“The Sabbath Soul”: Torrey Conference 2011

Throughout Biola’s 76th Torrey Memorial Bible Conference, we’ll be updating the site with blogs and photos after each session, which you can find here.

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Todd Pickett introduces Dr. Don Sunukjian, speaker of the last conference for Torrey 2011 on October 21. | Katie Juranek/THE CHIMES

Chimes Staff, Writer

Twitter Roundup: Chimes staff

Ashley Jones and Amy Seed
Saturday, Oct. 22, 12:45 p.m.
The Chimes posted student reactions to the speakers at the close of each day of Torrey Conference. Throughout the week, The Chimes staff live tweeted from the sessions and about related events on campus.

To mark the end of the conference, here are some reflections from a few members of The Chimes staff:


Twitter Roundup: day three

Ashley Jones and Amy Seed
Saturday, Oct. 22, 12:45 p.m.
Don Sunukjian spoke for the final session of Torrey Conference on Friday morning. Students used Twitter to express their thoughts on this final session and the conference as a whole.

Here is the Twitter roundup for day three:


Sunukjian explains the Sabbath is not only a gift from God but is also necessary

Cassandra Acosta
Friday, Oct. 21, 12:45 p.m.

Todd Pickett introduces Don Sunukjian, speaker of the last conference for Torrey 2011 on October 21. | Katie Juranek/THE CHIMES

 

Walking into the final session of the Torrey Bible Conference, I felt this sense of exhaustion. It’s funny how the theme of this year’s conference is “The Sabbath Soul”, stressing the importance of honoring the Sabbath and taking the time to rest, yet I am so exhausted. God works in the most mysterious ways. He has a way of knowing when we need to hear things the most, and Torrey Conference could not have come at a better time for me.

Don Sunukjian brought this year’s conference to a close, speaking of how the Sabbath is God’s gift to us. From beginning to end, I was convicted in this final session. We are commanded to “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it Holy.” Sunukjian stressed that the Sabbath is not one specific day, but rather a day that each individual chooses in a week to cease whatever is the necessary chore of life in order to be productive or meet a goal. Simply put, it means to rest. It is important for us not to look at the Sabbath as a chore, or something that’s going to put us behind. It is a precious gift, given to us from God, in order to refresh and rejuvenate us so that we can come back and take over the tasks that need to get done with a bang.

I personally struggle with doing this. I have a hard time seeing the Sabbath as a positive thing. Many times, I find it to be extremely stressful, wondering how I’m going to get everything done or how all the chaos of life is going to fit into six days. We learn that time is precious, and for me, every moment lost is another setback. But throughout this conference, and especially after the session today, I have come to realize that the thing of utmost importance is our Lord and Savior. Even in the midst of hardship, it is God who pulls us through, and if God wants me to rest for a day, then so be it.

We must remember that God has made us in a certain way, wiring our bodies to function in seven day increments. The Sabbath is not only a gift from God, but it is a necessity. The Sabbath was made for man; a day to step out of the things of life and step into a day of joy. All else must be put to the side. God promises us that if we take one day, a single day, to rest and find joy in the Lord, that he will see that we accomplish everything else that gets done in the remaining six days that we have. He will make sure that we finish our tasks and never fall behind. Just as in everything else, God has control over all things.

Sunukjian closed the session saying, “God is good. Take this day and trust his promise.”

It is these words that I know will stay with me. If there’s any one phrase that we can take out of this entire conference, I choose this.


Twitter Roundup: day two

Ashley Jones and Amy Seed
Thursday, Oct. 20, 9:55 p.m.
Students responded on Twitter to day two of the Torrey Conference. Thursday’s sessions were led by David Talley and Sandra Richter.

To be considered for the Twitter roundup at the close of day two, tweet about the conference and include #torrey2011.

Here is the Twitter roundup for day two:


Richter fails to solidify connection between Sabbath and creation care

Patricia Diaz
Thursday, Oct. 20, 9:00 p.m.

Sandra Richter speaks on the importance of caring for creation, as part of the Sabbath during the final session of Torrey Conference, day two. | Tyler Otte/The Chimes

 

In her second session, Sandra Richter continued her discussion of creation care as an integral aspect of how God’s people relate to the world He has entrusted to them. But, Richter, whose presentation covered everything from the intricacies of harvesting olive oil to graphic descriptions of America’s animal husbandry practices, failed at times to solidify the connection between creation care and Sabbath.

