Saturday, March 15, 2008

Latter Rain is Falling

Listen, the Latter Rain is falling.
Run out into the Spirit Rain as it pours on you.
Let it fill your mind and cleanse you of all impurities.

Holy Spirit, beautify my soul with the colors of grace.
Color my mind with the beauty of your love.

Wash me gently at first.
Then let the downpour begin.
Don’t let your Holy Rain stop until I’m all clean.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

10 Days of Praying for the Latter Rain

5:00 a.m. prayer cycle at Fort Lauderdale Spanish Adventist Church begins Thursday, May 6

Raw impressions:

Day one Thursday: dark 4:30 a.m. rising, but full of mystical prayer. Pastor announces, without spelling it out, that we'd be praying for our (gay) neighbors that surround the church and who wish we were not in their upscale neighborhood. If only to pray that God will bless them and that they know that we mean them well and not harm, it will be worth praying for ten days, the pastor announces. At work I fight sleepiness by downing a rare two cups of coffee to not fall asleep at the manager's meeting and when dealing with clients. I'm more talkative and engaging than my usual reserve. I feel mild guilt that I have to resort to stimulants to compensate for the unfamiliar 4:30 a.m. rising. At night I witness to Peter, a non-believer, about my 5:00 a.m. prayer meeting and he seems glad for me in spite of his lack of faith.

Day two: too groggy to get up. I don't want to pray now and have to drink coffee later to ward off sleepiness at work. My day goes better than the day before as I get seven hours of sleep.

Day three Sabbath: Ancient sanctuary service as model for our approach to God in prayer. Incense as symbol of rising prayers. Mild emotion as sign of the Holy Spirit. Unconfessed sins an obstacle to revival. Alone in front of church at 5:00 a.m. No one called me to tell me they were meeting at 7:00 am, instead.

Day four Sunday: more familiar songs and requests for healing and blessing

Day five Monday: meditation announced. Breakfast with brethren each day after prayer service. Oatmeal, bread and fruit. Reminds me of early Christians meeting to break bread and pray.

Day six Tuesday: Hilda's emotional imagining of the Passion. Similar in style to some Pentecostal services I had attended as a young boy. Pastor had warned the day before that some would be upset by style of her vivid verbal re-experiencing of the Passion. I was spooked when I heard shuffling feet as everyone prayed and listened to the vivid account of the passion. I almost thought something supernatural might be happening, that Christ himself had appeared among us and was walking unseen as we prayed. I was too concerned to look behind me to see who might be shuffling across the floor as we all prayed and listened so intensely. At night I witness to my support group of mostly secular folk and am courteously received except for one man who seems upset that I chose to speak of telling my problems to God instead of a real-live person.

Day seven Wednesday: concerned about my health due to lack of sleep so I sleep in (evening prayer meeting about reform and revival supplements missed 5:00 a.m. prayer meeting). Elderly sister asked me if I thought we'd receive the latter rain soon. I respond that I believe Christ will return in my lifetime. Young mother hands me $50 dollar bill saying God impressed her to give it to me to help out my nephew in need of $350.

Day eight Thursday: Abraham and Isaac as models of true faith. Sister in front of me turns to me after opening song and tells me that I have a lovely singing voice. I thank her for her kind words. I feel yet again that I should perhaps try to sing special music some Sabbath morning or join the church choir as others have often told me to do. One cup of coffee just in case lack of sleep overcomes me again. Don't feel major guilt from the use of coffee.

Day nine Friday: Anointing & healing and prayer & bible readings by others. Testimonies were heard. I shared how my prayer request had been answered the day before regarding my uncooperative employees who were now on my side because we had a common enemy: anti-technology administrators. Several people went to the anointing corner next to the church piano were two female elders and the pastor prayed and anointed with oil those in need of prayer or healing. As I waited my turn, the reading of Psalms by the congregation seemed like chanting. My prayer was that God would prepare me for what for me would be my first anointing. All three prayed for me and then it was my chance to pray. My voice cracked as I uttered my last sentence: Oh that God would use me to win many souls for him.

Day ten Sabbath's end: The prayer cycle would not end. It would continue every Sabbath morning at 7:00 am. The Latter Rain is falling. We never imagined it would be like this.

I'll amplify as memories come back to be about elements of each day.

Evolving Adventism

Let's face it brethren, Progressive Adventism is neither truly progressive, nor is it truly Adventist.

If you want truly progressive thought, intellectual journals are the place to go.

If you want truly Adventist thought, traditional Adventist writers or publications are the place to go.

However, if you want to appeal to the one million per year converts that are flooding into the Adventist church, Million Members, then perhaps the term Adventist can be widened to include more than just what has gone before, and what, God forbid, may disappear just as mysteriously as it began unless it evolves as any living organism must do to stay alive.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

One Million Members Added to Adventist Church Yearly

Through non-human means, the amount of new members is reaching incredible heights. Even though the human has to cooperate with the divine, nevertheless, some new principle is at work in the mission camps and older traditional sites of Adventism.

With the increase in numbers come new challenges, as in some locations, Adventists are no longer in the minority. Efforts are being made to counteract any dangerous influence on the part of political magistrates who now control most of the courts in some lands.

Disclaimer: The above is an example of anticipatory journalism. It expresses the desired outcome of a near-future event on the part of the writer. It is intended in the best possible way. If such outcome does not materialize, time then becomes important as to determine the eventual realization of the desired reality.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Eternal Sabbath

Lord God,

Oh that I would keep your Holy Sabbath every day of the week,

Oh that I would enjoy the blessings of the Sabbath not just one day a week, but daily.

