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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.

Here is list of some of my favorite moments from GYC 2012.

The messages. As much as I enjoy all the social aspects of GYC, the drawing power for me comes from the solid biblical and spirit-filled messages. Here are two of many highlights.

-I liked when Wes Peppers talked about what would happen if you ask ten friends if they would like to study the Bible. Even if you make mistakes, you are likely to lead some people to Christ. If you don’t ask, then that won’t happen. I’ve done this in the past, and it works, but I haven’t done this recently. Time to change that!

-My favorite message as a whole was Adam Ramdin’s Sabbath message. I really like when people cover the highlights of the reformation and how it is completed in the Adventist movement. The picture of the face of Jesus has been restored. But then he pointed out the true need of our church: a heart transformation. Laodicea does not receive rebuke for doctrine, only for a heart condition. May our hearts be transformed in 2013!

Volunteering. I’ve been to GYC a number of times, so for me I receive a big blessing when I give back. I don’t get to hear many messages, but it’s worth it.

-To all my wonderful volunteers, THANK YOU!!!! I praise God and am forever grateful for the selfless service of everyone that helped me with the seminars.

-In the three years that I’ve served as a volunteer coordinator, I feel this year was the best year yet. This was in part to my fantastic volunteers, and in part to an accident. We take a head count of every seminar session, and we tape a head count sheet on the back of the sign outside each seminar so that my volunteers can write the numbers down as the conference progresses. But this year, we couldn’t find tape in time! So I asked my volunteers to text me the head counts. So much better!

Social/Networking. GYC is a big reunion, and this year they added a networking component (small groups by vocation), something I have wished to see for a while!

-Friends. This is hard to summarize, and it’s hard to call out specific people, but if I saw you there, I was really glad to see you. Some of you I haven’t seen in a while, others I haven’t seen since summer. Some of you I was able to catch up with on certain topics ;). However much or little time we were able to spend together, I am glad for it.

-I spent good time with my brother. And Ryan Booth. Good roommates to have.

-Music networking! Not everyone I hoped to be there was there, but we had about 15 people and had a fantastic discussion about the life of an Adventist musician in school and also in the church. This also led to two conversations afterwards that I am very happy to have had.

Other items. Anything that doesn’t fit in the above categories.

-Sunday afternoon I met up with a good friend (Elaine) I used to go to school with. Technically this wasn’t a part of GYC, but it was one of my favorite moments in Seattle.

-I was going to go to bed early on New Year’s Eve, but when I saw the chance to play music with Erwin, I quickly changed my mind. Good times.

-GYC/TeamRevolution 5k! All week I wasn’t going to run the 5k. I had good excuses. Then on Monday, for some strange reason, I wanted to run. By the time I decided to run it, registration was closed. But Joanne secured me breakfast, and Berenice encouraged me to make my own bib (I did, with #π), and so I ran the 5k on New Year’s day. I had a great time, and I was able to say goodbye to good friends.

If the Lord wills, I will be in Orlando on January 1, 2014!

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).

Perhaps you have made New Year resolutions to start memorizing Bible verses. I have memorized many Bible verses in the past. Unfortunately, I have forgotten many of them. I have a big stack of Bible verse cards with verses that I memorized that now are very difficult for me remember. I’m very good at memorizing. My difficulty is staying disciplined so that I retain in long-term memory instead of short-term memory (is it really memorizing, then?).

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” – 2 Peter 1:3, 4

God has provided everything we need to live a godly life. Bible promises provide access to God’s power in our actual life. But many times I feel there is a block between the promises I try to memorize and their fulfillment in my life.

I submit one simple idea: strive for quality, not necessarily quantity. The Bible should be read as God’s personal voice to us individually. Therefore, personalize the promises you memorize. Put the words I and me in the verse. I believe this can get some of us over the hump. If we memorize because we have a personal investment in the promises, they will be of much more benefit than if we just memorize out of obligation. We will know God better, and our character will grow.