Richter’s evening included unfortunate moments, such as shuffled note pages and an unhappy booing from the crowd for an accidental slighting of Biola’s Hebrew program. Yet, rolling with the punches, Richter was able to make the auditorium laugh with her dry humor and ability to poke fun at her own use of inflection while notifying us that her papers were in unrecoverable disarray. However, she also made members of the audience cry with her descriptions of animal cruelty in America’s national food farming practices. Students throughout the gym shifted uncomfortably in their seats at hearing about the horrifying living conditions for sows, cows and fowls trapped in the American food machine, and I was not surprised to see the girl next to me tearing up and wincing.

Richter’s point, with her detailed description of the problem, was that God cares about how we steward creation – the garden and its animals – and that Sabbath practices should be integrated into our daily experience. She grounded her points in Deuteronomic law, noting the ways in which God commanded unconventional stewardship practices for Israel, in stark contrast to the nations around them. God personally cared how their land and animals were treated, emphasizing that creation serves man and should be appropriately cared for. In God’s eyes, there is no excuse for abuse of the land or its animals, for expansion that necessitates extinction, and progress that produces pollution.

Creation care reflects the character of God, Richter concluded. And a Sabbath posture of restraint and conservation in our daily lives should naturally follow from this principle. Unfortunately, the connection was at times anything but natural to the listeners. And despite the question and answer time after her presentation, many students may still have left the session with more questions than answers.


Fireside Chat allows for an intimate time to ask questions

Becca Nakashima
Thursday, Oct. 20, 6:40 p.m.

Associate Dean of Students, Matthew Hooper introduces Dr. Sandra Richter at the Fireside Chat on October 20, 2011. | Katie Juranek/THE CHIMES

 

As I walked into the Caf Banquet Room I was greeted with a near-empty space. The fireside chat, though not counting for conference credit, presented a time of more a personal interaction with Sandra Richter. By the time the chat actually began, nine people were present, including Todd Pickett.

Before the Q&A portion began, I talked with Matthew Hooper, Associate Dean of Students. He recognized that Richter was presenting things that most students at Biola had never heard, describing it as a classroom with paintings on the walls that students have never seen.

Hooper gave a short introduction in which he recognized Richter’s rich educational background that allowed her to connect the truth of Scripture to real life. Then building on what she introduced in her talk earlier, Richter pointed out that we, as Christians, need to work against the popularized mind-set of “greed over need” and take on a completely new posture. We should, instead, strive to live a life of restraint. The fact that we are a redeemed community should direct us to live justly on this planet.

Richter discussed practical ways that we can go about adopting this new posture. She suggested thinking about where the food we buy actually comes from, being informed by subscribing to such magazines as the Sierra Club and actively preserving the surrounding wilderness. These small, day to day decisions actually make a difference.

I know for myself as a student, I’m usually more concerned about the price tag of an item than its environmental impact. But Richter says that the issue is a moral one and “to keep your room at 65 degrees all day is downright gluttonous.” It’s choosing preservation over your pocketbook.

Personally, Richter makes a point of living a life of restraint and conservation. She regularly petitions against invasive construction projects and has started many recycling programs at her various work places. She also makes a point of not buying ground beef from stores like Wal-Mart because of the inhumane raising of the cattle. “I fully recognize that ‘organic’ doesn’t mean they’re not corrupt, but I’m not doing so much for the health benefits. I’m voting with my credit card.” she explained.

Throughout the entire talk Richter stressed over and over the fact that creation isn’t ours in the first place. So to destroy and trash something that we don’t even own and can’t claim as our own is nonsense. This really resonated with me and shone a new light on the whole idea of creation care. As Richter put it, “The value of creation comes straight from the valuer, which is God Himself.” Richter closed the chat with a statement challenging us to change our posture in thinking about restraint, take practical steps for conservation, get informed and work to make a difference.


Creation care forms basis for Sabbath

Liam Savage
Thursday, Oct. 20, 4:10 p.m.

