President's Page

President’s Page

Posted by on Nov 22, 2017

Rev. David Stall     South Atlantic Association Visit I was invited to attend the South Atlantic Association to share about the Conference theme and program. It was great to join in with some inspired worship and catch up with LOTS of old and new friends from our SDB community. As with every visit on this “tour” during my term as president, I looked for people who are taking action in their faith. I saw my friend, Pastor Keith McCall, and was reminded of their church building project in Edgewater, FL. They are working away, paying as they go. That’s a great story of faith in action. However, the story that moved me to tears was one that Pastor Keith shared on Sabbath afternoon. Just before the loss of his beloved wife earlier this year, God spoke through her with a vision of Keith working/serving at a camp in FL. She saw him there, without her, working peacefully in nature — at a camp. Keith understands that vision as God’s direction to help with establishing, maintaining, and serving in the SDB...

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Alliance In Ministry

Posted by on Nov 22, 2017

by Rob Appel Executive Director   For over 300 years in North America, Seventh Day Baptists have been commissioned by Jesus Christ to use their gifts and resources to share His gospel. Today, we continue to advance His mission in a unique way. There are benefits of having a Conference of churches! We can reach further and do more when we have a larger pot of spiritual gifts, experiences, perspectives, and resources for Kingdom work and when we are part of a family larger than just our local congregation. Through this there are shared aspects of SDB life that all of our churches experience. Pooling our experience yields a broader array of choices and options when we’re looking to do something new or do something better. Our churches can connect, identify, and participate with the international community in the global mission through our shared channels of communication. There is a strong identity component — we are “part of something bigger” when we work together. Our Churches can learn more if we have the “iron” of the larger body to speak into...

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Features

Joseph, The Birth Coach

Posted by on 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...

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Departments

A Foster Home?

Posted by on Nov 22, 2017

  by Katrina Goodrich Once upon a time, not too long ago, I became the member of a foster home for an adorable puppy. Fostering a puppy was not on any list I had or something I had been wanting. It was very much an unexpected event. Not necessarily an unwelcome one — even at 3 am when the poor little guy, who hadn’t slept a wink to this point, was barking and in distress for a reason I couldn’t fathom in my sleep-deprived state. My experience is not on par with those who choose to foster human children. However it has been interesting and has me thinking about foster homes, families, and kids. Technically speaking, Mary and Joseph were a foster family for Jesus. I realize the situation was a little bit different from every other fostering situation because Mary actually gave birth to Jesus. But if you take a moment to think about it, Jesus wasn’t biologically hers. Jesus was given to Mary and Joseph by God through the Holy Spirit, for a short period of time — to...

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Recent Posts

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...

Mary Rejoicing

Mary Rejoicing

Nov 22, 2017

by Sarina Villalpando Maranatha Community Church in Colton, CA   A long, long, very long time ago, an angel named Gabriel appeared to a young Jewish woman named Mary. He told Mary that she was going to have a son, who would be the Son of God. Young Mary was confused about this news but she had faith in God. Mary was given an assignment that was unique. She was to give birth to the child who would be the Son of God. During the birth, Mary faced a number of challenges to her faith but she continued to rejoice in the gifts God was giving her. Mary, out of nowhere, was given a new future — a future she didn’t expect! She was being given a child, the Son of God. We may not know if this is where Mary wanted to be — if this is what she wanted — but she continued to serve God. In the end, she rejoiced over the new baby in her arms and she forever stood by Him. Mary didn’t have to follow through, but she loved her child. Mary teaches us the good lesson that sometimes we are thrown an obstacle, an obstacle that we never expected. We have a choice to fight that obstacle or see our way through God’s plan for that obstacle and make it part of our life. This is what Mary did. She took action. She didn’t expect to have a child anytime soon, but she rejoiced about the child through the action of carrying and loving Him. Rejoicing is the act of being happy and thankful at the same time. But rejoicing isn’t anything without showing...

Miracle of the Bell that Rings Again!

Miracle of the Bell that Rings Again!

