First Baptist Church of Rahway, 177 Elm Ave., Rahway, New Jersey 07065 is a multi-cultural congregation that has a Blended English Service on Sunday Mornings, a Latino Service at 12:00, and a Service in Telugu at 3:30PM. For more information, call (732) 388-8626. Or click here to send an email. If you wish to help the Mission and Ministry of First Baptist financially click the Donate Button.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happy Chilly New Year's




I don’t go to New Year’s parties. I don’t drink much, I’m not a very good dancer and I’m definitely not the life of the party.

More stuff I don’t like; Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve = yuck! Watching the ball drop = who cares?! Every hour on the hour parties from around the world = snore…

I like to go to bed early, get up early on New Year’s Day and go somewhere wonderful. Somewhere I feel the wind on my face and see the hand of God in the distance. My idea of celebrating New Year’s is to hang with God’s creation.

When we were living in Scranton, I joined a group of crazy hikers on an annual New Year’s hike up to the top of Bald Mountain overlooking Ransom/Newton. Fifteen minutes from downtown Scranton, it was like walking into another world. The cold wind on my face, the swaying trees, the awesome view from up top, I couldn’t think of any better way to spend my holiday. When we returned from our jaunt, we heated up hot dogs over an open fire and chowed down. Not exactly a fire star restaurant but satisfying all the same. All in all, my time in Scranton provided the best New Year’s celebration I could ever want.

Now that I have been living in NJ I have searched for a similar experience. The mountains that afford views are pretty far away. I have visited them from time to time but I don’t want to spend my New Year’s in a car. So I have turned my attention to the shore. Fifteen minutes from my house is the Raritan Bay. Forty Five minutes, and I’m at the ocean. There are few things I like better than spending a winter’s day at the ocean. First of all, no people. I’m never relaxed in a crowd, so the fewer people the better. Secondly, the views. To the north, I can see NYC and Coney Island. To the east, the endless horizon. You can’t beat that. And lastly, the other inhabitants of this beautiful place. In the winter birds come to the Jersey shore by the thousands. The salt water doesn’t freeze and that gives them access to lots of food. Also, have you ever wondered where Robins go when it gets cold? Why Sandy Hook, NJ, of course. There is a holly and cedar forest full of berries in the winter in Sandy Hook that brings in the Robins by the train load. And have you ever wondered if there are any Harbor Seals on the NJ coast? Of course there are, however the heavy boat traffic in summer keeps them out of sight. In winter, they’re all over the place. The Jersey shore during the winter months is the paradise it should be in the summer. Only, I don’t recommend trying to get a tan.

It’s also a great place to pray and meditate. When I am surrounded by the beauty of nature, I feel closer to the Creator. It seems much easier for me to speak with God out there gazing upon the ocean. I seem to be better able to quiet the busy conversation I’m always having inside my head. And when I calm things down inside, I can better hear what God has to say to me.

Forget New Year’s Rockin’ whatever. Get outside New Year’s Day and spend some time with God.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Christmas from First Baptist Rahway



Happy Christmas and God Bless You, First Baptist Family!

We have a lot to thank God for, and I thank God every day that I am called to be your Pastor. I want to thank you for your support of our church.

At Christmas we thank God for His multitude of blessings, especially the blessing of Jesus Christ. God sent Jesus into our world because He loves us. And because of His love we have a chance to be a blessing in return.

First Baptist Church of Rahway has been able to bless many people throughout our history. Today we are honored to minister to the community around us.

·         Our traditional English service continues to praise God the way we have for over 100 years.
·         We now have a thriving Latino worship service that is reaching out to the expanding Latino community in Rahway.
·         Our Telugu service has a large and active children’s ministry. The kids memorize Bible verses and perform music and skits year round.
·         Our Internet Mission averages 25 to 30 visitors a day. Our visitors come from around the world. The Internet opens up many opportunities to minister to people we would never be able to reach otherwise.

Now I am going to ask for your help. Please help us pay for this mission that God has placed into our hands by sending our church a special Christmas gift this week. We need your gifts to continue our mission efforts.

God has promised that He will provide and we have faith in that promise. Prayerfully consider how you can help our church with a financial contribution and continue to lift up your prayers of petition and thanksgiving for our church.  

God bless you,


Pastor Bill Whitehead

Click Here to Donate to First Baptist Church through PayPal.

