Finishing the Work

“If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

We need revival. We need the latter rain. Jesus will not come in our lifetime without it. Renewal will not come until we truly seek it; unless we thirst for it. This is a call to surrender and service. How can we experience the latter rain today?

First, by focusing on the Bible. There is nothing more relevant today than the Word of God. In the last book of the Bible encapsulates the most urgent message, given to every race, age, and geographic location existent at the end time. It is the Three Angels’ Message, found in Revelation 14:6-12. It is a message that calls us to realize God’s great sacrifice of love through the cross, the everlasting gospel; a call for us to lovingly obey Him and His commandments, to give Him total worship not only in word, but also in our lives. It calls us to come out of any system that negates our faith in Christ and His righteousness or promotes man’s ideas above God’s word.

Furthermore, it warns us that the decisions we make today bear eternal consequences. We are living in the judgment hour and God has given us the freedom to choose. Who will receive our worship: the world or Christ? Everything at GYC comes out of that intense desire to lift up Christ and His end time message for us today. This is our prophetic identity as Seventh-day Adventists. Jesus is coming soon!

Secondly, revival will not come without commitment. We must seek to experience Bible-based revival today, by living a life of service for our Savior. A life of service is more than just what we do; it’s at the root of who we are. It is about character. Because God is love, He sent us the most excellent gift Heaven could ever bestow—His only begotten Son. Because God is love, He gave us the best. A life of service is total commitment to excellence in any sphere of influence we are placed in. It pours out as a result of love and respect for Christ.

You do not need to be a full time church employee, a pastor, a Bible worker, or a nurse to be used by God to seek and save the lost. Joseph was a civil servant, Christ was a carpenter, Mary was a homemaker, Paul was a tent maker, Luke was a physician, Daniel a governor, and Lydia was a business woman. What they all had in common was their willingness to use their intellect, heart, and resources to promote the gospel and glorify God, resulting in some of the greatest revivals ever seen by man. I imagine most of the time it was not in the words these individuals spoke, but in the quality of their work and character. For thirty years, Christ worked as a carpenter and the way He worked was a reflection of His Father’s character. God gave all because He loved us to the end, and He calls us to do the same for one another. Share your faith and if you have to, use words.

Lastly, we as Christians must seek to experience the latter rain by not only engaging in serious Bible study, singing spirit filled songs, and seeking Godly relationships; but most importantly through prayer. What the church needs today is not better machinery, new organizations, or more novel methods; but men whom the Holy Ghost can use–people of prayer. People mighty in prayer. Many talk about it, but we at GYC must practice it.

The disciples never asked Jesus, “teach us how to preach,” or “teach us how to give a Bible study.” The one discipline they wanted to learn above anything else was expressed in their plea: “Lord teach us how to pray” (Luke 11:1). Imagine what God could do if we would humble ourselves, turn from our wicked ways, and approach His throne of grace! What could happen if not just one or one hundred men and women, but thousands from every nation, kindred, and tongue united in prayer, approach God’s throne seeking the latter rain? What would happen if our local churches gave God their time and prayed for the Holy Spirit? We would behold the greatest revival ever seen by man.

Why not start now? On November 17, we will begin a 40 days of prayer initiative on our social media platform. Commit with us in daily claiming a promise from God’s word and adopting a specific prayer focus for each day leading up to our GYC conference in Phoenix. When GYC begins on December 27, we will have a prayer marathon where individuals can sign up to pray at all hours of the day. On the last day of GYC, we will hold a special consecration service and see what God has in store for us, as we humble ourselves for His glory.

Arise!

Moise Ratsara
President, GYC

The Epiphany of Sanctification

Knowing is everything. It’s why we read the news. It’s why we surf the internet. It’s why Facebook has become ubiquitous. It’s why we probe Yelp reviews. Simply put, knowing satiates.

And knowing is important. Even our eternal life depends on it. “And this is eternal life,” Jesus said, “that they know. . . the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

Ellen White highlights the boomerang of getting God wrong. “The whole spiritual life is molded by our conception of Him, and if we cherish erroneous views of His character, our souls will sustain injury” (Review & Herald, Jan 14, 1890).

Wow.

In other words, our Christian experience—how we perceive it, feel it, and do it—is affected by our aggregate perception of who God is.

And for the unbeliever, their understanding of God will determine how they’ll react (or not) to God.

This is why Satan works so hard to slander His name. Satan “has sought to misrepresent the character of God,” she says, “to lead men to cherish a false conception of Him. . . as arbitrary, severe, and unforgiving,—that He might be feared, shunned, and even hated by men” (Testimony Treasures, vol. 2, p. 334).

And for the believer, our comprehension of God determines the essence of our spiritual experience.

Think of a dog that’s been physically abused by a previous owner. Once that dog’s rescued, and no matter how nurturing the new owners may be, a gesture of love will be misunderstood. At least initially. It will cower and cringe from the new owner. What the dog knows of humans determines how it will react to any and all gestures.

In the same way, our accurate (or misguided) perceptions of God will determine the outcome of our experience. And if one’s impression of God is based on what’s true of God, the result will be a cognitive coherence between their positive experience and the rational understanding of who He is.

But here’s another profound thought. We cannot know God—in the quintessential, deeper sense—without becoming like Him. Only like can appreciate like. Only a Vietnam or World War II veteran can truly appreciate the heroism and atrocities forged on the bloody ravines of Southeast Asia and Normandy.

