulis
West Virginia Hills Reprinted from The Sabbath Recorder
Getting the Band Back Together by John J. Pethtel Director of Church Development Director of Pastoral Services
Assuring a Good Ending By Barb Green
Ministry in Sierra Leone by Andy Samuels Chief Executive Director Farewell and Opportunity by Katrina Goodrich Women’s Society
SDB General Council Awarded Grant
NEW POLICY Regarding Obituaries
SR • April 2021 3
April 2021 Patricia Cruzan, Editor
WHO ARE SEVENTH DAY BAPTISTS?
A Seventh Day Baptist Publication Volume 243, No. 4, Whole No. 7,078
• salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. • the Bible as the inspired Word of God. The Bible is our authority for our faith and daily conduct. • baptism of believers, by immersion, witnessing to our acceptance of Christ as Savior and Lord. • freedom of thought under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. • the congregational form of church government. Every church member has the right to participate in the decision-making process of the church. If you’ve never read The Sabbath Recorder before, you might be wondering who Seventh Day Baptists are. Like other Baptists, we believe in: God commanded that the seventh day (Saturday) be kept holy. Jesus agreed by keeping it as a day of worship. We observe the seventh day of the week (Saturday) as God’s Holy Day as an act of loving obedience—not as a means of salvation. Salvation is the free gift of God through Jesus our Lord. It is the joy of the Sabbath that makes SDBs a people with a difference. THE SEVENTH DAY
The Sabbath Recorder (ISSN 0036-214X) (USPS 474460) is published monthly (combined July and August) by the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference’s Tract and Communication Council, 3120 Kennedy Road, PO Box 1678, Janesville, WI 53547-1678. Periodicals postage paid at Janesville, WI, and additional of fi ces. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Sabbath Recorder , 3120 Kennedy Road, PO Box 1678, Janesville, WI 53547-1678 This is the 176th year of publication for The Sabbath Recorder . First issue published June 13, 1844. Member of the Associated Church Press. SUBSCRIPTIONS: This publication is distributed at no cost to members and friends of Seventh Day Baptist churches and is made possible by donations from its readers. Send your mailing address to The Seventh Day Baptist Center, PO Box 1678, Janesville, WI 53547-1678 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to the Editor at email@example.com. Unsolicited manuscripts are welcomed; however, they will be considered on a space available basis. No remuneration is given for any article that appears in this publication. Paid advertising is not accepted. The Sabbath Recorder does not necessarily endorse signed articles. WRITERS: Please email your manuscript as a Word document
The Seventh Day Baptist Center 3120 Kennedy Road PO Box 1678, Janesville, WI 53547-1678. Phone: (608) 752-5055; FAX: (608) 752-7711 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org SDB Website: www.seventhdaybaptist.org Director of Communications : J eremiah Owen email@example.com cell: (818) 468-9077 Editor of the Sabbath Recorder : Patricia Cruzan firstname.lastname@example.org
4 April 2021 • SR
After the crucifixion, resurrection, and sightings of Jesus, what now? The disciples understood that Jesus would return (and they thought it would be soon, not 2000+ years).
The waiting began.
Most of us have just celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We do this every year about this time. It is a time of renewed hope for us as individuals, and for us as members of a church. In the weeks before this celebration, many churches encourage people to spend prayerful time in reflection on their lives, reviewing their disappointments, thinking about the future, looking for a new sense of purpose or direction. For most of those who had been following Jesus, like Cleopas and his friend who were walking to Emmaus that day, the new hope and new expectations were slow to dawn on them. I encourage you, right now, to read this passage of Scripture: Luke 24: 13-35.
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SR • April 2021 5
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On the Road to Emmaus By Rev. Dr. Dale D. Thorngate
Jesus has been crucified on the cross. He has been buried in a large tomb, with a roll-a-way stone to cover it. But when the women went to prepare the body for complete burial, they found the stone rolled away, and the body of Jesus was gone.
He is alive, the angels tell the women.
The disciples, who have been hiding, afraid for their own lives, don’t know what to think. They are confused and don’t know what to do. The two men on the road to Emmaus are typical of all the followers of Jesus. They are trying to make sense of all this nonsense. What of their hope, their dreams for the future? All of their expectations and hopes for Israel seem to have been destroyed. They just knew that Jesus was the Messiah. The one they had been looking for for hundreds of years. And now He has died a criminal’s death. They know He isn’t guilty. And that makes it all the more frustrating, but they have been left without a leader, with no hope for the future. We sense the defeat and despair of Cleopas and his friend, as they share their frustrations with their new traveling companion. But in this passage, Jesus teaches them once again the scriptural foundation for His life, death and resurrection. He reminds them that God’s plan is bigger than we can usually comprehend. He tells them that all this had to happen, so that God can make an eternal impression on the whole world. The Messiah has a mission that is not limited by death, and certainly not limited by the kingdom of Israel. After Jesus breaks the bread and disappears, we hear the disciples: “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us?”
