Worth the Risk?

Worth the Risk?

Jan 22, 2015

Worth the Risk? — Pastor Scott Hausrath North Loup SDB Church, NE                   Various song titles communicate the idea, e.g., J. Geils Band’s “Love Stinks” and Pat Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield.” Various song lyrics also communicate the idea. In “Love Bites,” Def Leppard sings, “If you’ve got love in your sights, watch out; love bites, yes it does. It will be hell.” In “True Love,” Pink sings, “Nothing else can break my heart like true love.” What is the idea these people are communicating?   These messages seem to be a warning that love is a bad thing, because it causes pain. Has this been your experience? Has love caused you pain?   I disagree with what these songs are saying. The problem is not love. The problem is the context in which we experience love. Because this is a broken world, everything we experience, even if it’s something as wonderful as love, is experienced within the context of brokenness. The people we love are broken, and sometimes they act out of their brokenness, which leads to relational pain. We do the same ourselves, as we try to love others. I certainly do. Sometimes I allow my brokenness to manifest itself in fear, anger, envy, or other feelings/attitudes that cause pain and are extremely destructive to relationship.   What’s the solution to our problem of brokenness? Should we just give up? Are we to abandon the wonderful goal of connecting with others in love, friendship, etc.? Our enemy would have us do this, because he knows that isolation brings death. God, however, wishes us to have lives that are full, not empty.   One significant step in the right direction is to openly acknowledge our situation. That’s what Joe, one of the characters in the film “Super 8,” did as he said to another character, “Bad things happen, but you can still live. You can still live.” This is an acknowledgement that, though we do experience pain in relationship, pain doesn’t paralyze us. It’s our attitude toward pain that sometimes paralyzes us, if we allow it to. If we view pain as something to be avoided...

Worship Him

Worship Him

Jan 22, 2015

Worship Him by Katrina Goodrich www.sdbwomen.org                 In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul writes to the church in Corinth concerning worship. It seems the church was extolling the virtues of one method of worship and completely ignoring the rest to the distraction and disservice of its members and community. Their worship had become a circus of performances centered around speaking in tongues. Paul explains that there is a time and place for tongues in worship, but he encouraged the Corinthians to keep it orderly, brief, and to use other forms of worship for edification of all (v 23-26). In response to this issue he introduces the idea of two forms of worship: public and private. Private worship is between you and God. Paul tells the Corinthians that unless certain conditions are met they should keep silent and let their worship be between them and God (v 28). Public worship occurs around other people. It is still between you and God, however it can be a shared or observed experience by others. Paul gives examples like hymns, prophecies, lessons which can be shared by all in appropriate moments. Public worship together should be for everyone to learn and be encouraged (v 31). Paul also hits another important idea in this passage: worship should draw people into Christ, not drive them away — and he isn’t just talking about Christians. Generally, we, as Christians, are told not to care about what other people think of us and our beliefs. Here though, Paul asks us to consider strangers to God during our public worship times. True worship of God is accessible and inclusive to everyone — even a stranger to God. When we place more emphasis on the method of worship than the goal of praising an almighty, omnipotent, worthy God we aren’t really worshiping anymore. Sometimes I feel as though music is the 21st century church’s speaking in tongues. Understand that I love music and it can be a beautiful expression and act of worship in a highly accessible way. But we often make the mistake of putting it as the end-all-be-all of worship. We exclusively call music time at...

