April 13, 2007

Web Letters

Were We There?

Michelle Chin’s article, “Experiencing the Cross” (Mar. 22, 2007), makes a person think and reevaluate long-held, comfortable beliefs. Her ability to get inside the minds of the players in Jesus’ crucifixion was interesting and stimulating.

Another challenge to us: we don’t fit into only one of those slots.

Phyllis E. DeLise
New Port Richey, Florida
Well, Are We?
Thank you for Stephen Chavez’ well-written and balanced editorial “Are We Still Protestant?” (Mar. 22, 2007). I was greatly impressed.

As a public evangelist for many years, we were obliged to use scriptural proofs for everything. In homes where my wife, Rose, and I led precious souls to Christ, the basis of our salvation was supported from the pages of the Bible.

The late evangelist H. M. S. Richards was always my ideal as a minister. I heard him tell of a time his father was about to preach in his Colorado church when Ellen G. White and her assistant walked in. Richards was paralyzed with fear and asked,

“Sister White would you preach today?”
She answered, “Did you seek God for your text?”
“Yes,” he said.
“Do you have something from God to say?”
“Then I wouldn’t think of speaking,” Mrs. White replied. “I want to know what God has inspired you to say.”

Afterward Richards asked Mrs. White about the proper use of her writings. She patiently delineated God’s plan. “First,” she said, “get everything you can about your topic from the Bible. Then read my writings as a commentary. But walk into the pulpit with the Bible only, not my books.”

I think Ellen would say today, “Go and do likewise.” It was a great editorial!

Dick Rentfro
Thorp, Washington
Waiting Profitably
I agree with Clifford Goldstein’s thoughts in what could be viewed as a depressing column (“The Metaphysics of the “Mark,” Mar. 22, 2007).

We are right now in the “sowing” time. And we need to get the message out to as many people as possible so when the time of decision, the “reaping time,” comes they will have biblical truths stored in their minds, even if they have not acted on those truths previously.

A woman I studied with stated that she understood the Sabbath and believed what the Bible said about it, but she was not convicted to keep it herself. I replied that the Holy Spirit would have to impress her, but that there would come a time when she would have to make a decision. I am now taking her through a second series of lessons, hoping the truth will become ingrained.

This time of “nothing happening” is also a time for fortifying our minds and hearts so we will not become discouraged or deluded. We will only maintain our spiritual relationship with God as we have a burden for souls and work for others. This work was given to us for a blessing.

Joan Bromme
Louisa, Virginia

Seen and Heard
Esther Doss’ article, “Can You Hear Us Now?” (Mar. 15, 2007), revives memories that were formed three-quarters of a century ago.

In a little northeast Texas community called Flat Creek, a migrant family (from Arkansas!) brought eight children into the world. Half of the Tidwell children were born deaf: John, Ada, and Etta in the late nineteenth century, and Evalena early in the twentieth. The father and mother established a little Adventist church on their farm property and with it a church school. All eight children were raised in the Adventist Church and remained in it; they are now waiting for the Resurrection morning.

Of the deaf children, three married, but only one had a child, a lovely little daughter. The other four married and had large families. Practically every one of their offspring became and remain Adventists, several as workers in the church around the world.

I was fortunate enough to be grafted into this God-fearing family. Luther, the fifth of the eight became my step-father and I had the privilege of growing up knowing three of those loving and caring deaf aunts and uncle. As a sort of serendipity, late in life, dear Aunt Ada became my step-grandmother by marrying my grandfather on my mother’s side.

Some day--and soon--they will be hearing us; and responding verbally, not by American Sign Language..

Charles H. Tidwell, Sr.
Collegedale, Tennessee

The article, “Can You Hear Us Now,” got to my heart. Reading about the personal feelings of those born deaf and their oneness with others like themselves creates understanding. It is most remarkable and speaks well for their attitude that they do not consider themselves “hearing handicapped,” but a “rich culture” and “vibrant community. What a beautiful way to put it!