6 April 2021 • SR
We, too, have fears and frustration. We are assured that Jesus wants to also walk with us. God is with us today...
SR We are not able on our own. But, the risen Christ is here to walk with us today. May every Sabbath be a time of comfort and hope for you, an opportunity to take another walk with Jesus. And to bring along a friend. We see in this passage the post-resurrection revelation of God’s mission for the Messiah. Jesus’ mission was not just to teach about the kingdom of God to Israel. His lordship was intended for all people. The problem for the two on the road, and all disciples, was that they could only think in terms of Israel, but God’s plan was a bigger one. In this short time on the road with Jesus, these two begin to experience what will eventually be the role of the church for the future, as it begins to expand the kingdom of God on earth. As it provides a loving, forgiving, learning environment for all who come seeking purpose and wholeness in their lives. As we look again at this passage in the Gospel of Luke, we are reminded that Jesus, the Christ, is also available to us. He wants to walk with us as we journey through life. He wants to help us understand all that is happening to us and how we can live our lives so that we can experience God’s loving, healing hand. We also sense God’s presence with us and we receive satisfaction and a sense of security. As we observe Cleopas and his friend, we sense and can identify with their anger and fear, their frustration at losing the hope for Israel. Jesus’ death seemed to leave them with nowhere to go. They had listened to Jesus talking about the kingdom of God for the past three years—all the time thinking that God’s kingdom and the kingdom of Israel were the same. Now they are about to get the big picture. Jesus is alive and has been talking with them explaining the Scriptures (Old Testament), telling them why He came into the world. We are reminded of our own needs for assurance and direction. We, too, have fears and frustration. Jesus’ clarifying His own purpose for these followers helps us to get a better perspective on our own situation. We are assured that Jesus wants to also walk with us. God is with us today, walking along, sharing in a meal, sharing with us His will for us. What now? Just as Jesus walked with Cleopas and his friend, we, in the church, are to be willing to walk with our friends who are afraid, alone, frustrated, with no purpose or hope. People who are searching for meaning in their lives need to know that Jesus is walking with them also. We can help establish an environment where people can come and be encouraged and comforted, as well as directed and loved.
Rev. Dr. Dale D. Thorngate is an elder in the Salem, WV, SDB church, former Executive Secretary of the SDB General Conference and General Secretary Emeritus of the SDB World Federation.
SR • April 2021 7
The Lord is watching. Our neighbors are watching.
By Levi Bond
Is the world more dangerous now than it was 50 years ago?
friends, neighbors, co-workers, politicians, and pastors who have been embarrassed by a moment caught on video. We need to always beware of our conduct among the Gentiles. We cannot participate in riots, road rage, criminal or sinful behavior and think no one will find out. We need to be always on our best behavior, because the Lord is watching, and all our neighbors are watching. The second verse I have focused on is 1 Peter 3:9 (ESV): Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. The times when I have been most tempted to break 1 Peter 2:12 is when I have been wronged and want revenge. One of those times was a few years ago—because I am on the Condo Board, I had to deal with a troublemaker neighbor who was notified that he was being evicted. He threatened me and others. After crossing his path, an evil thought crossed my mind—I was tempted to slash his tires to get back at him. I am glad I was reading 1 Peter at the time and did not act on that temptation. I stayed away from him and let the eviction run its course. Would slashing his tires have done any good for anyone in that situation? It would not— not for him, not for me, and not for anyone else in the neighborhood. I would have to answer to the Lord for that, and my reputation in the neighborhood would have been seriously harmed. Reflecting on that awful situation also taught me that 1 Peter 3:9 has two steps. The first is to not repay evil for evil. That is what I did. The next step is even harder: to try to bless that person. I was not able to bless him, but retali- ating would have made everything worse. Step one is the most important. I do not know if the Lord will come back tomorrow or in the 22 nd century. I do know that following these key verses in 1 Peter will help me to serve Him and not wreck my witness among 21 st century Americans. Levi Bond lives near Portland, OR. He is a guest speaker at SDB Churches in the Northwest. He is a graduate of Multnomah Bible College. He works as a Home Energy Auditor/Inspector for a Low-Income Weatherization program. SR
