3 Things I Learnt From Fasting For 72 Hours

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If you are reading this, it means that I’m dead, or am in the process of dying.

I can’t take it anymore..

Need………food…..

But let’s not kid ourselves. I love food WAY too much to part with it.

So I decided, instead, to participate in a cellphone/social media fast for 72 hours facilitated by the New Life Fellowship on the campus of Andrews University.

Here are three things I learnt from this experience:

The beauty of awareness

I found myself being intentionally aware throughout the day. Moments which may have been lost while being distracted by my phone were instead noticed and cherished.

My mom has a favorite mantra for us: “Be in the situation!” I’m glad that it finally got to my head, even if it was only for 72 hours!

I realized how many moments I had previously dismissed or passed over because of my preoccupation with a text or a tweet.

The fast also sensitized me to a special sense of awareness of the Spirit of God. The lack of ‘noise’ allowed me to tune in to the voice of God concerning my ministries, my relationship with others, and my connection with Him.

The fast was a much needed “comma” in the run-on sentence of my life where I could pause for reflection and assessment.

The bliss of prayer

Prayer had become so routine and mechanical for me. I would talk to God in the morning and send him “prexts” (“prayer texts”) throughout the day in my mind when I needed him to come through.
Since the fast, however, I had more time to talk to God just for the sake of talking to Him. Tough times of temptation instinctively would lead me to talk to Him, often out loud.

The fast led me to realize that prayer doesn’t have to be a calling bell for a cosmic butler, but can indeed be a conversation with a caring father.

The bane of dependence

I chose the phone/social media fast precisely because it would hurt. And hurt it.
I felt it more during the final moments of the fast, when I would want to tweet something, update my Facebook status, or text my fiancé.

When I wasn’t able to do any of this, I did feel vulnerable and, or, lost at times. I soon discerned that this was simply one example of many things I was already dependent upon; the fast helped me assess the accouterments which I had acquired and the tenacity with which I was holding on to them.

I would encourage a fast for any serious Christian who wants to take a closer look at themselves, and go farther in their relationship with their Savior.

Here’s a 5-step process that worked for me:

Step 1: Identify things in your life that you simply cannot live without.

Step 2: Prayerfully choose one of them.

Step 3: Delineate a reasonable period of time for your fast from that thing.

Step 4: Do it.

Step 5: Journal what you have learned about yourself, about others, and about God.

Who’s going to do it? If you want to challenge yourself, leave a comment below with what you are choosing to fast from!

This post was originally posted in the author’s blog www.crossculturechristian.com

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I Was So Angry at Bernie Sanders Until I Read This…

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I have been completely entertained during this past season of campaigning. Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina aren’t part of the regular “establishment”. It is crazy to think that this business man, Trump, might actually become president. It isn’t the first time that something like this has happened though. Ronald Reagan became the president of the United States and he also had an acting career. Jesse Ventura became the governor of Minnesota. Of course, there was always Mr. Terminator himself who became the governor in California (or should I say governator?!). Between Arnold, Reagan, and Trump I’m beginning to wonder if there is something to the way Republicans vote. The establishment is definitely fighting tooth and nail to stay relevant and in control while America sits back and enjoys the reality TV that is being inspired by our highest office… the oval one.

I can’t tell you how many times I have read posts on Facebook by Republicans about Reaganomics and how those were the glory days. Follow those with videos like this one, and a series of comments where democrats speak about the 98% (99%?…95%?….I have seen different numbers on this). I am sure you have seen so many debates about racism, religion, or economics.

What has really struck me recently though, is wondering how economics work in the kingdom and country that I belong to – The Kingdom of Heaven – and if they could be applied to this country.

Bernie Sanders is a big proponent of a progressive tax that has the most dramatic numbers raising with the “upper class” (this is a term I find hard to identify the line with, because we are all pretty rich in this country). Here is our current progressive tax system, Here is Bernie Sanders suggested progressive tax system. It should be noted that Bernie isn’t really reinventing the wheel, but rather just enforcing a stricter and more intense wheel.

People have called the progressive tax system which Bernie is pushing either evil or great. In my perspective, most republicans say that people that work hard and become rich shouldn’t have to pay for people who don’t work at all. Democrats seek to use the money of the rich to support the poor regardless of the reason they are poor (whether circumstantial, laziness, or birth).

