September 2020 A Seventh Day Baptist Publication Sabbath Recorder
Virtual CONFERENCE 2020
Kevin Butler Conference President
Let us keep our eyes fi xed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. —Hebrews 12:2
SR I pray that all through this one ‐ of ‐ a ‐ kind year, that you were able to Fix Your Eyes on what and Who was truly important, and I hope that it was a ful fi lling and posi ti ve “Virtual Conference” experience. I worked closely with 27 di ff erent Conference Presidents during my ti me as editor of the Sabbath Recorder. And I had asked several of them for their advice in approaching my Conference year. I asked them how they went about planning their travels, choosing their seminars, how it was to conduct the business sessions... But this spring, I couldn’t ask ANY of them this ques ti on: “What did you do when they CANCELED your Conference mee ti ngs?” For the fi rst ti me since World War II, the face ‐ to ‐ face mee ti ngs of Conference week did not take place. This was historic!! In 2020, we had our eyes on the Coronavirus pandemic; fi nances and unemployment and the lockdown; poli ti cal wrangling and loss of mass gatherings; area re ‐ openings by certain phase numbers; racism and social jus ti ce issues; and so much more. The media and the news outlets wanted to “catch” our eyes and ears, and hearts, and minds, and money… The Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:2 to “ FIX our EYES on JESUS !” As with so many other events in 2020, our General Conference mee ti ngs went “virtual.” I hope you were able to par ti cipate in the virtual Gospel Feet 5K run; our Council Directors’ presenta ti ons and Q&A sessions; various youth and children’s ac ti vi ti es; morning Bible studies led by Ma tt hew Butler; SDB “Spirit Week” daily ac ti vi ti es; an evening of praise music led by South East Atlanta church; a Pastor and Spouse Forum led by Carl and Cindy Greene; interviews with interna ti onal guests by our Missionary Society; and a classic Hymn Sing with Don and Charlo tt e Chroniger to welcome the Sabbath.
In This Issue
Virtual Conference 2020
Gospel Feet 5K By Eric Bo fi nger 2 Welcome to Virtual Conference 2020 By Kevin Butler 6 Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus in All of Scripture By Matthew Butler 8 Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus as God By Matthew Butler 10 Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus as Our Hope By Matthew Butler 12 Spirit Week 13 YouthCon Meets on Zoom By William J. Probasco, Jr. 14 Missionary Society Report By Andy Samuels 15 Hymn Sing By Don & Charlotte Chroniger 16 Kid Con 2020 By Elianna McHenry 5
18 Women’s Society Meeting By Katrina Goodrich 19 The Boy With the Fish and the Loaves By Sarina Gumness 20 A Christian Response to a Grieving Country By Phil Lawton 22 Road Closed By Carl Greene 25 A Call to Thanks and Prayer By Victor W. Skaggs 26 “It’ll only hurt for a little while” Countdown to Conference 2021 By Kevin Butler
VIRTUAL CONFERENCE 2020 Video Presentations and written Reports are available online at seventhdaybaptist.org/conference-2020
For access to the library of current and past issues of the Sabbath Recorder , go to your App Store and download the FREE SDB LINK app.
Pastors & Spouses Forum: Resiliency By Carl Greene
SR • September 2020 3
Sabbath Recorder A Seventh Day Baptist Publication
• 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
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. 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 September 13, 1844. WRITERS: Please email your manuscript as a Word document 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. 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 Member of the Associated Church Press.
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: email@example.com SDB Website: seventhdaybaptist.org Director of Communications Jeremiah Owen firstname.lastname@example.org cell: (818) 468-9077 Editor of Sabbath Recorder: Patricia Cruzan email@example.com https://seventhdaybaptist.org https://www.facebook.com/7thDayBaptists https://twitter.com/7thDayBaptists https://7thDayBaptists.tumblr.com/ https://www.pinterest.com/7thDayBaptists/ https://www.sabbathrecorder.com
4 September 2020 • SR
Gospel Feet 5K Running to Beat COVID-19
By Eric Bo fi nger
SR As long as we fi x our eyes on Jesus, it’s amazing the oppor- tunities He opens for us. We’re hopeful to be back racing in person next year in New London, CT—but we plan to keep the virtual race as an option for those who cannot meet in person. If you didn’t have an opportunity to give and would like to, please visit the SDB Missionary Society’s website at: http://sdbmissions.org/donate/ This year’s Gospel Feet 5k was a huge success! Despite not being able to race in person, the SDBs banded together and took on the challenge of running, walking, or even swimming a 5k, in order to raise money for global missions. Everyone stood behind this year’s scripture verse from Acts 20:24: “My only aim is to fi nish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me.” In total, 114 people participated from 17 states, raising nearly $3,500. According to Pastor Andy Samuels, “our COVID-19 relief e ff orts now include helping overseas conferences to meet government requirements for the re-opening of churches including the provision of masks and sanitizing supplies. The need for help with basic food supplies in the wake of escalating prices is also a huge focus of our relief e ff orts. Our help goes to places like the Democratic Republic of Congo for their orphan ministries, and Uganda for their refugee ministry. Additionally, we also anticipate corona relief help for India, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Liberia.”
