Run your best in the race of faith, and win eternal life for yourself; for it was to this life that God called you...
—1 Timothy 6:12 GNB
In Every I ssue
In This Issue
Run Your Race By Eric Bofinger 8 Running the Race of Hope By Joshua Coleman 10 Stay on the Course By Levi Bond 5 AboutThe Authors Eric Bofinger is a member at the Seventh Day Baptist Church of Shiloh, NJ, and attends with his wife, Katy, and their 5-year-old daughter, Clara. Eric directed the Gospel Feet 5k at the 2019 General Conference in Lancaster, PA. Levi Bond is a regular guest preacher for churches in the Northwest Association. He is a graduate of Multnomah Bible College. He works as a home energy auditor for a low-income weatherization program near Portland, OR. Joshua Coleman attends Seventh Day Baptist Church of Shiloh, NJ. He is a mechanical and aerospace engineering student at Princeton University. He enjoys running, playing sports and other types of games, making music, hanging out with others, and, most of all, living out the life that God has given him.
Young Adult Encouragement by Sarina Gumness
Alliance in Ministry Races and Conversations by Carl Greene
Everyday Theology How to Have a Productive Conversation By Phil Lawton
FOCUS on Missions Partnerships by Andy Samuels President’s Page Ringing in the Old Ear by Kevin Butler
Council On History Ramping Up to Celebrate... by Nicholas J. Kersten
SCSC SCSC 2020 Wants You by Helen Goodrich Women’s Society Life Skills Are Learned by Katrina Goodrich
Christian Education Council How Our Church Developed Our Own
VBS Program by Vicki Burdick
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SR • January 2020 3
Sabbath Recorder A Seventh Day Baptist Publication January 2020
• 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. 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. If you’ve never read The Sabbath Recorder before, you might be wondering who Seventh Day Baptists are. Like other Baptists, we believe in: WHO ARE SEVENTH DAY BAPTISTS? THE SEVENTH DAY
Contributing Editors: Kevin Butler, Isaac Floyd, Katrina Goodrich, Barb Green, Carl Greene, Sarina Gumness,
Nicholas J. Kersten, John J. Pethtel, Andy Samuels T he 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. 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. Periodicals postage paid at Janesville, WI, and additional offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Sabbath Recorder , 3120 Kennedy Road, PO Box 1678, Janesville, WI 53547-1678 This is the 175th year of publication for The Sabbath Recorder . First issue published June 13, 1844.
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Run Your Race Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.
Children who participated in the “Healthy Kids Running Series” from the Seventh Day Baptist Church of Shiloh, NJ.
SR • January 2020 5
Run Your Race
by Eric Bofinger
During the Fall of 2018, I decided to get more involved in my community and start up a chapter of the Healthy Kids Running Series in my hometown of Pittsgrove, NJ. HKRS is a nationwide non-profit organization that relies on the help of community coordinators to teach kids the importance of physical exercise and friendly competition. Kids ages 2-14 meet each Sunday evening for five consecutive weeks in the fall and spring and run age appropriate races that range from 50 yards to one mile. At its peak, we had 133 children participate from the area, including many who attend the Seventh Day Baptist Church of Shiloh, NJ (see page 5). With children, come parents, grand- parents, great grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other family members (and that’s just describing the fan crowd that came out to cheer for Brayden Chroniger and Abigail Veale!). It is awesome to see the kids step up to the line, fearless of the distance ahead and run with perseverance. Moreover, it’s even more impressive to see them come together and embrace and uplift one another in times of joy and even defeat. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” —Hebrews 12:1-2 I’ve been running competitively for over two decades. I’ve run hundreds of races in my life and run thousands of miles each year in training for a goal. Running has taken me places I wouldn’t have otherwise gone and has led me to interact with people I otherwise would not have met. Most importantly, running led me to Messiah College where I met my wife. In addition, it led me to
6 January 2020 • SR
We have all persevered and run our own race.
