Author Archives: Marella Rudebaugh

From Leader to Leader – River or Desert? Your Choice!

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

When the sun set on the last day of 2018, I had already decided that 2019 could not simply be a repeat of the last. I had no special list in mind, as I knew better than to think I could even come up with worthy resolutions.

I did, however, think about what my personal and ministry life could become if I were to surrender ALL of my plans and agendas. . . ALL of myself to a Holy Spirit-directed revival? How would those yet unknown changes affect my life, my family, my ministry, my neighbors? I thought, if there is more that the Holy Spirit can infuse into my life to make it fuller, more meaningful and Kingdom-impacting, I wanted it! After all, when Jesus spoke concerning the effect the Holy Spirit would have on His followers, He said that out of their hearts would flow “rivers of living water” (John 7:38,39).

A few months ago, our NPUC President, John Freedman, was impressed to invite NPUC Executive Committee members, department heads and staff to 20 days of Call in Study and Prayer in 2019. We were all given Helmut Haubeil’s book, “Steps to Personal Revival” and were invited to read through this book “in community” through a call-in system, over 20 sessions of reading, meditation, discussion and prayer to consider how we might experience a personal revival that could become contagious in our circles of influence.

Jesus’ Return is eminent! I believe that in order to awaken from our Laodicean condition, we need to pray and fast for a Holy Spirit revival that will begin with me!

Haubeil proposes there are three types of people in respect to their personal relationships with God. “Within each of these groups there are many different shades depending on the parental training, character, training of oneself, age, culture, education, etc. But even with all the differences there are only three basic attitudes towards God:

1. No relationship—the Bible calls this the natural man.
2. Full, real relationship—the Bible call this person spiritual.
3. Divided or feigned relationship—the Bible describes this as a person of the flesh or carnal.

The author invites his readers to an authentic self-evaluation. After all, we can’t get too exited about a Spirit-driven revival unless we’ve identified our actual spiritual condition.

It has been an interesting journey for my wife and I so far. We are being deeply challenged to rethink the way we think about ourselves, others and Spirit-driven Kingdom-building. I am being challenged to surrender every corner of mind, heart and soul to the transforming influence of the Holy Spirit daily and to trust Him, ever deeper, with the steering wheel. The truth is, our spouses, children, neighbors and communities need to see and experience the lovely and loving character of Christ reflected in His followers, not just a beautiful set of fundamental beliefs presented by a charismatic preacher.

How might your personal life, family and ministry be affected by a Spirit-choreographed personal revival?

6 Then he said, ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty—you will succeed because of my Spirit, though you are few and weak.’ Zechariah 4:6 (Living Bible TLB)

At 9:00 PM tonight, our cell phones will again ring to remind us to connect to this evening’s community study & prayer session.

I urge you to consider reading this small, relevant book and sharing it with your friends, family, church elders/leaders and members. You might even consider creating a reading & prayer community, as we have done. Can you begin to imagine the HOLY FIRE the Spirit can ignite???

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Why Not Try This? – Climate Control

Last week during the worship service at my church on Sabbath, I was freezing. I wore my heavy winter coat during the entire service and still had goosebumps. There is a problem, in that I’m always cold and many others are always hot so it’s really difficult to please everyone, but here are some helpful tips on how to maintain the best climate control for the majority of your church. As for me, well maybe I’ll just take a blanket next week! Read More

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From Beyond the Pulpit – Why Superheros Don’t Have Power

It’s pretty easy to write a script for movies today. Establish a villain early, spend some time developing star characters, set a course for the plot, add in some tensions in key relationships… but by ALL means give the hero or heroine superpowers to combat evil!

Why do these movies with very predictable story lines make hundreds of millions of dollars at the box offices? Why do they attract people like magnets? How about this for a possible answer: people want power! We dream of being able to do things we can’t currently do. In our everyday lives, there are just too many things we are powerless to deal with. Oh, to have real and tangible power. So we live out our fantasies via the big screen.

Add to that dynamic the low-lingering fear of being not all we can or should be. If we only had power. But where to get it?

It’s kind of funny that more people don’t take the Lord’s offer of power more seriously. For one thing, He is the only one Who has it to give! And for another, He wants to give it away. Jesus said we would “receive power” (“dunamis” in Greek) “after the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” Power to move mountains! Superman power.

This divine power wouldn’t think mountain-moving difficult at all. At the latest count the University of Nottingham in England now believes we need to increase tenfold our previous ideas of the size of the universe…from 200 billion galaxies to 2 TRILLION galaxies! All spoken into existence by God simply speaking. Just by God’s word.

