October 2020 A Seventh Day Baptist Publication Sabbath Recorder
TheLord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul;
—Psalm 23:1-3 NASB
In This Issue
Three Key Factors By Rev. Dave Stall 7 Faithful and Flexible By Gabriel Graf fi us
Change is Good B y Frank Mazza
Access for All By JR Shick
Let’s Send our Young Adults by Andy Samuels
Does Your Church Live a Questionable Life? by Carl Greene Executive Director
Chief Executive Director SDB Missionary Society
SCSC 2020 Team Change by Katrina Goodrich Women’s Society
SDBs Win Respect in Minnesota Reprinted from the Sabbath Recorder July 21, 1969 Celebrating “What The Lord Had Discovered” to Them by Nick Kersten Director of Education and History
SDBs “Amplify” the Name of Jesus! by Nick Kersten Director of Education and History
SCSC by Holly Probasco Young Adults
Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus When We Sin by Matthew Butler Conference Bible Study Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus As Our Righteousness by Matthew Butler Conference Bible Study Restored for a Purpose by Kevin Butler Conference President 2021
Counterfeit Saviors by Phil Lawton Everyday Theology
MULTIPLY Conference Update by John J. Pethtel Director of Church Development Director of Pastoral Services Obituary Birth
October Memory Verse
SR • October 2020 3
October 2020 Patricia Cruzan, Editor
WHO ARE SEVENTH DAY BAPTISTS?
A Seventh Day Baptist Publication Volume 242, No. 10, Whole No. 7,072 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. SUBCRIPTIONS: 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
• 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
FOR MORE INFORMATION
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: seventhdaybaptist.org Director of Communications : J eremiah Owen email@example.com cell: (818) 468-9077
Editor of the Sabbath Recorder firstname.lastname@example.org
4 October 2020 • SR
Three Key Factors
By Rev. Dave Stall
What are some aspects of good health in a Seventh Day Baptist church? What are some indicators or common characteristics of churches that are healthy and thriving? What are some areas that a sick church needs to look at in order to be revitalized?
These are very good questions that we should all be asking as we consider the vitality, effectiveness, and health of our local churches. It has been my privilege to work for/with four churches in my adult life of ministry. The first, in Colorado Springs, CO, was a young church plant still picking up speed. The next three were all historic New England churches (200+ years old) that were very sick and near death. In all four churches, I had the joy of participating and leading in a season of revitalization and growth. At my current church in Ashaway, RI, that season and process of growth has ex- tended beyond 10 years. With intentional, common sense implementation of simple Biblical mandates for churches, looking different in each specific context, we saw dramatic improvement evidenced by new disciples of Christ and maturing disciples of Christ. During those years and in those churches, I have learned from other great leaders and mentors. I have grown in my own understanding of what it takes to bring a church back from the brink. I have labored alongside many other com- mitted Christians as we made the hard decisions to do the right things and hold ourselves to higher standards. Together, we have decided to stop “playing church” and start being the church. I have tasted and seen, several times, the joy of being in a church that God has breathed new life into in response to the faithfulness and pleas of His people. From these experiences and my continued study on the matter, I am highlighting three areas that I think are crucial for SDB Churches to consider. In another time or format, I would love to go over each bullet point and provide more information, explanation, and examples. For now, I hope you can find benefit in some of these points.
In your mission as a local church, evangelism should be a primary focus. If it’s a primary focus, it should be a primary activity. If it is not BOTH a primary focus and activity, you have already discovered a major illness that is keeping your church from good health. Evangelism and outreach should not always be separate items from all of your other ministry work, but should be incorporated into all of your ministry work. In other words, don’t think of evangelism and invitation as certain specific ministry activities—but consider how they should be part of every ministry activity. Since we are limited here on space, let me list a few bullet points of things you might consider for evaluation and improvement in your local church. If you are effective in these areas of evangelism and invitation, then you should be seeing conversions and baptisms. The Checklist: • Advertising/press coverage/quality online presence • Holding outreach events and ministries for highly visible community engagement • Attractive signs/welcoming, accessible, and comfortable facilities • Visitor-friendly worship service, culture, and atmosphere • Neutral space gatherings (coffee shop, diner, restaurant, library, homes) • Personal ongoing (individual and group) conversations and invitations • Relevant and applicable Bible teaching and preaching • Clear and frequent Gospel presentation in worship, preaching, and gatherings • Testimonies, sermons, and worship times with a direct invitation to respond to the Gospel • Prayer and deliverance ministry opportunities to help people find freedom in Christ • Baptism services which are more of an invitation than a graduation
1. Conversion and Baptism through Evangelism and Invitation
Every Christian who loves God and cares for other people must be active as a fisher of men. No one is “off the hook” and everyone can play a “reel” part in winning souls. This is not only true for individuals, but also for churches. As SDB churches, I believe it is time for us (corporately) to come out of the shadows, leave the bunker, and go after lost souls.
