I was just wrapping up a meeting with Luke,* one of our managers. It had been profitable, as we discussed process—what worked and what didn’t—as well as future goals and plans. Luke is a brilliant individual but doesn’t throw his gifts around like others I know. Never arrogant, just willing to help anywhere, with a keen sense of humor and a heart for God. He stood, hand on the doorknob, as I thought, Where would 3ABN be without him? We needed him!
Suddenly, my assistant Grace’s face appeared in the window just before she burst through the door. “Jill, Cheryl fell and broke her arm. There’s blood and she’s in pain.”
The room tilted for a second as I processed her words. I suppose I stood and grabbed my car keys and phone, but I can’t exactly recall. Not Cheryl! We needed her. She was someone who always had my back, someone who would do anything for anyone, day or night. It didn’t matter the need; you could always count on Cheryl. She would jump in front of a car if it meant saving your life. And now, she was in trouble with no one nearby to help.
The gravel spun as I pulled into Cheryl’s driveway, Grace right behind me. When I opened my car door, Grace was already running into Cheryl’s garage.
Cheryl lay motionless on the concrete. I reached toward her as she struggled to sit up. Agonized cries filled the air. I’d never heard Cheryl cry out in pain before. She was always so strong. Lord Jesus, help her.
“My purse. Get my purse.” She barely got the words out as another wave of pain hit her. I reached for her purse while Grace helped her to the car, bones in her arm protruding under the skin. It was clearly broken.
Through it all, Grace held herself together, helped Cheryl, and managed to drive off to the hospital. Throughout the evening, she continued to text me updates.
“She’s in ER. . . . Finally gotten some pain meds. . . . They’re setting the bones now. Surgery to follow once the swelling is reduced.” And then the last text, “I’m getting some jammies so I can stay the night with her to take care of her.” What a gift Grace was! She had a husband, a family to take care of, yet here she was, ready to serve. Eager to help and protect. God, when did I take her for granted? We need her.
Later that evening I sat on my own couch, wrapped in a blanket, a fire burning brightly in our woodstove. Comfy, but troubled. God placed people in my life, in this ministry, for a purpose. Did they recognize how needed they were? How valuable?
Sometimes, I become too focused.
Sometimes, I become too busy.
Sometimes, it takes an event to remind me what’s really important—people. I need them all: my husband, my family and friends, my coworkers. When was the last time I communicated that? Had I ever said, “I need you”?
When had I become too busy, too inward focused, to say what was really on my heart? I need you, for you show me what God is like. You make my life complete.
So, I say today, “I need you. Those I know and those I’ve yet to meet. The prickly, the kind, the intuitive, the fatuous, the caring, the challenged.”
I need you.
Jill Morikone is vice president and chief operations officer for Three Angels Broadcasting Network (3ABN), a supporting Adventist television network. She and her husband, Greg, live in southern Illinois and enjoy ministering together for Jesus.
*All names in this article are pseudonyms.
The importance of duty is found in Luke 17:7-10. It's one of the most obscure parables of Jesus with golden lessons we need right now amid the chaos in our world communities. It contains the only recorded instance in Scripture where Jesus used the word “Duty” (verse 10); but it’s so comprehensive that nothing more needs to be said to recognize His high regard for duty.
Here’s the pièce de résistance, the remarkable feature, in which Jesus said that if you have a servant in the field doing his job and he comes in at suppertime, you don't make a big fuss over him as if you were his mother. You don’t tell him to wipe his feet, wash his hands, and sit down while you fix his meal because, “Does the master thank his slave for doing what he was told to do?”1 The answer is, “Of course not!”
If that seems harsh, it’s only because we read it as an unjust relationship between a master and slave in a modern setting. This isn’t about kindness to servants, but our “duty” to do what Christians are divinely called to do. As long as we fulfill our obligation in this relationship, it’s our responsibility, our duty, to do what we're commanded, without expecting to be showered with praise.
We have all kinds of relationships in life that involve obligations, such as duty to God, family, church, neighbor, employer, nation, and so forth. These duties are basic in human relations, and we’re expected to fulfill them without patting ourselves on the back, thinking we’re great, or expecting others to reward us for doing them. In other words, if you take care of your family, don't expect a write-up in Time magazine. It’s your duty. Don’t expect a thank-you card if you pay your taxes. It’s your duty. If you don’t run over anyone on the highway or receive traffic violations, don’t expect the DMV to send you a medal of honor. It’s your duty to drive safely and carefully. Don’t expect rewards for doing what is your duty in any area of life.
