A Note from Roy B and Sandy McClure

In memory of Roy C McClure
We are so blessed to have such a great church family as the First Baptist Church of Sylva.  It is always difficult whenever you lose a family member and especially a parent.
Thank you to Rev. Mathis for providing a Graveside Service that was befiting of my father's wishes.  
The church’s Bereavement and Pastoral Care Team have been wonderful to help with any needs that we had. Even though I don’t live in Sylva, I still call FBC my church since I grew up in the church and was baptized here.
A big thanks  to Ms. Tonya Lloyd, Ms. Ruth McConnell, and Ms. Holquist and other church members who were very helpful in coordinating and providing the luncheon provided at the church. A big special appreciation to Ms. Tonya Lloyd who was very caring and supportive in coordinating between our family needs and the church’s Fellowship Hall. 
As you know my father, he was a very quiet and reserved person.  He didn’t want his death and burial to be a big event. But he was blessed to have many family members that wanted to come to say good bye  to (Dad, Papa, Brother, Uncle, and friend) including the many wonderful church friends, hiking and bridge friends that the family needed a place to celebrate dad’s life and visitation with family and friends. 
Thank you for the use of the fellowship hall and the wonderful luncheon provided by your church family. Ms. Lloyd, Ms. McConnell and Ms. Holquist were a big help.
I also want to say thank you to Mr. Proctor as he helped with a lot of our needs in Sylva. Mr. Proctor was very helpful in taking care of some our needs and the assistance that he provided.
It is so wonderful for the love and support from First Baptist Church.   
Thank you for your prayers, love and support. 
Love
Family of Roy C. McClure

When We Regret Our Behavior on the Path

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What do we do when we experience danger on the Path of life? 

This has been the question that we’ve been holding these last few Sundays in worship. Peter found himself in jail, waiting for his impending execution. Paul kept getting blown off course on his way to Rome. Nehemiah and his faithful friends encountered sabotage when they tried to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.  

In each of these circumstances, God redeemed the difficult and the challenging. Thus, we are able--in the words of Paul—"To take heart and to be courageous!” in the face of the obstacles that spring up along the way. 

But how about God? How has God responded when things didn’t go as He had hoped? What did God, Himself, do when faced with disappointment and heartache?  

In a word, He overreacted. Let me explain. 

We all know that God created the world and all that is in it. And he proclaimed it was good. But things did not go as He had hoped. God’s creation—namely, humankind—had grievously disappointed Him.  

Genesis 6 reports that, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:5-6) 

Let that last line sink in for a moment and feel the sense of despair God once felt: “I am sorry that I have made them.”  

This was not what God had intended. His creation, says the author of Genesis, “had become corrupted and was filled with violence.” (Genesis 6:12) God had become disgusted with his creation, save for one person—Noah. He made a promise with Noah and his family and instructed him to make a lifeboat for humanity and the animal kingdom. 

God’s response to this tragic set of circumstances is to eradicate the creation that he once called beloved.  

“I am going to bring a flood of waters on the earth to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life.” (Genesis 6:17) 

When faced with a significant fork in the road, God chooses to blow it all up which, of course, is His right. God is God, and we are not. Although we may find this demonstration of divine wrath particularly hard to imagine, we cannot escape the fact that God may do with His creation as He sees fit.  

But God almost instantly regrets his decision to destroy his creation. Upon smelling the sweet aroma of the burnt offerings from Noah’s sacrifice, “The Lord said in His heart: ‘I will never again curse the ground because of humankind…nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done.” (Genesis 8:21) 

God seems remorseful for what He has done. He will not do again what he has done. Yes, God seems sorry for his decision to wipe out creation. 

It’s true. This image of a sorrowful God is unsettling and dispiriting. We’re not accustomed to thinking of the God of the Universe with such decidedly human attributes.  

