Author Archives: Marella Rudebaugh

From Leader to Leader – A Fearless Movement… Not Just Another Church

by César De León PhD LMFT, Ministerial Director for the North Pacific Union Conference

According to the prophesies of John the Revelator, we are not merely a church, we are a movement, “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” (Rev. 14:6). A movement doesn’t just have members, only people that are on the move. . . This explains why we are the fastest growing denomination in North America today.  Most denominations in America are declining and they continue to ask the fundamental and existential question: “why are we dying?”  The Seventh-day Adventist Movement, with our unique beliefs such as the Sabbath rest, Old Testament dietary codes, the soon return of Jesus; is asking, “how can we grow faster?”  Our doctrines are challenging the popular constructs of denominational growth and popularity in our times.  With our atypical denominational doctrines—experts reason that we should be fizzing out and eventually disappearing, however we are growing 75% faster than the Mormons, which are the second fastest growing denomination in America. 

 If you are just sitting in one of our church pews today and are not “in movement” because you’re spending your time being a mere member, then you have it all wrong.  We are not merely an alternative denomination, we are God’s remnant people, the tail in a tale of a long list of movements God has used “To keep men calling on the name of the LORD” (Gen. 1:26).

Post modern ideologies and the narrative perspectives of our times which propose that reality does not exist, that truth is relative, that the past does not matter, that the only thing that matters is the “here and now”; can’t understand how the Seventh-day Adventist movement keeps growing.

I saw an angel”, this angel represents a movement made out of people on the move because they have the everlasting gospel, the story of redemption, the Golgotha drama, the story of “Narnia”, that begins with a God that decides to play Russian roulette with his own Son by creating humans beings on this planet, thus begins the sacred testimony, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was[a] on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness (Gen. 1). 

Our story begins with movement, dynamism, creativity.  Fast forward, we find Seventh-day Adventists moving, building a boat, we see a man called Abraham moving far away leaving his country and family because God wanted Abraham to get to know Him better. Good news, indeed! We see Joshua moving his forces all around the promised land, conquering and taking possession of the “good news” territory.  I will give this land for possession to you and your generations forever. Joshua 1: 7-8 7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses, My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1)   The people of God throughout generations have been people in movement because they have been recipients of good news. 

Water stagnates when it stops circulating. Mechanical parts rust away when they stop moving. Eli, the priest lost his sons by surrendering to lazy complacent fathering. Whenever God’s people stop moving they lose sight of the mission; they pervert their ways and begin to mirror the nations around them.  Thus, our archenemy constantly works to stop the dynamism of this movement.  There have been pivotal points in our history when the church was supposed to move and did not do so, and the results were dreadful. After listening to the report of the ten spies, the armies of Israel stopped moving and failed to enter the Promised Land, they won themselves a 40-year tour back to the desert.  Forty years later Moses tries again.

1 Then the children of Israel moved, and camped in the plains of Moab on the side of the Jordan across from Jericho. (Numbers 22)

They found themselves on the side of the Jordan, across from Jericho.  Almost there, ready to cross. Moses is preparing the last detail of the invasion. Leaders and the people are resting, taking “siestas”. Time goes by, day after day the people rest and Satan sees a window of opportunity. 

Balaam told Balak, I know how to stop these people: “If they depart from the divine principles of heaven and if they brake God’s law, they will become vulnerable and then we will be able to stop them. Sure enough, they deployed beautiful Cannanite women, in enticing attire, who invited the men, especially the elders, deacons, departmental directors, secretaries, assistant directors and led them to participate in sexual orgy worship that honored Baal and Ashtoreth. They ended up burning incense to the dead. In other words, they practiced sorcery.

21 And you shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD. (Lev.18)

9 “When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you. 13 You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. 14 For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you. (Deut 18)

Why?  Why is Satan so opposed to God’s people?  Because we give God something He so badly wants . . . adoration, exaltation.  God has something Satan doesn’t have and desires very intensely; your worship, your adoration, and your exaltation.  Satan hates to see God being loved, adored, worshiped, being recognized as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, that is why he waged war in heaven. This is why he wages war against you.  Because you love God, Satan will hate you.  Satan hates your love-affair with your Creator, this is why he is coming after you time and again, since he can’t touch God. 

