Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Have You Seen The Car Keys?

There are intriguing verses in Exodus 25:13- 15 which caught my eye as I was laboring my way through the details of the earthly Tabernacle. Here they are: "And you shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, that the ark may be carried by them. The poles shall be in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it." [Emphasis added].
I have to admit to being "Tabernacle'y challenged" every time I determine to read through the Bible. But as I read (trying to stay awake) this one verse (in bold face) brought me up short.
I understand that there is a reason God dictated these details; I understand that there is something here that is deeper than my shallow mind; I realize that... all scripture is given for....; and I know that the details in the early books of the Torah were an important part of, all scripture, that the Apostle Paul was talking about when he wrote about the inspired Word. He was speaking of Genesis to Malachi. There was yet no coherent New Testament as such. So for me, in this case, what is the profit of the sixteen words in Exodus 25:15? What is the take-home lesson God has for me?
Here's what I'm thinking: We know the Ark of The Testament was the place where God spoke to Israel from the Mercy Seat. We know the Ten Commandments were kept in the Ark. We know that an omer of manna and Aarons rod that budded were also there. We know that the Ceremonial Laws were stored in a compartment on the side of the Ark. We understand too that the Ark was life to the repentant in Israel on the Day of Atonement for those who respected its holiness and significance. It was holy to all of Israel as the burning bush was to Moses: It was where God met man. Disrespect carried a price.
As the people of God labored their way through the desert God led the way. It was the task of specific men to carry the ark from place to place. I believe that God's instructions to leave the poles in the carrying-rings represented and represents a willingness and readiness to carry God and His commandments with us where ever we go.
Symbolically and in reality, the priests never had to search for the gold covered poles. There was no delay in following God. Everything was ready and orderly. God says, "Go!" and Israel followed. Israel followed the Laws of God.
God says to us, "Follow Me!" and we follow Him. His laws are Personified in Him and we carry them in our minds and on our hearts [Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:10-12; Hebrews 10:16,17].
Conclusion: God's people should be always at the ready to follow Christ and not have to search for the gold covered poles any more than we should have to search for the car keys as we head out the door to do His will and labor for souls for His kingdom.
That's what God gave me from those sixteen words and now I understand more deeply why...."All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man/woman of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work," [II Timothy 3:16].
God Bless. e.c.

Monday, March 30, 2009

More Mac and Cheese, Anyone?

When I was growing up (in an essentially unchurched home) we were poor. My father was an amputee and constantly in and out of VA hospitals. My mother did her best with what she could afford, and also cooking my father's food preferences.
My favorite foods were, therefore, what I was fed. Preference for these foods was cultivated. What I wanted to eat was; mashed potatoes and gravy, tuna casserole, spaghetti, noodles of any kind, meat of any kind, scrambled eggs, a tiny salad with grated cheese and mayonnaise on top, not many vegetables (once my dad felt ill from eating lettuce), bread and gravy, fried chicken (on Sunday's only), and when my dad got a job and we got 'wealthy', potato chips.
Those kinds of foods made up my diet for the first seventeen years of my life. Therefore, they were favorites and they remained so...for quite a while.
After marriage, during college and one aborted postgraduate year, we went vegan. It was hell. Going home was not like going home because we had to fly through the flack of criticisms and remarks about being "fanatics", "extreme", and.... perhaps you know about things like that.
It's hard to be "different", but what's even harder is to be different among those who are called to be "peculiar". Some of the synonyms of that word are; separate, distinct, independent, special, strange, curious, queer, eccentric...pick the one(s) that make you feel best, but in their sum there are words that some of us don't want to be called: It's easier to just go along.
Enter church potlucks: These recurring events should be the bane of the "peculiar ones;" but they're not. On any Sabbath across the land one will find most of the foods I listed above as my "favorite growing-up" things to eat. In some churches you will find all the foods listed as fair fare; nothing peculiar there.
Did you know obesity is a prelude to diabetes? Did you know that obesity is known to increased risk for breast cancer? Of course you know. What's more, one of us here may even be obese. How does that happen? How does one become obese? Answer: Eating favorite foods in excess over prolonged periods of time and failing to burn calories; that is, too much input and too little output (exercise).
Evidently God (and His servant EW) knew what He was talking about because Adam and Eve, (probably Elijah) Daniel and others ate as God designed and He blessed them with long life. Oh sure, the children of Israel ate manna but what they really wanted was flesh pots seasoned with onions, leeks, and garlics. They complained so much that God gave them meat to eat, which they did, until they vomited out their noses. "Then you shall say to the people, 'Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the Lord, saying;"Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt." Therefore the Lord will give you meat to eat. 'You shall eat, not one day, not two days, nor five, days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but for a whole month, until it comes out your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the Lord who is among you, and you have wept before Him, saying, "Why did we ever come up out of Egypt? " ' " [Numbers 11:18-20]
Presumably everyone understands the spiritual implications of being "...brought up out of Egypt..." which each of us should recognize as the preamble to the first commandment [Exodus 20:1]
So what do we (the church) want? Health, or savory? Disease, or "good taste". The most frequent complaint heard about eating vegan is that "..it doesn't taste good..." and this (hang on) usually from those suffering the mal-effects of obesity and its attendant maladies. I think the issue is as simple, and as difficult as this; we can cultivate tastes for the foods of Egypt or Eden. We can eat to please our palate or to please God. We can eat well and be well or....you know what I talking about.
I'll finish this with a liberal paraphrase from Isaiah [30:21]; '...this is the way, eat ye in it..."
By the way, where's the dessert line at this potluck? Oh! I see. Over there! The longest line...
Filled up with words? Digest them carefully. They are nonfattening, have zero cholesterol, and no sodium, but they are written to those who are admonished to be the "...salt of the world..." [Matthew 5:13]
God Bless. e.c.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

In The Mind Of The Essayist

In the secret places of my mind
Expecting tomorrow I might find
The man I hoped to someday be
But always finding, only me. e.c.

