The beliefs and sentiments expressed by those whose letters appear here are not necessarily shared by the Adventist Review or its editorial staff. These letters have been edited for clarity and length. -- Editors
A Gloat-free Zone
As always with Roy Adams’ editorials, “Without Gloating” (Nov. 26, 2009) stimulated my thinking. I extend his thinking into two questions that beg answers: First, the question, “Why me?” is totally inappropriate. In a world of 6 billion people, one random act does not prove that God does or doesn’t care. Nor does it prove that we matter or don’t matter. All it proves is that random acts happen, some good, some bad. Further, it proves that we live in a spoiled, sinful world where bad acts can happen--even to good people.
In fact, “Why me?” is totally self-centered and assumes that since “I have been good,” nothing bad should happen to me. Or to the contrary, “since I have been bad,” bad things should happen to me (the argument of Job’s friends). It is not about “me,” it is about God and His work in this world.
The question “Why?” is more appropriate and more God-centered. But as in the case of Job and his question “Why,” God’s response was: “The answer is too complex for you to grasp. Leave it to Me to work this out--and have faith that I can work it out. Having watched Me work it out multiple times before, trust Me once again.”
“Why?” questions, for the most part, must wait for their answer in the file rooms of heaven’s archives during the 1,000 years.
Second, the Great Controversy is not about any one individual or any one act, random or otherwise. As the Hebrew worthies testified, “If He saves us or if He doesn’t save us, it doesn’t matter; we belong to Him. We follow Him.” If the fact that we are saved or not saved from some catastrophe depended on God responding positively to our prayers, then the prayers of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane should set us straight. God will do what is best for us and for the whole outcome of the Great Controversy. This sometimes means good things happen, sometimes bad things happen. But to assume that these acts necessarily prove that God does or doesn’t exist, or loves or doesn’t love, is to miss the whole concept that the conflict between Christ and Satan does not hinge on what happens to us, bad or good.
The proof of God’s love comes in the context of the relationship between God and us, in daily conversations, in the gifting and ministries the Holy Spirit empowers, and in the truly interventional happenings of otherwise ordinary and random lives.
“Truly interventional” assumes that something should have happened but did not or that something shouldn’t have happened but did. With my clumsy presentation style, I shouldn’t have been able to give that Bible study to that mean individual, but I did by a divine power that gave me the right words I couldn’t have come up with on my own. The budget of Mount Ellis Academy (Adventist Review, Nov. 19) should not have balanced this year, except for tens of thousands of dollars that came in, like the fish in Peter’s net, from totally unexpected sources--not a random act by any stretch of the imagination.
We must be careful not to make the Great Controversy about us. And we must be careful not to equate random acts with “truly interventional” acts of God. We must be content to live in this world of random acts and “truly interventional” acts of God until “all things are put in subjection” to Jesus Christ. And be willing to wait for that time of explanation.
We can praise the Lord in good times and bad times, without gloating. After all, it’s not about us.
St. Petersburg, Florida
Place Your Order
Regarding the article, “Loaves and Haystacks” (Nov. 26, 2009): We were very poor during my childhood, but Sandwich Spread was the occasional king’s meal for us!
Our family was large; my mother had seven children, all at home. We were so blessed when the church sent occasional groceries that included Sandwich Spread. Normally we only had one can of Sandwich Spread to spread, paper thin, onto bread. If we got lucky, there would be a jar of pickles and we each got one to eat as we chose.
Sandwich Spread’s taste is buried deep in my soul; Sandwich Spread, mayonnaise, slices of pickles, stuffed between two slices of bread! As time passed, the lack ended and was replaced with excesses of today. I would stuff so much into a sandwich, making certain I had enough to get a big taste! Later, I served the Spread as a spread/dip served with small pieces of bread, chips, or crackers.