Left to right: Mackenzie Burns, Pearl Botts, and Caleb Parker sing acapella worship to open session five on October 20, 2011. | Job Ang/THE CHIMES

 

Dr. Sandra Richter approached Sabbath from a different angle at Thursday afternoon’s session of the 76th annual Torrey Conference. Richter led by defining Sabbath as an opportunity to remember who we serve, and then examined the mandate of creation care that underlies all of God’s Sabbath commands to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. The Sabbath year commandment of allowing the land to lie fallow and animals to graze on it is actually a proven agricultural method. Richter noted that it enhanced the microbiology of the soil, enabling greater long-term productivity and fertility. While this practice cut into short-term yield, God’s command made it clear that economic gain was not a legitimate justification for abuse of the world He had made.

As Richter summarized, “This stuff ain’t ours.”

While the practice of Sabbath has obvious benefits for the land, it also benefits people, Richter asserted. Sabbath forces us to acknowledge God’s sovereignty over the world and our lives. Just as the nation of Israel was a tenant in the land of Canaan, dependent on their good stewardship of what God gave them, we too inhabit creation at the pleasure of God. We are called to be good stewards of the world as the world is completely God’s and we are under His rule and authority.

Richter addressed the tithe, as one practical way of stewarding God’s blessings. Just as one day out of seven belongs to God, so does one portion out of every 10 we earn. This is a practical, rubber meets road reminder of God’s sovereignty and our need for His provision. In the cease striving nature of Sabbath, we are forced into dependence on God, which is true reality.

We are also stewards of our lives, as time is not our own. God supplies even the breath in our lungs. Adopting a “posture of restraint” on the Sabbath, as Richter described it has tremendous benefits on our development as humans. It forces us to acknowledge that our identity lies beyond our function, she said. Our worth is not in how much we can produce, a reminder that tied back to Lauren Winner’s admonition yesterday to guard our conception of time as something to be “spent.” Time, too, belongs to God and He has called us to acknowledge that.

By honoring God with our time and resources, we learn to trust in His provision more than in our own labors. Through our obedience to the Sabbath, God will surely provide the increase despite our counter-intuitive response of rest.


Rest continuous in new covenant

Patricia Diaz
Thursday, Oct. 20, 12:10 p.m.

David Talley opens the second day of Torrey Conference with his talk on Sabbathing. He demonstrated his trapeze illustration on October 20, 2011. | Jess Lindner/THE CHIMES

 

“The opposite of rest is failure to trust,” David Talley asserted at this morning’s session of Torrey Conference “The Sabbath Soul.” Most college students, myself included, would probably conceive the opposite of rest as our busy schedules: 18 units of classes, four hours of sleep a night, and weekends jam packed with homework, socializing, and of course church on Sunday. We “trust” that everything will get done, and work hard to do so, but rest is a foreign concept, like faint memories of naps we had time to take when we were three. Rest, we might think, is what we’ll do after midterms, on Thanksgiving Break, or Christmas Break, or even when we’re finished with college. A “that would be nice – maybe someday,” concept rather than what Talley argued is God’s promise to believers as a present, daily reality.

Talley based his talk on Hebrews 4:1-11, where the author addresses the concept of Sabbath for New Testament believers. Talley laid out John’s MacArthur’s 12 reasons why the Sabbath is not binding for Christians today, since it was a sign of the Old Covenant which has come to completion in Christ. As the Hebrews passage suggests, Sabbath was a shadow whose substance is Christ. Sabbath observance is not commanded as part of the New Covenant, and Paul forbids Jewish believers to condemn Gentiles for not keeping the practice. But Talley also said that, though the Sabbath is an obsolete symbol, it is not meaningless for believers today.

Talley updated the definition of the Sabbath to fit a New Covenant context, describing it in terms of the rest that belongs to believers in Christ. Drawing on theologian D.A. Carson, Talley asserted that faith in Christ fulfills the Sabbath for modern Christians. We are invited to enter into God’s personal, perpetual rest, and our response is to be joy in our work and relationship with God.

“It’s way bigger than a day, it’s a life of rest that is being offered to us,” Talley emphasized.

Talley cautioned not to weaken the word “rest,” saying we have no idea of the power and depth of the divine rest we are being offered. Christ has solved our problem of separation from God, and He provides the means for us to live in victory and peace even amidst the struggles and hardships of our lives. Talley underscored the distinction between belief – knowing intellectually – and belief that is trusting in God in every situation. Israel was not able to enter the Promised Land of rest because they lacked faith in God’s provision. In the same way, as we hover on the borders of problems and seemingly impossible situations, God invites us to enter His rest and step forward in faith.

