Friday, March 27, 2009

"Progressive Adventism" Blog (by Julius Nam) has Ended

The following lengthy quote was excerpted from the final post which can be found at Progressive Adventism Blog. I am quoting it here because Julius Nam's web ministry meant a lot to me especially when his blog first appeared. I always assumed his blog was going to exist until Christ came or until something better came along. Perhaps something better has come along.

Thank you, brother Nam for the time and all the work that went into what will always be in my fondest memories. May God bless you and may we meet some day when blogging is no longer necessary.

"I [Julius Nam] continue to envision our [Adventist] community:

as one of doers of God's love and compassion, and transformers of lives, communities and societies toward justice and peace

as one that affirms the presence and reality of God in diverse and plural expressions of humanity, even as we affirm the Oneness and Ultimacy of Truth in God, in Jesus

as one that takes Scripture very, very seriously and obeys its high call for sanctified and sanctifying living, even as we disagree on some of its specific applications,

as one that affirms the visionary, prophetic ministry of Ellen White and the amazing gift she has been to us, even as we disagree on the continuing utility of her specific statements and teachings,

as one that is humble, confessing our fallenness and inadequacies, depending fervently and radically on God

One note about the issue of sexual/gender identity equality:

I continue to believe and affirm the need for deeper study and dialogue in the Adventist church on the question of sexual identity. Clearly, the issue of sexual identity is not at the heart of the Gospel, but ... the issue of justice is. And I'm convicted that God's high call for righteousness includes in our time to recognize the full humanity, dignity, and equality of bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgendered children of God for the way God made them--both in society and in our church community.

Yet, I recognize that the prevailing understanding of justice in Adventism differs widely.

So, I'm committed to working through these issues with prayer, communal study of Scripture, patience, and most of all, compassion for and trust in each other who make up the Body of Christ. It may indeed be that I am completely wrong on this and many other matters. But that is why it's all the more important for me to remain committed to a process of learning and dialogue--to be held accountable by my community--all the while asking God for wisdom, patience and humility.

I seek your prayers as I seek to discern for myself what it means to be courageous, and not stubborn, what it means to be patient, and not cowardly, what it means to defer, and not avoid, what it means to obey, and not merely comply, what it means to be prophetic, and not be narcissistic, what it means to follow Christ."

May each of us follow Christ as the Holy Spirit leads us.

Jacob's Time of Trouble Happens in Your Mind

Before the sun set today I realized that during the past four years, especially this last year, I have been experiencing the long-awaited Jacob's time of trouble. Most of it is occurring in my mind. Some events, of course, happen around me or to me personally or to my loved ones.

This special time of testing, of doubt and of soon-to-arrive victory happens in my quiet moments. The Shaking has been trying to shake me loose, but I hang on by the power of God. The Latter Rain of the Holy Spirit has been falling since last spring.

Jesus' coming is only years away.

Jesus' coming is only months away.

Jesus' coming is only days away.

I believe Jesus Christ is coming back within my lifetime to take me with him. He's coming back to take my loved ones and all who believe in his name with him, as well.

The Second Coming of Christ is practically here. The Waiting is almost over.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Challenges of Righteousness by Faith

What challenges you might ask? Righteousness by Faith (Justification by Faith) can only be thought of as a good thing. Why speak of any challenges?

Basically we are saved by faith through grace and not of ourselves lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8) . To balance this and not slide into so-called "cheap grace", some bring up James' advice about grace without works being dead. (James 2:17)

Morris Venden tells us that the only two (or four) activities we can engage in that open the way for righteousness by faith to kick in are:

  1. Spending time at the feet of Christ through bible study and prayer
  2. Working with Christ through service for others and sharing our faith

Some might feel that the actual time and effort invested in all of these may seem like works themselves. It is important to focus on the fact that prayer and bible study are means to an end. The end is a relationship with Jesus Christ who saves us by his grace.

The service and sharing of our faith are the results of a genuine relationship with Christ. This brings us to the challenges I have alluded to before.

If you spend time in prayer and bible study, but don't share your faith, are you then not saved? Some have suggested that something is wrong in your faith experience if you only nourish yourself, but don't nourish others. While it is relatively easier to sit down with your bible or kneel in prayer at the beginning of each day, going about the sharing of your faith is not as effortless. You have to find the people to share your faith with. You have to have something to say to them that is appropriate so you don't turn them away by any heavy-handed approaches. You have to follow up, give them bible studies, invite them to your church or to evangelistic meetings. It gets more and more complicated.

Tending to the needs of others can be as difficult, but perhaps easier than sharing your faith. You can, for example, contribute to mission fields, charities, etc., and by your means help those in need. If you have more time than money, you could volunteer your time and help out in soup kitchens, or similar groups that benefit those in need.

I would say that just as it is difficult to actually find time for Christ for prayer and bible study, but essential, so it is equally difficult (perhaps even harder) to share your faith with those in need of the good news of salvation.

All of these activities, both the faith-related ones (prayer and bible study) and the works-related ones (service to others and sharing your faith) are impossible for the natural man or woman. These experiences or activities are gifts of the Spirit if they are the genuine article.

Therefore, the only thing you can do is ask God to give you the free gift of his Holy Spirit and he will move you to will (choose) and to do of his own good pleasure (Luke 11:13 and Ezekiel 36:26,27).

Ask for the Spirit of Christ, wait for him to transform and motivate you to seek the relationship with Christ. Look for the change in your life as you read your bible daily and kneel in prayer for divine blessing. Look also for the spontaneous and supernatural change in your life that leads you, out of gratitude, to help those in need and to share your faith with others as the Spirit leads you.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Remember the Future

The future wasn't supposed to be like this. There was supposed to have been only one great depression. Technology was supposed to have made it easier for humanity to pursue the finer things of life: research, space exploration, learning, altruism, and an endless stream of marvelous approaches to life.

There are, of course, different visions of the future. Not all Sci-Fi writers or futurists painted a golden futuristic age. There are enough possible dystopias to go around as far as those who like imagining negative visions of the future. The dismal world imagined in the Matrix film series is only one example of the worst possible vision for humankind. Might not the current obsession with experiencing reality via social network sites, as well as virtual reality programs such as Second Life, not be as close an attempt to live in the alternate reality of the world-within-a-world that is force fed into the minds of the sleeping masses of humanity that the Matrix films present?

Hopefully, things will return to normal in a year or two--or ten. If things continue the way they are now, and we somehow grow to accept that the future turned out quite differently than we imagined it would be, then how nostalgically we will long for the imperfect past of the 1960s or 1990s and their relatively golden prosperity.

Some religious individuals are gleefully celebrating that things are getting worse. They believe that the final prophecies are coming true and that a new order of things will be ushered in, after the grim realities that are just beginning to come to pass take their expected course. They believe that after the darkness seems to be gaining the upper hand, then the light of the new kingdom will make any momentary darkness worthwhile.

I, for one, have never been able to rejoice when bad things take place, no matter what good might come of it. I hope and pray that we can all continue living our lives of progress, plenty and possibility. In the mean time, I will keep my eyes fixed on the being that engineered all of reality, good or not-so-good. In the final analysis, whatever happens next year or next century is what he allows.

In the meantime, enjoy every breath, every ray of sunshine, every fragrant flower. These are gifts in good times and bad ones that God has blessed us with.