Author Archives: Marella Rudebaugh

From Leader to Leader – Can you roll with the punches?

by César De León PhD LMFT, Ministerial Director for the North Pacific Union Conference

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about, the Covid-19 virus hit all of us like a train.  Last year my wife and I spent one-hundred and fifty-two nights sleeping in hotel rooms and had decided to slow down our travel appointments a bit so we could focus on some backburner projects. So, when the pandemic experts mandated social isolation and we were sent home, we thought, perfect, we will finally have some time to get some long-awaited writing done.  So much for that great idea.  We quickly found ourselves knee deep in the abyss of Zoom.  Administrative meetings began, requests for sermons and seminars followed; invitations to speak to youth, women and men’s groups, then ministry crisis counseling sessions were added; and what first appeared to be a possible respite of a few peaceful days offering the possibility of catching our breath, just never materialized. 

No one actually knew what to expect when the pandemic crashed into our lives, nor could we begin to imagine the immediate personal, family and professional adjustments we would need to make to meet the demands to adjust, reinvent, accommodate and to continue to serve our respective communities while rapidly adapting to our changing life rhythms.  One thing is for sure, this pandemic has introduced a cascade of difficult situations for many. There is a sense of impending doom that many are experiencing as they face the possibilities of losing an income or the ability to pay the rent or mortgage. People are afraid of not being able to secure food and other essentials for their families, or worse, of falling prey to the virus and not being able to recover. Stress levels have skyrocketed and many now are dealing with mental health issues such as high levels of anxiety, depression, loneliness, and a vast sense of loss; others are even experiencing suicidal thinking.  We are hoping and praying that this pandemic and its residual consequences will soon pass, and that we will soon return to our “new normal”; but until that happens, we need to find ways to strengthen our spirits, fortify our bodies and boost our mental attitudes.  

Resiliency is the capacity to “roll with the punches” and adapt or adjust to unexpected circumstances in order to turn a difficult situation into a growth experience. It is turning all this negativity and adversity into something positive—to become stronger and more resourceful, and to build toward a healthier future, says Froma Walsh, codirector of the Chicago Center for Family Health and author of Strengthening Family Resilience.1   The idea is that we can recover as quick as possible and continue to be in control of our lives.  People who are able to be resilient are able to control the levels of stress in their lives and better cope with stressors that threaten their mental health.  These individuals tend to view the difficult moments in life as challenges and invitations to respond in adaptive ways rather than surrender to panic.  In other words, they do not think of themselves as victims, but as warriors, as fighters that need to accomplish something in the midst of crisis situations. By choosing this mental re-frame, our hearts function more efficiently, blood vessels expand, and our bodies becomes more productive.  When we see things as a threat, blood vessels contract, the heart works less efficiently, and many vital body functions are impaired, including the brain.  In the long term, viewing difficult episodes as unmanageable threats is associated with accelerated brain aging.2

The phrase, “He who overcomes” is repeated multiple times in the book of Revelation. It is clear that God expect us to endure, to persevere. Paul talks about resilience when writing to the Corinthians, But remember this—the wrong desires that come into your life aren’t anything new and different. Many others have faced exactly the same problems before you. And no temptation is irresistible. You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it, for he has promised this and will do what he says. He will show you how to escape temptation’s power so that you can bear up patiently against it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (TLB). God empowers us to practice resilience, to be able to stand in the midst of negative circumstances and patiently bear enemy assaults.  While this text is addressing temptation in particular, it can also apply to any situation that crashes into our lives threatening our safety and well-being.

Matthew repeats the same idea, “Staying with it—that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved” (TLB).  The Message version simply says: “13 But those enduring to the end shall be saved.” (Matt. 24:13, MSG) It is clear that perseverance, having staying power, or the more contemporary term, resilience is something our Father calls us to sustain in the face of adverse circumstances which we will all face while on our earthly trajectory. No one knows how long or to what degree this pandemic is going to continue to affect our lives, but if we want to ensure that we are going to sustain mental, physical, emotional and spiritual stamina, we will do well to follow some simple practices.

Speak to yourself

It is to our advantage to remember that we are adopted children of God and that through Him we are capable individuals.  Repeating to ourselves, “I am a beloved child of God and I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me,” can be very beneficial.  As we face terrible circumstances and our existence is threatened, we must remember that we are never alone. There is a God in heaven watching and walking each step of our journeys with us. Repeating and memorizing favorite Bible promises can remind us that we serve an omnipresent and omnipotent God who offers us His ongoing comfort and security.

