Thursday, July 24, 2014

Adventist Midwest Health and Alexian Brothers Health System Sign Letter of Intent

The two organizations are pursuing a possible affiliation to create an integrated health care system in the Chicago area.

6/17/2014 | By Julie Busch

Alexian Brothers Health System (ABHS), part of St. Louis-based Ascension Health and Adventist Midwest Health (AMH), part of Adventist Health System, announce the signing of a non-binding letter of intent to form a joint operating company (JOC). The letter calls for the two health systems to pursue a possible affiliation under which four AMH hospitals and five ABHS hospitals in suburban Chicago will join forces to create an integrated health care system.

The JOC will allow the two separate organizations to preserve their respective religious identities and mission priorities, and to integrate their operations while maintaining separate ownership of their assets. The affiliation will result in a notably diverse physician provider network, bringing together more than 3,000 physicians to offer better coordinated, more comprehensive care for patients in the Chicago area.

"By affiliating with Adventist Midwest Health, we believe we will enhance the high-quality care ABHS currently provides by extending our reach and strengthening our position in the highly competitive Chicago health care market. At the same time, we will be taking another important step toward ensuring the long-term viability of the Alexian Brothers' 800-year healing mission. This affiliation is also an example of Ascension Health's strategic commitment to developing regional integrated systems of care," said Mark A. Frey, president and chief executive officer of Alexian Brothers Health System.

"Our affiliation will bring a new level of clinical integration for population health to our communities that has never existed before, resulting in new health care options for the patients we serve," said David L. Crane, president and chief executive officer of Adventist Midwest Health. "By joining together, we'll offer new services and levels of care while reducing costs and enhancing value to a combined population service area of more than 3.8 million potential patients."

The Letter of Intent is expected to lead to a Definitive Agreement, which will be subject to a due diligence process and review and approval from appropriate regulatory bodies. As approvals are obtained, ABHS and Adventist Midwest Health anticipate the partnership will be complete by early fall.



The Immaculate Conception Province (the American Province) sponsors Alexian Brothers Health System, which provides services in acute care, residential elderly care, retirement centers, and AIDS ministry in Illinois, Missouri,Wisconsin, Tennessee, and also outside the USA in the Philippines and Hungary. On January 1, 2012 the Alexian Brothers Health System became part of St. Louis-based Ascension Health, the nation’s largest Catholic and non-profit health system.[citation needed]

Christian Woman on Death Row Leaves Sudan, Meets Pope

In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, from Sudan, with her daughter Maya in her arms, at the Vatican, July 24, 2014.

Sudanese Woman Sentenced to Death for Apostasy Gives BirthSudan Denies Re-arresting Released Christian WomanSudan Frees Woman Sentenced to Death for Refusing to Give Up Christian Faith

VOA News

Last updated on: July 24, 2014 10:00 AM

A woman who received a death sentence in Sudan for refusing to recant her Christian faith flew into Rome on an Italian government plane on Thursday and hours later met the Pope.

Meriam Yahya Ibrahim walked off the aircraft cradling her baby and was greeted by Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, saying it was a "day of celebration".

Italy’s vice minister for foreign affairs, Lapo Pistelli, left, greets Mariam Yahya Ibrahim and her family arriving from Sudan in Rome July 24, 2014.

Soon afterwards, Ibrahim, her husband and two children had a private meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican.

"The Pope thanked her for her witness to faith,'' Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.

The meeting, which lasted around half an hour, was intended as a "sign of closeness and solidarity for all those who suffer for their faith,'' he added.

What led to departure

There were no details on what led up to the 27-year-old's departure after a month in limbo in Khartoum, but a senior Sudanese official said it had been cleared by the government.

Italy joined with the United States in helping to free Ibrahim, and the country's vice minister of foreign affairs accompanied her on the flight from Khartoum.

In May, she received the death sentence on a conviction of apostasy. The conviction stemmed from a Sudanese law stating children of Muslim fathers are considered Muslim.

Ibrahim was born to a Christian mother and a Muslim father. She was brought up as a Christian after her father left the family.

Adultery charges

A court also sentenced Ibrahim to 100 lashes on charges of adultery for marrying Daniel Wani, who is a Christian. Under Sudanese law, marriage between Muslims and non-Muslims is not permitted.

In June, a Sudanese court overturned Ibrahim's conviction. She was released from prison but was detained by Sudanese authorities when her family tried to board a flight leaving the country. Officials questioned the authenticity of her travel documents.

The family then took refuge at the U.S. Embassy in Sudan. Ibrahim's husband, Wani, is a U.S. citizen.

Italian officials say the family plans to travel to the U.S. within a few days.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters


The First Family of Fundraising

Together, the Clintons have become two of the most impressive fundraisers in American history. Use the interactive graphic to see the many ways their supporters' money has been collected over the years.

The First Family of Fundraising

Alexander Ho @alexandermanho
Pratheek Rebala @pratheekrebala
Michael Scherer @michaelscherer 

5:45 AM ET

There are great American political fundraisers. And then there are Hillary and Bill Clinton, the first couple of American political fundraising. Few in American history have collected and benefited from so much money in so many ways over such a long period of time. Since they arrived on the national political scene 32 years ago, the Clintons have attracted at least $1.4 billion in contributions, according to a review of public records by TIME and the Center for Responsive Politics.

That sum helps illustrate Hillary Clinton’s enormous advantage should she decide to run for President in 2016. Much of the money, raised through two Senate and three Presidential campaigns, was gathered together in small checks by an extensive network of donors and fundraisers. Other donations came in the form of six-figure “soft money” donations from wealthy individuals during Bill Clinton’s presidency. A third category includes money the couple has raised for the Clinton Foundation, the family’s global non-profit, through speaking engagements for Bill Clinton, and through outside political spending that benefitted the Clinton efforts.