Church Creates a Free Herb Garden




So we pulled up our grass and replaced it with drought-tolerant herbs—rosemary, oregano, thyme, and mint—reserving 14 feet of this strip of open land for a vegetable garden meant for the whole neighborhood. Everybody around Riverbend Commons got involved—yanking out the grass one shovelful at a time, wheeling it back to the compost, sifting out stones, and building the box for the vegetables. It took several weeks for us all to get this done. And the neighborhood watched.
When we pulled up with a heaping truckload of soil, our next-door neighbor walked over and helped us fill the box and spread the soil into the corners. Contact. We gathered around it when it was finished and prayed. We prayed for the neighborhood, we prayed the food and for us all. Then we put a sign in the ground: "Neighborhood Garden" (and a second sign inviting neighbors to help plant seeds that Mother's Day weekend).

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Death of Innocents



Christianity Today has an interesting write up on the death of innocents.

The tragedy of Sandy Hook continues to resound around our country. Please continue to pray for the victims and their families.

Link to Article...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Pray for the Victims of Sandy Hook CT



Please pray for the victims and the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut.

Below are links to churches in Newtown that are reaching out to the community.

New Hope Community Church - Collecting Donations for the families.

Newtown Bible Church - Offering Counseling Services

Clergy Prayer Vigil


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Please Don't Watch Amish Mafia



My Mother's family is from southeast PA. My Mother lives in Lancaster, PA. My uncle was a minister in several churches in southeast PA. I have spent a lot of time in southeast PA. There are a lot of Amish living in southeast PA. As a result, I know a thing or two about the Amish.

The Amish are not the cute, cuddly folk that tourists think they are, but there is no Amish Mafia. This television show is nothing but a twisted fantasy. Please don't watch it.

Normally I wouldn't comment on a TV show, but this one really ticked me off. The Amish aren't perfect, and neither are the rest of us. But they just want to be left alone to live their plain lives, and we should honor that wish.

A quick note to TV people everywhere. Please go back to the Jersey Shore and find some other weirdos to put on your horrible shows. Leave the Amish be.

To read more...

By the way, if you are visiting Amish country, please don't take pictures of them. It's just rude.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I Need a Private Jet Too




The following article concerns the rising use of private jets among large churches in Nigeria. This article is interesting because of the contrast between pastors of large churches who seem to have acquired tremendous wealth and the average person who lives on about a dollar a day. Where does the money come from and why use it in such extravagant ways?
Just to be fair I must mention that most mega church pastors in the USA have access to private jets. In the words of Mel Brooks, It's good the be the King...
Allegations of extravagant living among Nigeria's Pentecostal preachers have deepened following the gift of a private jet to the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria.
The multi-million dollar jet—a 10-seater with a range of 3,900 nautical miles—was presented to Ayo Oritsejafor by members of his congregation, Word of Life Bible Church in the oil-rich Delta state city of Warri. The gift celebrated the pastor's birthday and his 40th anniversary in ministry.
Oritsejafor, who also serves as president of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, joins a growing list of preachers with private jets in the West African nation, which is Africa's largest oil producer.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Family Living Arrangements

Super-Grandparents


My neighbors up the street bought a house that was also a dentist’s office. The main house is a center hall colonial, but the dentist office was a side add-on. Above the old office is a small one room apartment with a bathroom. My neighbors turned the dentist office into a pretty decent apartment which their uncle Ed moved into. The small space upstairs is used by their parents when they come to visit. Because of this arrangement their house is usually filled with family. They have two children, and the grandparents come by all of the time. They also have Uncle Ed to help with the kids and the house. Here in the good old USA, this used to be the way most people lived. In most of the world today, extended families are the norm. What happened to us?

Betsy’s Mom died when our kids were very young, so they barely remember her. Her Father moved to California and we visit him every three years or so. My parents moved to Florida to live the good life with every other retired person from New Jersey. When their health started to deteriorate, they moved to Lancaster, PA, a three hour one way commute for me that limits my visits. My kids know their grandparents, but don’t know them very well.

There was a moment in our lives when Betsy and I came to the same conclusion. It was this; our kids are not growing up with grandparents - and it stinks. Both Betsy and I had grandparents living nearby. I remember spending many days over at Grandma and Bowie’s (our nickname for him). Until they passed away when I was in my twenties, there wasn’t a time when I didn’t have an extended family around me. Extended family time for my kids is rare. They don’t have the same love and affection for their grandparents that I had for mine. Betsy and I feel our kids got cheated out of something important. There’s nothing we could do about it, but still, it just seems wrong.

Children abandoning parents seems wrong as well. I have a wonderful senior ministry at a local center. One of the ladies complains to me about her daughter. Why didn’t her daughter bring her into her home? Why did she get dumped into this facility? I don’t have any answers for her. It may be because she is disabled and has a difficult time getting out of a chair and difficulty walking. However, I have known many families that have brought their infirm parents into their homes and accommodated them. Instead of spending their parent’s money on a senior facility, they bought or expanded a home so that a grandparent could live with them. There is also nursing care that can be brought in to help Mom or Dad when their children are at work. I’m sure there are many good reasons why a parent ends up in a senior facility. But if I was given the choice, my parents would be here with me.

