Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Sign of the End

Modified from the comic Non Sequitur, by Wiley
(click to enlarge)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Reviewing Adventist World: NAD Edition

March 2008

GENERAL COMMENTS: Adventist World makes a claim to be The International Paper for Seventh-day Adventists. This edition comes close to living up to that claim. I consider it definitely worth reading.

From the Editor's Pen by Bill Knott includes a reference to me. I am one of the "15 million restless souls" that call ourselves Adventists.

France: Saleve Adventist University honors "Righteous Alumni" who gave and risked their lives to rescue hundreds of Jews and others who resisted Nazi terrorism. This story is a must read.

Ugandan Daniel D. Ntanda Nsereko was elected one of the 18 judges of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. Nsereko and his wife, Helen, are members of the Broadhurst Seventh-day Adventist Church in Botswana.

Billy Wright, reporting from Taipei, Taiwan, reports that the 1500 delegates to The Second World Conference on Youth and Community Service participated in thirty community service projects prior to the conference's start. Leslie Pollard of Loma Linda University was impressed. "For the first time in my 30 year leadership career, I witnessed the awesome power of our twentysomethings and thirtysomethings as they unleashed their enthusiasm, vision, and spirituality on a specific community."

From Sri Lanka, Hans Olson reports that the number of Seventh-day Adventist congregations has grown from 28 to "nearly 50" since 1997. 4000 students are enrolled in five different Adventist schools.

Jan Paulsen's essay is another must read for all Adventists, especially for people who are considering a career in the military. Unfortunately, as a citizen of the United States, my taxes buy soldiers, bullets, and bombs. The question remains, who among us is a noncombatant?

Allen R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless don't mince words when asked the question, How Does Poverty Impact Health? "International efforts at improving conditions surrounding childbirth have not been very successful. . .The SAFE Motherhood initiative shows, for a variety of reasons, almost no improvement. An absence of truly strategic intervention is apparent. Such failure is also ours as a church, because we have lacked cohesiveness of purpose and shown a tendency to pursue individual and self-satisfying projects. . .We need to work strategically and cohesively. Problems of such major proportions as poverty are not attacked by local feeding programs. Our church must join hands with other communities of faith and address the needs of the poor, especially their health needs."

This essay by Ron E. M. Clouzet, Secretary of the North American Division Ministerial Association, is a disappointing response to what he calls "a crisis of faith". It absolves Adventist doctrine, leadership, and evangelistic strategies for the less than two percent growth rate of the church in North America. He laments, "Most people in North America hardly notice that Adventists exist", and goes on to comment, "Something is not working." That “something” is us. We unlike the "little flock" that "survived the Great Disappointment" have not made the "enormous personal and corporate sacrifices" necessary to evangelize our neighbors.

2009 has been designated by the North American Division as The Year of Pastoral Evangelism, and the goal is to baptize 100,000 new members. In Clouzet's words, "It will take real faith at work to accomplish the kind of growth I'm talking about. It will take much prayer, genuine surrender, and earnest searching for the Holy Spirit by our members." We are assured that armed with our Biblical exposition of twenty-eight fundamental doctrines along with "the staple of Adventist evangelism, Bible prophecy and the time of the end message . . . millions await our ministry."

This cover story is another must read. Birgit Philipsen is the first female regional director of ADRA/Africa. Kimberly Luste Maran is the author of a well-written biographical sketch of an amazing innovator, an astonishing linguist, and a brilliant administrator. In addition Maran has included a description of how ADRA works and the ways in which readers can contribute their time, energy, and money to this worldwide Adventist ministry.

Nathan Brown visited so-called "miracle church". He discovered that it "seemed to have more internal problems than most, and the focus on outreach seemed to be . . . at the expense of real caring". Brown's concluding words are a stark contrast to Ron Clouzet's frenetic emphasis on baptisms. "If we were able to pay less attention to trying to create another 'miracle church', we might direct more attention to the real purpose of the church as part of the kingdom of God in our respective corners of the world.”