This question has stuck with me since a Youth Group Bible Study at the Shiloh, NJ, SDB Church in 1994. It was asked around the time of the 50 th Anniversary of D-Day. As I processed this question, I realized that the answer was a solid “No!” I realized that if any generation of Christians had reason to believe that they were living in the End Times and the Lord would be coming back soon, it was my grandparents. World War 2 lined up with many of the prophesies that we see in Scripture. We all know now that the war was won—and the Lord did not come back at that time. I reflect on this question every time I see a news story that has me wondering if He will come back soon. I do not know if He will come back during my lifetime. While I am trying to follow Him daily to be ready, I am also saving for retirement, because there is a good chance I will be here for a while. It is most important to focus on how I should be living as a Christian in 21 st century America. That is what the New Testament letters are about. I find 1 Peter to be very applicable to today and must regularly remind myself of two key verses in that letter. The first verse I have focused on is 1 Peter 2:12 (ESV): Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. This challenges all Christians to be always on our best behavior because everyone is watching us. Our friends, family, co-workers, spouses, and children are watching us. Our reputation in the community is huge in gaining respect, and forgiveness when needed. I find this challenge to be even more important as we wait for the Lord’s return today, because we live in an age where our behavior can be caught on camera anytime and any- where. Everyone is carrying a smartphone with an HD video camera, ready to record any incident. Surveillance cameras are everywhere: at businesses, government buildings, highway overpasses, and many homes. We are Christians living in an age when our worst behavior can be recorded and shared with staggering efficiency. We can all think of
8 April 2021 • SR
the final act was just the beginning of the next chapter
Hope of the World
At the center of Christianity lies an event never heard of before or after in human history. This event is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Most of us are familiar with this event and, at the very least, celebrate it each March or April. We could say that this event was the culmination, the final act, of the plan of God for humanity. However, what we should say is that this event was just the beginning of the next chapter. It was God’s plan to save the world through the death and resurrection of Jesus, but it was equally God’s plan to continue the process of restoration of the world even after Jesus ascended. How would the rest of the world know that this event took place? More specifically, how would the rest of the world come to an understanding that God through Jesus restored the past, present, and future of humanity—that He desires relationship with us; that He wants to be close to us; and that no matter what we have done or will do, He still loves us? We, as Christians, know what Jesus spoke to the disciples in Mathew 28:16-20. Those disciples took those words and began teaching those around them. As the disciples started to move after Jesus ascended, Peter preached a sermon and three thousand people believed. This story is found in Acts chapter 2. It says at the end of Acts 2 that people were added to their number daily. Most of us get and understand these stories as the start of the process for many of us to come to Christ. In the book of Acts, Peter and Paul took the message of the Gospel to the Gentiles. It spread and continued to spread through the known world. After seeing all of this in Scripture, the question I have is, why not today? More specifically, are we, the church today, still as motivated to see people come to Christ? Pew Research surveyed American adults in 2018 and 2019. Here is what they found: “The religious landscape of the United States continues to change at a rapid clip. In Pew Research Center telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade.” What this survey indicates is that people are moving away from the church. This survey should beg the question, why? Why are people leaving the church? Why aren’t more people being changed by the message of the Gospel? Why are there only pockets in America where we can see people coming to Christ while we see very few in the majority? What I am trying to do here is point out that if we as the church believe that we are to continue the work of the disciples then we should be seeing a continued increase not a decline. We know that Matthew 28:16-20 was a mandate to the disciples. How does this mandate impact you and me? We know and understand that the birth of the church in Acts was just the beginning. How have we continued kingdom building over the years? Are you just waiting for someone in pastoral leadership to lead you? Are you devoted to the “apostles” teaching, the teaching of Jesus? Are you fellowshipping with other believers? The point is that you and I have a job to do whether or not the church we attend does it. Jesus took twelve men and let them loose on the world. One of those twelve men preached—and people were saved. The question I have is this: are you that one man or that one woman God wants to use to impact the world? May God find those of us willing and ready to be His hands and feet. May God find us willing and ready to preach the Gospel message. May God find us willing and ready to help change the trajectory of humanity for His glory alone. SR
By Tyler Chroniger
Tyler Chroniger is husband to Jenn, father to Brayden and Nolan, Assistant Pastor of the Shiloh, NJ, SDB Church, and estimator for Pierson Construction.