So, this divine creative power is available to us, again at the command of the Creator. What evil shall be defeated in this story line? Monsters? Supervillains? No, something much bigger and scarier…our rebellious human heart.

This evil has knocked me around for quite a while now. I certainly have tried to fight back, but I can’t claim any victories. I must cooperate with the Source of the power, Who apparently has one condition before the power is unleashed—the human heart must be surrendered to Him. Free will, God’s great gamble in giving His created beings like us options as to whom we will serve, has the incredible ability to block the power of God in us. We remain mere mortals with no super powers should we refuse to cooperate with our heavenly Father.

I am waiting for a movie script where the hero takes on the greatest evil he has to face, his own sinful heart, and uses superpowers to win. That’s the story line I want for myself. It’s the story line God wants to write for me, too. All other powers aren’t so super.

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Momentum – Planning Every Detail

by Brandon Korter, Pastor of the Valley View Seventh-day Adventist Church

The evangelistic series was outstanding in almost every way. From the very beginning, the Valley View Seventh-day Adventist Church (located in East Wenatchee, Washington) came together in a beautiful unified spirit. Virtually everyone was excited and inspired to be able to share the good news of Jesus to our community.

The leadership of the church really rallied together and we began planning almost a year in  advance—planning for outreach events, planning every detail of the evangelistic campaign—along with our Evangelism Committee. The leadership of our Evangelism Committee did an outstanding job in the finalization of all details, ordering resources, planning the children’s programing and all internet and media advertising.

The attendance of the church family was strong each night, averaging between 100 and 120 each night. We sent out 43,000 invitational brochures, and on opening night, 64 non-Adventists came to the meeting. Attendance for the non-members continued in the 54-60 range.

One of the families attending had previously visited our church and they were very excited about the meetings that were starting. There was, however, a major conflict because they were highly addicted to tobacco. The family members expressed the belief that they would certainly never be able to stop after smoking for 46 years with multiple failed attempts to quit the addiction.

Happily, during the evangelistic campaign, Pastor Korter did a stop-smoking training with this family. By God’s grace, they quit cold turkey, remained smoke-free until baptism, and praise God that His victory is still theirs. Similarly, another man was victorious who had smoked for years and years. He, too, did not believe he could quit smoking—especially due to the home atmosphere from his wife’s smoking habits. However, the pastor did a stop-smoking training with him. By God’s grace, he too quit cold turkey and remains smoke-free to this day. This man had previous baptisms into the Pentecostal church, the Methodist Church, a Nondenominational Church and even the Mormon Church because of his search for the truth. Now be was baptized into the Adventist Church and is thrilled to discover truth as it is found in Jesus Christ. The man’s wife has become interested in learning more about Jesus and is attending along with him. Evangelism still works!

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Changed Lives – Why I Left the Church

 

by Janna Thomsen

Growing up, I had always belonged to a church family. Summer camp, pathfinders, SDA schools through high school. It was always easy to find friends with the same/similar beliefs. Not anymore. Only recently have I started to connect on a Christian level with a few of my friends.

Years ago, I moved back to Seattle from Spokane, and I never felt comfortable finding a new church. Especially because I’d be doing it on my own. I had saved the contact info from all the churches in the area in my phone, intending to visit them, but never did. I also went through quite a few life changing things (marriage/divorce/moving across the country twice, etc.), that made me question my relationship with God. I still had love for Him, but nothing felt right. Time passed so quickly, and before I knew it, I hadn’t been going to church for 12 years.

It took a breakup from my first official boyfriend since my last divorce, that made me finally realize that I had really lost myself and needed to make a change. I wanted a church.

I still had no desire to visit churches to find the right one. The whole idea of that gave me anxiety. So, I decided to use technology to my advantage. I checked online for all those churches that I had saved years before. A lot of them had links to sermons on YouTube. I watched a few, but nothing was getting me excited. Then finally, a sermon from a pastor from Volunteer Park Seventh-day Adventist Church (VCP) in Seattle impressed me. It was interesting. It was relevant.

So I decided to check out VPC. It was a big church with a small congregation. I could get in on the ground floor. Be a part of the establishment of this church. Everyone was kind, the sermon was great, and the music incredible. I then met Elton, who’s eyes lit up when he found out I could sing. I joined the praise team and was able to feel that powerful feeling of worship through music that I hadn’t felt since I graduated from Upper Columbia Academy.

My position at the church eventually grew into me becoming and elder… What?! It was really just the elder that made the church look pretty though… basically VPC’s own interior designer.