I believe that God brought this message just for me this morning. Just two nights ago, I was tossing and turning until 3 a.m. worrying about future problems and how I would face them. I felt like the world was closing in on me with weight to heavy for me to bear, and the stress kept me from sleeping and entering into physical rest. But since the conference began, God has blessed me with peace and assurance, especially with this reminder that anxieties block me from entering His perfect rest. Faith – that deep, trusting belief – is the only thing that will get me through. God is waiting for me to come to Him with my heavy load so He can give me the rest He died on the cross for me to have.


Twitter Roundup: day one

Ashley Jones and Amy Seed
Thursday, Oct. 20, 1:05 a.m.
Students responded on Twitter to the first two sessions of the Torrey Conference on Oct. 19. Some tweeted about thoughts or questions they had while others tweeted quotes from speakers.

To be considered for the Twitter roundup at the close of day two, tweet about the conference and include #torrey2011.

Here is the Twitter roundup for day one:

Students responded to day one of the Torrey Conference on Twitter. | ASHLEY JONES/The Chimes

 


David Talley explains the Sabbath in context of Old Testament

Sarah Arias
Wednesday, Oct. 19, 9:35 p.m.

Dave Talley speaks to students during session three of Torrey Conference on Wednesday night, October 19, 2011. | ASHLEY JONES/The Chimes

 

I entered the last session of the first day of Torrey Conference with anticipation. Speaking tonight was one of Biola’s own Bible professors, David Talley, who is also chair of the biblical and theological studies department. Having already taken a class with him, I was looking forward to what he would have to say.

Tonight’s session was the first half of Talley’s message, which he will be continuing tomorrow morning. His topic for tonight was what the Old Testament has to say about the concept of Sabbath and how that matters to us today. This topic would have been of no surprise to students of Talley’s Old Testament class.

Talley first highlighted three opposing views of the Sabbath generally held today: that the Sabbath should still be held on the last day of the week, that the Sabbath should now be held on the first day of the week, or that the Sabbath is now abolished under the new covenant. The controversies of these viewpoints should be answered by the end of his two sessions.

The foundation for Talley’s message tonight was a quote from Allen Ross, “God’s people witness to their participation in the covenant by ceasing their labors and joining the believing community in the celebration of the Lord’s Sabbath rest.” He then broke it down into five divisions: refreshment, celebration, reflection, participation and anticipation.

Talley pointed out that the Old Testament Sabbath day was not a result of exhaustion, but instead a celebration of the completion of work. I found that so important for us to realize nowadays, especially in such a workaholic nation where people often just strive to survive until the weekend when they can crash. It’s a shame that is all the Sabbath has become, when, as Talley clearly showed through the Old Testament, it should be all about God.

“The LORD owns time; it does not belong to humans,” Talley said. “The purpose of the Sabbath was to point to this truth.” I liked what he said about how realizing that all time is the Lord’s would affect all we do. How true that is! If I were to live my life in the reality that all time is God’s, I highly doubt I would waste the amount of time that I do on pointless things.

God intended the Sabbath as a day for his people to refrain from work and focus on Him. They were to joyfully reflect on who he is and what he had done and was going to do. The Sabbath was to join people of a like faith together. It was to foreshadow something much more powerful to come, Jesus Christ. Through all of Talley’s points we can see that Sabbath has nothing to do with ourselves and everything to do with God.

At the end the major question was what does this mean for us today? Talley said that the Sabbath is not for us today in the Old Testament sense because we have Christ. But its principles are still very much for God’s people today.

It was helpful to see how the Old Testament affects how we practice the Sabbath today. I look forward to Talley’s conclusion tomorrow morning with the New Testament and how were are to incorporate the Sabbath of the Bible into our lives today.


Lauren Winner discusses how to reclaim the Sabbath

Brittany Cervantes
Wednesday, Oct. 19, 4:30 p.m.

A group of singers led worship with a capella hymns during session two of Torrey Conference on Wednesday afternoon, October 19, 2011. | Jess Lindner/THE CHIMES

 

The vibe from students walking into the gym for the second session of Torrey Conference 2011 was a mixture of being anxious and excited at the same time. It felt like students were not sure what to expect but were excited for Lauren Winner to speak for the second time.