The records also show a select group of top donors who have given in multiple ways to the Clintons over the years. Many of these same donors, including people like S. Daniel Abraham, founder of diet supplement company Slim Fast, and Susie Tompkins Buell, founding of the clothing company Espirit, have formed personal friendships with the Clintons, even as they have continued to pursue public policy campaigns around issues like U.S. relations with Israel and the Keystone XL pipeline.

Through the years, the Clintons have adjusted over time to the changing rules that govern political contributions. Craig Smith, a longtime adviser to the Clintons who is now helping to organize the Ready for Hillary PAC, estimates that a Hillary 2016 candidacy could cost as much as $1.7 billion, including the money raised and spent on her behalf by outside groups. That would make the effort about 150% more expensive than the 2012 Obama effort, an increase in line with historical norms.

The data for this analysis is drawn from three broad categories.

Campaign contributions: Direct giving to Hillary and Bill Clinton’s campaigns for the Senate and the Presidency going back to 1992, as reported to the Federal Election Commission. It includes both individual contributions and money from other PACs given to either the leadership committees or joint fundraising committees of the Clintons. These figures also include “soft money” contributions to the Democratic National Committee during Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign and his presidency. Those donations were later eliminated by the 2002 campaign finance reform law.

Non-political contributions: Speaking fees collected by Bill Clinton up to 2008, and contributions to the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Figures for Bill Clinton’s speaking fees are based on filings from Hillary Clinton’s tenure in the Senate. The foundation has only released a list of donors grouped by the contribution ranges, so in all cases the interactive assumes that each donor gave the smallest amount possible in that category. The range of contribution, from all foundation donors, as reported by the foundation, could go as high as $1.3 billion.

Outside spending: Independent expenditures on behalf of the Clintons, as well as contributions to Ready for Hillary PAC, an independent super PAC created to support Clinton in 2016, which she has told friends she grateful to have organized on her behalf.

Read more

Iowa Mayor Calls For 'Caring Cities' To Take In Young Immigrants

July 24, 2014 6:01 AM ET

4 min 47 sec

The city of Davenport, Iowa, is home to about 100,000 people. The city's mayor, Bill Gluba, wants the city to shelter some of the unaccompanied minors who have crossed the southern border of the U.S., but some members of the City Council oppose his efforts.scmcgee/Flickr

Thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America have been crossing the Southern border of the U.S. over the past few months.

That's led to protests and debates — not only in the Southwest but across the country, as children have been given shelter in cities and towns that are sometimes quite far from the border.

In Iowa — a state with a history of providing a safe place for refugees — the question of these undocumented minors has caused a stark divide. While Iowa's governor says none of the unaccompanied minors from Central America should be allowed to stay, other figures, including the mayor of Des Moines and some religious leaders, think otherwise.

And in the city of Davenport, the possibility of sheltering the children has set the mayor against members of his City Council.

Bill Gluba, the mayor of Davenport, is trying to find appropriate sites that could serve as shelters for Central American minors.pioneer98/Flickr

Finding Sponsors, Looking For Shelters

Bill Gluba, the silver-haired mayor of Davenport, has been working with social services agencies trying to figure out a way to house some of the minors. He's also asking residents to support his effort, called the Caring Cities Campaign.

But he has met with pushback from some of the city's council members, who say they don't want any city funds spent on an effort to bring unaccompanied minors to Iowa's Quad Cities area.

The federal government operates about 100 short-term shelters for children who enter the country without a parent. Because of the large increase in the number of unaccompanied children — primarily from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — there's been a push to open temporary shelters.

Nora Dvorak, who ran the Refugee Resettlement Office in Davenport for years and is one of the leaders of the Caring Cities Campaign, says the city could help.

"We have three sites that are potential [shelter] sites, but we really need to do some more exploration about them," she says. "They are certainly better than where they are currently being held in detention cells and what have you. That's ... simply not OK for children."

This week, the mayor of Des Moines announced his support for the Caring Cities Campaign. But both he and Gluba are at odds with the state's governor, Terry Branstad.

"Listen, I'm very empathetic for these teenagers and kids, but they've come here illegally," Branstad says.

What's Causing The Latest Immigration Crisis? A Brief Explainer

"It would not be wise to say if you can come here, if you can somehow get here illegally, then you can stay. That would be just the wrong signal and would make a bad situation much worse."

Under a 2008 federal law, the minors caught by Border Patrol are handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services, which coordinates their care and finds them safe housing until their cases are decided. In a statement, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley says HHS informed his staff that since January, at least 139 of those unaccompanied children have been released to sponsors in Iowa.

Gluba and supporters of the Caring Cities Campaign say Davenport alone could house up to 50 children.

The mayor says his campaign is a private one, with no call for city funds. Even so, Alderman Bill Edmond led the charge for a motion that prohibits the use of city money or staff for Caring Cities. The Davenport City Council tabled the motion indefinitely Wednesday night, but Edmond says the message is clear — and he says the Caring Cities Campaign could be dangerous to residents here.

"Our own [Department of Homeland Security] says that the majority of these children are actually over the age of 14, and 75 percent of them are male — many of them with gang tattoos on them," Edmond says. "I'm not sure that's what we want to bring in to the city of Davenport."


In the 1970s, Iowans provided shelter to refugees fleeing the Vietnamese war (the "Vietnamese boat people").COR/AFP/Getty Images

A History Of Midwestern Hospitality

But Gluba says Iowa has a history of helping the displaced. Former Republican Gov. Bob Ray initiated a private effort to help settle refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in Iowa in the 1970s.

"He welcomed people. He said, 'Sure, we'll take as many [refugees] as we can handle,' " Gluba says. "They got in touch with Catholic social services and the various dioceses and Lutheran social services and all the good folks in the state of Iowa, and they welcomed, welcomed, families into the state."

Frank Cownie, the mayor of Des Moines and a supporter of the Caring Cities Campaign, also points to the shelter the state's residents provided to those fleeing the Vietnam War. "Iowans opened their arms. They opened up their homes. They opened up their churches. They opened up their apartments," he says. "They did everything that they could do to help, feed, clothe and educate and do what was necessary."