coach cross country at Philadelphia Biblical University/Cairn University for nine seasons, where I was able to have a positive lasting impact on young men and women. Through my involvement in running and coaching in Christian environments, it has helped me understand some scripture more clearly. Have you ever noticed that Paul mentions running and competi- tion a lot in his writings? Many of these verses have been made into track or cross country team verses that I’ve been a part of. I even have a drawer-full of t-shirts that sport these verses and their references. I’ve heard many devotions on topics of training and perseverance relating them to Christianity. I have had plenty of time to think on them during countless miles of running. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self- control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” — 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 Why all of the running references? Do even non- runners and non-competitors understand these analogies? Do you know what it’s like to subject yourself to the strict discipline of training in order to win a race? We know, like Priscilla and Aquila, Paul was a tent-maker by trade, but was he a runner? Most likely not. He is described as being a man of small stature and a crooked body—which isn’t great for a champion runner’s build. But what Paul was good at is knowing his audience. From 776 BC to 393 AD the Ancient Olympic Games were held in Olympia, in which primarily running events occurred. During the Roman Period, the games were open to all
citizens of the Roman Empire. The best athletes trained, and they even had events for the youth athletes. During his mission trips from Tarsus, Paul traveled around the Aegean Sea to Corinth and beyond. This idea of strict training was com- monplace in the culture because at least every four years these games were a big deal. Paul used the knowledge of the culture to convey God’s message in a way people would under- stand and hold fast to. “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” —1 Timothy 4:8 God has given us all different talents and abilities and has given us all trials in our lives that we have overcome. Not all of us are confronted by God on the road to Damascus. But, for some of us, it takes a complete one hundred and eighty degree turn to get it right—like for Paul. For others it takes getting rid of the sin that so easily entangles. Maybe not all of us know the long- suffering of running a marathon, but we all know pain and hurt in some form or another. We have all overcome, we have all persevered and run our own race. Use these times of trials to draw closer to God and use your testimony about Him working in your life to further His kingdom. God has placed you in your mission field, whether it’s in your backyard or across an entire empire. Fix your eyes on Jesus, persevere, and put one foot in front of the other. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” —Colossians 3:23
SR • January 2020 7
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
Running the Race of Hope
Hebrews 12:1‐2 is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible. It is a call to action for Christians throughout the world. Many times, the verse is quoted in a context to ask people to endure hardships for the glory of God. The verse invokes the image of people ripping off the shackles of sin so they can diligently run through the pain and strife of life. These people are running with their full attention on getting to the finish line—where the one who came before them and who taught them everything they know about running is waiting to meet them. Quoting this verse by itself can provide inspiration or give a fantastic image of what we should do to fully pursue Jesus. You’d think that this would be an especially moving verse for someone like me, who loves running and racing. However, for me, this verse (and verses like it) became a source of fear. To me, this verse was a call to act correctly because of the many people (believers and nonbelievers alike) who were watching you. You had to run the race for them so they would be saved. Just like in track, the thought of having that many people watching me made me feel like I was being judged by the crowd and would be condemned by them and my team if I failed. Usually, when I let this idea invade my thoughts during a track meet, I would fail and run worse than my best. My interpretation was lacking a full grasp of the illustration Paul was try‐ ing to create. Whether we understand what Paul means by witnesses or not, it can be easy to miss what Paul is trying to convey in this passage because people think Paul’s comparison between Christianity and running only applies in 12:1. Actually, the illustration is better understood if you apply it at the start of Chapter 11. After all, chapter 11 is the reasoning for the actions discussed in 12:1 (hence why Paul starts the verse with “Therefore”). In chapter 11, Paul lists several “Old Testament Heroes,” and states that they were
8 January 2020 • SR
...we must take the baton that has been passed down, run our leg of the race by following God’s calling...
“commended for their faith” (11:39). Today we still try to emulate the faith that these people had. Like a champion runner to a novice, we look up to them and try to follow in their footsteps so we can have the great faith that they had. However, just after speaking of their great faith, Paul states “none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made per‐ fect” (11:39‐40). While they are honored for their great faith, Paul says there is something greater that can only be attained with the help of the Christians that came after those great people. Christians have a habit of looking at one story of great faith—one race that was won by a believer—and not the bigger picture: the track meet that all of the runners are running in. We look to these star runners and we are awestruck by their speed and skill. But what many people may not know is that a track runner has two main reasons to run. The first is to win the race. In the race of life, win‐ ning the race for Christians is having a relationship with Jesus and living out the life that He calls you to live. The second motivation is to pursue the hope that their vic‐ tory in that one race will help their team win the meet as a whole. Each position in each race is worth a set amount of points, and the team with the most points at the end of the meet is the winner. In 11:39‐40, Paul is saying that each individual victory of faith was in pursuit of the greater promise that one day, we will truly