Columns & Perspectives https://nwadventists.com/ Northwest Adventists in Action en Copyright 2022, North Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. All rights reserved. info@nwadventists.com admin@nwadventists.com Sun, 14 Jul 2024 02:47:15 -0700 Sat, 29 Jun 2024 10:30:00 -0700 Lost https://nwadventists.com/news/2024/06/lost When we live our lives only based on ourselves and our own understandings instead of focusing on Jesus and the clear truths laid out in scripture, we get distracted by the false narrative that is offered to us in the world. Natashia McVay perspective 35242 Sat, 29 Jun 2024 10:30:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

While in college, I spent a year serving as a student missionary in Australia. I was a pastor at Gateway Church and an assistant school chaplain at the Avondale pre-K through 12th-grade school. Among my many duties, one requirement of all student missionaries was to go work at the Adventist summer camp in Yarrahapinni, New South Wales.

Among the student missionaries there that year, I had the nicest car, so I was elected to be the driver to get us to summer camp. I quite enjoy driving and relish a challenge. I had been to the camp once before, so I felt I knew how to get us there. I looked at a map beforehand and planned out the trip. 

However, other than a crude printed-out map, I was at the mercy of my memory, as this was before smartphones. We began early in the morning so we could arrive with plenty of time to get settled before dark. The trip was going great until we reached the halfway mark. We stopped for lunch at a park, which I didn't realize was at a Y in the road. I thought I knew the right way to go.

Unfortunately, I was very wrong. The road we took quickly turned into a narrow, one-lane dirt road. It took us swiftly into the Australian jungle. We went up and over passes that I should not have taken my car on. The road was a mess with potholes, washed-out sections and terrible washboard. This was clearly not a well-traveled road. What was supposed to take three hours quickly turned into a much longer trip. 

After driving for almost four hours, we came upon a farm. There was a man out front mowing his lawn. I pulled over and asked him how to get to the town of Kempsey, which was near the camp. He responded by laughing and saying that I was clearly American, and very lost! He told me how to get there, but it took us another three hours of driving on a narrow, very unpleasant road in the middle of nowhere to finally get to a paved, regularly traveled road.

What was meant to be a relatively easy day of driving had turned into a nightmare for myself and a very long day for my passengers. All the danger, exhaustion, stress and irritation could have been avoided if I had simply paid closer attention to the map and been more willing to admit I didn’t really know where I was going and needed to do more studying beforehand.

I use this story to illustrate the dangerous spiritual reality that it is easy to become lost, disoriented and turned around when we think we can go through life by ourselves. We become lost when we ignore the divinely given map and do not seek God for our directions in life. 

As Christians, God has given us a very clear map. God clearly gives us instructions on how to be saved and live dedicated to Him. It's through Bible study, prayer and seeking God’s Spirit in our lives that we are connected with the life-giving map. Our biggest problem is that we think we can do it on our own, without God’s help.

When we live our lives only based on ourselves and our own understandings instead of focusing on Jesus and the clear truths laid out in scripture, we get distracted by the false narrative that is offered to us in the world and become lost.

Rather than following the confusing false directions the world offers, Jesus offers us a simple way to be safe as we journey in this life. In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Relying on Jesus is the only true way to be saved. It's only through following Jesus and His words to us that we are able to plot a clear, direct and true track through this world. Jesus freely offers us the ability to remain on the straight and narrow path, to follow His directions and to arrive safely.

I have learned through my own experience that I don’t want to become lost because of my pride and ignorance. I sincerely desire to remain in Jesus and let Him lead me into truth and the safety of His salvation.

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Natashia McVay Lost When we live our lives only based on ourselves and our own understandings instead of focusing on Jesus and the clear truths laid out in scripture, we get distracted by the false narrative that is offered to us in the world.
The Healing of the Nations https://nwadventists.com/news/2024/06/healing-nations Our world is a broken place. There are spiritual battles raging all around us that we cannot see with 20/20 eyesight. We need the “eye salve” of the Holy Spirit to give us spiritual eyesight and insight of Biblical truth. John Freedman Mission and Outreach Devotional mission Faith Church 35257 Sat, 22 Jun 2024 10:30:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

Have you noticed the divide between nations, religious groups, families and political groups? Our world is polarized, filled with fear and anxiety, and broken. Spiritual battles rage around us, unseen by our physical eyes.

We need the “eye salve” of the Holy Spirit from Rev. 3:18 to grant us spiritual insight and biblical truth.

The Bible reveals in Ephesians that we “fight not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places.”

Eph. 6 advises us to “put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Here, “wiles” means “cons.” The devil, like a con man, seeks to deceive with lies that destroy. What cons and lies is Satan, the ruler of this world, spreading today?

Again, the Bible gives us awareness: "In the last days, perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2 Tim. 3:1-5). 

Why turn away from them? Because they deceive us with the lies of the ruler of this world. Paul warns in 2 Tim. 4:4 that listening to them leads to turning away from the truth and embracing fables.

God sent Jesus to heal the nations. As the Great Physician, Jesus alone has the remedy for sin and division. He is the way, the truth and the life. The remedy for our brokenness in nation, politics, churches and homes is to focus on Jesus Christ — the pure, unadulterated truth. Truth matters.

In Mark 7:20–23, Jesus is essentially in the operating room doing spiritual surgery upon His disciples. He explains this truth: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’”

What is wrong with the world? Why is there so much strife between nations, races, tribes and peoples? Why do relationships splinter and fall apart?

Jesus is saying: We are what’s wrong. It’s what comes out from the inside. It’s the self-centeredness of the human heart. It’s sin.

