April 1, 2014

​BOOK RELEASE: Are You More Spiritual Than a 5th Grader?

arl Haffner, pastor of the Ohio Conference’s
Kettering church in Ohio, and his daughter Claire, recently joined forces to
repackage and update a series of messages that Pastor Morris Venden gave during
a 1975 Week of Prayer at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan.

Karl Haffner remembers that the sermons that focused
on having a relationship with God were life changing to him. “His theology is
so profound, and yet my daughter understands it,” he writes in the preface.

HaffnerBookwebIn addition to updating the sermons and adding
several new chapters, Claire added the following “classes” to help children
better understand the message:

◦First-Grade Art—The
message illustrated in a picture

◦Second-Grade Computers—The
core idea expressed via technology

◦Third-Grade Bible—A Bible
verse to memorize

Writing—Includes a quote or illustration demonstrating the main point

◦Fifth-Grade Math—Puts the
entire lesson into equations.

Bernard: What touched you
most about this sermon series?
The central idea of the series that impacted me
the most was the notion of sanctification by faith alone. It was an amazingly
freeing concept that I can fully trust Jesus to not just save me from my past
sins and glorify me when He comes again, but that I can trust Him fully now to
change me. There is nothing I can do to change myself short of surrendering my
will fully to Him and trusting Him.

How would you like people
to use this book?
I’d love to see the book used in small groups and Sabbath School
classes to encourage one another in the daily relationship with Jesus. To be
helpful toward this end, I’ve included discussion questions at the end of the
book for each chapter. I will use the book in my local church in the pastor’s
Bible class to help new believers nurture a personal friendship with Jesus.

The whole point is to help people to spend time
in the Word and prayer each day, not with the intent of reading through the
Bible in a year or gaining brownie points with God or even to learn about
Jesus—but solely to foster a closer connection with Jesus.

Studies suggest less than 20 percent of
Seventh-day Adventists have any time alone with Jesus for the purpose of
getting to know Him. If that’s not happening then we’re playing church and the
best we can hope for is a form of godliness, but completely bereft of God’s

How did writing this book
impact your spiritual life?
No writing project has impacted my spiritual journey as much as
this one. Venden’s sermons were like a geyser to a parched soul. Writing this
book with my daughter has been the most rewarding experience of my professional
career. It has changed the emphasis of my preaching. It has changed my personal
habits. And it has changed my attitude and heart toward God.

Through this book I have enjoyed a
recalibration of the soul and have been reminded of the essence of true
faith. In the end, authentic spirituality and faith is not about behaving for
God or even believing in God; it is ultimately about being with God.

The book can be purchased on Adventist Book