Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Candlelight Service


On Sunday, December 21st, Lansdowne Baptist Church's congregation, extended families, and friends celebrated Jesus' birth with a beautiful candlelight service. We heard lessons from Old and New Testament Scripture related to the birth of Jesus. We celebrated with familiar carols. We reveled in the talents of a young singer and two trumpet players who added to the service. The highlight of the evening was when the sanctuary descended into darkness except for the light of a single candle. From this, in a beautiful traditional ceremony the light of Jesus Christ's message was spread through the whole assembled body of believers and together we sang Silent Night.




This wonderful, deeply meaningful service took the efforts of roughly twenty dedicated individuals, some of whom went on to serve a terrific, festive meal afterwards. Their efforts in making the night a truly worshipful experience are deeply appreciated.

Consider yourself invited to next year's Candlelight Service.

Through these red doors (red is symbolic of joy)
you are always welcome!

May you and your family enjoy the blessings of Christmas. 

Good News of Great Joy

For Christmas this year, wishing you all the joy of the shepherds when the angels told them of the coming of the long awaited Messiah. To the lowest on the social scale the angels came, making the shepherds who most looked down upon the messengers of good news of great joy for all people.  Here's how Luke tells the story in Chapter 2, verses 8 through 20. 
8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” 15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rejoice Always





The apostle Paul calls you to rejoice this Christmas season, and throughout the year. It's a matter of trust and a defiance of fear. It's also a healthy way to live. Wishing you a blessed Christmas.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Good News



There is surprisingly, wonderfully good news for you coming from a long ago prophet who appeared long after the age of prophets was thought to be done. He brought news of the coming of one who the people of Israel had longed for over many generations. We live in a different world because of this news.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Christmas Fair TODAY! 10 am to 2 pm December 6

This is the day. The Christmas Fair is on at Lansdowne Baptist Church in the education wing. Room upon room of those gifts you are looking for at prices ... well, words don't express it properly.

There will be a silent auction that includes refurbished computers, beautiful ceramics, glass, and art books among other wonderful things. 

Then there are the baked goods. If you have not had Baptist baked goods, you have no truly lived. Come out and be blessed. 

All funds raised help this church help its community, so it is all for a good cause. We look forward to seeing you there.

So what if there is a little rain? God, in infinite wisdom, made us waterproof for just such events. We will welcome you warmly and give you a good and dry shopping environment. 

Finally, everyone working today's event is doing so by choice. Nobody has been pulled away from family and friends during a holiday to work this event. In fact, everybody here is working WITH family and friends. Come and see. YOU are most welcome.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Reflections on the Christmas Season

“Hark the herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the new-born king’. Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!” ~Charles Wesley 

        Welcome to another Christmas season. Welcome to our celebration of the moment when the world changed forever. Luke 2:1-20, especially 8-20, is my favorite rendition of the Christmas story. For me, I cannot hear or read the shepherd’s experience with the angels in the field without thinking of my childhood and A Charlie Brown Christmas, in which Linus, the crew’s pint-sized theologian explains the meaning of Christmas to a distraught Charlie Brown using this passage.

        There are the shepherds, out watching their flock in the field at night, social outcasts based on the “earthy” way they make a living. Yet, outside of Jesus' family-to-be, these are the first people among the nation of Israel to hear the “good news of great joy for all the people.” Assured not to be afraid of the angel’s visitation (a good thing considering the angelic choir that will soon appear), they are told of the birth of a Savior, Messiah, and Lord. Such powerful titles these are, the titles for a king. And yet, this king will be found wrapped in bands of cloth in a manger. Peace among those whom God favors refers to the nation of Israel, a people set apart, for whom this message was first delivered. Luckily for us all, while Jesus began by fulfilling Jewish prophecy, in time the reach of Jesus’ good news would extend much farther, and that joy and peace right along with it.

        Immediately after hearing this message and choir, those shepherds headed off to find Jesus. Their world had changed and they wanted to find the source of that change. They never questioned that a Savior, Messiah, and Lord would also be one who was submissive and humble too. What a wonderful leap of faith, given how loaded those three words were with expectations across many centuries for the nation of Israel. When the shepherds arrived and told their tale, no doubt with great enthusiasm, the people were amazed. I wonder if they were more amazed by the tale or the messengers? But Mary treasured and pondered those words, as we all should. Finally, the shepherds returned to their world, their night on the hillside with the sheep, to a world that would never be the same because of the birth of Jesus: Savior, Messiah, and Lord.

        Wishing everyone peace, joy, and wonder this Christmas season as we celebrate Jesus’ birth once again. 

~Pastor Jeff Snyder

What Is Advent?

Welcome to the season of Advent, the beginning of the new church year. Advent, comprised of the four weeks prior to Christmas, is a season when we remember all God has done for us. We look back to the newness God brought into the world with the First Advent, the birth of Jesus. How Jesus’ entry into our world changed everything! It is the season when we look ahead to Jesus’ return and the reign of peace and justice that will come in that much anticipated Second Advent.

