Category Archives: Advent Movements

From Beyond the Pulpit – When Olaf Dies, I Cried…

Last newsletter I wrote about Elsa “hearing the voice” and how that relates to God’s still, small voice.  Disclaimer time:  if you haven’t seen the movie “Frozen 2,” you likely won’t quite get this month’s thought.  But let’s try….

Olaf is well-known to the children of America (and their parents) as the snowman who is a companion to the two sisters of the Frozen movies:  Anna and Elsa.  He is dependent upon Elsa, who was his creator.  When Elsa “dies” (freezes) in the movie…well, nobody is dead forever in most Disney flicks, the life force in Olaf begins to fade.  He realizes this and tells Anna.  They are alone in a cavern when this happens.

In one of the most tender scenes I can remember in an animated feature, Anna gathers Olaf in her arms as he literally begins to “flurry away.”  Olaf remarks that there IS something that is permanent…”love!”  Anna responds with a tearful “warm hugs?”  “Oh, I like warm hugs.”  Anna pulls him closer as his color fades.  Holding him ever closer, she whispers “I love you.”

And…I lose it.  And it’s not just the touching passing away of a snowman.  It’s because of my image of God.  I see God in Anna.

Scripture clearly reveals that the emotions we feel are a faint representation of the Creator’s heart in Whose image we were made.  And the most difficult experience for God to go through is the same ones we go through:  having loved ones depart.

Luke 19:41:  Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it,….”  The Greek word for “wept” is better rendered “sobbed.”  This was the heart of God being torn in two by the rejection of His Son and the possibility of spending eternity together.  The tears were Jesus saying, “I love you.  How can I let you go?”

And you all know the “deepest text in the Bible:” John 11:35.  “Jesus wept.”  The printer Robert Stephanus, who in 1551 first rendered the Bible with numbered verses, read this verse and he felt it should have its own number and stand alone.  It had power.

When I saw Anna hold the fading Olaf close in her arms with that whisper of love, I thought of God at the end of earth’s time figuratively weeping (maybe not figuratively?) over the lost…saying “I love you” to Hitler, to Stalin, to Nero…and even to Lucifer.  God is love.

It says in Revelation that God will “wipe away every tear.”  But Who has lost the most?  Who will shed the most tears?  And how will our God be comforted?  I think that that will be our job.

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Upcoming Events – EvangeLead

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Lifelong Learning – Welcoming Visitors to Your Church

The purpose of this course is to give pastors and members the skills and intentionality they need when handling visitors to their local church. Read more

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Advent Movements – Brown

The Upper Columbia Conference executive committee voted on Dec. 5, 2019, to invite Eric Brown to serve as the new conference ministerial director. The areas of responsibility will also cover family and men’s ministries. Brown replaces Mark Weir, who accepted a call to serve as vice president for administration and education for the Dakota Conference. Read More

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From Beyond the Pulpit – Amalgamation and Dinosaurs

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

Here’s a strictly Adventist topic!  No other denomination that I know of associates dinosaurs with the subject of amalgamation.  In fact, Adventists have been fairly confused about these potential “confused species.”  Let’s take a look at this.

The quote that leads us into this hazy place is this one from Spiritual Gifts, Volume III, page 75.  Speaking about the conditions that led to the Genesis flood: “But if there was one sin above another which called for the destruction of the race by the flood, it was the base crime of amalgamation of man and beast which defaced the image of God, and caused confusion everywhere.” (Emphasis added).

There are several things here to consider.  “Amalgamation” is an old 19th Century word that means “mixing.”  It was often used to describe the production of metallic alloys, which is the blending of two or more metals. And the context mentions the blending of man and the blending of beast.  Does that mean the blending of man with beast?  If so, that would explain to some the fossil evidence of creatures that look half-human and half-ape.  The larger problem with that is that those fossil evidences are almost certain post-Flood.  This would mean that the mixing of man and ape continued after the Flood.  Significantly, the Ellen White estate has consistently denied that EGW’s statement was talking about “man with beast.”

