Sunday, December 6, 2015

Trimming the Branches

On Defending the Faith:

I remember, when I was growing up in Keene, Texas, we had camp meeting every summer there on the campus of Southwestern Union College. Since I lived there, I went to all the meetings in the Primary tent, the Junior Tent and the Earliteen Meeting when they set it up at the new Science Building. I didn't go for a few years during my agnostic period, but I came back in the last year of high school and in college.  One of the annual features of camp meeting was always the delegation from The Shepherd's Rods, an Adventist offshoot that had set up shop down in Waco.

Every year they'd show up at the entrances of the Leiske-Pultar pavilion. Benjamen Roden and his bunch would meet all the grownups and pass out tracts about how the Holy Spirit is a woman and all sorts of odd sorts of "new light" that they was a' passin' out at the entrance to the main meetings.  You might know these guys by their later names - the "Branch" and the "Branch Davidians".  A guy I went to Valley Grande Academy with and later to college with, Carlos Garza used to wage guerrilla warfare with these guys every summer at camp meeting. "Cosmos" as he was called by his friends used to subscribe to every SDA offshoot's newsletters and free pamphlets. His sneaky plan was to keep as much of that stuff out of the hands of innocent Adventist church members. He kept them all in a big box that he called his Heretical Literature Library.

A bunch of us used to wait till they got set up at the doors to the main camp meeting sessions and then go down and engage these guys in big long debates and pretend we were interested. By the time they realized we weren't about to join up, everybody had got safely out of the meeting unmolested. Years letter, I was living again in Keene after a brief career as an SDA school teacher, that was ended at the hands of a Head Elder in and Eastern New Mexico church that was teaching Brimsmead Sabbath School Lessons. I made the mistake of disagreeing with him when he told me the church did better without a pastor. I told him, "Brother this church needs a pastor as badly as any I've ever seen." As the man was a big deal in the Texico Conference, that was pretty much the end of my teaching career.

So I'd been working at a residential treatment center we'd started up in Keene, much to the horror of some of the locals, when a bulletin came on television one day about a hostage crisis in Waco at the Branch Davidian compound. Days later we watched in horror as David Koresh, aka Vernon Howell III set fire to a building full of men, women and children. Later, we moved to Tyler, Texas where Mr. Howell tried to do some recruiting at one point. They wisely punted the young man out the door. His brief tenure at Tyler, however, got the church some bomb threats during the Waco Branch Davidian hostage crisis.

The devil has always attacked God's people by creating division among them. So we should not be surprised at the amount of attacks by ex-Adventists and even current but disgruntled Adventists on the church. It's no secret that there are some divisions in the church. The big kerfuffle at the last GC over women's ordination which wasn't really about women's ordination but about who makes the decision on women's ordination - the GC or the Divisions. Leave it to the devil to create an argument over power disguised as an argument over Bible truth. We've been treated to Conference presidents banning evangelists from speaking in their churches, what seems like dozens of independent ministries sniping at each other and the church as a whole. Academies are being closed and sold off every day it seems. Conference committees fights over financial issues. Every time you turn around somebody is creating a new branch or offshoot. How do we keep the church pruned so she doesn't get dragged down or over-balanced by all that unproductive dead weight, especially at a time when, if you search "Seventh-Day Adventist" on Youtube, you'll find that the first 20 pages of results are 90% anti-Adventist videos? The devil hates us, but I'm here to tell you, we are often our own worst enemy.

What's an Adventist man to do?  

He gets busy.  In Titus 3:9 we're advised to "...avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain." Jesus came to Israel at a time when the Pharisees and Saducees were fighting it out for supremacy. The Jewish "law" had become so oppressive and complicated that Jesus ' message pared the whole thing down to just two commandments: love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. Even his disciples came from different factions of Judaism. There were Zealots, some of John's disciples, a couple of Jewish Nationalists, some simple fishermen and a tax collector. It was a diverse group to say the least. What was Jesus' solution for pulling this diverse group into a united front?  He sent them out to work the little towns and villages of Judea. And they still broke up when Jesus was taken by the Sanhedrin. 

God's church has always holds together best when it was busy looking for lost sheep. A drywall contractor up in Berrien Springs, who had observed Adventists for years, once observed that, "Adventists are like manure. You spread 'em out over a large area and they do a lot of good, but pile 'em up in one place and pretty soon they start to stink."

You want to keep your church busy guys. Find something for your church to do. Crank up the Dorcas society into high gear. Get a very active Pathfinder program up and running. Get a school started up. Build a food pantry. Get a disaster relief team going. A busy church is working for Jesus. Church members, busy thinking about what they can do for Christ and don't have time to bicker.

In these days, anyone who is tearing down the church and dividing the saints isn't working for Christ. He or she is working for the adversary. That doesn't mean we agree blindly with everything our leaders do. It may mean we argue among ourselves a bit, but we never NEVER forget who we serve nor that we are brothers and sisters in Christ. It's time the men of the church stood up and insisted that our congregations remember that always. We should be the voice of kindness and civility, love and peace-making. And we should never be afraid to stand up to those who would tear down our beloved churches.

We don't need sermons on church unity. We need more things for the church members to do together for Christ. The busier the church, the more united the church. We respond to doing things. 

Talking about unity? Not so much.

© 2015 by Tom King

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Unveiling the Secret Place

He that dwelleth in the the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.  Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.   

Psalm 91: 1-4

There is a secret place within all of us that we are reluctant to share with anyone.Yet, as we pass through this life we are constantly reminded of it and when we are emotions come to the surface that we may think of as less than manly. We dismiss such tender feelings with scorn, calling them "nostalgia" or romanticism, adolescent or childish, as though we are above such nonsense. It is a secret place within us that we cannot tell anyone about. At the same time, we cannot share this place with anyone either, lest we reveal too much about our selves and what we may quite mistakenly believe is our weakest place.  

Our secret place persists in trying to reveal itself to the world, peaking its head out from the pages of a book, or from a movie, television show or particularly poignant commercial for a fast food restaurant.  On occasion, our world connects with our secret places in ways we do not expect and we find ourselves turning quickly away lest someone spot a mist in our eyes and try to discover the place we have tried so hard to hide for all these years.

These invasions from that other world, we attribute to a brush with something beautiful or sad or some lost memory, as if beauty, sadness or memory were the thing itself. Some of us even avoid paying too much attention to such things lest they betray that secret place within us.

We all have such a place. It is a hollow inside us that is reserved for God and ourselves alone - a perfect place from which everything we perceive as good and worthwhile is reflected in the "real" world. The great temptation is to mistake beauty or some other thing that is good for the thing itself in our desire to remain steadfastly rooted in the "real world". In this way, idols are set up, obsessions are created and lusts are cultivated.  