SR • April 2021 9
The Book of Revelation Our Risen Savior
Study Lesson 3 by Dennis Coleman, Seventh Day Baptist Church of Shiloh, NJ
How did you do with last month’s homework? Were you able to fi nd Bible verses that support your explanation of the process of salvation? Did you have to make changes based on what you found in the Bible? I believe this is an important tool both in leading nonbelievers to Christ and in helping young believers grow roots in fertile soil. The goal is to be able to explain the changes the young believer will start to experience in hopes that neither birds nor extreme heat nor thorns and thistles work to hinder their growth. Prayer Time As we enter this study let’s pray for our own hearts and for our brothers and sisters who are reading or will read this study. We’re not immune to the pressures of life that come to choke o ff our growth. Pray that we are each cultivated into fertile soil where God’s word takes root, producing fruit according to the will of His Spirit and as He sees fi t for the needs of His churches. Revelation 1:4-8 There is a debate raging here in Philadelphia: a debate receiving coverage both on the news and on sports talk radio. The Philadelphia Eagles traded our brother in Christ (and NFL quarterback) Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts. Wentz leaves the city having shown promise as an athlete but without the success expected when he was drafted in the fi rst round. Now Eagles’ fans are left debating if this was a bad trade or an opportunity to get rid of a big problem.
10 April 2021 • SR
One of our local television stations asked two of Wentz’s former teammates (players who have retired and are free to speak on the issue) if Wentz indeed is a problem. These former players said that he is not, pointing to how the QB has not spoken in public about the issues surrounding his trade. His silence allows everyone else to write the narrative of what type of person Wentz really is based on what is said by anonymous sources. As a result the most important voice in this situation remains on the sideline. Fortunately for us all, our Lord Jesus takes control of the narrative of Revelation by identifying Himself right from the fi rst chapter. The benediction given in the book of Revelation speaks of a blessing (which we covered in the last lesson) given to us from “...Him who is and who was and who is to come…” (a refer- ence to our Heavenly Father who never changes), “...and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne…” (which we covered in the last lesson). But there is a third person mentioned here in verse 4, “...and from Jesus Christ…” Who is this Jesus Christ? He is someone we (hopefully) knowwell but should always take time to get to know better. Here we see His nature revealed as we read how He is introduced in the fi rst chapter of Revelation. Here Jesus is revealed to be “the faithful witness.” Jesus has seen the Father and declares Him to us all (John 1:18). He came to teach us about salvation and to tell us about Heaven. What He declares is true as He, like a witness at a trial, tells us exactly what He has seen and what He knows. He is an eyewitness to the beginning when God created all things (as we are told in the fi rst chapter of the Gospel of John) and through Him were all things made. Jesus is reliable and can be trusted to tell us the truth and, as it turns out, He is the truth. Jesus is the fi rstborn from the dead. This speaks of His resurrection, reminding us that He is the fi rst and the only one to to raise Himself from the dead. Colossians 1:18 reminds us of this fact, pointing out that “He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning.” And not only is He the head of the church but He is also ruler over the kings of the earth (see also Revelation 17:14, Psalm 110:1, 1 Timothy 6:15). This is an impressive list of titles. And
with these titles out of the way, Scripture tells us of what Jesus has done for us.
He loves us and chose the cross where He died for our sins. In doing so we are told that He “...washed us from our sins in His own blood…” (Revelation 1:5). Hebrews 9:14 reminds us that in washing us, He also cleansed our consciences from dead works so that we may serve the living God. After washing and cleansing us, He also elevates us to the positions of being kings and priests and we are to walk according to this call before Jesus’ God and Father, “to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever.” (Revelation 1:6) This covers what Jesus has done. Nowwe get to see what He will do. The Book of Revelation reminds us that Jesus is coming. He fi rst visited earth in the fl esh in order to reveal the glory of the Father and then to die for our sins. Following His resurrection, He ascended to Heaven, taking His place at the right hand of the Father. Revelation reminds us that He will return and every eye will see Him as He promised in Matthew 24:30. Everyone will see Him, including people who are described here as those who pierced Him. As He was cruci fi ed long ago, I suspect this refers to those who, through their rejection of the Gospel, have made themselves enemies of Christ. They have chosen the wrong team and on the day of His return they will mourn. But this is not the normal mourning we are used to seeing when someone has died. In this case the nations mourn as they come to realize the truth of His resurrection and of the fact that He is alive and coming back. We read about the day of Jesus’ return as we continue to study the book of Revelation. For His church, the day of our Lord should be something we look forward to with joy. For those who choose not to believe, the day of our Lord’s return will in fact be one of the worst days of their lives. Revelation tells us exactlyWho it is that will return. He is our Lord Jesus Christ and He ends this passage with a very profound and important declaration. Still in control of His own narrative, Jesus speaks directly to John. He wants John (and all of the rest of us) to understand exactlyWho He is, using some of the same words that describe His Father. In doing so He declares that He is God, leaving us with no doubt as He declares quite plainly that He is in fact the Almighty. SR
SR • April 2021 11
By Pastor Nathan Crandall SDB Church, Milton, WI Sermon posted on June 22, 2012