Branstad, the current governor, says there's a difference between what's happening now and what occurred more than 35 years ago.

"What Gov. Ray did was legal. And [the refugees] came as intact families, and they worked to resettle them permanently here," Branstad says. "The difference is between coming here legally and illegally."

A Widening Challenge

In the parking lot of a Davenport grocery store, opinions were mixed. Darin Vanpaemel says he thinks bringing the minors to Davenport is a crazy idea.

From 'All Things Considered'



Iowa's governor says unaccompanied minors from Central America should not find shelter in his state, but more than 100 are already there. The mayor of Des Moines, the state's largest city, and many religious leaders are at odds with the governor: They say Iowa should be welcoming and help children in need. Full transcript here.

"I mean, I feel bad for the kids, but we've got kids here that are in trouble," he says. "So we take care of those kids that are here in trouble first."

Others say the immigration laws need to be enforced. But Mark Anderson, a Davenport minister, says he knows plenty of people who'd be willing to let the minors come in.

"Davenport is the heartland of America, and [there are] a lot of good folks here in the Midwest city," Anderson says. "I think it would be a good thing for the community, and a good thing for those folks as well."

Unless immigration rules change to allow young migrants to be sent home more quickly, undocumented minors from Central America will continue to be kept in the U.S. for months or years until they get a hearing.

In the meantime, Sen. Grassley says he'll co-sponsor legislation that would require the federal government to notify the governor of any state 48 hours before placing any of the minors in facilities or with sponsors in that particular state.

And Gluba says his Caring Cities Campaign goes well beyond Iowa's Quad Cities. He's approached the U.S. Conference of Mayors in hopes of persuading other mayors throughout the country, who may be reluctant, to provide a safe haven for the unaccompanied minors.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Russian Supply Ship Takes Off for Space Station

2 hours 0 minutes ago, Storyful

Russia’s new Progress 56 supply ship took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, July 23, beginning a six-hour trip to the International Space Station. Progress was carrying nearly three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the crew. The craft will remain at the space station until October. Credit: YouTube/NASA


Is fundraising interfering with President Obama's duties?

JULY 23, 2014, 6:36 PM|

President Obama has attended 398 fundraisers since taking office -- and this month's world and domestic issues have not slowed him down. After the Malaysia Airlines crash, President Obama kept his fundraising schedule in New York and chose to call world leaders from Air Force One. Major Garrett reports.


NYPD Thinks Brooklyn Bridge White-Flag Stunt Was an Inside Job

By Margaret HartmannFollow @marghartmann

Photo: Richard Drew

The NYPD doesn't think that the placement of two white American flags on top of the Brooklyn Bridge last night has anything to do with terrorism, but it's definitely not thrilled about yet another stunt involving a security breach at a New York landmark. "Needless to say, no matter what the motive was, it is a matter of concern," Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said at a press conference on Tuesday. "I am not particularly happy about the event." Officials said surveillance footage shows a group of about five people walking over the bridge just after 5 a.m. A short time later, the lights on each tower went out and the usual flags were replaced with 20-foot-by-11-foot American flags that had been bleached white. "This may be somebody’s art project, or it may be an attempt at making some kind of statement — but at this point it’s not clear what that statement is," said Deputy Commissioner John Miller.

Police didn't announce any suspects, but they said the group caught on surveillance footage is of "particular interest." Miller said they're pursuing an "insider angle," as the climbers managed to get past a locked gate, and covered the lights using zip ties and aluminum roasting pans that were just the right size. "There’s some indication of some good deal of pre-operation planning, perhaps some indication that they have experience climbing in construction or in bridgework, or that they have actually been up there before looking at the dimensions," Miller said.

In previous incidents, the culprits have given themselves up by boasting about their crimes on social media, and police may luck out again.According to Gothamist, the Instagram user "Last Suspect" said the flags were bleached before the NYPD released that information, and he briefly used an image of an all-white American flag as his profile photo. In since-deleted tweets, Last Suspect said "NYPD can't stop shit," and commented "2 see last nights adventure in detail look at @mattdoscher feed" under a shot of the white flags. A photo of the underside of the Manhattan Bridge with the caption "Someone replaced the flags on the Brooklyn bridge�� ◻️◻️◻️hmmm..." is still up:

Both Last Suspect and Matt Doscher's Instagram accounts are filled with photos of buildings and bridges around New York, and they each have more than 10,000 followers. In an interview with SCHWICITY posted last month, Doscher said of his photography, "My biggest inspiration is simply the fun of going out exploring with friends. I love finding new locations and taking unique perspectives."

Obviously, a few jokes and an interest in urban photography doesn't necessarily mean that the two users have been trespassing on New York landmarks. As Gothamist notes, "It's entirely possible that they're coyly hinting at involvement to gain more Instagram followers." We're guessing that at the very least, they've scored a "follow" from the NYPD.


"Out of the cities; out of the cities!"

"'Out of the cities; out of the cities!' -- this is the message the Lord has been giving me. The earthquakes will come; the floods will come; and we are not to establish ourselves in the wicked cities, where the enemy is served in every way, and where God is so often forgotten." Review and Herald, July 5, 1906

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ben Carson: ACA Ruling Slaps Obama for Changing 'Law at Will'

Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 02:53 PM

By Wanda Carruthers

The U.S. appeals court ruling issued on Tuesday striking down the government's ability to offer Obamacare subsidies through federal insurance exchanges showed President Barack Obama was trying to "change the law at will," Dr. Ben Carson told Fox News' "America's Newsroom."

A three-judge panel ruled the government could not provide subsidies to enrollees on the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges run by federal authorities. Carson said he expected the decision to ultimately end up at the Supreme Court.

"You can't just come along and change the law at will. Basically, that's what this [ruling] is saying," Carson, former director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, said Tuesday.

Urgent: Should Ben Carson Run for President? Vote Here Now

Carson explained the Obama administration and the Internal Revenue Service had been "saying they could pretty much do anything they wanted" with regard to Obamacare. He said he was "very pleased" with what he was "seeing happening" as the courts decided the legalities of the healthcare law's implementation.

