Knowing Is Everything

by Andy Im   Knowing is everything. Everyone wants to know stuff. It’s why we read the news. It’s why we subscribe to magazines & publications. It’s one of the reasons we surf the internet. Facebook is popular because we get to discover— to know—what our families, and friends are doing. We “Yelp” and probe its reviews to unearth the best and tastiest restaurants in town. We even tweet. Simply put, knowing satiates our inner drive to discover, to find things out. And, we, as human beings are curious creatures. And, knowing. . . “stuff” is important. For example, it was crucial that the health officials (CDC) understood how the two nurses from Texas and the physician traveling from Ghana contracted ebola—to prevent the further spreading of this toxic disease. It’s important to citizens in this country that the intelligence community understand where religious extremists who mean Americans harm are located, and when their next move may occur. And I can guarantee if you needed intricate brain or heart surgery, you wouldn’t want some rookie intern operating on you! You’d want an experienced specialist who’s done it a hundred times! We’re individuals that desire to know; and knowing is essential. BUT, knowing everything & anything isn’t what’s crucial. Knowing may be everything; but, knowing everything, ISN’T everything. For you and I, it’s about knowing One thing—and that’s God. And our eternal life depends on it! John 17:3 states, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. Knowing who God is, experientially, intimately, is crucial to our experience as Christians. In the words of Ellen G. White: “The whole spiritual life is molded by our conception of Him, and if we cherish erroneous views of His character, our souls will sustain injury” (Review & Herald, Jan 14, 1890). In other words, your Christian experience: how you live it, perceive it, feel about it, do it, and ultimately, your soul—is affected by what you & I know of God. This is because what you know of God determines—first of all, for the individual prior to conversion—how they’ll react to the notion of God; and secondarily—as Christians—how you’ll experience God on a day-to-day basis. Speaking to the first point, it’s no wonder there are so many atheists in our society. I’m not excusing any decision made by an individual who rejects God, but, Christians (in the broadest sense) are at fault for misrepresenting God, for example, in its theology—think, eternal burning hellfire—and in our atrocious acts of violence— think, the Dark Ages—when those who bore the name “Christian” executed countless peoples, both Christian, and otherwise. And this has been Satan’s purpose all along! Ellen G. White states: “[Satan] has sought to misrepresent the character of God, to lead men to cherish a false conception of Him. The Creator has been presented to their minds as clothed with the attributes of the prince of evil himself,—as arbitrary, severe, and unforgiving,—that He might be feared, shunned, and even hated by men. Satan [has] hoped to so confuse the minds of those whom he [has] deceived that they would put God out of their knowledge. [He] would obliterate the divine image in man and impress his own likeness upon the soul; he would imbue men with his own spirit and make them captives according to his will” (Testimony Treasures, vol. 2, p. 334). Certainly, we see this phenomenon taking place today. But, I want to turn our attention to the second point. What you know of God determines the outcome of your spiritual experience, and in this way. Think of a dog that’s been physically and “psychologically” abused by a previous owner. Once that dog’s rescued, and no matter how nurturing the new owners may be the conception of that innocent animal, of humans, will be skewed. A hand gesture of love, no matter how pure and tender the intentions may...

6 Reasons For Supper Clubs...

By Amy Lee Sheppard. There is a common experience among many Seventh-day Adventist young adults–perhaps young professionals and graduate students particularly. As they embark on the new phase of life that is more adult than not, they often move to a new town or city and join a new local church. And it doesn’t take long to realize that something is different. Maybe they are the only young adult at their new church. Or maybe they just left an Adventist mecca where everything was about reaching the young Adventists, and now suddenly that isn’t the focus of their new congregation. Or maybe they were part of a tight knit community of Adventists at a secular university, but find that type of community lacking in their new church “home.” Resonate with this? Let me share with you a solution to the discouragement that often results from the above scenarios (and many others) that a couple of friends and I stumbled upon a couple of years ago. I had recently moved following my graduation from law school and fell prey to the feeling of isolation in my new town. The solution? Supper club. It worked for us; here is why I think it will work for you too.   1. People need to eat It’s a simple reality of life. In order to keep running, our bodies need fuel, in the form of calories, consumed through real food. As young adults, though, we often are too busy/tired/lazy to cook ourselves a good meal–or even go grocery shopping. But we still need to eat, and most people, introverted or extroverted, prefer not to eat alone. It was discussing this conundrum–the need to eat and socialize versus the business/laziness continuum that my friend Laura and I first thought...