SR • September 2020 5
Morning Bible study led by Ma tt hew Butler Monday, July 27
Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus in All of Scripture John 5:39 ‐ 40 and 2 Timothy 3:14 ‐ 17
And thirdly—it’s an illustra ti on: When we approach the Scriptures, many ti mes we fi nd ourselves wearing the wrong lenses. We can come to the Bible with “The Rule Book Lenses” — I need to know what to do, what not to do, in order to be in “right standing” with God. As long as I follow these rules, God will love me, approve of me. We can come to the Bible with “The Life Manual Lenses” — I know I’m broken and I need a fi x. THIS is what will make me be tt er. THIS is the pill I need to “get be tt er.” Almost like it is a “Self ‐ Help Manual.” What we will fi nd from our study is that Jesus Himself o ff ers us a di ff erent approach; He o ff ers us the correct prescrip ti on —He gives us “The Jesus Lenses.” He says, “When you come to this Book…when you come to these pages…I want you to see ME. ” As the fi rst session for this week of Bible studies, it seems quite appropriate to start with a focus on Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus in All of Scripture. Please turn with me to John 5. We will look speci fi cally at verses 39 ‐ 40. I’ll be using the ESV transla ti on. To set the scene here, this is a moment in Jesus’ ministry where He’s just healed a man on the Sabbath. And the Jewish leaders of the day—these Biblical scholars/experts of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament)—began to accuse Jesus of breaking the Law. They’re trying to use Scripture to trap Jesus, trying to use His own words against Him. Here is Jesus’ response in verses 39 ‐ 40: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me ; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. ”
When I was in 4th grade, I thought it’d be “cool” to wear glasses. So, I lied. I told my parents and teachers that I was having a hard ti me seeing the board. I would inten ti onally “strain” my eyes and squint in order to display my “struggle.” Truth is, I could see just fi ne. I even went so far as to lie on my eye exam. When I could see the le tt ers clearly, I read back to the examiner di ff erent le tt ers. So, I succeeded. I convinced my parents, my teachers, even the eye doctor that I needed glasses. NOW, I’d be cool! Trouble is…when I put on my new glasses, it actually made my vision worse. The correc ti ve lenses were not the correct prescrip ti on because I hadn’t needed glasses to begin with. This, of course, caused some issues. When I had been able to see clearly before, now my vision became fuzzy and blurred. Over the course of a couple weeks, wearing these glasses, unfortunately, caused permanent damage to my eyes. Through tears, I confessed to my parents that I had lied (in so many ways) and that I hadn’t needed glasses at all. But now, because of the weeks of wearing my unnecessary (yet, oh so cool, mind you) glasses…I now NEEDED glasses. I now wear prescrip ti on glasses, without which I would be severely impaired. Without these lenses, I cannot see clearly. But I wanted to be “cool” and wear glasses.
A few things we can learn from that are: 1. Don’t lie. It’s bad. 2. Glasses ARE cool.
6 September 2020 • SR
These religious men had devoted their en ti re lives to study ‐ ing every iota of God’s Word; they, arguably, knew the Scriptures more thoroughly than anyone else of their day, AND YET they were missing the point.
Here, the Apostle Paul is wri ti ng to his younger protégé, Timothy. He’s encouraging him to “guard the good deposit” — which is the Gospel , the Good News… And in your e ff orts, Timothy (Paul is wri ti ng here), you can’t neglect the Scriptures … and the purpose for which we have them . Let’s start at verse 14 of chapter 3. “But as for you, con ti nue in what you have learned and have fi rmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred wri ti ngs…” Paul is saying, “Everything you’ve learned and believed, hold on to that! You were not only taught by ME, but your grandmother Lois and mother Eunice—ever since you were a boy—taught you from Scripture” (the sacred wri ti ngs). This next part is what I want us to focus on. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, reiterates what Jesus Himself taught. He says (in the last half of verse 15), “the sacred wri ti ngs, which are able to make you wise for salva ti on through faith in Christ Jesus.” All of the Scriptures are there to point you and en ‐ courage you to have faith in Jesus . The way that the Scriptures — teach us, reprove us, correct us, and train us… — complete and equip us for every good work… is by poin ti ng us to Jesus . When, in ALL of Scripture, we Fix Our Eyes on Jesus, we see — He is the Perfect One: the Unequaled Standard — When we see Jesus for who He is, we can recognize that we are not those things (we are not perfect, we are broken, we’re sinful and in need) — But then we see from His Word that Jesus is our Rescuer , our Redeemer, our Savior AND that... “there is therefore now NO condemna ti on for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) — And that by looking to Jesus, He is equipping us for every good work that He’s graciously prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). So, as we dig into God’s Word— no ma tt er where we are in Scripture — may we fi x our eyes on Jesus. Every ti me you lower your eyes to the pages of Scripture, God’s intent for you is to li ft your eyes and see Jesus—who’s saying, “ They bear witness to me. They bear witness to me. ” SR How can we trust that this is true? The passage con ti nues with verses 16 ‐ 17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God [these are God’s words about Himself] and pro fi table for teaching, for reproof, for correc ti on, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Jesus is telling them, “The Scriptures bear witness to ME.”
