Fear Not!

The recent Moody’s report regarding the financial state of the Bahamas; the high unemployment rate, the seemingly uncontrollable crime rate and related concerns make the above caption, “Fear Not,” seem impossible. How can one not fear in the midst of all the negative news? It is possible “in Christ,” which is more than a trite expression – it is a reality. One need not panic and succumb to anxiety; and the only way I know how to manifest such a positive outlook is through an abiding trust in Him who declared, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Therefore, I commend these few points to you:



Basis for “Fear Not”

The expression “Fear Not” did not originate with me. If it did, you would have reason to doubt and ignore it. However, that it is recorded in the Bible (Luke 2:10), and that the message of “Fear not” was borne by an angel of the Lord carry much authority and divine backing. Accordingly, it ought to give us some sense of assurance, certainty and hope. It calls for our attention.



What Does “Fear Not” Mean?

This question is best explained by reading more of the passage as recorded in Luke 2. There the Angel of the Lord exclaimed, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” So the message is for all people, or put another way, it is universal. Usually we do not find a one-gift that fits all, but this remedy is one that addresses the needs of all mankind. Verse eleven identifies the gift by explaining “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christa the Lord.” To know this Christ is to love Him, and to love Him is to prove Him; and to prove Him is to remain loyal to Him and His Word. However, lest I overlook what is the message of Christ, I go back to verse 10, which is “joy.” Joy is not a now and then feeling but a lasting reality in Christ that enables one to do the unthinkable, compared to human standards, and to survive tough times, or put another way, come through trying situations, while others are collapsing and unable to sleep.



And Now the Bonus

Some of us get bonuses only at Christmas or periodically. However, this “good news of great joy” extends beyond the current season into January, February -going back to December. It is year-round as noted in the above paragraph. This is why I personally do not see the need to play numbers or purchase lottery tickets. With a sincere embracing of the “Fear not” message, one is led to explore alternatives that tend to dignity and value. It is of interest to observe the preamble to the constitution of the Bahamas: “AND WHEREAS the People of this Family of Islands recognizing that the preservation of their Freedom will be guaranteed by a national commitment to Self-discipline, Industry, Loyalty, Unity and an abiding respect for Christian values and the Rule of Law.” It is my thinking that self-discipline, industry and hard work are better ingredients for the building of a nation. At the same time, as a follower of Christ, I am led to respect the freedom of choice He gives to all, notwithstanding that each choice carries a consequence. Nevertheless, my role is to encourage people to see what they possess now or could realize in Christ. He is our only surety. Again His message is more than a “fear not;” it is “good news of great joy.” And that is lasting even in the midst of sickness, apparent setbacks and trying circumstances, for it is in seeing Christ through the “crack.”



Happy Christ-filled Holidays and a Blessed New Year!



Pastor Leonard A. Johnson, president of the Atlantic Caribbean Union of Seventh-day Adventists (comprising the Bahamas, Cayman and Turks and Caicos Islands)

Attitude for Difficult Times

Inarguably these are hard economic times with the attending short work week, reduced pay packet and layoffs. Given these factors, many find themselves in a survival mode. And survival mode may not be all that bad, as it forces us to think and rethink our spending and our choice of items- whether necessary or want. In short, an attitude check is necessitated by current conditions. By that I am referring to a way of thinking and feeling toward others or something. In fact, the editorial in Wednesday’s Tribune, October 29, 2012 captioned “Difficult Times Ahead,” speaks to this fact. Taking the form of an interview with George Markantonis, president and managing director of Kerzners (Atlantis), a most salient point was made! Mr. Markantonis urged Bahamians to throw themselves “with devotion into the few customers who are coming here to these islands, and completely blow them away with friendliness and service.” He added that “we all have a responsibility now to set a service standard so high that those who really are traveling will want to come here again.” I thought what a remarkable idea! The following morning, I shared this article with a group of workers, challenging them to go the extra mile. In other words, don’t allow the switchboard telephone to ring more than twice; smile with everyone; be courteous and hospitable, and look for ways to help members, customers and fellow workers.


Service Oriented at Church


Each Lord’s Day scores of visitors attend our churches in the Bahamas, Cayman and the Turks and Caicos Islands. How do we treat them? Do we seek ways to go the extra mile, “blowing them away with friendliness and service?” These persons do not have to come to our churches –they choose to, and we should treat each one special. That may mean giving up my cherished seat, sharing my hymnal; assisting someone with parking, and even giving up my parking spot. In short, it may inconvenience me and my comfort. But isn’t the church service oriented? Christ said that He came “to serve and not to be served.” The same also applies to the way we treat each other as members; considering each person, rich or poor, black or white, educated or uneducated, is important.


Service Oriented Leaders

Taking this a step farther- as a leader do I take my assignment seriously? Do I prepare myself for my assignment as a Unit Leader, choir member, treasurer, PA system operator? What about the preaching? Do I seek to hear and receive from God in order to impart for God? When, as an elder or pastor, do I come to church? Going the extra mile may require that I attend church earlier than I do and even stay a little longer than I do, but not necessarily extending the church service. Service requires that we be considerate of others but more so of God, in allowing Him to fulfill His will and purpose through our lives.


Service Oriented at Home

Service or charity begins at home. I ought to be considerate of my spouse and children, going the extra mile to ensure that they feel special and loved. If we neglect to “blow them away with friendliness and service,” we may lose them and/or their support. Simply stated, let’s not take anyone for granted; and let me begin with you. Thanks for reading my weekly update. It is because of persons like you that I write and have an audience. Have a great weekend!

Where Is Your Quarterly?

This week I have chosen to focus on the Sabbath school quarterly, its cost, contents and use. Upon inquiring nearly three years ago, while serving as Conference president, I have discovered that it costs approximately $28,000 quarterly or $112,000 annually for quarterlies in the South Bahamas Conference (formerly Bahamas Conference). Quite frankly that is a lot of money to invest, considering that the local church defrays the cost. And to think that there are persons who misplace their quarterlies shortly after distribution is not encouraging for the church.


What Is the Purpose of Your Quarterly?


Have you considered that there is more to the distribution of Quarterlies? The church is intentional in fulfilling its mandate to prepare a people for the return of Jesus Christ. More so is the church deliberate in providing members with the daily spiritual literature to help them grow in their relationship to Christ, and to help them learn more about the church’s doctrines and its practices. Essentially, members are privileged to enroll in a weekly Sabbath school university, and, if faithful in studying each day, they will become knowledgeable, wise and more spiritually minded. Accordingly, I keep each quarterly as a type of commentary that I refer to from time to time.


Have You Considered the Cost?

In some places members are required to pay for their quarterlies. Maybe this explains why such brethren, as I am told, seem to cherish them. In fact, it was pointed out to me that a brother covers his quarterly with brown paper to protect it and to ensure full use beyond the quarter. If some members were to consider the cost of the quarterly and more so what solid information and inspiration go into each lesson, perhaps they would take a different approach to each lesson. Think of something that you cherish, and you will get the picture!

It is possible that the daily newspaper and the television command more respect and attention than the daily lesson study! It is about time that we go on a Sabbath School Lesson Study drive to encourage more members to study.


Is Your Involvement Sufficient?

As leaders, we can link up with the Sabbath School Department to encourage a greater involvement in the lesson study. Demonstrating excitement may prove contagious and rewarding. Showing up early to Sabbath School and encouraging others to do likewise will increase attendance and, hopefully, a greater percentage of persons following the daily lesson study plan. On the other hand, if we attend only the 11 0’clock service, then it is likely that we will communicate to members that Sabbath School is not important. Instead, take a class, and on some occasions present the lesson study on a whole- especially the difficult lessons.

The Member’s Role in Church Elections

Once again we have embarked upon that time of the year when election of church officers takes place. Accordingly, I share the following based on my understanding of the Church Manual. I would encourage each member to obtain one and read it.

How Members Are Elected


Many of you already know that there is the option of appointing a nominating committee or using the existing church board along with a few other members appointed from the floor. Either way, the process of electing members should be carried out prayerfully and objectively. While persons may be nominated to serve for up to two years at a time, my experience has shown that many prefer to commit to one year. Once the task of nominating appropriate persons is complete, and they having consented, it is now time to present the report to the church in a business meeting. The report with a complete officers’ list is presented. Less than a complete report would amount to a partial report. When it is presented to the church, the report is presented as a whole and not entertaining a vote name by name. Copies of the report should be provided for members. If this is not done, then it should be posted so that all can see. The Church Manual allows for a one to two weeks wait, unless members request to vote the report just after it is read. It is good to allow members time to look carefully at the report, for it is possible for the nominating committee to overlook “something.”

Members have Rights

Should a member have an objection or question regarding the report, the whole report is referred back to the committee to prevent embarrassment regarding anyone in an open business session. The objector is allowed to meet with the chairman and/ or nominating committee. If the point of objection is valid, the chairman ought to give consideration to the matter and have the committee make the adjustment or changes. The point of objecting ought not to be a trivial matter. On the other hand, a member or members should not knowingly sit back and say nothing if there is information that may guide the nominating committee. To keep silence and then complain to someone else is not right. Neither is it right to blame the pastor or committee when one had opportunity to do something about the matter.

Accepting the Final Decision

Once the church votes the Nominating Committee’s Report democratically, in business session, it is necessary that each member accept the outcome and support the pastor and various programs of the church. It is only when members and pastors are united and committed to the mission statement of the church as noted in Revelation 14 that the church is most effective. Let’s make 2013 dubbed “The Year of the Laity” a great year!

Thankful Always!

Generally, folks regard November as a month of thanksgiving, especially the latter part of the month. However, one’s orientation will determine what thanksgiving means. Accordingly, I offer a few thoughts for consideration.


Gratitude - A State of Mind

The Apostle Paul enjoins us “to give thanks always.” What does that mean? Is one being called upon to give thanks under all circumstances? How can one be positive when he or she has been afflicted with pain as result of a murder of a promising son? How can a person be thankful when he or she has been made redundant and Christmas is nearing? How can one be thankful when sickness and attending costs prevail? Notwithstanding the aforementioned, we can be grateful and positive!


Gratitude Does Not Condone Wrong Doing


Being thankful is not akin to condoning wrongdoing when one displays gratitude under trying conditions. Gratitude does not mean that one will not experience pain as it is only human to do so. However, a spirit of gratitude teaches one to look for the good even in every negative case. Consider Paul who advocated thankfulness always. In the book Ephesians he is in prison, a place not known to be a pleasant and welcoming environment, nonetheless he describes it as being “in heavenly places.” It was not the place but the mindset adopted by the Apostle that made the difference. The same experience can be ours. Flip the coin and think: had Paul taken the negative approach, he would have risen no higher than his thoughts; and life would have been one of numerous complaints and lacking in fulfillment and purpose as designed by God.


Life is not always Predictable

Life does not offer a bed of roses, children without issues, spouse without fault, or non-perfect church members. Politicians and preachers; maids and mathematicians; athletes and astronauts -all have shortcomings, for they are all human. So the reality is that as long as we live with another person, we will have days of disappointments and frustration. It is possible that if you have not lost a relative, it is likely to happen, as death is real and part of our lot. So if I accept these realities of life –choosing not to dwell on the negatives- I am more likely to find the good all around and certainly in spouse, child, friend and colleagues. Whatever we look for we will find. It is said that gold miners in South Africa sift through tons of dirt to find precious diamonds, but some persons pass precious diamond looking for dirt.


Potential to Change

Change to positive thinking and action is possible in every situation, otherwise the Bible is a myth and Christians are mistaken. I choose to think positively, for within each person, even the ones creating havoc and instilling fear in our land possess potential for good. It may require you or me to elevate the thinking of such persons to see their God-given potential as something for good. Each person is designed for greatness; as each has been entrusted with talents and abilities possibly untapped and yet to be recognized and cultivated. Christian writer Ellen White explains, “If human beings would open the windows of the soul heavenward, in appreciation of the divine gifts, a flood of healing virtue would pour in” {MH 116.1}. Additionally, White says that, “Nothing tends more to promote health of body and of soul than does a spirit of gratitude and praise” {MH 251.1}.


