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The Seventh-day Adventist Church is currently having its 60th General Conference session in San Antonio, Texas. In celebration of being an Adventist, my friend Josephine wrote a blog post on why she loves being an Adventist, and then challenged some of her friends to do the same. After I saw that my friend Amy wrote one, I decided that I wanted to do one, too, because I also love being a Seventh-day Adventist! Now, my friends Sikhu and Dan have also written their posts.

[Apparent detour that will lead back to the subject, I promise:] I have been away from blogging for too long. Blog ideas have recently been floating in my mind and perhaps in the near future I will post more. It is difficult, though, because I am busy working a full-time job, working on my dissertation, practicing as is necessary for a professional musician, and being involved in personal and church ministry. Given these excuses, why am I writing now? I love my church so much I am going to write about it anyway.

So, here we go. Why I love being an Adventist.

The doctrines

Seventh-day Adventists believe what the Bible teaches. I have visited churches of many different denominations and I have studied the Bible for myself and I am convinced that no church comes close to believing what the Bible teaches as accurately as the Adventist church does. The doctrines are logical and they reach the heart. Not only does the Bible make sense of the condition of the world (the Great Controversy theme), but it teaches that God is total goodness and selfless (loving). God is more beautiful than we can ever fully imagine. There are no ugly doctrines or fearful teachings. Not only does it make sense to believe in Him, I want to believe in Him. Doctrines help me become close to Jesus, because they teach about Him. Following Jesus is the best thing I can ever do with my life.

I resonate with Clifford Goldstein when he says that there is one reason and one reason alone why he is a Seventh-day Adventist: the church’s doctrines. Without them he would leave the church, and so would I. In fact, I almost did. I almost stayed home from church one Sabbath because I was discouraged by a sin I was struggling with. I went that Sabbath because I was involved in the service somehow. But I was also convicted, and still am, that what we believe is Bible truth and that I could overcome with the help of Jesus. Without those convictions I think I would have left the church by now. But I’ve decided to stay for good. And praise to God, I did overcome that sin.

The friendships

The Seventh-day Adventist church is a worldwide church, and the network among those in the faith is very connected. Not only can I walk into a church almost anywhere around the world and feel at home, but I find the Adventist world keeps getting smaller and smaller. For example, last Saturday I was at the house of some friends. In conversation they mentioned the name of a person they knew, and come to find out, I know that person, too! That night, I went with them over to another Adventist family’s home to celebrate Independence Day. I had never met that family before, but we found out that one of their daughters has lived in Ohio and knows my brother. Small world! And this happens ALL THE TIME. At least it seems it does. I have stopped being surprised.

On a more personal note, I have lived in several states and traveled enough to become friends with a large number of Adventists. I am grateful for the wonderful friendships and memories I have with many of them. I am very fond of the time I spent living in and visiting Michigan, and that is where I met Josephine, Amy, Sikhu, and Dan. I think very highly of all of them. I met my best friends through the church. I could name so many more friends and church members from all over that I am thankful for, but space would not allow. I have felt I belong and am cared for.

I should point out that a lot of these friends of mine are from all over the world. They are from every continent (save Antarctica), which is awesome. I have been in culturally and ethnically diverse churches my entire life, and would not wish for it to be any other way.  Not only do I learn about the world from them, but we eat good food together! =D.

Quality of life

A few years ago a friend from school approached me and asked me what I do to alleviate headaches. I wasn’t sure what to tell him at first, because I usually don’t get headaches. It dawned on me then that the quality of life as an Adventist that I thought was normal is anything but normal to most in this world. The Adventist church teaches eight principles of healthful living in the form of an acronym: NEWSTART (Nutrition, exercise, water, sunlight, temperance, air, rest, and trust in God). I should note, the rest aspect includes 52 days of vacation every year (the Sabbath)!

Jesus wants us to be in good health, even as our soul prospers. It is not a coincidence that Adventists are considered among the healthiest and longest living people groups in the entire world.