“In His promises and warnings, Jesus means me. God so loved the world, that he gave His only-begotten Son, that I by believing in Him, might not perish, but have everlasting life. The experiences related in God’s word are to be my experiences. Prayer and promise, precept and warning, are mine. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I life; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Gal. 2:20. As faith thus receives and assimilates the principles of truth, they become a part of the being and the motive power of the life. The word of God, received into the soul, molds the thoughts, and enters into the development of character.” – Desire of Ages, p. 390.5.

What is your experience with memorizing Bible verses?

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

Random fact: I use Hetman valve oil in my trumpet.

One day when I was thinking about the day of the Sabbath, I decided to write down all the possibilities and the types of texts/statements I would expect to see in the Bible if each one of them were true.

There are five possibilities:
1. The Sabbath has always been a specific day of the week
2. The Sabbath was given as one specific day of the week, but was changed to another day of the week
3. The Sabbath was given as one specific day of the week, but was changed so that it could be kept any day of the week (or not kept at all)
4. The Sabbath could be kept any day of the week since its beginning.
5. The Sabbath could be kept any day of the week since its beginning, but was changed to be a specific day of the week.

The changes mentioned should be found somewhere in the New Testament (mentioned by Jesus or his followers in the early church)

If possibilities four and five were true, I would expect to see texts/statements in the Old Testament (required) or New Testament (optional) mentioning:
-The act of resting (and not a day) blessed.
-God’s people keeping different days throughout the week.
-Reference to “Sabbath days/rests,” and not to “the Sabbath day/rest.” I could see the statement “A Sabbath day/rest” as going both ways.
-Jesus keeping a day (not really specific).

Clearly this is not what is seen in the Scriptures. In Genesis 2:1-3, “God blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it.” He rested, but instead of blessing the act of resting, he blessed a specific day (the seventh day of the week). In Exodus 16, when God rained manna on Israel, they were to collect manna six days a week, but not collect manna on the Sabbath. When some of the Israelites tried to find manna on the Sabbath, God was displeased. But what if they kept Sabbath on the second or third day of the week? God was specific that the Sabbath mentioned in His commandments and laws was a specific day, the seventh (Exodus 16:28, 29). Any study of the history of the Israel/Jewish nation shows a consistent keeping of the Sabbath on the seventh day of Scripture (Sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday).

Thus, the only possibilities that remain are numbers one through three.

1. The Sabbath has always been a specific day of the week:
-A specific day was blessed
-God’s people keeping the same Sabbath day holy
-A person/power outside of the Bible changing the day.
-No clear reference/commandment stating any change of solemnity from one day to another (i.e. the seventh day is no longer holy and you can now work; or that this other day is now holy and will be the Sabbath day). God would not give a vague or unclear commandment. The original 10 were very clear and proclaimed in great display from Mt. Sinai.
-Jesus keeping that day.

2. The Sabbath was given as one specific day of the week, but was changed to another day of the week:
-A specific day was blessed
-God’s people keeping the same Sabbath day holy
-A clear reference/commandment stating any change of solemnity from one day to another (i.e. the seventh day is no longer holy and you can now work; this other day is now holy and will be the Sabbath day). God would not give a vague or unclear commandment. The original 10 were very clear and proclaimed in great display from Mt. Sinai.
-Jesus keeping that a day, either the first one or the second one.

3. The Sabbath was given as one specific day of the week, but was changed so that it could be kept any day of the week:
-A specific day was blessed
-God’s people keeping the same Sabbath day holy
-A clear reference/commandment stating any change of solemnity from one day to any day (i.e. the seventh day is no longer holy and you can now work; any day you choose can become your Sabbath day; rest, not a day, is what is important). God would not give a vague or unclear commandment. The original 10 were very clear and proclaimed in great display from Mt. Sinai.
-Jesus keeping a Sabbath day (perhaps the original Sabbath, perhaps not).

We already know how the Bible describes the blessing of the Sabbath day and how it was kept by the Israelites. The real question now is whether or not there was a clear commandment given to change the Sabbath in some way.

Just by way of quick note, the Bible never mentions “the Sabbath of the Jews.” Since the Sabbath was given at Creation, the Sabbath applies to all mankind and the Bible refers to it as “The Sabbath of the LORD/Lord” (Exodus 20:10; Mark 2:28).