Jesus emphasized this because He knows the heart of humans, especially its susceptibility to that cancer of the soul called pride. Thus, He gave this warning against pride and the danger of thinking we can put God in our debt by what we do. Remember that everything God commands is our duty, but as Ellen White asserted, “Whatever God should command, He would make a way for [enable] His people to perform.”2 So don’t expect any thanks or rewards, and don’t even think that God owes you anything.
Obedience, aka doing our duty, is the foundation of our life in Christ. We haven’t even started to build a Christian life until we’re settled on that point; but because we’ve buried this truth, our life, community, and society are in chaos, coming apart at the seams. Everyone is demanding their rights and rewards, but they dodge their responsibilities of obedience to divine commands. These things we ought to do without expecting rewards, but some get very bitter if or when they’re not given public applause.
In this time of chaos in every community, because of disobedience to our divine duty, Jesus is saying that duty can be dull; but to dodge it isn’t only dangerous, it’s deadly.
Therefore, let’s love one another in the same way Christ has loved us, for this duty fulfills every command.
Hyveth Williams is a professor at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University.
1 Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
2 Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1958), p. 482.
A sizzling summer sun hangs over the small North Carolina town. Afternoon shoppers seek the cool recesses of air-conditioned stores and eateries. No dog barks; no bird flies.
Sidewalks and streets reflect the sun’s rays in shimmering waves, making the surface of the town seem almost water-like.
I sit just inside the front door of a small store wishing for a breeze, any breeze. Above the entrance hangs a sign that reads, “Community Service Center.” Business is slow. It’s been an hour since anyone ventured in to browse through the pre-owned clothes hanging in neat rows throughout the small establishment.
My teenage mind struggles in the heat, trying to remember the moment when I’d agreed to watch the store. “Community service? No problem,” I'd said. “I’ll be happy to keep an eye on things next Tuesday. Can't do enough for our poor and needy. Why, it’s my Christian duty.”
Nobody had said it was going to be so hot!
Open for Business?
My thoughts are jolted back to the present by the sound of someone stopping in front of me. “You open for business, young man?” His words seem more a reminder than a question.
“Yes sir!” I announce, untangling myself from the chair and jumping to my feet. “What can I do for you?”
The visitor walks toward the first row of colorful clothes hanging on the rack. “I need a new coat.”
“You’re in luck,” I say, guiding him to the rear of the store. “We have a great selection. Not much call for coats just now. You can have the whole section to yourself. Take your time."
I watch him begin to slowly sort through the garments, carefully scrutinizing each one. His rough, work-worn hands appraise seams and stitches, mentally comparing the workmanship against his personal checklist of requirements for a new coat.
The caked mud and clay clinging to his torn shoes and the deep weathered lines in his dark-skinned face reveal that he’s a field worker, rotating from farm to farm, picking, planting, harvesting, bending in the hot sun day after endless day. He’s probably done this backbreaking work since childhood, I think to myself.
Searching for the Right Color
“Have anything in blue?” he asks. “My wife likes blue.”
His question takes me by surprise. For some reason I’d always assumed that poor people didn’t care what color of clothes they wore. “I think I saw a blue one this morning,” I say, looking at the man. “Let me help you find it.”
I start to sort through the garments. Suddenly, for the first time, I really see the coats on the rack. Most of the colors are faded and threads worn. I become uneasy as I realize that this man wants a coat he can wear so his wife will think he’s handsome and say so. This garment will be his label to the world, his statement to society.
The man has moved across the room and is picking through the items on the bargain table. I study him for a long moment.
From deep within me, an anger begins to rise. Why does this man have to be poor? Why does anyone have to depend on the cast-off labels of others to form their own identity? That bargain table contains things that no one wants anymore—a chipped teacup, a battered picture frame, an umbrella that struggles to stay open. Why must he depend on rejected treasures to add meaning to his world?
“Did you find one? My wife will be so pleased.” He looks at me expectantly.
"See what you think of this," I say, holding out the best blue coat I can find.
