Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Beulah Fern Fenton Stevens -- Life Sketch


Life Sketch
Beulah Fern Fenton Stevens
July 9, 1937 – October 12, 2019

The Early Years

Beulah Fern Fenton was born on Friday, July 9, 1937 at Walla Walla General Hospital. She was the second child, and second daughter of Claude and Oral (Wilson) Fenton, joining her sister Katty Joy who was just 20 months older. In their early, pre-school years, the two girls lived with their parents in the home of Hattie Mae and Robert Vent, their grandmother and step-grandfather. Their father, Claude worked as a carpenter building homes in Walla Walla, while their mother Oral continued her service as a Registered Nurse at Walla Walla General.

Around 1939 or 1940, Claude and Oral moved their family to Fruitvale, Oregon, a tiny community near Umapine a few miles northwest of Milton-Freewater. There, Katty Joy started first grade in the Fruitvale School, a short walk from the family home on Sunquist Road. The Fentons were always community-oriented, and the sisters often stood on the stage of the Fruitvale Community Center directly across the road from the school. While living at Fruitvale, Brother Beryl joined the girls in 1943 as the third child, bringing childhood vivaciousness and liveliness to the Fenton household.
 Another move brought the family to a small rental near College Place on West Wallula Avenue.  Daddy Claude continued his carpentry employment with a local contractor in Walla Walla. The girls were enrolled in Davis Elementary School in College Place, Katty Joy in 2nd grade, Beulah Fern in 1st grade, beginning her journey of formal education which would eventually extend over horizons completely unimagined at the time.

Nearing the end of the WWII years, the rental home on Wallula Avenue was sold in early 1945. Weeks and weeks of searching the Walla Walla Valley yielded nothing available anywhere for the family to live. Mother Oral’s uncle-by-marriage, Leo St. Clair, wrote of a large farmhouse available on North Outlook Road in the Yakima Valley, located on 50 acres of rich farming land, together with several out-buildings, sheds, a small barn and corrals for livestock. With rental agreements in place, four truck-loads of family belongings made the trek from College Place to the Outlook farm in March 1945, just in time to begin preparation for the soon-to-arrive asparagus season. Friendly neighbors and visits from the Yakima Extension Service gave experienced counsel on successful asparagus farming operations. The girls were enrolled as students in the Outlook Grade School, in 2nd and 3rd grades.

The North Outlook place would be the family home for the next 40 years.

Just over two months after moving, right in the middle of the first asparagus season, the fourth and final Fenton child (yours, truly!) made his entry into the family. Beulah Fern and Katty Joy moved immediately into big-sister mothering roles, helping to corral, entertain, and discipline their two little brothers.

In time, all four Fenton young people graduated from Sunnyside High School. Because of her singular ability to focus on responsibilities at hand, her determination, and hard work, Beulah Fern earned a place in the National Honor Society, proudly wearing the gold cords at her graduation in 1955.

College and Beyond

After graduating from high school, Beulah Fern enrolled in the Walla Walla College School of Nursing. This was her first year away from home, and with Katty Joy already in the second-year clinical rotation at Portland Sanitarium and Hospital, the Walla Walla campus was a new and challenging experience. I remember our parents bringing my brother and me to “see Beulah Fern,” and how excited she was to see “two little boys with rolled-up cuffs on their blue jeans” come running up the sidewalk to greet her. She took us on a “tour” of the campus, including Conard Hall, the cafeteria, the chemistry lab, and other locations. During that first year of college she worked in housekeeping, cleaning bathrooms, toilets, and hallways, and—as always—striving to do the best job possible—even with those humble tasks which made life better for others.

Beulah Fern received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Walla Walla College in 1959. After working as a staff nurse at the hospital in Portland from then until 1962, she returned to WWC to earn her MA in Education, graduating in June 1963. In subsequent years this training proved invaluable in her career path which gradually developed into a specialty of Inservice Education for the nursing staff at Portland Adventist Medical Center and later at Loma Linda University Medical Center. During this period of employment in Portland, Beulah Fern co-authored a devotional book for nurses with her friend, colleague, and mentor Grace Scheresky.

In 1969 she accepted a call from LLUMC Nursing Service to serve as Director of Nursing Education and Training. She also maintained faculty rank in the LLU School of Nursing. Through the early years of the 1970s Beulah Fern was instrumental in developing policy and procedure manuals, relating them to contemporary trends in nursing care, organization, etc. This was followed in 1975-77 by her assignment as Coordinator for a US government funded research project studying alternative methods of learning for nursing students.

(On August 12, 1973, Beulah Fern married the love of her life, James Ray Stevens, Jr. at the Granger, Washington Seventh-day Adventist Church. Although they had no children of their own, Beulah Fern and Jim poured their love into their several nieces, nephews, and any other children they knew. The children responded in kind, and each of them still cherish the wonderful memories of “Auntie Beulah and Uncle Jim.”)

As the research project drew to a close, Beulah Fern’s title and responsibilities once again expanded. Under the title “Clinical Specialist,” she was asked to undertake a pioneering project aimed at training nurses to integrate appropriate spiritual care into nursing practice. She served as a liaison between the Nursing and Chaplain’s Departments, working closely with Head Chaplain, Dr. Wil Alexander. In this new capacity, Beulah Fern conducted workshops and seminars for nurses, not only at LLUMC, but also in major Adventist hospitals in the United States.

