Health and Healing, Lesson 11

I am writing tonight from my motel room in beautiful Central Georgia.

This week’s SS lesson talks about our attitude.

It is a law of nature that our thoughts and feelings are encouraged and strengthened as we give them utterance. While words express thoughts, it is also true that thoughts follow words. If we would give more expression to our faith, rejoice more in the blessings that we know we have–the great mercy and love of God–we should have more faith and greater joy. No tongue can express, no finite mind can conceive, the blessing that results from appreciating the goodness and love of God. Even on earth we may have joy as a wellspring, never failing, because fed by the streams that flow from the throne of God.—Ministry of Healing 251-253 (1905). 

On a Wednesday night in April 2006 I sat on a plane with 90 other missionaries waiting for our plane to take off from Lima, Peru and go back to the states! We were tired and weary. Some were sick. It had been a fruitful venture with 1,000 baptisms! Still we were tired and wear and ready to get home. We sat on the plane at the terminal for two hours before American Airlines finally cancelled the flight due to fog. Tired and weary, and now disappointed, we all wandered off the plane and into the airport where we slept on chairs or the floor. During the night I kept wishing I had something to lay my head on like other people had, bags and stuff. Then it hit me, I was suppose to have something. I left the projector on the plane! I could have used the projector and case for a pillow but instead I had nothing to lay my head on and spent the rest of the night wondering if I would ever see it again. We woke up the next morning (If we actually fell asleep in order to wake up) in an airport when we hoped to be waking up in our own beds.

First thing I did in the morning was email my parents and told them I had just woken up in the wrong country! Sure, I wanted to be home but a little humor made things lighter for me. Of course all 90 of us woke up in the same clothes we wore the day before. When I saw someone in our group to be funny, I asked them, “Hey wasn’t that what you had on yesterday?” Many got it and laughed. Others were confused and tried to explain the whole situation to me and why they could not change clothes. Others just got outright mad that I was having fun while they were upset they were not home by now. I was having fun, and why not? Would getting upset make it any better? I rushed to the gate to see if I could retrieve the projector only to find that my new best friend Juan Rivera had already saved it for me!

At 2:30 in the afternoon our plane finally takes off for Miami! As we are going down the runway about to take off the lady next to me says, “What’s that smell?” Scared me to death! If you want to scare someone, ask that question just as a plane is taking off. I looked around and did not see smoke or anything so I laid back and enjoyed the rest of the trip back to Miami. Glad God gave me a healthy attitude to make it through the bad times.

 More studies and devotionals available at In Light Of The Cross.

I Sure Do Rest A Lot!

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while. Mark 6:31

Here is an article on how working overtime increases your risk for heart attack!

This week’s SS lesson talks about the importance of rest, and that is something that I get plenty of. I do not apologize for saying this and why should I? Our western culture has the erroneous idea that being “too busy” is some sort of status symbol. It’s not. It’s not healthy and it’s not productive. Don’t get me wrong. I do my job. Like many gospel workers I put in about 60 hours a week. My blogs and Internet ministry do not count towards my hours worked. Being salaried I may never clock into work but I never really clock out either. Here is the key, I pace myself. I work hard but I also play hard. I don’t apologize for my golf hobby. It keeps me balanced. I used to obsess over things at work. Now I just go play golf. When I come back I find God has been taking care of things for me. I enjoy kayaking and watching sunsets. I enjoy sitting on the park bench reading my Bible and spending time with Jesus as friends and not just work associates. These things keep me balanced so I do not obsess, and by pacing myself I am more productive in my ministry than I would be otherwise.

Some have hinted that I need to be very secretive if I sneak in a game of golf after working 14 hours the day before, or that I should not be posting on Facebook that I am enjoying a sunset on the beach after having had Bible studies with 12 people earlier in the day. So in defense of myself (Not that anyone has placed me in defense mode) and other gospel workers for that matter, consider this; While you may happen to catch your pastor on the golf course on a weekday afternoon, what you did not see was him at the emergency room till 3am praying with a family in the waiting room. While you may see your pastor picking up his kids from school and taking them to Dairy Queen for the afternoon, what you did not see was him on the phone from 2-4am talking someone out of suicide. I speak for all gospel workers when I say, we are busy. There is a lot you see us do but there is even more you don’t see us do. 

