Newsletter 54, January 2000
Focus on the Family Child Care Book | Faithful Unto Death | Rice and the Cure for the "Irish Disease" | The Sabbath is NOT Multiple Choice | Heaven is Not the Reward of the Saved | Index to Josephus | Coping With Cancer | And Follow Their Faith! | Stand Up To Bullies! | Our Godly Heritage | A Macedonian Call | Three Days and Three Nights Chart | Holy Anointing Olive Oil | Cremation Versus Burial ó Which? | Three Pilgrimage Feasts
††††††††† Dr. Spock's famous book on child care was one of the most widely-read books in the middle decades of the Twentieth Century. However, his permissive attitude spawned a generation of indulgent parents who spoiled their kids. Spock forgot that love and punishment DO go together.
††††††††† Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, stands diametrically opposed to Spock permissiveness. Dobson focuses on love and discipline, with common sense. His organization has published a thorough book detailing almost every conceivable aspect of childrearing, The Focus on the Family Complete Book of Baby and Child Care, by Paul C. Reisser. This encyclopedia of about 900 pages covers childbirth to teenage years. It is a resource for mother and father to turn to, time and again. Therefore, we do not recommend the paperback edition. You may order the hardback edition (retail $29.99) online with your credit card at www.giveshare.org/amazon/youth.html for $20.99 plus postage, or send $26 to Giving & Sharing, PO Box 100, Neck City, MO 64849. Grandparents may find that this book is an excellent gift to their grown children who are struggling to raise good kids in a mixed up world.
††††††††† Could it happen again? Would you be ready if it did? The noncanonical but historical book, I Maccabees, describes the actions of Antiochus Epiphanes in 167 B.C. "The king then issued a proclamation to his whole kingdom that all were to become a single people, each nation renouncing is particular customs. All the gentiles conformed to the king's decree, and many Israelites chose to accept his religion, sacrificing to idols and profaning the Sabbath. . . . The king also sent edicts by messenger to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah, directing them to adopt customs foreign to the country, banning burnt offerings, sacrifices, and libations from the sanctuary, profaning Sabbaths and feasts, defiling the sanctuary and every thing holy, building altars, shrines, and temples for idols . . . . so that they should forget the Law and revoke all observance of it. Anyone not obeying the king's command was to be put to death," I Maccabees 1:41, 44-50.
††††††††† Punishment was swift and brutal. Women who had had their sons circumcised were killed and their babies hung around their necks (verses 60-61). Anyone continuing in faithful obedience to God was executed (verses 62-64). As we know, Antiochus defiled the Temple by erecting an image of Jupiter Olympus and sacrificing swine on the altar. This is a type of the "abomination of desolation."
††††††††† Faith is developed and exercised, not in crisis when times are tough, but when times are good, when it is "easy." Now is the time to build your faith in God, developing a personal relationship with Yahshua the Messiah and our Heavenly Father. Only this way can we remain faithful unto death.
††††††††† One in fifty Irishmen have it, as opposed to one in 250 of the general population. It is called Celiac Disease (CD), a severe toxic intestinal reaction to gluten, a protein substance in wheat, oats, barley, rye, and other grains, except rice. Because of the propensity for the Irish to suffer from this malady, CD is sometimes called "the Irish Disease." It is difficult to diagnose; many have the disease without knowing it.
††††††††† A gluten-free diet is central to a curative program for treatment of Celiac Disease. Rice has no gluten, which makes it very difficult to make it into bread. A CD sufferer can freely use rice in a variety of salads, casseroles, soups, syrups, side dishes, and desserts. If you do not suffer from Celiac Disease, you may find that rice is nevertheless one of the greatest gifts from the Creator God. In its unrefined state, rice is almost a perfect food.
††††††††† It breaks my heart to see relief programs in poor countries distribute white rice to starving people. The sinful nature of mankind has led some agribusinesses to strip off the nourishing vitamins and minerals in the bran, leaving mainly carbohydrates in a foodless food. We need the whole grain, just as God made it! Lundberg Family Farms, 5370 Church Street, PO Box 369, Richvale, CA 95974-0369, has been growing organic whole grain rice for more than thirty years. Write them for an order blank, or visit their website, http://www.lundberg.com/, for an order blank, free mouth-watering recipes, and a wealth of information about rice and the many tasty rice products available. Lundberg will deliver rice products directly to your door, far cheaper than health food stores.
††††††††† I want to optimize my physical health by adding plenty of whole grain rice to my diet. We receive no benefit for enthusiastically recommending Lundberg rice, other than knowing that others will reap healthful results by eating more whole grain rice.
