Matthew reports (14:22-33) that Christ’s disciples were alone in a boat, struggling against storm-driven winds and waves — near exhaustion, I imagine — when, between 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., they saw Jesus walking toward them on the water. They thought He was a ghost! Though Jesus identified Himself, the disciples weren’t convinced. Peter said, “If it’s really You, command me to walk over to You.” Jesus commanded Peter, “Come.” Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.
What an incredible demonstration of faith in action! The storm was still raging. The wind and the waves were still life threatening. But Peter focused on Jesus, stepped out of the boat (without a life vest, I presume), and actually walked on the water!
Unfortunately, that’s not all that occurred. Peter then took his eyes off of Jesus, moved his focus to the storm, and began to sink. I’m tempted to glibly say that Peter “sank like a stone,” but more likely, he began to sink like the fully clothed, robe-encumbered, flailing man he was. I don’t know whether or not Peter knew how to swim, but Matthew makes it clear that he thought he was about to drown. “Lord, save me!” Peter cried out.
It’s interesting how quickly Peter’s focus returned to Jesus when he thought he was about to die. It’s also interesting that, after saving him, Jesus did not rebuke Peter for disobedience, but rather for a lack of faith. My impression is that Jesus rebuked the disciple out of sadness, not anger. Peter shifted his focus from Savior to storm, became afraid, began to doubt, and needlessly began to sink. That is sad.
You and I are facing different sorts of storms this year. Some are weather related, of course. But countless other “storms” assault us: health, the economy, politics, and relationships. Surrounded by all of this, buffeted by a sense that things are not what they should be, what will be our response? What will be our focus?
Now more than ever, it must be Jesus. Do not be distracted. Do not fear and doubt and sink. Focus on Jesus and follow His plan!
— Loren Stacy
The BAP’s new press does so much! In addition to printing the current quarterly series, Churchright, and literature, it can print old copies of quarterlies for those who need them.
Want to see the press in action? View a video taken by Jason Overman (https://youtu.be/FF65OeldATw) that shows the fourth quarter lessons and an issue of Churchright in production. Thank God for His wonderful provision!
New from the BAP
To order your copy of the Church Manual (English and Spanish), visit the online bookstore at cog7.org.
“Stay Focused on the Family,” the theme of the marriage ministry virtual meeting on July 12, drew 46 couples. Speakers Israel and Anna Steinmetz discussed the importance of relationship that couples should have and their role with their children. Couples in the district asked questions about some issues they are facing at home, and they found helpful solutions to improve their family environment. Another marriage seminar is scheduled for October 11.
The Albuquerque, New Mexico church blessed the Southwest District with the Super Sabbath Quarterly (Area 6) on July 24-25. The theme was “Time to Trust.”
Morning worship was led by our sister church in El Paso, Texas-Central. Pastor Raymundo Ramos urged the Church to trust in God because He is the only one who guides, saves, and provides strength when we face tribulations.
In addition to worship led by the Albuquerque worship team and Tree of Life in El Paso, Texas, we enjoyed special music from brethren in Phoenix, Arizona, California, and Wisconsin. Pastors from different areas answered questions, and Superintendent Chip Hinds encouraged attendees to be financially faithful in their local churches and to pray for the Church. Elder Daniel Flores advised us to place our trust in Jesus Christ regardless of the storms we face today.
Super Sabbath ended with a prayer service, where attendees placed all their burdens in God’s hands. Thanks to all the pastors, translators, worship teams, media team, volunteers, and more who served at this special event.
On August 9, Area 3 held a marriage seminar titled “Coming Out of a Difficult Path,” presented by Brother Ausencio Arroyo. He said that couples should resolve problems in their relationship and focus on the important issues that build a strong marriage. Forty couples were blessed by this seminar.
The Super Sabbath of Area 7 was held August 21-22 and focused on the theme “Under His Grace.” The church in McAllen, Texas, hosted the event, and our sister churches from Brownsville (Shalom), Corpus Christi (Violet), and McAllen, Texas, led us in worship. Speakers Chip Hinds, Pastor Francisco Garcia, and Elder Whaid Rose encouraged the Church to accept the gift of grace, to repent and renew ourselves as a living offering, and to live life and enjoy grace every day because God loved us first. When we are under His grace, our source is Jesus under any circumstance.
