*Anaheim SDA Church*
*Mid-week Pastor’s Update*
*July 31st, 2019*
[image: death life choice.jpg]
*“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus
Christ our Lord”*
Back when I was starting college, a friend and I used to go downtown 2-3
times a week to donate blood plasma to get a little bit of money. As a part
of the forms the plasma clinic had us fill-out at the beginning, they
stated that they screened our plasma for possible problems, though they
were not able to diagnose illnesses in people. I signed the forms, thinking
that this would never amount to any real importance.
After having donated for several months, however, one day when I went to
donate, I was asked to go into an office to have a discussion with the
medical supervisor of the facility. Though surprised, I happily complied.
“Do you have a living girlfriend?” The supervisor began with asking.
Confused, I replied “No, I don’t”, as I was single at the time. “This is
good.” She stated, nodding and closing her eyes. What in the world could
this discussion be about?! I thought.
She proceeded to explain to me that one of the samples I had given a couple
sessions back had screened positive for HIV. A shiver went down my spine,
and a sense of dread overwhelmed me. “But I live my life totally clean!” I
exclaimed. “I’ve never used drugs, and I’m a virgin!”. She raised her hands
to slow me down: “Now, we are not able to diagnose anything” she explained,
“we merely screen the product for diseases. But your sample came up as HIV
positive.” And she proceeded to tell me (I forget the exact wording) that I
was essentially required by law to go get tested within 48 hours. And
obviously, I wouldn’t be making a plasma donation that day.
As I walked out of the clinic, got in my car and began driving, my mind was
in a manic state of shock: ‘How could this?… Impossible! I never… the
test has to be wrong!’ But I couldn’t shake the feeling of panic – my
thoughts were scattered. ‘Could I have been exposed to a pathogen somehow?
Was there ever a time when I was playing sports, and I was bleeding, and
someone else was bleeding? Something like that?’ I frantically racked my
brain, but could think of nothing.
So I made an appointment at Kaiser to get tested for HIV the next day.
Needless to say, I couldn’t concentrate in the meantime, my mind was in a
fog: classes and friendships and all those things paled in comparison to
the thought that I might waste away and die. I felt like a zombie, going
through the motions of life.
Getting tested was a whole nother matter. You don’t just go in and get your
blood drawn, no: they sit you down and show you a video about lifestyle and
safe sex, and they have a 20-minute talk with you about your legal
responsibility, how if you infect someone else, you can be prosecuted for
their having the disease, etc. They gave me a little box kit with pamphlets
and condoms and phone numbers for support groups and community resources…
“But I live clean!” I kept telling them “I’m a totally straight arrow!” I
emphasized. “We believe you,” they said, “but we’re required to share all
this with you”.
And, of course, I wasn’t able to find-out my result that day. They said
they’d call me in 3-5 days with the results. And again, throughout those
days, I was in a daze as I went about my daily tasks. I’d feel normal for
an hour or two, not thinking about it, but then I’d remember, and the dread
and memory searching and denial but wondering would all start again.
You likely can guess how the story ends: Kaiser called me a few days later
and told me my blood test had come back negative for HIV. I was of course
hugely relieved that it had merely been a false positive on the part of the
plasma clinic. I was glad to be done with that cycle of denial yet dread &
panic. Gradually my life returned to normal, and that event became merely a
momentary, yet significant, part of my college memories.
Interestingly, I was still barred from ever donating plasma or blood ever
again in the future. With liability issues and (rightfully) needed
extra-carefulness in terms of blood products going to people, people with
one false positive screening are disqualified from future donations. So
every time there’s a blood drive, I go, and explain I had a false positive
HIV screening back in 1999, and I get a sticker saying “I tried to give
blood today.” 🙂
The feeling of those several days, 20 years ago now, is something I will
never forget. I realize, though, that for many, it’s not just a momentary
blip of a false-positive, it’s a reality that hangs over their heads for
the rest of their lives. Thankfully, treatments and medicines have improved
to the point that an HIV diagnosis is not the death sentence it once was:
Praise the Lord, most cases can be held at bay now indefinitely, without
ever turning into full-blown AIDS. I can’t even remember the last time I
heard about AIDS on a news report or a newspaper headline. But I know that
many still live with HIV, and many doctors and pharmaceutical companies
still work hard to keep ahead of the disease.
As I’ve reflected on that sense of dread I had over those few days, when I
thought I might have a deadly disease, I’ve considered: Isn’t that kind of
what we’re all under with sin: a death sentence? Aren’t we all really dead
men and women walking, given that we *do* have something terminal, 100%
fatal, despite it taking a long time (decades) to work its final outcome?
