Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mysteries of God Revealed: Christ Lives in His Word

What if the words of the bible are not just mere words. What if the words actually contain the transcendent presence and power of Christ? Of course, not everyone experiences this; it has to be conferred upon you before the real power of the hidden Christ manifests itself.

Did Christ not say ". . . the words I have spoken to you are Spirit [or spirit] and they are life" John 6:63 (NIV)? He also said "for my flesh [word] is real food and my blood is real drink" John 6:55 (NIV)

It is astounding that you can experience God himself as you eat and drink the spiritual liquid and food found in his Word. How will you know you are really tapping into something supernatural? When you long to sit at the master's feet because you know how good the spiritual meal was the day before, you know you are not just reading words and nothing more. You are becoming one with Christ. It is his doing. It is certainly not yours.

One approach to lead you to experience this for yourself is to ask God to grant you the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is given: "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Luke 11:13 (NIV). The next step is to apply the words of the gospel in the present tense. The above verse about spirit and life can be appropriated into your inner self by stating "Christ's words are spirit and they are life to me. In Jesus' name." You may very well repeat these words slowly and meditate on them as long as you feel a need. If you are not able to make the connection right away. Keep on trying. Perhaps you might want to move to the next or previous text in the gospel account.

My favorite chapters in the gospels are John 14-17. I read the chapters straight through in one sitting. Next I start with John 14:1 which says " Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me [Christ]." I then make this text real to me by saying to myself--silently or audibly--"I am not letting my heart be troubled. I am trusting in God; I am also trusting in Christ. In Jesus' name." By focusing on these words I enter a dimension that takes me deeper into the God realm than I have ever been. When my 45 minutes of study and meditation come to an end I wish I had just begun.

I then kneel for 15 minutes and either refer to the verses I have been meditating on or make my requests for spiritual and material needs known to God. I sometimes ask, believe and thank God for the gift he has promised in his Word. At other times I simply state the promises in the present tense very much as I do with the texts I've been meditating on. I always end each request with "in Jesus' name" and not just at the end of the prayer session. At times I have my watch by my side so I don't get lost in the transcendent dimension and run out of time before I need to leave for work.

If you want to live in a timeless state of life and inner peace, I urge you to give this early morning spiritual exercise a try. It will alter your quality of life in ways that you can't begin to understand until it starts happening to you.

In closing I share a text that I have permanently recorded in my subconscious mind.

"Peace I [Christ] leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27 (NIV)

Fire in the Sky Outshines Sunlight

The tension in the world was unbearable. For months the three rogue nations had played their games threatening to test or detonate much of their nuclear arsenal. People of faith everywhere had started taking prayer and fasting seriously for once.

If the end of the world was days or weeks away I wanted to be on the roof with my laptop, taking pictures and short video feeds with the cellphone. Every day after work, what work could still be done in the mounting disorder that the world experienced every day, I took to the roof to document what I saw all around me. The forest smoldered in the distance as the end-of-life mobs set anything they could find that wasn't fireproof.

Last night all the lights went out for 21 minutes and I was able to see a star that shone with a different type of light. It was pulsating as nothing I'd ever seen. When the power came back on, there was too much light all around me on the roof to see the strange star anymore. The next night the lights went out again for 21 minutes and the star was visible again, but this time it was larger. How could anything in the sky that pulsates from so far away get larger 24 hours later?

This pattern continued night after night until one night, the sun came out at midnight. Except it wasn't the same sun we knew. It was three times the size. Even the darkest sunglasses made it difficult on the eyes. I took my videos and pictures and wrote what I saw and how I felt about it and published it for anyone who was still connecting to the worldwide wireless hub for continuity or information.

The next night when the sun came out again I noticed that the fires were burning brighter. The only difference was alarming. The fires that had been lit up till now were the familiar red, yellow and orange flames that one was used to. These fires were green, blue and violet. The fires were not being set from below, but from the very skies. The world we had known had ceased to exist with the arrival of the giant midnight sun.

