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....

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...

Real Miracles

by Cheri Appel Palm Desert, CA I joined my sister and her family for supper at her daughter’s house this past week. Afterward we shared a car ride to her home. The subject of the conversation turned to miracles as she shared with me some of the things happening at her church, where she is very involved as the Music Minister. She said if followers of Jesus are still asking why God doesn’t perform miracles today, they need to “tune in”— with the idea of seeing what God is doing. We often chalk things up to coincidence, “luck” or happenstance. But if we look and listen, believing that there are no coincidences — only “God-incidences”…as my stepfather always preached…we will see what great things God is still busy doing! REAL MIRACLES! like the following story of a couple in my sister’s congregation: A husband and father of five young children was suddenly struck with an aneurism in his brain. The family was grateful that it did not cause him to be unconscious, go into a coma, or die — but rather the event paralyzed him temporarily. After spending time in the hospital and being medically assessed, they were told he would recover. But he would need professional therapy in a rehab center for a period of weeks in order to get the full use of his appendages back. With the right treatment and therapy, he would be able to return to a new normal of function — enough that he could return to work and support his family. The family’s insurance would not pay for such rehab for many weeks with professional treatments. In addition, the nurses and doctor were recommending a very expensive, “top of the line,” “cutting edge” rehab treatment center for the best and quickest of recoveries. The family looked into other rehab clinics, including the one being recommended. There were no openings anywhere in the area. The young couple was unsure just what to do next. They were talking and praying about it in a waiting room that happened to include an older man whose wife had suffered a similar, but devastating brain injury. Due to her age, the prognosis was...

Prophecy: where the crossroads of world events and the Bible meet

by Alan K. Walker Seventh Day Baptist Milton, WI What incredible times we live in – like no previous generation. The convergence of Biblical prophetic signs affects every person alive today. We should be reading the Bible in one hand and the news in the other. Get to know Daniel 9, Psalm 83, Isaiah 17, Jeremiah 49, Ezekiel 38 and 39, Matthew 24, Luke 17, the book of Revelation, also all the Old Testament passages about the millennial reign of Jesus Christ as King. Things are not falling apart; they are falling into place. Twenty-seven percent of the Bible was prophetic at the time it was written. 109 separate and distinct Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled to the detail by our Lord Jesus Christ in His First Coming. This precise fulfillment of prophecy is our assurance that all the prophecies regarding His Second Coming will also be fulfilled completely to the last detail. Jesus Christ taught prophecy. Others in the New Testament like John, Paul, Peter, James, and Jude did also. Jesus said in Matthew 16:3 “…Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot {discern} the signs of the times?” We can understand “the times in which we live” through the lens of the Bible. Isaiah 46:10, “Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’” Prophecy attracts us to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and gives us hope, inspires us, motivates us, and gives us comfort. Revelation 1:3 (NIV) says “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is...

I Believe in Angels

  by Nancy Davis SDB Church of Shiloh, NJ After having a heart attack, my husband was admitted to our local hospital. Several hours later, the doctors thought it best to have him transferred to a larger and a better equipped hospital. That hospital was 40 minutes away and I was able to ride in the ambulance with him and his nurse. Being transferred to a larger hospital would mean having him go through the emergency room and starting all over with tests, paper work, etc. I wasn’t quite ready for what happened when we arrived at the hospital. We pulled up to the hospital and were flagged down by a dark-skinned man in a white nursing uniform. He had us pull up to a sidewalk, helped us enter through a side door and got all of us (my husband, his nurse and me) on the elevator, and off at the correct floor. After my husband was admitted and in his room, I realized we never went through the emergency room. Wanting to thank this nurse that helped us, I asked the head nurse where this nurse was. After describing him, she looked at me and said, “We don’t any nurse on this floor that meets this description.” Yes, I believe in angels and I know that the Lord sent an angel there to be with us that day. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! — Hebrews...