Application

This period of thanksgiving can translate into a daily and lasting experience when I begin to embrace a thankful disposition- choosing to look for the good in others and in me. Sometimes we can find it most difficult to forgive ourselves. Can you imagine if many of us would decide to be thankful and engage in thanks-living? Our nation would experience a positive turn-around. Too many persons are angry –angry with parent, sibling or friend, as one might have been betrayed or abused by a trusted one. True, there might a reason to be upset, but being upset and remaining that way stands to ruin our lives. We need to release some things and move on. Medical Research indicates ‘That positive emotions lead to biochemical changes in the body.” St. Francis of Assissi says, “Help me to change the things that I can and to accept the things that I cannot change.”

Precious in the Sight of God – Part II

Emulating God

These remarkable indications, in words and action, of our immeasurable value to God, ought to serve as a pattern for the way that we treat each other and a guideline for the way we should expect to be treated. Essentially, the attitude should be one of respect, affirming and building up one another. God does not condone or countenance abuse of any kind (mental, physical, psychological, verbal, sexual, substance, or medical abuse). These forms of cruelty go against His nature of love, compassion, and genuine care and concern. Current international research points to family violence as a global problem. Nevertheless, a believer of Christ is expected to emulate Him in loving his/her spouse and in being faithful. He or she is committed to family values and consistent in nurturing and providing for the family needs. The quest for material gain does not cause a true believer to neglect his/her family. No legislation is necessary for such persons to be loving, kind, patient, and thoughtful, for the Spirit of God governs them. In fact, it was Christ who said that by “love” all men should be able to identify His followers. Are you a follower? Am I a follower?

Of course, this Biblical tenet is unpopular, for societal norms and values have been relaxed and in some instances eliminated. Promiscuity and immoral living are touted, and those who shun such practices are made to feel as though they have done wrong. It is commonly opined, “Everybody is doing it.” This is, no doubt, a part of the reason for many failed marriages and, by extension, untold pain, abuse, and suffering by spouses and children. Is it any wonder that societies and nations seem to be fighting a losing battle? “As goes the family, so go the nation and the world.”



Help for the Troubled

It is good to know that God does not abandon anyone even when he or she is abusive. Though it is clear that God finds abuse repugnant, He welcomes the abuser, for He says, “Come now, and let us reason together.”(Isaiah 1:18, NKJV) Coupled with this is the message of restoration in the book of Malachi where God seeks to re-attract sons to fathers; fathers to sons; daughters to mothers; mothers to daughters; and spouses to each other. So, even with all the domestic issues, God is still with the family; and the family is still precious to Him. He desires that none be lost but that everyone is restored to realize his/her potential and usefulness by His grace.

When we appreciate the inestimable worth God places on each person, follow the example of God in caring for one another, and embrace the power found in the help that God offers, we will find, as Ellen White states, the home will become “a little heaven on earth.”(White, E. G. (1994; 2002) Sermons and Talks, Volume 2:200) Consequently, the world, with its lowered values, will marvel at the courage and humble dispositions of God’s people.

Precious in the Sight of God – Part I

Like two towering landmarks stand the institutions of the family and the Sabbath in the first two chapters of Genesis. Though they have been around for thousands of years, they are very much relevant and important for the proper functioning of societies in today’s world. Unfortunately, while the family is generally regarded as binding universally, there are many in Christendom who do not hold the same view about the institution of the Sabbath. Nonetheless, these two establishments are God’s gifts to mankind. However, for the purpose of this article, I refer to the family, its worth, and its need to be more greatly embraced for a more stable society; for the saying is so true: “As the family goes, so go the nation and the world.” Read More...

Responses to “Ministering in the 21st Century”

Following the release of last week’s Ministerial Weekly titled “Ministering in the 21st Century,” I received many positive feedbacks. As such I thought to share them with you, as you may find these responses beneficial and encouraging. And therefore I regard this weekly as a part II. Thanks for your responses.

Read More...

Ministering in the 21st Century

Ministering in the 21st Century is not easy as previous century values and beliefs have changed. As such ministering today requires a full commitment to Christ who knows everything and certainly knows what to do. Have you considered that it was the same remedy that church leaders in the book of Acts as well as those prophets and lay brethren in the Old Testament needed back then? Given the technological advances, it is tempting and inviting to trust in gadgets and skills, forgetting that it was Christ, still is Christ, and always will be Christ who blesses the church with success. Accordingly, I share three observations taken from an article entitled, "Making the Church Relevant" by Amina's Arrais, Associate Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference. Read More...

Media Relations – the Pastor and the Press

Media relations involve working with various media for the purpose of informing the public of an organization's mission, policies and practices in a positive, consistent and credible manner. Typically, this means coordinating directly with the people responsible for producing the news and features in the mass media. The goal of media relations is to maximize positive coverage in the mass media without paying for it directly through advertising - Wikipedia Read More...

Pastoring Made Easy

The above caption may prove to be misleading especially when one considers the demands of pastoring today. Nevertheless pastoring can be fun? I declare yes, it can be exciting and fulfilling. Here are a few basic but far reaching steps. Read More...

Self-denial

The above caption is commonly used especially in reference to another, but it is very difficult when it comes to one self. However, it is possible that we all go through phases of self-denial where we indirectly and at times directly refuse to acknowledge a situation. Read More...

Great Controversy Project and ACUM’s Prayer Initiative Update

Ever since the launch of the Great Controversy project on March 3, 2012, at the Centreville Church in the South Bahamas Conference, I am happy to report that nearly 30,000 copies of the Great Controversy have been distributed within the Bahamas, Cayman and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Read More...

A Remarkable Hope

Recently, I have encountered the passing of numerous friends and church members that resulted in my feeling a sense of void and wanting to believe that it did not happen, especially in the case of one of them. A colleague of mine remarked recently, “Before you could fully grieve for one, another dies.” Undeniably death takes its toll upon us- even preachers. Accordingly, I am led to revisit a most powerful treatise on death by the Apostle Paul recorded in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 comprising, in my opinion, of three salient points that impact believers with hope.

A. Jesus’ Death Guarantees the Resurrection of the Righteous Dead
"For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 4:14, NKJV). For the Apostle Paul, the resurrection of Jesus guaranteed the resurrection of the dead in Christ. It is hard to overlook this fact that he preached in Acts 17:3, which gave rise to the establishment of the Thessalonian church. Unfortunately, many of the believers felt that they would witness Christ’s coming in their day, but the death of some of them engendered concern. Therefore, Paul appealed in 1 Thessalonians 4:13:

“I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope” (NKJV).
However, this initial part of Paul’s response would not have sufficed, for there seemed to have been other concerns regarding the passing of loved ones. One may deduce that they simply needed more assurance such as if a loved one died in Christ will he be at a disadvantage in having the righteous living precede him?

B. Persons Who Die in Christ Are not Disadvantaged When He Returns
As already noted in 1Thess. 4:14, it says that God “will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus,” and in verse 16 it says when. Paul argues that the righteous dead who are described as “asleep” will be raised first. That is to say that the righteous living will not be taken up to meet the Lord Jesus Christ in advance of the dead in Christ. Doesn’t this seem contradictory to popular thinking today that when one dies in the Lord he or she goes directly to heaven to be with the Lord? Paul’s reasoning of “God bringing with Him” the dead is clearly understood as raising them. So why would it be necessary to raise them if they are already in heaven? Jesus clarifies in John 5: 28, 29 “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth— those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation (NKJV).

C. The Righteous Living Are not Advantaged over the Righteous Dead at Christ’s Return
To make clear his reasoning, Paul writes in 1 Thess. 4:15 “that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep” (NKJV). He is emphatic, as he says, “by no means.” In fact, he says in verse 17 that those “who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (NKJV). The “them” refers to the dead in Christ. And thus we shall always be with the Lord (NKJV).

So Paul contends that there is no advantage for the Christian if he or she lives to witness Christ’s return. And there is no disadvantage if she or he dies before that time, as both will be caught up together to see and be with the Lord following the raising of the dead in Christ. What counts is a daily readiness for Christ’s return. So it does not matter if Christ calls or comes, it will be glory to see Him and receive His welcome to eternal life.
It is this remarkable hope that keeps me going- even with the passing of so many saints. No wonder Paul says, “Comfort one another with these words” (verse 18 NKJV). Let us keep comforting one another with the word of God. We will see our loved ones again!

Understanding The Spirit of Prophecy

Very often we hear someone say, “Mrs. White says,” or “the Spirit of Prophecy says.” How should we interpret these statements?

For Seventh-day Adventists, fundamental belief # 18, The Gift of Prophecy, says that “One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen. G. White . As the Lord's messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested.” (Joel 2:28, 29; Acts 2:14-21; Heb. 1:1-3; Rev. 12:17; 19:10.)

This raises the question, what is the Spirit of Prophecy?
It should be noted that prophecy is one of the gifts of the Spirit, which implies that there are others (See 1 Cor. 12:9-11, 28). The gift of prophecy is one of the gifts of the Spirit, and an identifying mark of the remnant church (Rev. 12:17). Revelation 19:10 says that “the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy.”

Ellen White and the Gift of Prophecy
Seventh-day Adventists believe that the gift of prophecy was manifested in the life and works of a woman by the name of Ellen White (1827 – 1915). Her prophetic ministry to the Seventh-day Adventist Church spanned over seventy years. She was a speaker and writer, and her ministry influenced the growing church in areas such as music, leadership, biblical interpretation, health, family and finance to name a few. During her lifetime she wrote over 100,000 pages of material.

The Reason for the Gift of Prophecy

The question naturally arises as to why God gave her this gift. She never called herself a prophet, but simply referred to herself as the lesser light leading to the greater light, or as the Lords messenger. Adventists believe that God entrusted her with this gift to help his struggling remnant church in the last days before Jesus returns to the earth.

Ellen White’s Authority and the church

What is the role of Ellen White in the administration and operation of the Seventh-day Adventist Church? Her writings are used to help in the formation of doctrine and church practice, but the operation of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is governed by a church manual.

How to Interpret Ellen White

A. Read everything that she has to say on the subject: Like any document, in order to fully understand the message of the writer, you must interpret their message within the context in which it was given. Much of Ellen White’s counsel was given to specific individuals under specific circumstances. It is best to know what these circumstances were, before we apply the counsel today, under similar circumstances.

B. Read the historical context.: In p. 204, she told one brother eat eggs (which are high in cholesterol) raw, soaked in grape juice, but on p. 366 she chided a parent for placing meat, butter and eggs on the table and serving it to the children. Two different counsels based on two different situations.

Don’t use It as a Test of Faith In public, do not make prominent and quote that which Sister White has written as authority to sustain your positions. To do this will not increase faith in the testimonies. Bring your evidences, clear and plain, from the Word of God. A ‘Thus saith the Lord’ is the strongest testimony you can possibly present to the people. Let none be educated to look to Sister White, but to the mighty God, who gives instruction to Sister White.’ --Letter 11, 1894, Manuscript Releases, Volume 5 [Nos. 260–346, 1971–1973] (Ellen G. White Estate, 1993), 140.

Finally, we must spend time in the word of God, and allow the Spirit of God to change us from within. God has blessed His church with the gift of prophecy. Let us appreciate this gift, and allow the message to prepare our hearts for the soon return of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Have Confidence in Your Church and Its Leadership

In recent times, there have been several emails circulating claiming that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is being sued by the Roman Catholic Church over the Great Controversy Project; the General Conference president, Elder Ted Wilson, is a Jesuit; the Mark of the Beast is embedded in the Great Controversy Project, and also promoting a new conference dedicated to proclaiming “the historic doctrines held by God's true people in all ages.” Accordingly, I seek to address these charges. Read More...

Pastor Johnson Defends Speaking Out

Hi Saints,

Many thanks for your words of encouragement following my address to the Bahamian nation marking its 39th anniversary of independence this past Monday evening. Truly God blessed! Today I share a write-up of the same by Bro. John Garcia, a teacher of Bahamas Academy. Also I regret to inform you of the passing of Sis. Alice Tinker this morning, wife of Pastor Errol Tinker, president of the North Bahamas Conference. Let us keep Pastor Tinker, Jason, Britney and other family members in prayer. Read More...

What Makes a Great Nation?

The celebration of the thirty-ninth anniversary of Independence comes at a most propitious time in our nation’s history. The wave of lawlessness and the bad press of our seeming inability to address this menace threaten a major source of our income, namely tourism. Added to the above are the social ills that plague our nation and limited budget that equally pose obvious challenges. How do we celebrate under these conditions and possible threats?