Once again her job description changed in 1980 when she became the Director of Human Resources Development for LLUMC Nursing Division. She served in this capacity until 1982 when she and her husband, Jim Stevens, accepted an invitation to pastor a tiny congregation in Irrigon, Oregon, a small town on the banks of the Columbia River in eastern Oregon. While Jim and Beulah Fern lived in Irrigon, she remained active as a part-time Examiner for Basic Health Systems. She continued her work in nursing education with Spiritual Care Workshops for Nursing throughout the US, Puerto Rico, and what was then the Far Eastern Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

In 1985, Beulah Fern moved again to Portland, this time with her husband Jim by her side. For two years she served as Chaplain/Receptionist in the Pastoral Care Department of Portland Adventist Medical Center. She completed one quarter Basic Clinical Pastoral Education at Providence Medical Center in Portland during Winter Quarter, 1987. With the retirement of Chaplain Services department head Cal Hartnell, Beulah Fern was selected as the new department leader—a position she held until her retirement in 2005.

Affiliations and Memberships

·         Sigma Theta Tau. National Honor Society for Nurses
·         Association of Seventh-day Adventist Nurses (Life Member)
·         ANA Certified Nursing Administrator
·         Seventh-day Adventist Church. Member. Ordained local elder.
·         Certified Grief Counselor, Resolve Through Sharing

The End of the Journey

With the Walla Walla Valley as her personal and family roots, Beulah Fern decided to move to College Place for her final retirement years. She lived in her own home on Sentry Drive, ever the gracious hostess, loving neighbor, and active member of the College Place Village Seventh-day Adventist Church. With the loving attention of Home Instead caregivers, she was able to remain at home until one year ago when the advancing stages of Alzheimer’s necessitated a move to an elder-care home.

In October of last year, Beulah Fern moved to Sunshine Home here in College Place, where she lived until her death on October 12, 2019. She is survived by her sister Katty Joy French, brother Loren Fenton, nieces Michelle (Shelly) Waymire and Kimberly Holback, nephews Benjamin Fenton and Jeffry Fenton, seven grand-nieces and nephews, one great-grand-nephew, and one great-grand-niece.
Beulah Fern was preceded in death by her husband Jim Stevens, her parents Claude and Oral Fenton, and her brother Beryl Fenton. Her final resting place will be beside her beloved Jim at the Terrace Heights Memorial Park in Yakima, Washington. The graveside service there will be at 11:00 a.m., next Monday, October 21, 2019.

A Final Thought

Each of Beulah Fern’s family, friends, colleagues, and casual acquaintances will forever cherish the memories, and bless the Lord for the privilege we have had with Beulah Fern as part of our life. We are all looking forward to the Great Resurrection Morning when death will be no more, no mourning, crying, or pain for the former things will be forever banished from God’s restored Universe and the beautiful Earth Made New. Even so, Come! Lord Jesus!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Living in Christian Liberty


MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

Oswald Chambers

May 6 reading



Liberty and the Standards of Jesus

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free …” (Galatians 5:1).

A spiritually-minded person will never come to you with the demand— “believe this and that”; a spiritually-minded person will demand that you align your life with the standards of Jesus. We are not asked to believe the Bible, but to believe the One whom the Bible reveals (see John 5:39–40). We are called to present liberty for the conscience of others, not to bring them liberty for their thoughts and opinions. And if we ourselves are free with the liberty of Christ, others will be brought into that same liberty—the liberty that comes from realizing the absolute control and authority of Jesus Christ.

Always measure your life solely by the standards of Jesus. Submit yourself to His yoke, and His alone; and always be careful never to place a yoke on others that is not of Jesus Christ. It takes God a long time to get us to stop thinking that unless everyone sees things exactly as we do, they must be wrong. That is never God’s view. There is only one true liberty—the liberty of Jesus at work in our conscience enabling us to do what is right.

Don’t get impatient with others. Remember how God dealt with you—with patience and with gentleness. But never water down the truth of God. Let it have its way and never apologize for it. Jesus said, “Go … and make disciples …” (Matthew 28:19), not, “Make converts to your own thoughts and opinions.”


Saturday, March 23, 2019



A Devotional Theology of the
Three Angels of Revelation 14

Loren L. Fenton, D.Min.
Sabbath School Notes
March 9, 2019

Introduction: The Battlefield of Good vs. Evil

1.     Ephesians 6:12 – We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

2.     Luke 17L20, 21 – Now when [Jesus] was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.

3.     John 14:1 – Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me.

4.     2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

The Three Angels’ Messages

1.     The First Angel’s Message (Revelation 14:6-7)

a.      Proclaims the everlasting gospel to every culture on Earth

b.     The gospel

                                                             i.      Ephesians 2:8-9 – It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

                                                           ii.      Romans 6:23 – The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

c.      The gates of hell shall not prevail against the gospel message going to all the world (See Matthew 16:18).

                                                             i.      A gate is a defense against attack

                                                           ii.      The gospel message shines light into spiritual darkness

                                                        iii.      The darkness is overcome by the light

2.     The Second Angel’s Message (Revelation 14:8)

a.      Bible records two incidents when Babylon (Babel) fell

                                                             i.      Genesis 11:1-9 – The Tower of Babel

                                                           ii.      Daniel 5:30 – Babylonian Empire falls to the Medes and Persians

b.     Announces the victory of the gospel in the good vs. evil battle for the believer’s heart

3.     The Third Angel’s Message (Revelation 14:9-12)

a.      Announces God’s action to destroy spiritual darkness.

b.     Those who cling to the darkness cannot escape. They will also be destroyed with the “Babylon” of their pride and self-worship

c.      Encouragement for the saints—those who have come out of darkness into his marvelous light (see 1 Peter 2:9)—to have patience, endurance, continue in obedience to God’s commandments, and stay faithful to Jesus.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Are Hierarchies Evil?

(Note 10/15/2018: This is an article I wrote in February, 2006. It was published at that time in our church newsletter. In the light of the vote taken yesterday at #GCAC18, it seems timely to share it once again. LLF)


Are Hierarchies Evil?