††††††††† His radio broadcast reaches some 70,000 people. For years, he has been one of the most noted, most listened to, most respected, Church of God speakers. Yet there have been warning signs along the way, which few have heeded. This man has definite non-Biblical leanings that should raise a red warning flag to all Sabbath-keepers. His many fine messages should not blind our eyes to areas of blatant doctrinal error.
††††††††† On his audio tape of February 6, 1999, entitled, "What Would Jesus Say?" he noted that most of the people who hear his radio broadcast will never write in for literature, or attend a Sabbatarian Church. Therefore, he said that his message has to reach them on the air. So, he recently gave a broadcast about the Sabbath, in which he said, "I know you go to Church on Sunday morning, but that doesn't keep you from keeping the Sabbath day. The Sabbath day is the seventh day, it is a day of rest. You and your family should take the day off and spend that time together." The gist of the message was to start Sunday-keeping people keeping the Sabbath, in the hope that eventually they will keep the Sabbath only, but that may take a good deal of time. He reasons, "I figure if I could get them started keeping the Sabbath day, even though they're still going to Church on Sunday morning, I will have made a huge inroad into that person's life."
††††††††† Now let's look at these statements. Does going to Church on Sunday prevent you from keeping the Sabbath? It most certainly could. Sunday-keeping could interfere with Sabbath-keeping because there is a limited amount of time on weekends for shopping and chores. Suppose the Sunday-keeping family takes the Sabbath day off as family day, and goes to sports events, mows the lawn and works in the garden together, goes to a movie together, and goes out to a restaurant together. Is this Sabbath-keeping? Of course not! The Sabbath is a day of worship, prayer, and fellowship with God's people. Is Sabbath-keeping something like trial marriage? Just try it for a while and see if you like it, maybe you will get "married" sometime down the road! This speaker is one of the most noted Sabbatarian preachers of our day! And yet, the major Sabbath message he has given on the radio, encourages people to "keep" the Sabbath and go to Church on Sunday as well! And, is his goal to personally make a huge inroad into people's lives? The job of a minister of the Gospel is to lovingly present God's full Truth, and then allow the Holy Spirit to convict people's hearts and minds. If this man's statements do not cause you to be concerned, then you have a problem.
††††††††† Finally, on his tape, he insists, "I don't tell people to leave their Church. I don't even tell them to get out of the Baptist Church, because they might be a light there." He knows of two "staunch" families, who are longtime Sabbath-keepers and Holy Day observers, who eschew unclean meats, and are "solid" in Church of God doctrines. They observe the Sabbath day and go to Church on Sunday morning at a local Christian Church. One of the men has been asked to be a Deacon. The Sunday-keepers know about their "strange" beliefs, and love them in spite of these "differences." There is no Church of God anywhere near these families. They have teens and would rather have their children involved in Church activities with Christian kids, so this is a major factor in their decision to attend a Sunday Church. Ronald L. Dart, head of Christian Educational Ministries (CEM), encourages them in this activity.
††††††††† Most liberal ideas sound good on the surface. Sure, for my kids' sake, wouldn't it be all right to take them to Sunday school, and attend Sunday services with the whole family, and even be a Deacon in the local Protestant Christian Church? Are we depriving our children because there is a shortage of Church of God fellowship? There are telephone and live Internet Sabbath Services available to folks around the world, and excellent summer youth camps and other activities available for our scattered brethren and their children. We should be thankful for the opportunities for fellowship, even if they are meager.
††††††††† Protestant Deacons are expected to distribute the bread and grape juice at communion. Would someone who keeps an annual Christian Passover be a "light" by serving communion at a Protestant Church? The songs will include worship of the Trinity, going to Heaven, and other false doctrines. Will these "Sabbath-keeping" families join in singing the Doxology, where it says, "Praise Him above ye Heavenly Host, Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost"? What will these "staunch" Church of God people do when the Church is decked out with Christmas trees and holiday decorations? Will they attend Easter Sunrise Services as well? Now, how could these Sunday-keeping Protestants love these Sabbath-keepers unless the Sabbatarians were full participants in their religious practices? Would the Sunday-keepers love the Sabbatarians if they were completely open about their beliefs on the Trinity, Holy Days, and all the other distinctive doctrines of the Church of God?