But the scent of a flower, the red and gold of a sunset or the waves of an aurora across the sky are not the thing itself. The beauty of a woman, the effervescence for a child or the taste of good food is merely the reflection of the beauty that lives in the secret hollow of our souls. What we perceive as good and pure and fine is recognized because we already have an image of what such things ought to look like imprinted upon our souls.  

Men in particular are taught that we need to outgrow all that childish fantasy about secret places where love is true, men are brave, and truth, honesty and integrity are as easily had as wildflowers in a spring meadow. That's kind of sad really, for that secret place in the soul is filled by God to give us an internal guide - a sort of compass that always points toward Heaven and the New Earth.

We are always turning around a corner somewhere and stumbling upon something that opens that door a bit and tells us we have seen something of the land beyond. When it happens, those of us who cherish that secret place find that, in that unexpected instance, our emotions may betray us. We find ourselves weeping over a scene from a movie or shouting "YES!" in recognition of a hint of that secret thing in some post on Facebook or a story in the news.  

If we walk humbly with Christ, we are not ashamed to embrace those messages from the divine country which God seeks to plant within us. That secret place is not easily dislodged from us, despite our efforts to shut the door on it and accept some hollow shadow of reality. It's hard work to close that door and even if we think we have successfully walled off that secret place, when life beats us down as it surely will, the light from that place is waiting, knocking patiently, waiting to break down the door if we will but turn the key. Our reward for that small surrender is a flood that breaks over us and drowns us in the very light and joy we were hunting for in the "real" world but could not find, because we had shut it away and closed our ears to it's knocking.

C.S. Lewis described it this way, "These things--the beauty, the memory of our own past--are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard; news from a country we have never yet visited."

It is the secret place of the Most High where it is best to dwell, for living there changes us into the living image of all that is good, and kind and patient and loving and wise in that place.

Tom King

© 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

Should an Adventist Run for President If He's Not a Democrat?

David Corn, a journalist for Mother Jones, an extreme left-wing magazine and described by his publisher as a "prominent Seventh-day Adventist" produced a recent article attacking Ben Carson and justifying the medias round of hit pieces that have questioned Ben Carson's suitablility as a presidential candidate. Corn's opinion is that Carson's Adventism is fair game. In the article Corn calls Adventist theology "accusatory and paranoid" and seems to feel like Adventists (at least conservative ones) wouldn't make good political leaders. As to Corn's being a "prominent" Adventist, frankly, I've never heard of him before reading his editorial.

And to quote an old joke, "It's not paranoia, Mr. Corn, if they really are out to get you." If you watch what the pope's been saying about ending the Protestant reformation lately and joining up with evangelical charismatics, and if you remember the history of the Roman church at all, such events at this time in history do give one pause, especially if you've studied prophecy any at all. If you look at the powerful pressure being exerted worldwide to, as Pope Benedict suggested in an encyclical a few years ago, create a “true world political authority” with “real teeth,” wielding sufficient power to govern economics, food, energy, armaments, environmental protection, and migration for the whole world", it sounds reasonable to be a little concerned about the papacy's role in what seems to me to be a march toward global theological Marxism. In the same encyclical, Benedict said that trade unions, international political parties (there's only one of those - the International Communist Party), trade associations, world political and church leaders should all get together to form this new global government. He also suggested that powerful countries like the United States should be forced to submit to this world government - that's the bit about having "real teeth".

If that doesn't send a shiver up your Adventist spine, I'm not sure you've been reading your Sabbath School Quarterly.

But whatever happens with regard to religious events in the world, the United States is forbidden by its constitution to establish any religion that is supported by the government. As a practicing Adventist, Carson will stand firm in protecting that bit of the Constitution, whatever any other church or organization may attempt to do. Carson has also said he believes if you mess up the environment, you should clean up after yourself. That sounds like a sound environmental policy to me.  He says he has no problem using the military to defend the citizens of the United States. That's sound Biblical governance straight out of the Old Testament.

Everything Adventists believe might happen at the end of time can be addressed simply by keeping the US government in line with the Constitution. That's a very presidential thing to do. It's also a very Christian thing to do. Many other Christians also believe that the end is near. Few of us in the Christian faith believe in turning the US into a theocracy. Those who do are de facto enemies of the state because we are prohibited from allowing any establishment of a national religion by the Constitution. I can see, however, why leftists, Adventist or otherwise, might have some issues with Carson's protectiveness toward the Constitution, given the left's complaints that the Constitution only tells what the government can't do, not what it should do. Believe me, the left has whole new amendments about that subject ready and waiting to do some "adjustment" to the founding documents.  Carson, would clearly resist meddling with the Bill of Rights especially.

Adventists are down with that.
We have long printed a church-run magazine called "Liberty" which is devoted entirely to promoting religious liberty in the US. We are free-market missionaries. We run extensive medical work and have the second largest parochial school system in the country including the prestigious Loma Linda University School of Medicine. Many of our missionaries are even self-supporting. We Adventist run missions all over the world. We are first on the scene with the Red Cross and Salvation Army at disasters. We dig wells, educate children and help people achieve economic independence, good health and peace of spirit in every corner of the Earth. We have more members outside the United States than inside it.

The church's beliefs about the end times do not prevent us from being loyal Americans, loving our neighbors as ourselves and planning for the future as a nation, whether Jesus gets here in 10 years or 200.  This has absolutely zero impact on Carson's potential service as president.  The Adventist negative reaction toward Carson within the church is more about him being a Republican as, for some odd reason, there are quite a the number of SDAs who are lifelong Democrats. Left-wing SDAS find Carson's conservative politics very unsettling.  Historically, most elected SDA politicians have been Democrats including the infamous (and to me entirely embarrassing) Sheila Jackson Lee who claims to be an Adventist. Lee is so far out there that even her Democrat colleagues are wary of enlisting her aid lest she humiliate them with one of her classically ridiculous rants.

I think if Carson were a Democrat he'd be getting less harassment from members of his own church. Even in the Adventist church, if you're black you're expected to be a Democrat. It's kind of sad, considering the Democrat Party's history with regard to slavery, Jim Crow Laws, segregation, lynchings, the KKK, Sunday Blue Laws and the assassination of Dr. King (James Earl Ray was an ardent Democrat). You'd think black Adventists would lean toward being Republicans, but that's a national conundrum, not a church problem.

There is also a good deal of fear among the members and even the clergy, that Carson's candidacy will shine an unwelcome light on the church and its beliefs by standing for the highest office in the land. The fear among some Adventists, I think, is that the scrutiny of the media on Carson's faith will bring on the time of trouble, which many SDAs fear, thanks to some pretty scary evangelist meetings we all went to as kids.  