Shortly after I became an elder, I made a difficult decision and took a new job in New York City. So I moved across the country. A church was recommended to me, but ugh. A new congregation. Again. I forced myself to go. The music was great, the sermon was decent, but it was well established. I did not feel as welcome there as I did at VPC. the only people who said hello to me are the greeters. And it’s not like I hid in the back. I sat in the middle pew, in the dead center. I went a handful of times for almost a year. Tried to connect to their multiple social groups, but my schedule never permitted.

A year later, I decided to move back home to Seattle. I went straight to VPC. So happy to be home. But just a few Sabbath’s ago, I found out my pastor was leaving. I was actually in tears about it. I was excited about church again because of his sermons and how he had grown our church community. How was this going to affect me? Then I remembered, it wasn’t just him. We have an amazing congregation who are hungry to continue the vision for VPC. I’m scared but excited to see what is in store for us.

I struggle every day with what my relationship with God should be. With what kind of Christian I should be. What kind of woman I should be. Honesty, it’s never-ending. But I do my best, or at least I try to. I just need to remember that I’m not doing it alone.

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Resources – Who should be allowed to preach in Adventist pulpits?

It is a special responsibility and privilege to preach from an Adventist pulpit, even if it is in a newly planted church.

Here is wise counsel from the Church Manual “Under no circumstances should a minister, elder, or other church officer invite strangers or any unauthorized persons to conduct services in our churches. Individuals who have been removed from the ministry, or who have been dismissed from church fellowship in other places, or designing persons who have no authority from the church, should not be permitted with plausible words to gain admittance to our pulpits. Great care should be exercised to prevent this. Each one worthy of the confidence of our churches will be able to identify himself or herself by producing proper credentials. There may be times when it is proper for our congregations to be addressed by government officials or by civic leaders. All others should be excluded from the pulpit unless permission be granted from the conference/ mission/field office. It is the duty of every elder, minister, and conference/mission/field president to see that this rule is carried out. (See pp. 147, 150, 215-217.)” 2005 edition, pages 77-78.

Anyone who preaches from an Adventist pulpit, whether Sabbath morning speaker or guest evangelist, should qualify in one or more of these ways-

  1. He/she is a member of the local congregation, and is known by the church body.
  2. He/she is able to show a current credential from a Seventh-day Adventist Church organization.
  3. He/she has a recent (within the past year) letter of recommendation from his/her home church.

We see evidence of this kind of accountability in the early church (2 John, 3 John) and in the early credentialing process of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Following this counsel will save us from many problems in the future.

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From Leader to Leader – The Father’s GIFT

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

The drama surrounding the first years of my life could inspire a melodramatic novel. I was very young when my father started courting the daughter of an army General. Of course, no one in his alternate community suspected he was married and already had three children with my mother. As his relationship with the General’s daughter deepened, his visits to this family’s home became very frequent. One day, the General’s wife and my father became romantically involved. Thus, during the day, my father was dating the General’s daughter; shielded by darkness, he was the General’s wife’s secret lover. When the General discovered my father’s bent behavior, he deployed a death squad to kill him. When the General’s wife overheard her husband’s orders, she immediately sent a message to my father and told him to get out of the country right away. My father did. And he never returned. That day I lost my father for good.

There is a Bible text that has always moved me deeply, perhaps because it addresses several factors that are very important to me. Paul wrote: “But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus, we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage. You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!” Doesn’t that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you’re also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance.” (Galatians 4:4-7, MSG).

This text addresses a reality that is vital to our being. The ultimate Father enters into the lives of His children to actively participate in their perilous journeys. He does this by way of His Son, who has one mission in mind, to redeem those who “had been kidnapped by the law.” The Father, instead of leaving his wayward children behind, sends His Son down to seek and save.

My father left us because he had broken moral and civil laws. The heavenly Father comes down to us, because we had broken the moral law. My father was persecuted by the law enforcers; but we were sought by the Law Giver. Emotionally speaking, I lost everything when my father left; man lost everything when he sinned, however God, through the coming of His Son, not only rescued us from dying an eternal death but came to offer us the right to be called God’s children.

There is something else in this text I find spectacular, that is the fact that God the Father has a time set for His own divine and loving purposes. The text reads “When the time arrived that was set by God the Father. . .” The New International Version renders it: “But when the set time had fully come. . .”. I remember that as a child I would stand at the gate of the fence surrounding my corner house, waiting for my father to return. Sundays were especially difficult. The neighborhood fathers and sons parading by my home on their way to the park across the street to enjoy father-son sports. My father never showed up. He was too busy hiding in another country, afraid of facing the consequences he had sown in his country. Not so with the “ultimate Father,” who when the time arrived, came to seek out His children condemned by their sin-bent actions. In taking their human form, He shared their fate; taking upon Himself their punishment and condemnation so that they could be restored into their original relationship as beloved and cherished children.