The man slips his arms into the garment and adjusts the lapel. Turning to the left and then to the right, he eyes himself in the broken mirror hanging on the wall. “Hey, this is pretty nice,” he says with genuine excitement. “Whatta ya think? Does it fit OK?”
He turns toward me with an unbelievable look of satisfaction on his face.
My mind can’t form an answer. I open my mouth, but words refuse to sound. The coat is old and worn. Some well-meaning, church-going, hymn-singing man wore the life out of that garment, and then with great humility offered it to those who must live without.
“It seems to be the right size, doesn’t it?” he continues, glancing at the mirror again. “My wife can make some adjustments if she has the right color thread.”
I turn away as unwelcome tears sting my eyes. In my pocket rattles enough loose change to buy this man three of those old coats. He’s worked hard and has come to me to buy a garment that I wouldn’t be seen in. “How much?” he asks. “I think it’s just what I’ve been looking for.”
“The price is written on that tag attached to the sleeve,” I say, trying to control my emotions.
“Oh yes, let’s see, says two dollars. Yeah, I think I’ve got that much.”
The man reaches into the pocket of his soiled and tattered trousers and draws out assorted coins and a crinkled bill. He places his wealth on the table and starts to count.
I want to scream, “Mister, take all the clothes you want! Take the red coats and the black coats. Take some pants and shirts too. They’re all free today, no charge! Don’t be poor anymore. Please, Mister, stop depending on what other people reject to dress yourself, to furnish your house, to label your life. It shouldn’t take all you have just to buy an old coat that someone else has worn out. Use your money to get your wife something nice, something special. It’s not fair; it’s just not fair!”
"Ninety-eight, ninety-nine, two dollars. Yup, just enough. Oh, this is wonderful. I’ve needed a new coat since last fall. Here you are, young man, two bucks. Thanks.”
I take his money and watch him walk to the front of the store. At the door he turns. “I’ll be back next summer,” he says. “Thanks again for your help.”
In that moment a new and wonderful truth begins to light the dark recesses of my mind. Value is not measured by cost. An old coat is a new coat when you’ve spent everything you have to make it yours.
“Mister,” I say. “Your blue coat, it’s very nice. Looks good on you.”
He smiles and walks into the afternoon heat.
Charles Mills, author, radio show host, and media producer, has published several books, including Religion in the Real World, Refreshed Parables, and Surprising Nature.
I’d been looking for years; perusing stores, hunting online, asking friends if they’d seen one. I’d just about given up when I stumbled upon a little shop on Etsy.com, and there it was: a Nativity set not made entirely of White people.
Ever since I was married and started putting together a home of my own, I wanted an affordable but nice Nativity set to display at Christmas. Once I had kids, the focus was to find one that wasn’t breakable; and then, about the time I turned 30, someone pointed something out that made the search for the perfect Nativity set nearly impossible: Jesus wasn’t Caucasian.
Why it took me so many years to realize this fact is a topic for another article, but the truth is that Jesus was Middle Eastern and very unlikely to be the blonde, blue-eyed baby we often see depicted in Western art. (This is where I also point out that His parents, the shepherds, and the wise men would likely have been of similar appearance.)
It was about that same time that I was having a revelation of another—though related—kind. I was attending graduate classes and working at Andrews University in Michigan and getting to know people from a multitude of ethnic, cultural, and geographical backgrounds. My friends’ and classmates’ stories drove me in many ways, and one of them was to strengthen my resolve to find a Nativity set that made room for everyone. It was important to me as a parent that my children see diverse representation at the manger.
From the moment I laid eyes on the Nativity set I found, I knew it was the one I needed to have. The set was made of wood, and every character looked different. Skin tones ranged from my own pink-tinted and pale through various shades of brown and black. One angel was a redhead; another was Black, and none of the wise men was White. In addition to the standard manger visitors, there were some young children, an elderly couple, and a visually impaired shepherd.
When I found this set my heart leaped and my eyes brimmed with tears. It wasn’t just because I’d finally found exactly what I’d been looking for after so many years; it was the symbolism of what I was seeing. Every little wooden character was unique, special in its own way regardless of skin tone, profession, age, ability, or gender. And every single one of them had a place in the story of Christ’s redeeming love.
