Glimpses of the Cross Day 11; Sometimes Silence is the Answer

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers.  But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you!  Luke 21: 12-15 NLT 

Sometimes people get discouraged when they are trying to defend their faith, and the Holy Spirit does not give them the right words to say. What we have to remember is, our faith is something we share, not something we defend. In other words, sharing God’s love will do more good to win people to Jesus than just trying to prove we are right all the time. Also, just because we are not given words to say does not mean the Holy Spirit is not with us. The Holy Spirit was with Jesus but sometimes He remained silent.

Herod was delighted at the opportunity to see Jesus, because he had heard about him and had been hoping for a long time to see him perform a miracle.  He asked Jesus question after question, but Jesus refused to answer.  Luke 23:8-9 NLT

Even though He was accused, Jesus was not in a position where He needed to defend Himself. If Herod’s questions had been more sincere I believe the Holy Spirit would have given Jesus something to say. The Holy Spirit is not going to give us words to say, if those words are just going to be “pearls cast before swine.” Jesus lived a life that did not need to be defended. Remember, sometimes when you defend yourself against accusations, all you are doing is giving merit to the accusations. If the accusation has no merit, sometimes silence is the best answer. It was for Jesus.

The Spirit of Prophecy or the Spirit of Bitterness

Clear Water 7

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Many Adventists and former Adventists either have the Spirit of Prophecy or the Spirit of Bitterness. Where does the bitterness come from?

This week’s SS lesson focuses on the book of Joel, which speaks about the Holy Spirit and gift of prophecy being poured out in the latter days. See Joel 2:28-29. Paul reminds us again that the gift of prophecy will endure as long as God has a church. Ephesians 4:11-13. Still, with all the false prophets today, people are skeptical of anybody being a true prophet. That is nothing new. What prophet has ever been accepted in his or her own time or place?

A few days ago someone shared a website with me that bashed Seventh-day Adventists and Ellen White. This site said Adventists were a cult because we are trying to be saved by keeping the commandments. That is not true. We keep*, (treasure* or cherish* is the literal translation in the Hebrew) the commandments because we love Jesus. John 14:15. This site also said we are trying to work our way to heaven by keeping the Sabbath. I don’t know how they came up with that one. We don’t rest on Sabbath so we can be saved by working. That accusation, like most accusations you find on anti-Adventist or anti-Ellen White websites do not even make any sense if you just stop to honestly think about it. The Sabbath is not a sign of works. It is a sign of rest. The Sabbath is a sign we are NOT saved by works.

I have to wonder what spirit is behind their accusations. After all, I am not a Mormon, but I respect them and have no reason or desire to run an anti-Mormon website.  I don’t accept their prophet Joseph Smith, but again I have no desire to run an anti-Joseph Smith website. Each to their own, I say. So I wonder why some people have the obsession to bitterly bash Ellen White and Adventists. The point I am trying to make is, while I do not believe in Joseph Smith, I am still not angry and bitter about it. The anti-Ellen White and anti-Adventist websites often have a bitterness that you cannot ignore.

Problem is, Adventists have also been misrepresented by their own people, and Ellen White has been misrepresented by her own fans. Please keep in mind, if I wear my Tampa Bay Rays baseball jersey into Yankee stadium and start throwing my nachos at the Yankee fans, that I am not properly representing the Tampa Bay Rays. Just because a Tampa Bay Rays fan does something does not mean the Tampa Bay Rays did it. They would be appalled by it. Same with the Adventist Church and Ellen White. They do not condone the action of all of their fans.

I do not know if Ellen White would approve of a compilation book called Messages to Young People, where everything she wrote was literally and blatantly taken out of context and then placed in a book to beat young people over the head.

There is much counsel, which was written to specific people, and what God leads me to see in her writings may not be what He is needing everyone to see. What I read I need to pray and apply to myself instead of hitting my neighbor over the head with it. In a church district where I served years ago, we had a lady who read Ellen White all the time. I mean all the time. So much so, that she never had time to help with Vacation Bible School when we needed her, or to help with Community Services when a tornado struck. She could never help. She was too busy reading Ellen White books.

Ellen White was balanced. Not all of her fans are though. The Adventist Church is balanced but not all of its members are. Hopefully we balance each other out. That being said, I guess I do understand where some of the bitterness can come from. But please do not become bitter of Ellen White or anyone else for that matter, because of someone else’s misrepresentation of her. Please don’t judge a sports team by its fans.The team may be nothing like their fans.

Let me just come right out and say here, the point of my post is not so much addressing whether or not Ellen White is still relevant to today’s church or not, but regardless of what people believe, why do some need to be so bitter about it? That being said, I believe if the Adventist Church and Ellen White had been properly represented, regardless if people believe in them or not, at least they would not be so bitter towards them.

Could the spirit behind their attacks be found in Revelation 12:17?

“And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children—all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus.”

Keeping the commandments is not a sign we are a cult. It is a sign we are God’s children!

None of us likes it when other people put words in our mouths. If you have visited a website bashing Seventh-day Adventists, I would like to invite you to a website where you can find the truth about Adventists. Even if you do not want to be one, its only fair that Adventists are rightfully understood. No one likes to be misunderstood.

Every month someone sends me a magazine which bitterly bashes Seventh-day Adventists. Again, I find this very strange that someone wants to spend their time, energy and money bitterly lashing out at any Christian denomination. Bitterly bashing people is just not in my psyche I guess.