Clearly there is mixing that involves man and mixing that involves beasts with the results being a defacing of the image of God as well as some confusion.  We are helped with the latter category from another quote from the same page 75.  Here she talks about the animals going into the ark:  “Every species of animal which God had created were preserved in the ark.  The confused species which God did not create, which were the result of amalgamation, were destroyed by the flood.” (Emphasis added).  SG III p75.  Apparently, some animals were blended or bred, significantly changing them from God’s original design. 

But for what purpose?  This is my opinion now, but it’s based on several things.  We know that pre-Flood man was intellectually advanced, but with thoughts “only evil continually,” The world’s chief problem was violence.  If there was a line of animals (like dinosaurs) that could be bred into warrior animals (for entertainment? hunting? warfare?), why wouldn’t Satan use man to mess up another one of God’s most amazing creations?  An ankylosaur strikes me as something made more for a combat world than the Garden of Eden.

But some Adventists have believed that ALL dinosaurs were the result of amalgamation, essentially believing that God never made them at all.  And thus none got on the ark, since the confused species were “destroyed by the Flood.”  But please note this additional statement from Spiritual Gifts, Volume IVa, page 121:  “There were a class of very large animals which perished at the flood.  God knew that the strength of man would decrease, and these mammoth animals could not be controlled by feeble man.”  Since we have elephants today, the only larger class of animals would be the great sauropod dinosaurs.  And they were destroyed because of their size, not because of being amalgamated.  Dinosaurs smaller than elephants, which most were, must have gotten on the ark.  These creatures may have been the source of ancient dragon stories.    

But what was the mixing of man?  What could deface the image of God?  Remember, please, the seriousness of this crime; it was the one sin above all others that “called for the destruction of the race!”  To me, that would mean it must be in the Bible.  Look at Genesis 6:1,2:  “Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful, and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.”  “Sons of God” here refers to the godly race of men through Seth, whereas the “daughters of men” refers to the idolatrous descendants of Cain.  God’s people were marrying out of the church.  How serious did God take this?  The very next verse in Genesis 6:3 announces God’s patience was nearly done;  a 120 year probationary period started.  God’s image in man, His great purpose for mankind, was being defaced.

This all culminated into what I consider to be possibly the saddest verse in the Bible:  “And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”  Genesis 6:6.  Be careful, friends, what you mix!

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NPUC Advent Movements – Currier

Allee Currier has accepted the invitation of the Upper Columbia Conference (UCC) executive committee to become the organization’s next treasurer. Currier, who has served as North Pacific Union Conference Association treasurer since 2016, will fill the UCC position left vacant since the departure of David Freedman to the Southern Union in February. She hopes to make a full transition to the new role sometime this summer. Read more from Upper Columbia Conference online. Read More…

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From Leader to Leader – Vision 2020

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

As I write this, I find myself near the lake of Galilee where evangelism was born.  The preacher was an itinerant rabbi preaching to peasants, fishermen, tax collectors and prostitutes. His primary ministerial district was a relatively small area around the lake where small communities worked hard for their daily survival.  If I had been given the task of preaching the gospel to all the world, I would have likely started my ministry in Jerusalem, or even Cesarea Maritima; but Capernaum? Yet, in a matter of a few decades, Jesus’ evangelistic methods proved to be successful: “During this time, as the disciples were increasing in numbers by leaps and bounds. . .” (Acts 6:1 MSG).  Jesus’ methods worked, His message was relevant, powerful, and transformational!  Time has passed and the Gospel continues to radically change lives and relationships.

By now you have probably heard about vision 2020.  It is an ambitious, strategic evangelistic initiative by the North Pacific Union Conference and its six conferences to adopt an evangelistic lifestyle in our local churches in order to turn around the declining growth and attendance of our churches.

Vision 2020 consists of five quarters of intentional, dynamic church activity supported by evangelistic tools designed by the Voice of Prophecy to help church members focus their lives around spreading the good news of Jesus throughout their NPUC communities.

RENEW—which began the 1rst quarter of 2019 was designated for personal renewal and spiritual growth through prayer, Bible study and sharing.  To spark this ongoing progress, the North Pacific Union launched the reading of the book “Steps to Personal Revival” by Helmut Haubeil.  This author not only encouraged the evaluation of the condition of the spiritual man, but also aimed to create a hunger for Holy Spirit baptism.  

