The latest from the blog:

by Tom Smith

"A Gospel Response to Charlottesville" (guest post by Adam Myers) Sin is sin, no matter which –ism label gets slapped on it. It is wicked, evil, dishonoring to God and hurtful to those created in His image. As followers of Jesus Christ and citizens of His kingdom, we must evaluate the flagrant sins at Charlottesville and the broader tensions of sinful attitudes toward race in our country not from an American political viewpoint or from an American nationalism or patriotism, but from a nationalism and patriotism rooted in our heavenly citizenship. In a world broken by sin and awaiting redemption, we have to constantly shape our responses to life with the Gospel. So this short post is not about looking around at sin and throwing up our hands in despair or frustration or superficial guilt or outrage designed to garner likes and retweets. Rather, it is about looking forward to the coming reality of the return of Christ in Glory, and looking around at sin and throwing wide our arms in love to invite those from every tongue, tribe and nation to the delight of racial unity in Christ. In just a few steps, we can frame the history of the world through the 2 lenses of the Gospel and racial division. Telling our story in this way helps us to focus our hope on Christ and to embed our response to the brokenness around us in Him. First, we know that history is bookended with unity in one man. God created humanity as a unified race in Adam. “From one man he has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live.” (Acts 17:26) Though sin separated and divided this unity, all who believe in Christ are united again in Christ, the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45-49). For it is in Christ that those without hope and without God in the world who have been “brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In his flesh, he made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations, so that he might create in himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace. He did this so that he might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross by which he put the hostility to death. He came and proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household…” (Eph. 2:13-19) Therefore, because Christ has made one new man from all who believe in Him, we can rejoice that “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28) Ultimately, because we have been made one in Christ Jesus, we can look forward with anticipation to the day revealed to John in which “there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in our hands. And they cried out in loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Rev. 7:9-10) With the deepest kind of joy, then, we can read the news and weep at the sin without despairing for lack of hope. And, in harmony with this hope, we can build our response to Charlottesville out of the following applications to Revelation 7: • Because salvation belongs to God and not to us, we can work from a foundation of hope rather than despair to invite people into the love of God in Christ without regard for their appearance. • Because God is seated on the throne, we can anchor our patriotism to His Kingdom and build our earthly political interest and involvement from the priorities and realities of that Kingdom. • And because Jesus Christ is the Lamb, he’s united us all in His death and resurrection in a way that our varying skin colors shine together to reflect the beauty and creativity of God. Questions to run with: 1. As we continue to study through the Gospel of John, Pastor Tom preached Sunday 8/13/17 on the unity of believers in Christ (John 17:20-26). How do we live as a congregation (from Latin for “gathered into a flock”) in a nation marked by segregation (from Latin for “separated from the flock”)? 2. Our church attendance is markedly different than the demographics of our community. How can we better reflect the love and welcome of the Gospel to make room for others? What sacrifices will it be our joy to make for the sake of unity in Christ? (Scripture passages are quoted from the Christian Standard Bible, online at read.csbible.com.)

