"The Protest is Over!" At least that is what Anglican Bishop Tony Palmer declared at a Kenneth Copeland pastoral leadership conference on January 21, 2014. "The Protest is over," repeated Palmer, "and if there is no protest, how can there be a Protestant Church?"
It seems to me that the line between Protestant and Catholic gets blurred more and more every year. Attitudes and opinions of the Roman Church by Protestants are softening. A mere 60 years ago the country was concerned about electing a Catholic President of the country. Today, religious affiliation has little or now influence on voters. In fact, according to an August 31, 2017, article by Pew Research, "Most American Protestants now say the two Christian traditions are more similar than different, religiously, and many U.S. Protestants espouse traditionally Catholic beliefs on some issues." In fact, the article went on to state that a full 36% of Protestant Americans do not believe in either sola fide (faith alone) or sola scriptura (Scripture alone).
He talked about how the brothers had money, but no food, so they came to Joseph. It's interesting, in the original story, the brothers came and bowed down to Joseph. The unity the Roman Church has always sought is one where the world church bows at her feet.
What have the last 500 years taught us? Is the Protest really over?
Can you imagine being by yourself, on foot, out of supplies, and 300 miles from help on Antartica? It is consider by many one of the top 10 endurance survival stories of all time. This is exactly what happened to Douglas Mawson, a 30 year old explorer from Australia in 1912-1913.
Mawson's colleague, Belgrave Ninnis had broken through an ice bridge, plunging into a deep cavern below with his sled, dogs and supplies the team needed. Mawson and Xavier Mertz, immediately turned for base, 300 miles into the Antartic tundra. By January 8, Mertz, exhausted, hypothermic, and starving, died in his sleep, leaving Mawson still more than 100 miles from base. At one point, Mawson himself fell through a thin ice bridge. However, he had tied himself to his sled which anchored himself from falling more than 14 feet. Hanging there, he contemplated giving up. His feet couldn't reach the ice walls. He was dangling in space. To climb hand over hand up the rope would be gruelling for any person in tip top shape, yet somehow Mawson dragged his disintegrating body up the rope. As he tried to pull himself onto the ice shelf, it broke, and he found himself again at the bottom of the rope, 14 feet from the top. Again he considered giving up, but determined that was too easy. One more time, hand over painful hand, he pulled his frail, exhausted, and starved body up the rope, this time managing to roll onto the ice above.
Finally, on February 8, almost two months since he had turned back, he caught sight of his base camp at Commonwealth Bay. His greatest fear though was realized as he saw the Aurora, the ship he had hoped to catch home, had left a mere five hours before!
Our text for today reminds us it's easy to give up. But if we can keep on keeping on, there is a reward for the successful. Endurance is focusing on a goal greater than the distractions we find along the way. Endurance however, isn't just about physical strength, it's also about spiritual strength. Paul told Timothy to endure his share of hardships and suffering (2 Timothy 2:3), and to endure affliction (2 Timothy 4:5). Peter admonishes us to enduring wrongful suffering (1 Peter 2:19). James tells us to endure temptations (James 1:12). Finally, Paul reminds us to endure all things (2 Timothy 2:10).
Physical endurance is based on hope. Mawson was able to push on because of hope. Spiritual endurance is also based on hope. Paul Titus to keep "looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).
Mawson survived his ordeal. A team of six men left at Commonwealth Bay helped him recover his strength and health over the next 10 months while they waited for the Aurora to return. In the meantime he sent a message to his fiance back in Australia that read: "Deeply regret delay, only just managed to reach hut." When Mawson returned to Australia, he recieved a hero's welcome and was knighted by King George V. When Jesus returns for us, He will get the hero's welcome, and we who endure, will get a crown and robe of life.
Don't give up. Don't ever give up faith or that blessed hope!
Read more about Douglas Mawson's ordeal and adventure from National Geographic HERE.
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear" (Hebrews 12:28, NKJV).
As a kid, I was taught to "walk softly in the sanctuary." Granted, I grew up in a preacher's home. Nonetheless, my brother and I had to sit still and be quiet in church--whether we listened or not. And when I was young, I didn't listen to the preacher who was also my dad. I read my "Guide" magazine I had gotten in Sabbath School, or drew on paper, or something. But it was quiet. I remember that I wasn't allowed to run in the church, or play secular music on the piano in sanctuary, or go on the platform. It was to be considered a holy place. And last but not least, the pastor was addressed as, well, "Pastor."
How much different are things today. How often do I hear cell phones ring in church? As if something in the world is more important that our time with God. Yet those same people won't be bothered during family time. Children now play video games on mobile devices in the church--during church. They aren't taught to fold their hands or close their eyes in prayer. They don't make eye contact when you say "Hello." And forget a "Please" or a "Thank you." And sadly, there are more OMG's being said in and around the church than PTL's!
Am I being overly cynical or stereo-typical in my writing? Perhaps. But I can't help but wonder, is there anything sacred anymore? Today's text reminds us that since we are going to heaven, we should offer to God acceptable worship. And what is acceptable worship? The text tells us it is worship that is filled with reverence and awe. And what is reverence? It means to show a feeling or attitude of deep respect, admiration, and fear that is produced by something that is grand, sublime, or extremely powerful. In other words, turn off your cell phone and devices, and "Turn your eyes on Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth, will grow strangely dim. In the light of His glory and grace."
