I’m In Love With Fenway!

I am writing today from beautiful and historic Boston.

This week I am in Connecticut, holding some evangelist meetings for a small church in Torrington. However, with no meetings yesterday, I drove up to Boston to visit Fenway park and cheer on my Tampa Bay Rays who were playing the Red Sox. I took the Subway from Braintree to Kenmore. When I went around the corner and saw Fenway, I was actually surprised that my first reaction was not one of awe, like when I saw Wrigley in Chicago. My first reaction was it reminded of me the first minor league ballpark I went to as a small child. The park was not intimidating. It was homey. Having seen it so many times on Television it was like I had already been there, so I thought. Later, I started to realize that I felt like I was at home, because this ballpark was more like a home than some of the newer bigger stadiums.

I did not realize, when I bought my ticket weeks earlier, that this would be the 8,000th game played at Fenway. They had a special ceremony honoring Fenway park and some of the best Red Sox players who had ever played there. Carlton Fisk, Carl Yastremski, and many others were there. Ortiz was honored as one of the best ever. As they introduced each former star player, and they came walking onto the field, again I was amazed, that instead of appearing as super stars, they seemed more like old friends. Sure I have never been a Red Sox fan, but you can’t follow baseball without being familiar with the Red Sox traditions and stars.

Even though I came by myself to a ballpark in a city I had never been to before, I never felt alone. The place is very friendly. Walking across the street from my hotel to a nearby restaurant, I was amazed how the cars all watched out for me and gave me the right of way when they saw I wanted to cross. The people at the hotel helped me find the subway I needed, and the people on the subway were very helpful and friendly. I was kind of confused, no really confused as I had never ridden a subway before, but the other riders were most helpful and friendly. At the game I met more friendly people. A lady from Japan sat near me and asked me all kinds of questions about the Red Sox, assuming I was a Red Sox fan. I did my best to answer all her questions. After all, like I said, you can’t be a baseball fan without knowing about the Red Sox.

I pray about everything, big or small. I have been praying about my meetings of course, wanting to win people to Christ. I also told God that it would be real nice if I could see a home run over the famous green monster. Sure enough Ben Francisco hit one for the Rays over the green monster right after Carlos Pena’s blast over the center field wall.

Oh, and that Citgo sign, you always see on TV that looks like it is right behind the green monster? It is actually a lot farther away than it looks. It was a couple blocks away, right across the street from the Subway station.

They still have the original gate to the grandstands before they added more seats. Fenway was built in 1912 and opened the same weekend the Titanic sank. One voyage for the Titanic and it was gone the same weekend it started. A hundred years and 8,000 games later Fenway is still going strong.

On its outside wall, Fenway has a sign recognizing the Red Sox 1918 World Series victory and then another sign recognizing their victory right after that in 2004.

They have shops selling souvenirs and food inside and outside the park. I was surprised how reasonable the prices were. Nachos were $4.50 here. I think in Tropicana Field in Florida, they are like $6.50 or $7.00 or something like that.

This is a statue of Ted Williams. The park is filled with statues. There is just so much history and tradition here. From the green monster, to hearing the crowd sing “Sweet Caroline” (watch the video I made of the crowd singing here.) in the middle of the 8th inning, it was one of the purest and richest baseball experiences I have ever had. Some may think I am crazy, but Fenway park reminded me of old Engel stadium, where the Chattanooga Lookouts used to play. Again, this is a major league ballpark with a small town, atmosphere that makes you feel at home. The first time I came through the gates, I felt at home and like I had always lived there! A friend told me once I visited Fenway I would be a Red Sox fan. Well almost Pastor Ken, almost. I will have to say. I loved every moment of it!

Who is The “Man of Sin?” Could it be you?

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Monday’s section of this week’s SS lesson asks the question, “In what subtle ways are each of us susceptible to having the same kind of attitude as we see revealed here in this “man of sin”?

As Adventists, we often think of the anti-Christ as the leader of a system reveled in the book of Revelation. While Revelation does identify a specific leader within a specific system, setting himself up as God, and thus an anti-Christ, John the revelator also tells us in 1 John 2:18, “even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” So the Scriptures warn of many anti-Christs.  So who are all these anti-Christs?

To answer this question, let’s back up a little bit. In studying the three angels message, we see that a so called religious system, Babylon falls. Again we know from studying Revelation that this is a specific system. However, we also see that this system has an attitude. That attitude is legalism. Man- made laws, man- made day of worship, leading to a man -made way of salvation, outside of trusting in the merits of Jesus and His blood.  While Revelation pinpoints this system, that fact is clear, that this attitude can be found in other systems as well, and history has proven it has been. Were not the Sadducees and Pharisees making their own laws and trusting their own works for salvation? Yet they were not Babylon. So could it be that if I am not careful to crucify self and die daily, that this same attitude of Babylon could be found in my heart too?

So, if it is possible for me to have the attitude of Babylon, would it also be possible for me to have the same attitude as the anti-Christ, thus making me one of many anti-Christs? An anti-Christ is someone who sets himself up as Christ, just as the man of sin mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”  Here we see that the man of sin, or anti-Christ sits in the place of God. So how could I possibly be an anti-Christ, sitting in the place of God? Isaiah 33:22 tells us; “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver.” Our Lord God is our lawgiver and judge. So, when I set myself up as judge of other peoples motives, or think that I can interpret the law for everybody, I am usurping the seat of God and setting myself up as God, and thus becoming an anti-Christ!