Fundamentally, our potential to know God is limited; we’re confined by our subjective capacity and limited experience. We can only truly understand what we’ve gone through.

Consequently, we can only comprehend God, in this sense, to the extent we’ve become like Him.

In the book, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessings, Ellen White states,“Only like can appreciate like. Unless you accept in your own life the principle of self-sacrificing love, which is the principle of His character, you cannot know God. . . . We discern the truth by becoming, ourselves, partakers of the divine nature.”

This is an intriguing thought. Chew on it for just a second.

There was a time whenever I visited my folks I would wake up to fresh-squeezed orange juice by my bedside. Every morning, my mom would squeeze fresh orange juice for me.

And I took it for granted.

But one morning, my mother asked me to prepare the orange juice for the entire family, including extended family who were visiting. It wasn’t until I began to slice each orange, and painstakingly squeeze what seemed like gazillions of oranges that I began to appreciate more deeply the love of my mother.

Only like can appreciate like.

As the father of a three-year-old and a 10-month-old, I’m beginning to love my parents more than ever because I now understand the sacrifice, the sleepless nights, the hours spent washing bottles, and the handling of smeared and whiffy diapers.

Similarly, the experience of sanctification—the life of a converted, self-sacrificing Christian—informs our take on God.

It really does.

Knowing who God is, is everything. But if we want to know Him deeply, we must also become like Him. To me, this is the ultimate purpose of sanctification. In the end, it’s all about Jesus, and I have no problem saying that.

In the church today, the notion of sanctification is sometimes undermined or minimized, and frankly this is really really concerning. It decapitates our potential to feel, know, and emphathize with Jesus, and there’s nothing more we need than that.

Because only like can appreciate like.

 

-Andy Im
Department of Communications and Sabbath School Director
Michigan Conference

The Ideals of Three Letters

They are only three letters, but the context associated with them has now become vast and varied. In this movement’s history, the letters G Y and C were an acronym for the General Youth Conference, Generation of Youth for Christ, and now currently Generation. Youth. Christ. Call it reinventing ourselves, adaption for the times, or whatever other incredible reason, these three letters have come to stand for something altogether irreproducible.

The movement started as an experiment in 2002, nearly 15 years ago to last weekend. A group of young adults from diverse racial and educational backgrounds were inspired by a set of ideals found in Scripture and best illustrated within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In this exceptional convergence of personalities, events, ideals, skills, and experiences, the experiment sought to be reactionary to the reactionaries and progressive to the progressives. Socially disturbed with the critical and derogatory attitudes of Christ-less Adventism, this prototype sought a tone centered on the character, message, and lifestyle of Jesus Christ. Cognitively dissonant with the contemporary, entertainment-mimicking models of youth and young adult ministry, this movement also sought to verify out whether young people regardless of background would appreciate and respond to His sobering claims within biblical Adventism.

Below is condensed version of one of the initial emails of GYC’s beginnings from December 14, 2001:

We are living in an exciting time period. And from reading SOP (Spirit of Prophecy), it’s inferred that young people will play an important part in the last days. And already there are things happening that just seem to coincide with each other, such as SPARC, Campus Hope @ Boston, Univ. of Michigan, Brown, Rutgers, UVA, UTN, Princeton, and a renewed revival among some members at Andrews and Loma Linda. There are still 7000 who have not bowed down to Baal.

Our vision is to unite all these groups in America and create a General Youth Conference. These would be only the serious committed Adventist students coming together once a year for one week and would be very different from a retreat or camp meeting. We would hold it once on the East Coast, then West Coast, then Midwest or something. Only the most willing dedicated, leaders from all over the country would meet, including HS, collegiates, grads, young profs, and young people.

Most importantly, it would be interracial. Not out of political-correctness, but out of worship for our Lord, we would want blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians, what have you involved. Today, you see only each group doing their own thing. I sincerely believe God blesses interracial worships and fellowships more abundantly, because isn’t that what heaven is all about?!

We would invite the highest caliber of speakers and each would do a workshop for one week. This way, the adult speakers would be able to network, as well as the student fellowships and other youth.—not out of dating purposes, but out of contacts and guard tower stations. These workshops would be a pseudo-school of the prophets, where recreation and social activities would be very limited (but not eliminated), and where intense Bible studies would take place.

At this point it’s still a vision, so we dare not share it with everyone. But we are in the midst of contacting the speakers and getting dates for the winter of 2002. We are looking for about 200 people to come…

I see this as the beginning of a large movement with lots of work involved. But what work for God is not a joy? If you feel uninterested or think there is much work ahead, or just doubt the potential, we understand. But if not, please tell me what you think.

‘Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.’ 1 Cor. 15:58.”

What was used was instant messengers, newly introduced cell phones the size of refrigerators with buttons like ice cubes, laptops the size of battleships, and credit cards with no credit on them. What emerged was an expanding grassroots movement with exponential growth within its first five years. From two hundred to one thousand to four thousand, the growth was overwhelming and uncontrollable. Who did this? The greatest underestimation of young people is to assume they are not full adults and that other “adults” must be behind the scenes. And the reality of the matter is there was one: the Lord Jesus!

Eventually groups seeking these ideals of GYC were found in different localities of North America as well as nations around the world. The international scene of GYC has been persistent. Its dynamic is clear evidence that something is happening of which any simple human observation can explain.

