Wednesday, September 24, 2014

“The Second Coming of Jesus”: Dressed For the Judgment

Third Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"The Second Coming of Jesus"
For the week of September 27, 2014
Dressed For the Judgment

While on tour, a famous singer – whom we will call Liam Phillips - stopped in a major city to give a concert. One evening after rehearsal, the very casually dressed Liam decided to stop by an exclusive restaurant for dinner. On the door of this restaurant hung a sign that stated, "Jacket Required." Oblivious, Liam went right through the doors, without reading the sign. Naturally, he found himself denied entry by a tall, muscular man, who sternly warned, "Sir, you cannot enter dressed like that." Puzzled, the singer asked, "Why not?"  To which the bouncer replied, "We have a dress code, sir; it says so right there on the sign. Didn't you read it?"  With embarrassment, the singer answered, "No I didn't. What did it say?" Ever polite, the bouncer replied, "Jacket Required." Slightly chagrined, the singer, who was used to receiving preferential treatment, tried to charm his way in.  So he said to the bouncer, "Well, I am pretty sure an exception can be made, since I am Liam Phillips." Anticipating this, the bouncer stated, "Sir, "I know who you are, but you still cannot enter. I am just doing my job."

By now the singer was both frustrated, and hungry. Aggravated, he yelled at the bouncer, "Let me talk to your manager now! If he knew that you were denying me entrance, I could make him fire you!" Calmly, the bouncer replied, "Mr. Phillips, if my manager wants to make an exception that is his call. I do not have that authority," At that moment the manager entered the lobby and stated, "What is all the commotion?" To which the bouncer quickly replied, "Mr. Phillips would like to speak to you." "Ah, Mr. Liam Phillips," said the manager, "I love your music. What can I do for you?" Clearly frustrated, the singer quickly replied, "Thank you. I just want to order dinner, I'm hungry, but your muscle man will not let me in." "Mr. Phillips, I am sorry for your inconvenience, but we have a very strict policy concerning our dining attire. However, if you were to put on a jacket we would be glad to serve you."  "Where would I get a jacket at this time?" said Liam with a tone of sarcasm, it was rather late for stores to be open. "Well," said the manager, "There is a store right next door. They are still open. You can get one there. Please tell them Mr. Smith sent you."  "Fine," said the singer, "I'll be back." And with that he left the restaurant still fuming.

When he arrived at the clothing store, the attendant recognized him immediately, and said, "Liam Phillips, what an honor. Love your music. What can I do for you?" "Thanks man, I need a jacket," answered Liam. "Did Mr. Smith send you, Mr. Phillips?" asked the attendant. "Yes, He did," replied the singer. "Then please follow me," said the attendant. The attendant led the singer to a rack, and pulled out a jacket that he felt would fit. And, indeed it was a very good fit. The singer pulled out his credit card, and the attendant said, "Oh no, this is compliments of the restaurant."  Puzzled, the singer walked out of the store and then into the restaurant. He looked at the bouncer sheepishly, smiled and said, "I have my jacket."  The bouncer smiled in return, and nodded his head in approval, and said to Liam, "Come right in, Mr. Phillips, the maĆ®tre d' will be with you shortly."

This account – loosely based on a true story, shows that the singer thought that his accomplishments or identity should have merited him entry into the restaurant. But, the restaurant had other standards: semiformal attire.  Knowing that not everyone would have a jacket when visiting the establishment, the restaurant provided complimentary attire so costumers would not have to leave, but could if they chose to, fit the standard of the restaurant and still be served. All were welcome to the restaurant, but only those with jackets would be allowed to stay and be served.

This is reminiscent of the parable of the Royal Wedding Feast of Matthew 22:1–14, where the invited guests are provided with garments, appropriate for the royal occasion.  Just as the singer in our story was required to be dressed in a certain manner to be served in the restaurant, so the wedding guests must be dressed in proper attire to attend the wedding. Matthew 22:8 states "those who were bidden [first] were not worthy."  That is to say they rejected the invitation. What made those invited last, worthy of attending the Royal Wedding Feast? They accepted the invitation. Yet and still, that was not enough.

