Anaheim SDA Church

Mid-week Pastor’s Update

November 17th, 2021

“A wife of noble character who can find? She is more valuable than rubies” Proverbs 31:10

The above-quoted text is from the relatively well-known and beautiful “epilogue” of the book of Proverbs: the description of the woman (wife) of noble character*. Throughout the next several verses, one gets an image of a woman who is loving & caring, yet capable and self-confident in public. You’re invited to read the full passage (Prov. 31:10-31), but we’ll just summarize it here: She is trusted by her spouse, she blesses & provides for her household, she is productive, she is a shrewd trader, she is generous, she brings honor to her family, she is strong & dignified, she is well-spoken, and well-spoken of. Truly the whole community is blessed by a person of such character in their midst.

In considering this a little while ago, I thought of the New Testament concept, in connection with this, of the church being the “bride of Christ” (see Ephesians 5:25-32). That would therefore mean that we, as Christ metaphorically being our husband, and we metaphorically his wife (perhaps ‘fiancé’ would be more appropriate given where we are at this point in time in this illustration), that we should be fulfilling similar roles within the household (church), and out in society (our broader community).

Notice that the wife isn’t described as a shrew, a nag, or an idle loiterer or a gossip. She doesn’t expect to primarily be served, but is content and fulfilled in serving others. She blesses and benefits people within her own household, and those outside as well. She is a crucial part of the community’s vibrant life.

The question that is naturally begged, then, the implication that comes to us is: how are we doing in fulfilling such characteristics? What do people think of when they drive by our church? An insular, conspiracy-theory – filled clique, who are more quick to condemn than to engage & benefit?

Often I’m concerned about how the church (and therefore, Christ) is perceived in society. It’s true that we often get a ‘bad rap’ that is undeserved (Jesus prophesied that we would be hated without cause, as He was, in John 15:18), but let’s do everything in our power, in our personal interactions, to refute that false stereotype!

I pray that people who either come to our property for some reason (whether overtly religious or for some other community benefit), or encounter us in the marketplace or our workplaces, would come away re-thinking their preconceived notions of us. Over time this can contribute to our image being changed from an insular, closed-minded group to a knowledgeable and helpful contributor to society.

I pray our neighbors & broader community would see us much as the “Woman of Noble Character” of Proverbs 31. Let’s be self-examinatory (both individually and corporately) to examine what and how we might do to bring that about.

Blessings to you & your families the remainder of this week & beyond.

Sincerely,

Pastor Mark Tatum

(* the word “Ishah” in Hebrew, is the same for either ‘woman’ or ‘wife’, since it is assumed that a grown woman would be married. In a society in which spouses were more selected for the young men/women than self-chosen, there would be no reason to assume a woman wouldn’t be married)

Anaheim SDA Church

Mid-week Pastor’s Update

November 10th, 2021

“Then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” Isaiah 58:14

What a promise this is! It invokes imaginings in me of riding a mighty horse full-speed over hilltops on a cool but clear, blue-sky day. The valleys below glisten with richness and abundance. And the second part, a feast: who doesn’t love the image of a luxurious banquet table (often the stereotypical image of Thanksgiving, which is up-coming, coincidentally).

God promises to “cause” this to happen. Note: it’s not primarily through our efforts, achievements, or rewards: God does it, and I believe he delights to do so (see Psalm 35:27, for example). And what does He ask in order to enable His doing this? Simply cooperating with His precepts: his wise and eternal counsels, laws, and principles.

There are brief moments in scripture when this was permitted to happen. The reign of Solomon in Israel was a unique time in which the country experienced abundance and peace from all enemies. There were also bright moments of hope in the reigns of kings Joash, Hezekiah, & Josiah further down in Israel’s history.

Sadly, however, the testimony of most of scripture (and, indeed, most of history since then) is more one of compromised dedication to God, and therefore, compromised blessings. Many generations of Israel’s & Judah’s kings said “I’m going to go forward in the way that seems best to me.” They essentially said “I’ll incorporate God’s ways where they don’t conflict with mine, but my will effectively comes first, God’s counsel second.”

It’s not only Biblical times too: the centuries of European “Christian” History, and recent centuries/decades of our own country tell the same story. I encourage you to read the book “The Great Controversy” if you haven’t done so recently: It gives a birds-eye view of (mostly) European history much like the books of Kings & Chronicles do for Israel’s history.

