When Daddy Comin?

For the past two weeks, I have been home with my family celebrating our new arrival! Since there is only so much I can do for our new baby, most of my time was spent playing with and taking Read more

Angel Tree

When I was a child, my family fully embraced the traditions of Christmas. We decorated our home with the most cherished ornaments, lights, and bows. We handmade or purchased gifts with much thought about the receiver. We made plans Read more

Begin with Jesus

The autobiography of G. Stanley Jones is titled A Song of Ascent, and it’s considered to be a spiritual classic. Jones was a great man: a missionary to India, a friend to Gandhi, a tireless world traveler, and a Read more

Weeds

Have you ever been responsible for a task you didn’t particularly enjoy? Perhaps you can relate to one homemaker who developed a unique perspective on some of her less enjoyable household duties. She said: I don't do windows because I Read more

New Each Day

Patrick Henry, whose primary contribution to the history books is the phrase "Give me liberty or give me death," made another memorable statement. He said, "I know of no way of judging the future but by the past." Repeat this before Read more

I’m Quitting Adventism…

Posted on by GODencounters in Articles | Leave a comment

Many times, we as leadership in the Seventh-day Adventist Church get caught up in the routine of our ministries and theological pursuits. With commentaries to peruse, conferences to attend, sermons to preach, initiatives to push, and contacts to followup on, it is all too easy to miss the startling reality that exists within our own congregations. In short, there is a lost generation of young Adventists seeking a home to call their own – even as they shake your hands at the door every week after service.

This realization hit me like a tidal wave this week as I read the blog post of a friend of mine. There is a generation of lost individuals in our church today. They’re lost sitting in your pews. They are lost listening to your sermons. They are lost because they are not the loud liberal left writing blogs, or the outraged reserved right making speeches. They are not lost from the gospel…yet. They are simply lost in the middle of Adventism wondering just what is going on around them. They are my friends; they are my family. They are your children; they are your church “members.” They…are the silent majority. And every so often, when we pause to listen, we might just hear their voice.

Meet Julie. Julie is a friend of mine. Julie’s name is not really Julie, you could insert the name of your son or daughter instead. I haven’t seen Julie since I cheered her across the graduation stage at one of our fine Seventh-day Adventist universities to finally live life in the “real world.” Julie moved away from our Seventh-day Adventiat institution to a town near you, and she’s not just a statistic from your latest book on youth ministry. Actually, Julie and her husband probably go to your church…for now. Julie is taking a break from Adventism. I asked her if it would be okay to share her recent blog to you all in hopes that the silent majority might gain even a small voice. Here is her confession:

“Taking a Break From Adventism

Many may think the title is for shock value to get you to read the blog post. While that may be somewhat true (in my desperation for blog hits), I’m blogging to document my struggle to define my faith.

I’ve been struggling with my religion for a few years now. It all started at [an] Adventist University, of all places. I became burned out of religious programming – between going to vespers, worships, convocations, and performing for many church services, my religious life became routine. It got tiring and I lost sight of my religious sincerity.

I’ve never been much for individual Bible study or prayer. It seems like I become conveniently religious when I feel I most need God, and then go right back to being conveniently independent until the next life challenge presents itself.

This combination of religious situations in my life has led to my questioning everything, not just being a Seventh-day Adventist.

I am not really sure what I believe at this point. I am not satisfied with my current religious state. Church annoys me. Honestly, the entire SDA religion is getting on my nerves at this point.

I have decided to quit Adventism. This is not necessarily for good. I have some real issues with the church right now, such as: the reaffirming creation fiasco, the “holding pattern” or stalemate the religion is in waiting for Christ to return, how judgmental Adventists can be, hating homosexuals, and Ellen White’s status as a prophet/lesser light. This isn’t an exhaustive list, I’m sure there are more things I have problems with.

I am quitting Adventism to examine the Bible objectively. I know that will be relatively difficult to do now that I am familiar with religious doctrine, but the SDA church teaches “sola scriptura” and I think I’ll be fine deciphering the Bible at face value. I want to know what the Bible says and base my Christianity on those teachings. I want to learn the details of the stories by reading it on my own and not relying on what others teach me or what they add to the stories.

In my opinion, the heart of the life of a Christian is love. I think that is the simplest way to sum up the duty of a Christian – show love to God, others, and yourself. I think Adventism has lost sight of this.

I think we’ve lost sight of the true purpose of church. Now, much of this could be attributed to my attitude currently, but church annoys me. It’s a show, a routine, a series of steps one must go thru in order to complete the church service. I don’t know how others feel about this, but this is my opinion. I feel that church should be a time to study in small groups and really have a deep discussion by delving into the Word, and not necessarily a sermon. I feel we should be allowed to talk, sing, etc. as long as we want together. It is hard to connect to one another sitting silently in a pew.

I also feel we should use church to focus on ministering to others outside of our denomination. Take church time and go feed the homeless or do something else to show love to others. There is a fine balance, though, between focusing inwardly and outwardly.

One thing that’s always bothered me has been how Sabbath is supposed to be a day of rest, yet for some, it is the busiest and most stressful day of the week (pastors, etc.)

Back on topic.

I am quitting Adventism to define my spirituality by discovering what God teaches about being a Christian by reading his Word. I am quitting Adventism to discover if this church really is as consistent with scripture as it preaches. I am quitting Adventism to reconnect with God.

I am going to continue to attend my regular SDA church. I believe that you cannot be the body of Christ alone.

I want to know if Adventism really does have it together and if what SDAs believe is in line with what the Bible says. If, at the end of this, I find the two to be consistent, I will return to labeling myself as an Adventist. And if not, I am confident that God will lead.

So begins my journey of spiritual rediscovery.”

