Growing Up Adventist: Learning What's Really Important

(system) #1

“God is so good; He's so good to me!”

The words of this chorus certainly apply to me. I obviously had no choice in who my parents were, but God chose the perfect parents for me. Oh, they weren’t perfect parents, but they were perfect for me because they introduced me to the One who is perfect.

My dad came from a Methodist home, while my mom came from a Catholic background. They were both Seventh-day Adventists when I came on the scene. I believe the Adventist lifestyle provided the absolute best framework for me to grow spiritually, as well as physically, mentally, socially and emotionally.

As I look at how God progressively revealed truth through the reformers, I can't help seeing how my church has been so blessed to uncover and share some unique truths with others. While some tell us that we need to be a little humble about feeling that we have "the truth,” I am humbled because God has chosen to reveal some special truths to the Seventh-day Adventist church.

I do believe that various Christian faiths have "the truth" to some degree. As Seventh-day Adventists, we have certainly adopted many of these truths into our belief system. So, I praise God for the truth that He has progressively revealed through many Christian faiths, including my church. Will more truth be revealed? Maybe. But rest assured that previously revealed truth will not be replaced by newly revealed truth.

Some consider our church to be "the remnant.” Others within our church feel that this is arrogant. Is it possible that God has a remnant in all church groups, rather than any one church claiming the total market? And isn’t it God who identifies, blesses, and then expects much of this remnant? So while it may be a privileged group, it is only privileged because of the One they know, the One they follow, the One they emulate, and the One they share with the world. And, with privilege comes responsibility. So, our church has no arrogance in regard to the remnant, only responsibility, as we join with the remnant from other faiths to share God’s message in the end time.

My church is not a perfect church. Inspiration tells us that it will be rocked so hard that it almost falls. Almost. I believe that the "accuser of the brethren" attacks my church and other Christian churches relentlessly. I believe that he does all he can to destroy our individual faith as well. Since this is my story about growing up Adventist, you need to know that my faith has been tested. But you also need to know that my faith has never wavered. As a teacher, I have had students pass away so very prematurely. One of my precious granddaughters was born with a genetic disorder. My brother-in-law dropped dead while he and my sister were talking one morning. These experiences have rocked my world, and I don't have neatly packaged, satisfactory explanations for any of these occurrences. But my church, my pastors, my family and my Christian friends point me to the One who is the Answer. One day, hopefully soon, all questions will be answered, forever!

I have also experienced conflict within my church from those with very conservative and very liberal views. It seems that the devil works hard to get us off track, causing us to adopt extreme views of God and His word. Early in my life I was confronted with very conservative views, and now later in my journey, I am confronted more frequently with very liberal views. The conservatives seem to feel that the liberals distort, disregard or do away with scripture written by “the ancients.” Liberals seem to feel that the conservatives actually add things to scripture and place Ellen White above scripture. Is it possible that each is right in what they allege, and each is wrong in how they use, abuse and misuse inspired writing? Liberals also tend to feel that there is no yardstick by which God will measure us, since God is only a God of love. Conservatives have invented the yardstick by which they, and their wrathful God, will measure us. I believe our church has a correct understanding of scripture, that God is love, He really does have a yardstick, He is the One who made that yardstick, and best of all, Jesus is the one who will be measured by it if our faith is firmly in Him! Praise God!

One aspect of my church that I really love is the fact that I have “family” all over the world. This connectedness is invaluable to me and to my spiritual growth. There is obviously a social aspect to this connectedness, but for now, I want to focus on the spiritual. So, here are some things that I have learned from my church family and from my immediate family.

From my Dad I learned to follow Jesus’ example and to approach my God with reverence, respect and awe. From my Mom I learned the importance having a passion for God while maintaining unwavering trust in Him. From my sister I learned that my faith in God can also be maintained through extreme adversity. From my wife I learned how important it is to share an amazingly compatible view of God and his Word with your spouse. From one son I have learned that it is important to treat all humankind with love and respect, as well as knowing what I believe about God and His Word, and why I believe it. From my other son I have learned that a calm demeanor really does glorify God. From my daughter I have learned that a happy, positive attitude also glorifies God. From my grandchildren I have learned that my faith in God should be like the faith that they place in their parents. From my pastors, teachers and other leaders in the church, I have learned to appreciate the amazing Great Controversy theme. This theme answers questions about the past, provides direction for the present, and foretells what the future will be. From traveling around the world I have learned how special it is to experience the love of previously unknown brothers and sisters. We are bound together by the love of God that we all experience through the Seventh-day Adventist church.