Mom and Dad went to Florida to live the good life. Mom complained the entire time about not seeing her grandchildren. They moved to the senior facility in Lancaster so that they wouldn’t be a burden on their children. Now that Dad has passed, Mom is surrounded by luxurious living accommodations, and is miserable because she is alone most of the time. This is living the good life? They moved away claiming they couldn’t afford the good life in NJ. I live in NJ and I don’t earn a whole lot, but I live the good life because I’m surrounded by family and friends. It’s not that hard to learn to live on less. And as far as not being a burden on us, I would have welcomed the burden of taking care of my parents. The mistake my parents made was thinking it would be a burden. It wouldn’t, it would be a privilege.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 NIV.

Betsy and I have made a decision. Our kids are adults and are starting to move on in their lives. We want to be a part of that movement. We have told our children that the first to settle down, i.e. married, house, popping out babies, etc… That is where we will end up. It’s more important to us to be active grandparents than to worry about where we are living. We want to honor our children by being their extended family. And I am sure that they will honor us as well.

God bless you,

Pastor Bill









Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Copper Pipes Stolen out of Newark Church



How low can someone go?


MYFOXNY.COM -
Thieves have targeted a Newark church twice in the past month, causing extensive damage by tearing out almost all of the copper piping in the structure.

The Clinton Avenue Presbyterian Church has had to close its soup kitchen because of a lack of heat and running water.

"It was devastating," church clerk Loretta Hazelwood said.

The pipers were cut to the furnace.  The pipes were also cut to the boiler and the thieves even tore out the water meter, leaving water pouring into the basement.

"We don't have toilet facilities," Hazelwood said.

The nearly 100 year old church was stripped of nearly all of its copper in the break-ins on Oct. 27th and Nov. 9th.  The thieves got inside by popping windows out of the frames.

Pastor Deborah Oosterbaan says the church will not be stopped from its mission.


Please Pray for these good people at this church. Thanks, Pastor Bill


Monday, December 3, 2012

Islamist's Ban Music in Mali



Khaira Arby, one of Africa’s most celebrated musicians, has performed all over the world, but there is one place she cannot visit: her native city of Timbuktu, a place steeped in history and culture but now ruled by religious extremists.
One day, they broke into Arby’s house and destroyed her instruments. Her voice was a threat to Islam, they said, even though one of her most popular songs praised Allah.
“They told my neighbors that if they ever caught me, they would cut my tongue out,” said Arby, sadness etched on her broad face.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

African Churches Told to Quiet Down



Government officials in Rwanda and Uganda are cracking down on noise pollution, telling church leaders that they must reduce worship-related noise levels or face penalties—including the risk of being shut down.

Link...

Monday, November 26, 2012

The First Thanksgiving



Thanksgiving Day in the United States abounds with historic images of black-hatted, silver-buckled Pilgrims joining Native Americans in an outdoor New England feast of wild fowl, fish and grain. Certainly today's Thanksgiving feast is inspired by the traditional stories about the Pilgrims, but this celebration isn't exactly the very first American Thanksgiving.

Consider this: The 1564 French Huguenots in Florida ... the 1598 Spanish conquistadors near present-day El Paso ... the 1610 Virginia settlers of Jamestown – they all hold claim to celebrating the "first" Thanksgiving in North America before the arrival of the Pilgrims in Massachusetts. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How God Created Everything




Later that night, I read him something Billy Graham wrote in 1964:
I don't think that there's any conflict at all between science today and the Scriptures. I think … we've tried to make the Scriptures say things they weren't meant to say …. The Bible is not a book of science. The Bible is a book of Redemption, and of course I accept the Creation story …. I believe that God created man, and whether it came by an evolutionary process … makes no difference as to what man is and man's relationship to God.
"Maybe you're not a total heretic," said my son.

Monday, November 19, 2012

President Obama Visits Land of Persecution




On Monday, President Obama will become the first U.S. president to visit the long-isolated nation of Burma (Myanmar)—home to some of the world's longest-running persecuted Christians
.
In response, leaders from the American Baptist Church, The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) urged the President to advocate for religious freedom in the Buddhist nation.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Churches at Jersey Shore Destroyed by Sandy



I've driven past all of the churches mentioned in the article below at least 100 times. I've often wondered what it would be like to be the pastor of one of them. Now I know. It would be bad. It's going to be years before any of these churches are back to normal. Pray for them.


The gray clapboard church with the red door had stood near the New Jersey coastline for more than 125 years, surviving floods and fires, hurricanes and northeasters. So when its senior warden left the church on the Sunday before Hurricane Sandy hit, he tucked the church records into a drawer for safekeeping and kept everything else in place.

