Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath School Lesson

Behind the Mask

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Nature Testifies of God

Upon all created things is seen the impress of the Deity

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Christ says, "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, . . . and have the keys of hell and of death."     Revelation 1:18.

Looking upon His disciples with divine love and with the tenderest sympathy, Christ said, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him." Judas had left the upper chamber, and Christ was alone with the eleven.

Justification by Faith

Vatican Official Exhorts the Sunday

Sunday should be a day for worship, rest and time with family and friends, said Monsignor Miquel Delgado Galindo, under secretary for the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

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Signs of the Times

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Jesus said "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars....For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places."

 

 

Christian History

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In the great final conflict, Satan will employ the same policy, manifest the same spirit, and work for the same end as in all preceding ages. That which has been, will be. Satan's deceptions will be more subtle. If possible, even the very elect would be deceived.

A Faithful Record

Nature God's Second Book

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Nature is an open book which reveals God. All who are attracted to nature may behold in it the God that created them.

Book of Nature

 

Remember SDA Prisoners in Togo?

30 Togo inmates baptized at new prison chapel

A Lomé prison inmate being baptized in a new baptistery. [photo courtesy Eastern Sahel Union Mission]

Thirty inmates were baptized at a Togo prison chapel built by the Seventh-day Adventist Church after prison officials asked for help replacing a previous chapel that collapsed in bad weather.

The inmates took their stand for Jesus during a special dedication ceremony at the main prison in Lomé, the bustling capital of the sub-Saharan African country, Church leaders said Friday.

The chapel, which contains an outdoor baptistery, benches for 100 people, and electricity to run lights, fans, and a sound system, was financed with a $6,000 donation from the General Conference, the administrative body of the Adventist Church.

General Conference President Ted N. C. Wilson approved the expenditure from a special presidential discretionary fund after being contacted by the Adventist Church’s Togo-based Eastern Sahel Union Mission.

“Thirty souls sealed their covenant with the Lord through baptism in the new baptistery built with your donation,” Sélom Kwasi Sessou, executive secretary of the Adventist Church’s Togo-based Eastern Sahel Union Mission, wrote in a letter to Wilson.

The baptisms, conducted Saturday, February 21, were the result of an evangelistic series led by Bruno Amah, an Adventist member jailed in the prison, together with the Togo church’s Chaplaincy Ministries department, said Sessou, who headed a Church delegation at the dedication ceremony.

In addition, 120 inmates took part in a communion service during the ceremony.

The prison director thanked Sessou and the Adventist Church for the funds for the chapel, and he promised to pray for God’s blessings on the church.

“He promised that the room will be multifunctional and be put to good use,” Sessou said. “He said they will ask the Almighty God to continue to keep a benevolent eye on the Adventist Church and that He opens more doors for possible blessings.”

A plaque on the front of the chapel bears the Adventist Church logo and recognizes the role of the Church and Wilson in the construction of the building.

Wilson expressed gratitude to God for the 30 baptisms and to asked that church members around the world remember Bruno Amah and all Adventist prisoners in prayer.

“Praise God for His leading in this prison outreach,” Wilson said.

 

 

Kenya’s President Addresses Church

 

 

Kenya’s President pledges support for Adventist education

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Adventist University of Africa [photo: Steve Bina]

 Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta visited the main campus of Adventist University Africa (AUA) on Sunday to support the construction of a new Health Sciences complex.

In a speech to a crowd of nearly 4,000, Kenyatta pledged his financial support for the initiative and commended the Adventist Church for being an “exemplary partner in transforming Kenya.”

“The Adventist Church has been a vital part of uplifting our communities, empowering our citizens and building our nation,” Kenyatta said, referring to the numerous churches and schools throughout the East African nation.

The Adventist University of Africa’s main campus is based at the denomination’s East-Central Africa Division, located in Ongata Rongai, a region on the outskirts of Nairobi.

Though based in Kenya, AUA is directly affiliated with the Adventist Church’s world headquarters offers Adventist graduate-level education throughout Africa. Doctoral programs are taught at the main campus, and other programs—such as theology and business—are taught with revolving faculty at other Adventist campuses on the continent.

Kenyatta, who was accompanied by Vice President William Ruto and other officials, additionally highlighted the Adventist university for having a progressive vision while occupying a niche as Kenya’s only university focusing solely on post-graduate studies. He also commended the Adventist Church’s educational system for its caliber and scale of educational services.