Over these four weeks, we light the candles of the Advent wreath. The evergreen wreath reminds us of God’s eternal love for us all. The four candles around the wreath represent hope, love, joy, and peace. The central candle, the last to be lit, represents Jesus Christ, who was sent by God to bring us hope, love, joy, and peace. It is a beautiful reminder of all Jesus has done for us and all that will yet be done. God bless you in this wonderful, meaningful season of Advent.

Loving Boldly





Presented for your consideration, a challenge to love the outcast and the downtrodden. This challenge comes from one of the most potentially unnerving passages in the New Testament. Give it a listen and "hear" for yourself. God bless you.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Give Thanks ( With A Grateful Heart )





Here's a little offering for you this Thanksgiving and always. It focuses our sense of gratitude and thankfulness beautifully. God bless you.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanksgiving Help for Those in Need

The holidays are difficult times for those in need. Here are a few of the organizations in Philadelphia helping to make a difference for Thanksgiving day, 2014.

Check them out and see how you can help ... or be helped. If you are struggling this year, our prayers are with you. With God, you are also never alone.

Here are those organizations links for you to check out:

http://www.mannapa.org/manna-blog/
http://www.uac.org/thanksgiving-basket-program
http://www.mowaa.org/
http://unitedforimpact.org/uploads/ways-to-engage/documents/Holiday-Network-Opportunities.pdf
http://www.philabundance.org/?gclid=CPPp4omx-ooCFQqgYgodxmiPqA

Places you can help:

http://www.volunteermatch.org/search/index.jsp?r=msa&categories=39&l=Philadelphia%2C+PA%2C+USA

Organizations that help out all year 'round:

http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/cgi-bin/id/city.cgi?city=Philadelphia&state=PA

Working with one of these organizations to help alleviate hunger may well be a better use of our time than heading to stores on Thanksgiving day.

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.
~ 1 Chronicles 16:34


Friday, November 21, 2014

Wishing You Joy


With the holidays rapidly approaching, we here at Lansdowne Baptist Church wish you joy. As Henri Nouwen wrote in his devotional book, Bread for the Journey

Strange as it may seem, we choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently from the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it. What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice.
Choose joy.  

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 15:13
 

Recommended Reading for Clarity


There is a lot of confusion out there today about Christianity and the Bible, where the Bible came from, how it is interpreted, what it has to say about specific topics, and more. Here are a few books that will provide some clarity for the truly curious.

For an introduction to the faith, try:

Nouwen, Henri J.M. Life of the Beloved. Spiritual Living in a Secular World. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992.

To come to grips with the powerful love of God for humanity, read:

Nouwen, Henri J.M. The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming. New York: Doubleday, 1994.

To approach the Bible with insight and clarity, the following are suggested:

Brash, Donald J. The Indispensable Guide to God's Word. Cleveland, Ohio: The Pilgrim Press, 2010.
Davis, Ellen F. & Richard B. Hays, eds. The Art of Reading Scripture. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2003.

To better understand where the sixty-six book library of the Bible came from and what a great stretch of time is covered in those books, see:

Lightfoot, Neil R. How We Got the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1963, 1988, 2003.

Tackling some of the most challenging passages from the apostle Paul is:

Brauch, Manfred T. Hard Sayings of Paul. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1989.

To understand the complex imagery used in the Bible, and to understand slavery in biblical terms, read:

Ryken, Leland, James C. Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman III, eds. Dictionary of Biblical Imagery: An Encyclopedic Exploration of the Images, Symbols, Motifs, Metaphors, Figures of Speech, and Literary Patterns of the Bible. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press USA, 1998.

To grapple with the relationship of slaves with Christianity in the Antebellum South, read;

Raboteau, Albert J. Slave Religion: The "Invisible Institution" in the Antebellum South. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978, 2004.

Please see the bibliographies of all of the above sources for additional reference material.

For the history of the American Baptist Churches USA denomination, including our fight against the vile historical institution of slavery in the U.S., read:

http://www.abc-usa.org/what_we_believe/our-history/

To understand how American Baptist Churches USA fights modern day human trafficking (slavery) today, read:

http://www.abc-usa.org/2013/12/12/abhms-endorses-iccrs-statement-against-human-trafficking/

Finally, if you wish to use study Bibles to dig deeper, see:

Coogan, Michael D., ed. The New Oxford Annotated Bible. New Revised Standard Version. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Since there are a number of sermons available on this site, if you would like some understanding on what is involved in creating a weekly sermon, read:

Allen, Ronald J. Patterns of Preaching: A Sermon Sampler. St. Louis, Missouri: Chalice Press, 1998.

and

Tizon, Al. Missional Preaching: Engage, Embrace, Transform. Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Judson Press, 2012.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Missionary Jeni Pedzinski Speaks at LBC

We were pleased to hear from Jeni Pedzinski, missionary to Thailand, on Sunday, November 16, 2014. Jeni is currently preparing to serve as the senior administrator of the New Life Center Foundation in Thailand. The center, established in 1987, serves young ethnic minority (tribal) women who are at risk of being, or have been victims of, human trafficking, forced labor, and sexual abuse. Jeni will provide support to the NLCF staff in administration, Christian discipleship, and financial literacy.

