Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What time is it?

One of the things I have been reflecting about recently is the issue of time. It seems to me that our culture is preoccupied with time. Part of the reason for our preoccupation with time is the busyness of life (which I think is the curse of our age). We tend to constantly be asking "What time is it?  or, "How much time do I have?" Maybe the better question to ask is, "What am I doing with my time?"

If you are interested in further reading on this topic, I recommend a couple books, “Time and the Art of Living, by Robert Grudin,” or  “Boundaries,” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Book Of Daniel

We have been studying the Book of Daniel at the Santa Rosa Adventist church. This week, we conclude our study. If you want to do some futher reading on the subject, I recommend Jacque Doukhan's book, "Secrets of Daniel. Doukhan has so much insight to the Jewish culture and Hebrew language that when he disects the scriptures, they come alive.

If you missed a sermon, you can past sermon's at

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Angkor Wat

I just got back from speaking in Bangkok, Thailand, and since I was so close to Cambodia, I had to take a couple of days to go to Angkor Wat.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Branded Faith

Check out this video from my friend and fellow pastor, Kumar Dixit.

Branded Faith Film part 1 from Dixit Media Group on Vimeo.

Friday, October 15, 2010


I thought you might find this interesting...I am not sure how I feel about some of the comments made...

Adventists Claim Credit for Chilean Miner Miracle
by Jared Wright

As dramatic rescue efforts continue in Chile, where thirty-three miners were trapped deep inside a San Jose mine for 69 days and counting, Adventists are vying for recognition as the ones responsible for the miracle.

According to a report from the Guardian, "Evangelical, Adventist and Catholic clerics are vying to stamp their own faith on the expected rescue of the trapped men."

The report notes that each denomination is taking credit for what many Chileans perceive to be divine intervention in the miners' two-month survival.

An Adventist pastor who oversees the northern Chilean district of Copiapo has claimed direct involvement: "God has spoken to me clearly and guided my hand each step of the rescue," said Carlos Parra Diaz, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor at the San Jose mine. "He wanted the miners to be rescued and I am His instrument."

On August 31, the Adventist News Network reported that Parra Diaz coordinated the delivery of small Bibles with accompanying magnifying glasses to each of the trapped miners.

Each Bible is labeled with the words, "We are praying for your return." [A Brazilian news] magazine also said that Psalms 40 is highlighted in each Bible. The passage reads, in part, "I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit ... and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps."

The church also gave a copy of the Bible to the ministers of health and mining, as well as to each of the families at the rescue site. Parra is acting as the camp's chaplain, local Adventist leaders said.

According to the Guardian, however, the Adventist minister has competition. A litte bit further up the hill of Camp Hope, the improvised settlement of miners' families, rescuers, government officials and media, an evengelical preacher, Javier Soto , wandered from family to family with a guitar and songs of praise. "He listens to the music," said the pastor, gesturing to the azure sky.

Still, the Advantage may belong to Parra Diaz, who was granted permission to speak to the miners' families on a regular basis, the Guardian reports. Diaz stole a march over his rivals by obtaining permission to give a 10-minute talk to the assembled 33 families before their nightly briefing by government officials. "I do macro work. I am pastor to all." The other churches, he said, did "micro" work.

A Catholic cleric on hand refused to be drawn into the competition for religious prominence. Bishop Quintana, after concluding a mass in which TV cameras outnumbered worshippers, declined to be drawn on the subject of competition but said he had received supportive emails from all over the world. "What matters is that God is acting through human ingenuity to rescue these men."

It seems evident that the successful conclusion to this crisis situation is a boon for religious organizations including the Adventists in the area. However, given the routinely high mortality rate of miners in Chile's extremely dangerous privately owned mines, perhaps the religious leaders involved would do well to expand the scope of their petitioning for divine intervention. To include the hardworking poor and unprotected in prayer would be no minor miracle.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hospital for sinners

"Church is a hospital for sinners, not a country club for saints."

Ever had that statement before? The truth is that in the church, everyone has a common problem, it’s a sin problem. It’s not just that we sin, the real problem is that we were born with a sinful nature, which means whether or not we are committing acts of transgression against God’s law, we are still sinners.
Unfortunately, many pretend they don't have a problem. In many churches stories are told about people who used to sin, and that’s OK as long as those people give testimonies that have happy endings, “I used to have a problem, but then I met God, and now I'm doing much better.”

Imagine seeing a counselor and saying, "I only want to talk about problems I used to have. Don't ask me to acknowledge having any current problems, okay? I mean, it's embarrassing. I'm afraid you might reject me." Why would anybody go to a counselor to try to convince him/her that they don't need a counselor?

Church is a place to come with your struggles, addictions, dysfunctions, doubts, fears, and victory over sin through Christ. The church needs to be the place of greatest safety and healing. The church needs to be a place where we enter into relationships that will encourage us and hold us accountable. The church should be a place where we can have conversations with other sinners, conversations that lead us to repentance, forgiveness, growth, healing, and change

So, let us do our best to remember that the church is a hospital for sinners. And, let’s extend God’s mercy, love, and forgiveness to all that come through those doors.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Just Courage

A couple of years ago, I heard Gary Haugen speak at the Leadership Summit and learned about the International Justice Mission (IJM). IJM is a human rights agency that works to get justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression all over the world. I was moved by the presentation and the reminder that God is at work all over the world, using a variety of different means to bring relief and salvation to the poor and oppressed. Sometimes we think God only works through one group of people and in only one way, or that God is most concerned about what we know instead of what we do. Not so!