When we look further we find that the King provided the garment that made the guests worthy of attending the wedding feast. Note that it was clear that the King wanted each of his guests to attend, for not only did he invite them to attend, but provided a garment tailor made for each. 

Later in the biblical narrative, we note that the King decided to come see His guests and there he found one not dressed with the garment he himself had provided.  When questioned, "Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?" this guest was speechless. He had no excuse. Garments were given to all. The fact that this man chose not to wear the wedding garment was an insult to the King. Thus he was thrown out into the utter darkness. This is a graphic description that salvation is more than accepting the gospel invitation. Putting on the garment provided at great cost is the only thing that will allow us to be served in the kingdom of God. Without it we will be thrown out into utter darkness, which represents eternal separation from God (Matthew 22:11-13).

If we think that the King took pleasure in punishing the offending man, then we miss the point that the King not only extended a personal invitation, but that he provided the proper attire for each -- a tailor made garment. Therefore we can intuit that the King was displeased, perhaps even grieved that the man chose not to wear the garment. How disappointing.

In this parable we are the guests who are bidden to attend the Wedding Banquet of our Bridegroom, the Lamb. As good Laodiceans, we may think that all of our accomplishments will make us worthy to enter and attend the Royal wedding feast. However, God's assessment of us is that we are unworthy, not having put on the garment of His character (See Revelation 3:15-17), but of our own devising (cf. Ellen White, Christ's Object Lessons p. 311). Yet the garment provided by the King is the only attire of any value. Knowing that we are dressed improperly, and in danger of being thrown out, the King counsels us, "… buy of me … white raiment, that thou may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear…" (Revelation 3:18).  This white raiment represents the Righteousness of Christ, continually received by faith through grace, and is a gift. If you have accepted the invitation, have you received the gifted garment? Are you dressed for the divine Wedding Feast in royal attire, or are you wearing your own pitiful citizen's dress?
-Raul Diaz

Raul Diaz

Friday, September 19, 2014

“Death and Resurrection”

Insights #12 September 20, 2014
Third Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Death and Resurrection"
For the week of September 20, 2014
This week's lesson covers two of Scripture's plainest and most fundamental teachings:

1) In his fallen state, man is mortal and subject to the first death which the Bible describes as a sleep.

2) Because of Christ's victory over sin and the grave, all men -- righteous and sinners alike -- will one day be raised in either the first or the second resurrection.

Actually, the lesson doesn't use those precise words. If you read carefully, you'll see that the lesson author and/or editor has chosen to use gender-inclusive language. Assuming the best of motives, we will not judge as to why this is the case except to note that gender-inclusive (or neuter) language is part of the new moral code for the 21st century.

The Bible does not use gender inclusive language. Have you ever wondered why? If using gender-neutral language is new light, then we should embrace it. But new truth never negates old truth, nor does new light reverse old light. To the contrary, new light makes previously understood truths more plain.

If you're wondering what this discussion about gender-neutral language has to do with the state of the dead, please continue reading.

In the beginning there was a bus. The driver's name was Adam and seated on the bus were all Adam's children. One day, Adam drove dangerously close to the edge of a cliff. He had been warned not to venture near this place, but his wife Eve encouraged him that down in the canyon were rich treasures not to be found above. She had already hiked down there herself and she highly recommended the detour. Steeling himself against his better judgment, Adam floored the gas pedal. The bus plummeted thousands of feet to the canyon floor. Everyone on the bus was killed, including Eve, and wreckage was strewn everywhere.

