Old Paths Masthead

Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16

The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant. Psalm 25:14


Vol. 22, No.1 Straight and Narrow January 2013


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 He casteth forth his ice like morsels: Who can stand before his cold? Psalm 147:17
 

The Gathering for the Council at Constance

by Onycha Holt 

Lake Constance lies at the northern foot of the Alps and is shared by Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, and in 1414, the strongly-fortified city of Constance, on the shores of the lake, was host to an important ecclesiastical assembly. Constance was pleasantly-situated, with beautiful gardens, vineyards, woods, and meadows, and to it came distinguished men from all parts of western Europe. “The streets of the city were a blaze of gorgeous colour with the crowds of splendidly garbed dignitaries, with waving plumes and polished armour, with flaunting standards and long cavalcades. Pope and emperor were both present, each with a numerous and dazzling following of officers and attendants. All classes of society, laity as well as clergy, representatives of every European nation, with their peculiarities of costume and manner, contributed to make the city of Constance a miniature Christendom. Besides emperor and pope, there came to this celebrated council thirty cardinals, four patriarchs, thirty-three archbishops, one hundred and fifty bishops, several hundred doctors of theology and prelates and four thousand priests, four electors, twenty-four princes and dukes, seventy-eight counts and over six hundred barons. Literature and science were not unworthily represented. Eleven universities of Europe sent deputations. . . . In addition to all of these, a throng of merchants, artisans, retainers, visitors, drawn by curiosity, the desire of gain or of pleasure, flowed into the city to witness the doings of the council. This unexampled array of sovereigns and nobles, leaders of the Church and laymen numbered no less than fifty thousand” (Wiliam Nathaniel Schwarze, John Hus, the Martyr of Bohemia, p. 38).

Constance was chosen because it had good roads and plenty of available water from the Rhine River, which flowed through the city, and also because the lake provided a good supply of fish and an adequate means of transporting supplies to Constance, such as fodder for the animals. Twenty-five boats could arrive at the city in one day, loaded with hay and straw for the stabling of the thousands of animals arriving in Constance. The great assemblage was not merely to be a clerical gathering, but a vast political congress of heads of state, as well. Emperor Sigismund notified all the electors, princes, nobles and towns of the Empire that in Constance he meant to deal with all matters that threatened to divide both church and state. For example, the University of Paris sought the condemnation of a particular thesis being circulated on its campus and also wanted the Duke of Burgundy (who was considering an alliance with the King of England) convicted of heresy, the King of Poland pressed for its quarrel with the Teutonic Knights to be addressed, men came seeking the bestowal of the rank of duke, others were urging a reform in coinage because bad money was being minted, the Julian calendar was in confusion as it was out of alignment with solar facts, and imperial towns were complaining about high taxes. Safe conducts needed to be issued, feuds pacified, and the larger issue of peace between France and England solved. Financial help for the Greek emperor against the advancing Turks was on the agenda, minor squabbles from other quarters needed to be solved, and in addition to these matters, several ecclesiastical issues, most importantly those dealing with heresy, were to be decided.

Counts, bishops, and abbots all descended on the city, and whenever an inn was found to be available, it was snapped up. A count, for example, would set up house in the inn and hang his arms over the door. No one, however, was absolutely sure that the council would meet until the Papal Chancellor arrived, “who rode in with eighty-five horsemen on August 12th” (James Hamilton Wylie, The Council of Constance to the Death of John Huss, p. 43). The antipope, John XXIII, left Italy several weeks later, “accompanied by eight cardinals and 600 followers all on horseback, including auditors, scribes, secretaries, bakers, beadles, ushers, grooms, macers, silversticks, and other officials, many of them being the sons of noble families. A knight rode before him on a white pad with a monstrance containing the Host, covered with a red cloth and strapped upright to the saddle, well shielded from the rain and sun” (Ibid.), and he arrived in Constance on October 27, 1414, “preceded by a long procession of priests. The antipope was clad in white and rode a white horse with scarlet trappings. A baldachin of cloth of gold was held above his head and with him rode the cardinals, two and two, in scarlet hats and capes, the sergeants with their maces keeping back the crowds that scrambled forward to pick up the scattered largess. After a “Te Deum” had been sung in the cathedral, the Pope was lodged with his principal attendants in the bishop’s house in the adjoining square, which had been previously repaired by the timber-masters and other workmen and fitted with fireplaces, lanterns, windows and all necessaries for winter occupation. The chapel had been furbished up, the stools were painted, seven chaplains and six singers were housed to serve it at four florins each per month, and the whole building became henceforth known as the Apostolic Palace” (Ibid., pp. 45, 46).

“This palace became the great centre of clerical interest during the council. It contained two large halls, an upper and a lower one, in which the business of the Curia was transacted, and a cushioned throne was kept for Sigismund whenever he should pay a ceremonial visit. Every Monday and Wednesday the cardinals met here in secret consistory, with a public sitting every Friday morning after Mass” (Ibid., p. 48), but meetings were also held in the cathedral. Eight prelates were appointed to examine and report upon business matters coming in from Italy, France, Germany, England, Bohemia, Poland, Hungary and Spain, respectively.

Language was an issue at the council. Besides the three European languages of the day, French, German and Italian, “it was believed that there were twenty-seven others spoken in the streets of Constance” (Ibid., p. 58), and to meet these needs, priests posted notices at their particular pews for the language in which they offered the Masses.

Music was heard throughout the city, for each of the great lords had brought his musicians with him, and “the streets echoed with hundreds of fifes, trumpets, bagpipes, and viols; no business was done on feast days, when everything gave place to the jongleurs and players . . . Every day the courtyard of the Apostalic Palace was alive with tilting [jousting] and a vertigo of shouts, while scarce a week went by without its ridings, feasts, dances, tournaments and processions” (Ibid., pp. 58, 59).

Each nation was assigned a meeting place, had a president, counselors, and deputies and notaries were delegated to keep official records of each nation’s proceedings, but the council as a whole threatened to fall apart when a contagious skin disease, known then as Touch-me-not, broke out in the crowded city. Even this, however, was forgotten when King Sigismund finally arrived in December 1414. He was looked upon as a saviour who would bring peace to the nations and unity to the church, and he resided in Constance for several months, directing the attention of the council to the reasons for their important convocation. Next month we will examine one of the most important reasons—John Huss.


Women’s Ordination, Part 3

In our last issue we briefly noted that God’s chosen vessels for the priesthood were not superior to others in rank or gender. We noted that God is no respecter of persons, yet not everyone was chosen to be a priest. After the exodus from Egypt, the office of priest was held only by men who were Levites, specifically the sons of Aaron. In the New Testament all the apostles chosen by Jesus Christ were men, and the apostles chosen later were also always men. This, however, does not indicate an inequality or an inferior status for those not chosen. It does indicate that God has an order for the ministry, and we will now begin to establish that order from the Bible.

Genesis chapter 1 gives a brief and concise record of the creation. This is expanded in chapter 2, where in verse 7 we have details concerning the creation of man (Adam), who was not spoken directly into existence but was formed from the ground. The Bible says that God put Adam in the garden (verse 8) and gave him the task of dressing and keeping it (verse 15). God then gave to Adam the prohibition against eating of the tree of knowledge. This prohibition came before Eve was created.

Of course, God knew beforehand that Adam would need and desire a companion, and he does not wait until Adam understands this to acknowledge it and begin to carry out his pre-thought-out plan accordingly. All the different beasts are brought to Adam to name and also to help him see that all the creatures had some kind of companion except him. God then caused a deep sleep to come upon Adam, and God performed the first surgery by removing a rib from Adam and creating the woman (Eve) from it.