Be aware of your emotions

It is important for us to be aware of our emotions and feelings.  When we feel anxious, fearful, mad or angry and we don’t know where these emotions are coming from, our levels of stress will increase, creating higher levels of cortisol, which will result in a compromised immune system, which in turn, will affect our ability to fight pathogens.  It is imperative that we understand exactly why we feel angry, anxious, or fearful. Writing out our fears and worries through some form of journaling and taking the time to prayerfully analyze and then release them into the hands of God, will help us cope and manage them in a more productive and efficient way.

Develop a Locus of control

Elizabeth ScottMS explains that resilient people believe that they have the control of their lives3, and that even though they cannot control what happens to them and the events that disrupt their daily lives, they can develop a locus of control and determine how they want to respond and react to these events. Jesus is an excellent model of a resilient individual with a remarkable locus of control in his life. Time and again, we see him facing adverse circumstances, constant criticism and accusations, ridicule, ostracism, unjust treatment, judgement, punishment and finally, even death. Yet, Jesus always remained in control, and decided how he was going to react to all of these adversities. The apostle Paul reminds us that “. . .God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tim. 1:7, ESV).

Connect with others

We were wired to connect. I like to think that one of the reasons we all have a “monument,” aka: a belly button in the middle of our body, is to remind us that we were created to develop optimally within the context of connections that are vital for our survival.  Our initial infant-mother connection is eventually shared with other emotional connections as we transition through our developmental stages as we connect with siblings, friends, spouses, and relatives who will bring love, joy, companionship, and will challenge our brains to develop neural connections that will actually help us maintain our mental abilities sharp and in optimum condition. Avoiding prolonged isolation is fundamental to being able to adjust and accommodate to adversity. The Scriptures remind us that, “One man is able to have power over him who is alone, but two can stand against him. It is not easy to break a rope made of three strings.” (Eccles. 4:12 NLV). We can all benefit from learning how to make use of the current social media platforms available to nurture our relationships with family and friends during this season of social distancing. Our brains, hearts and immune systems will benefit greatly from an increase in relationship connections.

Have Faith in God

God promised that nothing was going to come into our lives that we wouldn’t have the ability to withstand; that includes the Covid-19 pandemic. (1Cor. 10:13). He also said, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT).

And as if Jesus knew that at some time we were going to be very concerned about our personal survival and worried about being able to obtain food and shelter, He shared the following directions, “25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matt.6:25-34 NLT). What a sense of security is offered to us. Jesus offers a blank check that will come our way when we need it the most.  Now, this obviously doesn’t mean that God will provide or solve our problems in the way or moment we may expect or request.  It may be that we are going to be short on food or perhaps we won’t have the means to pay for our rent, however, that doesn’t mean that God will not provide ways and means for us to be fed and have a roof over our heads, even if it’s not in the way we would have chosen. God may provide individuals who will share their food with us or open their hearts and homes for us to stay with them for a while. Whatever means God chooses to use, one thing is for sure, He will never leave us nor forsake us.  

Reading the following thought as often as necessary can also renew our trust in God’s attunement to us: “Keep your wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, and your fears before God.  You cannot burden Him; you cannot weary Him. . .His heart of love is touched by our sorrows and even by our utterances of them.  Take to Him everything that perplexes the mind.  Nothing is too great for Him to bear, for He holds up worlds, He rules over all the affairs of the universe.  Nothing that in any way concerns our peace is too small for Him to notice.  There is no chapter in our experience too dark for Him to read, there is no perplexity too difficult for Him to unravel.  No calamity can befall the least of His children, no anxiety harass the soul, no joy cheer, no sincere prayer escape the lips, of which our heavenly Father is unobservant, or in which He takes no immediate interest. . . The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth to share His watchcare, not another soul for whom He gave His beloved Son.” 4

Individuals who have a growing faith in God, who refuse to see themselves as victims, and who see life as a challenge rather than just a series of unwelcome, complicated circumstances, are more optimistic, have a good sense of humor in spite of the adversities that surround them, and get regular physical exercise to keep their bodies and minds in optimum condition. 