Now Adam's Creator was standing by to witness this tragic event. No one could put the bus back together again, and for sure there was no hope for Adam or any of the passengers. Then a long-laid plan, echoing back through the years of eternity was unveiled. Adam's Creator would leave the comforts of His heavenly home and attempt a dangerous rescue mission. To the bottom of the canyon He would go on a perilous mission to save mankind at any cost to himself.

It's worth noting here that the Hebrew word for Adam means mankind, which includes both men and women. Further, we are told that if Eve only had sinned, the human race would not have been lost.

"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned," (Rom. 5:12) we are all affected by Adam's choice.

We may not like it or appreciate the representative role given to Adam by God. We may not think it fair that Adam could make a mistake that would have such far-reaching consequences as to affect you and I six thousand years later, but in His infinite wisdom, God permitted the poor choice of one man, Adam, to inflict terrible consequences on those of us who would follow after. We suffer and die not only because we have sinned. We die because Adam sinned. That is why babies who have never sinned can still die. They are reaping the results of Adam's choice.

When God created us, He wasn't in gender-inclusive mode. The man "Adam" represented us all. If that was the end of the story, there would be no hope for any of us.

But there is hope, praise God!

"Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life." (Rom. 5:18)

In Philippians chapter 2 Paul describes the precipitous journey Jesus took from heaven to save us. No one else could embark on this journey. He who had breathed into Adam the breath of life [lives], would take man back into Himself. He would identify so closely with man in his fallen state that He would suffer even as we do, He would be tempted even as we are. He would traverse the path that Adam took, not remaining at the pristine garden overlook. Forsaking all but love He would reach us in the very depths of our helplessness. "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Cor. 5:21

From that lowest point of the earth, when "your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed," (Ps. 139:16) Christ came to our aid.

"Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil." Heb. 2:9

And from this representative, non-gender inclusive biblical language we learn the truth of the state of the dead as it is in Christ:

"For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." 1 Cor. 15:21, 22

Please notice that since "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself," (2 Cor. 5:19), and since the Lord through the unspeakable gift of Christ has "commanded the blessing -- Life forevermore." (Ps. 133:3), there is no reason that any be lost.

It is true that we still experience the first death -- a sleep -- as a consequence of Adam's sin. We also experience pain, sickness, suffering, heartache, temptation, and loss not only because of Adam, but because of our participation in that choice to sin and in the choice of others to do the same.

The world needs to hear the Good News that in Christ, the (eternal) death sentence pronounced upon us fell upon our Saviour Jesus Christ. Through His life Jesus the second Adam bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. Even as we were "in Adam" at creation, we were "in Christ" at the cross. Jesus died the death that we deserve, and we died "in him."

"For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and he died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again." 2 Cor. 5:14, 15

We may not appreciate old-fashioned, gender-representative language such as we find in the Bible, but we should think before we edit, for this language contains the truth about the state of the dead and the living in Christ:

"And this is the testimony; that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. " 1 Jn. 5:11

The fact that we are alive today, even in this probationary time, gives unmistakable evidence that Christ has redeemed us. Wicked and righteous alike, all live in Him and because of Him.

The final judgment will reveal an awful reality: Many of Adam's children have despised this gift of Life in Christ; they may have taken His name, but they didn't want to partake of His food or wear His robe. They have chosen to live apart from Him in this life, and at that time will be revealed the mysterious truth: "He that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death." Prov. 8:36

With unspeakable grief, Christ will give them over to their choice. "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." 1 Jn. 5:11, 12
-Patti Guthrie

Raul Diaz

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

“The Sabbath”

Insights #11 September 13, 2014

.Third Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"The Sabbath"
For the week of September 13, 2014

From my earliest remembrance Sabbath was the highlight of the week, looked forward to with great anticipation. The activities of Friday, the preparation day, only added to the sense that the Day would be special. We had to thoroughly clean the house, a task my dad took very seriously. He'd check the top of all the doorways for dust and all the other highest places he could find. It had to be perfect. After all it was going to be the Sabbath. My little brother would wash the gluten. For on the Sabbath we had gluten, my mom's homemade gluten!