Eve certainly was no afterthought. God created Adam with the ability to have sexual relations before Eve was introduced. Adam’s sexual ability, however, was of no value without a compliment (Eve). Eve was clearly part of God’s plan for creation before he began creating. God could have made Adam and Eve at the same time, as he did with the animals, but he did not, and in so doing is conveying a lesson. God gave to the man the priority of being first, not by accident but by direct design, and this was all before sin entered into the world. This does not teach that Adam had a superior nature to the woman or that she was inferior, but it does show a difference in the plan of God for each to have a special purpose.

Adam and Eve were not designed to be two different, equal, and identical persons that could function independently of each other, but rather they were to be each one half of a whole unit, so that when God said the two should “be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24), they would form such a perfect compliment that they would be as one. A man is the equivalent of being sterile without the woman, and though children would be borne by the woman, she could do so only with the man as her partner. Not only were man and woman to be physical complements, but they were to be mental and spiritual complements, as well.

Today there is a theory that the subordination of women to men is only a result of sin and that at the first God designed for Adam and Eve to be fully equal and identical with each other. Inspiration would agree that they were to be equals, but that does not mean that they were to be identical, with each able and equipped to do the same tasks or functions as the other. Ellen White has two statements that should be considered:

Eve was told of the sorrow and pain that must henceforth be her portion. And the Lord said, “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” In the creation God had made her the equal of Adam. Had they remained obedient to God—in harmony with His great law of love—they would ever have been in harmony with each other; but sin had brought discord, and now their union could be maintained and harmony preserved only by submission on the part of the one or the other. Eve had been the first in transgression; and she had fallen into temptation by separating from her companion, contrary to the divine direction. It was by her solicitation that Adam sinned, and she was now placed in subjection to her husband. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 58; all emphasis in this article supplied unless otherwise noted)

Here we are told that Eve was placed in subjection to Adam after the fall. To be in subjection means to be in a “state of being under the power, control and government of another” (American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster; 1828 edition), yet earlier in this book, we have this statement: 

God Himself gave Adam a companion. He provided “an help meet for him”—a helper corresponding to him—one who was fitted to be his companion, and who could be one with him in love and sympathy. Eve was created from a rib taken from the side of Adam, signifying that she was not to control him as the head, nor to be trampled under his feet as an inferior, but to stand by his side as an equal, to be loved and protected by him. (Ibid., p. 46)

Even though Eve is here declared to be an equal with Adam, she is said to need his protection. This would not be due to anything for which physical strength was needed, for there was no danger to her from violent weather, robbers, murders, wild beasts, or the like. This could only mean that she needed Adam’s help spiritually, to be guarded from the only foe in the universe that would attempt to assail them. So even though she was made as an equal, she needed his help. God had ordained the woman to be the one who would carry and bear children. This did not make her better than Adam, but it helps us to see that at least here there was a differently- established role that only she could fulfill for them both. Similarly God had ordained the man to be the priest and spiritual leader of the family. Different roles within the family do not indicate superiority or inferiority. They do indicate that each man and each woman have complementary roles which God has called them to fulfill in the home and in the church. Yet beyond this it cannot be ignored that Eve was made to be the help meet for Adam and not Adam to be the help meet for Eve. Not that being a true help meet is an easy job for the weak, mind you. It is a hard and challenging task, but it is the main work and duty that God has given to the woman.

The ordination of women should not be an issue over equality between the sexes or an issue of superiority versus inferiority. The real issue should be that God has created and called the man and the woman to different functions. Inspiration is clear that they were created as equals in nature, but the Bible teaches that they have different functions. One function is for the man to be the servant of Eve as her head. Jesus said “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:27). The woman is to be man’s helper in a submissive role as his help meet.

The submissive role of woman does not make her less human, nor invaluable. Christ is submissive to the Father. While he could say “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30), he also said “my Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). While some claim that Christ’s subordination to the Father is only due to the current reign of sin, it should be remembered that Paul writes that “when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Jesus Christ is by nature God, and his divinity is no less than that of the Father. James White declared, “The inexplicable Trinity that makes the Godhead three in one and one in three, is bad enough; but that ultra Unitarianism that makes Christ inferior to the Father is worse. Did God say to an inferior, ‘Let us make man in our image?’” (The Review & Herald, November 29, 1877) 

Jesus, being the only begotten Son, came forth from God. Jesus said, “I proceeded forth and came from God” (John 8:42). As Jesus came from God and is in subordination to him, the woman, who came from man, is in subordination to him. The doctrine of the trinity teaches a perfect equality among the godhead, yet that equality sets no role model for service or subordination, like the truth about the Father and Son does.

God certainly calls the sisters of the church to a position and work of great importance. Women have a ministry to perform that men, many times, simply cannot come close to fulfilling. Calling for the biblical model of men only in the headship roles of elders and pastors is not an attempt to deprive women of the chance to minister to others, but it is an attempt to follow the order that God has laid out for both the men and the women.

In summation of our study to this point, we see that man and woman were created as equals but with different abilities so that they could function in different, but complementary, roles. Functioning in different roles in no way makes one superior to the other or implies inferiority of the other. Man was created first, and this sets him apart in priority and helps us to see that God has placed him in the position of headship over Eve, who was created later from one of Adam’s ribs. Women have been given ministry in various forms to fulfill in God’s plan, including the high calling of the prophetic office.

Women certainly are needed in the church of God as faithful workers within the duties that God has set for them. Just as a home needs the kindhearted love that only a mother can provide, the church of God needs spiritual mothers of Israel to minister in a special, unique, and complementary role that the men simply cannot effectively do.   Editors  To be continued.


Family Rights Trampled Upon

(The following is a reprint of a part of a letter recently sent out by James R. Mason, Senior Counsel of the Home School Legal Defense Association’s litigation team, which helps homeschooling families that are facing legal challenges. He and his wife homeschool. This letter illustrates that the freedoms we take for granted are hanging at in a delicate balance. It will only be a short time before they are all taken away from those who keep the commandments of God. Do we know our rights? The Batt family did and still received a difficult time at the hands of an over-zealous authority. Many thanks to HSLDA for granting permission to reprint the letter.  Editor

What would you do if a police officer came to the door of your home and demanded to be allowed inside? Would you ask to see a warrant? Or would you simply stand aside? 

This was the situation that 23-year-old Joseph Batt faced on Tuesday, April 17, 2012. At the time, Joe lived at home with his parents, Tim and LuAnn, and younger siblings in Orchard Park, New York.

A few months earlier, the Batts had taken in LuAnn’s father, Fred, who had dementia and other chronic illnesses. On April 16, LuAnn had had a discussion with a relative about some of Fred’s personal possessions.

On Tuesday afternoon, Joe’s mom was at a doctor’s appointment and his dad was on his way home from work, leaving Joe to tend to Grandpa Fred. When Joe saw two police cars parked in front of his house, he did not feel alarm, only curiosity about why they were there.

He approached the two officers, who were casually chatting outside their cars, and asked if there was a problem.

Lieutenant Joseph Buccilli demanded that Joe produce his driver’s license, which Joe had left in the house. The officer then demanded to know his full name and date of birth. After answering the question, Joe again asked why the officers were at his home. Buccilli said they were there to perform a “welfare check” on behalf of adult protective services. He then demanded to be allowed inside.

“You do not have permission to come in.” 

The Batts have been members of Home School Legal Defense Association since Joe was a child, so he grew up reading about his Fourth Amendment rights in The Home School Court Report. Furthermore, Joe’s older brother, Dan, is a federal law-enforcement agent, a profession which the Batt family holds in high regard.