The session began with everyone joining in a capella hymns. Two of the hymns that stood out for me were “Speak O’ Lord” and “Amazing Grace.” The experience of singing a capella was just simply amazing. During the worship time many students had their hands held high, only caring about praising God. Students were ready to devote themselves to God; you could tell this day was a day set aside for rest.

As Winner walked up to the stage, she greeted by a huge round of applause. She shared her story about how she could not quite pinpoint the date when she converted from Judaism to Christianity but instead her conversion was a struggle and a slow process. I laughed along with the rest of the students when she shared her dream about being kidnapped by mermaids. In her dream, she and her friend Michelle were kidnapped for a year until a group of men came to save her; she believed one man who came to rescue her was representative of Jesus.

She transitioned into what Sabbath truly meant when she recalled many of the things she missed from Judaism. Winner explained how much we can learn from the Jewish Sabbath. The main idea for everyone to practice Sabbath is to commit to not working at all and to pass our time with God. Winner also explained the definition of work in reference to “Holy Days” by Lis Harris. The idea of what was considered work was interesting to me because of Harris’ experience when observing a Jewish family on a day of Sabbath. Harris was annoyed at the fact the family wouldn’t even turn a light on or let her call her son. Winner said in the end Harris finally expressed she didn’t understand the purpose of not working. Harris’ host explained to her everything they avoided was to keep from changing creation in the world. He further explained that even though it was only for one day, it causes us to realize that we are not the creator but instead we are only the creation.

I felt this was a brilliant message in reclaiming the Sabbath. We need to recognize our day of rest and what it truly means. Some tips she gave to students to help in observing the Sabbath were to keep from consumerism by taking a break from shopping. Second, keep away from your cell phone and email. Lastly, she said to keep away from restaurants. I think this is really something we can all do on the day of Sabbath.


Lauren Winner opens conference with history of Sabbath

Sarah Arias
Wednesday, Oct. 19, 12:45 p.m.

Lauren Winner speaks on how the meaning of the Sabbath has changed over time, opening Torrey Conference week on Oct. 19, 2011. | Katie Juranek/THE CHIMES

 

I walked into the Chase gymnasium this morning not knowing what to expect. This was my very first session at my very first Torrey Conference at Biola. I quietly sat back and observed as students flooded into the gym and string music was softly playing onstage.

The session opened with quiet, reflective worship that I felt was appropriate for quieting the students’ hearts and preparing them for the message they were going to receive. President Corey then welcomed us all to the conference and encouraged students to seek some times of solitude with God this week.

The speaker for the first session was Lauren Winner, who is the author of several books, including “Mudhouse Sabbath,” and has a Ph.D. in history.

This first session was basically a set up for Winner’s discussion which will continue this afternoon. This morning’s session was more of a historical overview of the Sabbath and what it has become today. Winner’s second session will delve into getting back to Sabbath keeping.

She first showed two examples, in France after the French revolution and in the Soviet Union, of attempts to change the regular seven day week calendar. Both attempts, the French with their ten day week and the Soviets with their rest day every four days, failed to succeed. I thought it was interesting to see how man’s attempt to get away from God’s design for a Sabbath day failed every time. That should give us a hint of how important Sabbath is to God.

Winner then showed the evolution in America from the one-day Sabbath rest to the two-day weekend. Some of the facts she gave were very interesting, like how Henry Ford was a big supporter of the two-day weekend because he believed that it would raise car sales. I also didn’t know that the Great Depression was what really established the two-day weekend in America or that the term weekend first appeared in 1879.

But, although the facts that she gave were interesting, at times I had a hard time sticking with her. The information she gave was insightful to the seeing how the idea of Sabbath has changed, but it oftentimes felt to me like a list of fact after fact. I struggled slightly with the fact that this whole session felt mostly like a set up for the next session and thus didn’t find much to draw from this one.

That being said, the session to follow looks promising. She ended this session by showing how Sunday has in today’s culture become about laziness and that finding rest in God has been basically omitted. That leads us into the next session where she will be talking about what Sabbath keeping is and how we can get back to it. I look forward to seeing what she has to share.

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