Not me, though. I am not afraid and I welcome the scrutiny our church will get during the Carson campaign. It may even serve to flush out some of the nonsense that takes place in the dark corners of Adventism - things that should be flushed out. There's nothing like having to defend your beliefs to bring your belief system into sharp focus.

I'm proud to believe the things I believe. I'm not afraid of wading into the debate over my faith that is sure to come. The mainstream press and Washington good old boy network is terrified at the idea of an honest man in the Oval Office. I think some Adventists are afraid Carson will make us look bad or that, once in the public spotlight, he'll draw fire down on the church. God, however, commands us to go into all the world preaching the gospel. I don't think Christ would have a problem if the world came to us asking us what is our testimony about him.  Time for proclaiming that Three Angels Message we're always talking about.

Me I think Carson has been called by God for such a time as this.
He didn't seek this out, it was pretty much thrust upon him because he had the courage to tell the truth to power at a National Prayer Breakfast. I think he's already show his ability to handle the kind of dirty media tricks they will throw at him. Even if he doesn't win, it's going to put our church on display and that's not a bad thing. Maybe we can stop straining at gnats and take on some of those camels that are the real problems in this world and in the church.

Time to stand in the breach...
I understand the fear, though. I would imagine Esther felt that kind of fear when she went before the Kings to plead for her people. Joseph probably felt it when he first stood before Pharaoh. I'm sure Daniel had a little trepidation when he went into the lion's den. But fear doesn't have to lead to cowardice. We have a God, who is mighty to save.

The theology of my church is imminently logical, scriptural and the only way to make it bad or weird is to distort those beliefs all out of whack.  Like Carson's response to the medias attempts to trash his record and reputation, I believe it is time for Adventist to stand up and say, "I'm proud to believe what we believe!" and to defend ourselves before principalities and powers. Why not? The truth is on our side is it not? And repeating our defense over and over in the media will certainly land us more free public relations than we ever could have gotten otherwise.

And there's no reason to worry about an Adventist president upsetting relations with anyone because of his religion. We believe in the Golden Rule (something both Trump and Clinton apparently don't mind bending to suit their own ambitions). SDAs aren't anti-anybody, much less anti-Catholic. We've been getting along with our fellow Catholic and Protestant brethren for better than 150 years now. There are a lot of folk who believe in the Rapture and the rise of an anti-Christ. Some have even occupied the White House. Is THAT going to make them bad leaders of our country and unelectable? Of course not.

Christians don't believe we have to conquer the world and force everyone to obey our religion before the Messiah can come. That's Islam (which accounts for what Carson said about a Muslim President). The Christian faith on the other hand tells us to not lie, kill, cheat, steal, commit adultery, disrespect our parents or be greedy or even to rebel against our government except where it conflicts with our duty to God. That's pretty straight American patriotism. The Pledge of Allegiance even has that line about "one nation, under God." Even the pledge allows for God's sovereignty over the state. Sounds like an excellent set of values for someone we are going to choose to be the chief executive of our government.

It sounds to me that what a lot of Atheists, Christians, Catholics and even some Adventists are trying to say is that the president needs to be an atheist (or a nice acceptable kind of lukewarm Christian) with no firm religious belief system other than what the herd believes about socialism, evolution, atheism and environmentalism in order for that person to be an acceptable candidate for the presidency. Every US president in history has been a believer of some sort. We've managed to muddle along without their religion turning the United States into a religious gulag. I think an Adventist neurosurgeon is smart enough to handle it.

Time to put on our big boy pants and enter the arena my Adventist brothers and sisters. Stop being afraid of the time of trouble. Will God not bring you through it, if you believe. Shouldn't we be prepared to testify as to our faith? I think what may be confusing us is that we thought all along that we'd be testifying before priests, judges and soldiers. Who knew it might well be before TV cameras and Klieg lights?

Tom King

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Time to Marginalize? I Don't Think So!

A recent editorial by Bill Knott, editor and executive publisher of the Adventist Review suggested that it is time to marginalize certain independent ministries and speakers and bar them from speaking in and on behalf of SDA churches. The language of the editorial accused some of those who opposed the recent decision at the San Antonio of being divisive for speaking out against the decision at San Antonio BEFORE THE MEETING EVEN TOOK PLACE! 

It seems to me that if the vote had gone the other way, they would have been preaching FOR the winning side of the vote, which the GC administration apparently approves of. As I've said in other places, the GC vote changed nothing with regard to women's role in the churches. The only thing that was decided was who it is that holds the power to make the decision as to whether or not someone gets ordained - the GC or the unions, conferences and the local churches. 

Knott cites a letter by Paul where the apostle instructed one of the churches to reject a false teacher as support for his call to marginalize. Interesting, that he doesn't talk about the very proper doctrinal authorities of the Sanhedrin who so much wanted to ban Christ from talking to the people that they murdered Jesus to silence Him. In fact, in Scripture, most of the banning of prophets and preachers from speaking comes from whoever held central authority in the church at the time.

There are several independent ministries that are apparently being targeted for the GC's or the NAD's version of shunning.  Mike Cauley, Florida Conference President called Doug Batchelor a "polarizing influence" and counseled a Florida Church to cancel an Amazing Facts Evangelist series. The GC tried to make David Gates, another indie preacher, sign a document promising to get permission from the Union for anything he does. He reportedly didn't sign.   

Hassling Indie preachers is nothing new. HMS Richards Sr., founder of the Voice of Prophecy used to get "advice" from the GC on occasion. Del Delker, who was singing for the VOP got raked over the coals by some church leading lights for singing with The Wedgwood Trio, a Christian folk group that used banjos on occasion. There's always someone out there who wants to make everyone conform to their tastes "in the name of Jesus".  I lost a dear friend who was an incredible youth evangelist, but was hounded out of the church during a bout with mental illness, so I have reason to find banning independent evangelists repugnant.

I find it interesting to count up how many prophets, apostles and faithful followers of God who, throughout the Bible have been forbidden by church authorities to enter the temple and synagogues - Amos, Elijah, Elisha, Jesus, Paul, Barnabus and more of God's messengers who spoke the Word of the Lord.  The original sin was all about power. The devil tempted Eve to take the forbidden fruit that by disobeying God, she might become like God - all powerful.

The most vocal problem children have been those who categorically reject women's ordination, but they aren't the only ones who are speaking against the status quo.
There are those who believe, like me, that the decision as to who should minister and who should preach in our pulpits be made at the local level. Then there are those who believe women should be ordained period.  Finally, there is the GC as represented by Ted Wilson and Bill Knott which seems most concerned with keeping power to make that decision centered in the GC administration and holding the status quo.

In the aftermath of the 1901, Ellen White spoke very clearly and forcefully against efforts by what she called "two or three minds in Battle Creek" to restrict who might spread the Word of God. She supported efforts to decentralize the power in the SDA church and called for SDA Christians to spread the Word by whatever means God gave to them.