Freelance journalist Josephine Akarue relates this mission story from Cote d'Ivoire. It is a testimony to what is possible when Women's and Personal Ministries Departments decide to hold an evangelistic campaign on the campus of the University of Cocody in Abidjan, "once a hotbed of social unrest” during the country's five-year civil war.

LLU and LLUMC dedicated the Jerry Pettis Congressional Papers. First Lady Barbara Bush, and the Honorable Shirley Pettis-Roberson were in attendance.

Bert Williams, Editorial Director for Christian Record Services for the Blind summarizes the outstanding work of this organization in his lead paragraph. “What do a New York probation officer, an Oklahoma priest, a Kenyan Adventist lay member, to Tennessee songwriters, and Alabama diabetes awareness advocate, a Florida writer, and a retired General Conference administrator have in common? The answer: they are all legally blind, they all lead active and productive lives, and they all value the spiritual support they receive from Christian Record Services for the Blind.”

Sabbath School U is a weekly television program telecast by the Hope Channel produced at the Media Education Center at Andrews University. "These programs focus on four basic principles: fellowship, outreach, Bible study, and missions. Each program explores ways teachers and leaders can use these emphases to breathe new life into Sabbath school."

The Review and Herald Publishing Association, in partnership with Griggs University, has launched a radio talk show dedicated to home-based education. The program airs Wednesdays at 11:00 a.m. on Life Talk radio. It also airs live on and

The Lifelines Health Series for 2008 is now available. Check it out.

Atlantic Union College has rewritten its curricula "to focus the entire school in preparing students for community service and contemporary Christian leadership”.

The SONscreen Film Festival is hosting its sixth festival event April 10-12 in Simi Valley, California. The Southern Adventist University's student production, Secret of the Cave, is now available at Blockbuster, Wal-Mart, and Best Buy.

Daniel Weber documents the amazing story of Adventist prisoners who have been converted in Moldavia's prisons. (Moldavia is a country between southern Ukraine and in northern Romania.) Adventist pastor Pavel Girleanu works in seven prisons for men and women in addition to pastoring three churches. Thanks to his efforts, ADRA is able to provide volunteer transportation to the prisons for family members and personal hygiene kits for prisoners.

Roy Adams reminds us that the Holy Spirit "is our greatest need as a church", and "the spirit never leaves us to do things that are repugnant or stupid in the particular culture or setting in which we function".

In the Adventist Review and Sabbath Herald of January 2, 1879, Ellen White wrote the following words that are as timely today as when they were written. "The world is our field; with a firm hold on God for His strength and His grace we may move forward in the pathway of duty, as colaborers with the Redeemer of the world. Our work is to spread the light of truth and advance the world of moral reform, to elevate, ennoble, and bless humanity. We should apply the principles of Christ's sermon on the mount to every move that we make, and then trust the consequences with God."

Angel Manuel Rodriguez' attempts to answer the question, "How could King Jehoram of Judah receive a letter from Elijah if Elijah was taken to heaven before the death of Jehoshaphat, Jehoram's father? RodrĂ­guez begins his answer with these words: "This question is not about history, but about the reliability of the Bible, caused by what some see as an apparent contradiction between 2 Kings 1-3 and 2 Chronicles 21: 12-15."

Manual, this question is about history. These are accounts of what happened years before different authors recorded the story. Contradictions far more egregious than this one appear in the New Testament. One needs only to read the four different stories of the Resurrection or the conflicting accounts of Jesus' ancestry. A faith based on the "reliability" of biblical history cannot stand the test of even cursory Bible study. It cannot provide a solid foundation for the Christian life.

Once again, Mark Finley gives the reader the impression that "true worship" is a matter of doctrinal conformity.

Dr. Cedric Ross Hayden is one of fewer than a dozen athletes who has climbed the highest mountains on all seven continents and skied to both the North and South Poles. He is a member of the Fall Creek Seventh-day Adventist Church in Fall Creek, Oregon.