2. Whole-life Discipleship through Authentic Relationships
Most of you would probably list “discipleship” in some form as a top priority and central function of your church. I would agree that it must be near the top of our list when
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considering church health. Rather than thinking of disciple- ship as only Bible teaching and understanding, I think we need to consider whole-life discipleship that brings people to more holy and Christ-like mindsets and behaviors in all areas of life. Mature Christians should be helping others (new and developing Christians) understand how life should change as a follower of Christ. There should be teaching, mentoring, modeling, coaching, counseling, and support in all areas of life including home, family, and work. It is not possible to have this kind of close, relational discipleship process without spending good amounts of time together and getting to know each other personally. If you are going to be in a discipleship relation- ship with someone, then you should be in their home, have them in your home, know their family, visit their work, know how they like their coffee, understand their background, know what they smell like, and talk often about deep things. Consider your strength or deficiency in these pieces of your discipling relationships and church programs: • Introduce Biblical concepts one-on-one and in small groups • Host small group Bible studies, Sabbath school times, Christian book studies • Help with practical, real-time life application of Biblical principles • Provide Biblical perspectives and answers to real questions and issues • Counsel people through deliverance, soul-care, and personal problems • Provide counseling and support in family and relational issues • Create a culture of honesty about sin/struggles and expectations of freedom • Walk with people through crises by going through the messy stuff with them • Practice hospitality by inviting people into your home and sharing your personal space • Have meals together, attend family events, share church and non-church experiences • Assist each other with physical, financial, and practical needs • Address bad theology, doctrinal distortions, and misunderstandings directly • Watch over each other with brotherly love and accountability • Practice covenant living and church discipline to light the path to Christian maturity
that none of your consultants or business leaders have ever run a successful business, succeeded in sales of any kind, or used any social media platforms. Even worse, your consul- tants show no real interest in engaging in conversation or consultation with clients. Now, even if some terrible lapse in judgment resulted in actual clients, disappointment and failure would be certain outcomes. So, you don’t like business analogies? Then, suppose you want to run a treatment and rehabilitation program for people coming out of addiction. For your program staff, you recruit a team of people who have never experienced addiction, can’t understand how anyone could be addicted to anything, and have no capacity or training to work with people on overcoming addiction. Again, disappointment and failure would be certain outcomes. Ok, you just want to hear the church part? Let’s say you are given the task of overseeing a church with the primary objective of the great commission, as in recruiting and raising disciples of Jesus. Imagine for a moment that you appoint several people as church “leaders” in various roles but those leaders cannot, will not, or do not regularly engage in evangelism, invitation, discipleship activities, and au- thentic relationships as outlined in the paragraphs above. Disappointment and failure would be certain outcomes. As silly as it sounds, I run into people all the time who have roles or titles that imply they are church leaders, but they are not actually leading anyone in the areas of the stated primary mission of their churches. Please use this list for some per- sonal reflection and self-evaluation. As a church leader: • You can’t lead where you haven’t been • You can’t teach or model things that you cannot, will not, or do not do regularly • You need gifting, calling, training, and development as a leader within the church • A title or position of church leader does not make you a leader of the church • Are you doing and “living out” the activities/functions that are central to the church mission? • Realize that the church will rarely grow beyond its leadership • How are you helping other leaders in the church to grow and develop as leaders? • How are you identifying, equipping, and empowering new and emerging church leaders? Rev. Dave Stall has served as Senior Pastor at First Hopkinton SDB Church in Rhode Island for more than 10 years. He earned his M.Div. with an emphasis in Church Development at Alliance Theological Seminary in NY where he is also a doctoral candidate, writing a disser- tation on “Best Practices for Revitalization of Historic Churches.” He served for several years as President of the SDB Missionary Society and was the SDB Conference President in 2018. Dave has been married to Jennifer for over 20 years and they have five children ages 5-17. SR
3. Effective Leadership through Modeling and Development
Imagine running a business that markets itself as a group of consultants who stand ready to assist clients with leveraging new social media platforms to increase sales and grow their business. For this particular consulting business, let’s imagine
6 October 2020 • SR
Faithful and Flexible
By Gabriel Graffius