Joe respectfully refused Officer Buccilli’s demand to enter the home. He told the officer that his grandfather had just been seen by a nurse’s aide who reported that all was well.

Lt. Buccilli angrily told Joe that he didn’t need a warrant to conduct a welfare check. He said he would enter without permission and arrest Joe if he obstructed him in any way.

When Joe stepped inside to call his older brother on his cell phone, Lt. Buccilli followed him. “Please don’t come in,” said Joe. “I am making a private call. You do not have permission to come in.” 

But the officer stuck his foot into the doorway and prevented Joe from closing it. He then pushed the door open and stepped inside.

Inside the home, one of Joe’s younger siblings finally reached Dan on the home phone and handed the receiver to Lt. Buccilli.

Lt. Buccilli announced over the phone that he didn’t need a warrant and hung up, saying that Joe didn’t know the law and that Buccilli had a right to come in without a warrant.

“You should not pretend to know the law!” 

The officer pushed past Joe and went into the next room to see Fred. He lectured poor Fred—who had been visibly upset by the commotion—about how he had the right to forcibly enter a home when checking on the welfare of an adult.

As Lt. Buccilli finally left, he told Joe that he would “inform adult protective services about [your] lack of cooperation.” His parting shot was, “You should not pretend to know the law.” 

In the meantime, Tim and LuAnn Batt heard about what was happening and hurried home. By the time LuAnn arrived, there were three policemen standing outside her home, including the police chief.

The police were soon joined by an adult protective services social worker who said she had received a report of an adult in need of services.

LuAnn invited her inside, and explained that her father was in hospice care and was seen regularly by a nurse, social worker, and nurse’s aide.

The social worker saw that LuAnn’s father was fine. She left in a few minutes, telling LuAnn that she was doing a good job. Fred has since passed away while in the comfort of his family’s home.

What’s really going on here? 

I teach my children to be respectful toward and thankful for police officers and others in government service—those whose job is to keep the peace and serve the public. In fact, before I became a lawyer, I served in law enforcement for many years. In that time, I personally conducted just about every kind of search known to man.

So what was really going on in Orchard Park on April 17, 2012? We don’t know everything for sure, but here is what we surmise: 

Here is what we do know: the Fourth Amendment does not permit the police to enter anyone’s home without a warrant unless there is a real emergency—even if it’s called a “welfare check.” 

A civil rights lawsuit 

After much prayer and thought, the Batts decided to sue Lt. Buccilli for violating their Fourth Amendment “right … to be secure in their house.” 

They did not make that decision lightly, since they deeply respect law enforcement personnel in a real and personal sense. But they also hold the rule of law in high regard. They understand that police must respect citizens’ rights, and that when they don’t, they should be held to account.

The family hopes that their experience will result in good legal precedent, so that others will not be mistreated in the same way.

On December 11, 2012, HSLDA filed a civil rights suit against Lt. Buccilli in federal court.


Editorial — Do We Really Know What We Are Saying?

This editorial concerns a leading speaker for a well-known ministry who claims to be a world-renowned scientist, author, and lecturer. He also claims to believe in the three angels’ messages and to have a passion for sharing these messages. He has traveled over a great deal of the world, sharing his understanding of the gospel, which includes detailed theories about the Jesuits, the Masons, and the Holocaust.

Recently, while in another country, he was accused of anti-Semitism, due to a few phrases that he used, such as little yellow cloth, referring to the arm band that Jews were required to wear in Nazi Germany, and the term herding, speaking in reference to “the situation of the Jews after the end of the war as a result of Hitler’s persecution and their transference to the newly formed State of Israel,” according to his ministry’s website. Interestingly, he was not accused by Jews or by any anti-defamation group, but rather by Seventh-day Adventists who did not like his message.

The outcry from the few Adventists who complained caused the Adventist leadership in this particular country to ban him from speaking in the Seventh-day Adventist churches of their country. In an attempt to clarify his position, he published an open letter to Bruno Vertallier (president of the Inter-European Division). In his letter he made a passionate appeal for the leadership of the church to stop being silent to apostasy and to correct many sinful practices within the church. He then concluded with the following statement on his website: 

I wish to assure you that I love Christ and His truth, as given to our pioneers, with all my heart. I believe that this church will go through to the Kingdom and I will continue to do all in my power to call people into its ranks and it is my prayer that the church will unify on the true Advent message as it was preached from 1842 to 1846 {GCB, April 6, 1903 par. 35; 1 MR 52.2}. I thank God for the pioneers and godly Adventists who as late as 1952 published our first declaration of fundamental beliefs under the official auspices of the General Conference in the book “Principles of Life”. I stand by this Adventism and by the grace of God will not be moved.

I wish to make an appeal to you in the words of the Spirit of prophecy: 

Seventh-day Adventists are now to stand forth separate and distinct, a people denominated by the Lord as His own. Until they do this, He cannot be glorified in them. Truth and error cannot stand in copartnership. Let us now place ourselves where God has said that we should stand.... We are to strive for unity but not on the low level of conformity to worldly policy and union with the popular churches.—Lt 113, 1903.  {2MCP 559.2} 

A downloaded copy of the 1952 edition of Principles of Life from the General Conference archives does not contain a reproduction of our first declaration of fundamental beliefs first published in 1872. However, it is possible that this gentleman has a slightly different version or a different edition than is offered by the General Conference archives, and for the sake of the discussion, we will gladly grant this assumption to him; however, we now have an enigma. He states that he thanks “God for the pioneers and godly Adventists who as late as 1952 published our first declaration of fundamental beliefs under the official auspices of the General Conference in the book ‘Principles of Life’. I stand by this Adventism and by the grace of God will not be moved.” Now the puzzle is this: The 1872 Statement of Fundamentals is clearly a non-trinitarian statement. It represented the faith of the pioneers who came out of the 1842–1846 movement and times. This statement has even been admitted by the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, in the book Issues, to be “distinctly non-Trinitarian” (p. 39). The book Principles of Life, however, is clearly a doctrinal book that does not support the 1872 statement on the teaching about God because it teaches the trinity. It even includes a very Masonic/illuminati-looking diagram to illustrate the trinity.

In his letter this minister is equating the beliefs of the pioneers and the first statement of fundamentals with the teachings of the book Principles of Life, but this is not accurate. The pioneers all rejected the doctrine of the trinity. For example, James White wrote: 

Jesus prayed that his disciples might be one as he was one with his Father. This prayer did not contemplate one disciple with twelve heads, but twelve disciples, made one in object and effort in the cause of their master. Neither are the Father and the Son parts of the “three-one God.” They are two distinct beings, yet one in the design and accomplishment of redemption. (Life Incidents, p. 343; written in 1868) 

The 1872 statement of fundamental beliefs was published and endorsed by James White. Some believe that he was, with Uriah Smith, the original writer of the statement. That statement said: 

That there is one God, a personal, spiritual being, the creator of all things, omnipotent, omniscient, and eternal, infinite in wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, truth, and mercy; unchangeable, and everywhere present by his representative, the Holy Spirit.  Ps. 139:7.

That there is one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, the one by whom God created all things, and by whom they do consist.

