From Leader to Leader – Have You Ever Felt Disingenuous?

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

Have you ever felt like a disingenuous person? Like a phony? On the exterior you appear, speak, and behave, “as if” . . .  Have you found yourself doing the “right things”, accomplishing the mission . . . going through the exterior motions. . . while your interior world is disengaged with the exterior actions? Have you ever experienced the soul dissonance when what you say, believe, and proclaim is not necessary in accordance with your true state of being?

Some of us will never feel inclined to compare our lives and ministry to the life and ministry of John the Baptist; after all, he was a giant of faith who received a special mission for a special time. He would prepare the way for the coming Messiah. John was faithful to the mission he was given. He refused to allow the culture and customs of his time to taint the understanding of his calling or the nature of his character. John preached his heart out and revealed the true condition of the spiritual life of the people of his time, even to the point of condemning the sins of the aristocratic society, including the king, and then calling everyone to repentance. His was a time when people were hoping for and awaiting a military liberator that would overthrow the political leaders and give Israel their rightful place as “chosen ones”. John showed up preaching and talking about purity and holiness; not necessarily a popular message for his time. Yet, John the baptizer was faithful to God’s mission and vision. He gave testimony to the world: “Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes the sins of the world away.” He personally witnessed the descending of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus, empowering Him for His mission as the Messiah.

But one day he ends up in jail and then it hits him. Did I misunderstand my calling? Did I make some incorrect assumptions? Did I end up being faithful to what I thought I was supposed to do, yet, possibly got confused along the way? Was I mistaken all along? Is Jesus who I thought he was? And suddenly, John experienced the debilitating disorientation of wondering whether he had been an impostor, a false messenger with a false message. How horrific! After so many years of sacrificial ministry, labor, and dedication. All for nothing?

Have you ever felt like John in your ministry? Have you sat in the prison of your own disorientation and wondered if you’d taken a wrong turn somewhere? I have; actually on more than one occasion, I have felt like an impostor. I have played the pastor role, abided by SDA traditions and beliefs, done what was expected of me, spoken pastor lingo, and yet, I’ve not always been sure that I have been who I thought I was supposed to be, or that I have done what I was supposed to do with my life.

So John sends representatives to Jesus, to ask a question, “Are you the One we were waiting for or shall we wait for another?” (Luke 7:19). The possibility that he had run the wrong race was heavy on his mind. He wanted to know whether he had mistaken Jesus, for the true Messiah. Had all his work been in vain? His messengers spent a full day with the Master. They saw the Messianic mission being fulfilled. The blind saw, the lame walked, the demon possessed were freed, and the good news gospel was preached to the poor. They came back to John and excitingly reported the supernatural incidents they had just witnessed. At last, John’s confused soul found peace. He received the desperately needed confirmation that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. That meant he was not an impostor. He had not preached his message in vain. He was confirmed that everything he had done had been authentic. He had run his race and finished his work. He was now ready for the next chapter of his life. . . the end of his time.

If you are anything like me, you may need confirmation along the way in your ministerial journey, because our enemy has many ways to make us feel like impostors. He confuses us with his lies, telling us that we are disingenuous, that we are just lying to ourselves, pretending. Then, the Spirit shows up and breaks into our cell of doubt, confusion, and questions. “Have I been doing what I was supposed to do with my life?” “Was ministry my calling?” The Spirit then begins to work in us and through us and we see the blind opening their eyes as they are exposed to the transformational Good News Gospel for the first time. The lame and faithless now walk and do the works of God and we see the faces of the captives who have been set free. Our doubts are dissipated; the confusion is gone. No more questions. We know in Whom we have believed! We know who He is and we also know who we are in Him. We are Gospel Workers called to announce the virtues of Him who called us from darkness into His marvelous light (2 Pet. 2:9); even while our culture loves the darkness and resists the Light.