While Carson said he thought everyone "should have good healthcare," it didn't "have to be done through the government."

"This is really the issue — government in control of your life, or individual control, individual responsibility, which will help bring the whole medical system into the free market economic system, which will lower costs and improve quality," he said.

Carson said he was "starting to think about" a run for the White House in 2016, but maintained it "wasn't in my bucket list when I retired."


The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom

For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water.

2 The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient,

3 The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.

4 And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.

5 And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.

6 When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand:

7 In that day shall he swear, saying, I will not be an healer; for in my house is neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people.

8 For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory.

9 The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.

10 Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.

11 Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.

12 As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.

13 The Lord standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.

14 The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses.

15 What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts.

16 Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:

17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts.

18 In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon,

19 The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers,

20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,

21 The rings, and nose jewels,

22 The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins,

23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails.

24 And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.

25 Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.

26 And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.

Isaiah 3

Obama signs executive order banning LGBT discrimination

Gregory Korte, USA TODAY

3:28 p.m. EDT July 21, 2014

(Photo: Jewel Samad, AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — President Obama signed an executive order Monday expanding the protections for federal workers and contractors from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

"In too many states and in too many workplaces, simply being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can still be a fireable offense," Obama said. "So I firmly believe that it's time to address this injustice for every American."

Since President Bill Clinton, the federal government has banned discrimination against gays and lesbians in federal employment. Obama's action Monday expanded that protection to transsexuals.

The two-part order also bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for companies receiving federal contracts.

Some religious leaders had called on Obama to include a religious-based exception to the executive order, following the Supreme Court's decision in the Hobby Lobby case June 30. The court ruled that closely held companies with religious objections cannot be forced to provide coverage for certain contraception or abortion-inducing drugs.

The order Obama signed Monday stopped short of that. It does, however, maintain a provision from a 2002 executive order signed by President George W. Bush that exempts religious organizations that discriminate based on religious beliefs.

A number of more liberal religious leaders attended the signing ceremony Monday in the East Room of the White House, and frequently shouted "Amen!" during Obama's speech.

Obama told a crowd of a few hundred gay rights activists, religious leaders and lawmakers that their "passionate advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of your cause" led to Monday's action.

Broader legislation banning employment discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals passed the Senate last year, but the House of Representatives has not acted on it.


'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

SE Samonte

Uploaded on Apr 10, 2008

A Christian song composed by Lou­i­sa M. R. Stead in 1882. Sung in the video by Altar of Praise Men's Chorale, from their album 'Praise to the Lord'

Please click to play all the featured Christian hymns:

To purchase music CD's of the Altar of Praise Chorale, click:

In defense of biblical creationism, pls. visit:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Bishop Tony Palmer, Champion of Unity, Dies in Motorcycle Accident


Bishop Tony Palmer passed away after a motorcycle accident. (YouTube)

Bishop Tony Palmer, a South African Bishop with the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, has passed away after a motorcycle accident.

Palmer gained worldwide media attention in January after Pope Francis sent a special envoy to a Charismatic Evangelical Leadership Conference Kenneth Copeland hosted.

"Tony Palmer, the charismatic young preacher who enjoyed a friendship with Pope Francis, has apparently died in a motorcycle accident," Kathy Schiffer reported on her Seasons of Grace blog. "Not a Catholic, Palmer was bishop in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, a group that broke away from the Anglican Church and considered itself part of the Convergence Movement."

Palmer presented a video message from the pope that went massively viral at the Copeland-hosted conference. The message centered on unity among Catholics and Protestants. Copeland prayed for the pope and sent a message of his own back to Francis.

Catholics and evangelicals alike are mourning Palmer's loss.

"I never personally met Bishop Tony Palmer. However, I look forward to spending an eternity in the full communion of God's love with him. I appreciated his Christian courage and felt that his efforts were prophetic," wrote Keith Fournier, founder and chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance.

"He wrote his life—and lived his ministry—with broad brushstrokes, seeking to reveal the fullness of God's loving plan for the Body of Christ, the healing of the divisions and wounds which separate those of us who share the name Christian."


Tony Palmer dies in a motorcyle accident

Evangelical pastor, close friend to Pope, dies after motorcycle crash


Published on Jul 21, 2014 Tony Palmer used his iPhone to record a message from the Pope to the Evangelical community.

The Secret Rapture



This article deals with a popular yet controversial subject within the Christian church, the legitimacy or illegitimacy of THE SECRET RAPTURE. Every truth seeking Christian, whether or not you believe in a secret rapture, should carefully read this article and prayerfully search the scriptures daily. This article is adapted from The Secret Rapture by James Bennett as published in the 1878 London edition of The second Advent. Prior to the 19th century the idea of a secret rapture was foreign to the Christian church. “Somewhere around 1830, Edward Irving began to teach the unique idea of a two-phase return of Christ, the first phase being a secret rapture prior to the rise of the Antichrist.” (Left Behind By The Jesuits). Edward Irving was highly influenced by the teachings of Jesuits Francisco Ribera and Robert Bellarmine regarding their anti-Reformation rhetoric and private Futurist interpretation of antichrist, which no doubt led him to speculations of a secret rapture. In 1864 Samuel Prideaux Tregelles published a book in which he gave the following testimony on the origin of the secret rapture:
“I am not aware that there was any definite teaching that there would be a secret rapture of the Church at a secret coming, until this was given forth as an ‘utterance’ in Mr. Irving’s Church, from what was there received as being the voice of the Spirit. But whether any one ever asserted such a thing or not, it was from that supposed revelation that the modern doctrine and the modern phraseology respecting it arose. It came not from Holy Scripture, but from that which falsely pretended to be the Spirit of God....” (The Hope Of Christ's Second Coming, 1864, Chapter 9, p. 35)
After the opinion of a secret advent had been adopted, many expressions in older writers were regarded as supporting it; in which, however, the word “secret” does not mean unperceived or unknown, but simply secret in point of time. By the 1860's it was publicly maintained that the secret coming is the second coming promised in Scripture, and that the manifest appearing of our Lord is His third coming. However, nowhere in scripture is there the slightest hint of a “third coming” of Christ. The apostle Paul said that Jesus shall appear the “second time” not ‘third’: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Heb. 9:28). Today many maintain that the “coming” of Christ is different than his “appearing.” But Jesus himself dispells this notion: “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also thecoming of the Son of man be.” (Matt. 24:27). Still, there are those who insist that there is a difference between the “coming” and the “appearing” of Jesus; hence, a “secret” rapture.

