Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Did you know that the shepherds in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus' birth would check each lamb born. To protect them and keep them without any blemish they would often wrap them in cloths and lay them in a manger or feeding trough.

Jesus the true lamb was wrapped in cloths and laid in a manger or feeding trough. He was to be the ultimate sacrificial lamb. This is what the Christmas season is all about. Merry Christmas!

...from "Jesus: A Theogrpahy" by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

Monday, December 3, 2012

Book Review: “Jesus, A Theography,” by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

In Jesus, A Theography, by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, the authors write about the life of Jesus from the perspective of both the New and Old Testaments, and add their own theological perspective. I have read other books by Leonard Sweet, with mixed reviews, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. In Jesus, Sweet and Viola tell the story of the life of Jesus, beginning not at his birth here on earth but at creation, and continue all the way beyond His resurrection to His next return.

The best thing about this book is the extensive research, yet it is also a negative for me. That negative is in regard to their extensive use of footnotes. Much of the information in the footnotes could have been included in the narrative of the book, instead of the footnotes. It is quite a chore to continually have to refer to the footnotes to follow the authors train of thought.

Sweet and Viola ask many questions and suggest some ideas that are different than mainstream theological thought. If you are looking for a book that pushes your thinking, whose writing style is simple and not at all academic (except the footnotes), and that focuses on how both the Old and New Testaments apply to the life of Jesus, then you will love this book.

On the flip side, the authors make a lot of assumptions and connections I am not sure are there. For example: In Chapters 2 and 3, it makes assumptions about the 7 days of creation in trying to parallel Christ with creation. The authors also state that when we accept Christ to come into our lives, we become virgin Mary’s. I am not sure where that comes from.
You should know that I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program in return for writing a review.

Friday, November 30, 2012

CBS Television Star Joins the Adventist Faith, Kicks up a Media Storm

CBS Television Star Joins the Adventist Faith, Kicks up a Media Storm

Submitted: Nov 27, 2012
By AT New Team

Updated November 30, 2012 (See update at the bottom of the story.)

Angus T. Jones has been a child actor in a top-rated comedy show on CBS television for ten years. In the last year he joined a Seventh-day Adventist Church in Los Angeles and over the last 24 hours he has kicked up a storm of comment on the Web and other media because he denounced his own show in a video he made with a controversial, independent Adventist ministry.

The videos “appear to be religiously motivated and authentic,” said the International Business Times, but there are problems both with the fact that Jones is paid over $300,000 per show to be part of the TV cast and the extreme ideas expressed in the past by the independent ministry that made one of the videos. It appears unlikely that he knows much about Chris Hudson from Alabama who produces the Forerunner Chronicles.

The well-established Voice of Prophecy broadcast ministry also interviewed Jones and invited him to speak at the Adventist Media Center, which is in the Los Angeles area. One dimension of this story illustrates the growing competition between “old” media ministries and “new” media efforts. Forerunner Chronicles is a “poor man’s broadcast” which uses YouTube, Twitter and social media to avoid the high cost of purchasing time on major television channels as well as professional production standards, and attracts viewers with sensational claims.

Hudson’s videos have been picked up by the Three Angeles Broadcasting Network, another independent Adventist organization. Their current schedule includes a four-part series by Hudson on the “New Age Agenda” and a “Special Report [on the] National Defense Authorization Act.” He has described himself as a Seventh-day Adventist minister, although he is not a denominational employee and holds no credentials. It should also be noted that he is not the former National Football League player with the same name.

Jones started attending the Valley Crossroads Church at 11350 Glenoaks Blvd in Pacoima, a community in the San Fernando Valley north of downtown Los Angeles. The nearly 700-member congregation is an historically African American church affiliated with the Southern California Conference. Pastor Royal Harrison is the senior pastor and Pastor Morris Barnes is the associate pastor.

The congregation’s mission statement is “to make a difference in our community” and earlier this year it opened a new facility for the community food pantry it operates. It also sponsors diabetes and obesity prevention programs, offers blood pressure screening, regular fitness activities on Monday nights and healthy cooking classes. Teams of volunteers based at the church reach out to the homeless and visit young people in the Nordoff Juvenile Hall in Sylmar, according to the church web site.

The Adventist teaching about hell first got him interested in Adventist doctrines, Jones says in the interview taped by the Voice of Prophecy for the pilot of a new television show Turning Point. He also liked the idea of the Sabbath and started personal Bible studies.