A Threat To The USA?

Missouri, the "Show Me" state, showed me something this morning I am reluctant to believe. It has to do with a list, and you and I are on it; Well, not our names, but certainly an accurate profile. I'm going to import the piece so you can check it out for yourself. Here goes;
Jefferson City -- "Gov. Jay Nixon's administration on Wednesday made an about-face on a controversial militia profiling report, retracting the document in the face of growing criticism.
Missouri Highway Patrol Superintendent James F. Keathley ordered the Missouri Information Analysis Center to "permanently cease distribution" of the Feb. 20 report, which labels fundamentalist Christians, members of third-party political movements, strict followers of the U.S. Constitution and people who oppose taxes, abortion and illegal immigration as possible members of militias.
Nixon and officials in his administration have previously defended MIAC's report, which has brought national attention to the secretive intelligence-gathering work of state fusion centers.
Lt. Gov.
Peter Kinder spoke out against the report, saying it unfairly maligns "Christians, anti-abortionists and advocates for protecting our borders and supporters of certain political candidates as potential threats to the public safety."
Kinder called on Nixon to place Department of Public Safety Director John Britt on administrative leave pending an investigation of how the report came about. Nixon's office did not comment on Kinder's demand, but said it backed Keathley's plans to reform the
process of releasing MIAC intelligence reports .
In a lengthy statement, Keathley expressed remorse for the lack of oversight in the creation and distribution of the report, but he did not apologize for its contents. Keathley said his office "would undertake a review of the origin of the report by MIAC."
The Highway Patrol's decision to recant the entire
report came two days after Britt ordered the militia report be amended to exclude the names of 2008 presidential candidates Bob Barr, Chuck Baldwin and Ron Paul, who have raised the national profile of the controversy. Britt sent an apology to Barr, Baldwin and Paul.

So somewhere in Missouri we're branded probable/possible members of a militia. Yes, but at least we're Sabbath keeping members (smile). Are we militant? Of course! About what or whom? That's a dumb question. We, like the Apostle Paul, like Martin Luther, like the pioneers of this church, are militant for the Lord Jesus Christ; the Lamb of God! Militant for a Lamb?...go figure.
God Bless. e.c.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

ImPious The 16th

Recently I read the dictum of Benedict XVI where, while on his chartered airplane bound to-or-fro his tour of Africa, he addressed the issue of the HIV-Aids scourge (read pestilence) that is killing hundreds of thousands of men and women and swelling the swollen population of orphans.
The position of Benedict, and thus of the church (well, make that, 'some in the church') is that of Nancy Reagan and the parallel issue of drug use: "Just say, NO!"
Benedict is opposed to any kind of birth control whether or not it also acts to provide some protection and prevention in the spread of this deadly, wasting disease.
This is the same church that housed, and for decades protected, predatory priests who were themselves unable to "Just say NO!" The absence of this simple declarative in the spirit and vocabulary of pedophile priests cost the Church of Rome hundreds of millions in dollars and a much higher price in reputation, trust, and moral authority.
The Pope truly believes (I would like to read his argument for this) that the use of birth control measures (read condoms) makes matters worse. The church is not thinking, it is reacting; falling back on a history/tradition whose roots continue to deepen into the soil of irrationality.
Two things are at issue in my monocular opinion: 1) Celibacy is an abnormal lifestyle and contrary to nature as God designed it as well as the nature of man. 2) The deadly human immunovirus can be likened to the 14th century Black Plague in Europe, except that action was finally taken to reverse the cause; they killed the rats that carried the fleas that carried the disease; and they recruited more cats to kill the rats that....you get it.
Evidently twenty-first century measures that could slow the spread of suffering and death find no place in the mind of Benedict; 'Sorry son, no Imprit Matur (approval) for you, "Just say, NO!
This pope, whom some have called John Paul's Rottweiler, may have abandoned the core humanitarian issues the church claims to protect; human dignity, human life, spirituality, etc.
Answer this please; where is the dignity, the humanitarianism, the spirituality of allowing hundreds of thousands of people to waste away from the unforgiving ravages of this disease? And all this because one man, who is only a man, just says, "NO"!
Did Benedict bring a program of sex education to Africa? Did he bring counselors to warn and inform the people of Africa? Were there distributed pamphlets and television programs designed to protect those most vulnerable? I do not know. I can only hope because, as I translate this issue, his visit did not leave dying Africa with more hope.
For his actions, which are mostly inaction's, I hereby re-title him, Benedict XV.V.
Ponder this. e.c.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hell is Going to Hell: In Darfur

