What Kind of Christian Will We Be in 2012?
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A friend of mine tells the story of the time when he was on a train filled with other academy students, returning home for a term break. It was one of those trains where the carriages comprised individual compartments, called “dog boxes” in Australian parlance. Students, being students, were making the most of these dog boxes after a term of enforced “do not touch!”

For some reason my friend found himself alone, and the guard, feeling a bit sorry for him, started up a conversation. Naturally the conversation turned to Seventh-day Adventists and what they did and did not do. After listening to my friend’s explanation the guard exclaimed, “You Adventists are weird. You don’t drink! You don’t smoke! You don’t play footy on Saturday! You don’t bet on the races! But judging by the behaviour of this mob (referring to the other students on the train), you sure do know how to smooch!”

And that is how many people do see Adventists (and Christians) – the Don’t people. When I think back over our Sabbath School discussion forums over the past fifteen or so years1, it seems that we spend a lot of time talking about restrictive behaviour. While I do not deny the need for Don’ts, we could benefit from thinking seriously about how we sound when we dwell on the negatives.

It seems that the experience of some Seventh-day Adventists is a bit like walking in a park full of beautiful flowers, splendid trees, peaceful waters and restful lawns, while all the time thinking about avoiding stepping into a pile of dog poo! Admittedly a single step in a dog poo is likely to flavor the rest of our day and it is something to be avoided, but the purpose of visiting the park is not to avoid dog poo but to enjoy the beauty and peace of the park.

There is a text that comes to mind:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Phil. 4:8

This does not mean that we ignore the dog poo, but it does mean that we need to get a perspective on things. If we fill our conversation about avoiding sin, we have little time left to talk about the gift of grace from God.

The Gospel is good news and it is worth exploring ways to emphasize its positives. We need to celebrate 2 our Christianity in a way that makes it attractive to others. We can do this without compromising our standards.

For instance, too often our discussions about Sabbath keeping are about what we can or cannot do. Food preparation, travel, guarding the edges, whether to have sex or not – you know how the discussion goes. How much better our conversation would go if we could talk about what we do on Sabbath? There are so many good positive things that we can do on Sabbath, that, if we discussed and promoted them, would leave little time for the Don’ts. Maybe a lot of you would not get too excited by a Sabbath afternoon spent watching an Osprey catch a fish and eat it, but for a couple of us keen bird watchers, such an experience is both enjoyable and appropriate. I’m sure you could give many different examples. (Why not share them in the Comments section?)

When we talk about food, how much of our conversation is about what we cannot eat? I have great respect for the CHIP program3. In New Zealand recently Seventh-day Adventists involved in CHIP, have taken the initiative of promoting good healthy food. The food that they are promoting looks good, tastes great, and it is good for you. I have to give credit to my sister for some of this. When I was a kid I thought she was stupid. Now she can produce these amazing creative food ideas that it is worth the plane ticket back to New Zealand (and even playing roulette with the Christchurch earthquakes) to taste her delicious food. This is inspiring stuff, and even I have taken up the challenge to explore new tastes and food presentations. We do not need to be negative and restrictive about our diet. There are so many good healthy tastes to explore and develop.

Let us resolve to creatively enjoy our Christian experience in 2012. Positive Christianity is much more attractive than negative Christianity.

I would be delighted to hear from you about your positive experiences with the Lord as a Seventh-day Adventist Christian.

This is the day the LORD has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24 NKJV

  1. This includes the discussion list and this blog
  2. Forget the usual baggage we associate with the word celebrate
  3. Also see Adventist Chip Online North America and some Recipes
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What Kind of Christian Will We Be in 2012? — 34 Comments

  1. Maurice,

    I like what you said here but instead of using dog litter perhaps a better illustration would be to concentrate on all the dead branches on the trees and brown spots on the lawns. To me it's like looking at a partially filled glass of water and wondering whether it is half full or half empty. The focus is important.