Refining Worship The COVID-19 lockdown came upon us suddenly. From one Sabbath service to the next, First Hopkinton SDB went from attendance of over 100 to a government-imposed limit of 25. Then the limit was ten. Soon after that, it was five. Each week we adjusted our worship service and who participated. Each week our awesome crew had to leave its family at home and “wear more hats” to live-stream the worship service. I am thankful that we were already live-streaming services, so we were making adjustments as opposed to starting something new. On top of the stress and turmoil of a global pandemic, we had to learn how to “do” church in a different way almost every week. To remain faithful to God, our congregation, and many live-
stream guests from around the world, we were forced to be innovative and flexible. We also had to evaluate what we did and how we did it to become more effective in this time. I believe this refining process of flexibility, evaluation, and innovation should have been occur- ring in churches before the pandemic and should continue after it ends. Do you see this process at work in your church? To be honest, I don’t think this is very common. What I find to be far more common is comfort in the way it has always been and even strong resis- tance to change. The pandemic has now forced a change on all of us—how will we respond when it ends? Flexibility
One of the many practical ways I envision COVID-19 leading to revi- talization is that it forced us to be flexible in how we minister in our church. A few years ago, when I was at Raritan Valley SDB church, membership and regular attendance were dwindling. As a result, we made many adjustments to the service. We stopped doing things that didn’t work with a small number of people. We used recorded music and integrated a projector into the service. We tried a different order of service and even tried a Friday night worship service to better accommodate schedules. Eventually, when the building was sold and in the process of being remodeled, we worshiped in homes, hotel conference rooms, and restaurant banquet areas and had to adjust worship accordingly (I wish we had thought of online church!). It wasn’t normal, but it was necessary. Some things worked better than others. It taught me to be more comfortable with change and Continued on next page...
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to be flexible as a ministry leader. The apostle Paul had a similar strategy in each city he visited, but he was also a very flexible church leader. COVID-19 reminds me of the situations in Acts 18:5-11 and 19:8-10. When met with heavy resistance and expulsion from the synagogue, Paul quickly found new places to minister. The new places of worship and teaching helped him to interact with different people and it resulted in greater growth and outreach than before the move. A little flexibility can make a huge differ- ence in outreach. Evaluation Just being flexible and willing to change is not where it ends. We must constantly and honestly assess what is working and what is not working to keep improving at what we do. Whether we did it the first time last week or we have been doing it the same way for 50 years, we have to evaluate its effectiveness and find ways to improve it or even remove it. About two weeks after re-opening, about 70-80% of our regular attendees had returned to church despite the masks and odd seating arrangement. Some, for various reasons, were still not comfortable attending. We knew that nearly all of them were live-streaming, but couldn’t help but wonder what it would take for them to return. At this point we felt that the church was surviving the pandemic, but not yet thriving. Then, one week we had a technical glitch that took down the live-stream. It was unfortunate, but God was working in it. In the middle of Pastor Dave’s sermon, I was in the back and saw a regular attendee that had not yet “returned” to church standing in the doorway listening. She had been coming to church and live-streaming from her car. She wanted to be at church but wasn’t comfortable in church. It turns out she wasn’t the only one—and this led to a speaker being set up to provide sound to about ten people on the church lawn. Fast forward a few more weeks and the whole service moved outside under a large tent. Many who had been missing returned, and they were joined by several others from the community who took interest in our “in-tents” worship. We went from surviving to thriving by constantly evaluating what we were doing and making adjustments. We were not satisfied until we were reaching as many people as possible. Now, we are evaluating and trying out other uses for the tent. There have also been many requests to get one again next summer! Innovation What I described about the lead-up to the tent represented small steps forward that we made after evaluations—but the “in-tents” worship was actually a giant leap of innova- tion (ironically, this “new” thing for us was a lot like the tabernacle). Minor tweaks are helpful, but being willing to go forward in faith and possibly fail leads to the greatest