††††††††† There is something missing in this story. Open opposition to the Trinity doctrine, by itself, would create enemies in most Catholic and Protestant circles. I suspect that the real story is that these Sabbatarians are actually "don't ask, don't tell" believers. Their lengthy participation in Sunday services and false practices destroys what light they might be able to shed during a short stay. Since their motive is fellowship for their children, I doubt if there will be any serious discussion of religious teachings, or they will no longer be welcome at the Sunday Church. Can you see that Mr. Dart's support of Sunday-keeping, along with Sabbath-keeping, is totally impractical?
††††††††† Of course, such teaching is unscriptural as well. The Sabbath is not something you ease into, like breaking in a new pair of shoes. It is impossible to keep Sunday along with the Sabbath. You commit adultery if you are "married" to two women at the same time. You cannot serve two masters, Luke 16:13; Romans 6:16. Elijah said, "How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him," I Kings 18:21. The Heavenly Voice says, "Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues," Revelation 18:4. The Church of Thyatira was admonished because they participated in false religious ceremonies, allowing spiritual Jezebel, the Catholic Church and her daughters, to teach and seduce God's servants, and to eat things sacrificed to idols (a clear reference to the Eucharist), Revelation 2:18-25.
††††††††† This is not the first time Ron Dart has expressed himself relative to the fundamentals of Sabbath-keeping. In an E-mail to me answering my question on his stance on military service, Dart said that he does NOT believe it is wrong to participate in war and come under military authority. I asked him if he believed our long-held teaching, "We believe that Christian disciples of Christ are forbidden by Him and the commandments of God to kill, or in any manner directly or indirectly to take human life; by whatsoever means; we believe that bearing arms is directly contrary to this fundamental doctrine of our belief; we therefore conscientiously refuse to bear arms or to come under the military authority" [quoted from Fundamentals of Belief of the Radio Church of God, ca. 1930s]. Mr. Dart emphatically replied, "No!" Participating in carnal warfare is not a problem with him.
††††††††† However, military service and war are directly anathema to those who are led by the Spirit of the Almighty to follow the Ten Commandments, specifically the fourth and sixth commandments. In today's United States armed forces, it is possible to be in effect a contractor, which allows the military person the liberty to have the Sabbath and Holy Days off duty. In time of war or other national emergency, this liberty will no doubt be eliminated. Then, because some have compromised, their objections to warfare may fall on deaf ears. Let us be consistent in our faith. Sabbath-keeping and military service in general, are diametrically opposed. Armies do not break for the Sabbath. God's people do.
††††††††† There are other instances I could cite, but the overall tone and direction of Ron Dart is not conducive to spiritual growth in the Body of Christ. His anti-Sabbath statements place stumbling blocks in the path of our brothers and sisters in the Faith. Granted, Dart is one of the smoothest and most appealing speakers in the Sabbatarian community. However, it appears that the bedrock of his teaching is not in the unchanging Jesus Christ of the Bible, but a liberal, compromising, watered down Protestant teaching. Therefore, I must beseech you, brethren, to mark [take note of] those which cause divisions contrary to the doctrine which we have received, and avoid Ron Dart and his CEM, because with smooth words and fair speeches he is deceiving the hearts of ordinary people. Please see Romans 16:17-19. Upon proof of his change of heart, he should be accepted back into the fellowship of the saints. Until then, I will warn the brethren to avoid him, and not support him. It is one thing to have a few wrong ideas, but the Sabbath is foundational. Choose your spiritual friends very carefully. Continue to check them out. Warn others to avoid them that are hurting the Church.
††††††††† One of the fundamental teachings of Protestantism is the erroneous belief that the saved go to Heaven when they die. This false doctrine is one of the major reasons why we cannot have fellowship with Protestants. We have reprinted a thorough study of this topic, Study No. 78, "Heaven is Not the Reward of the Saved." You may write for a free copy, or view it online at www.giveshare.org/BibleStudy/078.heaven.html. You need this information to be able to give an answer for your faith in the Kingdom of God.
††††††††† Flavius Josephus (A.D. 37/38 - after 93) wrote the famous commentary, Antiquities of the Jews, and Wars, among other works. As a first century Jewish leader, his comments provide very helpful information. The Passover, according to Josephus (Ant. 2:14:6), was kept on Nisan 14 in the year of the Exodus, and came before the Feast of Unleavened Bread (9:13:3). Although not correct on some issues, Josephus is an original source that is essential in every believer's library. You may order a copy of Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews online at www.giveshare.org/amazon, or for $15 postpaid from Giving & Sharing. We also have a very useful FREE 10-page "Index of Important Subjects in the Works of Flavius Josephus." This helps you easily mine the many historical insights and gems from Josephus. You may order a free paper copy, or view and download it yourself at www.giveshare.org/churchhistory/josephus.html.