And yet… 

There is something quite reassuring about this unnerving story. God reacts to a disappointment on the Path much like we do when we experience heartache, frustration and tragic changes of plans. We often respond to these circumstances and developments with harsh words, with debilitating sorrow and yes, even violence. And like God, we’ve also come to regret these gut reactions.  

But like God, we can also learn from these moments. God certainly learned from what He had done. Upon seeing the power of his wrath as dispensed by His omnipotent hand, God chooses never to do it again. What’s more, he makes a solemn promise to the survivors of His apocalyptic actions, saying: “I am establishing my covenant with you…(that) never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” (Genesis 9:11) 

God even creates a reminder--we’ll call it insurance for humanity--so that he will not unloose his wrath upon the whole of His creation. God creates a rainbow, not to remind humankind of his promise but to remind Himself of the promise He had made with them.  

“When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant…and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.” (Genesis 9:16) 

This statement is consistent with the great love and commitment that God demonstrates to His people throughout the story of Israel and also in the new covenant that He makes to us in Jesus. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17) 

Things do not always go as we had hoped or as we had planned. Danger is definitely present along the way. And sometimes, sometimes, we do not respond the way we should. We react. We lash out.  

But we can learn from these moments and promise never to react in that same way again. We have the capacity to learn, to be reminded of the consequences of our actions and to do better next time.  

God, Himself, shows us how.

Seeing the Bible With Fresh Eyes

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"In Cambodia, widows, orphans, immigrants and the poor still need protection. The spirit world is an everyday preoccupation, with temples in every neighborhood and frequent offerings to stone idols. Daily bread is not a given. These are major concerns of the Bible, but in the US, we usually gloss over these passages or spend a lot of time contextualizing them to make sense to us. In Cambodia, though, many of these passages apply directly to the lives of Cambodians with little explanation needed. By reading the Bible in Khmer alongside Cambodians, I see significant themes that are hard to notice in an American context. New words, interesting translation choices, different grammar, and having to read more slowly help me see things I've never noticed before. You may not be able to learn a new language just for reading the Bible, but I encourage you to think about how you can find ways to see the Bible with fresh eyes."

- David and Lauren Bass, CBF field personnel, Phnom Penh, Cambodia 

A Note from Dianne and Greg Scott

Dear members of the Pastoral Care Team,
We cannot express to you how grateful we are to you for your continued prayer for our daughter Tracy and for us. 
We are upheld by such a cloud of witnesses to the love of Christ that we feel his comfort in the midst of such a long battle for Tracy. She remains stable at this time. We remain with her in Virginia as she and her son need help to care for her and to run her household affairs. 
Thank you for your kind hearts and faithful prayers. 
In Christ's love,
Dianne and Greg Scott

Lessons from the Thai Soccer Team and Their Rescuers  

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I’m going to blame my older brother and sister for this. 

When I was a young lad, my siblings liked to have some fun at my expense. They would spread a large blanket on the floor and invite me to lie down on one edge of the square. Then, they would roll me up like a burrito. In essence, I was swaddled up and could not escape the bonds of my fabric prison. 

My brother and sister found this hilarious.  

I did not.  

This is the traumatic event (No, I don’t think I am exaggerating) that I point to when I feel the telltale signs of claustrophobia in crowded elevators or while exploring a tight cavern or corridor.  

Whether you’re claustrophobic or not, who among us has not been terrified of the predicament that has befallen the soccer team of teenage boys in Thailand these last weeks? The team had been exploring an extensive cave after a soccer game when water from heavy rains flooded the compartments and trapped the boys nearly 2 miles underground. They had been feared lost until a diving crew discovered them safe and sound in a compartment-like room that gave them space to escape the cold water and to breathe in the air pocket that had formed above the water.  

By now you’ve heard how impossible the team’s extraction seemed. Strategies for rescue ranged from keeping them in the cave for weeks, if not months, until the monsoon-induced flood waters receded, to teaching them how to swim and use scuba gear. To complicate matters, the levels of oxygen in the cave had diminished to barely survivable limits in recent days and there were worries that the flood waters within the cave might continue to rise.  