Hell is not where you think it is. For hundreds of thousands of Africans seeking refuge in crowded camps, Hell is spelled, "Darfur"; and as bad as it is it just got worse. Hell is going to hell in the Sudan.
Omar el-Bashir, the president of Sudan in Africa has recently expelled thousands of volunteer aid workers whom he has accused as spies. Bashir claims they were collecting information on the atrocities taking place in Darfur (in the western part of Sudan) and sharing this information with the world court which has issued an arrest warrant for Bashir in which the court alleges acts of murder, rape, and starvation by Arabs against the African citizens of Darfur.
What this means to the hundreds of thousands of refugees in Darfur is the closing of medical clinics, a shortage of food and safe drinking water. The ravaging of the western Darfur region of Sudan has been ongoing since 2003.
Western countries courteously wring their hands as a sign of pretended concern while the most vulnerable (the very young and very old) fall victim to another episode of man's inhumanity to man.
Perhaps I am too reactive to conditions like these but over the world they are legion. (It is nearly midnight but I could not sleep and had to get up and empty my mind and spirit on this matter.) But really; what can I do? Nothing, I fear. There is nothing I see that I can do to lessen the suffering of even one soul who is so unfortunate as to be under the heel of Bashir and his goons.
Well....perhaps there is one thing, and I was talking to God about it earlier today. I can determine NOT to be an ally of Satan in his unholy attacks against mankind. I can determine to live in such a way that Satan is forced to flee when I am targeted because Jesus Christ is in me and with me. I can decide to be on the side of God and send monies each month to humanitarian agencies that are working where and how they can even in the face of nearly overwhelming evil.
There is so much that is wrong in the world; so much starvation, so much suffering; so much murder and rape by rebels of all stripes,that (as I have said) only the mind of God can process it all without being overwhelmed by the enormity and sum of it all.
The children; its the children who are made to suffer that tears at my heart: The innocents, the helpless, the most vulnerable.
Some have to be asking, "Where is God in all this?" and that's a valid question; there is a valid answer. Here is one small part of the answer: The oppressors in Darfur are Arabs and thus are the offspring of Ishmael of whom the Bible says, "...He shall be a wild man; His hand [shall be] against every man, And every man's hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren." [Genesis 16:12].
Bible prophecy does not justify this evil; it warns us of its approach and its unraveling effect of millions of lives. In every generation there is always a personified Evil named Omar el-Bashir or some other name. Sudan is a problem for Christians and other people of conscience; more so for Christians I posit, because of Christ in the mind. We feel what He feels, and that is more powerful than mere man-made sympathy.
Again there is nothing I can do in or for Darfur at this moment except to live for Christ. This will be my small but consistent counterbalance to this great evil that feeds on the lives of the innocents.
Even so Lord, come quickly. Amen

The Liberal Conservative

People and pundits of all political and religious stripes toss these words around as though they, and we, understand what the words mean. Of course, each of us carries a palette of colors we can use to shade (disguise) conversations, discussions, and sermons in a way that makes them reflectors our own views. And of course, each of us does have a view that is our own. This is the way it is, and moreover, the way it is supposed to be. (Did anybody get all of that blather?)
The Apostle Paul had an opinion; "For me to live is Christ..."[Phil. 1:21].
Here's my opinion: If God's people spent less time trying to carve out and protect their individual corners of coveted beliefs and life styles; if they spent less time trying to promote their views of what Adventist Christianity should look like into the ears of their fellows; if my brothers and sisters in Christ could live content without confronting me with their favorite "quotes"; if there were none who wanted to play theological "king of the mountain"; if formal board meetings were carried out with less volume and more silence (as in prayer); if we were to walk in the shadow of the most Liberal Conservative who ever lived (that would be Jesus the Christ), then........well.......you go figure.
Here's another opinion; two definitions;
Liberal: How much of my self, my time, my money, my means, my heart and soul can I give to the Lord Jesus Christ and His work!
Conservative: How far can I stay away from the ways of the world; the wide way that leads to death and destruction.
Conclusion: Jesus Christ was the most Liberal Conservative to ever walk the earth. He brought all the riches of heaven to this world in the person of Himself and hung those riches on the cross naked, for everyone to see, and He did this to pay the price for the sins of every man and woman on earth. Is that Liberal?
Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light. No man comes to the Father but by Me. [John 14:6]. He also said (paraphrased) '...the road that leads to destruction is wide and most of the world ( both in and out of the church) is on that road. But the road to salvation is narrow and difficult and not very many want to take that path.' [Matthew 7:13 and 14].
Who will be Liberal for Christ? Who will be Conservative for Christ?
God Bless. e.c.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Answer This Question...

There I was, minding my own business, watching the morning news when some member of congress (senator, representative; I don't know) appears on FOX to express another dose of "outrage" about the bonuses paid to AIG executives; some of whom are now gone from AIG. (I guess you already know that Fanny and Freddie exec's are set to get bonuses as well).
Anyway, this guy says that the "House"(of Representatives) will push legislation in a day or two (I think I was listening) designed to go after the money paid to those believed responsible for steering their ship into the shoals.
Here's the point: If political resentment can light a fast moving back-fire against captains of industry...is it possible that the congress could quickly pass legislation designed to go after mere passengers on the ship? Perhaps these would be a small and peculiar party of passengers; ones thought or believed to be living in contradiction to the beliefs of all the other passengers?
Go figure on this one. I know what I think.
God Bless. We'll need it!

Post Script: The House of Representatives PASSED legislation today that was proposed just two days ago! And my point in this post-post: "...the final movements will be rapid..." EW

So Who Is Listening?