Of all of the challenges that face Christ-followers in this modern age perhaps the most overlooked is amnesia. Yes, you read that correctly. Spiritual amnesia is like whooping cough. It can run rampant through a Jesus community because of its contagious nature—and it can linger on and on. Like its natural counterpart, spiritual amnesia is a condition where a person’s identity in Christ is forgotten and, along with it, their purpose for existing. Even though the Bible is crystal clear about our identity in Christ, it is so easy to be distracted from the purity of devotion to Jesus. He is our source of life, purpose and identity, so we must return to His words to renew our minds. Listen to what He told His first followers in the sermon on the mount. (Matthew 5:13-16) 13 You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Who are you, Christ-follower? You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world. Do not misunderstand Jesus. He did not say, “If you try really hard you can one day be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.” He said, “You are!” He did not say, “I hope you are.” He declared this as a fact. This is a now reality for every person who has left their own life behind and has found new life through Jesus. How is that possible? It is possible because the life of Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit lives inside you. These are His gifts. They are, “Given not earned,” exactly opposite of the Marines. You must embrace the truth that we all equally need the grace of God, and the grace of God makes us all equal. As the saying goes, “There is level ground at the foot of the cross.” However, this does not mean that every Christ-follower lives with the same character and values, only that they have been given the same light. Jesus invites us to live by His standards, and we have the choice either to seek out the reality of Heaven or to be molded by the standards of
the world around us. Here’s our choice: Will we stay visible and shine our light wherever we go, or will we buy the lie that our faith is private and keep it hidden while people we see every day walk around in the dark? Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth.” Salt not only adds flavor to food, it also acts as a preservative. Before the days of refrigeration, salt was used to keep food from going bad. On long sea voyages, sailors ate hardtack, a biscuit made from flour, water and salt, which kept it from rotting. Meat was also salted until canned food was introduced in the early 19th century. In the same way, Christ-followers act as a preservative to moral decay. Salt cannot be effective if it is not applied to food. Likewise, unless the salt of the earth gets into contact with the people on earth, it is ineffective. It is just as ineffective as if it had lost its saltiness. So if the world around us is falling into deeper levels of immorality, we must ask the question, have we as His agents of preservation lost our effectiveness? Have we taken ourselves out of the very situations where we will act as preservatives to moral decay? Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” Light in a dark room helps to see, but it can also be blinding if it is too bright. The focused light of a laser is able to cut through metal. Which kind of light are we called to be? Not a light so dim that no one can see. Not a light so bright or so focused that it causes damage. But a light that helps people to see. In Jesus’ day the houses were mostly one room, so a lamp would give enough light for the whole house. In the same way that a lamp gives light to a room, the identity and purpose of Christ-followers is to give light to the “rooms” of our world. We must never forget that we may be the only Jesus that some people will ever see. You, Jesus person, you are called to shine the light so that people can see. Thou shalt not hide thy light. So how do we do that? Light itself is a symbol of purity and truth and the revela- tion of God himself. To be a light in the world means that our lifestyle will stand out from the rest of society which lives in the darkness of moral uncertainty. When we shine, we point the way to God. God is revealed through us, not just in our moral behavior, but also by showing people
12 April 2021 • SRå
If we refuse to shine our light in our community, then we have ceased to be a community of Jesus.
what God’s nature is like. We show that God is a God of grace when we show grace. We show that God is truth when we live in truth. We show that God is righteous and just when we do what is right and we treat people the right way. If we do not shine, we lose this opportunity to show the world who God is. Both personally and as a commun- ity, we lose everything when we hide our light. Deitrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor in Nazi Germany who refused to bow down to the spirit of evil in his country. He was eventually killed in a concentration camp. In his classic book, The Cost of Discipleship , he wrote these words: “Flight into the invisible is a denial of the call. A commun- ity of Jesus which seeks to hide itself has ceased to follow him.” ( Cost of Discipleship , p. 109) These are strong words from a man who gave everything because he refused to be a wallflower for Jesus. If we refuse to shine our light in our community, then we have ceased to be a community of Jesus. We have instead become a social club with a Jesus tattoo. Our light shines by the things we do. Jesus said, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds.” Our actions reveal who we follow. When we follow Jesus, not just believe in Jesus but act like Jesus, our actions stand out in contrast to the actions of other people. But let’s be careful not to get the cart before the horse. We are not called to live so that we get noticed and praised for the things we do. Jesus condemned the Pharisees because they did good things in order to be noticed by people. Our call is not to do things for the sake of outward appearances. Instead we are called to simply not hide our light. Stay visible so that people will be able to make the connection between your character and Christ. The right motivation is to bring glory to God. So whether what you do is seen by millions or by God alone, be the light which God has called you to be. The nature of light is that it shines. When it shines, people can see. Whether or not there is anyone in the room is not your concern. Be the light. Be the salt. Let the Lord remain in charge of the outcome, whether that means persecution like Deitrich Bonhoeffer and many other Christ-followers have faced, or whether that means people giving glory and praise to God. Let’s start by asking the question: where do we shine our light? The house in Jesus’ example refers to our sphere of influence. We are to act according to the values of the Kingdom in the places of our employment, entertainment, education, etc. Let’s use the example of how our words give light to our sphere of influence. Jesus said, “But I tell What are some practical ways we can shine our light?