Indeed, when we understand just how attuned God is to each one of His children, we are strengthened to stand, resiliently, until the end. Enduring requires making a conscious decision to walk, in faith, with God daily, knowing that He will grant us the final victory, “Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.” (Revelation 3:21 NLT). I love this inspired promise, “All heaven is at our command.  If we are obedient children of God, we may draw daily supplies of grace. Whatever temptations, trails or persecutions may come upon us, we need not be discouraged.  Neither man nor Satan can close the door which Christ has opened for us. . . No power can hide from us the light of the glory which shines from the threshold of heaven along the whole length of the ladder we are to climb; for the Lord has given us strength in His strength, courage in His courage, light in His light. . . If we only realized that the glory of God is round about us, that heaven is nearer earth than we suppose, we should have a heaven in our homes while preparing for the heaven above.” 5

Friends, by His grace alone, we can daily deepen our trust in Him. We can learn how to cope more wisely and intentionally with the stressors of this life, and we can cultivate an unshakable resilience in the midst of any and all punches we will receive while we await His soon return.   

References:

1.      Froma Walsh, Strengthening Family Resilience. New York: The Guildford Press, 2016.

2.      Jessica Migala, Your Coronavarius Teaching Moment. AARP Bulletin. May 2020 Vol. 61 No. 4

3.      Elizabeth Scott, “How to Cope With Stress and Become More Resilient” https://www.verywellmind.com/cope-with-stress-and-become-more-resilient-3144889

4.      Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, Washington: Review & Herald Publishing Association, 1956, p. 100

5.      Ellen G. White, “Our High Calling”, Washington: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1961, May 2, p. 128

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From Beyond the Pulpit – Why I Would Consider Pastoring for a Career

by Dr. 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

Were I wearing a younger man’s clothes, pastoring as a career choice would appeal to me in many ways.  I will list those ways in two categories:  practical reasons and emotional/spiritual reasons.  First, the practical ones….

Pastoring is one of the very few “generalist” careers left in the world.  By that I mean the world has evolved into specialism.  In medicine the country doctor used to do most any kind of medical procedure, including delivering babies.  Now those areas are largely left up to specialists.  But a pastor must be at least adequate (and preferably good) at various kinds of counseling, finance, public speaking, teaching, understanding theology, displaying leadership skills, short- and long-term planning and much more, all the while demonstrating positive people skills. Every day will be different.  There will be crises and there will be victories.  It is totally cool.  And you might even be able to develop spiritual interests or specialties that can contribute to the larger work, a very fulfilling possibility.

And then there are the emotional/spiritual reasons why choosing a career in pastoring is an appealing one.  You get to be a combat officer in the Great Controversy.  You are on the front lines, where Jesus is most connected with people.  You are in the center of where it’s really happening in this universe (not Hollywood, not politics, not sports, all which cause angels to stifle yawns!).  There is no higher calling on this planet.  You are present where angels tred.  When people invite you into a hospital room where life’s greatest pains are faced, you stand on ground as sacred as the ground Moses stood on at the burning bush. 

You must like people for this career to work for you…and I don’t just mean “love” them.  You have to show up front a natural interest in people.  A rule I’ve tried to follow is to find that most interesting and positive characteristic of a person and keep that in mind when you think of or interact with them.  People always respond positively to anyone appearing to be genuinely interested in them.  If you don’t like people, don’t waste your time and theirs trying to pastor them.

After these 40-plus years of ministry, I can see a bonus I never had thought of when I was choosing this career.  If you are like me, one who is sometimes caught up in the attractions of this world, pastoring can (if you don’t hinder it) lead you into a much, much deeper relationship with the Lord.  There are times where I feel like saying “the Lord called me into ministry in order to save me!

What recruiting officer can offer such attractive reasons for signing up?  When I heard like Isaiah the words “who will go for us, whom can I send,” I had to say “here I am.  Send me!”  And in this life I have already received a rich reward.

Do any of you young people out there hear that call, too?

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Changed Lives – Miguel

by Vidal Mendoza, Pastor of the Federal Way Hispanic Adventist Church

Miguel has lived very strong experiences where he has questioned the presence of God in his life. For many years he was addicted to alcohol and drugs, he was hopeless and his life had no meaning. Many times he asked himself what his reason for living was.

One year ago he had the first encounter with brothers of our church and they introduced him to Jesus and the hope that we have in him. Miguel was invited to join a small group and he attended all meetings for four months. He had many questions about the care and protection of God in his life, but what worried him the most was if God could still forgive him. When we showed him the word of God in 1 John 1: 9 that says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” he started to cry. It was there that he experienced the great love of our God.

Since that day, 1 John 1:9 is his favorite Bible verse. He continued studying the Bible and when we had our evangelistic meetings he asked to be baptized and leave his whole bad life behind. And when we baptized him, he told us that he had never felt so much peace and purity in his life as that day.

