Pastor Dan

Rest That Lasts

Dear CBC community,

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I have been congested since childhood.  Allergies to dust, pollen, and animal dander have been my reality since my earliest days.  I was the only kid I knew, other than my brother, that always carried a handkerchief (“hanky”) in his pocket.  I still do. Thankfully my congestion is seasonal; I am only congested in the fall, winter, and spring! There have been times in which I have needed to breath through my mouth at night for an entire winter.  Once my dentist warned me about the dangers of dry mouth as though I had chosen to be congested and recommended various oral moisturizing products but what I really needed was relief from my congestion.

There are some allergy relief products, such as Afrin, that provide quick and amazing relief but there is a catch - you can only use them for up to three consecutive days or they will cause your congestion to worsen.  This reaction is called rebounding and it makes such products useless, even harmful, to a chronic allergy sufferer like me.

While not everyone needs relief from allergies, almost everyone needs rest; relief from the pressures, demands, disappointments, stresses, etc. of life.  Many of us try an Afrin-type approach on the weekends. We want quick relief so we sleep too much, or eat and drink too much, or watch too much entertainment, or pack in too much activity, or do some assortment of these things only to find ourselves even more tired on Monday than we were on Friday.  Many of our attempts to rest don’t provide lasting relief but instead rebound on us and leave us more tired and worn out than before.

The rest of Sabbath is what we need.  The rest of Sabbath is not found in the absence of problems but in the presence of God.  We don’t need to get away from our work or problems or pains as much as we need to draw near to God.  We need to learn how to rest in such a way that we are actually renewed, refreshed, and replenished. That is what we are after this fall in our study of rest.  No matter our starting point, we want to learn to enter God’s rest more fully and more completely. We don’t want something temporary but lasting; a rest for the rest of our lives.  God is offering such a rest but we need to understand it, to experience it, and to live it. I hope you you join us on this journey; we can’t really rest until we find it.

Blessings,

P Dan



The Beast and the Guardian

Dear church,

This reflection is from my trip to Detroit in July to attend the wedding of CBC alumni Justin and Samantha Miller.  This reflection isn’t about their wedding - no allusions to them are intended here!!! - but I would be remiss not to say that the wedding, reception, and weekend were all fantastic!  Kathy and I had a great time and were privileged to be part of the celebration.

The Beast:  I wanted to have a book to read while we traveled so I looked through our house and found a copy of The Lord of the Flies by William Golding.  In this fictional story a group of young boys, roughly ages 6 to 14, survive a plane crash on a tropical island; all the adults on board perish.  The boys begin their community in an orderly manner but are also afraid that the island is inhabited by a dangerous beast. Eventually a power struggle emerges and their little community splits.  They stop being boys and turn into savages, literally killing one another. Their fear of a deadly beast on the island turns out to be true but shockingly the boys themselves, and in particular those who ascend to places of power and influence, turn out to be the beast.   The story, written post World War ll, is a sobering assessment of the human condition.

Guardian Building in downtown Detroit

Guardian Building in downtown Detroit

The Guardian:  Justin and Samantha’s wedding ceremony was held in the Guardian Building in downtown Detroit.  You can read about it at http://guardianbuilding.com/history/.  The building is incredibly beautiful, interesting and ornate.  It was built in a time of great optimism, the roaring 1920’s, when the economy was booming and Detroit was a growing center of commerce and trade.  The building was once called the “Cathedral of Finance” and the notion of “guardian” is from its role as a banking center. The bank identified itself as a guardian of money, of business, and of prosperity.  Ironically the building was completed in early 1929 before the famous stock market crash leading to the Great Depression.

The reading of the book and the location of the wedding were serendipitous but noteworthy to me in a couple of ways.  First humans were created by God to be guardians, commissioned to extend the garden of Eden by filling the earth and subduing it, ruling in such a manner as to bring prosperity and peace.  That was the admirable vision of the bank - to empower commerce and bring prosperity. But both the boys in The Lord of the Flies and the stock market crash revealed the beast in humanity through selfishness, abuse of power, greed, deceit, and pride.  In the beginning humanity yielded to the temptation of a beast and ever since has succumbed to being beast-like themselves, predictably bringing destruction and death instead of prosperity and life.  Humanity is a fallen guardian, like the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14 or the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28.

