Why I Love Being a Seventh-day Adventist

love

My friend, Jo, started this thing…a challenge to think about what we love about being Seventh-day Adventist, and I like the idea! So here are my top 5, unsorted:

It makes you stand out: For a long time, I thought it was because I was the fourth out of five children that I longed to be recognized. Now I’m sure that was part of the reason! But I’ve also discovered in humanity, in general, a desire to be acknowledged as individuals. The peculiar lifestyle engendered in Seventh-day Adventism combined with the unique ways in which we all incorporate those peculiarities makes for very individually unique Seventh-day Adventists. I like that.

It makes you fit in: I am convinced that there is not a belief system that Seventh-day Adventists have nothing in common with! Baptism by immersion like Baptists; Dietary restrictions like the Muslims; The Sabbath like the Jews; Freedom of choice like the gay rights movement; Sanctity of life like the pro-life movement;  A powerful devil like the Satanists…Just to name a few. We can find allies across any isle without compromising the integrity of our message. I like that.

It makes sharing Jesus easy: The combination of our uniqueness with our relatability makes for natural opportunities to share about the reason we are the way we are – the reason being Jesus. To a fellow Christians, dietary restrictions may be a cause for consternation which may open the door to a practical conversation on the intersection of faith and works. Whereas the same dietary restrictions may produce a bond of camaraderie with a Muslim sister which could fuel further opportunities to share the reasons for our faith. I’ll knock on doors to find those looking for Jesus if I have to, but, truth-be-told, I’d rather not have to!

It just makes sense: While  I was raised in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, my parents made it clear that being Seventh-day Adventist was their choice and I would have to make my own choice someday. If the faith they had espoused made sense to me, they would be happy for me to stick with it. But if I found something more compelling in my search, they would support my decision to leave. Though a scary freedom at times, that permission from my parents allowed me to grapple with difficult questions from a young age: How do I even know that God exists in the first place? What if my own existence is an illusion? Would I prefer to live a happy lie or a miserable reality? Assuming very many things and God, I and others do exist in reality, why is Seventh-day Adventism the right religion? Is there only one right religion? Having grappled with these and many other questions, I am still a Seventh-day Adventist! I still practice the freedom my parents afforded me and grapple with more questions concerning my faith, but I now stand firmly as a Seventh-day Adventist.

It makes family the world over: It’s simply exhilarating to be able to connect with people from literally, all over the world, because we belong to the same faith! I have, at times, found closer relationships with Seventh-day Adventists from across the world than with fellow countrymen. Not being restricted in my associations to people of the same hue of skin or shape of eyes allows me to experience the beauty of the world, taste its diversity of foods and improve my own culturally engendered practices. No matter where I go in the world, when I meet a Seventh-day Adventist, I have met family.

Why do you love being Seventh-day Adventist?

Sleep is in the Mind

When you go into REM sleep, your body stops releasing certain neurotransmitters thus causing a drop in vigilance (am I in danger?) and mood-modulation (so what?). Also, the prefrontal cortex becomes less active causing a diminished sense of logic (what’s going on?) and planning (what do I do next?).

You notice how the physical state of sleep denotes all these low cognitive functions. That is to say, a state of sleep means low mental processing. Sleep is a diminished level of mental exertion. So you see how it is you can be asleep even while you’re awake. You can choose to exercise your mind…to wake up!

Consider the following texts with this concept of what it means to sleep in mind:

Proverbs 6:9-11 “How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.”

Matthew 25 “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish…While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.”

Romans 13:11-12 “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”

1 Thessalonians 5 “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night…But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief…Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”

Psalm 121:1-4 “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.”

united to be united

The book of Ephesians has, as a themes, the concept of unity. That Christ came to bring everything back together.

There was harmony in the universe when God first created it. Every note different yet moving in unity. Then sin entered in – sin: the very breach of the harmonious flow of life.

You see, harmony requires order. And God’s law is that order. So to transgress His law is to break the harmony.

Discord. Disorder. Disunity. Chaos. Brokenness.

