Category Archives: Lifelong Learning

Lifelong Learning – The Frustrated Leader

Frustration is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure. ~ Ecclesiastes 7:3-4 (NIV)

Wait, come again? How have I never paid attention to that verse before? Frustration is better than laughter? Lets use our frustration to make things happen! Read More

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From Beyond the Pulpit – What the Beatles Could Teach Our Church Leaders

by Dr. 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

There were two huge events in my childhood and youth that I will never forget:  the day my mom told me “Daddy isn’t coming home anymore” (and the divorce followed) and about eight years later, the news that the Beatles broke up!

Both were losses, and I could imagine on a psychologist’s couch it would come out that the latter one was so impactful because of the former one.  Why can’t people stay together?  Why can’t they work things out for the benefit of those who care about them?

In the case of the Beatles, John Lennon never got it.  He would later say to the fans, and I paraphrase, “Hey!  What’s the big deal?  We are each still producing music individually that will sound similar to the Beatles.” But they were not the same apart.  Would John’s anthem to atheism (“Imagine”) have been done with George (a believer in God) present?  Wouldn’t there have been some softening, some blending, some strengthening, some balance?  But we will never know.

Sadly, virtually every great band has broken up.  Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Eagles, America, ABBA, the list is a surprisingly long one.  I saw recently interviews of David Crosby and Graham Nash (who wasn’t MORE for world peace and harmony than Crosby, Stills and Nash?).  They can’t stand each other.  ABBA, arguably one of Europe’s greatest bands ever, was offered one billion dollars to reunite.  That’s billion with a “b!”  Couldn’t stand each other in the studio.

Yet at one time these bands’ members each complimented the skills and talents of their fellows and what they produced corporately was better than what they could do individually.  When the obviously upset Mick Jagger was asked what he thought of the then recent Beatles breakup, he simply exclaimed, “Egos!”

Egos do get in the way.  I’ve always felt musicians tended towards having sensitive ones.  But what can these grand breakups like the Beatles teach us, the Adventist Church? 

I think it’s this:  our highest achievements will take place only as we work together.  We all have sensitive egos that can get in the way.  What was the biggest hindrance of the disciples becoming what Jesus felt they could become while He was with them?  Ah, yes:  the spirit of ”who would be greatest.”  But what did they accomplish when they became of one spirit?  They became accused of “turning the world upside down!” 

Swallow egos, let the Spirit of Almighty God humble us all and let it be us that will turn OUR world upside down. 

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Lifelong Learning – The Long Reach for Authenticity

Last Sabbath, after the service was over, I was pointing out a child to a visiting friend and said “he’s the blond boy over there standing on the stage, not the one who just jumped into the baptismal tank, that’s the pastor’s son.” She knew I wasn’t being judgemental, I found it funny. Pastor’s families are not perfect and shouldn’t have to be, but feel overwhelming pressure to be so. What churches need is authenticity. Read this article from NAD Ministerial by Kumar Dixit.

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From Beyond the Pulpit – Can Intellectuals Be Saved?

by Dr. 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

For many, that question might have the same impact as Jesus’ words about the difficulty of rich people being saved.  It was “easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle,” He said.  He even added “with man, it is impossible.” 

We might think of intellectuals as “rich in knowledge.”  And what better thing to be rich in?  A lack of knowledge is dangerous.  “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you…,” says the Lord in Hosea 4:6. 

However, the record of salvation for intellectuals is relatively short.  In the New Testament there was Paul with his “much learning,” and then there was, uh, …?  Fishermen were more likely saved.  And why is that?  Aren’t the truths of the Gospel and the Infinite God of creation begging for students with three-digit IQs?

In my current fields of study in origins there is this world of intellectuals called “science” (which is from the Latin “Scientia,” meaning knowledge!) is almost entirely run by what the Bible calls “fools!”  “A fool has said in their heart there is no God.”  Psalms 14:1.   More than that, Romans 1:20 suggests that these observers of nature miss what is obvious:  “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen.”  Pardon my French on this, but the Bible suggests that those in charge of science are both “stupid and crummy scientists!”

But operating from an atheistic worldview, it’s all they can do.  The things of God are foolish to them, not able to discern spiritual things.  But is science the only place where sophomores live?  “Sophomores” is a word that literally means “wise fools!” 

I Corinthians 8:1 says that knowledge has the tendency to “puff up” people (compared to love which “builds up”).  I love that description.  Sophomores!  How many of us have met puffy people!  But puffiness is pride, which I frankly think is most difficult of all barriers for God to encounter in people.  It is the opposite of humility, which God loves.  And humility about the things of God is logical, given the greatness of God and the comparative puniness of man.  My own puffiness, which is sizable, diminishes quickly in the presence of Infinity.

But this intellectual puffiness I have seen in others besides myself, mostly from our universities.  At various ministerial retreats we sometimes have guest speakers whose expertise in an area apparently qualifies them to spiritualize portions of scripture to mean something other than their obvious meaning.  And to be knowledgeable means to be a skeptic.  I have heard a well-meaning theologian comment on a non-Adventist theologian colleague that he no longer believes in God, but that he is otherwise “brilliant.”  Not according to the Bible!

We need not cower to the great intellects in this world, as they often work counter to the purposes of God.  Can intellectuals be saved?  “With God all things are possible.”

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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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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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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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