He does not come from a secular background. He was born in Texas which has a local culture saturated by the Southern Baptist faith and his parents put him in a Christian school when they moved to Los Angeles. He attended a Christian school from Kindergarten through his high school graduation.

“I’m concerned he’s being exploited by the church,” Carey Jones, the teen’s 42-year-old mother has told reporters. An entertainment gossip web site said that she believes he has been “brainwashed.”

A number of Adventist ministers have also expressed concern about the situation. “While I am pleased that Angus Jones is finding Christ,” one pastor wrote on the SDA Ministers page on Facebook, “I have some grave concerns about [him being] associated with [a group] notorious for right-wing extremism and conspiracy theory nonsense. … It’s my hope and prayer that [he] finds some balanced, mainstream Adventists and pursues a healthy, sensible style of” Adventist faith. A significant number of other pastors have expressed similar views in several online forums and in Email to Adventist Today.

By Tuesday afternoon the denomination had released a statement “making it clear … it has absolutely no connection with” Hudson and his independent ministry, reported in an exclusive. “The Seventh-day Adventist Church has released a statement about Jones … saying its ‘happy’ Angus decided to become a member of the Los Angeles congregation back in June [and] we welcome him with open arms … but the church wants everyone to know it was not behind the actor’s [video] rant.” About Hudson, “we are unable to offer information because Forerunner Chronicles is not a ministry operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its host is not a pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”

Hudson has said in his videos that the rap artist Jay-Z “is a devil worshiping Freemason and claims that President Obama is similar to Hitler,” states another Hollywood gossip web site. It quotes Hudson as saying, “The blueprint albums are special markers indicating Jay-Z’s progress in his obtaining degrees in the secret order.” His ministry is described by Postmedia News as “a radical offshoot of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.” According to the Huffington Post he has described President Obama’s health care plan as “a ‘carbon copy’ of the healthcare policies of Hitler, and that a gas crisis can lead to cannibalism.”

Clearly, the young star is struggling to cope with difficulties in his life. He turned 18 a little over a year ago and when he spoke at the Adventist Media Center on his 19th birthday, he mentioned “his parents’ divorce, using drugs and keeping his virginity,” reports “His grades began to dip … when his parents began to have ‘marital issues’ [leading to] divorce. … He said he began avoiding home and spending as much time as possible with friends and his girlfriend.” In this context he had a conversion experience that led him to “follow God more seriously” and begin visiting a number of different churches. He was invited to Valley Crossroads Church by a long-time friend who was “never available on Friday nights,” Jones says in the video produced by the Voice of Prophecy.

Jones has an uncle who is serving a 99-year prison term for murder, reports the Daily Mail, a British newspaper. Both of his parents have been arrested in the past; his mother in 1997 charged with burglary and in 1992 for ripping the meter out of a taxi. His father was arrested in 1986 for marijuana possession and an unlicensed handgun, and more recently for domestic violence.

The role that Jones has on “Two and a Half Men” is that of a son whose parents get a divorce; he and his father move into his uncle’s home, a philandering single entertainer. Viewers have literally watched him grow up over nearly a decade. It is “the biggest hit comedy of the last decade,” the New York Times has stated. The show’s original star had a famous meltdown a couple of years ago and when a new star took over, it’s ratings peaked at 29 million viewers but have dropped more recently to about 14 million viewers, according to the Daily Mail.

The young actor’s criticism of the show was seen as strange and even hypocritical by the entertainment media, but welcomed by some figures with long-standing concerns about the values expressed in popular culture. “We urge viewers to heed his call,” Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council, told Fox News. “We urge Mr. Jones to work from within the entertainment industry and raise standards to improve television for all Americans.” Dan Gainor, vice president for business and culture at the Media Research Center, said Jones’ remarks are “no surprise to anyone who watches TV [because] ‘Two and a Half Men’ is one of the most vile and sleazy shows in history.”

For the Adventist Church this media attention is as risky as the news of Jones' conversion may be welcome. “Adventism is now being represented to millions of people by a brand new believer and some people with fringe theological agendas,” stated Spectrum, the journal of the largest organization of Adventist academics. “Adventist communication leaders should develop a public relations strategy … that avoids exploitation and celebritization and that makes sure that correct information about Adventism gets reported as this story develops.”

Interpreting Adventist faith in the contemporary context is not easy, especially with the number of independent sources that believe they represent the truth and the denomination’s leadership does not. For example, reports that the video Jones made with Hudson “twice invokes the notion of the Laodiceans, a group criticized in the Book of Revelation for being ‘lukewarm.’” Does the average American reading this reference really understand the nuances of Adventist theology related to this passage?