††††††††† He was diagnosed with fast-acting advanced histiocytic lymphoma. The doctor gave him one month to live. As a Church pastor, he had counseled others. Now, his faith was put to the test. God intervened and he was miraculously healed. Through it all, he learned twelve "creative choices" that took him through his fight with cancer. If you know someone who has cancer or another life-threatening disease, they need all the help and encouragement possible. Cancer survivor Dr. John Packo has written a 225-page book, Coping With Cancer, and Other Life-Threatening Diseases. For a copy, send $12 (postpaid) to: New Hope Ministries, 407 Joann Lane , Miamisburg, OH 45342.
††††††††† Packed with Biblical support, Packo explains in detail the 12 creative choices he made during his battle for life (scriptural references amplify his 12 points): (1) "I did not choose cancer, but I choose to trust God for courage to cope with cancer." (Joshua 1:9.) (2) "Cancer is a divine appointment to receive Christ's miracle of His life into one's heart." (I John 5:11-12.) (3) "Since our sovereign Lord permits cancer for His glory and our spiritual growth, I will glorify God and grow." (Jeremiah 29:11.) (4) "Because Christ's death on the wondrous cross is the basis for divine healing, I choose His supernatural power to supplement my doctor's treatments." (I Peter 2:24.) (5) "I pick James' prescriptions administered by the elders of the local Church, then leave the healing results to God." (James 5:14-16.) (6) "If I select the wonders of modern medicine, I must be prepared to manage the not-so-wonderful side effects." (Matthew 9:12; Colossians 4:14.) (7) "I practice positional thinking that produces power to live above tough circumstances." (Ephesians 2:6.) (8) "When God withholds the miracle of instant healing, I humbly embrace His alternative of amazing grace that creates inner strength, and a joyful disposition." (II Corinthians 12:9.) (9) "I love God who specializes in the miracle of turning cancer into my ultimate god of Christlikeness." (Romans 8:28-29.) (10) "I dedicate my body to Christ and separate it from unhealthy eating habits, chemical abuse, and overexposure to sun." (Psalm 139:14, I Corinthians 3:16-17.) (11) "I accept death as the departure [from this life to the new life] . . . made possible by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (John 11:25-26.) (12) "I celebrate the wonder of life by filling my heart with the joy of worshipping Jesus." (Proverbs 17:22; Nehemiah 8:10; Revelation 5:13.)
††††††††† Anybody who stood up to the Nazis is a hero in my book. Will we be steadfast in the coming time of war and trial? I became aware recently of a body of Sabbatarians who have a rich history of holding to their faith, in spite of hardship, persecution, and excommunication from their own Church. The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement began during World War I in Europe. Their story is one of courage, and is a sterling example for us to follow. Will our faith be as immovable as theirs?
††††††††† The Fourth Command, the Sabbath, is only one of Ten Commandments. The Sixth Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill [do no murder]," is as commonly broken as the other commandments. The Church of God continues to this day to be opposed to carnal war and military service.
††††††††† During the formative years of the Sabbatarian Adventist Movement, some equivocated, but most Sabbath-keepers of the mid-Nineteenth Century were opposed to carnal warfare. The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the United States during the American Civil War declared in 1864:
††††††††† "The denomination of Christians calling themselves Seventh-day Adventists, taking the Bible as their rule of faith and practice, are unanimous in their views that its teachings are contrary to the spirit and practice of war; hence, they have ever been conscientiously opposed to bearing arms. If there is any portion of the Bible which we, as a people, can point to more than any other as our creed, it is the law of the ten commandments, which we regard as the supreme law, and each precept of which we take in its most obvious and literal import. The fourth of these commandments requires cessation from labor on the seventh day of the week, the sixth prohibits the taking of life, neither of which, in our view, could be observed while doing military duty. Our practice has uniformly been consistent with these principles. Hence, our people have not felt free to enlist into the service. In none of our denominational publications have we advocated or encouraged the practice of bearing arms, and, when drafted, rather than violate our principles, we have been content to pay, and assist each other in paying, the $300 commutation money." -F. M. Wilcox: Seventh-day Adventists in Time of War, p. 58.
††††††††† In 1865, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists reaffirmed their original stand: "Resolved that . . . . we are compelled to decline all participation in acts of war and bloodshed as being inconsistent with the duties enjoined upon us by our divine Master toward our enemies and toward all mankind." -The Review and Herald, May 23, 1865.