May we approach 2019 with the assurance that God remains in control of our time, lives and events. May the indwelling presence of the Spirit encourage and empower us to believe that the Father is still invested saving, healing and restoring His wayward children. May we determine to enjoy all the holistic (spiritual, emotional, physical & relational) benefits that Abba’s fathering experience offers us broken and unconditional love and acceptance starved children. May we keep our hearts wide open to the continual GIFTS of the Spirit, who will help us to cry out. . . Papa. . . Daddy. . .Pápi!

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From Beyond the Pulpit – My Little Blue Book

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

I have finally decided what I want to give to God this Christmas. It’s pretty costly, too. Stay tuned….

This last week I took a short vacation to, drum roll (please), San Diego. Tough duty in December. I got off the plane and walked to the outside of the airport: blue skies and palm trees. Part of my time in SoCal I went to see my sister. She wanted me to look through some things of our mom’s (she’s been gone since 1994). We found her daily journal from when we were little kids (1960).

Mom and Dad were fighting. We rarely figured that out, as Mom must have shielded us from those pains. Still, we tracked the separation and divorce through that year. Mom was strong to deal with all of that; however, she suffered from clinical depression. So does my sister, so does my daughter. Why don’t I? How did I cope with the stresses of my family falling apart?

Collecting! Whereas it was a common hobby back in the day, I took it to extremes. It was apparently my way of finding something I could control, a portion of my world not subject to the vibrations of stressed out adults. I collected coins, rocks, stamps and so on. Stamps!

When I was a young associate pastor in Ventura, California the Lord told me to back off from my stamp collecting, because it was becoming too big of a part of my life. I tried to work out a compromise. “Okay, Lord, how about I get rid of (sell) off all my collection EXCEPT what I can put in this little blue stock book. You can have all the rest except for these few (that happened to be my favorites, of course).

I think that I still emotionally have that little blue book. I have compromised a lot with God over the years, giving Him sizable portions of me…but perhaps always holding on to a bit of self. And because of that, my spiritual growth in Christ has been stunted at best.

So, this Christmas and certainly this New Year, I want to give God my little blue book. Nothing held back, no compromises. This costs me a lot (of self), but I don’t think I will miss it.

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Changed Lives – Pastor, How Can I Get Involved in Ministry?

by Ryan Rogers, Pastor of the Poulsbo Adventist Church

Pastor, how can I get involved in ministry?” That is an exciting question for a pastor. And it’s the question Daniel asked one Sabbath after church that led to discussion, brainstorming, prayer and, eventually, got Daniel and me out on the streets going door to door. We shared a desire to reach the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood across the street from our church. Daniel speaks Spanish and I don’t. He printed off some fliers to offer Spanish Bible studies. As we stood at each door I would silently pray and smile while Daniel talked with the people. It was exciting to see Daniel’s enthusiasm for sharing his love for Jesus.

Daniel is an overcomer. I was reminded of this as we went door to door. Daniel had a cast on his hand that made it difficult for him to pass out fliers and to knock on doors. He had recently had a wood shop accident and it was likely that he would loose a finger. But Daniel’s hand was healing. I was inspired as I watched Daniel serve so willingly, even with these limitations. Overcoming is something that Daniel has experienced a lot of. Daniel just graduated from high school. This was a remarkable achievement considering that he had suffered a major trauma when he was 14 years old. He was in a comma for 2 weeks, had to eat through a feeding tube, he lost his ability to walk and talk. God blessed his recovery and he relearned how to do the basic things of life. Early on in his recovery he experienced a distinct calling from the Lord to serve Him. Daniel’s recovery has been richly blessed and Daniel desires to live out that calling to serve his Healer.

I first met Daniel during an evangelistic series I preached in the Fall of 2018 at my Church in Poulsbo, Washington. God again called to Daniel’s heart during those meeting. Daniel reaffirmed his desire to respond to God’s calling to serve him and in November, 2018 I had the privilege of Baptizing Daniel.

It is a blessed pleasure to baptism a child of God. But that blessing is extended when you get the added opportunity to disciple that person and to serve along side of them. I praise God that I had the opportunity to meet Daniel through evangelism. I continue to praise God that six months after his baptism, Daniel is inviting me to do ministry along side of him.

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Lifelong Learning – What Not to Say, What to Say

There are so many tragedies in the world. Too many hurting people. The fires in Paradise are an example of this. How can we give comfort. What can we say to help and are there things we say that may hurt? Read some thoughts on What Not to Say, What to Say by Krystalynn Martin, vice principal for spiritual life at Auburn Adventist Academy.

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Filed under Grief & Death, Lifelong Learning