At the same time a young man’s life is at stake. “We need to pray for Angus and his friends at the Valley Crossroads Church,” one Adventist pastor wrote to Adventist Today.

The interview taped by the Voice of Prophecy, not the controversial one by Chris Hudson, can be seen here:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Radical Question/A Radical Idea

Platt, David. The Radical Question / A Radical Idea. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2012. 112 pages

The Radical Question and A Radical Idea are two small books in one, actually not much more than magazines. Each is about 50 pages. This small book has large font. There are no chapter divisions, as each “book” is the size of a single chapter in a standard book.

The thesis of the book is a question, “What is Jesus Worth to Us?” The author asks the question and then spends the rest of the ‘book” discussing the excesses of Western Christianity and lack of commitment to discipleship. This theme is repeated over and over. The authors main point is how we spend more on the individualistic, westernized “American dream” than we do on being faithful and obedient followers of Christ.

A Radical Idea can be summed up in one sentence: “How can we in the church best unleash the people of God in the spirit of God with the word of God for the glory of God in the world?” Platt goes on to disparage the American church, attacking how it has focused too much on extravagant church buildings and well-paid pastors, and how they are the cause the church has remained complacent.

The book is not worth the paper it is written on. Platt attacks the problems in the church, but offers no answers.

I received this book as a free book through Multnomah Press in return for reviewing it. Sorry. I can’t recommend it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Survey Explores How Adventists Will Vote in the 2012 Elections in the United States

Check out this article. I found it very interesting, especially with the upcoming election looming.

Church surveys show that academics lean Democrat, but that the person in the pew leans Republican. But, it also shows people of differently ethnicities and women lean Democrat.

50 Years ago, Adventists as a whole leaned Republican, these days they lean Democrat.

What does that say? Hmmm

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Adventist Leaders Vote Statement, But No Sanctions on Ordination Changes

After weeks of anticipation, the Seventh-day Adventist Church governing body finally saw the much-rumored response to three union conferences that voted earlier this year to discontinue gender discrimination in ordination to the gospel ministry. The carefully nuanced, not to say confused and contradictory statement was adopted by a secret ballot, 264 in favor and 25 opposed. Perhaps as many as 50 committee members abstained.

The official Adventist News Network (ANN) reported that the three hours of discussion were “respectful,” and “no sanctions are applied, or suggested, in the document.” Retired General Conference vice president and well-known evangelist Mark Finley was reported by ANN to have made an important speech describing how the early Christian church dealt with three conflicts in the Book of Acts. Adventist Today has been told that he played a key role behind the scenes in the days leading up to the meeting, negotiating an outcome more acceptable to the North American Division (NAD) leadership than what was originally under consideration by the GC officers.

“The essence of unity is not uniformity,” Finley said, according to ANN. “It is respecting one another enough to listen carefully, respond thoughtfully and decide together.” Rumors have suggested that before he got involved in the preparations for the meeting, there were proposals that would have sought to penalize the union conferences that have decided to ordain women to the gospel ministry. The final vote authorized only a “request” that division officers “engage” the union and conference administrators in “reviewing this statement.”

The four-page statement says that the GC “does not recognize actions of unions or conferences that have authorized or implemented ministerial ordination without regard to gender.” It does not define what that means. It does not say, for example, that the credentials issued to women under these actions are invalid nor does it rescind the ordinations that have occurred and are planned.

In fact, the statement specifically noted that “it does not address the question of ministerial ordination practices per se.” It acknowledges that “the role of women in ministry and leadership has been a long-standing question … that attracts strong yet differing convictions,” but also “specifically affirms the important roles that women fill in the life of the Church.”

The core argument of the statement is that the GC Session in 1990 voted not to permit the ordination of women to pastoral ministry and in 1995 turned down a request that the GC divisions be allowed to make separate decisions on the subject; and that this precludes the practice until a GC Session reverses that decision. It ignores the fact that the record is actually much more complicated than that. In 1990 the same delegates who adopted a study commission report blocking women’s ordination to pastoral ministry also voted to permit the ordination of women as local elders and for women to serve as pastors. The 1995 action was actually a non-action in which the delegates voted “no” on a recommendation and thus left no language on record at all.

The statement appeals for the unions and conferences to defer their decision to stop gender discrimination in ordination until the current study of the theology of ordination can be completed. A number of committee members spoke about their hope that this might a process where Adventists could come to a common understanding on the topic. Others told Adventist Today privately that they fear “we are painting ourselves into a corner.”

