Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Reviewing Adventist World, NAD Edition

June, 2008

This edition of Adventist World is an important one. The worldwide evangelistic and missionary efforts of the Adventist Church, as reported, are breathtaking. If this issue is a foretaste of things to come, it has to be a MUST READ for every informed church member.

My advice to readers is not to skip anything in this issue. I will comment on ten pieces in the order in which they appear in the magazine. I have a variety of reasons for selecting them.

MISSION GIVING reported by Elizabeth Lechleitner, editorial assistant, Adventist News Network
The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists has received a gift of over $100,000,000 "extraordinary tithe". Some of this "extraordinary tithe" "is currently allocated to specific areas of ministry. . .To help them [GC Administrators] allocate the additional tithe, delegates [at the April 6 Spring Business Meeting] agreed on a list of guidelines for evaluating potential initiatives. Paulsen said the church would await revised proposals from each church at region, and then move 'briskly' to distribute funds".

The SPECIFIC AREAS and the LIST OF GUIDELINES were not included in the report. Why not? Have they been published? If so, where?

"[Unnamed] Finance officers also addressed the churches investments in light of the fluctuating market. Commenting specifically on the church's retirement funds, General Conference associate treasurer Roy Ryan said because the church's holdings are long-term, diversified, and conservative, risks are 'manageable'".

The investment portfolio of the church is not included in the report. It is comforting, however, in light of the church's End Time Message, to know that Roy Ryan along with unnamed finance officers are taking a “conservative” "long-term” view when it comes to investing our money.

CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE by Drs. Handysides and Landless
Once again the docs come through with a beautifully written, informative essay.

THE SIGN by Jose Vicente Rojas
Note to Roy Ryan: Jose Rojas, Director of the Office of Volunteer Ministries for the North American Division might argue that the “long-term, diversified, and conservative” investment portfolio is out-of-sink with the times. According to him, the” ultimate sign [of Christ's soon coming] is now upon us”.

In an otherwise thoughtful essay that attempts, once again, to explain God's ways to man, Banini suggests that “God's refusal to interfere in human freedom cost Him Calvary. His power, expressed as we would have it, would bring to an end our human resourcefulness, which in turn would defeat God's plan to educate us, to have us develop character.”

This is a fascinating account of getting the “guide” to the ends of the earth. It is the only official Adventist publication that thousands if not millions of church members receive. It's too bad that the editor of the Adult Bible Study Guide is a reactionary like Cliff Goldstein.

THE WORLD IS WAITING by H. M. S. Richards (sermon excerpted from Aflame for God, 1950 General Conference session, San Francisco)
I knew and admired H. M. S. Richards. I was eight years old when I heard them preach this sermon. These final prayerful words sum up what he preached. “Help us to tell the truth. Help us to love one another. Help us, O God, to be converted."

Ellen White’s prose continues to be the standard against which I judge what is written in every Adventist publication I read and/or review. "If all would carry out the instruction given by Christ, what love and unity would exist among His followers! Every heart has its own sorrows and disappointments, and we should seek to lighten one another's burdens by manifesting the love of Jesus to those around us . . .”

BATTLING DEMONS, Question: Is there a ministry, or gift, of exorcism in the Bible? by Angel Manuel Rodriguez
I think this essay is a MUST READ for anyone interested in exorcism. Rodriguez does a masterful job tackling a very difficult subject.

SABBATH AND THE END TIME: A Bible Study by Mark A. Finley
In this lesson Finley claims that the book of Revelation describes the seventh day Sabbath as “a sign of allegiance to God, the visible sign of our commitment to Christ”. His supporting text for this claim is Exodus 20: 8-11.

He goes on to assert that “Revelation brings to view two systems of worship: worshiping the Creator or worshiping the beast. The sign of true worship is the seventh-day Sabbath, a symbol of supreme allegiance to Jesus as Creator. The sign a false worship is the mark of the beast, and refers to ignoring God's way in favor of exalting the human rather than the divine. . .Since God created all things through Jesus, the seventh-day Sabbath is an end-time sign of worshiping Jesus."

Finley and Goldstein are on my prayer list. How is it that these two men have such powerful positions in the Adventist Church?

Adventist World Radio shares a story about a Somali young person’s first encounter with the words of Jesus. A MUST READ.


Andy Hanson said...

Extraordinary Tithe

Robert E. Lemon has been the treasurer of the Seventh-day Adventist world church for the last six years. He recently reported tithe takings of $1.78 billion for the last fiscal year – as well as a multimillion “extraordinary tithe”.

