Category Archives: Lifelong Learning

From Beyond the Pulpit – Does God Save Our Pets?

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

Will God save our pets? Will we see again our beloved furry family members in the earth made new? Great questions, but with no clear affirmative or negative “thus saiths” we will need to do a little harmless speculation….

As you may have guessed already, I am leaning towards a “yes” answer. And here’s why: I base it on several character traits of God. First of all, God understands sentimental value. The lost coin parable of Luke 15:8-10 illustrates this. It was a parable for the women present, imagining the loss of a silver drachma. An archaic coin term, it was part of the woman’s bridal dowry, probably her mother’s and grandmother’s as well. The value wasn’t in the silver. A husband would offer a replacement, but it would not be the same. God understands that sentimental value trumps intrinsic value.

Secondly, God loves animals. The ark, a symbol of Christ’s salvation, contained animals as well as Noah and his family. God told Jonah of his care for the animals of Nineveh. Most of all, Matthew 10:29 reveals the amazing love of God for His sparrows, in that not one of them falls to the ground “without your Father.” The word “will” has been added; it was not in the original Greek. Quite literally Jesus was saying that “not one sparrow falls alone; the Father is present and feels the loss of that sparrow.” This is a clear refutation of theistic evolution which holds that God’s plan to create life and new species called for millions of sparrows to fall.

Finally, God is into restoring originals. Think of how easy it would be for God to copy more cooperative versions of us to replace us! Yet, He knows it’s not the same. Ellen G. White tells us that God salvaged the original Garden of Eden to present to Adam in the new earth. He understands how Adam would feel in getting back the original vines he dressed…so why not the original animals, too?

Since copies of the originals wouldn’t be the same, which are the best candidates to return to a restored earth with us? How about these: the original creation week animals, the ones on the ark, Elijah’s ravens, the talking donkey, the colt that Jesus rode on…and maybe our companions of youthful days as well as the ones who comforted us in our later years? I wouldn’t be surprised.

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From Beyond the Pulpit – Offshoots and Fleas…

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

What IS it with these offshoot movements anyway? We have the 2520 people, we have anti-Holy Spirit people, we have vegan or die people mostly on the right, we have evolutionists and God doesn’t kill anybody people on the left. And they all have some sort of claim of new light.

One of the really rare perks of aging (I mean, experience) is having seen these movements come and often go, but also having seen what they accomplish. I now offer a few observations….

These movements always start with a discovery of something that heretofore had escaped serious notice, things that carry a look of “knowledge.” We all know that knowledge puffs up (except in the case of yours truly). And I note a few puffy people in these experiences.

Generally the knowledge is based on something somewhat obscured in Scripture. That is, the clear understanding should not be taken in favor of the more obscure newer understanding. This runs counter to a couple of key points: the correct way to study any Biblical topic is to use the vast majority of texts that are clear (the soul that sins shall die, the dead know nothing, Lazarus sleeps) and THEN go back to the few texts that say something different (the smoke of their torment ascends forever) and look at the context and key words. Those different texts can then be moved back into the body of clearer ones. You never base an understanding upon the tangential statements over against the clear ones. Secondly to do so assumes God isn’t very good at communicating truths. All doctrines fundamentally say something about God, and that He hides truth from seekers is not my image of a loving Creator.

Then there is the powerful lure of knowledge. We remember how it worked for Eve. To know something that others don’t yet puts a person in a place of power. And we all are born with a craving for this. And it is especially true for a church like ours that rightly is blessed with rich truths. We can out-argue most anyone. These movements attract arguers.

Which brings me to Jesus’ great council of “by their fruits you will know them.” What is the fruit of these movements? Greater and richer images of Jesus? Is He the center of their lives, the One who is the Desire of Ages? Or instead is there bitterness, division and name-calling?

Once I visited a group of church builders who were going to come and do a project for my church. They were preparing for lunch and had been arguing about a topic (1888). A woman said to me, “Pastor, when you pray the blessing for our lunch would you also pray that we have unity?” I joked, “Sure, but a lot of time people who want unity are really asking that God would make people believe like them!” She glared at me with a look that was startlingly demonic. I remember thinking God’s Spirit was not very present in their ruminations.