After the presentation, I bought the book, "Just Courage" by Gay Haugen. If you are looking for a read that will inspire you to be used by God to help and serve people, then you might want to check it out.

Also, check out the IJM web site at

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Walla Walla University church

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to worship at the Walla Walla University church. We were there to drop off our oldest daughter for college. Two things caught my attention.

One...was the excellent and timely message by the pastor. One of my church member's non-SDA husband came with his wife to drop off his son at Walla. He told me he had not understood why his son wanted to attend an Adventist college so badly. That night, we had supper together and he told me he now he gets it. Awesome!

Two...the church members who greeted the new students outside of church on their way in were AWESOME! They welcomed the students, took their names and numbers down, invited them to their homes to eat and to join their weekly home group for college students (which includes freeding them).
Again, I was impressed and left assured that my daughter is in good hands. I love it when the church works!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Poem by William Earnhardt

I Am Not Afraid
I am not afraid of bigotry and hate in the terrorists’ hearts.
I am afraid of the bigotry and hate in MY heart.
I am not afraid to die as a Christian in a terrorist attack.
I am afraid to live without Jesus even in times of peace.
I am not afraid to die at the hand of a terrorist tomorrow, having shared God’s love with someone today.
I am afraid to live to be a hundred and ten, never having shared God’s love.
I am not afraid to walk through the valley of death with my Jesus.
I am afraid to walk over the highest mountain without Jesus.
I am not afraid of my loved ones dying in an explosion tomorrow.
I am afraid of my loved ones living without Jesus.
I am not afraid of a terrorist taking my life away from me.
I am afraid of me taking my life away from Jesus.
I am not afraid of terrorists exhibiting hatred.
I am afraid of Christians not exhibiting love.

1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

1 John 4:18 -21 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Psalms 91:5 tells us if we love God we do not need to fear terror. There were some that day who died, knowing they were saved and would see Jesus. For these precious souls the would be terrorists totally failed to terrorize.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Review: Outlive Your Life

Outlive Your Life, by Max Lucado
This is another excellent book by Max Lucado. The premise of the book is that Christians are called to make a difference in this world. Doing so not only can have a huge impact on someone’s life, but also represents Jesus well. Lucado, in typical fashion, uses his down home illustrations and stories to remind us that God can use each of us “common folk” to accomplish uncommon things for him. He did it in the First Century and he can still do it today. Our tendency is to doubt ourselves, to ask if we can really make a difference, but after reading this book you will be inspired to ask yourself, “Whose life will I change?”

The book calls us to share the good news of Jesus, to have compassion on those who don’t know him and need him desperately, to be willing to be bold even in the face of potential persecution, to do good to others quietly, to care for the poor and less fortunate, to never give up on anyone, and to pray more and more each day.
I highly recommend this book. It will remind you that we have the opportunity to have a huge impact on this world, and will inspire you to be the kind of Christ follower that will represent Jesus well.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Herny Blackaby's, Experiencing God

Recently, I was looking through a book I read a long time ago, Henty Blackaby’s, “Experiencing God.” The book is all about the benefits of having a relationship with God. This brought a few questions to mind…
What does it mean to “have a relationship with Jesus Christ?”

What decisions have to be made to make the relationship with Jesus happen?

Can you have a relationship with God and not go to church?

How do I begin a relationship with Christ?

What are the differences between being a Christian, being a Seventh-day Adventists, and being a Christ-follower? What are the similarities? Does it matter?
Just some questions for thought…If you would like to respond, I would love to read what your thoughts are.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I like it

This picture was taken outside of Bloomington, IN. Notice the image of Jesus with the thorn of crowns. I find this to be a striking statement from the driver to other motorists. I love the tool chest and ladders attached to the truck, as they create a parallel between the driver of the vehicle and Jesus. I like it!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Victory Mosque

Next week is the 9th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Lately, the “Victory Mosque” (which according to reports is to be built on Ground Zero) has been in the news and caused a lot a discussion.

If you are interested in hearing what James Standish, who represents the Seventh-day Adventist Church to the United Nations and is Deputy secretary general of the International Religious Liberty Association, has to say, check out:

Thursday, August 26, 2010


As I sit here writing some thoughts for this week's message on Daniel, chapter 3. I think of the three young men in the story. I think of how they faced their own admission they were not sure if God would deliver them.

And, I think of how could they stand up the most powerful man in the world, who was obviously easily enraged? A man who had uncontested power to take their lives by just a word from him. And, I think, what was their secret? How did they do that?

Think about it, obedience was more important than their life. Hmmm...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Have you ever heard of KIVA? Kiva is an organization whose mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty. Basically, Kiva empowers individuals to lend money to an entrepreneur across the globe. Starting at $25, you can lend someone money to start a business which will help them support themselves and their family. The most amazing thing is you can read the story of how your loan (and other) have had an impact. The individual pays you back a little at a time and when you get your money back, you lend it again. I decided to do this a while and it has been rewarding to see the impact a bit of money can have on someone across the world.

Chesk it out at

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Friend of Sinners

David Kinnaman’s recenlyt wrote a book titled, “UnChristian,” in which he writes about how many non-Christians view Christian; that we are hypocritical, inauthentic, anti-homosexual, and incessantly judgmental.