Something had to be done and be done quickly. 

I am pleased to report that as of Tuesday morning, all of the boys and their coach had been rescued from the cave. Their nearly four-hour journey to the surface included tethering the boys to trained Navy SEALS, fitting them with oxygen masks, and then threading them through the tight twists and turns of a serpentine cave system. Rescuers had feared that a single moment of panic from either a boy or a SEAL along their 2-mile journey to safety would end in disaster. And yet, everyone who was trapped has now safely been returned to the surface after surviving underground for 3 weeks.  

While watching this drama unfold, I’ve learned the following lessons: 

1.) The Thai soccer team’s ability to be non-anxious saved their lives. 

It has now been reported that the coach of the team taught the boys how to meditate while they awaited rescue. Had they not practiced meditation, the boys’ unregulated breathing would have used up all the available oxygen in the chamber. They were kept calm and serene because their leader modeled a non-anxious presence, and also taught the boys how to be non-anxious themselves.  

While there are differences between meditation and prayer (emptying one’s self vs. filling one’s self with the Holy Spirit), the results of both are similar. Our bodies, minds and souls are quieted. The Gospel reveals to us an unflappable God in Jesus Christ who frequently retreated to pray and to meditate, while also modeling for his disciples and to us what it looks like to be dependent on God’s presence and strength.  

2.) The boys demonstrated great courage. 

If the boys were afraid—and who wouldn’t be?—they certainly did not allow their fears to paralyze them from being a part of their own rescue. The boys couldn’t simply be saved. The boys, themselves, had to be active participants in their own rescue. They had to swim, maneuver, twist and turn alongside the professional divers in order to be freed. To do that, they had to dig deep and be brave. They had to do something they had never done before, and get it right the very first time. In case you’re wondering, this is what courage looks like.  

3.) A global community worked together to do what initially seemed impossible.  

The world saw the need and worked together to solve a problem that seemed unworkable. Perhaps this is why the story captured such attention across so many political, social, and cultural fault-lines. Everyone worked together to save the trapped boys. Differences were laid aside to help those who were in need. A spirit of collaboration was generated by the obvious need, and the question of whether the boys deserved the chance to be saved never influenced the strategies to rescue them.  

I’m inspired and encouraged by what unfolded in Thailand these last three weeks, and I cannot help but to wonder what more we can do in this world to help and to save others. As followers of Jesus Christ and as citizens of the Kingdom of God, we should be on the front lines of efforts to help, to feed, to rescue, to assist, to bless, and to encourage those in need—regardless of the reasons why they might not deserve our care. There should be no question whether we should provide counsel, sanctuary, kindness or love to others when they are in need. Our faith in Jesus Christ compels us to. In fact, this is what God requires us to do for our enemies. Imagine then what our actions toward our neighbors should look like.  

Let us not forget Matthew 22:36-40

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” 

Change of Plans

Due to our church’s efforts to provide care for the families who are grieving losses at this time, we are postponing our ‘Supper on the Grounds and Ice Cream Making Competition’ from Sunday, July 15th until Sunday, July 29th.

At present, the hospitality and care that we provide our bereaved loved ones takes precedence over our evening of fun. At our core, we are a people who loves and serves. Our fellowship together on Sunday, July 29th will be all the richer for it.

Thank you for the countless ways you love one another, First Baptist Church. I am grateful and inspired by the way in which you ‘love kindness.’

Rev. Jeff Mathis

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Visitation and Funeral Arrangements for Delos Monteith

The First Baptist Church of Sylva extends their heartfelt condolences to Karen Monteith and family in the wake of Delos' death on Monday night. 

The family will receive visitors and guests on Saturday, July 14 from 12:00 PM until 2:00 PM in our church sanctuary. The funeral will begin at 2:00 PM. There will be a graveside ceremony to follow at Old Field Cemetery.