One more group I must mention as an extended family would be my Christian friends who belong to other faith groups. God has blessed me in a special way through this group of friends, and they help my love for God grow as I see their love for Him. We pray together for our families, for our spiritual health and for our physical health and wellbeing. Occasionally differences are considered. One Church of God friend asked me to tell him why we keep Saturday as our Sabbath. After my response, he said, “That is impressive! I guess most of us just keep nine commandments while you guys keep all ten.” I am so pleased that my church does not just choose the popular path but always attempts to follow a Biblical, Christ-centered one.

In closing, I would encourage my church with the following: Be positive Christians who uplift Christ and all of God’s children. Be on fire for God, which will solve any lukewarm tendencies. Learn from those who are liberal to really love and care for the downtrodden and the marginalized. Learn from those who are conservative that scripture and doctrine really are important. Learn that Jesus Christ is the reason why we do what we do, and why we believe what we believe, and then follow His example in all things!

While I love my church for so many reasons, the most important one is that it introduced me to a God who loves me supremely and unconditionally! Yes, “God is so good, He’s so good to me!”

Ron Reading is a very proud parent and grandparent who is retired from 31 years of teaching Physical Education and Health. He is currently working as a massage therapist, realtor and adjunct professor. He is an avid golfer, runner and Senior Olympic basketball player, and also enjoys reading and watching spiritually-enriching material.

Join us at this year's Spectrum/Adventist Forum conference in San Diego, California, this weekend, October 3-5, to hear more Great Adventist Stories.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(jeremy) #2

i really enjoyed this article…the type of home-spun balance here is where i think most people are at…

(Thomas J Zwemer) #3

My childhood was parallel with that of the author. my dad was raised as a Methodist, My mother as a Roman Catholic. Both their mothers converted to Adventism which my parents were in their mid teens. Both attended E.M.C. In its early days. Dad had a strong affinity for a scripture, mother was equally strong on the Red Books. Both were. Loving parents. They raised four children during the Great Depression, all four were highly educated. All four have a close relationship with their Redeemer, but all are outside of Adventism. I alone have a fixation on an avenue to bring attention to the Gospel of Grace. There were giants within Adventism in my day, today it is as dry as the hills of California. Tom Z

(Sirje) #4

It’s been my experience that the Adventist community provides a wonderful lifestyle. Just as the writer rejoices in having been fortunate growing up within it, I too lived my early years thankful for having found this community. I was almost giddy living on the campus at AUC having been recently baptized. Coming from a public high school , the atmosphere was more than what I could have hoped for. My children spent their childhood hiking the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on Sabbath afternoons. It’s a good life,in its simplicity; but for me, it proved to be a veneer. Scraping it, even just a little, it starts to crumble.

If lifestyle were enough…

(Stephen Terry) #5

I find two things problematic with this article.

So, our church has no arrogance in regard to the remnant, only responsibility

First, I am a little surprised at the apparent attempt to eliminate arrogance by simply saying "our church has no arrogance.:Does the author feel that arrogance is something determined by fiat?

**I have also experienced conflict within my church from those with very conservative and very liberal views. It seems that the devil works hard to get us off track, causing us to adopt extreme views of God and His word. Early in my life I was confronted with very conservative views, and now later in my journey, I am confronted more frequently with very liberal views. **

This comes across to me as very similar to the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, i.e. “Thank God I am not as other men are.” especially those extreme conservatives and liberals. Perhaps this is the very definition of the arrogance the author so blithely dismisses.

