From Leader to Leader – Eternal Bliss

‘Tis the season to look back to trace God’s hand in our personal lives and ministry in 2017.   I stand in awe of Jesus’s compassion, mercy and grace towards us broken, malfunctioning humans that He graciously chooses to call “friends”.

In between our flurry of ministry travels & responsibilities, God granted Carolann and I the privilege of taking our first trip to Europe to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary last year. I devoted hours planning a romantic, surprise anniversary trip to the two countries I imagined my wife would like to visit.

When we arrived in Spain, Carolann fell in love. . . with Spain . . . In fact, she loved Spain so much that she became seriously disheartened when after a week of excursions to various cities, we had to abort our final day trip in the enchanting town of Toledo to board our plane to Paris. She didn’t hide her displeasure, “Do we have to go to Paris?”. . . “I love Spain; I wish we didn’t have to leave.” I didn’t say much; I didn’t want to ruin my upcoming surprises, so I just quietly listened to her express her regret about having to board a plane to Paris. On the inside however, I was thinking, “Boy, Carolann must be the only woman in the world who is not excited she is going to visit the city of Paris for her anniversary.” In truth, Carolann had no idea the hours I had spent choosing what I thought would be the very best hotel (within our budget) in the city, she had no clue as to the excursions and sites we would experience. I had thought that it would be romantic to celebrate our actual anniversary day in the “City of Love”.

Thankfully . . . after just a few hours of walking around the enchanting city, crossing iconic bridges over the Seine, and visiting historical sites, Carolann laughed out loud and expressed how utterly foolish she felt about her ill-informed attitude towards our departure. “I had no idea this city was so beautiful!” “I hope we are here long enough to see everything”. Boy, had her attitude changed! Every time she saw something that took her breath away, she would laugh and say “I can’t believe I was so disgruntled about having to come to Paris”.

Is it possible that we can be equally ignorant regarding the indescribable eternal bliss the Father is tenderly preparing for us? Could it be that because we have no idea how astounding it will be to live in the eternal ecstasy of God’s loving presence, we can become foolishly attached to places or things that were never meant to be permanent? Might we become so stuck in “survival mode” of earthly living that we can fail to prepare for, anticipate, or long for the surreal heavenly destination not yet seen or even remotely imagined? My favorite author writes:

“Oh the mystery of godliness—God manifest in the flesh! This mystery increases as we try to comprehend it. It is incomprehensible, and yet human beings will allow worldly, earthly things to intercept the faint view it is possible for mortals to have of Jesus and His matchless love… How can we be enthusiastic over earthly, common things and not be stirred with this picture—the cross of Calvary, the love that is revealed in the death of God’s dear Son…? . . . All this humiliation and anguish were endured to bring back the wanderers, guilty and thankless, to the Father’s house… There will be NO suffering ones in heaven, NO skeptics whom we must labor to convince of the reality of eternal things, NO prejudices to uproot, but ALL will be susceptible to that love which passeth knowledge. Rest, thank God, there is a rest for the people of God, where Jesus will lead the redeemed into green pastures, by the streams of living waters which make glad the city of our God. Then the prayer of Jesus to His Father will be answered: ‘I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am’.” (White, KH 371, italics applied)

Fellow sojourners, let us not allow any person, place, or circumstance derail us from the intentional contemplation of the incomprehensible, tender love of the Father in this New Year! We are all broken people living in a broken planet in desperate need of the salvific atonement that was lovingly planned and executed on Calvary’s cross to ensure a blissful eternity with our Creator & Redeemer. “There may be some things here that we do not understand. Some things in the Bible may appear to be mysterious, because they are beyond our finite comprehension. But as our Saviour leads us by the living waters, He will make clear in our minds that which was not before clearly understood” (RH Aug 8, 1907). We are one year closer to reuniting with those loved ones who have rested in Jesus and await the glorious day of His return and the first resurrection foretold in His Word.

It is my prayer that as we approach 2018, we will intentionally turn our eyes upward and know that we are serving a Mighty General who has lost no battles. Let us carve time in our busy ministry lives to spend in the contemplation of his life, salvific sacrifice and soon return. He is worthy to be trusted, loved and worshipped. “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom”. Psalms 90:12

Blessings & Victories in Jesus to you and those in your circle of influence!

