Faithful to the End

In order to be faithful to the end, we need to first establish where faithfulness begins. What drives us to be driven and true to a calling to the very end and even though we may waiver from time to time, to never give up? It starts small – when we are faithful in going to church, when we are faithful, in our prayer life, faithful in giving tithes and offerings, faithful in our devotions, faithful in doing our jobs, faithful in our schooling. We don’t set out to be faithful to God all of a sudden, it takes time and effort on our part. We begin building our faithfulness to God when we are faithful in the everyday choices and actions of life. But we really cement our devotion to God and being faithful to Him when we stick with maintaining a personal friendship with Him. Why? Because when have a personal connection with God, He is our friend – a person who we want to spend time with and talk to. It’s like growing a garden – it’s not enough to order your seeds, till the ground, add fertilizer and then plant the seeds. You must water, cultivate and inspect your garden daily in order for you to get a harvest at the end of the season. The days become long, the temperatures rise and it may not be the best feeling to be outside sweating and working hard with seemingly no reward in sight. However, we know that at the end of the season we will reap a bountiful harvest.

Think of the parable of the man who had a vineyard and needed laborers to bring in the harvest. This man went out early in the morning at 6AM and brought back men, then again at 9AM, at Noon, at 3PM and he even went out at 5PM – just one hour before the workday ended and brought in the last group of men to help finish the harvest. At the beginning of the day, the owner promised to pay a fair day’s wage of one denarius to each man who worked for him. He never told the rest of the men he hired throughout the day what he would pay them, only that it would be fair according to the work they did. At the end of the day, starting with the last men, he paid each man one denarius no matter if they had worked the whole day or just one hour. He was faithful to his word. Through countless Bible stories, we see God taking care of those that are faithful to Him. God did not create mankind and then just turn His back on us. He provided a garden with plenty to eat, drink and occupy the time of Adam and Eve. After sin, He provided a way for humanity to be redeemed. Just providing a way for us to be redeemed and to spend eternity with Him would have been enough, but He did not stop there. He continues reaching out asking to be our friend, to have a relationship with us, because He wants to provide us with the best He has to offer – which is eternal life. All we have to do is believe He is true to his Word and hold tight to our faith in Him and He will see us through.

Seth Shaffer
Vice President of Communications
Generation. Youth. Christ.

GYC Beyond 11 – How to Experience Revival and Reformation

Ellen White famously said: “A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs.” In the last decade, revival and reformation has become a catch-phrase in Adventist circles. Many feel the need for this process to take place. But how do we go about experiencing revival and reformation as the new reality in our lives? In this episode, Janet and Jerry Page join Esther Louw to share about their passion for pursuing a Spirit-filled life. Jerry Page is the secretary fo the General Conference Ministerial Association and ministers to the world church in conjunction with his wife Janet, who is the associate ministerial secretary for Shepherdess International and Prayer Ministries.

GYC Beyond 10 – Why You Should Be Involved in Your Local Church

This week, Esther Louw and Pastor Moise Ratsara have an engaging conversation about how and why young people should be involved in local church endeavors. While not everyone is called to become a missionary overseas, Pastor Ratsara believes every Christian is called to participate in the gospel commission. Pastor Ratsara grew up as a missionary kid in Africa before completing his theology degree at Southern Adventist University in Tennessee. Currently a pastor in Michigan Conference as well as the president of GYC, Moise Ratsara shares with us from personal experience.

GYC Beyond 09 – Anthony Bosman – Why Christianity?

In this episode of the GYC Beyond Podcast, Esther Louw and Dr. Anthony Bosman discuss the biblical claims of Christianity and their relevance for young people today. Perhaps you’ve asked yourself, is there one truth, many truths, or no truth? What evidence exists to support an absolute truth in Jesus Christ and how can we share our faith in that truth with others? Dr. Bosman is an assistant professor in mathematics at Andrews University and a recent graduate of Rice University as well as Stanford. Join us as we explore the philosophical claims of biblical religion.

Peace in the Storm

Nervousness and nausea crept once again over my tired frame. My digestive system began to entangle itself into what seemed like the Gordian knot. Every prayer and Bible promise uttered seemed to bounce off the ceiling and come crashing down on my dorm room floor. Downtrodden and distracted by my own emotions, I ventured to my Organic Chemistry final exam, hoping and praying for the best possible outcome.

This experience was nothing new, and definitely not due to the subject matter; more often than I can remember, stress-induced restlessness attacked my mind, and thus spread its influence to the rest of my body. My early college years were tough for me, and whether it was an exam, a chapel talk, or a leadership meeting, I often found myself bombarded with this cloud of emotions, whose origin I could not find. After obtaining some nausea medication from a walk-in clinic (which didn’t help much), I was eventually able to visit my doctor over Christmas break.