be able to know our God and be able to be the runners He has destined us to be. The most important races in track meets are always the relays. Although not as many places are awarded points, the point values for the top places are higher than in the individual events. In relays the focus is on the baton; rather than running so you can cross the finish line first, the runners in a relay run because of the hope that their teammates will run their leg of the race to the best of their abilities and will move the baton towards the front of the race. The runners trust that their hope is not mis‐ placed; if the other legs stumble or drop the baton, it is almost guaranteed that the team will lose the race. Good relay teams are essential for any track team. It takes a lot to create a relay team. First, the relay team must be taught how to actually be good runners and good relay legs. From the start of our track careers, we were taught how to warmup, cool down, take the baton, and even how to properly run. Luckily, we were blessed
with a coach who was a very successful retired runner. He was able to teach us through his personal experiences. Another thing that a good relay team needs is to be unified and in sync; as the name suggests, the relay is a team within the team, a family within the track family. Looking back on my time in track, I was blessed with fan‐ tastic teammates, who taught me how to be a good teammate. At every practice, the older members of the relay team (and the upperclassmen of the track team) would teach the younger members how to run better. They also taught us to help the other legs of the relay, after we had run our legs, by calling out how fast they were running and reminding them of the proper form as they ran. This “discipleship” helped us to become better runners and taught us how to teach the grades that fol‐ lowed our grade. Paul lists some of the runners of “Christ’s Relay Team” in 11:32. He cites several judges, a king, and a prophet, most notably Samson and David. Throughout Israel’s history, God would appoint a judge, prophet, or king to lead His people. Starting with the judges, the mantle of leader‐ ship was passed down one after the other, like a baton in a relay. Some of these leaders (though not all of the leaders in Israel’s history) ran great legs of the race, which is why we tend to look at them as heroes. How‐ ever, no matter how good we think they ran, they did stumble, and in some cases, they dropped the baton. David had a man killed so he could marry his wife. Samson told Delilah that he would lose his power if his hair was cut, and, due to Delilah’s past actions, should not have been surprised when he woke up with no powers. Luckily for them (and for us), God gave us Jesus, who was a runner that was greater than any runner before Him. He ran the greatest leg of the relay in the history of mankind, putting God’s kingdom so far ahead that He overcame every stumble and every mistake. Now, Jesus is taking the role of the upperclassman in the track team; as the “pioneer and perfecter of faith” (12:2), or in this case, the first ever and best ever runner in existence, He is calling out to us, reminding us how to run and how to live our lives. Like Him, we must take the baton that has been passed down since mankind was created to rule over the earth, run our leg of the race by following God’s calling on our lives, passing the baton when the time comes, and then coaching the people that come after us through the race of their lives. SR By Joshua Coleman
SR • January 2020 9
STAY ON THE COURSE
I have a coworker who relieves stress by playing with paper airplanes during breaks. One day last week he made a large one out of a sheet from an old desk calendar. He tossed it across the room. It cleared my desk and then nosedived to the floor. He told me about a childhood experience when his dad had a small airplane years ago. He would go for a flight with his dad and try to get dad to do dives and other stunts. His dad would always dis- appoint him by telling him that they were going to stay on the course to their destination, no stunts. After hearing this story, I realized that was a great illustration for my mid-life crisis that struck around my 40 th birthday. My first years of adult- hood were pretty active and I felt the Lord guiding me at each major turn. I spent four years in the US Air Force where I didn’t stay anywhere much more than two years. The Lord blessed me in each place and I learned some valuable lessons. Through prayer, Bible study, and some good recommenda-
tions, He led me to Portland to attend Multnomah Bible College. As graduation neared, I did not feel Him leading me to go somewhere else, and several people encouraged me to stay in Portland. I remem- bered two pastors telling me that if God isn’t telling you to go, then stay. I realized that advice was for that situation. I stayed in Portland and scraped by for a year as a substitute school custodian, applying for jobs. The Lord taught me some lessons that year. My first year out of college ended with me landing a great job that would allow me to stay in Portland and support myself. I never quit the substitute custo- dian job. For over 14 years I have been blessed with two jobs that pay my bills and then some. As I came into this mid-life and mid-career point, I had quite a few frustrating experiences. Doubts arose and I started questioning the course that I was on. Should I change jobs? Should I go for a
10 January 2020 • SR
promotion where I am? Do I belong in Oregon, or should I move somewhere else? I prayed over these questions and others several times, but God didn’t answer. It seemed like God answered more of my prayers years ago than He does now. Just recently the answer came to me. It was the advice I received years ago— if God isn’t telling you to go, then stay. I realized something as I prayed, heard some good sermons at the Portland Area SDB Church, and studied some of the Old Testament prophets. I realized that it could be a good thing that I did not get a message from God this time. In scripture, God sends messages directly to people through prophets, angels, the Holy Spirit, and even a donkey in Numbers 22. What were most of these messages? Warning, you are sinning, repent! Warn- ing, destruction is coming, get out of the way! Warning, you are opposing Me, turn around! Maybe I should be glad I have not been in a position to receive one of these messages mid-life. Yes, God does send messages directly to people that are positive affirmations of what they are to do. I received my share of those messages through the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures, and the saints years ago. It is time to stay on the course He set me on years ago. My coworker’s father had the wisdom to stay on the course and not pull stunts in the middle of a flight. I need to trust in my heavenly father’s wisdom to follow the course He put me on and not pull any stunts. By Levi Bond SR