Like Babylon, Anti-Christ is more than a system. It is an attitude. In the book, Great Controversy, Pages 292-3, Ellen White explains, that while the pilgrims came to the new world, to escape the anti-Christ, that they carried the attitude of anti-Christ with them to the New World. “It was the desire for liberty of conscience that inspired the Pilgrims to brave the perils of the long journey across the sea, to endure the hardships and dangers of the wilderness, and with God’s blessing to lay, on the shores of America, the foundation of a mighty nation. Yet honest and God-fearing as they were, the Pilgrims did not yet comprehend the great principle of religious liberty. The freedom which they sacrificed so much to secure for themselves, they were not equally ready to grant to others. “Very few, even of the foremost thinkers and moralists of the seventeenth century, had any just conception of that grand principle, the outgrowth of the New Testament, which acknowledges God as the sole judge of human faith.”–Ibid., vol. 5, p. 297. The doctrine that God has committed to the church the right to control the conscience, and to define and punish heresy, is one of the most deeply rooted of papal errors.”

2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that the Scriptures are profitable for doctrine and correction. I can only define God’s law by what is in the Scriptures , but not by my personal opinions or traditions, like the Pharisees in Christ’s time, and religious leaders in the dark ages did.  I am not the interpreter of the law for the whole world, nor, can I think to change times and laws to meet with my own opinions or inclinations. Simply put, I am not the lawgiver, and cannot judge people by my own standards. Also, while open sin must be dealt with, according to 1 Corinthians 6, as a church we may have to address outward actions, but I as an individual cannot judge inward motives. In judging outward actions we must still be careful. Joseph almost put poor Mary away thinking he had all the evidence of an affair. Even with his overwhelming evidence he was wrong! Even with all his evidence he tried to put her away privately without any public embarrassment. What a great example for us to imitate. Even with his overwhelming evidence, Joseph was not going to judge Mary’s heart.

In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul teaches churches, not individuals to judge open and outward actions very carefully. Paul teaches no one to judge the heart and inward motives. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us God and the Scriptures alone tell us what is right and wrong. I am not the lawgiver or the interpreter of the law for the rest of the world.  The Lord our God is our lawgiver and judge. When we judge people according to our own standards, opinions and understanding, we usurp the throne of God and become an anti-Christ.

“If The President Does it, Then it is not Illegal.” Really?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Sunday’s section of this week’s Sabbath School lesson states, “In some cultures, there is a tendency to distrust and challenge leadership; in others, to blindly submit to it. How has your own culture’s attitude toward authority impacted the church in your area?”

In an interview with David Frost, Richard Nixon, a former United States President, forced to resign due to a scandal, defended himself by saying, “If the President does it, then it is not illegal.” This bold statement shocked David Frost, and every other competent thinker! I believe, in the United States, people really started to question their leaders after Nixon’s downfall.

I believe we keep a healthy balance of respect for leadership, without blind submission, when we ask for accountability and checks and balances. In the United States we have a constitution the President must hold to. The Constitution also declares who ultimately has the authority. It reads, “We the people.” Not “me the president” or “me Thomas Jefferson, or James Madison, or Ronald Regan or Barak Obama.” The power and authority of the constitution comes from ‘The People!” Therefore our president is not above the law.

In the church we have the Scriptures as our sole authority, and our leaders must be held accountable. Also the church as a body has authority,

”God has ordained that the representatives of His church from all parts of the earth, when assembled in a General Conference, shall have authority.” –Last Day Events, page 56.

Just like in the United States, the President is not above the people, likewise church leaders are not above the church.

“The church is built upon Christ as its foundation; it is to obey Christ as its head. It is not to depend upon man, or be controlled by man. Many claim that a position of trust in the church gives them authority to dictate what other men shall believe and what they shall do. This claim God does not sanction. …. Upon no finite being can we depend for guidance. The Rock of faith is the living presence of Christ in the church. Upon this the weakest may depend, and those who think themselves the strongest will prove to be the weakest, unless they make Christ their efficiency. “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.” The Lord “is the Rock, His work is perfect.” “Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.” Jeremiah 17:5; Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 2:12.- Desire of Ages, Page 414.

Many years ago, I heard the testimony of a church leader, defending himself for some shady deals, saying his boss told him to do it, therefore he had no choice but to obey his boss who had “authority.” I am sure Joab was thinking the same thing when King David told him to put Uriah on the front lines of the war. Please read what God’s messenger has to say about Joab’s rationale.

“And Joab, whose allegiance had been given to the king rather than to God, transgressed God’s law because the king commanded it.  David’s power had been given him by God, but to be exercised only in harmony with the divine law. When he commanded that which was contrary to God’s law, it became sin to obey. “The powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1), but we are not to obey them contrary to God’s law. The apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians, sets forth the principle by which we should be governed. He says, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1.  –Patriarchs and Prophets, Page 719.

We need to be respectful of authority, but remember where authority ultimately comes from. And while respecting those in leadership, and even being in leadership, we must remember we are accountable to the Scriptures and God’s church, of which Christ is the Head.

I would also like to share a parting thought. In my years of Gospel Work around the country, I have met people who are afraid to speak up in board meetings or Church business meetings, because they feel they are too young or poor, and their influence would not be felt. I have also observed people abusing their age or money to hurt others. So this is what I say to all. No matter how young, old, rich or poor you are, you need to speak your mind in these meetings. And, no matter how young, old rich or poor you are, you need to be nice when you do. Everyone has a right to speak, and everyone has a responsibility to be nice when they do so.