Identity and mission

Last but not least, I believe the Adventist church is specifically mentioned in Bible prophecy as being God’s end time movement to carry the full message of God’s love to the world before He returns. This conviction is strong and deep. Knowing who we are and why we are here is extremely meaningful. This also means I get to fulfill one of life’s most noble purposes (helping take the gospel to the world in this generation) by being a part of this church.

These are four reasons why I love being an Adventist. What about you?


Recently I was visiting a practice room in the music building at La Sierra University. I noticed some writing on the room’s dry-erase board.

Love is a fatal infection.
Like a poison it seeps through you
killing everything inside you when it leaves.
It is fleeting and not good company.
After its embrace you feel the need
to take it again and again,
constantly striving for a different result.
But the truth is that
it will always hurt and wound the needy
and be a weapon for those lacking in remorse.
Be afraid and protect yourself.
Because it will never be good to you.

Underneath this quote was a drawing of a broken heart.

I felt sad for this person. Whatever they have gone through must not be good. I wish they had had a better experience.

I’m not the best writer or poet, but I decided to write a response. I felt the need to respond to this person in a positive way and I thought this would be a good creative exercise for myself. I thought about it for a while and wrote this:

But that love is a counterfeit.
There is another love
that was before that other love.
This true love seeks not her own.
It seeks to live, to serve.
It fills, not empties;
It fixes, not breaks;
It heals, not kills.
This love casts out fear
and is like a well that springs
to ever lasting life.
The other is a lie,
but this satisfies.
Never go back. I never will.

Underneath my quote I drew a heart with a cross inside.

I will probably never know who it was who wrote that original verse, but whoever it was, I wish they were filled with hope.

[The following is part four of a series. I realize my main audience will not be racing fans. I will do my best to make this series accessible.]

“People watch racing just for the crashes.”

Have you heard this? Maybe you’ve said it. It may be true to some extent in NASCAR, but I don’t think it’s so true for fans of open-wheel racing.

I find that phrase annoying. It’s like saying that crashes are exciting, and the actual racing is boring. I don’t like to see crashes in racing for several reasons. Crashes… 1) are dangerous. Someone can get hurt. 2) negatively affect the outcome of the race. When drivers crash, the level of competition is lowered for the remainder of the race, and the best drivers/teams may not win. 3) cause the race to last longer. It takes time to clean up the wrecks. 4) sometimes include my favorite drivers (example: Will Power and Tony Kanaan at Fontana… Both lost championships as a result).

And yet, ironically, the existence of crashes adds some intrigue to the racing. To be fast is to be near the edge of control. To see a driver not crash when they could have can be really exciting (example: The last half-lap of this year’s NASCAR race at Watkins Glen… the top two drivers were sliding all over the place and running into each other, yet hung on to finish).

What do I like about racing? A lot of things. Racing became my favorite sport after playing a computer game when I was 6 years old. Since then, the simple action of a racing car on a race track is attractive to me. Along with that I like the competition, certain drivers, the tracks, the looks of the cars, the skill, etc.

The reality is that I can not pick and choose. The highs and lows come together in a package. For me: the highs are worth enduring the lows. After the two deaths discussed in this series, and the observation of more from the study of racing history, I never considered the option to stop liking racing.

In conclusion, death in racing is a a real issue that I’ve had to deal with. The tragic deaths of Earnhardt, Wheldon, and other drivers have deeply saddened and impacted me. Racing is still dangerous, but it’s a lot safer than it used to be. The entire package is not perfect, no, but I like it enough to keep following the sport.

[part 1: The greatest race that isn’t]
[part 2: It doesn’t get any easier the second time]
[part 3: Safety is a process]

[The following is part three of a series. I realize my main audience will not be racing fans. I will do my best to make this series accessible.]

Is racing safe? Yes, maybe, sort of, pretty much, or not at all? The answer depends on many factors. Do we consider all forms and levels of racing, or just the top professional levels? Do we consider the entire history of racing since the invention of the automobile, or the present time? Do we consider all kinds of tracks (circuits, streets, ovals, dirt, offroad)? Do we consider all  kinds of cars (stock car, formula/open wheel, touring, rally, dirt, bikes, drag, etc.)?