††††††††† During World War I (1914-1918), German and other European Seventh-day Adventists did an about-face and its leadership, supported by the American General Conference, not only broke with the traditional teaching of their Church, but actually encouraged its members to join the military and engage in warfare. While 98% of the members decided to obey the instruction of the officers of the denomination, taking part in the war, 2% decided to remain faithful to the law of God, upholding the original position, as taught and practiced up to that time. These faithful believers were disfellowshipped from the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Europe because they chose to uphold the Church's original position in regard to keeping the Law of God (all Ten Commandments).
††††††††† In a booklet published by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germany, they announced the following doctrinal change: "In all that we have said we have shown that the Bible teaches, firstly, that taking part in the war is no transgression of the sixth commandment, likewise, that war service on the Sabbath is not a transgression of the fourth commandment." - Protokoll, p.12.
††††††††† "On the German mobilization, in August, 1914, the SDA's of that country were faced with the necessity of making an immediate decision concerning their duty to God and country when called into the armed service (see Germany, V; Noncombatancy). After counseling with the few SDA leaders locally available at that time, the president of the East German Union Conference informed the German War Ministry in writing, dated Aug. 4, 1914, that conscripted SDA's would bear arms as combatants and would render service on the Sabbath in defense of their country . . . .
††††††††† "Admittedly, the three SDA leaders in Germany took a stand concerning the duty of SDA's in military service that was contrary to the historic stand officially maintained by the denomination ever since the American Civil War (1861-1865)." -The Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Commentary Reference Series, Vol. 10, p. 1183, Edition of 1966.
††††††††† The Adventist leaders declared: "At the beginning of the war our organization was split into two parties. As ninety-eight percent of our membership, by searching the Bible, came to the conviction that they are duty-bound, by conscience, to defend the country with weapons, also on Saturdays, this position, unanimously endorsed by the leadership, was immediately announced to the War Ministry. Two percent, however, did not submit to this resolution, and therefore had to be disfellowshipped because of their unchristian conduct. These unprofitable elements set themselves up as preachers and, with little results, sought to make converts to their propaganda of foolish ideas. They call themselves, falsely, preachers and Adventists. They are not; they are deceivers. When such elements receive their merited punishment, we regard it, in fact, as a favor done to us." -Dresdener Neueste Nachrichten (a German newspaper), p. 3, April 12, 1918.
††††††††† In the same year, SDA leaders made another declaration, as follows: "In the beginning of the war there were some members, as there are also in other places, who did not want to take part in war service, either because of their lack of unity, or because of fanaticism. They started to spread around their foolish ideas in the congregation by word and in writing, trying to convince others to do the same. They were admonished by the church, but because of their obstinacy they had to be put out, for they became a threat to internal and external peace." -Stuttgarter Neues Tagblatt, September 26, 1918.
††††††††† Those disfellowshipped from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, not only in Germany, but also in many other countries in Europe, had no intention of starting a new Church. They were about 4,000 in number. Attempts at reconciliation with the main body were made just after the war, in 1920 and in 1922, but with no positive result.
††††††††† Therefore, as their numbers increased, the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement was organized as a church, separate from the main body of Seventh-day Adventists, when representatives from different countries met at Gotha, Germany, July 14-20, 1925. It is the purpose of the Reform Movement to continue with the original teachings and practices of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
††††††††† The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement General Conference first operated from Isernhagen, Germany, and then Basel, Switzerland. During the Nazi Era and World War II, mainstream SDA's served the Nazi state, as they had accommodated the German government in the first World War. The April 20, 1940, Morning Watch (an Adventist publication) praised Adolph Hitler for his humility, self-sacrifice, and "warm heart." Adventists even disfellowshipped members of Jewish origin. Imagine, goose-stepping Adventists! This is a very black page in Adventist history. Although almost all SDA's placed themselves without exception behind the National Socialist Government, gave the German salute, and performed military service, the adherents of the Reform maintained their old principles of faith and stood up to Hitler. Some were killed in concentration camps, rather than deny the Sabbath.