But I only need look around to see my own generation repeating this outlook on the personal level. Among my parents’ generation, my own schoolmates, and even now the students I have taught, I see a large percentage going their own way, and still hoping/claiming God will bless them, despite not putting His precepts first. This hurts my heart!

There’s one case in particular that’s saddened me so recently: at my previous church community, there was a teen girl who was really one foot in the world, one in the church. I hoped she would see the wisdom of God’s ways over the world’s. Then she colporteured for a summer with the conference “Youth Rush” ministry, and got super-zealous for the Lord! She would give her testimony in churches, and go to our schools to encourage the other kids to sign-up for summer colporteuring as well: she married a fellow strong Christian colporteur, and my heart rejoiced for her example. I thought “If only more youth could see how vibrant and full Christian life is!” I hoped more would catch her fire.

Then, some years ago, she got a job in the office of a politican in another state. I think she studied political science in college. Knowing that everybody needs to get a job somewhere, I hoped she would shine her light of Christianity there and be an inspiration for others. I feared, though, that that environment would instead diminish her zeal and commitment. (Side-note, the politician was Democrat, though I view that as incidental to this story).

But in the past year I’ve seen her online social media posts change. Far more about politics, and far less about God. I tried to still give her the benefit of the doubt, but worried. And in the last couple months she’s come out announcing several things: that she’s getting divorced, has a new definition of her sexuality, has a new partner, yet “still has a strong connection with God” despite not going to church any more due to the judgmentalism there.

I’ve been distressed about her, as I’m sure God has too. I’ve thought of commenting on her posts, but figure there’s no positive way to move the needle of her/her friends’ opinion when her comments section is full of messages like “You go, girl!” and “You rock!”. So, I just pray for her. Pray that she will find her way back to life as God intends it.

It’s just so easy to look back at the Biblical accounts and shake our heads, because it’s so objective what they need to do, and the solution seems so obvious. And then we see people in our own time and place, perhaps once zealous and committed, wandering too, and claiming connection with God, as those OT kings did.

And then I look and I see Jesus, arms outstretched, offering His “abundant life” (John 10:10). But He doesn’t offer it on our terms, He offers it on His. And His are the better/best ones anyway! And I just think: How many generations’ testimonies do we need, showing that God’s way is the way to happiness, to full and vibrant life, and that humans’ attempts to forge our own way (while perhaps claiming to still hold God’s hand) lead to muckiness and halfway happy lives.

That Isaiah 58 promise, quoted above, comes at the end of a chapter in which God outlines his expectations for Israel. Chiefly, that they would help the poor & honor His Sabbaths. Don’t even get me started on how I feel the poor in the world are regarded, nor how widely the Sabbath is ignored. I’m dedicated, in my personal life, to do my part, through efforts & influence to encourage both of these highly.

I just see God shaking his head from His throne, dropping His head in His hands, saying “I have so much for you! Why will you not take the wiser path?” But we say “Nope: we’re going to forge our own way. We’re going to make our own way here, and it’s gonna be great”. And God reluctantly says “Okay”, and lets us, for centuries at a time, build up the best society we can. And interpersonal relationships as often as not fall apart as they stay together.

I don’t know about you, but I long, daily, for God’s coming Kingdom. A city in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13), a place in which there is no more crying nor pain nor suffering nor suffering nor death, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21:4). I long for an end to this mucky cycle of generations knowing better, but in large part disregarding God’s counsel. I long to “ride on the heights of the land” and “feast on the inheritance of Jacob” as envisioned at the end of Isaiah 58.

“Come quickly, Lord Jesus” is the yearning cry in the last verse of the Bible. And to that I say “Amen, come quickly.” Praise the Lord, His promise is sure: He is coming for all who seek Him, long for Him, yearn for Him.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:6. May we ‘hang tight’ in our faith, despite our difficulties, until that promise comes to full reality.

May God bless you all the remainder of this week and beyond.

Sincerely,

Pastor Mark Tatum

­­­­Anaheim SDA Church

Mid-week Pastor’s Update

November 3rd, 2021

“King _____________________ (fill-in-the-blank) did evil in the eyes of the LORD” – 2nd Kings ad nauseum

If you’ve been continuing with us as we get near the end of our “Read through the Bible 2021” effort, you know that lately we’ve been in the book of 2nd kings: a laundry-list of the kings of Israel and Judah, most of whom didn’t lead the people in righteousness, but rather, down the path of idolatry, looking to military might, and making alliances with various neighboring countries in hopes for security.