Sadly over the centuries the Sabbath has been vulnerable, attacked because various elements of the Christian Church came to see it as an arbitrary institution. Webster's dictionary defines "arbitrary" as "not regulated by fixed rule or law, capricious, tyrannical, despotic, high-handed and dictatorial. If indeed God was arbitrary when He made the seventh day the Sabbath, then it could be gotten rid of and transferred to a more reasonable day—Sunday. Human reason dating back to just after the dawn of Christianity saw nothing that would designate the seventh day for special honor. But in Genesis we are told that a voice coming not from human reason but from Almighty God "said," and spoke everything that is, into existence, including the Sabbath day. This insight will highlight 4 points (not by any means exhaustive) that agree with our memory text, "The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath," Mark 2:27, 28. No the Sabbath is not arbitrary.

Genesis chapter 1 records the miraculous account of the story of creation which by
God's evaluation at the end of the sixth day was very good, a very modest evaluation knowing that it was surpassingly beautiful. We read in Genesis chapter 2, "Thus the heavens and the earth and all the host of them were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done." The next verse, verse 3, tells us of the importance of the Sabbath to God and man. "Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made." There are 2 carefully worded pairs in verses 2 & 3 of this chapter. In verse 2 the first word pair, "on the seventh day God finished the work He had done and He rested on the seventh day," is important and will be dealt with later. The second word pair occurs in verse 3." God blessed the seventh day and sanctified or (hallowed) it." This hallowing of the Sabbath has the same import that God's name is hallowed. Both in the Hebrew and Greek hallowed means set apart as something that is due all possible reverence. That is how significant the Sabbath is to God. This second word pair is then an indication that the Sabbath is permanent and by the act of hallowing the seventh day God is announcing that the Divine presence has entered human time. The first point then is this: based on this fact of the entrance of the Divine presence into human time the Sabbath was made holy, sanctified at creation. Here was the day for which all the other days had been made, the pearl of all days. On this day God set His seal of approval. "God had driven the stake of His presence in the soil of human time."

The second point getting at the heart of the 1888 message is the Biblical truth of the Divine initiative that is toward all men and for all men. God has done something for every person on planet earth.  It is the character of God to make the first move. The Biblical narrative starts with Genesis, not Exodus telling us that it is universal in scope, for every nation, kindred, tribe, tongue and people. Genesis 2:2 declares that on the 6th day God finished, completed, ended His work, which He had made and rested. Two things to note: 1) God was not tired 2) It was man's first day and Adam had named the animals which would not equate to strenuous work. When the first Sabbath came to earth only God had worked 6 days. "God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" on the 6th day. In a special sense this was God's holy day, God's rest day. In the book of Hebrews God speaks of "My rest" and invites us to enter in. The Sabbath to Adam back then and to us now is symbolic of rest in God. This point is significant. The emphasis in the creation story to Adam and to us is rest. In Exodus the 4th commandment asks us to remember before it asks us to do anything. What we are to remember sets up the meaning of the Sabbath. God sets the Sabbath apart with His presence, His faithfulness, His work on our behalf, His covenant blessings to us before there is any mention of a human response. I've heard too many say that the Sabbath is a test of our obedience to God. However, the Sabbath is the sign of God's faithfulness to us. He who began the work in us is faithful to complete it until the day of Jesus Christ Paul tells us in Philippians 1:6 (see also Eph 2:4, Lam 3:22, 23, 2 Tim 2:13).