After the set arrived, while my kids were at school, I hid the pieces all around the house. When my kids came home, they excitedly began looking for all the characters—from Baby Jesus to the donkey—and placing them together in one joyful scene.
This special Nativity set sits in my living room again this Christmas and has grown by one character in a wheelchair. Every time I see the scene, I’m reminded of Christ’s love. I’m reminded that no matter who we are, where we’ve come from, what we look like, or where our choices have led us, He will spend as much time as needed looking for each of us, making sure we know there is and always will be a place for us alongside Him. A place filled with grace, transformation, and unconditional, never-ending love. And that, to me, is the best reason to celebrate Christmas.
Becky St. Clair is a freelance writer living in California with her husband and three children. She has a decade of experience in public relations for the church, and currently writes and copy edits for various church entities around the world.
First thing, and it’s a quick run to the grocery story to pick up some milk for breakfast. It’s Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving Day as it’s celebrated in the United States, and somehow the names that have been given to these two days—“Thanksgiving Day” and “Black Friday”—seem inharmonious, a kind of four-word oxymoron.
Passing through the automated doors at the grocery store, armed with a small handbasket, the first thing I hear is strains of “Santa Claus is coming to town . . .” Though carols have been drifting in for the past couple weeks, on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving Day, it’s almost as if the Christmas season has officially arrived—a kind of declaration of “indefenseness.”
Is it too difficult to imagine the way in which the intent of the lyrics of this simple song that reaches far back into childhood memory, may, in fact, elicit a wider vision of a more universal—cosmic—coming?
“You better watch out / You better not cry / Better not pout / I’m telling you why / Santa Claus is coming to town.”
How much could this possibly reflect a natural human reaction that may result from reading Jesus’ own words: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matt. 25:13, NKJV).1 It may be all too easy—all too common—to be “watching” for Jesus to come with fear.
And the simple Christmas song continues: “He’s making a list / And checking it twice / Gonna find out / Who’s naughty and nice / Santa Claus is coming to town.” Sounds an awful lot like biblical warnings of the judgment. Jesus, again, says, “On the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter” (Matt. 12:36, NRSV).2 And the accountability will pertain to more than word; it will also relate to behavior. The apostle Paul writes, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor. 5:10, ESV).3
“Better watch out,” indeed!
Well, sure, it may be recognized that the ditty “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” was meant to be for children, a kind of teasing, tongue-in-cheek way of waving a finger before a slightly misbehaving kid to bring some change in conduct. Even the way in which it’s usually performed, it has a light and playful tone. No one actually means that one could do something so wrong that there would be no Christmas. Really!
But still there’s that connection between a coming and an accountability—a judgment, if you will. “He sees you when you’re sleeping / He knows when you’re awake / He knows if you’ve been bad or good / So be good for goodness’ sake!”
Coloring Our Relationship With God
Can it be possible that such a thing as a Christmas song for children could color one’s relationship with God Himself? Could it not somehow influence one’s thoughts on the concept of the judgment? “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done” (Rev. 20:12, ESV).
Maybe all of this is simply too much of a stretch—too much an expression of an overactive imagination. Lyrics of music in popular culture, after all, don’t have to be anything more than just that—lyrics.
In the swirl of the holidays with its twinkling lights; its trimmed, glistening Christmas trees; its festively wrapped gifts; its overweight, red-suited hero and eight reindeer; its heartwarming jingles and melodies; may we never drift out of tune with the saving music of the spheres and the astonishing gift of grace that was born in Bethlehem two millennia ago.
Gary Swanson is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Maryland, United States, and edits Perspective Digest.
1 Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
2 Bible texts credited to NRSV are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission.
3 Scripture quotations marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Best practice advises that each one of us has a personal security plan established and in place before your crisis hits. COVID-19, the volatile global conditions, and the messiness of life warn that everyone needs an internal mindset that ensures, “No matter what happens, I have a means of support”; “even if things get tougher, I will be able to weather any storm or crisis.” Call it what you will—a personal crisis-management plan, an internal locus of control, a faith that stands under pressure—we need it.
Security is a good thing. Back in the 1930s when building San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, a group of tough, experienced steelworkers discovered the practicality of having a security backup. When commencing the project, no safety plan was in place. Productivity was moderate, and more critically, 23 workers fell to their death.