Simply, they are biblical ideals. The ideals of Scriptural fidelity, exploration into the historical roots of Seventh-day Adventism such as the Spirit of Prophecy, their expression of these ideals in a practical and modern context for young adults, the philosophy of excellence and Christian cordiality converged into an annual national convention, an exploding network of global youth conferences, and the formal organization and natural growth pains of GYC. In subsequent years with each conventional cycle, GYC had embraced and/or revitalized further ideals such as:

1. Church and Professional Leadership Development – empowering young adults to change their immediate environments in the church and professional arenas for the furtherance of the Gospel

2. Christ-Centered Knowledge, Lifestyle, and Character – calibrating every component of the individual’s life and lifestyle for heavenly trajectory

3. Distinctive Role of Seventh-day Adventism in Christianity’s Timeline – understanding what the word eschatology means and its implications for the twenty-first century

4. Biblical Faithfulness in Application and Issues – rejecting the simplification of theological issues as rhetoric, but rather applying religious and spiritual rigor to the problems that face our church today from a biblical perspective

5. The Pursuit of Excellence in Academia, Professions, and Spirituality – raising the levels of expectation to their highest potential as a reflection of God’s hope in His people

6. Radical Discipleship – going all out for Jesus Christ while disregarding all social and cultural conventions that limit proper and biblical discipleship

7. Youth Ownership of and Respect for the Seventh-day Adventist Church Leadership – reeducating young people about the need for respect for biblical organizations, restoring hope in providing mentorship experiences with current leadership, and exemplifying how different generations can collaborate in today’s church for tomorrow

8. True Education – rejection of group think, but allowing a format for spacious individuality, obedient creativity, and a craving for righteousness

9. The Experience of Christ and Righteousness by Faith – underscoring, italicizing, bolding, superscripting, and subscripting the imperative centrality of the one and only Jesus Christ as Lord, King, and High Priest of our faith, and understanding what statements like this mean practically everyday

In the end, these ideals were distilled into a tangible experience with Christ as articulated by the “Spirit of GYC” in the About section of the GYC website.

There is nothing like an ideal that invigorates or infuriates the soul. But this is called passion. It is called conviction. When combined with truth and the Lord’s blessing, amazing grace is heard and seen in the air and around the world. With humility, these three letters G Y C have been greatly successful on some ideals, while dilatory on others. But after 15 years, it does not repudiate any of its past ideals, but only seeks to affirm them, vivify them, find new ones. The growth of GYC around the world, burgeoned since its adolescent beginnings, is clear evidence that the Lord Jesus is finishing up His antitypical work in the second apartment of the heavenly sanctuary and will return to bestow the merits of His blood and judgment to those who await His arrival. Until then, may GYC continue to creating breathing space for the Holy Spirit, confidence of the judgement in Jesus, and reliance on the Father’s foreknowledge to unleash and inspire continual generations…of young people…for Jesus Christ. So Lord, help GYC.

-Justin Kim, GYC Board Member, Editor of Collegiate Quarterly / Ast. Director of Sabbath School, General Conference, Maryland

Experience the Gift

A few years ago, I watched a documentary that followed a group of pilgrims on a grueling journey through the Himalayas to Lhasa, Tibet’s capital. I was spellbound by the pilgrimage. Every eight steps the pilgrims would stop, kneel, and extend themselves into a full prostrate position—their arms outstretched with their faces to the ground. They would stand, walk eight steps, and then repeat the same arduous ritual over and over again with mind numbing grit. Eight steps. Kneel. Prostration. Eight steps. Kneel. Prostration. Every mile of the journey consisted of the same agonizing kowtow. The pilgrims donned wooden clogs on their hands and leather aprons around their waists to prevent their skin from being ground to the bone from the endless repetition. They would cover six miles a day through mountain passes, around waterfalls and avalanches. The pilgrimage would take over six months to complete—a distance of over 1200 miles!

As I watched, I was filled with conflicting emotions—admiration for their perseverance while profoundly heartbroken. They were suffering in order to be counted worthy; the relentless ritual arose from the angst of trying to measure up. The pilgrims were enduring this searing exercise for one purpose—merit.

In the 16th century a tormented monk, climbing Pilate’s staircase in Rome with the same meritorious mindset of earning salvation, had an awakening. In the midst of his agonized drill, he heard the thunderous words “The just shall live by faith.” He sprang to his feet and a revolution was born. The Protestant Reformation rediscovered the radical notion that salvation requires no human merit—in other words, no payment is needed. It is a gift.

I couldn’t help but think of Ellen White’s emphasis when she said:


“There is not a point that needs to be dwelt upon more earnestly, repeated more frequently, or established more firmly in the minds of all than the impossibility of fallen man meriting anything by his own best good works. Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone.” —Ellen White, Manuscript Release, vol. 3, p. 420


Some may say that if we take this position we’re giving license for a lackadaisical, lethargic, listless religion—as if to imply that the only possible motivation for good works is merit. Quite the contrary, through faith and acceptance, the unmerited gift touches the very soul of our fallen humanity. Filled with divine gratitude we respond, “My Lord, and my God.”

The fact is, if we feel the need to pay for the gift, we haven’t experienced it. If we’re unresponsive, we haven’t experienced it either. The root issue is the same.

Why did Ellen White make such an adamant statement of the need to continually replay the message of humanity never meriting salvation? Perhaps because it’s human nature to assume we must pay.