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  2. Not to be a killjoy, as all said is good, but under an understanding that sin, any, is not accepted. Focus on it or not. People are people and some touch, some hear and etc. into their own understanding. But as God so commended, John the Revelator, for the message. Repent and be Baptized (recognize, death to it/not to repeat). Here, some will need the reminder, others, as God, can forget forever. Priority comes the recognition. And this requires the Holy Spirit. AS does the power within the Sabbath itself, created for man and not man to it. So much under grace but in the order needed to recognize and avoid the dog droppings on our path.

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    • Ron, while I understand your perspective, I think the author is pointing out that we need to shift our focus from "Thou shall not kill" or "Thou shall not bear false whitness against thy neighbour" to " Love thy neighbour as thyself" or we will become like the scribes and pharisees of old. They made the sabbath a burden for jews of old. However, should in case we let slip and "bear false whitness", we need not worry about leaving that flavour on the remainder of our afternoon because "where sin is found, grace and mercy abounds."

      Remember, being a Seventh Day Adventist christian is not a one day thing. We should throughout the course of the week 'binding the Word in every avenue of our minds' that we might like David say "Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee." So instead of being like Ebenezer Scrooge with the church manual, we will be able to focus on spending time with God in whatever capacity brings us closer to Him, because "Oh love of God how strong and true, eternal and yet ever new" is the driving force for us. Then we might be able to put down the 'don't' and like Jesus, 'do good on the sabbath'.

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  3. There is nothing as beautiful as a Sabbath under the trees in the park overlooking the ocean and spreading a picnic on the grass. Or feeding the ducks on a Sabbath afternoon. Thanks for the thoughts and happy 2012!

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    • Amen Corinthia! You took the words out of my mouth. Some of my best Sabbath memories are at the lake in Michigan when I was about 6, listening to Heritage Bears, feeding the ducks and fascinating myself with black/grey sand. I'm from Barbados and live in the Caribbean now so I only knew white sandy beaches. Even now I am so grateful for Sabbaths when I can head to some of the more secluded beaches and just rest, enjoy nature, chat about something spiritual and eat sea-grapes. That is such a wonderful experience and my friends who aren't christian are always happy to come along and keep the sabbath with us and get exposed to a relationship and knowledge of the wonderful God that made it all.

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  4. There is need to strike a balance in our Christian life. We need to expose sin as it is but we also need to glorify God. Infact without knowing what is Good we would not know sin and vice versa.

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  5. I was a Christian in 1993 because religion was all I knew but one Sabbath morning changed all that completely:
    I was on a personal quest to see the sun rise over the beach when I was in Florida(U.S.A.). I was so ecstatic when it happened I asked God how could I share this beautiful experience with someone and I also asked how can I share God with someone when I can't even see God.

    What happened next made this the most memorable Sabbath ever. God 'showed up'!

    This was as close to a 'Garden of Eden experience' as I could hope for. As I looked across the water I knew that there was so much more of the Gulf of Mexico that
    remained unseen (because of the curvature of the earth) and that it existed whether I see it or not. The Spirit of God caused me to think: My eyes saw the sun rise but my spirit understood its beauty, my eyes saw only a portion of the Gulf of Mexico but my Spirit-given knowledge revealed more, my physical senses showed the creation but only faith showed me its Creator.

    Surely, I wanted to see more creation but after that morning I wanted to know more about the Father Creator. I also learned that morning, if I seek the Creator first that all the creation I seek will be added unto me. Just like in the beginning with Adam and Eve, I too, can love God without legalistic (religious) thinking of how to observe His commandments. All these years later I know now love is key in a relationship with God and man and the Spirit of love is key to the 10 commandments.

    The Christian I'll be in 2012 is hopefully the same one I was in 1993, meeting God and looking to introduce Him to others. Praise God because he loved us enough to not leave us wondering on a beach without the Comforter (His Spirit). Like Paul,I do appreciate
    my encounter with the Spirit of the Lord.

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      • I highly recommend you visit Ft.Walton Beach/
        Destin area.There are some very beautiful sunrises and sunsets any day but overcasts.
        Also,there are endangered sea-turtles,dolphins
        at play,and sugar-white sands bordering blue-
        green waters. And these are just a few of the
        marvels of the area that show just how creative
        is our Father-Creator. Yes,one can witness the
        beauty of the sunrise in that particular region
        of the Gulf.