The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda writes in his 1952 collection, The Captain's Verses, "...leaves falling from a tree like knives drain me of blood and each wound has the shape of your mouth." And in Spanish; "Y cada herida tienen la forma de tu boca."
Everyone knows someone who’s blood-of-spirit has been drained, or is draining from lip-shaped cuts. Under the cover of poetry we are talking about hurtful words. Writing to the Romans, Paul, taking no prisoners says, “…And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;…” [Emphasis added.] [Romans 1:28-31].
Sadly, lip-shaped cuts come from the mouths of whisperers and backbiters, which are found over the entire world and in every church. Is there anything more delicious to the mind than a morsel of fresh gossip? It is the, ‘Have you heard?’ that is destructive to both the speaker and the listener. Christian’s should be neither speakers nor listeners of gossip. [Excuse me, but you/I/we seem to have something between our front teeth and it looks like a shred of skin from someone’s back].
These last hours of the end-times of Earth’s history are the hours that remain for God’s people to purify their hearts, minds, and mouths by the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. I have written before the words of Christ as he sends the signal of brotherhood between believers: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples; if you have love one for another”. [John 13:35]. {The word translated ‘disciples’ is from the Greek, mathetes [matheses] which means, ‘learner’, or ‘pupil’. {Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, reference number 3101}.
If we are Christ’s pupils, sitting at His feet, listening to, and internalizing His Word, what have we to criticize? Where is our complaint? Do we absent ourselves to ‘get even’ with those who do not agree with our view of the Christ? No, of course not. But people being what we are…different sorts…have different opinions, if those opinions have nothing to do with our salvation or that of others they are probably inflated and do not warrant argument nor defense.
As a church, as a body of believers, we need to “press together, press together”. In every church and every denomination all are sinners; and that is a good thing because to be saved, sinners must run to Christ. So to criticize the church or any member of the church is to leave bleeding, lip-shaped cuts on the hearts and minds of our sisters and brothers in God’s family.
Would someone deliberately do this? Yes they would but only if they don’t understand the price Jesus paid for each of His children, including the critics; the price was the same for every person that names the Name of Christ. No one is better, no one is worse. All are sinners in desperate need of salvation.
“Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, working deceitfully, you love evil more than good, lying rather than speaking righteousness” [Psalms 52:2, 3].
Think on these things.
God Bless. e.c.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

No Blarney Here

A few of you know this but most (probably) do not: St. Patrick was neither Irish nor was he Catholic. He was from Scotland, and went as a missionary to Ireland and the Island of Iona.
Patrick is thought to be the patron saint of Ireland, but this is a reconstruction (or re-writing) of the facts about this great missionary.
Rather than go on at length about Patrick on the day that is supposed to honor him (with green beer, strong drink, parades, etc.) I'll just give the link to a site that presents a clear picture about the real man of God in Ireland.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Ha Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit)

I can't take a bit of credit for this post. It all comes from Kenneth Cox and the Holy Spirit, and it has to do with the differences with the experiences of the Early Rain and the Latter Rain. The difference between the two is illustrated in the parable of the ten virgins.
You know, of course, that all ten of these women were virgins; they had been convicted of sin, come out of the world, were in the church, and knew the truth about God; and they worshipped God; they loved God. Each of these women (representing the church) had the Early Rain experience.
So then why...why is it, when the Bridegroom comes to the wedding feast, the five are admitted and five are denied.
To those who are denied the Bridegroom says, "I don't know you!" All of the virgins had the Early Rain renewing; they were converted! What happened?
Here it is: The five foolish virgins had not permitted the Holy Spirit to work a change in their characters. Though staunch and faithful church-goers their characters were the same as when they willingly, cheerfully came into the church.
Like me they were still critical, exercised their tempers and lack of self control, were largely unloving, moved in small circles in the church, and knowingly or not, limited the access of the Holy Spirit to their hearts and minds.
Oh, but they knew a lot! Every week they studied the Sabbath School Lesson, memorized Scripture, read their Bible, and some could quote reams of EW. None of this had worked a change in character; they were merely well-informed Christians.
Information about God and His Christ is not the answer to those of us who are foolish virgins. The key to the door of the wedding feast is having Jesus Christ recognize us because we belong to Him; because we have invited and allowed Him to work in us daily through His Holy Spirit and the result is that we.... we act like Jesus, we talk like Jesus, we treat others the way He treated people, and His motives have become our motives through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds.
That is why Paul says, "...let this mind be in you which is in Christ Jesus also..." [Phil. 2:5]. Without Christ's mind in us there is no way we can think, act, or talk like Jesus. It is when we daily invite the Holy Spirit to work in us that Jesus is able
to recognize us! That is how and why He knows us!That is why we are admitted to the wedding feast!
Invite Him in today. I did.
God Bless. e.c.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Call Now!

"Come now you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last day." [James 5:1-3].

If you want to see folks cross their legs and fold their arms over their chest, bring up the subject of money; most particularly, giving money to the church. Their body language tells us they are closing off access to their mind and money.

Two weeks ago before the offering was taken I heard story that has eluded me all these years. It's about a conversation between a 100 dollar bill and a 1 dollar bill. The larger bill is bragging about all the places in the world he has visited; the finest hotels, restaurants; how he has bought the best in clothes, cars, and houses...then the hundred dollar bill pauses and asks the dollar, "Where have you been?" and the dollar says, "Well, mostly I just go to church."

If one thinks these are the last days; if one believes the door of opportunity to work for the Lord is still open, then what? What will we do? What should we do? Maybe we should take the advice of G.Gordon Liddy who can currently be seen on TV hawking gold as the answer for security in these uncertain financial times. Of course, Liddy ends the spiel with, "CALL NOW!"
Tell you what Gordo, gold is not the answer; never has been, never will be. Presuming you want to know what I think I'll tell you what I think: Now is the time to increase giving to the Lord, to the local church, to one's favorite independent ministries, etc., while money is still worth something.
The Apostle James said it all. Go back to the beginning and read it again.
God Bless. e.c.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What's Your Point?