††††††††† Reform Adventists publish an inspiring testimony of steadfast Sabbath-keepers during Germany's dark days, "And Follow Their Faith!" ($5.00 postpaid from: Giving & Sharing, PO Box 100, Neck City, MO 64849.) This 60-page book includes pictures, history, and letters of martyrs for the faith. In some cases, Nazi-collaborating regular Seventh-day Adventist ministers testified against them. One hero was Anton Brugger, born in 1911 in Salzburg, Austria. He was condemned to two years of prison in a labor concentration camp as a conscientious objector. While working in the concentration camp as a woodworker, Brugger wrote, "The officers of the Justice Department wanted to force me to work on the Sabbath, but the foreman was so satisfied with me and my work that I did not have to work on Saturdays. In exchange, I helped to unload boxcars every Sunday." Suddenly, without notice, they came to get him for the military. "I could not pledge allegiance to the [Nazi] flag, because in doing so I would have promised not only to fight with arms, but also to fight on the Sabbath day. Because I could not give this promise, I was condemned to death." In his touching letters to his mother and wife, Anton Brugger fully demonstrates the Spirit of Christ. He explains, "I could not swear to a worldly power unconditional fidelity, for this I did already to my Saviour at my baptism. Then I made a covenant with the Lord, promising Him to keep faithfully His commandments and follow Him under all conditions and difficulties in life. So there remained only two alternatives: either to remain faithful in all trials - even unto death - or else to become unfaithful by choosing the easier side. I chose death since I desire to attain to eternal life, for which Jesus Christ has called me by His sacrificial death. . . . For me there is no halfway position; I am either fully true to my conviction, or not at all. . . . I ask you [mother] to put forth special efforts to put out of your heart all hard feelings against everyone who has done you harm during your life. . . Forgive them with all your heart and forget all the evil done." In his final letter to his beloved Esther, written hours before his execution of February 3, 1943 (at the age of 31), Anton said, "may the Lord bless you . . . and protect and help you graciously so that we may see each other again forever beside HIM in His wonderful kingdom of peace. . . . Farewell, my Darling, auf WIEDERSEHEN!" ("And Follow Their Faith!" pages 40-51).
††††††††† After World War II, Reform headquarters was moved to America, now in Roanoke, Virginia. The SDA Reform Movement works in 83 countries. In 1999, it claimed almost 30,000 members. I do not agree with them regarding Ellen G. White and vegetarianism as a test of fellowship. However, I admire their courage to stand up to 98% of their brethren, and remain faithful to the Sabbath even under war and Nazi tyranny. May we all resist the liberal crowd and be faithful to the Lord of the Sabbath. For more information, contact Reformation Herald Publishing Association, PO Box 7240, Roanoke, VA 24019, or see the SDA Reform Movement website, http://www.sdarm.org/, or borrow the VHS video tape, "Historical Origin of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement," for $3.50, from: Richard C. Nickels, 3316 Alberta Drive, Gillette, WY 82718.
††††††††† A lot of us suffer humiliating experiences which hurt us deeply and perhaps leave permanent scars. There are few of us who haven't come away from a situation wishing we had stood up for our rights - told people that they couldn't walk all over us like that.
††††††††† But we didn't. Instead we walked away feeling aggravated, resentful, angry, or perhaps more than a little depressed. A lot of times we're trapped because of this, caught up in a situation of somebody else's devising. Because we're forced to act against our will, we feel a great deal of anger and resentment. But again, we're very hesitant to express it, so it comes out as a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness, anger, or depression.
††††††††† Some women especially feel that they have no rights.... They feel that they are helpless pawns - non-persons who don't have the right to say what they want to do in a given situation.
††††††††† But you might wonder, "Isn't that a truly Christian way to behave? After all, aren't we supposed to turn the other cheek, suffer and take wrong, let people walk all over us?"
††††††††† There are three basic styles of behavior, which experts have classified as passive, aggressive, and assertive.
††††††††† Social scientists have found that chronic passive behavior begets all kinds of emotional difficulties, and leads to generally poor mental health. Aggressive behavior is not generally socially acceptable. Nor is it usually Christian. The third and most attractive form of behavior is assertiveness.
††††††††† But again, the question arises: Is assertive behavior a truly Christian way to act?
††††††††† After all, didn't Jesus humbly and meekly allow Himself to be crucified and killed without standing up for His rights? The Bible shows us that Jesus Christ really did behave in an assertive manner. He did stand up for His rights, not allowing a pack of accusers to murder Him before His time came to voluntarily give His life for mankind (see Luke 4:28-30). And even when it was time for Him to die, He asserted His full legal right in not giving out information about His disciples. When the high priest asked Him about His followers and His doctrine, He answered: "I didn't do anything in secret - why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said." Then one of the officials nearby struck Him in the face. "Is that the way to answer the high priest?" he demanded. Jesus then said: "If I said something wrong, speak up about it. But if I spoke the truth, why did you hit me?" (John 18:19-23). So Christ Himself wasn't intimidated into giving up His rights by a bullying official.
