Author Archives: Marella Rudebaugh

END IT NOW: Healthy Boundaries for Spiritual Leaders and Teachers

by César De León Ph.D LMFT, Ministerial Director for the North Pacific Union Conference

Leaders in Christian circles do not typically talk about the topic of power among leaders and much less about the abuse of power. Someone once said, that the way a person manages power is the true test of their character and leadership.  Unfortunately, we are reluctant to talk about power and the abuse of power until the news breaks out with a new scandal about the fall of another spiritual leader.   Thankfully, this silence is being shattered as we have witnessed the rising of movements like #MeToo coming through the walls of our churches and schools, which have empowered the voices of those deeply hurt by people in secular and denominational leadership. The movement #ChurchToo has formed a platform facilitating an audience for people that had been hurt by their spiritual leaders.

Our North American Division launched the EnditnowNAD campaign to encourage our churches and communities to be intentional about breaking the cycle of abuse because they recognize that abuse deeply affects children, women and men not only outside but within our church and school communities. I thought it would benefit our NPUC team if I shared some bullet points of the seminar I was invited to present this week (for the Spanish track) at the annual NAD EndItNowSummit on coaching pastors and teachers on how to create and maintain appropriate personal and professional boundaries.

One of this year’s scandals illustrated perfectly how the failure to set intentional healthy personal-professional boundaries can result in situations that create ideal circumstances for the abuse of power through inappropriate sexual conduct. Andy Savage, a respected teaching pastor from the High Point, mega church in Tennessee was accused of sexually abusing a 17-yearold girl more than twenty years ago, while he was a youth pastor. This claim prompted Andy to resign from his responsibilities saying “He had committed sexual sin and had sinned against God”.  In one of the most unexpected scandals of the year, Bill Hybels, lead pastor of the world-famous Willow Creek Church in Chicago, announced to his congregation that he would accelerate his planned retirement by six months and step aside immediately for the good of the church.  Though he continued to deny the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, he did publically acknowledge, “I too often placed myself in situations that would have been far wiser to avoid.” It is evident that as spiritual leaders, we must take the time to reexamine our personal and professional boundaries in the context of the innate power our ministry positions incorporate. I trust that the following 10 suggestions I will share, will help you navigate through the issue of abuse of power and with God’s aid, will help you to be more intentional about preventing and avoiding the falling into sexual misconduct that leaves behind a tragic trail of personal, familial and community destruction.

Boundary # 1 Be aware that your position carries power
In his writings about pastors and boundaries, Peter Scazzero reminds us that there is authority imbedded into your role as a leader. Spiritual leaders must think about and intentionally process power, especially because they possess great positional power, personal power, “God factor power”, projected power, relational power, and cultural power.  These powers exert a tremendous amount of influence on the thinking process and behavior of others.1   Unfortunately, most people, inside our circles of influence, relate to our authority with courtesy and kindness and seldom are confrontational.  Our society and denominational culture have taught our female members to accept male leadership authority without questioning whether this leadership is healthy or unhealthy.

Boundary #2 Your authority and power will be tempted
Just as Jesus’ authority and Continue reading

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Why Not Try This? – Church Announcements From New Platforms

Take your regular rolling announcements from the sanctuary screen each Sabbath and share them with a wider audience through your favorite social media platforms! Read More

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From Beyond the Pulpit – Creation Sabbath is October 27th—Why Does That Matter?

by Stan Hudson who served as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor for 38 years and is currently the Director of Creation Ministries at the North Pacific Union Conference

Many of you have received an NPUC gift in the last week or so:  a DVD set of lectures by, uh, me!  “In the Beginning” is a series of programs we recorded at this cool, old 1920s-era Elsinore Theater in downtown Salem, Oregon.

Gallup Polls taken in recent years show that Americans are slipping in their knowledge of creationism.  That is, fewer people know what the Biblical account is and, more importantly, what it means.  And with the call to worship the Creator being central to Revelation 14’s First Angel’s Message, it’s time we use that “loud voice.”