When it comes to the new year, we often set new goals for ourselves. But the issue with these new goals is that we find it hard to keep them. I know I do. About a month later I’ll be like, “What was my goal?” In this season of goal‐making, we need encouragement. We must learn to encourage ourselves and encourage those around us—because we are all in this together. Christian encouragement is a command, but just like evangelism we sometimes find it awkward to employ in our everyday lives. In order for us to get past this awkwardness, we need to practice, just like any other skill. When it comes to encouraging, we often may jumble our words and not get the message out that we are intending to. In this situation, sometimes the fewer words the better. We don’t need our words to encourage, we need God’s Word. We can use Scriptures as our starting point when encouraging others. We can share with others where we can see the Spirit working in and through them. We can point out the “Fruits of the Spirit” growing in them as well as affirming them in their spiritual gifts. Sending someone daily or weekly Scripture randomly during the day can be an easy but sweet way of encouragement as well. Our encouragement is most meaningful when we show specific interest in the person that we are encouraging. We should be showing knowl‐ edge of what is going on in the lives of those that we are encouraging. Based on what you observe, offer concrete examples of how you have seen this person live out their faith. It can be encouraging to hear, “I saw God’s grace at work when you did this or said that.” Showing a genuine interest in them can provide encouragement. Finally, we should be selfless in our acts when encouraging. Sometimes we hold back from encouraging others because we do not want to feed pride. But Christian encouragement and flattery sit at opposite ends of the spectrum. Don’t let the fear of being seen as a flatterer cause you to curtail your genuine words of encouragement. Don’t let your own insecurities inhibit your praise of others. The one who en‐ courages practices selflessness, taking the words of Proverbs 12:18 to heart: “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” —Thessalonians 5:11
A little encouragement in our lives can go a long way. We should bring encouragement into our daily lives and make it a goal for more Christian encouragement in the new year. SR
By Sarina Gumness
SR • January 2020 11
Races and Conversations
I recently ran in a 5k race with about 3,600 other people. I am no Eric Bofinger when it comes to running, but I am going to take my opportunity to highlight that my brother and I finished first and second in our age group. In fact, I ran a personal best time in the race. Apparently if you wait enough years, you get your chance to shine. It is interesting how I can report on the details that I want you to know, and cleverly leave out the aspects that are not as glamorous. It is safe to say that my overall race ranking was far from first or second. It is also a fact that my attempts at conversation during the race with my fellow runners was, well, one-sided. As in, I did all the talking and the other person did not even acknowledge my existence. Likewise, when it comes to evangelism, I think that it can be easy to talk about what fellow believers want to hear while conveniently leaving out the less-than-exciting parts of faith communication. It is tremendously tempting to simply talk about people who profess faith in Jesus Christ through our conversations, and not the full picture of spiritual conversations. I believe that we should approach spiritual conversations as long-term opportunities rather than just finish line sound bites. Just as with a race, we can end up painting a picture of great fin- ishes without being true to the truth of the entire process. A book that was provided at Pastors Conference in 2019 offers a wonder- ful picture of joining the life race with other people, and joining them for the whole journey rather than just the finish. In The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations by Mary Schaller and John Crilly, we are provided with insightful ways to engage in spiritual conversations with our friends, our coworkers, people we meet in passing on a regular basis, or the people that God nudges us to approach and ask a question. The first “art” of conversation presented is “The Art of Noticing.” As in a previous article, I want to think about Matthew 9:36-38 where Jesus offers a tremendous example.
By Carl Greene Executive Director
12 January 2020 • SR
SR I hope to take in the full experience of my next race—not just the finish line. I hope that my spiritual conversations are more focused on the en- tire journey as well—as I notice, listen well, honestly pray, ask genuine questions, and continue the conversation oriented toward God. 1 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” I often run right to the punchline—where Jesus tells the disciples to take note of the harvest, how the workers are few, and how they need to pray. In verse 36 there is another critical piece: Jesus noticed people and had compassion for them. How are you and I at simply noticing people? How often are we so intent on running our own rat race in life that we miss the people around us? Thinking about my 5k, I was so focused on my time that I barely noticed the city that I ran through. In fact, the people I noticed were the people cheering me on as I approached the finish line, not the people who were quiet or distracted from the race. Who are the people around you that God might be nudging you to notice? There are undoubtedly people longing for a conversation with someone. There is a key about noticing—it is not where we talk at someone, it is where we talk with someone. Most likely, it is where we ask a question and listen intently. If this concept of communicating faith through genuine friendship is appealing to you, I would suggest getting a copy of The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations . There is plenty to glean from this read: from learning about how to ask good questions (p.111), to how to listen relationally (92-95), to how to overcome the barriers that prevent us from noticing the people in our lives who are looking for Jesus (49-53).