She is very well suited for the task at hand. Her presentation was moving. The story of how she was called to service by God through the stories of another missionary whom she met and spoke with when 11 was inspirational. It is amazing to see how God nourishes the seeds of faith planted in our lives by other faithful followers.

To learn more about Jeni Pedzinski's mission work, see: http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/529-pedzinski

There you can also find ways to support her vital work if God moves you to do so. For more on mission support, see: http://www.internationalministries.org/missionary_support_information

Jeni also lists a number of ways you may be involved in her ministry:

  • Join her Ministry Partnership Network (MPN)
  • Share information about her ministry with others
  • Go on a mission work team to her country
  • Give to her ministry individually or through your church
  • Send emails and birthday and Christmas cards
  • Pray for her ministry
We at LBC wish her all the best in her important work and will be praying for her continued success. 

Remembering Our Veterans and Their Families


Lansdowne Baptist Church is privileged to have a number of veterans and their families worship with us. We remember the sacrifices they have made in their service and in support of their service men and women. We pray for all those who have served and their families, for those who have gone on before us, and those who are with us today. We recognize their struggles and pray for their resolution. 

We offer up Psalm 33:20-22 in their honor: 

Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and shield. 
Our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, 
even as we hope in you. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Who Will You Serve





Stewardship sermon based on Joshua 24:14-25. It was a challenging question for the people of Israel back in Joshua's day and remains just as challenging for us. The "little g gods" may have changed, but the importance of the challenge and the response of each of us remains the same. God bless you as you ponder the question.

For a creative little piece on stewardship by a friend and fellow pastor, see: http://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2014/10/daily-vlog-299-made-to-give-60ssss.html

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Life Application: As You Judge, Matthew 7:1-5



"Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. 2For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

There are certain kinds of judgements we need to make each and every day. We must judge if the person or people approaching us on the street or in their cars are likely to be safe or not. Is the salesman being honest? Then there's election season ... but let's leave that one alone. Some judgments help us stay safe and navigate the world we live in successfully.

However, all too often we are encouraged by society to be hypercritical of everyone and make snap judgements about people based on ... almost no facts at all, skewed perspectives based on a variety of things including "how it used to be" (which is often viewed through rose-colored glasses ... working with the whole vision metaphor here ... and therefore never was quite that way), or on gossip among other possibilities. Lots of our entertainment today is based on harsh, critical, angry judgment, the very sort of thing we are being warned against in this passage. 

Given this calling from society to play harsh judge, these verses are extremely useful for us today. Jesus calls us not to judge others. We are warned that the way we judge others is the way we will be judged. This is not simply dealing with judgment we face before Jesus at time's end. No, we are warned that in the here and now to judge others harshly will have a serious backlash. Those who judge others the most severely are frequently surprised when they are treated no more generously by those who know them than were the victims of their own harsh assessments. Jesus calls us to steer clear of this trap. It's wonderful advice.

He softens the blow with the wonderful joke about the log in your eye. But there is also a tempering message here. We are to mind our own business, deal with our own flaws, and let others worry about their own specks. It's excellent advice, advice to live by, advice to grow a loving community with if we care to be so countercultural and take it.

Oh, and by the way, "you hypocrite" may well refer to ... according to scholars ... Greek actors for the stage, meaning you are not to act out your faith without really meaning it. An interesting interpretation in this context.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Interfaith Food Cupboard of Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, Needs Help

This information arrived on October 30, 2014, concerning the needs addressed just for the month of October: 


  • We provided emergency food for: 180 adults
  •                                                  162 children
  •                              for a total of: 342 people
  • We gave each a nine meal supply of food (three days), so we provided 3078 meals!!
Now here is the local need in the William Penn school district served by the Interfaith Food Cupboard: 
  • You can see that our number of requests have DOUBLED, while the food and money donations have dwindled   
  • WE NEED lots more food—so if you can help, we would be grateful!!
Here is a description of their efforts and their contact information: 

  • We service families in the William Penn School District (Aldan, Darby Borough, Colwyn, East Lansdowne, Lansdowne and Yeadon). We are here to help with emergency food needs! Call us at 610-622-0800, option 4 for more information. We are located at the First Presbyterian Church in Lansdowne, PA and are open on Monday and Wednesdays from 4:00-6:00p.m. This is not a walk in service so please call ahead to register as a client. Please bring proof of residency to register. You will need to provide your own transportation. Unfortunately, we cannot deliver to you.
You may also check their Facebook page for additional information: https://www.facebook.com/interfaithfoodcupboard/info

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Christmas Fair and Candlelight Christmas Service Invitations


You are invited to join us for both our Christmas Fair on Saturday December 6th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm AND our Candlelight Service at 7 pm Sunday, December 21st. Both are wonderful and well worth your time. 