© 2006 Pastor Loren L. Fenton
Canyonville Seventh-day Adventist Church



            A few weeks ago, I made an “off-the-cuff” statement in the Sabbath School class that meets in the back of the sanctuary, which seems to have stirred up quite a bit of discussion here and there.  I don’t remember the exact discussion that precipitated my remark, but as I remember it I said something like “I believe hierarchies were invented by the devil.”  It is amazing how something like this can be taken out of context and changed quite dramatically as it flows along the grapevine.  (Did you ever play the game of “telephone” at a party?)  Now, I don’t deny that I made the statement, but I thought maybe it would be profitable for us all if I commented a little more on the subject here.

First, I want to apologize for causing distress for some of our people.  I guess it was assumed by my statement that I do not believe in church organization.  Let me assure you that is not the case at all.  I very much value and respect the way the Seventh-day Adventist Church is organized, and I am thrilled to know how God has led this denomination in its organizational history.  It is a blessing to me personally as I receive my monthly paycheck from our Oregon Conference headquarters, and I count it a great privilege to return a faithful tithe, and give additional offerings, for the support of God’s work, not only here in Oregon, but around the world through the General Conference and related entities.  Yes, I am loyal to the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its organizational structure!

As I have thought about this question of organization and hierarchies, I suppose a more accurate representation of my thoughts would be that I object to the abuse of power so often found in hierarchical organizations.  A study of the history of secular hierarchies reveals that they are characterized by one dominant element: control of the many by the few.  The early Christian church of the Dark Ages absorbed this spirit when Roman authority was imposed on all believers under its influence.  In some places such as Ireland, however, the church flourished for centuries outside of the Roman influence.  The result was an entirely different organizational structure, which, although eventually overwhelmed by the power of Rome, became the seedbed for the Protestant Reformation.   If you would like to read more about this, a good reference is The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach The West . . . Again, by George C. Hunter III, published by Abingdon Press, 2000.

In sharp contrast to this abuse of power through top-down, command-and-control authoritarianism is the example of Jesus, the teachings of Paul, and the example in the Old Testament of Moses and Jethro.  Jesus taught and lived by the principle of “whoever is the greatest among you, let him be your servant.”  Paul declared, “I will glory in my weakness that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  Jethro’s counsel to Moses to organize the people into tens, fifties, hundreds, and thousands (see Exodus:18)  was not for management or control of the masses, but to effectively serve their needs.  Thus, it is plain to see that the purpose of any church organization, whether hierarchical or otherwise, is to serve the needs of the people and to give glory, worship, and honor to God.  
The church is neither a kingdom (in the classical, human sense) nor an oligarchy.  Rather, it is the body of Christ, empowered by the Spirit of God, and called to a holy purpose.  The purpose of church organization must ever, and always, be to effectively empower the people of God to live their calling.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Second Amendment Thoughts (Article Format)

Update: This is basically the same content as the outline edition posted earlier. I have edited it into the article format for easier reading on some devices. LLF

Gun Ownership in America

A Personal Position Statement Regarding the Ownership and
Regulation of Firearms by Law-abiding Citizens in
American Society

By Loren L Fenton, DMin
©September 6, 2018

Personal Background

The following information is a backdrop for the positions I express below.

I was born and raised in the farm country of Washington State’s Yakima Valley. I am seventy-three years old at the time of this writing, somewhat old-school, definitely “senior citizen.” I was the youngest of four siblings. Our mother’s influence led each one of us children to “age-of-accountability” baptism and membership in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. As an adult, I served as an ordained minister in the church for forty years. I retired in 2011.

For a dirt-poor farmer’s son, I was blessed to receive an un-dreamed-of education, eventually completing my formal studies in 1998 when I received my Doctor of Ministry degree from Andrews University, Berrien Springs MI.

Personal Experience with Firearms

My father owned two guns for hunting: A 12-guage Winchester pump action shotgun and a .30-30 Winchester lever-action deer rifle. These firearms were always part of our household. My father owned them long before marriage and family entered his life, and continued to use them throughout the remaining span of his seventy-five years.

My brother, who was two years older than me, received a BB gun as a gift around age ten. He and I both learned to shoot using his BB gun. When we ran out of BB shot pellets, we would sometimes open one of Dad’s shotgun shells to get the shot from inside. I did this one time when a friend from a Southern California city was visiting. He was terrified that I would blow myself up, but I knew what I was doing. He didn’t need to worry.

When I was in the ninth grade (age 14), I received my first hunting license. Washington State law required first-time licensees to attend several hours of gun safety instruction, and subsequently pass both written and skills tests before being issued the license.

Many years later, after my father’s death, I inherited his 12-guage shotgun. This gun is still in our family, although I no longer personally have it in my possession.

In the mid-1980’s, because of my involvement in wilderness horse pack trips into the high mountains, I purchased a short-barreled .357 Magnum revolver, which I open-carried during our camping trips into the high country. Later, I sold this firearm to a gun shop when I no longer needed it

As you can readily see from the above sketch, I am comfortable around guns and ammunition. I do not fear them, but I do respect their potential for severe injury or death if not handled with stringent safeguards and safe practices

Second Amendment Considerations

The exact wording of the Second Amendment: A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.  

Note 1: The primary subject of the Second Amendment sentence is “the right of the people.”

Neither the original COTUS, nor the “Bill of Rights” (the first ten Amendments), nor any of the seventeen subsequent Amendments create rights for “the people.” The underlying principle of “rights,” as expressed in both the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence which preceded it, is that “certain unalienable rights” are granted to all people by their Creator, e.g. “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Thus, these already-existing God-given rights of “the people” are simply recognized, codified, and protected by the full COTUS, including the right to keep and bear arms as delineated in the Second Amendment, and forcefully underscored by the ending phrase, “shall not be infringed.”

Note 2: The central purpose of this Amendment is “the security of a free State.”

The meaning of “a free State” must be understood in the context of the contemporary nation-states at the time the COTUS was written.