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  6. On of my favourite Sabbath afternoon activities is one which has become well established between me and my best roommate and buddy. We would always after lunch sit and have some of the best and most moving discussions on the grace of God through out our lives. Sometimes I take for granted the blessing I had received and I forget exactly how much I have to be thankful for, but she always does a brilliant job of helping me to remember. The Sabbath afternoon discussions are always a highlight of my week whether we have them when we are alone or when she invites a guess for lunch (something she was constantly doing). These discussions especially when I allowed her to convince me to take a walk as we talked were always a helpful reminder during the week to be of why I choose the Christian life.

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  7. Only a living relationship with Christ liberates a Christian from the "Don'ts" of pharisaical lifestyle.
    Could it be though that just like a growing child, parents have to draw the boundaries for the child's safety? Much like God instructing Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:16-17 "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying , Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat : But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Unfortunately, the "Don'ts" seem to encourage Christians to push against the boundaries to our demise. The good news (gospel) is, Jesus(the truth) set us free. (John 8:32)
    He said in John 13:35 "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
    May this New Year 2012 find me surrendered to God's will to encourage others in this Christian journey.

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    • I agree very much with you 'Learning 2012'. I also have learned that many of our "do nots" and our "dos" serve
      the same purpose as a car's steering-wheel. The steering
      -wheel does not stop the journey,it just keeps us from
      getting off track and from going around in circles.

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    • Living the lifestyle as a Seventh-day Adventist Christians, is the best tool we can use in witnessing to others. The world should see your peculiarity as compared to rest of the world. One does not need to over emphasize the don'ts, but the benefits of living it.

      I have experienced where someone at my work place, at elevators, at grocery line ups where someone asked me if I am a Christian.

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  8. I think this is a great idea!

    I became a Seventh Day Adventist when I was 22, but I still hold many of my close friends dear to me that I made while at University, who are not Adventist. They are good people, and I pray that my lifestyle can influence them.

    Adventists are amazingly active and creative people. We're fun, and we get out and do things. But you would never know that by how we talk about our faith, and what we can't do. Often times when people find out that I'm Adventist, they ask "So what do you do for fun?" In other words, how can you possibly enjoy life?

    When my Non-Adventists friends come and visit and spend time with me and my friends, they have the time of their life. They are amazed at what we do regardless of all the "restrictions" of our faith. What I've come to realize, is that our society (media) only teach two ways to have fun: drink and have sex.

    My girlfriends are now in their late 20's early 30's and well, don't know what to do with themselves. I am convinced that people "go out" because they don't know how else to have fun, but they don't actually enjoy themselves. But that's what you do on a Friday night, you go out, right?

    As witnesses, showing our brothers and sisters who have not yet come to Christ that there is another way in the world. The blessings of a healthy, active life out in nature. Or one of the biggest blessings of showing God's love through helping others and your community. The love of being surrounded by people who truly care about you and are out trying to make a difference.

    While my non-Christian friends may be a bit afraid of religion, the greatest witness I have to show them God's love is introducing them to my Christian friends, thereby showing them another way and hopefully opening the door to faith for them.

    This doesn't mean we need to position ourselves as a way to have fun, it just means that telling people about how yummy our food is, how great we feel, the difference we make in our community and the great times and love we share with our brothers and sisters is possibly more effective than telling them what we can't do. Many people can't see what's wrong with their life or what's bad until they taste the love and goodness of a Christian life.