Kenyatta concluded his remarks by thanking the Adventist Church for demonstrating exemplary discipleship, compassion and philanthropy.

“By touching hearts, improving minds and healing the sick you bring the word of God to life as a light to humankind,” he said.

Blasious Ruguri, president of the Adventist Church’s East-Central Africa Division, thanked the nation’s president for coming to show support for the project. Using the story of Jesus asking the disciples to find two donkeys to untie for use in the triumphal entry, Ruguri encouraged the audience to “untie their donkeys,” meaning to release some of their funds for mission.

President Kenyatta was the first to donate, contributing more than 2 million Kenyan shillings—nearly US$22,000—toward the Health Sciences Building project. Hundreds of government and Church leaders also contributed to the project.

Philanthropist Simeon Nyachae also addressed the crowd. While introducing the President, he praised the Church for saving the life of his mother because of a needed surgical procedure she received at an Adventist hospital in 1942. Nyachae said she lived to be 102.

 

Wildwood Lifestyle Couple Honored

 

Adventist Health Ministries honors longtime health expo promoters

Dr. Peter Landless, Phoebe and Charles Cleveland [photo courtesy GCHM]

The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Health Ministries department recently presented its Medal of Distinction to a couple who for decades have promoted a model of health expos that Adventist churches have used in communities worldwide.

Charles and Phoebe Cleveland received the award December 19 during a graduation ceremony at a lifestyle education center in the U.S. state of Georgia.

Health Ministries director Dr. Peter Landless said the ceremony, held at the Wildwood Lifestyle Center, “was a wonderful opportunity to honor Charles and Phoebe Cleveland for their lifetime of service to health ministries throughout the world.”

Landless said the co-award was presented in recognition of the role both have played in the ministry and producing health promotional materials.

Charles Cleveland is president of Health Education Resources, a non-profit organization that produces health education materials in 40 languages. He is known for taking a health expo model first used by California’s Weimar Institute in the 1980s and making it more mobile, complete with health banners and activities.

Cleveland has helped pioneer lifestyle-centers and medical missionary training programs worldwide. He was a key founder of Wildwood’s Lay Institute for Global Health Training. He is also a member of Wildwood’s board of trustees.

In an interview, he said the medal “underscores that there is a close working relationship between self-supporting ministries and the Church.”

Cleveland said he felt “privileged” to accept the medal.

“We each have a passion, and the Lord uses us,” he said. “To me that’s a ministry and work that reaches out to different parts of the world and helping people understand how to prevent disease…. Little did I ever think that there would be a medal.”

Cleveland, who holds a Master of Divinity and a Master of Public Health, served as an Adventist pastor. After being ordained in 1975, he shifted his focus to work in self-supporting ministries, serving as an administrator of the Uchee Pines Health Institute and later Vice President of Wildwood Lifestyle Center and Hospital in Georgia. He served as vice president of the supporting ministry Outpost Centers International from 2003 to 2006.

Dr. Viriato Ferreira, associate Health Ministries director, said the award “is a small token of acknowledgment of God´s wonderful work through their dedicated lives of service and care.”

At last weekend’s graduation ceremony, Landless delivered the commencement address and said the Adventist Church must continue embracing a health ministry that focuses on grace, is based on the Bible and the writings of Adventist Church co-founder Ellen G. White, and is backed by peer-reviewed, evidence-based research.

“I found this to be the direction in which Wildwood is working and making a difference in the world,” Landless said.

Electronic Voting at San Antonio General Conference Session

 

Electronic voting at Session to increase efficiency, anonymity

Church Undersecretary Myron Iseminger holds remote voting device. [photo: Ansel Oliver]

Delegates to the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s General Conference Session in July won’t hold up yellow cards to vote as they have in past Sessions. Instead, for the first time, Session delegates will vote by pressing a button on an electronic voting device.

Votes will be tallied instantly, and final results will be displayed in a bar chart on a screen.

Church officials say the use of technology will bring greater accuracy to votes and offer anonymity, potentially relieving some of the pressure some people may feel to vote a certain way.

“Technology impacts our lives in many ways, and we’re continually looking for ways in which technology can improve our systems for GC Session,” said Myron Iseminger, undersecretary of the Adventist world church.

Church officials at the denomination’s world headquarters used an electronic voting system at Annual Council at the denomination’s in October. There, hundreds of church officials voted via their own remote device. By taking the system to Session in San Antonio, Texas, Church leaders will make it available to the denomination’s largest governing body—a group of nearly 2,600 delegates.