Yesterday I had the misfortune of finding a church-supporting website that permitted us ordinary folks to pose a question and then get "advice" from anyone, anywhere in the world. Some of it was other-worldly, I thought. Of course, I wondered aloud, "What is the point of this kind of distracting, destructive, disabling, discouraging preaching. The teacher in me gives this preacher a D-!
One writer was concerned, after hearing the railings of her pastor, that it was "wrong" for women to wear slacks. Some responders wrote a paragraph while others wrote an essay.
I couldn't help myself; I had to jump in.
What I said went something like this: "Now there's a message we can take to the world. Tuck it in (like a blouse in a pant or women's slacks) between the second and third angel's messages!" There were a few more remarks aimed at undermining the use of worship services for this kind of drivel; really important to a lost and dying world; perhaps really important to a dying church. You decide. I'll try to reign in the sarcasm and let the reader judge.
If we are claiming to be disciples of Christ then stick to the Topic which is.... Jesus Christ crucified and risen for the salvation of all who believe!

Following Jesus' advice I've been watching the world again and here's what I found in less than 24 hours;
1. Russia is toying with the idea of basing long range bombers in Cuba.
2. Hugo Chavez has offered the Russians use of Venezuelan air bases for their bombers.
3. Sectarian violence, murders, and riots have erupted in Northern Ireland (again). This may just be their way of celebrating St. Patrick's Day.
4. Record flooding is taking a toll in the northern Midwest.
5. Farmers are being warned that "dust control" measures may be imposed on them during planting and harvest times.
6. North Korea has a scheduled launch of a long-range rocket.
7. Japan threatens to shoot down the North Korean rocket.

That's enough watching for one day.
He is coming soon.
God Bless. e.c.

Friday, March 13, 2009


On television last evening there was a piece showing Franklin Delano Roosevelt lamenting the gaps of regulation and honesty in the banking system that helped fuel the Great Depression. From 1929-2009; what has changed? Nothing, really.
Most of us are shocked and disappointed at what is going on but Christians shouldn't be surprised.
The privileged always seem to be able to take care of themselves in grand style. Castro in Cuba; the runt in North Korea, Pol Pot, the African despots (Mugabe; maybe), the Chinese communists, Hugo (La Boca, La Bufadora) Chavez, the ruling spiritual pirates of Iran...etc.,etc., etc.
While the people are made to carry the burdens of the nations on their backs the politicos live in luxury and extol the virtues of their rulership.
The other night I looked up and studied the "open space in Orion" and talked to my God a long time. I made it clear to Him that we were going through tough times down here and that as far as I was concerned His Appearing could not come too soon.
Of course, He knows all that, but I was just following Scriptural advice to "...give Him no rest until He establish, and make Jerusalem a praise in the earth." [Isaiah 62:7].
So, that is my goal for 2009; to give God no rest but to awake, disturb, pester, leave phone messages, send e-mail, "give Him no rest", until this thing called "sin" is done and we take a trip to heaven by way of the "...open space in Orion..."
Pick up the pace there folks.
God Bless. e.c.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers"

This is a call for help and/or generosity. I am searching for someone who holds the complete set of Edwin Froom's magnum writing "Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers". This work provides a detailed report of the growth of God's church over the centuries since the death of Christ and His disciples.
This is what I am asking; that donation of these volumes be made to the Shelton Church Library. What a scholarly asset that would be for the growth of the church.
If that is not likely, then I ask that the set be made for sale and I will personally purchase them. In either case, whether donated or purchased, the multi volume set would be kept at the church under lock and key in the pastors office and would be made accessable only to those who could be relied upon to return a volume after it was checked out. The church librarian (my wife) would be the supervising church officer.
Without question, this work by Froom is very valuable; both in historical and monetary terms.
Consider this request prayerfully. If you wish to contact me please post a comment on this site. In advance, thank you very much for any consideration you may give to this request. e.c.

Christian Science Monitor (CSM)

I was forwarded a very interesting piece from CSM that may seriously impact our church. I have posted it here, with appropriate credits, so that those who wish, may read and decide for themselves which way ."religious" smoke is blowing. e.c.

CSM Article‏

Thu 3/12/09 6:22 AM
Ed and Jeane (thirdangelgospel@hotmail.com)
Below is an opinion article from the 10 March edition of the Christian Science Monitor. If even remotely correct, it has significant implications for the SDA church.

The coming evangelical collapse
An anti-Christian chapter in Western history is about to begin. But out of the ruins, a new vitality and integrity will rise.
By Michael Spencer
from the March 10, 2009 edition

