Ship of Cages
Nine years ago I stopped for fuel in Dexter, Missouri. Joe stepped out to the pump. When he saw my California plates, we fell into conversation over gasoline prices. He said, “All of my life I've never been more than 70 miles from home.” With food, television, and shelter, 65 year-old Joe was good to go.Read more...
West from Nod
Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were cast out, east of Eden (Genesis 3:24). After murdering his brother Abel, their son Cain was exiled to Nod, east of Eden (Genesis 4:16). They had to leave the Creator’s garden. They would have preferred to return, but could not; He had barred them. Humans had chosen another leader; now there were consequences. As His crowning act, God had made man for righteousness. Made in the divine image, our race was now distorted. Satan rejoiced! The first graffiti had been sprayed into God’s garden.
How will our Maker complete His original plan? How will man journey again, this time west from Nod?Read more...
What Doest Thou Here?
“Whosoever will.” That’s what John 3:16 says. Jesus was given to the human race so that whoever would be truly willing to go God’s way need not perish. But while many will claim that they are truly willing, still fallen humans are hard of hearing, especially when God speaks.
Some are willing to hear from Heaven, to consider God’s ways. Others are so sure that they would be uninterested that they are not listening. How many come to mind who claim that they know what Christianity is all about but aren’t prepared to give it a fair hearing today? They think they’ve been there and done that. The same happens within the church. How many do you know who grew up attending Adventist churches, schools, and events, who today claim that they know all about Adventism, reject it, and aren’t interested in hearing more.
For differing reasons, those who have once rejoiced in God’s leading, flee the spiritual battle. Approaching the gates of Canaan, they falter and run back into the wilderness. On the edge of success they turn. They discover themselves far away from what had been their goal. Elijah stood at the center of a mighty spiritual battle, and God triumphed. But soon, strangely, he was fleeing into the wilderness. Even as he fled, God sent his agencies and preserved him, fed him, nurtured. At last Elijah arrives at a cave in Sinai, and God has a question for him:
And, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? (1 Kings 19:9).
Well might God ask this question of some of us here today.Read more...
If We Say We Have No Sin
Sometimes texts that vex us enclose tremendous insight. Their challenge to our minimally tested assumptions makes them great allies toward our growth in truth.
Seventh-day Adventists reject the doctrine of original sin, the teaching that men are born condemned or guilty. We also reject any notion that man was not damaged by the Fall. We are decidedly damaged; one might say, born broken. But, we are not lost until we choose rebellion. All who have lived in human flesh, except Jesus, have chosen rebellion at some point; all these, then, need Jesus. The Bible is clear: "All we like sheep have gone astray" (Isaiah 53:6). How thankful we are that in Jesus a Savior is provided!
Some good and godly brothers dispute what has just been stated. They hold that all men have sin at birth. And, that all men have sin throughout the full length of their experience. Indeed, they say that men--even "saved" men--die in sin. The belief that in the power of God men can obey His law, that they can live without sinning after Probation closes, mystifies them. A favorite text suggested is 1 John 1:8. You recall the text:
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.Read more...
Upgrade, part 3: Singing
And now, the last segment in our series on reverence. Reverence is not a “style” among other styles. God is not worshipped according to styles, very holy here and very casual there. Reverence is either present or lacking in a church. Maybe it seems like doing this series on reverence is just preaching to the choir (this is, after all, the Mentone church.) But from time to time we need to remind ourselves where we are and for what purpose we are assembled. When have you seen reverence lost in a church and later restored? Reverence is like virginity.Read more...
Upgrade, part 2: Clapping?
How shall Christians respond when they hear truth? Should we clap our hands? By shortly after the time of Christ, Roman crowds were responding in the auditoriums to the torture and murder of Christians, by clapping. As Christians were pulled apart by horses or tortured with heated metal, crowds clapped at their writhing agonies and death throes. It was considered good sport and premier entertainment.Read more...