Thirdly the Sabbath speaks of God's commitment to redeem His people at any cost to Himself. Embedded in the heart of the Ten Commandments we read this, "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt out of the house of bondage…observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you…and remember you were a slave in the land of Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out form there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day" Deut  5: 6, 12 and 15. Israel's deliverance from Egypt was predicated on the sign of the blood of a lamb killed at twilight and some of that blood placed on the two doorposts. The Bible tells us that the people were to take this lamb on the 10th day of that month until the 14th day of the same month then kill it at twilight. According to Stephen N. Haskell in his book The Cross and The Shadow p 97, "The Passover lamb was slain between the two evenings, or about the 9th hour of the day, the great antitypical Lamb, as He hung between Heaven and earth an offering for sinful man, about the 9th hour cried, 'It is finished'". The apostle Paul tells us that "indeed Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us" 1 Cor 5:7. M. L. Andreason writing about the creation, the Sabbath, and redemption in his book Hebrews p.184 & 185 offers this wonderful insight. "The day following the creation of man was the greatest of all days. God understood, of course what the angels but dimly comprehended and man not at all— the meaning and cost of creation. He saw the future. He knew of sin and dark days coming: but He also knew that the supreme step had been taken that would eventuate in the complete vindication of God and the final cleansing of the universe from sin."    So Jesus finished His work of redemption on Friday and rested in His finished work on Sabbath.  Israel was delivered and redeemed by the blood of the Passover lamb and as God was instructing them in the reason for Sabbath observance, He adds to creation, deliverance and redemption. Praise God!

Lastly, we must come to the healing ministry of Jesus on the Sabbath. The lesson gives examples of a man with a withered hand and the man at the pool of Bethesda "who had an infirmity thirty-eight years" who were healed on the Sabbath. But the story that has gripped me most is the one recorded in Luke chapter 13. Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. He happened to look up at the right moment and arresting His attention, calling out His deepest sympathies was a "woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up". Jesus overcome, could not help Himself, "He called her to Him and said to her, 'Woman, you are loosed form your infirmity.'" Then the Bible says He touched her, "He laid His hands on her." Of course the rulers in the synagogue were beside themselves but it's Jesus response to them that reveals the Divine heart towards lost suffering humanity. Verse 16—"So ought not this woman being a daughter of Abraham whom Satan has bound— think of it, eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?" In Genesis chapter 3 serious questions are raised about the character of the One who is altogether lovely. From that time till the present time the great controversy has been raging. We have been bound by Satan whether by disease, some suffering, or by sin. We were bent over and could in no way raise ourselves up. We could not even make a move toward the remedy. So Jesus Christ, not being able to stay in the glories of heaven while we were bound, came to earth and bound Himself to Humanity with chords that are never to be broken. Matthew says, "He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses." He was touched with the feelings of our infirmities. Sickness, disease, and suffering manifested in those He created constantly reminded Him of the price of sin, and on the Sabbath day like no other He engaged in the work of healing and redemption. When Jesus began His ministry, He was in the synagogue, stood up to read, and chose as His introduction of Himself and His ministry, Is 61

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

On the Sabbath like no other day Jesus confirmed His commitment to humanity. He is present with us in our suffering. He is Immanuel, God with us. No, the Sabbath is not arbitrary.

1888 concepts in the Sabbath

1)    The Divine initiative— It is in the character of God to make the first move.

2)    The good news of the gospel is universal in its reach. Jesus died for every man and has redeemed by His    blood the race of mankind. We now stand on vantage ground in Christ.

3)    Jesus is touched with the feelings of our infirmities, made like His brethren.

-Lyndi Schwartz

Raul Diaz

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

“The Law of God”

Insights #10 September 6, 2014
Third Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"The Law of God"
For the week of September 6, 2014

A right understanding of God's use of law, and our relation to it, stood at the center of the opposition to the message that God sent to us at Minneapolis in 1888.  Satan has always tried to portray the law of God as an attempt by God to limit our freedom.  Satan has attempted – quite successfully both on earth and in heaven – to portray God as controlling, manipulative, restrictive, and micro-managing, and that God has used laws to accomplish His purposes.