That moment keeps replaying in his mind, said the warden, Dennis Bellars, because this time, luck ran out for St. Elisabeth's Chapel-by-the-Sea, a tiny Episcopal chapel in storm-ravaged Ortley Beach, N.J. The church is marked now by nothing but a field of sand and broken pavement. The pews, the brass candlesticks; the 1885 stained glass windows, the needlepoint kneelers sewn by a parishioner; the wooden baptismal font -- the sea or the sand took all of them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Political Issues are Killing Evangelicals



Evangelical Christian leaders are questioning whether their influence is declining after many losses in this past election. The New York Times has a very good article which quotes many of these leaders as they discuss their disappointment. I could care less.

I am a small church pastor fighting in the trenches of the culture vs religion war. I've been ministering in New Jersey for ten years, and I can tell you that from where I am at, we Christians are getting trounced. I am surrounded by an increasingly secular group of people who view churches as piles of conservative, republican political manure. I don't even get a chance to talk about the Good News of Jesus Christ before I am judged as a conservative political crank. All of the anger and frustration felt by the liberal leaning people of NJ is thrown at us evangelicals because of the label of political conservative attached to us, despite our wonderful and life changing ministries.

And so, it would help me and my blue state evangelical brothers and sisters a great deal if the rest of Evangelical Christian America would lay off politics and focus on ministry. You guys are killing us in the northeast. We want to talk about Jesus, everyone else wants to talk politics. Enough is enough. If you want to be a politician, be a politician. If you want to be a minister, do the Lord's Work. Mixing the two is not working. Jesus said; "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's  Render unto God the things that are God's". Amen to that.

God bless you,

Pastor Bill

Link to the New York Times article...

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Siege of Sandy is Lifted



Power is finally back at the church. It came back on Sunday afternoon. Our morning service was held in my living room. The Latino service was bravely held in the church building despite the cold conditions. And the Telugu service was held in the house of a local family.

Thanks for your prayers, keep praying for people who still don't have power, and/or lost their homes.

God bless you,

Pastor Bill

Thursday, November 8, 2012

In Praise of People who Helped




Today I sing the praises of the people who helped me, my family, my church and my neighborhood through the Siege of Sandy. Many people stepped up and gave what they could to help us. Many people are still working to restore power and help my neighbors.

·         Pedro Hernandez and his friends; helped us put a patch on our damaged church roof.
·         Betsy Whitehead; offering food and shelter to friends who were struggling.
·         The unknown chain saw guy; cut up my neighbor’s tree branch that blocked his driveway.
·         Owner of Flynn’s Tavern in Rahway; helped us find a 50 foot tarp to cover our roof.
·         Dirk Weber; his generator kept the entire apartment building warm that he lives in.
·         PSE&G for fixing our electricity.
·         City of Rahway for getting the fallen trees out of the way.

Jesus said; “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25: 37-40 NIV.

Amen to that.

God bless you,

Pastor Bill

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Winter Storm Athena Approaches




Just great; many of my neighbors still don’t have power, and another storm is approaching. We’ll see how this one goes.

We got the roof tarped yesterday. Just in the nick of time.

Pray for Rahway as we ride out another storm.

God bless you,

Pastor Bill

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Rahway, Sandy and Tarps; Oh My!




Searched high and low for tarps to cover the flat roof at the church. Sandy tore a 75 foot long section of the top layer. It’s not very wide, but we still have to cover the entire length. That has led to a search for a tarp big enough to cover the whole thing. We settled on two 50 x 30 foot tarps we found at Home Depot. I've been looking for several days in various stores and the shelves were empty. Betsy and I finally found a fully stocked store that had what we needed. Today a bunch of people from the church will climb the roof and secure the tarps before we get socked with rain tomorrow. We’re just in the nick of time.

Many of my neighbors still do not have power. I see PSE&G trucks all over the place, but not everyone is back to normal. OK People, It’s time, get the power back up for everyone! Power to the People!!!

God bless you,

Pastor Bill

Monday, November 5, 2012

Rahway and the Never Ending Siege of Sandy



I have guilt. I have power but my neighbors do not. That’s the way it is in Rahway right now. Some have had power restored, but someone a block away does not. It’s very depressing to look outside my windows at night and see the dark windows in the houses behind mine. We have been offering limited help to our neighbors. But, there isn't much we can do right now but wait.

We had a worship service on Sunday. No power in the church yet, but the English service and the Spanish service gathered at noon, the warmest part of the day, to praise God for saving our church and ourselves. We prayed for everyone suffering right now, and we prayed that things would get back to normal. To create as much normal as possible, we had chicken cacciatore, red beans and rice, prepared by our friends from Cuba. It was awesome. Hopefully the church and the people around it will get their power back up soon.