For thousands of years before the birth of this new American nation, the social, political, and religious structures of human societies everywhere were rigid, top-down, command-and-control hierarchies. In the European feudal system, everything—including the land, products, natural resources, and even the people themselves—were properties of the supreme monarch (a king or queen) who could, and often did, rule with an iron fist. As Louis XIV of France infamously declared, “I am the State!” The financial economy existed for one over-riding purpose: to funnel wealth upward for the monarch’s sole determination whether to benefit the subjects of the realm with generosity or to indulge the capricious whims of self-centered power. Religious hierarchies mirrored the secular nations in authoritarian governance, compelling adherence to centralized edicts formulated by elite oligarchies and enforced by persecution, terror, torture, and threat of excommunication.

The Founders of the new nation created a new blueprint—a “free State”—in which people could breathe the air of individual liberty, economic opportunity, personal ownership of land and property, and religious self-determination. President Abraham Lincoln eloquently expressed the American ideal of a free State in the immortal words of his Gettysburg Address: Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

The COTUS was instituted as the foundational legal document for the new federal government, not to control the people for the benefit of the government or government officials, but to protect the freedom of the common people to speak, assemble, worship, and pursue economic visions according to their own personal choices.

Note 3: The right to own and bear arms—by the lawful citizenry of the nation—is “necessary to the security of a free State.”

The Founders of the nation recognized that the liberties—which they held belonged to the people by divine right—could only be protected and preserved by establishing two distinct lines of defense: (A) the legal provision, which they codified in the COTUS, together with subsidiary laws throughout the judicial system; and (B) local practical safeguards against unwelcome intruders threatening harm or creating danger.

“The people” themselves are, in fact, the “well-regulated Militia” referenced in the first phrase of the Amendment. The “Militia” cannot refer to a national or state military presence. Depending exclusively on government-controlled military or police to safeguard local freedoms for every person in the nation would be literally impossible based on simple logistics alone and would create the exact opposite of freedom—a police state enforcing draconian, intrusive regulations dictated by an elite few for the control of the many—effectively destroying the very liberties the COTUS legally protects.

Additionally, the “Militia” cannot refer to rouge, independent self-styled para-military groups whose purpose is insurrection or overthrow of the government. These groups typically operate with extremely rigid top-down, hierarchical command-and-control authoritarianism. The underlying philosophy of these so-called “patriot” groups is indistinguishable from old-world and third-world dictatorships imposing their world-view on all people under their influence and control. Because of their primary modus operandi of authoritarian rule, para-military “militias” are the very antithesis of government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

The right of ownership presumes the right of every citizen personally to protect his/her own property from theft or injury.

The right to life presumes the responsibility to protect and defend a one’s own life, as well as the life of family members, or others known to be in imminent danger.

Since all laws (regulations) are about relationships, the expression “well-regulated” does recognize the need for certain legal safeguards pertaining to gun ownership, designed to foster safety but still preserve security and protect liberty for the greater good. Individuals posing an obvious danger to themselves or others must be restricted, both legally and physically, from possessing potentially lethal or harmful weapons, including but not limited to firearms. Gun safety instruction and practices, together with hands-on training should carry the highest priority for anyone involved in using firearms at any level or for any purpose. While background checks are a helpful method of filtering gun purchasers for safe and responsible ownership, they must never be imposed by government officials with the intention of abrogating the rights of law-abiding, responsible citizens protected by the Second Amendment.

Mandatory waiting periods following the purchase of a firearm are also an effective and legitimate method of regulation. Waiting periods are not new. They have been in place for decades but vary from state-to-state.

Regulatory laws are generally best created and administered (enforced) at the state level rather than at the federal level. Normally, state governments are closer to and more accessible to the people, and therefore tend to be more responsive to their constituents. This point notwithstanding, I personally do favor a national concealed-carry reciprocity law allowing holders of state concealed-carry permits to legally cross state lines without inadvertently breaking unknown state regulations.

Note 4: Some thoughts about “infringement.”

The Amendment states, “. . . the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Definition of Infringe: to intrude negatively through encroachment, undermining, or obstruction, resulting in diminished privilege, power, or presence.

By using a double negative construction in this phrase, the Framers provide the most powerful message possible: Intentional, vigilant safeguarding of this “right of the people” as a means to establish the security of a “free State” was—and remains—a critical element for success of the nation.

As I stated above, “the people” (i.e. common citizens living under the laws of the “free State”), compose the “well-regulated Militia” referenced in the Amendment. “The people” are the ones who hold the right “to keep and bear arms.” Thus, any illegal infringement of this and other rights is, in fact, an unwarranted imposition of outside control on the people themselves and constitutes a violation of “free State” liberties.

Illegal infringements could originate from several possible sources: (A) overly-aggressive bureaucrats working at any level of government; (B) widespread waves of knee-jerk legislation following tragic events given high-visibility in both commercial and social media; (C) lynch-mob hysteria during riots or severe social disturbances; or (D) personal attacks such as muggings, armed robberies, home invasions, terrorist assaults, etc.

The people’s defense against illegal infringements is three-fold: (A) legal channels through the duly established court systems and processes—lawsuits and prosecution of offenders—and defensive legislation enacted to preserve all the rights and privileges of “the people”; (B) police presence for protection of lives and property, and for enforcement of legally enacted laws pertaining to the peace, safety, and preservation of every individual’s rights (note: while every community and political entity has some form of police protection, law enforcement officers cannot possibly be “in the right place at the right time” in all conceivable situations. The role of the police is to provide tactical, timely reinforcement for the primary defenders of personal rights—the people themselves); and (C) Immediate defense in the case of personal attacks.

The Framers of the COTUS certainly recognized that personal attacks most often come without warning, and thus provided for emergency, immediate, on-site defense of lives and property by victims of such attacks.