These letters and prayer requests continue to be a vital connection between readers around the Adventist world.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Reviewing Adventist Today

March/April 2008

The graphics are excellent, and the three major articles are timely and informative. (I'm hoping that the extra pages, 13-16, were not included in the entire print run.) However, more editorial attention needs to be given to problems of syntax and economy of expression.

I particularly appreciated Andy Nash's editorial, BALANCING SABBATH, when he writes, "The Sabbath is about rest, not church. No matter what you might have been taught, the simple fact is that the Sabbath commandment is heavily focused on resting from work, not on worship per se. So then, can you rest on Sabbath and go to church on Sunday? Yes, of course you can. I think corporate worship is a natural part of the Sabbath experience." The premise underlying this argument is that we are Christians first and Adventists second.

Andy's editorial reminded me of something that happened when my brother and his family moved to a very small town in Northern California. The town's nondenominational church was boarded up because there were too few members to support a minister. Three Adventist families did what was necessary to reopen the church. The Adventist men preached on both Saturday and Sunday. The town was grateful, and the free will offerings of both congregations were enough to keep the church heated and in good repair. The church became the social center of the town as well as a place for Bible study and Christian fellowship. All went well until the Adventist members asked that their efforts the recognized and supported by the Northern California Conference. For a variety of reasons, including the use of the words, Seventh-day Adventist, that request was denied, and the church ceased to exist.

A family that I know moved to a Midwestern town where the Adventist Church is dying. The church does not have a phone number, and the retired pastor will really retire in a few months. Before this family arrived, the regular membership was about twelve. The average age of the members was seventy plus. There was no children’s Sabbath school. When I suggested that the newcomers "rest" on the Sabbath and worship at a Sunday church, they rejected the idea. For this family, worshiping on Sunday with non-Adventists is tantamount to leaving the Adventist Church.

Once again readers play an important role in determining the relevance and editorial tone of the magazine. I particularly applaud Jim Schelling's exasperated response to the following Goldstein comment in his debate with Ervin Taylor in the January/February edition: "One can be an Adventist and believe in and do a lot of wrong things. (After all, look at how many voted for George W. Bush—twice! and for Hitler.)” While it is true that the majority of Adventists in Germany, with initial support of the General Conference, voted for the National Socialist German Workers Party in 1933, Goldstein's flippant sarcasm needs to be called to account. His response is classic Cliff. "I was just joking, brother—that's all. Please, give me a little credit. Though I consider Bush a doofus who should not have been elected, it was never my intent to make a moral equation between the two. Remember, too, this is Adventist Today, so we can be a little irreverent, right?"

Folkenberg’s New Deal, as reported by Vanessa Sanders, is “ShareHim”, a packaged evangelistic program that gives "people with no preaching experience—college students, teachers, social workers, and accountants—the opportunity to travel to churches in the United States or abroad and preach an evangelistic series". Critics call it "evangelistic tourism". Carlos Martin, Director of the Evangelistic Research Center at Southern Adventist University "acknowledges that while some may volunteer to preach for the adventure, many go to do something for God. 'We don't go to relax, we go to participate in the preview of the latter rain.’"

David Person reports that there's trouble in Orlando, Florida. "When the Church Fights" is a sketchy account "of the controversy that enveloped the Guilgal Seventh-day Adventist Church of Orlando, Florida." Unfortunately, I was not able to check out some of the sources Person mentions to the article. You can read more about the situation and the involvement of the Southeastern Conference by reading one account on "", Past Articles #17, "The Debacle of the Guilgal SDA Church". I'm checking out the story, and if it "has legs" and it is possible to contact an unbiased observer and sources that are not anonymous, AT will keep you informed.

Goats—The rest of us

This article might also be titled, Everything You Want to Know About SDA Boarding Academies But Were Afraid to Ask. Melanie Eddlemon delivers the goods. Students, parents, teachers, and administrators talk candidly about the pros and cons. On a personal note, both my sons attended Monterey Bay Academy as juniors and seniors. It was a great experience for everyone.