In fact, sin is like an unquenchable fire that will burn the whole house down and completely ruin individuals and families. Sin will split and make ineffective churches and destroy nations.

As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Prize recipient, said, “The line between good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart and through all human hearts.”

The Bible shows that the world isn't divided into “good guys and bad guys.” There are “better” and “worse” people but no clear line between good and bad. Due to our sin and self-centeredness, we all contribute to the world's brokenness. The only remedy is the Great Physician, Jesus Christ, who alone can remove the cancer of sin and bring healing.

The blood of Jesus Christ is the only remedy for sin, and the cross reveals God's eternal love. If I were the only sinner, Christ would have died for me — what glorious love! This restoration points to the blessed hope and glorious appearing of Jesus Christ, when He will fully restore humanity and creation, fulfilling Titus 2:13.

God’s glorious love must be shared with our broken world. Our lives can reflect the healing Jesus brings within us and our voices can testify to His love. We can live out God's love for all to see and be instruments of healing for our nation.

The July/August 2024 issue of the Gleaner highlights the incredible work of Adventist Health employees in our hospitals and clinics. Their mission is “living God’s love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope.”

Each year, Adventist healthcare in North America serves more than a million Americans, mirroring Jesus’ compassion and healing. I trust you will be inspired by the stories of compassion, healing and love from our Adventist doctors, nurses and staff. 

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John Freedman The Healing of the Nations Our world is a broken place. There are spiritual battles raging all around us that we cannot see with 20/20 eyesight. We need the “eye salve” of the Holy Spirit to give us spiritual eyesight and insight of Biblical truth.
Election Year https://nwadventists.com/news/2024/06/election-year In this election cycle may we as a church give our allegiance to the Leader that united men from all ends of the political/religious spectrum and prayed that His followers would be one. Kevin McGill perspective Faith Church 35240 Sat, 15 Jun 2024 10:30:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

"Put not your trust in princes" (Psalm 146).

This year, Americans will go through another presidential election cycle; as a pastor and a citizen, I am apprehensive.

I am worried because political seasons seem to commodify fear and spark division. I am exhausted from endless debates that never seem to settle anything.

Nonetheless, I am hopeful that, this time around, we as a church can collectively decide to love our neighbor across political divides. I am committed to doing my part to spark conversations that connect instead of polarize.

Our differences matter, but our commitment to love one another matters more. I believe the church is the place to put this into practice. 

I visited a leader in our church recently who gave me hope that this is possible. In our visit, he brought up his respect for one of his good friends who is very politically different from himself. I know both of these men. They are both long-time leaders in the church, and they work well together.

Their differences in the way that they think complement one another. One is meticulous in detail and processes on a systemic level, while the other is a bulldozer that values expediency and getting things done.

Both mindsets are needed. They do have conflict but their commitment to respect enables resolution through the challenges.

In our culture, we have been taught to avoid talking about politics and religion, but this has led to a lack of understanding of politics and religion. What we should be taught is how to have a civil conversation about a difficult topic.

These conversations rarely happen on Facebook. The algorithm incentivizes polarization instead of meaningful dialogue. Mark Witas, a pastor/chaplain friend of mine who works for Adventist Health, recently made a post about this that resonated with me. He gave his permission to reshare his social post here. He asked, “Has anyone ever changed their political affiliations/leanings because of Facebook posts? Me neither.”

During this coming intense political season, how about we litter Facebook with positive posts about the things that bring us joy, the God appointments we keep with our fellow humans and the positive people who have made a difference in our lives?

Jesus says, "Seek first the kingdom." What's the kingdom? It's right in front of you. It's all the beautifully flawed human beings that He's placed around you at work and school. Seek their good. Seek to bless them. Seek blessings from them.

As you do, if you are inclined to share on social media, bless us all with your experiences.

Resist investing your posts on how right you think your side of the political aisle is. Remember, the empire is not the kingdom, and it never will be. Invest in the kingdom and you will not be disappointed.

As I look back on posts I have made during previous political seasons, I realize I can do better at this. I am committed to spending time connecting with others rather than correcting them. I am committed to placing my trust in the only leader who never fails. Placing trust in presidents and political parties is a path to disappointment.

In this election cycle, may we as a church give our allegiance to the Leader who united men from all ends of the political/religious spectrum and prayed that His followers would be one.

As I have been reflecting on this, I have been meditating on Psalm 146. Read it in context for yourself, but I want to leave you with my 2024 paraphrase for this election season.

Psalm 146:3–9 (Kevin's Presidential Election Paraphrase) 

Put not your trust in presidents, 
in mere mortals, in whom there is no salvation.

With their breath they make promises that they cannot keep, after four years; 
when they leave, their plans and projects leave with them.

Instead of looking to a president to find real hope, 
put your hope in God and know real blessing!

The God who made heaven and earth,
the sea and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;

who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
God frees prisoners.

He gives sight to the blind,
He lifts up the humble and the fallen.
God loves justice and those who speak up for righteousness,

The Lord watches over refugees and strangers,
He takes the side of orphans and widows,
the arc of the moral universe may be long, but it bends towards justice!

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Kevin McGill Election Year In this election cycle may we as a church give our allegiance to the Leader that united men from all ends of the political/religious spectrum and prayed that His followers would be one.
Dwelling in Community https://nwadventists.com/news/2024/06/dwelling-community Community has been a cornerstone of Heidi Baumgartner's life narrative, shaping her experiences and relationships in profound ways. Find encouragement to intentionally be a community builder and dweller in your own life! Heidi Baumgartner Mission and Outreach Faith Spiritual Growth 35243 Sat, 08 Jun 2024 13:00:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

My heart's desire is to be a community builder and dweller. Here's how it began.