Concerning the doctrine of God, the book Principles of Life states: 

The Godhead, or Trinity, consists of the Eternal Father, a personal, spiritual being, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, infinite in wisdom and love; the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, through whom all things were created and through whom the salvation of the redeemed hosts will be accomplished; the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Godhead, the great regenerating power in the work of redemption. (Principles of Life, p. 27) 

Now the question is, does this minister stand by the teachings in the book Principles of Life or by the 1872 Statement of Fundamental Principles and the pioneers who wrote them? His language becomes vague, when we realize that the two do not harmonize; however, since he also claims to support the Seventh-day Adventist Church structure and encourages people to not leave the church, it is reasonable to believe that it is the new theology in the book which he believes. We appreciate many of the brave positions this brother has taken in his ministry, such as his stand against evolution and against the lowering of lifestyle standards, and we certainly believe, whether we agree with all of his theology or not, that he is not guilty of anti-Semitism, and we encourage you to pray for him in this matter. We also encourage all, including this brother and those associated with him in his ministry, to consider the faith that the 1872 statement represented. It was this faith that Ellen White could write about, saying: 

Let none seek to tear away the foundations of our faith,—the foundations that were laid at the beginning of our work, by prayerful study of the Word and by revelation. Upon these foundations we have been building for more than fifty years. Men may suppose that they have found a new way, that they can lay a stronger foundation than that which has been laid; but this is a great deception. “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid.” [1 Corinthians 3:11.] In the past, many have undertaken to build a new faith, to establish new principles; but how long did their building stand? It soon fell; for it was not founded upon the Rock. (Gospel Workers, p. 307) 

In the future, deception of every kind is to arise, and we want solid ground for our feet. We want solid pillars for the building. Not one pin is to be removed from that which the Lord has established. The enemy will bring in false theories, such as the doctrine that there is no sanctuary. Tis is one of the points on which there will be a departing from the faith. Where shall we find safety unless it be in the truths that the Lord has been giving for the last fifty years? (The Review and Herald, May 25, 1905) 

If we count back fifty years, and include all the time between, we find that during this time the church was, as the North American Division has states, “distinctly non-Trinitarian.” Can we honestly stand without condemnation before God while we support teachings that do not match up to the truth God gave us? May we heed the call of Ellen White’s accompanying angel who said, “‘Woe to him who shall move a block or stir a pin of these messages’” (Early Writings, p. 258). Ellen White really meant what she said, and so should we. Let us not muddy the rivers of our history with confusing statements. If we reject what our pioneers taught on the basic fundamentals, let us be honest and say what we mean.    Editor 


From the File Cabinet of History

Froom to Sanders

 

Youth’s Corner 

Lessons I Learned from a Mutt Terrier

Phillip Keller was born in East Africa and trained to be a farmer. Phillip was also a wildlife photographer and naturalist. He was a cattle farmer and a sheep farmer. Phillip became known best, though, for his writing about Jesus Christ and his love for us. Some people felt his writing was so good that, by some standards, he is judged as the best devotional writer of the twentieth century. His writing was inspired by much serious biblical study, combined with thoughtful and prayerful meditation. His most famous book is entitled A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. Many have been greatly blessed by this first-hand account of how a real-life shepherd deals with sheep and the lessons to be learned from them.

My favorite book that Phillip Keller wrote, however, is Lessons from a Sheep Dog. This is a true story of a man and his dog, Lass, a border collie that seemed worthless and unable to be trained by her first owner. Then Phillip Keller took Lass and loved, tamed, and trained her until she became a magnificent and valuable sheepdog! 

But the story of Lass is not the only great dog story I know. In fact, God recently helped me to be a part of a great dog story that I want to tell you. It is the lessons I have learned from a precocious mutt terrier named Annie.

First I want to tell you how Annie came into my life, but to do that I need to tell you about my daughter, Heidi. Heidi is a very busy person. Usually she is a paramedic, which is someone who helps people who are injured or very sick. Sometimes she is a firefighter, but she is always an animal lover and friend of dogs! 

Now it happened that one day Heidi saw this little white terrier with a golden face and a golden area around her tail wandering near her medic station. The little puppy was not very old and did not have anyone to look after it. This little puppy would try to get food from the trash at the nearby McDonald restaurant or from any source she could. Apparently she had never been around any kind people, for she was very wild and could not be caught. Heidi’s heart went out to this little puppy, and she tried to catch it by offering her food, but Annie would not come close enough to be caught. Do you remember the story Jesus told of the woman with the lost coin? Jesus said, “Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it” (Luke 15:8)? Annie was sort of like the lost coin because someone was diligently looking for her and trying to find her.

One day, as Annie was crossing the road near the medic station, she was hit by a truck and seriously hurt. The truck had run over Annie’s hip, breaking it. Annie could not run away this time. However, just as this happened, Heidi received a call to quickly go in her ambulance to help someone very sick. What could she do? Quickly she begged one of her co-workers to gather the little dog from the road and keep it alive somehow until she returned from her call. That’s what her co-worker did, and when Heidi returned from her call, she took Annie to the veterinarian, and she prayed for the little dog, which she now named Annie. And do you know what happened? Annie got better! We are told that God “looks down from heaven upon the children of men; He sees their perplexities, and is acquainted with the circumstances of every experience of life” (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 484). God looks down upon you with pity and grace, wanting to help you, longing to help you, just as Heidi wanted to help Annie, but sometimes it is not until we are injured and helpless that we submit to his love and care. Oh, why do we wait, when all he wants to do is to help us? 

Heidi’s landlord was kind and allowed her to keep Annie while she was healing, but when she got better, and after doing things puppies sometimes do, like chewing up the landlord’s slippers, it was time for Annie to find a permanent home and that is when I came into the picture.

Heidi called to see if I could PLEASE take Annie. She knew that I would be just the match for this little precocious dog. I was not so sure, but to help both Heidi and Annie, I agreed to try. We decided to meet at a place about half way between where we each lived, and so I drove to the Taco Bell restaurant in Oceana to wait for Heidi and my new grandchild

Heidi came, we visited for a while, and then it was time for me to take Annie, her blanket, toys, food, and food dishes home. Annie was very nervous as she was placed in the passenger seat of my van. As Heidi began to drive away, Annie’s eyes, with a look of great pity and fright, followed her as she drove away. Annie then looked at me, as if to say “and now who are you?” 

Annie&Author To try to comfort this little dog that, by now, must have felt very out of place, I picked her up and put her on my lap for most of the trip home, driving with one hand and petting her with the other.

I could tell Annie needed a bath, but I did not realize how much she needed a bath until I got her home and saw a big brown area on my lap. After a very good round in the bathtub, with lots of strong soap, Annie was sparkling clean. Mind you, she did not really appreciate the bath process, perhaps because I was using such a strong soap, but when one is very dirty one needs a lot of help to get clean. And that is the way we are when we think about sin in our lives, boys and girls. Sin is rebellion against God. Sin is terrible, and there is nothing we can do to cleanse ourselves from sin, but the God of heaven took strong measures to cleanse us from sin by sending his only begotten Son to this world to die for us. We are told that “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Only the blood of Jesus can wash away our sins. If we have done wrong, we can tell Jesus and ask him to forgive us, and he will! “Our own efforts are of no avail to atone for sin or to renew the heart. Only the blood of Christ can atone for us; his grace alone can create in us a clean heart, and enable us to obey God’s law. In him is our only hope” (The Signs of the Times, February 9, 1891).

Not only did I wash Annie, but her poor blanket was in need of soap, too. After washing the blanket and preparing a bed in a basket placed beside my bed, we had our first night together.

Two more lessons I learned from this is that Christ accepts the unlovely and that things that are easier are not always better! At first Annie did not seem very lovable. She was dirty, and she stank. She did not trust me. She was not totally housebroken when she first came to me. She would require a certain amount of my time and effort to maintain her in a healthy and proper manner. In the same way, we come to Jesus dirty with sin and all of our wrong doing. Compared to God’s holy law, we stink! Many do not trust God, we have much that needs attention, and we are not worthy of God’s love, but he gave his Son for us anyway. God can see beyond the sin and dirt that we have and does not view us as we are, but rather what we might become by his grace.