Dedrick Blue, a pastor from the Atlantic Union Conference, urged the committee, “Don’t get involved with process to the neglect of justice.” Max Torkelson II, president of the North Pacific Union Conference, told ANN he was concerned that younger Adventists will take away the wrong message from the decision. “I’m concerned that, particularly our younger church members have less patience” with the GC process. “We have been asking them for years to be patient, and now again we’re asking them to be patient. … I’m afraid we may disappoint them.”

The statement may not be a satisfying outcome for anyone in this debate. It does not make it more likely that a solution will be found that frees the church in North America and Europe from traditional notions about the role of women. It does not punish union conferences for implementing policies that differ from the wishes of the GC officers. It does not declare women’s ordination to be unbiblical. “Nothing has changed,” one church administrator said.

From Adventist Today website

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Review: Greater, by Steven Furtick

Furtick, Steven, “Greater”

In this book, Steven Furtick writes to those seeking to follow God, and outlines a plan on how to step out of a boring, mundane life and into the “Greater” life promised us by Jesus. Furtick uses the biblical story of Elisha, an Old Testament prophet, to encourages to dive into something new, a Greater life with God.

Furtick’s style is easy to read and his use of story and humor make it an easy read. He uses the story of people he knows and weaves into the biblical story of  Elisha, especially focusing on Elisha’s journey from a farmer to a prophet, to reminds us that God can do a lot through us if we only allow it. One of the best parts of this book is the study guide at the back that, as Fiurtick says, can help to move me out of my “lesser loser life” and into something “greater” for the glory of God.

I enjoyed this book. It made me think. I will be going back and reviewing it. If you are looking for an easy read with a devotional spin to it, I recommend this book.

Book Review: Fully Alive by Ken Davis

Davis, Ken. Fully Alive. Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN. 2012

I first became acquainted with Ken Davis in the early ‘90’s while attending a Youth Specialties Convention. His story telling and comedic style was very appealing to listen to. So, it was with great interest that I picked up this book, which allowed me the opportunity of getting to know him by reading his story.

In this book, Ken Davis shares the struggles and triumphs in his life's journey. He is open about his struggles and his joys, and the lessons he has learned in life. His main point is to encourage you to make positive changes your life. For him, it was losing weight.

 In this book, he talks about the correlation in his life between losing weight exercise, and faith.
Here’s a quote that captures his message. "The glory of God is man fully alive: Striving in the midst of all odds. Never satisfied with the status quo. Seeking excellence in every area of life. Because Jesus can raise the dead and because He Himself was raised from the dead, then no matter what my situation, I can know the power of His resurrection to live my life fully alive."

Ken Davis reminds everyone who reads this book that life is short and invites us to live Fully Alive. Hence, the title. If you are looking for a book that is light reading, inspirational and easy to read, this book is for you.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thoughts on Tim Keller’s book, “King’s Cross”

These days I’ve been reading “King’s Cross,” a book written by Tim Keller. King’s Cross goes through the book of Mark, the Gospel that focuses most intently on the words and actions of Jesus.

I am enjoying Keller’s approach to understanding this Gospel. Keller doesn’t comment on every single passage, he instead focuses on the texts he believes expand on who Jesus is.. What I really like about these is that they aren’t necessarily the most well-known, preached-on passages. And in those texts that are well-known, Keller always brings some insight from the historical context that gives the passage a new layer of meaning and history (You know how I love history).

Last night, I read about Jesus clearing the temple, and I really love Keller’s insight on this story found in Mark 11:15-17:

15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves,

16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.

17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’]

Keller says the fact that Mark notes that Jesus entered the temple courts – or in the version Keller uses, the temple “area” – is very significant because when you entered the temple, the first area you came to “was the court of the Gentiles – the ethne or ‘nations’”. This was the only area where non-Jews were allowed. The Jews had allowed all the temple’s business operations to be set up there – buying and selling thousands of animals and exchanging foreign currencies with money changers. Thousands of people flooded into Jerusalem to buy animals and sacrifice them.

Josephus, an ancient Jewish historian, tells us that in Passover week one year, 255,000 lambs were bought, sold, and sacrificed in the temple courts. Think of how loud and confusing it would be in there with all that livestock…and this was the place where the Gentiles were supposed to find God through quiet reflection and prayer.

I am sure the temple leaders panicked and asked Jesus what he was doing. So, Jesus quotes from Isaiah, saying, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” – for the ethne, the Gentiles.