So, bottom line question that I’m asking for people to engage with in an honest and objective way is: If we were to actually try to create the best economic approach in based on God’s economics, what would that look like? I would love to actually hear what you think (comment on the blog, Facebook, or e-mail me).

Here is what I think:
In God’s kingdom Socialism reigns (I probably don’t have a clear enough grasp of socialism, but read on to see what I mean). God owns everything, and people share with each other liberally. They are always careful not to take too much or to leave anyone in a tough situation, but if you are walking through a field and see some strawberries that you want to take home and make a pie out of, well… you pick em. The richest people are the ones who give the most, because in God’s kingdom you aren’t really rich, you are just a steward of God’s stuff. God gives you stuff so that you can take care of each other and bless those who have nothing. Rich people are constantly giving away their wealth to the poor.

Many times I hear people quote Christ’s text “The poor you will always have with you…” in order to excuse the constant helping of the poor. If you balance that with the actual life of Christ, you find that Christ spent His life reaching out to poor and helpless. He would go into villages and tirelessly heal all of their sick and diseased. He never owned His own home, and we only know of Him owning 1 pair of clothes, yet He lived a life of constant giving and teaching about how the Kingdom of God is based on loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Christ had some very sharp words for rich people, but you don’t see many words (if any) about poor people. I don’t remember Him calling them lazy at all, and I’m pretty sure that He said they would inherit the Kingdom of God. He told a rich dude to sell everything he owned and give it to the poor and followed that up with saying that it is hard for rich people to even make it to heaven. That is pretty hard core. He made a lesson out of people working hard and people barely working getting the same wage (salvation). He even told us that the way He will judge between goats and sheep is by how they took care of each other.

Something I have yet to see is: A rich person paying for a poor person to enjoy a week at an all paid for resort in the Caribbean because they are treating them as they would treat themselves… but hey, maybe that will be the next viral video.

Either way, in my estimation Bernie’s tax plan and attitude toward the rich and poor seems like it is possibly a step closer to Jesus’ than Trumps. IDK! What do you think?

p.s. I honestly don’t care about politics if it causes us to debate and get angry at each other, so if you think that might happen, please don’t comment.

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How Many Likes Will This Get? The Social Media Infection

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We live in the age of social media. According to the digital marketing company Zephoria, as of two months ago, over 1.05 billion people access their Facebook (FB) accounts daily, and since May of 2014, over 4.5 billion “likes” have been generated every day. In September of 2014, the Pew Research Center reported that 40% of all people who own a mobile phone had one or more social networking applications in active use. By September of 2015, Facebook alone boasted over 1.39 billion users actively accessing the website via a mobile device at least once within a month’s timespan! According to Emarketer, approximately 30% of Facebook users are aged 25-34 (the largest reported age group), and according to the Pew Research Center 89% of persons between the ages of 18 and 29 (the millennial generation) regularly use social media websites. We are the workhorses that run social media; we are the fuel that feeds its fire.

          At this point you may be wondering why it seems like I vomited a bunch of statistics and facts onto your screen, but stay with me! There’s a point to I all, I promise. News headlines are dictated by what’s trending on Twitter (the Pew Research Center reported that ~50% of social media site users draw their news information from social networking sites – that means 1 in every 2 adults in America let Facebook tell them what’s going on in the world around them). Government agencies’ statements and policies are swayed by how viral videos and topics affect public opinion (e.g, the current nationwide social movement on racial equality was started from the hashtag “#BlackLivesMatter”). YouTube “stars” boast salaries grossing in the millions (Forbes Magazine reported that 23 year old Felix Kjellberg made upwards of 12 million in pre-taxed dollars on his YouTube channel in 2015 – because apparently 40 million subscribers are entertained by him throwing expletives around while they watch him play video games). All these numbers add up to one simple idea (and the point I promised earlier): we live in an age of governed social media. Which causes me to wonder, if social media shapes tides of government and current events and so on, and if almost 9/10 people in the millennial generation regularly ascribe to social media, does that mean social media governs the millennial generation? Maybe we don’t actually run social media, maybe (just maybe) it runs us.