Iseminger says the new system is more efficient. In past Sessions, votes were tallied by officials counting how many delegates held up their voting card, which took time. Sensitive votes were conducted by secret ballot, which took even longer.

Iseminger, who has worked as a Church administrator in several world regions, said the electronic system will also help people from cultures who face the conundrum between following their convictions and following their regional leader.

“I think in many cultures delegates are caught in a difficult spot because, on one hand, we encourage them to prayerfully vote their conscience, but on the other hand, showing respect to their local leader sitting nearby is also very important,” Iseminger said. “We hope that particular pressure will be removed this time.”

“We want to be transparent and fair, and I think this is a great step forward,” he added.

Session officials will rent several thousands of remote voting devices from a company that will also administer the process.

The denomination’s Inter-American Division, based in Miami, Florida, is acquiring its own voting system, and some local administrative units in North America have used electronic voting for more than a decade.

Max C. Torkelsen, president of the North Pacific Union Conference, based in Ridgefield, Washington, said electronic voting shows exactly how many people are participating in each vote, and it also affirms delegates that their vote was indeed counted.

Torkelsen served as president of the union’s Upper Columbia Conference when electronic voting was implemented there in the late 1990s. The transition away from voting cards and voice votes led to more “credibility” of the process he said, particularly for people who voted against an item that passed. “They know their vote was counted,” he said.

Constituency meeting leaders can also use electronic polling to learn how an audience feels about a discussion, even when there isn’t a vote on the floor, Torkelsen said.

About the only thing even slightly controversial about electronic voting was that it cost money. Some systems can cost several thousand dollars. But Torkelsen says he thinks the expense was worth it “from the very first time.”

“It raises people’s level of confidence of the vote,” he said.

He said the nearby Oregon Conference now owns an electronic voting system and rents it out to other conferences for their own constituency meetings.

General Conference Session begins July 2 and runs through July 11.

 

 

Festival of Religious Freedom in Jamaica

 

Adventist Church launches religious freedom group in Jamaica

Festival of Religious Freedom-National Arena in Kingston [photo: Phillip Castell]

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has opened a Jamaican chapter of its International Religious Liberty Association, which defends the rights of all faiths, at a festival attended by senior government officials and thousands of other people in Kingston.

Leaders of the chapter, called the National Religious Liberty Association, said the group was needed because Jamaicans should not take their current religious freedom for granted.

Religious freedom is on the minds of many Jamaicans after the government passed a flexi-work week law a few months ago that a number of religious organizations fear will not sufficiently protect their day of worship. The government, however, has insisted that the law is not a threat to religious freedom because it gives employees a 24-hour period to use as a day of worship.

The National Religious Liberty Association was launched during Jamaica’s first Festival of Religious Freedom at the National Arena on Sabbath, Jan. 24, before a crowd of thousands of Adventists, including Jamaican Governor-General Patrick Allen, and members of other religious denominations.

“I am pleased, happy and honored to welcome the National Religious Liberty Association into the network of the IRLA,” John Graz, secretary-general of the International Religious Liberty Association, told attendees.

“Our mission is to protect, promote, and defend religious freedom of all and everywhere. It is now your mission,” said Graz, who serves as public affairs and religious liberty director of the Adventist world church.

Deputy Prime Minister Robert Pickersgill, who represented the prime minister, said the government recognized the “enormous impact” of religious freedom on Jamaica’s development and had enshrined the right in a 2011 amendment to the Jamaican constitution.

“Countless schools, hospitals, donor agencies, and long-standing community development programs in Jamaica are the result of religious freedom and the strong influence of the church,” Pickersgill said.

Parliament member Pearnel Charles, who represented opposition leader Andrew Holness, promised that the Jamaica Labour Party would defend religious freedom always but urged Christians to speak out against human injustice.

“You cannot be silent when freedom is under attack … when our people are being murdered all over the world, including in Jamaica,” he said.

He also said Christians should engage in politics “because if you don’t care, somebody else is going to care.”

“Be ready to defend your freedom,” he said. “An attack on freedom anywhere is an attack on freedom everywhere.”

The new secretary-general of the National Religious Liberty Association is Nigel Coke, who is also public affairs and religious liberty director of the Adventist Church’s Jamaica Union Conference. He named Reverend Conrad Pitkin as the president and a number of other religious leaders as members of the interim board.

Pitkin, who is chairman of the Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches, thanked successive governments for preserving religious freedom and allowing religious organizations to establish educational and health-based institutions beneficial to their members.