Community has been a cornerstone of my life's narrative, shaping my experiences and relationships in profound ways.

My first job was in healthcare marketing at a former Adventist Health facility in Southern California. I had a lot to navigate in my new adult life.

With family and friends primarily on the East Coast, I struggled to find spaces where I could build authentic and healthy friendships. I wasn’t into coffee, didn’t ever plan to visit a bar, didn’t think about joining a gym and never did find the local library.

My initial attempts to find a church family failed miserably. Before long, my room rental situation turned difficult with a closet alcoholic landlady and her new beau. I desperately needed a community network.

That summer, I filled in for a patient resource coordinator named Kate, who was on medical leave.

Kate and her husband, Tom, heard about my housing situation and invited me into their home, their lives and even a family gathering — providing my first welcoming community that summer. Their generosity and friendship provided a safe place for me to live, be and grow.

Nearly 20 years later, Kate and Tom once again extended hospitality when I brought my family to meet them at their home in Hawaii. They continue to practice generosity and kindness in their home and around their table.

As I advanced into adulthood in western Washington, I found increasingly more community connections where I formed meaningful relationships with fifth-graders, young adults my own age, a few newly married couples, families with children and grandparent-like figures.

It still took a while, and it required a lot of give-and-take grace. Eventually, church did become a welcoming space and gave me opportunities to become my own community builder.

One of my favorite community builders in the Bible is the Shunamite woman in 2 Kings 4. Whenever Elisha traveled nearby, she invited him in for food and a place to stay.

When he wanted to do something nice to bless her for her kindness, she affirmed that she desired to dwell, to be together, with her community as she cared for her neighbors. She ultimately did receive extra blessings.

Community building takes intentional, but not impossible, effort, and may look like a smile or a wave, a remembered name, an interested conversation, a shared meal or a bonding experience through a service project, Bible study, prayer time or social interaction.

Together, may we embrace God’s invitation to be community builders and dwellers. It will enrich our lives and the lives of those around us with blessing after blessing.

Table Talk Prompt

Think about a time when you felt a deep sense of belonging and connection. What made that experience special? How can you intentionally create similar moments of community in your life?

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Heidi Baumgartner Dwelling in Community Community has been a cornerstone of Heidi Baumgartner's life narrative, shaping her experiences and relationships in profound ways. Find encouragement to intentionally be a community builder and dweller in your own life!
Attitude Counts https://nwadventists.com/news/2024/06/attitude-counts When Jesus saw the great multitude, He was moved with the attitude of compassion for them and spent the entire day ministering to them. You cannot minister to people you are not moved by. You must be moved to move! Byron Dulan Church Faith 35269 Thu, 06 Jun 2024 10:30:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

The feeding of the 5,000 is considered by some as the greatest miracle Jesus performed. All four gospel writers tell the story. The disciples had just returned from their first student mission trip and were eager to tell Jesus what they had seen and done. They were looking forward to a quiet time of relaxation and fellowship with Jesus. 

Attitude Among the Multitude, Jesus and the Disciples

The multitude had another idea. Somebody found out where they were going, and it went viral. A multitude of about 25,000 people streamed out of the small cities and towns looking for truth, help and healing.

When Jesus saw the great multitude, He was moved by the attitude of compassion for them and spent the entire day ministering to them. You cannot minister to people you are not moved by. You must be moved to move!

The dilemma Christian leaders have is that the multitude is rarely cognizant or respectful of your time or timing. They want to make their emergency your emergency. The disciples were not happy with their sabbatical being hijacked by pressing crowds and pressing matters. They had done their duty.  Now, they needed — yea, deserved — a vacation. Where is the boundary between ministry and rest? That tension continues to plague us today.

While Jesus was moved with compassion for the multitude, the disciples were unmoved. As the day dragged toward an end, their body language and verbiage revealed that they wanted Christ to send the people away — just like a deacon trying to close the church announcing, “You don’t have to go home, but you do need to get out of here.”

The disciples needed Jesus to send the people away, but He was busy meeting their needs. The disciples felt they needed to formulate a real and plausible reason to convince Jesus to send them away. Their proposal read something like this:

  • The people are hungry and need to eat for their physical health
  • Whereas we are in a food desert — no McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy’s or Chick-fil-A

Conclusion: Jesus, you need to send all these people away.

It is interesting that Jesus affirmed their analysis of the situation, but suggested — no, commanded — a different solution. He said, “You feed them!” In this, Jesus advocated faithful social action with the resources we have.

The "finance committee" hastily called a meeting and reported they did not have the resources to feed such a crowd. The church, even today, believes it does not have enough resources to do what Jesus commands. Perceived lack of resources is the major reason why so many good endeavors die prematurely. Wayne Gretzky had a T-shirt that said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.”

Jesus asked for an audit. He said, “Go and see how much food you have?” Interestingly, they did not know. They estimated and assumed, but their conclusion was not based on fact but on attitude. Like some disciples today, they were offended by the presence of the crowd and their eagerness to be close to Jesus. 

How welcoming would you be if when you arrived at church one Sabbath morning there was a parking lot full of cars and people whom you didn’t know waiting to enter the church?

The disciples did a quick audit. When completed, they returned and triumphantly reported the five loaves and two fish. They expected that Jesus would capitulate and agree with them to send the multitude away. But to their amazement, Jesus said, “Fine. Have everyone sit down.” At that moment, Jesus demonstrated to His disciples His dependence upon God. Ellen White wrote on page 368 of The Desire of Ages, “The providence of God had placed Jesus where He was and He depended on His heavenly Father for the means to relieve the necessity."