The Gospel Worker, and everyone else needs time to rest. We need to recharge our batteries, but even during our “down time” when the mind is relaxed and clear, we can have some of our greatest bursts of inspiration. Some of my best ideas for evangelism have come on my day off while I was just relaxing or sitting on a park bench “with Jesus.”  Pace yourself. Work hard. Play hard, and when Jesus tells you, go ahead and come rest a while.

We all need a little Mary as well as a little Martha in all of us. I have to remind myself in the mornings, when I am tempted to hit the floor running, that I am not going to be any help to the multitude until I have first been alone with Jesus. I sure do rest a lot, and it makes me a more productive worker, and if I pace myself right, I will be a productive worker for decades to come.

Health and Healing, Lesson 4

 

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This week’s SS lesson takes a look at water. Here is a quote from the Spirit of Prophecy in the book, Reflecting Christ, page 18.

Christ Supplies Us With Living Water

     On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If a man is thirsty, let him come to me, and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” John 7:37, 38, N.I.V.  {RC 18.1} 
     The priest . . . performed the ceremony which commemorated the smiting of the rock in the wilderness. That rock was a symbol of Him who by His death would cause living streams of salvation to flow to all who are athirst. Christ’s words were the water of life. There in the presence of the assembled multitude He set Himself apart to be smitten, that the water of life might flow to the world. In smiting Christ, Satan thought to destroy the Prince of life; but from the smitten rock there flowed living water. As Jesus thus spoke to the people, their hearts thrilled with a strange awe, and many were ready to exclaim, with the woman of Samaria, “Give me this water, that I thirst not” (John 4:15).  {RC 18.2} 
     Jesus knew the wants of the soul. Pomp, riches, and honor cannot satisfy the heart. “If any man thirst, let him come unto me.” The rich, the poor, the high, the low, are alike welcome. He promises to relieve the burdened mind, to comfort the sorrowing, and to give hope to the despondent. Many of those who heard Jesus were mourners over disappointed hopes, many were nourishing a secret grief, many were seeking to satisfy their restless longing with the things of the world and the praise of men; but when all was gained, they found that they had toiled only to reach a broken cistern, from which they could not quench their thirst. Amid the glitter of the joyous scene they stood, dissatisfied and sad. That sudden cry, “If any man thirst,” startled them from their sorrowful meditation, and as they listened to the words that followed, their minds kindled with a new hope. The Holy Spirit presented the symbol before them until they saw in it the offer of the priceless gift of salvation.  {RC 18.3} 
     The cry of Christ to the thirsty soul is still going forth, and it appeals to us with even greater power than to those who heard it in the temple on the last day of the feast. The fountain is open for all. The weary and exhausted ones are offered the refreshing draught of eternal life. Jesus is still crying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” “Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).–The Desire of Ages, p. 454.  {RC 18.4} 

Here is an article about the benefits of water from the magazine Vibrant Life.

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.

Health and Healing, Lesson 3

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay Area.

This week’s SS Lesson is on physical fitness.

The Spirit of Prophecy and Sports

When I was younger I was told Ellen White was against competition. Our school was discouraged from having games with other schools because of this belief. We were told that athletic games were bad. However I just did an extensive word search on the Spirit of Prophecy database and found the word “competition” used twelve times. Nine times it was in reference to the business world and three times it was in reference to leaders in the church.  Never was the word used in reference to sports.

Here are the facts on what the Spirit of Prophecy actually says about sports and competition. The purpose of my research is more than just finding out what Ellen White really says about sports, but more importantly to show how balanced Ellen White was. She was not an extreme legalist. She was balanced and sensible. This leads me to the second purpose of my research, and that is to show how we need to read the Spirit of Prophecy for ourselves and interpret it for ourselves. The Spirit of Prophecy is not to be crammed down other peoples throats, nor is it my job or any other religious zealots job to interpret her writings for other people. I am a big fan of the Spirit of Prophecy and believe she has a very important message for the church. The church needs to heed her message! However I am becoming more and more convinced that the Spirit of Prophecy needs to be read individually and applied individually.