Years ago, I was called to serve in a large church to replace the youth pastor who was leaving.  The group of young people asked me if we could have a farewell party for this pastor who was on the move.  At that time, we had a big pool in our home, so we agreed.  That Sunday there were about two hundred young people at my place. Everybody was having a great time, people were swimming, playing games, eating tacos and enchiladas, when a group of daredevils approached me and asked me if I wanted to join them in throwing the outgoing youth pastor— who was transitioning into another position, into the pool.  I thought for a moment, but not long enough. . . Have you ever kicked yourself for saying yes at times when you know you should have said no? This was one of those time for me. 

The pastor was short, but muscular and strong, and it took eight of us to finally jump him, remove his valuables and throw him into the water. We all felt proud of ourselves. We had conquered the “beast”.  Well, truth be told, a beast is what we saw when my colleague came out of the water.  His eyes were fuming with anger and bitterness.  He was furious . . . we pastors can become furious sometimes, right?  Well, my colleague friend pastor began jumping every member of the group that had thrown him into the water and one by one began to throw each one into the water, without the slightest regard for any valuables such as wallets or watches. Some were holding onto the iron fence around the pool with all their might, but to no avail. They were yanked off with so much fury that they felt their hands and arms were being broken. Once he finished with the rest of the guys, he began looking for me.  I, upon seeing the devastation going on, ran into my house, locked it, went up to the second floor and watched from the window facing the pool.  Suddenly, I saw it.  My poor wife who was innocently passing by, nicely dressed and seven-months pregnant with our younger son, was passing by with a plate of food in each one of her hands. She was picked up— with her new wrist watched that I just had bought her, with the two plates of food in her hands, with my precious son inside her womb, and was thrown into the water. . .  Ooouch. . .!

Satan hates God; but he cannot get to Him, so he will get to you, God’s most wonderful, valuable and precious possession. You are a part of God’s people; you were given the precious Good News that needs to go to all the world and now you’ve got to move with it. Yes, the enemy will come after you, but our Commander in Chief has not left us alone or abandoned us, He said, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).  We need to keep moving, the Advent movement has a tremendous responsibility towards the inhabitants of planet earth. 

The prophet Isaiah encourages us “1 Arise, shine; For your light has come!  And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.  2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. (Isa. 60:1-2).  All around the world there are people on the move, in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Europe, there are people on the move, in San Francisco, New York, Seattle, San Diego, Houston and Denver, there are people on the move. 

You, child of God, that has been sitting around, arise and shine, you can do it. John saw you getting up and shining and spreading the everlasting gospel to every nation, tribe, tongue and people.  The spreading of the gospel is a reality in the mind of God, it’s a reality in the annals of the history of this earth.  It is a fact, it will happen because it is a precursor to the coming of Christ. Jesus will come again, John wrote:  “I saw a people on the move . . .”  Did John see you?

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Why Not Try This – Sick of Being Fat

Pastor Phil White of the Simi Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church had a problem. In his own words, he said, “I was fat, exercise challenged, and not very happy with the road my health was taking.” His wife Jan, had similar concerns, especially when she got the results of a blood test. Phil and Jan decided they wanted to improve their chances of watching their grandchildren grow up. What they did had a spill over effect in their church.

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From Beyond the Pulpit – When Olaf Dies, I Cried…

Last newsletter I wrote about Elsa “hearing the voice” and how that relates to God’s still, small voice.  Disclaimer time:  if you haven’t seen the movie “Frozen 2,” you likely won’t quite get this month’s thought.  But let’s try….

Olaf is well-known to the children of America (and their parents) as the snowman who is a companion to the two sisters of the Frozen movies:  Anna and Elsa.  He is dependent upon Elsa, who was his creator.  When Elsa “dies” (freezes) in the movie…well, nobody is dead forever in most Disney flicks, the life force in Olaf begins to fade.  He realizes this and tells Anna.  They are alone in a cavern when this happens.

In one of the most tender scenes I can remember in an animated feature, Anna gathers Olaf in her arms as he literally begins to “flurry away.”  Olaf remarks that there IS something that is permanent…”love!”  Anna responds with a tearful “warm hugs?”  “Oh, I like warm hugs.”  Anna pulls him closer as his color fades.  Holding him ever closer, she whispers “I love you.”