During June and July, some of our churches continued with their VBS programs. Some had children at their churches, and others were forced to do their programs virtually, like our sister church in Houston-Galena Park. This congregation created a whole curriculum on DVD’s for children to view at home. We praise the Lord for allowing our churches to work for the benefit of our children.
The Fargo church hosted a youth/young adult weekend August 15-16. People from area churches gathered for food, fellowship, and, most important, the Word and prayer. After church Sabbath morning, Jesse and Wanda Hopewell prepared supper, followed by fellowship and volleyball. Attendees gathered by the fire after dark for a devotional prepared by Daniel Hopewell, and spent Sunday at a local amusement park. With all that’s going on in the nation, it was refreshing to see and interact with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
Pastor Troy Gedack and his wife, Wendy, from Colorado Springs, Colorado, have one of the busiest local church programs in the Central District. You might have been enjoying Wendy’s photography on the BA covers this year.
This congregation has a spiritually uplifting and well-balanced program. Each weekday, there are devotions on Facebook (www.facebook.com/cscog7/live); One-Page Biblical Studies (www.cscog7.org/one-page-biblical); Sabbath school on Zoom (https://zoom.us/j/9749612468); and Sabbath services on YouTube (www.youtube.com/c/cscog7_live). The church is also holding a Homeless Sack Lunch Assembly, with 125 lunches assembled the first Sabbath of each month; an Iron Sharpens Iron mentorship program for every member; and an Emergency Preparedness Team for almost every need and situation.
It’s no surprise that the Colorado Springs church regularly adds new members to the church family: 29 in four years. Learn more about this energetic congregation at www.cscog7.org.
If you want to see more of Wendy’s delightful scenic photography, visit www.wendygedack.com.
For nearly sixty years, summer camps have served the Church and her youth well. But not in 2020. To my knowledge, not a single camper slept in a camp cabin with others her age this year or swam with his church camp buddies or sang or prayed beside a campfire at a CoG7-sponsored event. Did our youth camp vision survive this time of COVID cancellations?
My understanding (correct me if I’m wrong) is that the first CoG7 youth camp beyond local level was sponsored by the Oregon State Conference and held in Silver Creek Falls State Park near Stayton, Oregon, in 1961. I was an eighteen-ager in Oklahoma then, but the word about what happened out west soon spread north, east, and south in our well-connected church. Some of it sounded a little like the stuff of legend to me.
So when Barbara and I resettled in Oregon five years ago, I began to investigate the reports I’d heard so often about the ‘61 and ‘62 camps at Silver Creek Falls. What I learned confirmed all I’d heard, and led to a remarkable Sabbath celebration on the Marion, Oregon church campus on Sabbath, August 15. In a season and on a day when we could not camp at Silver Creek Falls or Sis-Q Meadows, 1961-62 camp director Ray Straub led our Sabbath crowd in recalling the joys of those first camps. His memories highlighted the soul-stirring, heart-warming, loving, and forgiving presence of God’s Spirit around evening campfires and numerous baptisms at week’s end. (The August 15 celebration service may be viewed and heard on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/marioncog7).
The year 2020 would have been our sixtieth consecutive summer for CoG7 youth camps, had the pandemic not interrupted our count. Buoyed by precious memories of so many fruitful camps past, we in Oregon now move toward 2021 with undiminished trust in the power of the gospel to win people young and old to Christ. We also move with undiminished confidence in the efficacy of camping as a primary strategy to proclaim and achieve that win, especially for our youth.
In whatever state or province you find yourself, please join us in this determination. We can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us!
— Calvin Burrell
When you download a PDF from our website, or we send you one, it is for personal use only at a price of $3.95. If you use that one PDF to make copies for others, then the BAP should be reimbursed $3.95 for each copy. For example, if you make ten copies, then you would pay $39.50 to the BAP. This may not sound like much, but many churches are making copies of the PDF and distributing them to multiple people. The loss to us is significant, since the BAP still has administrative costs to cover with the dollars we take in.
We try to be good stewards of the money God provides so we can serve you in the best way possible. We hope that you, too, will be good stewards by paying the BAP for the work we do for the kingdom.