It is hoped that these challenges will propel us to look beyond our helplessness to a Power and Source very much capable of remedying our situations for the best. However, it is not automatic, as it calls for a looking unto Him and recognizing that He is to be revered and worshiped. According to the fifth book of the Bible (Deuteronomy 4.7-9), it is observed that a nation is great “who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for. “ Additionally, it explains that a nation is great when it has “statutes and judgments so righteous.” Thirdly, a nation is great when it remembers God and passes on His teachings to successive generations as noted by Moses when he penned: “Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.”
Based on these three points, one must ask, “How does our nation fare?” “Do we consider the importance of God’s presence, His statutes- and ensure that coming generations know Him?” Undoubtedly, these are questions pertaining to the Bahamas that need to be answered. More so, they are questions that beg answers from each of us.

Acknowledging God’s Presence
It may surprise you that we acknowledge God’s presence through small and apparently insignificant things. For example, saying thanks to God each morning we awake, recognizing that it was not by chance that we awoke. Also, before consuming the meal, saying thanks. Yes, we acknowledge His presence when we seek His guidance, mindful that He alone protects ultimately. We acknowledge His presence through learning to depend on Him and leaving our lives and the well-being of our family to Him for sustenance and not to chance and gambling. And so, before we retire for the night, we would want to thank God for His protection and leading during the course of the day; and ask for His protection while we sleep, for we are unaware of what might be lurking around.

Adhering to God’s Statutes
A nation without laws and regulations is a nation that is doomed for failure and chaos. But a nation that has laws and enforces them makes for a nation of order, discipline and law abiding citizens. Adherence to rules and regulations should begin at home and continue outside the home. It is when children are allowed to get away without discipline that they grow up to take greater chances and continue until they are caught. However, with proper disciplining and responsible parenting, many an embarrassment could have been prevented or avoided. Police Commissioner Greenslade’s appeal for us to pay attention to minor offences and infractions, if adhered to, will serve to have a great impact on law and order. Vandalism of public and private property could be avoided, and chances are our jails would not be so crowded, and funds expended for courthouses could be applied elsewhere.
A former US Judge, Roy Moore of Alabama, is possibly most remembered for his refusing to remove the Ten Commandments from his courtroom wall. Because of this bold stand, he was removed from the bench. Notice the following poem that he wrote since then:

America the beautiful, or so you used to be.
Land of the Pilgrims’ pride; I’m glad they’ll never see.

Babies piled in dumpsters, Abortion on demand,
Oh, sweet land of liberty; your house is on the sand.

Our children wander aimlessly poisoned by cocaine
Choosing to indulge their lusts, when God has said abstain

From sea to shining sea, our Nation turns away
From the teaching of God’s love and a need to always pray

We’ve kept God in our temples, how callous we have grown.
When earth is but His footstool, and Heaven is His throne.

Recalling God’s Favors and Blessings
A nation that recalls God’s blessings is a nation that shows gratitude and appreciation. Therefore, Bahamians ought to be the first among nationals to express thanks to God, for He has blessed us in so many ways. Consider our geography which is the envy of many; our economy, though challenged, now has the potential for a turn around; our people are gifted, and our seas are rich in resources. Above all, we need to pass on the legacy of these blessings which are to be attributed to God, for when a nation forgets its God, it is destined to failure and hardship; but when a nation remembers God, it is bound to be blessed and receive His favors.
Bahamas, if ever we needed the Lord, it is now. If ever we needed to know Him, it is now. Let’s put our trust in this God, for He is able to keep and sustain us individually and as a nation.

Have a Happy Independence!
Pastor Leonard A. Johnson, president of the Atlantic Caribbean Union of Seventh-day Adventists.

When Last Did You Try Kindness?

The last thing one is inclined to render is kindness, especially to one or to a system that has been just the opposite: harsh, exacting and unfair. Not to mention if one has been wounded and greatly inconvenienced willfully by another. Forgiveness in the aforementioned poses a challenge for even seasoned Christians, much less for a non-professing believer of God. Is it possible to show kindness or be nice to one who attempted rape, or murdered your brother? Admittedly, I would be the first to declare that this is a bit too much! However, isn’t this response something Christ requires of His followers? Read More...

An Affirmation of Creation

The International Faith & Science Conferences 2002-2004 report of the Organizing Committee to the General Conference Executive Committee through the office of the General Conference President, September 10, 2004.

Introduction
The very first words of the Bible provide the foundation for all that follows. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..." Gen 1:1. Throughout Scripture the Creation is celebrated as coming from the hand of God who is praised and adored as Maker and Sustainer of all that is. "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands."--Ps 19:1 NIV
From this view of the world flows a series of interlocking doctrines that lie at the core of the Seventh-day Adventist message to the world: a perfect world without sin and death created not long ago; the Sabbath; the fall of our first parents; the spread of sin, decay and death to the whole creation; the coming of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, to live among us and rescue us from sin by His death and resurrection; the Second Coming of Jesus, our Creator and Redeemer; and the ultimate restoration of all that was lost by the Fall.
As Christians who take the Bible seriously and seek to live by its precepts Seventh-day Adventists have a high view of nature. We believe that even in its present fallen state nature reveals the eternal power of God (Rom 1:20), that "'God is love' is written upon every opening bud, upon every spire of springing grass."--Ellen G White, Steps to Christ, p 10
For us, all Scripture is inspired and tests all the other ways, including nature, through which God reveals Himself. We have great respect for science, and applaud the prominence of science departments in our institutions of higher learning and healthcare. We also value the work of Seventh-day Adventist scientists and researchers not employed by the church. We train students at our colleges and universities how to employ the scientific method rigorously. At the same time, we refuse to restrict our quest for truth to the constraints imposed by the scientific method alone.

The Question of Origins
For centuries, at least in the Christian world, the Bible story of creation was the standard explanation for questions about origins. During the 18th and 19th centuries the methodologies of science resulted in a growing understanding of how things worked. Today no one can deny that science has made a remarkable impact on our lives through advances in the areas of agriculture, communication, ecology, engineering, genetics, health, and space exploration.
In many areas of life, knowledge derived from nature and knowledge from divine revelation in Scripture appear to be in harmony. Advances in scientific knowledge often confirm and validate the views of faith. However, in regard to the origin of the universe, of the earth, and of life and its history, we encounter contradictory worldviews. Assertions based on a study of Scripture often stand in stark contrast to those arising from the scientific assumptions and methodologies used in the study of nature. This tension has a direct impact on the life of the church, its message and witness.
We celebrate the life of faith. We advocate a life of learning. Both in the study of Scripture and in the orderly processes of nature we see indicators of the Creator's marvelous mind. Since its earliest days the Seventh-day Adventist Church has encouraged the development of mind and understanding through the disciplines of worship, education, and observation.
In earlier decades the discussion of theories on origins primarily occurred in academic settings. However, philosophical naturalism (wholly natural, random and undirected processes over the course of time) has gained wide acceptance in education and forms the basic assumption for much that is taught in the natural and social sciences. Seventh-day Adventist members and students encounter this view and its implications in many areas of daily life.
In its statement of fundamental beliefs the Seventh-day Adventist Church affirms a divine creation as described in the biblical narrative of Genesis 1. "God is Creator of all things, and has revealed in Scripture the authentic account of His creative activity. In six days the Lord made 'the heaven and the earth' and all living things upon the earth, and rested on the seventh day of that first week. Thus He established the Sabbath as a perpetual memorial of His completed creative work. The first man and woman were made in the image of God as the crowning work of Creation, given dominion over the world, and charged with responsibility to care for it. When the world was finished it was 'very good,' declaring the glory of God."--Gen 1; 2; Ex 20:8-11; Ps 19:1-6; 33:6, 9; 104; Heb 11:3

Reasons for the Faith and Science Conferences
Because of the pervasive and growing influence of the theory of evolution, the General Conference Executive Committee (2001 Annual Council) authorized a three-year series of Faith and Science conferences. These conferences were not called to modify the Church's long-held position on creation but to review the contributions and limitations that both faith and science bring to our understanding of origins.
The principal reasons that led to the convening of these conferences involved:
1. Philosophical questions: An ever-present challenge exists in defining the relationship between theology and science, between that of faith and reason. Are these two streams of knowledge in partnership or in conflict? Should they be viewed as interactive or are they independent, non-overlapping spheres of knowledge? The dominant worldview in most modern societies interprets life, physical reality, and behavior in ways that are markedly different from the Christian worldview. How should a Christian relate to these things?
2. Theological questions: How is the Bible to be interpreted? What does a plain reading of the text require of a believer? To what extent should knowledge from science inform or shape our understanding of Scripture and vice-versa?
3. Scientific questions: The same data from nature are available to all observers. What do the data say or mean? How shall we arrive at correct interpretations and conclusions? Is science a tool or a philosophy? How do we differentiate between good and bad science?
4. The issue of nurture and education for church members: How is a church member to deal with the variety of interpretations of the Genesis record? What does the church have to say to those who find in their educational curriculum ideas that conflict with their faith? Maintaining silence concerning such issues sends mixed signals; it creates uncertainty and provides fertile ground for unwarranted and dogmatic views.
5. Development of living faith: Clarification and reaffirmation of a Bible-based theology of origins will equip members with a framework for dealing with challenges on this topic. The Faith and Science Conferences were not convened simply for the intellectual stimulation of attendees, but as an opportunity to provide orientation and practical guidance for church members. The church cannot pretend to keep its beliefs in a safe place, secure from all challenge. In doing so they will soon become relics. Church teachings must engage and connect with the issues of the day so that they remain a living faith; otherwise they will amount to nothing more than dead dogma.

The Faith and Science Conferences
Two International Faith and Science Conferences were held--in Ogden, Utah 2002, and in Denver, Colorado 2004--with widespread international representation from theologians, scientists, and Church administrators. In addition seven1 of the church's thirteen divisions conducted division-wide or regional conferences dealing with the interaction of faith and science in explanations about origins. The Organizing Committee expresses appreciation to the participants at these conferences for their contributions to this report.
The Ogden conference agenda was designed to acquaint attendees with the range of ways in which both theology and science offer explanations for the origin of the earth and life. The agendas for conferences in divisions were determined by the various organizers, although most included several of the topics dealt with in Ogden. The recent conference in Denver was the concluding conference of the three-year series. Its agenda began with summaries of the issues in theology and science, then moved on to several questions regarding faith-science issues in church life. These questions included:
• The on-going place of scholarship in the church. How does the church maintain the confessional nature of its teachings while being open to further development in its understanding of truth?

• Educational models for dealing with controversial subjects and the ethical issues involved for teachers and church leaders. How shall we teach science courses in our schools in a way that enriches, rather than erodes, faith?

• What ethical considerations come into focus when private conviction differs from denominational teaching? How does personal freedom of belief interface with one's public role as a leader in the church? In other words, what are the principles of personal accountability and the ethics of dissent?

• What are the administrative responsibilities and processes in dealing with variations in, or re-expressions of, doctrinal views?
Scholarly papers by theologians, scientists, and educators were presented and discussed in all the conferences. (The Geoscience Research Institute maintains a file of all papers presented at the conferences.) The Ogden and Denver conferences involved at least some representation from every division of the world field. Well over 200 persons participated in the conferences during the three-year period. More than 130 attended the Denver meeting, most of whom had attended at least one other of the Faith and Science Conferences.

General Observations
1. We applaud the seriousness and dignity that characterized the conferences.
2. We noted the strong sense of dedication and loyalty to the church that prevailed.
3. We experienced that even though tensions surfaced at times, cordial relations were maintained among the attendees, with fellowship transcending differences in viewpoint.
4. We witnessed in these conferences a high level of concurrence on basic understandings, especially the normative role of Scripture, buttressed by the writings of Ellen G White, and the belief by all in God as beneficent Creator.
5. We found no support for, or advocacy of, philosophical naturalism, the idea that the universe came into existence without the action of a Creator.
6. We acknowledge that the conflict between the biblical and contemporary worldviews impacts both scientists and theologians.
7. We recognize that tension between faith and understanding is an element of life with which the believer must learn to live.
8. We observe that rejecting contemporary scientific interpretations of origins in conflict with the biblical account does not imply depreciation of either science or the scientist.
9. While we found widespread affirmation of the church's understanding of life on earth, we recognize that some among us interpret the biblical record in ways that lead to sharply different conclusions.
10. We accept that both theology and science contribute to our understanding of reality.

