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The International Paper for Seventh-day Adventists

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12 Fame, Fortune, or Jesus? 21 God’s Care 26 Gratitude and Generosity


Aug ust 2017

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The International Paper for Seventh-day Adventists

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Au g u s t 2017

S T O R Y

Keep Watch! By Anthony Kent

It’s one of the most important stories Jesus told, and one with special meaning for Seventh-day Adventists.

12 Fame, Fortune, or Jesus? 21 God’s Care 26 Gratitude and Generosity

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F U N D A M E N T A L

Ready to Serve?

By Stefan Höschele

B E L I E F S

Spiritual gifts aren’t for saving—they’re for serving.

21 God’s Care

A D V E N T I S T

S E R V I C E

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V I S T A

By Sandra Doran

He knew the situation and what to do.

22 The Two Ellen Whites A D V E N T I S T

L I F E

Christ’s All-Encompassing Righteousness

By Ted N. C. Wilson

By Rachel Williams-Smith

If it’s not a gift, it’s not Christ’s righteousness.

Getting past the words “Ellen White says . . .”

12 Fame, Fortune, or Jesus?

Here I Stand

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F E A T U R E

D E V O T I O N A L

By James L. Gulley and Norman R. Gulley

Simon and Judas were at the table with Jesus; but only one person knew what was really important.

By Kathryn Proffitt

The call of duty is a call to faithfulness.

D E PA RT M E N T S 3 W O R L D

R E P O R T

3 News Briefs 10 FastChat

11 W O R L D H E A L T H Plagues and Emerging Infectious Diseases

27 B I B L E S T U D Y Can We Trust Our Conscience?

26 B I B L E

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Q U E S T I O N S A N S W E R E D

I D E A

E X C H A N G E

Gratitude and Generosity

www.adventistworld.org Available in 10 languages online

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P H O T O :

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P H O T O G R A P H Y


Paying Attention

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WORLD REPORT Costin Jordache, Adventist World

Technology Addiction Among Risk Factors for Children

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Other factors include abuse, obesity, and lack of education Delegates and local Adventists almost fill the lower floor of the Budapest auditorium on Saturday morning.

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f I had to pick just one theme in the many stories Jesus told, I’d choose the virtue of attentiveness. Think of it: the father of the prodigal son waits—who knows how long?—and spots his son when the boy is still “a great way off.” Servants are commended for continually expecting the return of their master. Laborers are urged to watch and wait during the growing season until it’s fully apparent which is a stalk of wheat and which is an unwelcome weed. The shepherd is so fully attentive that the absence of even 1 percent of his flock arrests his notice, and provokes his urgent search. And then there is the parable of the 10 bridesmaids, whose message is well summed up in the title of this edition’s cover story: “Keep Watch!” Attentiveness is the thoughtful intersection of both watching and waiting, and thus wonderfully describes the quality needed among those who tell the world that we are expecting the return of Jesus. It’s not the same thing as hypervigilance, which causes less-mature believers to obsess about everything—every spasm of violence, every economic downturn—as a certain “sign” of Jesus’ coming. We can be attentive to the nearness of Jesus’ return while doing other important things— working at a job; raising a family; building a ministry; or even resting on the Sabbath. Attentiveness means that Jesus—and the promise of enjoying His company forever—is never far from our thoughts. In the midst of all we do, we breathe a prayer of expectation and longing: “Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly!” Attentiveness is also made more likely when we choose the company of other believers. Their reminders, their words of encouragement, and their gentle prodding when we get distracted help us refocus our lives and reprioritize our calendars. We are waiting and watching as an Advent people, gathered together by the Lord to bless and help each other and our world. So: “Keep Watch!”

On May 10-14, 2017, the Seventh-day Adventist Church hosted a milestone conference in Budapest, Hungary, focused on issues affecting families, women, and children. Three General Conference departments— Family, Women’s, and Children’s Ministries—came together to discuss some of the most pressing realities for these distinct yet interconnected groups. More than 400 delegates from some 60 countries attended the global event, themed Reach the World. The following excerpt is taken from a longer article, “The Power of Collaboration,” AdventistReview.org.—Editors. A Generation at Risk

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wo plenary sessions at the Reach the World conference featured content presented by Kiti Freier Randall, a pediatric neurodevelopmental psychologist from Loma Linda University Health in California, United States. Randall, who works extensively with at-risk children, emphasized the role of the home in childhood development: “Although other supportive institutions in society play a role, it is in the family that nurture is effective and meaningful.” Randall contrasted the idyllic statement with the reality that children around the world are at risk from a great number of factors. Lack of access to education, especially for girls, is a significant risk, leading to other risk factors such as poverty, drug use, and an increased rate of Continued on next page

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offered a bright spot to the daunting realities with which she began. Science is focusing increasingly on the idea of resilience, “the capacity to maintain or develop competent functioning in the face of major life stressors.” Factors such as social support, connectedness, meaningful activity, and exercise all lead to increased resiliency. When asked how these insights impact the Adventist Church, Randall said that from her work of 30 years with the highest at-risk children in the world, she said, “Our church has all the elements we need to change tra­ jectory to a positive one. We have the ability to provide meaningfulness and hope in life. We have the ability to provide nurturance and relationship with healthy adults, and access to health activities. If you look at the scientific literature of what we need for resiliency in our children,” concluded Randall, “those can all be answered as a mission of our church. I believe we’re called to do that: to give of our ourselves in a positive, healthy relationship; to spend time with

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teen pregnancy and gang violence. Childhood obesity is another risk factor, leading to “serious lifelong consequences,” she said. Malnutrition and starvation continue to present a risk to children around the world, in addition to abuse of various kinds. Randall explained in detail the effects of trauma and abuse, showing a brain scan that revealed a visible difference in the brain of an abuse victim. “Trauma, abuse, and neglect actually change the architecture of the brain,” said Randall. She said that in some countries it is the number-one reason that children born healthy die before the age of 1.” Randall also spoke about risk factors involving technology addiction. “Too much, or misused, technology can impact a child’s physical and mental health,” she explained, which leads to sleep disturbances, depression, and anxiety. She challenged parents not to expose children under 2 years of age to technology. “It is wrong when technology is raising our children,” she said. In her second presentation Randall

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Kiti Freier Randall presents on risk factors for children at the Reach the World conference in Budapest, Hungary.

young people and make a difference in their lives.” Gabor Mihalec, a family therapist and director of family ministries for the Hungarian Union Conference, said, “We . . . have a special gift and a special opportunity to have insights into the lives of families, where these things are happening.” n

Barna Tells Delegates,

“We Are in a Crisis”

A Statistician George Barna presents his latest research at the Reach the World conference.

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notable aspect of the Reach the World conference was the presence of George Barna, well-known author, researcher, and statistician, whose research has informed the Christian community around the world. Barna, who delivered two plenary session lectures, spared no time unleashing a range of new U.S.-based

statistics gathered by his firm, American Culture and Faith Institute. He encouraged those from other countries to understand the principles behind the numbers pointing to trends around the world. He spent most of his time unpacking the concept of worldview— a set of filters by which we perceive the world around us—and the impact society is having on younger generations.


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summit to address familyrelated issues. “The world is changing so rapidly and so radically that traditional approaches and strategies are Raquel Queiroz de Costa Arrias (left); Heather-Dawn not enough,” Small; Gabor Mihalec, director of Family Ministries for Barna told the Hungarian Union Conference (HUC), Willie and Elaine Adventist World. Oliver; Miklós Soltész, Hungarian minister of state for “The church churches, minorities, and civil affairs; Linda Koh; Tamás needs to underÓcsai, president of HUC; and Robert Csizmadia, execustand the latest tive secretary, HUC. research available, and the meaning behind the data, Barna announced that statistically if we are to grow disciples effectively.” a small percentage of young people Critical Social Issues have what he called a “biblical worldThroughout the Reach the World view,” only 4 percent of 18- to conference, each of three General 30-year-olds and 7 percent of 30- to Conference departments—Family, 49-year-olds. “We are in a crisis,” Children’s, and Women’s Ministries— Barna said. “If the church does not hosted seminars focusing on elements wake up . . ., biblical Christianity in specific to their area of ministry. the United States is in jeopardy.” Among other topics, Family Ministries The researcher then turned his directors Willie and Elaine Oliver attention squarely to parents, offering fa­cil­itated a dialogue surrounding Lesa statistical call to parental responsibian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender bility. He pointed out that while chil(LGBT) issues and ques­tions. dren form their worldview by the age Ekkehardt Mueller, associate direcof 13, only 5 percent of parents with tor of the Biblical Research Institute 5- to 13-year-old children in the (BRI), gave an overview of the subject, United States have a biblical worldview. “Our children usually make their highlighting research done by BRI in gathering biblical insights into the spiritual choices by default, acquiescmatter. Mueller made it clear that the ing to cultural norms,” he concluded. Seventh-day Adventist Church does Barna ended on a positive note, not “condone the sin of homosexual emphasizing that though not easy, activity.” However, he reminded worldviews can be changed through proper asking of questions and mean- attendees that “we distinguish between homosexual orientation and homoingful dialogue with children and sexual activity.” Mueller concluded teens in an effort to “dislodge what that “as Adventists we respect all peoculture has placed in their minds.” Barna sees value in the Seventh-day ple, whether heterosexuals or homosexuals. We acknowledge that all Adventist Church organizing a global

human beings are creatures of the heavenly Father and are extremely valuable in God’s sight.” A second presentation was delivered by Virna Santos, a former member of the LGBT community and a representative of By Beholding His Love, a ministry focused on equipping “individuals, families, churches, and schools with biblical-based training, while teaching the methods of Jesus to understand issues related to sexual identity struggles” and “facilitating healthy, genuine, and intentional connection between church and LGBT communities.” The Women’s Ministries Department hosted seminars centered on women interacting meaningfully and purposefully with women of other faiths. Department director HeatherDawn Small and associate director Raquel Queiroz de Costa Arrais invited guest speakers to both inspire and teach women how to reach out into various communities of women. The Children’s Ministries Department, led by Linda Koh, director, and Saustin Mfune, associate director, explored a topic—among others— with an unexpected twist. Seminars focused on impacting and ministering to children from affluent homes. Presenters shared several of the leading causes contributing to the possibility of emotional troubles within affluent environments, including excess pressure to excel exerted by parents attempting to stay ahead of the success curve. Another risk factor includes increased isolation, typically experienced by children as parents become more affluent and, in general, busier and less connected as a result. Various principles and ideas concerning effective ways to minister to children in these circumstances were shared. n