Now we are broken people. And we are a broken people. Our individual brokenness fueling our corporate disunity. Anything can be a reason to divide between us.

Skin color. Accent. Gender. Wallet-size. Aesthetic preference.

Ephesians 4 begins with 5 injunctions. Here they are in my own words:

1. Live up to God’s dreams for you (v.1)

2. Realize your own brokenness (v.2 – humble)

3. Depend on God (v.2 – meek)

4. Endure the suffering that comes with relationships (v.2 – longsuffering)

5. Be loving towards those you don’t agree with (v.2 – forbearing)

This is how it is possible to live in unity with others. There must be a realization of our mutual brokenness and a decision to live together in spite of it.

But that is not the end of the unity God wants for His children!

Then God gives a diversity of gifts for the purpose of healing our individual brokenness to facilitate an even closer unity. And the gifts mentioned here have to do with the doctrinal ministry of the church (v.11). As we gain a correct understanding of Truth we attain to the wholeness of Christ’s perfect life. And as that happens at an individual level, we can grow closer in unity with those on the same journey.

So there is that unity we must work to maintain in spite of our brokenness. And this type of unity is an essential part of our journey to a closer unity – that unity we find within ourselves then with others as we see Jesus through a correct understanding of His Word.

Jesus prayed that we would be one. And so I pray.

32 Things I’m Thankful For

For my devotions, this morning, I decided to meditate on the Psalm for the Sabbath (since it is Sabbath today) and I couldn’t get past the first phrase:

“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord” Psalm 92:1

In the midst of thanking God for one thing, I found myself complaining about how that thing was nice but inadequate. A good friend once called me an ingrate (faithful are the wounds of a friend!)…and for the first time today I understood what she was referring to all those years ago.

So, in honor of my 32nd birthday this past week and to battle the spirit of ungratefulness I didn’t even realize I had, here are 32 things I’m thankful for today – in no particular order (for the most part) and without the murmurer’s qualifications (that’s the hard part for me!). I’m thankful for:

1. God’s faithfulness to me – He’s just always been there for me whenever I turn to Him!

2. God’s forgiveness – He never drags up the past to make me feel bad about it.

3. God’s patience with me – Case in point is how long it took me to realize I even had a problem with gratitude!

4. God’s provision – I’ve never gone a day in my life without at least one meal, except by choice.

5. A place to call home – I have a fully and beautifully furnished apartment that I couldn’t have afforded to furnish as such.

6. My landfolk – They go beyond the call of duty and look out for my wellbeing.

7. A wardrobe full of clothes – Which means I have more clothes than I need.

8. My seminary education – which is teaching me more than the course material.

9. Two student jobs – without which I could not meet my expenses.

10. Awesome co-workers – Going into work is never an unpleasant experience.

11. Bosses who pray with me- they care about my spiritual welfare too!

12. Friends who pray for me – Some days, I know I’m surviving on their prayers.

13. Friends who encourage me- and remind you to focus on Christ.

14. The Bible.

15. Friends who give me the opportunity to love selflessly.

16. My fiancé – He’s an unexpected blessing in so many ways (just don’t want him to dominate this list, haha. I’ll elaborate in my personal journal on this one!).

17. Family.

18. Victory over sin – God has given me so many victories during the lifespan of our relationship! Praise His name!

19. Warmer weather! – It means I can start my outdoor running now!

20. My church family – They have come through for me so many times over the past two years

21. Music – It’s just therapeutic, you know.

22. Nature – It’s therapeutic too!

23. Sleep – Restful sleep. No nightmares. Just sweet, sweet sleep. That’s therapeutic too, hehe.

24. My plants – that have survived with less sunshine than optimal in my basement apartment.

25. Controversy – It teaches me to be firm to principle.

26. Good health

27. A fast metabolism – I know it won’t always be like this so I’m thankful for it now

28. Another year of life

29. A car

30. Technology – that allows me stay in touch with my family who are so far away

31. Opportunities for ministry – God has given me the privilege to testify of His goodness before thousands

32. The Sabbath

not so happy Hawai’i

Hawai’i was beautiful!

Sunshine.