And…I lose it.  And it’s not just the touching passing away of a snowman.  It’s because of my image of God.  I see God in Anna.

Scripture clearly reveals that the emotions we feel are a faint representation of the Creator’s heart in Whose image we were made.  And the most difficult experience for God to go through is the same ones we go through:  having loved ones depart.

Luke 19:41:  Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it,….”  The Greek word for “wept” is better rendered “sobbed.”  This was the heart of God being torn in two by the rejection of His Son and the possibility of spending eternity together.  The tears were Jesus saying, “I love you.  How can I let you go?”

And you all know the “deepest text in the Bible:” John 11:35.  “Jesus wept.”  The printer Robert Stephanus, who in 1551 first rendered the Bible with numbered verses, read this verse and he felt it should have its own number and stand alone.  It had power.

When I saw Anna hold the fading Olaf close in her arms with that whisper of love, I thought of God at the end of earth’s time figuratively weeping (maybe not figuratively?) over the lost…saying “I love you” to Hitler, to Stalin, to Nero…and even to Lucifer.  God is love.

It says in Revelation that God will “wipe away every tear.”  But Who has lost the most?  Who will shed the most tears?  And how will our God be comforted?  I think that that will be our job.

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Momentum – The Flea Market

by Isaias Hernandez, Pastor of the Kennewick Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church

In the summertime, there is a huge weekly Flea Market in the Pasco, Washington area. A person who attended the meetings suggested we talk to the director of the Flea Market to see if they would allow us to add Community Services within the park. He did allow this and did not charge the regular fee for the space.

We started offering three health procedures for the public. There were 1) taking blood pressure, 2) measuring the body fat ratio and 3) measuring the amount of oxygen in the blood. This helped to develop a good relationship with the community, and we offered a survey to determine what the needs are locally for Hispanics. Based on that survey, we will be offering marriage and family seminars in 2020—as well as a family health walk or parade with some competitive games, and work with a community clinic and the Chamber of Commerce to help fill the needs of the community. We will (of course) invite people to come to the evangelistic meetings scheduled for 2020 in the area.

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Changed Lives – Miracles in Maple Valley

by Nemaia Faletogo, Associate Pastor for the Maple Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church

14 year old Kaylyn was a troubled young lady who got into a lot of trouble at school. In spite of her troubles, her parents would bring Kaylyn to church on Sabbath, praying that she would make new friends and turn her life around.  Kaylyn joined Pathfinders and made new friends. She enjoyed the youth Sabbath School class and joined the baptismal class held by the Pastor. 

During our Evangelistic meetings at Maple Valley, Kaylyn gave her heart to Jesus and decided to be baptized! Her parents were so excited for Kaylyn as she was baptized in June during our Camp Meeting. Kaylyn is doing much better at home and in school.

There were several ladies, Kat, Luda and Lynette who also attended the meetings and were blessed by the nightly presentations. Kat is thinking of joining the church through profession of faith and Luda and Lynette are continuing their Bible studies. All of them expressed their appreciation of the Christ centered messages and that they were learning truth they had never heard before. 

We praise God and give Him the glory for what He has done and for the blessing of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with these precious souls and our community. 

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Upcoming Events – EvangeLead

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Lifelong Learning – Welcoming Visitors to Your Church

The purpose of this course is to give pastors and members the skills and intentionality they need when handling visitors to their local church. Read more

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Advent Movements – Brown

The Upper Columbia Conference executive committee voted on Dec. 5, 2019, to invite Eric Brown to serve as the new conference ministerial director. The areas of responsibility will also cover family and men’s ministries. Brown replaces Mark Weir, who accepted a call to serve as vice president for administration and education for the Dakota Conference. Read More

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From Leader to Leader – A Violent Christmas

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

“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8

While most companies await December to see their product sales skyrocket, we mission-focused, disciple-making Adventists understand that Christmas is a season of the year when some more irreligious or secular folk are often a bit more open to the Good News Gospel embedded in the incarnation of the Son of God. 