The Spirit of prophecy is loaded with all kinds of counsel and different people are prepared for different topics of counsel at different times. If the individual is faithful to read the Spirit of Prophecy the Holy Spirit will lead that individual to the topics that the individual needs to see and will shield him from certain truths until the appropriate time for such truths to be revealed. What I read about eggs and cheese, the Holy Spirit may not want my friend to see yet. So I read it to myself and apply it to myself. I am becoming more and more convinced this is how the Spirit of Prophecy should be used. Some truths are obviously general and should be shared with the general public, but common sense should tell us when we should share or just apply it to ourselves.

One quick thought before I get back on track talking about sports. We should never take Ellen White out of context. Here is the problem. ALL COMPLILATION BOOKS LITERALLY TAKE HER OUT OF CONTEXT! Compilation books are topical books that Ellen White never wrote nor put together. People have taken paragraphs out of their original context and put them together in such compilation books such as Counsels on Diet and Foods, Child Guidance, Adventist Home etc. Now there was no mischief intended when these compilation books were put together, but whenever you take a paragraph out of its original context and put it with other paragraphs which was not its original context then you have just LITERALLY TAKEN THINGS OUT OF CONTEXT. When you read the compilation books you miss the balance and the context that inspired Ellen White.

Okay, now back to the original topic of The Spirit of Prophecy and sports. Now of course I will be giving the references for what I find so you may read them in their original context, which in defense of the compilation books, that is what they do also.

This paragraph is from a biography about Ellen White, written by her granddaughter, Grace White Jacques. The book is entitled “My Special Grandmother,” and here is what she wrote on page 2: “It is my belief that we had the most ideal upbringing. The program was one of study, work, and play. In the spring and summer grandmother let all the neighboring children play baseball in her pasture, for the schoolyard was not big enough. She was against game playing that took time from our studies, worship, and chores. But when our work was done, or just before the afternoon chores, we played. She was in favor of a well-rounded program and did not advocate all work and no play.”

How fortunate that these neighbor kids got to meet the real Ellen White and not the one that has at times been preached to young kids that Ellen White taught that Christianity was all work and no play and no fun. Also her practice of letting kids play baseball on her property goes right along with what she actually taught. In Counsels to the Church, page 161 she writes: “I do not condemn the simple exercise of playing ball; but this, even in its simplicity, may be overdone.” Here is the balance that I believe is inspired. Ellen White was not an extremist, she was balanced.

While the Spirit of Prophecy warns against games taking us away from spiritual matters, the same is also said for work or even church activities or anything else that makes us unbalanced Christians. More times than not, it is not the game itself, but us letting it become a god. Money is not evil in and of itself but the love of it is the root of evil if we let it control us. The same is true for sports or anything else.  Read this paragraph where Ellen White encourages teachers and parents to join their kids in their sports! “They often hold themselves too much reserved, and exercise their authority in a cold, unsympathizing manner which cannot win the hearts of their children and pupils. If they would gather the children close to them, and show that they love them, and would manifest an interest in all their efforts and even in their sports, sometimes even being a child among children, they would make the children very happy and would gain their love and win their confidence. And the children would sooner respect and love the authority of their parents and teachers.” {Counsels to the Church p. 193} Blessed is the parent or teacher who has read this and implicated it in their dealings with their children, and blessed are the children!