Racing will never be perfectly safe. “Safe” is a goal. Safety is the process towards the ideal.

The following statistics demonstrate the improvement in safety in three major racing series over the last twenty years.

Deaths from 1993-2002: 13 (Nascar, 7; IndyCar 4; Formula 1, 2)
Deaths in the last 10 years: 3 (all in IndyCar).

Questions are asked every time a fatal accident occurs. “Why did this happen?” “Could this be prevented in the future?” “What safety changes should be made?” Interest in safety is part of what it means for me to be a racing fan. I want the sport to be safer. I read articles about it. I have my own opinion about safety improvements I think should be made, just as I have opinions about other aspects of the sport.

Earnhardt had hit the wall nearly head on at one of NASCAR’s fastest tracks. When he hit the wall, his head snapped forward, causing a basilar skull fracture and killing him instantly.

Although three drivers died in NASCAR the previous year, it took the death of its biggest star to cause an incredible safety revolution that still continues: The drivers now wear a HANS device (Head And Neck Support) that prevents the head from moving forward in a crash, the seats are built safer, the cars are built better and safer, and the racetracks (thanks to Indianapolis) have SAFER barriers (“soft” walls) around the walls that absorb impacts better. Earnhardt would have walked away if the same crash were to happen today.

Wheldon’s crash is slightly more complicated. IndyCar (IRL/CART/Champ Car) is also much safer than it used to be. Certain advancements, such as the HANS, were mandated before NASCAR required them. Yet despite the incredible gains in the last twenty years, Indy cars continue to have one major safety flaw: the uncovered cockpit.

Wheldon’s car flew head first into the catch fencing above the SAFER barrier. His exposed helmet hit one of the immovable poles that supported the fencing. Wheldon died shortly after the impact from blunt force trauma to the head.

The car did its job. Wheldon had no injuries from the neck down. The problem was two-fold. Firstly, a car could become airborne by touching the wheels of another car. Since the wheels of the cars were exposed, one car could “climb” over the wheels of another car when they touched, launching one into the air. This was what caused Wheldon’s car to launch into the air. Secondly, the aerodynamic package of the cars on large oval tracks caused the cars to drive together in one close pack, dramatically increasing the chance for an accident like the one described. Both issues have been resolved. The bodywork of the car has been extended so that the cars cannot make wheel-to-wheel contact anymore, and the aerodynamic package has been changed so that the cars no longer drive in close packs. That’s not to say that the possibility of an airborne crash like this one no longer exists, but the recipe for disaster has been removed. The IndyCar race at Texas a few weeks ago proved these changes, primarily the second, to be a rousing success.

No, racing is not perfectly safe, but it is very safe. The chances of a serious accident continue to decrease. Although I fear another freak accident may someday injure or kill another driver, I am pleased with the progress each racing series has made. I’ll go on record to say that I would rather crash in one of those race cars at 200 mph any day than crash at 50 mph in my own car.

[part 1: The greatest race that isn’t]
[part 2: It doesn’t get any easier the second time]
[part 4: It’s worth it]

[The following is part two of a series. I realize my main audience will not be racing fans. I will do my best to make this series accessible.]

In addition to being a NASCAR fan, I am also an INDYCAR fan (Not an acronym, but all caps. I’m not sure why).  Although I have followed NASCAR more closely over the years, I spent a fair share of time rooting for Michael Andretti, Juan Pablo Montoya, Tony Kanaan, and others over the years. INDYCAR has historically been much more dangerous than NASCAR. Its most recent tragedy occurred on October 16, 2011.

For those who aren’t familiar with the difference, NASCAR races cars which vaguely look like sedans (called stock cars). INDYCAR races purpose built race cars that have uncovered wheels and cockpits (called open wheel or Indy cars). NASCAR’s biggest yearly race is the Daytona 500. INDYCAR’s biggest yearly race is the Indianapolis 500. IndyCar was America’s most prestigious racing series until 1996, when the series was split into two. Popularity rapidly declined. At the same time, NASCAR’s popularity skyrocketed.

