My Story of April 12

Seventh-day Adventism is the most significant understanding and culture in my (Devin’s) world. It always has been. My parents and siblings were/are committed SDAs. All my grandparents were/are as well. My mother’s mother’s father’s parents took my great grandfather to a meeting when he was just a child, held him up so he could see the speaker, and told him “Waldo, don’t ever forget this…you are looking at the prophet of God.” I have always loved that story. It means I am at least a fifth-generation SDA. And it means I am descended from someone who personally listened to Ellen White speak. Thanks especially to my parents, I have been thinking seriously about God, religion, sacred history, and the end-times ever since I can remember. I have never doubted that “the faith which was once delivered unto the” SDA pioneers is the truth. I pray I never will.

About the time I turned 16 years old, my parents divorced. All the drama and pain which surrounded this event left me reeling, looking for something to ease the pain. I know that Christ offered me a deeper experience in Himself at that time. I greatly regret that I instead turned to the world – especially through useless books, worldly movies, and video games. Quickly addiction to the things of the world took over my spiritual life, and for about eight years I wandered, appearing just as Adventist as before on the outside, but dead inside. To make a long story short, slowly but surely God brought me back to Himself over those years. In 2010 I finally again committed myself to God as fully as I knew to. This was the year I entered a Ph.D. program in mathematics.

I was only in that graduate math program four semesters – Fall 2010 through all of 2011. But, wow…this was one of the most glorious periods of my life! In it I studied the inspired writings at least as intensively as I studied math. And the Lord revealed great truths regarding things heavenly and things earthly to me. When the time came for me to begin planning my graduate thesis topic and commence work on it, the Lord directed that I leave graduate school to focus my life on sharing (especially with SDAs) the Gospel Pattern I had discovered. This I have seen as my life-work ever since. I abruptly quit grad school at the end of 2011, moved into my Mom’s basement, took a part-time tutoring position at a local community college, and commenced writing my first book – Lines of Truth. What a new beginning this was in my life! I finally had nothing to look forward to but the unknown plans of God. I can now look back and say, “What plans He had for me!”

I did not keep a journal during 2012, so I don’t remember just what I was doing on April 12, 2012. I believe this date came around the time I was finishing the first draft of Lines of Truth. I must have been considering the next step already – how to publish the things I was learning and writing. Perhaps for this reason I decided to update some of my online profiles. My Google profile was fundamental to my web-presence. I recall not having a profile image for it before Spring, 2012. In considering which picture to make my profile image, I remember thinking… This picture is going to represent me on all emails and on my YouTube channel. I want it to be so fundamentally representative that I will not need to come back and change it later. And I don’t want to be looking at my face in every email, etc. I ended up choosing one which caught my eye in a google-image search of beautiful church pictures. I do remember both downloading and uploading it as my profile picture the same day. Years later, I checked when it was downloaded…April 12, 2012! But I am getting ahead of myself.

If you don’t already know where the picture was taken you are probably thinking, So what’s the big deal here? Well, I didn’t know anything about the subject of the profile image the first three years of having it. I knew little more than that it was beautiful and religious. I did not know the picture presented the iconic Reyniskirkja of Vík, Iceland. I did not think twice about its significance until Astrid brought my attention to it again in 2015. Astrid and I first met early March, 2015 in Tennessee and began officially dating a month later. Knowing she was the first Icelander I had ever met (I told her this upon our meeting as an ice-breaker of sorts), Astrid must have considered it a bit “too fast” when she saw in the very first emails from me how my profile image was one from her country. What is this guy trying to say by changing his profile image as soon as he meets me? She must have wondered. I had no idea she could be having such thoughts until much later when we discussed how I had not changed profile images since posting it years before! 

Now here is what is even more amazing: exactly four years, to the day, after posting the Reyniskirkja profile image, Astrid and I moved from the US to Iceland. April 12, 2016 was my first day ever in Iceland, and I have not returned to the USA since then except for two brief vacations. But at the time, I did not realize the significance of the date we moved. In the summer of 2016 Astrid took me to visit Reyniskirkja for the first time (a three-hour drive from Reykjavik, where we lived). It was when we returned home from this glorious pilgrimage that I felt impressed to look up when exactly I first posted the profile pic back in 2012. Seeing “Modified: Thursday, April 12, 2012, 4:56:50 PM” on the image Properties panel gave me goosebumps like few things have, to say the least! Then I relized that God had proved his plan for me was to be in Iceland four years, to the day, before He fulfilled that plan. More than ever I saw in the profile pic a personal prophecy. Naturally, when it came time for my baby Alba to be dedicated (in the summer of 2017), I wanted the service in Reyniskirkja. At the dedication my parents-in-law arraigned for Alba in that very church, I told those gathered the story I have thus far shared with you here. Yet, as of the week of this writing, I have realized the story was not at that time complete…