This article raises important questions about the Adventist Church's do’s and don'ts of Sabbath keeping. Dan MacArthur raises questions about Sabbath work that many Adventists have not thoughtfully considered. Angela Baerg discusses Sabbath keeping from both a Jewish and Puritan perspective. I'm surprised that many Adventists need to be reminded that we lucky few can "keep the Sabbath" because millions of other Americans are busy working to provide for our health and welfare 24/7.

Ciro Sepulveda doesn't come right out and say it, but his well researched article makes it clear that Ellen White's priority was an end-time message, while the priority of the men in church leadership positions was establishing the institutions of the Church. It is ironic that Ellen White's name is prominently displayed on the grounds of SDA university buildings and libraries. She advocated a two-year tertiary education designed to create lay evangelists.

Alex King provides a thoughtful reminder that America is an island in a world of poverty. In our frantic quest to avoid boredom, it's easy to forget the difficult living conditions of others, particularly those in developing countries.

A BRIEF MOMENT WHEN GOD’S PEOPLE ACTUALLY HAD THEIR ACT TOGETHER reflects Alden Thompson’s optimistic view that what happened at the Questions on Doctrine Conference in October may be a portent of things to come. Alden, just because Angel Rodriguez, George Knight, and Colin Standish stand side-by-side for a photograph at a communion table doesn't indicate that God's people actually had their act together. It means that three Adventist preachers and theologians, vastly different in personality, temperament, and theology can make nice. What that means for the rest of us has yet to be determined.

Marcel Schwantes asked Ed Dickerson seven good questions about his book, "Grounds for Belief" and his hope to establish Grounds for Belief Cafes around the country. What I found most enlightening was Dickinson's response to the question, "What's the greatest obstacle to reaching generations X&Y?"

"Many Adventists . . . treated the Advent Movement as if it was a sprint to the finish—hurry, hurry, hurry. Others have treated it as a marathon—keep going, keep going, keep going. We have failed to see it as a multigenerational relay. And relay teams practice passing the baton more then any other part of the race, because it is impossible to finish the race if you fail to pass the baton."

PSALMS, PROVERBS, ECCLESIASTES provides and solicits memorable statements from Adventist writers. I suggest any essay written by Roy Adams or Stephen Chavez.

ADVENTIST MAN has yet to find a completely credible voice, but progress is being made.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Reviewing the Adventist Review

February 28, 2008
Vol. 185, No. 6

GENERAL COMMENTS: This issue could have earned another gold star from this reviewer if the editors had insisted that major authors communicate with sharper focus and fewer words.

LETTERS: In general readers make thoughtful comments that reference articles and editorials, most recent of which are two months old. This makes it next to impossible to re-evaluate the author's original message.

Roy Adams challenges Christians to be "Brave People", even though most of us are spectators on the sidelines of history.

Sandra Blackmer reminds us not to be so involved with the important business of church affairs that we forget "It's All About People" connecting with people.

LIVING AUTHENTICALLY IN A PHONEY WORLD by Ricardo Graham is the cover story. The subject is an important one, and Graham's call for integrity is timely. The writing starts out well, and Jesus' and Ellen White's condemnation of the practice and why it is particularly harmful is effectively presented. After that, however, the writing begins to lose focus and becomes preachy. This is where editors have a responsibility to the author and readers. With editorial help, Graham could have condensed this piece by one third and strengthened its impact.

In contrast to the Graham article, the words of Ellen White on the same subject are thoughtfully conceived and editorially polished. YOU—GENUINE, AUTHENTIC, REAL is an excellent example of effective communication between author, editor, and reader.

WITH WINGS AS EAGLES by Leo Van Dolson is just plain confusing and badly in need of editorial help. A transition statement linking Ronald Pinkerton's hang gliding adventure and Isaiah 40 is nonexistent. An explanation "of receiving double for your sins" in Isaiah 40:2 occurs out of context and without reference.

