As always, the Adventist Review
allows a good start on Sabbath evening. In her article, “Why Go to Church?”
(May 10, 2007), Valerie Phillips answers an essential question. One point is we need fellowship to grow spiritually; we learn from others by seeing qualities we do not have. Two weeks ago, David conducted our Sabbath school class. In his quiet, stick-to-the-lesson type of a guy, I was happy to see God’s grace.
My daughter just graduated from Andrews University, and was blessed to have as “adoptive” parents, Carol and Dan Lewis. For the last three years, in order to help my daughter, they allowed her to stay at their home. Church offers an element of culture in our lives, to learn from the greatest book on earth, the Bible.
In the final analysis, if we cannot do great things, we can do small things in a great way. That way is to go to church faithfully and discover how we can bless others; in return they will bless us. Every Sabbath I look forward to go to Rising Fawn, Georgia, our tiny mountain church. Pastor Skoretz keeps us going, and what a joy to have a friendly bunch to taste my French cuisine. Bon appetite, et merci beaucoup.
Lookout Mountain, Georgia
There was one reason [people don’t go to church] I did not see touched: When there is a lack of doctrinal unity among pastors and leaders, from local elders to union and conference leaders. For the sake of a few, some churches have opted for alternate worship styles and teachings.
I once heard a Sabbath School teacher try to teach the lesson on the Sanctuary, who believed that the Investigative Judgment was to take place in the coming Millennium, an obviously misinformed notion.
I am tired of a string of sermons that do not contain present truth, and the lack of the unity among all in regard to our beliefs. The pillars of our church and our message and mission need to be re-affirmed among us, as there are many who seem not to know what they are.
I really enjoyed Jennifer Schwirzer’s article about the heavenly sanctuary. I agree that we should share our distinctive truth more openly so that seeking souls can find them.
I’m looking forward to reading more articles about our distinctive doctrines.
Good Thought, Not-so-Good Example
I very much enjoyed E. A. Cooper’s article, “The Critical Importance of Absolutes”
(Apr. 26, 2007). He is correct that absolutes are critical. However, he unfortunately chose an example that is not absolute.
Earth’s northstar, Polaris, does not remain the north star because of what is known as precession. Because the earth is slightly oblate--it wobbles as it spins--making a slow conical motion around its orbital axis, like a spinning top does as it slows down. This wobble makes a complete revolution every 26,000 years.
Thus, 5,000 years ago the ancient Egyptians used Thuban in the constellation Draco as their pole star. Six thousand years from now our north star will be Alderamin in Cepheus, and in 12,000 years it will be Vega in Lyra.
A Grace Note
I found it interesting to note an issue with a cover story, “Flooded by Grace”
(Apr. 19, 2007). But in the previous issue (Apr. 12, 2007), the news commentary, “When ‘I’m Sorry’ Isn’t Enough,” seemed to imply that repentance still needed to be punished. If God treated us that way, wouldn’t we all be punished?
If a person is a danger, or not sorry for their past, punishment might be redemptive, or at least a deterrent. But I wonder what positive outcome can occur from punishment so many years after the fact, when it is likely they were both attending a drinking party where those awful things are a rather common occurrence. I tell my family: If you want to stay out of trouble, don’t go where trouble is.
Unless there is some good that comes out of punishment, “justice” becomes nearly related to “vengeance.” Since the man was apparently trying to repent and reform his life, I’m unclear about how punishment would further that, except to give the victim the satisfaction of reprisal.
In heaven, as I understand it, the murdered and the murderers will meet together as one family to worship the Lord. In fact, some of Jesus Christ’s murderers will be gracefully received into His eternal kingdom.
That is not to say that dangerous criminals should go unpunished or unrestrained. But many a poor boy under the influence has done things he regrets, and many a poor girl under the influence has had lifelong scars from a party.
All the prison time in the world can never erase what happens to the victim. It can never return the pre-crime innocence or peace. Only one way can that happen: through the giving of grace to the undeserving.
College Place, Washington
What About Forgiveness?
I cannot believe that such an article would be published in an Adventist publication. When God forgives, He puts the sin--no matter what--to the bottom of the ocean. He also forgets it. Are we to do less?
The government, whatever branch, did the disciplining. Wasn’t that enough? How can we forgive someone and still want to administer our own punishment. That doesn’t sound like forgiveness to me.
What really made this article stand out is I had just heard a woman on an Adventist TV program tell the moderator she forgave a fellow for what he did: two different women but the same attitude. She said he came from a dysfunctional family. He needed hope; he needed God in his life. She could have shared all that with him; instead she refused to write to him. What a sad place people are in.
Everybody should read the book, Escape From Death, by Roy Slaybaugh, published in 1953 by Southern Publishing Association.
At present I’m writing to four inmates, and several others at times. I don’t know what some are in for, and I don’t care; they need God, they need to know somebody cares about them. I sign my letters “your friend.”
Some have written, “Your letter brought a smile to my face when I needed it”; or “Thank you for calling me a friend.”
I have written to many others in the last three years. They have all sinned some terrible sins, but is the church a hospital for sinners, or are we to make sure they feel condemned by everybody forever?
My son is in prison, something I’m not happy about, but he has found God. If it took that, thank God. He witnesses daily to many inmates, has Bible Studies with them, and many have found God through him.
I wrote to him about the item in the Review. He always shares the Reviews and other church papers I send to him with other inmates. He said he could not share that one. He wouldn’t want the inmates to know his church published it.
Let the government do the condemning, and we do the loving. Let’s just do more forgiving and forgetting.
More About the Sanctuary
I read and reread the article,“The Sanctuary Truth: Trash or Treasure”
(Apr. 12, 2007), by Jennifer Schwirzer, and was impressed to call and encourage her to write more. We had a wonderful conversation and I am hoping to read more of her articles in the future. She has a gift of writing in a logical, accurate, and descriptive way, and I enjoyed her metaphors. Please encourage her to write more articles for the “good old Review
I commend you for such helpful and spiritual articles. The grand tradition of our church paper has not suffered one iota since a new captain took the helm. God bless you all.
Frank B. Waldorf, M.D.