Some people who lean towards theistic evolution (that God created lifeforms via evolution and millions of years) do so because they haven’t seen the objective science that supports design and refutes evolution.  For instance, when has PBS or National Geographic quoted Dr. Denis Noble, of Oxford University, as stating that “all of the assumptions of Neo-Darwinism (mutations or copying-errors drive evolution) have been disproved.”  Noble was hoping some of his colleagues could discover a better explanation than the currently accepted one of how evolution must work.  This is because all that could be tested of Neo-Darwinism was not being supported in the laboratory.

The truth is that we are not mutants!  We are not animated pond scum, like John Lennon sang, “oozing up slowly.”  But if our young people only hear this pseudo-science theory over and over again, how can suicide rates among them ever get lower?  If we are all biological accidents what is the point to life?

I once gave a lecture to secular folks on this and got a written comment by one.  They said, “Doesn’t it give you a wonderful feeling to know that your DNA would live on?”  In other words, the evolutionist’s idea of eternal life (or at least a LONG life) is when we make kids and they make kids and our DNA lives on!  Does that message give you a warm hope?  Not me, thanks!  I’d like my DNA to live on by carrying it personally in me, thanks—

So, what message of hope would you like to share with your congregation on October 27th, the official “Creation Sabbath” so designated by the General Conference?  It could be a fulfillment of Revelation 14.  How about this:  that God knew us while we were in our mothers’ wombs…and loved us even then?

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Changed Lives – Sleep Induced by God?

by Matthew Vixie, Pastor of the Clarkston Seventh-day Adventist Church

His name was Ray, he had lost his wife recently. He told me he was hoping she would hang on a little while longer for “the rapture.” Jack had invited him to come to the meetings. He accepted the invitation but didn’t return until one night when our topic was the 2nd coming. I said a prayer and preached the topic, certain that Ray would be offended by the information and never return. As I preached the sermon I noticed something about Ray, his eyes were shut, his head bowed down, he was either sleeping or in a very long prayer! Is God in the business of causing sleep to a kind old man who just lost his wife and isn’t ready for what he is about to hear?

A week or so later Ray showed up again, he apologized for being sleepy the last time he came. That night our topic was the Millennium. I said another prayer and proceeded with the information from God’s word, we went over the same information and Ray wasn’t sleeping this time. After the meeting he asked me a question that went something like this. “Pastor where is my wife tonight?” Certain questions have answers that change the way some individual lives. I went over some of the same verses from scripture concerning what happens at death. Ray responded, “I want to know where you personally think my wife is tonight.” I told him I believe the Bible when it says the dead are going to rise first. Ray told me something then that struck me as profound. “All my life I believed the dead go to heaven when they die, that Jesus comes back in the rapture. Now I don’t know what I believe.”

For me that was a high point during these meetings. Why? I saw firsthand the word of God move someone from a belief whose foundations are outside of scripture to a willingness to study what the Bible really says. Did he get baptized? Not yet. Anymore conversations about the Bible? I plan on having them with him first chance I get. For now, I am rejoicing that the word of God still moves men and women.

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Lifelong Learning – Why Americans Skip Church

In recent years, the percentage of U.S. adults who regularly attend religious services has been declining, while the share of Americans who attend seldom or never has been growing. Many stay away not because of a lack of faith, but for other reasons. Nearly 40 percent of them say they don’t go because they practice their faith in other ways. Find out more from a recent study by the Pew Research Center. Read More

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Resources – Planning Center Online

Planning Center Online is an online worship service platform that allows worship leaders, audio visual teams, song leaders, and pastors to coordinate the worship services they lead together. Read more


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From Leader to Leader – When Leadership Becomes Too Painful

by César De León Ph.D LMFT, Ministerial Director for the North Pacific Union Conference

Leadership, throughout history, has called for men and women with characters of iron. Commonly, leaders become the targets of preconceived ideas, prejudice, evil surmising, projection, fears and envy.  The Word is filled with stories of leaders who were misjudged, slandered, unjustly mistreated, envied and viciously attacked. Moses is a great example of a leader who lived his life under constant attack.  His own people frequently misjudged him. Even his own blood-related siblings turned on him and challenged the legitimacy and authority of the leadership role he tried to dodge.

