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Archive for January, 2008

    Life often throws obstacles in our way that seem too difficult to overcome, roadblocks that force us to take a detour, and ditches that make us feel helpless. We look to our friends and our family for comfort and strength. We may find it but then life happens again. We try to look into the future only to find that much of what we think will happen, doesn’t happen. We rely so heavily on others that when they let us down we are crippled and unable to move on. Sound familiar?

    Ever lost a job and had to look for a new one when you thought the one you had was perfect? Ever been denied acceptance into the university you’ve always wanted to go to? Ever been heartbroken by the one you thought was the “one”? Ever been so saddened by circumstances that all you wanted to do was hide and cry in a corner?

    It is difficult to deal with the problems of this crazy world by ourselves or even with others. It’s just too much. We worry. We’re sleepless. We think night and day about it but it never makes our situation any better. (more…)

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It was almost as if I had checked God in with my luggage. Sunday morning surprised me and as the sun rose through the icy chill of an early winter freeze, I was barreling towards the Austin airport, a shivering passenger in a friend’s black Volkswagen. I blinked the sleep from my eyes. Had I packed everything? Had I remembered my passport, my emergency credit card, my hand sanitizer? Were they going to hold me up in security because I had more than three carry on bags? These normal thoughts flutter through my head at the start of any trip. However, this routine beginning was just the approach to the gateway of an extraordinary adventure – an adventure that I felt less than prepared for. Less than 12 hours into the future, I would be racing around an almost deserted lobby at the Tampa Bay docks in order to check in and get on the ship before it left me behind. But then, I get ahead of myself.

Three friends and I had planned for months to go on the North American Division’s “Cruise With a Mission“. The 2007 trip was an inaugural event – this was the first time that a young adult gathering was being planned within the framework of a cruise/mission trip. The uniqueness and simmering absurdity of the concept intrigued us. We had never been on a cruise before and it had been a while (or never) since any of us had been on a mission trip. Most of all, the prospect of meeting over 300 other young adults was exciting. We’d become complacent, somewhat, in our situation (there is a growing handful of young adults at our church) and we were thirsty for a fresh experience. So, we signed up, checked our passports, paid our fees, and went on with our lives. Somehow, the thought that we were doing this for God was secondary. Of course, the people we talked to were intrigued by what we were doing and gave us blessings. However, Life took over, as it always does, and the cruise faded into memory as “something that will happen” in a few months, weeks, and then, finally days. Suddenly, the flurry of emails from the CWaM office blanketed our inboxes and we knew something was about to happen. (more…)

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“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…”

This familiar melody has been sung in many a church; yet, its true meaning still boggles me. If I could rewrite the lyrics based on my experience with grace, it would probably say something like:

Annoying grace, how interesting the sound”

Indeed, one of my earliest experiences with grace was quite annoying. Let me explain:

It is the height of a volleyball game. I had messed up two spikes and my team now trailed just a few points behind. The ball comes over the net. The pass is perfect and the setter sends the ball my way. Eager to spike, I approach, jump and — (more…)

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New Year’s Eve is one of those nights filled with so many mixed emotions. Some people are lost in the crowd and lonely, while others seal away the past year with a special kiss. Things are different for those like Alpha SDA Church members who had the opportunity to be certain about where they stand at the beginning of 2008.

As the sun began to set December 31, 2007, the church began to fill with members several of whom were dressed in black and white. The organ played slow chords in a reverent fashion. There were only whispers in the sanctuary. It was one of those solemn atmospheres, far from the hype on Times Square. Tonight we’d have communion. “And what better way to start the new year, than to be clean?!” Pastor Gordon Jones remarked. (more…)

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