I turned on the TV that Sunday to see what was on. As I was flipping channels I saw a race track (Las Vegas) and quickly became excited. It was INDYCAR’s last race of the season. The race was to feature Scottish driver Dario Franchitti and Australian driver Will Power (that’s a great name, isn’t it?) battling for the championship. The race was also to feature British driver Dan Wheldon trying to win $5,000,000.

Wheldon, one of the series most talented and popular drivers, won his second Indianapolis 500 earlier in the year. In nine tries at Indianapolis, he had two first-, two second-, a third-, and fourth-place finishes. He may eventually be considered one of the best drivers ever in the Indianapolis 500. But Wheldon was not a full-time driver in 2011. The Indy 500 was a one-race deal for him. He was unemployed as a driver before and after that race. INDYCAR, in an attempt to allure NASCAR (or other) drivers to race in its season finale, offered the $5,000,000 prize. No NASCAR drivers came, and the prize was offered to Wheldon if he could start last and win.

Immediately it became apparent that something was wrong. I had tuned into the race broadcast late. The broadcasters were explaining that the race had been stopped because of a massive 15-car crash. It is not uncommon for a race to be stopped for a crash. But it was worse. All the drivers were in a private meeting with league officials. That never happens during a race. But it was still much worse. Dan Wheldon had been seriously hurt. There was no report on his condition, but he had been flown by helicopter to the nearby hospital. When a helicopter flies a driver out, they have likely suffered life-threatening injuries.

I was glued to the TV. All I could do was hope for the best (he survived) and fear for the worst (he was dead). The broadcasters were talking in hushed tones. Everyone was waiting for news about Wheldon. And why were the drivers in a meeting like that? The whole scenario felt eerie, but all I could do was wait.

Then they announced it. He was dead. One of INDYCAR’s brightest stars was dead. The race was cancelled. People at the track were crying. The remaining drivers drove five slow laps around the track in tribute to Wheldon. The crew members for each team stood along the wall facing the track. The bagpipes played Amazing Grace. And I cried. Not a lot, but tears were there. First for Earnhardt, and now for Wheldon. It doesn’t get any easier the second time.

I tried to do homework later that day, but it was hard. All I could think about was the crash. It was one of the worst crashes I’ve ever seen, and Wheldon was dead, never to return. It was so sad…

Marty Reid, the lead announcer for the race, closed the ABC broadcast by saying, “Many people ask my why I always sign off “’til we meet again.” Because goodbye is always so final. Goodbye Dan Wheldon.”

[part 1: The greatest race that isn’t]
[part 3: Safety is a process]
[part 4: It’s worth it]

[The following is part one of a series about my response to death in racing, my favorite sport. I realize my main audience will not be racing fans. I will do my best to make this series accessible. Note: I originally intended to publish this particular post one year ago today, but decided not to. One year later, it fits as part one of a series. I’ve edited it slightly, but the date and timing remains the same. It’s original title: The greatest race that isn’t.]

February 18, 2001. Ten years ago today. Dale Earnhardt died in a crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500.

Americans remember where they were and what they were doing on September 11, 2001. Our parents remember the same about Kennedy’s assassination. Our grandparents remember the same about the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

NASCAR fans remember February 18, 2001.

I was 13 at the time. NASCAR had been my favorite sport since 1995, and Earnhardt had been my favorite driver.

At two tracks, Daytona and Talladega, cars are restricted to run under 200 mph for safety reasons.  The cars do not have enough power to pull away from each other, so by drafting (riding in the air stream behind another car) many cars can stay in a big pack.

NASCAR changed the aerodynamic package of the cars before this particular race. There was expected to be a lot of passing and the cars could easily stay together. This race was expected to be perhaps the greatest Daytona 500 ever due to the aero rules package. For the first 199 laps, I think it was among the greatest ever.

