From Leader to Leader – When Leadership Becomes Too Painful

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

Leadership, throughout history, has called for men and women with characters of iron. Commonly, leaders become the targets of preconceived ideas, prejudice, evil surmising, projection, fears and envy.  The Word is filled with stories of leaders who were misjudged, slandered, unjustly mistreated, envied and viciously attacked. Moses is a great example of a leader who lived his life under constant attack.  His own people frequently misjudged him. Even his own blood-related siblings turned on him and challenged the legitimacy and authority of the leadership role he tried to dodge.

Why are leaders so often the focus of unremitting criticism?  Well, imbedded into the position of leadership are influence, position and prestige. Add to the list vision-casting power, decision-making power, and character and lifestyle expectations.  Have you noticed our tendency to demonstrate tolerance, leniency, patience and grace with non-leaders?  Sadly, when one is assigned a leadership position, the degree of grace, patience and tolerance drastically declines. You are called to a higher standard, to moral choices that rise above the masses.  Christian leaders are not only expected to be exemplary role models; they are too often expected to be perfect.

The perpetual expectation of perfection is emotionally-spiritually debilitating and can drain the leader’s morale.  When people complained to Moses about the lack of variety in their desert menu, they were unashamed in boldly expressing how uninteresting and insipid the heavenly manna seemed to them after having dined on Egypt’s “fish, the cucumbers, the melons, leeks, the onions and garlic” (Numbers 11:5).  They went as far as to express that they felt “dried up”. The Message version gives an interesting rendering of this passage: The riffraff among the people had a craving and soon they had the People of Israel whining, ‘Why can’t we have meat? We ate fish in Egypt—and got it free! —to say nothing of the cucumbers and melons, the leeks and onions and garlic. But nothing tastes good out here; all we get is manna, manna, manna.’” (Num. 11:4-6; The Message)

Moses felt so disappointed with their negative mindsets and ungrateful spirits that he “Said to the Lord, ‘Why have you afflicted your servant?  And why have I not found favor in Your sight  that you have laid the burden of all these people on me?  Did I conceive all these people?  Did I beget them that you should say to me, ‘carry them in your bosom, as a guardian carries a nursing child, to the land which you swore to their fathers?’ . . . I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me.  If you treat me like this, please kill me here and now—if I have found favor in Your sight—and do not let me see my wretchedness.” (Num. 11:11-15, emphasis supplied). Can you detect Moses’ desperation?  Can you hear his anguish, helplessness and hopelessness? His emotional state is in such a disarray that he is feeling wretched, worthless and grimly inadequate.  Does any of this sound familiar?

Often, many leaders don’t even Continue reading

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Why Not Try This? – Having Influence

by 
Source: NAD Ministerial

It was my first church where I was the senior pastor and the 7th and 8th grade teacher was for a reason that I can’t now recall needed to be gone and I was asked to teach Bible and PE for a week or so.  I had never had any pedagogical training but went to the elementary school to be a teacher.  I quickly learned to appreciate the challenges provided by pubescent boys and girls.  They were quick to give all the right answers in Bible class but when then we went to recess the Bible lessons we spoke of in class did not have any effect on behavior when it came to playing baseball.  I quickly learned that the theory of Christian living in a Bible Class did not always translate into behavior on the ball field.

What is true for Continue Reading…

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From Beyond the Pulpit – Three Prayers and Their Answers

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 national polls taken in America, the vast majority of respondents answered the question of whether their prayers had been answered with “Yes!”  Answered prayer is perhaps the most meaningful personal evidence that there is a God.  That’s why it is so important to pray regularly and with specific enough requests as to make answers obvious.  We need to remember that it is in God’s own interest to answer the needs of His people, so that their faith would grow.

There have been three huge prayers with answers that I’ve had in my life.

