Joseph, The Birth Coach

Joseph, The Birth Coach

Nov 22, 2017

by Gabriel Graffius My wife and I are currently anticipating the birth of our first child. I’ve quickly learned that the activities and emotions surrounding childbirth are a unique time in a person’s life. A woman deals with the emotional roller coaster of attempting to conceive, endures the incredible and uncomfortable physical changes to her body, receives the congratulatory hugs and gifts at the baby shower, goes through a painful labor, and is finally overwhelmed by the joy and love she feels as she holds her newborn baby for the first time. A man has a more indirect role on the sidelines. At times I even feel that I am no more than a spectator during the pregnancy, but in the prenatal classes I was encouraged to take on the more active role of “birth coach.” In sports, the coach doesn’t just show up on game day to cheer on the team — he works diligently with the team the entire season to teach skills, strategy, encouragement, and set the game plan. Similarly, a birth coach acts as a comforter, interior decorator, furniture builder, masseuse, “ambulance” driver, breathing instructor, and even an amateur nurse. Though playing different roles, an expectant mother and father can both be active. I am particularly empathetic and amazed by Joseph’s birth coaching at the time of Jesus’ birth. It actually began as Joseph’s preparations for his wedding were interrupted by a pregnant bride! But Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and resolved to take Mary to be his wife (Matthew 1:24-25). He went from preparing a marriage home and career to preparing for his new family. This, too, was interrupted by Caesar’s census. As I now know multiple routes to drive to the hospital, I cannot imagine the stress of taking his pregnant wife on the long, multi-day journey to Bethlehem — and then arranging a place to stay and (presumably) a midwife upon arrival. Even after the joy and awe of Jesus’ birth, the disruptions to setting up his family’s new life continued (Matthew 2:13-23). Joseph went above and beyond his role as Mary’s birth coach! Christmas is a time during which many celebrate...

Let Your Joy Be Evident to All

Let Your Joy Be Evident to All

Nov 22, 2017

by Pastor Bob Babcock Luke 2:8-20 Perhaps one of the most glorious aspects of the birth of Christ is that He came into this world, not by a prestigious, upper class lady but by a lowly, modest, commonplace woman. It was not a glamorous, pretentious entrance into this world, but a simple birth in a stable. Add to that, the announcement of “the good tidings of great joy” was not proclaimed by the angel of the Lord to the aristocracy of the land but to common country shepherds, keeping watch over their flocks by night. The scripture tells us that the shepherds did three things: in faith, they went with haste and found Mary, Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger. Then they made it widely known what was told them concerning this child. Lastly, the scripture says that they returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told them. The theme in this Sabbath Recorder is “Rejoicing in Action.” It seems only right that we consider the reactions of some of the first people who were privileged to hear of the birth of the Savior of the world. We can see that they didn’t just revel in the fact they were chosen to be the recipients of the Good News. They went and saw for themselves. Rejoicing and praising God they then shared with others what they had been told. What a perfect example of what should be the response of every believer — not only rejoicing in the knowledge that our Savior has come but also making it widely known. At Christmas time the easy part for Christians is the glorifying and praising God that the Savior has come for all mankind. However, that is only half of the equation, isn’t it? If our faith is genuine, how can we not then go into all the world and preach this gospel to every...

Magi Mystify!

Magi Mystify!

Nov 22, 2017

by Julia Coleman “And I will put enmity between you [Satan] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He [her offspring] will crush your head, and you will strike [bruise] His heel.” —Genesis 1:15 “But when the time had fully come, GOD sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” —Galatians 4:4 “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the One who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.’” —Matthew 2:1-2 There was no grand public announcement of His birth: no newspaper headlines, no scandalous tabloid, no internet, no worldwide web, no text messaging, no social media, no TV, nor any present-day mode of communication. There was One Speaker, One Voice, One Message that was transmitting on a frequency higher than earth could pick up far above the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem life — a star-beacon unassumingly shining on the place where the King of the Jews was born. This was no ordinary account. Nothing should, would, or could stop the coming of the Initiated WORD sent by and from the Father. What was spoken by His Prophet as far back as creation was in rapid activation, succession, and revelation. It was time for action! The Father knew it. All of Heaven understood it. The Holy Anointed One humbled Himself to be conceived in a confined space among the vastness of His created universe. Magis were non-Jews and had been part of Biblical history for centuries: wise men who held high respect and demand. Their role in society was to be translators of omens, interpreters of mysteries, astrologers, influencers of government, businessmen, and prominent men in the courts of kings. They came bearing gifts to kings. In the time of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar gathered men vanquished from wars who would be the wisest, learned, and knowledgeable in the things of the kingdom, times or seasons. Daniel was, of sorts, a “magi” of...

