Brown: A Life that Matters

Nathan Brown continues his engaging series with a reflection on the life and writings of Ellen White, specifically in relation to the great controversy. Read the entire article here–A Life that Matters (Adventist World, 11 Aug 2014). Excerpts:

For a variety of reasons, I have been reading quite a lot of Ellen White’s writings over the past couple years, and I have been struck repeatedly by the significance she recognized in life here and now. One of her major themes is that this life matters. The choices, priorities, attitudes, actions, and lifestyle we adopt today make a difference for today and forever, for us and for others—and this emphasis continues to be seen particularly in the Adventist church’s expansive health, education, and welfare work around the world.

[At White's funeral] Daniells used remarkably strong language to summarize her call for action in the world in response to the issues of her day: “Slavery, the caste system, unjust racial prejudices, the oppression of the poor, the neglect of the unfortunate,—these all are set forth as unchristian and a serious menace to the well-being of the human race, and as evils which the church of Christ is appointed by her Lord to overthrow” ([Life Sketches of Ellen G. White], p. 473).

The entire article is available here.

To Brown’s article I add a quote from White that I read recently:

“Our time here is short. We can pass through this world but once; as we pass along, let us make the most of life. The work to which we are called does not require wealth or social position or great ability. It requires a kindly, self-sacrificing spirit and a steadfast purpose” (Ellen White, The Adventist Home, p. 33).

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White: Pride and Superiority

Some of us who enjoy certain cultural and economic privileges may at times be tempted to think we are better than those who do not enjoy such status. And we may be tempted to use these privileges to benefit ourselves, ignoring the needs and rights of others. Ellen White speaks to these dangers near the end of The Great Controversy (“Desolation of the Earth“), describing the experience of those who valued their wealth over the things of God.

The rich prided themselves upon their superiority to those who were less favored; but they had obtained their riches by violation of the law of God. They had neglected to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to deal justly, and to love mercy. They had sought to exalt themselves and to obtain the homage of their fellow creatures. Now they are stripped of all that made them great and are left destitute and defenseless. They look with terror upon the destruction of the idols which they preferred before their Maker. They have sold their souls for earthly riches and enjoyments, and have not sought to become rich toward God. The result is, their lives are a failure; their pleasures are now turned to gall, their treasures to corruption. The gain of a lifetime is swept away in a moment. The rich bemoan the destruction of their grand houses, the scattering of their gold and silver. But their lamentations are silenced by the fear that they themselves are to perish with their idols. (p. 654)

Reflection Questions

  1. If someone looked at my check book or credit card statement, what values would they find evidence for?
  2. Am I ever tempted to believe I’m superior to someone? What might the Spirit being trying to whisper to me in this regard if I am quiet and listen?
  3. What am I pursuing with my time, energy and finances?
  4. How might I personally get involved with social action (“feed the hungry, clothe the naked, deal justly, and love mercy”)?
  5. When my end comes, what will I have wanted to have given my life to?
  6. How do I define failure and success?
  7. What biblical support can be made for White’s assertion?
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NEWS: Ukraine, Reform Movement, and Forest Fires

What is ADRA doing in the Ukraine? (ADRA Canada, 29 July 2014; link)

ADRA is supporting people displaced by fighting from the eastern part of Ukraine. This assistance includes hygiene kits, clothes, socks and underwear, disposable tableware, towels, and napkins. ADRA is also helping to transport displaced families from conflict zones to temporary IDP camps.

Reformed Adventist Movement Responds to German Union Conferences (AToday, 28 July 2014; link)

Adventist Today has the exclusive opportunity to publish a seven-point statement from Reformed Adventist leaders in response to the statement of the German union conferences. The statement begins with an expression of “appreciation” for points in the statement from the German union conferences. It also explains why the separation occurred in the past, asserting that “the faithful Adventists who protested starting in August 1914 were not motivated by personal ambition, time-setting, dreams, or fanaticism … nor had they rejected the fundamental principles of the church.”