Ellen White’s: Thanksgiving TOP 10...

Ellen G. White said a few things about Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the holidays in general. Inspired by the writings of Ellen White, below is Bonder’s Top 10 list in regards to Thanksgiving and the holiday season. In the meantime, GO Tofurky!!! Top 10 10. Thanksgiving shouldn’t be patterned after the world in the indulgence of secular amusements, pleasures, and revelry (examples mentioned: horse races, gambling, smoking, and drunkenness). 9. The focus of gift-giving shouldn’t be centered upon giving to those from whom we expect to receive. Hmmm… 8. Holidays should be observed, especially if you have children. Make holidays, she says, as “interesting as possible;” and also “happy” and “pleasurable.” Failure to do so may bring dissatisfaction to children. 7. Don’t be lazy! Make the holiday season worthwhile. Do something positive! (Avoid food coma?) 6. EGW’s personal practice was to accept gifts on condition she was at liberty to use or give it to God’s cause (i.e., missions, etc.). 5. Reflect upon the past year of your life.  Are you making the most of it?  In God’s eyes? 4. Don’t make Thanksgiving (holidays) about YOU.  Make it about God, and be thankful for His abundant mercies. 3. Eat a plain dinner on Thanksgiving Day. Ouch! 2. Use the holidays as an opportunity to help and assist the poor and needy.  She says, “If a feast is to be made, let it be for those who are in need;” and “make [the poor] feel they are doing us a favor by receiving our gifts and sympathy.” How cool is that?   1. EAT TOFURKY!! (Or would you prefer Dinner Roast?) TOP 10 List taken from: Adventist Home, pp. 472-476.  You’ll find the above tips and pointers, and so much more.   Happy...

What Is Bonders?

Too many Adventists live in a bubble, disconnected, even oblivious to what’s taking place in the world. Consequently, society knows very little about SDAs, other than the fact we’re healthy, live long, and have unique views on prophecy. This is great, but they must know more. We need to engage the world. It’s time for society to become acquainted with our perspectives, our worldview, our philosophy on life, and the cosmos. But, in order to interact with society at this level we must also be engaged and informed. We need to know what’s taking place, what people are thinking. Society’s pulse. Furthermore, we need more daring, thought provoking Adventists to share our biblical worldview in regards to life and society, its woes and concerns. We need Daniel’s and Joseph’s in a secular society. We must live in the world, yet remain distinct from it. BONDERS, was created to unite Bible believing, Adventist communities for the single purpose of taking our message to the world–not by shoving truth down their throats, but by interaction with it. In addition, BONDERS serves as a venue that allies various ministries in order to build unity, cooperation, and synergy. In the near future BONDERS will continue to facilitate ministry in a number of ways. Conferences and retreats will be organized and global missions will take place nationally and internationally. Furthermore, our website (bonders.org) will continue to expand, and Team Revolution will increase it’s local impact nationally. The Second Advent of Jesus is near. It’s time to reveal to the world what it means to reflect Jesus in our lives. We are to be the salt of the world....