— Keith Michalak and Jason Overman
It’s been an honor for me to join congregations from around the world as a guest Sabbath school teacher via Zoom. My thanks to the Jamaican and British CoG7 conferences and the Churches of God in Brooklyn, Boston, and Philadelphia for their invitations. It’s been a wonderful experience!
— Jason Overman
BAP editor and quarterly author
To schedule a guest speaker for your Sabbath school class, contact Jason at email@example.com.
While COVID-19 has complicated convention planning, your Convention Committee is working on a powerful GC gathering in July 2021. God must have had a plan when President Loren Stacy and Executive Director Jody McCoy chose the theme “Faithful” for this convention. The pandemic has disrupted our lives, but it cannot disrupt the faithfulness of our God.
Location: Covington, Kentucky (across the river from Cincinnati)
When: July 5-10, 2021
Registration: Watch for the Convention website to open in early January 2021
Covington, Kentucky, is a beautiful city located on the Ohio River. It has a relaxed atmosphere, while Cincinnati is a bustling metropolitan city just across the connecting bridges. By making a short drive, convention attendees will have easy access to attractions on both sides of the river:
• National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. This center documents the history of the Underground Railroad and exposes worldwide, modern-day slavery and sex trafficking.
• Creation Museum and Answers in Genesis. At the heart of the museum is a chronological retelling of biblical history.
• Newport Aquarium. Spend hours here observing thousands of exotic aquatic animals.
• Ark Encounter. This is a must-see. The life-size replica of the ark depicts God’s story of salvation from creation to the second coming of Jesus.
Check out www.meetnky.com for a comprehensive list of museums, water parks, riverboat excursions, and other attractions.
Plans are made for a group excursion to the Ark Encounter on Monday, July 5. Buses will transport us to the site, a 40-minute trip from Covington. In route, enjoy narration of the history of the Ark Encounter, including the initial dream, God’s answers to prayers, and the completion of this incredible exhibit. Plan now to arrive early so you can join us.
After touring the ark, try the zip line or visit an unusual petting zoo where you can see a zebra, a zorse, and a zonkey.
When you talk with previous convention attendees, expect to hear an array of responses to the question “What is the best part of convention?”
Camaraderie at the Monday evening opening reception. Who doesn’t want to greet new and old friends? • Important business sessions • Challenging workshops on a variety of relevant and educational topics • Spirit-filled evening worship where we join voices in praise • Motivating evening speakers who challenge us to a deeper relationship with Jesus • Inspiring children’s program • Dynamic youth program • Engaging young adult program
GC Convention 2019 is history, but what fantastic memories remain! It will be hard to beat the beautiful scenery and hospitality of the Albuquerque church. However, you will not be disappointed experiencing the unique charm of Covington, Kentucky, at GC Convention 2021. Albuquerque had just over 1,300 attendees. Can we beat that? Hope to see you there!
To stay up-to-date, check Facebook, the GC website, Bible Advocate, and Churchright for more details unfolding in the coming months.
1928 – 2020
Luella Barnes (91) passed away August 24. She was born September 5, 1928, in Fairview, Oklahoma, to Glenn and Thressa (Cole) Sheffield. She was third in line, following her brothers Leonard and Wesley. Wilma June, Gene, and Ruth soon followed. When Luella was just four years old, she lost her sister, Wilma June.
It was difficult to make a living in Oklahoma due to the Great Depression. Because of this and the Dust Bowl, the Sheffield family left for Oregon in 1937. Luella celebrated her eighth birthday in Nebraska while en route.
In 1947, Luella met her future husband, Milford “Mick” Barnes, after he had been released from a hospital in Billings, Montana. He had been there over a year having suffered injuries in a plane crash on his way home from serving in World War II. Mick was one of three survivors from the crash.
Mick and Luella married December 25, 1947, and eventually had four children: Sharon, Dianne, Jim, and Marie. Mick passed away in 1989 and Sharon in 2005.
The Barnes family settled in Jefferson, Oregon, to be with other family. Luella’s younger siblings, Willard and Helen, arrived soon after. Today, Helen is the only surviving sibling. She has been more like one of Luella’s kids, as Luella helped raise her. Helen spent a lot of time with Luella’s family after their father died when she was just thirteen.
