August Newsletter

The Power of Neglect

Over the past 2 ½ years, Lana Westphalen has shown Rachelle and me dozens and dozens of properties. No exaggerating: dozens. God bless Lana for her patience and longsuffering! And when you see lots of houses like we have, you start to notice things; you develop an eye for house things. And one of my takeaways—as a semi-professional house examiner—is the power of neglect.

An example: One time we looked at a rural acreage. We spent some time dreaming about what it be like to live in the country: to have dogs, cats, chickens, and maybe even a couple of horses (the chickens and horses are the wife’s and kids’ dreams, not mine, by the way). The photos on the Web site listing were intriguing, including a glorious old barn—the kind they don’t make them like anymore.

But once we got there in person, the dream became a nightmare. That glorious old barn was deeply compromised, to say the least. The roof was see-through, the support beams were no longer holding the structure together (I honestly think the siding was keeping the shape), and there were nearly full-grown trees growing up inside it. And the house wasn’t much better. You could see the progression of issues like a chain of destruction: the gutters were long-broken, the foundation was cracked, there was water and moisture in the basement, and therefore, there was mold everywhere.

And all because of the power of neglect. If you don’t attend to little issues—like gutters—they cause bigger issues. And if you don’t take care of those issues, they become even bigger issues. Until everything is a loss.

And the same thing can happen to our spiritual life, too. Just like ignoring those bad gutters, it’s easy to ignore the need to pray. And when we don’t pray, we don’t feel like reading our Bibles. And when we don’t feel like reading our Bibles, we don’t see the need to gather with the saints for worship. And eventually, through the power of neglect, we can fall completely away. Just through inaction. As water presses in on a foundation until it cracks, so the pressures of the secular modern world squeeze in on us until we cave.

We may think we need to wait until we “feel” like going to church before doing so, but that’s not how it works. We are under the false assumption that feelings precede actions: I feel like exercising, so then I go exercise. But that is backwards. Actions often precede feelings and beliefs. We do the behavior, which trains us to believe and feel a certain way. We exercise first to be healthy—regardless of whether “feel” like doing it. So, if we fill our schedules with non-spiritual pursuits (including sleeping in on Sundays), then we will logically walk a separate path. If we wait around, hoping to “feel” spiritual before doing anything about it, then guess what? The roof caves in, the volunteer weeds sprout up, the foundation cracks, and mold invades. And all is lost. Just through inaction.

Fighting back neglect takes action. But thankfully, it’s not that difficult. Entropy increases over time; chaos creeps in. We need to push back against the chaos to preserve what is good: pull the weeds in the garden, replace the roof when it gets weathered, make sure the gutters are conducting the water away from the house, and so forth. Likewise, Christianity is composed in large part of simply showing up and doing the stuff that is necessary to keep us close to Jesus: set aside Sunday mornings and force yourself to attend worship (even if you don’t “feel” like it), put down your smartphone long enough to pick up a Bible, take all those worries that swirl around in your head and give them to God as a prayer. Granted: worship is not always exciting—maybe not even some of the time. But neither is jogging or walking on a treadmill. And both will save your life.

There’s an old saying that I heard long ago: If you hang out in a barber shop long enough, you’re going to get a haircut. The original intent behind that aphorism is a warning about what company you keep: if you spend time in a bar, for instance, you’re going to eventually drink. But that saying has a positive side, too. If you put yourself in a position where you will meet Jesus, you eventually will. If you spend time among Christians, if you go to worship, if you read a Bible, if you ask God to be real, if you put yourself in the path of God, it will happen for you. You will catch the bug.

So, join me in the struggle against the power of neglect. Protect your house against invading water and pests! And protect your soul against invading chaos and unspiritual things!