August 2017 | Adventist World

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WORLD REPORT By Marcos Paseggi, Adventist World

Committed to the

Protestant Reformation

Theological symposium closes with consensus statement

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lmost 500 years and 11,700 kilometers (7,300 miles) from the time and place Martin Luther chose to nail his 95 “theses”—or arguments on justification by faith— to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, South American Seventh-day Adventist theologians voted a consensus statement on the same topic. At the twelfth South American Theological Symposium in Libertador San Martin, Argentina, regional theologians reaffirmed “the great principles of God’s gospel.” They also expressed a renewed commitment to “the proclamation of the eternal gospel” within the framework provided by the symposium theme, “The Just Shall Live by Faith.” “The statement reflects our commitment to the Bible, which Luther modeled so well,” said Adolfo Suárez, president of the Latin-American Adventist Theological Seminary (SALT), the organization overseeing Adventist theological education in the South American region. “Adventists have a total and unrestricted commitment to the Bible.” An International Event

The symposium gathered 400 theologians and theology students on

the campus of River Plate Adventist University from April 27 to May 1, 2017. Plenary speakers included church leaders Artur Stele, a general vice president of the world church; Elias Brasil de Souza, director of the Biblical Research Institute; and Alberto Timm, an associate director of the White Estate at the General Conference. “As a church, we have always valued the Reformation, because, in a sense, we are its sons and daughters,” said Stele. “We cannot look at the Reformation as a historical one-time-only event,” said Timm. “The Adventist Church is an heir of that movement, which advocates for ongoing efforts to staying close to God’s Word.” The Voted Statement

In their 750-word consensus statement, the theologians expressed their

desire to highlight their commitment to the principles Luther derived from his study of the book of Romans. “In his Epistle to the Romans, Paul presents the great principles of God’s gospel,” reads the beginning of the document. “It is there where we find the doctrine of righteousness by faith in Christ.” The framework provided by the Protestant Reformation was reinforced by distinctively Adventist theological elements, including the overarching notion of “a great controversy between God and Satan” and “the mission of God’s remnant church to the world.” The statement includes a commitment to the belief of God as the Creator and Sustainer of all things, humanity’s decision to separate itself from God, and God’s plan for its restoration through Jesus Christ. “We reaffirm the certainty that we are freely justified by God’s grace, without the deeds of the law,” reads the statement. The statement also reaffirms a commitment to God’s law. “We reaffirm that, through [God’s] holy, just, good, and eternally valid law, there is knowledge of sin and the need of Christ for righteousness to everyone who believes,” it reads. South American Division News and River Plate Adventist University News contributed to this report. n

Participants join in one of the breakout sessions of the South American Theological Symposium, which took place in Libertador San Martín, Argentina. R I V E R

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P L AT E

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U N I V E R S I T Y


Victor Hulbert, Trans-European Division News and Inter-European Division News

Adventist Radio Looks to

Changing Trends, Technologies Producers’ conference lays out challenges, opportunities

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he world of radio is changing. Analog is switching to digital, and AM and FM transmissions are switching to digital audio broadcasting (DAB), online, and broadcast-on-demand services. Listeners have more choices, and in the youngest age group (teenagers), only 3 percent listen to live radio. Spotify and social media fulfill their needs. Where does that leave Adventist broadcasters? That was a question posed to 41 radio producers and media experts in a Pan-European Radio Advisory held in Bucharest, Romania, in May 2017. Organized by Adventist World Radio and the Inter-European Division at the Speranta TV (Hope Channel) media center, participants from Latvia to Moldova to Portugal got acquainted with the latest trends and were challenged to update their broadcasting styles. Toward Interactive Radio

Nicolas Moulard, a proponent of Radio 2.0 in Europe and a new media consultant, led several major sessions. In his keynote address he pointed out that in France 25.5 million digital audio listeners represent 50 percent of

those over 15. He also noted that ondemand has seen a 76 percent increase and that, in developing content, broadcasters and communicators must consider “mobile first,” since it is the way most people access content. “There is a need to go where your audience is,” Moulard said. In the fight for attention, he explained that audio is now being created directly for social media, and that it may sound quite different from the radio experience. BBC Radio and most other major broadcasters point listeners toward Web sites and social media links, often giving listeners an opportunity to watch or interact via a video link. Small broadcasters are also finding the Radio 2.0 experience to be beneficial. David Elisabeth, from Radio AdventLife in Paris, France, knows this all too well. “In this modern world everything can change in the blink of an eye,” he said. “I have learned the importance of being connected with my audience even outside of the studio.” David Hermy runs a small Adventist radio station in Saint-Malo, in northern France. Two GoPro cameras in his studio give listeners an enhanced experience. “I found it difficult at first,” he confessed, “since

it meant being more conscious of the visual look of the studio.” He said at first he would wonder, “Do I look at the camera or focus on the microphone? How do I control yet another set of buttons in a self-driven studio?” Now he says he wouldn’t be without it. Speranta TV in Romania and RCS Radio in Portugal have taken it even further. They combine radio and TV in the same studio, being conscious of both audiences in productions that feed their FM audience and Hope Channel on their TV sets or computer screens. Positive Feedback

Such convergence gives more opportunity for interaction and, as a result, for witnessing. Stefan Stanciu, part of a team aiming to launch a digital station in London, said that the conference was invaluable. “It has shown practical ways in which we can work,” he said. Roberto Vacca, from RVS Florence, said, “Hearing the experience of other radio stations with their different approaches was refreshing and, again, a challenge.” Adventist World Radio vice president Greg Scott said the event exceeded his expectations. “The level of excitement and enthusiasm to learn about the new possibilities of Radio 2.0 was inspiring,” he said. “I was thrilled to see the high level of networking among the various groups, languages, and radio entities.” Across secularized Europe, presenters, technicians, and managers have been challenged to think differently, to adapt to new technologies, to interact with their audiences in new ways, and to focus on total radio involvement in sharing hope. n

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hat a privilege we have as members of the Seventhday Adventist Church to plead with the Lord for revival, reformation, and the latter rain of the Holy Spirit as we proclaim the three angels’ messages (Rev. 14:6-12) in

By Ted N. C. Wilson

Christ’s

All-Encompassing

However, some groups or independent ministries in various parts of the world seem to claim for themselves a prophetic or corrective role that, at times, tends to generate controversies that divide congregations and members. As God’s last-day remnant church, it is important that we look to Christ for unity in the doctrinal and mission-driven commission given by God for His prophetic movement. “God has a church upon the earth who are His chosen people, who keep His commandments. He is leading, not stray offshoots, not one here and one there, but a people” (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 61). Righteousness that Saves

Some groups tend to focus on issues such as the nature of Christ, trying to define every aspect of that profound subject and tending to urge sinless perfectionism. Although Christ came to take humanity’s nature, we must remember that as the Son of God He was perfect. As finite human beings, we simply do not understand everything about Christ’s nature since He was fully divine and fully human. However, through the gift of prophecy we are told, “In taking upon Himself man’s nature in its fallen condition, Christ did not in the least participate in its sin” (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 256). We Seventh-day Adventists do not promote or endorse any sort of perfectionism that could imply that a person is saved by any work or merit apart from that of Jesus Christ.

Righteousness

Focusing on Jesus, rather than on each other anticipation of Christ’s soon second coming. We must go forward, united in our biblical message and heaven-borne mission, looking to Christ in all we do. Ellen White wrote, “The secret of unity is found in the equality of believers in Christ. The reason for all division, discord, and difference is found in separation from Christ. Christ is the center to which all should be attracted; for the nearer we approach the center, the closer we shall come together in feeling, in sympathy, in love, growing into the character and image of Jesus” (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 259).

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Ellen White counsels that, “No one who claims holiness is really holy. Those who are registered as holy in the books of Heaven are not aware of the fact, and are the last ones to boast of their own goodness. None of the prophets and apostles ever professed holiness, not even Daniel, Paul, or John. The righteous never make such a claim. The more nearly they resemble Christ, the more they lament their unlikeness to Him; for their consciences are sensitive, and they regard sin more as God regards it. They have exalted views of God and of the great plan of salvation; and their hearts, humbled under a sense of their own unworthiness, are alive to the honor of being accounted members of the royal family, sons and daughters of the King Eternal” (True Revival, p. 62). Similarly, we read: “When persons claim that they are sanctified, they give sufficient evidence that they are far from being holy. They fail to see their own weakness and destitution. They look upon themselves as reflecting the image of Christ, because they have no true knowledge of Him. The greater the distance between them and their Saviour, the more righteous they appear in their own eyes” (The Sanctified Life, p. 8). Focus on God’s Mission

I appeal to all church members to focus on Christ and His righteousness alone. He provides justification and sanctification to all who submit to Him every day. I urge all to allow Christ to unify us in the evangelistic

Seventh-day Adventists do not promote or endorse any sort of perfectionism that could imply that a person is saved by any work or merit apart from that of

Jesus Christ. outreach of the church and avoid divisive activities. We do not support or endorse groups who criticize and undermine God’s remnant movement by bringing agitation and controversy into the local church. Clearly delineated church policies and procedures have been established to address whatever methodological or theological disagreements may arise within our church family. It is important that God’s remnant church move ahead with its divinely appointed mission. We appeal to all not to seek a perfectionist, legalistic

religion, but instead to depend wholly by faith upon the merits of Christ and His righteousness for our justification and sanctification.1 By God’s grace and through His power we are to move ahead with the great proclamation of the three angels’ messages that has been entrusted to God’s people. We are told, “In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the Word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import—the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 19). As we rely solely upon Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, may we focus steadfastly on the mission with which we have been entrusted: proclaiming the three angels’ messages through the power of the Holy Spirit. n 1

For further study and resources on this inexhaustible theme of Christ and His righteousness, see Eph. 2:8-10, Phil. 2:1-13; 2 Cor. 5:17, 21; John 3:3; 1 John 5:4; Gal. 2:20; Titus 2:5-6; Titus 3:7, 8; Heb. 4:14-16; and Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, pp. 62-63 and 70-71.

Ted N. C. Wilson is

president of the Seventhday Adventist Church. Additional articles and commentary are available from the president’s office on Twitter: @pastortedwilson and on Facebook: @PastorTedWilson.

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FRUITION LAB

Ideas With Wings FASTCHAT is a monthly ministry feature/interview for Adventist World.

This month we interview Jeff Tatarchuk and Taylor Paris, cofounders of Fruition Lab. —Editors.