There ARE ministries that do disrupt and seek to siphon off church members into independent sects with some charismatic preacher at their head. Vernon Howell III (aka David Koresh) tried to do that in my home church at Tyler, Tx. We pitched him out on his ear! So should we do with all those who attempt to tear the church apart. That doesn't mean that the powers-that-be should tell people how to act and what to preach. My home church also freed itself from that sort of oppression too. 

The Truth, Jesus says, will set you free. I choose to be a Seventh day Adventist. The devil knows that the only way I will ever leave my church is if the church throws me out the back door (and I'll probably crawl back in through a window next Sabbath if I have to). The devil knows that the surest way to break up the church is through encouraging the original sin - the lust for power. If the church is destroyed, it will likely be destroyed from the inside out. Let us pray for our leaders that they submit their own will to Christ that Satan may not use the love of authority against them.

Here at the end of time, God's messenger gave an exhortation (top of the right side column) to men to stand for the right though the heavens fall. A church whose head is a man is easily brought down by simply lopping off the head. A church whose head is Christ, is very much harder to kill. And a church, if it avoids trying to take authority that belongs to Christ will grow and be filled with active, participating sons and daughters of God. Something the menfolk should be mindful of.

(c) 2015 Tom King

Friday, August 21, 2015

Why Do Adventists Not Know "How to Feel" About Ben Carson?

Carson post currently going around Facebook
The greatest want of the world, according to Ellen White, is the want of men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall. Increasingly, as the presidential candidacy of Ben Carson looks more and more like the real deal, I hear Adventists saying things like "I don't know how to feel about that!"
Well why not?

I'm confused quite frankly by all the waffling by Adventist on the subject of Carson. I know Carson is a conservative and for years now SDAs have had this vague impression that it was the right wing fundamentalist Republicans that were going to be the ones to "pass the Sunday Laws" and bring on the time o' trouble.  When I grew up, I was terrified of Baptists and Church of Christ folk. I was being led to believe that hey were out to get us, by the people who liked to tell scary stories about the end of time. But do we really think Carson is going to do something like that if elected even if he is a Republican?  Remember, after all, that it was Democrats who passed the Sunday Laws, Jim Crow laws and fought to maintain segregation. Yet we fear a good Adventist man entering the race for president? Does that make any kind of sense?  Do any of us believe that Scripture really forbids government service for all believers, despite the examples of Daniel, his three friends, Joseph, David and other Patriarchs of the Bible? I'll tell you how we got here, and we did so without ever really thinking it through.

You see, in the olden days when I was a kid in church and camp meeting, the "time of trouble" was used like a kind of vege-Hell to frighten the local sinners and get them to church where they could be instructed about the tithe. The hellfire and brimstone preachers in the "worldly churches" could use the very useful belief in eternal fiery torment to scare sinners into the pews. Adventists had no such coercive tool at hand, so, some amateur and professional Adventist evangelists, apparently keenly feeling the lack of such a useful tool, turned to the "time of trouble" as a convenient terror weapon for whipping the troops into line. 

Satan uses any tool he can to frighten people. He gets as much gratification from the trembling "vegan waiting for the coming of the Lord", as he does from the most unrepentant blasphemous militant atheist. Both can cause quite as much damage among the flock with the militant pointy-fingered vegan perhaps able to do just a little more.

Remember the first words that virtually every angel who presented himself to a human believer said in the Bible - "Fear not!" I kind of believe that anyone claiming to represent God who first sets out to terrify you is probably not representing who he or she claims to represent.

Some SDAs openly fear what Ben Carson might do if elected president. One friend says she fears lest a Carson candidacy collapse the "wide barrier between church and state" that she prefers. So, having a barrier between church and state means what, then? Are you saying that we should only elect unbelievers - nice atheists and greedy politicians - to serve in the White House because they will keep religion out of government. I'm sorry, but that's utterly ridiculous! It's like electing the devil because we think he'll be fair to everybody who is religious.

Carson isn't running for pope. He's running for president and he has some great ideas for turning this country around. How would it be a bad thing to have a president who worships on the Sabbath? How would it be bad for our country to have leaders who believe in Christ and who are being transformed by the power of a relationship with Jesus. Carson is a brilliant man who also happens to be a man of faith - Adventist faith no less. He shares with us, the Adventist view on religious liberty. Are you expecting Carson to start passing Saturday laws when he becomes president? That's absurd. This isn't Ted Wilson running for president. Carson doesn't work for the church. He understands the prophecies as well as any of us. He knows what is ahead. Should we dismiss a warrior who is willing to stand in the breech at this critical moment in history simply because he is one of us? Are we as Adventists afraid to see our brethren take their place in history because it may draw attention to the 3 angels message and suddenly make things difficult for us?

We are in a war, people. It's time we realized that, rolled up our sleeves and took up arms against the forces of evil that threaten at any moment to overwhelm us. At a time when honest, clear-spoken SDA pastors are being criticized for being "too polarizing", perhaps it's time for those men to stand up who will be "as true as the needle is to the pole" that Ellen White spoke about. 

If brave Christian men and women don't stand up to be counted; don't speak the truth to power as Daniel did; then we in effect surrender the field to the forces of darkness. By his own account Ben Carson didn't ask for this. He's clearly a meek and humble man, thrust into the spotlight for speaking the truth to power at that memorable National Prayer Breakfast. Carson says he did not seek the public stage, but was pulled into it. He believes God had a hand in it all and who are we to dismiss the hand of God in it? His rise to prominence has been almost miraculous. While wealthy, famous men have scratched and clawed their way to the center of the great debate of our time, Ben Carson has seemingly been lifted up by powers outside himself, at times polling first or second place in presidential polling. Incredible for a man who has never sought public office in his life.

I'm sure there were Jews during the Babylonian captivity, who had mixed feelings about Daniel taking the Prime Minister's job for Nebuchadnezzar too. In looking back at history, though, we can clearly see that instead of criticizing Daniel, they, like us, should have been praying for the man (or woman - remember Esther) whom God has placed in the breech to defend us in these perilous times.

Yours in Christ,

Tom King
© 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Star Honor Series: Equipment

Screenshot from Stellarium program.

If you're doing a Star Honor class, here's a really great software program your kids can download onto their laptops and home computers. If you're looking for a good star/planetarium kind of software to help you find objects to look at through your telescope and to show the kids what stars and other objects are, let me highly recommend a free download called Stellarium. It's really an amazing little star-gazing program.

You can use this program to show your kids how to plan their star-gazing for each evening. By setting the time and the coordinates of the place you'll be setting up your telescopes and you can see what stars will be out that night. The thing tracks planets and even helps you find satellites and figures out when there will be meteor showers. 