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by Tom Smith

First, the easy part. It died because I didn't write anything. Why didn't I write anything? Because it is time consuming. Why do I find it time consuming? Simple. I can speak faster than I can write. What takes 5 minutes to say takes 45-60 minutes to write, edit, rewrite, correct, proof read, re-edit, take a deep breath and hit "publish." What am I doing about it? I am meeting with a friend of mine who is a "spiritual director" but not as a New Age guru and definitely not as a martial arts sensei. My friend is a former pastor who served in one church for 23 years. He is gifted and trained as a spiritual director. He specializes in asking questions and waiting for answers. Recently I showed him my list of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual spiritual growth goals. He asked me, "Which of these are you actually doing?" I replied, "Only one or two." I told him I had memorized Psalm 145. However, it took me longer than my "one psalm every quarter" goal. This is because I am easily distracted. Also, the time it takes to memorize chunks of Scripture has evaporated from my schedule--along with the time it takes to blog. The solution? Over coffee this morning, my friend asked if I would like his help to accomplish my goals. Admitting that I was ignoring my goals was one thing. Asking my friend to probe beneath the surface to find out what was happening was not so easy. To pay for his spiritual direction seems like a novel idea. I pay an auto mechanic to do major repair work on my car. I pay house repair specialists (like a plumber). I pay the cable guy to connect or disconnect stuff. I even pay the garbage company to empty cans weekly. But why would I pay a spiritual director? According to him, spiritual direction is for those "hungry for something more." That's me. The only annual goal that I had written down was to take a personal spiritual retreat once each year for at least three and not more than seven days. As it turns out, my friend has taken such retreats and is wiling to lead one for me. Just the two of us. How scary is that? How cool is that? It is both scary and cool. The scary part is admitting that I do not have time to step away from the pressing needs of family, church, friends, even strangers. (I know I'm not indispensable, but who is going to get all the stuff done?) The cool part is taking time away to read God's Word and actually expect Him to speak to me--not just through me to others on Sunday morning. The saying "Never trust a skinny cook" is applicable to pastors who always prepare spiritual meals for others and neglect to feed their own souls. The idea of a personal spiritual retreat is biblical. Jesus often withdrew from the press of ministry to spend time in private prayer, even praying all night (Luke 4:42; 6:12; 9:18, 28; 11:1; 21:37). Accepting spiritual direction means inviting someone else to speak into my life. That happens frequently over coffee with my friends. And, it's free! However, while I value their advice, prayer, perspective, and friendship, I promptly (spoiler alert) forget most of what we talked about. Not so strangely, it is easier to remember advice when we are paying for it. I have recommended personal spiritual retreats to others. I have one colleague in ministry who makes it a habit. It is time for me to slow down. Get away. Draw near to God. Enjoy friendship. Submit to a brother speaking into my life. Before the end of 2017 I will go on my first personal spiritual retreat in nine years since coming to FBC-Silverton. Ask me about it. Will it make me a better husband, father, son, and pastor? I hope so. At least I should be able to slow down and blog more often :-) John Ortberg wrote an article that describes his experience with spiritual direction called "The Uncluttered Soul" in Christianity Today. I will be glad to give you a copy to read. Just ask. Tom

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by Tom Smith

At the recent Annual Enrichment Conference in Seaside, Oregon (March 7-9, 2016), four different presenters spoke on four obstacles that hold back the Conservative Baptists in the Northwest from being a movement on mission with Christ. These obstacles were in order 1) satan 2) materialism, 3) comfort, and 4) fear. NOTE: I capitalize God, not satan, to properly honor only God. Mark Hoeffner, Executive Director of CB Northwest and teaching elder at Grace church in White Salmon talked about the first obstacle, satan. He reminded us that though satan was decisively defeated by Christ's victorious death and resurrection, satan remains (in rebellion) a vicious foe of Christ's church. Through a Bible survey, Mark reviewed satan's strategy. Satan aims to rule this world. The devil seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. He tries to deceive. He accuses constantly. Satan is our enemy, not fellow Christ-followers! Gospel-driven ministry lives in Christ's victory and stands against satan. How does satan bedevil our church and attack us when we try to move forward on mission with Christ? Mark Hanke, senior pastor of First Baptist of Salem, next considered the obstacle of materialism. The barometer of materialism is not how much stuff you have. You can have very few possessions and fall into asceticism, the pride of not-having. The antidote to materialism is to recognize that God is the Owner of everything. The materialist acts like a little god exercising ownership. Gospel movements stall when they debate the social implications of the gospel--whether it is better to give a man a fish or teach him how to fish. Instead, we must understand that God owns the lake! Everything belongs to God and all of His resources are available to churches on mission with Christ. How do we act as owners of God's resources (people and things) in ways that hinder our church from moving forward on mission with Christ? James Gleason, lead pastor of Sonrise in Hillsboro, next considered the obstacle of comfort. Sonrise church has uncomfortably followed the Lord of the harvest into ministry with registered sex offenders. With support and training from Washington County Corrections, Sonrise church began a ministry to people ostracized because of their criminal behavior. This was uncomfortable for some in their congregation and the neighborhood. The church persevered, learned what they need to know, and grew into a respected and safe place of worship and fellowship. Another ministry out of their comfort zone was to add a staff member to their church who serves as a coordinator of volunteer services for Hillsboro schools. The level of cooperation between the church and local schools was initially uncomfortable. However, it has proven to be a blessing to both. How does our church's commitment to comfort interfere with moving forward on mission with Christ? Greg Spires, teaching pastor of First Baptist of Medford, considered the obstacle of fear. Their church faced the fears of loss of identity and significance when they decided to give away a thriving Christian K-12 school. From the very beginning, the school started as a ministry of their church. Cascade Christian School was thought by some to be the best thing FBC-Medford had going for them. To bless the school with facilities, grounds, and create an independent school board cost the church. Would the church survive without the school? Greg pointed out that the very things you fear are also the things you trust. If you lose certain things (health, money, reputation), you fear you will not be okay. If you keep those same things, you will be fine. Fear of losing is the flip side of trust in keeping. How do our fears (trusting in anything/anyone other than God) hold back our church from moving forward on mission with Christ? Unless we identify and overcome them, these four obstacles will keep our church from moving forward on mission with Christ: satan, materialism, comfort, and fear. With God's help, Conservative Baptists of the Northwest can again become a movement of churches on mission with Christ!

