Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Adventism's Spiritual Formation Debate

A relative recently sent me a link to hear a debate about the dangers of spiritual formation, and I was once again disheartened by the amount of warnings without definition of terms or aspects needing to be avoided.
Finally 28 minutes into the youtube video Mark Finley had a very balanced, clear perspective, followed by this statement by the moderator, C. A. Murray:

"There is more council in Ellen White's writings on formalism and coldness than there is on the excess of moving to the left, dare I say. You have more council against formal, rigid, dogmatic, lifeless, Christless church."

This is the core of my frustration.  I have never been to an Adventist church that was erring to the side of too much prayer and meditation!  Where are these SDA churches that are struggling with having all of their members becoming mystics and experimenting with types of prayer that may be evil?  I would compare our current focus on this possible extreme to the Adventist Health System sending out urgent memos warning of the dire consequences of leaving the black plague untreated.

If the goal in this discussion is a middle-of-the-road vibrant walk with Christ, and the two possible sides to error on are lifeless formalism and eastern mysticism, which have you encountered more in the Adventist denomination?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

New Posts

Hello internet world,

I forgot about you for a time, but I'm back and I hope this won't happen again.

What I have realized is that I enjoy writing but it helps when I am prodded. So what would you want to read about? What topics are you interested in hearing my opinion on? Comment away, and we'll see what happens...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Grad Schools

Some days it seems like all anyone wants to talk about: grad school. Which in my "profession" means seminary. The funny thing is that although lots of people think I should go there (especially traditional Adventists), I have never been told a reason to go other than that it is a good thing to do.

I have been in some kind of ministry leadership for going on six years, and I constantly feel unqualified, humbled, and generally amazed that I am blessed to be able to work with God on a daily basis and that people actually give me money to do this.

However, there has yet to be a time since I graduated with Theology from Walla Walla College in 2006 when I thought that what I was missing was more education. I'm sure it would do me some good, but I feel like the places I fall short and the things that are holding me back have little to nothing to do with a lack of education.

Dave Thomas, the dean of Theology at Walla Walla University, told me once that "The most important truths of the Bible are embarrassingly simple."

I am coming to agree with that statement more all the time.

The profound realization that learning to "walk with God" is one of the most complex and satisfying journeys you can ever begin.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I know it's been a while

This is a picture of me with friends I was visiting in southern California. I have been friends with Carlin since the fourth grade, and it was great getting to see him and his wife Jennifer (the one in between us in the picture) as well as lots of other friends I am not going to list. Good times were had by all.

In fact, one thing that has been consistent on my road trip (I have been gone from home since July 29) is how excited and encouraged I am about what God is doing in people's lives and the growth that has been happening. Thankfully this has been true uniformly with my friends, and although they are obviously all at different places, the trajectory is very similar.

During these times I can't seem to get this song line that I heard out of my head: "I don't wanna talk about you, like you're not in the room." The song is being sung to God by someone who never wants to go back to the time of not knowing God personally.

Upon contemplation, I believe that is the unifying principle of the people I have gotten to spend time with. They are all in different seasons of life, have different beliefs, different jobs, but despite all those differences they all know that God is really with them, and they speak about him personally.

I think that might be why when worried people ask God questions, instead of mapping out strategies, foretelling future events, or giving people lists of things to believe, he almost always tells them "I will be with you." Because once you realize God is in the room, life is never the same again.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Wow, I am currently helping friend D. get back to the summer camp she works at. It is her birthday and she is lost. I am helping give her directions, but only recently did she tell me that she was on a different road then what I was first led to believe, which ended up being a crucial point.

There it is friends: communication is important!

That's all I have to say about that.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Sermon Preperation

As many of you know, I graduated from Walla Walla College in 2006, and during my time there as well as since then God has opened doors for me to speak at various venues. Right now I am brainstorming about a talk entitled "Righting Sailboats" as well as writing an article entitled "Walking in Movement" which I hope to get published later this year.

Anyway, all this thinking about stories and speaking made me think of my favorite illustration which I have yet to use, so here it is for your enjoyment:

My friend Sarah, who lives in Seattle, was house-sitting for a friend. This was an okay job with the only real hassle being the newfie. A newfie is a breed of dog, short for newfoundland, which averages around 140 lbs.

The house-sitting was going swell until one day when something not-so-perfect happened while Sarah was gone one day.

The newfie died.

Yep, it was gone. But not really gone, because after calling and telling the owners about the passing of their huge dog, Sarah had to get rid of it; all 145 lbs of it.

Sarah had to take it to the vet. Sarah didn't have a car, and her boyfriend was out of town, so she did what any smart girl under the circumstances would do: she stuffed it in a duffel bag, one of the ones with a hard bottom and wheels, and then dragged it to the subway.

The train came but unfortunately Sarah couldn't lift the bag up onto it. Thankfully a man stepped down and helped her lift it up into the subway.

"What the heck is in there? It weighs a ton!" he gasped. Sarah, being a little embarrassed, replied "oh, it's just computer parts."

They sat down on the train next to the door until the next stop. At this stop the man shoved her to the ground and ran out the door pulling her 145 lb. dead dog after him!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What I'm missing

"So you're really happy being single? Don't you feel like you are missing anything?"

That was something like the question posed to me yesterday evening. I went on to explain that of course there are things I'm looking forward to in marriage, but I'm not going to just sit around and be miserable until I buy a ring.

But that got me thinking: What am I missing right now? What do I wish I had?

The answer kind of surprised me, because it is something I recently joked about not liking during the internship I just finished.

During this internship we would have weekly meetings on Wednesday from noon to one. At the end of these meetings we would have the section of the meeting entitled "Feedback." This was (usually) the most intense part of the meeting, when Gary-my intern leader-and the other leaders would be brutally honest about our mistakes and shortcomings, as well as the areas where we had impressed them and they were excited about seeing progress.

"Okay, anyone have feedback?" As Gary said those words all three of us interns would grip our pen and stare unwaveringly at our blank notebooks. Waiting for what would come next . . .

That's what I think I'm missing.

Not the intensity, but the complete honesty coming from someone I knew loved me. I never had to worry that Gary was saying something just because he was nice to everyone, nope, he was telling me exactly what he thought, not sugar-coated but still with kindness. We had committed to building each other up. I was looking out for him and he was looking out for me.

And I know I am missing out on that part of dating or marriage. To be able to tell the person you love exactly what you are thinking and have them tell you what they are thinking; no games or half-truths.

Not that I don't have people to talk to, I am blessed with so many good friends. As I am typing one person in particular is coming to mind who I love sharing details with and hearing about what is going on in their struggle to save the world.

But tomorrow they might be tired of me. Meet someone more interesting.

And I know that, and I have to be okay with it, because there isn't any commitment.

So, in summation, I think what I'm missing out on by not being in a relationship right now is completely honest conversation; feedback.

Oh, and hugs. For someone I care about to see me, run up to me, and hold me because they are so glad I'm there. I'm definitely missing out on that too.

Here's a cool poem on the subject:

"O the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as it is, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keeping what is worth keeping and then, with the breath of kindness blow the rest away." -George Eliot