Hear this from 5T 291: “God has not passed His people by and chosen one solitary man here and another there as the only ones worthy to be entrusted with His truth. He does not give one man new light contrary to the established faith of the body. In every reform men have arisen making this claim…. The greatest harm to God’s people comes through those who go out from among them speaking perverse things…. Let none be self-confident, as though God had given them special light above their brethren.”

I think of the famous image from EGW that the Adventist Church is like a dog barking at a fast-moving train (representing this world), trying to get its attention. These offshoot reform movements can then be likened to fleas biting and distracting that barking dog from its mission.

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From Beyond the Pulpit – Sufferer of E.B.S.

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

OK, I’m thinking it’s fairly official: I’m an old guy. There are fewer things I can think of that are more difficult to admit. I’m a sufferer of what I call “E.B.S.:” “Excessive Birthdays Syndrome.”

I’m part of the glorious generation’s kids, a baby boomer. Actually I’m an early one, part of the subgroup affectionately labeled as an “Ozzie and Harriet baby boomer.” That’s over against the real kids called “Brady Bunch baby boomers.” I have a Medicare card. I get “post-adult” discounts. Were I mentioned in a news article I’d likely be listed as elderly.

Sigh. Yes, I remember when JFK was shot. I remember watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan (can they still get back together…please??). And I definitely remember my sixth grade teacher announcing emphatically that Jesus would come back within the year!

All water long gone under many bridges. So, now what? I’m near the end of my “career.” I can see retirement from here. Frankly, this is a question I ask myself: “What good am I now?”

A couple of days ago for morning worship God showed me this from Psalms 71:18:

‘Now also when I am old and grayheaded,
O God, do not forsake me,
Until I declare Your strength to this generation,
Your power to everyone who is to come.’

Maybe there is still things to accomplish, stories to share, wisdom (the only perk of aging?) to impart. In particular, I am more motivated than ever to be as useful to God as I know how. For all that He has done and continues to do for me and for those I care about, I am forever His servant. Even as a sufferer of E.B.S., a post-adult. My son has said that I lived “back in the day,” a sad truth. But maybe I can still be useful beneath gray hairs.

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From Beyond the Pulpit – On the Death of Stephen Hawking

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

On March 14th the famed English astrophysicist Stephen Hawking passed away at the age of 76. Hawking had been diagnosed more than fifty years ago with ALS, called “Lou Gehrig’s disease” in the U.S. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis robs the body of muscle control; the image of him in his wheelchair propelled him into an icon of pop culture.

His book A Brief History of Time, though well written and extremely popular, was not easily understood, dealing with such things as black holes in space and cosmology. But as time rolled on, his Methodist background disappeared into his past and he became a popular spokesman for atheism. Some of his statements about his worldview (cosmology) show this:

There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.

We are each free to believe what we want, and it is my view that the simplest explanation is there is no God. No one created the universe, and no one directs our fate.

I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.

The lack of logic in these and others of his statements, plus the energy behind them, shows that empirical science and personal philosophy sometimes blur, especially when that science touches origins.

We don’t know what moved Hawking in the direction of atheism. Like Darwin’s wife Emma, Hawking’s wife Jane remained a steadfast Christian their married life. And like Darwin he experienced great personal loss. Was he bitter towards God?

In terms of IQ, Hawking was a brilliant physicist. But we are reminded of the Scriptural warning that “knowledge puffs up.” We hope in his last days he came to a humble trust in the Creator God; if he didn’t, our mourning is deeper.

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Upcoming Events – EvangeLead

The EvangeLead Conference, coming April 22–24, is especially designed for pastors and lay leaders to join together in learning strategies for creating a culture of outreach and evangelism. Guest speakers Russell Burrill, César De León and Roger Walter will discuss why evangelism still works, how to create a culture of outreach to the community and more. The event will be hosted at the Adventist Community Church in Vancouver, WA. Click to find out more. Read More…

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From Beyond the Pulpit – Coins and Constantine’s Sun God

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 continuing our series on Biblical coins, remember how I mentioned that (for the Romans at least) coins were meant to send out political messages? That’s right; before there was the Internet, Imperial coins were the thing.