While I have made a habit of tossing this magazine into the trashcan next to my mailbox every month, this time I did happen to open a couple pages. One page was an article saying that the Spirit of Prophecy is about the Holy Spirit and not Ellen White. Well of course it is. 2 Peter 1:21 tells us all the prophets wrote or spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. So when a prophet has the Spirit of Prophecy it is from the Holy Spirit and not from him or herself.  In other words, the Holy Spirit gives His own prophecies to men to share with us. The fact that Ellen White’s writings are from the Holy Spirit and not herself, gives it even more merit.

Some like to point out supposed contradictions in her writings. Bible skeptics use the same logic to discount the Bible that Spirit of Prophecy skeptics use to discount Ellen White. People can find things in the Bible to look like a contradiction, but once you study it out and think about it you realize it is not a contradiction. It’s the same with Ellen White. I have seen a handful of people myself, who have stopped believing in Ellen White’s writings, and then stopped believing in the Bible and God all together. Christians need to be aware, that the same supposed logic that will lead you not to believe in the writings of Ellen White will also lead you to stop believing in the Bible and God.

I hear people say Ellen White is too legalistic and conservative. This year I have been reading through the Testimonies to the Church, by Ellen White, and what I have been finding over and over is that she actually attacks legalism. She is far from conservative, and being legalistic and works orientated. In her writings I find grace and mercy. I find her to be very balanced, and if she has to go to either extreme she goes to the side of mercy. A lot of anti-Ellen White people have never read her for themselves. I invite you to do so. After all, you would not want someone telling people about you. If you are like me, you want people to get to know you personally instead of just going by what they hear. I invite you to get know Ellen White for yourself.

Here is a link where you can explore the writings of Ellen White and find the treasures of the Spirit of Prophecy.

Also if you have been to any of the anti-Ellen White websites, the links below may help you find factual and logical answers to some of her critics.

http://www.ellenwhite.info/ 

http://www.ellenwhiteanswers.org/

http://www.ellengwhitetruth.com/

Here is a link where you can find out how to tell from the Bible if someone really has the gift of prophecy or not.

I hope you find it to be as great a blessing as I have. If you decide not to accept her as a prophet I hope we can still be friends. There is no reason to be bitter either way. The Spirit of Bitterness, accusations, and finding fault with other peoples religions comes from Satan, not from God.

And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children—all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus. Revelation 12:17 NLT

Glimpses of Our God; God The Law AND Understanding Giver

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.  Psalms 119:34

God not only wants to give us His law, He also wants to give us understanding. I remember one time a friend made some muffins. She gave me some, and before I could take the first bite, her kids were already snickering. Turned out she forgot to add sugar. I could not spit the muffin out of my mouth fast enough! It tasted terrible. Psalms 19 tells us that when the law is combined with wisdom and “light to the eyes” (understanding?) that it is sweeter than honey. Without understanding the law is as bland as those muffins which had no sugar.

To me, nothing is more frustrating and hurtful than to be misunderstood. However, I am far from the only person who has had to live with their motives  misunderstood. In John 12, a woman comes to anoint the feet of Jesus. She wants to show her appreciation for His great love and sacrifice which changed her life. As she pours the perfume on his body, the snickering begins. Her motives are twisted and accusations are made. Her offering is being critiqued by a thief who had no business critiquing her. She continues her worship, doing her best to pretend he is not around. Rightfully so, because what she is doing has nothing to do with him. Its frankly none of his business. Jesus understood and that’s all that matters.

The other day some friends from out of town came to visit. They followed me in their white rental car to the beach. We came to a toll booth and I saw what I thought was their white rental car behind me. I wanted to pay the toll for them so I quickly pulled in front of the car so they could follow me through the booth. The car flashed its lights and honked its horn. That is when I realized it was not my friend’s car but a total stranger. The stranger glared at me and made a gesture insinuating that I was a total idiot to pull in front of someone like that. Never having seen my friend’s rental car before, how was I to know the difference? It was to me an easy mistake. I did not mean to intentionally pull in front of this stranger but they had no way of knowing that, and I had no way of explaining myself to them. They proceeded through the tool both and sped on their way never to be seen again. I am sure they told their friends later, about the idiot who looked right at them and pulled in front of them. That’s not the real story though. And they will never have a way of knowing that is not the real story. Once again I have to live my life being misunderstood.

I know this was a simple little incident. There are people who have had more hurtful misunderstandings than what happened to me at the toll booth. Still, it reminds me that if I have been misunderstood, that there is a very high chance that I have misunderstood others too. Sometimes we think we have all the facts we need to make a judgment when in reality we have no clue. Joseph thought he had all the facts when his fiancé Mary was with child. Thank God he was a just man, and kept his mouth shut about his speculations, because as it turned out he was wrong. Mary was not having an affair. You would have thought he had all the evidence you needed, but thank God Joseph, who was a man of justice according to Matthew 1, was also a man of understanding and compassion. Joseph was a man who honored the law and the seventh commandment, but thank God He also sought understanding, and an angel of God gave it to him, and explained the whole situation about what the Holy Spirit had done in her life. Could it be that we sometimes can misunderstand what the Holy Spirit is doing in the lives of others, and jump to unhealthy conclusions? I believe so. That is why we, like Joseph need to seek for understanding as well as the law. Having the law without understanding is like having muffins without sugar, and I guarantee  you don’t want to know what that’s like!

To study this week’s SS lesson click here.

To download the SS lesson guides to your phone click here.