Do you want life? Do you want life eternal? It’s found in ME .
We won’t gain a single moment of life by merely reading words on a page. We read these words on the page to point us to the One to whom all these words bear witness — His name is Jesus . As we approach the Bible together, let’s not approach it as a Rule Book . Are there rules and commands in there? Yes! And they’re good and right and just . But even those rules point us to JESUS! When we come to the Bible, let’s not approach it as a Self ‐ Help Book. Can it o ff er us help? Yes! How? By poin ti ng you to Jesus, the One who o ff ers help to the ti red and heavy ‐ laden. To the One who says: “Fear not, for I am with you; Helping ourselves? I don’t think so. Our God, Jesus — He is our Helper. At the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, a ft er He rose from the grave, before He ascended to the Father’s right hand, He wanted to make sure His disciples understood this. In Luke 24, when He appeared to His disciples a ft er His resurrec ti on, He said this (verse 44): “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was s ti ll with you, that everything wri tt en about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be ful fi lled.” Jesus is saying, “Whether you’re in the Law of Moses, the Prophets or the Psalms, I’m there ! The whole of the TaNaK (Torah, Nevi’im, Ketuvim/the teaching, the prophets, the wri ti ngs)—the WHOLE of the Hebrew Bible, from Genesis to Malachi…“There are whispers about ME .” We can take the Scriptures of the New Testament that point directly at Jesus or point back to Jesus or show us how Jesus is working in and through His Church by the Spirit today—from Genesis to Revela ti on—and we should Fix Our Eyes on Jesus. Remember what He says, “It is they that bear witness about me.” Now, an error perhaps on the other side, is to ask, “If we al ‐ ready know Jesus, then can I move beyond the Scriptures? Why have a 5 ‐ day Bible study?” Well, I’m glad you asked! I want us to look at a second passage to help us in Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus in All of Scripture. Turn to 2 Timothy 3. Be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
SR • September 2020 7
Morning Bible study led by Ma tt hew Butler Tuesday, July 28
Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus as God John 1:1 and Hebrews 1:1 ‐ 3
A few months ago, a ft er one of our worship gatherings at Grace Point Church, I spo tt ed an old acquaintance who used to a tt end our church. He had been a part of Grace Point and was in fact an elder candidate shortly before we arrived in Las Vegas. Our ti me together had been just a ma tt er of months before he was re ‐ assigned with the Air Force. Well, having seen him during the gathering, I tracked him down in the lobby and said, “Hey Jonathan! It’s so good to see you! How are you?” He was no ti ceably hesitant in his response…a li tt le look of confusion on his face, but he answered politely, talked about his wife and kids. Then he asked, “What have you been up to? What are you doing for work?” This ti me, I was confused. I had literally introduced myself in the gathering as the Pastor of Liturgy here at Grace Point Church, I led most of the songs that day, and thought it was kind of obvious what I had been up to. But I told him I was a pastor here and s ti ll serving in the Reserves…he smiled and nodded, then we shook hands and parted ways. I mingled with a few more people then walked over to our Family Center. There, in the entryway was Jonathan with a whole new a tti tude. He started o ff by apologizing and said that he had me totally confused with another guy he knew from Grace Point—a pilot in the Air Force whom he interviewed and ended up NOT hiring for a posi ti on in his squadron. He was thinking the whole ti me, “This is the guy I turned down for a job!” I thought, “That was odd.”
Well, when the focus of this Bible Study (and really all of LIFE) is “ fi xing our eyes on Jesus ,” it’s certainly important to know which Jesus we’re to fi x our eyes upon. We need to know His true iden ti ty. This session is about— Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus as God . Maybe you’re thinking, “Yeah, of course Ma tt , there’s only ONE Jesus.” And I’d say, “Right, there’s only ONE TRUE Jesus. But there are also a lot of counterfeit Jesuses out there…” When the Apostle Paul writes to the church in Corinth, in 2 Corinthians 11:4, he warns the church against “people proclaiming another Jesus .” This makes sense; think about it. If you were to ask a Muslim , “Who is Jesus?” they’d tell you he was a prophet like Muhammed, but de fi nitely not God. If you were to ask a Mormon or someone from the LDS community, they don’t believe that Jesus was God who became man, but rather a man who became God. He was created. He was Lucifer’s brother. He’s a separate God from Heavenly Father. A Jehovah’s Witness would say Jesus is NOT Jehovah, but he was also created, as the archangel Michael. As you can see, there are several “Jesuses” out there, but what I want us to see from Scripture today is that when we’re Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus , we’re Fixing Our Eyes on GOD . Our primary texts today are John 1 and Hebrews 1. Let’s look at John fi rst. As a reminder, I’ll be using the ESV transla ti on. As we open up the Gospel of John, we have this beau ti ful passage (verses 1 ‐ 18) that’s like a poem that reveals to us the eternal, divine and historical Jesus . I want you to hear this, just verse 1 to start. We are to Fix Our Eyes on Jesus AS God .