Oneida, Ky. - We are on the verge – within 10 years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity. This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West. Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the "Protestant" 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century. This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good. Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Many Christian schools will go into rapid decline. I'm convinced the grace and mission of God will reach to the ends of the earth. But the end of evangelicalism as we know it is close.
Why is this going to happen?1. Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This will prove to be a very costly mistake. Evangelicals will increasingly be seen as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society. The evangelical investment in moral, social, and political issues has depleted our resources and exposed our weaknesses. Being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of Evangelicals can't articulate the Gospel with any coherence. We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith. 2. We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. Ironically, the billions of dollars we've spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. Our young people have deep beliefs about the culture war, but do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology, or the experience of spiritual discipline and community. Coming generations of Christians are going to be monumentally ignorant and unprepared for culture-wide pressures. 3. There are three kinds of evangelical churches today: consumer-driven mega churches, dying churches, and new churches whose future is fragile. Denominations will shrink, even vanish, while fewer and fewer evangelical churches will survive and thrive. 4. Despite some very successful developments in the past 25 years, Christian education has not produced a product that can withstand the rising tide of secularism. Evangelicalism has used its educational system primarily to staff its own needs and talk to itself. 5. The confrontation between cultural secularism and the faith at the core of evangelical efforts to "do good" is rapidly approaching. We will soon see that the good Evangelicals want to do will be viewed as bad by so many, and much of that work will not be done. Look for ministries to take on a less and less distinctively Christian face in order to survive. 6. Even in areas where Evangelicals imagine themselves strong (like the Bible Belt), we will find a great inability to pass on to our children a vital evangelical confidence in the Bible and the importance of the faith. 7. The money will dry up.
What will be left?•Expect evangelicalism to look more like the pragmatic, therapeutic, church-growth oriented mega churches that have defined success. Emphasis will shift from doctrine to relevance, motivation, and personal success – resulting in churches further compromised and weakened in their ability to pass on the faith. •Two of the beneficiaries will be the Roman Catholic and Orthodox communions. Evangelicals have been entering these churches in recent decades and that trend will continue, with more efforts aimed at the "conversion" of Evangelicals to the Catholic and Orthodox traditions. •A small band will work hard to rescue the movement from its demise through theological renewal. This is an attractive, innovative, and tireless community with outstanding media, publishing, and leadership development. Nonetheless, I believe the coming evangelical collapse will not result in a second reformation, though it may result in benefits for many churches and the beginnings of new churches. •The emerging church will largely vanish from the evangelical landscape, becoming part of the small segment of progressive mainline Protestants that remain true to the liberal vision. •Aggressively evangelistic fundamentalist churches will begin to disappear.•Charismatic-Pentecostal Christianity will become the majority report in evangelicalism. Can this community withstand heresy, relativism, and confusion? To do so, it must make a priority of biblical authority, responsible leadership, and a reemergence of orthodoxy. •Evangelicalism needs a "rescue mission" from the world Christian community. It is time for missionaries to come to America from Asia and Africa. Will they come? Will they be able to bring to our culture a more vital form of Christianity? •Expect a fragmented response to the culture war. Some Evangelicals will work to create their own countercultures, rather than try to change the culture at large. Some will continue to see conservatism and Christianity through one lens and will engage the culture war much as before – a status quo the media will be all too happy to perpetuate. A significant number, however, may give up political engagement for a discipleship of deeper impact.
Is all of this a bad thing?Evangelicalism doesn't need a bailout. Much of it needs a funeral. But what about what remains?Is it a good thing that denominations are going to become largely irrelevant? Only if the networks that replace them are able to marshal resources, training, and vision to the mission field and into the planting and equipping of churches. Is it a good thing that many marginal believers will depart? Possibly, if churches begin and continue the work of renewing serious church membership. We must change the conversation from the maintenance of traditional churches to developing new and culturally appropriate ones. The ascendancy of Charismatic-Pentecostal-influenced worship around the world can be a major positive for the evangelical movement if reformation can reach those churches and if it is joined with the calling, training, and mentoring of leaders. If American churches come under more of the influence of the movement of the Holy Spirit in Africa and Asia, this will be a good thing. Will the evangelicalizing of Catholic and Orthodox communions be a good development? One can hope for greater unity and appreciation, but the history of these developments seems to be much more about a renewed vigor to "evangelize" Protestantism in the name of unity. Will the coming collapse get Evangelicals past the pragmatism and shallowness that has brought about the loss of substance and power? Probably not. The purveyors of the evangelical circus will be in fine form, selling their wares as the promised solution to every church's problems. I expect the landscape of mega church vacuity to be around for a very long time. Will it shake lose the prosperity Gospel from its parasitical place on the evangelical body of Christ? Evidence from similar periods is not encouraging. American Christians seldom seem to be able to separate their theology from an overall idea of personal affluence and success. The loss of their political clout may impel many Evangelicals to reconsider the wisdom of trying to create a "godly society." That doesn't mean they'll focus solely on saving souls, but the increasing concern will be how to keep secularism out of church, not stop it altogether. The integrity of the church as a counter-cultural movement with a message of "empire subversion" will increasingly replace a message of cultural and political entitlement. Despite all of these challenges, it is impossible not to be hopeful. As one commenter has already said, "Christianity loves a crumbling empire." We can rejoice that in the ruins, new forms of Christian vitality and ministry will be born. I expect to see a vital and growing house church movement. This cannot help but be good for an evangelicalism that has made buildings, numbers, and paid staff its drugs for half a century. We need new evangelicalism that learns from the past and listens more carefully to what God says about being His people in the midst of a powerful, idolatrous culture. I'm not a prophet. My view of evangelicalism is not authoritative or infallible. I am certainly wrong in some of these predictions. But is there anyone who is observing evangelicalism in these times who does not sense that the future of our movement holds many dangers and much potential? • Michael Spencer is a writer and communicator living and working in a Christian community in Kentucky. He describes himself as "a post-evangelical reformation Christian in search of a Jesus-shaped spirituality." This essay is adapted from a series on his blog, InternetMonk.com .

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Avraham, Yitzak, Jacob

On my walk through Genesis on the way to Revelation I happened upon two verses in chapter 32: "So Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him...Then Jacob said; 'O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me', "Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you": 'I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant...' " [Genesis 32:1, 9-10a].
Of course this set me wondering what it would be like to be met by angels. Sort of an angelic, luminous, "Hi Ed. What's up? How ya do'n ta-day? (I have no clue about angelic diction...I guess I'll just have to pray it isn't British English).
But back to my imagined encounter; most probably I'll never see--or be aware that I see--angels. It's both depressing and encouraging to know that someday I will see them: Depressing because it might not happen until the resurrection which, of course, means I will have died,a nd encouraging because every day I scan the eastern sky... just in case...just in case Christ is on His way back to get His children, who are also His bride, who are also His church.
These are, admittedly, simple thoughts from a simple man who refuses to lay down his hope though time (and it feels like a long time) rolls on. I see old friends give up; the light behind them goes out and they fall off the path into the deep, dark abyss below. (A bit of EW paraphrase there)
Looking back over my moments of life--72 years--with Jacob, I understand that I am not worthy of all the mercies and truth He has shown me, and continues to show me every day.
For example, I have learned more about and from the books of Daniel and The Revelation in past months than since I was baptised in 1949. Thank You Lord. (Sounds almost pentecostal, don't you think?) That's fine. If we can't be excited and enthusiastic about our God and His appearing then what does excite us? American Idol? That would be lamentable!
It has come to my notice over the past sixty years that a lot of folks are uncomfortable with "displays" of enthusiasm for the Lord and His work.
Let me make a de-posit: If we have to hunt for the last place or time we were excited about our God and His gospel we are probably sorely out of tune.
Time for a tune up!
God Bless. e.c.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Take A Deep Breath

