Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Rice and Light

Greens are good for the body. I'm too poor to purchase them regularly, so I've taken to sprouting cast off rice. My first attempts involved sticking the rice in a dark cupboard. It didn't do very well. At Dad's advice, I tried putting it on the window sill. It perked up nicely, and I've been feeding on it ever since.
Christ is the Light of the world. We can't do anything apart from the power He provided through His death. Focusing on Christ's sacrifice at Calvary will give us the perspective to make the sacrifices that He asks of us. It wouldn't do to take up the wrong cross.
Sadly, we rarely consider the Cross. The Beatitudes are a more frequent sermon topic than Golgotha, and when Christ's last hours are mentioned, we often spend more time considering Peter's sin than the Cross. Christ gave us communion so we'd remember His death, but we only celebrate it once in 13 weeks. What's so special about 13? It seems foolish (not to mention unlucky) to relegate communion to the sidelines. When we do go through with it, we don't share the cup, pair off instead of washing everyones feet, and keep on all our fancy duds instead of donning simple towels.
Our public failings are often a reflection of personal emptiness. EGW says that the cross should be the focal point of our devotions, but we usually read a few parables, a Psalm, or the prayer of Jabaz and leave the Cross for Easter weekend.
Like my rice, we're supposed to die, but we can't expect our sacrifice to produce anything unless we are looking to the Light of Christ's sacrifice. Let's get out of the cupboard and start growing.

Monday, January 22, 2007

sacrificial evangelism

As Christians, we are to love God with all our hearts, and love our neighbors as ourselves. We love God by showing kindness to those in need. See Matt. 25: 34-46. Masochists aside, we want food and shelter, but we usually pretend that “needy neighbors” don’t exist outside our circle of friends.
Thanks to globalization, we are all each other’s neighbors. The Good Samaritan crossed ethnic, social, and political boundaries to patch up a wounded Jew. How dare we turn a blind eye to Sudan and the Congo?
Our offerings are often measured by the amount we have to spare. We act like a two-week mission trip with a weekend at the beach is what Jesus meant by “going the second mile”. Will God hold us guiltless if our brothers and sisters starve while we buy cars, computers, and Ipods?
There are two ways to motivate people, promise them more toys or ask them to sacrifice for a greater cause. As good politicians know, the latter is more effective. Would we still remember Churchill if he’d said, “I offer you warmth, comfort, joy, and peace” instead of “blood, toil, tears, and sweat”? What if Kennedy had said, “don’t worry about your country, it’s supposed to meet your needs”?
Like “Someone” in my last post, we usually witness by telling folks about our blessings and trying to persuade them that they’d be better off if they were more like us. What happened to those crosses we were supposed to pick up? Are we following the wrong Jesus?
Sacrifice creates growth—just look at suicide bombers and the proliferation of Islam. Are we ready to die for what we believe? Most of us haven’t even gone hungry for it.
God told us to spread His Word by loving our neighbors. Isn’t it about time to start?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

call to arms

Last Sabbath, I heard a heard a rather important and well known SDA someone speak about a meeting he'd recently attended. The keynote speaker, a methodist turned baptist, had focused on "making the gospel relevant". The central theme, as regurgitated by "Someone", was "people are tired of hearing about God and the Bible and are only interested in our personal experience". "Someone" then stated that the methodist/baptist had used the just mentioned strategy to turn a 25 member wheelchair and cane congregation into a vibrant 400 member youth Church. "Someone" next urged us to follow suit, then publically prayed that we would do so.
God calls us to be faithful, not successful. When Jesus won the victory on Calvary, everyone deserted Him. Noah preached for 120 years and saw no tangible results. The number and age of Benchwarmers is not a relevant measure of God's blessing, and it should never be our goal to increase this crowd. Our job is to lead the people to the water of life, not persuade them to drink by dumping in kool aide.
Personal experience can be a useful evangelistic tool, but each person's life walk is different. Without the Bible as a common denominator our experience has limited utility. More to the point, how can a true Christian share their experience without spending the whole time talking about God and the Bible? If self is dead, what else is there to talk about?
SDA's have a special God given message. Nothing against our Baptist and Methodist brothers and sisters, but God has given us a unique light. Why should the pilot ask a member of the ground crew to teach him how to land the plane?
The Devil is alive and well, and I fear he's working on the sly to dilute the power of our message. He is a defeated foe, but we can't even resist unless we recognize what he is doing.
If we are connected to God, we will talk about what He has done for us, but we must avoid sharing the results without the power. BMW's are beautiful cars, but they can't move without gas. We aren't doing people a favor if we show them a religion that looks and feels comfy and grand but will leave them on the ground at the second coming.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Poor Paul is presently plunged in piles of perturbing preoccupations,
forthwith fiendishly finagling his fiancee into fending the fort for his fans. He
blames his busy-ness on books and bequeaths the blogging to bystanders:
meaning myself. He maintains that he may
materialize when his mobs of mental marauders have
abated their attack. After that awaited anticipation, he'll arrive anew and
script something significantly superior to this silly, sorry,
pretty pathetic post. -Petra

Monday, January 01, 2007

While you were at GYC...

I was climbing Tumbledown with Petra. (Yes Christy, I do exist). As we left home, I informed Petra that my infallible sense of intuition warned of approaching doom. The drive to the trailhead was rather boring--until we reached the final dirt road. A half-inch of freezing rain had fallen over night, followed by several inches of snow. I could have skated the last three miles. The steel studs on the tires of the family van worked wonders, but the success of our traverse trembled in the balance on many a hairpin turn and steep hill. The mercury philandered between 10 and 25 degrees, but a sharp west wind made up for any inconsistencies and necessitated two sets of long johns. The trail proved as slick as the road, and Petra and I rapidly acquired a rainbow of bruises (admired late that night in the hot tub). All went reasonably badly until the final pitch--usually an easy scramble assisted by iron rungs. This time, the rungs were hidden in a frozen waterfall. In prior winter climbs, I'd tied a rock to the end of my rope, tossed it around a tree at the top of the pitch, and so secured assent. But a considerable amount of water was flowing down the face, and the rope rapidly took on the character of rebar. in the end, I took a rock and bashed a series of steps into the ice. Next time I'm bringing an ice ax...
We managed to get off the steepest section before sunset, but we still faced a long plod in the dark. Just before reaching the car, I was forced to follow Nature's call, and ended up frozen to a birch log. Suffice it to say that I was rather chilled when I finally unlocked the van. At which point I realized that Petra's doubts of my intuition's veracity were groundless. I had left the headlights on (by mistake!). We were about 6 miles from the nearest habitation. We'd been the first car on the dirt road that morning, and it looked like only one other hardy soul had passed that way. I was tossing the bullet between building a bonfire starting the long jog when a pair of headlights appeared in the distance.

I realized that I don't have photo’s to back up the ice climb section of this post, but Petra's hands were too cold to work the camera, and mine were far too busy.

Seriously, I did plan to attend GYC. I've always been blessed by attending in the past. But with relations hounding us for wedding plans, and little time for relationship building, I took an extra dose of Petra's TLC instead. I hope you'll forgive me and believe that I exist...