“Arms,” as referenced in the Amendment, is a general expression which can include firearms, knives, swords, or any other weapon available for personal defense. However, there are some necessary limitations. The Bill of Rights (Amendments 1-10 of the COTUS) was ratified and became law on December 15, 1791. Included, of course, was the Second Amendment, erecting a legal wall against infringing the right of “the people” to keep and bear arms. Over the course of the subsequent 226+ years there have been several legislative attempts to limit or clarify the scope of the Amendment and determine its true purpose and legally correct application. The most recent ruling by the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) was in 2008:

“The Court ruled that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution confers an individual right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense. It also ruled that two District of Columbia provisions, one that banned handguns and one that required lawful firearms in the home to be disassembled or trigger-locked, violate this right.” (Source: https://www.loc.gov/law/help/second-amendment.php)

Currently, there are numerous existing laws banning certain types of firearms and firearm modifications. Examples include fully automatic assault rifles and sawed-off shotguns with barrels less than 18 inches and an overall length of less than 26 inches. So-called “bump stocks” have been ruled illegal in some States recently, but not at the federal level.

As noted above, however, state-by-state gun regulations vary widely. A listing of both federal and state regulations can easily be researched online.

Note 5: To summarize

I believe the following about personal gun ownership and usage in America: (A) the right of the people to keep and bear arms is a core component of liberty under the COTUS and cannot be infringed without causing severe negative impacts on a free society; but, (B) there must be appropriate and necessary limitations to that right, with the sole purpose of ensuring public safety, but without compromising the security of the “free State.”

Note 6: The “Christian” Connection

I am a Christian. Period. Full stop.

I say this without hesitation or reluctance in any way. As I noted above, I was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist, and I served forty years as a minister in the church. I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord when I was sixteen years old. I believe in salvation by grace through faith in God’s  free gift of eternal life through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

I believe the Bible forms the ultimate foundation of faith and practice for Christians. The Bible (all sixty-six books in both Old and New Testaments) provides moral instruction with examples of great successes and cataclysmic failures, teaching human beings how to live in relationship to both God and other people.

In college I studied as a theology major, and in my formal academic studies I acquired a B.S. in Theology, an M.Div (Master of Divinity), and a D.Min  (Doctor of Ministry). I recognize that many of my colleagues who have the very same educational background and training as my own may not hold the same views as I do regarding gun ownership and regulation. I respect their conscientiously held positions, even though we may differ on several key conclusions. To me, that is the very heart of what it means to live in a “free State,” a privilege which I hold sacred, and which I cherish deeply. (I have listed my education experience here simply to illustrate that my thoughts are not expressed in a vacuum. I have spent many years reading and studying the Bible, religions, secular history, governments, social movements, organizational practices, and many other relevant subjects. My writings in this paper naturally reflect that background.)

The Bible does not teach pacifism, but it does condemn murder. The Sixth Commandment says, “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13 KJV), however, the Hebrew word translated as “kill” in the KJV is better translated “murder.” This is how it is rendered in the NKJV and other more recent translations. “Murder” is the unlawful taking of human life.

While the loss of human life by accident or intention is indeed tragic on any level, the Bible is replete with incidents when lives were taken yet were not counted as murder. In the Old Testament, God not only sanctioned certain times of warfare, but often directly intervened for victory in behalf of his people. In the New Testament, Jesus taught that even hating someone was the equivalent of murder (Matt 5:21, 22), thus a violation of the Sixth Commandment.

It is worthy of note that while Jesus did teach his disciples to “turn the other cheek,” he was not advocating a bland milquetoast pacifism. Instead, he wanted his followers to refrain from trading insult for insult in retaliation for real or imagined offences.

The Apostle Paul echoed Jesus’ teaching in his letter to the Roman believers when he wrote, “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Do things in such a way that everyone will see that you are honorable. Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible” (Romans 12:17, 18).

Both Jesus and Paul, however, recognized that at times evil people and evil actions must be met with strong—even violent—resistance. (See Matthew 18:6; Galatians 5:12). Let us not forget that the God of the Old Testament (YHWH) and the “Son of God”—the “Word”—in the New Testament (Jesus) are one and the same. Jesus himself made this clear with his statement, “Before Abraham was even born, I AM” (John 8:58 NLT). It is also notable that the highest commendation expressed by Jesus in any of the four Gospels was regarding the faith of a Roman centurion—an armed military commander of an enemy occupying force in Israel. Jesus did not condemn the presence or use of weapons. At one point, he even instructed his disciples to acquire them.

How, then, should an individual citizen—who also happens to be a professing Christian—living  in a “free State,” relate to the right to “keep and bear arms”?

Because freedom is the key component of this question, no one should be compelled to exercise this or any other God-given right. Liberty of conscience is paramount, and each person’s personal choice must be respected. Conversely, those who do choose to arm themselves for legitimate reasons (e.g. self-defense, protection of life and property, etc.) must be given equal regard, both legally and socially, as those who choose to not do so.

Using the Scriptures as a guide, I see no legitimacy for armed anarchy, rebellion, or attacks on governmental agencies. Hence, although the Second Amendment is silent on its definition of “arms,” I do not believe specific weapons of war (e.g. bombs, tanks, fully automatic rifles, etc.) should be available to common citizens without rigorous vetting to determine the purpose and intended use by other than active military personnel.

In a sinful and often violent world, all countries are compelled to protect their territory, citizens, and national interests using armed defenses. This “wall of protection” is vital to the freedom, peace, and well-being of any nation’s people. It is a sad reality of our present world-wide condition. It is not “un-Christian” to value, respect, and honor the brave men and women who voluntarily “stand on the wall” so that the rest of us can breathe the air of liberty. Likewise, it is equally not “un-Christian” to honor the inherent rights of individual human beings who choose firearms or other types of weapons as tools to protect their personal lives, property, family members, and/or other vulnerable members of their community from harm or injustice.

The Christian’s hope—my hope!—is for a new Earth, promised in the Book of Revelation with the vision of John,

Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3, 4).