In a wide-ranging interview with Spectrum, he shares his insights about how giving trends are changing, how the Church spends its money and why endowments aren’t always a good idea. ( June 9th, 2008 )

This is an excerpt dealing specifically with extraordinary tithe. Click to read the entire interview.

Question: What kind of guidelines does the Church have to govern the spending of extraordinary tithe?
Answer: Extraordinary tithe is not a general category of tithe. There are occasions where a local conference receives a one-time large sum of tithe from a member which would skew its budgeting for the next year if it were included as the basis for building the next year’s budget. In those cases, most conferences adjust their budgets for the next year to reflect the fact that they don’t expect to receive that extra amount.

The case you are referring to is a one-time amount, large enough that it was agreed it should be handled by the General Conference on behalf of the world field. In this case, the General Conference Executive Committee authorized the General Conference Administrative Committee to set up guidelines and make the allocation of the funds.

These are tithe funds, so they will only be used for items that are appropriate for tithe. The funds will be allocated in two broad areas: Funds To and Funds Through. The Funds To means the areas or types of work that will benefit from the funds, and include: the 10/40 Window (the half of the world that is basically non-Christian), Big Cities, and reaching the secular mind.
The Funds Through area refers to the major mediums through which the message will be delivered: Internet, Hope Channel Satellite TV, and Adventist World Radio.

Each division has been asked to make proposals as to projects in their territories that could benefit the most and also to work with the Hope Channel and AWR on how to best reach their areas, as well as develop new initiatives on the Internet. There is a small committee working on evaluating all the proposals and making recommendations to the General Conference Administrative committee through the GC Officers. The funds are expected to be spent over a period of five to eight years and proposals must include information on how the work will be carried on after these funds are finished.

Question: Last year a man left the Church about $50 million. There was disagreement about how the money should be spent. What were the main differing ideas people had about how to spend it? Why was some not put into an endowment?
Answer: As you can well imagine, there are plenty of suggestions on how to use the funds. I’m not sure I would use the word “disagreement,” as there has probably been more agreement on how these funds should be used than there is on how the regularly-budgeted funds of church should be allocated. It is always good to have vigorous input into the process and a variety of opinions.
These are tithe funds and so their use must be consistent with our policies on the use of tithe. Probably the greatest discussion was on whether the funds should be restricted to mainly the 10/40 Window area or opened to a much wider variety of projects.

There have been individuals who have suggested putting these tithe funds into an endowment. Although there are circumstances where endowments are appropriate, specifically in the area of education, I don’t believe it is God’s desire for us to use the operating funds He has provided in the form of tithe to set up an endowment.

The tithe is provided by the Lord to the Church for the preaching of the gospel and needs to be used prudently but with all haste to complete the work. The Lord does not want us to build up big sums of money in endowments so that we will no longer be dependent on His blessings through His children.
We need enough for working capital and to buffer against the normal fluctuations in receipts, but not so much that it lessens our dependence on Him. He provided the children of Israel with sufficient manna each day to meet their needs and it spoiled if they collected more than needed. He only replenished the widow’s flour and oil with enough for one more day each time she showed faith by sharing her last cup.

Question: Other than the extraordinary tithe money going to some specific areas of ministry, you are also taking proposals for where the remainder of the money should go. What kind of proposals are you getting?
Answer: There is a great variety of proposals but most center around using the Internet and television for reaching large numbers of people with the message. Others are focused more on new ways to reach people on a one-to-one basis. The personal contact method is the best but cannot reach the large masses in areas where we don’t have members.

Question: What kind of criteria are you using to evaluate the proposals and decide where the money should be spent?
Answer: The small committee working with this is seeking God’s guidance as they evaluate the proposals. It has created a matrix of the points listed above as well as some other criteria and are evaluating how each proposal fits the objectives. These individuals are also very familiar with the world field and bring to the evaluation a global perspective.

Doug Matacio said...

Hi Andy, I enjoy reading your reviews each month. I was disappointed that you did not comment on my article in the June Adventist World. It was on the topic of FB #8, The Great Controversy.

Hope to hear from you!

Andy Hanson said...

Thanks for your question. The answer is a brief one: I didn’t believe that your essay furthered the readers’ understanding of The Great Controversy as it is articulated in the official Doctrine 8 of the Fundamental Doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I did, however, enjoy your mother’s reaction to the Hamm’s beer commercials!

I share your belief that the kindness and love are the “essence of God’s character”. That idea cannot be emphasized enough. Best wishes!

Daniel said...

Thank God for the few pastors left, like Mark Finley, who are not afraid to tell the straight truth.

Daniel said...

Thank God that there are still a few pastors in the SDA church like Mark Finley who are not afraid to give the straight testimony :)