Today we are slowly getting back to normal. Both of my sons have gone back to work. Betsy is waiting to hear from her school, as of today they still don’t have power. Charlotte will go back to school on Wednesday. I’m working on getting a tarp to cover the flat roof at the church. The best way to protect it is a 100 foot tarp, which is proving difficult to find. I’m working with a roofer on this problem.

Pray for us and all of the victims of Super Storm Sandy! And thank you for the prayers you have already sent up to heaven.

God bless you,

Pastor Bill

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Rahway and the Ongoing Siege of Sandy




My sons are complaining about gas lines. We have lines outside of gas stations stretching for miles. People line their cars up the night before and leave them until the morning to get a good place in line. Every gas station has at least one police officer to keep people from getting too crazy. We haven’t run out of gas in our cars yet. We are hoping that things will get back to normal this week.

Normal is something we all take for granted. When normal was taken away this week, it really freaked us out. We have all had positive and negative reactions to the lack of normal. I’ll start with the negative. A constant restless feeling that causes a small amount of stress, but the stress never goes away. The lack of a normal routine is surprisingly stressful. A feeling of isolation from the outside world. No school or work to go to means less contact with people outside of our immediate family. And there is the very stressful notion that it will never end. We all kept looking up the street for PSE&G trucks to start fixing the damage. Every time we saw one we cheered, and then they moved on. After that we returned to that awful feeling that we will never experience normal again.

Now the good side of no electricity. We only had one room that was heated in our house. So, we kept the fireplace stoked with wood, and set up a poker table in the middle of the room. We sat and played games, we have lots of them stored in the house. We talked, we read, we played Sudoku. Generally our family spent a lot of time together, rather than separate into different parts of the house. We got along great and when jobs needed doing, like going out on the hunt for provisions, all of us volunteered without complaint. We also had Sarah with us. Sarah is Ed’s girlfriend and a student at Rutgers. Her dorm was shut down for the week, so she spent the time with us. She was great, we got to know her and she got to know us. So there turned out to be a lot of positives from Super Storm Sandy.

The good news is we got power on Saturday night. Yeah, but many people in Rahway still do not have electricity. We have many challenges ahead. The church doesn’t have power yet. That’s a worry because of the threat of freezing pipes. The flat roof is damaged and we haven’t found a roofer to cover it yet. A storm is coming on Wednesday, so I have until then to get it covered. Many people still need help. So, pray for us.

God bless you,

Pastor Bill

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Rahway and the Continuing Seige of Sandy


 

When the apocalypse comes you will be able to get Chinese takeout. The day after Sandy every Chinese restaurant was open in Rahway, despite not having electricity. Everyone knows that General Tso’s chicken tastes better after a catastrophe.

Some of the bars were open the day after as well. You don’t need electricity to get bombed.

Gin + Tonic = What Storm?

Betsy makes a killer dip. Cream cheese, peppers and olives. We put it into a Dutch oven
we use for camping. The oven sat on charcoals and we put more charcoals on top. All of this went into our weber grill. Thirty minutes later we feasted on killer dip. Some basic camping skills, a little charcoal, propane and/or wood and who needs electricity?

The roof of our Sunday School building is flat and part of it peeled back like the top of a frozen dinner. Betsy, my kids, Pedro our Latino minister and several of his friends helped me put a patch on it. It’s not very good and we need a 100 foot tarp to patch it correctly. I have until Tuesday to get the patch right, because another storm is predicted for Wednesday. Disasters are a lot easier to cope with if you have friends willing to help out. Jesus said; “if you give a cup of cold water to the least of these, you did it for me.”

I have a Bible Study at Atria Senior Center in Cranford. They had limited power which means no elevators. So I visited my Bible Study people in their rooms. They did have enough power for a Halloween party in their common room. A guy sang old songs through a fully powered sound system while a disco ball flashed different colored lights everywhere. Octogenarians who lived on the first floor of who could manage the stairs were partying the night away. The rest were stuck in their rooms. It was surreal.

Well that’s all for now. Please pray for us. We are having a Thanksgiving service tomorrow at 12PM. If it’s too cold in the building, we’ll have it outside.

Peace, Pastor Bill

Friday, November 2, 2012

Rahway and the Siege of Sandy


 

They are calling it Super Storm Sandy. I’ve been calling it the siege, because that is what it feels like. We have been without power since Monday and it feels weird. We’ve lost familiar things, and we’ve lost our daily routines. In place of our comfortable existence, we have found ways to survive and even have fun. Our family and friends have pulled together, and we have found the comfort of community.