As a child, Luella was a tomboy, chasing after her brothers. She loved to ride her bike, swim, roller skate, and go to movies. Luella loved crafts of all kinds and was an excellent seamstress, knitter, crocheter, and gardener. She was a great cook and canned fruits and vegetables every summer.
Luella held many jobs over the years. Her first was at age ten, picking green beans in the fields. After she graduated from Jefferson, Oregon, in 1946, she went to work in Salem at The Ink Spot, where she was a typist/bookkeeper/mimeograph operator. She also worked in an elementary school kitchen and would bring home fresh cinnamon rolls for her kids. In her later years, she worked for an optometrist in Albany before retiring in 1988.
A lifelong member of the Church of God (Seventh Day), Luella attended South Albany Community Church for the last two years of her life. She was always involved in church activities and roles, including teaching, Bible studies, secretary/treasurer, and attendance clerk.
Luella is survived by her sister Helen (Ollie) Helgeson; daughters Dianne (Gene) Sanders and Marie Barnes; son Jim (Debie) Barnes; grandchildren Corey/Amanda Barnes, Sarah/Michael (Sanders) Smith, Jessee/Jennifer Barnes, Nathan/Neronica Sanders; Elysse and Mikkayla Boarman, Nicole/Jake (Barnes) Ratajczak, and Mandi Barnes; great-grandchildren Benjamin, Abigail, Charlotte, Hannalise, and Cayden.
1932 – 2020
Petra S. Salazar (88) passed away peacefully August 8. She was born June 28, 1932, in San Antonio, Texas, to Elder Manuel and Carmen Solis.
Petra married Arnulfo C. Salazar on July 29, 1956, and they enjoyed 46 years together. She was a longtime member of the Church of God (Seventh Day) and enjoyed serving the Lord in women’s ministry. A devoted wife, Petra also served alongside her husband in ministry.
Petra is survived by her seven children: Joel (Christina), Abel (Eva), Samuel (Sandra), Naomi Tuller (Dwayne), Loida Vergara (Eddie), Daniel Salazar, and Manuel (Jessica); eighteen grandchildren, nineteen great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews; and her sisters: Clara Riojas, Maria Mireles, Marta Silva, Noemi Lawrence, and Rita Rodriguez.
Petra was preceded in death by her parents, husband, sisters Juanita Yanez and Felecitas Salazar, and brothers Alejos and Manuel Jr.
Helping teach children
Order the first set in this
kid-friendly series from the online bookstore at cog7.org
$2/book, plus postage
Available in Spanish and English
In the past, like many of you, I’ve lived through wars both hot and cold. I’ve stood in line to be vaccinated against horrible diseases and waited in longer lines, hoping to get a rationed necessity: gasoline. I’ve suffered financial loss and prayed to recover as the economy crashed, then slowly grew strong again. I’ve been unable to attend church services because of social unrest and riots. And I’ve struggled to remain hopeful through horrible political election cycles and the administrations of leaders with whom I’ve completely disagreed.
But this year, 2020, it’s “déjà vu all over again” — and it seems to be hitting us all at once! What’s worse, we’ve been denied needed human contact and comfort for long periods of time. We’ve stayed home. We’ve “social distanced.” We’ve covered our faces, preventing ourselves from knowing if people are smiling or frowning. Depression and discouragement have spread a vague uneasiness that something is very wrong. Emotions have often overcome common sense, and rational discussions about some topics have become impossible.
What shall we do? Focus on Jesus and follow His plan! Remember and share the gospel. From the beginning, our unchanging God has had an unchanging mission and plan to reconcile His amazing creation to Himself in Christ Jesus. Because Jesus died for our sins, we who believe are saved from the coming wrath of God against sin, and we are invited to join God in His great work as ministers of reconciliation and ambassadors for Christ. No present circumstance or cause is more important. Nothing must be allowed to distract us.
In 1973, singer/songwriter Andraé Crouch penned the lyrics to
“Jesus Is the Answer,” affirming that He is the only solution for our world today. His beloved song is as true and relevant today as it has ever been. In spite of all that is happening throughout the United States and Canada, your General Conference staff members — district and Denver — remain on task and available. Whatever your role may be, please join us. Keep the main thing the main thing. Focus on Jesus and follow His plan!
— Loren Stacy