You know what happened. Five thousand men and an estimated 20,000 women and children were fully fed from the little boy’s lunch. In addition, twelve baskets full of leftovers were collected and likely stored in the disciple’s boat.

Mark makes a weird summary statement later in the chapter. The statement is about Jesus’ walking on the water later that night. Mark 6:51–52 says, “Then He went up into the boat to them and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart (attitude) was hardened.”

Ministry Context

If you study Mark’s account with the accounts of the other gospel writers, you learn that the miracle of the 5,000 was the apex and culmination of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee.

As Jesus broke the loaves and kept on giving the food to the disciples to distribute, everyone realized that a great miracle was happening before their very eyes.

Many in the multitude finally realized that Jesus was the prophet that had been foretold to come. They surmised that He would make Israel great again and rid the nation of Roman occupation. Ellen White says that a movement developed to immediately crown Jesus as the king of Israel. The disciples evidently agreed and were sorely disappointed when He sent them away via ship to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.

Essentially, the negative attitude, selfish desires and faulty theology of the disciples led them to totally miss the lesson in the great miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. Ellen White commented on page 369 of The Desire of Ages, “If we plan according to our own ideas, the Lord will leave us to our own mistakes. But when, after following His directions, we are brought into strait places, He will deliver us."

A Few Takeaways

1. It is extremely hard to help people we don’t like.

2. It is quite easy to formulate powerful and plausible reasons for not doing what God asks us to do.

3. While it is important to count our human resources, it is impossible to count God’s invisible but abundant resources. He has so many cattle that He only counts the hills they graze on.

4. God is who He says He is, and we can trust Him to help us do what He has commanded to be done. Seeing what God has already done for us and among us, should encourage us to believe that what He has promised He is able to perform. God’s grace is sufficient to supply every need.

Final Addendum

Since, as humans and Christians, we are addicted to counting things and making conclusions based on our polling and perception of things, isn’t it interesting that the boy who graciously contributed his lunch was not counted in the tally of people served? He, and most of the crowd, were not counted — only the men were. He therefore represents the groups of people who are uncounted, marginalized and unrecognized. Isn’t it ironic that that day Jesus used the resources of an unnamed, uncounted and marginalized person to perform a miracle that astounded the disciples and blessed the multitude?

As we survey, count and analyze the challenges of ministry today, let us be careful to not overlook the resources God sends to us in the people we are privileged to serve. As we count students, faculty, staff, members, constituents, money and property, let us not forget to count our attitude, because attitude counts.

Phil. 2:5 says, “Let this mind (attitude) be in us, which was also in Christ Jesus.”

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Byron Dulan Attitude Counts When Jesus saw the great multitude, He was moved with the attitude of compassion for them and spent the entire day ministering to them. You cannot minister to people you are not moved by. You must be moved to move!
Summer Health Challenge for the Whole Family https://nwadventists.com/news/2024/05/summer-health-challenge-whole-family This summer, take on a challenge as a family! Can you complete the list before the summer ends? LaVonne Long perspective 35241 Thu, 30 May 2024 09:30:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

We’re in the midst of summer and in our family we love visiting the community pool and beach, buying fresh produce at our local organic farm and bringing kayaks out on a nearby lake. 

Summer in the Pacific Northwest is beautiful and we try to get outside as often as possible. This summer, let’s do a health challenge together — as a family. Keep in mind, health is not just physical, so let’s focus on all areas of healthy living.

John tells us, "Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul" (3 John 1:2).

Here is a 25-day summer health challenge for the whole family!

  1. Get a new family devotional to read together — take turns reading scripture out loud.
  2. Do a water drinking challenge together — it’s always great to drink more water.
  3. Have a water gun fight.
  4. Get a great night’s sleep.
  5. Host a “No Complaint” day — no one can complain all day.
  6. Check in with your kids daily. See how they are doing, what they are into and what they are thinking about.
  7. Plant a vegetable or herb garden — kids love gardening; you can start small.
  8. Visit the local library and pick out books to read.
  9. Make a large fruit salad together.
  10. Have a water balloon fight.
  11. Play with bubbles — see how many you can pop.
  12. Use a fitness app together as a family.
  13. Commit to hugging each other at least once every day.
  14. Make a family prayer jar and add to it all summer — see what prayers have been answered.
  15. Have a large salad bar for dinner. Let everyone pick out ingredients and help cut.
  16. Take a family walk.
  17. Host Thankful Thursdays where everyone shares what they’re thankful for with no repeats.
  18. Learn a new sport — like pickleball or spikeball.
  19. Let the kids choose a healthy dinner recipe they’ll cook — if they cook, offer to clean up.
  20. Do an outdoor service project together — sandwiches for the homeless, yard work for an elderly neighbor, etc.
  21. Train for a 5K walk or run together.
  22. Visit a local splash pad or public park.
  23. Try new fruits and vegetables. Make rating cards and see what new ones you like.
  24. Set 30 minutes per day for no technology. Instead, read, write, draw, do puzzles, paint, etc.
  25. Set “play dates” for the whole family. Go visit friends or meet them at a local park, lake or beach.

What would you add to this Summer Challenge list? Head to the #NWAdventists website or social media channels to comment and share.

Proverbs 17:22 tells us, "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Be joyful together this summer as a family! God wants to bless you abundantly. He is so crazy in love with you! And remember, when you’re outside, wear sunscreen and pack your water. 

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LaVonne Long Summer Health Challenge for the Whole Family This summer, take on a challenge as a family! Can you complete the list before the summer ends?
How to Reach Generation Z for Christ https://nwadventists.com/news/2024/04/how-reach-generation-z-christ Generation Z has so many things vying for their attention, so how can we get through the noise and minister to them? Explore these practical ways to reach Gen Z. LaVonne Long perspective 35127 Sat, 13 Apr 2024 08:00:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

What a time to be parenting a Generation Z kid! 