When I think of Christianity I think of Jesus. Jesus touched the leper, was found alone with a Samaritan woman of ill-repute, allowed a prostitute to touch him, did not condemn an adulterer, partied with tax-collecting sinners, and dared to heal a man who had been sick for 38 years on the Sabbath day! Did Jesus like prostitution or adultery or leprosy? Of course not. But he so loved these people that he never gained our reputation. In fact, it was the opposite, he was called a friend of sinners.

To me, to be a follower of Christ is to love people no matter what labels they are tagged with. After all, isn’t that how Jesus treats us?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Daniel 2

Today, I am continuing a sermon series on the Book of Daniel at the Santa Rosa Adventist church. Today, we will be looking at chapter two. Chapter two is a miniature, a microcosm, of the whole book. It contains both Hebrew and Aramaic. It has both narrative and prophecy. On the narrative side, it’s a study is about a man confronted with the reality that he’s not God, AND about a dream illustrates this. On the prophecy side, it is the foundation to the book of Daniel…AND of what is to come…the time of end. This is what makes this such a fascinating book!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Do David and Solomon have anything to say to us today?

Over the years, I have come to understand that reading the Bible is a critical component of my daily walk with God. I have made it a practice for a long while now and here is what I have discovered: Bible books or chapters or verses that I read before and did not understand, make more and more sense the more I read them. I might not get it the first time or the second time, but at some point the light comes on. I know that many tend to give up when they don’t understand what they are reading, but I would encourage you that if this is you, keep reading.
Lately, I have been reading through some of the Old Testament again. The Old Testament tends to be difficult for many to read. Most people I talk to prefer the Gospels or other parts of the New Testament. I understand! But, the Old Testament has taught me much in the last few years., especially David and Solomon. I like how Oswald Chambers once put it regarding some of his favorite Old Testament books. He said, “The Psalms teach you how to pray; Job teaches you how to suffer; the Song of Solomon teaches you how to love; Proverbs teaches you how to live; and Ecclesiastes teaches you how to enjoy.”

So, I invite you to check them out. If you have not read them or have not read them for a while, read them with fresh eyes and see what God might say to you.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hard to do

Book Review, "Jesus Manifesto" by Leonard Sweet and Frank Violaa

Book Review: Sweet, Leonard and Frank Viola, Jesus Manifesto, Thomas Nelson, Nashville T.N. 2010
Reviewed by Ron Aguilera

I can summarize this book by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola in one phrase, “The Christian faith is all about Jesus. Jesus isn’t only at the center of the Christian faith, but along the “corners and on the edges” as well.”

Sweet and Viola believe we have created a “narcissistic” and a “best-seller” Christianity which is “self-centeredness wrapped up as ‘spirituality,’ which has become the latest fashion accessory for the person who has everything” (p. 100).

These days Christians are being separated by terns such as: the “defenders of orthodoxy,” the emerging church, the missional church, evangelicals, fundamentalists, the house church movement, etc…the danger being becoming preoccupied with some thing else other than Christ.

Sweet and Viola write about the importance of rediscovering of the “living Word,” or the Scriptures and its authority; focusing on Jesus and His supremacy; and being moved by the living Spirit and the Spirit’s gifts and power to manifest Christ in the context of that culture. (p. xvii)

We’re living in some tough times economically, politically, and socially. The world needs Jesus more than ever. Is this our mission? To bring Christ to a world that desperately needs him. And, what does the church look like when we are first seeking Christ and His Kingdom?

The authors call us to be “living epistles” or “Jesus Manifestos” in our world. What is Christianity? It is Christ. Nothing more. Nothing less. Christianity is not an ideology or a philosophy. Neither is it a new type of morality, social ethic, or worldview. Christianity is the ‘good news’ of Jesus.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New sermon series

This Saturday, I am starting a brand new sermon series on the Book of Daniel. The Book of Daniel is an apocalyptic book.. You’ve heard of the industrial age, the information age, and the age of technology? I believe we are now living in an apocalyptic age. To most people, apocalyptic means a catastrophic end of the world (lots of movies on that topic these days)…When we think of apocalyptic or catastrophic, we think of “The End,” …total or near total destruction caused by global warming, or the cooling of the sun until everything freezes, or a meteor hitting the earth.” The book of Daniel speaks directly to this. Throughout it, it repeatedly claims to have to do with the “time of the end”. It is a study of end things, last things…this is called eschatology. Eschatology, the study of last things is the study of hope for a hopeless world. It delves into the purpose and meaning of life, of our existence.

The Bible has often been referred to as “A tale of two cities,” Jerusalem and Babylon. We find these two cities mentioned all over the Bible. They are mentioned in Genesis and in Revelation and they represent a conflict between two different kingdoms, two different ideologies…The first verse of the book of Daniel mentions both cities as a clue to this conflict between true and false religion that will unfold in this book, the great controversy between Christ Jesus (the Messiah) and Satan (the devil). The theme? Worship. The last battle on earth will be over worship. Who will we serve? I hope you will come, or check it out online on our church web site (

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sermon series

Today, I finished a sermon series on the Biblical book of Jonah. What a great story! So many learnings. To Jonah God says, "Go," but Jonah says "No," in fact Jonah runs away from God. We would never do that, would we? But, we do. We read the Bible and say, "I am not going to do that." Or, listen to a sermon and say, "Nope, not doing that." We too run away from God and it often takes the storms of life to get us back on track with God.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Jonah 2

We have been looking at the familiar story of Jonah and the big fish. It is funny how most think the big fish was a whale, probably because we think it is the only sea creature large enough to swallow Jonah whole and sustain his life. Others argue that it could not be a whale, because the scripture uses the word, "fish," and a whale is a mammal. The problem with both these views is that it removes the obvious; God is all powerful and can provide any environment he chooses to do his bidding. The word for “fish” is the Hebrew word, "dag," is usually translated as "Leviathan" which is used to refer to a large sea creature. We don’t know what kind of sea creature seized Jonah, but we know that something did, and that God sent it.