The project was stalled until an adequate security plan was put into place. Eventually a huge safety net was deployed under the workers, which cost a staggering $100,000 (a great deal of money for that time). Following this safety procedure, at least 10 men fell into the net and were saved. Remarkably, because of this safety backup net, besides the saving of lives, the steelworkers accomplished 25 percent more work.
In the spiritual context, believers don’t espouse that security comes simply because of willpower and positive thinking. They do believe in the cooperation principle. Ellen White articulates this cooperation principle by the following: “True success in any line of work is not the result of chance or accident or destiny. . . . God gives opportunities; success depends upon the use made of them. . . . Herein is revealed the outworking of the divine principle of cooperation, without which no true success can be attained. Human effort avails nothing without divine power; and without human endeavor, divine effort is with many of no avail.”1
The cooperation principle rests securely on the combination of the human and divine. Together they comprise a reliable safety net that will save any believer in the event of crises and calamities. Here then are the three support anchors of the believer’s safety net:
1. Anchor of Personal Providence: “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).2
2. Belief in Divine-Based Resilience: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him. He also shall be my salvation, for a hypocrite could not come before Him (Job 13:15, 16).
3. Confidence in the Keeping Power of Christ: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:37-39).
Be sure your safety net is in place.
Delbert W. Baker, Ph.D., is the director of Research and Development for the Office of Regional Conference Ministries/Retirement Plan based in Huntsville, Alabama.
1 Ellen G. White, Lift Him Up (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1988), p. 193; see also Philippians 2:13 and James 2:14-26.
2 All Bible texts are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
An accompanying note from the author of the following poem speaks of the pace and demands of life at the moment she is moved to lay down these words she describes as her “cry of desperation.”
With her permission, we share her composition on behalf of a multitude of moms who can relate to her desperation—the tension between profession and motherhood; between love for public ministry and love for your private charge, of value that cannot be equaled. Moms who are constantly torn between serving out of their giftedness and serving their own womanhood; between earnings that reward years of professional preparation, and maternal duties that cannot be delegated, as well as thrills that cannot be surpassed. You’re doing what no heart and body but yours can do—carry your child for all those months, bring her into the light, and feed her not just for yourself but from yourself. Being the prime minister (PM)—like New Zealand’s Jacinda Arden, or the senator (Sen.)—like Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, gives you a turn at making history. But those two little girls—PM Arden’s precious 3-month-old Neve and Sen. Duckworth’s newly born Maile—hardly make things easier for either of their moms, or for millions of other moms who can’t even console themselves with “I’m paving the way for other moms tomorrow.” Your agendas keep filling, but your heart already is full—at hearing baby’s cries, at having to leave her behind, against every natural yearning to be with her day and night. Your question is, “What should I do now?”
Our prayer, dear reader, is that you find in one mother’s cries to her God, both the expressions of your own anguish and the consolations of your faith; both your dismay at the storm that threatens your equilibrium and, at the end, the faith-filled reassurance in your God that anchors you, and other mothers, and all God’s children, with Jesus, within the second veil.—Editors.
We’re coming down to the wire, Lord,
And we’re not sure what to do;
Our problems are closing in on us,
But our eyes are turned to You.*
You’ve parted seas, floated axe heads,
You’ve even raised up the dead;
Empty jars have overflowed with oil,
From heaven you’ve rained down bread.
Dry rocks have spouted water;
You’ve turned water into wine;
Violent storms became a gentle breeze;
The sun stayed still to shine.
Five loaves have fed a multitude;
Haters have themselves undone;
A 90-year-old had a baby boy;
Predicted futures have begun.
It’s clear that nothing’s too hard for You,
And as it’s darkest just before dawn,
So You provide at just the right time,
And, from adversity, faith is born.
* Saturated as it is with scriptural allusions from opening to climax, none of the poem’s stanzas more effectively expresses and encompasses the breadth and scope of the poet’s contemplation—from human fear to unconquerable hope in God—than does this first (see 2 Chron. 20:12).
To a penniless preacher comes the word of the Lord: he must "print a little paper." He owns no home, has no financial backers; but he is a man of faith, vision, and determination. The 27-year-old sets his sails: he will be obedient to the heavenly calling and by hard work will turn the dream to reality.