The Secret Rapture

This view is one which has made and still is making considerable progress among believers. There is much that is attractive about it, but it will not, I am persuaded, stand searching, sober investigation. The theory briefly stated is, that there are yet two comings of Christ to take place. One of them may occur at any moment, without the slightest warning. The object of this coming will be to take away the Church, which will thus disappear from the earth in an instant. This secret rapture of the Church will, we are told, be followed by the manifestation of Antichrist, the persecution of restored Israel, and when Jerusalem is besieged, the Lord will come openly to the world, accompanied by His saints. What the Christian is to look for, then, is not the coming of the Lord at the siege of Jerusalem, but a coming which may occur at any instant. So far as I am aware, this view has been derived from Edward Irving, by whom it was first broached. It need hardly be remarked, that, without saying one syllable as to Irving's personal condition before God, he was a most unsound teacher. Any Christian at all acquainted with the Word of God must feel this. His idea, for instance, that our Lord's humanity was teeming with evil propensities, is fearful to a spiritual mind. That the theory should have originated with such a man is enough to make one doubly cautious in receiving it. He, however, taught it in a form somewhat different from that given above. He said that the whole Church would not escape the great tribulation, but only those who followed his directions. And a modification of this is held by many who are not Irvingites. They say that only some will escape, viz., those who are watching for the Advent, and, as some add, standing aloof from all denominations! In these pages, however, only the form of the doctrine first given is dealt with, viz., that the whole Church will share in the secret rapture. I confine myself to this one aspect of the view, because it is the most widely spread. And in fact, if this is disproved, the other will fall with it.


Be Singular—for Christ’s Sake

Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church - New York City (photo: Alan Price)
Photo (Courtesy)

Be Singular—for Christ’s Sake, October 28

Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment. Exodus 23:2.

To be singular for singularity’s sake is positively detestable, below the dignity of a Christian, but to be singular because it is necessary to be so as the result of worshipping God and Him only, places Heaven’s dignity upon man. We must not be afraid of being singular when duty requires us to be thus to exalt and honor God....

Do not court singularity for the sake of being odd, but for the sake of avoiding sin and dishonor to God. And in this case we are not to mind even the multitude who are against us. “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.”

Because the law of God is made void in our world, does it make it a virtue to transgress that law? It may appear to the world a very small matter for the Christian to be in harmony with the world by just the act of keeping Sunday for the Sabbath in the place of the seventh day, but God’s Word says the seventh day is My holy day. The man of sin says, “I make a Sabbath for you and you must keep the first day of the week.” ...

God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations; it is the people who love God and keep His commandments. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Where Christ is even among the humble few, this is Christ’s church, for the presence of the High and Holy One who inhabiteth eternity can alone constitute a church.

Where two or three are present who love and obey the commandments of God, Jesus there presides, let it be in the desolate place of the earth, in the wilderness, in the city enclosed in prison walls. The glory of God has penetrated the prison walls, flooding with glorious beams of heavenly light the darkest dungeon. His saints may suffer, but their sufferings will, like the apostles of old, spread their faith and win souls to Christ and glorify His holy name. The bitterest opposition expressed by those who hate God’s great moral standard of righteousness should not and will not shake the steadfast soul who trusts fully in God....

They that will be doers of the word are building securely, and the tempest and storm of persecution will not shake their foundation, because their souls are rooted to the eternal Rock.—Letter 108, October 28, 1886, to her older sister and her husband who had not accepted the Sabbath truth.

The Upward Look, p.315.




Seventh-day Adventists believe in the soon second coming of Jesus Christ. This second coming is Christ’s return to this earth to end its history—its history of sin, suffering, misery, and death. While waiting for His coming, God’s people have a work to do and also to watch for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In particular we are to watch for the close of earthly probation when there will be no more pardon for sins committed.

This article is based on Testimonies, vol. 2, pages 183-199.

1. Close of General Probation

“Jesus has left us word: ‘Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the Master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.’ We are waiting and watching for the return of the Master, who is to bring the morning, lest coming suddenly He find us sleeping. What time is here referred to? Not to the revelation of Christ in the clouds of heaven to find a people asleep. No; but to His return from His ministration in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, when He lays off His priestly attire and clothes Himself with garments of vengeance, and when the mandate goes forth: ‘He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.’

“When Jesus ceases to plead for man, the cases of all are forever decided. This is the time of reckoning with His servants. To those who have neglected the preparation of purity and holiness, which fits them to be waiting ones to welcome their Lord, the sun sets in gloom and darkness, and rises not again. Probation closes; Christ’s intercessions cease in heaven. This time finally comes suddenly upon all, and those who have neglected to purify their souls by obeying the truth are found sleeping. They became weary of waiting and watching; they became indifferent in regard to the coming of their Master. They longed not for His appearing, and thought there was no need of such continued, persevering watching. They had been disappointed in their expectations and might be again. They concluded that there was time enough yet to arouse. They would be sure not to lose the opportunity of securing an earthly treasure. It would be safe to get all of this world they could. And in securing this object, they lost all anxiety and interest in the appearing of the Master. They became indifferent and careless, as though His coming were yet in the distance. But while their interest was buried up in their worldly gains, the work closed in the heavenly sanctuary, and they were unprepared.