Since the Bible doesn’t give any clear commands from God to change the Sabbath (This point seems too short, but I don’t know what else say about this), we’ll check for any evidence of the validity of a seventh day Sabbath in the New Testament before we settle on possibility number 1.

In Luke 4:16 we see that Jesus kept the Sabbath in part by attending church services in Jewish Synagogues which would have been held on the seventh day. Luke 23:52-Luke 24:3 shows that Sabbath day according to the commandment (remember God’s statement in Exodus 16) was on the seventh day, the day before he rose again. Jesus resurrection is celebrated on a Sunday once every year, showing that the seventh day Sabbath (according to the commandment) is roughly on Saturday (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, specifically).

To avoid making an assumption, Matthew 5:17-18, Romans 7:7, Romans 13:8-10, and James 2:8-12 (among others) all mention that the laws applicable to the Christian today include the 10 commandments. In other words, the 10 commandments have never been done away with by God. Daniel 7 mentions that there would be a kingdom (the little horn) that would intend to (but not actually) change times and law. A proper understanding of this prophecy reveals that it is not God, but Rome that tried to tamper with the sacredness of the seventh day of the week (and they openly claim this in their catechism. This is no secret).

Outside the Bible we find more evidence. In many languages today (take Spanish as an example), the day for Saturday (Sábado) is the same word as the Sabbath (Sábado). The weekly cycle has also never been disrupted.

The evidence that many Christians cite today for sacredness of Sunday is the event of the resurrection of Jesus that first day of the week a long time ago. How does the Bible say how we should commemorate the resurrection? Romans 6 says that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is symbolized by the water baptism of every Christian believer.

The evidence is clear. Of the five possibilities, only one stands the test of investigation. The Sabbath has always been a specific day of the week.

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.

There once was a man who grew up in a Godly home. Unlike many, he chose not to leave his upbringing and enter a life of rebellion and sin. As he got older, he became a preacher. He would spend much time with God alone in communication with him, and then would go into the cities and preach. Not everyone cared for what he had to say, but they respected the man for who he was. One day he went missing. The people noticed and went out looking for him. His story is found in Genesis 5 and Hebrews 11.

“And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” – Genesis 5:24
“By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “AND WAS NOT FOUND, BECAUSE GOD HAD TAKEN HIM”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” – Hebrews 11:5

The Bible says Enoch walked with God. I want to walk with God. But it says that Enoch also pleased God. I don’t always please God. I seem to fall short of this level of relationship Enoch had with God. In the next chapter, we find a similar mention about Noah.

“This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.” – Genesis 6:9

I’m not perfect. I look at myself and see that I fail in comparison with Enoch and Noah. Sometimes I think I’ll never get to where those two were. How will I ever be ready to see Jesus? But there’s hope!

“And He (Jesus) said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” – Mark 4:26-29

Jesus relates the Christian experience to the growth of a crop. Does this happen all at once? No. It’s a process. That’s why the Christian experience is often referred to as the Christian walk. It’s not the Christian leap, or the Christian run. Knowing that the Christian experience is a process is a comforting thought.

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” – 1 John 3:2
“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;” – Philippians 1:6

1 John 3:2 is perhaps my favorite Bible verse. It says that we will be like Jesus when He comes. Isn’t that great? The only way we will be like Jesus when He comes is if we are changed, and the Bible says that God will continue to change us until we reach the 2nd coming. We don’t have to think, “Am I perfect? Am I perfect?” All we have to do is walk with God and let Him change us, and one day we will be like Him. He will take us to our destination.

So how do we become changed? There are three different things we need to do, and each can be related to the idea of walking with God.

1. Study the Word of God to see His character.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” – 2 Corinthians 3:18

Glory is the Bible word for character. If we reread the text with that understanding, it will go like this, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the character of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from character to character, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (cf. 1 Cor. 13:12). By beholding the character of Jesus, we are changed from our character into His (from character to character). We walk with God by moving from our character to His. We don’t stay in the same place, but move from one place to another.