So Jesus’ reaction, then – to drive the businessmen out and throw the tables over – was not just a display of righteous anger toward the disrespect people were showing to God’s house, but also an act of advocacy for the Gentiles, who were still being treated as the “least” of God’s people by the Jews. The Jews believed that when the Messiah came, he would “purge the temple of foreigners,” meaning he would get rid of the Gentiles! “Instead, here is Jesus clearing the temple for the Gentiles”

Given the current discussion on whether women in ministry ought to be treated equally to men and be ordained, I found Jesus’ actions significant. What might we learn from Jesus today?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Special Constituency Meeting, Sunday August 19

I am just want to say thanks to the Pacific Union Recorder for its comprehensive and informative coverage of the Pacific Union’s Special Constituency Session on August 19, AFFIRMING WOMEN IN MINISTRY. The Recorder does a great job explaining the issues involved in its July issue. It also published many readers’ responses in the current magazine.

What I really like was that both the explanation and readers’ response sections were published in English and Spanish.  I also apprecaite the courage to address a difficult issue that has been ignored for more than 40 years, after it was voted at the General Conference Session in 1970.

If you are interested in this issue, check out the link above.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Reading God's Word

This week, this is the burden on my mind...

Too many Christ followers don't read God's Word, the Bible, as often or as thoroughly as they should. Because of my job, I spend a lot of time reading Scripture, so I love the Scriptures. And, the older I get, the more I am awed by it.

So, why isn't every Christ follower similarlyintrigued by the Bible to make it a priority to read and study?

Maybe one of the reasons is that we have been taught to read it wrongly. When I was in college a bible teacher started this discussion in class about whether the authors of scripture were God's penmen or his pen. It didn't seem important to me at the time and it actually took me a few years to comprehend what this teacher was trying to het across.

If the authors of scripture were the 'pen' of God, then the words would be exactly His words. But, if they were His 'penmen' then they wrote in their own words about the experiences they had with God.
In academic circles, this argument of "verbal inspiration" or not is still alive and well. But, here's my point...if they were a pen this leaves little room for interpretation. But, if they were his penmen this allows for personal flavoring and invites interpretation, even 'wrestling' with God over the various ideas expressed. The first becomes a checklist of do's and don'ts. The second, permission to engage in a unique walk with the very personal God. The first requires the readers to see in black and white and to remain within the lines. The second is a Spirit engaged exercise open to coloring even outside the lines.

How do you read scripture? Does your understanding of the nature of inspiration draw you into a closer and increasingly exciting relationship with the Divine One? I invite you to read God's Word each day. You will find it will refresh your soul.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Young Adult Pastor Wanted

Santa Rosa Adventist church---Young Adult Pastor Wanted

     A while back, I read this article about church growth and how a church that wants to grow needs to staff for growth. The article talked about how a pastor can only minister to so many people, the rule of thumb is one pastor for every 150 in average worship attendance, and how churches stop growing once they reach that threshold. The article went on to say that unfortunately most churches staff for maintenance, not for growth…and how a church that wants to grow needs to add a staff member before growth can occur, in order for growth to occur.
     Most of you know that our strategy for growth here at the Santa Rosa Adventist church, what I like to call our growth engines, is children and youth. This is not a new innovation, this is just logical. The reality is that the median age of the Adventist church in North America is 60 years of age. I read a study recently that 60 percent of Adventist churches in North America have little or no children (or youth). We are blessed to have children and youth in our church…and our desire is to do all we can to protect them and grow them up in Jesus. The leaders of this church take seriously what Jesus said, “Better to be cast into the sea with a millstone around our neck than to damage our children.”
     So, we are committed to continuing to grow our children AND youth under the leadership of Pastor Garrison. As a church engine, we want to continue to fuel it with the best volunteers, with financial resources, bathing it in prayer and encouragement, so that engine will run at maximum capacity and efficiency.
     But, there is one generation that is even less present in most churches regardless of denomination…researchers call it the “Lost Generation,” the 20-30 year olds.
We are again are blessed to have a good number young adults in this church. Many who worship and serve with us. And, as I mentioned we put a lot of time and energy into our children and youth, but often they get out of high school, they fall through the cracks, sometimes disappear.
     These days, we have some volunteers who sometimes help in this area, and we have tried to encourage some leadership from within, but we have not been as successful as I would like us to be. So, we, the church board, have decided to change that. We have decided to invest in this age group, to make it a growth engine, which like any engine, if you fuel it right, will run…will help this church grow. How? This last month, the Church Board voted unanimously to locally hire an extra pastor to focus on our twenty-something’s. We have voted to raise 30K a year for at least the next two years to hire a stipend pastor to focus on our young adults…the young adults that have graduated from RAA, and the young adults in our community. These funds need to be above and beyond our church budget. I have already raised 15K from some of our members.
     Because it is not a full time position, our hope is that we will be able to find someone who is looking to transition into pastoral ministry. There are not a lot of pastor jobs available these days, so they might be willing to come join our staff here on a stipend/part time basis. This might not be easy to find, so I invite you to join us in praying that God will brings us the person we need to minister to our young adults.
     I would also ask you to consider investing in this, helping us fund this, over and beyond church budget giving. Think of it as an investment of eternal ramifications.
So far, Pastor Garrison and I have come up with a list of 70+ young adults, twenty-something’s, who are part of this church and need someone to marshal them together, someone to provide weekly opportunities for spiritual growth, to organize social gatherings, to communicate regularly through social media, and develop relationships that will strengthen their walk with Jesus.
     This is our dream. This is our plan. I hope you will join us in doing all we can make this happen.