Second the guardian and beast motifs also remind me of our commission to make disciples. Jesus instructed us to be shrewd as serpents and gentle as doves because of the danger of the beast and the potential of the guardian.  We know both the beast and the guardian in our personal histories and so we do our best to lead people into repentance, turning them away from the beast, and into new life in Jesus Christ, becoming guardians through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

I hope you have enjoyed my reflection.  I look forward to a new year of ministry together, defeating the beasts and releasing the guardians around us!

Blessings,

Pastor Dan


 

More Be Credited To Your Account

Dear CBC family,

The Apostle Paul, writing to the Philippians, says, “Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need.  Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account.  I have received full payment and have more than enough.  I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent.  They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (4:15-19).

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On Sunday, June 24th we were privileged to hear from two missionaries, Dr. Amanda McCoy and Jeremy Wideman.  Amanda will be serving a two year term at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya beginning this October; Jeremy is a career missionary with the International Mission Board living in Thailand.  Jeremy, his wife Kathy and their four children have been working with the “You” people of Central Asia for eighteen years.

CBC had supported the Widemans from 2004 until this year and it was a blessing to have Jeremy visit to share God’s Word and work with us.  He did a great job in describing how God speaks his gracious word of welcome (Isaiah 55; “come”) through his Word to all peoples and nations. He thanked us for our many years of partnership and credited us in helping to bring God’s Word to the “You” people.  He shared two stories of “You” people encountering God’s Word through phone apps made possible, in part, by our contributions.

Amanda, our very own Dr. McCoy (“Bones” in Star Trek; fittingly Amanda is an orthopedic surgeon!), is currently raising funds for her mission assignment.  It seems ironic that an orthopedic surgeon should need to raise funds but this is God’s way of sharing the work and the blessing with the entire Body of Christ.  We can share the credit of her ministry too through our financial and prayer partnership. So far Amanda has raised about 22% of her monthly goal of $3700 and 93% of her one time need of $11,000.  Many thanks to those who have joined her support team but there is room for more investors!

Wouldn’t you have loved to be part of the Apostle Paul’s support team?  What a world-wide impact your investment would have had and what a credit would have been made to your account!  The promise of verse 19 that God will meet all the Philippians’ needs is predicated on their generosity. God will meet all their needs because they have been faithful in meeting the needs of others thus fulfilling the law of Christ - the law of love.

While it is too late to get in on the Apostle Paul’s team, it is the perfect moment to join Amanda’s.  This is also a great investment opportunity and not one to be missed! Don’t misunderstand my appeal: it is “not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account.”

You can join Amanda’s team by going to: www.wgm.org/missionary/mccoy

Blessings,

Pastor Dan

Mission “Trip” 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This is a year of firsts for me in missions.  I took my first overseas missions trip in February to minister at Salvation Rock Church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (see my article on “Solid Rock Churches”) and now I am taking part in my first short term summer mission trip with CBC.

First let me say that the staff is extremely excited about this summer’s all-church mission trip.  Despite the enormous, seemingly impossible logistical challenge of organizing a mission trip for the entire congregation, we have managed to find housing, transportation, meals, and even jobs for everyone in a major urban center in the Northeast.  Many believe that this major urban center might be the starting place of the next great nation-wide revival and churches around the country have been sending short term mission teams there for years to break up the hard spiritual soil in preparation for the seed of the Kingdom of God.

Now it is our turn to join in!  Are you ready? Willing? Here is the major Northeast urban center that we will be ministering in: Boston and Cambridge, MA!  Known as the Athens of America and famous for their renowned universities such as Boston University, Harvard, and MIT (listed alphabetically to avoid favoritism); Boston and Cambridge represent a unique challenge for the Kingdom of God.  Here the mighty clash between the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of God is felt deeply in the culture and society.

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So this summer presents a unique opportunity for us to live out the empowering of Pentecost as we step out of our comfort zones and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.  While many short term mission teams forgo the comfort of their own beds and routines to serve in some distant city or country, our summer mission trip confronts us with a different type of discomfort.  In fact, the discomfort we face by staying at home and being on mission in the context of our everyday lives and routines is far greater than the temporary discomforts of being away from home. It is the discomfort of identifying with Jesus to the people you work with, the people you live with, the people you go to school with, the people in your neighborhood, etc.  It is the discomfort of bearing the name of Christ in a place and time in which it is welcomed or esteemed.

