February 8, 2007

Web Letters

Thanks for the Inspiration
The story of Barry Black, “From the ‘Hood to the Hill” (AR Online exclusive) brought me great inspiration.

I was born an albino to a poor family in Jamaica. I was beloved by my family, but society in general treated me as a social reject, an undesirable. The emotional challenges were difficult to handle; but, like Barry Black, God provided me with a Christian family who lived at the mercy seat. Through their prayers I learned to develop a relationship with the Lord. Psalm 139 has become the theme of my life: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
God led me through college and university and I am now the first elder of the church I attend in Toronto, Canada. I praise God for His leadership. I hope to publish my story one day, but I encourage all “social rejects” to put their lives in God’s hands and you will be OK.
Sonia Kennedy-Brown
A Worldview for Today
I’m fascinated by Clifford Goldstein’s column, “Mother of all Metanarratives” (Jan. 25, 2007), particularly his insight that postmodernism is not the opposite of modernism but its “stepchild,” or predictable successor.
Modernism, with its humanistic optimism (e.g., the Gay 90s) was predestined to disappointment, as knowledge gone wild enabled Hiroshima and Auschwitz. Disappointed and disillusioned by the ugly realities of human nature, society now wanders in the hopeless maze of postmodernism.
Modernism acknowledged absolute truth but denied its divinity; whereas postmodernism allows for divinity (in nonbinding, nebulous expressions) but denies absolute truth. Yet the two “isms” are friends at heart. They both oppose the gospel message of one creator God who provided a universal Savior. Both are satanic assaults on divine truth. Our salvation from both modernism and postmodernism is the Great Controversy, the “mother of all metanarratives.”
Martin Weber
Lincoln, Nebraska
For Further Study
In the article, “Cyberspace Worship” (Jan. 11, 2007), Audley Chambers credits Andrews University for offering the Active Online Teaching course. I was one of the instructors in that class, and it’s actually offered by the Adventist Virtual Learning Network (AVLN), with graduate credit available from Andrews University, La Sierra University, and undergraduate credit through Home Study International/Griggs University.
For information about AVLN, click here.  For details of the class, click here
Janine Lim
Berrien Springs, Michigan
Living and Doing
I cannot agree more with Stephen Chavez’s editorial, “The New Idolatry” (Jan. 11, 2007). One point Mr. Chavez may have missed is that it is not enough to live as Christ lived: Christians have a commission.
Recently a person employed in the Seventh-day Adventist organization e-mailed me a blog that ended with the words, “The world does not owe you a living.” Although technically true, I asked myself whether this was an attitude Christians should take. For the answer I went straight into the manual.
The idea that the world does not owe you a living goes directly against the commission Christ gave His disciples in Matthew 28:19.
After Christ’s resurrection He appeared to the disciples on the Sea of Tiberias. Three times Jesus asked Simon Peter if he love Him most of all. Three times Peter said he did. Each time Christ responded “Feed my sheep.”
Feeding Christ’s sheep was not something instituted for the New Testament age by this statement to Peter. It goes back to the Old Testament: “Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them” (Ezek. 34:2-4).
God was referring to a command He gave Israel at Sinai: “But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing. When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands” (Deut. 24:18-22).
The stranger includes a foreigner, alien, and sojourner. The vagrant, homeless, or transient would certainly fall into one or more of the definitions of the stranger. Ruth engaged in the practice known as gleaning. Boaz allowed his field to be gleaned in accordance with the law from Deuteronomy.
According to Ezekiel, by the time of King Manasseh, Israel, instead of leaving the sheaves in the field for the gleaners as God commanded, was trampling what was left in the dirt.
When Christ told Peter “feed my sheep,” He was giving a continuance to the command given in Deuteronomy. His death did not nullify this command. It establishes that if a person loves Christ as Peter claimed, he or she has a duty: “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Pet. 5:2-4).
If we love Christ, if we want to know God, our duty is toward caring for His flock, His sheep--our fellow humanity. Christ-loving Christians should not simply live as Christ lived, but take up His commission.
Steve Vance
Amazed and Humbled
Gerald Colvin’s article, “Toward an Adventist View of the Universe” (Jan. 11, 2007), was interesting and informative. Thank you for publishing this article; it touched my heart.
My appreciation of the vastness of the universe in which I live was sharpened as I read, “Even at the speed of light, 5,000 years would pass before we would reach the outer rim of our galaxy, the Milky Way.”
Another thing I liked about the article was its reference to scientists who believed in Divine order of some kind, such as Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler, early astronomers who “sensed God’s blueprint for the universe”; and Isaac Newton, who “believed that in his uncovering the laws of motion and universal gravitation God had granted him a glimpse into the very operating manual of the vast machine called creation.”
Overall, this first part of the article stimulated my appetite for further study. Why would the God of such a vast universe even bother to think about me (let alone send His Son to take my place on the cross)? I am deeply awed and gratefully humbled. Thank you for presenting these heart-stirring facts.
Kristin McGuire
Mountaintop Lessons
I appreciated both William Johnsson’s editorial, “Miracle on Everest” (Oct. 12, 2006), about the tragedy on Everest, and Ron Oliver’s letter in response helping to clarify the issue. After reading both I went to www.EverestNews.com to have a look at some of the articles. One, by Myles Osborne, part of the team that rescued Lincoln Hall, particularly stood out. It is found at www.everestnews.com/Summitclimb2005/everesttibet2006disps06012006.htm. It is well worth the read. Osborne appeals to his readers to keep human value as high on Everest as we do at sea level.
I am an amateur climber myself. Everest is a dream that may or may not come to pass, but I agree with Oliver’s letter: Climbers by and large are very interested in helping those in need of assistance on a mountain. It is indeed the human thing to do. Granted, there are those cold hearted enough to bypass giving assistance so they can make a summit. But climbing is an invigorating, recreating sport in which most of us who do it are not crazy, careless, or deadened to human compassion. Being a Good Samaritan is the right and proper thing to do, even at 29,035 feet.
Pastor Kevin James
Ogden, Utah