Findings

1. The degree to which tension exists regarding our understanding of origins varies around the world. In those areas where science has made its greatest progress in society the questions among church members are more widespread. With the advance of science across all societies and educational systems there will be a corresponding increase in members wondering how to reconcile church teaching with natural theories of origin. Large numbers of Seventh-day Adventist students attend public schools where evolution is taught and promoted in the classroom without corresponding materials and arguments in favor of the biblical account of origins.
2. Reaffirmation of the church's Fundamental Belief regarding creation is strongly supported. Seventh-day Adventist belief in a literal and historical six-day creation is theologically sound and consistent with the teaching of the whole Bible.
3. Creation is a foundational pillar in the entire system of Seventh-day Adventist doctrine--it bears direct relationship to many if not all other fundamental beliefs. Any alternative interpretation of the creation story needs to be examined in light of its impact on all other beliefs. Several of the Faith and Science Conferences reviewed alternative interpretations of Genesis 1, including the idea of theistic evolution. These other interpretations lack theological coherence with the whole of Scripture and reveal areas of inconsistency with the rest of Seventh-day Adventist doctrine. They are therefore unacceptable substitutes for the biblical doctrine of creation held by the church.
4. Concern has been expressed regarding what some see as ambiguity in the phrase "In six days" found in the church's statement of belief on creation. It is felt that the intended meaning (that the six-day creation described in Genesis was accomplished in a literal and historical week) is unmentioned. This situation allows for uncertainty about what the church actually believes. Further, it provides room for other explanations of creation to be accommodated in the text. There is a desire for the voice of the church to be heard in bringing added clarity to what is really meant in Fundamental Belief #6.
5. Although some data from science can be interpreted in ways consistent with the biblical concept of creation, we also reviewed data interpreted in ways that challenge the church's belief in a recent creation. The strength of these interpretations cannot be dismissed lightly. We respect the claims of science, study them, and hope for a resolution. This does not preclude a re-examination of Scripture to make sure it is being properly understood. However, when an interpretation harmonious with the findings of science is not possible, we do not allow science a privileged position in which it automatically determines the outcome. Rather, we recognize that it is not justifiable to hold clear teachings of Scripture hostage to current scientific interpretations of data.
6. We recognize that there are different theological interpretations among us regarding Genesis 1-11. In view of the various interpretations we sensed a high degree of concern that those involved in the Seventh-day Adventist teaching ministry conduct their work ethically and with integrity--by standards of their profession, the teachings of Scripture, and the basic understanding held by the body of believers. Since Seventh-day Adventists recognize their comprehension of truth is a growing experience, there is an ever-present need to continue the study of Scripture, theology, and science in order that the truths we hold constitute a living faith able to address the theories and philosophies of the day.
7. We appreciate and endorse the significant value of ongoing international and interdisciplinary dialog among Seventh-day Adventist theologians, scientists, educators, and administrators.

Affirmations
As a result of the two international conferences and the seven division conferences, the Organizing Committee reports the following affirmations:
1. We affirm the primacy of Scripture in the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of origins.
2. We affirm the historic Seventh-day Adventist understanding of Genesis 1 that life on earth was created in six literal days and is of recent origin.
3. We affirm the biblical account of the Fall resulting in death and evil.
4. We affirm the biblical account of a catastrophic Flood, an act of God's judgment that affected the whole planet, as an important key to understanding earth history.
5. We affirm that our limited understanding of origins calls for humility and that further exploration into these questions brings us closer to deep and wonderful mysteries.
6. We affirm the interlocking nature of the doctrine of creation with other Seventh-day Adventist doctrines.
7. We affirm that in spite of its fallenness nature is a witness to the Creator.
8. We affirm Seventh-day Adventist scientists in their endeavors to understand the Creator's handiwork through the methodologies of their disciplines.
9. We affirm Seventh-day Adventist theologians in their efforts to explore and articulate the content of revelation.
10. We affirm Seventh-day Adventist educators in their pivotal ministry to the children and youth of the church.
11. We affirm that the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church identified in Revelation 14:6, 7 includes a call to worship God as Creator of all.

Recommendations
The Organizing Committee for the International Faith and Science Conferences recommends that:
1. In order to address what some interpret as a lack of clarity in Fundamental Belief #6 the historic Seventh-day Adventist understanding of the Genesis narrative be affirmed more explicitly.
2. Church leaders at all levels be encouraged to assess and monitor the effectiveness with which denominational systems and programs succeed in preparing young people, including those attending non-Adventist schools, with a biblical understanding of origins and an awareness of the challenges they may face in respect to this understanding.
3. Increased opportunity be provided for interdisciplinary dialog and research, in a safe environment, among Seventh-day Adventist scholars from around the world.

Conclusion

The Bible opens with the story of creation; the Bible closes with the story of re-creation. All that was lost by the Fall of our first parents is restored. The One who made all things by the Word of His mouth at the beginning brings the long struggle with sin, evil, and death to a triumphant and glorious conclusion. He is the One who dwelt among us and died in our stead on Calvary. As the heavenly beings sang for joy at the first creation, so the redeemed from earth proclaim: "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created....Worthy is the Lamb who was slain..."--Rev 4:11; 5:12 NKJV
____________________
1East-Central Africa Division, Euro-Africa Division, North American Division, South Pacific Division, Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, Southern Asia Division, West-Central Africa Division.
____________________
This document, prepared by the Organizing Committee of the International Faith & Science Conferences 2002-2004 was presented to and received by the General Conference Executive Committee at the Annual Council in Silver Spring, Maryland, October 11, 2004.
Response to an Affirmation of Creation
Whereas belief in a literal, six-day creation is indissolubly linked with the authority of Scripture, and;
Whereas such belief interlocks with other doctrines of Scripture, including the Sabbath and the Atonement, and;
Whereas Seventh-day Adventists understand our mission, as specified in Revelation 14:6, 7, to include a call to the world to worship God as Creator,
We, the members of the General Conference Executive Committee at the 2004 Annual Council, state the following as our response to the document, An Affirmation of Creation, submitted by the International Faith & Science Conferences:
1. We strongly endorse the document's affirmation of our historic, biblical position of belief in a literal, recent, six-day Creation.
2. We urge that the document, accompanied by this response, be disseminated widely throughout the world Seventh-day Adventist Church, using all available communication channels and in the major languages of world membership.
3. We reaffirm the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of the historicity of Genesis 1-11: that the seven days of the Creation account were literal 24-hour days forming a week identical in time to what we now experience as a week; and that the Flood was global in nature.
4. We call on all boards and educators at Seventh-day Adventist institutions at all levels to continue upholding and advocating the church's position on origins. We, along with Seventh-day Adventist parents, expect students to receive a thorough, balanced, and scientifically rigorous exposure to and affirmation of our historic belief in a literal, recent six-day creation, even as they are educated to understand and assess competing philosophies of origins that dominate scientific discussion in the contemporary world.
5. We urge church leaders throughout the world to seek ways to educate members, especially young people attending non-Seventh-day Adventist schools, in the issues involved in the doctrine of creation.
6. We call on all members of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist family to proclaim and teach the church's understanding of the biblical doctrine of Creation, living in its light, rejoicing in our status as sons and daughters of God, and praising our Lord Jesus Christ--our Creator and Redeemer.
____________________
As a response to the "An Affirmation of Creation--Report", this document was accepted and voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Church Executive Committee at the Annual Council in Silver Spring, Maryland, October 13, 2004.

A Seventh-day Adventist Statement on Gambling

Definition of Gambling
Gambling-defined as a paid game of chance-increasingly impacts more and more people all over the world. The concept of winning at the expense of others has become a modern curse. Society pays the escalating cost of associated crime, victim support, and family breakdown which erodes the quality of life. Seventh-day Adventists have consistently opposed gambling as it is incompatible with Christian principles. It is not an appropriate form of entertainment or a legitimate means of raising funds.

Gambling Violates Christian Principles of Stewardship
Gambling violates Christian principles of stewardship. God identifies work as the appropriate method for gaining material benefit; not the playing of a game of chance while dreaming to gain at the expense of others. Gambling has a massive impact on society. Financial costs result from crime committed to pay for the gambling habit, increased policing, and legal expenses, as well as associated crimes involving drugs and prostitution. Gambling does not generate income; rather it takes from those who often can ill afford to lose and gives to a few winners, the greatest winner of course being the gambling operator. The idea that gambling operations can have a positive economic benefit is an illusion. In addition, gambling violates the Christian sense of responsibility for family, neighbors, the needy, and the Church.1

Gambling Creates False Hopes

Gambling creates false hopes. The gambling dream of "winning big" replaces true hope with a false dream of a statistically-improbable chance of winning. Christians are not to put their hope in wealth. The Christian hope in a glorious future promised by God is "sure and certain"- unlike and opposite to the gambling dream. The great gain that the Bible points to is "godliness with contentment."2

Gambling is Addictive
Gambling is addictive. The addictive quality of gambling is clearly incompatible with a Christian lifestyle. The Church seeks to help, not blame, those suffering from gambling or other addictions. Christians recognize that they are responsible before God for their resources and lifestyle.3

Summary
The Seventh-day Adventist Church organization does not condone raffles or lotteries to raise funds and it urges members not to participate in any such activities, however well- intentioned. Neither does the Church condone state-sponsored gambling. The Seventh-day Adventist Church calls on all authorities to prevent the ever-increasing availability of gambling with its damaging effects on individuals and society.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church rejects gambling as defined above and will not solicit nor accept funding that is clearly derived from gambling.



1 Thess 4:11; Gen 3:19; Matt 19:21; Acts 9:36; 2 Cor 9:8, 9
1 Tim 6:17; Heb 11:1; 1 Tim 6:6
1 Cor 6:19, 20


________________

This statement was voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Administrative Committee (ADCOM), for release at the time of the General Conference Session in Toronto, Canada, June 29-July 9, 2000.

The following article is the official statement of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on gambling. I thought to send to you in light of the proposed referendum on gambling. It is not our intention to pressure the government in any way as to deny one the freedom of choice. However it is important that our position is known. Accordingly, I welcome your comments and observations.

Revisiting the Call

Recognizing the Call
It is undeniable that Pastoral Ministry is demanding, taxing and unpredictable. A pastor is expected to fulfill numerous roles; but if not careful, he/she might overlook what is most vital, fundamental and necessary.
When God calls a pastor, He calls him primarily to spend time with Him, preach, evangelize and manifest His love and compassion to mankind. Mark 3:14, 15 says, “Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons:” (italics supplied for emphasis). The secret and excitement to ministry is found in spending time getting to know Christ. The pastor who makes it his/her business in knowing Christ will have much to say of that daily encounter.

Recognizing that which Distracts from the Call
A pastor must recognize that while there is a building to be built or a church wing to be added, it is not his/her primary calling. The same could be argued for handling the church’s checkbook, counseling members and transporting members, etc. As necessary and important as these are, they may take away from the main role of the pastor and that his spiritual development and equipping of the members. I must admit that, looking back, I have ben guilty of doing too many things that others within the body would have been willing to do. At times, I failed to train and help members recognize their giftedness; and did not release them for usefulness in the various roles of the church.

Recognizing the need for a Daily Reminder of the Call
In Acts 6, it is said that when the church responsibility increased, the members sought out “seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” to “appoint over this business.” This was done so that the apostles might give themselves “continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:3,4, NKJV). Could it be that pastors are dabbling in too many things and that the most important is being neglected? To the extent that we pastors are spiritual will be the extent that our churches will be spiritual. Chuck Swindle makes the point that a brain surgeon, a lawyer, a politician and a salesman can cheat and be immoral and still be successful at what he or she does, but not so for the pastor. He says, “You cannot do those things as a Christian or a minister and continue enjoying the Lord’s blessing” (Rise and Shine, p. 198). So it “boils down” to our time with God. I cannot overemphasize the need for quality time with God, for herein lies the secret and success of ministry. When first things are placed first, we as pastors will be effective in visiting and meeting the needs of members without being distracted. Also, we will not hide behind sermon preparation or unnecessary business. Pastoral ministry is first about getting to know God, so that we may get to know His people and lead them into a personal relationship with Him.