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” – John 5:39

And according to this verse, the place at which we behold the character of Jesus is in the Scriptures, the Bible. The Bible testifies of Him. Therefore, when we study the Bible, our main focus should be to see the character of God, because in doing that we will be changed. But notice back in 2 Corinthians 3, this happens only by the Spirit of God. This is very important for a couple reasons.

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” – John 3:8
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” – John 16:13

Firstly, it is only by the Holy Spirit that we come to a knowledge of truth. A person can read the Bible many times and not understand truth. Many Atheists read the Bible and sometimes memorize the Bible, but remain Atheists. Even Christians can keep studying without coming to a knowledge of truth. The Holy Spirit helps us to see the character of God in Scripture.

Secondly, Jesus, when talking to Nicodemus at night, likens the Holy Spirit to wind. Wind moves. This seems obvious, but remember, we’re learning about walking with God. The Holy Spirit is fully God, and by moving with the Holy Spirit when He moves, we will be walking with God. In John 16, Jesus mentions that the Holy Spirit guides us. The fact that He guides implies movement. He leads us from one point to another, and if we follow Him, we will be walking from point A to point B. Point B, the destination, is truth. And truth ultimately is found in the person of Jesus. Therefore, when we learn about accept truths in Scripture, we walk with God and become like Jesus.

As long as we follow the Holy Spirit, we are walking with God and are in a saved condition. We share in the experience of Enoch and Noah. Remember, we don’t have to always think, “Am I perfect? Am I perfect?” God is the one that takes us to our destination. As long as we follow the Holy Spirit, God will take care of the rest. Our only danger is if at any time we choose not to follow the Holy Spirit. Only then will we be lost. We must always make the decision to follow God, because if at any time we are walking with Him and then stop, the Holy Spirit will at some point keep moving forward (guiding us). If we don’t continue to walk with Him, we’ll be left behind.

“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – John 8:31, 32

In summary, we walk with God when we see the character of God in the Bible.

How do we receive the Holy Spirit? This leads us to the next point.

2. Pray

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” – Luke 11:13

Asking = Prayer. Compare the following passages.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:26, 27

“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

Both passages end with Peace. In the first passage, peace follows the presence of the Holy Spirit. In the second passage, peace follows prayer. Prayer includes letting God know our requests, but specifically there’s a couple things I draw from these two passages. The first is that we should be praying regularly for the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. The second is that when we pray, we should include thanksgiving. We should “pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, 18). I’ve thought it hard to pray all day long without stopping, but thanking God for who He is and for things He’s done throughout the day helps.

Prayer = communication with God. This is an important part to walking with God.

In summary, we walk with God when we pray.

3. Witness

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” – Acts 1:8

Notice how the Holy Spirit is involved in all of these? Pretty cool, eh? What does this have to do with walking with God? A couple things.

Remember back to earlier when we thought about walking from point A to point B under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If we are at the beginning of our Christian walk, we won’t know very much. But even at that point, the Holy Spirit gives us power to witness of what we know. Lack of knowledge is not an excuse to not witness. At any given point on our walk the Holy Spirit directs us to share what He’s taught us up to that point.

Also, looking at the text, God wants us to witness all over the place. If I’m standing here, and God wants me to witness over there, I’m going to have to move. Thus, I will be walking with God when I move from here to there.

In summary, we walk with God when we witness.

Walking with God = Bible study, prayer, and witnessing. The Holy Spirit helps us with all three. It’s very simple. God doesn’t make His way complicated. Do you want to walk with God?

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” – 1 John 3:2

Finally, the report from our trip is finished! I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip to New Jersey.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

We tried to get the van packed by 6 a.m., but we didn’t and left a little bit after that. The trip was uneventful for the most part. Rocky drove at the beginning and Taku finished it. Almost everyone was sleeping at the beginning.

We decided to eat lunch at Panera. The GPS told us that there was no exit near the Panera, so we got off the highway at an early exit and took back roads to get there, only to eventually realize that the Panera was at a rest area and that we didn’t need to get off the highway. That cost us a lot of time.