I was watching from my home in Ohio. My family was not really interested in NASCAR so they were off doing their own thing. I loved the race. There was a lot of passing, and my favorite drivers were doing well. Dale Earnhardt was running up near the front the entire race, and his own race team, Dale Earnhardt Inc., had drivers Michael Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr. near the front, too.

In the final twenty laps, Michael Waltrip took the lead, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in second, Dale Earnhardt was in third. No one knew it at the time, but Earnhardt had planned for those three drivers to get up front and stay single file. Because it was so easy to pass, if those drivers did not work together (cars run faster running when they stay in line than when side by side), they would have a hard time winning. Earnhardt blocked and blocked all the drivers behind them to keep them from passing. It worked. On the final lap, Waltrip led, Junior was in second, Earnhardt was in third. No one could get to Waltrip or Junior. Waltrip won, Junior finished second. Waltrip’s older brother Darrell was in the Fox broadcasting booth cheering his brother to victory, “You got it, You got it, YOU GOT IT! MIKEY!! ALRIGHT!!” The other drivers finally did get along side Earnhardt. A 1-2-3 finish was slipping out of his grasp. He wanted to finish third, so he continued to try and block. In the last corner, he tried to slip ahead of driver Sterling Marlin, but Marlin was still there. Earnhardt cut across Marlin’s front bumper, lost control, and crashed in the final corner. No big deal, he had crashed in worse looking crashes before.

Michael Waltrip hadn’t won a race in all the 462 NASCAR races he had raced before. In his first race driving for the great Dale Earnhardt, he won the biggest race of all. I liked Michael Waltrip and was so happy when he won! Later I looked at a piece of paper I had made where I listed all the drivers I rooted for, and saw I had chosen Waltrip as my pick for an upset winner. Earnhardt, as his car owner, was supposed to come to victory lane and celebrate with him, but he didn’t. It looked like he might be hurt.

I was concerned when Earnhardt was last shown by Fox as being carried away in an ambulance. I knew he was hurt, but I didn’t think he was dead. I kept watching TV for any potential news report of his condition. It wasn’t until the evening local news where they announced he was dead. I cried. My family had tears, too. When my best friend heard from his dad, he called me to talk about it. Earnhardt had been his favorite driver, too.

It was NASCAR’s biggest tragedy ever. Earnhardt’s death was covered extensively by all major news networks for weeks (the announcement, the reaction, the investigation, the implications). It was the first time a personal hero of mine was killed.

[part 2: It doesn’t get any easier the second time]
[part 3: Safety is a process]
[part 4: It’s worth it]

My winter break was three weeks long. My school’s break has traditionally been about a month long, but this year they changed the academic calendar so that the semester started in the first week of January, effectively shortening the amount of break. Three weeks is a decent amount of time, but sadly break felt way to short.

After thinking back on why break felt so short, I’ve come up with two reasons. First reason: Travel. I did a fair amount of travel. I made two trips to Ann Arbor (to preach at my old church, attend a graduation, and to hang with friends) and one to Houston (to attend GYC). After cutting away the travel, I spent only a week and a half at home (with family and more friends). This leads to the second reason: Living far away. Since I live completely across the country away from home, I rarely get to visit. I wasn’t ready to leave when it was time to leave. I look forward to staying at home during the summer.

My trip reminded me how much I miss my family and my friends. I’ve made some good friends since I’ve moved to Arizona, but the group of friends I had when I was in Michigan was something special and I continue to miss the good times we had together. My friends there have been some of the best friends I’ve ever had.

I won’t go into detail about the pleasure I had speaking at my church, meeting the new students and missionaries, playing white elephant, celebrating graduations, listening to the band at UofM, and playing games, but needless to say, I enjoyed it all (excluding plans to meet with former classmates that fell through).

So, to share a piece of it, here is the link to the sermon I preached at the Campus HOPE church that weekend. Ever wondered how you could have more faith? That’s a good question, the disciples asked that, too. This is whole reason I created this post! Forgive me for getting sidetracked.

Lord, Increase Our Faith (credit to Adventist Students for Christ at the University of Michigan).