It seemed like Jonah was doomed. No sailor was about to retrieve him from the sea and risk the recreation of the crisis. Jonah thought he was about to die. By running from God, Jonah found himself in the greatest crisis of his life. However, God intervened. God caused the “Big fish” to swallow him. One important thing to note here is that God was in complete control of the situation. When we think that things are getting critical we often will remain oblivious to God’s sovereignty. I would imagine that if you were to tell Jonah at this moment that God was in control he would not quite agree.

Here’s a lesson for us today: God seeks to save and he may use means that are not very comfortable. When God places events in our path that are intended on turning us back toward Him, the experiences may not always be pleasant. More often than not, the difficult experiences are of our own making, and directly related to our rebellion. The best thing we can do is to surrender, which requires us to recognize God is god and we are not (Not an easy thing to do).

Where do we start? On our knees.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Who is God?

"If someone proved to me that Christ is outside the truth and that in reality the truth were outside of Christ, then I should prefer to remain with Christ rather than with the truth...Even those who have renounced Christianity and attack it, in their inmost being still follow the Christian ideal, for hitherto neither their subtlety nor the ardor of their hearts has been able to create a higher ideal of man and of virtue than the ideal given by Christ."

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


This week I am starting a four week sermon series on the Old Testament book of Jonah. I think this picture sums it up well. ;)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Religious people

Oswald Chambers is best known for his book, My Utmost for His Highest. Oswald died in 1917, at the age of 43, in Egypt while serving as a YMCA chaplain to Australian troops during World War I.
Here’s a quote of his that made me think, “Of the many haphazard incidents that occur, one today is very characteristic. Two Tommies lounged up to the Items Hut counter and began chatting in their fine way and landed almost at once on to religion. One said that he could not stand religious people, and I said, ‘Niether can I,” explaining that, to me, spiritual reality was everything.” - June, 1917

It made me think that not much has changed. You ask the person on the street what they think of religious people and they will tell you they can’t stand them. You ask them what they think of Jesus and it is positive. Hmm…Can’t stand religious people, like Jesus…

Maybe the problem in the world is religious people who are not very Jesus like?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What I am studying currently

Someone asked me yesterday what books I am reading, so I thought I would share my current reading list with you. I tend to read several books at a time, so most of the time I am in the middle of reading several books.

One: “Histories,” by Herodotus (I love history and Herodotus is the father of history)
Two: “The Complete and Unabridged Works of Josephus” (1st Century Jewish Historian)
Three: “Biblical Sites in Turkey,” by Everett Blake and Anna Edmons
Four: "The Silmarillion" by J.R.R. Tolkien

As for Biblical study, I am currently studying the books of Jonah and Daniel. Look for a sermon series on these sometime this year. I am also reading every thing the Bible says about the Trinity (this term is not found in the Bible) and the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Book Review, “You Can Be Everything God Wants You To Be”

“You Can Be Everything God Wants You To Be” is a gift book written by Max Lucado. It is a small book packed with pithy stories, Biblical wisdom, and every day illustrations that come from an earlier Lucado book, “Cure For the Common Life”. As I read it, this book reminded me (in content) of Rick Warren’s, “Purpose Driven Life” and Joel Osteen’s, “Your Best Life Now,” although condensed, of course.

The focus of the book is on living within the will of God. The author reminds us that as Christians, we should seek God’s will for our lives, and this book encourages that. It serves as a nice short devotional book, each page serving as one thought or one devotional. I read it to my family for evening worship, and it did not take too long to go through it. In fact, we actually read several pages at a time.

The one down side for me is that the thoughts are so short that there is not much to hang on to and many of the illustrations are illustrations others have used in other books. If you are well read, you will find some redundancy. If you are looking for one thought, you will benefit from it. If you are looking for some depth, this book is not for you.
On the front of the book it says the book is a perfect gift for a graduate. I can see that. This book offers encouragement and would make a fine gift, especially for a high school graduate.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Listening to Your Life

One of my favorite devotional books is a book of daily meditations written by Frederick Buechner. It is called "Listening to Your Life." Buechner is a Presbyterian minister who has authored at least 30 books in a variety of different genres(fiction, autobiography, essays and sermons).

I thought I would share with you one of the quotes that love: “Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and the pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace. And Christ is here with us on our way as surely as the way itself is here that has brought us to this place. Christ is with us, as subtle and pervasive as air."

I really believe this, Jesus is with us. He will not/does not leave us or forsake us. Good News!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Miracle?

This morning, at the Pastor's prayer fellowship, Adam Peacocke mentioned the story of this mildly autistic eleven year old girl who was found after being lost in a Florida swamp for four days. The man who found her was a volunteer from her church, who told the news media, "I see it as an answer to a lot of people's prayer. I'm just very thankful, I'm thankful that God used me as a part of it to be able to find her. It's definitely a miracle. I didn't know where she was. The only person who knew where she was was God, and I asked him, and he led me directly to her, straight -- well, as straight as you can go through the swamp."