There are so many things vying for my children’s attention. I want to be doing intentional things in my parenting journey that show them who Christ is, but, I am not going to lie, it’s hard. I am always reading books, articles and blog posts. I want to impact my kids' lives — a positive impact for Christ. Here's what I'm learning:

A recent Barna study1 shows that more than half of Gen Z are motivated to learn about Christ. Parents are the most influential and important people in kids’ lives.

What Do We Know About Gen Z?

There are many definitions of who Gen Z is, but many consider them kids born approximately between 1997 and 2012. According to Pew Research,2 Gen Z is the most diverse generation, and they are also on track to be the most educated. 

Gen Zers lean more progressive on social/political issues. They are more inclusive, open-minded and sensitive to people’s feelings. They have almost no memory of a world before smartphone technology. They are often referred to as Digital Natives. Some researchers have linked the use of smartphones with the growth of anxiety and depression in this group. Values and authentic commitment are important to Gen Zers. 

Knowing what we do about Gen Z, it is important as parents and adults in the church to provide an authentic Christian experience for this group. We learned from a Gleaner article on Gen Z3 last year written by Carolann De León: “Our kids, youth and young adults are desperately longing for peace and joy. As we disciple them into a relationship with the only fountain of sustainable life, they will find the strength and peace to move beyond their debilitating mental health symptoms and the courage to accept mental health support without shame.”

Practical Ways to Reach Gen Z for Christ

Utilize Technology

Gen Z learns with a multisensory experience, often with technology involved. We need to provide ways for them to learn about the Bible and Christ in the ways they learn best. Let them ask questions, eat/drink, fidget and move when talking with them about Christ and Christianity. They want to actively participate in discussions at home, school and church.

Genuine Relationships

Gen Zers want authentic, real relationships based on trust. They want parents, teachers, pastors and family friends who will walk beside them. So get to know this generation better. Engage with the kids in your home, school and church. Provide a judgment-free zone where they are comfortable asking questions and grappling together over issues.

“When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the good news and share in its blessings” (1 Cor. 9:23–24).

Get Involved in Community Outreach

Gen Z wants to see your faith be lived out in the community. So bring your kids to community events, outreach opportunities and bridge events. They want to see Christianity in action. If your church or school isn’t actively involved in outreach to the local community, then it’s time for you to help plan those events. Better yet, let the young people plan them. They love having actual leadership roles in the church.

These are just three practical ways to reach Gen Z for Christ as we help to nurture peace, real relationships and a sense of belonging. Gen Z needs authentic mentors. Don’t be afraid to talk openly about mental health issues with Gen Z. Ask them real questions and get to know them. This generation can change the world for Christ — it’s daunting and exciting to be parenting this generation of young people.

John 14:27 tells us, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

 

Sources:

  1. “Over Half of Gen Z Teens Feel Motivated to Learn More about Jesus.” Barna Group, June 27, 2023. https://www.barna.com/research/teens-and-jesus/.

  2. Parker, Kim. “On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future: What We Know about Gen Z so Far.” Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project, May 14, 2020. https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2020/05/14/on-the-cusp-of-adulthood-and-facing-an-uncertain-future-what-we-know-about-gen-z-so-far-2/.

  3. De León, Carolann. “Trauma-Responsive Discipleship.” Northwest Adventists, November 15, 2023. https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/06/trauma-responsive-discipleship.

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LaVonne Long How to Reach Generation Z for Christ Generation Z has so many things vying for their attention, so how can we get through the noise and minister to them? Explore these practical ways to reach Gen Z.
Iceberg Ahead https://nwadventists.com/news/2024/04/iceberg-ahead Only 10% of an iceberg is visible above water. Let's not be like icebergs — showing our best 10% and hiding the rest — instead let's surrender to Jesus daily so we can become all He wants us to be, without having to hide. Natashia McVay perspective 35119 Sat, 06 Apr 2024 08:00:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

On April 15, 1912, one of the most luxurious and technologically advanced ships of its time sank. Why did it sink? The Titanic sank because they underestimated the dangers of icebergs. The portion of the iceberg you see only constitutes about 10% of its overall mass. What is hidden is much more dangerous than what is visible. 

As human beings, we often struggle with inconsistency. It's frightfully easy to slip into the practice of saying to people, "Do as I say, not as I do." In many ways, we can become a human embodiment of the iceberg principle — showing people our best 10% and hiding the rest below the surface. Sometimes we fall into this trap for all the “right” reasons. We want to be — or feel we have to be — a better example than we actually are.

Jeremiah proclaimed, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). Is your religion a true religion, or a performative event in which you take part? True Christians will talk the talk and walk the walk, empowered and enabled by God. Instead of using ourselves or others as an example to be followed, we should always point people towards Jesus. Jesus and Jesus alone is the one we should seek to emulate and imitate. In Christ, there is safety from the stormiest of seas.

Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John are useful here, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). There is a tug of war that occurs in even the most converted of human hearts. Now, more than ever, faithfulness to God’s law of love and authenticity matter. 

On our own, we are incapable of living a truly transformed Christian life. It's only through a daily surrendering of self, a wholehearted submission of selfish desires and gain, that we can be truly genuine and devoted Christians. 

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1–3).

Jesus promises that He will be with the true seeker, and He will help our words and actions match. He wants us to be truly transformed by Him living in us. He wants to make us new in Him — not just knowers of the "right" but livers of the truth, Jesus Christ, that has transformed our whole being.