Jamaica joins more than 80 countries worldwide with national religious liberty associations. Most recently, Papua New Guinea opened its own association during a festival last month. Although spearheaded by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the multi-denomination association in Jamaica aims to defend and preserve religious liberty for all religions. Its parent organization, the International Religious Liberty Association, has been defending the religious rights of people since it was chartered in 1893.

 

Church Responds to Muslim Attack in Paris

 

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has sent condolences to France and praised its government for supporting religious freedom after a terrorist attack on a satirical magazine killed 12 people in Paris.

“On behalf of the Seventh-day Adventist world church and its president, allow me to convey to you our deepest sympathy in connection with the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris on Jan. 7,” the Church said Thursday in a letter sent by John Graz, director of its public affairs and religious liberty department, to French Ambassador Gérard Araud in Washington.

“We join in the pain of victims’ families,” it said. “We pray for them and for those who were seriously injured. We also pray for the beautiful country of France, which we love; for her people; and for you, who are representing her in the United States.”

Three gunmen opened fire in the office of the Charlie Hebdo magazine on Wednesday, killing the editor and top cartoonists. The magazine had been denounced by Muslim fundamentalists for its publication of depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.

In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama paid his respects to the victims during a meeting with Ambassador Araud at the French Embassy.

The letter noted that Adventists have long been defenders of freedom of conscience and religion, and underscored that those freedoms were the foundation of all freedoms, including the freedom of expression.

“We thank France for these fundamental freedoms and its authorities for the freedom of expression and religion that they protect,” the letter said.

One suspect in the attack has turned himself over to police, while a search operation for the other two suspects has been mounted across France.

 

 

Generation of Youth for Christ Meet in Phoenix

 

Youth ‘Rattle the World’ by visiting 100,000 Phoenix homes

GYC president Natasha Nebblett         [photo: Seth Shaffer]

Scores of Adventist young people visited tens of thousands of homes across Phoenix, Arizona, United States, on Friday, January 2 as they accepted a challenge from their leader, GYC president Natasha Nebblett, to “rattle the world.”

The teens and young adults made the annual outing during a five-day conference of GYC, or “Generation. Youth. Christ,” which is themed “At the Cross” and runs through January 4 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Friday’s initiative to share religious literature in more than 30,000 homes followed a first-time effort on the eve of the annual convention that saw a smaller group of about 200 young people visit more than 70,000 homes.

Opening the conference, Nebblett said that living a Christian life encompasses more than merely claiming a Christian identity: it means living “a life that rattles the world.”

She noted that the term “Christian” was first coined in Syria in the first century but there is no known Adventist presence in the country today.

Adventist young people are caught in a spiritual warfare between Jesus and Satan, Nebblett said, adding that GYC members who participated in the home visits before the conference’s opening had encountered Phoenix residents who spoke of seeing demons.

“What will it take for the world to take notice of Jesus?” Nebblett said.

For the world to start taking notice, she said, young Adventists must allow Christ to be fully in charge of their lives. But, she said, this is not something that young people can do through their own power.

“We cannot crucify ourselves,” she said.

Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church, struck a similar note in a speech on the evening of January 1, urging the young people to remain faithful to Jesus.

“God is looking for faithfulness in us ‘At the Cross’ and in our daily lives for He is faithful to us,” Wilson said. “He is our role model and our Savior. Through Christ’s righteousness and grace we can be faithful because He is faithful.”

“At the Cross” is the 12th annual conference organized by GYC, which was formed in 2002 by a group of college students determined to pray, study the Bible and share Jesus more boldly. Daily attendance is expected to swell to more than 5,000 people by the time of Sabbath worship services on January 3.

Attendees range in age from 14 to the late 80s, but most are teens and college-age Adventists.

A new plank in this year’s conference was the initiative that involved 180 young people gathering in Phoenix a week before the conference started to make house-to-house contacts.

Taylor Hinkle, GYC’s vice president of evangelism and a student at Southwestern Adventist University, said the change was introduced after evangelist Mark Finley made an appeal at last year’s conference in Orlando, Florida, for GYC attendees to be handed the tools they needed to replicate the outreach in their home churches.

Hinkle also said he was personally motivated by a statement from Adventist Church co-founder Ellen White, who said: “House-to-house labor, searching for souls, hunting for the lost sheep, is the most essential work that can be done” (1MR, page 14).

For the pre-conference outreach, attendees who had never before engaged in literature evangelism were trained by experienced peers and then sent out to the streets of Phoenix. Taylor estimated that the young people knocked on 70,000 to 80,000 doors.