There will be neither need nor use for “arms” in the Earth made New.

“Even so, Come! Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).



The End

Friday, June 8, 2018

Accentuate the Positive! Eliminate the Negative!

Take Time to Smell the Roses Every Day!

There are terrible things that happen in this world. I will not ignore those pieces of reality. But, neither will I allow the negative, the tragedies, the abominations to dominate my life or attention. I refuse to be controlled by fear or intimidation or the anger of others. Instead, I will choose to emphasize the good, the beautiful, the praise-worthy. I will celebrate the worthy achievements of my friends, my family, and even those whose viewpoints are in direct opposition to my own. "Let there be peace on Earth," as the old song goes, "and let it begin with me!"

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Some Personal Thoughts re: The Second Amendment


A Personal Position Statement Regarding the Ownership and
Regulation of Firearms by Law-abiding Citizens in
American Society
By Loren L Fenton, DMin
©April 26, 2018
1.       Personal Background: I am providing the following information as a backdrop to the positions I express below in the content of this statement.
a.       I was born and raised in the farm country of Washington State’s Yakima Valley. I am nearly seventy-three years old at the time of this writing, somewhat old-school, definitely “senior citizen.”
b.       I was the youngest of four siblings. Our mother’s influence led each one of us children to “age-of-accountability” baptism and membership in the Seventh-day Adventist Church
c.       As an adult, I served as an ordained minister in the church for forty years. I retired in 2011. For an old farm kid, I was blessed to receive an un-dreamed-of education, eventually completing my formal studies in 1998 when I received my Doctor of Ministry degree.
2.       Personal Experience with Firearms
a.       My father owned two guns for hunting:
                                                               i.      A 12-guage Winchester pump action shotgun
                                                             ii.      A .30-30 Winchester lever action deer rifle
b.       These firearms were always part of our household. My father owned them long before marriage and family entered his life and continued to use them throughout the remaining span of his seventy-five years.
c.       My brother, who was two years older than me, received a BB gun as a gift around age ten. He and I both learned to shoot using his BB gun. When we ran out of BB shot pellets, we would sometimes open one of Dad’s shotgun shells to get the shot from inside. I did this one time when a friend from a Southern California city was visiting. He was terrified that I would blow myself up, but I knew what I was doing. He didn’t need to worry.
d.       When I was in the ninth grade (age 14), I received my first hunting license. Washington State law required first-time licensees to attend several hours of gun safety instruction, and subsequently pass both written and skills tests before being issued the license.
e.       Many years later, after my father’s death, I inherited his 12-guage shotgun. This gun is still in our family, although I no longer personally have it in my possession.
f.        In the mid-1980’s, because of my involvement in wilderness horse pack trips into the high mountains, I purchased a short-barreled .357 Magnum revolver, which I open-carried during our camping trips into the high country. Later, I sold this firearm to a gun shop when I no longer needed it
g.       I do not advertise whether I currently own or possess a firearm. The only two people who know this for sure are my wife and myself. However, as you can readily see from the above sketch, I am comfortable around guns and ammunition. I do not fear them, but I do respect their potential for severe injury or death if not handled with stringent safeguards and safe practices
3.       Second Amendment Considerations
a.       Here is the text of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (COTUS):
                                                               i.       A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.  
                                                             ii.      The Second Amendment text is the focus of examination in this document.
                                                           iii.      The thoughts expressed below are my own. I do not claim in any way to be a Constitutional scholar or authority on the Second Amendment. I am not attempting to convince anyone else of the “rightness” of my viewpoints. However, I do reserve the right to hold these views as my own understanding. They are the product of much thoughtful consideration and personal prayer for insight and understanding.
b.       Note 1: The primary subject of this one sentence statement (the Second Amendment) is “the right of the people.”
                                                               i.      Bear in mind that neither the original COTUS, nor the “Bill of Rights” (the first ten Amendments), nor any of the seventeen subsequent Amendments *create* rights for “the people.”
                                                             ii.      The underlying principle of “rights,” as expressed in both the COTUS and the Declaration of Independence which preceded it, is that “certain unalienable rights” are granted to all people by their Creator, e.g. “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
                                                           iii.      Thus, these already-existing God-given rights of “the people” are simply recognized, codified, and protected by the full COTUS, including the right to keep and bear arms as delineated in the Second Amendment, and forcefully underscored by the ending phrase, “shall not be infringed.”
c.       Note 2: The central purpose of this Amendment is “the security of a free State.”
                                                               i.      The meaning of “a free State” must be understood in the context of the contemporary nation-states at the time this document was written.
                                                             ii.      For thousands of years before the birth of this new American nation, the social, political, and religious structures of human societies everywhere were rigid, top-down, command-and-control hierarchies.
1.       In the European feudal system, everything—including the land, products, natural resources, and even the people themselves—were properties of the supreme monarch (a king or queen) who could, and often did, rule with an iron fist. As Louis XIV of France infamously declared, “I am the State!”
2.       The financial economy existed for one over-riding purpose: to funnel wealth upward for the monarch’s sole determination whether to benefit the subjects of the realm with generosity or to indulge the capricious whims of self-centered power.
3.       Religious hierarchies mirrored the secular nations in authoritarian governance, compelling adherence to centralized edicts formulated by elite oligarchies and enforced by persecution, terror, torture, and threat of excommunication.
                                                           iii.      The Founders of the new nation created a new blueprint—a “free State”—in which people could breathe the air of individual liberty, economic opportunity, personal ownership of land and property, and religious self-determination.
1.       President Abraham Lincoln eloquently expressed the American ideal of a free State in the immortal words of his Gettysburg Address: Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
2.       The COTUS was instituted as the foundational legal document for the new federal government, not to control the people for the benefit of the government or government officials, but to protect the freedom of the common people to speak, assemble, worship, and pursue economic visions according to their own personal choices.
d.       Note 3: The right to own and bear arms—by the lawful citizenry of the nation—is “necessary to the security of a free State.”