No wonder he was awkward…
It was a classic case of mistaken iden ti ty .
8 September 2020 • SR
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
You’re mee ti ng with the God of the Universe !
I want us to look over at Hebrews 1. Verses 1 ‐ 3 put it this way: “Long ago, at many ti mes and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets.” God had used these men and women to speak to His people—to teach , warn and point to God Himself. We’ve got the picture of Him in our heads.
We hear in this fi rst verse, echoes of Genesis 1, “In the beginning God… created the heavens and the earth.”
John 1:1— “In the beginning was the Word…”
Genesis 1:1— “In the beginning God…”
You can hear this “ harmony ” between these two verses. But, instead of saying “God,” John uses the ti tle “the Word.” To see how these fi t together, I’m going to borrow the words of Dr. Tim Mackie, “A person’s words are dis ti nct from that person, but they’re also the embodiment of that person’s mind and will. So John says that God’s Word was ‘WITH God’ (that is, dis ti nct), AND YET the Word ‘WAS God’ (that is, divine).” And we hear later on in verse 14 that this dis ti nct and divine Word became man in Jesus. It says this, “And the Word became fl esh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” So this same Word who existed “in the beginning” … This same Word who was WITH God … This same Word who WAS God … This same Word became fl esh and made His dwelling among us to be seen, heard and touched — the embodi ‐ ment of God Himself. In 1995, Disney released an American Western adventure movie called, “ Tall Tale .” It’s a story about Daniel Hacke tt , a young boy who was dissa ti s fi ed with life on the farm. So his father begins to tell him stories of folk heroes like Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan and John Henry—these “larger than life” heroes with extraordinary abili ti es. In the course of the movie, Daniel not only had these stories to fi ll his imagina ti on , but these characters came to life and he got to meet them in person . They helped him out in a series of events, and the story ends “happily ever a ft er” (as most Disney movies do). Imagine yourself some 2,000 years ago… You’re hearing about this God who loves you, cares for you ; a God who is righteous and just . This God who created all things & rules over all things .
BUT God didn’t stop there.
God had revealed Himself through crea ti on (Romans 1:20). God had revealed Himself through the Scriptures, His spoken word through the prophets…
BUT in these last days He has spoken to us BY HIS SON,
God Himself was here to speak FOR God Himself.
It says that the “SON” is the One “whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”
“All things are FOR Him and all things were created BY Him.”
Then, if that’s not enough, the writer of Hebrews makes it very clear and takes it another step further with verse 3: “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”
He’s the One who CREATED all things. He’s the One who UPHOLDS all things. He’s the One to Whom all things will be given . He holds the very nature of “God in a bod.”
Jesus IS God.
Accordingly, we should Fix Our Eyes on Jesus AS God.
If we see Jesus as anything less…We are NOT SEEING Jesus clearly.
Is Jesus a Historical Person ? Yes. Is Jesus a Prophet ? Yes. Is Jesus a Teacher ? Yes. Is Jesus a Perfect Example ? Yes.
All of these things are good and right.
But is Jesus GOD ? Yes. And Amen.
BUT THEN… you SEE Him, you FEEL Him, you HEAR Him.
May we Fix Our Eyes on Jesus AS God. SR
SR • September 2020 9
Morning Bible study led by Ma tt hew Butler Wednesday, July 29
Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus as Our Hope Titus 2:11 ‐ 14
On May 6, 1967, Robert Wideman found himself tumbling through the clear skies over North Vietnam. The control s ti ck on his A ‐ 4 Skyhawk jet had jammed and there was nothing he could do to prevent the plane from spiraling downward. He launched his ejec ti on seat and his parachute opened above him. Immediately a ft er touching ground, he was surrounded by North Vietnam ‐ ese soldiers, torn from his gear, blindfolded and led o ff to a nearby hut. Over the next six years, Robert was tortured, interrogated and moved from camp to camp, and he experienced dras ti c swings from hope to hopelessness . Eventually, thanks to the Paris Peace Accords and follow ‐ ing an address by President Richard Nixon, Robert was released and welcomed home. To say that Robert Wideman’s experience was a di ffi cult one is an understatement . It would have been very easy for him to lose hope , to despair and to give up .But he didn’t. And eventually he got his freedom back. For the Chris ti an, we too have a Hope , that— at ti mes — if we’re honest, is easy to lose sight of. Complacency can set in. Just look at the world around us! We see such brokenness , con fl ict , struggle , racial injus ti ce , sinfulness , evil .