††††††††† The apostle Paul also behaved assertively. When confronted by an annoying case of demon possession, he ordered the evil spirit to leave him and his party alone (Acts 16:16-40). And when this led to their being thrown into jail, uncondemned but beaten in spite of their legal immunity to such treatment as Roman citizens, Paul asserted his full rights. He demanded that the magistrates apologize and personally escort him out of prison. When politely asked to leave town, he just as politely ignored the request and entered into Lydia's house, visiting and comforting the brethren until he was good and ready to depart. On another occasion Paul escaped a beating by again asking the officials if it was legal to scourge an uncondemned Roman citizen (Acts 22:22-29).
††††††††† Paul admonished the Corinthians to react assertively rather than submit to false teachers (II Corinthians 11:1-21). He wrote: "For you bear it if a man makes slaves of you, or preys upon you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face" (verse 20, RSV). The implication is very plain - they ought not to have put up with such people who took advantage of them. They had the right to assert themselves. Instead, they were passive and submissive, encouraging aggressive behavior on the part of those false teachers.
††††††††† - David L. Antion, "What Does It Mean to Turn the Other Cheek?" Plain Truth, January 1978.
††††††††† Few Americans, Canadians, Australians, British, South Africans, New Zealanders, and others, know of the religious heritage of their respective country. They might be shocked to know the unabashed religious fervor of the Anglo-Saxon founders of their nation.
††††††††† Former President Woodrow Wilson said, "A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about."
††††††††† In the original United States Supreme Court, the jury was not dismissed for deliberation until a minister first came into the courtroom to pray over the jurors. The Capitol building itself long served as a Church building. John Quincy Adams, while serving as a U.S. Senator, regularly attended Church services in the Capitol building. Since its opening in 1824, huge paintings in the Capitol building depict Christian baptism, Bible Study, and prayer. A bronze plaque outside the old Supreme Court Chamber has the inscription, "What hath God wrought?" Our founders believed that God was at work in the formation of our great nation. This is clearly evident in His direct intervention in major battles and events of the War of Independence, the lives and writings of the Founding Fathers, the text of our founding government documents, and many of our original government buildings, especially the U.S. Capitol.
††††††††† Now, the Supreme Court makes ungodly decisions, and Congress ignores God, while many schools and history books excise the very mention of God. Rather than conceding defeat, David Barton of Wallbuilders, PO Box 397, Aledo, TX 76008, has done something to educate Americans on their religious heritage. In the past ten years, Barton has made nearly 4,000 presentations on America's Godly heritage. We have long recommended his excellent VHS video, America's Godly Heritage, available on our http://www.giveshare.org/amazon/audiovideo.html website for $16.99 plus postage (or send a $22 donation to Giving & Sharing). Now, Barton is preparing to release a 2 1/2-hour video that illuminates the important role the Christian faith played in the history of America's Capitol building in Washington, D.C. When Barton completes the project, we plan to offer The Spiritual Heritage of America's Capitol video.
††††††††† It is one thing to recognize our Godly heritage - it's another thing to walk in the footsteps of our Godly forebearers. Let's learn about them, and follow their sterling example!
(The following was written to Earl Lewis from Mark Okon, Director of Prison Fellowship International, Uyo Facility, PO Box 184, Uyo, Akwa, Ibom State, Nigeria. In some cases, I have corrected his English.)
I am a young man of 33 and I gave my whole life to Christ on May 7, 1978 . . . . I [then] decided I would tell others as God opens the door for me about the Good News of the saving Grace of Christ. I am a Sabbath worshipper, that means I worship the Lord on the 7th day of the week, THE LORDíS HOLY DAY (SATURDAY) not the man-made first day of the week (Sunday).
In 1980, I started as a letter Evangelist, by sending tracts, articles I have written, letters and Christian materials to people in the mail, through phone books, pen pal magazines, and other printed papers I bought with the little salary I received while working as a wages clerk in a construction firm in Northern Nigeria, which is a Muslim stronghold.
Several people, all Muslims, gave their lives to Christ and every Sabbath day from 7 A.M. to 6:30 P.M., we met in my one-room apartment to worship the Lord together. I shared the gospel with them and we sang songs and they asked questions on what they didnít know. We continued fellowshipping together, and at the same time sending letters, books, Bibles, audios, and tracts translated into our local languages, to people in all parts of Nigeria on a daily basis. However, I did not know that the Muslim teachers and other top government officials were monitoring my evangelism work, preaching, and fellowship.