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    • I do understand and faced the same situations(only 25 years
      earlier than you);I did not have the benefit of someone
      telling me "seek you first the kingdom of God and His
      faithfulness and all sorts of fun,wisdom,and prosperity will
      be added along our journey through life.But,never travel
      through life alone;in all our ways acknowledge Him and he
      will direct our paths through this life".I've not heard enough sermons that make Bible-truth applicable to our everyday modern life but I do know there's a lot of Bible-truth in a relationship with our God.The two are
      inseparable.Any mention of religion often scares away
      both friend and stranger but when I mention relationship
      with the Almighty,people are at least curious. My "Big-bang
      theorist friends,my evolutionist friends,and a couple of my
      atheistic neighbors have yet to answer my challenge: While all creatures,with the ability to reproduce,always
      reproduce a lesser version of the parents(children from
      adults,kittens from cats,creature from Creator,etc.)Why
      does mankind insist we came from LESS than ourselves?
      While I wait on these people to answer this simple question,I still love these neighbors.How Godly is that?!!

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  9. I would like to make comment on what has been said by Maurice that its like looking at a half filled glass of water where you are not sure whether it is full or half full. We need to ensure the message have reached all the corners by working together as a team.

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  10. Way to go Bella - sounds right on track with what we just studied from Galatians last quarter. We need a nanny as we grow up as followers of Christ.

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  11. I'm from the older generation and my best way to minister on sabbath is to eye on single visitors, or church members specially, non-adventists, to our home for a simple lunch, usually prepared ahead of time, that way we can become more acquianted with them. And we talk about things that they bring up in conversation, freely. the Holy Spirit always leads, if we let Him. No negative ideas, no pressures. We just love their company and want them to want to come back and see us. Seems like the generation now has shunnned from this practice. I think we should all try to be more hospitable to people around specially to those who are searching! And maybe, just maybe, nonadventist will look at us as loving/positive Sabbathkeepers. God bless us all in ministering to others this 2012!

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  12. Extention of Revival and reformation is indicative of need for more gospel outreach. Many times SDAs spend too much Sabbath time preaching to ourselves leaving the non-SDA grope in the dark. While Sabbath is perfect day to plan spending with non-SDA fellows and going on out reach, some of us fret and excuse ourselves to watching nature or taking nature walk in the name of appreciating creation and feel the six days God has given are insufficient but nip from Holy hours to do this. Matt 24:20 is sure warning (flight on sabbath=avoid).
    After all the signs in the Earth (land and sea) in 2011, 2012 is well poised as the President (NCW) has time and again said. "No time to SIT ON OUR COMFORT ZONES". But wake up and help spread the gospel (SDA is our name and identity). Unfortunately Sabbath is tainted as in some areas weddings ( a blessed institution from GOD) are camouflaged as more holy to be acceptably officiated on sabbath; we should avoid to nip God's Holy time for self gratification for those who feel it's okay. The six days given are enough to plan it therein. After all God gave Adam his wife before sunset on the sixth day of creation. In simple language, Sabbath weddings draw people's attention from God to ourselves and cause people to focus on the couple in God's holy time thus worshiping them. Recall the problem that resulted in Rev 12:7-9?? War in heaven??
    God help me and you in 2012 to spend the Sabbath hours doing our best to win a sould and spread the gospel.

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    • Hi Ben:
      I got remarried to Yahweh two years ago on the Sabbath.
      I,personally,would probably get married or witness holy
      matrimony or 'baby dedications' or even childbirth on the Sabbath;
      the reason behind the behavior is: some of us
      believe in the God-given 'power' of the Sabbath and will
      claim or pronounce blessings intentionally during the hours
      of the Sabbath for similar reasons to Christ "lawfully doing
      good on the Sabbath"or people praying for something "in
      Jesus holy name". It may seem superstitious at first but
      compare this to the acts of the apostles,specifically when
      they healed people.

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      • To Sherman, Amen to that! But this is very individual, what is to do good to you may not be to other people. Saying that, God knows your heart and he only can say if, indeed you kept the Sabbath Holy! I believe that if you can witness to someone of God's love , whether in attendance of a wedding , or church services, you have impressed the idea of Sabbath Observance. Again, this is only my opinion. Each has his own. God bless.