Warm ocean.

Fun with family.

It was the almost perfect vacation!

Just one thing marred my experience.

No, it wasn’t the reality of having to come back to the Polar Vortex ravaging our Pure Michigan.
Nor was it the faint recollection of all the schoolwork I was not getting done while on vacation.

Since we would be going to Hawai’i for Jo and Johnny’s wedding,, Arch thought it’d be a great idea to watch a documentary related to the islands. So we watched Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau. It was a captivating watch and Eddie’s story is inspiring. But by the end of the documentary, I no longer wanted to go to Hawai’i.

A thread running through Eddie’s story, as told in this documentary, is the loss of and fight to maintain a sense identity for the Hawai’ian people. Eddie dies in an effort to save the lives of his crew mates on the Hokulea, a ship symbolic of native Hawai’ian heritage. His career as a surfer is portrayed as part of the Hawai’ian’s attempt to assert their identity. In short, the native Hawai’ian is depicted as a disenfranchised people whose land and culture is still being exploited by the West.

This perspective of the islands has haunted me since, and hung as an unwanted skeleton in the closet of my consciousness. Everywhere I went on Big Island or Oahu, my eyes were open to spot the natives. I wanted to see how they live…where they live…if they’re really unhappy or if the Western domination has settled in for them.

But I couldn’t find them (except as the person driving my boat through the hotel and resort in Kona, or the server at that dingy Zippys on the outskirts of Honolulu). Ok, so if you take into consideration, the parenthetical statement, I did see some natives. But I wanted to see them enjoying the things tourists come to the island for…patronizing their own resorts and beaches.

My problem was that I placed myself in their shoes. If Hawai’i were Zimbabwe…and you only ever saw non-Zimbabweans at the Victoria Falls or the Zimbabwe Ruins or Chimanimani…There was a time when a native-ancestry Zimbabwean was a rare sight as a patron at our national treasures. But that was during colonialism!

Hawai’i?

Our tour guide through the Big Island (and Archie’s uncle by marriage) is part native, so I did get to hear a bit of the native perspective. For one thing, he told me of an island designated  for the preservation of Hawai’ian culture – Ni’ihau. He said you had to prove native Hawai’ian ancestry to live there with no power lines, no paved roads, no plumbing etc. Something  about Ni’ihau made me feel a bit better. But only a bit.

I’m not concerned with rejecting Westernization in whatever form at any cost. No. It’s about the freedom to govern one-self that bugged me about the whole situation with Hawai’i. Freedom is the value I feared has been denied the native Hawai’ians.

With their freedom, they may still have chosen to become the 50th state. They may have chosen to turn their islands into one big tourist resort. And perhaps they would have decided to put themselves and their culture on display as a means of making money. But it would be their choice!

There’s nothing I can do about it, I suppose. But that won’t stop it from bothering me. And I want it to bother me. I want to be bothered by exploitation and injustice anywhere I see it. Then, wherever God grants me opportunity, I want to be on the side that brings an end to it.

Give Up The Bible

Give up the Bible! shall we make a sacrifice like this?
Shall we forsake our earthly stay, our guide to heavenly bliss?
And pluck from life’s bewildering maze, where we but wanderers are,
The light that on our pathway shines – a never-fading star?

Give up the Bible! must we yield to erring man the right
To place himself between our gaze and Heaven’s eternal light?
To wrest from us the gift of God, our blessing and our guide,
For which the just in every age have nobly bled and died?

Give up the Bible! Hark! there comes a voice from every age,
And thunder tones are breaking now from peasant and from sage:
They bid us bind it to our hearts, and keep it as they kept,
E’en though the storms be fiercer now than those which round them swept.

Give up the Bible! can we yield our staff of pilgrimage –
The truths that in God’s living light beam on its every page –
The records of a Savior’s death – the lessons which he gave –
The only light that points the way to life beyond the grave –

Give up the Bible! force from us what other right ye may,
Bring desolation on our homes, and take the loved away –
Bring wo for joy – rend tender ties – and scatter death abroad,
But leave us in our wretchedness the sacred word of God!