Most of your kids know enough about computers to use the simple interface that Stellarium uses and it does come with a help utility that explains things.  If you can hook up your laptop to a projector, it also makes a great tool for showing your students where objects in the sky are. The projected image shows a very realistic night sky, just like the kids will be seeing when they go out with the telescopes. It will show you which direction in which to look for things you want to observe.

It's really a marvelous tool and best of all for your Pathfinder Club's budget - it's free!  You can't beat that with a stick!  Download it at:

Tom King
(c) 2015

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Aftermath - GC 2015

Ted Wilson - GC President
There has been a lot of anger and hand-wringing and some behind-the-scenes "attaboys" and high-fives in the wake of the GC's "no" vote on ordination of women.  Nobody, however, was really shocked that it went the way it did. A 'yes' vote would have set a precedent to further the decentralization of authority in the SDA church - not something our newly re-elected president appears to be in favor of.

During the 1903 General Conference, Ellen White noted that angels walked the aisles during the meeting which changed the structure of the church organization, divesting power to the new local union conferences that had been held closely in the hands of the General Conference administrators. Many SDA theologians, pastors, leaders and members had hoped a "yes" vote would signal a further decentralization of the church's command structure. Sadly, it didn't happen that way.

The recent vote not to allow local unions and conferences to decide whether or not to ordain woman who are already working in the ministry came up a not-so-resounding "no" when the votes were counted. The vote seems to affirm that decision-making power is to remain in the hands of a few "key" leaders for the time being.

In Elder Wilson's first inaugural address, he promised a return to traditional Adventism under his administration. I have to admit, that gave me a little shudder. Having grown up in a small SDA college town, my memories of "traditional" Adventism boil down to the night I found myself praying that God would help me remember every sin I committed because after the day's camp meeting sermon, I was convinced that if I forgot something I would be lost.  I was 12.  The next day I became an agnostic and when the church's baptizing lady came around, I turned her down despite haveing scored 100% on all my Bible Study lessons.

A round of blogs and Facebook posts in the wake of the GC vote have reiterated that we must remain loyal to our church and to Christ.  I fully expect to see another round of sermons in the months ahead on the subject of the proper attitude of members toward ecclesiastical "authority" like the one we saw after the Atlanta GC when the delegates were sharply divided over the election of the new president. I remember after that meeting our pastor gave a sermon that was very different from his usual style which reminded us of the authority of the church hierarchy and of our obligation to obey it and not cause trouble.

This concept of ascending levels of authority is a feature of something called the headship doctrine. The headship doctrine is espoused by some leading SDA theologians and challenged by others. It is not the purpose of this post to debate the idea that God has layered his children in ascending ranks. The late George Chudleigh wrote a fascinating ebook on the subject that can be downloaded at this link.

Despite our differences, I think the church will hold together.  One thing we need to do, however, is focus on strengthening our home churches. Every day we see new signs of an approaching storm. We cannot become too dependent on proclamations from on high to lead our families and our churches aright.  We need men and women who will stand for the right though the heavens fall; who will grow where they are planted so to speak. Should the few at the top go astray, we should not fall with them. The more authority in the hands of the few, the more danger to the church.

This paragraph appeared in the NAD News Notes about the ordination vote:

"This vote does not determine whether or not women can serve as ministers. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has already decided that women may serve as credentialed ministers. As several delegates pointed out during floor speeches (including special guest former GC president Jan Paulsen), this vote was not about whether female pastors should be ordained, but who should decide whether or not to ordain them."

And there's the point right there. On one side you have the folk like Ng and Paulsen, who do NOT oppose decentralizing power and on the other side the Neil/Ted Wilson group that does. I'm just saying out loud what was whispered around San Antonio and all over the Adventist World. We could have moved further toward the 1903 GC decentralization movement had we voted "yes". Women are serving as credentialed ministers and that's been allowed a long time. The only issue at play here was who decides whether they can be ordained or not. We can live with unordained female ministers if the church pay them fairly (Merikay Silver forced the church to deal with that issue nearly 40 years ago). 

My opinion is that the local conferences should have been able to decide for themselves. This was clearly a procedural and not a theological issue. Even the "no" voters will grudgingly admit that. The issue was essentially whether we operate as a more congregationalist style organization with power divested to the local level or a more hierarchical Vatican-Style organization with power concentrated at the top. 

Me? I prefer the congregational style organization. It's harder to kill a decentralized organization by striking off its head. It's time for congregations to own their own churches. Do you realize that if the law goes after the church, most local congregations could lose the buildings they meet in because the individual churches own nothing. The larger church owns it all ultimately. The final battle will be guerrilla warfare after all.  When the forces of evil try to shut us down, the first thing they hit will be our church properties. We will need to be ready to find new places to meet and new ways to do our ministries.

For now, little really changes due to the ordination vote, other than a lot of ruffled feelings among those who sought the change and the reaffirmation of GC central authority. For now we Adventist men should stand in the breach and be prepared to defend the faith. The Army of the Lord has a fight before it. I prefer we adopt the American style military organization, where the commanders in the field have greater leeway in making battlefield decisions.  I fear the church is going with a more top-down decision making process (reminiscent of German and Soviet military command structures where knocking off a general creates a massive decision-making vacuum in all the forces he commands). 

That said, the church is still the church and with prayer and courage, we must stand in our place in the line and do our duty. The sisters who stand next to us in that line may not wear the stripes of ordination, but that does not mean God has not called them as he called Deborah and Esther and Ellen to take their places on the front lines; even, sometimes, as leaders. If they are ever to be ordained to take those places of leadership, however, it will have to wait for the blessing of Ted Wilson and crew. 

 In the meantime, prayers are ascending as the time grows closer.

(c) 2015 by Tom King

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Servants of the "Angry" God

Angry God
There is a myth in Christian mythology to the effect that somehow, between the Old and New Testaments, God had some kind of conversion experience. After this, He became a much nicer God and let up on all that obedience stuff in favor of a looser, more pagan friendly lifestyle. Many attribute the change in attitude of God the Father to His having worked out a lot of His anger by punishing his Son on the cross in our place, which, this unexamined myth goes, turned God into a God of Love and no longer a God of Vengeance.

This seldom consciously examined theory reminds me of the theory that in the mid 60s Republicans, the heirs of Abraham Lincoln, all suddenly became racists. Meanwhile, the guys who ordered firemen and cops to turn the fire hoses on Dr. King and other Civil Rights marchers and who previously had run around in white robes with pointy hats burning crosses, churches and scaring
Post-Crucifixion Cuddly Happy Non-threatening God
the life out of little black children, supposedly all suddenly got saved and began to love black people. That's the story anyway and they're sticking to it.  The idea that the God of the Old Testament is any other God than the God of Love we find throughout the New Testament is preposterous. If you do even a light examination of Scripture. Take a look. I challenge you to examine why God was wrathful and you might come to a rather different conclusion as to the character of God the Father.