1 Schaller, Mary and John Crilly. 2016. The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations: Walking Alongside People Who Believe Differently. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum.
SR • January 2020 13
Everyday Theology — Applications for Questions of the Faith
How to Have a
By Phil Lawton Shiloh SDB Church, NJ
Productive Conversation Yesterday I posted a rant to my Facebook page. Usually I reserve these for Twitter, that seems a more apt place for rants. They are more likely to get lost in the general attitude of contempt there. This particular rant was a little long for Twitter. At one point I thought that I might make it into a blog, but I like my blogs to be more thought out than a rant. So it went on Facebook. What’s ironic (and a little bit sad) is that my rant involved me criticizing people for not wanting to have a conversation. But this is the pull that social media has on us. Sometimes it feels like we have lost the art of good conversations. We are quick to judge, quick to anger, and slow to listen. We don’t really care about what the other person has to say. All we really want is to prove to the world that we are right. I think maybe we lost that art of conversation because we aren’t teaching each other how to have conversations. So I thought that starting with a discussion of how to communicate would be a good idea for a series about tough questions. In the coming months I might bring up some ideas that you don’t agree with. That’s a good thing. I don’t expect you to agree with everything I write. If you have questions or disagreements, please tell me. I have created a Facebook page named after my blog. You can interact with me and others there. Specifically I will be having a live stream on the third Thursday of every month to talk with you about your comments about what I write. The first one will be January 16 at 8 pm EST. One of the quickest ways to shut down a discussion is to assume that you know everything about a subject. The reality is that you don’t. It is possible to know all the facts of a particular issue and this often makes people feel like they have nothing to learn. But you don’t know the history of the person you are talking to. Our experiences shape how we view everything. They color our understanding of facts and lead us to bias. That includes the experience of winning arguments. We all know this to be true. We all have seen other people argue with each other over some‐ thing trivial. The reality of that situation is that the argument is not actually about IKEA furniture. It is about something that happened years ago, that was never dealt with. The past experiences of those involved is shaping the current discussion. Further, assuming you don’t know everything means you are likely to learn something. I don’t always learn something about the subject that I am discussing, but I always learn something about the person that I am talking to. When you stop assuming you know why someone asked a particular question you learn about their motivation and intentions. Enough with that. Let’s get on with it shall we. Assume You Don’t Know Everything
14 January 2020 • SR
makes a better story), but I really can’t remember. What I do re‐ member is that, after it was over, my teacher came to me and told me that now I was prepared to argue in favor of the pipeline.
Everyone thinks they are good listeners. Reality check—you aren’t as good a listener as you think! You have all kinds of things going on in your head as you pretend to listen to another person. You are thinking about your grocery list, or why they are wrong, or how you will respond, or the fact that you really need to use the bathroom. There is always something that will keep you from being a good listener. Accept that fact. One of the most helpful things for me to learn was that to be a good listener I have to be listened to. Sometimes we just don’t have the capacity to listen to other people. That’s okay. But you need to find a way to be heard if you want to actually listen to someone else. This may mean that you have to schedule a dis‐ cussion. As a pastor I often have people wanting to talk to me. But if I don’t have time to listen to them, I shouldn’t. I won’t be giving them my full attention and I may have to cut something short that needs to be longer. Sharon Browning has put together some 5‐minute videos on ways to help us listen to each other. She calls it “JUST Listening” and it is a really good resource to think about all the ways that we can listen better. If you want something more in depth you can read The Lost Art of Listening by Michael P. Nichols. It can be tempting to have all the answers. As a pastor I often feel like I need to have the answer for every question that comes my way. I don’t. If I give someone my best guess on something, I should tell them it is a guess—especially when it comes to the Bible. It’s probably better to admit that I don’t know. One of the things I love about discussing the Bible with people is learning something new about God. I have had times when someone had me stumped. You know what we did? We searched for the answer together. This may not always be the case. Sometimes people are trying to trip you up. The reality to this situation is that faking it will just lead you to more conflict when they realize that you really didn’t know. It’s always better to admit you don’t know, even if it means “losing” the argument. This is a big one. If you can’t summarize what the other person is saying and have them agree that’s what they said, then you haven’t understood them. This can be hard, because it can feel like you are agreeing with them. That’s not really the case, and unless you understand what they are saying you can’t under‐ stand how they might be right or wrong. My senior year in high school I had a history teacher who had me debate in favor of protecting the caribou habitat in Alaska from oil pipelines. After the class where he assigned sides, I asked if I could switch. He told me that he knew I was in favor of the pipeline and that was why he put me on the other side. Well, I wanted to win the debate so I learned everything I could about protecting the caribou. I like to tell everyone that I won (it Being Unsure is Okay Be Able to Articulate the Other Side’s Point