Under the subhead, "Filled to the Brim" Van Dolson recounts the story of Jesus and the wedding in Cana without further reference to Isaiah 40. He then asserts that, "Fermentation in the Bible is a symbol of sin. Sin sparkles for a while, but soon the sparkle goes and the fizz becomes flat. The unfermented wine that Jesus provided was symbolic of the true joy that He alone can give." Unfermented grape juice then becomes a symbol for God's blessings; a cup the symbol of our lives. The development of this analogy takes up the last half of the article. It is only in his last sentence that the author once again mentions soaring with the wings of eagles. (Van Dolson provides no references for his assertions that "fermentation" is a biblical symbol of sin or that Jesus created unfermented wine.)

KIDS VIEW by Marcia Mollenkopf might have made Black History Month come alive. Instead, children are provided with a jumble of unrelated pictures, stories, a quiz, news items, and a confusing March calendar of four leaf clovers. Once again, editorial assistance was needed.

HOMAGE TO A STORK by Clifford Goldstein is a sarcastic rational defense of creationism, along with the assertion that it was God who said our world came into existence "as a six-day preplanned creation, nothing left to chance, and no death." By implication, he argues, only a fool could believe in evolution. "We might as well pay homage to the stork."

Cliff, God said lots of things in the Old Testament that even you don't believe to be true. God told people in the Old Testament to do things that you would not do if threatened with death. There are two distinct stories of creation in Genesis. You seem to believe the first one. What about the second? I am not a neo-Darwinian, but a geologic column does exist along with dinosaur bones and plate tectonics. I'm waiting for you to make a case for creationism that takes these matters into account.

300 young adults from all over the world went on a seven-day "Cruise With a Mission". It was a "combination spiritual retreat, mission trip, and vacation. . . Participants disembarked the ship in Belize and Guatemala to conduct medical and dental clinics, lead a Vacation Bible School programs, and help renovate several parks and schools." A second Cruise With a Mission is scheduled for the December 14-21, 2008.

Weimar College in Northern California closes after 30 Years because of declining enrollment.

David Penner resigns as the Principle of Newbold College.

Jan Paulsen “appeared as a guest on the February 11 edition of Night talk with Mike Schneider, a one-hour program airing on Bloomberg TV”. “When asked about the church’s future goals, Paulsen said, ‘My goal for the church is that we become more effective in communicating not only ideas but care for people, so that they may discover that Seventh-day Adventists are good people to get to know.’”

Doctors Handysides and Landless discuss BARIATRIC SURGERY and HUMAN PAPILLOMA VACCINE in their usual informative and thorough way.

MESSAGES TO YOUNG PEOPLE has two authors, Julia Vernon and Jane Smith. In her article, ”Don’t Hinder Them”, Vernon suggests that adolescents, if loved and supported by their families and church groups, will “come to Jesus, not on our terms, but on His”. In other words young people can learn important life lessons in the secular world without being damaged spiritually by critical adults.

Jane Smith, a pseudonym, isn't so sure. “Positive Reinforcement” is her take on the secularization of Adventist young people within the Church. Her essay raises important questions about adult standards of behavior and their impact on adolescent Adventists. “In a youth group I led, it became almost a joke that we couldn't maintain a spiritual conversation for five minutes without someone mentioning a movie he had seen. I suggested a one-week moratorium from talking about movies. The kids voted it down as impossible.”

GROWING A PERSONAL MINISTRY by Valerie N. Phillips is a gentle but powerful reminder that a gift given in love, even to someone you have never met, is a blessing to both the one that gives one the one that receives. “Little is much when God is in it.”

Marcia Mollenkopf bakes bread, and when her loaves don’t turn out perfectly, even the crumbs of her failures are put to good use. CRUMBS OF FAITH is a lovely testimony to a beautiful Christian life. “If cooks can be creative with crumbs of bread, think what God can do with the crumbs of what we call our failures.”

Friday, March 14, 2008

Are You A Real American?