What is Fruition Lab? What inspired you to start it? Fruition Lab is working to restoke the flame of innovation and entrepreneurship in the Adventist Church. Our mission is to inspire, connect, and educate impactdriven entrepreneurs. We felt inspired to start it because we Adventists often put a strong emphasis on mission and ministry done only through our typical channels of teaching, preaching, and health care. But underlying each of these are good business principles and leadership. We see the need for developing entrepreneurs who are problem solvers and job creators, coming from all educational disciplines. If you’re someone looking to take an idea, make it a sustainable reality, and improve the world around you, we want to meet you and hear your ideas.

Jeff, you’re a pastor/evangelist turned entrepreneur. Tell us about that. Well, I’ve always been an entrepreneur. But I like to think I’m still a pastor and evangelist. In fact, for me there’s nothing greater than sharing about the ultimate and original Creator and Entrepreneur, Jesus Christ. I love that He created humanity with the divine ability to take any idea and make that idea a reality. I want to see more people discover their calling, pursue their God-given dreams, and impact the world outside the four walls of the church building through enterprise.

Visit FruitionLab.org and submit your ideas.

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Taylor, you have a history as an entrepreneur. How did Fruition Lab that inspire you to start it? I had been looking for mentors, investors, and resources to grow my own business, and I realized that every entrepreneur I talked to was looking for the same thing. Fruition grew out of the need to create an organization that could not only help me but be part of an ecosystem to impact entrepreneurs. The most exciting part is being able to connect with people who want to maximize their profits as well as their impact in the community.

You held your inaugural event last summer. Was it just for people in the United States? Not at all. This is a global movement. We had people come from all over the world. Allan Das, an Adventist biotech entrepreneur, traveled 26 hours from India to attend and promote his new product during our pitch competition. There is a groundswell going on, and we are so excited about our next international event in Houston this month.

Do you have any advice for Adventists who have ideas they want to see come to reality? Get in touch with us! We want to help you get access to mentors and funding to make your ideas a reality. Just recently we were approached by a venture capital firm that wants to fund mission-based ventures and the best ideas. We want to hear from you.


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Plagues and Emerging Infectious

Diseases Are they prophetic?

By Peter N. Landless and Zeno L. Charles-Marcel I saw an ad for a TV show about modern plagues and new infections threatening life on the planet. What are these plagues, and could these be the last plagues mentioned in the Bible?

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e don’t know what you saw, but there are indeed infectious-disease threats that are worth knowing about, whether or not they are related to the plagues of Revelation 16. The biblical last-day plagues occur just before the millennium and include natural disasters and pestilence (see Rev. 16:1021). Current global health problems include mental and emotional illnesses, chronic degenerative diseases (noncommunicable diseases, or NCDs), inadequate nutrition, and substance abuse. These increase our susceptibility to new, emerging infectious diseases and old, established ones. Almost all the emerging viral diseases originate in animals, which serve as their reservoirs and incubators. Mutations allow these germs to develop the ability to pass from animals to humans, then from humans to humans. In 2007 the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of an acceleration in emergence rates of infectious diseases. The appearance of new infectious diseases per decade has more than tripled over the past 50 years, and outbreaks per year have more than doubled during the same period. At the same time, multiple drugresistant organisms have become more common because of antibiotic P H O T O S :

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misuse. Since the 1970s more than 40 infectious diseases—such as Ebola, swine flu, Lyme disease, avian flu, SARS, chikungunya, MERS, and Zika—have been discovered. Globally we are more vulnerable to the worldwide spread of a deadly infectious disease than a century ago, when the pandemic flu killed an estimated 50 to 100 million people. Because travel is so accessible over vast distances, and more people live in densely populated urban centers, the potential for rapid spread of contagious diseases is very high. Ever-closer contact between humans and animals and even bioterrorism increase this risk. Mutated microbes may go unrecognized by our weakened immune defenses. So, should the bird flu, H7N9, which, in China, has recently been found to jump or spill over from poultry to humans, mutates more, it may become the next pandemic. WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have placed this high on the watch list, since potential transformation to a more contagious form from human to human could happen at any time. Once this occurs, spread will be difficult to contain. Presently we have no means of preventing the transformation of the virus, no vaccine against it, and no tested global system in place to mount an adequate rapid response. While spillovers occur from time to time, the rapid environmental change brought about by our reckless abuse of the environment has accelerated the risk of spread.

Our understanding of and ability to detect potential harmful mutations in viruses is better than ever. Realtime detection and tracking are helpful, but our current weakened state leaves us with little immune protection against new viral strains. Even though the flu usually isn’t deadly for otherwise healthy people, most of the deaths in the 2009 swine flu epidemic were in low-risk age groups that were presumed to be healthy. Maintaining a balanced, godly lifestyle helps optimize our immune defenses. Avoiding risky exposures is a natural safeguard. There are clear benefits to following an animal-free, or plant-based, diet; getting adequate exercise and rest; and maintaining wholesome relationships. The question may not be “Could these be the last plagues?” but rather, “Am I prepared spiritually, mentally, and physically to face the oncoming apocalyptic onslaught?” Plus: “Am I doing all I can to help others be prepared as well?” n

Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.

Zeno L. Charles-Marcel, a board-certified

internist, is an associate director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.

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esus was nearing the end of His earthly ministry. As crowds around Him grew larger with people eager to see this miracle worker, the Jewish leaders’ hatred of Jesus increased. They considered the Passover a perfect time to trap Christ. This is the backdrop in which Jesus entered Simon’s house with His disciples and close friends. Let’s focus on three of the principal characters: Simon, Judas, and Mary. Simon

Simon may have been one of the 10 lepers who didn’t stop to thank Jesus after they had been healed. Or he may have been a different leper healed by Jesus. Clearly he wanted to show his thanks for being healed by Jesus by inviting Him to a feast. Simon was a Pharisee, and this adds significance to this gesture, since many Pharisees and rulers sought to undermine Jesus’ authority. Perhaps Simon wanted to repay this colossal debt for Jesus healing his leprosy. He was a leader and didn’t want to be indebted to anyone. So he seized the opportunity to redeem this honor. According to Luke, when Simon saw Mary anointing Jesus, he began to doubt that Jesus was the Messiah. Mary was a known sinner. Simon thought, If Jesus was really a prophet, He wouldn’t let this sinner touch Him. Here was Simon, saved by Jesus from a living death, and privately doubting his healer. But Jesus, ever tactful, did not publicly rebuke Simon. Instead, He told a parable (Luke 7:40-43). A creditor had two debtors. One owed 500 denarii, the other 50. Neither of them could pay, so the creditor freely forgave them both. Which one will love the creditor more? Simon said, “The one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” Jesus said, “You have judged correctly” (verse 43, NIV). Gently but firmly Christ said, “Look at Mary. I entered your house, and you didn’t provide water to wash My feet. But she washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss of welcome, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she has anointed My head [Luke] and My feet [John] with fragrant oil. Therefore, her sins, which are many, are forgiven.” Simon was preoccupied with the appearance of doing the right thing. He paid the debt of honor in order to move on. But he didn’t follow through on the simple acts of common courtesy that were customary at the time. He was a man of means; he must have had many servants. But he didn’t have a servant wash Jesus’ feet. Simon didn’t greet Jesus with the customary kiss offered to guests of honor. Perhaps Simon purposely neglected Jesus. Maybe he calculated that, in the eyes of his colleagues, it would be

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Fame, Fortune, or

esus? J A story that reveals us at our best, and worst. By J ames L. Gulley and Norman R. Gulley


easier if he did just the minimal amount to repay his debt so he could move on. Judas

The reaction of Judas is told by John. Matthew and Mark merely mention that some of the disciples were indignant about the wasted perfume. We know that Judas held the money used by Jesus and His followers, money he used for his own personal gain. Judas asked, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?” (John 12:5, NIV). He didn’t care about the poor; he was a thief (verse 6). The word “thief ” used here is kleptes, from which we derive kleptomaniac, somebody with an obsessive urge to steal, even when there is no economic necessity. Ellen White wrote: “The act of Mary was in such marked contrast to his selfishness that he was put to shame; and according to his cus­ tom, he sought to assign a worthy motive for his objection to her gift.” 1 Do you know someone who tries to make others look bad so that he or she can look better? That was Judas.

The Greek verb “to wipe,” ekmassein, is the same verb used to describe Jesus washing His disciples’ feet at the Last Supper. This guest, Mary, was doing something that the host had neglected to do. But Mary wasn’t just using water, and she wasn’t doing it just because it had to be done. This was a special anointing. Mary sought to avoid observation, and her act might have gone unnoticed. But the ointment’s fragrance filled the room. Simon must have been one of the first to notice the aroma. Mary was probably lost in her act until she heard Judas barking his self-serving proclamation. Then Jesus put His stamp of approval on Mary’s act. He gently admonished, “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me” (John 12:8, NIV). He went further, saying, “When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Matt. 26:12, 13, NIV). No wonder this story is found in all the Gospels. It’s a story about forgiveness and redemption, a quintessential story about the hopeless underdog coming winning the ultimate prize. Jesus championed those who were poor, those who were sick, and those who were oppressed. Perhaps that’s why we see Mary remaining at Jesus’ feet, even when He’s on the cross. Perhaps that’s why she’s one of the first disciples Jesus spoke to after the Resurrection, the one He empowered to tell the other disciples that He was alive. Whereas Simon and Judas felt smug, without needing salvation, Mary considered herself a great sinner. That’s why Mary loved Christ so deeply. Her beautiful gesture was a heartfelt act of appreciation for Christ’s lavish love. She was driven by an undeniable, unquenchable love for Jesus. n

No wonder this story is found in all the Gospels.

Mary

Earlier in Jesus’ ministry He had cast seven demons from Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2, 3). So it’s no wonder that while Martha toiled, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet. Ellen White observed: “Mary was storing her mind with the precious words falling from the Savior’s lips, words that were more precious to her than earth’s most costly jewels.” 2 Rich people like Simon would recline at the table on broad, low couches. These dining couches sloped down from front to back, with a pillow at the head. People would lie on their left sides and eat. Thus, their feet would be away from the table. Perhaps, as Jesus reclined, with His feet away from the center of the room, Mary approached without drawing much attention to herself. Jesus had spoken of His approaching death. In her deep love and sorrow Mary longed to honor Him. At great personal sacrifice she purchased an alabaster box of spikenard to anoint Him. This ointment likely originated high in the Himalayas in northern India, and was considered “very costly.” At a cost of 300 denarii, it was the equivalent of 300 working days for a laborer at the time. Truly a gift fit for a king. Breaking the seal on the box, she poured its contents on Jesus’ feet. Then she knelt, and as her tears mingled with the expensive ointment, she wiped Jesus’ dusty feet.

1 Ellen

G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898), p. 559.