Sandy hit Rahway on Monday and it didn’t start out that bad. We had a few high wind gusts, but very little rain. Then the wind hit big time. Between 6 PM and midnight the winds gusted up to 80 MPH. We knew we were in trouble when we started to see weird lights in the sky. At first I thought it was lightning, but then we realized that it was the power transformers exploding as the trees hit the power lines. We lost power around 7 PM and watched the spent the rest of the night watching the sky light up all around us. Sandy turned out to be a very bad girl.

Tuesday dawned and we got a big hint that the damage was extensive. A tree fell on our neighbors house and totaled it. Our neighbors are fine, but the house is destroyed. We don’t know where they have gone, and we feel so bad for them.

Two big trees fell in front of our church. They fell away from the building, but they took out the power lines. On Thursday they cut the trees up and piled them on the side of the road. The power company hasn’t started work on the lines. There are 13 crews working in Rahway and I’m sure they are working their way to us. But it seems like it will be a while before they take care of our electric lines.

The church survived. We have some damage on our Sunday School building. They flat roof got partially peeled away. There is a picture of the damage to the right. We are appealing for help financially (hint, hint) so take a look at the blurb to the right of this article if you want to help. However, we are going to have a thanksgiving service on Sunday regardless of whether we have power or not. It will be a little cold, but we’ll just bundle up. If that big tree fell towards our church and hit us we would be in big trouble. So on Sunday we’re going to give God a big thank you.

I was a nervous wreck on Tuesday. I spent most of the day raking leaves. Weird I know, but I needed to do something with my hands. I was so out of sorts because my routine was interrupted. I walked around town, and raked leaves. I didn’t know what else to do.

Family life has settled into a good routine. We are long time campers and so we broke out the camping equipment; propane stove and grill, charcoal grill, flashlights and lanterns. We have plenty of wood and a wonderful fireplace, so we have one room to keep warm in. That has forced us to spend a lot of time together. We have been playing games; Monopoly, Life, Yahtzee, and so many other games. My son set up his poker table in the middle of the living room. Aside from the disruption of our lives, we are having a good time.

On Tuesday my kids watched movies on their laptops until they burned out their batteries. Not the smartest move in retrospect.

Our food situation is ok. We have a frozen turkey in our freezer that is still solid. Our freezer is now our fridge. So far we are good with our food supply. Betsy is using the opportunity to clean out our pantry and freezer.

The estimate is we could be out of power until sometime next week. I am posting this from my friend’s house. I will write updates every day until we are back up.

God bless you, Pastor Bill

 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Comes Calling in Rahway



For the second year in a row, a major storm is blowing into our town. Right now, the winds are very high (possibly 80 mph), but it hasn't rained that much. The heavy rain bands are south of us. The center of the storm is aimed at Cape May, NJ. Rahway is two hours drive north of there.

We'll see what happens tomorrow. If I have power, I'll post some pictures.

Peace, Pastor Bill

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Christian Pastor Murdered in Syria

Syria-articleLarge
 
The civil war in Syria continues to claim lives. More than 30,000 have already died in the conflict. Now, with the rule of law unbridled, innocent Christians are becoming victims as radicals take advantage of the situation.

The Middle East Director of Christian Aid Mission says marauding bands of militants are responsible. "They're not necessarily Syrians, but they're very radical Muslims, and their goal is to eradicate Christians. They believe it's an abomination to have Christians within Syria."
 
Read More…




Monday, October 22, 2012

Persecuted Christians in Cuba

cuba-holidays

He has been interrogated more than 20 times, and humiliated, beaten and threatened. His interrogators blamed him for the growth of his church, accusing him of using “secret indoctrination methods” from the United States. For these offences, he was forced to spend six months cleaning public outhouses every day. He was also prohibited from leaving the island for more than four years. The officials in charge never told him why his exit permits were never granted. There was always an excuse: “We lost the paper work!” or “We never got your application.”

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ministry in the Oil Patch

north-dakota-oil-boom

Obtaining Oil and Gas from shale has created boomtowns in North Dakota. But there isn’t enough housing for the newcomers. A Lutheran church is one of the few to minister to the men who work the oil fields.

The heavy leather work boots are stained with oil and the reddish dust that churns through the air in the small but growing town. The population has tripled in less than 10 years. New drilling technology has revived the state's oil industry. About 20 new oil-patch workers arrive in the 20,000-person town every day, by Mayor Ward Koeser's estimate. Each worker faces the same challenge within 24 hours of arriving in this prairie town: finding a bed in a boomtown bursting at the seams that offers nothing even resembling a homeless shelter.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Glenn Beck and Union Theological Seminary



After Glenn Beck criticized one of their professors, the students at Union Theological Seminary invited him to become a student there and learn what the Bible says about social justice. Jesus said a lot about helping the poor, and if I remember correctly he said something about taxes; something like, you should pay them and focus upon God? Something like that. Anyway, the video is cute and below is a link to a letter from the president of Union offering Mr. Beck a scholarship and help with paying for room and board. Enjoy.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Let There Be Photosynthesis

leafy_green

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. Genesis 1:11 NIV

Before these was anything else, there were single celled organisms that used carbon dioxide and produced oxygen as a by product. Molecular oxygen is not stable in a planets atmosphere and so life processes must be present in order for there to be oxygen. And so, the first thing God did after creating our planet, was to create living creatures so that you and I could breathe. Below is a link to an article from the Biologos Foundation that explains how this works.