The Bible says, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6–8).

Just as I could see beyond Annie’s dirt and problems, God sees well beyond our personal issues and pledges himself to help us and to be our keeper. “For Christ’s sake the Lord pardons those that fear Him. He does not see in them the vileness of the sinner. He recognizes in them the likeness of His Son, in whom they believe” (The Desire of Ages, 667).

It certainly would have been easier for me to have not adopted Annie. She required a lot of work at first, and even after she was cleaned and trained some, she would still require my attention. But love does not always look for the easiest way. The easiest ways in life may, at first, seem like the best way, but they seldom are the best. The good things in life are usually acquired with time and effort. It took time and much effort for Jesus to save humanity. The cross was not convenient for Jesus, but he “did not count heaven a place to be desired while we were lost. He left the heavenly courts for a life of reproach and insult, and a death of shame. He who was rich in heaven’s priceless treasure, became poor, that through His poverty we might be rich. We are to follow in the path He trod” (The Desire of Ages, pp. 416, 417). You see, love does the illogical. It took time to feed, walk, bathe, and care for Annie, but love is inconvenienced. It is not logical to spend our time, effort, and means on others, but love does.

At first I only took Annie for walks while she had her leash attached. I was afraid that she would run away. She certainly had little reason to trust me, and I wanted to keep her safe. Little by little, however, she began to warm to me, and I to her. After a week or so, I decided that maybe she could have some freedom and unleashed her from her chain. She bolted like a rocket, and I wondered if I would ever see her again, but after running a few big circles, she slowed down and stopped to look at me.

I called her, but she would not come to me. I approached her, and she would allow me to get close, but not close enough to grab her. She ran some more circles and ran back and forth. Finally after a couple hours of calling, pleading, and trying to entice her with treats, she finally allowed me to catch her. This became the norm for a while, but thankfully, the time needed to catch her got smaller and smaller quickly. You see, trust is not developed overnight or quickly. It takes time to learn to trust someone, even when they show that they have your best interests at heart. But as the weeks went by and Annie learned that I would be carefully feeding and caring for her with her best interests at heart, she began to trust me. Within a couple of months, we became best of friends as she learned to trust me, and I also learned to trust her.

Annie_Dog Annie was not an outside only dog or even a house dog; she was the everywhere-I-was-at dog. She became mine, and I became hers. When I would go to town for business, Annie would travel with me, riding in her basket on the front passenger seat. When I was outside working around, she would be near me. When I was at the office working, she would lie down on a rug beside my desk. Sometimes I would forget and allow my briefcase, papers, or books to be on Annie’s rug. At times like this, she would walk around, looking back and forth as to say, “Well, are you going to move your things soon?” If I missed her simple language, she would then attempt to lie down on one of my other briefcases that was lying on its side until I got the message and cleared out her rug area. Annie, or Annie Dog as she became known, was like my shadow. We ate together, with her favorite treat being home-made bread. She not only caught my heart, but the heart of my family, of those I work with, and of the rest of my church family.

Annie, being a pup, still carried its disadvantages for me. I, too, lost a pair of slippers to her puppy ways and a few baseball caps, as well. I am not sure why she liked these items so well, but if I failed to put them up, she would be sure to teach me another lesson of the need to be neat! 

Annie was very precocious and learned how to manipulate people and other dogs. Her stepbrother, Bunji, is a good example. Annie did not care for most doggie treats, but Bunji always welcomed any treat you gave him. Well, one day I offered each Bunji and Annie the same kind of treat. Annie had no interest in this treat, but as always, Bunji was ready and got a treat. Something distracted Bunji for a moment and while he was looking the other way, Annie quietly stepped in and took Bunji’s treat, even though she did not want it or even liked it. This soon happened a second time, with Bunji looking bewildered and unbelieving.

Annie’s lack of perfect obedience got her into a lot of trouble one day. I was visiting with a family of believers, and the husband of the home and I were going to go to a Bible study about half a mile away. Annie had visited this home before and knew her way around the yard well. Since it was not proper for her to attend a Bible study in someone else’s house, she would have to stay this time. As we were leaving I could tell she wanted to follow us out the long drive way toward the road. I stopped and firmly commanded Annie to stay. She stopped and sat, watching us leave, but I was concerned that she was not going to stay and so called back to ask the family to check on Annie and be sure she did not follow us. I received the news that there was already a loud dog fight going on. I quickly went back to find Annie about half way down the driveway (several hundred feet from the house) being attacked by two neighborhood dogs that were each about twice her size, She was being torn alive by these dogs! I stopped and without a second thought dove into the midst of the dogs, scaring the others dogs back for a minute and scooping up Annie in one quick movement. Annie was covered with mud and blood, and it was hard to know in what way she was injured. Giving her a gentle bath was the only way to know how badly she had been hurt. At first I thought that the wounds were mostly superficial, but later realized that she had indeed been hurt very badly. Her disobedience had cost her greatly.

If Annie had obeyed me, she would have stayed near the house, where the other dogs were less likely to venture. In like manner, young friends, obedience to God’s law keeps us safe and out of danger. God’s law is like a shield to protect God’s people. We are told, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: The righteous runneth into it, and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10). God is a mighty fortress of safety to those who believe and obey his word. God tells us that “if ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19). Never let anyone trick you into thinking that you can skip obeying your parents or God. Like Annie, just one case of disobedience can bring terrible results. Adam and Eve failed to obey God and look at the danger and death that has followed, not only for them, but all of the earth! “Our only safety is found in obedience to God’s Word, which has been given us as a sure guide and counselor” (The Review and Herald, February 1, 1906). So children, when your parents speak to you, listen! 

It took several weeks of healing and visits to the veterinarian and different surgeries to repair her wounds, but Annie began to slowly heal. She was truly a wonder dog. This no-backing-down, fearless terrier was on the road to recovery. She had to wear a coned neck collar to keep her from licking her stitches, but she adjusted well. Sadly for me, I had been scheduled to go overseas on a short mission trip shortly after Annie was injured, so I left her in the keeping of a family I knew would take good care of her. There were several calls from Europe and emails sent checking on her recovery. You see, when I had to first leave, Annie’s recovery was not, at that time, a promised event, but God was good to help her recover much while I was gone.

One morning not long ago, I let Annie out for her morning walk. This had become routine. She would exercise a little and soon come to my call. This morning, however, she did not come when first called. I figured that maybe she was just up in the woods for a short visit and would hear my call and soon be back. Shortly after this I called her again, and there was still no Annie. This continued all day. I called thinking that at any time she would come back, probably with her coat full of burrs which are so prevalent this time of year. But she never came in. I was very concerned now, and I began calling loudly in different directions for her to come home, but there was no response. I went into the woods and walked for miles searching and calling for her till after midnight. I was especially concerned because it was a cold frosty night, and she was still missing a lot of her fur that had been shaved for her surgeries. I slept outside that night in a sleeping bag in the yard in case she came back. She could lick my face to let me know she was there. That night was cold and lonely for me.

The next day I looked more, and others joined in the search and effort of finding Annie. We made posters with her picture and reward information that we put up in the post offices, stores, and various places. We called the animal shelters, checked door-to-door in the area, and placed an advertisement is a local paper and on the Internet (Facebook). To this day, we have not seen or had any confirmed sightings of Annie.

If you have ever lost a pet that you really loved, you know some of the heartbreak that Heidi, myself, and others who had grown to love Annie know. We all have cried tears that could fill buckets, but through it all we have had the comforting presence of Jesus to remind us that not a single sparrow falls upon the ground without our Father’s notice (Matthew 10:29).

