Resources – Bible Prophecy Central

I recently spoke to Ken LeBrun, our pastor at the Kettle Falls Church in WA. He introduced me to Bible Prophecy Central, an internet resource that can help us publicize Adventist evangelistic meetings. Here is a 4-minute video explaining this new tool: https://youtu.be/xJ7pldzcjEs

Basically it is an online database of Adventist evangelistic meetings that will be publicized across the country. We want to encourage all pastors, evangelists, and churches to post all their public meetings on this site so they will show up when people search for meetings in their area.

As you can readily see, the effectiveness of this tool depends on those meetings actually getting posted. And for the most part, that must be done by the pastor, the evangelist, or the local church.  I would like every pastor to be encouraged to sign up to post their meetings on this site.

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From Leader to Leader – A People Business

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

Our nation’s political landscape continues to rapidly morph. People are searching for leaders who will impact attract and speak to the masses. Leaders are looking for slogans, messages and political social platforms that will launch them into a successful career. This week, the New York Times reported that one of the winning primary candidates said after a big win in her State: “No one will be unseen, unheard and uninspired”. Her words echoed through various levels of the political arena and also they resonate in the church pews. People want to be seen, heard and most of all, they long to be inspired. Although self-actualization is an internal psychological process, the masses still yearn for a leader who will produce political and social homeostasis and foment their hope for a better future.

Toward the end of the four-hundred years of Israelite slavery in Egypt, God told Moses “I’ve taken a good, long look at the affliction of my people in Egypt. I’ve heard their cries for deliverance from their slave masters; I know all about their pain” (Exodus 3:7 MSG). Because God was seeing and hearing the suffering of His people, He decided to do something about it and went out and recruited Moses. Spiritual leaders need to be able to see, hear and be willing to inspire people, if they are going to be a catalytic force to bring about the necessary changes in the lives of those being led. The Israelites needed a Moses to take them to the Promised Land. Even Moses attempted to ensure that every one of the members of all twelve tribes were being seen, heard and inspired. Actually, he was so “successful” that when his father-in-law, Jethro, visited him, Moses was at the brink of severe leadership burn out.

During the time of the judges, Israel cried out for a King. They believed they would be better off if they had a visible leader to guide them. Saul began well. Actually, even before being crowned King, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he was given specific instructions regarding God’s will and laws. However, as Saul became distracted with battling his own demons, he stopped seeing and hearing the voice of God which eventually led him to cease to see, hear and inspire his own people. All he could see and hear was the cry of his self-focused needs for personal recognition and self-exaltation, which totally eclipsed the social, political and spiritual needs of the nation that had been entrusted to him.

During my years as Ministerial Director for Central California Conference, I had the privilege of making annual visits to our various Schools of Theology in the Pacific Union, including the Theological Seminary at Andrews, to interview potential candidates for pastoral ministry. One of my growing concerns was the fact that I was hearing a disproportionate expression of passion and energy for preaching. It was on rare occasions that I heard a candidate express a passion and interest to discover and listen to the needs of the congregation. Even less frequently, I heard a candidate express a desire to inspire people through servant-leadership.

In order to be authentic and relevant, a spiritual leader needs to go down to Egypt—so to speak, to see how the people live, how they are treated, hear the conversations going on in the market place, to become familiar with the outcries of the community and own their causes and challenges. Only then is a spiritual leader informed enough to make a decision to do something about it. In their book, “Spiritual Leadership” Henry and Richard Blackaby present the following leadership directives:

  1. The Spiritual Leader’s task is to move people
  2. Spiritual leaders use spiritual means
  3. Spiritual leaders are accountable to God
  4. Spiritual leaders focus on people
  5. Spiritual leaders influence all people not just God’s people
  6. Spiritual leaders work from God’s agenda
  7. Spiritual leaders hear from God

Under their heading: Leaders Focus on People, they write: “Leadership is fundamentally a people business! It is not merely about budget or visions or strategies. It is about people. Spiritual leaders never lose sight of this fact . . . True leaders enjoy people and make them better for having followed.” (p. 37). An anonymous quote says, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” Our churches, communities and even our homes, are crying out for leaders who will make people their business, leaders who will see the affliction and pain of their people, hear their cry and then, will do something about it. It’s not so much about how powerfully you preach, how savvy you are in the board room, or how much you know. It’s about showing the people in your circle of influence that you care. The Lord said, “‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me’” (Matt. 25:45).

