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


The Blood-dimmed Tide
Around year 2000 we offered our modest home on the outskirts of Sydney for rent. The successful couple was American. One of their “getting to know the area” questions was: “Do you have drive-by shootings?” Although Sydney’s origins were built on the sweat of convicts, we confidently answered in the negative: “Are you kidding? This is Australia; home of koalas and kangaroos, not the Wild West!”

Of course, we had forgotten about Tasmania’s Port Arthur massacre in 1996. Then this year there has been an epidemic of senseless drive-by shootings in Sydney fueled by drug wars, relatively calm by North American standards of violence I suppose, since casualties are not at triple digits yet. As trends go in society, we are about 10 years behind the United States, based on the prospective American renters’ question. We gradually got used to the “new norm,” but neighborhood fear is now palpable.

Logically, there should be no need to sell or own guns for self-protection in a free society. But many proactive parents will agree that the “new smoking gun” in this press-button techno-age is where young minds can electronically create their very own “my space” virtual world. Here a creator God is unnecessary. Moral values have no consequence. No one gets physically hurt. And it’s just having fun anyway.

Any ball player knows that successful shots during competition are based on repeated successful throws when practicing. Accuracy is a learned behavior.

Press-button sport is learned in the same way; but a fantasy world can morph into reality when there are no moral inhibitions. Gamesters are guaranteed win-win adrenaline. This is no healthy sport. Future lawmaking should focus on limiting violent video games in addition to guns.

Can we dare believe that this will stem the flow of blood while an epidemic rages with no cure? Realists will say “no.” Rationalists could say “yes.” Lawmakers may deliberate indefinitely, while religious advocates pray for direction and deliverance. Consensus seems an impossible outcome for a divided society.

Ellen White’s statements about molding society values were definitely not based on 20-20 hindsight. The editor’s gentle reminder, “in God we can trust, and the words of His faithful servants” is welcome among friends. The challenge to make a difference is for this message to be heard and heeded by the general public also.
 
--Libby Beament
Stanhope Gardens, New South Wales, Australia

 
Mysticism: By the Book
I looked up the word mysticism in response to the recent article “What Is a Mystic?” by Eric Anderson (Jan. 10. 2013). A search of Ellen G. White’s writings suggests that the word is generally used as leading a person away from God’s truth, not leading them toward it. Mystics and mysticism have been around a long time. It came out of the study of Plato, leading followers who were Christians to go into monasteries to become the first Christian mystics. Anderson is blurring the edges so that one cannot see between good and evil.

Notice the following statement from Ellen White: “Spiritual darkness has covered the earth and gross darkness the people. There are in many churches skepticism and infidelity in the interpretation of the Scriptures. Many, very many, are questioning the verity and truth of the Scriptures. Human reasoning and the imaginings of the human heart are undermining the inspiration of the Word of God, and that which should be received as granted, is surrounded with a cloud of mysticism. Nothing stands out in clear and distinct lines, upon rock bottom. This is one of the marked signs of the last days” (1 Selected Messages, p. 15).
 
--Bob Stewart
 
Your concerns have their place. Anderson’s article clearly acknowledges the term’s potential problems. Is it not still true that in prayer and meditation we are intimately engaged with the God who is Spirit, and Who is Lord and Creator of the vast universe?—The Editors

 
Striking a Nerve
Thank you for printing “Regrets” (Dec 27, 2012); and thanks to Deborah Holloway for baring her soul in writing it. After we finished reading it, my wife said, “Have I told you lately that I love you?” That was followed by a list of things she loved about me.

But there was another sinister, unspoken regret lurking in the background: Did the surgeon regret having performed surgery on a person who, in all probability, didn’t need it?