LBC Attends Local Community Day

Set up and waiting for the community to arrive!

On a sunny Saturday morning, members of Lansdowne Baptist Church joined in the local Farmer's Market Community Day, October 25. It was a terrific opportunity to talk with and introduce ourselves to members of the community and invite them to our annual Christmas Fair and Candlelight Service in December. We put our best foot forward with our displays and our friendly members.


It was wonderful to see what special talents each member of the team brought to the effort. While one member took fliers around to hand out, several greeted people who came to the table, others with craft skills created cup and ball games for the kids from recycled materials. We learned a lot that day and met some wonderful people. It was also a great time for the church members working the table to get to know each other better and fellowship with one another. We look forward to being there again next year.

Lots of information and material to give away ...
To sum up the message: "All are welcome!" 

LBC Attends PBA Annual Banquet Celebrating Mission


Lansdowne Baptist Church members attended the annual Philadelphia Baptist Association mission banquet this October. The emphasis was hospitality and outreach to the community, including the immigrant community. One of our own received recognition for her years of diligent service to a local interfaith food cupboard.

ABC-USA President Don Ng (taken stretching an iPad's camera
to its limits)
The president of American Baptist Churches USA, Don Ng, was the keynote speaker. He told the moving story of his father coming to the United States, fighting in World War II and receiving citizenship based on that sacrifice. Don Ng told of the struggles to bring his father's wife and son over from China to join him. The First Baptist Church of Boston assisted Mr. Ng in his efforts and helped his family after their arrival in the US. This church helped them navigate the rough waters faced by all immigrants to this country. Mr. Ng spoke movingly of the trouble he faced as a child growing up in America, a first generation child of immigrant parents who was not treated well or taken seriously by the school system he was raised in, even as a native-born son of the US. He called all churches to assist immigrants in their struggles and make a positive impact on their lives.


Thirty of the PBA's 129 churches were represented in that banquet hall at the Hilton Hotel in Philadelphia, providing over 600 members to celebrate in fellowship together. The youngest recipient of an award for community action was eleven and her efforts were well recognized. I wonder what we will accomplish together for next year? 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Daily Vlog #299 Made to Give (60sSSS)




My friend a fellow pastor John Inverso explains generous giving in this stewardship season in his sixty second sermon summary. Perfect, just perfect.

Fall Back for November 2nd!

Just a little scheduling reminder from Lansdowne Baptist Church to set those clocks back an hour Saturday night, November 1st. It is time to "fall back" and gain an extra hour's sleep so we'll all be bright-eyed, bushy tailed, and on time for Sunday School and worship!

If you are in the area, you have an open invitation to stop by on Sunday. We will be glad to meet you.

Evangelism by Example





Explaining the apostle Paul's very different approach to evangelism and its application today.

Note to pastors: shifting from Thessalonians to Thessalonica can cause some challenges!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Sermon Concerning Domestic Violence Awareness

Due to technical difficulties, the camera was not working today. However, the message is too important not to offer for consideration. Below is the complete transcript of the sermon. 