Anxiety. Being able to finally pinpoint and name what troubled my brain was simultaneously extremely helpful and disheartening. For my doctor, this meant she could prescribe specific medications to help calm my nerves (which also didn’t help). For me, I could adjust the trajectory of my prayers to hopefully eradicate such fruitless worrying. But how well had such worked in the past? What if I just end up becoming anxious about my anxiety? Was there a long-term solution, or just an unfortunate glimpse into a rather discouraging future?

I don’t share these experiences with you to solicit your pity in any way, shape, or form for that is not my need or desire. This experience of mine serves to provide context. All too often, I find myself resting upon the assumption that everyone around me are just as cool, collected, and care-free as they appear, when in reality, tumultuousness may pervade body, mind, and soul. So, in refusing to make such an assumption, I’d like to leave with you what Jesus left with me, faithfully, every time my anxiety began to bubble over:

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27, KJV).

Over-quoted and under-appreciated, this verse meant very little to me in those dark times, for I couldn’t say that I was experiencing what Jesus had promised. But I still chose to cling to it and repeat it day after day. Here, Jesus reminds us that His peace, unlike that of the world, isn’t some temporary relief that He chooses to leave with us intermittently. Additionally, it isn’t tied to His immediate physical presence. The peace Christ offers is a gift, something we can hold and own, something tangible, something that can be seen, felt, and heard. More than this, something about embracing this peace allows trouble and fear to leave the heart, if we let it. But that was my problem, why wasn’t it leaving? How could I let peace dispel the darkness?

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, KJV)

Yet another often-recited text, but this time, new depth and meaning spewed forth, granting the clarity I so desperately needed. All along, I had been kneeling, pleading with outstretched arms for the gift of peace to be bestowed, the cure-all from heaven that would bring the restitution and relief I so desperately desired. But what if peace wasn’t just a gift, but a fruit? What if, instead of an inexhaustible box of peace pills, Jesus left with me the Comforter, the manufacturer and source of such? What if, instead of trying to force peace into my mind, I sought a different solution?

***


Fast forward two years. As I rounded the corner and turned the knob on our classroom door, about to be confronted with yet another stressful exam, a little placard in the hallway caught my eye. It read, “Peace – not the absence of trouble but the presence of Christ,” a quote from Sheila Walsh I had definitely heard before. But this time, it took on new meaning. It served as a milestone of how God had led me to His peace, for no longer was I tormented by uncontrollable anxiety, but instead, overwhelmed by peace that could only come from our Savior’s presence.The presence of Jesus, in a more involved and acknowledged way, had dispelled the darkness of anxiety. Sure, not all stories of neurological disorders turn out this way, but if you’re struggles bear resemblance to my own, I encourage you to not underestimate the power of our storm-calming, ever-present help in troublesome times.

Focus is huge for us as Adventists, endeavoring to venture on the straight and narrow, day by day, closer to our heavenly home. But far too often, we’re like Peter and the disciples in the boat, desiring far too much to see the wind and waves die down, and far too little to notice our Savior’s out-stretched arms. We’re quick to notice what peace isn’t taking care of in our lives, and slow to acknowledge the Gift-giver amidst the stormy sea.

So, the question for you and I today is simply this: will we accept?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, ESV).


Emory Dent
Vice President of Resources
Generation. Youth. Christ.

GYC Beyond 08 – Adam Ramdin – Discovering Our Christian Heritage

This week, join Esther Louw and Adam Ramdin as they delve into the history of the Protestant Reformation and discover it’s meaning and relevance for our lives today. Adam Ramdin currently serves as the North England Conference Youth Director as well as the director of PEACE, an evangelism training school. Adam is passionate about Christian history and has become known for his involvement with Lineage Journey, a video documentary series covering the Protestant Reformation.

GYC Beyond 07 – Justin Kim – How to Teach an Interesting Sabbath School Lesson

This episode of the GYC Beyond Podcast features Esther Louw and Shauna Chung in conversation with Justin Kim.
Justin Kim is the Editor of Collegiate Quarterly and Assistant Director of Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He has previously served as a missionary, pastor, and director of the Public Campus Ministry Department in Michigan and is a co-founder of the GYC movement. In this podcast episode, Justin Kim answers some big questions about how to teach Sabbath School, the components that make up an ideal Sabbath School class, and methods you can implement in your local church that can turn your Sabbath School class into a vibrant outreach endeavor.