you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is His footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:34-37) He was talking about living with integrity in what we say. Rather than make a promise, or swear that you’ll do something, Jesus told us to do what we say we will do. In a world that has seen the wholesale erosion of integrity, it is strange when a person follows through with their word. Let’s be honest. We could all use some help in this area, or at least I know I could. Just imagine the immediate impact that integrity in our words would have in our relationships, our work, our family, our church. Simply by being on time with our homework, by finishing our work tasks when they are due, by being where we are supposed to be when we said we would. These are seemingly small things, but Jesus, in essence, was saying that by keeping our word we will shine the light in the world. I am convinced that if God’s people would begin to keep their word, the heavens would shift and there would be open doors everywhere for testifying about Jesus and giving the credit or the glory to God. In our Sabbath morning adult grow group, we have been learning about prayer-evangelism as a powerful tool to bring transformation to people’s lives. The beginning step is prayer and the last step is evangelism, but I want to highlight the steps in between. After we begin praying for those to whom the Lord leads us, we begin to bless them with our words, then we share life together or “hang out” to get to know them better, and last we minister or serve them by helping with needs that they have. Blessing others with our words, sharing life together, and helping meet needs are all actions which shine the light. One day when I was hanging out at the youth center, one of the teens said something that smacked me right between the eyes. He was leaving to go back home, so I said good- bye and see you tomorrow. He looked at me and matter-of- factly without any emotion said, “Yeah, time to go home and get yelled at.” What does it do for a person who is used to getting yelled at on a daily basis to hear someone speaking positively to him? We use the term “positive” at the youth center, but the scriptural term is “blessing.” To bless a person with our words is to speak words to them that convey how God sees them. Consider the fact that, as Bill Hybels says, “You’ve never locked eyes with a person Another question we need to answer is: How do we shine the light?
Continued on page 25 SR • April 2021 13
Restored for a Purpose
By Carl Greene Executive Director
Our family of six is now a family with five licensed drivers. The transition to a commuter-rich family has led to two significant changes: 1) I have a whole lot more gray hair; 2) We have more cars parked in our driveway. There is some debate in my family about the exact cause of my graying head of hair. Some claim that it is not fair to blame the effects of the aging process on our kids. We can debate that one—but between driver training and insurance premiums for young drivers, I think I am entitled to throw around some blame. There is no debate that more drivers have led to more vehicles, though. We have become connoisseurs of functional vehicles. These cars would be found in the used economy lot of an auto dealership. We prefer to use the term “functional” because...it simply sounds better than cheap. Just down the road from us is a business that takes in damaged vehicles, salvaged vehicles and unwanted junk to restore them to functional status. This is our sort of place. Functional vehicles at an affordable price! The key to making all of this work is that our neighbor restores the vehicle for a purpose. (You can probably see where this is going at this point.) He does not just restore the vehicle so it looks nice alongside the road. After all, his specialty of Ford Focus restoration would not really be considered an art form. He is restoring these cars to func- tion. He is restoring them for a purpose. Missional Purpose. President Kevin Butler continues to remind us of this truth with our Conference theme of “Restored for a Purpose.” This is so important for us to work through together. The SDB General Conference has missional purpose: to equip our churches to actively advance God’s Kingdom. We have been commissioned by Jesus Christ to share His Gospel. God has been and will continue to work
through us to make new disciples and transform us into greater Christ-likeness. Healthy Leaders, Healthy Churches. As a Conference of churches, we live out this Kingdom purpose through de- veloping and supporting new and existing leaders who will work through healthy local churches. We are mission- ally committed to healthy leaders and healthy churches by focusing on four key ministry areas. Gospel Saturation: We are called as individuals, churches, and a Conference to be disciple-makers in which our public witness consistently demonstrates our faith in Jesus Christ through proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel. We are unable to contain the Gospel within ourselves—we cannot help but drip His goodness on others. We cannot help but engage in public witness of our faith. Church Planting: We challenge, equip, and support member churches, individ- uals, and groups who are called by God to church multiplication. We connect church plants with sponsor churches and church planters with mentors. We provide resources as they are available to support specific projects that will help church plants establish or broaden their Gospel ministry. Church Revitalization: We provide our churches with a process and tools to assess and improve their health on a regular and periodic basis. We partner with local churches to work in missional collaboration with one another in ways that encourage relevant, Kingdom impact. Leadership Development: We provide leadership training opportunities as a Conference of churches in specific ministry areas, and encourage and support opportunities in local congre- gations, both in organic processes and in specific events. We are restored for a purpose. What a blessing to partner together and join God in His missional work! SR
14 April 2021 • SR
Restoration or Replica?
