The latest from the blog:

by Tom Smith

METAPHOR Disclaimer: I am not an automobile mechanic. A car with a standard transmission has a clutch pedal and a stick shift lever. The gear shift stick is commonly located on the floor. (One old car of ours had a set up called "three on the tree" with the stick on the steering column.) The clutch pedal is located to the left of the brake pedal. Depressing the clutch pedal makes the clutch work. The clutch has a throw out bearing that helps the transmission to disengage in order to shift gears. If you don't fully depress the clutch pedal, then the gears will grind when you try to shift. There is a way to shift gears without using the clutch. You must time the speed of the car and carefully sense the RPMs of the engine. At just the right time you can move the gear shift stick or lever to the next gear. It is shifting on the fly with never disengaging the transmission. Guess wrong and you will grind the gears. Too many pastors try to take a break from ministry without ever fully disengaging. They never depress the clutch. Some try to shift gears on the fly. The funny sound you hear from them, their spouses, their children or their church is the noise of gears grinding. Eugene Cho is a successful church planter (Quest Church) in Seattle and director of the non-profit One Day's Wages. Recently, he decided to step down from the senior position role from the church he began 18 years ago. For the full story you can Google <eugene cho stepping down> and read the Christianity Today article. His ministry capacity is far beyond mine, but I enjoyed reading the interview. Here's how he can tell if the gears are grinding, or not. "I can tell how I’m doing in my soul and in my calling by answering these questions: How am I sleeping? How am I eating? How am I exercising? How are my Sabbath days? How is my relationship with my spouse and my children? How am I with conflict resolution within my parish and my staff? How am I with my rhythm of sabbatical? Am I still making time for the things that give me life?" In order to reflect and be refreshed and repurposed in ministry he decided on a plan. "When I was a young follower of Jesus, I went to a church where pastors took a one-year sabbatical every seven years. That’s a long time between sabbaticals! And I can’t imagine being away from my congregation for a full year. So 18 years ago, when I started Quest Church, I started a rhythm of taking a three-month sabbatical every three years. That’s been a humongous gift for me and my family." UPDATE The first six weeks of our three month sabbatical have been times of engagement and ministry. Before the clock started ticking, we spent one week in Estes Park, Colorado at the 75th anniversary of the founding of WorldVenture mission. It was a rich time of hearing ministry reports from around the world. One missionary who was barred from Western China ended up in the Philippines and the Filipino church he worked with sent a missionary back to Western China. Both of these amazing people were present! Our time was focused on prayer, the power of God, and the work of Christ--Christ died (sin is defeated), Christ was raised (death is defeated), Christ will come again (injustice will be defeated--there is hope). We were busy, but very blessed. Ten days later we were off to Kenya with Lahash International for a three week mission trip. The first week was a training conference for East Africa partners where we had ministry responsibilities for five mornings of Bible teaching, informal prayer, and the final evening session of group communion around the Lord's table. The second week was a ministry tour in two separate places in Tanzania followed by three days at Bible Camp. The third week was a chance to revisit our former mission location among the Digo people and have two days of R&R before flying home. In 21 days we were on nine separate airline flight segments (each with a plane change); slept in ten different locations; and, took 31 separate trips by vehicles--including several buses, minivans, taxi cars, two motorcycle rides, five short trips in three-wheeled motorized rickshaws, and two ferry crossings! We were busy, but very blessed. Ten days later our middle daughter, Clarissa was wed to Tim Jones. The social dynamics included times with out of town guests, stressful times, family times, and happy times. It was a special treat to see so many friends and be able to perform the wedding ceremony for Clarissa and Tim. Our church family stepped up in a huge way at all the right times to make it a memorable and Christ honoring celebration. When it was all over we were out of energy and low on money but they were married! We were busy, but very blessed. What's next? Finally, the clutch is pushed all the way to the floor and we are disengaging the transmission from all things work and ministry related. Sherie and I want to draw closer to each other and to God. We want to tackle home chores--both inside and outside work that needs doing. We have planned two vacation breaks, one in Sacramento and one at the Oregon Coast. We will seek the Lord's will and direction for us personally and for the next several years of ministry at First Baptist Church. We look forward to extended times to pray and play together. We are practicing rest in little steps. The rhythms of grace take time to develop and grow. We will not be busy, but very blessed.