2 Ibid., p. 525.

James L. Gulley is a research

physician at the National Institutes of Health, near Washington, D.C. Norman R. Gulley (James’ father) is a research professor in the School of Religion at Southern Adventist University, Tennessee, United States.

August 2017 | Adventist World

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F U N D A M E N T A L

B E L I E F S

By Stefan Höschele

F

ortunately, I rarely feel envious of others. Emotions I may struggle with are fear and some degree of pride, but envy? No. I’m a pastor who serves as a college teacher and part-time administrator, so my work is full of interesting activities. What’s more, I feel as if I am in an excellent place to apply some of the talents God has given me. But recently I felt somewhat out of place and began feeling a bit envious of people who work in another line. Let me explain. Where Do I Fit in This Drama?

During the past three years Europe experienced the most intense drama after the peaceful German reunification of 1989. In Germany alone, in 2015, 900,000 refugees arrived. Many of them had lost almost everything. Most of these families mourn the death of loved ones. For months, politicians have discussed how to accommodate them, and some demand the number of people reaching here should be reduced. (Even my children, who closely follow the public debate, wonder how this can be done without violence.) And I keep asking myself, What is my role in this as a Seventhday Adventist college professor of theology? In the part of Germany where I live, most people are secular. But there is something encouraging in this challenging situation: Christians are often the most active in caring for these refugees. Young people and families who are stranded in a completely foreign country all need various kinds of support. From teaching free basic language courses to helping with paper-

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READY work, from inviting asylum seekers home for dinner to raising intercultural awareness among both the host population and the new arrivals, there are no limits of openings for showing Christ’s love to those who have left behind war-torn countries. This is where my uneasiness comes in. My wife graduated from a social work program last fall and got employed immediately in a refugee care institution. Since then she has been serving at the humanitarian frontline while I—well, I just continue teaching, complete research projects that approach their deadlines, and fulfill my administrative duties in school. You surely understand that I would like to do something more exciting, something that feels more like mission at the cutting edge. Of course, I am delighted that the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germany quickly developed a project called “Together for Refugees.” Every congregation that develops ministries in this realm can get support from ADRA. But what about me? Why can’t I have more time right now to engage in something as historic as this? Applying Gifts Properly

In the early Christian community people also asked the question of who should fulfill which task. They faced tremendous problems: poor people

to

erv S

requiring support, internal conflicts, ill will from society. Soon the apostles realized they couldn’t do it all. Why should not some deal with social work issues (cf. Acts 6)? If others have the gift to do cross-cultural ministry (see Gal. 2:7-10), they ought to utilize it! Not everyone needs to preach or teach. Not everyone is a social worker. And yes, some people are uniquely gifted with establishing relationships with those who would never ask for God on their own. Here is a remarkable example from a tiny church in the region where I live. For many years a few middle-aged women and some older members have done a very simple but much-needed service to their community by running a youth center in their building. Even though they knew they were not preachers, they wanted to support the needy in their small town. Every weekday afternoon young people come to play, socialize, or receive help with


God has gifted us with countless opportunities

rve? homework. Recently several young men from countries with very few Christians started to attend. One day they asked if they could participate in the worship service. Soon 10 of them committed their lives to Christ. How did this happen? Just a few

SPIRITUAL GIFTS

ordinary people used their very natural talents to serve in their community. They gave time, offered support for people with everyday problems, and shared their joy of being followers of Christ. They Can Be Unspectacular

Spiritual gifts, then, do not need to feel ecstatic or supernatural. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish whether something is a “natural” skill or a special gift from God. These gifts often have a lot to do both with doing the right things and with doing things right. They enable God to match real needs with those who can serve best, or those who are ready to serve at all. Applying a spiritual gift, therefore, often means realizing that even routine activities done well can have an impact we never expect. Serving God with our gifts may often appear quite unspectacular. Martin Luther put it this way: the work of a

stable maid and a prince are both callings from God. Perhaps you have done something for years, and it no longer feels like something important—like preparing for a committee meeting or teaching classes you have taught 10 times before. It may also be as simple as visiting refugees and eating with them. (I had this opportunity recently; my contribution was taking time to listen, a gift that everyone has in the same measure every day.) After all, God’s gifts are not about me, not even about my ambition to be a great helper. They are about other people, and about God’s way of doing things. n

Stefan Höschele, Ph.D.,

a former missionary to Algeria and Tanzania, teaches mission studies and systematic theology at Theologische Hochschule Friedensau, Germany.

& Mission

God bestows upon all members of His church in every age spiritual gifts that each member is to employ in loving ministry for the common good of the church and of humanity. Given by the agency of the Holy Spirit, who apportions to each member as He wills, the gifts provide all abilities and ministries needed by the church to fulfill its divinely ordained functions. According to the Scriptures, these gifts include such ministries as faith, healing, prophecy, proclamation, teaching, administration, reconciliation, compassion, and self-sacrificing service and charity for the help and encouragement of people. Some members are called

of God and endowed by the Spirit for functions recognized by the church in pastoral, evangelistic, and teaching ministries particularly needed to equip the members for service, to build up the church to spiritual maturity, and to foster unity of the faith and knowledge of God. When members employ these spiritual gifts as faithful stewards of God’s varied grace, the church is protected from the destructive influence of false doctrine, grows with a growth that is from God, and is built up in faith and love. (Acts 6:1-7; Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Cor. 12:7-11, 27, 28; Eph. 4:8, 11-16; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; 1 Peter 4:10, 11.)

August 2017 | Adventist World

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C OV E R S T O RY

By Anthony Kent

W

here were you on April 29, 2011? You may remember . . . there was a British royal wedding. And I have to tell you—on that day, in so many places around the world, there seemed to be nothing else on TV! Who was the bride? Kate Middleton. Who was the groom? Prince William. But who was the star of the wedding? Pippa Middleton! The bride’s sister; the bridesmaid. Jesus once told a parable in which 10 bridesmaids were stars of the show. To be honest, it’s a shocking parable, not because it’s a “bad” parable, but because it’s full of surprises. Be prepared to be shocked. Better still, be prepared! Some translations include this warning: “Keep watch!” With an economy of words—just 13 verses, and 170 words in the Greek original of Matthew’s Gospel— extraordinary pictures are drawn. Most of us can recall the sharp conversations as well as the emotions that are evoked—such emotions as panic and anxiety. As we read the parable, we can almost find ourselves cringing with the sheer awkwardness. Teenagers love to say “Well, that was awkward!” to describe a particularly embarrassing event. This parable portrays the ultimate awkward event of all eternity. “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom” (Matt. 25:1).* “At that time.” We want to know—at what time? In Matthew 24 there’s a graphic portrayal of what’s going on in the world before Jesus returns. Matthew 25 describes what’s happening in the church—among Jesus’ closest followers, those in His wedding party—just before His return. This parable is about discipleship in the twenty-first century.

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Be prepared for anything and everything, even shocked.

For more than 185 years students of the Bible have been focusing on Matthew 25:1-13 to understand what Jesus expects of His faithful people as they await His second coming. This passage has been central to Seventhday Adventist thought and witness throughout our history. We present here a thoughtful, practical guide to understanding this key Bible story, originally shared as a sermon in the Spencerville, Maryland (U.S.A.), Adventist Church in March 2017.—Editors.


This parable has an unusual timerelated phrase in its opening lines: “the kingdom of heaven will be like” (or “shall be like”). Earlier in Matthew’s Gospel, in chapter 13, a string of parables all begin: “The kingdom of heaven is like . . .” Wheat and tares. A mustard seed. Treasure hidden in a field. A pearl of great price. The net. But the parables in Matthew 25 are unique. When Jesus told these parables, Matthew recorded them as being in the future tense. They are describing what is happening in the church immediately before Jesus returns. For one reason or another, this parable is largely ignored by many in the Christian world. In fact, one author writes, referring to all scholars, “Clearly some scholars do not care for this parable, and often it is omitted or treated briefly.”1 And if we’re being truly honest, many of us don’t care for this parable either. There’s a penetrating sharpness to this parable. The parable is so sharp that there is a warning message at the start: “Five of them were foolish and five were wise” (verse 2). It’s as though this parable is so surprising and so shocking that there is a summary, preparing readers for the surprise that’s in store for them.2 It’s much like the warning that comes on certain television and video content: “Viewer discretion advised.” One of the first surprises in the story Jesus tells is about the bride, or to be more accurate, what bride? There is no specific mention of the bride, but the bride is there. Further, the parable is not known as the Parable of the Late Bridegroom, or the Parable of the Midnight Bridegroom. Instead, it’s known as the Parable of the 10 Virgins. The bridesmaids are the center of attention.

That in itself says something about the Great Storyteller, Jesus. His purpose was never about Himself, but about others. Even on His wedding day He places the emphasis upon others. Also, there’s no mention of any guests. Yes, there is an unidentified “midnight cry” voice announcing the arrival of the bridegroom, but the whole focus of the story is upon the bridesmaids. In a sense, there’s nowhere to hide in this parable. There is only one option: readers of the parable can only be bridesmaids. And if we’re again honest, gender doesn’t seem to be the issue here. The characteristics described here are not peculiar to young females. The characteristics of these 10 people appear in all humanity, in all nationalities, and all cultures. Of the 10, there are five wise, or, as some commentators have portrayed them, “thoughtful”3 or “sensible.”4 The remaining five have been described as foolish, unwise, thoughtless, even silly, by many commentators. And if we’re tempted to think as we read, “Ah, no big deal,” consider what Ellen White wrote: “This parable has been and will be fulfilled to the very letter.”5 So the actual parable begins: “The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them” (verse 3). What were those lamps? According to one of the best authorities, the “lamps here are not the small, hand-held Herodian period lamps, which would generate very little light, but torches.” “In poorer villages these torches may have been sticks wrapped with oiled rags.”6 “Some scholars have suggested that the torches could burn only 15 minutes before being rewrapped with more oiled cloth.”7 The point is that these lamps would burn brightly, but not for long.