Be of good cheer colleagues, you are Creator Jehovah’s servant! You have been called! Like Saul of Tarsus, not because we deserve to be ambassadors of the King of Kings, but because the God of glory loves to give the best to those who deserve the least.

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Why Not Try This – Adventist Giving: Good, Bad or Indifferent?

by Source: NAD Ministerial

An article published in late 2016 in the New York Times had this somewhat alarming title, Donations to Religious Institutions Fall as Values Change.

For much of its history, the Adventist Church enjoyed the abundance of generosity from church members as they gave their tithes and offerings, perhaps out of habit, or parental example and persuasion, or simply belief in God and the church.  However, in recent years that has changed somewhat, almost paralleling what is happening in the rest of the religious world in North America.

Back in the “good old days” which we remember fondly, when a pastor could say to his congregation, “God said to give, so you must give,” or something in a similar vein, church members by and large gave without questioning.  That’s no longer true, and whenever it’s mentioned to pastors that generous giving has taken on different dimensions, they nod in solemn agreement.

Today members usually want to know what happens with their money, they expect to have a voice, they want reports, they want to know just what their money is used for, and if they don’t receive answers to their questions, they may well do one of three things—stop giving, lessen their giving and channel some of their funds elsewhere, or demand more attention as donors—and yes, that word, “donors” is not just relegated to secular causes.  The habits of giving by most church members and their expectations of information and recognition have become nearly parallel with those whom we have traditionally labeled “donors.”

Although religion is still the Continue Reading…

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NPUC Ministerial Retreat Witnesses Eclipse

Fellowship, inspiration and training are usually the agenda for the North Pacific Union Conference’s annual ministerial retreats. The annual retreat is planned specifically for Conference Ministerial Directors, Evangelists, Evangelism Coordinators, and Hispanic Coordinators. However, this year’s retreat enjoyed a rare and special treat: America’s full solar eclipse of August 21st. Not satisfied with just a 99.83% coverage at the conference’s location, some traveled to nearby Warm Springs, Oregon to get about a minute and a half of full totality.

What came alive during this amazing experience was the record of creation for the Fourth Day: “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons….” Genesis 1:14. For this brief period, the attention of the world was directed upward, fulfilling the purpose of “a sign.” For those of us who were thus blessed with this awesome demonstration of God’s power, we could only shout out praises to the Creator.

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Reflections from Beyond the Pulpit – How to Be an “Expert”

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

It’s kind of fun being thought of as an expert on anything. And it’s not that hard to be one. Here’s the simple way: find some subject, any subject, that NO one wants to take the time to study deeply. Make it a hobby interest of yours and people will gladly defer to you as “the expert!”

Know what I’m an expert in? Coins of the Bible! Growing up in the ‘60’s, coin collecting was what a lot of us American kids did. One day, after I had become a young pastor, I wandered into a coin shop and saw a small display of what was labelled “genuine widow’s mites.” I asked for a look and then I was hooked!

I will include over the next couple of issues an illustration or two on these and other Bible coins and what we can learn to enhance our sermons. Here are two half dollar-sized silver coins from the days of Jesus that circulated in the Holy Land. Under Roman rule the Jews were not permitted to issue silver coins, so this forced the Jews to use coins with graven images. These coins were “staters” or “four drachma” pieces. They were equivalent to Jewish shekels, and were the two options for temple use (for instance, the “temple tax” was two drachmas).

On the left is a stater from Antioch, dated, interestingly enough, to the year of Jesus’ birth (5/4 BC). It has Augustus Caesar on it. The coin on the right is from Tyre and has a modernized picture of Baal on it! This means that the priests and Sadducees of the temple had two bad options to use for their coins: they had to choose either Caesar or Baal for their official currency. Which did they choose? BAAL! Think of the irony of Baal’s coins to support the worship of Israel’s God. Yet that seemed preferable to Caesar’s image.

