Category Archives: Lifelong Learning

Why Not Try This? – 4 Things to Do if Your Church Says “No” to Evangelism

What should you do if church leaders show little or no enthusiasm, or even try to roadblock your efforts? Here are four things to do. Read More

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Filed under Leadership, Lifelong Learning, Soul Winning

From Beyond the Pulpit – My Car Doesn’t Trust Me

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

Every 270,000 miles or so I usually turn my Honda Civic in for a new one.  I just did it again a few months ago.  I like the gas mileage and the reliability…but I spoil myself with a higher model, one that has a few bells and whistles.  This time I got one that has a bunch of “safety features.”

There is a not-so-subtle trend today among auto manufacturers where they are trying to be helpful, I think, in pointing out our “mistakes.”  My Honda literally jiggles the steering wheel when it thinks I am too close to a painted lane line.  And should I do the unthinkable and take off my seat belt a second or two early as I am pulling into a parking spot a female voice warns “please put on driver’s seat belt.” 

This untrusting attitude is established early when you prepare to start the engine.  A printed message says something like “you DO understand that if you have an accident it’s YOUR fault for not being a responsible driver, don’t you?”  Self-driving cars are based on a very clear view of drivers like you and me; that view is that we can’t be trusted to do a competent job of getting to where we need to get without major problems along the way.

My Honda isn’t the only car I’ve driven lately that doesn’t trust me.  A GMC rental I drove in Arizona while I was on vacation bird watching was a real nagger.  On a canyon dirt road I was driving, then stopping, then driving slowly as I was spotting interesting birds.  A strict warning flashed on screen:  “Good driving requires focus.  Keep your eyes on the road.  If you need to stop for a rest, please do so.  DO YOU AGREE?”  And that message would not go away unless I hit the “I agree” response.  And I mean it stayed up even after I had stopped the engine later, then drove some more.  The rebel in me didn’t want to agree, but it would not let me get away with that!

A Mazda we recently rented for Oshkosh had a radio that could not be turned off!  No kidding;  all you could do is turn the radio down so far you couldn’t hear it.  But it still displayed the song currently playing on the radio station.  And what about these cars that lock doors when you aren’t wanting them to?

I have wondered what this “Big Brother” trend really means in our world today.  Is it the insurance industry?  The government?  Whomever we are talking about, they have a negative view of our IQs.  They think we need help!  More than that, they aren’t offering it to just those who would like it, because it’s not an option.  Just try to find ways of turning off these “safety features.”  Most can’t be, including that woman telling me to put on my safety belt.

There is talk that cars are being developed that are completely self-driven.  And the worries that follow that is, “will the government monitor where we are and perhaps have better ideas about what society should be doing in their cars?”  For instance, like remotely keeping people from driving on high traffic days…or maybe even not driving on Sundays to preserve the environment. 

The progressive movement in our culture today has a poor view of humanity; it is that we are all fairly stupid and in deep need of enlightenment (okay, some truth there!).  Pop science with their views on origins is part of that.  And so are Christian scholars who don’t believe in the reliability of God’s word (and thus God Himself); apparently God needs modern help in communicating truths to us.  That thinking is large and in charge.  And just like in our Hondas, we can’t turn those voices off!  My Honda just doesn’t trust me.

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Lifelong Learning – The Science of Sabbath

In a world saturated with technology and social media, more and more people are becoming burned out. Is taking a day off every week from the stresses of life important? As Seventh-day Adventists, we believe it is. But what about taking a day off every week from technology as well? Read this insightful article (The science of Sabbath: How people are rediscovering rest—and claiming its benefits) on why this may be something to try.

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Filed under Health & Temperance, Lifelong Learning

Beyond the Pulpit – God’s Gemstones

“Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another,
And the Lord listened and heard them;
So a book of remembrance was written before Him
For those who fear the Lord
And who meditate on His name.

‘They shall be Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts,
‘On the day that I make them My jewels.’”  Malachi 3:16,17

I am a rockhound.  I am coming out of the closet and admitting such.  I’ve had occasion to search for God’s mineral artwork.  One time I was digging in a mine dump near Pala, California, looking for tourmaline crystals of red and green.  One particular rock yielded some gem-quality crystals.  Pretty cool!  The difference between regular crystals and gem quality ones are readily seen. It’s not my thing to wear these beauties, but I can understand why some do.  They are amazing.

What makes a gem valuable?  Several things do:  clarity, lack of imperfections, color and desirability.  From this I get a lot of sermon illustrations.  Let’s look at “color” for example.  Here’s a picture of the famous “Hope Diamond” in the Smithsonian today.  What sets its great value is color.  How did it get that unusual blue tint?  The same way any growing crystal gets color:  it depends upon the chemical environment it grew in (some would negatively call it “impurities!”).  The color simply shows the unique experience that the crystal had in its growth.

WE are called “God’s jewels.”  Each of us will have had a unique growth in God’s grace, colored by the environment and experiences we had that only we had.  The Bible talks about songs that only certain saints will be able to sing.  Same thing!  And what will make us particularly valuable to God as His jewels is our very personal views of His love.  We will have stories to share with the universe full of our own special color.  We will be living jewels!

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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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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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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

Lifelong Learning – I Thought My Brother Died

In the midst of inner church turmoil comes a devastating natural disaster. What, if anything, can this teach us? Read one thought here by Jonathan Russel, Assistant to the President for Multimedia Communication at the Oregon Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

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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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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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