If you’ve ever read through these sections (either recently or afar back), you’ve likely been so frustrated you want to pull your hair out: “Ack! Why can’t these guys get it together?! Is ‘trust God and stay away from idolatry’ so hard to comprehend?”

I feel like I’m kind of given a God’s-eye-view perspective on this period of history: individual kings’ reigns often last a column or less, decades can pass by in a single page’s worth or reading, and generations come and go like fruit flies. Yet the repeated cycles of sinfulness, international alliances/warfare, personal intrigue, backstabbing, murders, etc. as people vie for the throne, seem endless. “How sick you must’ve been with these people, God!” I find myself thinking.

But then I wonder: as God looks down on our society nowadays, do we look so much better? Yes, overt idolatry is disdained (in general, though there are certainly pockets of it here and there), thankfully, our system of transition of power has been peaceful for a couple of centuries, on the local & national scales, and we certainly don’t follow our leaders’ religious whims as people appear to have done in the old times; but are we still mucking about in totally preventable sin, that could compromise the blessings God would like to give us? I fear the answer is ‘yes’!

Now: some might say “You can’t make a direct comparison! We are not a ‘theocracy’ like they were: God’s laws are not the same as our national laws. Our country is based on freedom of religion, separation of church and state, etc.”, and I say “yes, and that’s good for the current time”, but I still wonder if our generally predominantly Christian population looks much different to God than Old Testament Israel’s did to Him.

This past weekend is a perfect example: The Bible tells us to focus on beauty, purity, excellence (Philippians 4:8), yet how many choose to fill their minds with the gory, the ugly, the hideous, and the scary? The local theme parks were replete with it, the movies that came out were attempting to shock and disgust more than last year’s, and numerous households held parties with themes of witches, zombies, and death in general. I know, I know, the majority of people celebrate it ‘innocently’ (as I did as a child), but I just feel in my soul like “Ugh! We have counsel to focus on so much more elevated things!”.

I guess our society is bearing-out what Jesus said in John 3:19: “Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”. I would almost be tempted to despair, were it not for the same book’s overall analysis from chapter 1: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (verse 5).

Praise the Lord: for those of us who love the “light” of Jesus’ truth, the darkness will never, can never, completely enshroud, obscure, or cancel it out. We will always have access to His rays of warming, comforting, enlightening truth, which will guide us in our steps. I think of the Psalmist’s reflection in ch. 119:105-106 “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.”

So, while we can certainly be discouraged that our society seems to want to ‘muck around’ in sin, not unlike a pig in mud, let’s look to Jesus, the true light, the firm footing, who didn’t give up on humanity through those frustrating times of the latter kings, nor will he through this current, frustrating time.

May God send light and blessing to you all, and to your families the remainder of this week and beyond.

Sincerely,

Pastor Mark Tatum

Anaheim SDA Church

Mid-week Pastor’s Update

October 27th, 2021

“…Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Well, we are in the thick of the time of year again when ghosts, zombies, vampires, and witches dominate the landscape, from big box store aisles to neighbors’ front yards. Some of the decorations are ‘fun’ and ‘cute’, but others are downright gory! A few times before watching perfectly innocent YouTube videos with my kids, I’ve had to shield their eyes, or quickly hit the ‘pic off’ button on the TV remote, as ads for the theme parks’ Halloween special events show. Furthermore, gruesome horror movies are produced & promoted at a disturbing rate. This is the entertainment diet Americans clamor for, and support with their business?

And then, if you follow the news, you heard about the accidental shooting that took place on the set of a western movie shoot in New Mexico last week. While tragic, it’s certainly getting a disproportionate amount of news coverage compared to other unfortunate deaths. This one involves someone famous, though, so it dominates the headlines for days.

But here’s a thought I have: if the thing you’re simulating for the purpose of entertainment actually happens, and it’s a tragedy that needs to be mourned and criminally investigated, doesn’t that mean that something’s awry with the form of entertainment? The news coverage goes on and on about the tragic (likely accidental) death on a movie set, and I ask myself “and what’s the ‘body count’ going to be in that movie?”

So the connecting thought between the Halloween decorations and the movie set death would be: if something in actuality is terrible, tragic, and disturbing, why fantasize and have fun about it?

I think this reveals something about our natures: the fact that we find a form of pleasure in beholding the terrible, the ugly, the horrid, shows me that there’s something about our appetites that’s unhealthy, twisted, and fundamentally corrupted.

Of course, we as Christians don’t find this surprising. The principle has been in the scriptures for millennia: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9.

