“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?”

“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?” Marleigh Fiacco Verona SDB Church, NY One of the few times I actually felt like God was carrying me was this past October. My depression had come back and my life seemed to be spinning out of control. It got to a point where it took all that I had just to get out of bed in the morning. I was already out of energy. I was already out of strength. For two months, I prayed the same prayer every morning. “God, I need you. I don’t have the strength to get through this day. Please give me yours.” It was hard to take that step out of the door. Some days I just couldn’t do it and I climbed back in bed. I hid from the world and I prayed that someday I would get better. All the while, God was holding me and telling me that it was going to be okay. In the poem “Footprints,” there is a man who looks back on his life and during the happiest moments he saw two sets of footprints, but in his darkest moments he only saw one. This man looked to God and said, “I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.” Many of us have reacted this way. We look at our struggles and ask God, “Why have you forsaken me?” For some reason, we believe that He is not there and that He does not care. But if God is omnipresent then how can He not be there? In the poem God answers, “My precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.” What a great Father we have! During our darkest moments, when we don’t have any strength left, He carries us. He uses His strength to get us through. We may not be able to get through the day on our own, but we can get through it with God. And we may not understand why we are struggling, but...

Blessings of the Love Gift

Blessings of the Love Gift — Dorothy Noel   I’m a young woman with cable television, and like many in my demographic, occasionally I get sucked into watching bridal TV shows. Picking out dresses and flowers, comparing styles and services is fun. There are so many choices, and as these women make decisions about how to spend their budget, or which dress will wow the best, they stress and worry and wonder if they’ll ever make it down the aisle. At the end of pretty much every show, though, there’s a wedding where a happy bride and groom look glowingly into one another’s eyes and declare the day a success. All the stress was worth it. The momentary joy allows even the most overwhelmed brides to forget the trials of the months before. Even the most difficult families seem to come together for the celebration. As I indulged myself one evening, and a bride talked about how long she had waited for this celebration, I was reminded of the story of the empty lamps in Matthew 25. In it, the bridesmaids are waiting with lights for the groom to come. But when he is set to arrive, only half of the party has enough fuel for their torches. The other half have to go buy more and miss the party completely. They hadn’t prepared for the ceremony. While I’m sure the bride of the story missed some of her friends, she was having too much of a good time to worry about them. She had prepared, just as the bride in Revelation 19:7. All the planning was done, all the hard choices were made, and it was time to “rejoice and be glad.” Paul points out in Ephesians 5:25-33 that human marriage is simply a reflection of Christ’s love for the church. With that in mind, and knowing that the timing of our bridegroom is uncertain, I think we could take some cues from those TV brides. There are a million details to plan for an earthly wedding; how much more should we prepare for the return of our Lord? There are people to invite, meals to prepare, clothes to purchase, flowers to tend....

Where We Go From Here: Reflections on The Multiply Conference in Colorado Springs

Where We Go From Here: Reflections on The Multiply Conference in Colorado Springs

Dec 28, 2015

Where We Go From Here: Reflections on The Multiply Conference in Colorado Springs Pastor Chuck Meathrell Jacob’s Well SDB Church Lexington, SC   “We Need Hands.” It’s the phrase that keeps coming to me. The struggles that we face at Jacob’s Well Church do not relate to lack of desire or will. We do have a little bit of money (not too much). But when someone asks me what we need at the Well, I’m not asking for money. It’s hands that we need. And it’s not just us. Other church planters I know face the same reality.     On Friday the 23rd of October, nearly thirty other SDB leaders and I attended the Multiply Conference for promoting church revitalization and especially church planting. From the experience, I have taken a number of very important lessons. First, Seventh Day Baptists (and all other Christian groups) can no longer pretend that people are going to come and seek us out. One of the presenters, the pastor of a once-fading mega-church in the Pacific Northwest, told us that when he took over the church, he “kicked” the church members off the very large campus. He took a men’s Bible-study group of fourteen guys, broke it into two groups and got them to meet out in the community. He got major push-back, but ultimately it became a huge success. Shortly, those two groups turned into twelve. Amazing! There is so much more “entertainment” out there than there has ever been before and there is no longer a cultural expectation for Americans to “do church” — so why should they? They’re just not going to come to us. We have to go to them. That means that all the activities that we have done in our buildings for all these years need to actually move out into the community: your sabbath school classes or life groups; men’s Bible studies; all of it. Take it out there and let it grow. You can’t make an impact on a community with which you never interact. It’s as simple as that. This also applies to church planting — something that needs to be a priority for us. When planting a...

