From Leader to Leader – It’s Time to Get Back to the Mission!

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

I was transferred last week, in light of our world church reports and thoughtful responses, to the story John recounts about the man Jesus came to heal after walking 67 miles on a Sabbath afternoon. This account has moved me since childhood, perhaps because one of my childhood buddies, Rafael, was crippled. As the rest of us kids played soccer, kickball and baseball, Rafael would characteristically stand on the sidelines. Leaning on his crutches, he’d stand content to watch his neighborhood buddies work up a sweat.  I also like this story because of the depiction of the extreme situations it recounts, like the 38 years this man had been laying in the same spot, or the sudden, extreme restoration he goes through in the blinking of an eye.

Paradoxically, these “holy leaders” mutated. One proud moment they are fanatical observants of the law, particularly of the fourth commandment, and the next moment they have morphed into ruthless, conniving sixth commandment offenders.

I can only imagine what this formally crippled man may have been thinking: “Don’t you guys recognize me? You must know that I am the same man you’ve seen parked next to the pool of Bethesda for 38 years? You must have noticed me at some point. Look at me!  I’m walking for heaven’s sake! I’ve been healed. . .”  However, the only response he gets from his spiritual leaders is: “But it is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.” (Verse 10). Never mind that this crippled man had just been healed!  De-nile is not just a river in Egypt; in fact, it’s a vital ingredient in self-deception which runs deep and wide in our Christian communities.

Under the beguiling mindset of self-deception, the only thing that is vital, is what’s most important to me; never mind the moving of the Spirit in others’ lives.  My focus is so exclusively attuned to what is important to me, that I have no interest or curiosity in even acknowledging the possibility that there may be something else of eternal significance occurring right before my eyes. Like the spiritual leaders of old, I may become totally blinded to the profoundly obvious supernatural miracles that the Spirit of God may be empowering. Everything that does not align with my personal agenda or priorities eclipses the phenomenological needs and experiences of others. Let’s just ignore (deny) Christ’s mission and agenda.  My AGENDA becomes the only important matter at hand!  Sound familiar?

Later that day, when Jesus finds the healed man in the temple, he tells him that He is his healer.  The man runs to tell the religious leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him. (verse 14-15). The obsessed keepers of the fourth commandment then began to plot out the murder of Jesus; because after all, the fourth commandment is far more important than the other commandments, right? “For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath.” (Ver. 16).


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Why Not Try This? – Returning Good for Evil

by Bill Roberts, Ministerial Director for the Washington Conference
Source: NAD Ministerial

There was a German Village where a man and his wife learned to worship on the Sabbath.  The rest of the village didn’t like it.  There was pressure to conform.  The men of the village came and tore the roof off of their house.  The man and his wife heard their neighbors up on the roof  and wondered what to do.  They thought of Romans 12 where it says, “If your enemy is hungry feed him.”  They made them lunch.    When the men came down off the roof  they were invited to sit down for lunch.  The man and his wife served them graciously. After lunch, without anything being said,  the men went back up and reroofed their house.

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Beyond the Pulpit – The Secret to Promoting the Ordination of….

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, like you, have been fascinated to watch the various machinations within our church over the ordination of women. Americans love a good fight, especially when the cause is a righteous one. Of course, all sides in this are righteous. Hmmm….

I watched the General Conference work towards “disciplining rebels” and I saw some responding with “in-your-face” statements. Neither one sounds very spiritual to me. I don’t see the highest characteristic of spiritual maturity being displayed by anyone in this; that Spirit-led trait is submission! No one wants to submit to anyone else, even though it was the Lord Jesus submitting to so many, including those nailing His hands to a cross.

Well, if no submission is coming, I have a suggestion that is possibly a reasonable alternative. Why not promote the ordination of women in a similar way that the first General Conference in Jerusalem saw the inclusion of Gentiles being promoted? It was promoted by the report of witnesses that God had clearly accepted them by the Holy Spirit’s response.

Peter had reported from his own experience with Gentiles as to how the Spirit had been poured out upon foreign converts “just like” the Spirit had been poured out upon the Jews. In other words, it sure looked like God was including those people, broadening the base (so to speak) of the church, by indicating His acceptance through Spiritual fruit. When the church saw that God had accepted them, they responded appropriately with welcoming in Gentiles who had heretofore not been considered savable. The idea of resisting God’s choosing seemed even more intolerable.

Why not report on the various ways God has been using women in pastoral ministry, showing the fruit that shows His approval of women for that role? Ellen White was thus shown to be approved by God for a superior position in denominational leadership.

I favor this approach over a “the vote is unfair” or the “leaders are devious” or “the third world is stupid” or some other accusatory approach. Let’s be positive. God is clearly casting HIS vote. Perhaps the church could see this more clearly. “By their fruit” was meant to be helpful for cloudy issues.

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Momentum – Revelation Today

by Sergio Manente, Pastor of the Richland Seventh-day Adventist Church

We had 11 baptisms. God has been blessing us with new visitors every weekend. Our church leaders are mission-focused and enthusiastic to nurture each current member and serve our community. Growing each member as mission-minded disciples and investing personal energy, time and resources to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and His message to the un-churched in our community has ever been our focus.

We are ever brainstorming ways in the work of establishing connections in our community and helping the un-churched in Richland experience Christ. In 2016, we developed a new series on the book of Daniel. In 2017, we followed up with a fresh new look at the book of Revelation called REVELATION TODAY. In 2018, this 3 month Sabbath series (16 sermons) covered our major prophetic and doctrinal beliefs as well as practical lessons that looked at the book of Revelation in an everyday practical approach to make it relevant to us today.