Today Miguel is a faithful brother in Christ and, before the lockdown, was in training to be a deacon for the honor and glory of God. We are so thankful to know that WE are the church and will continue doing God’s work faithfully, but are also anxiously awaiting the reopening of our church building.

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Articles You May Have Missed

The pandemic is affecting us in so many different ways and there are many things to be aware of and continue learning about. Here are several articles you may have missed.

Guidelines for Reopening Churches

The Pandemic Needs to Go, But These Need to Stay

Adventists and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Mobile Intergenerational Bible Studies

Working with Kids Online

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Resources – 4 Steps for Reopening Churches Webinar

If you are considering reopening your church soon, don’t miss “4 Steps to Reopening Churches,” a free webinar presented tomorrow by Adventist Risk Management, Inc. and the North American Division.

Thursday, May 28, at 4:00 pm Eastern Time

Each webinar is limited to 500 attendees. Register today at http://adventistrisk.org/webinars-videos.

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From Leader to Leader – Family Connections in Social Distancing

by César De León PhD LMFT, Ministerial Director for the North Pacific Union Conference

This is an extraordinary and intense time in our world’s history to be a spiritual leader. Chances are that we, and the those around us are likely to be having extraordinary and intense thoughts and feelings. Some in our homes and flocks may be feeling a little hemmed-in, irritated, or just growing a little more annoyed by those they are sheltering-in-place with.

We have experienced a transition from everyone leaving home for the majority of the day; for various work, study and play endeavors, to everyone staying home, to now do all of life, under the same roof. Before we could foresee the relational challenges ahead of us, our homes suddenly became the epicenters of everything; our continued vocational activities, education, worship, recreation, exercise, and even socialization; as we can only safely socialize with those living under our own roof. Zoom and other sophisticated communication platforms have become our connecting lifelines.

There is something about being trapped together, under one roof, that magnifies the obvious differences, unique character quirks and personalities, and styles of family relating to the forefront. Most of us have never had to spend 24/7 in the same space with anyone—for an extended period of time. At least not since we were babies and pre-school children.

The classic family “rat-race” that came to an abrupt halt a few weeks ago, had essentially aided us in maintaining the distractions that helped us remain in denial—for the most part—of the relationship distance, tensions and challenges present in typical marriages and families. In reality, a large chunk of the relational dialogue between overworked spouses and their overscheduled children is primarily centered on logistical planning. Indeed, many families grew accustomed to keeping their conversations at a functional—albeit, superficial level—and possibly don’t even notice they created family life schedules devoid of any opportunities for deeper heart and soul connections that they were divinely designed to crave and enjoy.

The old idiom, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, may come to mind here, however, the drawback with this thinking is that the way most of culture is doing life and family is actually “broken”; whether we can see it, or not. Maintaining marginally sustainable family life schedules that leave little—if any—meaningful shared time together as a family is not what God intended. God’s plan was that future adults—AKA children— would be nurtured, trained, mentored and discipled within the context of family.
With the passing of time, many busy parents have unconsciously relegated the bulk of these parental privileges and responsibilities to Christian schoolteachers, children’s pastors, and later to youth pastors. All of these dedicated ministers do have a significant role to play as the parents’ “support cast.” And we praise God for the many ways of these devoted Kingdom-builders are picking up the slack that well-intentioned, but overly busy parents have sometimes left undone.

Family Relationships Facilitate Character Development

We were genetically wired and imprinted for relationships, for connection. Formed in the image God, the “Holy Family”—Abba, Son and Holy Spirit—we were originally designed to seek and enjoy comfort in healthy relationships with God and with each other; not in “things” or in “activities”. When we don’t form healthy relationship connections with God and with each other in our family systems, we are highly vulnerable to seek comfort in all the wrong places.

This imposed shelter at home has given all of us a wonderful opportunity to re-evaluate the actual condition of our family relationships and of our relationship skills. If you and your family members have been able to create functional and flexible family schedules that balance time in solitude to complete office work and school assignments, with regularly scheduled periods for “family recess”; and if your family disagreements and conflicts are resolved in ways that show respect to all members of the family, then you can praise God that you are doing quite well.

In healthy families, parents have learned how to handle their personal challenges and are able to set healthy boundaries with others in order to provide the necessary attunement to the emotional and physical needs of their children. They are able to provide an emotionally safe home environment, consistent and patient training, scheduled family time, and the unconditional love and affection every child craves and requires in order to develop into a healthy, functioning adult.

