May 7, 2014

May 17, 2014

to Fear

Concerning Bill Knott’s editorial, “He is risen” (Apr. 17,
2014): As I get older and the breath of life gets shorter and shorter, I feel a
touch of sadness when I see the “He is risen cross.” I realize death is not the
end, and sleeping not too bad. Our resurrection leaves an empty grave and a new
beginning, like the purple crocuses and yellow daffodils.


A Unique Hour

“The 11:00 Hour” (Apr. 10, 2014) indicates that we should not try to
attract people to our churches by naming the pastor on the sign out front. How,
then, is it appropriate to attract people to our churches? By the style of
worship we have on Sabbath morning? What makes one way of attracting people more
acceptable than others?

With this new approach to the 11:00
hour (I noticed the term “worship service” was not prominently featured) we
could simplify evangelism by gathering praise bands from surrounding churches
and have them all play 10-minute sessions, and allow people to decide which
church they want to attend by which praise band they like. It would not be a
competition per se, just a way to
make a decision without having to spend so much time attending each church on
different weekends to see what we like.

All this experimentation with style
of worship is aimed directly at trying to get youth to attend church; not only
attend church, but stay in the church after they are no longer youth. Even some
more traditional churches are experimenting with ways to attract youth. Some
will put the youth on the platform, and have them do everything but the sermon
(even the sermon, sometimes) at least once a month and sometimes more. The rest
of time it is only one elder and the pastor on the platform. I am not sure how
this will work after the youth are no longer youth, and thus are not allowed on
the platform any longer.

I remember a pastor saying that
attending church every Sabbath will not get you into heaven. By setting the
goal of getting our youth to attend the 11:00 hour on Sabbath morning, we
demonstrate that we do not agree with that statement.

Are we beginning to bring the first
fruit of the ground or the first born of the flock for our worship to God? By
not saying the 11:00 hour is the worship service, are we admitting that we are
not planning on worshiping God at this time? Will it become a time to hear a
band, take an offering, and listen to a good speech, sprinkled with a prayer or
two along the way?

Group worship comes about when people
with similar experiences come together to acknowledge God in their lives. In
the section “An Audience of One,” the author points out all the differences
that divide the congregation into so many sections. The point being, how can a
minister address all of them in one sermon? Did the author forget what Paul
wrote: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, nor is there male and
female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28)?

The prayer of Christ in John 17 is a
promise that we will all be one in Him. Is this the solution to finding the “audience
of one” in the church today?

—Jim Garber
Dayton, Ohio

I am grateful for Reflections at the back page. For years now I turn to
the back and read it first before going back to read other favorite columnists,
such as Andy Nash, Dixil Rodríquez, etc. Beverly Brass’ “A Wayward Child
Returns” (Apr. 10, 2014) was one of the best!

“The Stench of Betrayal, the Scent of
Forgiveness” (Apr. 17, 2014), was written by our favorite preacher, Randy
Roberts. What made it even more striking was the outstanding painting with
Jesus looking lovingly at Peter who had just denied Him for the third time. Being
interested in art, I googled and found out that Carl Heinrich Bloch, 1873, was
a noted Dane whose 23 original paintings from Jesus’ life are still on display
in the Frederiksborg Palace Chapel in Copenhagen.

—Dorothy Leung
Loma Linda,

Truth as in

Regarding “A Culprit Barely Pardoned” (Apr. 17, 2014): I am so thankful
I know the truth. The “Truth” is Jesus, not man.

Jesus tells me I can be perfect.
Jesus tells me I can live without sin (Matt. 5:48, John 5:14). “What shall we
say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We
are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Rom. 6:1, 2).

“But whoever does not have
[Christian virtues] is nearsighted and blind, forgetting hat the have been
cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every
effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you
will never stumble” (2 Peter 1:9, 10).

Ellen White wrote about those who
do not entirely surrender their bad habits: “Almost Christians,
yet not fully Christians, they seem near the kingdom of heaven, but they do not
enter therein. Almostbut not wholly saved means to be
not almost but wholly lost” (Selected
, book 1, p. 400).

And the apostle Paul wrote, “The
person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit
of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they
are discerned only through the Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:14).

—Ronald Issler
Lucerne Valley,


I enjoyed reading “Zip-lining, Campfires, Togetherness and God,” Wilona
Karimabadi’s article about family camps (Mar. 27, 2014).

In 1973, my wife, sons, and I
visited eight camps in United States and Canada as part of my ministry as
associate General Conference Youth director for Camping and Pathfinders. It was
an experience of a lifetime to watch camp directors minister to boys and girls
and their families. The North American Division was way ahead in this ministry,
and we hoped to get to the world the message of the value of these camps.

Archery, swimming, horseback riding,
etc., are some of the activities that kids and parents enjoy. Best yet is the
contact with God’s first book, nature! How can families forget the nature center
at Camp Au Sable in Michigan? Or viewing the stars with the Leoni Meadows
telescope in California? How about Camp Wawona at the entrance of Yosemite
National Park? The Rocky Mountains at Glacier View?

It was also my privilege to
participate in some of the first Spanish- and Portuguese-language family camps.
Many young people committed their lives to the Lord. Couples renewed their
marriage vows.

However, one cannot forget the camps
for the blind, sponsored by Christian Record Services and camp directors
throughout North America. To watch a blind person swimming, doing archery,
riding a horse is an incredible and memorable experience.

As Karimabadi says, family camps
are the “undistracted time a family has to recreate relationships with God and
each other.”

—Leo Ranzolin


The cover story “Through the Fire” by Luz Alva
Arauzo (Mar. 20, 2014) is an awesome story about God’s care over His own.

you for sharing it with us.