Truly, from probably 4 or 5 years old onward, people walk around with a
background knowledge that they will, inevitably, die someday. “The living
know that they will die” begins Ecclesiastes 9:5. The dread and fear is
muted though, firstly because it’s indefinitely far-off in the future, and
secondly because it’s universal. But sin’s effects are no less lethal than
AIDS, it just takes longer. Death is the inevitable ‘wage’ that sin pays
(Romans 6:23a, quoted above).
Praise the Lord, God in Jesus has profoundly changed the equation, though!
Although we are indeed all under a death sentence under Adam (Romans 5:12),
we are given a ‘life pass’ through Jesus (vv. 15-19)! The question that
comes to us is: will we keep the death sentence we’re handed at birth, or
exchange it for Jesus’ free ‘life pass’? Of course, accepting the ‘life
pass’ means cooperating with the one who gave it, but not to worry, it’s no
burden (Matthew 11:30, 1st John 5:3), rather, it’s joyful abundance in
which we live (Philippians 4:4, John 10:10). 😊
Strangely to me, many seem comfortable retaining their ‘death pass’ in
life, rather than exchanging it for life in Jesus. It seems so crazy! How
can people give thousands of dollars to companies who can, through
medication, extend their lives for a time, but not give their hearts to the
One who can save for eternity? I frankly don’t get it. I shake my head at
society sometimes in befuddlement.
I know that our role, however, is to call the world to wakefulness
regarding its true condition, and to point people to Jesus, the One
restorer and resolver of the otherwise unsolvable mess we’re in. I pray
that you will do your part in ‘shining your light’ (Matthew 5:16) this
Pastor Mark Tatum
Christina Rebenszcuk requests prayer for her mother, who recently had to
have a leg amputated below the knee in order to stop progression of a skin
cancer that was growing there. Pray that her mother recovers from her
procedure(s) well, that the cancer is fully ousted, and that her mother can
come to grips living with the loss of a foot. 🙁 Christina also requests
prayer for herself in health & life choices, as well as for her sister, who
is dealing with some health problems, and for her neighbor, who is in his
90s and is in a fragile state as well. May God uphold these people in
Brenda, a woman who frequents our church, requests prayer for her young
adult daughter who is overseas and apparently making bad life decisions.
Please pray for ‘Mel’ to be freed from the bondage she’s entered into, and
for her to return to the better way of living she knows from her
The Sellers request special prayer for Elder Lloyd, who was recently
diagnosed with bone cancer. :*-( What’s more, the medications the doctors
are recommending him to take cost $1300/month *after* insurance does its
part. So Christine, the Sellers’ daughter, is applying for grants and
making appeals so that the needed funds can be provided. Thankfully,
they’re working with a cutting-edge doctor who’s wanting to do radiation
therapy on Him. Pray for Lloyd’s overall health, as well as these
treatments he’ll be undergoing. Also pray for Esther’s health & strength as
she continues with Dialysis. Also pray for the Sellers’ other children and
grandchildren to make good decisions in life and choose to walk with the
We are thrilled that a group of “Literature Evangelists” (colporteurs), has
come to stay at our church and canvass the surrounding neighborhoods from
now through mid-August. May God bring a significant harvest from their
efforts. Please pray for success for them & Spiritual awakening for our
neighbors to feel their need & seek God.
Betty Caballero requests prayer for her sister, who is in the hospital with
health problems in another country. Praise the Lord that prayers are
effective, no matter the distance! Please pray that Betty’s sister
recuperates and is able to return home soon.
Please remember in your prayers the victims of natural disasters near and
far. This includes those suffering from intense heat, storms, and
earthquakes in various places around our country and world. May God help
all the rescuers & repairers that have rushed into the affected areas in
wake of the disasters. And may he bring people peace, despite significant
Please pray for the continuing crisis on our Southern border, as desperate
people from the south come northward, and often encounter dangerous
conditions and harsh treatment. News and images from there have been
shocking and demoralizing. Pray that the workers down there, as well as the
policy-makers in Washington, will do their work judiciously and
compassionately. And may we remember that every soul is of equal value to
Gerald Taylor requests prayer for his brother, Michael, who is having
significant health concerns regarding his lungs & heart. Please pray that
the doctors will be able to get to the bottom of what’s causing these
problems, and that Michael can recover.