Note: This post is part of a continuing series of daily, one-minute devotions I post on the home page of my site. This particular post received a strong response, and so I have posted it in the blog in the hopes others might see and be blessed or encouraged as well.
Not much is said about the day after Jesus died. We know it was the Sabbath. But it must have been a somber, quiet, sad, reflective Sabbath for the followers of Jesus. Even the religious leaders had to know something was different. For they were still concerned about the body of Jesus and the disciples stealing it.
What strikes me is a comparison of the events of that original Easter Weekend. For six hours one Friday, He hung on the merciless and cruel cross of sin-fill hatred, dying in the place I deserved. After those six hours, in keeping with His own commandments and heavenly law that predates even creation, He rests on the seventh day. Thus I can't help but reflect back to creation--the six days at the beginning of earth's history where Jesus created our planet, solar system (and more). But on the seventh day of creation week He rested. ...
Matthew and Mark make it clear when Jesus was resurrected: It was the first day of the week--the day following the Sabbath, which followed the Day of Preparation--or Friday (cf Matthew 27:62, 28:1, Mark 15:42, 16:1-2). Interesting to me that they qualify what day it was in relation to the seventh-day Sabbath. Clearly we see that when Matthew wrote his Gospel, and Mark wrote his, the first day of the week was still that--the first day. In their minds, Sabbath was still the day of God's creation: Holy, for rest and worship. If the Holy Day of rest and worship had been changed by Jesus at His resurrection, one would expect Matthew or Mark to tell us.
Consider that while we don't know the exact date for writing, many believe Matthew was most likely written in the 50s AD, and Mark in the early 60s AD during the Nero Persecution. So in the very writing of their Gospels, we are reminded that they themselves, 20 and 30 years later, were still observing the seventh-day of the week as the Sabbath of the Lord God and not some other day.
Thus I join the world in celebrating the Lord's resurrection on a Sunday morning. But I will continue to keep holy the seventh-day of God's creation for worship and rest.
Just as His disciples did.
Just as Jesus did.
Last Sabbath afternoon was the Pathfinder Bible Experience, or PBE, Conference round held at the Graham, WA, Adventist Church. What is PBE? It's Pathfinder teams of six, who have studied the book of Exodus, and then answer 90 quiz questions. The PBE has several levels, the regional area where regional clubs compete. Then after the regional, there is a Conference level, followed by Union, and then finally, the Division level.
To advance through the levels, your club must answer at least 90% of the total questions, or be within 10% of the top scoring team. In other words, you don't compete against each other, only yourself.
My son Dominic's team has done well enough to advance to the Union level competition (which will be next week in Chehalis, WA). If they do well there, the Division level testing is in Prescott, Arizona, the weekend of April 15-16.
We have discovered that the best way to progress through these competitions is to memorize the Scriptures. Dominic himself has memorized 6 chapters in the book Exodus, mostly having to do with the Tabernacle and priestly dress. The other five kids on the team have also done their part to memorize chapters to better be able to answer the questions. We will see how they do next week!
Thinking about Dominic's team leads me to another thought: I have been reading the book, "Lead Like Jesus," that is so good, I recommend it to everyone--especially those who serve on our Church Board. Anyway, on page 170, the authors give several reasons for Bible memorization. Consider these:
1) It's a deeper way to get the Word of God into our hearts. When it's memorized it's deeper, it's more meaningful, and we literally take possession of it to live it.
2) It helps to keep us from sinning against God. Scripture says, "Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you" (Psalm 119:11). I can't help but remember the temptations of Satan to Jesus. He quoted Scripture and made some pretty amazing promises--at least from an earthly perspective. Satan had even tried to misquote Scripture to Jesus to confuse Him--just as he misquoted God when he deceived Eve! But Jesus responded by correctly quoting the Scriptures, leaving Satan nothing to do but move on!
3) It prepares you to give answers for your faith when questioned. In 1 Peter 3:15, the Apostle beckons to us to "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have."
4) It gives direction for us in daily life at any moment. Being able to quote and recite Scripture gives us things to think about, and really meditate on. Deuteronomy 6:6 says that "These commands that I give you today are to be upon your hearts." Thus, we can have constant obedience to God when we have take the time to take God's word to heart.
Did you know that J.N. Andrews, one of our Adventist Church pioneers and first official overseas missionary had the entire New Testament fully memorized, and great sections of the Old Testament as well?
It's possible to do it. A little at a time. All of us can take God's Word and hide it in our hearts. By the way, next year the books of the Bible for the Pathfinder Bible Experience teams are Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. When Dominic heard that he exclaimed, "Dad, I'll be able to memorize an entire book of the Bible!"
Of course he can. I'm excited for that enthusiasm in an 12 year old boy. And you can too! Try it with me today. Memorize a new verse of the Bible today. And then tomorrow, recite today's verse, and memorize the next. You'll do it!