As we mine this passage for all its riches, I want us to consider three approaches to Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus as Our Hope: 1. We Look Back 2. We Look Up 3. We Look Around Those will make sense as we work through the passage and o ff er us a good framework to Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus as Our Hope. Here we have a le tt er from Paul, wri tt en to his under ‐ study, Titus, who is pastoring a church made up of older men and women, younger men and women, various bondservants, some hooligans trying to s ti r up trouble… and Titus is supposed to put this church “in order” and give them some “gospel ‐ direc ti on.” How is he going to do that? He’s going to point them to Jesus. Let’s read verses 11 ‐ 14 in chapter 2. It says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salva ti on for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self ‐ controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, wai ti ng for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all law ‐ lessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” This is packed with “gospel ‐ goodness” and I want us to see every bit of it . So, the First Approach to Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus as Our Hope is to LOOK BACK . Look back at what Jesus HAS DONE . Verse 11 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bring ‐ ing salva ti on for all people.”
And our hope can wane .
But we’re not to lose heart.
Because we have a Savior— the Savior of the world —who is the same yesterday , today, and forever — in Whom we Hope and Who IS our Hope. For this Bible Study, we’re going to be Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus as Our Hope . Our primary text will be Titus 2:11 ‐ 14.
10 September 2020 • SR
The brokenness of the world highlights its need for a Savior — we carry that good news as disciples of Jesus. Christ Jesus is the HOPE of the World and He’s called us to herald that good news. Titus 2:14 says that Jesus is “purify[ing] for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works .” The Reformer Mar ti n Luther once said, “God does not need your good works, but your neighbor does.” Our neighbors— the world around us— LOOK AROUND —it needs HOPE, and that Hope is Jesus. We share this Hope through our words AND through our humble service to others (just like our Savior humbled Himself to the point of death…) We LOOK UP to the One who sustains us, trains us, and leads us. And we LOOK AROUND with zeal for good works , that others may know Christ. As Robert Wideman (the prisoner of war) experienced freedom, we too—with our Eyes Fixed on Jesus—will one day experience the fullness of our freedom in Christ. I want to close our ti me together with a prayer using words borrowed from St. Patrick that, I hope, no ma tt er where we fi nd ourselves, fi xes our eyes on Jesus. Lord Jesus, Would you lead us? Surround us with Your presence and grace by Your Spirit. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my le ft , Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, So we LOOK BACK to remember what Jesus has done.
For all these men, women, bondservants, ri ff‐ ra ff and ruf ‐ fi ans…for them , and for you and me , for the world , God’s grace was fully revealed in the person and work of JESUS to bring about salva ti on —the ful fi llment of the Rescue Plan. How? Verse 14 says, “[Jesus] gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness… ” We LOOK BACK at what Jesus has accomplished (His per ‐ fect life, His saving death, His glorious resurrec ti on from the grave, His ascension) as the HOPE of our full Salva ti on and Redemp ti on . So in order to Fix Our Eyes on Jesus as Our Hope we LOOK BACK . But we not only LOOK BACK to what Jesus has done. Even in the present, we LOOK UP to Him as the One who is con ‐ ti nually leading us, training us and purifying us. The text says that the grace of God in Christ not only saves us, but also “[trains] us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self ‐ controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” And Jesus gave himself to “purify for himself a people for his own possession.” Not only did Jesus work in history, He’s working NOW — training us by grace, sustaining us by grace , and purifying us by His grace . Do you experience the cycle of hopefulness and hopeless ‐ ness? Let me encourage you to LOOK UP to King Jesus , who is ruling and reigning over all things right now, the Good Shepherd , who cares for His sheep, your High Priest who is interceding for you now. He’s the One we’re wai ti ng for—for His promised return. Look at verse 13 again. We are “wai ti ng for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” We LOOK UP (pa ti ently/trus ti ng in His ti ming) to fi x our eyes on Jesus as our Hope. But we can’t simply be a group of people who are constantly reminiscing about “the good ole days” or a people with our “heads in the clouds.” We cannot neglect to see what God is ac ti vely doing and what He’s called us to do in the world. So, to Fix Our Eyes on Jesus as Our Hope we also must LOOK AROUND . When we LOOK AROUND , we can see and recognize the World’s Brokenness . The world is not as it ought to be. Sin has ravaged the hearts of mankind, crea ti on itself groans for redemp ti on (it says in Romans 8), and the curse and con fl ict are rampant. As we LOOK AROUND , and see the world’s brokenness, we could let it lead to Despair —OR it could lead to Drive and Determina ti on towards Discipleship.
Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me. When the World looks at us, may they see You. May they come to know You. May they come to love, worship and adore You. Work in us that which is pleasing in Your sight.
And fi x our eyes on You, Jesus. We pray in Your name. Amen .