Cleanest picture I could find of temple prostitution.
You see here the sorts of things that
Scripture tells us that God got angry about.
Can you blame him?
If you check out the Old Testament stories where God is portrayed as vengeful or wrathful, and you look at the kinds of things He was mad about, then imagine yourself in His place, you might draw a rather different picture of His character.  When the prophets condemned what went on in the groves and the sacrifices taking places on the high places, they weren't talking about the Hebrews attending Friday night football games instead of going to temple. They were talking about things like the annual slaughter of some 25,000 infants a year. Moloch's priests demanded that you toss your newborn infant across a wide fiery pit as part of presenting him to the stone god.  If you didn't throw the kid far enough or the receiving parent fumbled the kid and dropped him in the pit, the priests chalked it all up as a sacrifice for the good of all the people to appease the gods. Another fun Friday night activity was the sacrifice of virgins to make crops grow. This fun practice involved tying a naked virgin out in the fields and cutting her up so that she bled to death slowly and "made the field fertile".  Then there was the systematic prostitution of young women in the temples of Baal and Ashteroth, Dagon and Astarte. Twelve to 15 year-old girls were forced to serve as temple prostitutes. The dirty old men of the town would pay for their services. When the girl had earned sufficient money for the god (and, by the way, the priests), then they could be released to be sold to some old guy to be his third or fourth wife. If you were a homely girl, you had to work a lot harder and longer to be released. Anyway you get the idea.

You can kind of see why even a God of Love might be a little angry at such goings on.
If I were God and my people were committing all those horrors, I'd get more than a little chapped at them too.
I might well be tempted to blast the whole gang of pederasts, pedophiles and perverts into a big ash cloud, just to clean things up a bit in Caanan.

Just look at how angry we Americans have been lately at just one guy who admitted that he molested his sisters. Mind you this was decades ago, when he was a stupid, hormone-soaked 14 year old living in a culture that throws sexual images at children from the time they can sit in front of the boob tube. How is it that we are surprised at this?  The man was a kid at the time AND he tried to make it right at the time and still, many of us are ready to descend on him and his family like a pack of ravening wolves and to crucify him, to totally destroy his entire life, to shame his sisters and to destroy everything good the man has done since. And this mob that's crying for blood are the very same self-righteous prigs who complain because the God of the Old Testament is a little too judgmental for their tastes!

Should not God have gotten angry at the systematic pedophilia and sadism of the priests of the Canaanite religions and the people who supported them, especially those who knew better? Those people were a bunch of perverts. I'd tell you to read up on some of their practices, but I'd rather not recommend that you read that sort of pornography. It's enough to say, it was very sick and disturbing, what went on when Israel went a-backsliding in the hill grove temples.

Does that make God a vengeful deity or is He, instead, a loving Father protecting his helpless and innocent children? Was God justly angry at their mistreatment by people who weren't 14 years old at the time, didn't EVER apologize or try to make it right, and killed anyone who said anything negative about what they were doing?

Enquiring minds want know.

Tom King © 2014

Sunday, May 31, 2015

What To Do About The Enemy Within?

We all should be looking in the same direction,
that is, if we all plan to go to the same place.
Dan Jackson, President of the North American Division of the SDA Church recently issued an appeal for unity within the church. He did so in response to an alarming increase in the number of disruptive factions within the church. It's not surprising that we see this as the signs of the times point ever more clearly toward the soon-coming of Christ.

There was a line I remember from an old 60s rock song that went, "Satan, Satan is my name, confusion is my game."

We should not be surprised that our fellowship is being attacked from within. Satan knows he's fighting a losing war and the only way to win a war you will lose if you fight out in the open is to fight a guerrilla war using subterfuge, lies and manipulation.

The many denominations of the Christian Church are evidence of Satan's past attempts to fracture the fellowship of Christians.  They are also evidence of God's ability to work all things together for good to them that are called according to his purpose. The various denominations and independent churches also serve as MASH units for wounded children of God looking to find their way to Him. Churches minister to various specific needs, bind up wounds and, if they follow scripture at all, point the way to Christ.

Anyone, whatever denomination he or she may at first find themselves in, may find their way to God for God is strong enough and smart enough to find his true children in whatever church or place they may find themselves. Scripture does not teach that we must learn magic words or perform special rituals to earn the favor of God. There are some things like communion and baptism that we practice as a way to help us to mark the milestones in our journey to God and to remind us of what it means to follow Him. But one thing is certain. Wherever we are when we get started, God will lead us surely to Himself and the closer we get to Him, the closer we draw to one another.

So what have we got to contribute as Adventists that we should do as Elder Jackson says and stand together in unity?  Well, the most important thing we contribute is a clearer understanding of God's character. Let me give you some examples of SDA theology that helps people to know God better. After all, to know God, as Jesus said, is the only way to have eternal life.

  1. The soul is NOT immortal.  God told the truth about that to Adam and Eve. Therefore, God is also not an unrelenting torturer of sinners. As Jesus said, God can destroy both the body and soul in hell.
  2. There is no ever-burning hell.  God does not want his lost children tormented forever, nor for his saved children to ever have to see such a thing again.
  3. You don't mess with the ten commandments including the one about the Sabbath. God is just and his law is not complicated. Ten simple rules is all the universe needs to work quite well.  Nobody should meddle with them in order to better market the church to pagans. God is consistent. He is not capricious. You can trust that He will be the same tomorrow as He is today. Also through the Sabbath command, we learn that God wants us to take a day off every week to spend with Him. How cool is that?
  4. Jesus is coming soon. God can be trusted. If He says, "I will come again and receive you unto myself..." then He means it and will actually come back and get us.
  5. We are saved by God's grace alone.  God knows our frame, He knows that we are dust. He knows that we cannot change our hearts nor our behavior on our own and supplies us the strength to obey his law and to choose what is right. We need only choose to allow him to work that change in us. God loves us that much.
We Adventists have a lot to say about God's character. It's not about who has the right take on doctrine. It's about having the right understanding of God's character because knowing God is the key to achieving eternal life. We should teach these wonderful revelations to all the people out there for whom the hell-fire and damnation preaching and legalism is seriously problematic. The fact that we do just that for the most part, may account for the fact that in North America, the Adventist Church is the fastest growing Christian denomination out there.

Elder Jackson's right.
Instead of spending time playing "Sister Bertha Better'n You" and looking down our noses at our brothers and sisters over some obscure doctrinal interpretation, we need to be telling people the good news - the stuff we already agree on and quit attacking our brothers and sisters over minute and petty points of interpretation in order to make ourselves look more pious than everyone else.