Give up the Bible! God forbid that we should recreant prove
To all the sterling deeds of those whose memory we love.
They kept the Bible, and shall we be faithless to our trust,
And give our heritage away upon our fathers’ dust?

Give up the Bible! NO! and now we send abroad our cry;
The Bible! by its truths we live, and for them we will die!
We hold it now, and we would tread the paths the just have trod,
Nor sacrifice, to man and Earth, the oracles of God!

by A.D.F. Randolph
The American Protestant Magazine Vol. 1.1, June 1845, p28

Why It Isn’t On Facebook

Most people who have found out from me that I’m in a relationship, respond first with incredulity. haha. Yes, they laugh. Then they notice my straight face and double back, “wait…you’re serious?”

Apparently part of why it’s so unbelievable is because they didn’t see it on Facebook! And to be sure, once they’re in the loop about the fact, they’re on Facebook trying to figure out how they missed it.

It’s not the most obvious thing on Facebook because when we begun our courtship, we decided against a status change. I’m pretty sure neither of us could have articulated it quite as such at the time, but here are 5 reasons why we kept it off Facebook:

1. Authenticity: Eliminate the need to keep up appearances so we could be real and seriously tackle the issues that would make for a solid relationship

2. Community: Avoid the temptation of a false sense of community and be intentional about creating a substantial community that would keep us accountable in our relationship

3. Freedom: Maintain the sense of freedom to explore our compatibility with limited fall-out if it came to that – not that either of us went into it planning on a break-up, but neither were we married already

4. Family: We wanted to be able to tell close family and friends ourselves as opportunities afforded

5. Simplicity: This one reason was probably clearest for us both – keeping it off Facebook just simplified an already formidable process of preparation for a possible life together.

So it never was a secret that we were in a relationship, and it isn’t a secret that we’re engaged now! (I’m so excited I’d like to shout it from a roof-top – he’s so wonderful to me!) But, I think we’ll keep things as they are for now 🙂

You try preaching that!

I’ve been blog-delinquent this semester. But oh, how I’ve missed blogging! And now I have a backlog of ideas I’ve been meaning to write on. So…where to start?
My devotions. That’s always a good place to start.

I’ve been reading about Jeremiah. That guy had a depressing job! We love to quote Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” right. But I’m not sure many of us would have received it in the context he was saying it.

The Israelites had been taken into captivity and Jeremiah was telling them to get as comfortable as possible as captives because they were going to be there for the long haul. Here they were in an undesirable situation (which they brought upon themselves) and God’s message to them was, freedom is not coming tomorrow!

See, I’ve gotten myself into a mess a few times (ok, maybe more than a few), and when I come to myself and turn to God, He has sometimes shown mercy and minimized the consequences of my foolishness. And let’s be honest, here: while you’re in the process of doing something you know is wrong, and you’re planning to repent afterwards, you’re (at least secretly) hoping that God will remove all consequences of your misdeeds, right. Of course, right.
In fact, most times, when we decide to sin, I mean knowing that what we’re doing is wrong but doing it anyway, and trusting that God will forgive us, we’re also hoping that we won’t have to suffer the consequences for our wrong actions.

But the thing is, there are consequences! We forget that God is able to forgive sin and remove it’s consequential death not because He changes the way the universe works, but because He assumes the penalty for my sin in my behalf. The wages of sin is death, is always death, and is still death when I am forgiven. But the gift of God is that He became sin, who knew no sin, and died an ignominious death on the cross, so that we might become His righteousness and inherit eternal life.

As a result of Israel’s stubborn disobedience, they were to be captives for 70 years, after which, God would restore them. But they were to accept the consequences of their actions and trust God through the process, knowing that even in this, He was working for their good.

You try delivering that message!

While we want to be released from our present painful circumstance, God wants to save us from the internal corruption of sin. Sometimes that means leaving us right where we are, in the middle of discomfort, hurt, strife… and using those negatives to work a positive transformation of heart.

But you try preaching that.