But the Bible doesn’t only condemn the negative, praise the Lord, it also directs us toward the positive. One of the strongest verses about this is the one quoted at the top of this devotional, from Philippians chapter 4. And that advice could be taken two ways. Admittedly, in my earlier Christian walk I viewed it as limiting and disappointing. “So I can’t enjoy my action movies now?” “Man, now I’m gonna feel guilty while I play my shoot-em-up video game?”. But I now view this verse as entirely positive as it gives us permission to leave by the wayside the negative and ugly in favor of the better and more excellent.

Why listen to filthy lyrics when I can listen to a symphony or a praise song? Why get revved up sexually from gyrating figures on a screen when I could behold works of art or landscapes? The internet makes all of these easily available, but will we choose the good?

I admit, my messed-up heart/nature pull me toward the less than savory frequently: I feel the temptations daily. But I ask myself: what’s the best way I can spend this hour I find myself with? Rather than indulge in the latest gruesome offering from Netflix, I could spend that time learning a language or trying a new recipe!

So I pray we wouldn’t see the Bible’s instructions as trying to ruin our fun, but to instead see it as steering us toward the better: the praiseworthy, the pure, the sublime and beautiful.

I pray that you and your families would be fulfilled by both your work and your free time/recreation time. And may we beam (metaphorical) rays of sunshine, while the rest of the world seems content to wallow in swampy muck.

Sincerely,

Pastor Mark Tatum

Anaheim SDA Church

Mid-week Pastor’s Update

October 20th, 2021

“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Daniel 12:4

I find it incredible to think that, when God created the world, there were no timekeeping devices! Yes, the patterns of the moon and sun were given to establish general times (Genesis 1:14-19), but by those, people could only keep general times of the day & month. It’s kind of as if the day only had a few general time periods: morning, mid-day, afternoon, evening, and night. You could basically only plan 3 or 4 activities per day! “I’ve got this in the morning, that for the mid-day, the other thing in the afternoon, and dinner plans with ______ in the evening.” And that was your day!

Then, of course, the sun-dial was invented (in about 1500 BC, according to the Googlizer). People could now divide up their days into smaller chunks, though it wasn’t especially easy to check the time: (“Shall I go outside to see what time it is?” or “Shoot! It’s cloudy today!”). Plus, given the fact that the seasons changed things so much, one couldn’t really plan things according to a sun-dial, they are mostly just interesting to watch (hence, the lopsided hourglass shape).

Then, in the 1300s AD, the first mechanical clocks began to become developed. These were obviously labor intensive and rare, so wealthy cities would prominently display them: both to help people know the time at a glance, and to show off the city’s sophistication & advancement.

But could this development have unintentionally implied the idolization of time as being the most important thing? As someone would approach a city, what did it appear that city was elevating? Time. “Look at the time!”

Nowadays, most of us carry the time around on our wrists, or, even more recently, our cell phones. (My watch-band broke back during the pandemic when all the ‘non-essential’ businesses were closed, so, though I intended to get it fixed eventually, I never got around to it and have since lost my watch).

I fear, though, with all this advancement, time feels more scarce and short than it did when general periods of the day were all that could be discerned. We slice time into ever-smaller increments, with the rationalization that we’re maximizing time, when, in reality, we may be killing the ‘open time’ God intended for us to experience. Yes: I can now schedule 12-16 things into my day now, have it work like (heh) clock-work, and feel more productive, but are we fundamentally happier than when things were simpler?

I find the above-quoted Bible verse from Daniel 12 to be very apropos: we run to and fro, advancing knowledge, maximizing commerce & socialization (though that can be done ‘virtually’ now), but are we fundamentally better off than previous generations for it? The Bible actually testifies that life will get worse until Jesus comes (see Daniel 2 & Matthew 24). Though we obviously benefit from the many technological advancements, are we also accelerating the prophesied worsening with our scurrying?

My kids were watching the beginning part of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ the other day, and I saw the white rabbit singing his “I’m late I’m late I’m late!” song, and thought: is that how most of us live our lives?

I imagine that, from angelic/unfallen worlds’ perspective, we look fairly like agitated ants on an anthill. (Have you ever seen a group of ants acting normally, but then scare them by stomping your foot somehow and watch them go into fast-forward?)

Thoughts like these make me all the more thankful for unhurried, un-scheduled time with God. First of all, he establishes a day. He says “take time off from your busyness, and spend it with me, with your families, with the community of faith.” I love that we discern the Sabbath’s beginning and end by that original timekeeping method: sundowns (though we can of course have Google tell us the exact minute (yea, second) that the sun sets).