God's not going to be impressed with your sanctimony I promise you. If you stand up before the judgment and try to get by with saying, "But God, I had my doctrine exactly right!" He's going to say to you, "I never knew you."  That would be sad given how easy God has made it for you to gain eternal life.

(c) 2015

Tom King

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Fallen Warriors: Ron Halvorsen Sr.

Pastor Ron Halvorsen Sr. - Hairy-Chested Adventist Man
"Jesus ate fish." The simple statement by her pastor shocked the very rigid Adventist church lady of the sort Ray Stevens dubbed "Sister Bertha Better n' You" in his song "The Mississippi Squirrel Revival. Sister Bertha (not her real name) had been busily laying some harsh judgment on a fellow Adventist church member for his revelation that he had eaten some fish in his time. She turned to face Pastor Ron Halvorsen in some confusion, having expected, as such people do, to have won some vegetarian brownie points from her pastor for having schooled this obviously lapsed saint regarding his dietary duty. She had, after all, chosen a spot well within earshot of the pastor to deliver her judgments.

"Well Jesus didn't have the Spirit of Prophecy!" the lady sputtered aghast at her pastor's loosey-goosey attitude on the burning issue of dietary morality.

"JESUS IS THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY you whitewashed SEPULCHRE!" he thundered silencing the good sister and sending her scurrying for cover.

Ron Halvorsen was one of those he-man, testosterone-filled warriors for the Lord who inspired me as a young person looking desparately for a strong male role model. My own father took a powder when I was five and my relationship with my stepfather was not terribly strong. I found my role models mostly in books - King Arthur, Captain Hornblower, Captain Blood, Captain Kirk; those sorts of guys. I had a few flesh and blood men I looked up to as well. Ed Burns and Sam Miller from summer camp both taught me a lot about what a man was supposed to be like and to do.

My first encounter with Ron Halvorsen was actually in the chow line at Lone Star Camp during a ministerial conference just after he came to Texas to take over the Keene, Church. I was doling out peanut butter and asked him if he wanted some.

He grinned at me broadly and said in his thick Brooklyn accent, "Sure. I love the stuff," he stuck out his plate. "I ate so much peanut butter as a kid that if they'd stuck me with a knife I probably would have bled peanut butter. I knew this was the right pastor for my hometown church. I'd grown up in Keene. My family helped build the town. I had a feeling he was going to shake things up in the Holy City.

I was right. Within a year, Pastor Ron had two services packed with more than 3000 people coming every Sabbath. He soon had more than 900 showing up for prayer meeting. Before he came they were meeting in the Youth Chapel and there were fewer than 40 showing up each week.

Under Pastor Ron, though, we soon had a fleet of school buses fanning out through the surrounding county picking up children and old people and bringing them to church. Volunteers like me rode along and played the guitar and filled the buses with the voices of children and elderly saints singing at the top of their lungs as we rumbled across the country-side.

Pastor Morris Venden
Needless to say, the "white-washed" sepulchres in Keene hated Pastor Ron too, but to the children of Christ in that church, he was like oxygen. God rest his soul.

Some people leave a terrible hole in the fabric of space and time when they are taken from us. It has been a privilege for me to know such people. Some of them like Pastor Ron and Pastor Morris Venden loom large and you cannot help but notice their absence when they go to their rest. With others, like my friend Dave Spenser and my beloved son Micah and the many stout-hearted, hard-working, God-fearing men with whom I have shared my church, you don't realize what a hole they have left behind in our lives, until they are gone. Only later do you begin to discover what awful gaps are left behind in our world without them.

May each of us live lives that, when we are taken to our rest, the world is rendered as full of holes as a Swiss cheese for the lack of us being in it.

The quote by Sister White in the sidebar is a clarion call for men of faith to arise and take their place in the front lines. Time is growing short and as warriors like Pastor Ron and the others I have mentioned fall, I pray that ten Adventist Christian men arise to take their places. God knows that we need them.

© 2015 by Tom King

Church Fellowship: The Pizza Party With a Twist

This is what the finished pizza ought to look like.
Sometimes you just need to get the brethren and sisteren together for some old-fashioned fellowship. Here's an interesting twist on the pizza party that's sure to encourage people attending the event to talk to one another, share recipes, laugh and develop new relationships. The secret to stimulating all of this "fellowshipping" is simple.

Everybody helps make the pizza.

My wife and I used to do these with people we invited from the church. The party design is also simple:

  1. Everybody who is invited is asked to bring some combination of cheese for the pizza, a jar of their favorite pizza or spaghetti sauce and all the creative kinds of pizza toppings they'd like on their pizza. Also ask anyone who owns a pizza pan or pizza stone to bring it. You'll need lots of these. In a pinch you can make the crusts on a sheet of aluminum foil and transfer the foil to a large baking sheet to cook.
  2. Two hours before the party, make up dough balls for individual pizzas - one for each group you will divide the attendees into. With kids I'd put two in a group because each will eat half a pizza at least.  You can find the recipe for the never-fail pizza crust we used here at the Potluck Vegetarian. Just click on the link for full instructions.
  3. As everyone comes in, have the stove heated to 450° to 500° and ready to go. Have them move to the tables, bars or counters where they will work with their group and give them a ball of dough. If you don't have a dough hook, give them a half-formed dough ball and let them knead the dough for about ten minutes. That'll settle the more ADD among the group. Kneading is hard work. That's why bakers have huge arms.
  4. When the dough is ready, each group gets the ingredients they brought. Share the jars of sauce around. It doesn't take very much sauce. Make sure everyone has cheeses and whatever else they need.  Then go away and let them make a pizza. It's easy. They'll figure it out.
  5. Make sure the floor is clean. Someone will inevitably try to twirl their crust. It never fails. We make guests take their shoes off. That way the floor is clean enough that you can brush off a dropped crust and cook it.
  6. As the pizzas are made ready, put them in the oven two at a time. Put the top and bottom racks of the oven as close together in the middle as you can. Pizzas don't need much room. They're very thin. It only take 8 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the crust.
  7. As they come out, cut the pizzas into 8 to 16 pieces so everybody can sample each others' pizza creations. Keep rotating the pizzas through the oven for the rest of the evening. The extra ingredients can be dumped into a big salad if you like. Have someone bring a lot of lettuce and tomatoes and suggest people bring their favorite salad dressing along to share.
For more details, go to "The Potluck Vegetarian" for the tricks and secrets to making perfect homemade vegetarian pizzas. A lot of people are confused at first when you tell them they have to make their own pizzas, especially the guys, but they will warm to their task I promise you. When their pizzas come out, they'll be worse than new papas showing off "their" pizzas and bragging on themselves and their pizza making technique.

It really is a lot of fun and stimulates a lot of conversation and good fellowship and you don't have to play any embarrassing ice-breaker games to get people talking.