“Let the subject be made distinct and plain that it is not possible to effect anything in our standing before God or in the gift of God to us through creature merit. Should faith and works purchase the gift of salvation for anyone, then the Creator is under obligation to the creature. Here is an opportunity for falsehood to be accepted as truth. If any man can merit salvation by anything he may do, then he is in the same position as the Catholic to do penance for his sins. Salvation, then, is partly of debt that may be earned as wages. If man cannot, by any of his good works, merit salvation, then it must be wholly of grace, received by man as a sinner because he receives and believes in Jesus. It is wholly a free gift. Justification by faith is placed beyond controversy. And all this controversy is ended, as soon as the matter is settled that the merits of fallen man in his good works can never procure eternal life for him.” —Ellen White, Manuscript Release, vol. 3, pp. 420-421


For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” — Ephesians 2:8

Let us experience the gift.

—David Shin is the pastor of the
Hillside O’Malley Church in
Anchorage, Alaska. His passion is
that all may come to know and
experience the wonders of
God’s grace—“Christ Our Righteousness.”

Coming Out Ministries New Documentary!

‘Coming Out’ Ministries has been working on a documentary for the last 3 years. We feel that there are many people who are struggling in a world of sexual confusion and as we have been presenting on all kinds of damage that exists in the world (as we present around internationally) we realize that we are speaking about the ‘sin’ issue.

GYC was the first to have faith in us to actually give a workshop on “The Gay Puzzle” back in Orlando GYC four years ago. We had a meeting with the president at the time who said if we got fifty people to come to the workshop it would have been worth it. But at the time of our workshops we were at maximum capacity of over three hundred people and with many being turned away because we were overflowing! That was a monumental break-through to us and to the organizers of GYC.

The next two years we continued to provide dynamic testimonies and presentations on pre-marital sex, pornography, transgenderism, and how to instruct the church on these issues that are rarely mentioned in Christian circles. GYC has been a beacon to the youth with these and many issues when no one else was willing to address sexuality in and outside of God’s will.

So, on Saturday night at 8pm, we will be presenting the movie, “Journey Interrupted”. We want to encourage you to finish the New Year by watching the documentary and engaging in the question and answer period with all the members of ‘Coming Out’ Ministries and GYC staff. The movie is an hour long and the Q&A will follow immediately in the nearby ballroom to address questions that the movie may have brought up. There is a special surprise addition in the movie that makes the stories more relational and dynamic! It’s a real plot twister and exponentially shows the power of God, the mercy and long suffering of God to permit freedom of choice as the ultimate freedom in serving God.

You have many choices to make during your time at GYC, and if you are wondering how to love those that are caught up in the sexual explosion of homosexuality, bi-sexuality, gender confusion, addiction, pornography, and brokenness, we hope that you will postpone your evening long enough to check out to “Journey Interrupted” and meet the members of ‘Coming Out’ Ministries. Also come and check out our booth where we can talk and offer many products to help understand what is taking the world by storm in open sexuality that ignores Biblical guidelines.

 

Michael Carducci is a Co-founder of “Coming Out” Ministries.

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Generations

John mounted, shifted his saddle bags, waved to his family, and wheeling his horse around rode away. He was following God’s call to preach His soon return to an apathetic world. John traveled across the young American countryside, and through him, hundreds found God’s strength waiting for them and peaceful excitement knowing He would take them home soon. He was sixteen.

Annie sat at a worn oak table years older than she was and spun His grace in her heart into song. She wrote passionate words, and she wrote them in an exhilarating time. Many of them were put to music and even appear in our hymnal today. She was in her early teens.

And then there was Ellen. When she was seventeen, frail Ellen saw heaven opened, and an explanation for seemingly unexplainable disappointment. She shared this message of hope in the little church in her town. She continued sharing messages from the Lord for the rest of her life, through the establishment of a new denomination. She was seventeen.

J. N. Loughborough, Annie Smith, and Ellen White were instrumental in founding our church. And they were young people. They were 100% committed to Jesus and sharing His love with the world. They couldn’t even vote, but they were shaking the world at its foundation.

They believed that Jesus would come back in their lifetime, but He didn’t. Now, one hundred and seventy-two years later, it is still up to us to share the truth of redemption with the world. The key to the Adventist church has always been our generation.

It’s still up to us. The world is ending and we can protest crumbling freedom, or we can use these last moments of earth’s history to actually doing the job we’ve been avoiding for years.

This isn’t a time to be popular, it’s a time to stand for truth. The great commission is for us, the millennials. We have been Laodicean far too long, but that very name means “people of the judgment.”

Christ is calling for one more generation of soldiers to lay down their lives for eternal deliverance. Will you commit your life to the advancement of our heavenly kingdom in this, the last generation on earth?

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Evan Bates is a student of Christ and His redemption, living in Northern California and North Carolina. He is committed to ministry of the mind, spirit, and body of humanity. He wants to be part of the last generation on earth, and to that end helps run bedrockblog.com, a voice of truth in a clamoring. His life consists of the outdoors, sharing Jesus through relationships, and writing. His new book Cicada Song will be released in 2017.

7 Considerations Before You Vote

It seems like everyone and their grandma is talking politics and who they’re going to vote for, or not.

You have church leaders, pastors, Xers, and millennials feverish about the presidential candidates. Everyday you see people you know on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms spewing demeaning chatter from both sides of the aisle. And it’s ugly.

This is concerning because historically, and for good reason, Adventists have maintained a firm stance on the separation of church and politics (in its partisan sense). Failure in this regard has diminished, to some extent, our personal and corporate influence for spiritual good.

