The Pulse of a Healthy Church

The Pulse of a Healthy Church

Sep 26, 2017

Rev. Carl Greene Hebron SDB Church, PA   Holy Discontentment As I recall from my youth, we were getting ready for one of the biggest holidays of the year in my hometown of Berlin, NY — something like Groundhog Day, the sort of holiday when all of your 3rd and 4th cousins come to celebrate the festivities. In order to get ready for the day, my brother and I broke out a comb and scissors to get a good close haircut befitting of the chunky rodent’s day. It did not go well. This might be a surprise, but the self-trim haircuts for my brother and me were an absolute disaster. Even though we used the same tools our mom used to cut our hair, we came to realize that we were obviously missing something. In fact, the haircuts generated a feeling of discontentment with the results — especially after mom caught a glimpse of our handiwork. Bad haircuts creating discontentment is one thing. But what about when we feel discontentment with church life? Have you ever attended a worship service where all the elements were in place and things went fine, but you went home feeling like something was distinctly missing in the experience? Have you attended a church function and had fine conversations, but left feeling like there was much more that you longed to talk about than shallow, safe subjects? Have you ever engaged in prayer where it felt like you were talking with yourself, or read Scripture and felt like God was incredibly distant? The correct elements were in place, but yet something was missing. When it comes to church life, these missing pieces should leave us with holy discontentment. If we are missing an increasingly real experience with Jesus, something is woefully wrong. Yet, when it comes to church health we measure ordinary discontentment rather than holy discontentment. It is said that we often measure the success of a church based on three S’s: size, speed, and substantiability. Size —how big is the church? Speed — how fast is it growing? Substantiability — are there enough volunteers and dollars to sustain growth of ministry and program? While these metrics have...

The Lord’s Prayer Our Daily Bread…

The Lord’s Prayer Our Daily Bread…

Sep 26, 2017

  Seventh in a series by Assistant Pastor Philip Lawton at the Seventh Day Baptist Church of Shiloh, NJ. Check out Phil’s blog at contemplatingkenosis.blogspot.com It has been a long summer. I was away from home for most of the summer. I spent a lot of that time thinking about how little we really trust God with everything. How we often think that we can do things ourselves. If the events in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida show us anything, it is that we really don’t have control over much. Building a flood-proof house doesn’t stop the flood, it just makes you feel safe right up to the point that it fails. Our rock in storms shouldn’t be the work of our own hands — it should be Jesus Christ the Son of God. As I said before, I spent most of the summer away from home. For most people this would not be a major problem. You pack up your clothes and what you need, and you travel to where you are going. If you forget something then you head to the nearest Walmart and you buy what you need. The problem is that I am not most people. I have sleep apnea. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea a year and a half ago. I could go into why I should have been tested long before then. But let’s just say that I should have listened to my mother and that I am thankful for friends who are not afraid to confront me. Living with sleep apnea is not really that much of a problem when you have a CPAP. I absolutely LOVE my CPAP. I didn’t really understand how bad I was sleeping until I got one. My wife has a great story about my sleep study and me being wide awake at 5 a.m. The point I am making is that with my CPAP I sleep better and no one has to worry that I won’t wake up. Which is great! When everything works. Faith Till Morning This summer I traveled back to the camp that I went to growing up: Camp Harley Sutton. The five-hour car trip wasn’t too bad....

The Beacon

The Beacon

Sep 26, 2017

by Xander Post SDB Church of Shiloh, NJ I’ve learned a lot over the summer. One of those things was to have patience. I know to stop and listen to what God wants to tell me, but it’s hard sometimes.I get caught up in my own agenda. I can be selfish, rude, and close-minded, but God reminds me to be kind, generous, and empathetic. I read Galatians 5: 22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” So love your family, your friends, your neighbors, and your enemies since God loves them as well....

Testing Your Faith

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” —James 1:2-4 (ESV) by Linda Lawton Boulder SDB Church, CO Imagine that one minute you are sitting peacefully in your chair, dozing over a book, and the next you find yourself standing in the middle of your living room in bewilderment, panic and fear, wondering what precipitated the HUGE explosion that knocked over furniture and caused the drywall over your head to fall on you. Beginning to smell smoke, you realize you need to get out, and you find yourself running out of your house without shoes or coat (or, indeed, any of those things you listed in those “what would you take with you in an emergency” quizzes). In the parking lot you see that the window of unit 7 next door has been blown out and landed on your husband’s car. There is broken glass everywhere and flames shooting from the basement in the adjoining end unit. Your neighbors in the rest of the six units in the building come running out of their homes as well, having felt the blast all the way to the end unit. Tearfully, you exchange impressions with neighbors as someone calls the fire department and the police. When they arrive, the police make sure everyone is out of the involved building and move you to the opposite side of the parking lot. The fire department gets there in record time, but the unit next door is already nearly engulfed in flames. You stand across the parking lot where the police have directed you, shivering and crying off and on. A neighbor from one of the other buildings (whom you have never met) gives you a coat and slippers to wear. Other neighbors offer chairs to sit in and hot tea to drink. One brings a blanket. You watch as the fire expands to the roof of your unit, fearing that everything you own is about to go up in smoke (literally!). The firemen are attacking...

Seven Days of Creation

by Sarina Villalpando Maranatha Community Church, Colton, CA   Sometimes it is important to reflect on the world around us. We tend to take for granted so much, but we forget how we started. Do you ever just look around and realize everything we see was made by God? God created the air we breathe, the trees, our pets, the food we eat, our friends, and everything else. Literally anything we think of — any person, object, or creature — was created by God and in His image. When we step outside, we are engrossed by His image. God loves us so much that we walk on this earth and live a life. He protects us from everything. He gives us the air to breathe, water to drink, and food to eat. We are incredibly blessed! The other day I was waiting in the doctor’s office for my mom and decided to pull out my phone and read Genesis. I thought why not? I got so entranced in the first few chapters. I realized how much I have overlooked those chapters and how much I have forgotten what those chapters contain. Think about it: off the top of your head can you name what happened every day of creation? I’ll admit the fact that I cannot. If you ask me, the first thing I can remember is that God rested on the seventh day…because that’s all I hear about. I’ve made it my goal to look around and just appreciate what God has created. In order to do that, I think it is important to understand and know every day of creation. On the first day God created night and day. Can you imagine, just both night and day are created. The night and day we live in used to not exist and suddenly they do. It’s pretty amazing. On the second day God decided to create the sky and sea. The sky we see every day and take for granted, and the sea that most of us in some way appreciate — they didn’t exist. God saw a purpose for them. Day three God created land and vegetation. God created the fruit and...