Bending Toward Justice

One of our Seventh-day Adventist Chaplains, Barry Black, has been in the news much recently. He had his work cut out for him on January 6, a dark day that witnessed the unthinkable, an insurrection that culminated in what he referred to as “the desecration of the United States Capitol Building,” where he has served…

A Theology of Place

[Remarks given October 2019 to campus ministry leaders] My theme today is a theology of place. I hear some clues to where you all are from in your stories and in your accents, and I see some clues in the things you are wearing—New England. California. Walla Walla. A Maryland flag. I have lived in…

Advent Hope

[Advent 2009] We are Seventh-day Adventists. Seventh-day tells the world that we observe the Biblical Sabbath. Adventist says our lives our oriented by our hope in Christ’s advent, a word that means “coming.” We await his second coming in the clouds of glory at the end of time. And we believe that day to be…

Advent: Fruits of Repentence

[Advent 2009] This morning, I’d like to look at the preaching of John the Baptist. I think he was probably an uncomfortable person to be around, dressed in strange clothes and eating strange foods. And he had an uncomfortable message. But he didn’t care—he had only one thing to do—prepare the way of the Lord…

A Light in the Darkness

[Jan. 2, 2010] Today’s the 9h day of Christmas.  Like in the song …. “On the ninth day of Christmas my true love sent to me: nine ladies dancing, eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a…

The Paradox of Christmas

[Christmas 2011] In the year 1223, a year before he died, Francis of Assisi visited the town of Greccio, Italy. According to his first biographer, Thomas of Celano, “The humility of the incarnation and the love of the passion so occupied his memory that he scarcely wished to think of anything else.” It was Christmas,…

After Nineteen Years

Devotion for North American Division staff, September 16, 2020 This past Friday was the 19th anniversary of an event that is for most of us what the Kennedy assassination was for our parents—one of those days where you know exactly where you were and what you were doing. I was in campus ministry then. I…

Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land

A Sermon for July 4, 2020 My title comes Leviticus 25:10 “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” That text is inscribed on a large cast bronze bell in Philadelphia known as the Liberty Bell. In 1751, the Colony of Pennsylvania was building a new state house, and wanted an appropriate…

On Adventist Eschatology

I remember when the main religious liberty concern of Adventists was the fear of what Christians do when they have political power. That’s the thread throughout Ellen G. White’s book, “The Great Controversy.” It’s about how Christianity turned to the state for protection and patronage, and was corrupted, and how it became a persecutor. It’s…

The Church and the Internet (2000)

(This is an article I wrote in the year 2000, after attending the 3rd Internet and Society Conference at Harvard. Think of it as a time capsule. I was Director of Young Adult and Campus Ministry for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston at the time, so it has a Catholic focus. Still, it raised some interesting…

Relatable Politicians

There was a photo today of German Chancellor Angela Merkel grocery shopping in Berlin. We have few politicians who would be seen at a grocery store. Trump once said you need an ID to use one. Or, if you were not working, the grocery store would “work with you” so you could have food. Dick…

Spiritual Care and COVID-19

Hospitals, spiritual care is not a luxury you can eliminate in a crisis. Now is the time you need it more than ever. And realize, too, that your chaplains are likely overwhelmed along with the rest of your staff, and they will suffer burnout, compassion fatigue, moral injury, and PTS along with them. What are…

General Conference — What We’ll Miss

The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists has announced that its quinquennial session will be postponed a year due to COVID-19. It will be a session reduced in size in days and participants, to focus on just getting the business done. And this, they say, will be a model for the future. It makes sense, from…

Martin Luther on the Plague

Some practical wisdom from the distinguished theologian of Wittenberg. …Use medicine; take potions which can help you; fumigate house, yard, and street; shun persons and places wherever your neighbor does not need your presence or has recovered, and act like a man who wants to help put out the burning city. What else is the…

The Great Controversy

“And there was war in heaven” (Revelation 12:7-9). What an image! In the heavenly kingdom, the kingdom of peace, there was war!

A war that spread to this earth, and engulfed it in conflict, misery, and death. We refer to this war as “The Great Controversy.” That isn’t merely the title of a book by a…

On Seeking a College Chaplain

What is a college chaplain? A chaplain is the senior advisor to a president on the spiritual life of a campus–a critical position for the Christian college or university. This needs to be the starting point in your search. If you think a chaplain is merely a coordinator of religious activities for students then you…

They Did Not Bow

Daniel chapter 3 tells a familiar story. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, erected a golden statue on the plain of Dura and commanded all people to bow before it. Those who refused would be cast into a fiery furnace. In verse 8, the start of our reading, his advisors told Nebuchadnezzar three men he had appointed…

Light in the Darkness

John 1:5–“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.” Shortly after I arrived here yesterday afternoon, I went over to the Wal-Mart to join with those reflecting and praying at the memorial which was set up to honor the 22 victims who died last Sabbath morning. I went again this morning…

Nuclear War and Ethics

The Department of Defense recently issued a new document on nuclear war, JP 3-72, Nuclear Operations. It was quickly taken offline, but not before being snagged and posted by the Federation of American Scientists.  This is all it says of ethics: The law of war governs the use of nuclear weapons, just as it governs…

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

The year was 1569. The place, Holland, which was then under Spanish rule. That meant Catholic rule, and Protestants were treated harshly, especially those known as Anabaptists. Dirk Willems was an Anabaptist. When they came to arrest him for preaching the Gospel, he took off running, with an officer known as a “thief catcher” in…

Thou Shalt Not Kill

It’s one of the shortest of the Ten Commandments. It seems clear. Desmond Doss said he got his conviction against killing because of a framed picture of the Ten Commandments that hung on a wall in his childhood home, with the sixth commandment illustrated by Cain and Abel, with a club in Cain’s hand over…

Chaplains as Peacemakers

(Originally given as a devotional at SDA military chaplains training; revised and extended) Paul asked me to share with you some reflections based on an event I attended last week at the University of Notre Dame. I start with this text: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). General Douglas…

Creating a Culture of Peace

I’m attending the Summer Institute for Faculty in Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame. My reflections center on how to promote peacebuilding within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In our education, we need to encourage examination of the church’s heritage of noncombatancy, and its work in religious liberty, health and…