Pastor Ray

Travel to the Holy Land with Pastor Ray

Mark your calendars, and start saving your pennies! Pastor Ray is leading a group on a spiritual pilgrimage to Israel, May 18-27, 2020. We will walk in the footsteps of Jesus himself! Go to the Lake of Galilee, Nazareth, Caesarea Philippi, Armageddon, Bethlehem, Mount Carmel, the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, Gethsemane, the Dead Sea, the Holocaust Museum, and more! The total cost of the trip will be about $3,700 (all-inclusive, except lunches and souvenirs). If you—or someone you know—might be interested, please contact Ray and visit the tour Web site:

Worship at Al’s Barn

“Rejoice with those who rejoice.” (Romans 12:15a) The Presbyterians in Atlantic are celebrating their 150th anniversary this fall, and they have invited us to share in their joy! We will join them for worship at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, September 29, 2019, at Al Peterson’s barn (65648 Joplin Road), with lunch and fun following. We will not have worship in our own space on that day. Come and enjoy a day of old-fashioned fun!

Sunday School

Join us for Sunday school every Sunday morning at 9:30, even through the summer months! There is no shortage of fellowship and coffee (or iced tea)!

A Creative Way to Support Your Church

If you have an IRA and you’re 70.5 years old, then you probably already know about Required Minimum Distribution (RMD). If you’re not familiar with an RMD, it goes like this: At age 70.5 (for most retirement accounts), you must start withdrawing a minimum amount of money from your account—and that withdrawal is taxed as income. However: you can transfer that RMD directly to a qualifying charity (e.g., First Baptist Church) and avoid all taxes. In fact, you can give up to $100,000 from your IRA to the church each year! So it’s a win-win situation. Talk to your financial planner about how you can do this. For more useful information, visit:

Diaconate Meeting

The deacons will gather after worship on Sunday, August 11.

American Baptist Women

ABWM will gather on Wednesday, August 21, at 1:30 p.m.

Read Online: Save the Paper and Postage!

Read our newsletter online! You can also sign up to receive each newsletter (blog) as an email message. Just enter your email address, then confirm your subscription, and you’re all set!

Congregational Meeting Minutes

Quarterly business meeting of First Baptist Church was held on Sunday July 14, 2019. The meeting was called to order with an opening prayer by Jim Bartelson.

Minutes of the April quarterly meeting and the June Diaconate meeting were read and approved.

Reports are on file from Vicki Brown, Financial secretary; Luella Bartelson, Benevolence Secretary; Sandi Rhoads, Treasurer.

Ray announced that the Presbyterian church will be celebrating their 150th birthday in September and Alan Peterson is planning a celebration on the last Sunday in September in his barn that will consist of an old time worship service and lunch. Everyone is welcome to attend. We would forgo services at our church that Sunday. We will get more info later. Lynette made a motion and Sharen seconded to attend this service. Motion carried.

Ray also thought that since we attended the Christmas Eve service at the Presbyterian church in 2018 that maybe we could host the service in 2019 at the First Baptist Church. Everyone approved.

The parsonage has been listed at a price of $99,500.00. We will consider offering the Home Protection Plan if an offer is made on the house. We have to thank Kyle, Jerry, Jim and Lyle for the team work in getting the parsonage ready to list. They did a tremendous job!!!!! There are a few minor things that need to be done. Sandi paid WCI $10,344.00 for the work done in parsonage basement. The furniture in the house can be offered to prospective buyers if they are interested. If not, we will have a silent sealed bid auction. The microwave and TV will be brought to the church for our use.

Vicki asked if the church would consider doing a community service project of collecting school supplies and giving them to the different area churches. There will be a tote in the back of the church for collections.

It was suggested that we needed to do something with the open sign holder in front of the Church, ideas were presented and Jerry will take the sign to J & J Custom Graphics to see what we can do.

We received a letter from Alliant stating that there is a gas line on the north side of the church that is getting rusty and needs replaced. Jerry talked to Brent at Camblins and they can do repairs but it will be 2 or 3 weeks before they can get to it. He will call Jerry when he’s ready to do the work.

Lynette made a motion to adjourn, Janet Westphalen seconded.

Meeting adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

Vicki Brown

Church Clerk

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