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” —1 Peter 5:10 NIV
Some guys like to restore old cars to their former glory. Me? I’m into vintage radios and sound equipment.
By Kevin Butler Conference President 2021
SR May God restore you—to make you strong, firm and steadfast—to further advance His Kingdom. I have purchased some old (I mean, really old) radio cabinets, some with the intent to restore to original condition, others to “gut” and replace with modern components, or just to use as vintage storage containers. Growing up in the era of vinyl record albums, I remember spending hours lying down in front of our massive console stereo record player, listening to my mother’s favorite music. The mid-century console took up a good chunk of a dining room wall (an upright piano was along another) so our table always seemed a bit cramped. Still, I managed to wedge my body between the stereo and the chairs to hear certain crooners and bands, and to sing along with Mitch Miller. Since the dining area opened up to the living room, I usually had to keep the volume low so other family members could watch TV, or Dad could do his studies and work in his home office. That old Montgomery Ward radio/turntable combo served me well until I was able to buy a small table stereo for my room and start my personal album collection. When I see similar old stereos, it “takes me back” to those carefree years of appreciating music through a multi-speaker monster cabinet. I enjoy discovering old console music systems in good shape or those restored to look new. There are companies entirely dedicated to this business. Some of the products are modernized to include new components and speakers, with Bluetooth streaming capabilities and other up-to-date features. I also find some radios that are strictly reproduction units—made to look like the “real thing” but equipped with new innards. When I see them I have to ask: Is this an original or just a replica? Is this restored old wood or just a cheap veneer? Is this an original, a restoration, or a reproduction? Is it real or fake? How about you? Are you a restoration, or a replica? I realize that some of you have had certain innards removed or replaced with artificial pieces. Your “original equipment” didn’t last. What about your soul? Are you living life as a reproduction—just mimicking another Christian and “looking the part” on the outside? Or has God in His grace restored and renewed your life from the inside out? I’m so thankful that God’s mercies are new every morning. He renews us day by day. But do we consent to have the God of all grace do His full restoring work? I pray that we aren’t simply following the pattern of one man’s “wisdom” in order to achieve some temporary fix, just to put up a religious smokescreen. That’s like having spiritual plastic surgery—meant to look nice for a while but having no real substance. Allow the Lord to do His work from the inside out. This process might take you through a time of suffering, and that’s okay. Many things that are made to last have gone through a refiner’s fire to become stronger.
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Getting the Band Back Together (PULSE)
By John J. Pethtel Director of Church Development Director of Pastoral Services
Resurrection in the Biblical sense is not a theoretical construction of a hoped future state. It is a present reality for those who have placed their faith in the redemption and power of the resurrected One, Jesus Christ. Through our faith in Him, we do not have to hope to be resurrected. We can experience resurrection power now, individually and as churches: victory over death, sin, and Satan. While our full resurrection awaits us in the new heaven and new earth, our present resurrection through Jesus need not wait for us or our churches. It can be incarnated in our presence to others and our communities. It can be shared through the Gospel message. It can be lived with confidence and hope. Every day, a church that is fifty years or older is closing or considering closing its doors in North America. They are living through one life cycle and then not able to grasp the continuing vitality that the Gospel brings. The first love of serving Jesus and the community where the church is located is lost or dims. The care of the people inside the existing church family becomes paramount. Dollars and time are spent on things and ministries that only tangentially accomplish the Great Commission—so much so that many churches are living out the Great Omission. Lip service is given to the Holy Spirit but no one has felt His presence or leading in a long time. A cross, the symbol of resurrection power, hangs on a wall or in the yard but nothing has been brought to new life in years. God has not given up on the church in the world but it appears in many places as if the church has given up on revealing the life-giving nature of God to the world. The stench of the world (death) is the aroma of the ministry of this kind of church. This need not be the case. The church was created by and fueled by resur- rection power. The power of victory. The power of life. Even the power of life from death. The sweet smell of the Great Shepherd can be sniffed again. The bride of Christ can regain and retain the perfume of the Bridegroom’s cloak of righteousness. Hope can replace criticism. Life can replace death. Christ can be made famous through the church. The saints can bring the glory of God to those who are far from Him. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from physical death to spiritually eternal life is the cornerstone of the faith we call Christianity. The desire for restoration that we find scattered through the eschatological hope of Israel throughout the Old Testament is the light through which the original audience (Jews)