The purpose of the light was not to provide light for the bridegroom to find his way in the darkness. “The light is to make for a grand arrival: the bridegroom will be illuminated as a focus of attention; this is his moment of glory as he is on his way to take his bride.”8 In much the same way many people welcome the arrival of a new year with spectacular fireworks, the bridesmaids were to welcome the bridegroom with the brightest lights they could muster. “The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps” (verse 4). Some scholars believe that the torches had associated oil containers. It remains unclear whether the foolish maidens are to be thought of as leaving the containers behind, or, perhaps more likely, as bringing them, but without first filling them with oil.9 So if they did take containers, they contained only the dregs of a previous use, the leftovers. They made no preparation. These associated oil containers or jars were designed so that these lamps or torches were actually dipped into an oil container or jar to maximize the loading of the oil onto the torch. The cloths would absorb the oil like a sponge soaking it up, perhaps better than a cookie soaks up milk. “The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep” (verse 5). After much information has been shared about the bridesmaids, we receive the first details about the bridegroom. And so we ask, “Who is this bridegroom?” The identity of the bridegroom is unmistakable. Everything points to Jesus. The context of the parable is undeniably specific: the Bridegroom is clearly Jesus. We are also caught by the matter of the delay that is described. It seizes our August 2017 | Adventist World

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often finish around midnight. Some of us stay up to midnight to welcome in the new year, but sensible people go to bed soon after. Has anyone ever attended a wedding that started at midnight? Would you attend a church board meeting at midnight? Other faiths may conduct their midnight services, but not Adventists. We’re believers in health reform! The term translated “midnight” is actually less precise in the original Greek: it’s more like “in the middle of the night” or “well into the night.”11 At whatever hour, though—at a moment’s notice—all the virgins are called to action, even if it’s the middle of the night. They may have been drowsy earlier, but not now! But as has been noted: “The passage of time seems to play no essential role in the story; the die has long since been cast by the failure of the foolish maidens to bring oil.”12 Like me, you may think of the great ocean liner Titanic, which sank in a great tragedy a little more than a century ago. Most of the construction materials were of the highest quality, except for the rivets. The builders could access only inferior-quality rivets. The rivets, which held everything together, didn’t hold everything together. In that sense, it wasn’t a matter of whether the Titanic would sink, but when. Now comes the decisive moment of the story: the cry comes! For Adventists, this phrase is filled with deep and powerful imagery. The concept of the “midnight cry” has been so central to our history as a remnant that those expecting Jesus’ return in 1844 even named a journal after it: The Midnight Cry. “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out’ ” (verses 7, 8).

J E N N I

attention because we can’t help reading ourselves into this story. We’re waiting for the Bridegroom, aren’t we? We’re waiting for Jesus to return. We are in this! You and I are among the 10. “All the virgins would have been ready for the groom had he arrived when they expected, but grooms’ delays were common enough that they should have anticipated it; this provides clear warning that the parousia [Jesus’ promised second coming] might be delayed—perhaps for Jesus’ first disciples who expected the kingdom to appear immediately, and surely for those who were disappointed at Jesus’ nonreturn at the temple’s demise in [AD] 70.”10 While the coming may be delayed, it is inevitable. Jesus promises that He will return with power and great glory! “They all became drowsy and fell asleep.” The wise, the prepared, were not superhuman, or superheroes. The human body is designed by the Creator to sleep when it is tired. Remember, it is this same Bridegroom who gave humanity the Sabbath to rest. The text is transparent here. They slept not because they had given up the faith or grown cold in their faith. The sleep the virgins slept—all 10 of them—was the beat of normal human life. They aren’t condemned for sleeping in the middle of night. When else are virtuous people meant to sleep? Sleeping at midnight is not a sin. “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ ” (verse 6). Most of us are secretly wondering, “What event starts at midnight?” Thanks to modern technology, some sports fans will watch sporting events that start at midnight, but only because it’s happening in another part of the world at a reasonably “expected” time in the host area. Events finish around midnight, or so we assume. Weddings and parties

D O U G L A S

C OV E R S T O RY

A few years ago I was in Slovenia, speaking at some important meetings. I was feeling the effects of jet lag after my arrival. I had worked hard during the day, and it was stressful standing up in front of people and speaking. In the process of going to bed, I knew I was going to sleep soundly. Just before I got into bed I had this strange prompting: Recharge your mobile phone. I looked at my phone, saw that it was half charged and thought, That will do. I’ll recharge it tomorrow night. I got into bed and slept soundly. The next morning, after speaking for several hours in meetings, my phone rang with the sudden and totally unexpected news that my father—thousands of miles away in Australia—had died. I quickly discovered how quickly a half-charged battery empties and expires. Just when I wanted to be able to talk, to be comforted and offer comfort, I had no power. Emergency travel plans needed to be made, and there wasn’t even a spark in the phone.


Nothing is going to distract the wise from their single purpose: flaming torches to meet the bridegroom! Let’s shine a little more light on the key people in the parable: “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.” The five we have called “foolish” all knew the bridegroom. They didn’t simply know about him: they knew him. They were waiting for him— supportive. Further, they associated with those we call “wise.” They weren’t argumentative or destructive. They didn’t carry fire extinguishers or water or sand buckets. It wasn’t their intention to be hindrances or obstructive. In fact, they had all the right paraphernalia; they had lamps! But they were missing the vital ingredient: oil. In a more familiar analogy, they had a car, but no gas. They had one job, which was but a momentary role in the whole scheme. Like a percussion instrument in a whole orchestra—a triangle or drum that has to be hit only once, but at the right moment—the player must coordinate both elements, both drum and drumstick. But now we have the drumstick but no drum! Everyone is

waiting for one decisive beat—the other orchestral players are waiting for it; the conductor is anticipating it; even the audience is looking forward to it. And there is silence. A few weeks ago I was listening to our church organist play a beautiful piece I know well to conclude the worship service. I knew that there’s a bass note he was going to play, so I was sitting there, anticipating it, and he delivered. In a moment like that, you feel the music not just in your ears but through your whole body. But we all know the dismay of dashed expectations, when things don’t turn out as they should. We cringe at the unworthy explanations offered by those who fail to meet what is reasonably expected of them. You, too, know the line attempted by too many unready students: “The dog ate my homework”! As one author emphasizes: “It’s not just a lack of planning, it is a piece of pure thoughtlessness.”13 To borrow the words of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah: “They are

all mute dogs, they cannot bark” (Isa. 56:10). Well-known Adventist evangelist Mark Finley writes about this moment: “Living on the knife-edge of eternity, on the verge of the kingdom of God, the entire church is pictured as spiritually drowsy, asleep.”14 “The foolish virgins trusted in their past experience as if they had all that was needed for their spiritual lives. The height of Christian folly is neglecting personal soul culture and believing everything is all right. The foolish virgins neglected to nourish their souls.”15 Ellen White wrote: “The class represented by the foolish virgins are not hypocrites. They have a regard for the truth, they have advocated the truth, they are attracted to those who believe the truth; but they have not yielded themselves to the Holy Spirit’s working. They have not fallen upon the Rock, Christ Jesus.”16 They are in the right place at the right time. They are connected; they have all the right paraphernalia. But they are missing something. “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves’ ” (Matt. 25:9). It may be a bit jolting to us that the wise won’t share any oil. They don’t seem to even check to see if they have any surplus. Perhaps they know all about their oil, even without looking. Most of us know how much fuel we have in our cars. We know how our mortgages or bank accounts are doing. But do I, do we, know our spiritual oil gauge as well as we know the level of our car’s fuel gauge? I remember leading a Bible study with a group of teenagers. I was eager to hear their perspective on this parable, so we read this parable together and discussed it together. I asked them about the wise not sharing their oil. The response of a August 2017 | Adventist World

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C OV E R S T O RY

15-year-old was emphatic: “Why should the wise jeopardize their entry when the foolish had every opportunity to have plenty of oil? Why should they risk heaven for them?” It’s a good point! The stakes are too high. More specifically, the lamps or torches the virgins used made it practically impossible to share the oil. Sharing air from one car tire to another is very difficult as well— highly unlikely. It’s like sharing a pen during an examination: impossible. One writer makes this helpful observation: “The thoughtful do not scold the thoughtless or judge them.”17 They don’t take the time to do this. Nothing is going to distract the wise from their single purpose: flaming torches to meet the bridegroom! “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut” (verse 10). So in the middle of the night the foolish are out trying to buy oil. We can imagine them going to all sorts of places. The context of the parable makes it hard to imagine a shop open and selling oil at that hour of the night. Perhaps they resorted to calling in favors, feverishly visiting acquaintances, trying to borrow, perhaps even begging! And that’s just when the bridegroom arrives. In comparison to the extraordinarily long delay, the banquet starts with remarkable alacrity. Not only does the banquet start, but more important, the door was shut! What does that remind you of? One chapter earlier Jesus had referenced another story that involved a shut door—that of Noah (Matt. 24:37-39).

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This is dramatically, unmistakably important. “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ ” (Matt. 25:11). We aren’t told whether the foolish had been successful in their attempts to buy oil, because it doesn’t matter anymore. They could have arrived with a camel load of the stuff, but it was too late. The whole purpose of the torches had passed. The grand triumphal arrival was over. As sporting coaches sometimes say: “You can go back to a place, but you can’t go back to a time.” “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you’ ” (verse 12). In verse 11 the foolish ask— probably beg—for the door to be opened. But the door isn’t opened for them. The bridegroom doesn’t even come out to speak with these “others,” but apparently speaks through the closed door. One author reminds us that one of the chief qualifications for the role of a bridesmaid was that they be unmarried friends or relatives of the bride or groom: “The com­paratively trivial lapse of a failure to be provided with oil has come to symbolize an ultimately false relationship; they are not part of Jesus’ true family.”18 And the bridegroom says, “I don’t know you.” This is the moment of our greatest discomfort, but the one in which we should be listening most carefully. “Some spiritual decisions can only be described as stupid. The decision to be a Christian, but not too much (which is close to the heart of this parable’s meaning), will be described as a stupid decision.”19 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour” (verse 13). Thus we come to the actual “take home” point of Jesus’ parable. In other words: “Keep your faith.

Protect, preserve, nourish your faith.” By keeping watch, we hope. When we hope, we live in joyous anticipation. This overwhelms any embarrassment we may feel if we are seen by doubters to be watching. When we watch, we long for Jesus to return. When we watch, we pray to and through Jesus; we meditate upon Jesus. We are immersed in Him. When we watch, we seek our Bibles and crave to hear the words of Jesus. When we watch, Jesus is a natural, integral part of our lives: accompanying us, tending to us, guiding us, guarding us, through every intersection and curve of our lives. When we watch, our views, values, and vision more approximate His beautiful views, values, and vision. And so I close with the very words of Jesus: “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour” (Matt. 25:13). n * Bible texts in this article are from the New International Version. 1 Klyne R. Snodgrass, Stories With Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008) p. 505. 2 Preannounce important content of the parable and the beginning of the actual story is delayed until verse 3 (John Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005, p. 1005). 3 Frederick D. Bruner, Matthew: A Commentary, vol. 2: The Churchbook Matthew 13-28, Revised and Expanded Edition (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), p. 544. 4 R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 2007), p. 948. 5 In Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Aug. 19, 1890. 6 Craig S. Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), p. 596. 7 Ibid., p. 597. 8 Nolland, Matthew, p. 1004. 9 Ibid., p. 1006. 10 Keener, Matthew, p. 597. 11 Nolland, Matthew, p. 1007. 12 Ibid., p. 1006. 13 Ibid., p. 1005 14 Mark A. Finley, Revive Us Again (Nampa: Pacific Press, 2010), p. 49. 15 Ibid., p. 53. 16 Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1900), p. 411. 17 Bruner, Matthew, p. 548. 18 France, Matthew, p. 950. 19 Bruner, Matthew, p. 544

Anthony Kent is an

associate secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association.