growth. Many times we can be too risk averse to innovate well. Sometimes, when people speak of the need for the church to be flexible and open to change, they are really asking us to compromise on our beliefs. We can, in fact, be innovative with how and where we minister without com- promising the Gospel. Tim Lucas illustrates this well when he says that we can be “closed-handed with the message, but open-handed with our methods.” COVID-19 gave us no choice but to innovate. Beyond the “in-tents” worship, we generated 7-minute video messages on YouTube, added Facebook to our Live Stream, video testimonies were inte- grated into the service, Zoom Bible studies were started, and outdoor prayer groups gathered. New people from our community and around the world viewed our content or joined us as a result of innovation. At the same time, I was encouraged to see various video messages, Zoom Bible studies, and streaming revivals hosted by our fellow SDBs. Church leaders united and responded quickly to the situ- ation. Some were more out of their comfort zones than others, but we all tried. Each had a different way of doing it, but we continued to minister. The same Gospel was preached, but a whole new group of people were exposed to it because SDB churches utilized different methods. I see a great need for the church to continue, like Paul, to become “all things to all people so that by all possible means” some will be saved (1 Corinthians 9:22). Some events will fall flat. Great ideas might be executed poorly the first time, but we can adjust. Regardless of our past successes or failures, we must never stop being willing to try new things to reach new people. Repeat Although we have now been able to return to “in-person” services at First Hopkinton SDB, the need for flexibility, evaluation, and innovation continues. In fact, its presence prior to the virus reduced the disruption when it began. I hope and pray it doesn’t disappear with the virus from our fellow churches. I have begun to view COVID-19, or even all of 2020, as a refiner’s fire for the revitalization of the church—a chance to remove distractions from our lives and help us to fix our eyes on Jesus. It is my prayer that many churches “emerge from this trial purified, resulting in an increase in the praise and honor and glory of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7). I have heard many members of various churches anticipating the day when things return to normal, the way it used to be. I totally understand, but should we really snap back to 2019? Was the way it used to be the best it could be? The way that God intended us to be? You have been refined for a purpose—go forth in His will. Gabriel Graffius is the husband to Adrienne, father to Abigail and Lydia, and associate pastor of the First Hopkinton SDB church in Ashaway, RI. SR
8 October 2020 • SR
Change is Good
By Frank Mazza
I recently went into our local Wawa convenience store for a cup of coffee. Above the counter was a sign saying the store was short on change and the use of credit or debit would be appreciated. Later that same day I grabbed some groceries from Acme and was faced with the same message. “Not enough change to support customer needs. Please use alternate means for payment.” It seems that the ongoing pandemic has slowed in-person retail sales to the point that small change is in big demand. That got me to thinking—sometimes “change” can be a good thing: not necessarily coinage that supports small businesses—but in our personal and spiritual lives. One of my favorite Bible stories is when the apostle Paul is testifying to King Agrippa about his conversion on the Damascus road. He (Paul) says in Acts 26:14 that after he was struck by a blinding light he heard a voice speak to him and say “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads”. For anyone not familiar with the finer points in herding sheep, a goad is a long pointy stick that shepherds would use to change the path of the lead sheep—and thus the direction of the whole herd. Paul, at the time of his conversion, was still a Pharisee and on a mission to destroy the Christian church. However, God was calling him in a different direction. I believe that deep down Paul knew well before Damascus that Jesus was in fact the Messiah. Perhaps it was pride that kept him from admitting he needed to change his old mindset that the Law was the only path to salvation. Maybe it was fear of not being in control of the situation. But I do know this... Paul was kicking against the goad when Jesus was calling him to change direction until eventually, change was unavoidable. In addition to Paul, there are countless other examples in the Bible where change was put upon people. Moses, Abraham, Joseph, and Daniel are just a few of the many individuals who faced unavoidable changes in their lives. In each of these examples, God used uncomfortable and even downright unpleasant circumstances to develop and grow His people to accomplish His will. Now, I do understand that change is not always seen as favorable. Allowing something (or someone) beside ourselves to be in control of a situation can cause feelings of anxiety and fear. However, it can also be dangerous to allow these feelings to prevent us from truly submitting to what God has in store for us as individuals and as Seventh Day Baptists. All of us have had to cope with unavoidable changes to our routines this year. Perhaps this is a time to listen to what direction we are being goaded. Let me encourage you to seek His will today even when it means encountering unwanted change. You may discover that the road ahead is more glorious than what you can envision today!
As a member of the denomination’s Church Revitalization Task Force, I would also like to encourage churches to consider praying about enrolling in the PULSE program aimed at helping Seventh Day Baptist churches examine if they are
truly healthy and focused on His mission. It can be intimidating to stop and ask if God is calling your church to change in some areas. But just as Paul was able to accomplish great things through obedience and newfound humility—so too can we enjoy fruitful ministries in our communities when we allow God to be in control. Even if that means small change is needed. SR
Frank Mazza serves on the Church Revitalization Task Force (CRTF) for the denomination and is an active member at the Shiloh Seventh Day Baptist Church.