Thursday and Friday Bible studies will appear in the October Sabbath Recorder . You may fi nd the YouTube videos of these Bible studies at seventhdaybap ti st.org/conference ‐ 2020
SR • September 2020 11
12 September 2020 • SR
Regardless of what we have faced during this trying ti me, the Lord s ti ll gave us ti me for General Conference, even if we could not meet in person. The Youth Conference was no di ff erent, mee ti ng Sunday night on July 26 at 7pm (EDT). Run by Debbie Bond, we were able to talk to fellow Seventh Day Bap ti sts whom many of us had not seen since last Conference. We played games such as Would You Rather , and we heard from a few guest speakers. Omari Rhoden of the Toronto SDB Church spoke about being “all in” as believers, shown by David facing Goliath without any armor and only a sling and fi ve stones. Even through the contempt of his brothers and the threats of Goliath, David trusted in the Lord and was able to defeat Goliath by His hand. Ben Calhoun sent us a video giving us a virtual tour of the studio where he works as a member of Ci ti zen Way , and he also encouraged us to study Scripture during trials in our lives. Shiloh Assistant Pastor Tyler Chroniger ti ed everything together and helped us remember to not be distracted from the Truth, keeping our eyes fi xed on Jesus. He talked about Peter walking on water and sinking when he took his eyes o ff Jesus. Jesus then reached down to rescue Peter a ft er he cried out for help, just as we can trust Him to help us when we lose our focus. Last year the theme for the Youth Conference was “I am not the future, I am the now.” Even as both look uncertain, we should not be afraid about what tomorrow will bring. As Jesus said in Ma tt hew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” The Lord will bring us out of this and together again, and un ti l that ti me we should con ti nue to pray for each other, as well as the healing of our na ti on and the world. I would like to thank the Lord for being with us through this ti me; Debbie Bond for arranging the Youth Conference get ‐ together; as well as Omari Rhoden and Tyler Chroniger for bringing us two great messages. I would also like to thank Ben Calhoun for sending us his video and encouragement; and fi nally, thanks to all of the youth who a tt ended the get ‐ together. Hope to see you in person in 2021. The youth are looking forward to all the ways God will show each of us that we are being restored for a purpose! Submi tt ed by: William J. Probasco, Jr. The Seventh Day Bap ti st Church of Shiloh, NJ YOUTHCON MEETS ON ZOOM SR
SR • September 2020 13
MISSIONARY SOCIETY REPORT
Before the current pandemic curtailed our travel, the Missionary Society, over the past Conference year, through its directors and other missionaries, was able to visit and share ministry in several countries. They included: Bangladesh This is a new fi eld for Seventh Day Bap ti sts. A family of solid believers forms the founda ti on of this ministry. They had stepped out in faith to do ministry to children, and such ministry opened many doors for them, into neighboring villages with opportuni ti es to minister to people of Hindu background primarily. When our mis ‐ sionaries went there, the fi eld was indeed ripe and ready for harvest. Since the visit, a home church has begun, and the poten ti al for others is promising. Burundi This country has 54 Seventh Day Bap ti st Churches and a large following of saints who serve the Lord under generally di ffi cult condi ti ons. As a result of demanding government regula ti ons, some of their church buildings had to be closed, and others improved. The re ‐ opening of the buildings will require fi nancial resources. Our mission team preached, taught, and trained in spiritual leadership. In one service they ministered to a crowd of close to 1,500 people. Another tremendous blessing was to share in a bap ti sm of 65 people. Cuba Our missionaries were able to share in the dedica ti on of the fi rst Seventh Day Bap ti st Church in Cuba, in a small town called Emilia. The church is reaching out into its
Ethiopia Our ministry in Ethiopia is primarily done by South Suda ‐ nese people to South Sudanese people. They le ft their homeland because of civil unrest and fl ed to neighboring Ethiopia, where they are trying to make it as refugees. New areas of ministry were visited by our missionaries and special services were conducted where the Gospel was preached and women and children were ministered to. Ghana Ministry in Ghana through our missionaries involved preaching and teaching, conduc ti ng baby dedica ti ons, and visi ti ng orphanages and medical facili ti es. Much joy was brought to the people, and they are op ti mis ti c about the future of SDBs, with plans in place for construc ti ng church buildings and engaging in other outreach ac ti vi ti es. India Two areas were visited; Manipur and Andhra Pradesh. In Manipur, the SDBs are all Burmese refugees who crossed the border from Myanmar into India and se tt led there. They do their best to be faithful in ministry, and feel the strong need to have a church building of their own, as well
community, and the Pastor is commi tt ed to discipling those who express a willingness to follow Jesus. Since the on ‐ slaught of COVID ‐ 19, through the internet and technology, the pastor is also able to min ‐ ister to others in a wider geographic area. Prayers are needed as they work on the process of registering their church with the government.
