The Struggle Is Real

by Nicholas Kersten Director of Education and History (This originally appeared on Nick’s private blog and has been lightly edited for content and length.) As I sit writing, it is technically the last day of 2016, though only just barely.I have spent much of the past two years taking on a job which, by everyone’s admission, was too big for a person to accomplish alone. It didn’t stop me from trying, but in the end, those efforts didn’t make me a plurality of people. The job has been big. Happily, many talented and devoted Seventh Day Baptists have stepped up to aid me and my fellow Directors in accomplishing the work over the past two years. These days, the work of the SDB General Conference is increasingly being done very competently by a growing pool of talented and dedicated volunteers. I call that a significant victory, not just for my sanity, but for us as a people. I am grateful for the many people over the past 30 or so months who have expressed concern for my health, for my sanity, and for the health and sanity of my family — and especially my wife, who has soldiered on bravely with a fraction of a husband for most of the past two years. We were aware that the transition would be difficult and that the first couple of years especially would be hard. In that expectation, we have not been disappointed. But my reason for writing is because, as I have journeyed through the past 24 months with our leaders, something has become painfully clear: the cultural and spiritual forces working against what God is doing among Seventh Day Baptists are formidable, and worse, they are destroying leaders and churches throughout our Conference. To put a finer point on it: the leaders of our General Conference and the leaders of our local churches have been under an onslaught of trouble and difficulty for a period which is at least as long as my tenure as the Director of Education and History. Many people in the United States have spoken about the difficulty and pain of these past couple of years by personifying a year...

Chaplain (MAJ) Jerry Johnson

Chaplain (MAJ) Jerry Johnson

Jan 25, 2017

Chaplain (MAJ) Jerry Johnson graduated with honors from the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff Officer School (CGSOC) at the Fort Belvoir, VA satellite campus on December 15, 2016. He finished the Intermediate Level Education — Common Core with a 3.98 GPA after a rigorous fifteen weeks of studying Army doctrine and tactics, joint military operations, national security strategic planning, military history, organizational leadership, Army force management, and military communication skills. The curriculum combined working in a staff group of fifteen with individual papers, projects, and examinations. This program is a mandatory component of an Army Major’s Professional Military Education and will enable Jerry to be eligible for his primary zone Lieutenant Colonel promotion board in the spring of 2018. Jerry is returning to his duties at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, where he expects to remain until the summer of 2018. He thanks all SDB friends, especially Pastor Dave Taylor and the Central SDB family, for their prayers and support during this intense...

Real or Fake?

Real or Fake?

Jan 25, 2017

By Rev. Donald Chroniger SDB Church of Shiloh, NJ Are you able to tell if something is real or if something is fake? That is the question. With what is happening inour country today, can you really tell what is the truth and what is a lie — the real or the fake? In our world today we have things that are counterfeit…like clothing. I saw, not too long ago, there was a knock-off pair of Levi jeans over in Russia. It was just a copy — it wasn’t the real Levi, it was fake. We also get that with music online — you steal a copy of the music online and use it, copying it over and over again without paying the royalties for it to iTunes. How do you tell the real from the fake? Is it just a copy or the original? The parable of the wheat and the weeds Jesus told a parable about the wheat and the tares. Jesus said there was an owner of a field and he planted good seed into the field. It was starting to grow and someone stuck some other plants (we would call them weeds) among the wheat. The one who was watching over the crop went to the owner of the field and asked what he should do. Because quite frankly, the wheat and the weeds look alike. So, should he go through and pull up the weeds? The owner said, “Let the two grow together.” (In certain parts of the Middle East, tares or weeds really do look the same as the wheat. They look the same color, and the heads and texture make it hard to tell them apart. So you would never know if you try to take the weeds out before the harvest comes that you may be pulling the wheat out by mistake.) “When the harvest comes, we will separate the weeds from the wheat. We will gather the wheat into barns and the weeds we will burn.” Jesus said, “That will be the same as at the end of the age.” When Jesus comes there will be a separation of the real and the fake. Matthew...

The Lord’s Prayer: Who is in Heaven…

The Lord’s Prayer: Who is in Heaven…

Jan 24, 2017

By Pastor Phil Lawton from the Seventh Day Baptist Church of Shiloh, NJ. Check out Phil’s blog at contemplatingkenosis.blogspot.com   We probably don’t spend as much time understanding this phrase as we should. Heaven. If you asked most Americans they would say that heaven is up in the sky. It has puffy clouds and golden gates and angels with harps and halos. But this is not really what Jesus meant when He said that the Father is in heaven. Actually, He said that the Father is in the heavens. He used the plural. For some this might not do anything, but for others this might change the meaning. Just like the last entry in this series, we often overlook this phrase. We think we know what Jesus meant when He said, “Our Father, who art in heaven.” But the truth is that we probably don’t spend as much time understanding this phrase as we should. We need to look at more than just the translation. The history of the use of this word is just as important as the translation. I realize that what I just wrote might bring up a lot of questions for some of you. Does the plural really matter? Does the plural translation mean that Jesus was talking about the sky? Does that mean that there really are puffy clouds? Was this the first time this phrase was used to describe God? This last question is where we will start. I should note that the next two sections are heavy into grammar! You can just skip over to “No Clouds, No Halos, No Harps” where I will summarize the main points. In the Beginning The Greek word used in Matthew 6 for heaven(s) is οὺρανοῖς (oo-ran-ois’). This is a plural form of the Greek word οὺρανός (oo-ran-os’). οὺρανός appears in the very first verse of the very first chapter of the Bible: Genesis 1:1. Isn’t the Old Testament written in Hebrew? Yes, and I will get to that, but all you really need to know is that there was an ancient translation into Greek known as the Septuagint. Why this exists is a story for another day. What we find...

God Likes To Use the “NOTS”

God Likes To Use the “NOTS”

Jan 24, 2017

by Danny Lee President, Missionary Society What a wonderful year! It has been my pleasure to serve as President of the Missionary Society. I remember when the Board asked me to be president, as with most folks, I thought to myself, “How can I add one more thing to my already full plate?” My job is demanding at the tune of 60 hours a week; I’m already a committee member and board member of other organizations; I travel all over the country about every other week; time with family is important; busy in church, etc. etc. As I was whining to God about why I couldn’t take on anything else, He reminded me He is the God of time. Finally, God said I needed to Cowboy up and remember He will take care of me as He has always done. Therefor the decision to accept the position became easy. What a blessing to go and see God working around the world. I was personally blessed with the opportunity to go to Tanzania and Haiti in November. At this point, I am reminded that everyone needs to remember to keep Executive Director, Clinton Brown, in our prayers for his safety as he travels the world for the work of the Lord. He is a man who loves the Lord and has a heart for the work of the Lord and the Great Commission. When you go on these mission trips, there are so many humbling memories and blessings received from God. The people you meet, the relationships you build, the miracles you witness, and most amazing is just watching God at work. Memories from my last trip to Africa, where we visited Ghana, Liberia and Cameroon were still fresh in my thoughts and prayers. So I was excited to see what God was doing in this region of Africa and how God was working in Tanzania and in Haiti. God was laying on my heart that in any sermons/teachings/conversations, I was to share Jesus and the importance of evangelism. Now it is important to realize God likes to use the least likely, the “Nots” (as described in the Bible), and that is usually where I...