                                                               i.      The Founders of the nation recognized that the liberties—which they held belonged to the people by divine right—could only be protected and preserved by establishing two distinct lines of defense:
1.       The legal provision, which they codified in the COTUS, together with subsidiary laws throughout the judicial system, and
2.       Local practical safeguards against unwelcome intruders threatening harm or creating danger.
                                                             ii.      “The people” themselves are, in fact, the “well-regulated Militia” referenced in the first phrase of the Amendment.
1.       The “Militia” cannot refer to a national or state military presence, because:
a.       Depending exclusively on government-controlled military or police to safeguard local freedoms for every person in the nation would
                                                                                                                                       i.      Be literally impossible based on simple logistics alone;
                                                                                                                                     ii.      And would create the exact opposite of freedom—a police state enforcing draconian, intrusive regulations dictated by an elite few for the control of the many—effectively destroying the very liberties the COTUS legally protects.
b.       The right of ownership presumes the right of every citizen personally to protect his/her own property from theft or injury.
c.       The right to life presumes the responsibility to protect and defend a one’s own life, as well as the life of family members, or others known to be in imminent danger.
2.       Furthermore, the “Militia” cannot refer to rouge, independent self-styled para-military groups whose purpose is insurrection or overthrow of the government.
a.       These groups typically operate with extremely rigid top-down, hierarchical command-and-control authoritarianism.
b.       The underlying philosophy of these so-called “patriot” groups is indistinguishable from old-world and third-world dictatorships imposing their world-view on all people under their influence and control.
c.       Because of their primary modus operandi of authoritarian rule, para-military “militias” are the very antithesis of government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
3.       Since all laws (regulations) are about relationships, the expression “well-regulated” does recognize the need for certain legal safeguards pertaining to gun ownership, designed to foster safety but still preserve security and protect liberty for the greater good.
a.       Individuals posing an obvious danger to themselves or others must be restricted, both legally and physically, from possessing potentially lethal or harmful weapons, including but not limited to firearms.
b.       Gun safety instruction and practices, together with hands-on training should carry the highest priority for anyone involved in using firearms at any level or for any purpose.
c.       While background checks are a helpful method of filtering gun purchasers for safe and responsible ownership, they must never be imposed by government officials with the intention of abrogating the rights of law-abiding, responsible citizens protected by the Second Amendment.
d.       Mandatory waiting periods following the purchase of a firearm are also an effective and legitimate method of regulation. Waiting periods are not new. They have been in place for decades but vary from state-to-state.
e.       Regulatory laws are generally best created and administered (enforced) at the state level rather than at the federal level. Normally, state governments are closer to and more accessible to the people, and therefore tend to be more responsive to their constituents.
f.        The above point (e) notwithstanding, I do favor a national concealed-carry reciprocity law allowing holders of state concealed-carry permits to legally cross state lines without inadvertently breaking unknown state regulations.
e.       Note 4: Some thoughts about “infringement.”
                                                               i.      The Amendment states, “. . . the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
1.       Infringe: to intrude negatively through encroachment, undermining, or obstruction, resulting in diminished privilege, power, or presence.
2.       By using a double negative construction in this phrase, the Framers provide the most powerful message possible: Intentional, vigilant safeguarding of this “right of the people” as a means to establish the security of a “free State” was—and remains—a critical element for success of the nation.
                                                             ii.      As I outlined above (Section 3, d, ii), “the people” i.e. common citizens living under the laws of the “free State,” compose the “well-regulated Militia” referenced in the Amendment.
1.       “The people” are the ones who hold the right “to keep and bear arms.”
2.       Thus, any illegal infringement of this and other rights is, in fact, an unwarranted imposition of outside control on the people themselves and constitutes a violation of “free State” liberties.
3.       Illegal infringements could originate from several possible sources.
a.       Overly-aggressive bureaucrats working at any level of government.
b.       Widespread waves of knee-jerk legislation following tragic events given high-visibility in both commercial and social media.
c.       Lynch-mob hysteria during riots or severe social disturbances.
d.       Personal attacks such as muggings, armed robberies, home invasions, terrorist assaults, etc.
4.       The people’s defense against illegal infringements is three-fold:
a.       The legal defense through the duly established court systems and processes.
                                                                                                                                       i.      Lawsuits and prosecution of offenders.
                                                                                                                                     ii.      Defensive legislation enacted to preserve all the rights and privileges of “the people.”
b.       Police presence for protection of lives and property, and for enforcement of legally enacted laws pertaining to the peace, safety, and preservation of every individual’s rights.
                                                                                                                                       i.      While every community and political entity has some form of police protection, law enforcement officers cannot possibly be “in the right place at the right time” in all conceivable situations.
                                                                                                                                     ii.      The role of the police is to provide tactical, timely reinforcement for the primary defenders of personal rights—the people themselves.
c.       Immediate defense in the case of personal attacks.
                                                                                                                                       i.      The Framers of the COTUS certainly recognized that personal attacks most often come without warning, and thus provided for emergency, immediate, on-site defense of lives and property by victims of such attacks.
                                                                                                                                     ii.      “Arms,” as referenced in the Amendment, is a general expression which can include firearms, knives, swords, or any other weapon available for personal defense.
                                                           iii.      Limitations on “arms.”
1.       The Bill of Rights (Amendments 1-10 of the COTUS) were ratified and became law on December 15, 1791.
a.       Included, of course, was the Second Amendment, erecting a legal wall against infringing the right of “the people” to keep and bear arms.
b.       Over the course of the subsequent 226+ years there have been several legislative attempts to limit or clarify the scope of the Amendment and determine its true purpose and legally correct application.