In the garden of Eden, in Gen.3, Satan through the serpent, stated that God was being restrictive and confining in that God wouldn't let Adam and Eve eat from ANY tree in the garden.  Whereas God had given tremendous liberty to eat of anything they wanted except one tree, Satan made God appear controlling by saying they couldn't eat anything.  Satan had the same argument up in heaven.  In Job 4, Satan spoke to one of Job's friends in a night vision, and said that God up in heaven didn't have any faith in His angels.  From this we glean, again, that Satan was portraying God as controlling and restrictive.  If God had trusted them, He would have given His angels more freedom, less restriction, less law.

God's law has always been one of heart experience over external behavioral compliance.  Both in heaven and on earth, God has always wanted our law keeping to occur because the law is written on our hearts, minds, and characters, not merely as a behavioral acquiescence motivated by hope of reward or fear of punishment.  This was the experience of the angels up in heaven.  The idea that God had a law was almost a new thought to them when Satan brought it up.  "But in heaven, service is not rendered in the spirit of legality. When Satan rebelled against the law of Jehovah, the thought that there was a law came to the angels almost as an awakening to something unthought of. In their ministry the angels are not as servants, but as sons.... Obedience is to them no drudgery. Love for God makes their service a joy. So in every soul wherein Christ, the hope of glory, dwells, His words are re-echoed, "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart."  {Mar 79.7}

This same controversy continued in our 1888 history and down to our day.  A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner, and Ellen White, were all attempting to promote a heart motivated obedience, and not merely an external behavioral compliance.  Those opposed to God's messengers felt that this was a dangerous downplaying of the law's significance.  All mention of law that might have a potentially negative connotation in the New Testament they said referred to the ceremonial law and not the moral law.  Jones and Waggoner and Ellen White all affirmed that the law generally referred to both the moral and ceremonial laws – especially in Galatians and Romans.  God's use of law has always been as a revelation of His love for us – whether it is moral or ceremonial.  All laws were never a means of salvation, but a revelation of what salvation looks like – and that is true for both the moral and ceremonial laws!

Ellen White said it this way:

"The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24). In this Scripture, the Holy Spirit through the apostle is speaking especially of the moral law. The law reveals sin to us, and causes us to feel our need of Christ, and to flee unto Him for pardon and peace by exercising repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.  {1MR 130.2}

An unwillingness to yield up preconceived opinions, and to accept this truth, lay at the foundation of a large share of the opposition manifested at Minneapolis against the Lord's message through Brethren Waggoner and Jones. By exciting that opposition, Satan succeeded in shutting away from our people, in a great measure, the special power of the Holy Spirit that God longed to impart to them. The enemy prevented them from obtaining that efficiency which might have been theirs in carrying the truth to the world, as the apostles proclaimed it after the day of Pentecost. The light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory was resisted, and by the action of our own brethren has been in a great degree kept away from the world.  {1MR 130.3}  

The law of ten commandments is not to be looked upon as much from the prohibitory side, as from the mercy side. Its prohibitions are the sure guarantee of happiness in obedience. As received in Christ, it works in us the purity of character that will bring joy to us through eternal ages. To the obedient it is a wall of protection. We behold in it the goodness of God, who by revealing to men the immutable principles of righteousness, seeks to shield them from the evils that result from transgression.  {1MR 130.4}  

We are not to regard God as waiting to punish the sinner for his sin. The sinner brings the punishment upon himself. His own actions start a train of circumstances that bring the sure result. Every act of transgression reacts upon the sinner, works in him a change of character, and makes it more easy for him to transgress again. By choosing to sin, men separate themselves from God, cut themselves off from the channel of blessing, and the sure result is ruin and death.  {1MR 131.1}  

I am asked concerning the law in Galatians. What law is the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ? I answer: Both the ceremonial and the moral code of ten commandments.  {1MR 131.4}

May we in our understanding, in our experience, and in our sharing, reveal a picture of the law as beautiful as this.  May God's law be respected and appreciated and treasured as it should be, not as a burden, but as the true blessing that it is.

Raul Diaz