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ACCESS FOR ALL
By JR Shick
A friend and mentor once told me that it is easier to keep a ball rolling than to let it stop and try to start it again once it stops. I have found this to be extremely wise advice! (Thanks, Mr. Ed!) However you are processing this current season we find ourselves in, we have the opportunity to reflect on what we were doing (rolling the ball) and re-evaluate the direction of our lives. You might be thinking, “How do we keep the ball rolling if we are heading in a new direction?” Sometimes it is easiest to go back to the basics by remembering why we are rolling this ball in the first place and why were we called “...for a time such as this….” I have seen firsthand the power of God inspiring and motivating in ways that I would never expect. When God moves, HE moves! A person who has a passion for God while being led by the Spirit of God has the incredible power to motivate, encourage, and empower individuals. I was able to experience this astonishing power just a couple weeks ago in my own family. Different ministries and gatherings were consistent at the parsonage in White Cloud prior to our state’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order. For some, trying to climb the three steps required to enter the house was difficult, and for others, impossible. These three steps granted access for only those without a walker or wheelchair. This bothered my wife, Sarah, as she felt the need to have everyone be invited and welcomed to the parsonage, not just those
10 October 2020 • SR
who could manage the three steps. She felt so moved that she started to do research on ramps. Sarah asked her father for advice as he is quite a tradesman. As the two of them ran configurations, Dad felt motivated to come to White Cloud and take measurements to help get the exact numbers for the config- urations. He lives four hours away. Multiple plans were discussed and worked on. While working on the plans, Dad stated he would volunteer to do the labor if the church would pay for the materials. My son Keith was listening and asked if he could help by using the computer to create a 3D image of the ramp…he was 10 years old at the time. The project, Access For All , was presented to the Trustees and approval was given to begin construction of a ramp. Dad and Mom brought their camper along with a trailer full of the tools we would need to build a ramp. Then the work began!! The work took about three weeks. As the work was being done, people from the community would stop to inquire who was injured in our family so severely a ramp was necessary. It was quite touching that neighbors, city police officers, members from other churches, and friends expressed genuine concern for our family. My dad would reply, “This is the parsonage and the church wants access for everyone.” The invite is for all to come and now there is Access For All . My wife, on fire from the Lord, told me she had this, to stay out of the planning, and focus on my workload. I loved watching everything unfold and for the record, I did not participate in anything except the labor...and loved it! This is exactly why we need the body to work together so the ball keeps rolling. We need to allow others to roll the ball for a while so we can take a break and reflect. So where do we start? Start with...focus. Consider why we
started the ball rolling in the first place. We are servants and servants...serve! We help when help is needed. We seek the needs of others by spending time encouraging our neighbors through prayer, work, and service. We must see all people as Children of God and show them compassion as we work together. We encourage and bring along others to help serve. I find other people want to help. People just need to be asked and pointed in the right direction. We intentionally share our talents the Lord has blessed us so abundantly with. As we share in the service to advance God’s Kingdom, we will find that we have little to do with the ball rolling at all. It is actually rolling because God is pushing…we need to follow HIM in how HE works!! The time and the way we serve may look a little different for now; however, we are blessed from those who were faithful in preserving our heritage: “We will...remember our past to inform our present and plan for the future.” (Quote taken from the September 2015 Sabbath Recorder, page 17.) Our churches are still working, maybe not the way we used to, but still working. We still are called to worship, teach and share in the Gospel. This article was inspired by the denomination’s Vision Map developed by our General Council. I felt called to share with you how I see this vision being lived out in our community and maybe God will roll you in a new and different direction. John 13:34-35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV 1984) SR
JR Shick has been the Pastor of the White Cloud SDB Church in Michigan for the past 6 years. He has been married to his wife Sarah for 16 years and they have 2 children, daughter Kashya, 14, and a son Keith III, 11.
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Does Your Church Live a Questionable Life? 1 By Carl Greene Executive Director If your answer to this inquiry about a “Questionable Life” is no, then your church may not be healthy. Really. A questionable life is necessary for a church to fl ourish, and we should be yearning for taking questionable actions. But developing a correct de fi nition of “questionable” is a critical piece of church health. Let’s do that with a story. Picture yourself alongside me at an outdoor fair, getting ready to watch the beginning of a high dive stunt show. The announcer is speaking through an
overpowered speaker that crackles and pops with his shouted sales pitch. He announces that the platform people will be diving from is 80 feet in the air, and that we should prepare to watch people reach speeds of 55 miles per hour as they careen toward the undersized pool below. As the fi rst diver steps out onto the diving platform, people start splashing the water in the pool
so the diver can see where to aim for. The diver leaps off of the platform and...
