What do the swine flu outbreak and this year's graduating class have in common?

What do the swine flu outbreak and this year's graduating class have in common? For over a week now global news outlets have made the North American Human Influenza A (H1N1) virus their lead story! And when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and the World Health Organization in Geneva both weigh in on the headline and declare varying states of emergency, who doesn’t take notice? Costa Rican health officials are now discouraging the traditional kiss-on-the-cheek greeting. Israeli officials are suggesting that the virus should be renamed the Mexcian flu, since the reference to pigs is offensive to Muslim and Jewish sensitivities over pork. Mexican officials aren’t responding to their suggestion, and who can blame them! After all, no one is sure yet where the virus originated.

The good news is that this never-before-seen strain of influenza—a mix of pig, human and bird viruses—can apparently be contained and controlled, much like previous flu outbreaks. And a vaccine is reported to be ready by early May. So public health officials are stressing there is no need for panic.

The bad news is that this new flu strain is highly contagious. And therein lies the something-in-common with the  graduates of Andrews University this weekend. Not that any of you has contracted this flu (as did a Notre Dame University student this past week). But rather that the very mission of Seventh-day Adventist Christian education that Andrews University embraces is by definition intended to render all graduates contagious for Christ. Which is why our prayer here at Pioneer for all of you who embark on your new post-graduation venture is a simple one. We’ve been honored to be your spiritual home-away-from-home, and your presence here over the years has blessed us. Now we pray a special outpouring of the Spirit of Christ upon you—so that wherever you go in the journey ahead, his radical love for this world will shine through you, rendering you a contagious primetime change agent for his kingdom!

Because truth be known (and it is), the most serious pandemic this civilization faces can only be remedied by the vaccine of Calvary’s sacrifice. And because you know Jesus personally, you’re the most logical person on earth (in the school or office or workplace where you’re headed) to be the contagious carrier of his life-giving grace and power. "But thanks be to God, who always leads us . . . and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of [Christ] everywhere" (II Corinthians 2:14 TNIV). So go forth and be contagious for him. We're cheering you on!

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The fish population must be losing sleep over this one. I mean, after mad cow, bird flu, and now swine flu, they must surely be next. Jokes aside, if this is a good bridge to how our SDA and Christian lifestyle should be contagious, this is also a unique opportunity to stress how better eating habits and a vegetarian diet can immunize us from the many diseases that are directly or indirectly linked to our society's growing dependence on animal foodsources. Trying to eat better makes sense. We should spend more sabbath mornings talking about this. The truth is we neglect this message, one that can often be our only chance to reach people who would otherwise refuse to hear of a God. I've been a SDA almost all my life -- I am 31. I haven't eaten red meat for over 10 years, but have only recently stopped eating chicken and will still eat fish on some rare occasions. I can't really remember why I stopped eating beef, but am sure it didn't have anything to do with religious convictions. In the past year or so, I have had the chance to watch interesting videos and read literature on the matter. I now have a strong conviction that vegetarianism makes good sense, whether it be at ethical, environmental, ecological, or humanitarian levels. Sadly, despite all the literature I now know we as a denomination possess, it wasn't at church that I came across this. Some people believe that being a vegetarian gives them the right to eat however much they want of anything else they can eat. I know this is simply not true and one thing that I too struggle to have is temperance. Some others believe that because they have been able to change their eating habits they are now closer to salvation. When so many still crave for meat, it's easy to fooled into thinking that you're now a better Christian than most. But, this is also not true. Taking this issue to the pulpit gives us as a congregation to hear of so many things at the same time. I have a lot of colleagues who simply do not want to hear anyone speak of their religious convictions. But, most of them will lend their ears to talk of proper eating, the need to exercise, and how these and other changes can truly make a difference in our lives. When I tell them that my God wants them to live life to the full, they hear. Pr. Nelson, could we have a series on this? Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Hello Pastor Nelson, I was looking for your series on "The Chosen" and under PMchurch I found your blog. I typed in the words "The Chosen" and found an interesting site basing our relationship to God on the information in the old testament, but I don't think that is your site - it looks good though. Can you tell me how to find your series? I would like to order fthe DVD's for our church - we have a few weeks between pastors that we could use it. Thank you, and God Bless.

All praise to God, Dwight, for your faithfulness to God. You are a servant that God is using mightily. May you continue to take time with Jesus each day. God bless.

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