          I have a friend who adds roughly twenty hash tags to every picture he posts to Instagram (IG), or maybe he adds fifty. I lose track. Every possible related idea or concept or word is thought of and hash-tagged away. I asked him why once, and he said he was on an IG come up and that I needed to step my ‘like game’ up. (I shrugged ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.) I have another friend whose entire life is chronicled on twitter. I never need to ask them what they’re doing, because 15 seconds after I wonder, they send out a tweet letting the world know. I have a friend who pops up on TV shows now and again, and when they do, they spend ridiculous amounts of time and energy making sure their appearances go viral. I have a friend who updates their Snapchat so often, that at the end of every day they have at least 400 seconds of snaps to get through. I almost got carpet tunnel from trying to fast-forward through them all her snaps once. Okay, I’m clearly exaggerating about that, but the point remains: we are a generation governed by social media, living in the age of social media.

          You already knew this though. Something in the back of your mind gave it away when your FB profile pic’ got over 100 likes (or some arbitrary number that you’ve given yourself based on your own “average number of likes”). It gave a very small sense of accomplishment, or a very small sense of pride. It’s like you could hear Sally Field’s 1984 Oscar acceptance speech running in the back of your head saying, “You like me! …You [really] like me!” Or maybe a tweet you sent got a ridiculous amount of re-tweets, or an IG pic’ you posted got dozens and dozens (or hundreds) of “likes”. You saw that, and sat back satisfied because someone somewhere affirmed your thought (or picture or video). Someone somewhere cared about what you had to say. Someone thought you were funny, someone thought you were cute and for a very brief second, that made all the difference. You mattered. Your words, your insight, your imaged mattered. How do you know? Where’s the proof? You got a lot of “likes” – social media’s stamp of approval. So the wheels started turning on how to keep it up. What funny caption to ad, what filter to use, how much skin to show, what series of hashtags was the best combination to draw attention to your new haircut? You have a reputation to keep! A popular opinion to appeal to, and you want, or maybe you need, social media’s affirmation – more “likes”. You want someone somewhere to value what you say, what you think, what you look like and the “likes” to prove that they do.

          So, you see, we live in the age of social media. We, the millennial generation, are the workhorses that run its campaigns. We are the fuel that feeds its fire, and we are the embers that burn those who don’t meet its standards. We have created a culture built around proving our worth based on Internet popularity, and we, the millennial generation, need to help it stop. Why? Because we need to remind others (and ourselves) that importance or value does not come from a random series of “likes” given by friends or family or anonymous strangers. The value of an object comes from the price someone is willing to pay for it, and you, kind stranger, were bought at an infinite price (1 Peter 1:18, 1 Corinthians 6:20, Acts 20:28). Your self worth is immeasurable because the price Jesus paid for you is incomprehensible. So the import of the things that make you *you* (what you say, how you appear, what you think, what you feel) can never be measured by “likes” because your value is rooted in eternity. Someone thinks you’re hilarious. Someone is captivated by how you look. Someone hangs on your every word. Someone always wants to know how you feel. Someone knows that you matter, and at the end of it all, the only opinion that really matters is His.

Now I challenge you to measure your social media success not in how many likes you get, but in the positive impact of the life you live.

Verses Referened Above:

Acts 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

1 Corinthians 6:20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. NIV

1 Peter 1:18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom He paid was not mere gold or silver. NLT
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10 Things I Am Glad Ellen White Did not Say

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Some years ago I had the privilege of studying under professor Jud Lake, Adventist historian, Ellen White apologist, and author of Ellen White Under Fire. Part of the class was learning how to respond to criticisms leveled against Ellen White. Although I was already aware of this, I was able to see that nearly every single Ellen White criticism rests on a denial, and or violation, of the literary and historical context of her statements. As I read many of these criticisms I was reminded of the fact that the same arguments and insults can be made against the Bible writers – and I am not refering to the Old Testament here but to the New. As a result I have created a small list of Bible verses I am glad did not originate with Ellen White, for if she had, the critics would have a hay day. Here is the list along with what the critics would say if Ellen White had been the first to say these things. Enjoy!

10 Things I Am Glad Ellen White Did Not Say
1) Women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. – 1 Tim. 2:15 

What the critics would say: Here Mrs. White clearly shows she has no knowledge of the true gospel. According to Mrs. White a woman can be saved through having children. However, the Bible is clear that we are saved only through Jesus. This “salvation through child-bearing” heresy is just another example of how legalistic this woman was. I feel sorry for all of those Adventist women who havent had children for according to Mrs. White, they will not be saved.