Cancer of Comparison

As a young boy on the school playground, I remember standing in line with the other boys whilst the two, often self-appointed, captains would choose their teams. The best players always got picked first and then the average players next. Finally, if you were one of the last it was because you were among the worst players. Even if no one liked you but you could play, you would get picked before the end. No one ever wanted to be the last kid who was picked. 

Life is full of circumstances where we are compared with others or where we compare ourselves with other people. I remember when I was a student working in a summer colporteur program a daily question would be, “How many books have you sold?”  Students wouldn’t care about what others had done but there was always that one student who wanted to know what everyone else had sold to find out if he or she was top, or how close they came to the top.

In fitness, two runners might compare their times. How fast can you run 5K? What’s your personal best? In music, how many years have you played that instrument? How many instruments can you play?

In academia, what’s your GPA? What degree do you have? BA? Postgrad? MA or PhD? Did you get a scholarship? Full or partial?

What car do you drive? What year is it? What’s the horsepower? Does it have a leather interior?

On social media we may check how many followers someone else has on Instagram. Is it more than me or fewer? How many likes did they get for that post? 

How many views did that video get? If this sermon got more views than that sermon, does that mean it was a better sermon?

In life, we compare almost everything: petrol prices, credit card benefits, which bank is best. Many websites have a function where you can look at various phones, laptops, holiday packages or bank cards and “compare models.” 

TripAdvisor has both reviews and a star rating out of 5 for each of the places reviewed. When you are checking which restaurant to go to you may check which restaurant or tourist attraction has the better rating. 

Then we also compare ourselves in areas that are more personal. 

How pretty is she? Am I better looking? Am I more attractive? Am I taller, slimmer, fitter? Am I more desirable to the opposite sex, physically, than so and so?

Comparison is all around, arguably magnified in recent times. In a world where almost everyone has a social media profile we grow accustomed to managing that profile and ensuring that the world sees a certain side to us that we wish to display. Maintaining our online image is something that many people devote a lot of time to – some even editing their pictures before letting the world see them. People tend to post their best pictures online or post pictures of the highlights of their life – holidays, fun outings, good meals out etc. Very few people post pictures about the normal things of life, the 10,000 ordinary things that we do each day but we forget this when we compare our life with the carefully manicured image that someone chooses to portray to the world 

Whilst we live in a world saturated with comparison and it’s not something that we can get away from, we can however live in a way where it does not define our self-worth. Struggling with comparison can often he hardest in our teenage years or when we are in our early to mid 20’s. Partly because life is changing so much and we are constantly being thrust into new environments where we are compared with other straight away, but also because often our identity and sense of who we are is still forming. 

This cancer of comparison has plagued humanity since the beginning. The disciples struggled with this as at least one occasion is recorded in the gospels. They asked Jesus who was the greatest. The mother of James and John also asked Jesus if her two sons could be sat in heaven, one on the right side of Jesus and the other on His left. They needed to have preeminence in comparison to the other disciples. Something about them needed to be different.

Our identity can only be fully formed in Christ. When we understand the gospel and we see ourselves as we truly are. When we see that there is no good in us, that all our righteousness is as filthy rags. It’s then that you realize that to compare oneself with another person who also only has filthy rags for righteousness is futile. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that when we are “in Christ” we are a “new creature”. That “old things are passed away and all things are become new.” Let us seek to see ourselves as Christ see’s us. With the value that He places on us. A value that is only seen in the light of the cross – not in likes, follows, possessions and academic achievements. 

When you know who you are. When your value and identity is wrapped up in Jesus. When your sense of self-worth is found in the cross of Christ. When you accept what Jesus says about you and not how many likes or comments you got on that most recent picture of yourself online – then you will find true freedom. 

-Adam Ramdin

GYC Beyond 06 – Natasha Dysinger – How to Have a Vibrant Devotional Life

In this week’s podcast episode, Esther Louw and Shauna Chung discuss with Natasha Dysinger methods that each of us can implement to improve the quality of our devotions. Natasha is down-to-earth as she talks about her own personal struggles through the years, as well as unique solutions that she and others have implemented to put God first despite busy schedules or lack of motivation. Have your devotions become habitual and lacklustre? Or are you struggling to simply turn devotions into a habit? Regardless of how long you have been a Christian, there is something for everyone in this interesting discussion.

 

GYC Beyond 05 – Gem Castor – How to Have a Powerful Life of Prayer

Our next episode features Gem Castor and Shauna Chung as they discuss the power of prayer and how to put that power to practice. Gem Castor is an itinerant missionary from the Philippines who travels the world leading out united prayer sessions and seminars. Inspired by the life of George Mueller he has spent the last seven years relying entirely on the Lord’s providence to provide for his needs and mission ventures. Listen in on this engaging conversation.