Working for Mercy & Peace

Deuteronomy 34:1-12
October 26, 2014

       This is, without doubt, the hardest sermon I’ve written. Philadelphia Baptist Association has asked pastors to preach this Sunday on domestic violence awareness. While it is not entirely clear what all leads to domestic violence, an often silent and hidden epidemic in our culture and our churches, it is known that conditions leading to family stress ignite it. Right now, economic growth is below normal. Unemployment rates remain too high. Those individuals suffering beneath the poverty line have increased to roughly 50 million, around one in every six persons in our population. As we have seen working with the Interfaith Food Cupboard, the rate of food insecurity is far too high. Opportunities for advancement have dwindled. This is an incredibly stressful environment to live in and fertile ground for domestic violence. According to the pamphlet available from PBA, 2,135,000 women and men are abused annually by partners. Numbers like this can leave us feeling helpless and wanting to withdraw. However, using God’s methods of mercy and peace, as seen in today’s Scripture reading, we Christians can make a difference.
       Moses was an extraordinary prophet and leader. Moses had an amazingly close relationship with God. We are told Moses had God’s Spirit, received a divine calling and divine revelation from God. Moses spoke with God’s words. Here was the prophet who led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Moses formed this “stiff-necked people” into a nation. Listening to his father-in-law’s advice, he gave them a judicial system. All of the prophets who came later were compared with Moses. In the New Testament, parallels were made between Jesus and Moses, so powerful was Moses’ legacy. In Deuteronomy 34:10, it is written, “there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” No one short of Jesus would be used by God so intensely as an instrument of revelation. God spoke to Moses clearly and Moses saw God’s form without dying.
       And yet, Moses, for all his virtues, was a human being filled with human flaws, human fears, and a human temper. In his youth, Moses struck down an abusive Egyptian beating a Hebrew and fled to Midian to evade Pharaoh’s wrath. Later, in the wilderness of Zin, after the death of Miriam, Moses’ sister, at Kadesh, Moses was caught up in a quarrel among his people. They were waterless and sure they were going to die. They were accusing Moses of poor leadership, bringing them to this hostile place. God told Moses and Aaron to command the rock to yield water before the assembled crowd. This would be a sign of God’s power and holiness. Instead, Moses, apparently with temper flaring, proclaimed, “Listen, you rebels, shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” Striking the rock with his staff twice, the water came. God saw this action as Moses’ lack of trust in God and God’s methods, stating, “Because you did not trust in me, to show my holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” Moses was neither free of fear nor sin, though God made great use of him.
       For many centuries, that judgment, in the face of all Moses did right, has worried scholars. Many explanations have been offered but none seem to satisfy. Right now this is a painful story of judgment, harsh judgment. And Moses was about to die. Will this story be redeemed? There is a modern story about which we can ask the same painful question.
       Moses was in a situation of high stress both times when his temper got the best of him. The people of Israel became those famous “stiff-necked people” arguing and abusive when they were stressed as well. Great social stress today leads to domestic abuse, as we have seen. That is the dangerously fertile soil into which the evil seeds of cruelty fall and thrive. Seeking out an explanation for the cruelty involved in domestic violence, I turned to the Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling. The experts there explained that our life’s expectations are “mapped out” early in childhood. Those expectations grow as the years roll by and impact behavior. Generally speaking, if a child received love and care, those are the expectations mapped out for later life and that child is likely to be loving and caring. However, when a child is told constantly and unfairly that he or she is bad and is treated with cruelty and violence, the map of life’s expectations is altered and behavior changes. That child will likely exhibit cruel behavior later in life. Victims become victimizers as they try to decrease painful, pent-up feelings from their own trauma. This awful and wrong cycle perpetuates. Again, this is general. There are exceptions.
       Sadly, social attitudes going all the way back to the Code of Hammurabi, the oldest legal documents, have been lax on domestic violence. In the Code, the rights of a husband to discipline a wife and children as he saw fit were affirmed. In time, restrictions were placed on how men might exercise this right. By the 19th century, social reform movements made child and wife abuse less excusable. However, today, while there are laws in every state prohibiting assaults on family members, all too often there is reluctance to enforce them. Batterers are rarely charged and victims are encouraged not to press charges. Worse, victims are often blamed as being complicit in the abuse.
       Any community that tolerates interpersonal violence perpetuates it and passes it on like toxic seeds to the next generation. For instance, a 28-year-old contractor filed for divorce from his estranged wife, a wife he declared he no longer loved. One day, cancelling his wife’s home insurance, he obtained the necessary permits and demolished her three bedroom home. Fortunately, she and their three children were away. Quite a few men in the community called this violence “bulldozer justice” and supported the contractor. His community let it be known that violent, vengeful attitudes and behaviors were legitimate ways to end family disputes.
       Christian families are not exempt from this crisis. Some years ago, Methodist church women were surveyed and 68% revealed they had experience with abuse. Domestic abuse is a crisis facing peoples of every social and economic class, every ethnic group, both genders, all ages, and every faith. Like our story from Deuteronomy, at this point it feels like terrible, harsh judgment and leaves us in a quandary as to what we should do.