I have a tradition of celebrating whenever I cross a state border. I roll down the window, wave, and honk as I’m driving past a state sign. Taku and Leanne agreed to that and we got good footage of our celebration when crossing into Ohio and Michigan.

We made it home somewhere around 6 or 7 p.m. Just before we began to unload we took our first group photo of the week that had all 10 of us in the picture. Some of us went to Sushi.com for dinner.

We loved our New Jersey group. We loved the trip. We loved the Rutgers group and the church. We found that ministry is not only a blessing, but it can be fun as well. We pray that our experience on this trip will continue in our spiritual lives after this and in our ministry here at Michigan.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

This morning was the only morning all we didn’t have group worship. After morning prayer (can’t miss that!) we had our personal devotions and then we got ready for church. This was a blessed Sabbath, as not only did we get to participate in the church service, but students from around the region came to spend Sabbath with us as well (as part of ANEW). We taught four Sabbath school classes. Eunice M. and I taught one, Gary and Bamiji taught one, and I’m not sure who taught the other two. Our lesson study was on self-control, one of the fruits of the Spirit.

After Sabbath, in a small section between Sabbath School and the Worship service, I interviewed Jacqui about what we did this week. It was a testimony but in an interview format. After the interview Eunice S. presented our Thank You’s and gifts to the church. We presented the English church with a photo collage of the different things we did during the week. We’re so happy to have come to this church. We wish could stay here.

During the worship service, a number of us had different roles (song leaders, special music, Scripture Reading, intercessory prayer). Taku presented the sermon. He spoke about 2 Corinthians 5:14 and how our motivation in everything we do should be the love of Christ. At the end he called for a decision for us to choose the love of God as our motivation, and then he called for people to come forward who wanted to devote some time in the next year to full-time ministry. I went forward, as I’ve been convicted that God wants me to canvass this summer. I will apply for the Michigan Conference/CAMPUS ExCEL program this week.

After the service and after lunch, we set up for our afternoon seminars. Eunice S. presented her seminar on the master plan of evangelism and small groups that she had presented earlier in the week, Taku and Isabella presented on Muslim ministry, Rocky presented on creation, evolution, and the credibility of Scripture (I think), and I presented on how to give Bible studies. We finished our session by having a Q&A session with us presenters on the panel.

In the evening we had a concert/testimony session. The pastor started by telling us the story of how Jacqui came to him to ask for support for the campus ministry and how they gave their full support and wanted to do everything they could for it. He said he wished that 25 of us had come from Michigan, but was happy even for the 10 of us.  After the Pastor thanked the church members for their support of our group, Jazlyn and Malcom, two Rutgers students, gave their testimonies. Eunice M. and Bamiji were the two students from Michigan that gave their testimonies. Four other students from the surrounding states gave testimonies about what God is doing on their campus. Because of the length of the program, we cut out some of the songs and only had the men’s group from the church sing two songs. Eunice S. gave a short devotional to end our program.

The church then provided us with our last meal. We enjoyed spending time with the church, Rutgers students, and ANEW students and didn’t want the night to end because it was our last moments with them. Before we left, the men’s group sang “Open my heart” for us. It was the song they sang for us at vespers the first night we arrived, and it was a blessing to hear it one more time before we left. We’ll miss them!

We then left to go to the Pastor’s house where we played Wa! until we had to go back to the hotel. We said our goodbyes and climbed in the van to leave. We got back around 11 and those who needed to sleep did. Taku, Eunice S., Leanne, and I met with a couple of the Rutgers students and some of the ANEW students in Princeton where we had bubble tea or frozen yogurt. We stayed there until midnight, enjoying fellowship and playing Wa! and other group games right there inside the yogurt place. We said our last goodbyes and headed back to the hotel.

We’ll miss this group. It’s been an intense blessing to do full-time ministry for a week, to see them be blessed, and to be with our brothers and sisters in Christ. They’re family to us now and we’ll miss them.

We hope to leave somewhere around 6a.m. tomorrow so we can get back to Michigan in the afternoon. Unfortunately, this trip has to end sometime and reality will set back in. I pray that our spiritual experience this week will carry over with us when we go back to school in Michigan.