You Think Differently Than Everyone Else
This is something I learned when I was in middle school. People just don’t think like me. The more I talk to people, the more I realize that humans just assume everyone thinks like they do. We assume that people will respond to circumstances the way we will. This then leads to conflict because we assume that the only reason they said or did (or didn’t say or didn’t do) some‐ thing was because they hate us. The truth is usually that they are just different than we are. Before you assume that someone has malicious intent, ask them about it. Seriously. ASK THEM! When we realize that we think differently than others we find that we are just not nice people. If I think you would stab me in the back, it’s probably because I would stab you in the back. If I think you are being disingenuous, it’s probably because I would be disingenuous in the same situation. One of my favorite scenes in A Christmas Story is when Ralphie gets the bunny suit. The voice‐over says “Aunt Clara had for years labored under the delusion that I was not only perpetually four years old, but also a girl.” People can get stuck in their thinking. They can forget to give others grace. It can be hard to move forward when people think like that. Wouldn’t it be great if you stopped doing that to people? It’s easy for us to see how we have changed. After all we know ourselves. We know what we think and we know why we do things. But other people are not so easy. We must have grace for people. Yes, people have hurt you in the past. They have been stupid. But so have you—and you changed. They can too. The most important advice I can give you for having a produc‐ tive conversation is to pray. Pray the whole time. When I am in particularly tough situations, I find that prayer changes the at‐ mosphere. I have seen tense business meetings relax when someone has the wisdom to recommend prayer. That doesn’t mean that the situation was solved, but it did mean that people gained focus and perspective. We should always be seeking the will of God, especially when dealing with hard questions from Scripture. More than that, God has the ability to make enemies friends, change hard hearts, and open the ears of the deaf. Well that’s all I have for this month. Remember if you want to send me comments you can do that on the Facebook page for my blog, Contemplating Kenosis . And don’t forget that I will be having a live stream to talk to all of you January 16 at 8 pm EST. Note: This is part of a series focused on college‐age young adults. SR People Can Change Pray When Things Get Tough
SR • January 2020 15
Evangelist Ricardo Sepulveda standing with the Pastor and some of the other leaders of the first SDB Church in Cuba
Pastor Matt Olson in Zambia
In Philippians 1:3‐5, the Apostle Paul says, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” The Philippian church had evidently been a worthwhile partner with Paul, the global globetrotter, in his ministry and stewardship of the gospel. And he was ensuring to commend them on such faithful cooperation. Through the work of the Missionary Society, several local churches within the General Conference of the USA & Canada have embarked upon mostly informal partnerships with SDB Conferences around the world. The development of such partnerships is one of the ways that recognition is given to the fact that the carrying out of Jesus’ Great Commission is virtually impossible without meaningful and significant collaboration with like‐minded individuals and groups. Somehow, the Holy Spirit becomes both the cause and the effect of God’s people working together.
Among the current partnerships that can be recognized are the following: • Berlin, New York and Zambia • Sabbath Chapel, Georgia with Central Washington and Sierra Leone • Union Station, Florida and The Philippines • Houston, Texas and Ecuador • Riverside, California and Cuba • Verona, New York and Kenya • Dodge Center, Minnesota and Democratic Republic of Congo • Miami, Florida and Haiti • Full Gospel in Cumberland, Maryland with Grace in Bloomington, Minnesota and Bangladesh
FOCUS on Missions
Andy Samuels Chief Executive Director SDB Missionary Society
Pastor Michael Spearl in the Philippines
16 January 2020 • SR
The beginning of these partnerships and the way they have evolved is varied, and differ from one to the other in terms of what they undertake to keep the relationship healthy and dynamic. In several cases, the Pastor or another leader of the USA & Canada church traveled and made a visit to the overseas conference. Out of those visits, the Lord laid a vision or a burden on the Pastor’s heart; the Pastor returned home with a zeal and a commitment; put them into action; and mobilized his congregation into fur‐ ther communication, prayer, engagement, and support, for and with the overseas Conference. Through these part‐ nerships, relationships are built and deepened, ministry is facilitated, the Great Commission is pursued, and the world becomes a little smaller. The Missionary Society has not always been the catalyst for these partnerships, but wants to share in the encour‐ agement, facilitation, enhancement, and development of more of them through counsel, guidance, and the provi‐ sion of moral and spiritual support. If your church is not currently engaged in one of these partnerships, it can be. Even our Associations can partner with an overseas Con‐ ference for the advancing of the Kingdom of our Lord.