“Back in the day,” as my son Daniel thinks I lived, I was a cowboy-loving kid in Los Angeles.  For one birthday I received a cowboy outfit complete with plastic bullet-shooting six guns.  This was back in the day when the world didn’t freak out about playing with guns, of course.  In my playing I dropped a silver, plastic bullet into our short dichondra grass.  But, where did it go?  It should be straight down, I thought, and very easy to see.  I sure didn’t want to lose some of my birthday gift.  I panicked a bit;  what would Mom and Dad say?  So I remembered there was this Jesus person you could pray to (we didn’t go to church).  I knelt down and said, “Dear Jesus, please help me find my bullet!”  I opened my eyes and it was there in front of me, right where I had looked and looked.  I closed my eyes and said “Thank you!”  My bullet was found.

A couple of years later my Mom told me, “Daddy isn’t coming home anymore.”  I cried and cried.  Then I prayed to Jesus, Who had answered my prayer before:  “Please send Daddy home!”  But Dad didn’t come home.  I knew things were complicated and I remember I didn’t disparage Jesus, but obviously the answer was “I can’t do that.”  But because of Mom’s concerns for my sister and I, she put us in a Christian (Adventist) school.

Years passed until the next serious prayer.  I was not a Christian, and I was living in a bachelor pad in Riverside, California with a good buddy David Friend.  We were full time employees at two local McDonalds.  One night we had a party with McD folks, ending up with Dave, a young lady and I going to a Dennys restaurant at 3:00 in the morning.  The talk suddenly turned serious as we reviewed our lives and where we seemed to be going…which seemed like nowhere.  We started talking about changing things, then David added “and let’s look for God.”  Seriously?  The next day he asked me to borrow my Bible.  After some searching I found my children’s Bible and he started reading it.  Then, I did, too.

The moment came for prayer #3.  I knelt by my bed (that’s where you’re “supposed to pray”), and simply asked, “Dear God, it looks like David and I are looking for you.  Will you help us?  Amen.”  The answer was YYYEEEESSSSSS!!!  And it still is….

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Momentum – Make Prayer a Priority

by Hugo Villalobos, Pastor of Hermiston Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church

This year our church decided to make prayer a priority.

As we sat with our leadership team in we noticed that last year a good number of families had experienced some type of loss or suffering in their lives. Marriages were struggling, teenagers where losing interest in church and attendance was slowly declining.  These types of circumstances made us aware of the spiritual reality we live in and the influence the enemy has to destroy families and therefore a church. We weren’t going to let this continue. If we wanted revival in our church we needed to humble ourselves and seek God through prayer on a personal level and as a church. “An enemy might defeat one person, but two people together can defend themselves; a rope that is woven of three strings is hard to break” Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NCV). We began to plan out our year and include as much prayer as possible in all our events. It has been so worth it. We have seen God move in a powerful way like never before.

I preached an evangelistic series on the power of prayer. We had several first time guests come to our meetings. They heard that our church was praying every day for healing and anointing. Our theme song was called “God Will Provide”. We kept singing this song on our mid-week prayer meetings as a reminder that the best is yet to come and that God always provides. Fast forward a few months, many of those guests have been attending church ever since; some have been baptized and other are planning on taking the next step in the weeks to come.

Another new thing we did was pray every morning for 40 days at 6am via teleconference. We had people from different cities and states join us on this journey. It was refreshing and a big blessing. We also began seeing a need to be more involved in our community. We decided to give back to the community and held a free kids festival at a local park with food, games, bouncy houses, booths, giveaways, and Christian music. We held a vigil at our church the day before our community festival where we prayed for our volunteers, guests, safety, and Holy Spirit. We saw our prayers answered because as a result of this event we had 250 guests and a family of 3 got baptized the next week. Prayer has become an essential and a non-negotiable part of our church.  We believe in prayer and rely on prayer.

Seven months ago we began meeting and praying with our teens and young adults to find a way to reach our city in a relevant effective way. Since we are a Spanish church, many of them had friends that didn’t know Spanish. God put in our hearts to reach our English speaking community and now seven months later, we have begun the process of planting a new church company with English services. It’s amazing what God can do with prayer. We’ve had 2 pre-launch services so far and have had an average attendance of 70 (all Millennials and Gen Z). Nine people have accepted Jesus in their lives and we will celebrate with baptisms. We have teens and young families serving in church inviting their friends. Lives are being changed. People are finding purpose and making a difference. We will officially launch weekly services on October 6, 2018. We will exist to share love, hope and faith to our city. Please keep us in your prayers. We’ve started our fundraising campaign and know God will provide. For more info visit www.myrekindle.com

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Changed Lives – Bible Truths

by Benjamin Orian, Pastor of the South Tacoma Adventist Fellowship Church

I’m always concerned about opening night. Will anyone show? Is anyone coming? But we’ve prayed about it, we’ve prepared, we’ve advertised, we’ve reached out to our active interest list—which at present is about 600 individuals. What will we see?