Perhaps I can address the subject of growing deaf, not being deaf. It’s a problem I’ve often wished would be written about in our union papers and the Adventist Review. Those who hear well now may consider my concern when they grow older and have the same difficulty. We may be advised to get a hearing aid, but have you ever known a satisfied user? After several thousand dollars are spent the aid is often kept in a dresser drawer.

Answering the problem with caring people is a better way to meet the needs of this growing number of hearing-impaired people. These people have feelings about this disadvantage, and some stay home to read rather than feel left out in services by not hearing or understanding what is being said.

I hear all the sounds of nature, and cars going by a quarter mile away. I hear very well people who speak distinctly and with enough volume. But I’ve tried to hear college graduates who actually whisper on a visit, who have a point to stress or make a final appeal and whisper (repetition is much more effective). This form of speaking is not acceptable or thoughtful. If Ellen G. White spoke to many thousands without a microphone and could be heard, surely Christian youth, or people of any age, should be taught to speak up in a pleasant, respectful way. I’m thankful for my speech classes at Emmanuel Missionary College (now Andrews University) where we mastered this art.

May I suggest that teachers from grade school, high school, and college take seriously this issue, and teach students to be thoughtful in speaking so they can be heard? These classes could be a fun challenge to teach. We don’t need sympathy: we need people who care.

I would enjoy reading a good article on this subject in an upcoming Review.

Name Withheld by Request

About Being Anxious
Regarding Fredrick Russell’s column, “Anxious for Nothing” (Mar. 15, 2007), I am deeply ambivalent when I read this type of article. On one hand, I appreciate it because I believe we should bring everything--the big stuff and the small stuff--to God just as we would a friend (something we don’t do nearly enough) and expect without a doubt that He will always do what is best for us. My favorite author, Ellen White, wrote: “It is our privilege to be suppliants, to ask anything and everything of God,” and it is a privilege I cherish.

On the other hand, I am also dismayed when I read this type of article. In Philippians 4:6, 7 Paul promised peace; nowhere does he promise that we get what you ask for. God is not a vending machine into which we put the correct amount of simple faith or the right words (“I ask, receive, believe, and thank you”) and from which we instantly obtain what we desire. Mrs. White continued her thought with the words, “. . . submitting our requests in submission to His wise purposes and infinite will” (Our High Calling, p. 318).

I read Pastor Russell’s “I ask, receive, believe, and thank you,” but nowhere did I read “Thy will be done.” That’s what dismays me.

Clearly it was best in that circumstance that Russell made his plane. I also found myself in a similar predicament, prayed with equal assurance and felt the same peace. I then arrived late at the airport, missed the parking lot shuttle, joined a security line that snaked past baggage claim, missed my flight, missed my last-flight-out connecting flight, and spent the night alone in a strange city. Did I not have enough simple faith? Did God fail me? Absolutely not! It best served God’s purposes for me to miss the plane, and looking back on the experience I know I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

At age 27, I developed adult-onset muscular dystrophy that brought constant pain and progressive muscle weakness. I was anointed, and with total faith I prayed for healing. As our prayers concluded, I waited with great expectation for the pain to leave and my strength to return. The excruciating struggle to get to my feet showed that healing then was not God’s will, despite the words of a dear soul at church who admonished, “If you had more faith you’d be healed.” It has continued not to be God’s will for 22 years.

It’s easy to have faith and peace when God’s answer to your request is “yes.” However, faith and peace come a lot harder when God’s answer is “no.” But it is at that point that we realize what Philippians 4:6, 7 really means: “Don’t worry, bring everything to God and you will have peace.” Simple faith--choosing to trust everything to a Father who has both infinite power and infinite love, to accept His wisdom and timing, to rest in His care, to believe without a doubt that in spite of all appearances to the contrary everything is in His control to be worked out for our highest good, to live every day in His strength--is what brings true peace, “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.”

Linda Buckingham
Chico, California 

Regarding “Anxious for Nothing”: Several days of asking God; no indication of praising God.

Sabbath service ends; mad dash to the airport.
Is God obligated to fulfill our demands?
Has the fourth commandment been abolished?

W. R. Olsen
Munising, Michigan