AWE & WORSHIP

When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.  And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.”Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (Matthew 8:1-3) The Story Jesus has just finished preaching the greatest sermon ever.  His philosophy is so radical and counter-influencial to the norms of the time and to the scribes’ powerless religiosity that the crowd responds with awe and amazement.  Christ’s message has made such an impact on the listeners that they become instant followers.  When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. As the scene changes from the mountain to the valley, a new figure emerges.  The text does not indicate whether or not this man had heard the words of Christ on the mountain — it only describes him as a leper seeking healing. The Question The story begs the question: Could it be that there are those who follow Christ, are in His very presence, partake of the privilege that His presence provides: astonishment, and yet miss the greatest blessing that His presences ought to bring? The Differences It is important to note the difference between the leper and the crowd.  Both of them are in the presence of Christ, but the crowd is following Him.  In other words, the crowd has been with Him.  The leper, on the other hand, is only now coming to Jesus.  The crowd is following Christ because they are astonished.  The leper is coming to Christ because he wants to worship Him. The Lessons It is possible to “follow” Christ, be in His presence, and yet not worship Him.  Although worship and awe are often closely associated, it is dreadful to mistake them for being the same thing.  To be in awe of God is not worship.  It can be part of worship.  It can lead to worship.  It can result from worship, but seeking the presence of God and following purely out of astonishment misses the bigger picture.  It is true, God craves our presence more than anything else in this world.  He proved this very point by cashing out heaven’s bank account for this very possibility.  However, more important than being in the presence of Christ is worshipping Him — taking advantage of the opportunity that being in His presence brings.  God desires our presence because His presence is supposed to transform us from sick people, to those who walk in newness of life. The ultimate difference between the leper who worships and the crowd who seeks Christ’s presence is that the leper’s outcome is transformation while the crowd is simply more astonished.  To be content with astonishment — even the astonishment of Christ — is to miss out in the greater blessing that God seeks to bestow. The Appeal  Seventh-day Adventists need to evaluate whether our worship is producing personal transformation.  Otherwise, no matter how much we talk about Jesus, how much we claim that we are in His presence, how strongly we believe ourselves to be His followers; we are slowly dying of thirst while in the very presence of the Spring of Living...

SERMON: TEST ME IN THIS...

Ronald Wayne drives a Chevy sedan and lives just outside of Las Vegas, NV.  He lives in a prefabricated home out in the desert.  He collects his social security check every month.  If you lived near him and visited the casinos regularly, you would most likely see him there also trying to strike it rich. He is one of the greatest “what if” stories ever. If you were to look through the history of Apple Inc., the great computer company founded by guru Steve Jobs, you would find a sheet of paper containing three names.  One of those names is Ronald Wayne.  Wayne gave up his share of the company for a total of $2,300.00.  Now, his share is worth well over $35 billion. In his sermon at the University Seventh-day Adventist Church, Pastor David Shin has a simple, yet very profound message for us today:  hold on to your share.  Invest in heaven.  Do not sell.  Watch it here:...