I Want a Pastor

From time to time discussions ensue regarding the training and equipping of pastors with some people saying, “I wish my pastor was trained in counseling, business and law;” while others contend, “I just wish my pastor would be a pastor; preach, visit and provide spiritual nurturing.” Accordingly, I share some of my views based on experience and observation.

Well Rounded Trained Pastor
There is no doubt that a pastor who has been adequately trained can be most effective. However, the description of that training and what it ought to entail does not always meet the approval of all; for some see equipping as at least a Master of Divinity degree inclusive of the initial Religion or Theology degree, which can take between 6-7 years. On the other hand, some see it as the initial degree and a counseling, law and/or business minor; but the question arises, what do members want? What do they ask?

Spirituality and Solid Biblical Preaching
It has been my observation over the nearly 31 years in ministry that not once did any member expressed a desire for me to know more counseling, law or business. Their complaint related to preaching on prophecies, regular visitation and having compassion. Now does that say a pastor should not broaden his training? No! I am not saying that he or she should not broaden it beyond the initial BA degree. In fact, I am saying just the opposite. The pastor ought to go beyond the initial degree. I would recommend the M. Div. degree or its equivalent. Fortunately, it can be done online, in some instances, and within the denomination.

Looking at Training for Other Professions
Has it occurred to you that Medical Doctors, except for sensing a call to the preaching ministry, seek to become specialists in their field? The same could possibly be argued for other professions. So why should the pastor not equip himself/herself in ministry? Yes, the languages of Greek and Hebrew are important in the pastoral profession. At the M. Div. level, there will be additional training in counseling. To me this is what I seek to encourage when I refer to a trained clergy. When the pastor concentrates on being the best in his/her area, he/she will recognize that there are others whom God has gifted to provide some of the other services. For instance, the pastor as a professional should conduct gift inventory seminars, helping members to develop their gift for use within and without the body. Maybe when applied, this will free up the pastor to do what he/she is called to do. Do you recall in Tuesday’s Adult Sabbath School Lesson where according to Acts 6:4 with the appointment of the 7 Deacons the disciples were free to focus “continually on prayer and the word”? It concerns me when pastors feel that they need to specialize in other areas that might pull them away from being pastors. As pastors, we cannot be all things to all people; but we should be preachers, compassionate and available. It is my view that God will provide the other workers to complement the pastor’s work. With a more educated membership shouldn’t there be a more educated clergy and passionate about pastoring? At the end of the week and during the week people educated and less educated are crying for dedicated men and women of God.

It Pays To Hold On

In the Book of Hebrews chapter 10 is found a three-fold appeal to believers that I regard so appropriate for the current age in which we live. The writer who I believe was the Apostle Paul implores his readers to “draw near” (vs.22), “hold fast” (vs. 23), and “to provoke unto love and good works” (vs. 24). Of course, there is a basis for such admonitions, which is noted in the verses preceding verse 22. There the Apostle Paul explains the accomplishment of Christ of having broken down the barriers that prevented mankind from entering into the presence of God. Employing the language and illustration of the Old Testament sanctuary, he writes: “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,” let us move closer to God, cling to the faith and spur one another to love and good deeds. Therefore, I elaborate on those three appeals with the view of inspiring us to practice them, if we are not, and if we are, to go to another level.


Come Closer

The words of Hebrews 10:22 represent an invitation to believers, in view of what Christ has accomplished as already noted, calling His followers to “draw near.” Owing to the effects of sin, by nature human beings (like Eve and Adam) tend to shun God’s presence; and even when men and women are inclined to come near to Him, they are timid. However, Paul entreats believers to come close to God with “boldness,” which denotes confidence. Isn’t that wonderful? It shows God’s concern for mankind wanting relationship and closeness or simply intimacy. To spurn God’s offer through the Apostle Paul would be tantamount to showing a disregard for His offer. Coming close or closer to Him involves a study of God’s Word, prayer, witnessing, church attendance and other factors.


Hold On to the Faith


There would seem to be progression here; whereas before, believers were entreated to come closer, now they are admonished to “hold fast the profession of [their] faith.” What does that mean? Hope is implied by Paul calling believers to be steadfast, as later explained in verse 35: “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.” And the reason for that is predicated on or tied to the fact that Christ is “faithful.” So essentially we can accept His word or promises, as God does not lie, He is reliable. Additionally, Paul describes Him as “a great High Priest” (Heb. 4:14, NKJV). He is unlike any other high priest. Other priests offered sacrifices daily and annually, but Christ offered not a lamb but Himself; and He did so just once and for all (Heb. 10:11-12, NKJV). Is it any wonder the Hymn Writer Elisha A. Hoffman, penned, “Christ has for sin atonement made, what a wonderful Savior” (SDAH 335)? For these reasons all believers need to remain faithful to Him. This is not the time to part company with Christ or exit His church. Instead, this is the time to hold tenaciously to Christ, as life itself depends on accepting the merits of His sacrifice.


Spur One Another to Good Works


In verse 24, The Apostle Paul advocates, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (NKJV). According to the original language, “to stir up” conveys the idea of “to provoke” as noted in the King James Version. Also, “In a good sense, a sharpening; used figuratively meaning an encouragement to some action or feeling”. Normally this term of “provoking” is associated with inciting or spurring one to do wrong. However, Paul employs it in a positive way. In doing so, he says that one is to consider ways to “provoke” another to “love and good works.” This comes through “holding fast,” or as stated by Paul in verse 25, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see ‘the Day approaching” (NKJV).

The basis for all of this is made urgent by the fulfillment of our hope in the second coming of Christ. Says the writer to the Hebrews, “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise. For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry” (10:36, 37, NKJV).

ACUM’s Annual Symposium 2012

Each year the Atlantic Caribbean Union proposes to hold a symposium in an attempt to better acquaint its membership about the happenings in each of its fields and university. Apart from acquainting the membership the occasion allows for the reporting of evangelism, which is the lifeblood and main objective of ACUM’s existence. Accordingly, on Wednesday, May 23, 2012, beginning at 7 p.m.; the Hillview Seventh-day Adventist Church on Tonique Williams Highway will be the site where hundreds of worshipers are expected to gather for an evening of praise and celebration to God.

What to Expect?
There will be 5 video reports representing the four local fields of the Atlantic Caribbean Union and the Northern Caribbean University. The four fields are The South Bahamas Conference, The North Bahamas Conference, Cayman Islands Conference and the Turks and Caicos Islands Mission. As such each president will present his field’s report and the university’s president will present his report. They are pastors Paul Scavella, Errol Tinker, Shiann O’Connor, Michael Smith and Dr. Trevor Gardiner. Based on previous reports, all can anticipate inspirational and exciting reports utilizing the best in today’s technology.
Also, the Symposium reports will be punctuated with gospel singing featuring several choirs and individuals; and Pastor Leonard Johnson, union president, will culminate the occasion with a charge.

Creating a Sense of Togetherness
This is more than just reporting and/or sharing. The Symposium serves to engender a sense of appreciation for the entire union and an awareness of how God is truly blessing His work across the union territory. Also, it is hoped that with the annual symposiums in all the fields of the Union it will further unite all workers and members to accomplish the mission of the church, which is clearly stated in ACUM’s Strategic Plan: “To proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to the Bahamas, The Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands.” As such, a special invitation is extended to all local members within Nassau, Bahamas to attend. As for the others of you, your prayers will be most appreciated.

Position of Adventist Church Regarding National Elections

On Monday, May 7, 2012 Bahamians from all walks of life went to the polls to cast their ballots to elect 38 persons to represent them in the new Bahamian parliament. Many Adventists were among the 88 percent of the registered voters who turned out to participate in this process. After the ballots were counted, 29 of the Progressive Liberal Party’s candidates and 9 of the Free National Movement’s candidates were successful. It appears that everyone is satisfied that the process was peaceful.

Seventh-day Adventists Congratulate New Government
As expected following an election, there will be persons who will rejoice while others would be disappointed. Notwithstanding the outcome, “as Christians, Seventh-day Adventists recognize the legitimate role of organized government in society” and the right of all people to vote freely. Accordingly, the Seventh-day Adventist Church congratulates and expresses support for the government of the day. In keeping with this practice, as Union President, I made several calls to the new prime minister on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 but was unable to reach him. However, the following day, Wednesday, May 9, I spoke with Prime Minister Christie. Also it was my privilege to pray with him on behalf of the Adventist community. Additionally, I wrote applauding him on the significant success experienced by his party at the polls. I assured him of the support and continued prayers of the Adventists for him, his family and the government.

Reaching the Former Leader
Also, I took the time to call the former prime minister, Hubert Ingraham, and offered commendation for his service to the Bahamian people and especially his support for the Adventist Church. This was followed by a prayer for him and his family. In addition, a letter expressing these sentiments was sent to him. A letter was also sent to The Democratic National Alliance Leader, Brenville Mc Cartney, to commend him for the involvement of his party in the electoral process.

Reaffirming the Church’s Position
I am mindful that there are some members who believe that it is wrong for Christians to participate in national elections, because they consider elections secular. However, it should be noted that the Adventist Church does not support this position. Instead, the church believes that “we should participate in the voting process available to us when it is possible to do so in good conscience and should share the responsibility of building our communities.” However, it should be noted that, “Adventists should not … become preoccupied with politics, or utilize the pulpit or our publications to advance political theories.” Furthermore, the official statement of the Seventh-day Adventist Church says, “The people of God will recognize human government as an ordinance of divine appointment and will teach obedience to it as a sacred duty within its legitimate sphere.”
We give God all the praise and the glory for an orderly, free and fair election. Adventist Christians must now lead the way in building a united, safe and prosperous Bahamas.

Reaching Non Seventh-day Adventists

There is no doubt that as Seventh-day Adventists we know much about doctrines. In fact, some of us can explain them and defend them if necessary. Unfortunately, some of us use this knowledge to lambaste others who do not think or worship the way we do. If that was not enough we do so feeling it is God's will of reaching non-Seventh-day Adventists. After all, to do otherwise would be to water down or sugar coat God's more direct way of reaching others. Is that really so? Undeniably there are times when our approach of reaching others should be direct, but make certain that God is directing. However, the current Adult Sabbath School lesson teaches us that there is a method or sequence of sharing the doctrines, and therefore my article this week.

Relationship Is Crucial
Consider the following quotation by Ellen White. To me it makes a salient point. Ellen White explains, "Not just preaching but relationship that saves or retains people." Additionally, she points out, "It is not only by preaching the truth, not only by distributing literature, that we are to witness for God. . . . Not all the books written can serve the purpose of a holy life. Men will believe, not what the minister preaches, but what the church lives. Too often the influence of the sermon preached from the pulpit is counteracted by the sermon preached in the lives of those who claim to be advocates of truth." (9T 21.1)
In a familiar quote, it is said that Christ mingled with people. Essentially, people are not interested in how much we know. Instead, they are interested in knowing how much we care about and for them. Thereby we will win the confidence of people only when we demonstrate this genuine concern. That comes by mingling among people, for the most part, outside of the church. How many of us have friends outside the church? How many of us see it as our responsibility to make friends and mingle with non-Adventists?

Presenting the Truth Sequentially

It is equally important that we reach people where they are, but how often do we? Have you noticed that for the first time seeing a new prospect, even before getting to know him or her, some among us are inclined to present "testing truths" such as the seventh-day Sabbath or unclean foods? These advanced teachings may require one to make significant changes or lifestyle adjustments. Also, if there is a failure to present Christ and His love for sinners, people are greatly challenged, confused and may resent Adventists and their teachings. Sequence, timing and tact are all important, but the guidance of the Holy Spirit is extremely important.

Retention or Follow Up
At times we are motivated (myself included) to lead a person to the point of baptism and overlook that there is more to growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ. This requires nurture, patience and endurance. Newly baptized persons, for the most part, are new babes needing understanding and befriending. This puts much pressure on the pastor and elders when only a few members regard this nurturing seriously. Such demands are placed upon so few, and the possibility of letting go is real.

Four Essentials for Growth

Recently, a friend gave me two copies of the book, The Big Four, written by S. Joseph Kidder. Why two you ask? Well, he felt certain that I would enjoy the book and would desire to give a copy to someone. He was correct, as I am enjoying the book and deciding to whom I should give the extra copy.

The book, which is the companion to the current adult Sabbath School lesson, is a must for elders, pastors and administrators who desire to see their church and field grow; and therefore I share just four basic points, which make up the book. Do check with your local ABC to purchase a copy. Also, it is possible that a copy or two may be at your church, or you may have been given the book but did not read it.