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By the way, since there is no known way for molecular oxygen to exist in a planet’s atmosphere without biological life processes, the search for life in far off planets is focused on the chemical composition of the atmosphere in the hope of finding oxygen.

Peace, Pastor Bill

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dangerous Worship in France

haiti
 
As more than 100 Haitian evangelicals danced and sang on Easter Sunday, the floor caved in at their makeshift church north of Paris. The deaths of a 6-year-old girl and 47-year-old woman who fell through the second story of the rented house in Stains were a tragic sign that Christian gatherings have outgrown available space in the secular French capital.

"Many immigrants that come from French islands and territories are fervent in their religious expression," said Gilbert Bilezikian, a pastor and former Wheaton College professor born and educated in France. "[They] cannot gather without making a lot of noise, so it is difficult to find places to meet."
 
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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Thoughts on the Controversy Over Jesus and His Spouse

papyrus


Below are links to two pretty good articles that will give some perspective on the scrap of papyrus that says Jesus had a wife.

Before you read them, here are some things to consider.
  1. The papyrus has no context. We don’t know the author, we don’t know where it was found, we don’t know the time period and we don’t know the history and culture into which it was created. Without context, the fragment is meaningless.
  2. By 325 AD the fundamentals of Christian Doctrine were settled. These fundamentals are still the foundation of Christian belief. Many ideas about God and Jesus existed in this time period, but those that fell outside of the fundamentals were rejected. This includes the idea that Jesus was married. Thus, whoever wrote this credit card scrap of papyrus was not a Christian, he/she was a heretic.
  3. The owner of the papyrus fragment is attempting to sell his collection of Coptic writings to Harvard Divinity School. When there is a lot of money on the table, I become extremely skeptical of anything and everything.
Here are the links;

http://ethicsdaily.com/flimsy-papyrus-draws-itchy-ears-cms-20044

http://www.ethicsdaily.com/papyrus-fragment-stirs-discussion-again-about-jesus-and-a-wife-cms-20013

Monday, October 8, 2012

Battling the Exploitation of Women



Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

Click below for a review by Christianity Today of the book, Half the Sky, by Nicholas D. Kristof. It’s about the world wide exploitation and oppression of women, and their efforts to overcome.

The Christianity Today Review…

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pastoral Burnout



If you wish to read these statistics, click on the graphic for a larger view.

These figures sound right to me. But I need to see where they come from and how good the study and/or studies are.

The claim that 1,500 pastors quit per month is very shocking. If it is that high, then we in the ministry are in a lot of trouble.

I can say with surety that pastoral burnout and conflict are the main sources of stress on us ministers. Moral failure is a rarity, but the other two happen everyday. The pressure upon me since I became a minister is way beyond anything I experienced when I was a banker/lender.

This graphic comes from the book, Pastors at Greater Risk by HB London, Jr.

Peace, Pastor Bill

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Public Photos of Private Actions





In Puritan times, citizens who trespassed against the law were subject, among other punishments, to humiliation at the pillory, something Nathaniel Hawthorne depicts memorably in The Scarlet Letter. The pillory was
so fashioned as to confine the human head in its tight grasp, and thus hold it up to the public gaze. The very ideal of ignominy was embodied and made manifest in this contrivance of wood and iron. There can be no outrage, methinks -- against our common nature -- whatever be the delinquencies of the individual -- no outrage more flagrant than to forbid the culprit to hide his face for shame.
The days of the pillory have long passed. But the humiliation of the public gaze—for social transgressions, if not criminal ones—lives on, thanks to Facebook and the internet. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Good-Bye Mrs. Maxine Carey