 

by Kasper Haughton, Jr.

Previously serving as a worship leader and youth pastor in the South Pacific and North American Division, Kasper Haughton, Jr. is currently a graduate student at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University.  You can view his blog and website links at about.me/kasperjr.

What if it Were Real?

Posted on by GODencounters in Articles | Leave a comment

Have you ever imagined heaven? What was it like to be at the cross? What happens when we pray? What is reality in the spiritual world and what if we could see tangible answers to prayer and see God physically with our eyes? Faith is an amazing thing that seems to nicely fill in the gaps where our senses limit us. But I stop and wonder how my experience would be different if the things I pray and the trite phrases I repeat were real.

I wonder if it would quench the thirst that seems to plague me for something beyond the daily grind of my life. Would I be overwhelmed or would it surprise me at all? Maybe the revelation of “tangible” Christianity is over-rated, but somehow I don’t think so. Somehow I believe the Bible where it says that we cannot imagine the things that God has prepared for us. And then I try to imagine how I would react… speechless? Jumping for joy? Cowering in fear? Lying prostrate on the ground? Singing hallelujah? And after this experience – what next?

A time ago, some friends of mine set up a prayer room for a national conference that was in town. As I was dismantling the room after the conference was over, I was struck by what someone had written. I was so moved by it, in fact, that I saved that piece of brown paper and now have it hanging on my wall. It was written next to a cross that we had hung in the prayer room. I want to share the words here but don’t be surprised by them – let them jolt you to imagine – what if all of this really was real? And then what comes next?

What if it were real and tangible to us? What if one moment we opened our eyes and our lives to the powerful Truth we know in our minds? Would we fall to our knees, gasping raw breaths into grateful lungs, clutching our Rescuer? Would we stumble blinkingly into the life of infinity and scream our claim to the divine rights we’ve cast aside? Lay hold to the land we once abdicated? Would we sweat out the blood of our fear, and then never fear again? Would we become new if we killed ourselves to get to you — to be resurrected by you?What wouldn’t we give?

Forgive me please, when we can give no more. –p.c.

Lord, show me You. Let me be astounded by You and be swept away by your grace and salvation. You have so much for me that I am just not ready to receive. Please I pray – prepare my heart to see You as You really are and to never be the same. Amen. - Elisa Brown

encounter the Word:

1In the past you were dead because you sinned and fought against God.2You followed the ways of this world and obeyed the devil. He rules the world, and his spirit has power over everyone who doesn’t obey God. 3Once we were also ruled by the selfish desires of our bodies and minds. We had made God angry, and we were going to be punished like everyone else.

4-5But God was merciful! We were dead because of our sins, but God loved us so much that he made us alive with Christ, and God’s wonderful kindness is what saves you. 6God raised us from death to life with Christ Jesus, and he has given us a place beside Christ in heaven. 7God did this so that in the future world he could show how truly good and kind he is to us because of what Christ Jesus has done. 8You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God’s gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own. 9It isn’t something you have earned, so there is nothing you can brag about. 10God planned for us to do good things and to live as he has always wanted us to live. That’s why he sent Christ to make us what we are.

-Ephesians 2:1-10 [CEV]

 

encounter:

  • How might I prepare for an encounter with God beyond my imagination?
  • Where in my life am I pleading for God to be more real?

What Makes You Go?

Posted on by GODencounters in Articles | Leave a comment

When I lived in Southwest Michigan, as the weather would get a little warmer after winter, my wife and I would venture out into our yard to get things ready for summer.  Along with the necessary weeding and pruning activities, we would also have to rake up some leftover leaves from the previous fall.

Once while I was out raking, I saw a girl riding one of those Razor-type scooters down the street close to where we live.  She couldn’t have been more than 10, but she was moving at a pretty good clip.
I didn’t think much of it, since she was moving downhill.  But a minute later, I noticed her going the opposite direction, at about the same speed.  She passed up and down the hill two or three times before it registered that she didn’t seem to be slowing down at all.  As fast as she was going, I figured momentum might keep her moving for a while.  But her speed was consistent, and she didn’t even seem to be pushing.  It was about this time that I noticed a sizeable motor attached to the rear of the scooter.  It was doing all of the work.  She was just along for the ride.

As a Christian, sometimes I rely on my momentum to keep me going.  I attend an event like GODencounters Conference, and I’m content to just coast for a while.  It’s not until I start to lose momentum and try to do some of the work myself that I realize that I’m just not capable of maintaining anything consistent. My only hope is to be connected with some source of sustaining power.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus tells his followers the real purpose of his mission: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.[1] Another translation says “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.[2]” My hope for everyone that attends GODencounters is that we all will have an experience with God that gives us some momentum.  But even more importantly, I hope that together we can discover ways to connect with Christ, the Source of unstoppable power.

–Elia King

encounter the word

I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!

All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence. -Ephesians 1:17-23 [MSG]

 

encounter

  • After the momentum of a spiritually charged event, what typically happens to you?  How might you allow GOD to sustain you, filling you with His endless energy and boundless strength?
  • What process will you participate in to not only sustain momentum, but also possibly build upon it?  [for fun, enjoy this comparison between event and process, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngHccKbSBl8]
  • What areas are your life are less than abundant?  What good things are you involved with that are keeping you from the great?
  • What does the abundant life look like for you? What might be GOD’s view of abundant living for you? What biblical steps might you take to have the two views coincide?
Recording artist Elia King [www.eliaking.com] is also a creative/design developer for Southwestern Adventist University.  Elia has graciously contributed some of his music artistry to the GODencounters movement, find it free for download athttp://www.PacificPress.com/GODencounters
[1] John 10.10.  New King James Version
[2] John 10.10.  New Living Translation