REFOCUS—2nd quarter of 2019 is designed to encourage churches to discover and prayerfully align with their biblical purpose and mission through mission alignment seminars and encouraging church pastors to seek resources on how to revitalize their churches.

RELATE— Beginning the 3rd quarter of 2019 will focus on each member and church learning to apply Jesus’ method of relating to people. Challenging every member to enlist in the joy of becoming involved in mission, encouraging and empowering congregations to launch community focused seminars on health & nutrition, marriage & parenting, finances, singles, or any other seminar that will bless the local communities; are just some of the ways we can connect to the needs in our communities to create and grow ongoing friendships.

RECLAIM— the 4th quarter of 2019 is focused on reclaiming those members and friends that at one point were regularly attending our churches but have stopped coming.  This stage may entail the systematic revision of names and church records identifying potential names of people that can be contacted through a card, a phone call, a caring visit to let these missing members know that they are missed and that we would love to see them back in our churches.

REACH—is the phase in which evangelistic meetings will be held in every church.  The Voice of Prophecy has prepared a series of brand new, Power Point evangelistic presentations that our pastors and lay leaders throughout our union will be able to utilize to preach a series of meetings that will bring the unique, Christ-centered, Adventist message of hope and wholeness to all the people of our union and the world. 

Our Adventist movement has about a million members in North America, but unfortunately, only a few disciples that are willing to follow Jesus into the mission of the church.  Just like in the early church’s evangelistic thrust, we are conscious that none of these planned efforts will be possible without a special anointing of the Spirit as a result of heart-felt prayer!  Spirit-led pastors and members will be empowered by the Spirit to fulfill their mission and purpose.  

We have been told that “If Christians were to act in concert for the accomplishment of one purpose. . . they would move the world.” (Gospel Workers, 277).

We have for too long loaded our church activities with sermons and board meetings. However, it is interesting to note that before Jesus preached a sermon or performed a miracle, He made disciples.  Making disciples seems to have been Jesus’ priority.  As I said before, I am writing this in a hotel close to the lake of Galilee.  As I observed the distance between the main cities and villages where He preached and made miracles, with the exception of Nazareth, the territory that He covered around the lake was very insignificant. I became aware of how small the towns and villages were around the northern part of the lake, in particular Capernaum where the Bible tells us that “He withdrew to Galilee.  He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zabulun and Nepthatli . . .” (Matthew 4:12,13).

So, Jesus didn’t try to impact the whole world with His message, though He did.  He didn’t try to preach to all the world, although He has.  He didn’t try to make a difference in the life of millions of people, although this is what He accomplished. He only sought to change the hearts of twelve men and impact the community that He had at hand.  Nothing else was more important that to try to change the minds and character of the men and women that were around Him.  Once He did this, the whole world was radically changed. 

Recognizing the importance of making disciples Jesus said: “It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master.” (Matt. 10:25). When Jesus called his disciples, He did so with the intent that they would be like Him. The true disciple is like his master and does what his Master does.  Paul became a disciple of Christ, and then wrote to the Corinthians: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Vision 2020 will be a success as long as our church leaders and members recognize that we are here to make disciples, not just to make a living and raise a family.  God’s prophet stated: “The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love. The children of God are to manifest His glory. In their own life and character, they are to reveal what the grace of God has done for them.” (COL 415.5, italics applied).

The following five quarters in our lives can be lived with intentionality and give us a reason to live lives with deep meaning and purpose and offer us an opportunity to join hands, between members, pastors, churches, conferences and the North Pacific Union Conference.  Let’s come together and tell others, through the use of our love-infused talents and spiritual gifts, what a wonderful God we have and His plan to redeem our desperate, lonely and broken humanity.  We are told that “God could have proclaimed His truth through sinless angels, but this is not His plan.” (AA 330.2). God has designed that we, His disciples, will join Him, in fishing for men.  

God doesn’t need us to accomplish the mission; we need the mission to accomplish God purposes in our lives.  It is time to change the course of the declining church attendance, church growth and church participation.  If we seek the Lord with all our hearts and ask Him to pour His love for lost souls into our hearts, He will open doors of opportunity we cannot imagine. Join us in praying for an outpouring of His Spirit as we pray to join God in reaching all the people of the North Pacific Union Conference and the world with the distinct, Christ-centered, Adventist message of hope and wholeness! 