At this point in the story, two questions pop into my mind. First, how is the diver able to do this? I do not mind heights— fl ying in airplanes, looking out of tall buildings, you name
it, they are not a concern to me. However, I do not like the idea of falling—tree climbing, rock climbing, roof renovations— those are not my strong suits. Hence, I am amazed by someone who is able to do this, and it makes me wonder how they are able to do such a feat.
This invites my second question, why would the diver do this? There must be a compelling reason why someone would train and be prepared to undertake such a courageous action that I would not dream to do. So, I end up asking, why? Let’s connect the dots to church health at this point. I am not advocating doing stunts to try to get people’s attention. Save that for a two-minute video. What I am advocating is that my church, your church, our churches should be engaging
1 For “questionable life,” see: Frost, Michael. 2016. Surprise the World! The Five Habits of Highly Missional People . Colorado Springs: NavPress. 1, 5.
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Reprinted from The Sabbath Recorder dated July 21, 1969
Seventh Day Baptists Win Respect in Minnesota On the weekend of June 15 the village of Dodge Center, Minn., celebrated its centennial with the festivities and contests characteristic of such celebra- tions, with beards and bonnets harking back to pioneer days. The Star Record comments on the time of beginning thus: Because the population of Dodge Center has a large percentage of Seventh Day people, the celebration was scheduled to be held after their weekly Sabbath. Many of the town’s early settlers were members of the Seventh Day Baptist faith who organized the first church in Dodge Center in 1859. The Seventh-day Adventist church was moved here from Concord a few years later. Community affairs are traditionally planned to re- spect the religious beliefs of these groups and thus the dates for the centennial events were set for Saturday night, June 14, and Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, June 15, 16 and 17. On Sunday night there was a talent show for youth of various ages. Of the seven entries, five had Seventh Day Baptist teenagers in them. The trio and octet from the church were the winning groups, it is reported. It would appear that the church youth lived up to the respect that was given to them and their faith. They took part in the festivities after the Sabbath when they could with good conscience participate. Five teenagers from the Seventh Day Baptist Church of Dodge Center are volunteers this summer in the dedicated service program of the denomination.
in missional kingdom work in a way that makes people ask questions. How does the church meet a community need that everyone else avoids or misses? Why does the church invest so much in her community and have the passion to speak boldly about what she believes? The focus is not on grabbing attention with a stunt. The focus is on living with purposeful mission in a way that primarily honors God, and subsequently leads people to ask questions. In Surprise the World , author Michael Frost talks about individual believers being called to live questionable lives. After all, each one of us is called to live “question- able lives” in which people ask us questions because of how and why we are living out our faith in every- day life. Here is the rub. When is the last time you and I were asked about our faith? When was the last time my church, your church, our churches were asked about how and why we do what we do? If it has been a long time, is it because we are not living a healthy life? Want to learn more about living a questionable life? Certainly grab a copy of Surprise the World by Michael Frost to pick up some practical ideas—and it costs you less than 104 pages of reading. I came across this book thanks to Director Nick Kersten—he is a wealth of information and resource suggestions— please connect with him with further questions. For broader questions about church health, please con- nect with Director John Pethtel, who can introduce you to the SDB PULSE process and a pathway into intentional, questionable church life. SR
Celebrating “What The Lord Had Discovered” to Them
By Nick Kersten Director of Education & History
SR The same God who guided and directed those first Seventh Day Baptists in the United States guided those who came before them in England, and many others since. That God is still active in our world, and the Holy Spirit is active in us. Just as that first congregation was committed to edifying and building one another up, let us now all commit to mutual edification in this season of difficulty, taking our cue from those who came before. There are many things, undoubtedly, which we do not all agree on in this season of difficulty and misinformation. But there are more important things we do agree on. As we celebrate this year, may what binds us together in the love of Jesus Christ be greater than those temporal things which divide us! “…We entered into a church covenant the 23 day of Dec. 1671…After Serious Consideration and Seeking gods face among our Selves for the lord to direct us in a right way for us our Children So as might be for Gods glory