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Why Not Try This? – Making an Annual Church Calendar

by Seth Pierce, Pastor of the Puyallup Seventh-day Adventist Church
Source: NAD Ministerial

The Bible says, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33). Too many churches approach ministry with a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mentality. Instead of carefully making plans for outreach and church life they coast along hoping something good will happen by accident, dumb luck, or God simply taking pity on their depressing lack of effort. I have found that it isn’t only local churches that struggle with this, but schools and occasionally conference departments too. A lack of planning creates an undercurrent of stress that saps energy and fun out of serving Jesus. While planning is hard work,  it prevents even harder work in the long run.

Several years ago, our church rented to a Methodist congregation and I was Continue Reading…

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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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Momentum – The Summer that Changed Everything

by Terrance Taylor, Pastor of the Pasco Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church

Summer was approaching and I was looking forward to it! Not that much of a shock, right? Who isn’t looking forward to the summer? Almost everyone I know already has something planned for the summer. Vacations, weddings, road trips, you name it…any reason to get away is a good reason. While the summer is exciting for most people, it’s the absolute worst time for a Pastor.

Pastors know that when summer comes around, their members usually don’t. Attendance is down, giving is down, and the church seems to be on Sabbatical. Except for the occasional VBS program lead by some extremely driven person, everyone else is M.I.A. The best pastors can do is try to overlook the obvious and plan for the fall.

So why was I looking forward to the summer? For the last three years, I noticed a trend in my church that I almost missed. As we have become increasingly less inward focused and more outreached focused as a church, we have adjusted our ministry plans to the pace and personality of our local community. And what we discovered was the summer and winter seasons were actually the best times of the year for Evangelism. Evangelism for us simply means, sharing the Good News with people who have never heard it before. This makes our target demographic very specific and gives us a strategy that requires us to be prayerful, creative, and responsible. This keeps the focus off ourselves and motivates us to leave our building and be in our community.

Ministry of Healing pg 143-144 provides the best strategy that we have found to engage with those around us in a healthy way, “Christ Method Alone!” Christ Method Alone has  become the core value of our ministry practice. It reverses the order of what we had typically done without compromising our vision and mission. Christ Method Alone takes time, ingenuity, and sacrifice. There’s no silver bullet. No cheat code. Nothing about this is easy. But it is rewarding! Being Jesus to someone you are building a relationship with is so much more fulfilling than telling someone about Jesus that is essentially a stranger. It’s David with a slingshot vs Rambo with a machine gun. Getting close instead of getting lucky!

I was really looking forward to the Summer! Our calendar for the summer was full and it was going to be exhausting. We planned nine outreach events, live streamed our service, added an evening worship service offered at 6pm, and moved our service time back two hours from 11am to 1pm. We planned more in nine weeks than we had done in the previous two years combined.

About halfway through the summer I was thinking to myself, “what did I get myself into?” Signs of the summer slide began to show. The faithful few began to get stronger and stronger while others seemed to rail behind, unable to keep up with the pace. I was out of timeouts and I was ready to throw a Hail Mary and get this game over with…until week seven.

There was a young couple with children that had not attended church in over a year and a half. Despite the many calls and facebook likes, life seemed to have their hands tied behind their backs and church was out of reach. Until week seven. Our 6pm service was new and not very well attended by the church. I tried to stay excited about it but it was becoming harder and harder to do. Finally…week seven came. Week seven…halfway through the service…at about 6:20pm…I saw them walk in. They walked in like they were looking at the house they grew up in. Filled with nostalgia, being reminded of things they had forgotten, noticing what had been painted or moved. I saw a smile. I gave a wink and a nod to say hello…and to say thank you. Thank you for giving me my strength back. Thank you for allowing God to bring you to remind me of why we signed up for this summer maddness. Thank you for the strength and courage to get ready for week eight.

 

Fast forward. They’re still coming! Three other families that weren’t coming, came back, and are still coming! The church has a new energy and a renewed focus to our mission. Evangelism may not be easy, but it simple. I’ve learned that taking risks and being willing to fail is a great way to learn. New things come with new methods and new expectations. Change happens when you want it to happen, either on purpose or by accident. This summer changed everything, I’m glad it’s over, because I’m looking forward to the next one.

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Changed Lives – A Treasure Book at a Thrift Store

It all began for Larry one day when he went to a local Seattle Thrift Store. He was browsing the books when a particular one caught his attention. It was the book The Great Controversy. Larry opened and perused the pages and what he was reading got him so interested that he purchased the book. He was fascinated by the Bible prophecy content of the book as well as their precise fulfillment.