The Value of Life 

In reflection I can see many lessons that God used this special dog to teach, clarify, or deepen. The first of those lessons is the value of life, not simply human life, but life. Life is a gift of God, and I know that some people made fun of the way I showed affection to Annie by holding and cuddling her. The reality is that we live in a world that is not sensitive to sin and death. Death, disease, and sin are terrible things, but because we all live in a world filled with these things, we become used to them, as if they were meant to be a part of life. This was not so from the beginning. God never wanted man to experience death, disease, or sin.

When you use your hands in a certain task over and over, you develop what are called calluses. These areas are where pain was at one time felt, but after time, the sensitive skin has been replaced with a type of hard skin that does not feel pain easily. We live in a callused world and have lost a great degree of our ability to love and be touched by others, but this was not always true. Things were very different for our first parents in the Garden of Eden who did not have war movies to watch or daily violence in the streets to avoid. Ellen White gives us some wonderful insight when she writes: 

As they [Adam and Eve] witnessed in drooping flower and falling leaf the first signs of decay, Adam and his companion mourned more deeply than men now mourn over their dead. The death of the frail, delicate flowers was indeed a cause of sorrow; but when the goodly trees cast off their leaves, the scene brought vividly to mind the stern fact that death is the portion of every living thing. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 62; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted) 

The intelligence displayed by many dumb animals approaches so closely to human intelligence that it is a mystery. The animals see and hear and love and fear and suffer. They use their organs far more faithfully than many human beings use theirs. They manifest sympathy and tenderness toward their companions in suffering. Many animals show an affection for those who have charge of them, far superior to the affection shown by some of the human race. They form attachments for man which are not broken without great suffering to them. (The Ministry of Healing, pp. 315, 316) 

We may cry and feel badly when our pets die or leave us. It is okay to cry at those times and even to cry for those who weep, for the Bible says: “Weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15).

All Things Are Replaceable except Life

Another lesson I learned is that anything is replaceable, except life, and only God gives life. “Know ye that the Lord he is God: It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves” (Psalm 100:3). In the last thirty-five years, I have lived in eight houses and owned at least eleven cars, each being replaced with the next. We buy clothes one year and either grow out of them or they wear out and have to be replaced. All the things we use at some time or the other can, and will be, replaced, except life. I may have another house some day and another car or two, but I can never have another Annie. Each life is unique and a precious gift from God that should be treasured and valued.

All that we have on this planet and in this life is going to burn up some day. Why not put our love and affections upon God, the giver of life and then, as we can, upon the life with which he has surrounded us.

Love Pays the Redemption Price

The posters for Annie included a reward for her return. I did this hoping to attract more attention to the posters and, thus, to Annie. I have a house that is well-made. I did not personally hammer every nail and every board, but I certainly did the great majority of the nailing, lifting, and work that was involved in making the house. At the time I was beginning to build the house, I was teaching school during the day from 7:10 am till 3:30 pm. After school I would drive to the house site and work till after midnight, and sometimes later, go home and sleep a little bit, go to school the next morning and the cycle would begin again. So I have a lot of time invested in the house. I had a small retirement fund and withdrew all the money from to buy the materials in the house. But if I could sign the deed of the house over for Annie, I would put my signature upon the line quickly. This may sound very irrational to most, but you see, love pays the redemption price. Some day when Jesus comes, my house will deteriorate away and if there is anything left at the end of the one thousand years, it will burn up. So as I see it, it is not as valuable as most think.

The good news is that God did something that seemed very irrational to others. He gave his only begotten Son to die for our sins because he loved us so much. God paid the redemption price for us and though the price was very high, he was satisfied with the exchange. Peter writes, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18, 19).

When the atonement is viewed correctly, when we realize the great price that has been paid to rescue sinful man from eternal death, the salvation of souls will be felt to be of infinite value. In comparison with the worth of everlasting life, everything else sinks into insignificance. (Bible Echo, January 1, 1887)

Life Is Not Fair

The morning of November 12, 2012, was the last time I saw Annie. Just the day before I was looking at a GPS tracking device that could be put on a dog’s collar. I thought about getting one for Annie just in case she got lost or came up missing, but I was a day too late! Now she was gone and there was no chance to say goodbye, no knowledge of her whereabouts, no closure. To me, life did not seem fair, but then I remembered that we are all partakers of the effects of Adam’s sin (not guilt). We all have diseased bodies and fallen natures. We may truthfully say that since we were not in the Garden of Eden, our suffering today is not fair. That is true, but sin and Satan are not fair! God is not the bad guy. I have been tempted by Satan to be mad at God. Maybe you have been tempted to be upset with God, when a pet dies or something in life seems to turn sour, but let us never blame God. He is the author of only good things. Satan is the one who is the murderer from the beginning: “He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him” (John 8:44).

Not To Live by Feelings

Sometimes we feel very badly about things in life. Our pets die, and we are sad. Maybe a brother or sister has died; maybe your parents are not happy with each other anymore and have divorced. All of these things make us sad, but we should not blame God for these things because they grieve his heart, too. The lesson is that we must not live by our feelings, but only by faith in the sure, unchanging word of God. “For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), and faith is learning to trust the word of God. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1), and “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The Bible is full of encouragement that God is good, just, and righteous. Satan wants to use our feelings to lead us to distrust God and to not have faith. To trust our feelings instead of the Word of God is very dangerous; it is better to trust the Bible.

Love Is Pained by Separation

When you love someone, you feel pain when separated. The pain that is caused by Annie being gone is not simply a matter of the time involved. When I was overseas, I have been away from her for a longer period. When the separation may be permanent, though, then it becomes very painful. The Bible says that it is sin that brings separation between us and God (Isaiah 59:2). God loves with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3), and he knows better than any the value of life. His heart will be pained through eternity over those who are lost. So let us each determine that we will give our hearts to Jesus. We certainly do not want to be lost and we do not want to bring grief and hurt to the heart of God. LIFE IS WORTHWHILE 

Today Is the Day of Salvation and the Day To Do Good Deed

The Bible teaches us that we need to seek God daily. Life can be fragile at times, and we have no promise that we will be alive tomorrow. We have no promise that our friends or family will be alive and well tomorrow. Therefore, we should make the most of every day we have. We need to live and pray like it is our last day. It might be.

After Annie was injured by the two big dogs, many people prayed for her. I certainly prayed a lot for her while she was recovering; however, I do not remember specifically praying for her on the morning of November 12. Would it have made a difference in the plan of God? I do not know, but it might have. The Bible tells us that the patriarch Job prayed for and made offerings for his children (Job 1:5), but it also tells us that God allowed tragedy to come to them (Job 1:18, 19). Sometimes, in the bigger picture of things, we do not understand the great workings of God, but though we do not understand we can, and must trust, him. And while we have others with us, we should each day do what we can to bring happiness and blessings to them, for we may not have the same chance tomorrow that we have today.

The Bible tells us of the story of a woman whose life was so twisted and so bad that Jesus had to cast seven demons from her. She greatly loved Jesus and listened closely to his teachings. More than even the apostles, she understood that Jesus would be put to death by the religious leaders. Somehow she acquired a great sum of money and bought very costly spices and ointments to anoint Christ’s body at his burial, but as the time drew near, she realized that Jesus would know no benefit from this act of love. She decided to anoint him while she could.

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. (Matthew 26:6–12) 

The other disciples could only see waste in Mary’s actions, but Mary’s love compelled her to act, and Jesus appreciated her love. Sometimes critics cannot appreciate and see the value of what you do for others, but do not let their unkind words or ignorance stop you from doing good deeds for others. Treat others each day like it might be their last, for you do not know, it might be.