Last night, during a conversation with our very likeable heating company employee, I tried to play off my surprise as he told me his perspective on how to solve the worrisome condition of our world and culture. It was late, and he had mentioned this was his last call in a non-stop day of house calls, so I offered him a bowl of delicious tortilla soup my wife had just made. As he ate, this 30-something millennial, unabashedly shared that even though he wasn’t a particularly violent man, he and some other like-minded people had determined that they were not going to cross their arms and watch their planet self-destroy just because politicians were too narcissistic to think about anything other than protecting their own personal interests.  When we asked him what that might look like, he openly admitted he didn’t see anything wrong with using violence against any political leaders that were blocking global efforts to sacrifice personal gain in order to “save our planet,” so that our children and grandchildren could aspire to enjoy sustainable lives. We could not believe how calmly and confidently this talented young man had shared his perspective on how to deal with the evils of our day.

The apostle John eloquently described the fundamental purpose for the Son’s incarnation on that clear starry night: “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”  1 John 3:8. This may sound a bit dramatic at first glance, but I invite you to invest a few thoughtful minutes meditating on the context and implications of this short verse; after all, context is highly relevant.

Here is some context:

“In heaven’s council the hour for the coming of Christ had been determined.  When the great clock of time pointed to that hour, Jesus was born in Bethlehem. . .Providence had directed the movements of nations, and the tide of human impulse and influence, until the world was ripe for the coming of the Deliverer.  The deception of sin had reached its height.  All the agencies for depraving the souls of men had been put in operation.  The Son of God, looking upon the world, beheld the suffering and misery.  With pity He saw how men had become victims of satanic cruelty.  He looked with compassion upon those who were being corrupted, murdered, and lost. . .”   (Desire of Ages, 32-38)

So, Jesus was the epicenter of the heavenly invasion that landed on earth wearing the skin of humanity with a focused mission to destroy all the sin (self)-driven, destructive patterns of thinking, feeling, speaking, relating, behaving and being. . . that were exchanged for the spiritual, emotional, physical and relational love, peace, harmony and contentment experienced by our Edenic parents, before their fall.

It’s hard to imagine that about two thousand years had gone by since the incarnation in Bethlehem.  The deception of sin seems to continue evolving into deeper depravity with each passing generation. Yet, it seems that if ever the time is ripe to share the Good News of Emmanuel—God with us—its today.

“By His life and His death, Christ has achieved even more than recovery from the ruin wrought through sin. It was Satan’s purpose to bring about an eternal separation between God and man; but in Christ we become more closely united to God than if we had never fallen. In taking our nature, the Saviour has bound Himself to humanity by a tie that is never to be broken. Through the eternal ages He is linked with us. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son.” John 3:16. He gave Him not only to bear our sins, and to die as our sacrifice; He gave Him to the fallen race. To assure us of His immutable counsel of peace, God gave His only-begotten Son to become one of the human family, forever to retain His human nature. This is the pledge that God will fulfill His word. “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder.” God has adopted human nature in the person of His Son, and has carried the same into the highest heaven. It is the “Son of man” who shares the throne of the universe. It is the “Son of man” whose name shall be called, “Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6. The I AM is the Daysman between God and humanity, laying His hand upon both. He who is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,” is not ashamed to call us brethren. Hebrews 7:26; 2:11. In Christ the family of earth and the family of heaven are bound together. Christ glorified is our brother. Heaven is enshrined in humanity, and humanity is enfolded in the bosom of Infinite Love.  {DA 25.3}

I invite you to prayerfully consider the following questions for personal reflection:

  1. In what tangible ways Can I add my efforts to join Jesus in destroying the “works of the devil”?
  2. Can I identify the works of the devil in my own life?  What I can do to stop the enemy’s efforts to destroy my life and those around me?
  3. How different would my influence in my home, family, job and community be if I chose to exchange my learned and inherited patterns of thinking, feeling, speaking, relating and being for those renewed by the Spirit?
  4. Am I willing to surrender Emmanuel’s Spirit? Am I willing to give Him ALL of me?

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Why Not Try This? – 12 Problems with Restrooms

Guests evaluate churches on multiple levels and it’s more than just the program and friendliness of the members. Restrooms matter. READ MORE

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