I’ll be honest. It hasn’t been easy staying quiet. Everyone has opinions, and I do believe being informed about our society is important. We shouldn’t live in a bubble, isolated from the concerns of thoughtful Americans.

I believe being informed about the world around us is the left arm of the gospel, the other “entering wedge” that initiates discussion on seemingly secular matters, which can transition to conversations about our biblical worldview.

But, back to the election. It’s imperative for us to examine a variety of factors when deciding who to vote for.

Consider this:

  1. Voting for a candidate on the basis of one moral issue gets tricky. Both presidential candidates stand for measures that are both pro and anti Scripture. Narrowing your decision down to one issue, say—gun or gay rights—to the neglect of other moral perspectives on war, freedom of conscience, xenophobia, nationalism, and the environment, to name a few, is downright arbitrary. This should lead one to conclude that others may see things differently than you do. That doesn’t mean they’re socialists or religious bigots. Also, bear in mind—and this is a critical point—who you vote for shouldn’t be determined by what will make America great, which takes me to my next point.
  2. Pro-American slogans aren’t necessarily biblical. Look, the notion of “Make America Great Again,” isn’t found in the Bible. Not even in the KJV. Neither is Hillary’s “Stronger Together.” It may sound closer to biblical lingo, but it shouldn’t be confused for the notion of Christian unity found in the New Testament. The American Dream or making America powerful in world affairs isn’t an endorsement we find in Scripture. Also, leave it to politicians to debate what it means to be truly American. Christians should be concerned with what’s really Christian (& being Christians).
  3. Make sure your news sources are credible. There’s a lot of negative discussion regarding the mainstream media, and I get why. But the alternative isn’t reading some blogger dude working out of a basement with a stash of guns and ammo, or the tree-hugger at Starbucks sipping his latte. There are many respected editorialists and news outlets that lean in both directions. I would suggest spending some time researching who they are, their broad reputation, and be intentional in reading material from individuals and entities who are informed, thoughtful, and reasonable. I personally avoid listening to people who aren’t professional and kind when they deal with others who have differing opinions. Finally, read broadly and widely. Don’t get your news solely from any one news source, whether that’s Fox News or MSNBC, and certainly not from Stephen Colbert or Rush Limbaugh.
  4. Don’t vote for a candidate because you’ll benefit. A candidate may enact policies that benefit you financially, or otherwise. But, that shouldn’t be the basis of your vote. When voting, leave self-interest and party lines out of the equation. Politics—defined by the notable political theorist, Harold Lasswell—concerns “who gets what, when, how.” But that isn’t what Christians should be about. It’s not about winning for yourself, or even God. I can assure you, He doesn’t need my help or yours. If we want to make America Christian “again,” it’s not going to be the result of the state’s right arm.
  5. Understand that politicians may have ulterior motives—that very rich companies, banks, and companies donate to politicians and expect something in return. Know that the financial benefits of various entities are affected by government policies. So, it makes sense that companies would donate to candidates that reflect their interests. Also, recognize that many wealthy entities in the aggregate invest billions of dollars to shape perceptions on guns, global warming, and other hot-button issues. So. . .
  6. Understand from the get-go you may be getting played. Politicians live in the matrix of spin. They understand that their success is contingent on shaping perceptions. So, it’s no wonder many politicians suddenly alter or emphasize their stances on same-sex marriage or abortion when it’s voting time. It’s important to be aware of this.
  7. Finally, as Seventh-day Adventists, let’s stay on point. We have the message of the three angels to proclaim. Our mission is to proclaim the everlasting gospel. Individually, we may be pro-gun, pro-Wall Street, pro-equality, pro-military, pro-Black Lives Matter, or pro-All Lives Matter. But social activism and increased legislation aren’t going to fix society’s problems. Furthermore, we need to avoid partisan politics like we would Ebola. Mudslinging is just not what Christians should do. Ever. That doesn’t mean we stand idly by. We may indeed be called to serve as public servants like Daniel. As Christians, it’s our duty to help the poor, the neglected, and the marginalized. That’s why the church exists. That’s why WE exist—to meet the needs of humanity, and then to point them to the ultimate remedy, found in the person of Jesus. Remember, in our passionate endeavors to win the nation for Christ we are also called to personify the methods and virtues of Jesus.

You know, the irony is I just said all that, and I’m not even voting. I’m not implying it’s wrong for you to vote, or that you shouldn’t. It’s not contrary to Scripture or the Spirit of Prophecy to cast your ballot, and it’s a personal matter.

I just can’t, for now.

I’ll leave you with this to chew on from The Desire of Ages, p. 509:

“Today in the religious world there are multitudes who. . . are working for the establishment of the kingdom of Christ as an earthly and temporal dominion. They desire to make our Lord the ruler of the kingdoms of this world, the ruler in its courts and camps, its legislative halls, its palaces and market places. They expect Him to rule through legal enactments, enforced by human authority. . . . The government under which Jesus lived was corrupt and oppressive; on every hand were crying abuses,–extortion, intolerance, and grinding cruelty. Yet the Saviour attempted no civil reforms. He attacked no national abuses, nor condemned the national enemies. He did not interfere with the authority or administration of those in power. He who was our example kept aloof from earthly governments. Not because He was indifferent to the woes of men, but because the remedy did not lie in merely human and external measures. . . . Not by the decisions of courts or councils or legislative assemblies, not by the patronage of worldly great men, is the kingdom of Christ established, but by the implanting of Christ’s nature in humanity through the work of the Holy Spirit.” (Desire of Ages, p. 509)

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Andy Im is a pickleball enthusiast and cook who loves to travel. He’s a political science graduate from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and also has a master’s degree in religion from Southern Adventist University. Currently he works for the Michigan Conference as Communications Director where he writes, edits, attends lots of meetings, and take pictures. He’s passionate about ministry to secular university campuses, teaching apologetics, and sharing the distinctive, Adventist message.