In 1900 Avondale College was to set aside a special day to celebrate their anniversary. You can read about it here. This was to be a day of thanksgiving and praise, but instead the school celebrated with games. Ellen White noted that many played these games rudely and grotesquely. She said that the enemy was there. So, many have decided that Satan is involved in all sports. Ellen White never said that.  She said it was the way the games were played and the fact that this was to be a day for thanksgiving and praise to God. So it was not so much the game themselves as much as the spirit and attitude of those who played them.  Ellen White not only talked about evil spirits in our games but also in our church board and committee meetings. Obviously in neither cases are the games or meetings to be done away with but rather the evil spirit is to be done away with. Our games and our religious meetings must all be conducted in the right way and right times in order to obtain God’s approval.  Now obviously if you find it hard to act like a Christian while playing a game of cricket then you must just abstain from cricket. Likewise though, if you find it hard to act like a Christian in church board meetings when sensitive issues are being discussed then you should also abstain from church board meetings.

It is my personal conclusion after studying the Spirit of Prophecy that sports are not evil in and of themselves. I believe we need to be careful not to let our games distract us from spiritual matters. I don’t believe we should be scheduling sporting events for our kids during prayer meeting. I don’t believe we should be scheduling them right after sundown Sabbath, but should carefully guard the edges of the Sabbath. I believe sportsmanship and teamwork should be stressed more than winning. I believe we need to be careful not to let the spirit enter our games that entered the games in question at Avondale. At the same time we need to be careful that same spirit does not enter our church board meetings either.

Any way, I am not saying I am right or wrong. I will let the Holy Spirit tell you if I am right or wrong. I am just sharing my personal conclusions which I believe are based upon inspired writings as well as my opinion.

We should enjoy good things in moderation while abstaining from that which is evil. I believe this is the attitude of the Spirit of Prophecy. The Spirit of Prophecy is not extreme, it is balanced and reasonable. Some people who think they are Ellen White’s biggest fans are actually her worse enemies if they take her writings to extremes which she never intended and beat them over the heads of people that have not yet been convicted by the Holy Spirit on such matters. I believe we need to study the writings of Ellen White for ourselves and apply them to ourselves. We don’t need to read her for other people nor apply them to other people. We also need to read her in context and avoid compilation books which by nature and design are going to be extreme and out of context.

Before I close let me just attach this thought to my blog. Many people want to discredit Ellen white’s letters as not being inspired. Some people say her books are inspired but not any of her letters. Keep in mind though, John, Paul, Peter, James and Jude all wrote letters which ended up in the Scriptures as inspired. So likewise, just because Ellen White wrote it in a letter instead of a book does not necessarily mean what she wrote in the letter is not inspired.

Health and Healing, Part 2

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As we contemplate this week’s SS lesson on the power of  choice we also find something that Christ accomplished for everyone, believer and non-believer alike on the cross.

David says of God in Psalms 145:16, “Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.” Really? God satisfies the desire of every living thing? Even those who do not love or serve Him?  Yes! How so? Hebrews 2:14-15 says “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” 1 John 3:8 says, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” When we submitted to the devil he then took away our power of choice and made us subject to bondage. On the cross Christ freed the entire world from Satan’s bondage and gave us all our freedom of choice back. You see, I can go into a convenience store and buy a bottle of water or soda or beer. I can buy whatever I want. But the alcoholic has no choice. He has to buy the beer. He has chosen to remain in bondage.

Consider this passage from Steps to Christ page 47: “Many are inquiring, “How am I to make the surrender of myself to God?” You desire to give yourself to Him, but you are weak in moral power, in slavery to doubt, and controlled by the habits of your life of sin. Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, your affections. The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in your own sincerity, and causes you to feel that God cannot accept you; but you need not despair. What you need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ; your affections will be centered upon Him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him.  Desires for goodness and holiness are right as far as they go; but if you stop here, they will avail nothing. Many will be lost while hoping and desiring to be Christians. They do not come to the point of yielding the will to God. They do not now choose to be Christians.”