Empowering Servant Leadership

The author, Kidder, who is a former pastor, lectures in the area of spiritual growth, evangelism and leadership at the Theological Seminary, Andrews University. Based on research, primarily in selected Seventh-day Adventist congregations in the North American Division, Kidder underscores that a major component of a vibrant church is leadership. He explains, “Growing churches have leaders –pastors, lay pastors, elders, or ministry directors – who genuinely want their congregation to grow and are willing to pay the cost.” He observed that such leaders love evangelism and posses “a strong passion for the lost and an eagerness to do anything to connect them with the heavenly Father.” Essentially, he argues that such leaders are optimistic and pray much.



Passionate and Authentic Spirituality

Kidder negates the belief that “growing churches tend to de-emphasize spirituality.” Instead, he contends that “flourishing Adventist congregations . . . emphasize spirituality often, strongly, and passionately.”



Committed and Active Laity

Notwithstanding the effectiveness of pastors within a local church, Kidder explained that it is crucial to have active lay involvement if a church is to be successful and effective. His survey of NAD churches revealed that a vast majority of members “have not won one person to Jesus Christ during their lifetime.” Quite frankly, that cannot work if a church is to grow and be vibrant. Also, his research showed that the membership in some instances “is aging and . . . congregations are struggling to attract new members and hold on to young ones.”



God-exalting Worship

Worship experience is crucial to growing congregations. To Kidder, based on his research, the style of worship is not essential. Based on his findings, what is important is “the quality of the worship experience, (and) not its placement on the traditional-contemporary continuum.” Furthermore, he states, “If the heart of the believer touches the heart of God, worship will take place. Though style is not mandatory for growth, excellence, and purpose, prayer, hope, and professionalism are vital.”

Essentially, these factors are fundamental in church growth and, as already noted, form the basis of Kidder’s book; and thus the name, The Big Four. I highly recommend it for all leaders and passionate disciples.

Considerations on Assisted Human Reproduction


Read More...

Sharpening the Saw

Stephen Covey makes an interesting analogy or application when he refers to the Sabbath principle as “sharpening the saw.” He penned the following: Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down a tree. “What are you doing?” you ask. “Can’t you see?” comes the impatient reply. “I’m sawing down this tree.” “You look exhausted!” you exclaim. “How long have you been at it?” “Over five hours,” he returns, “and I’m beat! This is hard work.” “Well why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen that saw?” you inquire. “I’m sure it would go a lot faster.” “I don’t have time to sharpen the saw.” The man says emphatically. “I’m too busy sawing!” So often we fail to pause or stop to sharpen the saw for that which is necessary. Accordingly, I share just three suggestions with you.

Sharpening the Saw of Daily Devotion
According to Mark 1:35, Jesus rose early in the morning, “a great while before day” to commune with His Father. And Ellen White adds, “if the Saviour of men, the Son of God, felt the need of prayer, how much more should feeble, sinful mortals feel the necessity of fervent, constant prayer” (SC 93.4). Prayer meant much to Jesus, as He valued His time with God. Therefore He would not miss out on the opportunity to spend such quality time with His father. So what about us? How often do we pray? Time spent in prayer will prove beneficial in many ways. To put it bluntly, I cannot get along without it; so each day, therefore, I pause to talk with God so as to sharpen my saw.

Sharpening the Saw of Time for Family and Others
The Bible says that a man who fails to provide for his family is worse than an infidel (1 Timothy 5:8, NKJV). Many of our societal ills unfortunately stem from a poorly managed family, or a family where mom or dad is too busy for children or each other. The demand of earning is real, as there are bills to pay and a standard of living to maintain. However, if we fail to learn how to manage time or create balance, we will make the funds; pay the bills but risk losing our children or marriage. I am reminded of a story I heard of a youngster who asked, “Daddy how much do you make an hour?” The father thinking that it was not his son’s business quipped, “Why do you want to know? Go to your bed.” A few minutes later the father’s heart was touched, so he decided to tell him, “I make $10 an hour.” In response the boy asked his father to lend him $5, and he got his piggy bank and took out $5 to make up the difference to pay for one hour. The point has been made; children and spouses need quality time.

Sharpening the Saw of Church Attendance
The writer to the Hebrews says that it is important that we make time for church attendance. He states, "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25, NKJV). Many are the benefits to be derived from church attendance. Among them are spiritual growth and nurturing and having the opportunity to engage in a useful ministry of serving others and the community. This can be very fulfilling.
So “sharpening the saw” is essential for life. It is like oxygen to the soul. The follower of Christ cannot survive without it. Furthermore, consider that each weekend humanity is presented with a day comprising of 24 hours known as the Sabbath. To some, it is called the Lord’s Day. Unfortunately, there are many who feel that to take time off for worship on God’s Sabbath will disadvantage them. Such persons have yet to understand the way and manner God works. Instead of time lost, one will see time gained in taking the time off “to sharpen the saw.” It is when we pull away from the mundane that we grow in grace and in favor with God. Are you pausing to sharpen the saw, or are you too busy to stop?

Because He Lives!

Bill and Gloria Gaither are known for such songs as “He Touched Me,” “Something Beautiful,” “Let’s Just Praise the Lord” and “The King is coming” among others. However, among their over 400 songs is “Because He Lives.” Since 1970 its lyrics have encouraged many persons with hope and assurance.

The timing and occasion of “Because He Lives” was one characterized by “great turmoil” owing to the prevailing drug culture. And if that were not enough, there was the Vietnam War. It was at this time that Benjy, their first son, was born. With two girls already and now a son, the Gaithers wondered about the time. Uncertain and somewhat discouraged about what was happening during the period of the late 60’s and the beginning of the 70’s, they were inspired to pen the words: “How sweet to hold our new-born baby and feel the pride and joy he gives, but better still the calm assurance this child can face uncertain days because He lives.” So encouraged and reassured, they reasoned that because Christ lives, they and their children could face tomorrow. The same could be our experience given the difficulties and uncertainties of the present. We, too, “can face uncertain days [with some assurance] because Christ Jesus lives.”

Facing Uncertainties
We all love to know that there is someone who knows the way or understands a situation we are about to face. Knowing that we are not alone and that we have some indication as to how the matter is likely to turn out gives a sense of calm and assurance. We have that assurance in Christ. The writer of the book of Hebrews noted, "We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin" (Hebrews 4:15, The Message). Is it any wonder that in the next verse we are encouraged? “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16, NKJV).
Few would deny that these are the days that require the help of one who knows the times and what to do. That person is definitely Christ. As God, He knows everything. He is all-powerful and posses everything. In short, He is in control and stands ready to assist us in every situation. The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians argues: "And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17, NKJV). Christ is alive and now intercedes on our behalf before His Father, and hence as Bill and Gloria Gaither, we can face the present and the future with certainty, “Because He lives.”

Christ’s Resurrection Gives Meaning
It is a known fact that if one can find meaning or a reason to live, he or she is likely to shun despair and suicide. It is when he perceives that there is no reason to live that he feels inclined to let go and calls it quits; but with Christ inspiring hope, one now possesses a different outlook. What once seemed dismal and gloomy now appears to be optimistic and promising. Although the situation is still likely to be the same, the difference is in the outlook, which was made possible by looking unto Christ. I speak from experience as one who rather see the bucket as “half full” instead of “half empty.” While the water level is the same, to say it is “half full” is more promising and hopeful than to say it is “half empty.” It is Christ who gives us hope; and the fact that He is alive punctuates our lives with positive vibes. Some times others who know not Christ look at Christians as being weird people; for they reason how can they be so cheerful or positive in trying circumstances such as during tough economic times? How can they still praise the Lord when they have been laid off or diagnosed with cancer? Truth told, it is not the Christian, it is Christ and His resurrection as Bill and Gloria Gaither wrote, “Because He Lives, we, too, can live.” Their ultimate and lasting joy is not tied to a given political party, a political figure or even an election outcome. It is rapped up in Jesus; and therefore, the current season referred to as Holy Week must translate into daily living with a sense of hope and much faith. Following this week, it must not be business as usual; for the reality of this God and what He means to this nation and to this world must now translate into responsible and positive living. If the reality of the cross and resurrection power of the tomb do not impact us to godly living, then we are likely to make of none effect the power of that event –the resurrection of Christ.

Ellen White, a noted author, in her work Desire of Ages, encourages all Christians to “spend a thoughtful hour in prayer each day on the life of Christ especially the closing scenes which take in the resurrection.” It goes without saying that what we read, meditate upon and muse over will have an “in kind” effect upon us. Therefore, I ask that you read about and meditate on the life of Christ; and accept His resurrection, recognizing that “Because He Lives, we can face [today and] tomorrow.”

Leonard A. Johnson, D. Min., President,
Atlantic Caribbean Union of Seventh-day Adventists
(Comprising the Bahamas, Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands)

For The Bible Tells Me

In 2010, the April 20th edition of the Nassau Guardian carried an article entitled, “Bahamas in Throes of High-Stakes Debate” by Simon. (Simon, a young Bahamian who wishes to remain anonymous, writes a column, 'Front Porch,' that is published every Tuesday in the Nassau Guardian.) However in addressing the issue of gambling and the church’s response, he explained that given the “pluralistic democracy” of our country the church would need to come better than “For the Bible tells me so.” Essentially, the arguments used must be more than Biblical, as “many people of faith oppose the belief that gambling is intrinsically wrong and should, therefore, always be prohibited.” So what ought to be the basis of our actions and decisions?

What Is the Basis of Your Action?
The basis of one’s action is critical; for if that footing is founded on a wrong premise, then there is likely to be a problem. We will recall that last year North American Radio Preacher Harold Camping predicted the return of Christ on May 21. Notwithstanding that the Bible clearly states, "of that day and hour knoweth no man” (Matthew 24:36 & Mark 13:32), Camping still predicted and there were persons who believed his report. And so is the same for various beliefs and practices with a now relaxed position of marriage between a man and a woman. Instead of “the Bible tells me so,” many argue that God made persons with homosexual tendencies and feelings. Others argue, “It can’t be wrong.” Then the New Age Movement does not help, as it seems to advocate “an individual approach to spiritual practices and philosophies, and the rejection of religious doctrine and dogma” (Wikipedia). An individual is encouraged to find his or her own path especially as it relates to afterlife. However Camping and his followers said, "We tremble before God as we humbly ask Him for forgiveness for making that sinful statement." They also state, "We are so thankful that God is so loving that He will forgive even this sin." The Bible must be foundational in our decisions.

Modern Science
Modern science confirms the danger of cigarette smoking, use of alcohol, the danger of pork consumption and certainly the benefits of regular exercise. Arguments could also be made regarding the woes of promiscuity. However these are all taught by the Bible and were taught thousands of years ago. And therefore the question arises, “Can we rely just on modern science?” Certainly not, for the Bible is the guide for the child of God. A more appropriate question might be, “Whose report will you believe?” “For the Bible tells me so” represents more than just lyrics for children; instead they form the basis of guidance, direction and hope for followers of Christ. God’s Ten Commandments could be traced in some ways to the foundation of many countries’ laws and statues. Modern societies still uphold the integrity, honesty, and respect for the properties and possessions of others.

God’s Word Is Still Authoritative
So in a pluralistic society (consisting of varying views and beliefs), it does not mean that we no longer employ the Word of God as our authority. Yes, with increased knowledge it does not mean that we are free to ignore the blueprint. Equally important is the Spirit of Prophecy to guide in doctrines, teachings and practical living. It is crucial that the Word of God receives center stage and respect if society is to prosper and be strong in wholesome values. No one is to replace the Word of God. Even preachers must ensure that they are responsible in applying and interpreting God’s Word avoiding the temptation to become conscience for another. The word of God is “light;” it is “lamp” and it is “a sure word of prophecy.” This Word of God is more than another book. It is God’s Word to us; and therefore, “the Bible tells me so” must be used unapologetically.

Believing in the Spirit of Prophecy

From time to time questions are raised concerning the Spirit of Prophecy and the matter of inspiration. As the Spirit of Prophecy Coordinator for the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ACUM), I thought to share this official statement on the Spirit of Prophecy that was approved and voted by the General Conference session in Utrecht, the Netherlands, June 30, 1995.