It is easy to imagine ourselves standing on some high mountain, looking longingly off into a promised land, but unable to reach it.
       While this is a story of God’s judgment, it is even more a story of God’s mercy and peace. In the Bible, among the nation of Israel, the infirmities of advanced age were often used to portray God’s judgment against the people. Weakness is the result of sin and rebellion. And yet, Moses, a man of 120 years was clear-sighted and vigorous. Moses’ past actions may have denied him direct access to the Promised Land, but God’s judgment is further muted by his treatment of Moses at the end. God is very gentle with his faithful, dedicated, if sometimes prickly servant. God grants Moses a rare delight. Ascending Mount Nebo, some 2,600 feet above sea level—there’s vigor in a 120 year old for you—God provides Moses with a view of the entire Promised Land as no mere mortal could. Moses sees in detail the future homes of the various tribes of Israel. God reminds Moses, “this is the land that I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob …” when the tour is finished.
The promise was about to be fulfilled. God shows mercy to Moses and Moses receives that mercy with acceptance, receiving also God’s peace.
       Throughout Moses’ long life he responded with a range of emotions to God’s calls. At times Moses was filled with self-doubt and fear, then with bravery in the face of great danger, and even offering up a gentle reproach to God to calm things when the people were at their worst. Just once did he stumble as God’s prophet, at Meribah, as his impatience and temper rose with his people. One scholar wrote that since Moses was a model for his people for all time to come, the price Moses paid for that lapse was high. Yet, when God’s justice collides with God’s mercy, as it did here, mercy prevails. In the end, the text even suggests God may have buried Moses God’s-self, providing a final moment of startling closeness in the relationship between God and his prophet. God helped Moses with his final mile on this earth. The text suggests, in Moses’ quiet observation of the Promised Land and his ending without complaint that Moses had serenity in the face of God’s mercy and peace. It is a hopeful end. How might we use those great qualities of mercy and peace today to change lives and offer hope to those struggling with domestic abuse today?
       Last week Paul asked the Thessalonians to do the “work of faith and labor of love” by imitating Paul’s efforts among the church. This week, in this story of Moses, we can see ourselves imitating the ways of God, the ways of mercy and peace. We can also take the message away that, even in the face of the turmoil created by domestic violence and the circumstances that aggravate it, we should continue to have faith. God’s great age of the peaceable kingdom will come and we can strive for the mercy and peace it represents in the here and now, seeing it from afar like Moses from Mount Nebo. Like Moses, we may not live in the Promised Land in which such violence is finished forever, but we can work toward it. We can have faith, like Moses, that God will guide us in our work.
       From this Scripture lesson we can also take the lesson that while our efforts might not be complete, like Moses we can pass them on to another generation and have our work continued, just as Joshua continued Moses’ work with the people of Israel.  Using God’s example of mercy over judgment and peace over wrath, we can contend with domestic violence. This never appropriate behavior is criminal assault. It includes physical and emotional abuse and neglect. The intent is to control others in the relationship. Victims include children and adults, males and females, the single and the married. Domestic violence takes on many forms, including name calling, putdowns, isolation from family and friends, withholding money, preventing partners from getting or keeping jobs, actual or threatened harm, assault, stalking, and intimidation. There is much we can do to help work against this crisis. Churches like ours can provide emergency help for victims. We can help victims get the legal, medical, and social help they need through persistent advocacy on their behalf. When no emergency centers are available, some churches have developed host home networks for temporary safe housing.
We can also help victims and families recover from long-term effects of abuse with guidance to counseling services and by sponsoring support groups. We can offer violent families the chance to build positive bridges with others, breaking their isolation for a healthier way of life.
       As a church, we can also offer up nonviolent images of family life so needed today. We can provide family-life education programs that offer instruction on non-abusive ways of parenting and conflict resolution. Pastors are offering up premarital and post-marital counseling to address domestic violence prevention.
       Further, we can work to reduce social stresses that are flash points for violence. We can work, reaching out with mercy and using peaceful methods against sexism, racism, poverty, and hunger, poisonous soil from which domestic violence grows. We can also speak out against domestic violence, making others aware of this crisis, and never supporting violent actions like “bulldozer justice.”
       American Baptist missionaries Ray and Adalia Schellinger, and their partners in Tijuana, Mexico, are working against domestic violence there with Deborah’s House, a shelter for women and children escaping severe domestic violence fostered by a harsh economy paying less than $1 an hour that demands 50-60 hour weeks, and offers no child care—when work can be found. At Deborah’s House, women learn the sewing business. Working together, these women form a business that allows them to make salaries three times higher than factory rates, allowing them to spend more time with their children, and frees them from violence. Ray and Adalia also provide counseling for abusive men, guiding them toward different, non-violent ways.
       Using God’s approach of mercy superseding judgment and peace instead of wrath, we can work against this terrible crisis of our age. Dedicated to this effort, we can make a difference.    