I sometimes wish we didn’t have a clock in the sanctuary! What purpose does it serve? Are we here to serve the God who extends continued, continued, continued time to us, or get increasingly grumpy with however minutes the preacher goes past high noon? (I know, people get hungry, and it gets particularly important when meds need to be taken with a meal at a certain time of day).

But let’s just enjoy the Sabbath day, huh? Not try to cram it full like the others. Perhaps this can be a challenge in the coming Sabbaths: bask in the openness of time, not knowing exactly what time it is, give or take a couple hours.

Secondly, God makes himself accessible anywhere, any time, for any amount of time. I’m so blessed when I can take a quiet 45 minutes in the sanctuary: I hope you have someplace you can go to be at peace & in communion with God during the week as well.

So let’s stop ‘worshipping time’, or make it the dominating factor in our lives. Let’s not let it fill us with dread. Yes, we have to work within it (as with so many things in life), but let’s not let it define us.

Praise the Lord that God offers to extend to us unlimited time, for all those who choose Jesus as Lord. To say “Yeah, I’ve got time for that”, rather than “I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!” will be a freedom of that Kingdom that, hopefully, we can get a taste of here in the meantime.

May God bless you and your families this week.

Sincerely,

Pastor Mark Tatum

Anaheim SDA Church

Mid-week Pastor’s Update

October 14th, 2021

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Earlier this week, Josiah had took a tumble on the playground, falling from the monkey bars, and broke his arm. I drove to the school to pick him up early, and felt for him so in his pain! All I could do was hug him & speak soothing words to him, but I wished I could do more.

After getting it checked-out at a nearby urgent care, they discovered he had a slight break above the elbow – mom had to drive him to a different facility, and stay with him in the hospital until 2 a.m.! Apparently his injury was just on the border of needing surgery. But Josiah’s going to have to be in this above-the-elbow cast for some weeks, and then, upon assessment, they will determine whether he does or doesn’t need the surgery (pls pray for him not needing it!).

So Josiah is home in a cast now. He has taken this in great stride: I’m so proud of him. He hasn’t uttered any discouraging words of “I wish I’d never gone to the playground that day”, or “Why did God let this happen?” His optimism & normalcy of attitude have been a mini form of inspiration for us.

Of course, wounds and hurts of much larger kinds befall us in adulthood. Many of us would prefer a broken arm to other hurts/sadnesses we’ve had to endure. Some could very easily become discouraged in their faith, saying “Why doesn’t God prevent all bad things for people who love him?” But Jesus, in fact, never assures us of ease and avoidance of problems. In fact, he states nearly the opposite in the verse quoted above: he says “You will have trouble”! Not ‘maybe’, not ‘some of you’, not ‘if God is mad at you’, it is simply “will”. So, Jesus didn’t say he was here to avoid suffering for either us or him – he actually voluntarily walked toward great suffering and pain (and 1st John 2:6 says we should walk as Jesus did – yikes!).

But, how great the second part of the sentence recorded in John is. It makes any hardship summarized in the first half of the verse okay. The world will not have the last say: Jesus will! And, praise the Lord, He promises to, at the end, “wipe every tear from [our] eyes” (Revelation 7:17, 21:4).

But, think of those who get discouraged and lose faith because of the hardships & troubles. Jesus prophesied that this would happen to some (Matthew 18:28), but how tragic it is! You cannot get away from Jesus’ first half of the prophecy in John, but what a preventable loss to jettison the 2nd half (which more than makes up for it!). Indeed: I’ve seen it myself: some lose faith because of their troubles, and they’re left with the troubles, but without the God who is able to resolve them.

I hope we can all take some inspiration from kids’ “we’ll get through it okay” attitude. We will on a grand scale for sure! Even if the most dreadful end, death, comes to either us or our loved ones, Jesus says “Do not fear those that can kill the body” – “I have the keys to death and the grave” (Matthew 10:28a, Revelation 1:18).

I pray that, despite and even through hardships, you can learn patient endurance, one of the characteristics of God’s faithful in the last days (Revelation 14:12). Let’s center all our hopes in God, who began this good work in us, and will bring it to completion in the day of Christ Jesus our Lord (Philippians 1:6).

I pray a blessing on you and your families the remainder of this week.