Rejoice Like a Shepherd

Rejoice Like a Shepherd

Nov 22, 2017

By Willy Villalpando It’s your average Wednesday evening. You are walking around when a group of creatures appears in front of you and says, “Don’t be afraid, I have good news for you that will bring joy to so many people.” Well, if you’re anything like me you turn around and run (quickly) in the other direction! But I guess that’s one reason why I wasn’t one of the shepherds on the night Jesus was born. What they did really astounds me — an angel appeared before them and said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12) Then a group of heavenly hosts burst into song singing, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14) And what did the shepherds do? They, without question, responded with, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:15b). ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! I seriously can’t believe it! I mean they were in the middle of their work, in the middle of a night of herding sheep, when a creature told them to go because God said to — and they went! I’m an assistant in preschool right now, and if an angel suddenly appeared in front me and told me to leave, I highly doubt my first instinct would be to actually go! But that is what they did. They left immediately to find the baby waiting for them in the manger. But then the story gets even better — the shepherds did not merely stare in awe at what they had found. They rejoiced! How? They rejoiced in action! Luke 2:17-18 tells us “When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the...

The Lord’s Prayer: Lead Us Not Into Temptation…

The Lord’s Prayer: Lead Us Not Into Temptation…

Nov 22, 2017

9th in a series by Assistant Pastor Philip Lawton Seventh Day Baptist Church of Shiloh, NJ Check out Phil’s blog at contemplatingkenosis.blogspot.com   What is your biggest temptation? It might be those cupcakes that a coworker brought into work. It might be speeding. For some it will be a bottle of alcohol, for others heroin or meth. The answer to that question for over half of men would be porn. What I want you to see is that there are temptations all around us. Everyday. We cannot escape temptation. Yet for most, this is a petition to God for escape from a life of temptation. But that is not really what Jesus is teaching us. If you look through many commentaries on this petition of the Lord’s Prayer you will find a discussion of two things. They will either conclude that this is a petition to be free of all temptation and trials (while also acknowledging that this is impossible). Or they will conclude that this is teaching us to pray that God will deliver us from temptation once we are already in it. The first conclusion will reference James 1:12-15 and the second 1 Corinthians 10:13. Neither of these is what Jesus is teaching us here. To understand what Jesus is teaching us, we do need to look at these interpretations. But first, everybody’s favorite class: Greek! Temptation or Trial What muddies this whole discussion is that Greek uses the same word for trials and temptations. There are actually two words in this discussion: πειρασμός (n) and πειράζω (v). However, each carries both meanings. Only πειρασμός is used in the Lord’s Prayer. This petition could read, “lead us not into trials.” This of course brings all kinds of problems. Especially when we realize that some trials come from God. James tells us that very thing. God will test (πειρασμός) us. But God cannot tempt (πειράζω) us with evil. This does not mean that we will not be put through trials. God may put us into situations where we will have to rely on Him. Just ask Abraham or Joseph. What James does tell us is that these trials are from God, but the...

The Pulse of a Healthy Church, Part 3: Bad Witnessing 101

by Rev. Carl Greene Hebron SDB Church, PA   I was one of the most feared pitchers in my Little League Division. Batters would come to the plate with white knuckled twitches as they held their bat and sweat flowed from their brows. I could throw the ball fast and hard. I also had lousy ball control. I could not get many batters out, but man, they feared me! Realizing that this might not maintain my spot in the pitching rotation, I studied pitching. I learned about split finger fastballs, knuckleballs, curve balls — though interestingly enough, not much about my patented bean ball. I practiced hard to develop multiple pitches — if I had an exclusive pitch the batters would figure me out. At the same time, I wanted to develop a cluster of pitches I was exceptional at. Let’s consider the potential link between pitching and evangelism. As defined by Intervarsity, “Evangelism is communicating the Good News of Jesus Christ, and inviting response. Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, God offers the forgiveness of sins, the gift of new life, and begins the healing of the world.” Now think about how we present that Good News. We can use all sorts of techniques: proclamation of sin and judgment, appeals to intellectual reasoning, storytelling with illustrations, testimonies from our own life, interactive questions, public invitations to profess faith…and the list goes on. There are lots of potential links between pitching and evangelism: practice, technique, skill, reading the batter, knowing the context, working as a team, etc. But here is a very important clarification. Evangelism is not baseball. Again, evangelism is not baseball. Every technique of evangelism is terrible without the authority of Jesus Christ. Every technique. Matthew 9:35-38 presents a clear picture of Jesus using a variety of techniques to share the Good News in different contexts. He is bringing the same message of the gospel, but presenting it through different means. Yet, it is far from only about technique — there is a critical prerequisite. When Jesus sends out the twelve disciples in 10:1 to follow His example, He “gave them authority.” For the disciples to follow Jesus’ methods of evangelism, they...