For prayerful consideration, think of at least these seven expectations that would be involved in your church part‐ nering with an overseas Conference to carry out the Lord’s assignment to all of us: P articipation – each of the partners participates in the other’s ministry in ways that are meaningful and according to the allowances of their circumstances. A ssistance – mutual help is given to each of the partici‐ pating parties, and many times, what one cannot do by themselves, they are able to do together. R eciprocity – mutual exchange is voluntarily entered into, and corresponding privilege is extended one to the other. T eamwork – goals are tackled in a united and harmonious way; the stronger looks out for the weaker, and the whole benefits from the exploits of the individuals. N urture – for there to be growth and development on both sides, the nurturing of the relationship must take place. This is done through study, sharing, mentoring, and discipleship. E nrich – each party is better off because of the other. Value is added, shared experiences enhance the journey, and there is a maturing which results. R esources – in any endeavor, very little can happen with‐ out resources. These include human, spiritual, emotional, material, and the ultimate Resource, which is the Lord God Almighty. It is our deep conviction that any effective engagement of missions around the world will inevitably involve the forg‐ ing of lively dynamic partnerships that are centered on the glory of Jesus Christ and the unfolding of His purpose for all of us. Will you become a partner? Make contact with the Missionary Society, and we’ll be glad to show you how. That’s not a bad objective for the new year. SR
Pastor David Johnson in Sierra Leone
Don’t forget to check out what my buddies are talking about on page 23!!
SR • January 2020 17
Ringing in the Old Ear
Happy New Year! The good news? Prayers and medicine and a good health plan brought healing to my body after a 2018 cancer diagnosis. I am extremely grateful. It did come with some costs and lessons: • Loss of lung capacity • Loss of strength and stamina
President’s Page by Kevin Butler
• Loss of grandchildren time to stay germ-free • Loss of feeling in extremities when it’s cold • Loss of heartbeat rate • Loss of a body part
But I did gain something. While at home recovering from a procedure, I heard something and looked around for the usual medical equipment that I had grown accustomed to at the hospital. What was that noise? It sounded like a high-pitched whine of jet engines that you experience while traveling at 30,000 feet. But not really that loud. Or, the sound of a bathroom exhaust fan gone squeaky or a small space heater. But a higher pitch and fainter. Or, more like the sound of an old tube radio or TV set when it’s first turned on. That’s closer. Or, maybe I can’t really explain tinnitus to someone who has never had it. I discovered that one of the meds in my chemo injections, combined with a drug given to induce the elimination of said chemo, can cause this “ringing” in the ears that affects so many millions of people. One source lists that 10-15% of people have tinnitus, and about a third of North Americans over the age of 55 experience it. One study in the Journal of Clinical Neurology says that in some patients it “takes the form of high- pitched whining, electric buzzing, hissing, humming… whistling, ticking, clicking, roaring, crickets, tree frogs, locusts (cicadas), tunes, songs, beeping, sizzling, or sounds that slightly resemble human voices, or even a pure steady tone like that heard during a hearing test.” See why it’s hard to describe? The ringing of tinnitus can be intermittent or continuous. Mine is always there. I went to an audiologist and got tested. He said that I had a small degree of hearing loss; normal for a person of “my age.” So I can still hear pretty well. (My wife might disagree…) There’s just a constant whine. (My wife might agree…) In normal situations, I’ve learned to simply “tune it out” for the most part. But it seems most obvious when it gets really quiet. In so many ways, it’s a small price to pay for the healing results of beating cancer. It’s a reminder of the experience through which I can identify with so many who have had or are going through their own health struggle. The ringing is always there. As is God’s presence and Spirit. How often do we “tune it out” and forget that He is truly with us? My ear ringing is a reminder—a reminder of the battle, the healing, and of God’s constant presence. I can live with that. Thank you, Lord. Fix your eyes—and ears—on Jesus. SR
Singer/Songwriter and Bible scholar Michael Card is coming to Conference! He will be teaching us to fix our eyes on Jesus, and leading a worshipful concert on Tuesday, July 28
Ask to be included in our Facebook group: “SDB Conference 2020”
18 January 2020 • SR
Ramping Up to Celebrate… 350 years in America!
