November Newsletter

The Opposite of Faith

There’s not one, single answer to the question, What is the opposite of faith? Some would say doubt, others unbelief or disbelief. Richard Rohr memorably said that, “The opposite of faith is not doubt; the opposite of faith is control.” But I’m going to offer another answer to the question: What is the opposite of faith? Politics. Yes, politics. Let me explain.

The primary vocation of those who trust in Jesus is prayer. It’s the fundamental act of faith: when you believe, you pray. From an unbelieving point of view, prayer is weak and pathetic. Unbelievers scoff, “What does it profit anyway? What good is prayer?” But for believers, prayer is enough to move mountains (Mark 11:23); it is actively waiting for the Lord to act on our behalf (Psalm 27:14; 31:24; 33:20; 37:7; 130:5-6; Isaiah 8:17; 40:31; Micah 7:7; James 5:7; Jude 21—among others!). Prayer is one of the powerful spiritual weapons God has given us to resist the evil that motivates and influences human beings (Ephesians 6:10-18a).

So, if you don’t have faith, how do you respond to suffering and evil in the world? Politics. You attempt to wield temporal, worldly power against evildoers to silence them and remove them from power. Because that’s about all you can do, at least legally. Politics is the religion of secular elites. Politics is the faith of the faithless. Politics is the only weapon that unbelievers have in their arsenal.

And for those whose faith is weak—or even just a shell—politics has a certain allure. Politicized faith, though, is no faith at all. John Pavlovitz, a blogger and former Methodist pastor, made waves this summer with his controversial post, “If You Think I’ve Gotten Too Political.” ( He defends his shift from faith to action by claiming that things are different this time around. That point is debatable, but his tactics have veered from the spiritual to the temporal. Using overtly secular language, he asserts that “I believe the greatest responsibility people of morality, faith, and conscience have, is to leverage that privilege for the common good.” And in this case, “leverage” means political action: speaking up, protesting, contributing money, urging impeachment—whatever. It’s as if he says—while speaking for many others, I’m sure—“All that prayer stuff was fine while My Guy was in the Oval Office and while My Party controlled Congress. But now that the Devil is in Washington, SOMEBODY NEEDS TO DO SOMETHING, QUICK!”

Now, that’s not to say that Christians should disengage from society altogether, and Pavlovitz makes some excellent, discussion-worthy points. It’s important for us to speak the truth in love and to remain a part of our society. But not at the expense of our primary calling: prayer. Prayer is enough, because God is enough. Prayer is mighty, because God is mighty. Our spiritual arsenal is greater than any political tool we possess. Kings have come and gone; empires have risen and fallen, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Moses (and Joshua after him) encouraged the Israelites—who were preparing to face their enemies—to be confident in their God, who would certainly deliver them. “You shall not fear them, for it is the LORD your God who fights for you” (Deuteronomy 3:22). And I echo that counsel to you. These are trying times, no doubt. You might like the political leaders we have now, or they might be a stench in your nostrils. Regardless, keep praying! Jesus has already overcome sin and death. Have faith. He has overcome the world! (John 16:33) “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (Ps. 27:17). Until things change, “We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield” (Ps. 33:20).

Pastor Ray

The Life of Our Church

 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! Visit 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! Walk where Jesus walked! The total cost of the trip will be about $3,700 (all-inclusive, except lunches and souvenirs). We need to get at least 20 pilgrims registered by December 15 to make the trip happen. If you—or someone you know—might be interested, please contact Ray and visit the tour Web site:

Daylight Saving Time Ends: Fall Back

DST will end on Sunday, November 3. Remember to “fall back” and enjoy an extra hour of sleep!

Sunday School

Join us for Sunday school every Sunday morning at 9:30. We are studying 1 Thessalonians this fall.

Executive Minister in Worship

The Rev. Jackie Saxon, our regional executive minister, will be in worship with us on Sunday, November 17. Please come and welcome her to our community.

Salvation Army Bell Ringing

The Salvation Army needs you! Saturday, December 14, First Baptist Church will cover SA bell ringing at Fareway, between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. The shifts are:

  • 10:00-11:30
  • 11:30-1:00
  • 1:00-2:30
  • 2:30-4:00

90% of the proceeds will stay local and be administered by the Atlantic Police Department. We need at least one person per shift. There will be a sign-up as time gets closer. Invite a friend and bring a coat!

Tour of Churches

See the church buildings of Atlantic on Sunday, December 22, from 2:00-5:00 p.m. Tickets are $10, and every penny goes to support the Atlantic Ministerial Association’s Helping Hand Fund. Participating Churches are: First United Methodist, First United Presbyterian, St. Paul’s Lutheran, Zion Lutheran, First Baptist, Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic, and United Church of Christ. There will be lots of refreshments and musical entertainment.

Christmas Eve Worship

On Christmas Eve (Tuesday, 12/24), we will host a candlelit service in our sanctuary, starting at 5:30 p.m. There is a possibility of a handbell choir, but details will be coming. Bring your friends and family and worship Christ, the newborn King!