** Learn from those who are conservative that scripture and doctrine really are important. **

Maybe this reveals the particular bias of this author to urge that we can learn from conservatives, but nothing is cited as being worth learning from the liberals. If this was truly an attempt to heal any schism within Adventism, it appears to fall short of that goal. Instead it seems to make the point that what the author feels is “really important” to learn is conservativism.

Perhaps we should consider that just as God made Adam and Eve, two physically distinct individuals to make a complete humanity, both liberals and conservatives are necessary for a complete spirituality. Both are necessary to the proper functioning of the church. Perhaps we make a mistake when we stand amidst the vast diversity of creation and yet feel that mainstream uniformity is the image of God. God just might have a purpose for outliers within the denomination that remind us we are not created to be photocopies of one another, but rather complimentary through diversity.

(Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13) #6

The lifestyle itself has been the problem for many, with guilt over diet, appearance, leisure activities, Sabbath observance, & terror over last-days events.

(Steve Mga) #7

Defining each parishioner as either a Conservative or Liberal causes a definite problem.
Both groups have an invested interested in the Mission of the Church which is to present the Love of God and Salvation through Christ to first the Community of Believers in the Local Church, and secondly to persons in the community where the Church is located.
For either set of believers to discount the other is a dis-service to each member and a dis-service to the Church group in general, as both see themselves having a vested interest in presenting the Gospel to the World. They just see doing it in different ways.
But Hostility does beget Hostility when the group cannot see that there can be unity in diversity of thought and approach in presenting the Gospel to ALL and by Whom.

(Sirje) #8

The lifestyle can be a problem, for sure, depending on where you’re coming from, and how restrictive you make it. For me, it wasn’t a problem, since I didn’t follow any “sunset calendar” and didn’t consult the red books for recipes or fashion guidelines. For me, all those things are irrelevant in their minutia.

On the other hand, when my husband was in the army, in an SDA unit, the guys towed the line in Fort Sam, but all h… broke loose when they made the cut for the White Coat program in Frederick. Sooo, there is quite a bit of a facade when necessary; but the dedication doesn’t go very deep.

(Interested Friend) #9

Diversity of beliefs? Diversity of what?

Ron seems careful to talk about those far left and far right. Obviously those have little to offer. While there may be statements by Ron with which I might differ, overall it is a refreshing type to see on Spectrum and I have no doubt those such as Terry will attempt to discredit Ron’s experience.

I, too, grew up in an SDA home and would not choose otherwise. Incidentally, there was not such an energetic effort to modify church teachings, even destroy them, in the past as there is now.

If he is the Ron I think he is I remember his parents and grandparents.
In The Grip of Truth

(Thomas J Zwemer) #10

P.S. As I matured in my understanding of salvational history, I found two profound errors and one overwhelming Truth.

  1. The theology of an Investigative Judgment is entirely built upon a faulty understanding of Daniel, compounded by a miss reading of the Letter to the Hebrews.

  2. The bottom-line of the Three Angels message is not /Saturday or Sunday, that would be a test of works as the elaboration of LGT makes abundantly clear.

  3. The Cross is the central point of eternity. It is at that point that the Everlasting Covenant became the Everlasting Gospel to the Glory of God and the redemption of mankind.

The final issue will be who is worthy of worship. As one baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, my worship is to the One who entered human flesh, lived a perfect life, died in my place, rose again the third day and now sits at the right hand of the Father. this One Shall return in the glory that is His and by his Grace alone will take all those who believe on His name home with Him for eternity., Even so come Lord Jesus. Tom Z.

(Cfowler) #11

As usual, Tom nails it with the simple truth of the matter.

(Steve Mga) #12

A more simpler thought about “worship Him who made…” could be addressed to the pantheon of gods of the Romans, the Greeks, the Barbarians–Druids, the Eastern culture toward India. That the Creator God is above all gods of those cultures.

(Thomas J Zwemer) #13

the final test will be the same as for the Seven Churches, .Christ or Caesar? the 666 is the number of Nero who demanded worship at the pain of death. That was the third test of Jesus, He chose death. his disciples at the end of time will not escape the same choice. It has alway been Satan’s desire to kill God and all that belongs to a Him. there can be only one King of a Kings. Tom Z