Then, on December 1, 1989, I was arrested and charged in court for unlawful religious work and for converting faithful Muslims to Christianity. The judge, who was a strong Muslim Teacher, delivered the final judgment, and sent me to jail for ten years!
The authorities in Saboon Gari, after I was sent to jail, arrested all the brethren and kept them in jail for seven days and then released them. My one-room apartment was destroyed. The authorities confiscated all of my Bibles, books, magazines, audio tapes, letters, diaries, speeches, etc. . . .
I spent five years in a Saboon Gari cell, before I was transferred to the Uyo facility in the South. Southern Nigeria is 55% Christian, 20% Moslem, and 15% pagan. It was here in the Uyo facility that I asked for permission from the prison authority to start the prison inmate Christian care unit, now known as Prison Fellowship International (PFI). Daily the word of God was preached to the inmates by me through personal witnessing. Every Sabbath day, the prison authorities gave me full permission to conduct worship service in the unit from 7 A.M. to 1 P.M.
Through these fellowships, thousands of inmates and the prison officials who were destined for hell, were won for Heaven. Glory be to God! Today the Uyo facility is the only prison in Nigeria that has 100% born-again Christians. New inmates and newly recruited prison officials join the PFI on arrival to study the Word of God and how to walk with God and serve Him in Spirit and Truth and above all to know the correct day to worship the Lord God -- the Sabbath day!
I thank the Almighty God for the way He has used my prison sentence to reach thousands for His Kingdom. You see, everything that happens to true children of God on this Earth has meaning and purpose. Maybe, if I was not jailed for witnessing in a Muslim-dominated area, the work I am doing now (today) for Him wouldnít have been possible. Maybe, I would have given up my faith and looked for greener pastures, but I thank God for the opportunity He has given me to serve Him! Though I am poor, yet I am rich spiritually.
I have regained my full freedom since December 1, 1998. I am a free man, though I have no father or mother or brothers or sisters, but I have you and others in your organization, and above all, I have Jesus Christ. You see, my uncles rejected me simply because I am a Sabbath-worshipper and they are Sunday-worshippers. They said they canít help me because I am serving Satan. How sad for them.
I am still working in the Uyo facility daily and have registered my prison fellowship ministry with the Nigerian government, though I live in a small room I rent in the village of Uruan, 53 km from Uyo. I trek 53km every day to see my friends in the prison and preach to them; we sing spiritual songs together and we pray together. . . . in the month of April, . . . thousands of people came to hear the Word of God as I preached during the "prison week" celebrations, and over 684 inmates accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of the world. In addition, I visited 13 other prisons in Akwa Ibom. There are 36 prisons in Akwa Ibom.
Several of the prisoners made decisions for Christ, and have accepted the seventh-day Sabbath as the right day to worship the Lord! All these inmates have no Bibles. Several of them cannot read English Bibles; they can only read Efik Bibles, the local language . . . . I have 947 names on my "Free Bibles List" request sheets. Out of this number, 582 new converts need the Bible in our local Efik language, while 365 need English Bibles. I have no funds to purchase Bibles for these Christians in need, who have just recently denounced the Islamic faith and other Satanic faiths, and are now turning to Christ. Can you help me with these needs?
Imagine, people living without having Holy Bibles in their home or not even studying it. My heart goes out to these people. Daily, people are asking me for free Bibles as I share the Good News of Christ with them. . . . Efik Bibles cost the equivalent of US $5, Hausa (Arabic) Bibles $7, and English Bibles $3. . . . If you are shipping English Bibles, please send by parcel post (book rate) surface mail, so that I do not have to pay customs duties. Do not use M-bags. If you use an M-bag, customs authorities would ask me to pay customs clearance fees. . . .
I am praying for the Lord to enrich and pass through your good organization to meet my needs. I love you all in Jesus. Please extend my sincere greetings to the good brothers and sisters and all other Saints who are laboring day and night with you there. All the inmates and all the brothers and sisters here send their Christian greetings to you all. ó written by Mark Okon
Note: You may send English or Efik Bibles yourself directly to Mark. The International Bible Society publishes Efik Bibles. Or, you may send contributions for Bible purchase and shipment to Giving & Sharing, PO Box 100, Neck City, MO 64849.
Our friend, Paul Adams, of Owosso, Michigan, has prepared a time chart showing the time element in the resurrection and Crucifixion of Christ. It shows what happened during each day of the Crucifixion week, and includes parallel scriptures proving Christ was in the ground three days and three nights, just as He said, Matthew 12:40.
Please write us for a free copy of our "Three Days and Three Nights Chart."
ó written by Richard C. Nickels