A D V E N T I S T

I

believe God cares about the small things in our lives. Sometimes He gives me no other choice.

That’s Unusual

I left work on a busy Thursday afternoon, anxious to get home and begin cooking for the weekend. A few miles down the road I just missed a green light. At the bottom of a hill mine was the first car in a long line of vehicles waiting to turn left at a major intersection. Then it happened.

G

’ od s

By Sandra Doran

Care

S E R V I C E

the automobile association, whose best estimate was a two-hour wait. Eric arrived within 15 minutes, pulling his pickup into an abandoned gas station slightly up the hill behind me. Running across the road, he grabbed my hand and my briefcase, and we fled through a break in the traffic to the safety of the other side. We were at a loss about how to handle the cause of all the commotion in the middle of the road. “If I could somehow push it backward, up the hill,” Eric said, “I could try to get it turned into the driveway here. Lord, please send someone to help me.” “Need Help?”

At that precise moment a battered car swerved into the abandoned gas station, and a young man jumped out. “Need help?” I stood rooted to the spot, convinced that he had been placed on earth for this very purpose. Eric extended his hand. “You are a gift of grace,” he said. “I just prayed that God would send someone to help us.” The young man pointed toward heaven, acknowledging his own belief. The three of us then hatched a quick plan and put it into action. I ran down to the corner and stopped traffic. The young man got in front of the car and began pushing it up the hill. Eric got beside the open driver’s side window, alternately steering and pushing. Slowly, gradually, the tires rolled, and the car eased its way in a gentle backward arc toward the gas station. Drivers on all sides gave us the necessary berth, staying put or backing up to give us the headway we needed to accomplish the task. Finally out of harm’s way, we all breathed a sigh of relief. Again, Eric expressed his gratitude. “You’ve been an answer to prayer.” The young man smiled broadly, embraced him, jumped into his battered car, and veered back into the moving traffic. Safely ensconced in the pickup beside my stalled vehicle, we waited for the tow truck, splitting a can of Pringles that rolled out from under the seat. The night sky darkened, and the God of all things, great and small, began to hang the stars. n

How amazing that He often uses people. Three warning lights flashed briefly on my car’s dashboard, then faded, as my car coughed to a dead stop. My first thought was for all of those anxious commuters snaking up the hill behind me. What was going to happen when the light turned green? Maybe if I could let the guy behind me know what was going on, he could figure out how to get around my stalled vehicle, signaling others to do the same. Quickly I exited the car, staying as close to the vehicle as I could as traffic whizzed by in the other lane. “My car just died,” I told the guy in the black SUV. “You’re going to have to try to get around me.” Magnanimous guy that he was, he nodded, grunted, and got about his business of navigating around the obstacle as soon as the light changed. Seated in my car in the middle of the mayhem, I endured the honking, swearing, and general disgust as cars sped to the right and left of me, driving in the wrong lane and pushing others out of the way as best they could. Grateful for my cell phone, I quickly made two calls: one to my husband, and the other to P H O T O :

P I X A B AY

Sandra Doran, Ed.D. is head of schools

for North Tampa Christian Academy in Florida, United States, an innovative campus on 43 acres that will open in 2018.

August 2017 | Adventist World

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A D V E N T I S T

L I F E

T

onight I watched the film Tell the World with my church family. Afterward everyone, including me, shared their thoughts and reactions—amid a sudden burst of unexpected tears. It’s because it felt like I was in the movie while I was watching it. I could have been sitting at the kitchen table with Joseph Bates and his wife, because I read about them by kerosene lamp light as I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s. When schoolteacher Goodloe Harper Bell was splitting wood, I relived swinging the ax and splintering logs in two. The bonnets and long dresses the women in the movie wore could have been mine, for I dressed that way every day, along with my mom—except our bonnets were even bigger. Experiencing the time warp was only part of what evoked the tears, though. Mostly it was confronting two Ellen Whites and feeling the impact of both on my life—past and present. Another Time, Another Place

First, there was the Ellen White of my childhood who wrote the red books (and black ones, too, along with lots of unpublished writings that my parents studied). She was why I was taught to wear big bonnets. Ellen White said, “The small bonnets, exposing the face and head, show a lack of modesty,”1 and to wear my dresses inches from the floor, avoiding the “extreme long dress, trailing upon the ground, and . . . the extreme short dress, reaching about to the knees, which is worn by a certain class.”2 When the Ellen White in the movie started telling her astonished husband what she had learned about diet, I laughed each time she said, “And there’s more,” because I remembered what the Ellen White presented to me

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Adventist World | August 2017

The

Two

Ellen Whites

By Rachel Williams-Smith

Which one do you know? in my childhood had said. I had experienced it all starting at 6 years old: two meals a day and “[not a] morsel . . . between meals”;3 along with what she didn’t counsel: weekly fasts, 10-day fasts, raw food diets, colon cleanses, and more. That Ellen White was why we lived out in the wilderness, isolated, waiting for Jesus to return. At a time when city living was distinctly unhealthy and frequently unholy, she had written,

“Get out of the cities.”4 That Ellen was the reason we kids couldn’t use our voices, simple sound effects, and a battery-run tape recorder to create animated versions of Bible stories, because she written that drama is a sin (actually, she didn’t). It was why I could not go to school, and instead was homeschooled alone. Interpretations of her counsels were the reasons why eating a piece of pizza, listening to a bouncy tune, or failing to kneel


for every prayer were as bad as wearing pants, wearing jewelry, committing fornication, and breaking the Sabbath. A Person, Not a Program

However, at the age of 12 I discovered another Ellen White. She wasn’t the one used to squash nearly everything I longed for as a child and who made me feel guilty over any infraction of a thousand do’s and don’ts. Fed up with being told what Ellen White said, I started reading her writings for myself to see what was there. I discovered that she told amazing Bible stories and detailed the life of Jesus. I picked up her book Steps to Christ, and it helped lead me in surrendering my life to Jesus. One of my favorite pastimes became slipping outdoors on a moonlit night to read about Jesus in Gethsemane. This Ellen White not only turned my heart toward Christ but also challenged my thinking, causing me to question whether my well-intentioned parents had possibly gotten things wrong. It took many years before I understood they had gotten off center and out of balance, but all I knew then was that something had to be wrong when I read this quote: “Dear youth, what is the aim and purpose of your life? Are you ambitious for education that you may have a name and position in the world? Have you thoughts that you dare not express, that you may one day stand upon the summit of intellectual greatness; that you may sit in deliberative and legislative councils, and help to enact laws for the nation? There is nothing wrong in these aspirations.”5 Our parents had withdrawn from the world and taught us kids to shun it. Yet this Ellen White was saying, “You may every one of you make your mark.

. . . Aim high, and spare no pains to reach the standard.”6 I tried to imagine standing on the floor of Congress without ever going to school or getting involved with politics and wearing my bonnet and long dress, advocating for some bill to become law. I couldn’t.  A Wider Vision

Then another statement whispered into my heart the possibility that God had a wider purpose for me: “The whole world is opening to the gospel. Ethiopia is stretching out her hands unto God. From . . . every quarter of this world of ours comes the cry of sin-stricken hearts for a knowledge of the God of love. Millions upon millions have never so much as heard of God or of His love revealed in Christ. It is their right to receive this knowledge. . . . And it rests with us . . . to answer their cry.”7 The words resonated in me as a direct, personal appeal. I wanted to be part of reaching the millions. But how with a bonnet on my head? It took years, but eventually I was able to go where I could learn about principles—great underlying truths that don’t change, by which I could govern my life and make changes. Later I also developed a relationshipbased understanding of Jesus and of the gift of the Spirit of Prophecy that helped me learn how to reach out to people without my beliefs encaging me like a suit of armor. In fact, earlier in the week before watching the movie, I had shared my story of getting beyond extremism and on to vibrant faith in a podcast recording for a general-listener audience of 60,000. Yes! I thought, I’m beginning to reach out to a fraction of those millions! Then tonight I watched Tell the

World. The Ellen White I saw was like the one I met for myself long ago. This one shared what was revealed to her as best as she could capture it, but constantly pointed people to the Bible. This one challenged everyone to tell of God and His love. Two pictures of Ellen White were held up before me. One is the weapon of choice for many in championing personal views, a stern authority figure demanding unquestioning obedience. The other was a real person who just tried to tell the world about amazing truths revealed to her and wanted to help everyone better hear the loving heartbeat of God. It seems to me Tell the World captures that Ellen White, the one the Ellen White who actually lived wanted others to know. But I didn’t think about all that when I tried to share my thoughts with my church family. All I knew was that I could not hold back the tears. To view the film, go to artv.adventist review.org and search for Tell the World. n 1 Ellen

G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 1, p. 189. 2 Ibid., p. 464. 3 Ellen G. White, in Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene (Battle Creek, Mich.: Good Health Pub. Co., 1890), p. 50. 4 Ellen G. White, Selected Messages (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1958, 1980), book 2, p. 141. 5 Ellen G. White, Messages to Young People (Nashville: Southern Pub. Assn., 1930), p. 36. 6 Ibid. 7 Ellen G. White, Education (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1903), pp. 262, 263.

Rachel Williams-Smith, Ph.D., Ed.D., is author of

the memoir Born Yesterday: The True Story of a Girl Born in the 20 th Century but Raised in the 19 th, and dean of the School of Journalism and Communication at Southern Adventist University, Collegedale, Tennessee, United States.