“Walk with me.”

“Walk with me.” — Daniel Lovelace Metro Atlanta SDB Church A few months ago, as I attended a conference, I stood a few feet away from a man as he prayed for a lady. Over the past year or so, I’d grown to really look up to this man. He speaks at various conferences and churches, teaching people about prophecy — that is seeing and speaking from that which God sees and speaks. He had a vibrant relationship with God, enjoyed life in Him, and in many ways was a role model to me. Leading up to this point, I had asked God for the chance to meet him at this conference, and almost out of nowhere, I now had this opportunity. It looked like this was my chance! As the man finished praying for her, he started walking away quickly with a directed attention that said, “I need to be elsewhere.” He would be walking right past me and I realized I could have grabbed his attention, but I decided to leave it. “He has somewhere to be; I won’t block him from that. I’ve already asked God and I trust Him.” But then as the speaker walked past me, without turning, he said to me, “Walk with me.” Inside I felt like, “Yeaahh!! I’m in! All the hundreds of others at this conference might want to talk with him, but I’m with him by his own choice!” We walked to his merchandise table, where he handed another lady he spoke with one of his CDs, and talked with her a little more. I stood there waiting for him, content and happy. Like a little child I’d asked my Heavenly Daddy for this, knowing it’d be close to impossible for me to arrange, and it now appeared He said, “Sure Daniel, I can arrange that.” Then the speaker turned around and asked me, “So what’s up, man?” as we walked to a less populated area. I told him a little about myself. He asked me some questions about what I was doing with different things. Then he said, “Cool, man! Well, let’s pray.” As he prayed for me, he started out praying for...

Training Our Youth For Generations To Come

Training Our Youth For Generations To Come Christian Education Council Rev. Nicholas J. Kersten Director of Education & History   One of the values which has guided our Conference for generations is the raising and training of children. The responsibility we have as biological families and families of believers is to share the blessings of the Gospel with those who are younger than we are. These familial relationships (both biological and congregational) are among the strongest parts of our tradition as Seventh Day Baptists. And in the strength of those convictions, SDBs have been very innovative in their approaches to Christian Education. From the frontier schools to universities to missionary academies, SDBs have varied approaches to match the cultural circumstances we have found ourselves in. One of the more innovative approaches we have employed as a people, and with great success, is our camping ministries. Associational and regional camps, combined with our Pre-Conference retreats for youth and young adults, have long provided our denomination a wealth of committed, relationally connected young leaders who have formed the backbone of our next generation. Scanning the pages of the General Conference minutes, it is not hard to track the lines of leadership development through our camping programs. For that reason, those who love Christian Education among Seventh Day Baptists have cringed at the consistently lower attendance at our Pre-Conference retreats for the last decade. To be sure, there has been a core of very dedicated young people and parents who religiously add Pre-Con to their yearly schedule and come. But attendance has steadily declined to the point where serious questions had to be asked about the future of our Pre-Conference retreat. Acting on a question from General Council, the Christian Education Committee (CEC) spent time in prayer and in brainstorming a future for our pre-Conference and Conference ministries for young people which dealt with the primary challenges: low attendance, high cost, scheduling conflicts, and lots of unstructured time during the General Conference sessions. Surprisingly for those present, what emerged was not a strategy to change or prop up Pre-Con, but rather a robust vision for a new program to respond to cultural factors which have impacted our...