Sincerely,

Pastor Mark Tatum

P.S. so endearing! Just before I sent this, Josiah walked in the room, and I said “Thank you for your optimistic attitude through all this.” He said “You’re w-e-l-c-o-m-e” (practicing his spelling), with a grin on his face. My heart! ❤

Anaheim SDA Church

Mid-week Pastor’s Update

October 6th, 2021

“…If someone who is righteous disobeys, that person’s former righteousness will count for nothing… The righteous person who sins will not be allowed to live even though they were formerly righteous.” Ezekiel 33:12

A couple of weekends ago, my wife and I saw a film that unnerved and disturbed me profoundly. It was “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”, a dramatization of the televangelist couple the Bakkers, who built a Christian broadcasting empire throughout the seventies (becoming the 4th largest nationwide, with a viewership of some 20 million), only to have it come crashing down in the mid/late 1980s amidst financial and sexual scandals. In seeing the promotional ads, I knew I liked the actors playing them, the concept was gripping to me, but I knew I’d be made to feel queasy, since anything good I’d see in the first half would be undone (and more – great damage inflicted) in the second half. And boy, didn’t it! So much of what appeared genuine and endearing in the characters toward the beginning was gradually twisted in to a sickening manipulation in the end.

I have to admit I didn’t know 90% of what was portrayed in that movie: it simply occurred before my time: I was a kid on the playground as this empire of sorts collapsed. I’d long heard of disgraced televangelists and mega church pastors, but had never seen such a case detailed (or dramatized) so specifically. Frankly, I was shocked that it was so much worse than I had even imagined.

In the days after seeing the movie, I looked at documentaries and historical interviews on YouTube to round-out my understanding of what happened. It turns out there was much more than what could be fit into a two-hour dramatization! And it just sickened me to know that the Gospel had been used to such gain, and then to such twisted ends, during my lifetime.

I’ve long been curious as to why general society looks with such skepticism and suspicion upon Christianity, and this history I learned largely informed me as to why: As the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 2:24: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles” because of such as these.

The Gospel is powerful: it is incredibly good and life-changing, but some have used that power to their own advantage. Let that be a lesson. The original apostles were not elevated, they were humble, scraping by financially, sometimes having to have a day-job to make ends meet (see Acts 18:1-4 as an example). Similarly today: it is good when pastors and religious leaders can make their earning by doing the Lord’s work (1st Corinthians 9:13-14), but they should not be given lavish salaries, for money itself is described in scripture as a seducing power (1st Timothy 6:9-10, Matthew 6:24).

I’d say that a big cause of this and other scandals is that successful pastors and religious leaders are given pretty free reign: they are trusted, and unscrupulous ones can self-justify outlandish things. Pastors and religious leaders shouldn’t get too big: the Gospel isn’t meant to be centralized in individual people/messengers. The Pope is the epitome of what should not happen. Charisma is not what we follow. While administrative/organizational leadership is needed, Spiritual authority is spread broadly by the Spirit and the Word, as the sun sheds its light and heat broadly upon the earth. I for one found myself grateful that we have a system of oversight (both professional and financial), for checks-and-balances. It’s a shame these are needed among God’s workers, but due to the twisted nature of humanity, they surely are! King Solomon (who we’ve been reading about in this week’s ‘Read through the Bible’ chapters), is another big example of this.

So, I pray for the Lord to keep ministers (including myself) humble, in all respects. We are to be but servants, serving God’s children. As I was doing my readings for this week’s “read through the Bible” chapters, I came across the section quoted above from Ezekiel 33, about how one can’t bank on their ‘former righteousness’ to excuse and justify sin. That’s the beginning of what Jim Bakker and other defamed religious leaders have done: justified in their own minds cutting corners here or there, saying “haven’t I done so much more to justify having this little thing here?”. The answer is always, No. You haven’t. Anything good done before has been by God’s mercy and grace, and to continue to live under them, one must never step outside the bounds of His precepts.

I want to commend those of you older than me, those of you who remember the Bakker/PTL scandal of the early 80’s, for staying with your faith despite such a visible and public fall from grace of one of Christianity’s big representatives. Truly, you have your eyes on Jesus, rather than on people, who can fail and disappoint us.

Let us always keep our eyes on Jesus: the only one worth honoring and emulating and pedestalizing. He Himself lived very humbly (even homelessly – see Luke 9:58), and if we strive to ‘walk as he walked’ (1st John 2:6), we will avoid many pitfalls on our journey toward God’s eternal Kingdom. May He keep us on the ‘straight and narrow’ all our lives.

I pray a blessing from the Lord for you and your families the remainder of this week and beyond.