FOCUS on Missions Andy Samuels
Chief Executive Director SDB Missionary Society
14 September 2020 • SR
Written Reports and Video Presentations by General Council and Conference Directors are online at seventhdaybap ti st.org/conference ‐ 2020
as a vehicle to help with ministry ac ti vi ti es. In Andhra Pradesh, there are nine Seventh Day Bap ti st Churches, and they serve the Lord in humble and dif ‐ fi cult circumstances. Since the COVID ‐ 19 pandemic, we have received reports of suicide in two families. In one case, three family members su ff ered that tragic fate, leaving a 10 ‐ year ‐ old girl as an orphan. Prayers and fi nancial support are needed for that li tt le girl who has now been unexpectedly added to a family from her church. Rwanda SDBs are among the survivors of the tragic genocide of the 1990s. They have been rebuilding their lives and their churches, holding fervently on to their faith in the Lord. Our mission team dispensed encourage ‐ ment to them in large doses, and reminded them of the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Of par ti cular inter ‐ est was a technical school which was being used to teach young adults in a variety of prac ti cal skills.
Tanzania Many evidences of the hand of the Lord were seen as our missionaries extended themselves to minister with the Tanzanians in a variety of ways including teaching and preaching, distribu ti on of Bibles, and sharing in bap ti sms. Especially appreciated were speci fi c ministries to women and children, whose par ti cular needs and concerns can some ti mes so easily be overlooked. A church building was erected and our mission team had been integrally involved in that project from start to fi nish. United Kingdom A brief trip was made to the oldest Seventh Day Bap ti st Church in the world: the Mill Yard Church in London, England. It was good for a mission team to connect with our Bri ti sh brethren. The congrega ti on there con ti nues to navigate the task of reaching out to a mel ti ng pot popula ti on in that large metropolitan city.
Pastor Kevin Butler had asked us to do a hymn sing for Conference in Grand Rapids this summer. So Pastor John Pethtel asked us to videotape a hymn sing for the virtual conference. We asked our Shiloh folks if they could come to church one evening and sing with us (safely and 6 feet apart!) so we would have a fuller sound. Some people did come out—and we sang and sang and sang. We chose songs that we knew were favorites of Seventh Day Bap- tists. It was a blessing to get together to sing praises to God! —Pastor Don and Charlotte Chroniger
You can watch the video with Pastor Don and Charlotte Chroniger leading us in singing some of our favorite hymns, with some inspiration shared in between, at seventhdaybaptist.org/conference-2020
SR • September 2020 15
KID CON 2020 Kid Con 2020 was a little different this year! We missed out on seeing each other in person, but we still made our best from it! Parents and kids were able to watch opening and closing videos that were provided to us through the curriculum every day. Music videos with all the dance moves you could imagine gave everyone an opportunity to get up and dance. My nieces and nephews and I filmed some videos that showed how the science experiments and games were supposed to work. Madge Chroniger edited them to make sure they looked great. Overall, we had about 39 kids registered, and we saw about eight of them send in photos and videos of themselves enjoying the program! If you are interested in viewing the wrap-up video from all of the students, go visit the SDB Conference 2020 page. I was originally a little bummed about not being able to see everyone in person, but I think that we made the best outcome we could out of a situation that we had no control over. I hope to see everyone next year—and thanks for going To Mars and Beyond with me! —Elianna McHenry
16 September 2020 • SR
PASTORS AND SPOUSES FORUM
Resiliency: Rediscovering Peace in a Season of Change
John Pethtel, SDB Director of Church Development and Pastoral Services, welcomed and virtually hosted pastors and spouses at the forum held on Thursday, July 30. Adrienne Gra ffi us shared about “Building Resiliency.” Adrienne’s perspective is especially insightful through her role as a SDB Pastor's Spouse (Pastor Gabe Gra ffi us, First Hopkinton SDB) as well as her vocational work as a Health and Well- ness Coach. Pastor Norman and Alethia Fearon, Fort Lauderdale SDB Church, led the group in a very powerful time of prayer for pastors and spouses. Carl and Cindy Greene spoke about their own journey in resiliency, where they have been rediscovering peace in a season of change. It was certainly a blessing to Winners of the SCRIPTURE MEMORY AWARDS The SDB Christian Education Council is proud to announce the winner of the Mary G. Clare Scripture Memory Bowl, for greatest total participation in the 2019 ‐ 2020 Scripture Memory program is the New York City, NY, SDB Church with 25 participants in this year’s program. The winner of the Andrew J. Camenga Award, for greatest participation by percentage of church attendance, is the All Nations SDB Church in Gardena, CA, with 40% of their reported attendance completing the program in 2019 ‐ 2020.
be able to virtually see one another, and also have some fun along the way.
To all of our pastors, spouses, and families: thank you for who you are and all that you do. You are a blessing! May you increasingly know God’s presence, peace, and gift of resiliency across the days ahead. —Carl Greene SR
We appreciate the participation of those who engaged with the 2019 ‐ 2020 program, even in the midst of a di ffi cult season. Participation was much lower this year than in previous years. We hope that all Seventh Day Baptists will participate in the program in 2020 ‐ 2021, as we continue to seek the Lord in His Word in the coming year. Information about this year's program will be announced on the General Conference website and mailed to local churches by early September, along with completion certi fi cates for those who have participated.