and our souls good and others Example. We Entered into Covenant with ye lord and with one another and gave up our Selves to god and one another to walk together in all gods Holy Commandments and Holy Ordinances according to what the lord had Discovered to us or Should Discover to be his mind for us to be obedient unto; with sense upon our Hearts of great need to be watchful over one another. Did promise so to do, and in Edifying & building up one another in our Most holy faith…” —from the covenant of the Newport, RI SDB church It goes without saying that not having the meetings of our Conference in person this year because of the pandemic was a disappointment—but we all have our different reasons for disappointment. For me, not meeting was especially disappointing in one respect: we had planned to kick off the celebration of an important anniversary at our General Conference meetings this summer: the 350 th anniversary of the Newport SDB church, which was founded in 1671. The Council on History has planned celebrations for this Conference year for the past several years, and we expect to celebrate this anniversary regardless of the pandemic. As we begin our celebration, I thought it appropriate for us to begin with the text of the Newport church’s first covenant, which opens this entry. That first congregation was small and smarting from disagreements with the church where they had previously been members—John Clarke’s First Baptist church in Newport. Some who had shared their convictions had turned away from them, and one of their brothers in Christ had openly leveled charges against them that they were legalists because of their conviction regarding the Sabbath. They were under significant stress, and one of the few comforts in their struggle was correspondence with SDBs in England. Yet despite that stress, the members of that first congregation decided to stand to- gether and hold one another up, convinced that the God who had called them and convicted them would also preserve and protect them. They did not claim to have all of the revelation of God, and indeed left places for whatever “should discover” to them, but felt it important to gather together and watch over one another in those places where they did have clarity about what “the lord had discovered to them.” Many of us now feel under stress in these difficult times. But as we begin our celebra- tion of the 350 th of the Newport church, we should find hope in what God did in their midst. An entire denomination of people, and indeed an entire world filled with people, have benefited from their faithfulness in difficult times. As they stayed faithful to one another through difficulties and struggles, God was also faithful to guide and direct them, and to bring increase to their work.
14 October 2020 • SR
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have su ff ered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, fi rm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10) There you are, relaxing outside on a beautiful late summer day, just about to drift o ff to sleep. All of a sudden a buzzing and vibrating emergency alert signal goes o ff on your phone! Takes you by surprise, doesn’t it? Peter’s letter to Christians scattered in Asia alerts them (and us) that for believers, su ff ering is no surprise. The good news is that it’s only going to last for a little while. God calls us to a future hope and glory. There’s a day on His master calendar when He is going to make everything right. We need to trust Him in that plan. How have we been called to that eternal glory? “In Christ Jesus.” Without Jesus working on our behalf, there is no plan! Everything about God’s plan, every ‐ thing about our eternal glory, is possible because it is in Christ. This year’s denominational Scripture Memory program is getting “Paula’s Promotional Push.” Paula Davis, a member of the Verona, NY, church, has volunteered her time and talents in pushing the memory program to higher levels of participation. We thank Paula for her word and craft skills, and for her Spirit ‐ led positive nudge for more of us to memorize God’s Word. Part of Paula’s strategy is to have various people write a devotional based on the month’s memory verse. The fi rst one is the Conference theme verse, and we thought that I should take that one on. Here is my devotional for 1 Peter 5:10. Since becoming Conference president, I have been posting installments of “Our Daily Bread” devotionals on our Facebook page, previewing the post with a teaser summary or main point. (You can ask to join the group “SDB Conference 2021.”) A Sabbath School teacher once reminded us that “doing devotions” is more than reading a short personal re fl ection. If someone just reads my cap ‐ tion for the daily devotional, that’s not enough. If someone just reads the actual devotional, that’s not enough. Are we taking the time to read the Scripture that the devotional is based on? Do we
By Kevin Butler Conference President 2021
Maintaining our faith and focus is possible when we realize that God is working out His plan for our life. And God encourages us that we’re going to make it all the way to the end. Check out these words of promise and assurance:
–He will RESTORE us.
–He will make us STRONG, FIRM and STEADFAST.