Hundreds of attendees hopped on dozens of buses on Friday afternoon to knock on another 30,000 to 40,000 doors, meaning GYC members visited a total of more than 100,000 homes at this year’s conference. Attendees on Friday also visited people in hospitals and nursing homes.

Friday’s program mirrored similar major outreach events organized at previous conferences.

Every GYC conference is packed with speeches and seminars aimed at inspiring the attendees and training them to share Jesus in new ways. New seminars this year include “Creation, Agriculture, and Evangelism,” presented by Paul Dysinger, owner of an organic farm in Tennessee; and Aimee Smith, manager of Good News Farm at Great Lakes Adventist Academy, and “Relentless Prayer” by Paul Ratsara, president of the Southern-Africa Indian Ocean Division. Ratsara has been a frequent participant at GYC conferences for the last five years, and his son and new daughter-in-law serve on GYC’s executive committee.

Wilson, meanwhile, called on GYC attendees to follow the lead of Nehemiah, who rebuilt Jerusalem’s walls in Old Testament times, and leave the conference wholly committed to following God’s Word and His direction.

“In your faithfulness to God in 2015, with one hand do the work of God and in the other hand hold the Word of God, your weapon of heavenly authority,” Wilson said in his speech. “Lean completely on the Lord in your faithful service saying, along with those who worked on the wall of Jerusalem, ‘Our God will fight for us.’”

 

 

Billy Graham, the Pope, and Ben Carson

Billy Graham, the Pope, and Ben Carson share something important. They are among the most admired men in the world according according to Americans in this year's Gallup poll. Of course you can prove anything with statistics, especially depending on how you structure a poll. For instance, the pope came in second and Billy Graham fourth. But, if we were to put this to a vote, then Billy Graham could come in first. When the field is narrowed, and there are fewer choices, the results can vary greatly.

What Seventh-day Adventists will find interesting is that Dr. Ben Carson is high on the list. This does not mean that those who admire him would vote for him to be President of the United States, but considering the lack of respect for politicians in general, it may be that there may be many more who would vote for him since Billy Graham is not running. Yes, statistics can be very misleading, and often are used to express something that is incorrect.

For instance, the poll revealed that among those surveyed, Barrack Obama was most admired. My guess is that if a poll were taken by a non biased party, we might find him to be the most disliked man in America. And, among the women, Hillary Clinton was most admired. I dare say that if the poll were looking for the most disliked woman in America, she might win the race. Statistics and polls are interesting to say the least.

We are not attempting to make a political statement, other than the world has reached the point where those who are morally corrupt and opposed to Bible truth, are fulfilling the Bible prophecy that just before the second coming of Jesus, this would be the condition of the world. And, using polls and statistics sometimes plays a part in that corruption.

Ben Carson is running for the presidency and has a large base of support. What would happen if he were to be elected? One thing would be for sure, elected or not, the Sabbath truth will be made more prominent, if not by Seventh-day Adventists, then by those who are opposed to Bible truth. We do not know how God looks at this, but we pray that His will be done and Dr. Carson be abiding in Christ, and Christ in him.

 

 

Food For Life

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.       2 Corinthians 3:18

Tell of His Grace

Testimonies of the power of grace to change lives......

 

I was born into a non Adventist home, well that is an understatement really. My father was and still is a heavily practicing Satanist and as such, myself being a female, made me a target for ridicule and I was most certainly placed way below my brothers in the family......Tamara's Testimony

Country Living

Mar10 Demo Image Too late to move?

Moving to the country is becoming very hard in some locations. Selling a home and financing a new one is difficult. Some government agencies want to move everyone into the cities. God's people need to take their families away from the cities, into the country, where they can raise their own provisions; for in the future the problem of buying and selling will be a very serious one. We should now begin to heed the instruction given us over and over again: Get out of the cities into rural districts, where the houses are not crowded closely together, and where you will be free from the interference of those who are opposed to the truth. Pray that God will open a way.

Religious Liberty

European Sunday Law?

The world will urge an outward compliance with the laws of the land, for the sake of peace and harmony. And there are some who will even urge such a course from the Scripture: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. . . . The powers that be are ordained of God." But what has been the course of God's servants in ages past? When the disciples preached Christ and Him crucified, after His resurrection, the authorities commanded them not to speak any more nor to teach in the name of Jesus. "But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." Today, our liberty is being threatened.

European Sunday Law

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