The sun that hot September day
Burned through air of choking gray
On frightened frosh Septuagint
Dazzles by Klooster's aurous glint

None knew well what lay ahead
As wrinkled welcome words were read
Used on hundreds years before
Word-some, wearisome, "Let us therefore"

What you are reading are the first two stanzas of a lengthy poem I wrote in May 1975 to "celebrate" graduation from dental school. It was printed in the Contrangle, the then student news rag of the school.
This past Friday we went to Loma Linda for the express purpose of hearing Christian Edition, a men's singing group started by Calvin Knipschild decades ago. They're very good.
Everything in Loma Linda has changed and yet everything is just the same. In March the air is clear and pure and even gets a washing every week or so by what is known as 'rain'.
Everyone is still in a hurry, and every time I am forced to take the freeways I wonder why people choose to live in a place known (Southern California) to be running out of water, running out of money, and overrunning with people.
Decades ago Ellen White wrote these words: "Out of the cities, out of the cities, who will be warned!" Maybe she didn't mean it. As well as anyone, I can think of all the arguments why we should continue to labor for the Lord in the cities. The ideal of living on a plot of land away from town, growing one's own food, perhaps having pure water from a well, all seem to be a distant memory as a solid wall of stucco landscape whizzes by from El Segundo (on the ocean) to well past Beaumont (nearly to the Palm Springs turn off. That's over 120 miles!).
So how are God's people supposed to be as self sufficient as possible and still reach unsaved souls in the cities? I don't know.
But this I do know; there is core of very dedicated faculty at Loma Linda in all of the schools; Medicine, Dentistry, Graduate, Religion...and others I have forgotten or that have been added since I left.
I know about the seed that was planted on the "Beautiful Hill" (Loma Linda); I know how it was supposed to grow and how it has grown. It is a glorious thing to behold...I think.
When disaster strikes Southern California (natural or otherwise), there will be as Maxwell Smart would say, 'Chaos'.
In the meantime I guess (editorially speaking) we stay at our posts laboring for the Lord.
The End won't be pretty but it will be, The End!
So to whom, when, where, was Ellen White talking about when she wrote; "Out of the cities. Out of the cities; who will be warned."?
God bless. e.c.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Once in a while, when I post a piece that contains a remark or remarks that are critical of homosexuality I find that I am chastened. So be it.
The question really has less to do with homosexuality and more to do with how Christians relate to the issue. It is a matter of "oughts". Ought we to be open-minded and accepting of homosexuality or, as representatives of Christ, ought we to not be accepting of homosexuality? And, if we are either accepting or unaccepting, ought we keep our opinions private and not make them known. (Pastors [Canada and Sweden] have been prosecuted for the alleged crime of hate speech for citing Scripture that condemns homosexuality).
Perhaps you know the story of Sodom and Gomorrah; cities of the plain that God destroyed by fire for their sins of homosexuality. There are a few core texts [vs. 5-9] in chapter 19 of the book of Genesis that demonstrate both ancient and contemporary parallelism. Here's what it says [NKJV]; And they [the men of the city] called to Lot and said to him, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them'. So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, ' Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish, only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.' And they said, 'Stand back!' Then they said, 'This one [Lot] came in to stay, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will will deal worse with you than with them'. So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door.
The two men they were seeking to rape were not men but were angels of God sent to rescue Lot and then destroy the city of Sodom.
I'm wondering if you caught what was happening here; the men of Sodom were angry because Lot was judging their intentions as "wicked(ly)". Because Lot dared to criticize and chastise the men of Sodom they became angry (militant) and threatened to do worse to Lot than they intended to do to the angels.
Does this attitude have a tone similar to what we hear today? Of course! And is there to be judging? Yes! Only this time the issue is to be set before the courts of the land and especially in California because the people judged homosexuality in Proposition 8. So what has changed in 4000 year? Nothing! When the practice of homosexuality is at issue the response of its advocates is anger and threats.
From the Christian point of view, what does God think of homosexuality; it is an abomination. (Try to find Sodom and Gomorrah). And what does God think of homosexuals; Jesus the Christ died for them, and that should be the focus of our efforts for homosexuals. But as regards the practice of homosexuality we should emulate Lot. "Please, my brethren do not do so wickedly!" [Genesis 19:7].
Think of these things. Love the sinner, but hate the sin. But don't make the sinner feel hated.
God Bless. e.c.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

"Gimme Me The Beat Boys..."