Alternate Christmas Giving

Why give more “stuff” to people who already have enough stuff? This year, for Christmas, consider giving a different way. World Vision (and other organizations) offers a way for us to give to people in great need around the world—gifts of livestock, medicine, clean water, education, vaccinations—in honor of our loved ones who have all of that already. Check out the World Vision Gift Catalog in our sanctuary, or visit for more information.

New Global Servants

The Myers family has officially retired from mission work. We celebrate their fruitful ministry career! Our congregation has decided to support Kyle and Debby Witmer, who are relatively new global servants working in Thailand. Debby and Kyle serve the Thai Karen Baptist Convention (TKBC) Siloam Bible Institute in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where they work in pastoral education and leadership development. Young people from the Karen ethnic group attend the school with the goal of following the call of God on their lives to be pastors and evangelists among the Karen villages in the hills of Thailand. Kyle is also involved in continuing education with TKBC pastors and evangelists. Debby is providing worship leadership to conferences in the area and helping with the English language program at Siloam. To learn more about the Witmers, visit:

Radio Devotions

Pastor Ray’s devotions will be on KJAN (FM 101.1 and AM 1220) the week of November 4-9, in the mornings.

World Mission Offering

Thank you for your generous gifts to the World Mission Offering! We raised $255 to support our global servants.

Camp Offering Sunday

Thank you for supporting our Iowa American Baptist camps. The diaconate designated a gift of $500 to Forest Lake Camp, and an additional $176 was raised for Dayton Oaks Camp. Your gifts will enable the camps to make a holy impact on a new generation.

The Cass County Choral Society

The CCCS is rehearsing every Sunday afternoon from 3:00-4:30 at the First United Methodist Church building (800 Poplar) in Atlantic. Our performances will be December 19 and 20. Find us on Facebook for updates and information!

Diaconate Meeting

Our next diaconate meeting will be Sunday, November 10, after worship.

American Baptist Women

ABWM will gather on Wednesday, November 20, at 1:30 p.m.

Music Trip Update

Some of our church’s youths are heading to Florida for a spring break music trip, which is not free. If you would like to help support their fundraising, please visit with Pastor Ray.

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!

Thank You from the Presbyterians

“Thanks to you from the Worship Committee of First United Presbyterian. We were glad to share the worship service in the barn and picnic with you.

[Signed:] Beverly Schelling, Bev Moffatt, Scott Robinson, Lloyd Reeder, Lana Westphalen, Dwight Grantham, Michelle Andersen, Rachelle McCalla”

Quarterly Congregational Meeting Minutes

Quarterly meeting of the First Baptist Church was held on Sunday October 13, 2019 and Pastor Ray McCalla opened the meeting with prayer.

Minutes of the July 14, 2019 quarterly meeting and the September 8, 2019 diaconate meeting were read and approved.

Reports were given by Vicki Brown, Financial secretary; Luella Bartelson, Benevolence Secretary; Sandi Rhoads, Treasurer.

Tom & Terry Myers are no longer serving as missionaries so we need to decide on who to support. After discussion Chuck Smith made a motion to support Witmers in the amount of $50.00 a month as we had done with Myers, Gary Nelson seconded the motion. A vote was taken and the motion passed.

Jerry gave a report on the last basement flooding. There was about 5 inches of rain in the basement and Service Master came in and cleaned up. There were 15 fans and 2 dehumidifiers in the basement and after cleanup they used a mold and fungicide spray. The cost was $4846.29.

Jim Bartelson is going to check with the Church’s insurance company about getting flood insurance.

Alliant replaced the pipe on the side of the church but no bill has been received yet. The dehumidifiers have been disposed of.

Jerry hasn’t had time to do anything with the wood sign in front of the church.

Jim will put some of the parsonage proceeds in a CD at Wells Fargo Bank as they have a special interest rate right now. Some of the other proceeds will be put into the Stifel account. The CD’s are staggered so they come due at different times.

Ray suggested that our church have the Christmas Eve service on December 24th at 5:30.

The Salvation Army is looking for bell ringers at both Fareway and Walmart on Saturday December 14th from 10 AM to 4 PM, this will be 1 ½ hour shifts. Our church and the Presbyterian church will participate. If you are interested get in touch with Ray.

There will be another Tour of Churches on Sunday December 22nd from 2 PM to 5 PM. This year the money will go to the Ministerial funds.

Ray will be taking December 1st, 8th and 29th off. We will have a guest speaker one Sunday and may do a sing along on the last Sunday in December.

Jackie Saxon will be visiting our church on November 17th. There was discussion if we should do some extra mission giving and several possibilities were discussed. Janet Paulsen would like money to be given locally. After discussion Gary Nelson made a motion to give $500.00 each to the Police department, food pantry and the Ministerial fund. Also another $2,000.00 to be given to the Baptist Church in Hamburg. Chuck 2nd the motion. A vote was taken and motion carried. (footnote: There is no Minister at the Baptist Church in Hamburg right now so Jackie Saxon has suggested holding that donation till a later time).

Meeting adjourned at 1:30 PM

Respectfully submitted,

Vicki Brown,

Church Clerk

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