Through all of our su ff ering and struggle, the Lord God is at work— to restore and to strengthen, making us (His children) fi rm and steadfast. Every tear and trial — even death itself — is swallowed up in His victory! The su ff ering of today reminds us what is truly valuable and worthy. So don’t despair. God uses our su ff ering for our good, and for His glory. He will restore us. That’s a promise! SR read any other Bible references cited in the daily reading? Are we looking in the Bible for the context of the passage? I know that we’re busy. And yes, we’re distracted. Yes, we have a to ‐ do list screaming at us. Are we too busy to be restored? Can we give the Lord enough time and attention where He can “do His thing” on us and for us? Be more than a devotional skimmer. Dig deeper into the Word. Seek the Author of the Word, and be restored. SR
SR • October 2020 15
More from Conference
Morning Bible study led by Matthew Butler Thursday, July 30
Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus When We Sin I John 1:5—2:1
them out, we try to navigate through life in the dark. What we need is illumina ti on. We need something to illuminate the darkened parts of our hearts and clear out that sin that so easily entangles us. Or, in this case, we need someONE. Let’s look together at Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus When We Sin. The Scripture we’ll be spending our ti me in is 1 John 1:5—2:1. Now, you’ll no ti ce that the ti tle is “Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus When We Sin.” Not IF we sin…but WHEN we sin. One of the dangers of the Chris ti an life, especially if you’ve been following Jesus for a long ti me, is to assume that you no longer have any signi fi cant sin. It’s almost like sin is a bad roommate that we’ve just go tt en used to . “Oh, that’s just Sin over there…leaving his dirty dishes in the sink. Not cleaning up a ft er himself... We should be con ti nually ridding our lives of sin and pu tti ng it to death ! You know, dragging it o ff the sofa of our hearts and kicking it to the curb. The passage that I want us to look at in 1 John 1 starts o ff in verse 5 with this: “This is the message we have heard from him [‘him’ being Jesus] and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not prac ti ce the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” There is this “spiritual line,” if you will, between Light and Darkness. We can’t say that we’re “in the light” while we’re stalking over here in the shadows. You are
One of the joys I had growing up in the Milton (WI) SDB Church was going to Camp Wakonda every year. This beau ti ful property is full of tall trees, green grass, woods to explore, games to play... Great memories! One of the “not so happy” memories I have from Camp Wakonda has to do with the fact that the boys’ dorm is about 300 yards away from everything else. It’s tucked away, far from the main building. And at night, a ft er ge tti ng ready for bed in the bathrooms of the main building, you have to trek back all the way to the dorm before “lights out.” I remember one par ti cular night, when I had taken a li tt le too long ge tti ng ready for bed and I was le ft to make the journey back ALONE . One thing I should men ti on: the land between the main building and the boys’ dorm is a mine fi eld of obstacles—including trees of various sizes, log benches around a big open fi replace circle, and picnic tables. Usually, there was a single light, high on a pole or tree, that would light the way “home.” But on this par ti cular night it was OUT. It was pitch black. So I did what every young man would do: I took o ff sprin ti ng and screaming into the dark night! I was terri fi ed that “something in the dark” would get me. That night, in the pitch dark blackness, something DID get me. My full speed sprint was stopped immediately with a swi ft picnic table bench to the shins ! The funny thing is, I knew those obstacles were out there in the night...I knew they posed a threat... …but I didn’t have that single light to guide my way.
This is kind of like our SIN isn’t it?
We o ft en know that it’s taking up residence in our hearts, but we o ft en choose to leave the lights out. We know they pose a threat to us, but instead of clearing
16 October 2020 • SR
either “IN GOD” by the blood of Jesus His Son or you’re not . So why then do we ti p toe on the line between Light and Dark? Why do we knowingly sin—in word, ac ti on, or thought ? Some of you may be thinking, “I don’t! I don’t mess around with that ‘SIN’ stu ff anymore!” Let’s keep going in 1 John 1. Look at verse 8. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Or verse 10: “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Can we be honest with ourselves? And honest with each other? There’s s ti ll sin lurking around in there. And we can either ignore it , cover it up and lie about it... Verse 9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The good news of being in the fellowship of the Father and the Son is that when we sin we don’t have to bury it or hide it in shame. We have a faithful and just Father Who is willing to forgive us. How can this be? “I thought that Darkness and Light don’t mix. How can I bring my Darkness to the God who IS Light?” The next verse, verse 1 in chapter 2 says, “My li tt le children, I am wri ti ng these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, [ ‘Who is that?’ ] Jesus Christ the righteous.” This good news of being forgiven in Jesus should not give us license to sin anymore, but when we do we have an Advocate —Someone standing before the Father, in full agreement—declaring: Or, there’s a be tt er way . Answer: JESUS.
Robert Murray McCheyene, an old Sco tti sh pastor, once said, “For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.” When you look inside yourself and you don’t like what you see… When you see the sin within you, know where to take it. I want to close by simply sharing the fi nal sec ti on of Romans 8. Let this good news sink into your ears and your heart. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who jus ti fi es. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died, more than that, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribula ti on, or distress, or persecu ti on, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all crea ti on, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Take it to Christ .
When we sin—not if but when—may we Fix our Eyes on Jesus . SR
VIRTUAL CONFERENCE 2020 Video Presentations and written Reports are available online at seventhdaybaptist.org/conference-2020
“Father, that’s Your son. That’s Your daughter.”
“I bought this one with my own blood. ”
If today, you feel as though you’re too far gone, that you can’t possibly be forgiven for what you’ve done... Let the Word of God encourage you, and “ fi x your eyes on Jesus.”