From Beyond the Pulpit – On the Death of Stephen Hawking

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

On March 14th the famed English astrophysicist Stephen Hawking passed away at the age of 76. Hawking had been diagnosed more than fifty years ago with ALS, called “Lou Gehrig’s disease” in the U.S. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis robs the body of muscle control; the image of him in his wheelchair propelled him into an icon of pop culture.

His book A Brief History of Time, though well written and extremely popular, was not easily understood, dealing with such things as black holes in space and cosmology. But as time rolled on, his Methodist background disappeared into his past and he became a popular spokesman for atheism. Some of his statements about his worldview (cosmology) show this:

There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.

We are each free to believe what we want, and it is my view that the simplest explanation is there is no God. No one created the universe, and no one directs our fate.

I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.

The lack of logic in these and others of his statements, plus the energy behind them, shows that empirical science and personal philosophy sometimes blur, especially when that science touches origins.

We don’t know what moved Hawking in the direction of atheism. Like Darwin’s wife Emma, Hawking’s wife Jane remained a steadfast Christian their married life. And like Darwin he experienced great personal loss. Was he bitter towards God?

In terms of IQ, Hawking was a brilliant physicist. But we are reminded of the Scriptural warning that “knowledge puffs up.” We hope in his last days he came to a humble trust in the Creator God; if he didn’t, our mourning is deeper.

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Momentum – Back Home and Broken Chains

by Francisco Altamirano, Pastor of the Payette Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist Church

Something wonderful that happens when you do evangelism. You always see miracles. When we started our series of evangelism we knew it was an act of faith. That’s what evangelism basically is about. 300 invitations were distributed and we waited the first night to see how God was going to act. It was a blessing to see friends and guests, as well as members, attending the first night. Thank God because his Spirit knows how to move in each heart. That night we saw members who did not attend church anymore come back to the Father’s house.

We praise God for what he was doing from the beginning of the meetings. We also observed a whole family of non-Adventists who had also attended that first night. The nights passed and the decisive issues of doctrines were presented. We saw how God was working in the hearts. Little by little the ex-Adventists were also bringing their children to church, even on Saturdays, and we also saw them pay their tithes to the Lord. From the first time an appeal was made to be baptized, the first to raise their hand were the non-Adventists, showing their willingness to give themselves to Jesus and His church. In addition to them, a single mother who has been struggling with addictions also decided to be baptized. We heard that the Lord was brealcing chains. Thus, on the day of baptism, five precious souls joined the body of Jesus Christ. In addition to a couple of former Adventists back to the flock of Jesus Christ.

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Changed Lives – Jesus Gonzalez met Jesus trough Jesus Rodriguez

by Benjamin Tello, Pastor of the Milwaukie Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church

Jesus is a common name in the Mexican culture. Many fathers name their children with this name to honor Jesus. For this reason this is a story of three Jesus’.

Jesus Rodriguez is a member of our church. He had a friend whose name is like his, Jesus Gonzalez. J. Rodriguez shared about Jesus with his friend, J. Gonzalez, but he didn’t have the time to listen. Unfortunately his friend began to have a bunch of problems.

J. Gonzalez’ wife abandoned him with his two children. Shortly, thereafter, he had a job related accident. When he was in the hospital, receiving treatment for his injures, the doctors discovered an illness in his kidneys. After further testing, he was told he had insufficient kidney function, caused by a rare family condition, and was in need of dialysis. As a result he lost his job, but not his friend J. Rodriguez.

J. Rodriguez took care of his friend and helped him with the treatments. The friendship between them grew stronger, and he shared Jesus with his friend once again. By this time the Milwaukie Spanish Church had started a Revelation Seminar. J. Rodriguez invited his friend to attend the seminar and finally he accepted.

I saw the two friends attend every night and I was privileged to witness Jesus Gonzalez accept Jesus and walk to the front during an altar call. He is now a member of our church.

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Global Mission – Guatemala

We are in the midst of spring break and with it comes a multitude of mission trips. This year, the NPUC sponsored an evangelistic trip to Retalhuleu, Guatemala. Walla Walla University theology students and intern pastors from Washington and Idaho Conferences converged to preach “Secrets of Life,” a seven night evangelistic series, at 20 different churches around Retalhuleu. Tonight begins their fifth night. Please pray for them and all the mission trips happening this week all around the world.

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Upcoming Events – EvangeLead

The EvangeLead Conference, coming April 22–24, is especially designed for pastors and lay leaders to join together in learning strategies for creating a culture of outreach and evangelism. Guest speakers Russell Burrill, César De León and Roger Walter will discuss why evangelism still works, how to create a culture of outreach to the community and more. The event will be hosted at the Adventist Community Church in Vancouver, WA. Click to find out more. Read More…

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Media & Adventist Benefits – Social Media 101

I recently was visiting my sister in New York City and we decided to go to church since she had been looking for a new church family and had not yet found one. I looked up the churches in the area and sent an email to one, asking a question about their service that I couldn’t find on their website. It took them more than a week to respond. By then, it was too late. I was home. This was a missed opportunity for that church and I wonder how many more have missed similar opportunities. A lack of communication is only part of the problem. Does your school, church, or organization have a social media presence? To know more about equipping yourself or your organization with savvy social media skills, join Jamie Schnieder, Digital Media Strategist for the North American Division, to learn how to maximize your message and your mission on social media platforms. Visit the Adventist Learning Community “Social Media 101” course

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Resources – Bible Tutor is a new website that collects contact information from people interested in receiving Bible studies and forwards that information to the area pastor for follow-up. Churches looking for Bible study leads can publicize the site’s domain name in any creative way and then be notified of the interests that develop in their area. We are developing literature for distribution in our area that contains an offer for a “Personal Bible Tutor” and directs people to this site. There is a page on the website where people who have received Bible studies can share their testimony of how they were blessed.