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  13. I spend five days a week teaching students in an Adventist institution, one day a week doing essential home chores, and on Sabbath, I rest creatively. Sabbath is a time to recharge the batteries. In all fairness, Sabbath is my comfort zone for the week. It is a time to catch up with my community of believers and to spend time with God. I have no guilt watching and photographing birds on Sabbath and often share the results of such excursions in visual worship the following Sabbath. We need to start enjoying and sharing the Sabbath. So often we try and make one another feel guilty about what we are doing or not doing on Sabbath,instead of seeking every opportunity to make the Sabbath a day of rest and revival. Jesus got it right when he said, "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.." Mark 2:27, 28.

    I reiterate my key idea from my original message on this topic. We need to be much more positive about our religion. If all we hear about is proscriptive, then I think we have the wrong idea.

    Now let me tell you about a Sabbath wedding. It happened in a congregation where my daughter was a member. The minister (who was a widower) preached the Sabbath sermon as usual and then announced after the benediction that he would like everyone to stay on as he was about to get married and the congregation were all guests. The ceremony was performed quickly by another minister and then everyone went to the potluck as the wedding breakfast. Simple, quick, a complete surprise to the delight of the congregation and visitors, and it was an opportunity to give glory to God and celebrate the way that these two people had come together. (and it did not cost anything!) I am not suggesting every wedding should be done like that on Sabbath, but this minister sensed an opportunity that was both worshipful and restful and used it to God's glory.

    The gospel is not about control, it is about freedom. Not freedom to do anything, but freedom to creatively love our God and share that love with one another.

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    • When I was first introduced to the Seventh-day Adventist church I ran. It was in my mind filled with 'you have to do this and you can't do that'. Thankfully God had an other way to reach me, His health message, and at 50 years old I gave my life to Him.

      Today the things that I once looked at as I have to and I can't are the things I love the most.

      I look forward to my Sabbath rest from employment, housework, and yes, even shopping.

      One thing I would love to see is our church getting out and enjoying God's creation and celebrating it with non believers instead of keeping ourselves cooped up in church until Sabbath is over. The Bible study and AY programs are wonderful, and then after sunset we throw in a committee meeting and/or board meeting, don't get me wrong they are all important but after being indoors all week at work I long to be out in God's creation or visiting the sick and shut in, or on nasty days visiting and having fun playing Bible games with fellow members and neighbours .

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  14. Maurice, I liked your comment. Christianity need to be enjoyed and not act as a burden especially when it comes to Sabbath keeping. Appreciating nature and some group discussions while enjoying nice food could really uplift our spiritual life on Sabbath afternoons.

    Am a middle aged young man, and I would really encourage our church Sabbath programs to fit all ages with positive and fun-like activities. Its good to let different age groups enjoy their Sabbath afternoons with the most diserable activities to cherish their christian life. Some prefer eating together at church and have bible studies or organised church groups activities while others enjoy visiting parks, dams and appreciate nature.

    As we start 2012, lets make good lessons from the letters Paul wrote to the Galatians.

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  15. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ and my note was only meant to create awareness of some factors that may be overlooked. At the end of the day, judgement belongs to God and we are only answerable for our actions. So nothing meant to step on ones toes.

    By the way Isaiah 58:12-14 is quite interesting to read. Similarly Matthew 7:21. What's more interesting to note is the precedents set. At the flood, only 8 people survived (after about 2000 years) and the next was Sodom & Gomorrah, only 4 people rescued; the rest perished. I always ask how many will be resued out of about 7 billion of the current approx world population? Happy Sabbath to you all. Its about 2.5 hours to begin.

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  16. When we place so much emphasis on the negative, it suggests that we are attempting salvation through our works. Works are most important. But no one does all good works. We all fail through commission or omission. If we are truly grateful for the salvation we have been freely given by grace through faith, we would be overjoyed to share the good news with others. Sure we will all make mistakes. But God is the ultimate... He sees and knows all. He can read the heart. And He assesses each of His children individually. Let us stop focusing on the bad we are being tempted to do. Let us be thankful for Jesus. And that gratitude will spill over unto others as the joy of Christianity.