How is this accomplished in our lives? It's accomplished through daily submission to Jesus and through reading the Bible — not just to check off a box for the day or to have an advantage over others. Read the Bible to get to know who Jesus is and what He desires to do in our lives. Pray to be like Jesus and that His ways become our ways.

“For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth, one confesses and is saved” (Rom. 10:10).

If we truly seek Jesus, the Holy Spirit will enable us to live out our faith. With Jesus in our lives and the working of the Holy Spirit we will more fully embody the true nature of Jesus. We can be authentic Christians who strive to submit our lives more fully each day to Jesus. Then our actions will display this transformation in our lives. This is to be the goal of a Christian’s life.

I appreciate Ellen White’s statement on this principle in The Acts of the Apostles: “Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, a day, but of a lifetime. It is not gained by a happy flight of feeling, but is the result of constantly dying to sin, and constantly living for Christ."

God doesn't want icebergs — people who say one thing but, in private or in the secret of their home, act in a completely different way. Rather God wants mountains. 

He wants our actions to match our hearts; to truly be transformed by a relationship with Him and have our actions be a true representation of that relationship.

Stand tall and proud because what you have learned about God has changed you; what you say is what you truly believe and live. Stand like a mountain, pointing ever upward to God as the true light and leader of your life.

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Natashia McVay Iceberg Ahead Only 10% of an iceberg is visible above water. Let's not be like icebergs — showing our best 10% and hiding the rest — instead let's surrender to Jesus daily so we can become all He wants us to be, without having to hide.
What's In Your Hand? https://nwadventists.com/news/2024/03/whats-your-hand When we desire to be a blessing to God and others, the first place to look is at what God has placed in our hands already. John Freedman Mission and Outreach 35140 Sun, 31 Mar 2024 08:00:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

As a young adult, several friends invited me to attend church with them. I was searching for God and truth. This led me to study the Bible.

Soon I was born again of the Holy Spirit and baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist with a new heart devoted to God. My habits and priorities began to change.

The Holy Spirit planted in my heart a desire to tell others about how God had changed my life. The gospel of Jesus Christ has power. I could not shake the desire to share my newfound faith with friends and family.

The conference where I lived held a witnessing training weekend. Someone at the event preached a sermon based on Exod. 4:2.

There, we find the call of God to Moses when he was in Midian, just after he turned to explore the burning bush. Moses heard the call and listened to God call him to do something for Him.

However, Moses did not believe he could accomplish anything significant for God. I don’t remember much about the message except for how the pastor pressed the question, “What is that in your hand?”

This was a powerful question. It still is.

For Moses, his hand held a shepherd’s rod.

The Creator God has given gifts and talents to all humankind — to all nations, peoples and tongues — male and female, young and old, poor and rich.

When we desire to be a blessing to God and others, the first place to look is at what God has placed in our hands already.

What talent has He given you? What spiritual gift has He given you? What education has He blessed you with? What career or vocation has He given you? What skills have you learned in your work? What hobbies have you learned and enjoy? What friends has He given you? What family members need God’s transforming power?

The North American Division is talking about a new evangelism initiative called Pentecost 2025. The goal is to hold 3,000 evangelistic proclamation events in North America during 2025.

The NAD is working to raise funds to assist each local church that volunteers to hold an event. North Pacific Union is also going to provide funding for churches that hold evangelistic proclamation events.

The Voice of Prophecy is providing training and resources to assist churches and pastors. In fact, all the NAD media ministries are actively looking for ways to assist local churches for this evangelism initiative.

To prepare for Pentecost 2025, we must use the rest of 2024 for preparation. How? Start where you are. Evaluate what is in your hand.

God will bless anyone who will partner with Him to win souls. Look around you at what God has provided already.

After I heard God’s call, I found a stack of invitations to a prophecy presentation in my hand. Sharing those with family and friends, as well as explaining how my life had changed, resulted in my two brothers attending the meetings. Both were baptized.

This Gleaner issue features a plenitude of stories — in both traditional and unusual third spaces — about how Northwest Adventists are using God’s gifts in their hands to creatively build community, share the Good News of Jesus and reach just one more person. As you read and reflect, listen to how God is prompting you to respond to His question, “What is that in your hand?”

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John Freedman What's In Your Hand? When we desire to be a blessing to God and others, the first place to look is at what God has placed in our hands already.
God's Errands https://nwadventists.com/news/2024/03/gods-errands When we go on God's errands, He always brings people into our path to interact with and potentially influence for a moment or for eternity. Heidi Baumgartner Mission and Outreach Faith 35071 Sat, 30 Mar 2024 08:00:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

I often live out my life through mental narratives about what’s likely to happen next. Yet, life doesn’t have a perfect playbook.

When recently I parked my car and stepped out to start my workday, I realized three things very quickly: 1. I uncharacteristically forgot my computer bag; 2. There was a hissing sound coming from my car; and 3. My day was taking a very different turn.

God had a surprise in store for me for His heavenly playbook for my life.

I soon found a protruding object in my car’s back tire that I likely picked up from an accidentally discovered pothole.

With a quick call of confirmation back home, I mapped out and then carefully drove to the nearest tire shop where technicians assessed the situation and promised to take care of it.

With unexpected time on my hands, I settled in the waiting room with a copy of A Way Forward, by Caleb Foss where I learned more about the art of being interested versus interesting.

This approach to thinking and living is about understanding your identity in Christ first, and then showing increased interest in other people’s lives. It truly does make life more interesting!

After a productive morning of waiting, I headed to lunch where I noticed an older man approach the car parked next to mine. I instantly recognized the university name emblazoned on his sweatshirt.