King said he prayed the whole time he was searching, even when it seemed like he was going in the wrong direction. In one case, he said, there was water all around and he didn't know where to go. "He said, 'Go that way.' And I'm looking at water. I said, 'Lord, are you sure?' He said. 'I got ya.' And as soon as I start walking, the ground under the water is solid. It's only about a foot and a half deep. He took care of me all the way there."

Check out the story below.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Book review: Lies The Government Told You: Myths, Power, and Deception in American History

"Lies The Government Told You: Myths, Power, and Deception in American History"
By Judge Andrew P. Napolitano

Judge Napolitano’s goal in this book is to make us aware of the eroding freedom we as Americans are experiencing more and more each year. The Judge wants this book to prompt us to react: to abolish the federal income tax, to prohibit imminent domain, to impose term congressional limits, to abolish the Federal Reserve System, along with many other things. His premise is that government has broken its promises, lied to us, and deceived us, all for their personal benefit.

Each chapter of this book addresses a particular lie we as Americans have fallen victim to over the years; from the fallacy that “Every Vote Counts” to “Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.” I found many of the chapters interesting. I learned things like how our electoral voting system works, or how much freedom has been taken away from us by the Patriot act, or how the war on drugs is in many ways very similar to the time of prohibition in America. All good reading, although a bit technical in places.

While I did not agree with Judge Napolitano on everything he wrote about in this book, I do think that it is informative. Many of the things he writes about are things many of us have seen as problems for years.

If you are interested in politics, law, or the U.S. Constitution, you will enjoy this book and it will give you plenty to talk about. You will also discover things you will disagree with. In some areas, the Judge seems to have an ax to grind. I assume he has been damaged from personal experience. No government is perfect, and Lord knows our government has made a lot of poor decisions and that we have and have had a lot of flawed leaders. You will have to read it and decide for yourself. Maybe that’s the evidence of true freedom.

Reviewed by Ron Aguilera

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Book Review-A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

Book Review: Miller, Donald, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN, 2009

Reviewed by Ron Aguilera

The first thing I will say about this book is that some of you won’t like it! If you want a book with a clearly outlined message, this book is not for you. If you want a book that will make you think about your life and challenge you, then buy it and read it.

It actually took a while for me to “get it”. I started reading it and a few chapters in I put it down for a while and tried to grasp where the author was going.. Now that I am done, I am ready to read it again. Some of you won’t like it, but some of you will be moved immensely by it.

Miller starts off with an illustration that captures the essence of his book and our lives. Here is what he says, “If you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get it, you wouldn’t cry at the end when he drove it off the lot, testing the windshield wipers. We spend years actually living those stories, and expect our lives to be meaningful.”

This is a powerful book about life and the stories that make up our life. The book centers on Miller relating to us the process of how he and two movie producers are writing a screenplay for a movie about his life. In the process, he explains how he is learning about what makes up a good story and how to apply this to the story of our life. Miller spends most of the book weaving in and out of stories of his life, and in the meantime we begin to learn what makes up a good story and how our story compares to that and to the ultimate story God wants us to write with our lives.

Some of you won’t like this book; some of you will be gloriously moved by it. Through it, I better understand the power of stories, the role of characters and conflict in our lives, and the importance of creating memorable scenes in the stories of our lives.

I definitely recommend it!

“A good movie has memorable scenes, and so does a good life.”

Friday, April 2, 2010


The ancient city of Ephesus is the largest archeological site of the seven churches of Revelation. Ephesus once was a magnificent city, home to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the temple of Artemis.

Acts 19 talks about the riot that broke out in Ephesus because Demitrius, a leading silversmith, was upset that Paul's preaching about the one true God was bad for business. I stood in the same amphitheatre were that riot took place. Two hours the crowd shouted "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians" until finally the city clerk got them to go home.

As I walked around the ruins of Ephesus I couldn't help but think that this once large city, with a magnificent temple and a thriving religious community, is no gone. There is nothing there but the signs of a past civilization. It made me realize how fragile this world is, even the most powerful fade away.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Visited one of the seven churches of Revelation, Pergamon. The ruins there were a powerful reminder of the great city that once stood there. Around 90 AD, when John wrote a letter to the church there, Pergamon was know as a center for emperor worship. The Great Altar of Pergamon is in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin. I had a chance to visit tha t museum back in 1990. The base of this altar remains on the upper part of the Acropolis. It was perhaps to this altar, believed dedicated to Zeus, that John of Patmos referred to as "Satan's Throne". (Revelation 2:12-13). A fascinating place!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I had a chance to visit what many people believe is the site of Troas, where Paul received the call to go to Macedonia...and possibly the setting or inspiration for the city of Troy from Greek Mythology (Homer's Illiad, the Trpojan Horse. There are some ancient ruins that have been found that show that at least seven cities existed on the site. You can see the seven layers of buildings as you walk around. Also, Herodotus says that the Lydians had an ancient fortress and town in this area that was destroyed by the Medes when they overthrew the Lydians.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Istanbul was awesome! Did you know that Istanbul is the only city in the world to sit on two continents? It sits on Asia and Europe. To stand beside the Bosphorus River, the river that divides the city and two continents and to think of the history of the city was awesome. Istanbul, known previously as Constantinople and Byzantium, has been the capital of three amazing empires: the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, and the Ottoman empire. When Turkey become a country in 1923, Ankara became its capital, but Istanbul is still its leading city.