 

2) For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. – Romans 2:13 

What the critics would say: If you ever had any doubt if Ellen White was a legalist, doubt no more! We are clearly told from her own writings that in order to be declared righteous we must obey the law! However, the Bible says that all of our righteouesness is as filthy rags and that in order to be declared righteous we must be covered by the blood of Jesus. Seventh-day Adventists do not know the freedom of the gospel because they follow the teachings of Ellen White who says in order to be saved they must keep the law. Mrs. White must have never heard of the book of Romans which clearly teaches that we cannot be saved by keeping the law. She contradicts the gospel and is thus a false prophet!

 

3) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ… – 2 Cor. 5:10 

What the Critics would say: This statement plays perfectly well into the anti-gospel Adventist teaching of the investigative judgment. Ellen White writes to believers that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” This heresy robs the Christian of the assurance of salvation and is the reason why Adventists care so much about the law. They have no assurance! And how can they if they believe that they will be judged? The bible is clear that believers are not judged! How can Ellen White and the entire Adventist church contradict such a plain teaching of holy scripture? It is simple: They don’t follow scripture, they follow the false prophet Ellen White.

 

4) If your hand causes you to sin cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched… – Mark 9:43-47 

What the critics would say: Here we see a perfect example of how fanatical Ellen White was. Adventists try to say she was balanced, but would a balanced person ever tell you to cut off your hand so you wont sin? This is clearly extremism and legalism at its worst! Not only that, but it is clear from this statement that Ellen White does not have an accurate understanding of temptation and victory over sin. We do not cut our hand off so we wont be tempted to steal because the problem is not the hand but the heart. The only solution then is to be born again and receive a new heart. Of course, Ellen White did not teach this because the Adventist church is her own cult and she used fear tactics like this one to keep Adventists under her thumb.

 

5) A person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. – James 2:24

What the critics would say: Blasphemy! Doesnt the bible plainly teach that we are saved by grace through faith? Has this false prophet ever read Ephesians 2:8-10 which plainly teaches that we are saved by grace through faith alone and not of our works so that no man can boast? The teachings of Ellen White are pure legalism. We must pray for those under her bondage!

 

6) If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left… – Hebrews 10:6 

What the critics would say: Adventism is a black hole of hopelessness that fills one with anxiety and fear and makes it impossible for believers to have assurance of salvation. Here Ellen White clearly says that if you are not perfect once you have been saved and you sin again then you are cast out for good and can never return to favor with God. But doesnt the Bible say that we can never be separated from the love of God? This is pure heresy.

 

7) Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed… continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling… – Philippians 2:12 

What the critics would say: Here is more evidence that Mrs. White was a legalist. Salvation, rather than the gift of Gods grace, is something we have to workout and figure out on our own. But not only that! It must also be done “in fear and trembling”! What a terrible way to live the Christian life!

 

8) And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. – Rev. 22:19 

What the critics would say: According to Ellen White a believer can lose his/her salvation. This is a false teaching of Mrs. Whites used to gain control over her naiive followers. So long as she could keep them from having assurance of salvation she could control them into living the ultra-strict life she advocated.

 

9) Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 1 Corinthians 7:27 NASB 

What the critics would say: Notice the way Mrs. White describes marriage. Rather than a joy she speaks of being “bound” to a wife as though marriage was some sort of prison. She even goes so far as to suggest that single men should not seek a wife! What is this? Some Adventist version of celibacy? Does the SDA church have an order of male nuns? This negative view on marriage clearly reflects her own dysfunctional marriage to James White.

 

10) So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. Luke 14:33 

What the critics would say: Here we see evidence that Ellen White sympathized with the communist/ socialist movement and even advocated a communal type of living arrangement for Adventist believers. This idea of surrendering ones personal property is a clear identifying marker of cults. Beware!

 

Bonus: As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. – Timothy 5:11-12 

What the critics would say: Ha! Can you believe this statement? According to the Adventist prophet, if a widow remarries she isforfeiting her dedication to Christ and bringing judgment on herself! Adventist wives had better pray their husbands never die on them or they will be forced into a lonely and celibate life lest they enter into judgment!

I suppose I could go on and on but by now I think you get the idea. All of you are reading my criticisms of these Bible texts and thinking “thats such an unfair criticism because it misrepresents what the Bible is actually saying!” That is true, and yet I have done it on purpose to demonstrate how the same exact method is used to attack Ellen White. It is not only unethical and unfair but speaks volumes to the lack of genuine scholarly work done by the critics of Ellen White.For a great source on Ellen White apologetics visit ellenwhiteanswers.org

Note: This article was originally published on pomopastor.com
 
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