16 April 2021 • SR
Saved. To Heaven. From Death. For His Glory. To Live Now and Enjoy Forever
would view the resurrection of Jesus. It is the way through which we must view the lens of resurrection for ourselves and our churches (the body of Christ) today. This is the Gospel story. Nothing is as it was meant to be, but God in His mercy created a redemptive rescue plan for His creation, humanity, to be reunited with its Creator, both in the present and for all time. The limitations of this world feed the hope of the eschaton to come when we place the realities of the brokenness and sin of this world against the truth of the resurrection power of Christ. We are overcomers! N.T. Wright likens the work of the church, in light of the resurrection, to that of building a great cathedral. The work of preceding generations is built upon in the present, and the work will undoubtedly go on into the future. Ultimately, the work of construction is guided by the finished design, which in the present can only be glimpsed in partiality. Therefore, even if the work is not completed in one’s own mortal lifespan, the work is not in vain— particularly because the hope of resurrection is also the promise that our work in the present will find its way into the new creation of God’s new heaven and new earth. As Wright puts it so captivatingly, “God’s recreation of His wonderful world, which began with the resurrection of Jesus and continues mysteriously as God’s people live in the risen Christ and the power of the Spirit, means that what we do in Christ and by the Spirit in the present is not wasted.” 1 It is only through the “risen” and vital church that the resurrected Christ can be experienced. It is meant to be a witness to the singular history-changing event that happened on Calvary. The church is meant to be a band that only has one song (the Gospel) and they play it over and over again and they play it well. The concert T-shirt from an experience with the “risen” and vital church should read: “Saved. To Heaven. From Death. For His Glory. To Live Now and Enjoy Forever.” Whatever power the church has in this world, whatever hope for renewal or revitalization, whatever belief that its work has lasting value, is irrevocably connected to the reality that the church is Jesus’ body, and that body has been raised. If you would like to assess the aroma of your church, or change the Great Omission to the Great Commission, or just to relearn how to play that one song (the Gospel) for the sake of Jesus, please consider contacting the Director of Church Development about the PULSE Church Health Process and raise your church: to vitality; to Gospel ministry; to glory sharing; and into the power of Christ. Your story can give Christ glory!
1 From Surprised by Hope
SR • April 2021 17
FOCUS on Missions
Ministry in Sierra Leone
By Andy Samuels Chief Executive Director SDB Missionary Society
After one full year of suspended international travel because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the SDB Missionary Society Directors, Pastors Andy Samuels and Garfield Miller, embarked on a mission trip to West Africa, encompassing the countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Ghana. In this article, I will share about the ways God allowed us to share, learn, and minister in Sierra Leone and will report on the other two places later. Pastor David Johnson, of the Sabbath Chapel SDB Church in Flowery Branch, GA, completed the team that went to Sierra Leone. For a few years now, the Sabbath Chapel Church had established a relationship and partnership with the Sierra Leone SDB Conference led by Pastor Francis Edward Mattia. Sabbath Chapel had helped them to construct a church building in the town of Bo about two years ago, and since then has been helping them to build a school facility in Yamandu, a very remote area of Sierra Leone. This school now provides the opportunity for primary-age children to attend school in their community, instead of having to walk more than five miles one way to obtain their foundational scholastic education. We were privileged to share in the formal dedication of the new school, with Pastor David providing the keynote address, inclusive of a clear Gospel message, and an opportunity for people to trust Jesus as their Savior. The huge crowd of several hundred people who turned up for the dedication was testimony to the significance of this facility to the entire community. Present were Paramount Chiefs or District Chiefs, as well as other political, civic, and religious leaders, all rejoicing in the presence of the new school, and celebrating the prospect of the school bringing amelioration to the lives of the students. A well was also constructed on the school premises, supplying potable water to the school popula- tion, as well as the wider community. All the teachers at the school are Seventh Day Baptist, and the Bible is taught as part of the curriculum. Pastor David Johnson, his wife Brenda, and their small but generous congregation at Sabbath Chapel deserve to be commended for their sacrificial commitment to this venture. When our churches show that they care about their communities and are willing to contribute to the betterment of those communities, the opportunities for outreach are boundless. This kind of investment will keep on bearing fruit for decades to come.
Consecrating a plot of land in faith for the building of a school
Pastors Johnson and Samuels drinking from the well