From Non Sequitur, by Wiley
(click to enlarge)

Prayer Projects Can Be Dangerous

Modified from Together Again, by Guindon
(click to enlarge)

Dreaming the Gospel

Major James Nesmeth dreamed of improving his golf game. To fulfill his dream, he developed a unique method for improving his score during a seven year period when he was unable to even touch a club or step on a fairway. Until he devised this method, he was just an average weekend golfer who shot in the nineties.

During his seven year absence from golf, Nesmeth was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. During most of his captivity he saw no one and talked to no one. It was during the first few months of his captivity that he realized that he must find some way to occupy his mind or he’d lose his sanity and probably his life. That’s when he learned to visualize.

Every day he played a round of golf at the country club of his dreams. Major Nesmeth smelled the fragrance of freshly trimmed grass and the feel of his clubs. He practiced his swing on an imaginary driving range. When he visualized playing a game, he took every step on his way to the ball, just as he would if he had actually been on the course. He didn’t omit a detail. Not once did he hook or slice a shot. He never missed a putt.

Seven days a week, four hours a day, Major Nesmeth played 18 holes of golf in his imagination. After his release, Nesmeth shot a 74 the first time he stepped on a golf course, 20 strokes off his previous average!

In the words of the song from South Pacific, “If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?” When we dream the Gospel message of unconditional love, we can “act justly and love mercy and walk humbly with our God”.* Through Him we can do all things.

*Micah 6:8

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Know Your Transportation Provider

Modified from Together Again, by Guindon
(click to enlarge)

End Time Theology for Fun and Profit

Modified from Rube's Bible Cartoons, by Leigh Rubin
(click to enlarge)

Reviewing the Pacific Union Recorder

March 2008

The cover and general layout of the magazine is excellent. MCM Design Studio continues to do an excellent job. The news from around the Union is informative, newsworthy, and generally well written. However, I would have appreciated a picture of the GENTRY GYM DOME that when reassembled will become the Loma Linda Spanish church until their 1200 seat sanctuary is built.

On March 17, 1965, Adventist College students, Paul Cobb, Will Battles, Fernando Canales, along with Milton Hare participated in the third, Martin Luther King led, Selma to Montgomery civil rights march. Bill Knott, Editor of the Adventist Review, and Milton Hare told that story to students at Pacific Union College in a 2007 presentation honoring Dr. King. Knott commented: "What troubled me about the story is that it took me 40 years to hear it." The program included an apology by President Richard Osborn for the college's past racial policies.

The lead story, TEAM TREATS IRAQI INFANTS HEART, is a saga yet to be completed of Christian love for one little boy and and his parents, Feris and Vivian. Loma Linda University Medical Center agreed to be responsible for the $218,000 cost of care, and the celebrated infant heart transplant pioneer, Leonard Bailey and his team, have made it possible for baby Kirillos to live past his fourth birthday. A relief organization in Canada has given permission for this homeless family to emigrate and apply for citizenship.

Sandy Wyman Johnson is dedicated providing a program that ensures that the employees of Adventist Health Systems believe that their work is a sacred calling. Her motto: SACRED WORK PROVIDES WHOLE PERSON CARE.

The essay, SHOULD ADVENTISTS VOTE? by Alan J. Reinach, Esq. provides a context for some the objections to political activism voiced by Ellen White. Reinach makes a convincing argument for voting the issues. He goes on to caution "we [Adventists] ought to refrain from letting political issues undermine our unity in Christ. Some of us have become so aligned with a political party that our political zeal exceeds our love for Christ".

The SONscreen FILM FESTIVAL CALLS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HOME. "Upcoming festival activities and events included the outstanding film screenings each evening by talented Adventist/Christian filmmakers from around the nation and the global community." The film, SECRET OF THE CAVE produced by students of Southern Adventist University has been picked up by a major distribution so the film is in national store chains like Blockbuster, Wal-Mart, and at Best Buy.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Reviewing the Adventist Review

February 21, 2008
Vol. 185, No. 5

GENERAL COMMENTS: This Review earned a well-deserved gold star.

LETTERS: Reponses from readers were thoughtful and positive. I like the idea of providing a cover snapshot with the letters. Why only some? Why not all?