One-and, two-and, three-and, four-and... was the way it went when I started trying to fetch a catchy sound from my first trumpet in the 6th grade at Mckinley School, Tacoma, 1947.
The rhythm was always set to the first and third beats in a 4/4 time. Then came rock music as it rolled over the country to a new beat; they call it, "back-beat", because the rhythm is set to the second and 4th beats in 4/4 time.
The 'back-beat' sets a different rhythm pattern entirely to the music. Virtually all popular (and even Christian) music for the past 40+ years features back-beat, rhythm fills, bass guitar, electronic distortion, and VOLUME!
Thrice we went to concerts that (retrospectively) we should not have attended. The first was Dire Straights in the Greek Theater in Griffith Park Amphitheater. The second was to hear Robert Palmer (now dead) at Universal Studios. We were close enough to the stage where the sonic wave "thump" of the base drum could be felt on one's chest. Our ears were stuffy for two days. The third concert (at the same place) was a country-western blast that featured Reba McEntire. We didn't even let her get through the first song. (I watched her watch us as we got up and left). On the way out a night watchman asked us why we were leaving so soon and I said, "Because that's not the kind of music God wants us to listen to. (I guess you can see that the Holy Spirit had been working on us; especially me, because there is in me a resonance and a harmonic with rhythm and harmony. (And yes, I love the Acapella harmony of the Gaither Vocal Band). Where was I? Oh yea!
So...when it comes to spirited discussions about music in the church, for me it's a no-brainer. I know jazz, classical, country, southern gospel, band, big band, barbershop (I sang lead), trumpet, fluglehorn, church solos by the hundreds...I've either heard or done them all. There is one HUGE exception; I hate rap and hip-hop.
Let me summarize my opinion/attitude/belief on the issue of music in Seventh-day Adventist churches because I see blossoming a two-tier schedule for Sabbath Services; the first bears the kindly label, "Traditional" (which is translated, 'The one for the old poops'), and the second is called, "Contemporary" (which is translated, 'The one for the young' where they serve up (just try to challenge this) back-beat rhythm, bass guitar, electronic distortion, rhythm fills, (and often) VOLUME.
CONCLUSION: If it looks like the world, if it sounds like the world, if it feels like the world (including the thump on the chest thing), if it is more excitatory than inspiring then...it is of the world. And...if it is of the world what in the world is it doing in my church?
One Friday night I ventured only as far as the doors of a church in downtown Redlands, California. I had seen posters advertizing a religious concert. Well, it was so loud and so paganistic it was intoxicating and only the intoxicated were staying. I walked away disgusted and here's the reason; find a so-called religious-rock CD, filter out the words and then listen just to the music. Is there anybody out there brave enough to tell me this music is a gift from God designed to take us closer to Christ? I challenge anyone... anyone to discerne and describe the difference between the arrangements of Pagan rock and Christian rock (oxymoron anyone?)
How far should we go? A mainline church in downtown Seattle has a jazz service every week. Hey, that would bring folks in; right? A jazz concert was held for John Paul II at the Vatican. I know; lets get ecumenical.
I think I know why this is happening in our church and to our church. If you grow up feeding on Habanero chili peppers, who wants to eat manna? I mean, how many ways can you fix manna? Never mind whether manna is good for you; never mind you never get sick as long as you stick with the sticky stuff; never mind that none of the Scriptures are set to Rap or Hip-Hop; never mind the wishes of God for His people!
Let's all sing in harmony and unison; "I want my MTV!"
Stick that in your I-Pod and plug it into your brain!
With vitriol and sincerity, e.c.
God Bless. Here's a sing along; "If we ever needed the Lord before, we sure do need Him now...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ashamed of My God

"For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." [ Mark 8:38].
If you have been studying the Sabbath School Lesson this quarter you are aware that it centers on the gift of prophecy through out the history of God's people. This includes His remnant, visible and invisible church.
I purposely introduced the above paragraph with the qualification, "if", because these days, in any Adventist church, on any Sabbath, few bother to attend Sabbath School. Why do you suppose this is happening? Having taken no solid surveys my opinions are speculative but...let the speculation roll.
1. It begins too early (usually 9:30) and we would rather stay in bed.
2. It's attended mostly by gray-haired folks.
3. It's the same old stuff, taught by the same old people.
4. It's just plain boring; no zing, ancient format, songs with no rhythm, no beat, nothing upbeat, leaves me feeling downbeat.
5. All the teachers do is recite the weekly lesson weakly and I've already read it.
6. Discussions decay into squabbles...sometimes.
7. Ellen White gets quoted over and over and over...
Which brings me again to my point: This quarter's lesson keeps pointing us to the role of EW in our church and we already know all this stuff. Right? Evidently not. One of the most popular pastimes these recent decades is EW bashing..
Some find fulfillment in publishing spiritual pornography (I'm talking about The Proclamation (so called) where I notice one of the editors continuously strip EW from the mind and mouth of members, pastors, confirmed Laodiceans, and anyone else whose ear or eye they may catch.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion but opinions are not the basis of our faith and salvation in Jesus Christ. Evidently we either have grown ashamed or are becoming ashamed of Ellen White, and, if we are ashamed of her who points us to Jesus Christ (in virtually all her writings) does it not follow that we are ashamed of Him to whom she points us as a people and as a church?
I heard that! Someone is accusing me of elevating EW over Scripture. That's nuts!
Whole churches ignore EW because they are led by pastors whose silence on the subject encourages them to do so. Well, I am not a prophet (I guess you already know that); but I am an observer and a listener and I post what I see and what I hear in the hope that someone, anyone, will take a few moments to consider taking the time to study these issues and allow themselves to be convinced by the Holy Spirit as they accept the challenge to "...test all things, hold fast what is good..." [I Thessalonians 5:21] [NKJV].
As a final thought I will posit (put down) that a church that either refuses to study, delays studying, or ignores personal and corporate study, is a church that is dying or dead in the eyes of Him who died for our salvation.
Think on these things...and next week go to Sabbath School prepared to ask questions and challenge the sleeping saints to live a new life in Christ Jesus.
God Bless. e.c.