We mailed 20,000 brochures, as well as our interest list. I was hoping for 40-50 visitors on opening night. We got 23.

Norma came and told me she has been receiving our mailers now twice a year for the past four years. Every time she received one, she thought, “I should go,” but never did—until this time. She was quite spiritually hungry as she came each evening, commenting how much she appreciated that we preached the Bible and the Bible only. “Other churches,” she told us, “claim to do this, but we truly did.”

On the evening I was preaching on the state of the dead, I couldn’t read her. She looked as though she was struggling. My Bible worker, who was sitting with her that evening, later told me that while I was preaching, she became angry and wanted to leave. It was too different from anything she had ever heard before. But, then, she said she prayed and asked God to lead her. She said everything she had heard prior—including the Sabbath—was Biblical, this must be too. So she asked God to give her discernment and to take away her anger. He did. And she said afterward how relieved she was that she had stayed—it made sense. While Norma has not confirmed a date for her baptism or profession of faith, she has stated to us and to her children (whom she is encouraging to come to church and check us out) that she considers us her church now.

At our meetings last fall, with Pastor Tyler Long, one of our attendees, Rose, was baptized on the final Sabbath of the meetings. She brought with her, her Catholic friend Verna to witness her public baptism. Verna has been attending ever since, but because of her elderly husband’s poor health, cannot come out at night. So Verna got a copy of my DVDs from previous meetings and has been going through them by herself and with Rose. She comes to church and we discuss what she’s learned. This past Sabbath as I was wrapping up the series—preaching on heaven during the 11 o’clock hour, I made an appeal. Verna will be baptized!

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Why Not Try This? – Welcoming Newcomers into Your Church

by Kumar Dixit
Source: NAD Ministerial

When I walked into the sanctuary, I darted toward my “regular” row that my family has been sitting in for years. But on this particular Sabbath, the space had already been occupied by visitors. I needed four more seats for my family, but there wasn’t enough room in that row. In fact, I couldn’t find enough seats except in the back rows of the church. So that is where my family sat, next to a woman in a her 30s, who kindly moved over a few seats to provide enough space. After church, I introduced myself to this young-adult lady.

“Is this your first time here,” I inquired. She laughed shyly and said, “I’ve been attending here for over a year.”

“Oh wow,” my wife and I responded with curiosity, because we had never seen her.

“Yes, you guys are the first people to ever welcome me,” she explained.

I was stunned. Continue Reading…

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Changed Lives – Lighthouse Testimonies

by Hasani Tait, Pastor of the Maranatha-Lighthouse Seventh-day Adventist Church

Below are Testimonies from two young ladies who have recently given their lives to Jesus and have been baptized at Lighthouse Christian Fellowship at the end of our recent “Health & Wholeness” Evangelistic Series. They are brand new to Adventism and on fire for God! Their testimonies are extremely powerful.

Lydia is originally from the continent of Africa and has been attending Lighthouse for two years, but was hesitant to join. She is originally from a first day denomination and I have personally seen God work in her. I have also seen God totally heal her body from cancer as we have spent much time in prayer for her healing.

Alice recently moved to the States from Kenya. She grew up Catholic her whole life. After moving to the States, she found Lighthouse Church through members. After much prayer and study, she has been converted to our wonderful message.

At the conclusion of our “Health & Wholeness” Evangelistic Series, both ladies made a stand to be baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Below are their testimonies (Please don’t mind the grammatical errors, English is their second language).

Testimony of Lydia:

I had resisted God for a long time, was busy with work and business. When money was not my problem disease struck. I got cancer of the breast in 2012. I was devastated, but vowed to soldier on. I changed my lifestyle, moved from where I earlier lived and came to this state, I found new friends, and found the Lighthouse church through a friend. In this church, I have learned how to depend on God. I never shared my problem to anyone except my daughter and God. I cried to God to heal me as I continued with treatment. God healed me. I AM FREE OF CANCER.