I found it ironic how a country that has so many biblical sites (Turkey) is 99% Muslim. Yet, while there, I discovered that Islam and Christianity have much in common. More on that later.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I am back from an 11 day trip to two amazing countries: Turkey and Greece. More to follow...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Million MIles in a Thousand Years

I recently started to read this book by Donald Miller. I previously had read "Blue Like Jazz" and enjoyed it. I am finding this book to be fun to read. If you read it, it might even bring a tear to your eyes. Miller's style is choppy, but engaging. The premise is that Miller describes the experience of looking at his life as he works with others in developing a movie based on his life. The result is a bit distressing for him, but the lessons from the screen-writing experience have some wonderful applications in real life

Stay tuned for more...later.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Books change lives for the better

Recently, the National Endowment for the Arts put out a study called, “To Read or Not To Read,” which addresses the issue of declining reading in the overall population of the United States, and makes a number of other interesting observations. Poor reading skills tend to equate with lower pay, lack of or poor employment, and fewer chances for advancement. Poor readers generally don’t read as much as good readers. It is a downward cycle for the poor readers. They don’t read well, so they don’t read much, which means they don’t get the practice they need to improve. Poor readers have lower academic success. Generally speaking, prisoners have worse reading skills than the general population. Also poor readers are less likely to be active in civic life, volunteer less, and vote less than better readers. Being a poor reader definitely brings personal and social disadvantages to the individual and to the society as a whole. “Whether or not people read, and indeed how much and how often they read, affects their lives in crucial ways.”

I think this holds true for the Bible. People who read their Bible tend to live happier, more fulfilled lives…and it affects their lives in crucial ways in this world and for eternity.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tiger's apology

Tiger Woods broke his public silence regarding his extramarital affairs by saying he was “sorry” for his irresponsible and selfish behavior. He admitted and apologized for disappointing his fans and causing them pain. “I have a lot to atone for,” he said.

This apology was expected and widely called for. Many have been debating whether or not he owed any explanation or apology to fans. ESPN’s syndicated Mike & Mike in the Morning, took a fascinating angle on why the public wanted Tiger to say he was sorry for his personal failings and indiscretions. Their conversation really got me thinking about celebrity failure and our desire for information.

Here is what Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic had to say:
Greenberg: [The American public] now expects that someone in Tiger Woods’ situation has to open up everything in himself and explain it to the satisfaction of every single person in the world. That’s the world we live in now because so many people chose to do that for their own personal gain. … I keep hearing people say that he needs to apologize. What exactly is he apologizing for? If Tiger Woods walked up to you in the street and said, “Hi Fred, I am sorry” what would you expect him to be saying he’s sorry for?
Golic: Do you think people really want an apology or do they want The National Enquirer stuff.

Greenberg: Here’s what they want: They want Tiger to hold up a picture of each individual woman we’ve seen on the covers of the tabloids and explain what really happened with each one.
Golic: Everybody is saying “apology this, apology that” but what they really want is the dirt. … They want to hear him explain his situation. Was everyone happy when the baseball players got up there in press conferences and said they were sorry [for using steroids]? No, they wanted to hear the details. ... If you get up there and say you’re sorry, the general public will be going, “That’s it? An apology? Give me more than that!”
It seems like our culture hungers and feeds on scandal. I wonder why we feel that we need an apology, or “details”. What drives that in us?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Did you hear about the man who got kicked off the plane?

You might have heard about Kevin Smith, the large man who was kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight?. If you haven’t, you are missing a real life case-study of how communication works in our culture these days.

Kevin Smith is a screenwriter, film producer, and director, famous for movies like: "Clerks," "Dogma," "Mallrats," "Chasing Amy" and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno." If you have seen any of these movies, you know where his sense of humor lies. Let’s just say it’s not family friendly. He has developed a loyal following and that following has moved to Twitter where he has nearly 1.7 million followers. When you get to numbers like that you can have genuine power and influence. The questions is, "How is it used?"

The short of it is that Kevin Smith is a large man...and due to a flight change from Oakland to Burbank, Smith was told he had to leave a flight because he did not have two seats to sit in since he apparently cannot meet the single seat standard for Southwest. The end result of this lead to Smith getting on Twitter asking his 1.7 followers to blast Southwest Airlines for its actions.

To me, it is just another example of the speed, comprehensiveness, and influence of the communication media today. Is it a stretch to believe that a biblical message can be spread in a lightning quick manner?

Thursday, February 11, 2010


This last Sunday, I had three phone calls from people asking me if I had seen the front page of the local paper, The Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Since I don't get the paper, I decided to check it out online (On Monday, I had two copies of the paper left on my desk, just in case...).

As I read the article,(

I found it interesting that this was the lead article, on the front page...clearly indicating to me that the issue of faith, particularly relevant faith, is of upmost interest to people in our community (and around the country). The article talks about the aging churches in Sonoma County (again, this is no different than anywhere else in the country)and how today's generation will not repond to the way we have always done church. The article is about one church that was on the brink of closing. It had 78 members and was dying fast, until the pastor changed the way they did church, changed the name, and started focusing on loving people above anything else. This church has grown to 1000 members in seven years.

I invite you to read the article and to share your thoughts on it...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tim Tebow's Super Bowl Ad...What do you think?