Try it some Saturday night in the fellowship hall. It's tons of fun and educational for the kids - just make them wash their hands first - I'm just sayin'.

© 2015 by Tom King

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The End of Time: Did Christ Intend for Us to Be Socialists?

Forgive me for talking about politics in a religious forum. I have been told we Adventists are not to discuss politics (usually by SDAs who vote Democrat), but given that Ellen White once said that God was punishing the Union because we were not fighting the Civil War to free the slaves at the time, I think I'm on solid ground. Elijah, Elisha and practically all the minor prophets posted criticism of the government on the ancient equivalent of the Internet. Many were murdered by the government for speaking out. Political speech by followers of God has an ancient and honorable history. 

I found this quote the other day by militant anti-religion, pro-capitalist writer Ayn Rand:

  • "Socialism is the doctrine that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that his life and his work do not belong to him, but belong to society, that the only justification of his existence is his service to society, and that society may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own tribal, collective good." - Ayn Rand
I posted it someplace and a militant anti-religion socialist wrote back: 
  • The Rand quote makes socialism sound a lot like Christianity. But then historians say the early Christians were socialists.
She has a point, but it's one of those deceptive talking points that liberals, socialists and atheists throw at you to try to prove you are intellectually dishonest unless, as a Christian, you are pro-socialist.

If you take away the word "collective" and substitute "God" the Ayn Rand quote does sound like what Christians believe - sort of!  It's just that whether we worship the collective or God marks quite a distinct dividing point between Christians and secular socialists. The big (and this is very big) difference between the two is that Christians can serve their beliefs according to their own conscience, entirely without forcing any other individual to do so. We believe God gave us free will because he does NOT want to force anyone to love or follow him.

On the other hand, collectivists demand that everyone be a collectivist (socialist) and love socialism (i.e. The State). Look at history and you'll see what happens to anyone who lives in a socialist state and does not serve the state and appear to love it. Hundreds of millions of deaths in the 20th century alone of people are attributable to government intolerance of people who chose not to serve the state.

And while it's true that the Roman Catholic Church slaughtered millions who disagreed with them, such behavior by the organized church led true Christians within the church to break away and worship God as Scripture told them to. The entire massive Protestant movement was a rejection of the Roman brand of collectivism. Over the centuries there was a constant stream of Christ's followers who left the political iteration of the Christian church because in it, they could not follow Christ, who never forced anyone to follow him.

Early Christians combined their goods because they were a spiritual guerrilla movement, both in Israel and in Rome, not because it was the most effective economic system as they quickly discovered. Their collectivist organism, very early became dominated by bishops and prelates who were more interested in accumulating power over the collective than in spreading the gospel. The early Christian collectivism under the care of the apostles (all of whom were good men), gave way upon their deaths to a system dominated by men who saw the position the apostles had held as a means to power.

Power as in the case of the apostles, did not corrupt. It was the power that, the apostles had held up until their deaths*,  which attracted the corruptible to leadership positions in the church. It wasn't the gospel that created the monumentally corrupt Roman church, it was, in fact, the continuation of a social structure that had always been intended as a temporary solution during the early days of the church, when Christians were being actively persecuted.

Christ never intended for us to create the sorts of centralized collectivist power structures that catholicism came to embrace. He always intended that the truth would set us free. It was the powerful Protestant belief that to follow God was an exercise of one's free will that led to the creation of the United States and our incredible Constitution.

For more than two centuries, the power of individual free will has been demonstrated as this country has ascended to hold power far beyond the wildest dreams of dictators, kings and emperors. It is little wonder that Satan and his minions have set their sights on acquiring the power of the United States for themselves. After all, power attracts the corruptible as we have seen.

Any church, any government or any organization that tells you that you must submit your will to the group and its leaders is not speaking to you from God. We must only submit our will to God Almighty and do the right thing as best we can determine from Scripture, prayer and reasoned thought. Anyone who tells you differently is not on the side of the Angels.

As Ellen White wrote in the quotation at the top of the sidebar of this weblog. It bears repeating:

  • The greatest want of the world is the want of men - men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name; men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall. - Ellen White
It is, admittedly, a dangerous world for such men. They inevitably find themselves standing against the tide of group opinion, against men in positions of power and against those who, having no scruples and a deep thirst for power, would do them harm should they oppose their will.

You must not submit ourselves to any group, no matter how noble their cause appears to be if it conflicts with the plain Word of God and your own conscience. I don't care if the person who tells you so is standing in the pulpit of your church or writing emails to you from the church conference office. You are called to stand in the breach and do what is right. Others may have differing opinions. That is their right. They have the same free will that you do.

We are called to do right, to treat others the way we would want to be treated, to keep the commandments and to bear the testimony of Christ to all the wide world. We are NEVER told by Christ to seize power and wield it for the good of the collective or the church. The Army of Christ is an army of individuals who share a purpose, not a homogeneous mass to be shoved around by ranked authorities like pawns on a chessboard. THAT is where we differ from those who call themselves "progressive". That is where we draw the line and go no further....until Christ shall come.

Tom King © 2015

* Note: The apostles, all save John were killed by "government" authorities as was Christ Himself.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Adventist Food: Potluck Vegetarianism

King Ranch Chicken
I've been buried in writing a couple of books lately and haven't been back here to post in a while. Sorry about that, but something good came out of the time. I was approached by Atlantic Natural Foods about a recipe I'd posted for Barbecued Tender-Bits. Atlantic recently bought back Loma-Linda and Worthington canned foods from Kelloggs which I think is a very good thing.

Anyway, we got to talking and the upshot is, I've got a new weblog that they are sponsoring with cans of their products that my wife and I wll be turning into recipes.  It's called The Potluck Vegetarian.

While Atlantic Natural Foods makes vegan products, the recipes at Potluck Vegetarian will be more traditional lacto-ovo, Sabbath feast, hungry people kind of dishes. Don't look for anything the kids are going to turn up their noses at. The recipes will be kid friendly. Though not necessarily strictly vegan militantly healthy, low fat or high-fiber, although that does occur. Everything is pretty healthy and vegetarian to boot. And you'll score points with the crowd at the next potluck.

I'll likely catch flack from the militant vegans. You might too if you take King Ranch Chicken covered in melted chedder or Vege-burger Lasagna covered with Mozarella and Provolone to potluck, but I promise you, you'll take home a clean dish, while the folks who brough the salt-free, gluten free Bran and Kale Goulash won't.

This is low stress, high-deliciousness cooking, traditional Adventist potluck style. Be sure and sign up to follow the site. There's a box in the sidebar for your email address. I'll be posting one or two new dishes a week and Atlantic Natural Foods has promised to send me some of their new products for us to experiment with. I'm looking forward to it. The wife is a genius in the kitchen. I'm a genius at tasting stuff.

© 2015 by Tom King