As a fellow master’s graduate, I had to say something and stepped out of my car to greet him. I soon learned his name is Scotty and we had a great conversation in the parking lot that quickly turned to faith and common connections between our faith traditions and our lived experiences.

“Those of us who believe in Jesus need to stick together,” Scotty proclaimed. “Signs of the end are all around and Bible prophecy is evident. We need each other.”

Sometimes I hear people say how hard it is to share their faith or make new friends. Sometimes I have thoughts like this, too. My mental narrative tells me I’m not enough in some way, shape or form.

However, I keep finding experiences where God is orchestrating various interactions where a simple curiosity, kindness or willingness to be interested turns into a divine appointment. God just asks me to be willing to go on His errands, and He takes care of the rest.

These encounters remind me God works through the seemingly mundane aspects of life to connect us with others in profound ways. Sometimes our world is right in front of us, waiting for us to show up; to not shirk our word, calling or responsibilities; to make a difference in someone’s life for a moment or for eternity; to cultivate joy, peace and grace on the journey toward heaven. That’s the best playbook for life!

Table Talk Prompt

What divine appointments has God set up for you recently? How do divine appointments in your life recalibrate your spiritual walk and your relationship with others?

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Heidi Baumgartner God's Errands When we go on God's errands, He always brings people into our path to interact with and potentially influence for a moment or for eternity.
A Place for You https://nwadventists.com/news/2024/03/place-you The music we like, the preachers we listen to and the way we interpret life varies. We are different, and that's okay. What's not okay is thinking that our church would be better if we could just make everyone speak and think exactly the same. Kevin McGill perspective 35135 Sat, 23 Mar 2024 08:00:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

One summer in Walla Walla, I had the opportunity to tour University Church with Kraig Scott, Walla Walla University music professor. He taught us about the inner workings of the church organ and demonstrated all the different notes the magnificent instrument can play.

A moment I will never forget is when Scott surprised us all by holding the lowest note for an uncomfortably long time. It sounded like a sledgehammer and made everyone cover their ears.

In isolation, it appeared to be an unnecessary key — something that should come with a warning, "Do not touch!"

Yet, when Scott included that note as a compliment to all the keys in his repertoire, it took on a powerful quality that made the music come to life.

The symphony of majestic sound would not have been possible without the “sledgehammer” note. It was a powerful reminder that the best music comes through harmony, not uniformity.

Perhaps this is what the apostle Paul was thinking of when he talked about the church being the body of Christ. Each part of the body works to complement the other parts. It’s not about competition; it's about integration.

Paul makes the point, “The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don’t need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don’t need you!' On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.”

It is tempting to dismiss those we disagree with as “unnecessary.” I confess I have scratched my head, laughed and cried at comments fellow believers have made at church business sessions.

The music we like, the preachers we listen to and the way we interpret life varies. We are different, and that is okay. What is not okay is thinking that our church would be better if we could just make everyone speak and think exactly the same.

There is a folk song that plays through my head when people start disagreeing at church. It’s called, "All of God’s Creatures Have a Place in the Choir," and it speaks to how our diversity can actually be our strength. If interested, go to YouTube and check out the A Place in the Choir Lyric Video.

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While there is nothing funny about church arguments, having this song play through my head, while being baffled by the way some saint is vocalizing their opinion, reminds me to make room at the table of opinions.

Sometimes all you can do is laugh or cry. The church would be a boring place if we all thought the same way about everything.

We need conservatives and liberals. We need those who are serious as well as those who are silly. We need people who like contemporary music, and we need those who value the tradition of liturgical hymns. The truth is all of God’s creatures have a place in the choir.

In being curious instead of judgmental, we become wise. We become open to the weird and the whimsical. We can laugh at our strangeness instead of being threatened by it.

Beware of those who commodify fear and demonize those who see things differently. Make space for those who dare to disagree. Value those who stress love above judgment. And don't be afraid to listen for the harmony when the sledgehammer noise is driving you insane.

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Kevin McGill A Place for You The music we like, the preachers we listen to and the way we interpret life varies. We are different, and that's okay. What's not okay is thinking that our church would be better if we could just make everyone speak and think exactly the same.
Boardsmanship & Governance: No Surprises https://nwadventists.com/news/2024/03/boardsmanship-governance-no-surprises Discover why preparation is important for effective board leadership. Learn how to mitigate negative surprises and build trust for a brighter organizational future. Dive deeper into the art of governance and strategic decision-making. André Wang Church Church Business 35053 Mon, 11 Mar 2024 08:00:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

One of the best pieces of advice to new board members and administrators of an organization is to avoid surprises. An organization and its leaders should mitigate surprises by being timely and transparent if they're going to work together effectively.

Advance preparation can minimize negative surprises. Being familiar with the institution's risk factors, paying attention, preparing for board meetings in advance, getting more information before the meeting if needed and asking questions — especially the "dumb" ones — are deceptively simple strategies.

Why it Matters

Negative surprises shock everyone within and beyond the institution. Its reputation, confidence in its leaders and its future, and its access to resources take a hit. Bad news often divides boards and staff, and it compromises trust. It's easy to forget that preventing or preparing for what might happen is as important as deciding what will happen, and it could go beyond what risk management and insurance coverage may cover.

The Bottom Line

Board members who prepare, pay attention and develop a solid sense of their organization's reality are well-positioned for any potential surprise. They can think on multiple tracks — logical and imaginative, or analytical and hypothetical — instead of scrambling to catch up on essential information. They can focus on future ramifications and alternative options that help the board make better decisions. The foundation of a great board is members who know the institution, its environment and good governance.