God Can Use Anyone for His Service

One of the great lessons I learned from Annie was that God can use anyone for his service. If he could use a little mutt terrier to teach me so much and to help me to understand love, he can use anybody, if we will simply surrender our lives to be used by his mighty and skillful hands. The Bible says that we are to yield ourselves to be “instruments of righteousness” in his hands (Romans 6:13). To make this simple, let’s think of a musical instrument, like a piano. What kind of sounds does it make? Well, that depends upon who is playing this instrument. If I am playing, it will sound terrible, for I have never taken lessons to play the piano and know very little about music. But let a Rachmaninov, Horowitz, or Mozart sit at the very same instrument, and it will produce the most beautiful sounds. How can that be? It is upon the same kind of piano that I produce terrible music. The difference is not the instrument, but the one who uses the instrument! Now God is the greatest master workman, and he can take even the most unpromising of tools, like you and me, and make them produce a wonderful good, if we will just surrender to him.

Annie was a great instrument that taught me so much. True, she was not as obedient as I might have liked her, such as when she would sit, instead of coming when I called, and wait for me to come get her, but maybe that was the lesson of patience for me that God whispered into her ear to teach me, and she was obedient to the highest Master. If God can speak through an ass, as he did with Balaam’s animal (Numbers 22:28), he certainly can speak through a dog and, most importantly for us, he can speak through you! The key is submitting to be the tool of God to do the work that he determines to be the best work for us.

If I could have the liberty to paraphrase Mr. Keller for a minute, let me just say that this was a simple story about a special dog who shared life with me this last year. Though she bore a very ordinary name—Annie—she was in fact a most extraordinary dog. Only such a dog would receive a welcome invitation INSIDE Granny Ann’s house! My memories of her companionship, loyalty, and love will linger, as long as I have memory, as colorful recollections. She taught me: 

I still pray for Annie, and I want you to please pray for her, too. We don’t know what has happened to her, so we have hope that she will still someday, in some way, come home. Hope is a very important thing, it keeps us going when many other things fail. Sir Ernest Shackleton planned the first ever crossing of Antarctia in 1914, but before he could get to land, his ship, the Endurance, was crushed by ice in the Weddell Sea. For over a year this ship and men drifted on an ice flow without contact with the rest of the world. Nobody knew what had happened to them and most had little hope of their returning. If England had known what had happened, they would have had even less hope! It was at that time like being stranded on the moon without a rocket ship, but Shackleton would not lose hope and through a series of events that could only be described as a miracle, he was able to get all of his men from the Endurance back to safety! 

God has also used my love for Annie to help me to understand that it is often in the darkest hour that Jesus is the closest to us, for he cares for us—for me and for you. It is his presence which gives peace. It is his nearness which gives hope. It is his protection which gives life.

Amid this he enjoys our company, just as we do our little friends’ company. He loves to have us alongside. He, too, finds consolation in the eager, alert watchfulness of his friends. In the midst of our trials or even danger, there is delight. We need not be alarmed or anxious. He is here! All is well between us! Praise his wondrous name!” 

Sometimes we weep with those who weep, but never forget, friends, that God is good. So, live today; life is worth living and is wonderful, if you have Jesus to care for you, and maybe you also have a special four-legged friend whom God uses to help you learn the precious lessons of life. Allen Stump

 

You may view the sermon this story was taken from at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sow8ighOqVI. It is also offered in a lower bandwidth for those with slow connections at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIQJ73N9mKI.


Supreme Court Will Hear Homosexual Marriage Cases

By Allen Stump 

(Titles have a way of getting one’s attention, if used properly. This article’s title may not seem too out of the ordinary, but if you have Internet access, try this: Google or search for the following phrase: news homosexual marriage. You will find many hits, but you will fail to find one with the title homosexual marriage. There will be references to same-sex marriage and gay marriage but not any references that speak of homosexual marriage. You see, the media is afraid to say the now politically incorrect, but very correct, term homosexual marriage. According to the Bible, same-sex encounters are condemned in the strongest language (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; etc.). The only place in the Bible the term gay is used is James 2:3 and has nothing to do with homosexual lifestyle. The term same-sex is also used a great deal today, but it and gay blur the true picture, making this sin appear to be less sinful and, in fact, acceptable. Therefore, this study will consistently use the term homosexual. However, we wish to make a point perfectly clear. While God hates the sin of homosexuality, God and the true Christian love sinners and want them to repent and be saved in God’s kingdom. While we will not use the common media terms for homosexuals, neither do we believe it is proper and right to use some of the common derogatory terms that are common for homosexuals. The fact is we are all sinners who may be saved by grace through faith, and we should extend to all human beings dignity and respect, for each is precious to Jesus who died for them.  Editor

The Supreme Court hearings on the Obama health care law—Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—was certainly one of the most important cases that has ever come before the United States Supreme Court. After three days of hearings and months of deliberations, the Court, in the narrowest of margins, upheld the law. This importance of this landmark case increased with the reelection of President Obama. Mitt Romney had promised to try to overturn the law and, as that possible challenge is no longer a threat, the law appears poised to run its course.

As important as the case about the health care law was, it may hold second fiddle in importance to two cases the court has agreed to hear this coming term. On December 7, 2012, the court announced that it had agreed to take up California’s ban on homosexual marriage known as Proposition 8, and will also decide on a separate dispute about federal benefits for legally married homosexual couples. Currently thirty states have constitutional provisions against homosexual marriage. Nine states (Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont; with Maine, Maryland, and Washington voting this last election) have provisions for homosexual marriages. The District of Columbia also has a provision for homosexual marriage.

Some consider this to be perhaps the most significant term in decades for the court involving civil rights. Although the official docket has not been set yet, the homosexual marriage cases probably will be argued in March. As with most cases, a decision will not be likely until the end of June.

The technical details are widely available, so we will not go into the details in this article, but there are some points that we wish to discuss. The United States Constitution never mentions marriage. The Tenth Amendment states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Since marriage is not mentioned in the Constitution, it can be argued that anything dealing with marriage is to be controlled only by the states. The Defense of Marriage Act, the law known as DOMA, defines marriage for federal purposes as unions exclusively between a man and woman. At issue in this case is whether the federal Defense of Marriage Act violates equal protection guarantees in the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause, as applied to homosexual couples legally married under the laws of their own state. However, while all states give reciprocity to each other in recognizing marriage between heterosexual couples, not all do between homosexual couples. This kind of marital limbo may have compelled the Supreme Court justices to enter into the discussion on the matter.

The history of marriage is founded in the Bible. Nowhere but in the Bible do we have the authority to determine what marriage is and to whom this institution belongs. The Bible, in no chapter or verse, ever requires a marriage license or gives the authority to any civil institution to license marriage. In fact, the history of civil-government-issued marriage licenses in the United States shows that such licensing was founded on racism as was an attempt to avoid interracial marriages.

In the United States, until the mid-19th century, common-law marriages were recognized as valid, but thereafter some states began to invalidate common-law marriages. Common-law marriages, if recognized, are valid, notwithstanding the absence of a marriage license. The requirement for a marriage license was used as a mechanism to prohibit whites from marrying blacks, mulattos, Japanese, Chinese, Native Americans Mongolians, Malays, or Filipinos. By the 1920s, 38 states used the mechanism, however it is rare for the licensing process to be used in this manner today. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage_license’ accessed December 18, 2012) 

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, the word license is defined as a “certificate or the document itself which gives permission” (Revised Fourth edition, p. 1067), and defines marriage License as: 

A license or permission granted by public authority to persons who intend to intermarry usually addressed to the minister or magistrate who is to perform the ceremony, or, in general terms, to anyone authorized to solemnize marriages. By statute in some jurisdictions it is made an essential prerequisite to the lawful solemnization of marriage. (Ibid., p. 1124) 

Black’s Law Dictionary was first published in 1891 and reflects the true history and view of the marriage license from earlier times. I write this to demonstrate that couples in the United States have not always been required to obtain permission from the government to fulfill a biblical ordinance.