Let me enjoy the eternal Sabbath day that neither begins or ends.

It simply is.

Like you, Lord, it has no beginning or end.

It is a timeless reality.

Let me experience the timelessness of the Sabbath every day of my life.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Gays in a Sexless Heaven

Perhaps a solution to gays and lesbians in the church might be some variation on the following idea:

This approach would benefit the mainstream church and its gay-lesbian-transgender members/visitors.

This approach is for spiritual minded folk who seriously love Christ and who want to maintain a love relationship with him.

More important than the actual sex is the companionship that any relationship provides.

Heterosexuals that have been married for years sometimes have sex out of courtesy and not because they are inflamed with passion for each other.

The proposal: in the same way that heterosexuals who are unmarried cannot have sex but can embrace and provide companionship for each other, and with great restraint might even live close to each other or in the same building or suite, gay-lesbians-transgender members/visitors of the Adventist church should be accorded the same privilege.

Yes sex is important in human life, but companionship and moral support for each other is even more important.

Of course, some mainstream members might question whether gay couples could live together or near each other without the temptation to "go all the way" but that can also be said for unmarried heterosexual members. (Some conservative members who divorced, and not because of adultery, might find someone they love, but feel in their conscience that they should never remarry, but must remain celibate all their life. They would be in the same sexless situation that celibate, but committed gay/lesbian/transgender couples would be.)

Through prayer and bible study and a loving support community, it is certainly possible to live with the one you love or close to that person, and still enjoy a celibate life. There are heterosexual couples that have greater pleasure in sharing a meal together or taking in a museum exhibit regularly than the actual pursuit of the perfect orgasm and it's aftermath. Some put up with less-than-ideal sex, in order to enjoy the intimacy after all the mechanics of sex have taken its biological course.

I often wonder about homosexual couples in heaven. They, presumably, like other "angelic" beings will live and love each other without resorting to the sexual act.

Some will find problems with this approach, perhaps thinking it impractical. Perhaps others will find it a stepping stone to greater solutions for gay/lesbian/transgender folk, as well as unmarried heterosexual couples in the Adventist-Christian community.

God bless all his children, heterosexual, gay, lesbian, transgender.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Holy Spirit Manifestation at Midnight

Last night out of nowhere I found myself in what seemed like a prayer meeting in an Adventist church. When it was my turn to give my testimony I spoke spontaneously. I had only one thing on my mind and that was to quote from Ezekiel about how God will give us a heart of flesh in place of our heart of stone. God would write his laws upon our hearts and move us, yes move us, to obey his commandments and comply with his decrees.

I mentioned to those present that a friend from college had once said that unless God honors his covenant promises to change us into his likeness, then the promise just quoted would prove invalid. Only God can do what he says he would do for us and to us. We are powerless to do that for ourselves.

I then mentioned to the astonishment of all there, that until God wrote those laws on our hearts and caused us to obey his commands, it made little difference whether we of our own effort and power, complied with those commands. We cannot produce genuine righteousness of our own. Any we might try to produce so as to make true the words of the promise would be tainted with selfishness and humanity.

I was concerned what further reaction my words would cause upon the brethren present so I left the building as suddenly as I had entered it.

Later on, I could only wonder how I had been able to stand up and look all those folk in the eye and say such bold things. Nevertheless, it warmed my heart that someone had had enough conviction and resolve to say that in front of a group of Adventist believers.

Secular Sabbath

The Secular Sabbath article, in the New York Times surprised me. I had designed a web page outlining the concept of Futurism of the 8th-Day three years ago. Although it does not use the words "secular sabbath" it outlines just that very concept. In it I define the secular sabbath as

  • Eighth-Day Futurism is embodied in an abstract day of meditation, contemplation, acts of charity, positive action and beauty. This Eighth day can occur during any of the days of the week and, if a full 24-hour period is not available, should consist of at least three or six or nine hours of your day.
In a similar vein, I wrote a blog post containing the words "secular sabbath" dated December 27, 2006. Technically, however, it was about a spiritual sabbath, but with some flexibility as to when the Sabbath started and ended, or continued for those with time, discipline or need for it to do so.

In my post I have a link connecting readers to A Never-Ending Perfect Day with a publish date of July 01, 2006. Even though the leeway I mention is not as strict as the 24-hour secular sabbath the New York Times writer spells out, I'm surprised about the concept of a secular sabbath being tossed around on blogs.

I continue to practice the eternal sabbath, as I now refer to it in my devotions, to make up for the bi-monthly demand of my employers for me to work on the Sabbath. When I didn't have to work every other Sabbath, I didn't appreciate it as much. Now I celebrate the Sabbath at sundown on Fridays, continue it Saturday morning before work, continue it during my breaks during my work day, pick it up again after I leave work on Saturday night at 6 pm and sometimes finally say my goodbyes to the Sabbath experience when the sun rises on Sunday morning. Occasionally I enjoy the beauty of the Sabbath rest on a midnight walk with my golden retriever any day of the week and thank God for the eternal rest that awaits me in the next world.

It's nice to note that others enjoy and need a conceptual sabbath, as well. I wonder where the idea originated for non-religious folk to come up with a 24-hour break from secular demands.

God bless all Sabbath keepers in all their varieties. May he bless those that keep the strict 7th-Day Sabbath, those that keep the conceptual Sabbath (the 8th-Day Sabbath), and those that keep the secular sabbath. A sabbath is still a sabbath no matter what you call it. Some Sabbaths are more fulfilling than others. In the end, they give the rest and richness humans are seeking. God bless all our sabbath days.