The next night the most alarming sight took hold of me as I saw in the not too distant cemetery what seemed like huge birds darting up from the trees in the woods surrounding the park. The figures were so distant and multicolored that I wondered what type of bird could change its color so randomly as it flew higher and higher. I photographed the distant figures and posted them for anyone to see and try to comment on it, for I could not.

When the city was almost ablaze, I noticed that the couple on the roof next to mine that had come out every night, as I had done, were strangely hovering six feet above the roof. I knew the Chinese had experimented with personal hovercraft platforms, but how anyone could have a prototype in their possession in this country was beyond me. I photographed them and with only a word or two, I posted it on my blog.

After an hour or two I realized that the enterprising Chinese had sold more prototypes to eager Americans than I had thought possible. Here and there in the buildings surrounding me I saw other couples hovering six feet above the roof. It seemed as they were waiting for something. With instant phone detection, no doubt, they were able to contact each other and coordinate whatever they were planning as they hovered six feet above the roof of their high rise buildings.

In a flash the sky exploded in blinding light of emerald and blue shades of undulating waves of color and sound. I was about to send a quick note and publish it when I noticed that much to my surprise I was no longer standing on the roof. I too was hovering six feet above the roof. I didn't know what this could mean as I had no expensive Chinese hovercraft, for sure. In a panic I wrote my last message and clicked the orange "Publish" link in my blog program. Nothing else needed to be said. My last message went out to anyone who was still connected, as I dropped my laptop and looked at the One who was seated on the throne in the middle of the giant sun.

"Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the LORD Almighty. "Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall." Malachi 4:1,2 (NIV)

[Originally posted as The Second Coming, Wirelessly]

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Evolution of Adventist Christianity

Adventism keeps adapting and changing as any living entity must. Where will it be twenty years hence? Will Adventists one day be nothing more than Sabbath-keeping Methodists? Now there's nothing wrong with Methodists, especially since Adventist pioneers were Methodists themselves. Nevertheless, there has traditionally been something outstandingly different about Seventh-Day Adventists.

In addition to observing the seventh day, Saturday, as the day of holy rest and devotion, Adventists have traditionally held beliefs that most of Christendom does not possess. Some of these major beliefs are the following:
  1. The Investigative Judgement: We are all being judged according to whether we have accepted Jesus Christ as our savior and the life that results after experiencing such belief.

  2. The State of the Dead: The soul is not immortal. When we die we enter soul sleep and await the resurrection of the body at the Second Coming of Christ.

  3. The Sanctuary in Heaven: Christ entered the most holy place in the Heavenly Sanctuary (temple) and has been acting as intercessor in a heightened sense since 1844.

  4. The Seventh Day Sabbath: The fourth commandment requires that Saturday, not Sunday, be kept holy.

  5. The Spirit of Prophecy: Spirit-inspired writings did not end with the Book of Revelation. Adventists believe that the writings of Ellen G. White are inspired though are not above the Bible. The possibility of future manifestations of the prophetic gift are certainly possible, as well.
Again, Adventism is changing in different ways. For example: positive views about evolution by science professors in a few centers of higher learning though not at the official level; divorced persons are accepted as church members; in some progressive congregations gays, lesbians and transgender folk are welcomed though not necessarily accepted as members; some worship services feature Christian rock music; some congregations allow members to sport jewelry; some members attend movie theatres or see the same movies at home on their DVD players; some members don't endorse some of the distinctive doctrines mentioned above (investigative judgment, sanctuary in heaven, spirit of prophecy)

In spite of these changes in North America, Europe and Australia, Adventism continues to experience explosive growth in Brazil and the Philippines, just to name a couple, where church growth outpaces comparable groups like the Church of Latter Day Saints and Jehovah Witnesses (The Watchtower Society.) It has been suggested that in countries like Brazil and Philippines the dissemination of church publications, e.g., tracts, bible studies courses, Spirit of Prophecy books, etc., have contributed to the explosive growth in proselytes in countries in the developing world.