SR • September 2020 17
Seventh Day Baptist Annual Women’s Society meeting
On the evening of July 28, 2020, the Seventh Day Baptist Annual Women’s Society meeting was held via web platform. It seems silly right now to say it was a historic moment, but the reality is we are living history. With current conditions neces- sitating the disruption of regularly planned and executed Conference schedules, the Women’s Society meeting looked very different from years past—but I am so thankful we were able to gather together, even if only in the virtual sense. Last year if you would have told me we’d be meeting for conference virtually, I’m pretty sure I would have been very skeptical about how that would work and the logistics of such a thing. Honestly, I wasn’t all that certain an hour before the meeting began how it would go. But God is good and while only seeing people through the screen of my computer was not ideal, there are some amazing things that this mode allowed us that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible. Women were in attendance who would not have been able to attend an in-person meeting. One Society member spoke of how she had missed attending Society meetings because she had been unable to attend Conference for quite some time—it was beautiful to have her there after such an absence—a blessing. We discussed many things including the need for better community, fellowship, and support among the Women’s Society throughout the year, safety procedures at Conference, how in- clusion makes us stronger, and how to continue to diversify our Society and Conference across the board. We prayed together as sisters in Christ for healing of one of our members who was ex- periencing some difficulties. We also appointed a committee to decide on the disbursement of the Love Gift (we are still taking donations!) since the Women’s Interest Committee is not in session this year.
One thing that I am very excited about is that this will not be the last time we will meet virtually. With the success of this virtual
By Katrina Goodrich
meeting, and the expressed desire of the Society to encourage fellowship among Seventh Day Baptist women, we are making plans to hold more virtual meetings on a regular basis (quarterly) to discuss the business of the Society and fellowship with each other, strengthening our connections and sharpening each other in Christ. So, if you missed the Women’s Society meeting this year, you will have more opportunities to join us, re- gardless of your physical location! Stay tuned for more details! Reflecting on the 2020 Conference experience, I have to say I’ve missed seeing all of you in person, hugging and singing together; however, I believe God has opened a new avenue for us to do His work. Things for the church are extremely different and difficult right now, but that does not mean that God has stopped moving. So, we can’t meet as a Conference or in most of our churches in the traditional way, the comfortable way. I’ve seen churches setting up tents, having church in parking lots—and many churches I know have been meeting for Conference this week via the web. God is only limited in our minds—He can do anything. Instead of allowing grief to consume, remember God is in control and overcomes the world—don’t try and limit what He can do in a crisis. We have the opportunity to emerge stronger because of the crisis. I am excited to see the Women’s Society continue to strengthen women in the denomination and how we be- come better because of these moments in history.
18 September 2020 • SR
There are hundreds of people mentioned in the Bible, but some are not looked at like others. I wanted to discuss the boy who shared his lunch with thousands of people by giving it to Jesus. The story is mentioned in all four of the Gospels—meaning this young man is mentioned in all four of the Gospels. Let’s begin with the account itself. The fourth sign: Feeding the Five Thousand, John 6:1 ‐ 14. “After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has fi ve barley loaves and two fi sh, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about fi ve thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he dis ‐ tributed them to those who were seated. So also the fi sh, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fi ll, he told his disci ‐ ples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and fi lled twelve baskets with fragments from the fi ve barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” Many of the people during this time didn’t have very much. They were all in astonishment over the miracles that Jesus was performing. As the verses point out, Passover was near. Passover is the Jewish holiday and feast celebrating God’s provision as He delivered His people from Egypt. The people following Jesus now were ready to see this provision and to be delivered. The boy in the story is just described as young— THE BOY WITH THE FISH AND THE LOAVES by Sarina Gumness
which could be anywhere from a child to a man in his twenties. He was most likely poor, because the bread is described as being made of barley, which was common to the poor. I admire this boy. We often point to the miracle itself from the story, but why not the young boy, who decided to give everything that he had to Jesus— Someone he probably barely knew, but decided to trust. He decided to trust this stranger with everything he had, just because of the miracles he was hearing about. This boy has many characteristics that we could learn from, but here are three: 1. Unsel fi sh/Sel fl ess/Generous: giving or sharing in abundance and without hesitation. “You know about the kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was rich, yet for our sake became poor in order to make you rich through his poverty. —2 Corinthians 8:9 “The king will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did for me.’” —Matthew 25:40 2. Trusting/con fi ding: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me. Yet not my will but yours be done.” —Luke 22:42 “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” —John 3:30 3. A neighbor: “Instead of being motivated by sel fi sh ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.” —Philippians 2:3 ‐ 4 “For you, brothers, were called to freedom. Only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity to gratify your fl esh, but through love make it your habit to serve one another.” —Galatians 5:13 Finally, I leave you with this question: How was the life of the boy with fi sh and loaves changed by Jesus? SR