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Advent Movements – McClendon

Bill McClendon has agreed to become the next vice president of administration for the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC). McClendon returns to the Northwest after serving in the Washington Conference from 2010–2014. McClendon’s new role at the union will provide support to local Northwest conferences and churches in mission leadership and member growth, in addition to areas of church structure, process and policy. Read More…

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From Leader to Leader – Emulating the Consummate Disciple, Part 1

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

I returned last week from our NAD’s E-Huddle (the annual session focused on Evangelism in North America). As is customary, attendees were invited to articulate their thoughts and reactions to the multiple speakers invited to share what was working for them. Attendees traditionally sit at round-tables to share their reactions and any other meaningful dialogue pertaining to evangelism.

One of the several comments shared that stuck in my head was, “The reality is that we need more evangelism money to reach our culture.” At the time, I remember nodding in full agreement. Reaching middle, upper-middle class individuals has indeed proven to be, well . . . pricey.

What Would Happen IF . . .

As I shared some of the highlights of this year’s event with my wife upon my return, we began our own round table discussion and we wondered out loud, “What would happen IF. . . ”

  1. What would happen IF every church invested monies to train their members on how to better imitate Christ’s methods of reaching broken people for His Father’s Kingdom?
  2. What would happen IF members learned how to approach their neighbors with kindness?
  3. What would happen if members learned how to be more compassionate with the hurting in their workplaces?
  4. What would happen IF members learned how they could become more empathetically engaged with those in their own circles of influence, who suffer under the banner of the enemy because they truly don’t know a better way?”

Jesus’ evangelism budget was ZERO dollars, yet the majority of those He came into personal contact with were transformed into contagious disciples. The budget for His 12 disciples was zilch. . . nada.

“Never was there such an evangelist as Christ. He was the Majesty of heaven, but He humbled Himself to take our nature, that He might meet men where they were. To all people, rich and poor, free and bond, Christ, the Messenger of the covenant, brought the tidings of salvation.” (MH, 22).

Yet, Jesus and His disciples birthed the primitive Christian church movement, that while sadly divided today, still remains a force to be reckoned with.

Doing the Father’s Will

Jesus—the consummate disciple—realized from his childhood training years, that His primary mission in life was to do His Father’s will. He understood that all other life and culture priorities would necessarily have to fall beneath his primary mission which was to align himself to those activities His Heavenly Father’s was already involved in, while intentionally reflecting the Father’s love infused character.

After healing the man at the pool of Bethesda, Jesus responded to the infuriated Jewish leaders, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working” (John 5:17). Then again in verse 19, Jesus clarified further, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner…” Later in the verse of chapter 5, Jesus reiterates, “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.”

“In all things He brought His wishes into strict obedience to His mission. He glorified His life by making everything in it subordinate to the will of His Father.

He was always patient and cheerful, and the afflicted hailed Him as a messenger of life and peace. He saw the needs of men and women, children and youth, and to all He gave the invitation, “Come unto Me.” (MH, 19, italics applied)

Jesus had a way with people. His approach was winsome. His heart intentions were felt by those He approached. Christ’s friendliness with nothing like the “Amway friendliness” many of us have encountered, that initially appears to be an offer genuine friendship, until you announce you aren’t interested in buying into their product line.

“He taught in a way that made them feel the completeness of His identification with their interests and happiness. His instruction was so direct, His illustrations were so appropriate, His words so sympathetic and cheerful, that His hearers were charmed. The simplicity and earnestness with which He addressed the needy, hallowed every word” (MH, 24, italics applied).

The time Jesus spent in His Father’s presence during the early morning hours before sunrise and often during full nights of prayerfully seeking His Father’s directives, was non-negotiable. He understood that broken people desperately needed to encounter the transformational presence of Father’s Grace, Love, Compassion and Mercy.

“Gracious, tenderhearted, pitiful, He went about lifting up the bowed-down and comforting the sorrowful. Wherever He went, He carried blessing” MH,24.

I wonder. . . What would happen if we went about our lives. . . open and attuned to our Father’s workings as we intentionally followed Jesus’ example of “lifting up the bowed-down and comforting the sorrowful”?   What would happen if every Adventist disciple became so attuned to the Father’s heart as they daily sought communion in His presence, seeking His directives, that each one became a contagious disciple who carried a blessing everywhere they went?

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Why Not Try This? – 7 Design Trends for Church Websites in 2018

In order to catch people’s eye and move them toward a visit to your church, your website must be functional, easy to navigate, and visually pleasing. It should look professional, and represent a community where someone would want to hang out and spend their time-just like your current church members. Read More Here!

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