This issue of the Recorder represents the first in the new decade. From the historical perspective, these sorts of changes represent ripe opportunities for consideration, as obvious signs of the changes of times and seasons (see Genesis 1:14). Beyond these biblical injunctions, our Conference’s vision map makes a point to note the importance of our heritage. For this reason, some perspective is necessary as we consider an important upcoming anniversary in SDB history. Fifty years ago, America entered a new decade following a suc- cessful landing of astronauts on the moon in 1969 and a decade of conflict, marked by the high-profile assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. One hundred years ago, America entered the “Roaring Twenties,” with financial prosperity leading to cultural changes in technology and the arts, including electrification in cities and the prolifera- tion of the automobile. One hundred and fifty years ago, America was emerging from the Civil War, a nation still divided over the Reconstruction of the southern states as Ulysses S. Grant tried to move the nation forward. The first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869 as coast-to-coast transportation became possible without a long boat trip. Two hundred years ago, America was establishing itself as a nation following the completion of the War of 1812, and expand- ing westward, avoiding controversy over the issue of slavery through “the Missouri Compromise” in 1820 to open settlement in the Northwest (now the upper Midwest) and Missouri Territo- ries, and admitting Maine and Missouri to the United States. Two hundred and fifty years ago, America was a British territory sailing into stormy waters. On March 3, 1770, British soldiers fired into a mob of colonists, killing several of them in an event that would come to be known as the Boston Massacre, later im- mortalized in a famous engraving by local silversmith Paul Revere which would become one of the sparks of the American revolution. Nearly one hundred years before all these occurrences—almost as far away from the Boston Massacre as we currently are from “the Roaring Twenties”—is the founding of the first Seventh Day
Baptist church in America at Newport, Rhode Island, late in 1671. In 2021, we will celebrate as a Conference the founding of the first church in North America! The Council on History is busily preparing a variety of remem- brances and events which we hope will aid us in remembering this important event, as all Seventh Day Baptist churches owe some sort of debt to the Newport church, if “only” in terms of theological and historical roots. Those members who ultimately became the Seventh Day Baptist church in Newport were engaged in their lives in 1670, walking into a new decade unaware of what God would do among them. They were months away from separating from their previous church (most of them were members at John Clarke’s First Baptist
Church in Newport), but still work- ing in community with them, how- ever strained the relationships were starting to become. As you start this new decade, what has God appointed for you and your church? What new callings and ministries will God give you? What new people will God bring into your life who need your care and faithful witness to Jesus Christ? May God lead you with faith and confidence into this time! SR
Council on History Rev. Nicholas J. Kersten Director of Education and History
SR • January 2020 19
Life Skills Are Learned
I’ve recently been going through a hiring phase at my workplace. We are in the process of expanding and ex‐ periencing growing pains associated with bringing on new staff. In that process it’s becoming more evident than ever before that more and more people have no idea how to appropriately function in the workplace. I am willing to work on that and train to make certain they have the skills for the job they will be performing— but there is still something missing. Some job candidates want to have a job but don’t actually want to work or don’t understand what work entails. They have to be taught the basic knowledge of the job and then how to do it. They must also be taught what it means to work. Foreign concepts are things like showing up on time, finding out what they can do if they aren’t busy and going the extra mile, and making sure they are actually doing the job they’re getting paid to do—not just talk‐ ing to their co‐workers. Ideally, these are all fixable problems with a quick conversation; then down the road, if we must, make an improvement plan. Honestly, things don’t usually get to an improvement plan— usually the person quits or just stops showing up all together. I’ve seen this with adults, young adults, and oldish young adults like myself, and I wonder why an
with parents who not only modelled, but also encour‐ aged me and gave me opportunities to practice these sorts of concepts. Another thing that really helped me learn was being a part of General Conference. Granted my parents had to get me there (so this is part of that whole opportunities thing), but I learned so much by going to the business meetings and then, as I got older, participating in them. Let me tell you, if as an awkward 16‐year‐old, you can read a committee report on the floor of Conference, presenting ideas that you helped write—I think you’ll do alright in a boardroom. Those are the sorts of experiences you don’t forget, lessons that you learn that are extremely valuable. Those are the sorts of experiences that most people have never been given. One of the big things for SCSCers to do is to attend Conference and be involved in its activities. Even if the project isn’t part of Conference, they’re still expected to attend and be involved. But Conference costs money. The Dorthea Shettel Fund was set up to make sure that SCSC students can attend Conference and continue to put their new and improved leadership skills to work in different contexts. This fund provides financial aid to pay for SCSC students’ Conference expenses so that they can attend and be involved in General Conference. Attending and being involved in General Conference is an invaluable experience. It is a learning opportunity for the students, many of whom would not be able to attend without the financial assistance the Dorthea Shettel Fund offers. As with any fund—it is finite and requires some replenishment. So in this new year, as SCSC student applications are coming in (they’re due January 8!), prayerfully consider budgeting to allow a donation to the Dorthea Shettel Fund and help give an SCSCer the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills that will last them a lifetime. SR
ever‐growing portion of the population doesn’t seem to understand how to work. Guess what! It’s because no one ever taught them how. Contrary to popular belief, people are not born with the innate understanding of what work is and how to comport themselves appropriately while performing work. I feel very fortunate that I grew up