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.