August 2017 | Adventist World

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F E A T U R E

L

ife is full of surprises. As a young girl, I often dreamed of what I might be when I grew up. As I became older I decided to become a dental hygienist. Later, life led me in another direction: that of becoming the CEO of a small long-distance telecommunications company. I never imagined that one day I would become an ambassador for my country, the United States of America. My story is proof that God has an amazing plan for each of our lives. If we surrender to His will, His plans for our lives will be infinitely greater than anything we can imagine. I’ll briefly share how I became an ambassador, as well as a few lessons learned from my experience. For the full story, see “How an Adventist Became a U.S. Ambassador,” at www. adventistreview.org/church-news/ story3357-how-an-adventist-becamea-u.s.-ambassador. An Awkward Journey

My journey began in a most unlikely way. In 1992 then U.S. president Bill Clinton decided to update the obsolete Telecommunications Act. Through a series of miracles I was asked to represent the competitive telecommunications industry at a meeting held at the White House to discuss the proposed legislation. Those who attended this first meeting ultimately became ad-hoc telecommunication policy advisers to the White House. Two years later I was invited to a small dinner with President Clinton and 20 business leaders. I prayed all night before the dinner, asking the Lord to give me just the right words to say. While I didn’t know exactly what I was going to say, I knew what I did not want to say! Because politics in Washington is so divisive, I knew I didn’t want Presi-

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Adventist World | August 2017

In 1997, the author takes the oath of office at the White House from Al Gore, U.S. vice president. The author with then U.S. President Bill Clinton after being nominated to serve as ambassador to Malta.

By Kathryn Proffitt

Here I

Stand

The role of an ambassador

dent Clinton to learn that I was not even a member of his political party. During the dinner we were seated around a large table with the president. To begin, we introduced ourselves and made a brief statement about our industry. When it was my turn, I started off all right, giving my name and the name of my company. But then, to my horror, I heard myself speaking the very words I would never have said voluntarily! I announced that I was not a Democrat (Clinton’s political party),

but was a registered Republican. I then informed President Clinton that I had not voted for him in the last election. Furthermore, I told him that I was so upset when he was elected president that I cried. By this time everyone was staring at me! Taking a deep breath, I nervously continued by saying what I had hoped to say before my unplanned outburst, telling Clinton I appreciated what he was doing to support consumers and free competition in the telecommunications marketplace. P H O T O S :

K AT H R Y N

P R O F F I T T


While debate and dissent serve a vital role in policymaking, once policy is formed I was expected to support it fully. After a long pause, Clinton stood. Then to my surprise, he began slowly clapping his hands, giving me a standing ovation! President Clinton never forgot me. After his reelection, he nominated me to be the United States ambassador to the Republic of Malta. Delegated Authority

My title, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, meant that I had unlimited power and authority to transact business on behalf of the United States of America. But my authority was delegated authority, conditional upon my being faithful to the policies of the U.S. government, regardless of my personal beliefs. Had I not honored this trust, I would have been immediately recalled and stripped of all authority. Clinton emphasized the importance of my supporting policy in a letter he wrote to me shortly after my Senate confirmation. In his letter the president explained that while debate and dissent serve a vital role in policymaking, once policy is formed I was required to support it fully. Not only was I obligated to support U.S. policy—I was also expected to make sure all members of my mission did the same. A Higher Calling

I was honored to serve as United States ambassador to the Republic of Malta from 1997 to 2001. But each of us has been given an even higher

calling. We have been called to serve as ambassadors of Jesus, the King of the universe. Today I have the honor and privilege of serving the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church as a member of the General Conference (GC) Executive Committee (see https://executivecommittee.adventist. org). Members of this committee represent 20 million Seventh-day Adventists in more than 200 countries. Outside of the General Conference in session, the GC Executive Committee is the highest governing authority of the church. It generally meets twice a year, during its Spring Meeting in April and its Annual Council each October, and other times as needed. The GC Executive Committee is comprised of representatives from every world division of the church, including leaders, pastors, other denominational employees, and lay members. As Executive Committee members, we have a delegated authority to support faithfully the actions taken by the world church, regardless of our personal opinions on the subject. Similar to ambassadors, union and local conferences, church institutions, and other church entities also have a delegated authority, with a great deal of power. But that power is also con­ ditional. In their local constitutions and bylaws each union conference is required, by language that cannot be changed, to remain in harmony with

the voted actions of the world church. This condition—the agreement of moving together in harmony with these voted actions—assures our unity as a church that is diverse in language, culture, and people. Press Together

Satan will use whatever issue he can to divide us, distract us from mission, and destroy the organizational unity we have enjoyed as a church for more than 150 years. We must press together, not allowing any issue to divide us. While policy is important, the unity of the church is a doctrine (see Fundamental Belief 14, https:// www.adventist.org). The unity of God’s people was among the last things for which Jesus prayed, proving this doctrine is critically important to our Lord. We must always look to the head of our church—Jesus Christ—who pleaded with His Father, during that agonizing night in Gethsemane, that we may be one: “As You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:21). Jesus is coming soon. Let’s press together, focus on mission, and be true ambassadors for Him! n

Ambassador Kathryn Proffitt served as United States ambassador to Malta from 1997 to 2001.

August 2017 | Adventist World

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B I B L E

Q U E S T I O N S

A N S W E R E D

Gratitude and Generosity Why should I give offerings?

This is probably the best answer to your question: God’s will is for us to bring to Him our offerings; and His will always procures what is best for us (Deut. 16:16). The Lord expects us to bring Him not only our tithe but also our offerings (Mal. 3:8). You may wonder why these are required from us. Here are a few thoughts about the theological foundation for offerings, our motivation for giving, and the nature of a true offering. 1. Theological Foundation: I see two main theological foundations for the practice of giving offerings to God. The first is related to salvation. In the Bible, offerings are often associated with the idea that God is our Savior. This is extremely important in a theology of stewardship; it clearly excludes the idea that our offerings contribute to our salvation. Yes, an offering saved us, but it was one provided by God, not by us. This concept was illustrated in the Old Testament sanctuary services through the sin and guilt offerings (Lev. 4, 5; 17:11). These offerings pointed to the sacrifice of the Servant of the Lord, who would bear our sins to cleanse us from them (Isa. 53:4, 5, 10-12). This was fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, whom God offered as a sacrifice in our place (John 3:16; Rom. 3:25). Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, making it possible for God to accept our personal offerings in response to His grace. The second theological foundation is the lordship of God. The one who saved us is to be acknowledged as our Lord, otherwise we would remain enslaved to sin. He liberated us to His loving service. We honor and show respect to Him, as our Lord, through our offerings in the same way that people of importance are honored through gifts (Mal. 1:6-8). According to the Old Testament view of end-times, the kings of the earth will recognize the lordship of the God of Israel and will bring Him offerings/gifts (Isa. 18:7; Ps. 68:29).

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2. Motivation for Giving: The most fundamental motivation for giving offerings is gratitude for what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. Ingratitude flows from selfishness and engenders idolatry (Rom. 1:21). We are grateful because of God’s abundant grace. In fact, the cosmos is home to more grace than evil: “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Rom. 5:20, NIV). This abundance comes from Jesus Christ, who, although rich, became poor to enrich us (2 Cor. 8:9). Gratitude and love to God take a concrete form in our offerings, and God uses them to reach others with the message of salvation. In other words, our offerings are the embodiment of our gratitude and commitment to God in a tangible way that is transferred to supply others’ needs. 3. God’s Purpose for Us: Our offerings are given to God through His church, not to anybody claiming to be God’s instrument. He requires them from us to protect us from idolatry and to assist us in overcoming our natural selfishness. We can hide our selfishness in words, but it could easily show its ugly face in our resistance to give our offerings to God liberally. Human ego becomes particularly visible in our thirst for material wealth, and the way we administer it. God helps us overcome this enslaving power by asking for our tithe and offerings as a response to His grace and love. In the process, He transforms us into loving creatures. Consequently He expects our gifts to be a self-offering (Luke 21:1-4; 2 Cor. 8:5), voluntary (Ex. 25:1; 2 Cor. 9:7), and systematic (2 Cor. 8:11). Systematic means that we give according to our means, that we assign a specific percentage of our earnings as offerings. We do not give because there are needs; we give because God has been good to us and we want to express our love and gratitude to Him unselfishly. n

Angel Manuel Rodríguez lives in Texas,

United States, after a career serving as a pastor, professor, and theologian.


B I B L E

S T U D Y

By Mark A. Finley

Can We Trust Our

Conscience? I

was recently talking to a young man about the importance of making right decisions. I was fascinated with his response. He confidently said, “I know right from wrong; my conscience always tells me.” In a society of ever-changing moral standards, we are often told that the way to get through this morass of confusion is to rely on the compass of our individual conscience. Is our conscience always reliable? Can we trust our conscience in all circumstances? Can our conscience ever lead us in the wrong direction? In this month’s Bible study we will discover the value of a “sanctified” conscience, and the danger of trusting in a conscience that is not under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

1 How does the Bible describe human nature? What is the state of our condition before God? Read Jeremiah 17:9, 10 and Isaiah 53:6. God created Adam and Eve in a state of perfection. Once they sinned, their natures changed. Each one of us is born with a fallen nature, making it easier to do wrong than to do right.

2 What expressions did the apostle Paul use to describe the state of mind of those who have not surrendered their lives to Christ? Compare Romans 8:7 with Ephesians 2:1-3. 3

Since our natures are fallen, and without Christ we have “carnal minds,” is a conscience unaided by the Holy Spirit a safe guide? Read and summarize the following texts: Hebrews 3:13; 1 Timothy 4:2; Proverbs 14:12. Unaided by the Holy Spirit, we are strongly influenced by our own desires, the environment around us, and peer pressure.

4 Since our natures are fallen, and we have at times hardened our hearts through poor choices, has God left us alone to determine what is right and wrong? Look at the hopeful message of Ecclesiastes 3:11 and John 1:9.

God meets us in our fallen condition. From the day we were born His Holy Spirit began to gently guide us to understand His truth and His plan for our lives. If we positively respond to the promptings of His Spirit, we will have a clear sense of His guidance.

5 What role does the Holy Spirit play in sharpening our conscience? Read John 14:16-18; 16:7, 13-15. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, is Jesus’ divinely appointed representative to guide us into all truth. If we desire to do God’s will and are committed to pleasing Him in all our actions, the Holy Spirit will guide us in our decision-making process.

6

How does the Bible affect our consciences in the process of making right decisions? Compare Psalm 119:105, 130, 133, 140, 160. The Bible is a “lamp to [our] feet.” It is a “light to [our] path.” The “entrance of [His] words gives light.” Our “steps” are directed by God’s Word. We cannot trust an unenlightened conscience, but we can trust the guidance of the Holy Spirit through a conscience that has been informed, directed, and educated by God’s Word. The Scriptures are the basis for all right decisions. Any inclinations, desires, or tendencies that are not in harmony with the Word of God are not the product of a “sanctified conscience.”