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by Tom Smith

Recently a friend told me that their son was praying for God to reveal Himself. He issued no specific demands of thunder and lightening, or an audible voice, or a miracle cure. Just a polite request for some unmistakable evidence that God exists. The world has been drained of color by the rigors of his dental profession and personal skepticism. I found a fascinating online article  here https://www.wikihow.com/Describe-a-Color-to-a-Blind-Person. Part One talks about using other senses. Probably you can come up with some like "blue is cool to the touch" and "red is warm or hot to the touch." But it keeps going. For instance, the article mentions using sound, "blue is bubbly like running water or ocean waves" and smell, "orange is refreshing, sweet, and tropical" and emotions, "green is balance, refreshment, harmony." Part Two of the article tells you to use numbers (yes, numbers!) to describe variations of shades--just like you can have 1.0,  1.1,  1.2,  1.3,  etc.--you can describe shades of colors on a scale. Pink is a lighter shade of red. Part Three encourages finding out the nature of a person's blindness. Can the person distinguish light and darkness? Is he color blind? Was she blind from birth? Okay, so why am I so excited about this? Christians specialize in talking about things that others cannot see. This is different from the parable about six blind men describing an elephant--one grabs the tail and says an elephant is like a rope, another touches the side and says an elephant is like a wall, and so on. They were unable to validate their own limited experience or go beyond individual impressions. Why? They were still blind! However, when the eyes of our hearts have been enlightened to see the glory of God in the face of Christ (Ephesians 1:18 and 2 Corinthians 4:6), we suddenly see what, or Who, was invisible. Along with the man whom Jesus healed in John 9 we say, "One thing I know. I was blind but now I see" (John 9:25). We have a new challenge. How do we describe Jesus to someone who is visually impaired? How does God's grace feel to the touch? Like the safe and welcome embrace of a friend who hugs you, but not too tight and not too long. How does Christ's forgiveness sound? Like the voice of a non-condemning parent who thrills simply to hear you on the phone and know that you are well. How does the Spirit's mercy smell? Like the sweet air that follows a summer rain shower that settles the dust and brings relief to parched earth. I want to think deeply, speak clearly, and describe accurately who Christ is and what the gospel is all about. I am going to have to expand my explanations to include more biblical metaphors. In Scripture, the gospel sounds good (Romans 10:14-15), smells good (2 Corinthians 2:14), tastes good (1 Peter 2:2-3), and feels good (John 14:27). This is not just for touchy-feely types like artists, painters, poets and musicians. This is for everyone. Describing colors to a blind person is the essence of evangelism. In the aforementioned wikihow article, in the Community Q&A at the end someone asks, "What does gold look like?" I thought the answer was amazing. The contributor said, "Gold is shimmery and bright, like the sun, but more subtle. It has a sort of sharp, firm, but malleable appearance. It is a smiley color and often makes a person feel cheerful or happy. Gold is like a mix of metal and laughter." Now, try to describe this to a blind person, "What is salvation like?"    

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by Tom Smith

sky-3120537_640 The bigger the plane the longer the runway needs to be. It can take almost a mile of runway for a 747 Jumbo jet to take off or land. A STOL (short take-off and landing) plane has to make do with less than 1,500ft about one-third the distance. In order for a pastor to successfully "take off" careful planning must include several things. First, there has to be good information about the scheduling of "who's going to do what?" while he is away. It is a privilege for us to be able to hear and respond to God's Word from a variety of spokesmen. Many churches around the globe have no trained preachers. When I go on sabbatical we will have six different men preaching. I have worked out a preaching schedule that includes hearing God's Word through men of our church who have preached here before. Then we will hear once from Paul Johnson of Corban University, twice from Paul Metzger of Multnomah University, and four times from David Thommen of Western Seminary. Now is the time to pray for the men who will be preaching during sabbatical. Second, there has to be a healthy shift away from dependence upon a paid pastor or staff-elder to the body of Christ. With Christ as our Head our church grows and develops and reaches out on mission. It is from Christ that "the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work" (Ephesian 4:16, NIV). Over a period of time, it is a natural tendency for people in a church to become set in our ways.  Routines become ruts. Even without realizing it, the body of Christ finds that flexibility is lost, joints stiffen, and muscles atrophy through disuse. Now is the time to pray and ask God how you can stretch and grow in your faithful service to Christ. Third, there has to be a confident expectation that God is going to bless and even grow our church during the sabbatical. Usually in the summertime, church attendance dips due to family vacations, summer sports leagues, holidays and three day weekends, etc. However, the amount of time spent with people outside of one or two hours on Sunday morning goes up. Those are key times for having spiritual conversations with friends and family. Colleen Cooper writes, "In a recent study, 79 percent of unchurched said they would be willing to engage in a faith conversation if a Christian friend shared, yet in separate but related research, only 39 percent of Christ-followers said they have shared the gospel in the past six months. That’s a 40 percent gap" (Christianity Today, 5/18/18). Now is the time to pray and ask God to setup a spiritual conversation with someone this summer. I don't consider myself to have a jumbo jet sized ministry. However, due to slowness and age it probably requires a little bit longer of a runway than it used to for me to take-off. However, thoughtful preparation and diligent prayer are going to get this sabbatical plan off the ground. I fully expect that God will bless both our church family and also my personal family during this sabbatical. And, we will join together again afterwards with greater energy and vision for the glory of God in this church and community.

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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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Church News:

Bulletin 10.14.18

Church: P. O. Box 1800

October

  • 13th     Young Adults Meeting ~ 8 am
  • 15th     WMCC Meeting ~ 7 pm Fireside Room
  • 17th   Encouraging Word Women’s Bible Study ~ 9:30 am
  •                  Fellowship Hall
  • 17th    AWANA ~ 6:45 pm Theme: Favorite Verse
  • 17th    Choir Rehearsal ~ 6:45 pm
  • 18th    Jr. & Sr. Hi Awana at the Richman’s ~ 6:30 pm
  • 19th    Log Cabin Fellowship ~ 7 – 9 pm Fellowship Hall
  • 20th   Elder Board Meeting ~ 7 am
  •              Young Adults Meeting ~ 8 am
  • 21st     3rd Quarterly Business Mtg. ~ after church
  • 26th    Women’s Night Out ~ 7 – 9 pm Fellowship Hall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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