Maybe you won’t get off that sick bed. Maybe you won’t get that A. Maybe your boss will actually fire you after all. Maybe you won’t meet Mr. or Ms. Right. Maybe you won’t get accepted into your dream school.

You try telling a Christian that God might not give you what you want right now. And then quote them a Jeremiah 29:11!

Jeremiah had a tough job!

He had a tough job, but he did it anyhow! And that’s what’s really stuck out to me in my devotions over the past couple of days. He performed, faithfully, the assignment God gave him. He didn’t always want to do it, but he did it anyway. It’s a solemn challenge:

“Now is the time for God’s people to show themselves true to principle. When the religion of Christ is most held in contempt, when His law is most despised, then should our zeal be the warmest and our courage and firmness the most unflinching. To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few—this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason. The nation will be on the side of the great rebel leader.” 5T 136.2

Walking and Leaping!

How do you follow up a testimony where 3,000 souls are added to the church in a day? Well, Luke goes on to tell us about Peter and John’s encounter with a lame man at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful.

This man had never walked a day in his life! No, not even with a crutch! From birth, he’d been this way. Never known anything different.

Apparently, he hadn’t learnt a useful trade either. There are some pretty amazing people out there who were born into this world physically disadvantaged, but seem to be rising above the odds: Nick Vujicic, Jen Bricker, Tisha Shelton and Richie Parker, just to name a few! But the lame man in Acts 3 was a beggar.

No-one would blame him – it totally made sense that his life would turn out as such. Besides, being lame was probably a greater plight back then than it is now. Today, you drive to work to sit all day! And with technological advances, if it’s a mechanized activity, it can be adapted for anyone’s use! But not so back then.

Still, it strikes me, that all this man had ever known, was to depend on others for his sustenance.

So there he was at his usual spot, begging for alms, when Peter and John make him a scary offer; in essence they say “we’re not going to give you a fish, we’re going to teach you how to fish…”

That’s good news! If you’re into fishing. But what if all you want to do is eat the fish and you don’t care much for the process of acquiring the fish? The ability to walk means the elimination of your excuse not to work! Do you really want to walk?

Any kind of change can be scary! And what Peter and John proposed to do would mean a complete overhaul of this man’s reality! Everyone knew him as the guy who sat at the Beautiful gate and begged – his very identity was going to change.

Is it possible that God offers us a complete overhaul but we reject it because we’re so used to being the lame person at the Beautiful gate? Maybe He wants to give us new abilities but we’d rather remain dependent on Him or others to supply our lack. Don’t get me wrong, we’re ultimately always dependent on God (every breath we take is a testimony to that). It is also part of God’s plan that we exercise our God-given abilities to supply our own and the needs of others, recognizing that our very ability to do so is dependent on Him.

Would I go walking and leaping and praising God into the temple if I’d just been given the responsibility of working for my own sustenance now? Do I refuse to grow in my Christian experience because I’d rather remain the beggar?

This man who used to sit a the Beautiful gate demonstrated courage when he accepted the gift offered to him that day. And maybe trust that the same Jesus in whose name he was given the power to walk, would teach him how to walk properly.

girls’ school…women’s college…who cares?

Yes, I was indoctrinated while at Wellesley that ours was not a girls’ school. It was a women’s college! But who cares, right?

Ya, It’s pretty much communicating the same message of an academic institution for females; but it does so in a diminutive manner!

Uha, I understand that you don’t mean to communicate disrespect, but if that’s the message that is coming across and there are more amicable ways of communicating then why not modify your language?

No, no, this is not just about being politically correct! If you modified your language just to appease me, that would be political correctness. But, if you realize that words carry meaning and it is your desire to more closely match your true feeling to your speech, then it’s not mere politics.

It’s easy to dismiss the importance of words when the words aren’t hurting you. But be a Christian, have a care, and try to use words that will build people up and break down walls and not the opposite.

To be sure, I am guilty of using words unwisely as well. But it’s not something I’m proud of, nor is it something I’d promote. It’s something to overcome, to grow in, and daily to be more likely to say something helpful and not hurtful.

So, yes, my friend who will probably never read this post, who cares? I wish you would.