Mrs. Maxine A. (nee Martin) Carey, 97, died on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, at home. Funeral services will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012 at 10 a.m. at the First Baptist Church of Rahway. Interment will be in Hazelwood Cemetary, Clark N.J. Visitation is Tuesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Lehrer-Gibilisco Funeral Home, 275 W. Milton Ave., Rahway, N.J. 07065.www.lehrergibilisco.com. Mrs. Carey was born in Yates Center, N.Y. and lived in Roselle, N.J., for two years and then in Rahway, N.J. for the past 70 years. A life member of the First Baptist Church of Rahway, she was a member of the Judson Class of the church, taught Sunday school and was very active in the church. Mrs. Carey was a kindergarten teacher for 30 years at Sherman School in Roselle Park, N.J. Prior to that, she taught school in a one room class in New York State. She was a member of the Rahway Historical Society for many years and of the Civil War Round Table of Woodbridge, N.J. She was an avid baker. Mrs. Carey was a loving wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother and was loved by her neighbors and will be missed by all. She was predeceased by her husband of 59 years, George P. Carey who died in 1996. Surviving is a son, James M. Carey and his wife, Jo-Ann Malanga; a daughter, Ann E. Orban and her husband, Joseph; four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the First Baptist Church, 177 Elm Ave. Rahway, N.J. 07065.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Spiritual Entrepreneurs

honda
 
It took three years of hard work to get our Telugu Service going. The concept is very simple and easy to organize; have a worship service on Sunday afternoons in the Telugu language. Piece of cake. And yet, it took three years of fumbling and bumbling to arrive at this easy and successful ministry solution. The leadership of the Telugu service and I tried all sorts of ministry ideas before we came up with the one that worked. It would be very fair of you to ask, why did it take so long? The answer to that question is very simple; starting something from nothing is very, very difficult. There is a good reason small business’ and new churches fail at a high rate – entrepreneurial success is never guaranteed.

“Success is 99 percent failure” is a quote from Soichiro Honda, founder of the very successful auto company. I have repeated this quote over and over again as I have pursued my ministry. It comforts me to know that I am not the only one to fail more than I succeed. My ministry has been to small churches, and that means that I don’t have a lot of people resources, or money resources to create new ministries. But I am a natural spiritual entrepreneur, I am always working on new ministries. I have been involved in six new church plants over the years and three have failed, two have succeeded, and one, First Baptist’s Latino ministry, has just started and is looked very good at this moment. I have also attempted to create numerous other ministries’ and programs, most of which ended up as disappointments. I’ve tried just about everything that popped into my head. If I read about a successful program in Texas, I would fling it at my church and see if it would stick to the wall. I figured a successful program or ministry will work anywhere and everywhere – HA! I figured that the writers were successful; therefore they must know what they are talking about – HA! I figured that the key to successful ministry is the right plan – HA, HA, HA! Instead, I have learned that Soichiro Honda is a very wise man.

There is no guarantee in the Bible that we will be successful in our endeavors. Let that idea soak in a minute - because we are surrounded by people who preach and teach the opposite. They are wrong. The prosperity gospel ministers ignore Jesus telling his followers that we will be beaten and thrown in jail for preaching the gospel (Matt. 10:17). They pay no attention to Jesus saying that Paul will suffer as he goes off to minister to the Gentiles (Acts 9:16). And how many pastors and/or self-help gurus have mentioned the martyr Stephen who after a tremendous sermon is stoned to death (Acts 7:57-58). Stephen’s death does not fit nicely into our American success story mythology. When Jesus returns, God guarantees success. Until then, there are no guarantees.

So I have taken two lessons from my experiences as a pastor entrepreneur. The first is to get used to disappointment, because it’s going to happen whether you like it or not. If the guy who created Honda had set backs, you better believe that you will too. The second is more important than the first. Persistence is the only way to achieve your goals in life and in the ministry. Keeping in mind the no guarantee of success rule, refusing to give up is the only way to strive to reach our visions. Jesus says that if we persist in our prayers, God will answer them (Luke 18:1-8). This is very true. Despite the many disappointments that I have faced, my few successes have come from my refusal to give up. God always answers our prayers, but rarely in the way we expect.

I continue to cook up new ministry ideas, though I am much more selective today than I used to be. I guess with experience comes wisdom. Either that or I just got tired of looking like a fool all of the time. However, I have been blessed by the ministries that have been successful. And that is where I have found the answers to my prayers.

God bless you,
Pastor Bill







Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Christian School Opens in North Korea



For decades, Christian college professors have quietly spread the Good News while teaching at secular universities in nations closed to traditional missions. But now, two unusual universities in closed areas of Asia—northeast China and North Korea—are breaking new ground. Christians openly founded state-licensed schools, which have predominantly Christian faculty and administration.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Religious Restrictions Rise in USA

timber-church-nh

To the surprise of few who follow religion closely but to the chagrin of many even casual observers, researchers at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life documented a disturbing rise in restrictions on religion in the United States between mid-2009 and mid-2010. The U.S. was one of only 16 countries to record a rise in both government restrictions and social hostility toward religion. This was the first time in the course of Pew's research the U.S. saw a rise in both measures.

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Read the Pew Report…

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Community Called Agritopia



An experimental community in Arizona that is trying to bring back the communal village experience.

Christianity Today Story...