7

What actions can we take to ensure that we will always have an enlightened conscience guided by the Holy Spirit and informed by the Word of God? Read John 12:35, 36. As we faithfully walk in the light that God gives us and make positive choices in harmony with His will, His Holy Spirit will guide us in making right decisions. We can have absolute confidence that God will never disappoint us. He will never leave us to the folly of our own ways if we desire to serve Him. He wants to guide us into making right decisions and prompt us through our consciences. The question is always and only this: “Are we willing to surrender our way to His and let Him guide us?” n

August 2017 | Adventist World

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IDEA EXCHANGE I hope my children can grow up in a church that sees a little fussiness as the sign of a healthy church. —Patricia Coronado, Arizona, United States

Noisy Church, Healthy Church

Letters Just Once a Year?

Thank you for the news report “Adventist Youth Blanket the World With Acts of Service” (June 2017). I was inspired by the accounts of community service activities. What a wonderful testimony to the power of Christianity’s influence. Perhaps those who participated in these events will see value in continuing these activities throughout the world on a regular basis. Weekly, or at least monthly, events would do a lot to make our communities aware of our faith in Jesus and our desire to serve as He served. Christiana Garcia-Perriera Alcorcón, Spain

PrayerW

Please accept my sincere thanks for publishing the article “Church Alive!” (May 2017). I am a young mother who has to handle three children under the age of 5, and my worship experience is somewhat diminished every time a church member turns around to see whose kids are being fussy. I love the statement quoted in the article: “I used to get a little irritated by noise from the kids during the sermon. But now I enjoy it! It means our church is alive.” I hope my children can grow up in a church that sees a little fussiness as the sign of a healthy church. Patricia Coronado Arizona, United States Words, Words, Words

I’m so proud to belong to a church that’s described in the cover story “If They Can’t Read the Words . . .” (April 2017).

We Adventists have proudly worn the title “People of the Book,” often forgetting that in many parts of the world—even here in North America— people are not as literate as we imagine them to be. Thank God for groups and individuals who make literacy part of their mission outreach! Jules Stewartson New Jersey, United States Regular Reader

I read Angel Manuel Rodríguez’ column every month. Some I enjoy more than others, but I’m always impressed by the breadth of his knowledge about the Bible. I really enjoyed “The Hotter the Better” (May 2017), not only because of the fine points Rodríguez made, but because of the way he emphasized doing good to our enemies, one of the great principles of Christianity. Alex Burroughs Sydney, Australia

PRAISE

Please pray for the angels to be with me. I discovered that my son is involved with drugs. Jeanette, Australia

Please pray for the healing of my grandma. Brandon, via e-mail Please pray for my daughter, who is only 7 and diabetic. Pecolia, via e-mail

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Adventist World | August 2017

I want the Lord to give me a double portion of the Holy Spirit so that my relatives will be converted. Juciara, via e-mail Please pray that God will take away my headaches and stop my hair loss. Courtney, via e-mail


Reaching Others

Thank you for the news item “Loma Linda University’s Center for Understanding World Religions Inaugurated” (April 2017). I’m grateful to see Adventists involved in creating paths of understanding with members of other world religions. I know the church operates centers for reaching out to Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, even those who are secular. I think it’s encouraging that we are taking our message to as many people as possible. Bettina Malone Stratford, United Kingdom

One of

In June 2017 Adventist Community Services of Greater Washington (ACSGW) was named one of the best nonprofits in the Greater Washington, D.C., area. The Catalogue for Philanthropy of Greater Washington evaluates more than 400 nonprofit organizations in arts, education, environment, human services, and international sectors. “Based on our in-depth review, we believe that ACSGW is one of the best community-based nonprofits in the region,” said Barbara Harmon, Catalogue president. “ACSGW has undergone an extensive review process, and has met the Catalogue’s high standards,” she said. ACSGW serves at-risk youth, families, seniors, and others who struggle economically, as many as 6,000 each year. Many of its clients are from refugee and immigrant populations.

the

Best

A Great Help

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Letters must be clearly written, 100-word maximum. Include the name of the article and the date of publication with your letter. Also include your name, the town/city, state, and country from which you are writing. Letters will be edited for space and clarity. Not all letters submitted will be published.

W A C S G

Thank you to my brothers and sisters who are responsible for bringing Adventist World to this part of the world. Every month we are blessed with biblical counsel, encouragement, and teaching. I also enjoy the many reports about how the church is growing around the world. May God bless you as you continue to bring His message to His people. Patience Misiri Zomba, Malawi

A volunteer displays some of the many produce items available for clients of the Community Services Center. The center serves an estimated 6,000 individuals each year.

Let us pray for the success of the Adventist Church in the Central Nyanza Conference. Asa, Kenya

Please pray that the Lord will keep my granddaughters near me, and bless them. Debbie, via e-mail

Pray that my daughter gains employment. Eliezer, via e-mail

Pray that I can continue my ministry. Shiful, Bangladesh

The Place of Prayer: Send prayer requests and praise (thanks

for answered prayer) to prayer@adventistworld.org. Keep entries short and concise, 50-words or less. Items will be edited for space and clarity. Not all submissions will be printed. Please include your name and your country’s name. You may also fax requests to: 1-301-680-6638; or mail them to Adventist World, 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904-6600 U.S.A.

August 2017 | Adventist World

29


IDEA EXCHANGE

163 Years Ago F

rom August 15 to December 19, 1854, a list of five “leading doctrines taught by the Review” was published in the masthead of the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald. The five Fundamental Beliefs were: “The Bible and the Bible alone, the rule of faith and duty. “The Law of God as taught in the Old and New Testaments, unchangeable. “The personal advent of Christ and the resurrection of the just before the Millennium. “The earth restored to its Eden perfection and glory, the final inheritance of the saints. “Immortality alone through Christ, to be given to the saints at the resurrection.”

Walk

This Way

According to a study from the University of Hertfordshire, Singaporeans are the fastest pedestrians in the world. With an average walking speed of 6.25 kilometers per hour (3.9 miles per hour), residents of Singapore walk faster than those who live in New York City, who walk on average 5.3 kilometers an hour (3.3 miles). Average walking speeds, km/h Singaporeans

New Yorkers

6.25

5.3

Source: Hemispheres

Eyes OF

Children Tide pools of sparkle and joy Liquid orbs of delight Ovals of questionings and inquisitiveness Love reflected To shine forever A power for good. —N orma Witter, Sequatchie, Tennessee, United States

Be

PART of the

EXCHANGE Adventist World’s Idea Exchange is looking for submissions. To reflect the wide world of Seventh-day Adventists, send us: n High-resolution photographs (with captions and photo credits) n Experiences profound or humorous n Brief spiritual lessons n Short poems n Quotes worth repeating Send them to Letters@AdventistWorld.org. Put in the subject line “Idea Exchange.”

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Adventist World | August 2017


5O 5O W O R D S O R L E S S My Favorite...

Bible Character Daniel set a proper example. He and his three friends, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael, passed a variety of tests that resulted from their captivity in Babylon. Best of all, Daniel recorded it all in a book that still inspires. n

—John Jones, via e-mail

Hannah prayed until something happened. God honored her prayers for a son. After Samuel was born I imagine her praying for the people who mocked her. Not to get revenge, but so that they could repent and know the mighty God she served. n

—Agnes Kamowa, via e-mail

I love the story of Joseph, son of Jacob. His brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt, where he suffered many painful trials. But Joseph did not retaliate against his brothers when he had the power to do so. Instead, he showed love, forgiveness, and compassion. n

—Lawrence Banwar Tesoro, Geneva, Switzerland Next time, tell us in 50 words or less about your favorite Bible promise. Send it to: AdventistWorld.org, and put in the subject line “50 Words.”

“Behold, I come quickly…” Our mission is to uplift Jesus Christ, uniting Seventh-day Adventists everywhere in beliefs, mission, life, and hope.

Publisher The Adventist World, an international periodical of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The General Conference, Northern Asia-Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists®, is the publisher. Adventist Review Ministries Board Ted N. C. Wilson, chair; Guillermo Biaggi, vice chair, Bill Knott, secretary; Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, Williams Costa, Daniel R. Jackson, Peter Landless, Robert Lemon, Geoffrey Mbwana, G. T. Ng, Daisy Orion, Juan Prestol-Puesán, Ella Simmons, Artur Stele, Ray Wahlen, Karnik Doukmetzian, legal advisor Executive Editor/Director of Adventist Review Ministries Bill Knott Associate Director of Adventist Review Ministries International Publishing Manager Chun, Pyung Duk Adventist World Coordinating Committee Jairyong Lee, chair; Yukata Inada; German Lust; Chun, Pyung Duk; Han, Suk Hee; Lyu, Dong Jin Editors based in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA André Brink, Lael Caesar, Gerald A. Klingbeil (associate editors), Sandra Blackmer, Stephen Chavez, Costin Jordache, Wilona Karimabadi Editors based in Seoul, Korea Chun, Pyung Duk; Park, Jae Man; Kim, Hyo-Jun Operations Manager Merle Poirier Editors-at-large Mark A. Finley, John M. Fowler Senior Advisor E. Edward Zinke Financial Manager Kimberly Brown Manuscript Evaluation Coordinator Marvene Thorpe-Baptiste Management Board Jairyong Lee, chair; Bill Knott, secretary; Chun, Pyung Duk; Karnik Doukmetzian; Han, Suk Hee; Yutaka Inada; German Lust; Ray Wahlen; Ex-officio: Juan Prestol-Puesán; G. T. Ng; Ted N. C. Wilson Art Direction and Design Jeff Dever, Kim Pollock Consultants Ted N. C. Wilson, Juan Prestol-Puesán, G. T. Ng, Guillermo E. Biaggi, Mario Brito, Abner De Los Santos, Dan Jackson, Raafat A. Kamal, Michael F. Kaminskiy, Erton C. Köhler, Ezras Lakra, Jairyong Lee, Israel Leito, Thomas L. Lemon, Solomon Maphosa, Geoffrey G. Mbwana, Blasious M. Ruguri, Saw Samuel, Ella Simmons, Artur A. Stele, Glenn Townend, Elie Weick-Dido To Writers: We welcome unsolicited manuscripts. Address all editorial correspondence to 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904-6600, U.S.A. Editorial office fax number: (301) 680-6638 E-mail: worldeditor@gc.adventist.org Web site: www.adventistworld.org Unless otherwise indicated, all Bible references are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission. Adventist World is published monthly and printed simultaneously in Korea, Brazil, Indonesia, Australia, Germany, Austria, Argentina, Mexico, South Africa, and the United States.

Vol. 13, No. 8

August 2017 | Adventist World

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