Ambassadors – GYC 365 Days a Year

Fourteen years ago, a group of young college students came together and began praying for God’s guidance as they planned the first GYC conference. Today it has become one of the largest youth movements in Adventism, and has inspired thousands to reclaim their Adventist identity and become involved in ministry and mission around the world.

For the current GYC executive committee, the questions that weigh heavily on us are: How can we share our burning passion to see the gospel encircle the globe? How do we connect the annual conference experience with everyday living? How do we empower young people to work with and become active in their local churches, schools, and mission fields? We don’t have all the answers, but we want to give it our best effort!

One such effort is a new pilot program we announced this year called GYC Ambassador. Through partnerships with other mission-minded organizations, including It Is Written, Amazing Facts, GLOW, Disciples, ASI, and others, we are able to provide resources that offer information and tools to enable them to become successful in reaching others for Christ. Seventy-five GYC Ambassadors, who now serve in nine different countries, signed up at GYC Louisville to commit to doing ministry in their local area this year. Through monthly training webinars, mentoring calls, and peer-based support, we are already seeing God work in powerful ways!

Kamali, who is participating from Georgia, shares her experience:
I became an Ambassador with the intention of sharing the wonderful experience I had and the wisdom I gained from GYC, with the youth of my church. Before beginning my mission as an Ambassador, there were a few things I was apprehensive about. I wondered how I would be able to start a successful Bible study small group. Would anyone even be interested in attending? How would I be able to keep the momentum of the group going?

The first step I took was prayer, as I knew God had led me to take this opportunity to further His work and win souls for Him. I didn’t feel experienced or “good enough” to take on such a feat, but I have allowed God to show His strength through my weaknesses and lack of experience. For the first week of hosting my small group, I didn’t expect more than one or two people to come, if any, but seven people showed up! I even heard later that they really enjoyed it! When the second week of the small group came, I had allowed some fear to creep back in again and didn’t expect anyone to return. I thought they probably had better things to do. However, the same seven people showed up again and they brought four more friends! Some of their friends were not even affiliated with a Christian church!

It’s been nearly three months since the first meeting and there is a consistent group of 7-12 who look forward to participating in Bible studies each week. Each week, the attendance, participation, enjoyment, and satisfaction of the group surpass my expectations. Outside observers, along with the pastors, elders, parents, and members of my church, have taken notice of how the group is growing and how the youth of the church are consistently going out of their way to participate. We will even need to move to a bigger room soon! Many people want to give me credit for what I am doing with the youth of my church, but I give all the praise to my Lord who has equipped me and granted me favor to do His good work. Praise God!

Rianna and Auner are participating in the Philippines. Rianna recently shared how God is already working:
In 2015, we felt God was calling us to serve His people in the Philippines. When we reached my homeland, the life of ministry I envisioned didn’t really turn out to be the way I expected it would be. The first few months were rough. Doubts started creeping in. We wondered if God had really called us. But we decided to live by faith and not by sight. Just as He paved the way through the Jordan River after a step of faith, I was certain He would do the same as we took a step of faith on this island.

It has now been six months since we took that step. In this time, God has opened doors for us to do Vacation Bible School programs in three different areas, youth development sessions in two locations, soccer clinics, feeding programs in an orphanage and an elderly home, AFCOE evangelism training workshops in local churches, and an evangelistic meeting. For the months of April and May, the Lord led us to run three more VBS programs and another evangelistic meeting. Oh, what a joy it is to serve the Lord!

The GYC Ambassador program has been God’s instrument in guiding our ministry. God calls all of us to finish the work with Him. We don’t need to be worried of the uncertainties because He leads those whom He calls. He has also given us the faith of Jesus to take that big step. We just need to hear the call, follow His leading, and serve wholeheartedly.

Please pray for this year’s GYC Ambassadors as they seek to reach their communities for Christ through prayer, small groups, various outreach efforts, and Bible study. Please also pray for wisdom and vision as we seek to refine this pilot program into something that can make the greatest impact possible to enable young people to get involved in year-round ministry.

Eric Louw
serves as the Vice President of Communications for GYC. A graduate of theology from Southern Adventist University, He serves as Associate Pastor at the Richardson SDA church near Dallas, Texas. He has a passion for seeing young people mobilized for service and mission to reach the world for Christ in this generation. He also enjoys nature and the outdoors, as well as reading, technology and graphic design.

Be of Good Courage, GYC!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid or dismayed. For the Lord thy God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

Today, Christians are in the midst of a fierce battle, the battle between good and evil — and this battle is for a heavenly kingdom and eternal glory. God has a message for those who have made the decision to stay at their post of duty in these last days even to those who feel the battle is too fierce and are on the verge of giving up, God has a message for you too!