“If such had only known that the work of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary would close so soon, how differently would they have conducted themselves, how earnestly would they have watched! The Master, anticipating all this, gives them timely warning in the command to watch. He distinctly states the suddenness of His coming. He does not measure the time, lest we shall neglect a momentary preparation, and in our indolence look ahead to the time when we think He will come, and defer the preparation. ‘Watch ye therefore: for ye know not.’ Yet this foretold uncertainty, and suddenness at last, fails to rouse us from stupidity to earnest wakefulness, and to quicken our watchfulness for our expected Master. Those found not waiting and watching are finally surprised in their unfaithfulness. The Master comes, and instead of their being ready to open to Him immediately, they are locked in worldly slumber, and are lost at last.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies, vol. 2, pages 190-192.

2. Mrs. White’s Vision of a Watching Company

“A company was presented before me in contrast to the one described. They were waiting and watching. Their eyes were directed heavenward, and the words of their Master were upon their lips: ‘What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.’ ‘Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the Master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping.’ The Lord intimates a delay before the morning finally dawns. But He would not have them give way to weariness, nor relax their earnest watchfulness, because the morning does not open upon them as soon as they expected. The waiting ones were represented to me as looking upward. They were encouraging one another by repeating these words: ‘The first and second watches are past. We are in the third watch, waiting and watching for the Master’s return. There remains but a little period of watching now.’ I saw some becoming weary; their eyes were directed downward, and they were engrossed with earthly things, and were unfaithful in watching. They were saying: ‘In the first watch we expected our Master, but were disappointed. We thought surely He would come in the second watch, but that passed, and He came not. We may be again disappointed. We need not be so particular. He may not come in the following watch. We are in the third watch, and now we think it best to lay up our treasure on the earth, that we may be secure against want.’ Many were sleeping, stupefied with the cares of this life and allured by the deceitfulness of riches from their waiting, watching position.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies, vol. 2, page 192.

3. Importance of Continuing Faithfulness in Watching

“I saw that it was impossible to have the affections and interests engrossed in worldly cares, to be increasing earthly possessions, and yet be in a waiting, watching position, as our Saviour has commanded. Said the angel: ‘They can secure but one world. In order to acquire the heavenly treasure, they must sacrifice the earthly. They cannot have both worlds.’ I saw how necessary a continuance of faithfulness in watching was in order to escape the delusive snares of Satan. He leads those who should be waiting and watching, to take an advance step toward the world; they have no intention of going further, but that one step removed them that much further from Jesus, and made it easier to take the next; and thus step after step is taken toward the world, until all the difference between them and the world is a profession, a name only. They have lost their peculiar, holy character, and there is nothing except their profession to distinguish them from the lovers of the world around them.

“I saw that watch after watch was in the past. Because of this, should there be a lack of vigilance? Oh, no! There is the greater necessity of unceasing watchfulness, for now the moments are fewer than before the passing of the first watch. Now the period of waiting is necessarily shorter than at first. If we watched with unabated vigilance then, how much more need of double watchfulness in the second watch. The passing of the second watch has brought us to the third, and now it is inexcusable to abate our watchfulness. The third watch calls for threefold earnestness. To become impatient now would be to lose all our earnest, persevering watching heretofore. The long night of gloom is trying; but the morning is deferred in mercy, because if the Master should come, so many would be found unready. God’s unwillingness to have His people perish has been the reason for so long delay. But the coming of the morning to the faithful, and of the night to the unfaithful, is right upon us. By waiting and watching, God’s people are to manifest their peculiar character, their separation from the world. By our watching position we are to show that we are truly strangers and pilgrims upon the earth. The difference between those who love the world and those who love Christ is so plain as to be unmistakable. While worldlings are all earnestness and ambition to secure the earthly treasure, God’s people are not conformed to the world, but show by their earnest, watching, waiting position that they are transformed; that their home is not in this world, but that they are seeking a better country, even a heavenly.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies, vol. 2, pages 193-194.

4. God Desires Us to Watch

“God designs that His people shall fix their eyes heavenward, looking for the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. While the attention of worldlings is turned to various enterprises, ours should be to the heavens; our faith should reach further and further into the glorious mysteries of the heavenly treasure, drawing the precious, divine rays of light from the heavenly sanctuary to shine in our hearts, as they shine upon the face of Jesus. The scoffers mock the waiting, watching ones, and inquire: ‘Where is the promise of His coming? You have been disappointed. Engage now with us, and you will prosper in worldly things. Get gain, get money, and be honored of the world.’ The waiting ones look upward and answer: ‘We are watching.’ And by turning from earthly pleasure and worldly fame, and from the deceitfulness of riches, they show themselves to be in that position. By watching they become strong; they overcome the sloth and selfishness and love of ease. Affliction’s fire kindles upon them, and the waiting time seems long. They sometimes grieve, and faith falters; but they rally again, overcome their fears and doubts, and while their eyes are directed heavenward, say to their adversaries: ‘I am watching, I am waiting the return of my Lord. I will glory in tribulation, in affliction, in necessities.’

“The desire of our Lord is that we should be watching, so that when He cometh and knocketh we may open to Him immediately. A blessing is pronounced upon those servants whom He finds watching. ‘He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.’ Who among us in these last days will be thus specially honored by the Master of assemblies? Are we prepared without delay to open to Him immediately and welcome Him in? Watch, watch, watch. Nearly all have ceased their watching and waiting; we are not ready to open to Him immediately. The love of the world has so occupied our thoughts that our eyes are not turned upward, but downward to the earth. We are hurrying about, engaging with zeal and earnestness in different enterprises, but God is forgotten, and the heavenly treasure is not valued. We are not in a waiting, watching position. The love of the world and the deceitfulness of riches eclipse our faith, and we do not long for, and love, the appearing of our Saviour. We try too hard to take care of self ourselves. We are uneasy and greatly lack a firm trust in God. Many worry and work, contrive and plan, fearing they may suffer need. They cannot afford time to pray or to attend religious meetings and, in their care for themselves, leave no chance for God to care for them. And the Lord does not do much for them, for they give Him no opportunity. They do too much for themselves, and believe and trust in God too little.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies, vol. 2, pages 194-196.