Youth Leadership: A Call for A Third Model

By Justin Kim. Youth ministry has become a laboratory to experiment with different approaches and options.  Today’s models range from variations of social outreach to blatant entertainment.  Though well-meaning, the adoption of these models by some youth leaders has plunged the church into a crisis, leaving many youth disillusioned and desperately looking for spiritual leadership and direction.  This article is my personal testimony.  It explains why I have chosen to dedicate my life to a different kind of youth ministry.   The Models Social Outreach Model.  This model of youth ministry stems from the remnants of liberation theologies and sociological theories.  The basic tenet here is that either God is dead or inert.  Because the divine no longer intervenes on the social level, the church is left on its own to defend humanity from its evils, ameliorate the sufferings of humankind, and employ every individual, especially the youth, to propagate, defend, and amplify these ideas to a revolution. Examples from this model for youth ministry include the German Nazi Youth societies, communist youth camps, the American peace and civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s, green associations interested in environmental reform, and myriads of other causes for social justice and outreach.  Many stem from the post-millennial theories of the second advent of Christ.  The social outreach model of youth ministry manifests itself in the local church through a variety of forms, but the underlying purpose is to keep youth busy doing something—never mind what they are busy doing. The Entertainment Model.  This latter model of youth ministry stems from the remnants of postmodern theologies and ecumenical developments.  Unlike the previous model that sees God as disconnected, the basic tent in the entertainment model is that God is über-connected – everywhere.  Sometimes mirroring unashamed pantheistic sentiments, the church is forced to engage all other ecclesial bodies and to conclude that divinity can be found anywhere in any form at any time for any individual.  As a result, every medium under the sun is acceptable, baptized with some spiritual seasoning, and produced as religion’s answer to capitalism. Examples from this model of youth ministry include the Contemporary Christian Music movement and its peripheral “ministries,” doctrinal justification or exegesis of methods from Hollywood, modern American evangelicalism, ecumenical dialogues of world churches, the New Age movement, the occult, the Charismatic Pentecostalism, the Emergent movement, and any other form of entertainment that has been baptized or prayed over.  The entertainment model of youth ministry manifests itself in a local church through a variety of forms, but the underlying purpose is to keep youth in the church by any means necessary.   The Crisis As a result of the adoption of these models of youth ministry—social outreach and entertainment models—the church is in crisis.  Rather than understanding its unique historical and missiological heritage and anticipating the church’s progress into the future, the church has come to a stand-still.  Visions and models for ministry have been borrowed by institutions of different heritages and ambitions.  Theologies have been blurred or befuddled.  Heritages have been forgotten.  Progress has lost momentum.  Ultimately, the value of and burden for souls has been lost. To compensate for the loss of its identity and mission, the church uses sparkles and fireworks to create the illusion of the dynamicity of the ideal body of Christ.  In the meantime, one of the church’s most valuable investments is waning within the church.  It is not the number or quantity of young people that this article is concerned about, but rather the quality of individual young people that is waning and the future of the church leadership at stake.   The Testimony Similar to the story of Timothy, my mother and grandmother were committed Seventh-day Adventists, while my father was not until baptized when I was younger.  I was a nominal Adventist throughout my elementary years in public education.  My spiritual bent challenged me to...

Rejoice In the Lord Always?

Once, during a study we discussed the text found in Philippians 4:4:  Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Towards the end of our discussion, the question was asked: How can we tell someone to rejoice when they are going through a hopeless situation — divorce, rape, abuse, etc.? In our study circle, no one mentioned personally experiencing any of those tragedies so it seemed a fair question: is it reasonable for me to share this text with someone going through a seemingly hopeless challenge?   1.  Look Who’s Talking? The question is often asked, “How can YOU tell people to always rejoice in Christ even when they are going through such horrid circumstances?” Actually, the call to always rejoice doesn’t come from me.  Or from you.  It comes from the Apostle Paul.  From a human perspective, is he qualified to make this statement? Notice what he says: “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”  (Philippians 4:12) “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeys often, in perils of water, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.”  (2 Corinthians 11:24-28). Paul’s experience qualifies him to make such a statement.  If there is anyone who has reason to complain to God about the difficulty of his life, it would be Paul.  For the sake of Christ, he lost a high-paying job and prestigious position.  To add to his loss, he eventually suffered a martyrs death for the cause of Christ.  But this was not before he was robbed, beaten, hungry, thirsty, naked, and cold.  What is worse than suffering because of God when you’re working for Him?  What challenges faith more than entrusting yourself into the hands of someone who doesn’t prevent suffering from causing you pain and difficulty? In a prison cell, after a life full of suffering and pain, Paul says this to the Philippian Church: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  Most can only imagine what kind of life of struggle and hardship would be necessary to consider death to be a gain over life.  For Paul, it was reality.  So, to everyone who experiences a reality that is so painful so as to prefer death over life, Paul says: “Rejoice in the Lord always.”   2.  A Means, Not Just An End It is important to note that Paul is speaking from a position of experience.  He is emphasizing that rejoicing is the best means of dealing with suffering.  We rejoice not for God’s sake or the sake of others; we rejoice because it ultimately helps the sufferer more than it helps anyone else.  It seems as though Paul anticipates the reluctance, either due to his own past experience or because he understands our human nature so well.  Thus, he says: I have learned to be content in whatever state I am.  (Philippians 4:11).  It is not natural for us to be content in calamity or to rejoice in suffering.  Yet it is an expression of faith in God to believe that this present suffering no matter how challenging it is, in the light of eternity has a different perspective.  It is an expression of faith to conclude as Paul...