On the last week of September 2017, Larry received a Revelation: The Final Events Seminar handbill through the mail. He was excited to attend and even invited his wife, Vicky, to go with him. The first weekend of the seminar was held at a community hall in Seattle, not very far from where they live. From the very first presentation they attended, Larry and Vicky felt convicted that what they were learning was Bible-based. They decided to keep coming night after night.

Before the seminar venue was moved to the Greater Seattle Filipino American Seventh-day Adventist Church, Larry had a chat with the seminar presenter, Pastor Eddie General. He told the pastor how much he appreciated the seminar presentations. He also mentioned to him that the seminar presentation content was very similar with what he was learning from The Great Controversy.

Larry and Vicky came and attended presentation after presentation. During the message about the Seventh-day Sabbath and Baptism they both decided to follow Jesus all the way, embracing all the Bible teachings they were learning . They were even more delighted to learn that Ellen G. White who wrote the book they had been reading, was chosen by God to receive the spirit of prophecy gift to guide and bless God’s remnant church-the very same church they would be joining.

Larry and Vicky, with 7 more individuals, were baptized on November 25,2017. They are excited, not just to learn about the Bible teachings they now have, but also to share them with others as God provides the opportunities.

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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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Resources – Did I Lose You?

by Hubert Cisneros
Source: NAD Ministerial

Pastors and elders are responsible for the people in their parish including the 70% of our youth and young adults who end up leaving. Did I lose you with that opening line? If not – keep reading. That is why Steve Case and I have written a book (training manual) to train youth leaders and leading youth. The name of the book is, A Place To Belong[1] and it comes out of personal experience.

Our church Sabbath School leader was a busy attorney by the name of Lloyd Summers. Lloyd also coached our Continue Reading…

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Advent Movements – Dulan

Byron Dulan has accepted the invitation of the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) executive committee to become vice president for regional affairs. Dulan has served the Washington Conference in several capacities, and is currently the conference’s director of Adventist Community Services, disaster response and personal ministries. He will begin his new role with the NPUC in January 2018. Continue Reading…

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From Leader to Leader – I am Not Ashamed of the Gospel

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

Last Sabbath, my wife and I concluded a very exciting series of evangelistic meetings. These meetings did not take place in one church only, they took place in 11 churches over a period of 9 days. The event was called Caravana, just like the caravans of camels in the desert where one camel follows another. During our spiritual caravans, 1 church celebrated 1 night of evangelistic meetings filled with music, food and baptisms. This event was followed by another just like it in a different church and repeated for 9 days. It’s like a spiritual fiesta, where the church makes banquet-like dinner preparations with the idea of ending that special night with baptisms.

Our theme was grounded in the words of 1 John 3:8; “For this purpose was the son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” We addressed the fact that every one of us has a story, growing up within our family systems formed us or destroyed us. We first experienced ourselves within the eyes of our caretakers. The first experiences of love and acceptance came from the person that provided physical and emotional nourishment. Satan is fully aware that brain development takes place at enormous steps during the first years of life. A baby’s brain grows three times within the first 2 years of life, from 33 grams to 999 grams. By the time we are 3, we have formed 88% of our synaptic connections. Scientist say that we are most impressionable in our first 3 years of life. The enemy moves swiftly and smartly to disrupt our emotional, mental and spiritual development during these vulnerable years. By the time we are teenagers, we have developed strong mental, emotional and spiritual values. In the mental health area, some diagnoses are officially given at the age of 16. At this age, patterns of functioning and thinking have already hardened and are more difficult to change.

Paul proclaims in the New Testament manuscripts: “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the Salvation of everyone who believes . . .” (Romans 1:16 NIV.) When the gospel is assimilated and the person experiences Continue reading

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Why Not Try This? – 3 Ways to Use Facebook for Evangelism

by Larry Witzel, Co-Founder & President of SermonView
Source: SermonView

The key to using your evangelism marketing budget effectively is deciding who you want to reach, then finding the best ways to reach where those people are. There are many ways to reach potential interests: Road signs and banners reach people as they drive by your church neighborhood. Direct mail reaches people in their homes. Your members can take invite cards wherever they go and invite the whole neighborhood.

But, in the modern world, there is one place where people spend a lot of their time. Facebook.

With nearly 2 billion active users, it’s the largest social network in the world, and by a huge margin. Two-thirds of Americans are active on Facebook, spending an average of 50 minutes per day on the platform.

If you want to reach people where they are, Facebook has to be part of your mix. Keep reading to learn the three ways to use Facebook as part of a multi-touch evangelism marketing campaign Continue Reading…

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