The prophecies in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy writings indicate that we are already “out of time”, meaning to say, that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ could have come even before this. As we can see, mercy still pleads on man’s behalf. But we are clearly warned to watch faithfully for the close of human probation.

Do our thoughts and our actions show that we are in a watching position? Or, perhaps just the opposite? Are we doing our part to conform to the will and requirements of God? Or, are we doing just the opposite?

Again, time may soon run out and human probation close, when Christ returns from His ministration in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, when He lays off His priestly attire and clothes Himself with garments of vengeance, and the mandate goes forth: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” Revelation 22:11.

Prayer: “Our Father in heaven, thank You so much for admonishing us to watch. Please help us to increase our watchfulness as we near the close of probation. In Jesus’ name, amen.”


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Noah's Last Sermon - Al Fletcher

013 Al Fletcher - 2-1-14 - Noah's Last Sermon - 192 kbps from Harvey Teale on Vimeo.

French blogger fined £1,200 after negative review that described restaurant as 'the place to avoid' appeared too high on Google searches

  • French blogger Caroline Doudet was ordered to pay damages to restaurant
  • Judge also ordered the title of the restaurant review to be altered
  • Restaurant owners sued Ms Doudet claiming the review was hurting their business

PUBLISHED: 03:20 EST, 18 July 2014 | UPDATED: 06:20 EST, 18 July 2014

A French blogger has been fined £1,200 after a judge ruled a negative restaurant review appeared too high on Google searches.

Caroline Doudet was also ordered to amend the title of her review, written in August 2013, which described the restaurant as 'the place to avoid in Cap-Ferret.'

Owners of the Il Giardino restaurant, in the Aquitaine region of southwestern France, sued Ms Doudet claiming the review, which appeared fourth in Google searches, was hurting their business.

A French blogger has been fined £1,200 after writing a negative review of the Il Giardino restaurant, in the Aquitaine region of southwestern France

A judge in Bordeaux this month ordered the review's title be altered and told Ms Doudet to pay the restaurant €1,500 in damages, along with €1,000 to cover the compainant's costs.

Ms Doudet told the BBC: 'This decision creates a new crime of "being too highly ranked [on a search engine]", or of having too great an influence.

'What is perverse, is that we look for bloggers who are influential, but only if they are nice about people.'

Council blows £214,000 over five years on hunt for blogger who insulted councillors as he promised to 'expose the truth'
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Ms Doudet's blog, Cultur'elle, has about 3,000 followers, which the judge said had exacerbated the damage caused to the restaurant.

The restaurant owner told French website Arrêt sur Images, as cited by the BBC: 'Maybe there were some errors in the service, that happens sometimes in the middle of August - I recognise that.

'But this article showed in the Google search results and did my business more and more harm, even though we have worked seven days a week for 15 years. I could not accept that.'

Ms Doudet's blog, Cultur'elle has about 3,000 followers, which the judge said had exacerbated the damage caused to the restaurant

While the decision is believed to be the first time an unpaid blogger has been ordered to pay damages following a negative review, the case is not thought to have created legal precedence in France because it was an emergency measure.

Under French law, such emergency measures can be carried out if a defendant is found to be causing harm to another party.

Ms Doudet has decided to delete the review, rather than change the title, because it was 'easier', has reported.

Earlier this month it was reported South Tyneside Council had spent £200,000 on a hunt for a notorious internet blogger known as Mr Monkey after he insulted local councillors.

The anonymous writer referred to councillors as ‘Pudgy Face’, ‘Miss Piggy’, ‘King of Sleaze’ and ‘The Fat Mackem Hobbit’ as he promised to ‘expose the truth’ behind their alleged lies.

Despite the internet troll abandoning the blog in 2009, the north east council have only just called off the manhunt - having spent the last five years searching for him.

The council launched the search after insisting they had a ‘duty of care’ to protect their employees from malicious accusations made online.

Working this Sunday? Here's your newest reason to take the day off.


Compiled by Mark A. Kellner

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

If your job has you working on Sunday, the world leader of the Roman Catholic Church says maybe that's not a good thing.

"A work-free Sunday — with the exception of necessary services — says that our priority is not to economics, but the human being, gratuity, non-commercial relations, rather family and friends, for believers it means a relationship with God and with the community," Pope Francis told a massive crowd in Molise, Italy, on July 5, according to Vatican Radio. "Perhaps it is time to ask whether it is a true freedom to work on Sundays."

The address was the pontiff's first public appearance in the southern Italian city and focused on the world of work and the needs of families. Francis initially met with a university official, a Fiat factory worker, and a young mother who is pregnant with her second child, he said. The Molise region is suffering from high unemployment, reports indicate, and Sunday work is often cited as a way to grow the local economy.

"Another challenge was voiced by this good working mother, who also spoke on behalf of her family: her husband, her young child and the baby in her womb. Her's is a plea for work and at the same time for the family. Thank you for this testimony! In fact, it is a case of trying to reconcile work with family life," the pope stated, referencing the woman's concern about having Sunday as a time to play with her children.

Francis continued, "This also raises the issue of working Sundays, which affects not only believers, but it affects everyone, as an ethical choice. We are losing this free space! The question is what do we want to prioritize?"

The quest for "free space" once a week is not a new theme for a pope or for the Catholic Church. In 1998, Pope John Paul II issued an apostolic letter, Dies Domini, or "The Lord's Day," in which the former archbishop of Krackow pleaded for a more spiritual emphasis.

"(W)hen Sunday loses its fundamental meaning and becomes merely part of a 'weekend,' it can happen that people stay locked within a horizon so limited that they can no longer see 'the heavens,'" John Paul wrote. "Hence, though ready to celebrate, they are really incapable of doing so. The disciples of Christ, however, are asked to avoid any confusion between the celebration of Sunday, which should truly be a way of keeping the Lord's Day holy, and the 'weekend,' understood as a time of simple rest and relaxation."