The drunkard may want to be alcohol free, but has he chosen to be free? I can go to a restaurant and see a lot of things on the menu that I want but the waiter will only bring me what I choose. Several years ago I was living in the Dallas area when Michael Jordan was supposedly retiring and making his last appearance with the Bulls against the Dallas Mavericks. I wanted to go see him before he retired. The radio announced when tickets would go on sale and I told myself I wanted to get the tickets when they went on sale. That time came and went and the game sold out and I did not get a ticket. I got mad at myself for forgetting to get the tickets. Then I realized if I had really wanted to see Jordan I would not have forgotten when the tickets would be on sale. While thinking I wanted the tickets I never chose to go get the tickets. That is the difference between wanting and choosing, and the power of the will and choice.

It is no arbitrary decree on the part of God that excludes the wicked from heaven; they are shut out by their own unfitness for its companionship. The glory of God would be to them a consuming fire. They would welcome destruction, that they might be hidden from the face of Him who died to redeem them.—Steps to Christ, P. 17

If it is not an arbitrary decree then that means both parties must have chosen that solution. Through brainwashing, addictions, etc. Satan has worked to take man’s choice away. In destroying the works of the devil God has not forced man to be saved, but He has given every living creature the choice to have what they desire.

 You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.

Health and Healing, Lesson 1

I wrote this devotional about 9 years ago from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Do you recognize this historic Dallas building?

While I like to keep my blogs current here is a devotional I wrote about 9 years ago but it seemed to go good with this week’s SS lesson on praising God, so here it is again.

Ruin Satan’s Day

Has Satan ever ruined your day? Well let me tell you about when I ruined his day! I was driving in the middle of the night across country to see my sister. I had just quit a job that was not working out and had no idea what the future held. I was headed to my sister’s to see about a job. I had no job, no money no future as far as I could see, and then to make matters worse I look in my rear view mirror and see lights flashing! Just what I needed, a speeding ticket while I was broke without a job.  I honestly had no idea I was speeding (enough to warrant a ticket), but the officer was not the least bit sympathetic.

Needles to say I was very frustrated. I was already feeling down before I got the ticket. Now I was in despair and gloom, as I asked God how He was going to take care of this ticket for me, since He knew I had no money when He allowed this to happen. ( Never mind the fact that it was my foot and not His on the gas pedal!) 

As I was complaining to God about the situation He had just placed me in ( Never my fault you know) and asking Him in despair and not faith  how in the world He was going to provide the money for  the ticket, I suddenly realized the obvious. God does not have to provide for this ticket.  God does not have to do anything for me! God does not owe me anything!  Then it hit me what I was doing. After creating me and dying for me, I was withholding my praise from Jesus until He took care of this ticket for me! All at once it dawned on me, if God never provided the money for this ticket, and stopped giving me any more blessings from this day forward, He still has already given me way more than I deserve! As a matter of fact, Calvary alone warrants all of my thankfulness, praise and devotion, without God ever giving me anything else!

There in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, I changed my attitude from gloom and despair to joy and praise! I decided not to ask God to help me pay for the ticket, but instead just thank Him and praise Him for everything else He has already done for me. I then remembered reading a passage from inspiration about how Satan can not stand to be in our presence when we praise God,  “When the evil one begins to settle his gloom about you, sing praise to God. … strike up a song about the matchless charms of the Son of God, and I tell you, when you touch this strain, Satan will leave you. You can drive out the enemy with his gloom; . . . and you can see, oh, so much clearer, the love and compassion of your heavenly Father.  {HP 95.4}”

Considering the above passage, I thought to myself, “ Hey if Satan is going to try to ruin my day by giving me this ticket (Remember it’s never my fault when I get a ticket) then I am going to ruin his day by singing praises to my God. I started singing praises at the top of my lungs. I was traveling in the middle of the night hundreds of miles away from my friends or family but I felt the presence of angels as they sang with me. I wasn’t worried about the ticket anymore. I was worried about making sure God knew I appreciated His sacrifice at Calvary. By the way, God did take care of the ticket for me. My sister also happens to be an angel. But even more impressive were the two lessons I learned that night. One: God owes me nothing and I owe Him everything. After Calvary if He never gave me another gift I still have cause to praise Him for the rest of my life! Lesson number two: If Satan tries to ruin your day, instead of murmuring and complaining start singing songs of praise and ruin his day instead!