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Why Not Try This – Sabbath-to-Go

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Source: NAD Ministerial

Sabbath may be the very best day of the week to shut the church doors and serve your community.  Here’s why. And how. Read More

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From Beyond the Pulpit – Offshoots and Fleas…

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

What IS it with these offshoot movements anyway? We have the 2520 people, we have anti-Holy Spirit people, we have vegan or die people mostly on the right, we have evolutionists and God doesn’t kill anybody people on the left. And they all have some sort of claim of new light.

One of the really rare perks of aging (I mean, experience) is having seen these movements come and often go, but also having seen what they accomplish. I now offer a few observations….

These movements always start with a discovery of something that heretofore had escaped serious notice, things that carry a look of “knowledge.” We all know that knowledge puffs up (except in the case of yours truly). And I note a few puffy people in these experiences.

Generally the knowledge is based on something somewhat obscured in Scripture. That is, the clear understanding should not be taken in favor of the more obscure newer understanding. This runs counter to a couple of key points: the correct way to study any Biblical topic is to use the vast majority of texts that are clear (the soul that sins shall die, the dead know nothing, Lazarus sleeps) and THEN go back to the few texts that say something different (the smoke of their torment ascends forever) and look at the context and key words. Those different texts can then be moved back into the body of clearer ones. You never base an understanding upon the tangential statements over against the clear ones. Secondly to do so assumes God isn’t very good at communicating truths. All doctrines fundamentally say something about God, and that He hides truth from seekers is not my image of a loving Creator.

Then there is the powerful lure of knowledge. We remember how it worked for Eve. To know something that others don’t yet puts a person in a place of power. And we all are born with a craving for this. And it is especially true for a church like ours that rightly is blessed with rich truths. We can out-argue most anyone. These movements attract arguers.

Which brings me to Jesus’ great council of “by their fruits you will know them.” What is the fruit of these movements? Greater and richer images of Jesus? Is He the center of their lives, the One who is the Desire of Ages? Or instead is there bitterness, division and name-calling?

Once I visited a group of church builders who were going to come and do a project for my church. They were preparing for lunch and had been arguing about a topic (1888). A woman said to me, “Pastor, when you pray the blessing for our lunch would you also pray that we have unity?” I joked, “Sure, but a lot of time people who want unity are really asking that God would make people believe like them!” She glared at me with a look that was startlingly demonic. I remember thinking God’s Spirit was not very present in their ruminations.

Hear this from 5T 291: “God has not passed His people by and chosen one solitary man here and another there as the only ones worthy to be entrusted with His truth. He does not give one man new light contrary to the established faith of the body. In every reform men have arisen making this claim…. The greatest harm to God’s people comes through those who go out from among them speaking perverse things…. Let none be self-confident, as though God had given them special light above their brethren.”

I think of the famous image from EGW that the Adventist Church is like a dog barking at a fast-moving train (representing this world), trying to get its attention. These offshoot reform movements can then be likened to fleas biting and distracting that barking dog from its mission.

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Momentum – The Emotionally Healthy Church

by Huascar Rodriguez, Pastor of the Yakima Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church

The presentation of this series turned out to be impressive for the church and the friends who accompanied us.

In the Christian world, and especially in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, faith has become only an orthodoxy. Where rites, methods and institutions have replaced the experience of faith, the spontaneous expression of a life in Christ, witnessing and Biblical edification that comes as a result of the permanent presence of the Holy Spirit. They have been relegated to a Christianity of forms.

It is suppressed from the spiritual experience, the emotional experience leaving as a result a coldly reasoned theology that in the end does not move people to live the experience of conversion. The apostle Paul defines this process as dead in the letter. 2 Cor. 3:6

When talking about the emotionally healthy church, we reviewed six of the characteristics that an emotionally healthy church possess. These are:

  1. Look under the surface.
  2. Break with the power of the past.
  3. Live with a grieving and emotionally vulnerable attitude.
  4. Accept limitations as a gift.
  5. Accept our hurts and the losses.
  6. Make the incarnational your model for true love.

I do not present here an exposition of the presented topics, I only list them. If someone would like to know more about what each one is about, he can review the book: The Emotionally Healthy Church written by Peter Scazzero and Warren Bird.

The result was amazing to me as a presenter and speaker for our church.

We can see how our emotions and personal experiences affect our faith and impact, in a positive or negative way, the church’s environment.

Many of us, including myself, made the decision to evaluate our life’s processes and ask the Holy Spirit to help us heal and stabilize our emotions.

By contemplating the faith and the Christian life from a realistic perspective, some of the non-Adventist friends who visit the church could see a church with the ability to sincerely admit their shortcomings and initiate the process that will help them change. As a result, some confessed they wanted to be part of such a church.

It was a very enriching experience and I am happy to have taken on the challenge of speaking to the church in this series of sermons.