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Momentum – Reaping at the Elma Church

The Elma Seventh-day Adventist Church moved forward with a reaping series presented by Pastor Ryan Whitehead. As the series grew closer, the members’ names in which they were praying for increased. In the small Elma church of about 15 attending there were over 80 names being prayed for on a consistent basis. When the series began, there were 8 individuals who consistently came throughout the meetings. 3 of these were family members of present members. 3 saw a flyer and came as a family. The other 2 were a couple who were attending infrequently, but during the meetings enjoyed a break from their children.

Throughout the series, these 8 individuals were joined by many others on different nights. The overall result of the meetings was an opportunity for church members to grow and be reaffirmed in their experience with God. Several were able to see their family members be convicted about what they heard and thus start to plug in consistently at church.

There was also the opportunity of community members to visit the church and several saw the truth of the Sabbath which they are now following.

The Elma church seeks to reach out to these individuals and encourage them to take a step of faith to follow what they have seen to be truth. This is happening through friendships and through continued invitation to future events.

 

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Upcoming Events – In the Beginning … Creation Seminar

The Salem Central Adventist Church in conjunction with the North Pacific Union Conference will be hosting a Creation Seminar by Stan Hudson, NPUC Creation Study Center director, at the Elsinore Theatre in Salem, Ore. The seven-night series will take place Sept. 7–14 at 7 p.m. each night. Discover the common ground and conflicts between science and religion on the topic of creation. Uncover scientific evidence that point to the authority of the creation narrative. Read More

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Resources – Free Images

Check out this Big Data/Social Media blog with tips on how and where to find free photos! Projects take time to create. Finding images to support them should not add stress. Luckily, there are lots of places online where you can find free stock images for your blog, church project, company, social media platform or website. MORE

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Health & Temperance – The Nature Fix: The Three-Day Effect

Nature is not only beautiful to look and marvel at the Creator’s splendor, but it also provides time to rejuvenate. Spending a few days “disconnected” does wonders to the body and mind. Find out how the Three-Day Effect can improve your health and wisdom. Read More…

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From Leader to Leader – Contagious Leadership

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

Being a minister in this post-Christian era is no walk in the park. As most nominating committee members can confirm, putting together church leadership teams seems to require advanced teeth-pulling skills. Even the most committed congregants seem to be more inclined to graciously decline invitations to serve their church, citing grueling work schedules and increasing family responsibilities, both legitimate reasons. What is a pastor to do? A growing number of congregants seem to believe that pastors, who receive a salary, should be doing the heavy lifting, while they do their part by at least attending Sabbath worship. Ministry ends up being limited by a lack of human resources, a lack of team work and even low morale among the ones who are serving. How can a minister keep his/her spirits up from week to week during what may seem like an uphill battle?

I came across some thoughts about Nehemiah’s ministry that may help us understand how Nehemiah was able to motivate a bunch of discouraged and fearful individuals and unite them to accomplish his vision.

“Nehemiah was a reformer, a great man raised up for an important time. As he came in contact with evil and every kind of opposition, fresh courage and zeal were aroused. His energy and determination inspired the people of Jerusalem; and strength and courage took the place of feebleness and discouragement. His holy purpose, his high hope, his cheerful consecration to the work, were contagious. The people caught the enthusiasm of their leader, and in his sphere each man became a Nehemiah and helped to make stronger the hand and heart of his neighbor.” (3BC, 1137; bold applied)

Imagine duplicating or triplicating yourself? Imagine having people around you who share your purpose, vision, enthusiasm and even your level of consecration. This is exactly what Nehemiah was able to do. How did he do it? He had Continue reading

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Why Not Try This? – Inside the Mind of Hate-Filled Harry

In 26 years as a local pastor/administrator, Roger Hernandez has observed that antagonists follow a pattern with their attacks. He shares four approaches an antagonist may use to bring a church leader down. Hernandez says this won’t stop a person from being hurt, but “at least you can see the hate coming and prepare better.” Read More

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