c.       The most recent ruling by the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) was in 2008: “The Court ruled that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution confers an individual right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense. It also ruled that two District of Columbia provisions, one that banned handguns and one that required lawful firearms in the home to be disassembled or trigger-locked, violate this right.” (Source: https://www.loc.gov/law/help/second-amendment.php)
2.       Currently, there are numerous existing laws banning certain types of firearms and firearm modifications.
a.       Examples include
                                                                                                                                       i.      Fully automatic assault rifles.
                                                                                                                                     ii.      Sawed-off shotguns with barrels less than 18 inches and an overall length of less than 26 inches.
                                                                                                                                   iii.      So-called “bump stocks” have been ruled illegal in some States recently, but not at the federal level.
b.       As noted above, however, state-by-state gun regulations vary widely.
c.       A listing of both federal and state regulations can easily be researched online.
f.        Note 4: To summarize, I believe the following about personal gun ownership and usage in America:
                                                               i.      The right of the people to keep and bear arms is a core component of liberty under the COTUS and cannot be infringed without causing severe negative impacts on a free society.
                                                             ii.      Nevertheless, there must be appropriate and necessary limitations to that right, with the sole purpose of ensuring public safety, but without compromising the security of the “free State.”
g.       Note 5: The “Christian” Connection
                                                               i.      I am a Christian. Period. Full stop.
1.       I say this without hesitation or reluctance in any way.
2.       As I noted above (Section 1, b) I was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist, and I served forty years as a minister in the church.
3.       I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord when I was sixteen years old. I believe in salvation by grace through faith in God’s  free gift of eternal life through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
4.       I believe the Bible forms the ultimate foundation of faith and practice for Christians. The Bible (all sixty-six books in both Old and New Testaments) provides moral instruction with examples of great successes and cataclysmic failures, teaching human beings how to live in relationship to both God and other people.
5.       In college I studied as a theology major, and in my formal academic studies I acquired a B.S. in Theology, an M.Div (Master of Divinity), and a D.Min  (Doctor of Ministry).
a.       I recognize that many of my colleagues who have the very same educational background and training as my own may not hold the same views as I do regarding gun ownership and regulation. I respect their conscientiously held positions, even though we may differ on several key conclusions. To me, that is the very heart of what it means to live in a “free State,” a privilege which I hold sacred, and which I cherish deeply.
b.       I have listed my education experience here simply to illustrate that my thoughts are not expressed in a vacuum. I have spent many years reading and studying the Bible, religions, secular history, governments, social movements, organizational practices, and many other relevant subjects. My writings in this paper naturally reflect that background.
                                                             ii.      The Bible does not teach pacifism, but it does condemn murder.
1.       The Sixth Commandment says, “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13 KJV), but the Hebrew word translated as “kill” in the KJV is better translated “murder.” This is how it is rendered in the NKJV and other more recent translations. “Murder” is the unlawful taking of human life.
2.       While the loss of human life by accident or intention is indeed tragic on any level, the Bible is replete with incidents when lives were taken yet were not counted as murder.
3.       In the Old Testament, God not only sanctioned certain times of warfare, but often directly intervened for victory in behalf of his people.
4.       In the New Testament, Jesus taught that even hating someone was the equivalent of murder (Matt 5:21, 22), thus a violation of the Sixth Commandment.
a.       It is worthy of note that while Jesus did teach his disciples to “turn the other cheek,” he was not advocating a bland milquetoast pacifism. Instead, he wanted his followers to refrain from trading insult for insult in retaliation for real or imagined offences.
b.       The Apostle Paul echoed Jesus’ teaching in his letter to the Roman believers when he wrote, “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Do things in such a way that everyone will see that you are honorable. Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible” (Romans 12:17, 18).
c.       Both Jesus and Paul, however, recognized that at times evil people and evil actions must be met with strong—even violent—resistance. (See Matthew 18:6; Galatians 5:12).
5.       Let us not forget that the God of the Old Testament (YHWH) and the “Son of God”—the “Word”—in the New Testament (Jesus) are one and the same. Jesus himself made this clear with his statement, “Before Abraham was even born, I AM” (John 8:58 NLT).
6.       It is also notable that the highest commendation expressed by Jesus in any of the four Gospels was regarding the faith of a Roman centurion—an armed military commander of an enemy occupying force in Israel. Jesus did not condemn the use or presence of weapons. At one point, he even instructed his disciples to acquire them.
                                                           iii.      How, then, should an individual citizen—who also happens to be a professing Christian—living  in a “free State,” relate to the right to “keep and bear arms”?
1.       Because *freedom* is the key component of this question, no one should be compelled to exercise this or any other God-given right. Liberty of conscience is paramount, and each person’s personal choice must be respected.
2.       Conversely, those who do choose to arm themselves for legitimate reasons (e.g. self-defense, protection of life and property, etc.) must be given equal regard, both legally and socially, as those who choose to not do so.
3.       Using the Scriptures as a guide, I see no legitimacy for armed anarchy, rebellion, or attacks on governmental agencies. Hence, although the Second Amendment is silent on its definition of “arms,” I do not believe specific weapons of war (e.g. bombs, tanks, fully automatic rifles, etc.) should be available to common citizens without rigorous vetting to determine the purpose and intended use by other than active military personnel.
                                                           iv.      In a sinful and often violent world, all countries are compelled to protect their territory, citizens, and national interests using armed defenses.
1.       This “wall of protection” is vital to the freedom, peace, and well-being of any nation’s people. It is a sad reality of our present world-wide condition.
2.       It is not “un-Christian” to value, respect, and honor the brave men and women who voluntarily “stand on the wall” so that the rest of us can breathe the air of liberty.
3.       The Christian’s hope—my hope!—is for a new Earth, promised in the Book of Revelation with the vision of John, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3, 4).
4.       There will be neither need nor use for “arms” in the Earth made New. “Even so, Come! Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).

The End