Of course, we don’t know any of the details leading up to the angioplasty and the stinting that Holloway’s husband received. Space here permits only a brief summary of more than 25 years of research on cardiovascular disease treatment. The bottom line is: in treating clogged arteries, surgical treatments (including coronary artery bypass grafts, angioplasty, and placing of stints) are no more effective than medical methods (the judicious use of medication). And the less profitable medical methods do not carry the 1 to 2 percent in-hospital death rate that surgical methods entail. In fact, the least profitable method of all (arrest and reversal therapy) carries a 0 percent fatality risk for up to 10 years afterward.

Yet doctors in the United States keep pushing their patients to get surgery. In one study, comparing the incidence of angioplasty between one group of patients in the United States and a similar-aged group in Ontario, Canada, it was shown that five times as many of the U.S. patients had angioplasty as their Canadian counterparts. One year after surgery, the mortality rate of the U.S. group was 34.3 percent, while in the Canadian group it was 34.4 percent.

The real regret here is that we in the U.S. have abandoned low-profit, effective methods of treatment for highly profitable, dangerous, surgical treatments.
 
--David Ekkens
College Place, Washington

 
My heart went out to Deborah Holloway as she related her regrets, for I traveled a similar path after my husband of 17 years died. . . .

[Jesus] told me to give [my] situation to Him, all of it: the emotions of anger or misunderstanding that started the whole thing, to my current frustration and agony of regret. It was as if as I walked down the memory hallway, He rehung that memory in a different frame, a frame of elegance, gold, and beauty. The emphasis was on what He could and would do. Sure, there was still the wish to speak to Don again and ask forgiveness; but the rawness, the agony was gone.

What a difference that makes! Isn’t that what He’s so good at, lifting the burdened, filling us with His love?

In a similar way, God taught me to turn over memories of a fragmented relationship to Him, gradually, as the memories came, until “graduation day” arrived and I met the person again. The freedom I felt is the closest sensation I ever had to floating like a balloon because of the lightness and joy He gave.
 
--Monica Hansen
Eagle Bend, Minnesota

 
It was explained to me this way by our family counselor: “You were in a relationship with this man. You loved him, but the relationship had all the ups and downs, good and bad, that any normal relationship has.”

I, too, had regrets. My oldest son died of a brain tumor. I was his caregiver. There were moments when I was frustrated with him, short with him, and angry with him. I also loved and took good care of him. Both things are true. The first thing I will say to him when I see him again is, “I am so sorry.”
 
--Barbara Younker
 

Fit Kids
Former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona once said, “The greatest threat to our national security is pediatric obesity.” Why? Because today’s kids and teens are our future everything. Their health status now will impact our healthcare system, military, labor force, economy, social security, etc.

That’s why I was glad to see Doctors Handysides and Landless broach this topic in their “Ask the Doctor’s” column (Weighing in on a Way Out; Dec. 27, 2013). While they gave a lot of great statistics and facts outlining the problem, they spent only the last two paragraphs talking about solutions for grandparents and parents to consider.
 

Here are a few more resources we recommend in our Family Fit program at Loma Linda University’s Drayson Center:
 
Super-Sized Kids, by Walt Larimore, MD and Sherri Flynt, MPH, RD, LD
Disease-proof Your Child-Feeding Kids Right, by Joel Fuhrman, MD
God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Child, by Walt Larimore, MD
Kid Shape Cafe (150+ kid-tested recipes), by Naomi Neufeld, MD
www.superkidsnutrition.com/ one of the best nutrition Web sites, packed with resources for kids and parents by Melissa Halas-Liang, MA, RD, CDE
circle.adventist.org/download/PI-KidsExercise.pdf an excellent kid fitness article for parents by Christine Wallace for CIRCLE, a newsletter for Adventist educators

By the way, I had to chuckle when I read just two pages over in the KidsView “Kids in the Kitchen” page a recipe for Brownie-in-a-Mug. How ironic! At least a “healthier” version was also provided. A list of healthy snacks or cookbooks might have been more useful for concerned grandparents.