Suppose five frogs are sitting on a floating log and talking. Three decide to jump in the water. How many are left on the log? Five. They decided, but didn’t do it.

All this talk about running, all this talk about running shoes. What good does it do if I don’t actually go running? How will I ever run a full marathon?

There are so many object lessons to pull from this.

Talk is cheap. I have a lot to learn.

It’s Thanksgiving Day! Today serves as a reminder (although brief and often neglected), that we should be thankful for things. Perhaps this is the most neglected part of Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for, and I think many of us (self included) can learn to better express our gratitude.


1) The act of giving thanks should be a daily experience. The Bible says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. The Bible tells us to “pray without ceasing.” And yet as part of that admonition, we are also told “in everything give thanks.” Ever wonder how you could pray without ceasing? Keep a spirit of gratitude, and tell God what you’re thankful for. This is a legitimate and important part of prayer. It’s also God’s will (command) for you.


2) It feels good to give thanks. The Bible says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6, 7. In this verse, thanksgiving is again associated with prayer. The result of this kind of prayer is an amazing sense of peace that God will give us. Notice it guards our hearts and minds. It brings change to our emotions and changes the way we think.

I honestly believe depression would be a lot less common if we continuously gave thanks. The brain cannot dwell on positive and negative thoughts at the same time. If we replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts, then a change will occur in our mind. Choices and thoughts form physical pathways in our brain that grow bigger and stronger with repetition (habits). Our brain can actually be changed by following a different choice of action (in that way, 2 Cor 5:17 is a reality when it says Christ can make us a new creation. Our brain chemistry can actually be changed). Complainers are seldom happy. Give thanks instead!

I remember the story of a minister who visited a woman who was filled with depression. He thought the act of thanksgiving would help her, so he asked her to list some things she was thankful for. Her condition had gotten so bad that she couldn’t think of anything! So then he asked her if she was thankful for her toothbrush. Yes, she was (even though she thought it was silly). But starting from there, she was able to start listing things she was thankful for, and as a result her attitude was completely changed. She became free from her depression because of her expression of gratitude.

Even if we don’t feel like it, expressing gratitude can change us so that we are truly thankful. As an exercise, speak only positive words for the next two weeks. No critical speaking of anyone or anything. It will make a difference.


3) This lifestyle is an excellent witness. Who do you thank when you give thanks? Ultimately, our thankfulness is towards God. Thankfulness cannot exist alone, it must be expressed to someone else. When you’re with friends, express thanks. “I’m thankful for the weather today.” “I’m so thankful for learning this…” Perhaps your friends will wonder, “Thankful to whom?” To God. Yes, I believe in a God who loves me, and I tell Him thanks.


So, to conclude with this quote a friend of mine posted on her Facebook yesterday, “Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude.” – E.P. Powell


Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson,
Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

I’m very good at forgetting things, losing things, or breaking things. For example, this past year I’ve: lost three water bottles (got it back the last time), forgot my camera in a restaurant after GYC and forever lost it, lost two USB sticks, lost important music for a summer trip, locked myself out of my car twice (once while it was running), dropped my computer and broke the hard drive (my second lost hard drive in just over a year), and left my phone on the roof of my car and drove off and lost it.

That’s not an exhaustive list. I don’t know why I do these things. I don’t consider myself to be dumb or incapable. I’ve started keeping a ToDo list and writing a schedule for myself. That’s helped a little, as it has relieved some of the mental stress of trying to keep track of everything. But even then I still do stuff like this and it drives me crazy. I’m ashamed of it but it seems there’s really nothing I can do about it but live with the consequences of my random mishaps. It’s frustrating and humbling to have to mention what I did to someone else, or to hear someone mention it.

Part of the reason I haven’t been updating my blog is because I haven’t been able to use my computer. I had a post-it note on my desktop with a list of all the blog topics I was interested in writing about. Now that I use computer labs, I don’t want to put forth the effort remembering topics and taking the time to write about them.

I guess it’s part of life that I have to learn to deal with it. Any suggestions?