Sincerely,

Pastor Mark Tatum

Hello again, dear Anaheim SDA Church family,

I’m writing to make a correction on the preaching schedule. I apologize for the mistake. Pr. Julio Tabuenca, who I’d mistakenly said was preaching tomorrow, is actually preaching the first week of November. Here is the preaching calendar as it now stands:

October 2nd: Sandra Fermin (former Youth Intern, now back from Seminary)
October 9th: Pastor Mark (Communion service + baby dedication)
October 16th Adam Wamack from ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency)
October 23rd: Pastor Mark or Pastor Nathaniel
October 30th: Pastor Mark or Pastor Nathaniel
November 6th: Pastor Julio Tabuenca
November 13th: Pastor Mark
November 20th: Pastor Nathaniel
November 27th: Pastor Mark

I pray everyone has a wonderful Sabbath!

Sincerely,
Pastor Mark Tatum

Anaheim SDA Church

Mid-week Pastor’s Update

September 30th, 2021

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Only once have I been in a hot air balloon, and it is a strange sensation: trusting the physical principle that hot air is less dense than cool air, thus permitting a thousand- or more pound basket to float in mid-air!

It was back, probably a dozen years ago, before Jime and I had children: we went for a week’s vacation in Park City, Utah. In looking at activities to do, we thought hot air ballooning would be fun and unique, neither of us having tried it before.

So, one morning we got up before sunrise to go to the launch spot, and had our little training session as the sun peeked over the mountains. It was a crisp and a quiet morning.

Then we heard the *blast* sound of the flames shooting into the rolled-out balloons to fill them with hot air! It sounded like a jet engine was taking off next to us! Once the balloon straightened to vertical, we got in the basket, we had to stand directly below that engine blaster noise. I believe they may have given us ear-plugs to wear ‘till we reached altitude. I also remember feeling like the top of my head was going to be singed off, it was so hot!

But once we got up, and the operator could turn the blasters off, it was so silent and elegant: calm and serene. We could watch flocks of birds flying below us. We could see the fog receding in the foothills around us. The sun drifted higher as we gently glided across the valley.

Periodically, the air in our balloon would cool, and our operator would warn us he was going to ‘blast’ the fire jets again to get us back to rising. I ignored the noise (and the heat), and kept enjoying the view of the horizon.

But something strange happened a couple of times: the pilot light for the engine mechanism went out. The operator grumbled and pulled out a high-school science lab-style spark striker to re-ignite it. Then we’d hear the loud *Bwoosh* sound of the flames again and begin to rise.

But the third or the fourth time this happened, the operator couldn’t get the spark to catch the gas to maintain the flame. He was grumbling and cursing about how whoever had filled the gas tanks probably hadn’t gotten the right mix. I figured that, rather than be preoccupied about the mechanism, I’d continue to enjoy the view, since that’s what we were there for that morning, and that we’d paid a pretty penny for it.

But this went on for a few minutes, and we were noticeably losing altitude relatively quickly. Thinking “just how urgent is this?” I glanced over my shoulder to look up at the mechanism, and the operator’s hands trying to light the pilot light, and saw that they were shaking as he repeatedly struck the striker. I began to think: “If he doesn’t get that lit, could we crash and get injured or killed?”

And I thought of how crazy it was that we were risking our lives in this wicker basket in the sky. And how ironic it was that, though we had all the necessary components of the balloon, the gas, the spark, and the jet engine mechanism; that if all the parts didn’t coordinate correctly, it could all be for naught, and we could die, having the life-preserving elements all with us.

And in hindsight, I think that’s how it is with us and our Spiritual lives: God in His benevolence gives us all the components we need: His Word, His Spirit, and His community all coordinating to sustain this faith life. But if we neglect them, or don’t utilize them in harmony with each other as intended, we could die, despite having all the tools present. I think of what a preventable tragedy that would be, and resolve to always utilize everything God gives us: our minds, our abilities, our personalities, to sustain faith and stoke it up in others. Hebrews 10:24-25.

Thankfully, the operator was eventually able to get the flame going again, and we made a controlled landing with the other balloons at our destination. The operator apologized to us about the suspense, and offered us a free ride on another morning (!) with the company if we liked. (We might’ve taken him up on the opportunity, but we were leaving the next morning anyway).

But that is a day that will long stand-out in my mind. I pray we would not put ourselves in peril by not applying all God has provided us with very graciously. I pray that as we go forward, we would recognize His providence and benevolence in providing us these things so freely. I pray that we’d please Him by utilizing them, and by seeing wonderful, powerful, ‘upward drafts’ lifting us up toward heaven, that we all may arrive safely, rejoicing and thrilled, to a new landscape.