The Barna Group - Top Trends of 2011: The Digital Family

The Barna Group - Top Trends of 2011: The Digital Family

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Sweet, Leonard. Viral. Waterbook Press. Colorado Springs, CO. 2012

In Viral: How Social Networking is Poised to Ignite Revival Leonard Sweet presents and overview of human history (somewhat lacking, in my opinion), while making observations about how the church faces challenges and opportunities (Really?).

Sweet tells the story of the only course taught by Martin Luther King, Jr., and the only eight students that had the privilege of referring to King as their teacher. Interestingly, none of them saved their course syllabus. None of them saved their lecture notes. None of them still have their papers that were evaluated by King. His point? Those eight students stood in the presence of greatness, and yet they missed their moment. This is Sweet primary focus in this book, his fear that we might miss our moment. Unfortunately, he is very unclear about what that moment is.

Sweet spends the bulk of this book, attempting to give us a “roadmap,” stressing that Christ not only stands above culture, but also works through it in order to redeem and transform it. He suggests that we each generally fall into one of two categories, digital natives or digital immigrants. He chooses 1973 (the year that the mobile phone was invented) as his dividing line. Those born before 1973 he refers to as Gutenbergers, and those born after 1973 he refers to as Googlers. Sweet refers to Googler culture as TGIF, because it is built upon the following tools of relationships and life: Twitter, Google, iPhones and Facebook. Then, Sweet spends the core of the book taking us through each of the four tools.

Sweet tells us that Googlers need Gutenbergers, and vice versa. He says “When we separate ourselves from the inherited memories of our ancestors, when the texts and traditions of the past do not join the present, the future is in jeopardy. There is no future without the past.” (Deep, huh?)

Sweet does not provide many answers or solutions. He just states his thoughts on the subject and then spends the last part of the book trying to figure out how to end the book. What does he come up with? Everything we do should point to Jesus. Thanks, but I knew that.

This is a very poor read. I don’t recommend it at all!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Questions From The Gospel of Mark

Over the last few months, Jeff Heath, Garrison Chaffee, and I read through the Gospel of Mark. One of the things that struck me was the number of questions Jesus asked. I have begun to look at them more carefully and over the next few weeks will be sharing them with you for your own study.

Mark 2:8-9: At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’?

Mark 2:19: Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.”

Mark 2:25: And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food?”

Mark 3:4: Then he said to them, Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or to kill? But they were silent.

Mark 3:23: And he called to them, and said to them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?

Mark 3:33-35: And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Mark 4:13: And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables?

Mark 4:21: He said to them, Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lamp stand?

Mark 4:30: He also said, “With what can we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it?

Mark 4:40: He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?

Mark 5:9: Then Jesus asked him, What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”

Mark 5:30: Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?

Mark 6:38: And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.”

Mark 7:18-19: He said to them, Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?”

Mark 8:5: He asked them, How many loaves do you have?” They said, ”Seven.“

Mark 8:12: And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.”

Mark 8:17-21: And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, ”Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect? They said to him,” Twelve.“ ”And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect? And they said to him, “Seven.” Then he said to them,” Do you not yet understand?

Mark 8:23: He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, Can you see anything?”

Mark 8:27: Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caes·a·rē´a Phi·llip´pī; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”

Mark 8:29: He asked them, But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.“

Mark 8:36-37: For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?