50/50

50/50

Jan 22, 2015

50/50 — Rebecca Olson Berlin SDB Church, NY                 A dear friend once said to me, “I wouldn’t be a feminist if I didn’t think Jesus was one.” This really struck a chord with me — Jesus was certainly revolutionary when it came to calling women equal to men. The first person he ever revealed his identity as the Messiah to was a woman. And on top of that, a Samaritan, at a well in John 4. This was Jesus’ first declaration that his salvation would be for all people. Before saying outright to any of his disciples that he was God incarnate, he said so to a woman, and one that most Jews would never dare to associate with. We know this definitely wasn’t normal behavior because verse 27 says that the disciples “marveled that he was talking with a woman.” I could see what my friend was saying. But there had always been something about feminism that struck a wrong chord with me — despite its basic definition of equality between men and women, feminism seemed to go beyond that most of the time. There were just too many extreme views which I disagreed with, including the idea that a woman can do anything a man can do, and vice versa — I personally believe in the traditional complementarian views of a man being the spiritual leader of the household and a woman being his emotional support and helpmate. Nevertheless, I struggled with this for some time, until I was sent an article by popular Christian blogger Matt Walsh. While reading this article, Walsh wrote one thing that stuck out to me incredibly. Out of context, the direct quote makes little sense, so I’m going to paraphrase. Walsh said that perfect feminism already exists within perfect Christianity. This one sentence cleared the whole issue up for me — why I strongly felt that men and women were created equal, but still shied away from being called a feminist. Perfect feminism exists within perfect Christianity. It’s incredible to me that Walsh wrote this as a side thought in an article about modesty. I think it’s worthy of...

Struggling with Love

Struggling with Love

Jan 22, 2015

Struggling with Love by Rev. Nicholas J. Kersten, Director of History & Education             “…God is love.” —the Apostle John, in his first letter, verse 4:8b “Those who wish to succeed must ask the right preliminary questions.” —Aristotle, in Metaphysics “…Of course language is not an infallible guide, but it contains, with all its defects, a good deal of stored insight and experience. If you begin by flouting it, it has a way of avenging itself later on. We had better not follow Humpty Dumpty in making words mean whatever we please.” — C. S. Lewis in the introductory chapter of The Four Loves We are in the midst of a cultural crisis around love. When it comes to those four letters joined in English, we are confounded together as a culture about what they mean, how they should be employed, what they denote, and how valuable they are when they are employed. From music to movies to print to your conversation in the neighborhood coffee shop with your friends, there is a great quandary among us about what it means to love. In order to address this topic, I’d like to take my cue from the Aristotle quote above and begin by asking what I believe is the right starting question. My hope is to explain the battleground over this word, and to provide my suggested way forward for my Christian brothers and sisters. We will see if I can manage the task. The question I will begin with, then, is this: What is love? (Obligatory embarrassing link to the song from the 1990s) We have no shortage of definitions to choose from. Songs, poems, stories, plays, photos, the laws of the nations, annoying email forwards, viral images/messages on social media…there is a limitless stream to choose from. I ran a Google search with the single word “love” as the search query and pulled 3.47 billion results. Incredibly, that might be significantly less than the total number of actual definitions in existence, as there are 7 billion people in the world and it is possible that each of us has our own. But, because I am a certain...

Spotlight on Church Planting

Spotlight on Church Planting

Jan 22, 2015

Spotlight on Church Planting — Pastor Charles R. Meathrell Lexington, SC                 There is a fear that we won’t grow. It is often in the back of my mind. It is ever before me as I preach each and every Sabbath. I look into the seats and see the same few people (I love each and every one of them) and worry that maybe I might have been wrong about this; maybe there was not supposed to be a church here. Maybe I misread everything. When my wife, Jessica, and I came to the conclusion that we would need to move to the Deep South to complete my seminary education, we did so with a great deal of trepidation. I remember saying those words from the pulpit at Middle Island, where I had been filling the pulpit for three years: “We are moving to South Carolina.” It was an utterance that came with a fear that there would be no one to serve those precious people — and how silly that was! To think that God would call me away but not continue to take care of them was ridiculous; I am hardly His only resource and Pastor Scott Smith would come to be the pastor in that church. (Thank God for him!) The fact is that God had called us away to do a great deal of work and have a new adventure. I knew from the moment that decision was made that we were to plant an SDB Church in the Columbia area, and after more than three years of waiting and praying, Jacob’s Well Church was born in the Columbia-adjacent town of Lexington — and trust me when I say that it was God’s timing. We needed to meet and come to love the Catoes and others. We needed the encouragement and training that the time in Columbia would give us. I needed to finish Seminary.       During that time, I attended and completed my school-required internship at Park Street Baptist Church in downtown Columbia. It was an old church in decline and it had more than it’s share of problems. Though...