Nov 22, 2017

by Ida Gay McRoberts Council on History “What’s the story about that rusty old bell in the middle of the front lawn at the church? It sure is ugly. I notice it driving by all the time.” We may become accustomed to seeing things to the point of no longer seeing what things look like to other people. In a way, they become invisible. That comment helped me see how that bell at the Seventh Day Baptist Church of Albion looked. Although we moved it from the middle of the lawn to a concrete block by the ramp, we were at a standstill since we couldn’t agree on the next step. It is an old bell, aged more than rusted. And it had not always sat in the lawn. As the church prepared to celebrate 175 years (officially this coming year but with a party this past July), one member delved into the history of the bell. The SDB Church of Albion was formally organized in 1843 after the arrival the prior year of pioneer families who celebrated the Sabbath. But the meeting house wasn’t built or dedicated until 1861. We learned that the bell tower was not part of that structure until after 1881. The church body decided to purchase a bell and voted that Samuel Burdick be a committee to prepare a place for the bell. Note that often one person served as a committee in the early records — perhaps implying chairing the committee with others not named, or perhaps simply because one person could get the job done. Samuel Burdick was a carpenter. The bell the church purchased had been forged in 1881 at Blymyer Manufacturing Company out of the Cincinnati Bell Foundry. It was a specific church bell size and weighed 336 pounds. It probably arrived by train and was brought from Edgerton to Albion with a farm wagon and team of horses or oxen. It was placed in the bell tower where it could be rung by a rope going around a large wooden wheel and dropping from the belfry to an upper room along a column. It was rung to call people to Sabbath School, worship, and...

President’s Page

President’s Page

Nov 22, 2017

Rev. David Stall     South Atlantic Association Visit I was invited to attend the South Atlantic Association to share about the Conference theme and program. It was great to join in with some inspired worship and catch up with LOTS of old and new friends from our SDB community. As with every visit on this “tour” during my term as president, I looked for people who are taking action in their faith. I saw my friend, Pastor Keith McCall, and was reminded of their church building project in Edgewater, FL. They are working away, paying as they go. That’s a great story of faith in action. However, the story that moved me to tears was one that Pastor Keith shared on Sabbath afternoon. Just before the loss of his beloved wife earlier this year, God spoke through her with a vision of Keith working/serving at a camp in FL. She saw him there, without her, working peacefully in nature — at a camp. Keith understands that vision as God’s direction to help with establishing, maintaining, and serving in the SDB camp facility/program in FL in the future. Even in the midst of grief, and without all of the details, Pastor Keith has committed to working with his church, association, and the camp crew down there to assist in whatever ways God calls him to! He knows God has spoken, and he intends to follow through with ACTION. Praise God! Music that praises God IS Rejoicing in Action! Music is a GIFT from God! You will be blessed greatly by this gift through our 3 choir groups at Conference this summer. Think of it as Christmas in July! I hope you will come to WI and participate by singing with a choir group and/or rejoicing while you listen. Meet our talented choir directors:   Lisa Moore – Director, “New York City Area” Conference Choir Lisa lives in Brooklyn, NY, where she serves the NYC SDB church as music ministry chair, Sabbath School teacher, assistant moderator, and missions advocate. From a musical family, Lisa has ministered for over 37 years as a singer, praise team member, worship leader, and director. At her former church, she...

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...

5 Questions You Should Ask Your Church

5 Questions You Should Ask Your Church

Oct 26, 2017

John J. Pethtel Director Church Development & Pastoral Services Here are 5 questions leaders can ask if their church stops growing: One of the best things any leader can do when he is in a tough spot is to stop making assumptions and start asking questions. Our assumptions got us to where we are, but they won’t necessarily get us where we need to go. 1. What is our mission? Often a church that has stopped growing has lost the urgency behind its mission. This is doubly sad in the case of a church because our mission is actually Christ’s mission…it’s the spread of the Gospel into the world for which Jesus died. Leaders and congregations that are effective in accomplishing their mission are consumed by their mission.   2. Are we focused on unchurched people or on ourselves? The gravitational pull of any church is toward insiders, not outsiders. Left unattended, your church will become a place where the preferences of the members trump passion for the mission. There are two primary ways to address this drift: 1. In every decision, focus on who you want to reach, not who you want to keep. 2. Commit to losing yourself for the sake of finding others.   3. Has our strategy or approach become dated? While the mission of the church is eternal, strategy should shift from generation to generation. The challenge in long term leadership is that the changes that you introduced may have been novel and effective when you introduced them…but it’s not 1995 anymore…or 2005 for that matter. How do you tell if your strategy is dated? When it stops being effective. 4. Are we on top of the constant change in our culture? While you’re studying your strategy, you might also want to study culture. It’s changing, radically and quickly. We now live in a post-Christian, post-modern world. That’s true in Canada. It’s increasingly true in the United States. In my experience, many of us in church leadership don’t really grasp the enormity of the change going on around us.   5. When was the last time I personally invited someone to church? The reality is many Christians, for a...