Does this young man glimpse what will come of his deed? Can his mind stretch far enough to believe that from this obscure beginning the enterprise will blossom and flourish to encompass the sphere of Earth like streams of light, as the divine word prophesied?
Despise not the day of small things. From the smallest seed a mighty tree may grow. If God is in the plan, it cannot fail, no matter what men or demons may attempt to thwart it.
The year was 1848. A small group of Adventists, a tiny remnant left from the disappointment four years earlier, were gathered in Dorchester, Massachusetts. A young woman was among them, only 20 years old but already a wife and mother Ellen Harmon White. During the course of the meeting she was taken off in vision. When she regained consciousness she had a startling message for her husband James:
By the summer of 1849 he has the copy ready, but lacks funds to pay the printer. He seeks someone who will accept the job on speculation and finds him, not an Adventist brother, but a man prepared to take a chance on the earnest young preacher.
At last the paper is ready, 1000 copies of just eight pages in unadorned black and white. James calls it "The Present Truth": he has filled it with arguments regarding the leading edge of truth in his day the Ten Commandments and the seventh-day Sabbath.
The little band of believers kneels around the tracts with supplication and tears entreating the Lord to guide each one to a receptive heart. Then James stuffs the papers in a carpetbag and, lame as he is, trudges the eight miles to the nearest post office.
"This little sheet is free for all. Those who are interested in Present Truth, and esteem it a privilege, are invited to help pay the expense," wrote James. He also requested names and addresses of "all who are seeking present truth". The names came, the money came, and the printer received payment.
That first issue, volume 1, number 1, was dated July, 1849. Ten more issues of "The Present Truth" followed it, then the name became "The Adventist Review" and subsequently "Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald."
On this 150th anniversary of the first issue of "The Present Truth", I stand amazed, awe-struck at the power and goodness of our mighty God. Truly, He and He alone is our Rock and Fortress, our Wisdom and Strength. He chooses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and the weak to shame the strong, "the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are notto nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him" (1 Cor. 1:27-29, N.LV.).
The story of the church paper, since 1978 called the Adventist Review, is the story of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. That "little paper" was our first enterprise as a people, even though our name came only 11 years later, in 1860.
From a sporadic publication that appeared when funds were available, the Review settled into a weekly cycle that continued in unbroken succession as one of the very oldest magazines in America. It expanded into multiple editions in various languages printed in far flung locations. Every month its three-quarter million copies and more encircle the globe like streams of light.
The Church grew, bursting the boundaries of hopes and dreams, confounding the skeptics, cheering the believers. The little flock scattered abroad has become a great multitude that only the Lord truly numbers.
The church and the Review, the Review and the church: they are coterminous. In a manner peculiar to our faith communion, paper and church blend, interact, and foster each other.
The Review is the leading edge of the church. The Review seeks to represent the church, to advance the church, and to articulate the church. And, as Adventists still seek to be open to "present truth", the Review challenges the church to the vision splendid, the light on the hill that the Lord of the church holds out for the church.
Throughout Adventist history, four strands have bound together both church and church paper. Four principles have defined and shaped Adventism. Since 1996 when we introduced the "new" Review, we the editors seek to incorporate all four into every issue of the church paper and evaluate our work in terms of them:
1. Spirituality. We Adventists believe that the summit of human existence is to know God as a living reality, one on one as Saviour, Lord, and Friend. The Review endeavors to lead readers to God and to nurture their walk with Him.
2. Message and Mission. Adventists believe that Jesus is coming again soon and that the whole world needs to hear the good news of His offer of salvation. The Review seeks to challenge readers with who we are and why we exist: to call out a people who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus (Rev. 14:12).
3. Diversity. Adventists are a unique world family with a world message. The Review calls members everywhere to the privileges, opportunities, and challenges of being part of this fellowship.
4. Reader Interaction. Adventists at best are strong individual men and women who follow present truth rather than the crowd, whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole. The Review is the paper for the entire church, a place where readers learn, interact, have their say, and help shape our feisty fellowship.
These four elements represent Adventism at its best. True, both the Church and the Review at times have lost sight of them and have suffered because of it. The Review s history, like that of the Church, reveals our brokenness.
But the Lord has been, and is, patient with us. The Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Review are a work in progress, and shall be until He returns.