Why are leaders so often the focus of unremitting criticism?  Well, imbedded into the position of leadership are influence, position and prestige. Add to the list vision-casting power, decision-making power, and character and lifestyle expectations.  Have you noticed our tendency to demonstrate tolerance, leniency, patience and grace with non-leaders?  Sadly, when one is assigned a leadership position, the degree of grace, patience and tolerance drastically declines. You are called to a higher standard, to moral choices that rise above the masses.  Christian leaders are not only expected to be exemplary role models; they are too often expected to be perfect.

The perpetual expectation of perfection is emotionally-spiritually debilitating and can drain the leader’s morale.  When people complained to Moses about the lack of variety in their desert menu, they were unashamed in boldly expressing how uninteresting and insipid the heavenly manna seemed to them after having dined on Egypt’s “fish, the cucumbers, the melons, leeks, the onions and garlic” (Numbers 11:5).  They went as far as to express that they felt “dried up”. The Message version gives an interesting rendering of this passage: The riffraff among the people had a craving and soon they had the People of Israel whining, ‘Why can’t we have meat? We ate fish in Egypt—and got it free! —to say nothing of the cucumbers and melons, the leeks and onions and garlic. But nothing tastes good out here; all we get is manna, manna, manna.’” (Num. 11:4-6; The Message)

Moses felt so disappointed with their negative mindsets and ungrateful spirits that he “Said to the Lord, ‘Why have you afflicted your servant?  And why have I not found favor in Your sight  that you have laid the burden of all these people on me?  Did I conceive all these people?  Did I beget them that you should say to me, ‘carry them in your bosom, as a guardian carries a nursing child, to the land which you swore to their fathers?’ . . . I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me.  If you treat me like this, please kill me here and now—if I have found favor in Your sight—and do not let me see my wretchedness.” (Num. 11:11-15, emphasis supplied). Can you detect Moses’ desperation?  Can you hear his anguish, helplessness and hopelessness? His emotional state is in such a disarray that he is feeling wretched, worthless and grimly inadequate.  Does any of this sound familiar?

Often, many leaders don’t even Continue reading

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Why Not Try This? – Having Influence

Source: NAD Ministerial

It was my first church where I was the senior pastor and the 7th and 8th grade teacher was for a reason that I can’t now recall needed to be gone and I was asked to teach Bible and PE for a week or so.  I had never had any pedagogical training but went to the elementary school to be a teacher.  I quickly learned to appreciate the challenges provided by pubescent boys and girls.  They were quick to give all the right answers in Bible class but when then we went to recess the Bible lessons we spoke of in class did not have any effect on behavior when it came to playing baseball.  I quickly learned that the theory of Christian living in a Bible Class did not always translate into behavior on the ball field.

What is true for Continue Reading…

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From Beyond the Pulpit – Three Prayers and Their Answers

by Stan Hudson who served as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor for 38 years and is currently the Director of Creation Ministries at the North Pacific Union Conference

In national polls taken in America, the vast majority of respondents answered the question of whether their prayers had been answered with “Yes!”  Answered prayer is perhaps the most meaningful personal evidence that there is a God.  That’s why it is so important to pray regularly and with specific enough requests as to make answers obvious.  We need to remember that it is in God’s own interest to answer the needs of His people, so that their faith would grow.

There have been three huge prayers with answers that I’ve had in my life.

“Back in the day,” as my son Daniel thinks I lived, I was a cowboy-loving kid in Los Angeles.  For one birthday I received a cowboy outfit complete with plastic bullet-shooting six guns.  This was back in the day when the world didn’t freak out about playing with guns, of course.  In my playing I dropped a silver, plastic bullet into our short dichondra grass.  But, where did it go?  It should be straight down, I thought, and very easy to see.  I sure didn’t want to lose some of my birthday gift.  I panicked a bit;  what would Mom and Dad say?  So I remembered there was this Jesus person you could pray to (we didn’t go to church).  I knelt down and said, “Dear Jesus, please help me find my bullet!”  I opened my eyes and it was there in front of me, right where I had looked and looked.  I closed my eyes and said “Thank you!”  My bullet was found.

