“Hindi na po ako Adventist”

* For my non-Filipino readers, the title means “I’m not an Adventist anymore”.

Lately, I’ve been asked frequently whether I’m still an Adventist or not. Maybe because I’ve been reconnecting with my old college friends these days. And, coming from 3 generations of Adventists and studied in an Adventist university, it’s not surprising that about 95% of my acquaintances are Adventists.

So, this small piece is an attempt to explain my answer to this question. For some reasons, I can’t explain in 2 to 3 sentences. So, allow me to use this domain for a few more paragraphs. Pardon me, my non-Adventist readers, you may not be able to relate to this.

So, the common question, “Adventist ka pa ba?” (Are you still an Adventist?) The quick answer is, “Hindi na” (Not anymore). Unfortunately, though, there are some misinterpretations to this answer :

1. So, Reform ka na? – “Reform” pertains to a group or groups of Adventist off-shoots, both liberal or conservative in belief system. Some of these off shoots give emphasis to vegetarianism or Ellen White writings. Some are simply against the General Conference. Some off-shoots I know are the “Davidians” and “Reformed Adventist Movement”.

I never joined any “reformed Adventist movements”.

2. Bakit ka nag backslide? – (Why did you back slide?) This question actually asks what caused me to “quit the Adventist faith”. In my experience (as I have asked this question myself to “former” Adventists), the common expected cause include, a) job related (because there is a Sabbath schedule and the Adventist chose job over Sabbath) and b) spouse related (“She married a non-Adventist, nahatak na sya ng hindi kapanampalataya“)

I wouldn’t say I backslid. I have never abandoned my faith in Jesus. I may have abandoned some Adventist doctrines, but never my relationship with Jesus. I can call it, on the other hand, forward-slide :D More of this later.

3. Sunday ka na pala ngayon! – (So you now belong to Sunday!). I’ve recently received this comment from a college friend who invited me to her wedding. Unfortunately, it fell on a Sunday so I politely begged off because of my responsibility to my church. In which she commented this. If you’ve been with the Adventist faith for a long time, you’re acquainted¬†with the unending battle between Sabbath (Saturday) and Sunday. Adventists explain that since Saturday is the correct day of worship, worshiping on Sunday is, as Ellen White says, the “mark of the beast”. So there’s really a tension between these two days.

It’s really hard to explain in a paragraph why I joined a church that worships on Sundays and has stopped worshipping on Saturdays. I have written quite a lot about this subject 7 years ago. But the quick explanation is this: I’ve never joined “another camp” of Sunday worshippers. I don’t worship the day. I worship the creator of the day – Jesus. Bale wala sa akin kung anong araw ka sumasamba. The important thing is you are worshiping the right God any day you want (for instance, Christians, including Adventists, in the middle east worship on Fridays).

4. Kumakain ka na ng baboy ngayon? (Do you now eat pork?) Eating pork for Adventists are a big deal. It’s like the thing that separates the wheat from the weeds. :D

Opo, minsan po nakakakain na ako ng baboy. May baboy sa hotdog, sa cornbeef (yes!), sa chicharon, at sa paborito nating hamburgers. Yung mga processed meat, ok sa akin. For some reasons, psychologically I think, I still cannot eat foods with visible pork in it like liempo or lechon. And I don’t eat pork intentionally. I eat only if I’m presented with it. I still choose not to eat pork NOT for religious purposes but for health reasons.

So, ano ka na ngayon?

I’m a Bible-believing follower of Jesus Christ.

I believe I’m a sinner forgiven by Jesus through his work on the cross. I was saved not because I am good or I joined a religion or said a prayer or did some acts of kindness. It is only by this grace, this love that I don’t deserve that I am saved.

I now serve Jesus through a body of believer in a non-denominational, evangelical church called Grace Place.

What do you think of Adventists?

Make no mistake about it. I love Adventists. I love the Adventist church. Most of my friends are Adventists. Most of my family members are still Adventists. I love them and I have never seen them differently even after I “jumped ship”.