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  17. When I first became an adventist, the things that I loved the most was my first Sabbath on the campground in Athens, Texas. My family and I was new as I said to Adventism and we were in a pop-up tent getting ready to go the big restroom to take a shower and as we prepared to go to what we called at that time "Big Red," I stepped out of the tent and it was really early in the morning and as we walked down the dark road, I started listening to the birds up in the trees and then how other animals were making noise. There was a soft breeze in the air and as the sun came out, it was so beautiful that I forgot that I needed to hurry and get my shower completed. The following morning it was as though the birds and all the other animals were singing praises to the Lord.

    In 2012, I have made a promise as before not to concentrate on the don'ts because that turns people off and it makes it hard to witness. It's not the don'ts that bother me, it's the fact that if you truly love the Lord and want to do that which pleases him you won't constantly talk about I can't do this and I can't do that, you'll simply say "Because I love the Lord, I am willing to do this for Him." It's like having a husband or wife that has a bad habit, you either get use to it or you leave them and if you truly love that person you'll work through the problems.

    The Lord has been too good to us to allow something that is harmful to us keep us away from his love. If you concentrate on what is good for us, "like medicine" some of which is truly nasty, but please realize it is good for us.

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  18. Bravo and well said (even the DOG DOO)! I have been an SDA for over forty years and for thirty some of those years wandered in the wilderness of Don'ts. I finally actually met Jesus on an non SDA retreat and realized I had the cart before the horse.It is time that we as a church remembers that it is by God's grace we are saved, not adherence to a list of do's and don'ts. When the fruit of the Holy Spirit began to grow within me, I discovered GREAT JOY in following His precepts. God's laws are good and just, but they are to be followed as an outgrowth of a living, vibrant relationship with the Father and Creator. When our hearts are right with God is not a duty to serve Him and follow his law, it is a pleasure!

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  19. I subscribe to what the writer is saying. SDAs have always been associated with the dont(s) than the do(s). We have been excessively stiff. Little has been publicised & known of what we do. Let's change the look and mind set. But again we should not completely loose site for the theme of adventists this time is reformation thus calls for reminding each other on area where it is necessary to do so.
    Let have try fun in 2012 & reach to many.

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  20. This is so true! Whilst not giving countenance to sin, we must promote the positive aspects of our unique faith. I will do this for 2012 and see what happens.

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  21. I'm so happy that I came here this morning to read your comments. This new year my prayer is that God will help me to be exactly what he wants me to be. Not to compromise and sway. I want to focus on Him and be steadfast. Last year was rather challenging in my being faithful to God, particularly with my time. I want to change that this year. Please pray for me.

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  22. Let's think about the ten commandments. I think they are a good illustration of the need of don't s for fallen humanity. However, Jesus came to give us a better understanding of the Law and he said that love is the great principle of the law. Love for God and love for our fellow humans, which would be considered a do. It seems that because of our fallen human nature we need the don'ts to guide us to the do's, but as we grow and put the nature of Christ the do's should become part of us, a habit, our lifestyle, written in our hearts, delivering us from slavery to sin, Ezekiel 36:26,27 "And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. Perhaps the reason why the don'ts are talked about so much is because the do's have not been written on the heart.

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  23. Living in the Caribbean (Trinidad& Tobago) is probably an opportunity to get glimpses of Eden and 'walk with God in the cool of the evening'.
    Often enough the entire church goes into the outdoors for worship and what an experience it is for connecting with the God of nature.
    There are coastlines close by for most churches and rivers and forests for individuals/families to venture into. The tropical environment with the vast variety of flora and fauna to observe and ENJOY does give a tremendous advantage over living in the metropoles.
    We take advantage of the quiet time to meditate and 'talk with God', thereby building the most important relationship in our existence.
    I regularly travel to NA and the UK to visit with friends and relatives and very much appreciate what we have at home.
    God is such an awesome God that I just want to increase the intensity of the relationship with Him in 2012 by a deeper prayer life, more Bible study/reading and more strategic witnessing.

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  24. Having been born in an adventist family,have really enjoyed despite my parents being not sdas by birth they were invited by my elder brother.Anyway many people ask me why do you look kind and why don't you work on saturday?I told them thats the work of our religion.In 2012 i want to portray a good image of myself and our church,touch many souls in a christ like manner.

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