Life is a gift

This morning, I was reflecting on the gift of life we have recieved. I think often we take for granted the moments of our lives, or fail to realize that all moments are key momentss: taking your children to school, kissing your wife good bye, eating lunch with a friend, trying to do a decent day's work, hearing the rain hit against the window...all these moments are key moments because they are an opportunity to remember that God is present...leaving you room to recognize him or not recognize him. Life is a gift. See it for the fathomless mystery that it boredom or excitement, in pain or gladness, no matter what life is a gift.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Another thought...

A few years ago, Tom Brady, quarterback of three Super Bowl championships, was quoted in a 60 Minutes interview saying, , “Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey man, this is what is.’ I reached my goal, my dream, my life. I think, ‘God, it’s got to be more than this.’ I mean this isn’t, this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be.

I anticipate that in a month or two, the Saints will experience this same dissatisfaction. Why? Is it possible we were created for someting more?

Musings on the Super Bowl

Another Super Bowl Sunday is past. I spent it, like every other year, watching the game with my church friends. Here's what I have noticed about the Super is more than a game, it s become an event, a national holiday. An estimated 150 million people watch the game, which is almost half of the 308+ million people that live in the U.S. It is estimated than about 40% of the people who watch the game are not football fans, they just come because of the Fun, Food (2nd largest day of food consumption in the U.S.), and Fellowship. Hmmm...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Questions I recieved via text on 1.30.10

One: Why is the state of the dead so essential?

---Because this is an area that the devil will increasingly use to deceive people and lead them away from God.

Two: Do those who are alive at the second coming need to be sinless before they are changed in the twinkling of an eye?

---No! Romans 3:10, 1 John 1:8

---Only through Jesus death on the cross and his shed blood can we become sinless. In other words, if we accept his sacrifice we are sinless in his eyes.

Three: Were those who were “translated’ sinless beforehand? (Enoch, Moses, etc…)

---Only through Christ blood on the cross. Although, Christ had not died yet, his death covered their sins in advance. If Jesus had sinned and not been able to die for all, they would have had to come back. I bet I know who they were rooting for. =)

Four: Rahab seems to be mentioned in a positive light when she hid the spies. It seems that when she was mentioned in a negative way in scripture passages: Psalm 89:10, 87:4, Isaiah 30:7. Why is this?

---These two Rahab’s are different, not the same. The Rahab in Joshua 2 is rachab (for a woman), and the Rahab in Psalm 87:10 and other places, is spelled rahah.

---rahah, translated Rahab in English, is employed several times in the Old Testament to designate an evil power, as well as a particular country. It is also translated to storm or assault, or to be proud or arrogant.

---rachab, also translated Rahab in English, is the Rahab that helped the spies.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Questions I recieved via text on 1.16.10

Question One: Are things like TV and the Internet OK on the Sabbath?

Answer: I think God wants us to think and to think we need to look at the principles he has given us, not the mechanisms. First, are you keeping the principles of the Sabbath (rest, blessed, and set apart)…in this case, set apart. The Sabbath is not for you, but building your relationship with God and others. Can that happen through the TV or internet? Sure? But, I am going to guess that it depends on what you are watching or doing on the web. I think if you focus on the principles of Philippians 4:8, you will be on the right track.

Question Two: Why did the change the Sabbath?

Answer: The short answer is the change happened gradually as “new” Christians I nRome began to keep Sunday (resurrection day) as the Sabbath. Constantine, the emperor of Rome added to this practice to help Christians avoid persecution that occasionally broke against Christians in this pagan (Greek Gods) Rome. Later, Papal Rome (which became the Catholic church validated this change by saying it had the authority to change the day to commemorate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

Question Three: Do Sunday worshippers keep the “Lord’s Day” from sundown to sundown?

Answer: The short answer is “No. Not typically.”

Question Four: How do we spread this “new” understanding of the Sabbath?

Answer: It is actually quite old. God gave clear instructions and purpose for the Sabbath at creation (Genesis 2:2, 3). The best way to spread it is to invite people to read what the Bible has to say about the Sabbath. Those that really want to know will read every text in the Bible on the subject.

Question Five: Why not just a day in seven? Some say any day in seven will do?

Answer: This is a common argument. As I read the Bible, THE 7th day is the only day God blessed and set apart, not a day every seven days.

Question Six: What about celebrating the Lord’s Day, i.e. the day of resurrection?

Answer: I am all for celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, but that is not the day God blessed or set aside, the seventh day is (Genesis 2:2, 3). It is not the day God commanded us to keep holy (Exodus 20:8-11).

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thoughts on Sabbath

This week’s sermon topic is the Sabbath, so I thought I would share some thoughts regarding the Sabbath and the seven day cycle. One thing I have noticed is that as Seventh-day Adventist we tend to put our focus on keeping the Sabbath legally, but we tend to abuse it emotionally and physically. Not good.

Did you know, we were made in such a way that requires us to stop and rest every seven days? Studies have shown that a weekday of rest is just as important as eight hours a sleep at night. As human beings, we are dependent on rhythms. Life is rhythmic. The most known are the biological rhythms tied to the earth’s movement around the sun. Things like: Body temperature, which reaches its maximum on the afternoons; the heartbeat, which accelerates during the day and slows considerably after four hours of nightly rest; the kidneys and liver which reduce their activity at night, etc... Experts have discovered that we have this internal body clock. One notable rhythm of this internal mechanism is the circaseptan rhythm. It represents a seven day cycle. Why a seven day cycle? Nobody seems to know why? Hmmm. This makes even those who do not believe in God wonder.