Stephen Chavez is a treasure! INTO OUR NEIGHBORHOODS reflects the musings of a wonderful writer and an amazing Christian. "We owe it to Christ -- and each other -- to be out in our communities living as Jesus lived. This is no time to adopt a 'monastery mentality' and withdraw from society to pursue a life of theological nit-picking and self-absorbed reflection."

Roy Adams’ NINE CHILDREN FACE AN ANGRY TOWN, an interview with Terrence Roberts, one of the “Little Rock Nine”, is a must read, along with his ONE OF NINE, a short biography of Roberts that follows the interview.

In a conversation with Doug Matacio, Religion Chair at Canadian University College, Roy Adams learned that Terrence Roberts, a fifteen-year-old tenth grader, one of the "Little Rock Nine", was a Seventh-day Adventist. An interview of Terrence and his parents should have been published in the Review fifty years ago, long before Bill Clinton awarded Roberts the Congressional Gold Medal, America's highest civilian honor.

Roy precedes his interview with Terrence Roberts by reminding readers of the fact that fifty years ago “an entire nation [was] grappling with fundamental issues of human rights -- innocent little children in danger of being killed simply for attempting to attend the school of their choice" while the Seventh-day Adventist Church was "preoccupied with fixing its own theology [the publication of Questions on Doctrine], seemingly oblivious that the very rights being agonized over in the larger community were being denied children within its own communion".

HE NEVER FAILED, AND THAT’S THE WAY IT IS. The information, accompanying her picture, says it all. "Cassie Ragenovich told God she'd quit working in student finance [at Walla Walla University] if He ever failed to provide the necessary resources for students who are committed to earning a Christian education. 'I've stayed on this job for 32 years, and He's never failed me -- not even once.’"

In the OBAMA MESSAGE, Fredrick A. Russell makes the argument that "a new generation is emerging in the church, and old rationales as to why we do what we do will not hold. . . It will not be a Black Adventist church, a White Adventist Church, an Asian Adventist Church, or a Hispanic Adventist Church that will reach our world. . .If our church is going to reach this culture, we need to think well what we are presenting to the world, as well as to a new generation in this church".

Ben Carson, one of the leading pediatric neurosurgeon's in world has a new book, TAKE THE RISK. Kim Lawton interviews him. Four construction workers, including at least one student, were KILLED IN A LIGHTNING STRIKE AT ADVENTIST UNIVERSITY ZURCHER in Antsirabe, Madagascar. ADRA has already helped 81,000 refugees DURING the KENYA CRISIS. And MERIN KRETSCHMAR, pastor, evangelist, and former Conference President has died. He was 76.

If standard outreach materials or a seminar package no longer work very well in your community, check out the resources available from AdventSource at or (800) 328-0525. In REACHING AND DISCIPLING PEOPLE Monte Sahlin suggests up-to-date resources for mission outreach. Readers can also suggest resources to him at or (800) 272-4664. (Sahlin’s new book is entitled, MISSION IN METROPOLIS.)

SURVIVING THE STORMS by Gavin Anthony has written a practical and heartfelt devotional peace. There is only one sentence that I wish wasn't included. “Another paradox is that God is able to teach us how to have peace only by permitting the storms to engulf our lives.” God responsible for evil? Suffering the only way to “teach us how to have peace”?

GOD’S INVESTMENT PROGRAMS by Kelly Rose Bishop took me back to the time when every Sabbath school class had an investment project. Working creatively to raise money for worthwhile projects is a great idea for kids, adults, and congregations.

Mark A. Kellner and I share a favorite Bible quotation. "We [Christians] are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body." 2 Corinthians 4:8-10. HE'S ENOUGH!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Reviewing the Adventist Review

February 14, 2008
Vol. 185, No 4

GENERAL COMMENTS: The Review markets itself with the following words:” Subscribing to the Review is a commitment to watch and be ready. Change is coming." Unfortunately, this edition is pretty much the same old thing. The cover story, CHRISTIAN DATING: HARNESSING FIRE, HONORING GOD, is a huge disappointment. More about that later.

