by William G. Johnsson — Sunday afternoon, delegates to the 2018 Annual Council cast their votes on the proposal to discipline “non-compliant” units of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Despite all the words in the proposal and speeches on the floor, the real target was the ordination of women ministers, with the Pacific Union and Columbia Union in the crosshairs for punitive action. The General Conference was and remains determined to bring these two unions to heel. Look at the trajectory of the past three Annual Councils: 2016: The GC introduced a proposal focused on punishing non-compliant unions. It failed to [...]
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by Bert Williams — “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” –Garth Brooks I know people who believe they have routine, intimate encounters with God. I am not referring to a rewarding devotional life. They believe God makes personal contact with them in a decisive, unmistakable—even audible or physical—way. I do believe such experiences exist, but to be honest, in my 66 years I can identify only two such events in my own life. For me, they are very rare. One afternoon I was driving near Port Hardy, British Columbia, where I pastored thelocal Adventist church. I was [...]
by Ray Tetz — The first Bible I remember belonging to me personally was not too big, but certainly not small—regular “book size.” Its cover was blue leatherette and zippered with a little cross on the zipper pull, so you always knew if your Bible was open or closed. There were rules for this Bible. It was important, for instance, to keep it zippered shut when you weren’t reading it. And also to make sure there was never anything stacked on top of it. Never. Anything. Ever. I’m sure the words“Holy Bible” were etched on the cover,which also featured a picture [...]
E. Preston Smith — In Revelation 7:9, John sees a great multitude, which no man could number—of all nations, tongues, and people—standing before the throne of God and the Lamb, clothed with white robes. John explains in verse 14 that these people had washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. When did the redeemed receive their white robes? Did they wait until the second coming of Jesus? No. These white robes were given to them by faith when they were converted and gave their hearts to Jesus, and so do we receive the robe at conversion. Ellen G. White tells [...]
Becky De Oliveira — For about a year and a half, before our city asked us to suspend operations in favor of a new coordinated entry system, my two boys and I ran a once-a-week homeless shelter in the basement of our church. When I say “ran” I mean primarily that we prepared food for our guests, fed them, made friendly conversation with them, and then waved goodbye before lights out. A local charity provided staff (also homeless people) for check-ins and to limit bad behavior, such as smoking in the bathrooms and fighting. They also brought fresh blankets to spread [...]
Mark Witas — One of the most disturbing experiences of my 33 years working for the church happened several years ago. I received a phone call from a person who, without emotion, told me that her father was about to pass away and that he was a church member of mine. I didn’t recognize the name so I asked, “Do I know him?” “No, he’s not been in church since he was in his twenties. He thinks the whole place is filled with hypocrites.” I didn’t quite know how to respond to that. So I asked, “Would he like a visit?” [...]
Ray Tetz — The summer that I turned 10, my grandpa decided I needed a pocketknife. There it was—a folding knife with a brownish handle and a shiny bolster holding it together and stamped with the word “BARLOW.” The knife had two blades—one about three inches long and rather fat and large, and the other quite a bit shorter and thinner. Grandpa explained that the big blade was for cutting things like the twine on a bale of hay, or a piece of rubber out of an old tire tube, or maybe for whittling down a stick to the right [...]
Ricardo Graham — Recently, while driving down a rural road, I saw a herd of sheep. One of them, apparently a mother, was grazing near the fence adjacent to the road. A little lamb followed closely behind her, nibbling the vegetation near its feet. It struck me as a serendipitous illustration of what I am supposed to be doing—following the Lamb, Jesus Christ. As I continued my drive, my mind began an impromptu self-evaluation of my spiritual walk, with several questions. How closely am I walking in the footsteps of Jesus? Am I walking close behind Him, following His example, [...]
Ginger Ketting-Weller — “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,for in the day that you eat of it youshall surely die’” (Genesis 2:16-17, NKJV; emphasis supplied). “’But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase’” (Daniel 12:4, NKJV; emphasis supplied). These days we are seeing ever more anxious children. Watch the tears of the elementary kids, even as they get older. See how the junior [...]
Becky De Oliveira — As I descended from the summit of Longs Peak—one of Colorado’s famed mountains higher than14,000 feet—in the fall of 2015, I passed a young woman and an older man at the start of a steep section of the climb known as The Trough, a corridor filled with large rocks, granite slabs, and loose scree. The pair caught my attention because the young woman was crawling on her hands and knees, sobbing uncontrollably. She occasionally summoned up what little energy she appeared to have in order to scream short things like, “I can’t!” When her companion suggested [...]