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by Tom Smith

Recently, my wife and I went on a date to a local restaurant with a Mediterranean flavor. We chose this place because the theme was all Middle Eastern from the name, to the decor, to the menu, even to the wait staff's dress. We weren't disappointed. Upon entering they asked us, "Is this your first time?" We said, "Yes." Then they offered a traditional height booth with bench seats or a curtained booth with benches much closer to the floor with embroidered cushions. The curtains were draped to look like the entrance of a tent. The table was a large, circular brass platter. It was all very cool. When our waitress came she knelt and offered to pour warm, scented water over our hands to wash before eating. We said, "Sure!" It seemed like part of the evening and we wanted to experience the full meal deal. We ordered the sambusa appetizers, lentil soup, mango juice, roasted lamb, rice, salad, bread, and Turkish coffee and Arabic tea with a pastry and ice cream for dessert. We had a great time enjoying ourselves. About halfway through our meal our waitress came to check on us and I decided to greet her with a traditional Arabic greeting, "As-salaam alaikum." Literally it means "peace to you" but generally is a polite hello. She asked me to repeat myself and I thought I'd messed it up. So I said again, "As-salaam alaikum." She did not offer the expected response but declined and said instead, "I am a Christian." Many Arabic-speaking Christians use the standard greeting but she didn't. Here's how the rest of the conversation went back and forth between us. We started, then she answers, and so on. "Where are you from?" "Syria." "Wow, Syria?" "Yes, we have a beautiful country. We had a beautiful country." "We're sorry." "When did you come to the States?" "About three years ago, but I've been working here for a little over a year." "Do you still have family in Syria?" "Yes, extended family. I came here with my mother and brothers." "What is the name of your village?" "Why, do you know something about Syria?" "Not really, I just think your village is special to you and I'd like to hear its name." [She told me the name but I can't remember.] "It's a Christian village in the western part of Syria. They are okay." "We're glad to hear that." "Have you ever been to the Middle East--Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria?" "No, we never have but we were Christian missionaries in Kenya in a Muslim village for over ten years." At that point she excused herself to take care of some other customers and we returned to finish our delicious dinner. After dinner, we ordered dessert. When she brought it we asked her, "Is there anything we can pray for you about?" She hesitated, shook her head "Yes" but then choked up. She put a finger on her upper lip to stifle a tear and couldn't continue talking. As she turned to go she said simply, "Everything." Of course, everything in her world (and ours) needs prayer. But her 'everything' is the future of her country, the safety of her extended family, her village's security, and the changing world attitude toward Syrians generally. In the current discussions about refugee policy (which refugees are safe and which are not), I found it easy to have an opinion because I did not personally know a single Syrian, Christians or Muslim. But when policy becomes personal it changes my thinking and I choose my words more carefully. Most importantly, I begin praying. When we got in the car on the way home, we prayed aloud for this lady. Our waitress is one specific person out of the tens of thousands who have fled the Syrian civil war that began four and a half years ago. But we met her. She served us. Her story touched us. And we prayed. I hope you pause and pray now too.

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Church News:

Bulletin 12.10.17

December

  • 9th            Men’s Breakfast ~ 7 am at Water Mt. Restaurant
  •                    Christmas Program Dress Rehearsal ~ 9:30-11:30 am
  • 10th         Christmas Program ~ 6 pm
  • 12th          Ambassadors Christmas Party/Potluck ~ 12:30 pm
  • 14th          Jr. & Sr. High Awana at Richman’s ~ 6:30 pm
  • 16th          Ladies Brunch ~ 9 am
  • 17th          New Members Class ~ 9 am
  •                   Parent/Child Dedication ~ during the Worship Service
  •                   Jr. & Sr. High Christmas Party ~ 6 – 8 pm
  • 20th          Choir Singing at the Oregon Garden ~ 7 pm
  • 24th         Christmas Eve Services ~ 10:30 am & 5 pm
  • 25th        OFFICE CLOSED  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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