A couple of years later my Mom told me, “Daddy isn’t coming home anymore.”  I cried and cried.  Then I prayed to Jesus, Who had answered my prayer before:  “Please send Daddy home!”  But Dad didn’t come home.  I knew things were complicated and I remember I didn’t disparage Jesus, but obviously the answer was “I can’t do that.”  But because of Mom’s concerns for my sister and I, she put us in a Christian (Adventist) school.

Years passed until the next serious prayer.  I was not a Christian, and I was living in a bachelor pad in Riverside, California with a good buddy David Friend.  We were full time employees at two local McDonalds.  One night we had a party with McD folks, ending up with Dave, a young lady and I going to a Dennys restaurant at 3:00 in the morning.  The talk suddenly turned serious as we reviewed our lives and where we seemed to be going…which seemed like nowhere.  We started talking about changing things, then David added “and let’s look for God.”  Seriously?  The next day he asked me to borrow my Bible.  After some searching I found my children’s Bible and he started reading it.  Then, I did, too.

The moment came for prayer #3.  I knelt by my bed (that’s where you’re “supposed to pray”), and simply asked, “Dear God, it looks like David and I are looking for you.  Will you help us?  Amen.”  The answer was YYYEEEESSSSSS!!!  And it still is….

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Momentum – Make Prayer a Priority

by Hugo Villalobos, Pastor of Hermiston Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church

This year our church decided to make prayer a priority.

As we sat with our leadership team in we noticed that last year a good number of families had experienced some type of loss or suffering in their lives. Marriages were struggling, teenagers where losing interest in church and attendance was slowly declining.  These types of circumstances made us aware of the spiritual reality we live in and the influence the enemy has to destroy families and therefore a church. We weren’t going to let this continue. If we wanted revival in our church we needed to humble ourselves and seek God through prayer on a personal level and as a church. “An enemy might defeat one person, but two people together can defend themselves; a rope that is woven of three strings is hard to break” Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NCV). We began to plan out our year and include as much prayer as possible in all our events. It has been so worth it. We have seen God move in a powerful way like never before.

I preached an evangelistic series on the power of prayer. We had several first time guests come to our meetings. They heard that our church was praying every day for healing and anointing. Our theme song was called “God Will Provide”. We kept singing this song on our mid-week prayer meetings as a reminder that the best is yet to come and that God always provides. Fast forward a few months, many of those guests have been attending church ever since; some have been baptized and other are planning on taking the next step in the weeks to come.

Another new thing we did was pray every morning for 40 days at 6am via teleconference. We had people from different cities and states join us on this journey. It was refreshing and a big blessing. We also began seeing a need to be more involved in our community. We decided to give back to the community and held a free kids festival at a local park with food, games, bouncy houses, booths, giveaways, and Christian music. We held a vigil at our church the day before our community festival where we prayed for our volunteers, guests, safety, and Holy Spirit. We saw our prayers answered because as a result of this event we had 250 guests and a family of 3 got baptized the next week. Prayer has become an essential and a non-negotiable part of our church.  We believe in prayer and rely on prayer.

Seven months ago we began meeting and praying with our teens and young adults to find a way to reach our city in a relevant effective way. Since we are a Spanish church, many of them had friends that didn’t know Spanish. God put in our hearts to reach our English speaking community and now seven months later, we have begun the process of planting a new church company with English services. It’s amazing what God can do with prayer. We’ve had 2 pre-launch services so far and have had an average attendance of 70 (all Millennials and Gen Z). Nine people have accepted Jesus in their lives and we will celebrate with baptisms. We have teens and young families serving in church inviting their friends. Lives are being changed. People are finding purpose and making a difference. We will officially launch weekly services on October 6, 2018. We will exist to share love, hope and faith to our city. Please keep us in your prayers. We’ve started our fundraising campaign and know God will provide. For more info visit

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