A summer mission trip should be challenging and rewarding, stretching and satisfying.  We will accomplish this with clear expectations, good training, weekly encouragement, devoted prayer, lots of stories, and many laughs.  These details will be communicated beginning June 3 with signs-ups taking place throughout the month of June. We will “leave” for our “trip” on July 1 and “return” on September 2.  I am excited to share this trip with all of you!

Blessings,

P Dan

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When Less is More

Dear CBC community,

I never thought Kathy and I would be happy about a pay cut but we are!  This year’s budget proposes a 10% reduction in my salary/housing and we couldn’t be more excited.  Let me tell you why.

First, the Lord prepared us for this change.  Recently we have been in conversations with ministry colleagues about the budgetary constraints that a full time pastor places on a smaller church.  Both the pastor and the church need a pastoral team but the cost usually makes additional pastoral staff impossible. So the Lord already had us thinking that less might be more at CBC which led us to propose this change.

Second, the hiring of an associate pastor has been a great encouragement.  Last summer the elders posted for a youth pastor but the Lord had other plans and provided an associate pastor instead!  While God was preparing Kathy and me for less, he was also preparing CBC for more. Pastor Shtem brings pastoral experience, gifting and leadership.  This is another great addition to our staff team of Karen, Myriah, Rahel and myself and bodes well for CBC’s future.

Third, I had come across an article back in January that spoke, among other things, about the need for bi-vocational ministry to be the new normal.  I shared the article with the elders and you can read the article at: www.christianitytoday.com/karl-vaters/2018/january/recalibrate-10-steps-church-this-year-dead-decade.html.  I believe this change is moving CBC in a good direction for the future.

Finally, I have increasingly needed more time to manage our property business and the 10% reduction is both salary and hours.  This change will allow me to dedicate one day every other week to our business and Kathy and I expect that this will make up for our lost income.  I have always been bi-vocational in a measure and this change simply moves me a little more in that direction.

All of this makes me conclude that less is more!  But don’t misunderstand - it is not less of me and more of Pastor Shtem.  Instead it is less of us and more of you since the primary responsibility of leaders is to equip the saints, not do all the ministry.  Our growing staff team will better train and equip all of you “for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13).

That’s when less is more!

Blessings,

Pastor Dan

 

Solid Rock Churches

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Dear CBC family,

 

I was privileged to experience two very different types of solid rock churches on my mission trip to Ethiopia last month.  The first type was the famous rock hewn churches of Lalibela.  These eleven churches, built in the 12 century AD, were literally carved out of solid rock under the leadership of King Lalibela.  He built them in response to a vision he received while visiting Jerusalem. The King envisioned an alternative pilgrimage site for the Christians of Ethiopia because Jerusalem had been conquered by the Muslims and was no longer accessible.  Despite being 900 years old, they are in use to this day and still attract Coptic pilgrims.

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The second type of solid rock church that I experienced was Salvation Rock Church (SRC) in Addis Ababa.  SRC was planted a couple of years ago by Pastor Workneh Tesfaye and is led by his sister, Pastor Mimi.  This church is built very differently but is even more solid than the rock hewn churches of Lalibela!  This church, which owns no building, is built out of people.  Notably, SRC is intentionally located in a majority Muslim section of Addis.  This type of solid rock church is described by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:19-21: "Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of his household, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit."

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You might have wondered at first how I could have described a new church plant that doesn't even own a building and is stretched financially as more rock solid than the 900 year old rock hewn churches of Lalibela.  But now you know!  Anything founded on Jesus and filled with His eternal Spirit is going to outlast anything built by human hands, even if carved out of solid rock.  I would have enjoyed the satisfaction of taking part in the construction of the rock hewn churches in all their majesty and uniqueness.  But even more do I find satisfaction in taking part in the construction of Salvation Rock Church!

 

I don't know God's plans for the connection between CBC and Solid Rock Church but at this point let me invite all of you to carve out :-) some time to pray for Pastor Workneh, Pastor Mimi, Evangelist Solomon and all the other leaders of SRC as they give themselves to building a church in Ethiopia not out of solid rock but on The Solid Rock!

 

To be continued, 

Pastor Dan

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