Adventist Community Services Responds to Fires in Washington (AToday, 24 July 2014; link).

Record forest fires across the State of Washington in America’s northwest have resulted in more than 250,000 burned over acres of wilderness and the loss of hundreds of homes. To help people who have lost everything, Adventist Community Services (ACS), the disaster relief agency sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist denomination and registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross is operating warehouse in Okanogan to supply emergency needs.

U.S. Adventist church opens doors to community after wildfire (ANN, 23 July 2014; link).

The Brewster Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Northwestern U.S. state of Washington opened its doors to serve those affected by the Carlton Complex fire only hours after the church building itself was threatened by the flames of what has become the largest wildfire in state history.

Older stories and resources:

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White: Done and Not Done

God is as concerned with the good we could do as with the wrong we shouldn’t do. Ellen White addresses this in The Great Controversy in the chapter, “The Scriptures a Safeguard.” She argues that too many people

congratulate themselves upon the wrong acts which they do not commit, and forget to enumerate the good and noble deeds which God requires of them, but which they have neglected to perform. It is not enough that they are trees in the garden of God. They are to answer His expectation by bearing fruit. He holds them accountable for their failure to accomplish all the good which they could have done, through His grace strengthening them. In the books of heaven they are registered as cumberers of the ground. Yet the case of even this class is not utterly hopeless. With those who have slighted God’s mercy and abused His grace, the heart of long-suffering love yet pleads. (pp.601-602)

Reflection Questions

  1. Do I have a sense that I have “slighted God’s mercy and abused His grace”? What is a positive response to this realization?
  2. How has God gifted me? What passions has God given me and refined in me? What experiences have shaped my abilities and sensibilities?
  3. What spiritual gifts has God given me? How can I explore these more?
  4. How can I use all I have and am to best do good in the world–promote peace and justice, demonstrate compassion and mercy, encourage forgiveness and reconciliation, care for God’s created world, nurture health and healing, foster hope and courage, support the next generation?
  5. What internal and external forces hold me back? What tools–like prayer and community support–might God use to “strengthen me with His grace” in order to help me overcome these obstacles? Who benefits when God helps me overcome?
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Brown: “A ‘Boring’ Way to Change the World”

Nathan’s Brown latest installment of his Engage series is now online–A “Boring” Way to Change the World (Adventist World, July 2014).

Brown says that his monthly donations to ADRA aren’t all that exciting, but as he’s learned more about the organization, he sees that this “boring” form of involvement is important. In June of this year, Brown attended ADRA’s annual meeting. He was excited to have “the opportunity to meet and hear the stories of some 140 ADRA leaders and personnel from across the world.” He continues,

I was in awe of this incredible collection of people drawn from every region of the world, many of them serving in countries other than their homelands. As I talked with them and heard their stories, I discovered problems, issues, and tragedies in the world that I didn’t know existed. But in stark contrast to most news reports, I did so in the context of hearing it from people who are working to alleviate suffering, to work against injustice, and to offer hope and better choices in peoples lives. I was humbled, daunted, and inspired.

You can read the entire article here.

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AR: “Vegetarian Diet Is Effective Tool Against Climate Change, Study Finds”

The Adventist Review posted a story yesterday that considers the environmental ramifications of a vegetarian diet–“Vegetarian Diet Is Effective Tool Against Climate Change, Study Finds” (author unknown). The article begins:

A plant-based diet is not only good for you but also an effective way to combat climate change, according to a new study by Loma Linda University Health.

The research, published in the upcoming July issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that a vegetarian diet results in nearly a third less greenhouse gas emissions than a diet with animal products.

Read the complete article here.

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Guttschuss: Sectarian Violence in Central Nigeria

Adventist Peace Fellowship has posted a link to a report by Eric Guttschuss on sectarian violence in central Nigeria. Guttschuss wrote the report for Human Rights Watch in December of 2013. Learn more here.

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