I left the Adventist church not for some disagreement with a member or with the organization. It is purely doctrinal. There are some Adventist doctrines that I now cannot support. And the only logical step is to leave and go where I can best serve God.

So there. That’s the explanation. Whew!

Research: “30 Days to Live”

February of next year, Grace Place in Makati will start a message series entitled “30 Days to Live”. The basic premise of the series: How will you live your life if you know that you have only 30 days to live.

To prepare for this message series, we are researching and looking for possibility of interviewing on camera 2 to 3 followers of Jesus who are terminally ill. Yung parang may taning na.

Here’s where you can help us. If you know of a person who :

* is a believer of Jesus.
* terminally ill, probably s/he has cancer or any other similar disease.
* has a positive perspective on life despite his/her situation
* preferably living within Mega Manila (Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Rizal). We may not be able to travel further than that. But if his/her story is really inspiring, we will try to consider traveling further.
* preferably not older than 49 .
* most especially, willing to share his/her story on how his perspective in life changed because of the life threatening disease.

You don’t have to convince them. Just give us a tip — who this person is, way to contact (ie, cell phone, land line, who to contact initially). We will be the one to talk to them and share with them the vision of the interview. We are hoping that they will agree to be interviewed after we explain the tremendous impact their story can create to the lives of people.

You can email me :

arnold.gamboa [at] graceplace.ph

Your contribution to this project is greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot in advance.

Bricks

I mentioned in my last post how proud I am of our creative team. Last week, they did an incredible job. On top of their regular day jobs, they were able to find time to shoot on locations and edit the video for our Sunday service. Armed with a simple Sony Handycam, a good actress, a great crew that do not mind discomforts and God given creativity, the team produced an mtv that sure hits the core with a message!

Guys, you’re setting a tradition here. When Grace Place is already blessed with tens of thousands of weekend attendance, top of the line video production room and a huge team of creative volunteers, you will look back to this day and will sure cherish it. Rock on!

God bless your talents and dedication — Jael (the lead actress), Enjel, Gayle, Joyce (yes, my wife, :D ), Ghelo, Glen and Mimi.

So, without further introduction, here’s the video entitled “Bricks”.

Celebrate!, part 2

Here are some of the videos we used at the celebration:

With the band singing “Higher” by Creed (live, this one’s with the original soundtrack), we showed this very inspiring slide picturing what has transpired pre-launch and post-launch September of last year.

Interview with some of our new people. See how God used Grace Place to touch their lives.

I wanted to compile some videos of last week’s Anniversary event but I was sick all week. I specifically wanted to show how the 2 revolving heads (computerized lightings) we rented have really set the mood for this special worship event. I wonder what will happen if we have these kind every Sunday? I wonder what happens when Sunday becomes like a celebration — because honestly, it should be! We’re praying for God’s provision on this one. Our people saw what we will become, time to support the vision.

One more quick thought. God gives up to our capacity to receive. Whether its financial blessing or the number of people you minister to, that statement is, I believe to be true. Last Sunday, our hall’s capacity is 80+. God gave us a sample of what will happen if he gives us more than that. He gave 101 people last Sunday. Result: we’re overwhelmed, the people overflowed, some simply stood at our Grace Place cafe. This means that our regular attendees of 60 (ave.) is simply what we can accommodate at this time. Either we stay at Tiara Oriental Hotel and got stuck at 60 or we find an auditorium of at least 200 capacity and max it out as God wills. You choose, Grace Placers.

Some more takes from other Grace Placers.

* Auntie Ebong

* Anj

* Jael

Celebrate!

We are overwhelmed by the number of people who showed up today at Grace Place’s first year anniversary celebration. For a church plant with a normal weekend attendees of 55 to 60 in a hotel function room that can accommodate 80, a hundred and one to show up is big deal.

More picture and videos later.