Mark 9:12-13: He said to them, ”E·lī´jah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that E·lī´jah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him.”

Mark 9:16: He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?”

Mark 9:19: He answered them, You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.”

Mark 9:21: Jesus asked the father, ”How long has this been happening to him?“ And he said, “From childhood.“

Mark 9:33: Then they came to Ca·per´na·um; and when he was in the house he asked them, What were you arguing about on the way?

Mark 10:3: He answered them, “What did Moses command you?”

Mark 10:17: Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.”

Mark 10:36: And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?”

Mark 10:38: But Jesus said t them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

Mark 10:51: Then Jesus said to him, What do you want me to do for you? The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.“

Mark 11:17: He was teaching and saying, Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”

Mark 11:29-30: Jesus said to them, ”I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.”

Mark 12:9: What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.

Mark 12:10-11: Have you not read this scripture: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes“?

Mark12:15b: But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it.”

Mark 12:16: And they brought one. Then he said to them, Whose head is this, and whose title? They answered, ” The emperor’s.“

Mark 12:24: Jesus said to them, Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God?

Mark 12:26: And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how god said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?

Mark 13:2: Then Jesus asked him, Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

Mark 14:6: But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me.”

Mark 14:37: He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Vacation Bible School makes a difference

This week, Pastor Garrison Chaffee, his wife, Merilyn, and a team of volunteers have been leading out in our VBS at the Santa Rosa Adventiast church. For me, one thing is clear, VBS changes lives. For many years, I have heard stories of how God used a Vacation Bible School to plant a seed in the life of a child and how that child since has chosen to follow Jesus and made a difference in the world around them.

Here are a few of the comments I have heard this week...

40 year old parent---"I have been attending VBS for many years and have seen many adults who had not been attending for several years are now coming back to the church and bringing their children. They want their children to have what they grew up with, a church home and biblical teaching. Many times when asked why they have come back they answer "because I remember going to VBS and I want my kids to have the same experiences I had growing up."

80 year old woman. "I have taught children at church for many years. I have helped with VBS, and I have taught many of the people in this church when they were younger. What better thing to do than to love our children. You tell me."

26 year old VBS leader. "I am always sad when VBS ends. It is always sad to me to see a wonderful week end, but I know that people are affected by what they learn. Over the last few years, we have had over 120 children at VBS on average and many of those kids do not attend our church. My hope is VBS is something that might get them to come and attend church."

If you have a VBS story, I would love to hear it.

Thanks to all of you who are making a difference with our children! You are awesome!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pacific Institute of Christan Ministry

Tomorrow, June 23rd, at 11am, I will be teaching a seminar for the Pacific Union and North American Division at the Fairfield SDA church. The Seminar? Practicum in Pastoral Ministry. This is a class for all of you who want to complete certification for the Lay Pastoral Assistant Course. See you there!
Today's message, "The Value of Discipline" was part three of our series on the book of Proverbs, wisdom to live by. Remember that discipline includes recognizing your need, practicing delayed gratification, and making advance decision...Parents talk with your children about what decisions they will make when they face specific situations. They will be better prepared to deal with life with this tool in their toolbelt.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

To Be Perfectly Honest

To Be Perfectly Honest, by Phil Callaway

This book is hilarious! But, not only is it entertaining, it has depth. The book is a day by day, week by week, description of Phil Callaway’s attempt to tell the truth each day, and a journal about his experience.

As you read this book, you get to spend a year with Callaway as he deals with the worship music of his church, as he speaks at conferences, visits his mother suffering from dementia, deals with an angry friend, and scares his daughter's boyfriend…all while trying to be perfectly (and completely) honest

Each journal entry is short and funny, which make this book easy and fun to read. Along the way, I think you will be challenged with some of the characters Callaway interacts with and from his reflections as he wrestles with situations we all encounter.
Great book. I read it to my high school age children for our family worship and they loved it. Highly recommend.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Worst Jobs of 2012

I saw this article that just published their list of the 10 worst jobs for 2012. Here they are. Also, since it is not on there, I assume No Job doesn't count.