May God bless you and your families the remainder of this week. Please greet your loved ones from all of us.

Sincerely,

Pastor Mark Tatum

Announcements 9-8-2021

Announcements:

Wednesday Food Bank Distribution: This evening, and each Wednesday beginning at 5 p.m., our volunteers will be distributing boxes of pre-packed food into people’s trunks. If you or someone you know could benefit, do not hesitate to come/invite them to the church to come & receive. A big thanks goes out to Sharon Gladden, the Jauregui sisters, and the other volunteers who help collect, organize, and distribute the food. We will continue such distributions on Wednesdays going forward. If you would like to help out in some manner, don’t hesitate to let us know!

Wednesday Prayer Group, and “Read through the Bible” discussion, available either online or in-person this evening: Our mid-week prayer group continues to meet weekly. Tonight we meet at 6:00 p.m. to pray together and discuss the Bible. We are also continuing the discussion of the “Read through the Bible 2021” project, focusing particularly on the ‘columns’ / passages we didn’t read before, this week we’ll be discussing 1st Samuel 26 – 2nd Samuel 2 & Ezekiel 5-11. If you’d like to join us online, the zoom mtg ID# is 7053955673, with password 172569.

(If you missed last week’s Bible chapter discussion, it is posted on the Anaheim Sunkist SDA Church YouTube Page)

Sabbath Morning Worship: Praise God, we are mostly back to normal in our Sabbath morning gatherings. We are hoping we can resume the last few factors of using Sabbath School rooms, holding potlucks, and restarting our Sabbath afternoon kids’ clubs here in the fall.

Current Sabbath morning worship schedule:

9:00 a.m. Spanish service in the fellowship hall,

10:00 a.m. Spanish Sabbath school – fellowship hall,

      Children’s Sabbath school – Youth/”Pathfinder” Room

      English Adult Sabbath School – Sanctuary

11:00 a.m. All ages/languages church service in sanctuary

3:00 p.m. Spanish prayer group

5:00 p.m. Sociedad de Jovenes – fellowship hall

Online Worship Options: If you still prefer to worship from home, we have online worship options, live Sabbath mornings from 10:00-12:00 on Zoom (mtg ID# is 7053955673, with password 172569), or services being posted after-the-fact on our Anaheim Sunkist SDA Youtube Page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfZrh44kEB7LJUy2c37XrFA

Resource Table in the Courtyard:We are going to be having Bible-study materials available on a weekly basis after church services. These can serve to either enhance your own study & growth, or lead others in growing in their walk with the Lord. Either Pastor Mark or Joel Milla are happy to train & recommend resources to anybody interested in leading others through studies.

Church Choir Getting Underway! If you were at church last week, you saw Mirta Leiss announce that we will be (re)forming a choir to enhance the musical beauty of our church services. We’re interested in singers of all parts. Please let either Pr. Mark or sister Mirta know if you’re interested. You can e-mail her at mirtaleissmusic@gmail.com. Rehearsals are scheduled to begin Thursday the 16th @ 7:30 p.m., and continue Thursdays thereafter. For those not able to make Thursday evenings, she is willing to also do occasional Sabbath afternoon rehearsals from 1:00-2:30 p.m., the first one being Sabbath the 25th. If you wish to join that one, please bring a lunch to eat in the courtyard between church & rehearsal time.

International Student Seeks Housing:A Puerto Rican SDA student (with good English) has gotten a basketball scholarship for Bethesda University in Anaheim. He is seeking housing from anyone who may have a room to rent. His name is Miguel Velez, and he can pay $300-$500 per month. He is arriving this coming weekend, so would be most appreciative if someone could help. You may speak with Pastor Mark if you have availiablity, or you can communicate with him directly: Phone/text: (787) 450-9622 Facebook :Miguel Velez Instagram: @miguelvelezpr

Online Giving: Though we are just beginning to meet inside and still have minimal ministries running, our church and conference still have ongoing costs of utilities, education subsidies, and workers to pay. Your tithes (10% of your increase) and offerings are most appreciated during this time. Adventist giving has both a phone app and a website you can donate through: adventistgiving.org. Any donations made here are applied directly, with no percentage skimmed off, and your donations will come in your year-end receipt, seamlessly integrated with donations made in the church. May God bless us as we partner with him in faith through our finances.