The series had a great energizing effect in our congregation. We baptized eight at the end of the series and three more just a few weeks later. We are studying with more contacts and hope to have an even richer harvest.

I am thrilled with how many members are actively involved with the community and how many new connections are being made every day. Our attendance is up and we are continually seeing a stream of new seekers coming through our doors. I am committed to spending the next few years growing the amazing leaders we are blessed with here in Richland and collaborating with them in this endeavor and figuring out new ways to bridge the gap between members and our community.

Until the Nets Are Full!

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Changed Lives – “A” Interest

by Mike Armayor, Pastor of the La Grande Seventh-day Adventist Church

Our story begins with opening night of the Prophecy Seminar held in La Grande. One of the guests in attendance was a retired business owner by the name of Linda. Linda became an “A” interest as she took in every word of each presentation and filled in every blank in the lesson with the Bible answer. Over time she shared with us that in the previous seven years she and her husband had been regularly watching 3-ABN and had thought about responding to the advertising mailers and attending one of the seminars offered a couple times each of those same years. She wondered if the messages she was enjoying on TV were the same as those presented in the seminars at the local Seventh-day Adventist church. Linda explained that she thought about attending, but for whatever reason she just didn’t until this seminar. In my recollection as a pastor, I’ve never had someone with perfect attendance, but Linda did not miss one series presentation of the thirty one.

Shortly following the seminar, Linda made her decision for Jesus in joining the La Grande Seventh-day Adventist Church by Profession of Faith. She has continued to attend church with her husband for which we praise the Lord. Linda now serves as one of our Evangelism Team members who has faithfully supported subsequent evangelistic seminar series. Linda told us that as a Christian in her teens she began searching for the right church and now after forty years she says God has led her home.

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Resources – The Mysterious Note

The Mysterious Note is about a family from Chicago who is caught up in a self-serving lifestyle. This film, produced by the NAD Stewardship Department and One Mustard Seed, seeks to teach parents and children what it means to be a good steward. The film will be available for churches to use Oct. 22-Feb. 22, 2019, as part of an evangelistic and/or fundraising campaign. READ MORE

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Advent Movements – Lang

Rob Lang has accepted the invitation of the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) executive committee to become NPUC director of youth ministry. He comes to this position from a similar role at the Georgia-Cumberland Conference based in Calhoun, Ga. Lang’s wife, Velvet, will become a part-time assistant director, carrying forward long experience with assisting her husband in youth ministry. Both plan to assume their duties with the NPUC as soon as they can effectively wrap up existing responsibilities with their current roles in Georgia. Read More

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END IT NOW: Healthy Boundaries for Spiritual Leaders and Teachers

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

Leaders in Christian circles do not typically talk about the topic of power among leaders and much less about the abuse of power. Someone once said, that the way a person manages power is the true test of their character and leadership.  Unfortunately, we are reluctant to talk about power and the abuse of power until the news breaks out with a new scandal about the fall of another spiritual leader.   Thankfully, this silence is being shattered as we have witnessed the rising of movements like #MeToo coming through the walls of our churches and schools, which have empowered the voices of those deeply hurt by people in secular and denominational leadership. The movement #ChurchToo has formed a platform facilitating an audience for people that had been hurt by their spiritual leaders.

Our North American Division launched the EnditnowNAD campaign to encourage our churches and communities to be intentional about breaking the cycle of abuse because they recognize that abuse deeply affects children, women and men not only outside but within our church and school communities. I thought it would benefit our NPUC team if I shared some bullet points of the seminar I was invited to present this week (for the Spanish track) at the annual NAD EndItNowSummit on coaching pastors and teachers on how to create and maintain appropriate personal and professional boundaries.

One of this year’s scandals illustrated perfectly how the failure to set intentional healthy personal-professional boundaries can result in situations that create ideal circumstances for the abuse of power through inappropriate sexual conduct. Andy Savage, a respected teaching pastor from the High Point, mega church in Tennessee was accused of sexually abusing a 17-yearold girl more than twenty years ago, while he was a youth pastor. This claim prompted Andy to resign from his responsibilities saying “He had committed sexual sin and had sinned against God”.  In one of the most unexpected scandals of the year, Bill Hybels, lead pastor of the world-famous Willow Creek Church in Chicago, announced to his congregation that he would accelerate his planned retirement by six months and step aside immediately for the good of the church.  Though he continued to deny the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, he did publically acknowledge, “I too often placed myself in situations that would have been far wiser to avoid.” It is evident that as spiritual leaders, we must take the time to reexamine our personal and professional boundaries in the context of the innate power our ministry positions incorporate. I trust that the following 10 suggestions I will share, will help you navigate through the issue of abuse of power and with God’s aid, will help you to be more intentional about preventing and avoiding the falling into sexual misconduct that leaves behind a tragic trail of personal, familial and community destruction.

Boundary # 1 Be aware that your position carries power
In his writings about pastors and boundaries, Peter Scazzero reminds us that there is authority imbedded into your role as a leader. Spiritual leaders must think about and intentionally process power, especially because they possess great positional power, personal power, “God factor power”, projected power, relational power, and cultural power.  These powers exert a tremendous amount of influence on the thinking process and behavior of others.1   Unfortunately, most people, inside our circles of influence, relate to our authority with courtesy and kindness and seldom are confrontational.  Our society and denominational culture have taught our female members to accept male leadership authority without questioning whether this leadership is healthy or unhealthy.

Boundary #2 Your authority and power will be tempted
Just as Jesus’ authority and Continue reading

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Why Not Try This? – Church Announcements From New Platforms

Take your regular rolling announcements from the sanctuary screen each Sabbath and share them with a wider audience through your favorite social media platforms! Read More

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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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