Sometimes I think our church’s health message gets a bit diluted with the erroneous thinking that “moderation” in junk food and junk ingredients is OK. Given new evidence about how harmful ingredients such as white sugar, refined flour, high fructose corn syrup, and bad fats (animal, saturated, and trans fats) are in promoting chronic inflammation, the root of most of our lifestyle-related diseases are preventable.

We have to cultivate kids’ taste buds to appreciate food the way God intended us to enjoy them. Following a “moderation in junk food” philosophy will only hinder that process.
 
--Ernie Medina, Jr.
Loma Linda, California

 
The Mathematics of Salvation
While Clifford Goldstein is correct in his article “The Mathematics of Salvation” (Dec. 20, 2012) that victorious living by Christians from any point onward cannot compensate for past sins, he stops short of citing the total passage from Steps to Christ, which indicates how perfect obedience required by the law is to be attained.

Following the sentence Goldstein quoted, Ellen White continued, “More than this, Christ changes the heart. He abides in your heart by faith. You are to maintain this connection with Christ by faith and the continual surrender of your will to Him; and so long as you do this, He will work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. So you may say, ‘The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.’ Galatians 2:20. So Jesus said to His disciples, ‘It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.’ Matthew 10:20. Then with Christ working in you, you may manifest the same spirit and do the same good works—works of righteousness, obedience.

“So we have nothing in ourselves of which to boast. We have no ground for self-exaltation. Our only ground of hope is in the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and in that wrought by His Spirit working in and through us” (Steps to Christ, pp. 62, 63).

In other words, the perfection required by the law for salvation is not simply attained by substitutional righteousness.
Transformative righteousness is part of the equation too. The former applies to the past, which is why Ellen White wrote in the statement Goldstein quoted, “Sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous” (p. 62). Notice, it doesn’t say, “Sinful as your life may have been, and is always destined to be on this earth.” According to the entire passage from which this statement is taken, substitute righteousness is needed to cover our past, while transformative righteousness is needed to bring our lives into practical harmony with the law’s precepts. Both, according to this passage, represent “our only ground of hope.”

I don’t quite understand Goldstein’s sarcastic reference to “sinless perfection,” followed by the parenthetical comment “We’ve all met some of those wonderful folk, haven’t we?”

Is he implying that sinless obedience is impossible on this earth, even through God’s power? Is he saying that people who strive for, or attain to such perfection, are unpleasant to have around? If so, would he prefer a church full of individuals who have resigned themselves to the presumed inevitability of sin?

Just curious.
 
--Kevin D. Paulson
Berrien Springs, Michigan

 
A Place for Young Adults
A hearty “Amen!” to the article “Finding Their Way” by Ashley Batiste (Dec. 20, 2012).

I, too, am a recent college graduate, and I can relate to the frustrations and difficulties of young adults in our church. A burden on my heart is the need for greater support for young adults in our church. Our generation faces an unraveling society, an increasingly complex and unpredictable world, a struggling economy (among other difficulties), and we need the stability, support, and encouragement of our church families.

The church emphasizes evangelism and is quite successful at bringing in people of diverse faiths. But what about our own “flesh and blood?” What about reaching out to and cherishing our own “lost generation” of young believers? Many of our church’s primary leaders and founders were young adults, many just in their 20s, as were Jesus’ disciples when they began their ministry with Him. Oh, that we could have greater representation of young people today!

I speak on behalf of young adults who love our faith and our church. Many of us desire to be involved, to have more of a role in our church, and to be entrusted with greater responsibilities. Please give us opportunities to do so! Remember the prophecy in Joel 2:28, 29: that young and old will unite together, anointed by God’s Spirit, to have the same visions, dreams, and mission.

Yes, special church programs and committees have their place, but what we crave is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to saturate each believer’s heart that we may truly love, support, and care for each other in the body of Christ.

I beseech each church member, young and old, to look for things that unite us, not tear us apart. The spirit of unity is greatly needed in our homes and churches today.

This may be the “lost” generation, but by God’s grace we can be “found” again!
 
--Sarah Sinz





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