Messages that never grow old...
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Pat's Paragraphs

May 2017

Dear Friends,

I see this letter is about interruptions, of which there are altogether too many! With so much going on here and everywhere, interruptions to our interruptions, sometimes I want to cover my ears, close my eyes and crawl away to a quiet place.

Then I remember that my “quiet place” is the Sabbath rest. Thank God it’s not only on Sabbath! It’s every moment of every day that I remember Who goes before me and behind me and Who bears my burdens and provides for my needs. It’s about living in His peace during the unexpected and trusting Him for the unanswerable. It’s an ongoing experience, this learning to let Jesus be our resting place.

A little interruption has temporarily slowed our progress on the “State of the Dead” Youtube spots. It’s not a bad interruption, and it’s for a very worthy cause. Here’s a little background:

Back in the year 2000 ASI (Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries) produced a DVD evangelistic series that has been translated into many languages and used around the world. Thousands of lay members have been trained, provided with the series and DVD players, and sent out to share Jesus with their communities.

But recent evangelistic campaigns underscored the fact that large areas of the world live without electricity and technology. Norman Reitz, ASI VP for Evangelism, spearheaded an old-fashioned idea: a picture roll version. He enlisted our help, Jim Wood as writer of the 26 lectures, me as editor, particularly of the health lessons. Now, with more than 2/3 of the writing now behind us, we’re eager to see it finished and be back full-time writing our own scripts.

As with our other endeavors, we crave your prayers, not only for us as we write and edit, but on the lessons as they go out to bring the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue and people.

One more interruption – the kind that takes your breath away and makes you lightheaded, that gives you pause to think about life and its meaning, that compels you to re-evaluate what and Who really count  – came with a biopsy that proved to be melanoma. It has been removed. Lab reports say they got it all with clean margins. I’m humbled, relieved and so very grateful for a good prognosis and no aftercare. This unexpected intrusion sends me again to find my rest in my heavenly Father, who so often has walked me through the dark.

Thank you for your prayers, dear friends. God hears and we are blessed. Thank you for your faithful support. I wish you God’s peace in your every interruption!
In Christ, 

Pat Arrabito
Unexpected Interruption

A few days ago, I presented the  Beyond Life seminar in Battle Creek, Michigan. The final session of this seminar included a brief section under the heading, “Disproportionality.” This word refers to a version of justice that includes the traditional doctrine of Eternal Torment.

I declared my conviction that Eternal Torment is not a just or fair punishment. I said that the sentence of never-ending torture does not fit the crime. My audience seemed to agree. An unrepentant person’s sinful life, mere decades long, does not justify condemnation to everlasting misery in hell.

Moving on, I pointed out that the Old Testament model of justice calls for penalty to be proportionate to crime. Its foundation is the principle of fair retaliation: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth (see Deuteronomy 19:21). This principle is recognized today by its Latin name, lex talionis . [Throwing in a couple of Latin words makes a presentation seem more highfalutin and sophisticated. Right?]
I introduced Anselm, the Catholic archbishop of Canterbury at the beginning of the 12th century. He offered an alternative to  lex talionis. He took his view of justice from feudal law. There, punishment for a crime was determined by the relative status of the criminal and the victim. If a commoner stole from the king, his punishment was much worse than if he had stolen from another commoner.

According to Anselm, sin is a crime against the infinite God. Therefore, a sinner is guilty of an infinite sin, and punishment for such a sin must be infinite. This medieval idea is commonly espoused today by those who teach the doctrine of Eternal Torment.

Of course, Anselm’s doctrine does not pass the  lex talionis  test. His justice is disproportional. Having made that point, I was ready to move along to the next section of the presentation. Just then there was an unexpected interruption. It was Rob Benardo, lead pastor of the Battle Creek Tabernacle. His hand was up. He wasn’t ready to move on yet. 

Pastor Rob’s creative mind and deeply devotional spirit had combined to turn my “Disproportionality” topic into an opportunity for a wonderful spiritual insight about grace. I know he won’t mind my sharing it with you just the way he has posted it on his Facebook page: There is no disproportionality in judgment (eternal burning) but only in grace as God seeks and saves sinners and enemies!"

Thank God for His disproportionality! 

–Jim Wood

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