Before my healing I went through many struggles. I lost six relatives. My son to a road accident. This almost shattered me. I’m thankful for my friends and pastor Tait who prayed with me. Two months later I lost my sister who had gotten a scholarships to join a university here. It was tough but God saw me through and brought me healing.

The same month I was baptized, I got real sick on my knee and was not able to walk, but God is good
after prayers with pastors and friends I am restored. I give honor and glory to God.

Testimony of Alice:

I was just baptized last month and became a believer of the SDA church. I was a born Catholic and attended Catholic Church my whole life. But last year, I came to the US and met an SDA family who invited me to church. I was hesitant at first, but eventually decided to go. In church we found other believers in Sabbath School. I was curious to know why go to school instead of just starting the divine service, since I knew Sunday School was for little children. The Sabbath School that day was amazing, the lead preacher taught some very interesting things that I have never heard. My curiosity was aroused and I so became interested to know more of the new things I was hearing, since they were being read from the Holy Bible. After Sabbath School, I enjoyed the divine service as well and decided to join my friends family the next Saturday.

Next Sabbath came and I was eagerly waiting to go and learn more. We went and I wasn’t disappointed since the teachings were very educative and exciting. I was allowed to ask questions and I got very satisfying answers from the Bible. At that point I decided that I will always go to Sabbath School whenever I got a chance, but hadn’t made my mind to become a believer of the SDA church. My friend always asked me if I would like to be baptized but I continually refused citing that I was baptized before and didn’t need another baptism. She respected my decision, but always reminded me to join them for church every Sabbath, which I did.

One Sabbath, a pastor, who is a friend of the same family, told me he was starting Bible study for some new believers who wanted to be baptized and asked me to join them and learn the basics of the SDA church. He said he was teaching them the 28 fundamentals. That got my attention since I am a very curious person, I wanted to know what these fundamentals were. I started going for the lessons and the same thing that happened before happened again. I learned of very new things that were read from the Bible. I really enjoyed the lessons, but one lesson really got to me.

One day, the pastor taught about baptism, I was very attentive to know why it was good to be baptized again. To my shock. I was really drawn to that specific lesson and God really, really wanted me to know about baptism. By the end of the lesson, I had this burning desire in me to get baptized. I couldn’t wait for the pastor to finish his lesson before I put up my hand and told him I wanted to be baptized. I couldn’t believe it was my hand which was up and my heart burning with desire to be baptized, but I knew that it was God who put that desire in me. So we finished the remaining lessons and three weeks later, I was baptized and I have never felt so good and complete before. I hope to continue being part of this great congregation. I hope that I will continue serving God and living holy so as to see and be with Him after He comes for His people, I want to be among the saints.

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Media & Adventist Benefits – Teacher Embarks on Bike Ride to Chicago

Skagit Adventist Academy Math Teacher, Monte Saxby, started a 2300 mile journey to Chicago on Monday, July 16. The community has pledged $4.86 per mile to the school’s student fund. Read more about his story here.

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Resources – How to Lead a Church Board

By Keith Bowman
Source: Adventist Learning Community

The purpose of this course is to help you transition your church board from committee to an effective ministry community focused on mission. By the end of this course you will understand the marks of community in your church board, know how to form a ministry description and group norms with them, know how to build community, trust, and teamwork, how to manage the agenda, and the meeting itself in a way that furthers vision and mission. You will identify competencies of a board chair, and learn how to chair a board meeting with greater success.

To learn more click Here

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Health & Temperance – Fast Food Genocide?

The world’s growing obsession with fast, processed foods is killing more people than any war. On “HeartWise”, Dr. Joel Fuhrman talks about how we can learn from the past and help shape the future for everyone in our community. Listen to “HeartWise” on LifeTalk Radio, Thursday at 2 p.m. Check for a radio station near you at www.lifetalk.net. Or listen online via www.lifetalk.net, ROKU, Amazon Echo, or the free LifeTalk Radio mobile app.

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