Please keep in prayer others in our congregation who have been suffering
from long-term illnesses: Vivian Rodriguez, Rosa Ferreras, and Daniel Geli,
who are enduring effects of long-term weakness. May they do so with grace,
faith, and improvement over time.
Let’s pray for our government leaders, both domestic and international, as
peoples’ ability to live stable, peaceable lives depends on their making
good, wise decisions. Let’s continue to pray for those local, broad, and
abroad, to be wise and judicious in their leadership. Let’s remember that
the Bible’s instruction is to pray for our leaders (Romans 13:1, 1 Tim.
2:1-2) so we can live peaceably and stably, doing God’s work day by day.
Pray for families and relationships that are strained and broken. Pray for
prodigals to be ‘nudged’ by the Holy Spirit to return home to the faith of
their upbringing. Pray also for the church’s marriages to be strong &
*There is, of course, much more to pray for. Please consider joining our
weekly prayer groups, and if you have a prayer request to submit for our
list, please communicate it either to pastor Mark or the church office. God
*Church Food Bank Distrubution Tonight:* This evening, and every Wednesday,
from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., our food bank is open to distribute food to
community members in need. If you or someone you know could benefit from
receiving free food, do not hesitate to invite them to come receive. A big
thanks goes out to our many volunteers who bring, organize, and help
distribute the food week by week. Your efforts are appreciated by the
community, and are seen in heaven!
*Grupo de Oración en Español *reúne esta tarde y cada Miercoles a las 5:30
en el Fellowship Hall. Ven para elevar peticiones a nuestro señor
benevolente. También revisamos un capitulo cada semana del libro “El
Deseado de Todas Las Gentes”. Esta tarde, estamos revisando capitulo 84:
“Paz a vosotros”. Ven para experimentar una bendición con el Señor, y
*Saturday Morning Sabbath Schools* begin at 9:30 for all ages! *Kids &
Youth* will be meeting for morning refreshments & song service in the youth
room, before heading to their age-based classes. *Adults* meet in the
sanctuary, where Pr. Mark will be giving the service. Then lesson study
will start at 10:00 in room 305-306 as usual. Este Sabado los hermanos
*Hispanos* reunirán en el santuario a las 9:30, para empezar su servicio de
Escuela Sabatica junto con los hermanos anglos, tendrán su discusión de la
lección de Escuela Sabática a las 10:00.
*Sociedad de Jovenes* will be meeting at its normal time: 6:00 p.m. Sabbath
afternoon in the Youth room. This bilingual service closes the Sabbath with
singing, a Bible activity, and a relevant topic from a speaker. Come join
us in this lovely evening service.
*“Literature Evangelists” staying at our church:* We were blessed to be
hosting 20 or so “Youth Rush” members who are staying at our church.
Through they weeks, they are going through neighborhoods in Orange County
sharing Christian literature and offering Bible-study. They will remain
with us through mid-August, and will continue to be at church. Let’s be
intentional about being good hosts to this group who is working in the
‘fields’ of the neighborhoods surrounding our church and beyond!
*Pastor’s Availability: *Pastor Mark is available both this week and next
for one-on-one meetings at church or another location of your choosing.
Feel free to call/text him at (714) 650-1245, or e-mail him at
email@example.com if you’d like to arrange for a time & place to meet
together to study, pray, and/or discuss life & faith together.
*Pathfinder Camporee is 2 weeks away!* Our Pathfinder club has for months
(if not years) been preparing for the once-every-5-years International
Pathfinder Camporee in OshKosh, Wisconsin. Pastor Mark and his father will
be driving, and the rest of the group will be flying to meet with tens of
thousands of other young people. Pray for safe travels, and that this will
be a defining moment in the lives of all the youth, that they make their
stand for God, dedicated to live for him forever. A big thanks goes out to
Margarito Gonzales, Jenny Hastings, and Joel Milla, who have all been
working toward a great Camporee.
*Orangewood Academy Tuition Incentives:* If your child has never attended
Seventh-day Adventist education before, our local school would like to you
to give them a consideration. Up to 4 tuition discounts are possible: SDA
church membership, 1st time to SDA Education bonus, income-based discounts
through the business office, and local church tuition subsidy. Please let
Pastor Mark or David Hernandez, Business Manager at Orangewood Academy know
if you’d like to look at the possibility of sending your child(ren) to
Orangewood. Their number is (714) 534-4694.
Okay! I believe that pretty well sums it up for what’s going on in our
community this week! Thanks to all who committedly dedicate themselves to
the Lord’s service in the many ministries this church provides. May God
continue to oversee & bless our community.
Pastor Mark Tatum