For more on ending violence, see: http://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2014/08/actively-working-to-end-violence.html and http://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2014/08/we-cannot-delay-helping-others-while.html
©2014 J.B. Snyder





Sunday, October 12, 2014

God's House, God's Rules



Exploring the Ten Commandments and what they mean for us in today's world. "This covenant was an invitation for the people to accept God’s love for them and choose to live the better lives God would have them live. That remains true for us today, all around the world."

Fun fact: "As an interesting aside, the law “honor your father and mother” was particularly aimed at the old and infirm. It let the people of Israel know that, unlike some other nations, it was not okay to send the old folks off on a trip in the hopes they’ll either be eaten by wild animals or die of exposure. If you wanted to stay on the land God gave you, you’d need to maintain higher, more humane family standards."

If you find yourself in the the Lansdowne, PA, area any Sunday, consider yourself to have an open invitation to come and worship with us. You will be most welcome!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

In One Spirit





From Paul's letter to the Philippians, Chapter 1, verses 20-30, delivered on September 21, 2014.

Beyond the Law's Letter





Sermon based on Romans 14:1-12, in which Paul grapples with the issue of cooperation and the law. Timely for us all. We are in the early experimental stages here at Lansdowne Baptist Church in recording sermons. We brightened this one a bit. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Let's Dialogue, Not Debate

We are living in a highly charged, vastly divided, increasingly angry society that appears to be bound and determined to debate ... everything! Sadly, such debate rarely gets us anywhere, except for further divided. Here are three readings that offer up a different solution, actually talking to each other and listening to what others have to say, respectfully. We recently used these to establish guidelines for civility in our Bag Lunch Bible Study class (to which you are invited) on Wednesdays, which is working beautifully if I do say so myself.

“Debate is about humiliating your opponent. Dialogue is about inviting your friend into conversation. Jesus was a master dialogist. He didn’t use power to overcome; he used kindness to overwhelm. To dialogue successfully, listening trumps talk and reflection trumps reactivity.”

~ Jim Henderson

Jesus, the master dialogist, said, “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.”

~ John 14:12

“Never spend time arguing with a fool—because from a distance people can’t tell who’s who.”

~ Author Joshua DuBois’s Grandmother

All three make compelling points and offer up a more loving alternative to the modern trend. If we all gave it a try, who knows what might come of it???

Any Sunday you find yourself in or near Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, you have an open invitation to visit us. We'll be very glad to see you ... and to listen with great interest to what you have to say.

Resources
In case you are curious, these quotes came from the following sources: 
Jim & Casper Go to Church by Jim Henderson and Matt Casper.
The New Oxford Annotated Bible (NRSV).
The President's Devotional by Joshua DuBois.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Meditation On Our Limits

In The President's Devotional, by Joshua DuBois, there is a meaningful passage by the Bishop Kenneth Untener from "Prophets of a Future Not Our Own" that reminds us of our limits ... and for whom we work. Bishop Untener wrote:

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about:
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water the seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need future development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders, ministers not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

What a wonderful, humbling meditation. We are not going to do it all. We can focus on doing our small part well and taking joy in the fact that we were called to do that bit by the master builder. 

Called to Be Humble

In Philippians 2:1-13, the apostle Paul calls all of us to abandon selfish ambition and conceit in favor of the humble ways of Jesus Christ, who gave all that he had in the service of others rather than chasing after fame and fortune for himself. This is wise advice, especially in an age where selfish ambition and conceit seem all the rage and cause terrible trouble. Paul warned the Corinthians that love is not envious, boastful, arrogant, rude, insisting on its own way, irritable, resentful, or rejoicing in wrongdoing. We are called to avoid all of these pitfalls in life and instead take after the one who loved us enough to give all for us to reunite us with God.

Paul asserts that striving for what he calls "the mind of Christ," the life of humble, peaceful, service to others, will lead to greater unity among humanity. Serving others selflessly will encourage love, tenderness, compassion, like-mindedness, and humility. In an age where passenger flights are diverted and interrupted because people are fighting for "their right" to recline their seat ... or to block its ability to recline, it seems this alternative approach might well be worth a try.

Paul also states, if we decide to try, God will work with us, giving us the will to do wonderful things that must be done, the things that will help those who are struggling in this life and are "for God's good pleasure." With help like that, how can we not try?

Come join us on Sunday at Lansdowne Baptist Church and see what God is doing among us. You will be more than welcome. 

Prayer Request from Missionaries Serving Southern Baja, Mexico

Dear Friends

Please pray for our Mexican brothers and sisters who are La Paz, Todos Santos, San Jose, and Los Cabos.as Hurricane Odilemoves in. Heavy rain and wind will begin later today as the Cat. IV hurricane bears down on the southern state of Baja. 

The ports in Cabo and La Paz are now closed and the Cabo airport is beginning to cancel flights into Cabo. Although La Paz is well protected from storm swell there is a prediction that we can expect around 5 inches of rain to fall causing flooding in the streets. 

You might be interested in watching the weather in both Cabo and La Paz on the webcams:http://www.webcamsdemexico.com/webcam-la-paz.html and following the radar updates on www.eebmike.com andwww.bajainsider.com for road conditions.
As we hear any updates, we'll let you know.
David and Joyce

David & Joyce Reed
International Ministries Missionaries
Serving in Southern Baja, Mexico since 1999
American Baptist Churches, USA

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

LBC Returns to 2014 Fall Schedule

As of September 14, 2014, Lansdowne Baptist Church returns to its fall Sunday schedule. Sunday School begins, in the education wing, at 9:45 AM and ends at 10:45 AM. The worship service begins in the sanctuary at 11:00 AM and ends at noon. After church most weeks there are refreshments available for a time of fellowship.

You are invited to join us any Sunday. You will be most welcome. 