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Why Not Try This? – Shaping Culture for Mission in 2019 and Beyond

by Ben Lundquist, Director of Young Adult Ministries for the Oregon Conference

Recently I have been obsessed with building church culture. I’ll get to the reason why in just a moment. Google the phrase “church culture” and your search will return with thousands, if not tens of thousands, of websites, articles, blog posts, and video links about the topic. There are even entire conferences dedicated to building church culture, taking place every year around the country. 

I’m an avid podcast listener, usually catching a few podcasts a day, and building church culture is one of the most frequent topics for church leaders, and for good reason.  Jesus built a culture that drew people in. Luke 15:1-2 says plainly that all of the “sinners” made a habit of hanging around Jesus. This is healthy culture at it’s finest. 

Think of church culture as the atmosphere in which a church functions, it is how the church does things. Figuratively speaking, you can smell culture when you spend enough time with any particular church. Culture is the single strongest driving force in a church, even more than vision, strategy, or a pastor’s leadership style. A church’s health, growth potential, and kingdom impact will all rise and fall based on culture. 

Currently, I serve the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the niche of young adult ministry. Today’s young adults, generally referring to those in their 20’s, are possibly the most gifted, driven, networked, and creative generation this world has ever seen. This generation wants to change the world for the better; they believe they can, and so many of them already are making their mark. 

Meanwhile our church has been sounding the alarm for Continue Reading…

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Beyond the Pulpit – Are We Bargains?

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

How does one value something?  What determines its price? 

Have you ever seen “Pawn Stars” on the History Channel?  When someone brings an item in to sell, you can see it is based entirely on “demand.” 

I have a couple of hobbies where I can illustrate this.  I am a collector of ancient Biblical coins.  This includes Christian symbolism on early Roman coins, like coins of Constantine.  Despite his so-called conversion his coins did not depict Christian symbols…except for one!  And this super rare coin came up recently in an auction.  I’ve NEVER seen this coin offered before, so I was interested.          

The coin shows on the reverse a “chi rho” at the top of a battle standard, piercing an evil snake and having the legend say “for the hope of the public.”  This is purely Christian, unlike his other pagan themes.  The auction catalog put a value of it at $1,000.  What do they base this on?  “What previous examples have gone for.”  In other words, the value is placed on what people have shown they’ve been willing to pay before, called the “purchase history.’  I thought the estimated price far too low and became an active bidder, hoping people didn’t recognize the coin for what it was.  But they did!  And I was severely outbid to the tune of over $11,000.

Value.  I also collect elements, partly for my work here in Creationism.  I love the precious metals family.  But once again, demand is everything.  The super rare metal Iridium will suffice for an example.  It is over 1,000 times rarer than gold, but is actually worth about the same.  Why?  Because everyone wants gold.

And this brings me to the main point.  How much are WE worth?  Do you remember the old evangelists’ illustrations about how our bodies’ chemicals are only worth a few dollars?  Modern science has declared humans as being mere hairless apes, even animated pond scum, walking mutants with no future, purpose or hope.  And given that low value constantly preached to our youth, suicide rates are high among the young.  Low self-esteem and personal value issues are common.

Well, value is based upon demand, nothing else.  And there is only one Person Who knows exactly what we are worth.  When God lost us to Satan, He placed a bid to win us back.  He “Who owns the cattle on a thousand hills,” Who owns galaxies and riches beyond measure offered up something He only has one of…something irreplaceable.  He offered up His mostly valuable gift:  His Son. 

Did He offer up His Son just because He’s so loving and kind…or is His value of us accurate?  Well, this one thing I know: “He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many.”  God will be more than happy with purchasing us, even at such a high price.  Perhaps we should view each other (and ourselves) with this established purchase history in mind.

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Soul Winning – Treasure Valley Collaboration Brings Many to Christ

Idaho Conference reports that recent efforts have resulted in many commitments for Christ. By the end of the Prophecies Unsealed meetings with evangelist Brian McMahon in February, 38 individuals joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church by baptism, rebaptism or profession of faith. More than 20 others are continuing to study toward baptism. Read more about this collaborative project by clicking below. Watch for a more in-depth story and video report in the weeks ahead. Continue Reading…

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