Moving on to the later empire Constantine the Great’s (AD 307-337) personal religion evolved from sun worship to Christianity. The conversion itself supposedly took place at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in AD 312, where a voice from heaven admonished Constantine to put Chi-Rho symbols of Christianity on his army’s helmets and shields to ensure victory. He did just that and was victorious.

What is interesting is that well past AD 312 his coins still showed predominantly “Sol,” the sun god. But in this rare example of a bronze follis from AD 317, the sun god has a Latin cross in the field to the left, a clear blending of the two religions. In fact, all of his later coins show this enigmatic tendency…which god is Constantine promoting? At his death commemorative coins showing his flying off to heaven in a chariot where a god’s hand welcomes him (Sol or the Christian God?). Also there is a series of coins showing his pious gazing towards heaven, again something that could promote either religion.

Is was not until his sons’ coinage that clearly Christian designs prevailed.

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Lifelong Learning? – 4 Important Realities About Today’s Young Adults

What Twenty-Somethings Need From Us More Than (Almost) Anything Else – Today’s young adults are getting married later, starting their families later, launching their careers later, and becoming financially independent later than those in their parents and grandparents’ generations. So what do today’s young adults need most from their church?

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From Beyond the Pulpit – Coins and the Roman Press

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 continuing our series on Biblical coins, remember how I mentioned that (for the Romans at least) coins were meant to send out political messages? That’s right; before there was the Internet, Imperial coins were the thing.

For instance, take a look at how coins reflected the wars between Judaea and Rome. After Vespasian and son Titus beat the Jews and destroyed their temple in AD 70 they minted coinage that was meant to get that word out to the empire. Here is a dime-sized denarius of Vespasian with a mourning Jewess on the back besides a pile of war trophies. Under her weeping frame is the word “IUDAEA.” 

And when the art platform was large enough, like on a silver-dollar sized bronze sestertius, Vespasian himself can stand triumphantly with his war standard and the words “IUDAEA CAPTA.” That Judaea was captured was meant to tell the Roman world that Rome was doing its job with “terrorists.”

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From Beyond the Pulpit – A Window’s Huge Gift

We continue on in the series of coins of the Bible and what they might tell us about the stories that they fall into. Today we take a little look at some very small things: “mites.”

“Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans.  So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.’”

First of all, it’s kind of telling that Jesus notes what we put in the offering plate. He is interested as is heaven. When the rich put in large gifts heaven yawned, as there was no sacrifice, no faith in those gifts. But when the widow put in her two mites, you can almost hear whistles and “Wow! Did you see that?” from the angels.

The Greek word for mite is lepton. It’s not a money term, but simply means “tiny thing.” Mark is writing to a Roman audience, so he mentions that they were smaller than the smallest Imperial Roman coin, the quadrans. Pictured is an example of a lepton minted by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. This particular coin, dated to Caesar Tiberius’ reign, was made in the year that Christ died: AD 31. The legend says “Tiberius Caesar’s.” And prominently depicted is an augur, a pagan religious symbol, that was part of Tiberius’ personal religious faith…but it certainly would have deeply offended Pilate’s Jewish subjects.

Notice the sharp edges. You can see why Jesus encouraged disciples to get leather pouches that didn’t “wax old” (or wear out from sharp-edged coins!). But more germane to the story is that the widow gave a gift that would inspire others through the centuries to give so much that she really DID “put in more than all.”

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Lifelong Learning – Is Your Website Content Written Conversationally?

Source: Social Media + Big Data Services

Fancy writing doesn’t sell anymore. Simple, honest, and conversational does.

While our English teachers and professors worked hard to convince us that the art of elevated, academic writing is the key to intelligent discourse, we might have to take a more simplified approach when it comes to the basic yet crucial principle of connecting with people.

People are looking for things that help them, make them feel happy and safe, and answer their questions. They don’t want to be Continue Reading…

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