A Statement of Confidence
We, the delegates assembled in Utrecht for the fifty-sixth session of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, express praise and thanksgiving to God for His gracious gift of the Spirit of Prophecy.
In Revelation 12, John the Revelator identifies the church in the last days as the "remnant . . . which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (verse 17). We believe that in this brief prophetic picture the Revelator is describing the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which not only keeps "the commandments of God" but has "the testimony of Jesus Christ," which is "the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10).

Seen in Life and Ministry of Ellen White
In the life and ministry of Ellen G White (1827-1915), we see God's promise fulfilled to provide the remnant church with the "spirit of prophecy." Although Ellen G White did not claim the title "prophet," we believe she did the work of a prophet, and more. She said: "My commission embraces the work of a prophet, but it does not end there" (Selected Messages, Book One, p 36); "If others call me by that name [prophetess], I have no controversy with them" (ibid., p 34); "My work includes much more than this name signifies. I regard myself as a messenger, entrusted by the Lord with messages for His people" (ibid., p 36).
Ellen G White's chief burden was to direct attention to the Holy Scriptures. She wrote: "Little heed is given to the Bible, and the Lord has given a lesser light to lead men and women to the greater light" (Review and Herald, January 20, 1903). She believed that although her writings are a "lesser light," they are light, and that the source of this light is God.

Ellen White’s Writings Carry Divine Authority

As Seventh-day Adventists, we believe that "in His Word God has committed to men the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are to be accepted as an authoritative, infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the revealer of doctrines, and the test of experience" (The Great Controversy, p 7). We consider the biblical canon closed. However, we also believe, as did Ellen G White's contemporaries, that her writings carry divine authority, both for godly living and for doctrine. Therefore, we recommend:
1) That as a church we seek the power of the Holy Spirit to apply to our lives more fully the inspired counsel contained in the writings of Ellen G White, and
2) That we make increased efforts to publish and circulate these writings throughout the world.

Except for the first paragraph and the caption and sub-captions, the article is reprinted in its entirety from the official statements of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Retirement: Future Planning by Keith Major

Retirement is a beautiful word if one has prepared for it. People prepared for retirement have disciplined themselves and denied themselves in order to have money saved for when their income ceases. They then travel, visit grandkids in other locales, and live at a lifestyle consistent with the past but with more freedom. They are stress- free and can afford most things whether expensive meals, medicine, or other items. There is another story of those who didn’t prepare for retirement. They live from month to month, live high on credit and their overtime, thinking that the joyride would last forever and forever. More and more people are fitting into this category as the baby-boomers begin to retire with great frequency.

The question arises, how do I ensure that I’m in the first category and not the second? The answer is through prudent management of your financial affairs , your health and your spending habits from a very young age. While many of us think of retirement when the temples begin graying, we should think of it from the time we get our first job, and put something away never to be touched until the time arises.

THREE PILLARS OF FINANCIAL PLANNING
There are three pillars that are necessary for a good retirement. One is your government security. This is your national insurance retirement payment. From the time you begin working, money is deducted from your income every month; and at age 65, you are able to receive payment from the national insurance scheme. No social system is designed to fully support anyone, so this is only a partial consideration to your needs.
Secondly, private pensions may be provided. This is where your private employer provides a retirement fund for you. Even along with national insurance, often this is not enough because costs are increasing as you get older, but these payments only rise minimally. Meanwhile the cost of gas goes up, electricity goes up, food goes up, as well as other fees and taxes.

The third pillar is your savings and investments. A portion of your income must be put aside to supplement your retirement. The first two pillars, national insurance and pensions, are a set amount and usually small. Your savings and investments are largely determined by you. These three should allow for a comfortable retirement. When created, pension plans presuppose that children would be finished with their education, mortgages would be paid off, and people could live off drastically reduced incomes. This isn’t happening because more and more people are engaging in multiple marriages, are having children late, and are retiring with significant years still due on their mortgage.

PAY YOURSELF FIRST
The only way you pay yourself is by the money you save and don’t touch. It’s like your getting paid today and waiting on your porch are Mr. Visa, Mr. Foodstuff, Mr. BEC, Mr. BTC and Ms. Hairdresser. Therefore, you are left with three dollars ($3.00). So you put it in the bank. Two weeks later you are paid again and the same people are waiting on your front porch. This time you are left with two dollars ($2.00); so you put that in the bank. Two weeks later -same scenario; but this time you are five dollars short!!!! So you go to the bank and get it. We are standing last in line for our own money!! And the only way to pay yourself is to save money and not touch it. It will then be around for retirement.

THE DAY YOU RETIRE
From your first day at work, you should be planning for retirement by putting aside money to aid in your retirement. Small amounts consistently put aside and not touched from the beginning should grow into a great nest egg. In the same way that one plans for a new car and a home and education for the kids, one should plan for retirement. It’s a big ticket item in early financial planning, so one should add retirement to that list from a very tender age. The day you retire starts the day you begin work. So you have worked many years and are about to retire. They have a farewell party for you with the kool-aid drink, tuna sandwiches, cake and the two hundred and fifty dollar ($250.00) watch. You invite your pastor and family; and many great speeches are made on that day. It reminds one of the passing of a loved one. As long as the funeral has taken place, you get a lot of visits and good wishes; but once the body goes down, there ends the attention. On that last day of retirement, you leave and go home after 35 years. You lose all your work friends: your boss, your colleagues, your work station......all gone. So you must dive because your income stops. No more income other than that with which you filled the pool; your national insurance-- not enough; your pension--- not enough; your savings and investments?????
The question is how full will the pool be? When your income stops, you take a dive into that pool. If there is a lot of money/ water you swim nicely. If there is no water, or if it’s low, you will fall and hit your head, break your neck and become a financial paraplegic sitting in a wheelchair waiting on your daughter to buy you a ticket to Miami; waiting on your son to pay the light bill; waiting on your sister to bring you a plate of food; waiting, hoping they won’t cut the lights off.

Retirement Future Planning

Ten Common Money Mistakes People Make

To avoid becoming a financial paraplegic, avoid these mistakes people make:

1. NOT PLANNING. Note gaps in retirement coverage annually, note gaps in insurance coverage, don’t stay in poor investments, don’t overpay for financial products.
2. OVERSPENDING. Spend within your means. Buying by credit causes you to spend up to 35% more.
3. BUYING WITH CONSUMER CREDIT. Interest rates are high! Make credit card payments in full every month. Avoid payday sales slogans.
4. FALLING PREY TO FINANCIAL SALES PITCHES. Great deals are in the papers. You must have the money to get these deals; News ads are designed by marketing professionals who know your buying habits; Avoid pyramid schemes; The lower the downpayment the higher the cost to you.
5. DELAYING SAVINGS FOR RETIREMENT. Save early for retirement; add it to big ticket items like education, car, house purchases.

6. NOT DOING YOUR HOMEWORK. Shop around for deals; Get another opinion; Investigate the financial company.
7. MAKING DECISIONS ON EMOTIONS. People are vulnerable after job loss, divorce or death. If you can’t afford the casket, consider alternatives.
8. EXPOSING SELF TO CATASTROPHIC RISKS. You need life insurance if others depend on you; You need health insurance at any age. It becomes very costly in retirement; Cover home against all catastrophes
9. NOT HAVING A VISION BEYOND YOUR JOB. This is the biggest of all. At 55 most people can do many things. Moses was 80 when he led the Israelites; Abraham was 75 when promised a child; Look within you to see what you can do in retirement years
10. ROBBING THE OWNER OF EVERYTHING. If you believe in God, remember He owns everything. When you pray and don’t return tithe, you are robbing the only one that can help. Giving to the poor and needy is vital to peace of mind.

Stewards of Privilege

Stewards of Privilege

Recently, it was my privilege to participate in the dedication of two churches within the Union territory. In both instances the services were quite impressive and revealing to the extent that I have been reminded of God’s plans for erecting sanctuaries. In this regard, I wish to make a few observations that have been riveted in my mind.

A Privilege to Construct God’s Church
In Exodus 25:8, God instructs His followers to erect a sanctuary so that He may dwell with them. Looking closely at the context, one will notice in verse 9 that the Israelites were instructed to build according the “pattern” given them. So God provided a pattern, but He does not appear to supply any funding. Wasn’t that asking too much? Given the apparent observation, can it really be argued that it is a privilege of church members to construct church buildings? When we fully understand the expressed wish of God to “dwell” with His people, we will recognize that it is an honor to have God "set up tent on a permanent basis." Though 1 Kings 8:27 clarifies that no earthly temple can contain God, yet He, God, chose to dwell with mankind.

A Privilege to Finance God’s Temple
Notwithstanding the rare privilege of having God dwell with His people, doesn't it seem to be a bit much to require a group of recently released slaves to construct a temple without providing the funding? From a surface reading of the passage, that would appear to be the case. However, within the context of Exodus 11:2, a clearer understanding is presented. In fact, it shows that in anticipation of the instruction to erect the temple, God made prior plans to fund the same. Before His people left Egypt, God directed them to ask their neighbors for “articles of silver and articles of gold.” Therefore, in Exodus 25:2, He requests that offerings be given willingly for the construction of His church. In a remarkable sense, the people responded readily, not with just articles of silver and gold but also with the use of their talents for the building of the temple. They gave so much that, according to Exodus 36:4-7, the supervisors had to request of Moses to have the people desist from giving any more offering. Now that is hard for some of us to imagine, as it seems just the opposite today, but folk saw it as their privilege to fund the construction of God’s temple; and therefore, they responded willingly and profusely.

When We Fail to Embrace the Privilege
When one fails to embrace the privilege and ignore God’s counsels, the cause of God suffers. To explain: churches take “forever” to build and ministries are limited because of a spirit of selfishness. In Malachi 3:8, God enjoins His people to give so “that there may be meat in mine house.” Additionally, when there is unwillingness to heed God's instructions, the church is prone to idolatry as the church represents God’s presence. As God's people assemble for worship each Sabbath, He meets with them, and they are reminded of His presence, love and salvation. Thereby there is not the inclination to engage in idolatry.

Also, when there is an avoidance of God’s plan, the church of God appears to be less
representing Him; and essentially, the world gets the wrong impression of God and His church. It would seem to some that Christians do not have a real and providing God.
It is our privilege to build but more so to dwell in the presence of God. The scriptures make it clear that God wants to be with us. In addition to Exodus 25:8, this is seen in John 1:14 and Revelations 21:1-4 where it states, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God." What a privilege!

Adversity Results in Remarkable Display of Love

A few weeks ago, I penned a story regarding kindness. A week later I received a poignant story from a local church elder of an act of remarkable kindness to a stranger. Since then I became aware of another touching and moving display of love and kindness. The occasion was Sunday, February 26 at the site of what was the home of Elvardo, Erika and Daniel Perpall on Godet Drive off Carmichael Road.

On Friday, December 16, 2011 Elvardo received a call informing him that his house was on fire. Upon reaching home, he discovered that he had lost his house, its contents and a prized truck of his parked at the site. Essentially, he and his family were left with just the “clothes on their backs,” but they had an abiding faith in their God. As such, they took courage from the many visits, prayers and initial acts of kindness shown by their local Seventh-day Adventist church community. However, the greatest display of kindness and love would come on Sunday, February 26, 2012.
Recognizing the need to assist the Perpall family in rebuilding their home, which fortunately was insured, their local pastor, Peter Joseph who is also Executive Secretary of the South Bahamas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Elder Winston Ash, senior local elder of the Grant’s Town Church and Elvardo himself requested the help of fellow members, youth colleagues and others from sister congregations within the conference. Elvardo did not anticipate that so many would respond. He, along with his pastor and elder would be in for a big but pleasant surprise, for approximately 60 to 80 persons reported to assist in one way or another.

These included males and females; seniors and juniors; church and conference officers, and a former member of parliament for the Pinedale Constituency, Mr. Peter Galanis, now a member of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Also, Elder Melvin Lewis, leader of the Ebenezer SDA Church, and Conference Treasurer, and numerous members came as Elvardo had assisted them with the construction of their church building. Yes, elders, deacons and members in general came. So moving was the scene that the local neighborhood was literally blocked with vehicles of all sorts owing to this remarkable turn out of volunteers. Visibly moved, Elvardo remarked, “In the midst of everything I am moved by the unity of brethren. I never imagined that I would find so much love and confidence toward me and my family.”