In looking at the context of Joshua 1:9, we realize that this is not the first time, nor the last, that God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. In fact, He gives him this message 7 times–4 times in the first chapter alone! Why do you suppose God had to repeatedly tell Joshua to be strong and courageous? Maybe Joshua is afraid; maybe, after all, his humanity his getting the best of him. Moses, their great leader and military genius, is no longer with them.

In “Patriarchs & Prophets,” Mrs. White recounts that Moses was such a good military commander that he was the commander of choice for the army of Egypt. The soldiers would rejoice when they learned that Moses was in charge. Additionally, Moses was a great statesman; he appeared to be fearless. Exodus 20:20-21 relates that Moses drew near when everyone else drew away because of his or her fear. With such a high precedent set, perhaps Joshua’s fear could be justified. Before him lay the task of guiding approximately 2 million people–the newly formed, oppressed, and confused nation of Israel who had been wandering in the desert for more than 40 years because of their discontentment with being God’s people–across the Jordan river into the promised land.

To make matters worse, inhabitants of this promised land were wicked nations who not only despised the Hebrews and their God but were also highly skilled in warfare. With all of these circumstances under consideration, we could easily sympathize with Joshua’s fear and see his God-given charge as an impossible task. But, when we look at Joshua’s character more closely, we see that he was no coward. Remember, he had been one of the men sent to spy out the promised land, and he had first-hand knowledge of it. He and his friend Caleb were ready to conquer the promised land 40 years before, so Joshua was no stranger to this challenge; however, Jesus still tells him 7 times to be strong and of good courage. It is perhaps true that Joshua had been somewhat afraid, but God wanted him to understand something much deeper: He wanted him to understand Who the true source of courage and strength is.

An example of this important lesson of true courage can be found during Jesus’ time. Picture the apostles hanging out with Jesus, and we could, at first glance, pick the most courageous of all of them to be . . . Peter. Peter exuded the most courage and was typically the first one to speak–the first one to command everyone. He seemed, on the surface, to be the brave one; however, when the true test of courage came and guards and religious leaders were coming for his Master, Peter failed. He showed outward strength by cutting off the servant’s ear but was filled with fear in reality. This was also evident when he was pressed three times to reveal his identity and association with Jesus and denied any contact with Him. Mrs. White writes regarding Peter, “If he had been called to fight for his Master, he would have been a courageous soldier but when the finger of scorn was pointed at him, he proved himself a coward” (Desire of Ages 712).

True courage is not really displayed when everyone is watching; true courage is seen when no one is watching you. In the times when you are alone and have to make a decision for right or wrong, which will you choose? True courage is saying “no” when all others are bending and saying “yes” to things they should not do. True courage is seen in submission to Christ. The type of courage God is looking for is the courage to do the right thing, no matter what the cost may be.

This type of courage made the difference between a standing wall of Jericho and a crumbling wall of Jericho in Joshua 6, a flowing river of Jordan and a parted river of Jordan. Militarily, it would look absurd to walk around a city with music as your primary offensive. Realistically, it would appear nonsensical to walk through a major body of water. But, God said it! So, Joshua did it. He did not argue with God; he obeyed. As a result, the walls came tumbling down and the waters parted. Imagine if Joshua had persisted and argued with God. Imagine the calamities that would have happened to the Israelites if Joshua had not submitted to Christ and obeyed. Submission to Christ, Israel’s Supreme Savior, was Joshua’s true test of courage.

How can we attain this type of godly courage and strength today? It does not come from forcing oneself to be brave or courageous. Rather, it comes through an awareness of your true condition as a sinner and an awareness of who God is and what He did, is doing, and will do for you. This awareness comes only when we submit our will to Christ and decide to engage in a daily communion with Him ourselves through faith. This type of awareness from personal experience will cause you to trust and love God wholeheartedly. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).

That is why the second part of Joshua 1:9 states, “Do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Total trust in God and His sure word is what God demanded from Joshua and what he demands from us in these last days. Trust in God and His word reveals to us the heart of God and gives us access to its ever-sustaining presence and peace to face anything:he loss of yesterday, the aches and pains of today, the uncertainty of tomorrow. Most importantly, it helps you to be in the center of God’s will – a sweet place to always be!

The following excerpt from “Selected Messages” tells us, “I seem to see Jesus saying to you, ‘Lean on Me, lean hard. I will bear you up. My arm shall never fail you. It shall be strong to support you over all the rough and difficult places. Only make Me your trust and you shall be guided safely and upheld firmly” (260).

It is important for each of us to listen to God today because He wants to use you for His glory, GYC. There are many people in our community today who have a desire to worship the true God; they are tired of their lifestyle or are living without hope. God is calling each one of us to work with Him. He wants to use you to bring them home, to teach them how to have a saving relationship with Christ. Maybe your Wall of Jericho is time, or maybe it is that you are afraid of people. Maybe your Jordan River is a struggle with unbelief, or perhaps it is your health. Whatever your Jordan River is today, God is calling you to be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid or dismayed for He has promised that He will be with you wherever you go. Will you trust Him today to help you be bold for Him? GYC, now is your time.

Moise Ratsara

GYC President

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The Art of Listening

It’s often been said that you can’t learn from speaking– only by listening. Listening is a valuable skill to have whether you’re talking with a friend, sitting in a classroom, or interacting with people at work. For me, it’s an essential part of my nursing career.

A couple days ago I got to work late after snoozing my alarm one too many times and then hitting traffic on my way to the hospital. At first I was tempted to rush through my patient care to be sure and get everything done in a timely manner. After getting reports on my patients, I walked into the first room.

