The Adult Sabbath School Class

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Greg Brothers is an Adventist pastor in Oregon.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Do acronymns cure cancer?

So you’ve come to that part of the Sabbath School class where you talk about just how to live a long and healthy life . . . but you’re not sure how to pull things together in a way that makes sense.

And yes, you could use the acronym NEWSTART® – i.e. nutrition, exercise, water, sunshine, temperance, air, rest, and trust in God – but it’s a trademark; it’s not something you should use unless you’re referring specifically to the lifestyle program that is offered by Weimar College.

That’s why I ask people to take care of themselves with a Dr’s Care. That means they’ve a better chance of living a long, healthy life if they are:

Drug-free: that mean no DDT (i.e. drugs, drinking, or tobacco).

Rested: 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Safe: Accidents kill more young people than anyting else, so use those seat-belts in the car, wear life-jackets on the water, and don’t run with scissors.

Clean: wash your hands, brush your teeth, and don’t forget to floss -- not only will this give you healthy gums, but it cuts your risk of dying from pneumonia!

Active: exercise 30-minutes a day, three to four days a week.

Religious: it’s true – church members do live longer!

Eating right: more fruits and vegetables, less fast-food and junk-food.

Pastor Greg

And remember: "When it comes to health, you need to check your facts carefully -- many's the man who died of a misprint" -- Mark Twain.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Thoughts of Chairman Ellen

Read much of Ellen White, and one thing becomes clear: she was really bugged by the middle-class.

Take her advice on jewelry, for instance. Or music. Or even bicycles.

In each case, her chief concern was the effect of new-found wealth on the mission of our church.

And yes, this was a problem. (Still is!) Join the church, after all, and you stop drinking (which makes you a better employee). You start paying tithe (which forces you to keep track of your money). And you send your kids to an Adventist school (which almost guarantees that they’ll have a better job than you do).

As a result, the church becomes an economic escalator – one that picks up farmers and mechanics, gives them kids who are pastors and teachers, and eventually produces grand-kids who are doctors and lawyers.

So what happens when a “church of the poor” becomes a “church of the middle-class”?

Well . . . for one thing, the poor stop coming to church. They stop coming, because it’s no longer “their” kind of place!

That’s one reason Ellen White wrote against jewelry; she didn’t want the poor to feel out of place in our churches. That’s why she wrote against classical music; she wanted a church where anyone could feel at home. That’s why she wrote against bicycles; at the time, they were an outrageous example of conspicuous consumption (kind of like Hummers today).

In short, Ellen White was smart enough to know that money talks . . . and sometimes, what it really tells people is, “Go away!”

So how do we avoid that?

And what do we do when the "economic escalator" has done its work, and we've become solid members of the middle-class?

That's what this week's lesson is all about.

Pastor Greg

And remember: “Anytime somebody says, ‘it’s not the money – it’s the principle of the thing,’ it’s really the money” – Anonymous.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Land of Battered Women

Click on the title, and read the article in Thursday's New York Times.

Now that you’ve read the article, imagine that you’re a pastor in Africa. Several women in your church have asked you for advice on how to deal with this problem. What kind of advice would you give – both short-term and long-term?

How might this advice differ from that given to a woman living in the United States? Why?

How would the advice you gave your African church members differ from that given by Paul in Ephesians 5:21-6:9? How would it be the same? Why?

How might you apply Paul’s advice to American families today – or is our situation so different that it is simply irrelevant?

In short, how to you follow Jesus in a family that is not ideal?

Pastor Greg

And remember: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” – Leo Tolstoi, in Anna Karenina.

Friday, August 05, 2005

And by the way . . .

The companion book to this lesson is Robert Johnston's The Spiritual Life: Experiencing Jesus Christ as Lord. It's not too late to get a copy from the ABC -- and it's well worth it!

Who listens when God prays?

And his disciples came unto him and said, “Teach us to pray.”

And he said, “Why?”

And they said, “Well . . . uh . . . all the other rabbis are teaching their disciples how to pray.”

“So go ask them – and besides, you have 150 psalms, not to mention the Eighteen Benedictions that you recite in the synagogue every Sabbath. It’s not as though you lack for examples!”

“Yes, but when you pray, things happen. We want to pray so that things happen too!”

And he did close his eyes, and sigh – and after he had done so, he did begin teaching his disciples to pray as follows: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

And his disciples did stop him and say, “Excuse me? Does it have to be all about Him?”

“No,” he said, “there’s more. ‘Give us today our daily bread.’”

“That’s it?”

“You want more?”

“Let’s be honest,” said his disciples unto him. “You’re not going to sell many books on prayer if all it gets you is the bare minimum to survive. No, we’re looking for something more; we’re looking for a little something extra. You know – a little jam on the bread.”

“Okay, how about ‘Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors’?”

“Love the first part; hate the second. Try again.”

“Maybe something along the lines of, ‘And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one’?”

“There’s no need to be sarcastic – and besides, this whole prayer is just way too negative.”


“You know what I mean. ‘God, it’s all about you – not me. I don’t ask for much, but I do need a break; right now, in fact, I could use all the help I can get.’ I mean, what kind of a prayer is that?!? ”

And he did smile and say, “the same kind I pray every day.”

Pastor Greg

And remember: "You can do more than pray after you have prayed. But you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed" -- John Bunyan.