In unhealthy families, well-meaning parents are so stressed and preoccupied with taking care of or enabling a dysfunctional or addicted partner, or the advancement of their own careers or personal projects, that their children—in order to cope with their unmet emotional needs—learn to find emotional comfort in things and/or activities rather than in nurturing people. Sadly, these children learn that humans are not dependable, sometimes unsafe and often unpredictable. They feel highly unimportant, unworthy, unlovable, stressed out and anxious. In order to cope and adapt to their less than ideal circumstances, they learn that compulsive over-achieving, over-working, self-medicating (food, drugs, porn, work, etc.), and/or compulsive electronic use, will aid them in “numbing out” the unnamed pain of relational distance and disconnection that results in the internal isolation and loneliness—that continues to plague an alarming and increasing number of people in all age groups—despite living in the midst of family members.

Carolann and I have grown to understand over the years that our marriages and our families are the divinely appointed laboratory that God uses to create the ideal environment for our continued spiritual growth and maturity.

In His divine plan, He foresaw that sin would result in serious relational havoc when two imperfect people, of varying personalities and temperaments, would marry and then raise children, under one roof. The Good News Gospel carries the truth that God, along with all His heavenly agencies, is in the business of re-building characters that will reflect His love, His compassion, His mercy, His grace, His forgiveness, His kindness, His tenderness, His patience. He knows that the only hope for us is to accept His transformational grace to empower us with His heart so we can relate with one another in love, respect and harmony, even while we are so different from each other. In fact, His benevolent plan of salvation includes the reconstruction—by His grace alone—of our unlovely characters. All this, within the context of our respective families. Note the astuteness of His perfect plan:

“Marked diversities of disposition and character frequently exist in the same family, for it is in the
order of God that persons of varied temperament should associate together. When this is the case,
each member of the household should sacredly regard the feelings and respect the right of the others. By this means, mutual consideration and forbearance will be cultivated, prejudices will be softened, and rough points of character smoothed. Harmony may be secured, and the blending of the varied temperaments may be a benefit to each.” 1

Yes, you read correctly. It really is “in the order of God that persons of varied temperament should associate together” in family units. It is not a random accident that we are married to someone who may at times seem to bring out the worse in you; or that you have one or more children who challenge your parenting abilities. Just imagine, if our spouses and children were identical clones of ourselves, there would be few opportunities for us to cultivate “mutual consideration and forbearance.” By the way, the dictionary definition of forbearance is, “patient endurance, self-control; an abstaining from the enforcement of a right.” 2

Can you see how easy it would be for us to spend a lifetime in self-deception, were it not for our actual family members? We might even mistakenly believe that we’d already obtained highest spiritual maturity, as disciples of Christ. You see, our clones probably wouldn’t annoy or irritate us nearly as frequently as our actual family members do, because they would think, feel and do life, pretty much, like us. This is why we are reminded that living with people who are so different than we are, is God’s healing remedy for the unveiling of our true characters. It is difficult to continue denying we have “rough points of character” when our spouses and children are daily witnesses to the easily triggered anger and impatient scolding we cannot seem to control.

Seizing This Opportunity

Have you identified any unresolved marriage or family issues during these last weeks of confinement that need the healing touch of God? Can you identify some character traits that you’d like Jesus to change? When we asked some questions like this at the end of a seminar we were giving, one of our ministry colleagues raised his hand and asked, “Well, what happens if I don’t think that I have any issues?” We smiled. Carolann quickly responded with a question, “Well, what would your wife and children say if I asked them if they thought you have unresolved issues?” He slumped down in the pew a bit and sheepishly responded, “Oh. . . never mind! If you’re gonna ask them, they’ll all say that I do have issues.” Indeed, after the Edenic fall, we all have issues. We all have unresolved issues—AKA sinful, self-centered ways of dealing with our own unresolved pain—that have resulted in emotional distance and disconnections in our family relationships. And no one knows this reality better than our spouses and children. But, there is HOPE! Jesus left His home and Holy Family and took on human flesh in order to show us the way back to the Father! This reality is at the heart of the Good News Gospel!

“Jesus knows the circumstances of every soul. You may say, I am sinful, very sinful. You may be; but the worse you are, the more you need Jesus. He turns no weeping, contrite on away. . . He bids every trembling soul take courage. Freely will He pardon all who come to Him for forgiveness and restoration. . .The souls that turn to Him for refuge, Jesus lifts above the accusing and the strife of tongues. No man or evil angel can impeach these souls. Christ unites them to His own divine-human nature.” 3

What If?