One time, we received three cans of Sandwich Spread from the church! We could actually squeeze some Sandwich Spread out to the edge and remove any excess with our fingers. After our fingers were loaded, we took forever licking it off. That particular load of groceries came with one avocado; our first taste of this strange thing! It cut into eight slices. I always ate small pieces one at a time so I could feel the texture and make it last.
Please ask your readers if any of them could tell me how to make Sandwich Spread? You can’t buy it anywhere anymore. I need a recipe that is close to the original canned Sandwich Spread. Then I can make it new and improved.
Thank you for allowing me to share a piece from the recesses of my mind that causes me to crave something that is not!
Please use firstname.lastname@example.org in case someone should have the original recipe!
The November 26 Adventist Review asks, “How do you make a haystack?” On the same page Ellen White was quoted in relation to healthy food for Seventh-day Adventists. I have seen many Adventists pile cheese on haystacks, and request extra cheese on pizza.
It puzzles me why the author skipped Mrs. White’s statement regarding cheese while quoting from Counsels on Diet and Foods, pages 21 and 23. Mrs. White also wrote: “[Ripened] cheese should never be introduced into the stomach” (Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 368).
On the same page from which you quote is the statement: “The time will come when we may have to discard some of the articles of diet we now use, such as milk and cream and eggs; but it is not necessary to bring upon ourselves perplexity by premature and extreme restrictions. Wait until the circumstances demand it, and the Lord prepares the way for it” (Counsels on Diets and Foods, p. 368).
Eliminating cheese from the diet may be seen by some as “premature and extreme.” A possible compromise is suggested by the apostle Paul: “Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them” (Rom. 14:3, NRSV).—Editors
Good News From Moscow
Thank you for including Andrew McChesney’s “Dateline Moscow” column (What's Wrong With Free) in the magazine. When I started subscribing to the Review just over a year ago, I saw the headline and thought that because I don’t find Russia particularly interesting, it might be a boring column. McChesney has proved that notion wrong.
I enjoy his well-written stories and enjoy seeing how God is at work in his life as the narratives come alive. One of the best things Christians can do is encourage each other with stories from their own walk with the Lord. Theological discussions only go so far, and anecdotes can easily sound cheesy or forced. But real stories of God’s faithfulness speak to the soul in a special way.
When the Sparrow Falls
Thank you for printing Dixil Rodríguez’s inspirational article, “Seeing the Sparrow Fall” (Nov. 19, 2009). To Christian families with loved ones abroad, this article serves as a source of hope.
I am often reminded that life is full of uncertainty and despair. However, during those moments of uncertainty and despair, there is still provision. We can cast our concerns on God, because He cares for us.
Rodriguez effectively captures the frailty of life and how we are meant, as Christians, to care for one another. Does God watch over the sparrow? I believe He does. And as God patiently watches over the sparrows, surely He watches over us.
Damon L. Blakeley
Fort Worth, Texas
On a cold, wet morning in North Carolina, my heart was warmed by Dixil Rodríguez’s article, “Seeing the Sparrow Fall.” I pray daily for God’s direction in the journey of life, especially in such uncertain times. At this holiday season I hope we will be reminded that “we are always in His sight and in His heart.”
Denver, North Carolina
Blessings—Past and Present
My favorite paper and my favorite school came together in the article, “A Year of Miracles” (Nov. 26, 2009)--what a splendid surprise! I graduated from Mount Ellis Academy (MEA) in 1970. My two sons graduated from MEA in 2002 and 2009.
The picture of the school buildings with the lovely Bridger Mountains as a backdrop flooded my heart with fond memories and gratitude. I thank God for the longevity and the loving family atmosphere that has accompanied this small school all those years.
The school keeps a grip on my heart to this very day. I’m fortunate to live close by the school here in “Big Sky Country.” I have had many opportunities to volunteer and participate in such wonderful experiences as the outdoor schools and the art program. Cheers to the Review for shining a big light on a little school with tons of miracle stories, heart, and adventure!