Francis' remarks did not go as far as those of his predecessor, but media reporting interpreted his words as calling for a return to a simpler age: "Pope Francis has lamented the abandoning of the traditionally Christian practice of not working on Sundays, saying it has a negative impact on families and friendships," the Associated Press reported.

The call for a work-free Sunday has expanded — in Europe, at least — beyond the confines of the Roman Catholic Church. A European Sunday Alliance exists to lobby for legal recognition of workers' rights to a day off, as embodied in various European Union charters.

Such calls have engendered concerns over the rights of individuals who do not observe Sunday as a holy day, however: "Economic arguments aside, religious minorities in Europe — among them Muslims, Jews and Seventh-day Adventists — worry the proposal could infringe on free expression of religious beliefs, despite its seemingly well-intentioned goals of reducing stress and overwork," the Adventist News Network reported in February 2014.

Taking a day off each week has clear benefits for individuals and their families, as a Deseret News report in April outlined.

Email: Twitter: @Mark_Kellner


July 10, 1934: ‘Observe Sunday’ on stamp cancellations produces protests


Example of “Observe Sunday” cancellation stamp that Seventh-day Adventists challenged in 1934, arguing it violated the separation between church and state.

Seventh-Day Adventists forwarded a letter to Canada’s postmaster general objecting to the “Observe Sunday” slogan on cancellation stamps.

“The observance of a day is purely a religious question and one which a person must determine as between himself or herself and the Maker, without any interference or pressure from civil government,” said the letter, written by M.N. Campbell, secretary of the religious liberty department of the Canadian Union of Seventh-day Adventists, after receiving many letters of protest from church members.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church, which had several thousand adherents in Canada, is Christian, but observes Saturday, or the Jewish Sabbath, instead of Sunday.

“If a government may issue such counsel as ‘Observe Sunday’ on post office cancellation stamps, it may with equal consistency advise to ‘Attend Mass,’ ‘Be Baptized,’ or ‘Go To Confession,’ ” Campbell contended.


For we walk by faith, not by sight

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.

4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

12 For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.

13 For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.

14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

2 Corinthians 5
King James Version (KJV)

He is eternal truth

For the disheartened there is a sure remedy--faith, prayer, work. Faith and activity will impart assurance and satisfaction that will increase day by day. Are you tempted to give way to feelings of anxious foreboding or utter despondency? In the darkest days, when appearances seem most forbidding, fear not. Have faith in God. He knows your need. He has all power. His infinite love and compassion never weary. Fear not that He will fail of fulfilling His promise. He is eternal truth. Never will He change the covenant He has made with those who love Him. And He will bestow upon His faithful servants the measure of efficiency that their need demands. The apostle Paul has testified: "He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. . . . Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10.

Prophets and Kings, p.165.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Jan Paulsen: Challenges for a global Church in the 21st Century

Stuttgart/Germany, 02.06.2014/APD

Pastor Jan Paulsen (left) and pastor Frieder Schmid, translator
© Photo: Reinhard Knobloch

Pastor Dr Jan Paulsen, former President of the General Conference (headquarter of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist church) spoke in the Seventh-day Adventist church Stuttgart/Germany about the church’s challenges in the 21st century. He stressed that the decision about women’s ordination as pastors was one of the top priorities. A wide range of committees in the world church have tackled this question for the past 40 years. In 1990 the General Assembly of the General Conference (World Council) and the supreme decision-making body denied the right of women’s ordination. When the Adventists in North America asked for permission to ordain women as pastors in their area of responsibility, the majority of the world council meeting in Utrecht in 1995 rejected the request again. This very same question is again on the agenda of the General Conference General Assembly in 2015 which is scheduled from 2 to 11 July in San Antonio, Texas/USA. On fears that a decision to ordain women, could divide the church, Paulsen replied : "Perhaps so. But equally, not to ordain women has the same probability to divide our church." It is, therefore, important to find a solution which is acceptable to both parties. All arguments – whether for or against – have been presented and exchanged and the problem cannot be postponed again.

Church – an active part of life or irrelevant sect

According to Paulsen, there are, however, a number of additional challenges for the church. Despite cultural differences and theological challenges it was necessary for the global church to preserve the unity and identity. A global community of faith faced the difficult task of integrating their spiritual values into the practical aspects of daily life in many different cultures. It was necessary to resist the ‘easy solution’ to withdraw from people who had completely different values of life into ‘the own perfect world’. Paulsen cautioned: "Either the public accepts us as part of society and sees that we want to be an active part of life in the political community, or the public considers us as an irrelevant sect which dissociates itself from all others. Our world may no longer be interested in God, but it is a world full of people whom we, under no circumstances, can leave to fend for themselves." Adventists should therefore live out their values, prepare people for the future, such as by way of education, and act as peacemakers.

Inter-church relations

In dealing with other Christian churches and other world religions Paulsen also posed the question: "In our dealings with them are we having an open-minded attitude and apply a constructive dialogue? Do we explain to them who we are, what we believe and which duties we have, or do we seal ourselves off, withdraw and consider any communication with other faiths as dangerous?" Either Adventists introduce themselves "or others will do it for us – but then we will be most likely misrepresented or even ridiculed.” It was of course easier to only interact with like-minded people, however, the ‘Truth’ would not have to be afraid of scrutiny. It was the duty of Adventist church members, pastors, teachers and leaders to demonstrate how one's own convictions and the respect for other faiths could co-exist.

Jan Paulsen was born in Northern Norway. After finishing his studies he served as pastor, professor and dean at Adventist universities in Africa. He then taught at Newbold College in England, where he soon was appointed dean. He earned his doctorate in theology at the University of Tübingen in 1972. In 1980 he was elected Secretary and in 1983 President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Northern and Southeastern Europe. In 1999 he was elected President of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventists (world headquarter), an appointment which he held until the age of 75 years in 2010. In 2012 the King of Norway decorated Jan Paulsen ‘for his meritorious service to the welfare of mankind’. Paulsen is married to Kari and they have an adult daughter and two sons.