1. Lumberjack- Fells, cuts, and transports timber to be processed into lumber, paper, and other wood products.
2. Dairy Farmer- Directs and takes part in activities involved in the raising of cattle for milk production.
3. Enlisted Military Soldier-From serving food in the mess hall to fighting a battle on the front line to avoiding land mines along the path to a village, the duties a soldier carries out have very different levels of responsibility. (Surprising)
4. Oil Rig Worker- Performs routine physical labor and maintenance on oil rigs and pipelines, both on and off shore.
5. Reporter (Newspaper)- Covers newsworthy events for newspapers, magazines, and television news programs.
6. Waiter/Waitress- Takes customer orders, serves food and drink, and prepares meal checks.
7.Meter Reader- Monitors public utility meters, and records volume of consumption by customers.
8. Dishwasher- Cleans the plates, glasses and silverware used by patrons of an eating establishment, and the pots, pans and cooking utensils used by chefs.
9. Butcher- Prepares meat for sale to distributors, supermarket customers, and other consumers.
10. Broadcaster- Prepares and delivers news and related presentations over the air on radio and television.

What do you think? Any surprises? What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

Book Review: Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson

Book Review: Batterson, Mark. Wild Goose Chase.

The title of Mark Batterson’s book, “Wild Goose Chase” caught my attention. I discovered that it’s inspired by a Celtic Christian name for the Holy Spirit , An Geadh-Glas, or 'the Wild Goose.' In this book, Batterson addresses the topic of the Holy Spirit and it role in the adventure of pursuing the God Almighty.

Here are a couple of quotes from the book:

     "Most of us will have no idea where we are going most of the time." And I know that is unsettling but circumstantial uncertainty also goes by another name: Adventure."

      “We’re waiting on God while God is waiting on us!”

     “Some of us live as if we expect God to say, ‘Well thought, good and faithful servant!’ or “Well said, good and faithful servant!’ God is not going to say either of those things. There is one commendation and it is the by-product of pursuing God-ordained passions: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” 

His main point is that we who named the name of Jesus are too comfortable with the safe and familiar. So, he spends all his time in this book encouraging us to choose the wild and unknown even though it goes against everything we may have experienced thus far on our own faith walk.

One of the most helpful parts of the book is in the review section at the end of each chapter. There you find questions to help us take a risk (or two) and step into an adventure.

Overall, the book was a quick read, with not a lot of new thoughts, but ideas that serves as a good reminder.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Primal, by Mark Batterson

Book Review: Primal, by Mark Batterson

I've read Mark Batterson's book,” In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day,” which was excellent. So, when I heard his new book was coming out and this publisher invited me to review it, I looked forward to reading this book. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a disappointment. Below are my thoughts, positive and negative.

What I liked about this book:
…Its introductory story about his trip to Rome and his visit to the Church of San Clemente and the catacombs. Having been there, his contrast of the catacombs with the majestic cathedrals that followed, and our lost of focus got my attention.
…Other illustrations throughout the book from science, psychology, and history, were excellent.
…I liked his focus the Great Commandment and what it means to love God with all our heart (compassion), soul (wonder), mind (curiosity), and strength (energy).

What I didn't like about this book:
…His train of thought is hard to follow. When a writer makes a statement my expectation is that he will explain it, defend it, illustrate it, apply it, or something to that effect. Batterson doesn't do much of that. He often makes a statement and then follows it with another statement. I found myself asking, "Why?" a lot.
…There’s a lot of repetition of thought. The book can be described as one thought, many pages.

If you are interested in a short book with good illustrations to use, then I would recommend it. If you are looking for new thoughts on Christianity or on how to teach the Greatest Commandment, then read something else, like N.T. Wright’s, “Simply Jesus”.

Book Review: I Am A Follower

Book Review: I am a Follower: The Way, Truth, and Life of Following Jesus, by Leonard Sweet

I am not a huge Leonard Sweet fan. His writing often tends to be clichéd and reruns of others thoughts, but this book is right on track for me. Sweet does a good job speaking about the issues in the church today…and on how Christ followers, Jesus followers, should live; following Jesus. Novel concept, right?

Sweet’s main theme is that today’s Christian culture spends a lot of time on leadership and very little time on followership. Sweet focuses on the fact that Jesus followers are called to serve, and when we are placed into a leadership position, we are to serve even more. We are to be servant leaders, who follow the only real leader, Jesus.

I recommend this book to those who follow Jesus. It is especially timely for those of us who think our opinion and what we feel is what counts, and that the church should line up behind those that are leading people, instead of behind Jesus.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What I Am Reading

These days, books from three genres lay on my desk or night table (or in my kindle):

On China by Henry Kissinger
Baghdad Without A Map by Tony Horwitz

The Prophet and The Presidents by Gilbert Valentine
Where Are We Going by Jan Paulson
Primal by Mark Batterson

Failure of Nerve by Edwin Friedman