May 17, 2014
Nothing to Fear
Concerning Bill Knott’s editorial, “He is risen” (Apr. 17, 2014): As I get older and the breath of life gets shorter and shorter, I feel a touch of sadness when I see the “He is risen cross.” I realize death is not the end, and sleeping not too bad. Our resurrection leaves an empty grave and a new beginning, like the purple crocuses and yellow daffodils.
A Unique Hour
“The 11:00 Hour” (Apr. 10, 2014) indicates that we should not try to attract people to our churches by naming the pastor on the sign out front. How, then, is it appropriate to attract people to our churches? By the style of worship we have on Sabbath morning? What makes one way of attracting people more acceptable than others?
With this new approach to the 11:00 hour (I noticed the term “worship service” was not prominently featured) we could simplify evangelism by gathering praise bands from surrounding churches and have them all play 10-minute sessions, and allow people to decide which church they want to attend by which praise band they like. It would not be a competition per se, just a way to make a decision without having to spend so much time attending each church on different weekends to see what we like.
All this experimentation with style of worship is aimed directly at trying to get youth to attend church; not only attend church, but stay in the church after they are no longer youth. Even some more traditional churches are experimenting with ways to attract youth. Some will put the youth on the platform, and have them do everything but the sermon (even the sermon, sometimes) at least once a month and sometimes more. The rest of time it is only one elder and the pastor on the platform. I am not sure how this will work after the youth are no longer youth, and thus are not allowed on the platform any longer.
I remember a pastor saying that attending church every Sabbath will not get you into heaven. By setting the goal of getting our youth to attend the 11:00 hour on Sabbath morning, we demonstrate that we do not agree with that statement.
Are we beginning to bring the first fruit of the ground or the first born of the flock for our worship to God? By not saying the 11:00 hour is the worship service, are we admitting that we are not planning on worshiping God at this time? Will it become a time to hear a band, take an offering, and listen to a good speech, sprinkled with a prayer or two along the way?
Group worship comes about when people with similar experiences come together to acknowledge God in their lives. In the section “An Audience of One,” the author points out all the differences that divide the congregation into so many sections. The point being, how can a minister address all of them in one sermon? Did the author forget what Paul wrote: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28)?
The prayer of Christ in John 17 is a promise that we will all be one in Him. Is this the solution to finding the “audience of one” in the church today?
I am grateful for Reflections at the back page. For years now I turn to the back and read it first before going back to read other favorite columnists, such as Andy Nash, Dixil Rodríquez, etc. Beverly Brass’ “A Wayward Child Returns” (Apr. 10, 2014) was one of the best!
“The Stench of Betrayal, the Scent of Forgiveness” (Apr. 17, 2014), was written by our favorite preacher, Randy Roberts. What made it even more striking was the outstanding painting with Jesus looking lovingly at Peter who had just denied Him for the third time. Being interested in art, I googled and found out that Carl Heinrich Bloch, 1873, was a noted Dane whose 23 original paintings from Jesus’ life are still on display in the Frederiksborg Palace Chapel in Copenhagen.
Loma Linda, California
Truth as in Jesus
Regarding “A Culprit Barely Pardoned” (Apr. 17, 2014): I am so thankful I know the truth. The “Truth” is Jesus, not man.
Jesus tells me I can be perfect. Jesus tells me I can live without sin (Matt. 5:48, John 5:14). “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Rom. 6:1, 2).
“But whoever does not have [Christian virtues] is nearsighted and blind, forgetting hat the have been cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble” (2 Peter 1:9, 10).
Ellen White wrote about those who do not entirely surrender their bad habits: “Almost Christians, yet not fully Christians, they seem near the kingdom of heaven, but they do not enter therein. Almostbut not wholly saved means to be not almost but wholly lost” (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 400).
And the apostle Paul wrote, “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:14).
Lucerne Valley, California
I enjoyed reading “Zip-lining, Campfires, Togetherness and God,” Wilona Karimabadi’s article about family camps (Mar. 27, 2014).
In 1973, my wife, sons, and I visited eight camps in United States and Canada as part of my ministry as associate General Conference Youth director for Camping and Pathfinders. It was an experience of a lifetime to watch camp directors minister to boys and girls and their families. The North American Division was way ahead in this ministry, and we hoped to get to the world the message of the value of these camps.
Archery, swimming, horseback riding, etc., are some of the activities that kids and parents enjoy. Best yet is the contact with God’s first book, nature! How can families forget the nature center at Camp Au Sable in Michigan? Or viewing the stars with the Leoni Meadows telescope in California? How about Camp Wawona at the entrance of Yosemite National Park? The Rocky Mountains at Glacier View?
It was also my privilege to participate in some of the first Spanish- and Portuguese-language family camps. Many young people committed their lives to the Lord. Couples renewed their marriage vows.
However, one cannot forget the camps for the blind, sponsored by Christian Record Services and camp directors throughout North America. To watch a blind person swimming, doing archery, riding a horse is an incredible and memorable experience.
As Karimabadi says, family camps are the “undistracted time a family has to recreate relationships with God and each other.”
The cover story “Through the Fire” by Luz Alva Arauzo (Mar. 20, 2014) is an awesome story about God’s care over His own.
Thank you for sharing it with us.
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