The reality is we were created with the need to stop, rest, and rejuvenate every seven days. The physical arrival of darkness every 24 hours reminds us of our need for daily rest, but there is no natural phenomenon that reminds us of the arrival of our weekly rest. I think this is why our Creator said to “Remember. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” And, he did so from the beginning (Genesis 2:2, 3).

Oh, well does it matter which day we rest? According to God, “Yes”. According to God, everyday is not the same. There is an ideal day to rest, the seventh-day. He specifically blessed that day. He did not bless the third day, Tuesday. He did not bless the fifth day, Thursday. He did not bless the first day, Sunday. He blessed the seventh day. (Genesis 2:2, 3) And, he set it apart to not only be refreshed physically, but to have time to be refreshed emotionally and spiritually in worship and relationship building.

I am so glad we have a God who loves us and gave us a way to stay healthy physically and emotionally, and connected to him.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Questions I recieved via text on 1.9.10

One: How can you define God to a toddler? from 293-6990
---Tough to know. Best answer I can give you is that since God is love the best way to show them God is by loving them with you actions and words.

Two: I heard all of our names are written in the book of life, but there are names being erased because they don't want to be connected to God. At one point is our name put in the book of life?
from 293-6990
---The short answer is at the judgment. My best understanding is that our names are in the book of life until the judgment, at that point those who have rejected God will have thier names removed. But, this is not God's choice or desire, it is each individual's choice.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Questions I recieved via text on 1.2.10

Question One: What about the Gnostics? From 953-3151

Answer: Gnosticism was the most influential heresy faced by the early Church. The Gnostics did not agree how the New Testament described God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, so they offered their own writings as inspired scriptures. Some of the most well know are: The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Peter, The Gospel of Philip, and The Gospel of Judas. In essence, Gnosticism is about acquiring knowledge, and is based on matter being evil and spirit being good. The Gnostics prior to Christianity taught that man is composed of body, soul, and spirit. The body and the soul are man's earthly existence, and were considered evil. Enclosed in man’s soul, is the spirit, a divine substance of man. This “spirit” was asleep and ignorant and needed to be awakened. It could only be liberated by this special knowledge.

Question Two: I heard the Catholic Church decided what would end up in the Bible. Is this true? From 481-7312

Answer: No. This is not true. The books in the Bible were chosen over time. The Old Testament books were chosen by Jewish leaders about 200 years before Jesus was born. Jesus validated these choices by calling the Old Testament scripture and inspired. It took about three hundred years for the final New Testament books to be “canonized”, but the ones in the New Testament that were accepted, were widely accepted as inspired right after they were written in the First Century AD. Hundreds of years later, the Catholic Church changed the Ten Commandments and added books, called the Apocrypha, to the Protestant Bible.

Question Three: You said some of the authors were pagan. Who were they and how were they inspired by God? From 508-9876

Answer: My point was that not all the material in the bible came from Christian writers or God followers. One example is Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 4. Others examples are writers from which biblical writers took material from: Paul quoted from Greek poets, the Edict of Cyrus in Ezra, the poetry of the Psalms, etc...

Question Four: After changing the bible into different translations don’t you think the meaning of God’s Word would have changed and led to the meaning of sentences or even paragraphs changing too? From: 569-6727

Answer: That’s what made the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls so important. Here, they found documents dating back thousands of years, and when they compared them with the current bible translations, they discovered the bible was still 99.9% accurate.

Question Five: Scripture states God won’t give you more than you can handle. Then, why does he put you in situations you can’t get out of? All it does is break your heart in two.

From 480-3042

Answer: First, this saying is actually not in the Bible. It is a misrepresentation of 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says, “God will not let you be TEMPTED beyond your ability…” Second, God never tempts anyone (James 1:13), he is allowing the results of living in a sinful world to run its course. And, third, we will never be TEMPTED beyond our ability to say “No”, but only if we have him by our side.

Question Six: What are the Dead Sea Scrolls? From: 615-977-5974

Answer: They refer to a group of manuscripts discovered in 1947 near the Dead Sea in Israel. About 900 scrolls were found that help establish that the Old Testament we have today is essentially the same as the one 2000 years ago.

Question Seven: How does Ellen White compare to scripture. Some say she is outdated. What do you think? From 694-5885

Answer: There is much to be gained from reading Ellen White. Unfortunately, she is often misused, often placed above scripture by some. She herself said she was “a lesser light pointing to a greater light,” meaning she was not to be placed above the authority of scripture. She stated that ONLY scripture should be used to prove any theological point.

Question Eight: What do you believe happened to the Ark of the Covenant? Has God ever spoken to you? From 326-6565

Answer: Many believe the Ark of the Covenant to be buried in or near Jerusalem. Many believe it will be found before Jesus comes again. My guess is that it was lost long ago. As for second question, the answer is “yes”. But, God speaks to us in many ways. If you are asking if he has spoken to me out loud, the answer is “No”, although sometimes the voice I hear is almost audible.=)

It's a New Year

I am back. It is the start of a new year, so let me tell you the new focus for this blog (at least for a while).

I will posting answers to the questions I receive via text about the sermon. Obviosuly, I can only answer a couple questions there on the spot, so I will be posting answers to all text questions on this blog during the week.

I am not sure what I am getting into....=)

Smile, God loves you!