Today, marriage has become an institution of the state, and that is why, when a couple chooses to divorce, it is the state that grants the divorce and that determines who will receive any jointly-held assets, as well as who the primary guardian of the children is because, here again, the state has usurped the authority to claim that it is the final owner of the children and, therefore, it will grant guardianship to the parent it chooses.

My issue here is not to take a large detour to the issue of marriage licenses—that is a worthy issue of study—but to demonstrate that it is not the biblical teaching to allow the state to control a sacred institution, and history will confirm that society as a whole has agreed with that view until relatively recent times. It is sad and terrible how Satan has deceived people on this topic and even reversed this concept in the eyes of some. For example, I know of Christians who believe that it is okay, proper, and even best to have a civil wedding service for marriage, even if there is no sacred service. They account the right of the state to decide if the marriage is binding or not and think with horror upon a sacred marriage service that is done without a marriage license from the state and do not consider this marriage to be as binding, even if it is done publically by committed Christians who understand the binding nature of marriage and who will not divorce, regardless or not of state permission.

There can be little doubt how Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Ginsburg will vote on these issues, with Bryer leaning in their direction. There also seems little doubt how Kennedy, Thomas, Scalia, and Alito will vote. It would appear that Roberts will, like in the health care case, be the swing vote. The Supreme Court, however, has on occasions handed down rulings that were surprising.

While it is possible the justices might vote to send the legislation back to the lower courts on the grounds of the Tenth Amendment, that seems unlikely, for they were not forced to take the case. We will have to wait to see what happens.

Americans are currently almost evenly split on the issue, with 50% favoring homosexual marriage, 48% against it, and 2% undecided. This is certainly a drastic change from sixteen years ago, when, in 1996, only 27% of the people in favor of homosexual marriages. This number did rise some for the next eight years, and then in early 2005 it dropped to 28%, a figure very near where it had been since 1996. However, since 2006 a significant number of people have shifted on the issue. Reporter George Will noted the demographics of what is happening, when he recently stated: 

“There is something like an emerging consensus,” Will said, noting voters in three states recently endorsed same-sex marriage initiatives. “Quite literally, the opposition to gay marriage is dying. It’s old people.” (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/12/george-will-quite-literally-the-opposition-to-gay-marriage-is-dying/; accessed December 18, 2012) 

Polls show that younger people favor homosexual marriage. President Obama is now the first president to publically endorse homosexual marriage, and change may be coming to even more churches. Democratic strategist, James Carville, stated that the 2012 election marked a “profound” (Ibid.) shift on the controversial issue.

“Look in Salt Lake City, the 12 Apostles. The Mormon Church after the election says, well, ‘Maybe we’re going to change our position on homosexuality is a choice. You’re not born that way,’” (Ibid.) 

So how does all this play into the final, last-day events, when the United States will become more religious and institute oppressive laws against the Ten Commandments (Revelation 13:11–18)? With a growing liberalism on the issue of homosexuality and a lack of reverence for Sunday, the evangelic churches seem powerless to stop the wave of iniquity threatening our country and the world. Something is going to happen or a chain of events will happen that will drive the people to their god and the worship of their god as the only hope possible. It might be a war, a terrible economic depression, or perhaps a chain of events such as the terrible school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, last month combined with several other such happenings. Under such circumstances, the principle of the prince of darkness will be in full force: “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life” (Job 2:4). Certainly a nation’s approval of the lifestyle of Sodom and the violation of the seventh commandment would be an excuse for professed Christians to call for stern measures of national repentance, and if the populous really believed that change would return the favor of God upon the country, would stop national tragedies from happening, and would return prosperity, they will be willing to accept a national Sunday law. The argument could be made that a law against the homosexual activity will not be needed if we just get the sodomites into church, for they will change. If we can just get the immoral people whose lives have brought the nation to despair into church, the church will change them. Therefore, a Sunday worship law would be the one law that could be viewed as a fix-all for all the different problems.

Is the time fully ripe for the very final events to take place? Only God knows for sure, but we are very close. There are technical issues that would allow the Supreme Court to not bring a decision, and if a decision is reached it is sure to be close. The Spirit of Prophecy gives an interesting insight into the downfall of ancient Israel: 

During the years of Solomon’s apostasy, the spiritual decline of Israel was rapid. How could it have been otherwise, when their king united with satanic agencies? Through these agencies the enemy worked to confuse the minds of the people in regard to true and false worship. They became an easy prey. It came to be a common practise to intermarry with the heathen. The Israelites rapidly lost their abhorrence of idolatry. Heathen customs were introduced. Idolatrous mothers brought their children up to observe heathen rites. The Hebrew faith was fast becoming a mixture of confused ideas. Commerce with other nations brought the Israelites into intimate contact with those who had no love for God, and their own love for him was greatly lessened. Their keen sense of the high and holy character of God was deadened. Refusing to follow in the path of obedience, they transferred their allegiance to Satan. The enemy rejoiced in his success in effacing the divine image from the minds of the people that God had chosen as his representatives. Through intermarriage with idolaters and constant association with them, Satan brought about that for which he had long been working,—a national apostasy. (The Review and Herald, February 1, 1906; all emphasis supplied) 

Paul says, concerning the experiences of the children of Israel: “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). The marriages of even heterosexual people can lead to great danger, if one is an unbeliever. How much more danger would there be from homosexual marriages? We have also been told: 

Our land is in jeopardy. The time is drawing on when its legislators shall so abjure the principles of Protestantism as to give countenance to Romish apostasy. The people for whom God has so marvelously wrought, strengthening them to throw off the galling yoke of popery, will by a national act give vigor to the corrupt faith of Rome, and thus arouse the tyranny which only waits for a touch to start again into cruelty and despotism. With rapid steps are we already approaching this period. When Protestant churches shall seek the support of the secular power, thus following the example of that apostate church, for opposing which their ancestors endured the fiercest persecution, then will there be a national apostasy which will end only in national ruin. (Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, p. 410)


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West Virginia & Youth Camp Meeting Announcements

Summer camp meeting time is still several months away, but we wanted to announce the dates for the West Virginia camp meeting now, so you can mark your calendars and plan to attend. Camp meeting is to begin Tuesday, June 26 and run through Saturday night, June 30. We encourage all to plan to come and to share with us in the revival experience.

Last year, in connection with the Pacific Virtual Fellowship, we hosted a youth camp meeting in the western part of the United States. This year we have been requested to have one in the eastern part of the United States, and we are taking this into serious consideration. If you have any suggestions, we would welcome them and ask you to contact us soon, so that we might plan accordingly.

“These camp meetings are of importance. They cost something. … For fear of losing a little of this world’s gain, some let these precious privileges come and go as though they were of but very little importance. Let all who profess to believe the truth respect every privilege that God offers them to obtain clearer views of His truth and His requirements, and the necessary preparation for His coming. A calm, cheerful, and obedient trust in God is what He requires” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 601).


Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published monthly by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, HC 64 Box 128-B, Welch WV 24801-9606. U.S.A. It is sent free upon request. The paper is dedicated to the propagation and restoration of the principles of truth that God gave to the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers. Duplication is not only permitted, but strongly encouraged. This issue, with other gospel literature we publish, can be found at our web site. The url is: http://www.smyrna.org. Phone: (304) 732-9204. Fax: (304) 732-7322.