“Good evening, my name’s Seth and I’m going to be your nurse tonight! How ya doing?” I grinned good-naturedly as I walked over to the patient’s bedside.

“I’m good! Did you know everything you learned in school is a lie?”

Everything? Well now. I’m still paying off student loans so that bit of news was definitely not what I wanted to hear right now! “I was not aware of that but I sure am appreciative of you pointing it out to me.” Sometimes I become sarcastic no matter how hard I try not to be. Especially today; I was in a hurry.

“It’s true. What was the first thing you saw when you started Kindergarten?”

“Well let me think for a minute. The couch. … My pajamas! … My mom?”

“Oh you were homeschooled.”

“Yep, I just couldn’t bring myself to leave the house,” I laughed as I pulled out my stethoscope.

“But you still had a globe,” she continued, “Did you know Satan invented that? The earth is flat.” I stopped right where I was. I’d heard these people existed, but I never thought I’d get to meet one in person. In my hospital even! Under my care no less!

“No way, is it really?” I gasped. “How do we keep from falling off?”

“There’s an ice wall around the entire planet,” she seemed so confident I had to admire her spirit.

“And what about the planes that have flown around the world?”

“They were flying in a big circle.”

“And Antarctica?” I questioned.

“It’s just the part of the ice wall the Masons want to tell us about.”

“Hold on, the Masons are keeping this secret from us? That’s infuriating!”

“Yep, they’re in cahoots with the devil. They’re the ones that funded NASA.”

“Right, because we never went to the moon.”

“Exactly! It was all a film production. You can even see a Coke bottle sitting on the moon in the unedited video clip of Neil Armstrong.”

“And Gus Grissom?”

“He and the others were about to expose the whole program so NASA eliminated them. Every single astronaut that died did so because they were going to expose the lie.” I was getting really excited. Sometimes I have dull patients who talk about nothing more than Pokemon Go, other times I have combative patients, or angry patients, or sad patients, but never before in my life did I have a patient who had so much life-changing information to share! I was riveted.

“Do you believe in God?” she continued.

“Yes ma’am I do!”

“Well in the Bible, it says He uses the earth as His footstool. Can you imagine God standing on a beach ball?” We both laughed heartily; for different reasons I’m guessing.

“And remember where God says the angels are holding back strife from the four corners of the earth? Where do you find corners on a globe?”

There are times when I enter into a lively conversation and like to throw a different perspective into the train of thought, but clearly today was not one of those days. Today was a listening only day. One assessment and 67 undiscovered truths later, I was ready to leave the room.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed talking to you, young man!” she stated emphatically as I walked out the door.

“I’ve enjoyed it too!” I wasn’t lying.

“Can you help me with one of my patients?” One of the other nurses met me in the hall. “Apparently she likes guys and she won’t do anything for me. I can’t get her to answer questions or take meds.” I walked in to the room. Immediately the elderly patient perked up.

“Well hello there young man! You look good tonight.”

“Mmmmm, yes ma’am, thanks for noticing! But tonight’s not about me, it’s about you. Let’s get you some meds here.”

“Oh of course,” she smiled. I sighed. Tonight was not going as planned. I didn’t have time for this! The nurse out in the hall caught my eye and mouthed a “thank you” mixed with “wow she listened to you” and “I’m so sorry you have to do this” before laughing at the awkwardly odd situation we were in. I laughed too.

I walked into my next patient’s room to continue my rounds. A relative was sitting on the seat next to the bed. “Good evening!” I said.

“Well you look chipper tonight,” she said, not taking her eyes off the cellphone in her hands. I told her all the reasons why I was “chipper” and was excited to be caring for them that evening. I was being completely honest.

“You a believer?” Same tone. Same nonchalance.

“Yes ma’am, I’m a Seventh-day Adventist.”

“No way!” Her face immediately lit up and she looked up from her phone. “Have you heard of David Asscherick?” And so began a long story of how her and her husband had been invited to an Adventist church in their hometown during an evangelistic series. When their family went through an extremely painful experience shortly after, the church rallied to support her with welcoming arms. “I’m not Adventist yet, but I go to the church and believe everything they teach so far,” she finished. “I figured you were an Adventist. I could tell when you walked in the door; I’m sure a lot of people tell you how vibrant you are.”

Throughout the night as I went into the room and cared for them, we talked about our faith and I shared my personal testimony with them.

Every night is different. I’m always meeting new people. Some make a huge impact on me while others I forget about a few weeks after they leave the floor. I’ve gotten to pray with patients, talk with patients, laugh with them and cry with them. Yes there are the bedpans I’ve got to empty, the blood I must clean up, the vomit, the sickness, the drudgery of meds and diets and lab sticks.

But at the end of the day, I realize once again why God called me to nursing. I schedule 5 minutes during my first rounds – stethoscope down, computer off, my full attention on the patient – to have a heart-to-heart with them. Personally, I think it’s even more important than the meds I’m administering because everyone needs to be heard, understood, and cared for.

James encourages us along these lines,”Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak…” (James 1:19) Once we truly learn to listen to God’s voice, He will teach us how to listen to those who need us most. Because it really doesn’t matter what you do, where you work, or how many people you talk with each day. If you truly listen to those around you, show them you care by being intentional with your time, and seek to make every interaction a positive witnessing experience, God can use you.

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Seth Sutherland

–GYC attendee–