Since April 2016, the Lord has greatly blessed us temporally here in Iceland. We welcomed a beautiful, healthy daughter – our first-born, Alba Nótt, on December 8, 2016. Family gave us a beautiful (third) wedding celebration in southern Spain as a kind of European family reunion in the Summer of 2016. Partly because of wedding-gift money, we were able that Fall to purchase an apartment in Keflavík, where I worked at the time. About one year later we sold the apartment at a substantial profit. This money made possible the down-payment on a spacious, free-standing house in the country town of Sandgerði where Astrid had been given her dream-career at the local school six months before. By the summer of 2018 we were able to completely pay off all our US-owned debts. At this same time I was matriculating through a dramatic job-change which resulted in me taking a position in which I have significant down-time whereby to study and write about my passion (and get paid for it). Astrid and I consider where and how we live and work now to be luxurious blessings which can be used for the glory of the one true God. 

Since April 2016, the Lord has greatly blessed us spiritually here in Iceland. By this I mean He has greatly used our time here to progress our own spiritual education and to give us opportunities to minister for Him. Astrid was asked to be the Prayer Coordinator for the SDA Iceland Conference almost as soon as we arrived. She took the position, but soon found that SDA leadership here in Iceland actively discourages efforts to share the Three Angel’s Messages. The experience was quite frustrating for her, overall, and Astrid did not choose to continue in the position after the first year. While she was thus involved with the Iceland Conference, I worked on writing and self-publishing a book summarizing what I had learned about the Gospel Pattern ever since 2011. The book was complete by the time Alba was born. In 2017, Astrid and I began hosting regular Friday evening Bible-study meetings. I led a study through the book of Daniel which concluded in the Spring of 2018. During the winter of 2017-2018, I coauthored a 40-page paper with my uncle, Rick Neubrander, comparing and contrasting the Gap Theory with the SDA Theory of Daniel 9:24-27 to show the superiority of the SDA view. I have also had opportunities to preach at three of the main SDA churches in Iceland over the years (and, on vacation, at my grandparent’s home church in KY, USA). I see each opportunity to present truth as first an opportunity to learn, and I am thankful for such experience and education in the truth as I have received so far in Iceland.

Beginning in mid-October 2018, Astrid and I began to have major paradigm-shift realizations. Each realization required serious time and study to verify and flesh out. But as soon as we dealt with one startling conviction to our satisfaction, another came washing over us. The experience has already been life-changing, and will surely continue to be so. The epiphanies I am referring to have come to us in chronological order as follows:

1.When the future is unfolding: the approximate timing of future prophetic events up until Jesus returns is now discernable.

2. Human marriage and family forever: the redeemed human race of the New Earth will marry and be given in marriage, procreate, and populate the universe with their descendant races.

3. How the future is unfolding: synthesis of the three main SDA interpretations of Daniel 11:40 – 12:1 gives us in much greater detail an approximate picture of WWIII, Armageddon.

4. Divine marriage and family forever: “God is the Father of Christ; Christ is the Son of God. To Christ has been given an exalted position. He has been made equal with the Father.” {CCh 76.5} The Holy Spirit is the “one Spirit” (Eph 4:4) of their union, perfectly antitypical of the “one flesh” of a human marriage. It is not an individual Being.

Please note the incredible parallels between 1st-3rd and 2nd-4th . These parallels I only recognized after all these epiphanies were in place!

5.     This one is very practical, and came to us just last weekend (April 6-7, 2019)…

We have routinely attended Loftsalurinn SDA Church (which boasts the largest attending SDA congregation in Iceland). My experience there last Sabbath (April 6) was quite unusual. Through the whole service I was greatly troubled by a sense that I was not where I should be in church. Strangely, I even felt guilty for being there! This could not have been due to something especially disagreeable said or done in the service, sermon, sabbath-school meeting, or fellowship meal afterward. Everything progressed as I could expect. Yet I left church feeling profoundly disturbed and saddened. And, deep-down, I was convicted of why…though the reason was hard to admit even to myself. As Astrid and I put SDA literature in mailboxes on a walk that afternoon, we talked about the feelings and thoughts I was having…

I woke naturally at 5 a.m. Sunday morning (the 7th) filled with desire to check the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy regarding what I had realized. Five hours of prayer, research, and reading brought assurance. As usual, I began putting together a presentation arguing the case more thoroughly from the inspired writings. This presentation ended up as a 16-page letter completed just yesterday. In process of working on this document I recognized that today, April 12, 2019 brings us to exactly seven years since I posted the Icelandic church as my Google profile image. And in a few hours, this very date will see the beginning of our first Sabbath separated by choice from the visible SDA church and its services and gathering independently with all who will join us in Iceland to worship the one true God of Scripture and His only begotten Son.