Illinois Baptist 09 04 2017 E Edition Page 2

few days ago, I was among the millions from Illinois and around the world that ventured down into the zone of total- ity for the solar eclipse that crossed America for the first time in decades. It was truly an amazing sight, as we were able to remove our protective cardboard glasses and for over two minutes look directly at the moon aligned perfectly in front of the sun. What an amazing and orderly universe our God has created. For weeks and days ahead of time, and then at least a few hours after- wards, our conversations were filled with new vocabulary for talking about the eclipse, words like totality, corona, umbra, and annular. I guess it was then I realized that I frequently use the word eclipse already, not so much as a noun, but as a verb. To eclipse something means to obscure it from view, or to prevent something from being seen clearly, at least for a while. So, for example, a minor disappointment can eclipse an other- wise wonderful day. A mistake in someones behavior can eclipse an otherwise outstanding character. A poorly chosen word or tone can eclipse the intended meaning of a statement. I think that's why I find myself using the word eclipse as a verb with some frequency. I will say, Let's not let that one error eclipse the otherwise fine job he is doing. Or, Dont allow that one rare exception to eclipse the larg- er trend here. Or, Youre letting that one point eclipse the larger picture. In our relationships, and in church life, there are eclipses that are espe- cially important to avoid. By that I mean times when something relatively small is allowed to obscure or overshadow something much bigger or more important. And yet, those eclipses happen all too often. For example, several years ago, a pastor (who is no longer pastoring) wrote me to say that he had led their church to discontinue their Coopera- tive Program giving because he felt snubbed by one of our staff members at an event. He would not return my calls or e-mails trying to recon- cile the matter. And of course, the staff member had no memory of the event and no intent to offend. Yet as a result, a small misunderstanding and a lingering grudge were allowed to eclipse thousands of dollars in missions giving. Another time a man told me he left his last church because of some- thing the pastor said in the pulpit. It wasnt a disagreement about doctrine or even biblical interpreta- tion. He was simply irritated at their difference of opinion. And he allowed that irritation to eclipse the years and years of commitment his family had to that church. From time to time I will hear a pastor or church leader talk about a contentious church member who used to have a role or prominence or even ministry in the church. When asked to do that role differently, or to do something else, they allowed their personal preference in ministry to eclipse what was best for the church. Sometimes that kind of discontent is allowed to grow to the point that it eclipses the overall health and unity of the church. As awestruck as I am at the wonder of the recent solar eclipse, Im re- ally glad it didnt last that long. Its a reminder to me that relatively small things like the moon are not intended to obscure large and vital things like the sun, at least not for long. And relatively small offenses, mistakes, and disagreements should not be allowed to obscure the far more important fel- lowship and mission of the church. Lets either avoid those eclipses entirely, or allow them to pass very, very quickly. Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at Eclipses to avoid NATE ADAMS Snapshots from the world of Illinois Baptists The general telephone number for IBSA is (217) 786-2600. For questions about subscriptions, articles, or upcoming events, contact the Illinois Baptist at (217) 391-3119 or . The Illinois Baptist is seeking news from IBSA churches. E-mail us at to tell us about special events and new ministry staff. POSTMASTER: The Illinois Baptist is owned and published every three weeks by the Illinois Baptist State Association, 3085 Stevenson Drive, Springfield, Illinois 62703-4440. Subscriptions are free to Illinois Baptists. Subscribe online at . CONVENTIONAL WISDOM The Illinois Baptist staff Editor - Eric Reed Graphic Designer - Kris Kell Contributing Editor - Lisa Misner Sergent Editorial Contributor - Meredith Flynn Administrative Assistant - Leah Honnen A 2 Illinois Baptist the cooperative program Giving by IBSA churches as of 8/25/17 $3,817,071 Budget Goal: $4,119,231 Received to date in 2016: $3,861,116 2017 Goal: $6.3 Million Not so rare or "once in a lifetime," these little events have lasting impact. Owning up to sin To some Americans, saying you're a sinner is a way of admitting you are not doesn't necessarily mean you're evil or should be punished for your sin. That's some- thing the church should pay attention to." - Scott McConnell, LifeWay Research Which of the following best describes you? I am a sinner, and I work on being less of one. I am a sinner, and I depend on Jesus Christ to overcome sin. 4 +8+0+8+5+5 34% 28% Sin does not exist. I am not a sinner. I am a sinner, and I am fine with that. I prefer not to say. 10% 8% 5% 15% - LifeWay Research, Aug. 2017

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