We will eventually transition back to our work sites. Our children will eventually return to their previous life schedules where they spend the majority of their awake hours away from home and their parents. What would happen if we would seize this unique opportunity to deepen our connections with God, with each other, and with our children? What would happen if we were to interpret our marriage and family challenges as providential spotlights that are helping us see how desperately we need Jesus’ grace, daily? What if we seize every opportunity God grants us, to surrender our marred characters to the One who can give us a new heart? What if this extraordinary and intense season of social distancing results in the deepening of our relationships with God, our spouse and our children?

“To those who with steadfast perseverance strive to reveal the attributes of Christ, angels are commissioned to give enlarged views of His character and work, His power and grace and love. Thus they become partakers of His nature.” 4

May God receive the glory and honor for all the hearts He is awakening; for the marriages He is healing; for the children—young and old—who will get to see God’s glory and power through the sermon of a transformed life!

  1. E. White, “Child Guidance” (Washington: Review and Herald, 1954)
  2. Dictionary.com
  3. E. White, “Desire of Ages” (Mountain View: Pacific Press, 1940).
  4. E. White, “God’s Amazing Grace” (Washington: Review and Herald, 1973)

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Why Not Try This? – Preaching to an Online Church

by Heather Crews
Source: NAD Ministerial

On a typical Sabbath, my church’s worship space is filled with a 120 people. There is laughter over shared jokes, children comparing MineCraft tips, and swapping of ministry ideas. But these days are not typical. The chairs are empty and the space is quiet. Preaching to an empty room is a necessity, not a choice. Recognizing that this change is necessary, here are my top tips for using sermon time effectively without an in-person audience. Read More

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From Beyond the Pulpit – Quarantining the Devil

by Dr. 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

We are all trying to get used to the new “shelter in place” world.  We are getting extremely acquainted with the experience known as “being in quarantine.”

The term is from the old Venetian language meaning “forty days.”  It comes from the horrific days of Europe’s Black Plague.  During the 14th Century as many as 200,000,000 people died from that bacteria.  To try and blunt its spread visiting ships would have forty days to remain isolated before disembarking. 

The method of using quarantine (isolation) to stop the spread of a communicable disease is Biblical!  Leviticus 13 is full of regulations on how to keep a skin disease from spreading.  Quarantining victims would help.

Let’s go further into stopping the spread of a deadly contaminant.  Whereas hundreds of millions died from the Black Plague, millions more in the 1918 Spanish Flu, billions will die as a result of sin.  When this killer plague hit this world some 6,000 years ago, our planet was put off limits to the rest of the universe ever since.  This rebellion is restricted strictly to this world.  And we see things playing out. 

The ultimate way that sin will be eradicated is for the universe to be vaccinated with the “knowledge of sin.”  That is, the universe will have experienced it and will not want to see it rise again. 

Interestingly, Satan himself will be under quarantine for 1,000 years.  I have wondered what might be accomplished by this.  The best reason I can think of would to answer a question some might have:  “If the devil would be granted a lengthy time to reflect on his past, would he ever show regret and repentance?”  As soon as he will be released, according to Revelation, the contagion spreads and billions of resurrected infected victims try to storm the New Jerusalem!

Sin kills.  The disease killed the Creator at Calvary.  The quarantine of sin is effective, but better yet, the Great Physician has a treatment plan that is bound to be permanently effective.  The active agent He is using…is love.

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Changed Lives – Hope for Students

If you have a 6 grade through high school child at home, consider showing this to them or sharing it with you church members. This is a powerful testimony.

“My hope and prayer for you is that on the other side when you walk out of this pandemic, quarantine, season of isolation people look at you and say ‘what happened to you, you’re different, you’re stronger, you’re smarter, you’re more spiritual, you’re more confident, you’re more disciplined, you’re more self-controlled, you’re more other centered. What happened to you?’ “

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Resources – Arise Online

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If you have ever wanted to take a college level Bible course that is presented in everyday language or just want to deepen your study in the Bible, this is for you!

Far from being a collection of random stories, the Bible is one big story of God’s faithful love for fallen humanity. ARISE Online is an interactive video course that lets you study your way through Scripture with a narrative lens. So whether you’re learning from home or with a small group from your church, you’ll discover that every character, doctrine, and theological tenet has its place in the story. And—maybe best of all—you’ll find your own place in the story.

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