Like any vibrant and dynamic entity, there are developments toward or away from orthodoxy. Which strain of Adventism will triumph remains to be seen. Which would make more sense in the long run if it absorbed the other one?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Beatles Music Used In Adventist Worship

The music of the Beatles' I'll Follow the Sun is tamer than some of the praise music sung in my local conservative Adventist church. Believe me when I say that my congregation is conservative although I'm sure there are more conservative congregations if you go looking for them. Nevertheless, the influence that the Beatles' music has exerted, perhaps unconsciously, on the composers of a significant amount of the music heard in my church is intriguing.

I had not attended an Adventist church for almost 15 years until four and a half years ago. The music I encountered bewildered me. The instrumentation featured mild electric guitar licks or passages. Almost every song featured mild to mid-tempo drumming. In addition, chord changes and rhythms that are found in Beatles songs were in the songs I heard in church. The lyrics were very spiritual and theologically sound, but the music that accompanied those lyrics were reminiscent of pop radio of the late 60s and early 70s. I didn't at first care for these modern-sounding church songs. I preferred the songs in the hymnal. I don't know when it happened, but at some point during the past four and a half years, the Beatles-flavored praise songs started sounding pretty good to me. They were easier to recall as I lived my life than the staid church hymnal hymns I had grown up with. I was concerned.

I still sing church hymnal songs during my devotions and my quiet moments, but those moments are becoming less and less. The modern-sounding praise songs are becoming part of my daily devotional meditations.

I supposed if someone played a karaoke version of some of the Beatles less-known music and sang sacred lyrics to them, no one would even notice and some would applaud the tamer praise song they had just heard. One of the tamest songs in the Beatles catalog is I Will from the White Album aka The Beatles. Perhaps in time, if is not occurring already, songs like this one will be heard in Adventist worship with religious lyrics not sanctioned by the Beatles' estate. Since it would not be for profit, there is no way that Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono or Olivia Harrison could prevent such Adventist Beatles songs from having their day in Adventist worship.

Even the music--though not necessarily the lyrics--of the Beatles can be used to draw people closer to Jesus Christ. Imagine that.
For a traditional treatise on this subject by the late Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D. please see
"Christian Rock" Music In The SDA Church

Monday, September 07, 2009

Recipe for Living Well

So much time is spent in wondering whether one has eternal life or not. So many sleepless nights. So many efforts to read everything in sight regarding the path to heaven. So much concern about trying to enter through the narrow gate. So many nights wondering if you are being emptied of self.

Instead of subjecting yourself to this type of misery any further, here's a solution that makes more sense both for your mental health now and your eternal well-being, as well. Each morning of your life spend at least 30 minutes reading the Bible, especially the Gospels, and praying for five minutes regarding what you've read. This is the means to maintaining a relationship with Christ Jesus, the one who gives you a better quality of life now and eternal life in the future. As you sense your need, you may very well increase the time you spend reading the Bible and praying. Depending on your soul hunger so will your intake of spiritual food (Bible) and spiritual exercise (prayer) be.

After you nourish your spirit then you are ready to help those in need and to share, as God enables you, what Christ Jesus means to you. Some of the projects that come to mind are the following: help eliminate homelessness, joblessness, and social inequality.

Please see the original post in Spectrum Magazine for the reason for this post: Confidence

Friday, September 04, 2009

Beatles for Jesus

With the world abuzz about the release of the Beatles' Rockband video game and all of their remastered CDS on 9-9-09 I was inspired to resurrect a trend that was popular among young Christians in the early 70s. To my surprise one could slightly change the words of one Beatles song, in particular, and sing it as a praise song to Christ.

The following lyrics have been adjusted and can be sung to the tune of And I love Her.

I give Christ all my love
That's all I do
And if you saw my Lord
You'd love him too
I love him

He gives me ev'rything
And tenderly
The kiss my saviour brings
He brings to me
And I love him

A love like ours
Could never die
As long as I
Have Christ near me

Bright are the stars that shine
Dark is the sky
I know this love of mine
Will never die
And I love him

Bright are the stars that shine
Dark is the sky
I know this love of mine
Will never die
And I love Christ