I made the personal commitment to seek an emotionally healthy Christian life.

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Changed Lives – Let the Children Come to Me

 

by Jaime Flores, Pastor of the Milton Freewater Spanish Church

We were praying to God, asking Him to bring children to our Spanish church in Milton Freewater. Now we praise God because He did it. On Wednesday evening, April 11, we baptized one family with children! Thanks to God for hearing our prayers and for blessing our evangelistic campaign. The picture above is from a family from El Salvador, they came here five years ago. The father, Jose, used to be a student at a seminary of the Roman Catholic Church in El Salvador. Then, when war broke out, he decided to leave the Catholic Seminary and went to law school and became a lawyer.

The picture below is Carolina (mother) and Daniela (daughter). They were baptized on April 14, In addition to that, Carolina dedicated to the Lord her daughters, two beautiful girls. So, Milton Freewater Spanish Church is so happy seeing these children in church, learning from the Lord.

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Resources – Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate

By Halvard B. Thomsen
Source: NAD Ministerial

Do you know what motivates your congregation to give to your church’s programs? If you are reluctant to talk about money with your congregation or individual members, do you know why? Do you know how to appeal for financial support for ministry in your Church? Do you know how to create a culture of giving within your congregation? Read More

 

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From Leader to Leader – Evangelism STILL works?

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

Just yesterday, the first annual Evange-Lead Conference, sponsored by the Oregon Conference and NPUC, concluded. It was very encouraging to fellowship with pastors, elders, deacons, chaplains, social workers and other Kingdom-building lay people that joined the engaging and stimulating dialogue regarding evangelism.

Dr. Roger Walter, Oregon Conference’s Outreach Director and lead pastor at the Adventist Community Church in Vancouver, Washington, in conjunction with the NPUC evangelism department created and hosted this conference with the hope that pastors, church leaders and lay people would come out to be part of the evangelism conversation. Dr. Walter has just published a compelling book, Evangelism Intelligence, that invites us, as the remnant movement, to be intelligent about how we continue to fulfill the mission and purpose of Christ’s remnant church. He shares, through his own personal ministry journey, how public evangelism has proven to be effective, especially when one integrates the reality that Adventist churches grow very differently from traditional evangelical churches. Dr. Walter has continued to budget generously for annual public evangelism through the years which has resulted in a consistent flow of new members joining his church family. Adventist Community Church in Vancouver, Washington, continues to be the fastest growing, non-Hispanic, church in the Oregon Conference. If you missed this year’s Evange-LEAD Conference, I highly recommend you read Evangelism Intelligence (2018, Flaming Arrow Publishers).

Attendees also got to hear Continue reading

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Why Not Try This? – What Keeps Millennials In Church

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Source: NAD Ministerial

If you feel like the church in North America falls short when it comes to engaging teenagers and young adults, you’re not the only one.

The Fuller Youth Institute, a research institute in California that equips leaders in the church with best practices, conducted research to uncover what the biggest challenges facing the church in this area are. Continue Reading…

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From Beyond the Pulpit – Sufferer of E.B.S.

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

OK, I’m thinking it’s fairly official: I’m an old guy. There are fewer things I can think of that are more difficult to admit. I’m a sufferer of what I call “E.B.S.:” “Excessive Birthdays Syndrome.”

I’m part of the glorious generation’s kids, a baby boomer. Actually I’m an early one, part of the subgroup affectionately labeled as an “Ozzie and Harriet baby boomer.” That’s over against the real kids called “Brady Bunch baby boomers.” I have a Medicare card. I get “post-adult” discounts. Were I mentioned in a news article I’d likely be listed as elderly.

Sigh. Yes, I remember when JFK was shot. I remember watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan (can they still get back together…please??). And I definitely remember my sixth grade teacher announcing emphatically that Jesus would come back within the year!

All water long gone under many bridges. So, now what? I’m near the end of my “career.” I can see retirement from here. Frankly, this is a question I ask myself: “What good am I now?”

A couple of days ago for morning worship God showed me this from Psalms 71:18:

‘Now also when I am old and grayheaded,
O God, do not forsake me,
Until I declare Your strength to this generation,
Your power to everyone who is to come.’

Maybe there is still things to accomplish, stories to share, wisdom (the only perk of aging?) to impart. In particular, I am more motivated than ever to be as useful to God as I know how. For all that He has done and continues to do for me and for those I care about, I am forever His servant. Even as a sufferer of E.B.S., a post-adult. My son has said that I lived “back in the day,” a sad truth. But maybe I can still be useful beneath gray hairs.

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