SUCCESS: First Bag Lunch Bible Study Wednesday Class Held

Here at Lansdowne Baptist Church, we are celebrating the successful completion of our very first Bag Lunch Bible Study class, led by Pastor Jeff Snyder. We had good attendance, great conversation, and covered a lot of material. We are about to begin covering the book of Matthew, seeking verses particularly applicable to our lives today. 

It is going to be a warm and friendly experience filled with exploration and sharing. Everybody packed a nice lunch too! 

You are personally invited to come and join us. The more perspectives we have, the greater the diversity of experience, and the more we will all learn together in this friendly, welcoming class. Hope to see you next Wednesday, and each Wednesday, from noon to 1 PM. 

For more information on the class, see: http://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2014/07/bag-lunch-bible-studies-wednesdays-noon.html

For a few Bible verses to live by, see: http://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2014/07/bible-verses-to-live-by.html

2014 World Mission Offering

During September and October, American Baptist Churches USA receives the World Mission Offering, an essential source of support for the entire work of International Ministries, including support for current global personnel and  the recruitment of new missionaries. Your gifts to the offering can be directed for the support of particular missionaries, like Sue Hegarty, who are doing Christ-like ministry and changing lives in more than 70 countries around the world. We invite you to participate in the offering this year and to give generously.

You can give here at Lansdowne Baptist Church in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania. We will be glad to have you join us and support these missionaries. You can also follow the link here and give to the ABC-USA missionary of your choice: http://www.internationalministries.org/give 

To read about the work of missionary Sue Hegarty, see: http://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2014/09/missionary-sue-hegarty-reflects-on.html

Missionary Sue Hegarty Reflects on Conflicts and Self-esteem

Sue writes: 
Costa Rica celebrates its Independence Day on September 15th with everyone getting into the spirit. At school (and churches) there are special programs and streets are decorated. The big event is the Independence Day eve when children dressed in "traditional" costumes parade at dusk with their lanterns (or farolas).  
But it can create conflicts. I have been giving a class on healthy self-esteem and relationships at a mission called "God's House" on Sunday afternoons. This mission is in an apartment rented by the mother church and offers programs which meet the needs of that community. Since most members work six days a week, church services are offered on alternate Sunday afternoons. On the Sunday afternoons when there is no church service, we have been offering a class to the women. Our class fills up the tiny apartment, but our students are enthusiastic. We have a variety of ages, nationalities, and races, so it keeps things interesting!  
The students didn't want to miss the class on September 14th because of the Independence Day lantern parade so they asked if we could start class an hour earlier in order to finish in time to get children and grandchildren to the parade. That's just what we did! It was a hard class, though, as the women struggled to understand a new pattern to communicate negative feelings and ask for behavior changes without accusing the other person. Some of the older women commented that they wished that someone had shared this with them when they were younger as they had difficulties asking people (especially husbands) to change annoying behavior.  
Your prayers and gifts are so important to making this ministry possible. Please uphold these 18 women in your prayers. Thank you for your partnership as God works through these women to bless them and their families. 
To read additional reflections from Missionary Sue Hegarty, and to support her work, see: http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/68-hegarty

For additional posts from Sue on this blog site, see: http://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2014/06/missionary-sue-hegarty-reflects-on-her.html and http://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2014/04/news-from-american-baptist-missionary.html

Friday, September 12, 2014

BOATLIFT, An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience





Living out one of the two great commandments, "Love your neighbor." God calls us all to help those around us who are suffering. Here's a prime example. It is also a reminder that while a few people twisted by evil did monstrous things on September 11, 2001, many more reached deep, found their courage in a terrifying time, used their empathy, and helped their neighbors.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Webinar: How to Lead in Stewardship - Raise More Money with Less Stress





There is a lot to learn here about stewardship for pastors and stewardship teams. Have a blessed, calm, stewardship season and year.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Different Approach to Helping Others: The Street Store - Official video 2014



Here is a wonderful idea for outreach to the homeless community that may work well in your town too. If you want to check into this further, contact: www.thestreetstore.org

Unintended Consequences of a Simple Sign


A while back I read a scholarly study on what makes a megachurch tick. One thing that stuck in my mind was that anything that draws attention to your facility is a good thing. Well, the simple "chalk sign" has, unintentionally, become such a thing. 

I was down at a local restaurant picking up dinner (The Seventh Avenue Grill) and the discussion rolled around to what I do. Mentioning that I was pastor of LBC, the clerk asked which one that is. Saying the big stone church was not very useful as there are several in the area. After a few tries it hit me, "the one with the chalk sign out front" I tried. Eyes lit up. "Oh, yeah, I know that one." 

The simple sign is a success. It is garnering interest ... and a new way to identify our church. Someone has also called about the Bible study, which made me happy as well.  



To learn more about this sign, see the original post: http://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2014/07/simple-signs-for-churches.html
To discover more about the Bag Lunch Bible Study shown on the sign's front, see: http://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2014/07/bag-lunch-bible-studies-wednesdays-noon.html