LETTERS: I don't know what other readers think, but I would be unhappy if my letter to the editor was published two months after the article to which it refers. There is even a letter included here referring to an article that appeared three months ago!

AS GOOD AS ITS PEOPLE, by Adventist Review Editor Bill Nott, is a song in praise of Adventist believers worldwide. It is also an ambitious goal statement in which he lists what is required of the magazine that "is to continue its historic role of uniting the far-flung world of Adventism". This is all well and good, Bill, but my question to you is, "How can you ‘travel nearly 200,000 miles by air and car and rail’ last year and also do your job?" The Review needs your undivided attention; it's not getting it, and it shows.

The editorial, A MIND-CHANGING MENUE by Carlos Medley, is a thoughtful tour de force in which advice designed "to save a failing restaurant" becomes the recipe for saving a failing church.

CHRISTIAN DATING: HARNESSING FIRE, HONORING GOD by Jenifer Jill Schwirzer "contains [as advertised by the Editors] material best appreciated by mature readers". In this article, "mature" should be read is an acronym for the words "Adventists over fifty". The best thing about this piece is the sidebar that provided scientific information about the heat of the sun.

THE BLESSED HOPE by Tony Moore is a promo for his "twenty 30-minute episodes [a life of Paul] that have been airing on the Hope Channel and 3ABN since February of 2004.

Check out the Review and Herald’s WAREHOUSE CLEARANCE SALE insert. These books are up to 85% off retail price. Categories include: general topics, Bible study, church history, devotionals, Ellen White, kids' books, multimedia, posters, stories, and teaching resources.

WORLD NEWS PERSPECTIVES includes news that: Atlantic Union now has 100,000 members. (This Union includes the conferences of Bermuda, Greater New York, New York, Northeastern, Northern New England, and Southern New England); Thomas Zirkle, 71, an Adventist Surgeon, Health Ministries Associate Director, and Medical Missionary died on January 11 in Loma Linda, California; New Zealand has held their first "Big Camp" and Tui Ridge Park; and the Adventist University of Eastern Africa, Baraton, has reopened after post election violence in Kenya forced its evacuation.

Sari Fordham experienced what she believed to be an EARTHQUAKE just after she moved to California. That wasn't an earthquake Sari; it was a tremor. When my family and I lived in the San Fernando Valley, we experienced two real earthquakes. Unfortunately, it will require not just a tremor or an editorial but a doctrinal earthquake to make it possible for North American Adventists to "embrace positive transformation [and] resist a lukewarm, going-through-the-motions religion and look for something deeper".

WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT CHURCH FROM MY ROSE CLUB by Loren Seibold is a lovely example of how to instruct without being preachy, how to speak the truth without rancor, and how to warn without shrillness. (Editors, did you have to jam a big black-and-white column-and-a-half ad for SoyaPower right at the end of this beautiful and beautifully illustrated essay? It was an unpleasant distraction.)

Seth Pierce discovered a universal spiritual truth when HOMEWARD BOUND for the Christmas holiday. When he, his wife and their one-month-old baby were stuck in an airport during a seven-hour flight delay, they discovered, along with their fellow sufferers, that the longing for home made "our petty arguments, barriers, and differences fade away. . . And because we knew everybody was trying be at home for the holiday, we all wanted everyone else to make it.

LIVING TRUSTFULLY by Marja L. McChesney is a story that should have emphasized the kindness of strangers rather than trusting God, and the idea that "God has plans for each of us that may be different from our carefully laid plans". These moral principles are very often not supported by real-life experiences. On Wednesday, December 19, 2007, my colleague, his wife and nephew, were killed in an automobile accident. It's impossible for me to believe the accident was God's plan for that family.

Betty Colvin discovered that what seemed to be an uninteresting canoe trip on "A SMALL LAKE" wasn't so small or uninteresting after all. She also discovered that Bible study could be just as interesting and as much fun if you give it a chance.