As a close friend of the Perpalls, I also rendered assistance, though briefly and remarked that God works in interesting ways. Sometimes He uses adversities and apparent setbacks to unite His people and to allow opportunities for assistance and kindness. And Sunday, February 26 was nothing short of a miracle of love. Because of many caring persons, what was just a cleared foundation on that Sunday morning was transformed into a building at belt course on Sunday afternoon.

I am convinced that with more demonstrations of this same kind of love, the church can minimize suffering, pain and poverty. Essentially, “We need to be our brothers’ keepers.” Elvardo, a local contractor who has helped so many across the Bahamas, especially his church and more recently the new Bahamas Academy on Marshall Road, is now reaping the benefits of what the Bible records as casting bread on the waters and seeing it come back. To God be glory and praise!

Seventh-day Adventists and the Environment

Stewards of the Environment
In Genesis 2:15, it is observed that “God took man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (KJV). By implication, it would seem that God intended that mankind should treat nature with respect and not abuse it. Additionally, the official statement of our church says, “Seventh-day Adventists believe that humankind was created in the image of God, thus representing God as His stewards, to rule the natural environment in a faithful and fruitful way” (Voted at the General Conference session in Utrecht, the Netherlands, June 29-July 8, 1995). The statement also notes, “Increasingly, men and women have been involved in a megalomaniacal destruction of the earth's resources, resulting in widespread suffering, environmental disarray, and the threat of climate change.”

Human Selfishness –a Basis for Environmental Destruction

Furthermore, “it is clear from the accumulated evidence that the increasing emission of destructive gasses, the depletion of the protective mantel of ozone, the massive destruction of . . . forests, and the so-called greenhouse effect, are all threatening the earth's eco-system.” Unfortunately, these problems are “largely due to human selfishness and the egocentric pursuit of getting more and more through ever-increasing production, unlimited consumption and depletion of nonrenewable resources.” These issues result from human’s failure to be good and responsible stewards in “dressing and keeping” that which God has entrusted to us. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to do something to help reverse or minimize further negative effects to planet earth. What can we do? I suggest some ideas that were shared with me.

Practical Ways of Caring for the Environment
For starts, let’s ensure that our surroundings are kept clean. Failing to rightly deposit our waste can do damage to nature. Allowing oil to be thrown on the ground may seem harmless, but untold damage is being done to our water supply. Having old or derelict motor vehicles and appliances certainly do not help the environment; for they may give off oil and other harmful liquids that could seep into the ground. Uprooting all of our trees, unnecessarily, to build also is unfortunate, especially if we fail to replant some trees. Thank God for the celebration of Earth Day, for we are reminded to go green in our paint selection and also to use paper bags or green bags as opposed to plastic ones.

When we go to the beach, we want to ensure that we collect our garbage. Leaving them on the shore does not only pose a problem to the ecosystem, but also the marine
life is put at great risk when plastic bags and empty cans get into the sea.

Likewise, it is important that we service our cars regularly to minimize harmful emissions into the air that we breathe. Essentially, it may do us good to note that our lives are tied to protecting nature and the environment. So we can team up leaders with the Pathfinders, other members and concerned citizens to clean up our neighborhoods, or sections of the islands as well as educate persons to the importance of protecting Mother Earth. Also, we could share this week’s Sabbath School Lesson with others so that the message goes far and wide, for we are stewards of God’s creation.

Finally, I note again from our official statement, “Seventh-day Adventists advocate a simple, wholesome lifestyle, where people do not step on the treadmill of unbridled consumerism, goods-getting, and production of waste. We call for respect of creation, restraint in the use of the world's resources, reevaluation of one's needs, and reaffirmation of the dignity of created life.”

Kindness in Action

It is easy to talk kindness, but kindness is more than talk. By its nature it calls for expression, demonstration, or some tangible form of action. As a result of last week's Ministerial Weekly entitled "The Gift of Kindness," Brother Colyn Major, an elder of the Johnson Park Church, felt impressed to share his experience with someone to whom he was kind. Formerly the Vice President for Student Affairs at The College of The Bahamas, Brother Major currently serves as a College Counselor at COB. Now, I pass on to you the account of his experience as an extension of last week's article.

Brother Major related that recently he had the opportunity to be kind to a young lady who was assisting him with the purchase of a product in the hardware store where she worked. As she was explaining the product, he wondered whether she was a college student. She appeared to be someone who recently completed secondary education, so he asked her if she was a student at The College of The Bahamas. She said that she was not a COB student but that she was currently enrolled at Galilee College pursuing a degree in accounting.

He observed that based on his experience as a College Counselor and Administrator, The College of The Bahamas is usually the institution of choice for students wishing to pursue higher education in The Bahamas. Students tended to enroll in other colleges when they did not have the entrance requirements to get into COB. However, this was not the case for this young lady.

As the conversation continued, she informed him that she had successfully passed Five (5) BGSCE courses, including English and Math, with "B" grades in each subject. He congratulated her on her achievements and asked why she hadn't applied and enrolled in COB. With a look of sadness in her eyes, she replied that she couldn't afford it. She explained that the courses at COB are priced at $100.00 per credit, while at Galilee they are $50.00 per credit, which she could afford. He wondered if she knew that the Bahamas Government gave Bursaries to students with 5 BGCSE passes that include Math and English with "C" grades or higher. She was aware that this was done in the past but had heard that it was discontinued. He assured her that it was still available to those who qualify and meet the application deadline.

In speaking with her, he could tell that she was an intelligent young lady, ambitious, and determined to rise above her circumstances. He knew she would do well at COB if given an opportunity. He told her that the deadline for Fall applications for COB was sometime this month (February), but it might have already passed. Nevertheless, he encouraged her to put in an application for Fall 2012 admission and to also apply for the Bursary before this year's deadline (May 2012). He gave her his telephone number and the name of the contact person for bursaries at the Ministry of Education. At this, her eyes lit up. She became excited and hopeful. She promised to apply for both COB and the Bursary on her day off. Then, with an element of joy and pride, she informed him that she had all the copies of her BJC and BGCSE certificates as well as her high school diploma; for she kept them in a safe place.

Brother Major remarked that deep down inside he felt that this young girl was destined to be more than a sales clerk. Her current job was just a stepping-stone to a brighter future. He asked her why she was working. She revealed that she had to work to pay her school fees and to take care of her ten-month old baby who was in hospital for a surgery to remove a hernia in his navel. She stated that she had to pick him up the following day, but she might have to wait because she did not have the money to get his medicine for the aftercare when she brought him home from the hospital.

It was at this point that he knew why the Holy Spirit led him to this store, not to look for a product but to meet this young lady, to demonstrate “kindness,” to offer her a “glimmer of hope,” to assist her with getting into COB, but more importantly, to meet her immediate need. She had no idea where it was coming from, but she desperately needed $30.00 to get medical help for her baby. This was an example of the "unexpected kindness" spoken about in last week's Ministerial Weekly. Brother Major mentioned that he was so glad that he allowed the Lord to have control of his life. He felt that the Lord led him to this "Samaritan young woman" whom he met at the “well” to offer her “life giving water” ($30.00 for medicine) for her baby, and to point her to another source of supply for college so she could realize and live her dreams.

Here was a young girl, out of high school for not more than a year, who got pregnant and had a child; but chose to get a job so she could further her education and take care of her ten-month old infant. Brother Major said that he was never tempted to “throw a stone at her,” never thought that she was a terrible person for having a child out of wedlock. He only saw a child of God who like all of us, at some time or another, made some poor choices but who did not stay down. She chose to rise above her situation, accept responsibility for her actions and move on with her life.

Brother Major confessed that he prays daily for “the fruit” of the Spirit. And he stated that he has discovered that God uses people and situations to shape us and mold us and to develop “the fruit”. He believes that when God’s Spirit is evident in our lives, He will lead us to not only see others through the “eyes of Jesus” but to also relieve human suffering when we meet it. He says that we are God’s hands and feet. Therefore, instead of being judgmental, we will demonstrate kindness and compassion. He acknowledged that he did not show kindness by himself. It was the Holy Spirit “living in” him and “working through” him, producing the fruit of “kindness.” He concluded by saying, “Today, someone got a ‘glimpse of Jesus’ through me.”

That is Colyn's story! I am sure that you have yours. Let's spread acts of kindness daily.

The Gift of Kindness

The last thing one is inclined to render is kindness, especially to one or to a system that has been just the opposite: harsh, exacting and unfair. Not to mention if one has been wounded and greatly inconvenienced willfully by another. Forgiveness in the aforementioned circumstance poses a challenge for even seasoned Christians, much less for a non-professing believer of God. However, it is a characteristic of the Holy Spirit and as such one to be embraced by Christians.

What Is kindness?
Kindness is a favorable disposition or treatment towards another or oneself in ways undeserving or unexpected. Quite frankly, society would seem to promote vengeance. Now, while this article is not intended to interfere with justice in the manner practiced by law enforcement agencies, Christ teaches an exceptional form of human forgiveness and kindness. Observe a scriptural passage set within the context of Christ’s sermon on the mountain: “You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43, 44). Truth be told, it is much easier to do just the opposite of “love,” “bless,” “do good,” and “pray for” one’s enemy. One might prefer to hate, bless as in curse, do harm instead of good and pray for one’s demise as opposed to praying for one’s benefit. I am sure you and I can identify with this, but Christ calls for a higher and nobler form of behavior surpassing the norms of society.

Kindness Is not for the Weak of Heart
It takes more than courage to be kind! It takes Christ Himself, through the medium of the Holy Spirit, living within individuals to model and display the qualities of “love,” “blessing,” “doing good,” and “praying” for people who mean you no good. Imagine, if these teachings were fully embraced, we would see a significant reduction in conflicts that lead to violence and death. Imagine, if we practiced more of Christ-living, we would be more caring and thoughtful. As the world focuses on love or romance, in a week’s time, it is also a good time to show Christian love. Beyond the roses, chocolate, and candle light diners will be a demonstration of genuine care and consideration for spouse, friend and children.

Kindness Proclamation
From time to time, we read in the newspapers proclamations of one kind or another. However, it was so refreshing about proclaiming a kindness day, week, month, or better a kindness year? Can you imagine how that would change you and me? Can you imagine a lessening of road rage? Can you imagine no more verbal, physical or emotional abuse? Maybe I am dreaming too much or expecting too much. However, how will we put a dent into the day-to-day evils, hurts and injustices? Yes, we must uphold the law, but could we not do so in kindness and with respect for others? So, today look for someone whom you resent, and do something good for that person, even if you start by just praying for his/her well-being. Now be certain to call him or her by name. In this regard, I wish to commend the South Bahamas for observing and spearheading a National Friendship Day in November, 2011.
Should we apply kindness or more kindness in our relationships, the Bahamas would be a better place in which to live, do businesses and model Christ-like behavior. Let kindness begin today with you and me!

Thought to Ponder: “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who cannot pay you back.” -- John Bunyan

Called to Faithfulness

In the book Prophets and Kings, Ellen White says, “As the Lord co-operated with Daniel and his fellows, so He will co-operate with all who strive to do His will. And by the impartation of His Spirit He will strengthen every true purpose, every noble resolution. Read More...

Seventh-day Adventist Jargons and Expressions

Have you ever taken yourself out of the regular Adventist mindset and pretended to be a visitor? If you have, then you would have discovered how often we Adventists take it for granted that visitors and new members understand exactly what we say from Sabbath school to Vespers period. Consider the following terms used by Adventists: Read More...

TEN THINGS I WISH MY PASTOR WOULD DO II

6. I want my pastor to lead

Members want their pastor to lead by providing vision and direction for the church. This means that if there is a problem between members or leaders, or departments, the pastor will call a meeting between the feuding parties and have it resolved. Hoping for problems to just blow away is not being responsible.
Read More...

TEN THINGS I WISH MY PASTOR WOULD DO

Today, I share with you experiences and concerns I've learned over the years from what members have expressed to me during my visits. Read More...

Relating to Other Religious Groups

It is no secret that some members of our faith are uncomfortable when leaders local and worldwide engage in conversations with other religious groups. A suspicious spirit tends to manifest itself, but is there really a need to be overly concerned? Research and observations would seem to suggest that there could be some benefits to engaging others of various religious faiths. Accordingly, I share some suggestions that may prove beneficial when meeting with such persons. Read More...