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

Encouragement for Workers Everywhere

"Why We Work"

The same God who knit us together in our mother's womb, who formed our emotions and character and innate worth, who orchestrated our lives up until this point--that God placed us where we are today. In our jobs, in our families, in this place.* 

There are some moments when the light of that purpose burns clear and bright but others when we can barely discern it through the fog. Regardless, we must work "as working for the Lord." Serving a heavenly Christ, even through our earthly tasks. 

~Joshua DuBois

*While this is generally true, if you should find yourself in an evil place among those who would harm you, that is not God's doing. God is never the author of evil and you should strive for freedom from that harm.

LOVE: Paul's Solution for a Divided Society

Paul was writing to a divided church in Rome, with Gentile and Jewish Christians hardly getting along. The society around them was dangerous, the recent history had been deadly, especially for the Jews. Paul's solution, trust in the power of love. Love your neighbors, both inside the church and beyond its walls. Let Jesus' command to love neighbor and God guide them. His sense of urgency applied well to the dangerous times.
Romans 13:8Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
11Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

This same advice applies well to us today. We live in dangerous times in a divided world. In the U.S. we have little trust in our formal institutions, in our doctors, our employers, our religious leaders. In fact, only one third of all Americans trust each other. It is so bad, most people won't trust others enough to even bowl with them! All the while tensions rise, arguments arise, and violence follows. Let's all give love a try instead. Love neighbors, help them along life's rugged road, and see if we don't all end up in a better place. Maybe we'll even meet on the lanes.