If you serve on a board or committee at any level, keep informed and stay engaged. The future of the organization depends on it.

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André Wang Boardsmanship & Governance: No Surprises Discover why preparation is important for effective board leadership. Learn how to mitigate negative surprises and build trust for a brighter organizational future. Dive deeper into the art of governance and strategic decision-making.
Surviving the Northwest Winter Blues https://nwadventists.com/news/2024/03/surviving-northwest-winter-blues Meet Cortnee Blayton, a Seattle-area e-commerce social media marketer, and join her in a #NWAdventists blogging journey about everyday faith ... and surviving the winter blues. Cortnee Blayton Health perspective 35042 Tue, 05 Mar 2024 08:00:00 -0800 Columns & Perspectives

Editorial Note: Meet Cortnee Blayton, a social media marketer for an e-commerce company in Seattle, and join her in a #NWAdventists blogging journey about everyday faith. Her favorite Christian saying is "God doesn't call the qualified, but qualifies the called."

"A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones" (Prov. 18:22).

Before relocating to Seattle for work in 2017, I’d heard about the rain and cold weather, but I was in no way prepared for the grey, misty gloom and the seasonal sunrises after 8 a.m. followed by sunsets around 4 p.m. Then there’s the annual snow that seems to dump more and more inches of frozen sleet across the Pacific Northwest each year.

Growing up in the desert of Southern California, I was always taught to limit “outside” activity when the weather was inclement. News reports were bleak and overly cautious about staying home and avoiding the roads if there was any chance of rain. But alas, this method of living is not sustainable when residing in Seattle with approximately 150 days of rain a year. Although round-trip flights to Southern California are priced around $150, it quickly became infeasible with my work schedule to travel back home every other month just for vitamin D.

In came the winter blues.

I was unaware that Seasonal Affective Disorder exists and can come in like a full-force locomotive right at the height of winter — or if you’re like me, in the spring when it is still raining and not 70 degrees yet. 

Thankfully, I’m often reminded that God’s word says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine ...” So, I believe God wants us to be happy and happiness can aid in healing us. For those of us required to report to the office at least three days a week and unable to get out of the Pacific Northwest when the weather becomes a little too much to handle, here are five methods I’ve tried and recommendations I’ve received for fighting the winter blues.

Alarm light

I landed in Seattle on Jan. 1, 2017. Within the first week of working in the office, I heard a recommendation to get a sunrise alarm clock to offset the lack of sun readily available to wake me up. This was a viable and low-cost investment as I transitioned from a surplus of morning light in Los Angeles to no sunlight until 8 a.m. in Seattle. Now, I simply yell at Alexa to turn on all the lights at about 6 a.m. to help me get out of bed. Either way, the effects of bright lights have cut down on my need to stay in my warm, cozy bed all day.

Get active

World Health Organization reports, “Regular physical activity is proven to help prevent and manage noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and several cancers. It also helps prevent hypertension, maintain healthy body weight and can improve mental health, quality of life and well-being.” Whether it’s using a standing desk when working or investing in one of those under-the-desk treadmills, actively moving your body acts like medicine. Do you have a gym membership or monthly subscription to your favorite Pilates or high-intensity interval training class? Use it regularly for the benefit of your well-being. 

Start a walking club

If you’re like me and require extra support to stay active, then starting a walking group could work for you. In addition to the obvious benefits of safety and companionship, Harvard Medical School reports, “... being part of an outdoor walking group can improve health in many ways, including improvements in blood pressure, resting heart rate, total cholesterol, body weight, body fat, physical functioning, and risk of depression.”

Volunteer

"Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7).

Why not move your body while giving back? Sign up to package food at a food bank or start a church program to compile and deliver goods to those in need. Unfortunately, the number of unhoused individuals and families living below the poverty line continues to escalate across the country as we face inflation, loss of jobs and slow salary growth. 

The opportunities to serve are endless and as God’s children we should be living proof of the promise stated in Acts 20:35: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

Get a pet

I have not crossed over to welcoming a pet into my home yet, but I’ve noticed all my friends who have a dog venture outside for walks once or twice a day. Friends with larger dogs like huskies or malamutes are walking nearly 5 miles a day. If you are into smaller pets, The Seattle Times just reported the Chihuahua is now the most popular dog breed in Washington. 

Talk to a professional

Some of us are living with treatable, undiagnosed health conditions from a lack of nutrients or other vitamin deficiencies that are easier to come by in warmer months. If you are looking for a natural fix for the winter blues, try a naturopathic doctor or nutritionist who could recommend supplements or help you adjust your eating habits to give your body the nutrients it needs. Therapy is also an option. There are licensed therapist and clergy who are employed specifically to listen to their clients and provide actionable advice for combating the winter blues.

Have any recommendations for fighting the winter blues? What works for you? Let us know by emailing us at talk@nwadventist.com.

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Cortnee Blayton Surviving the Northwest Winter Blues Meet Cortnee Blayton, a Seattle-area e-commerce social media marketer, and join her in a #NWAdventists blogging journey about everyday faith ... and surviving the winter blues.
Board Membership 101: The Basics https://nwadventists.com/news/2024/03/board-membership-101-basics Unsure of your role as a board member? Learn the three essential fiduciary duties you must fulfill to effectively serve your organization. Click to understand how to be an effective board member. André Wang Church Church Business 35050 Fri, 01 Mar 2024 08:00:00 -0800 Columns & Perspectives

As boards and committees reconvene and new members join throughout the year, it's important to understand the basic responsibilities of a board member.

Maybe you agreed to join the board because you felt some obligation to the nominating committee — or person — that asked you to do it, or perhaps you thought it would be a good opportunity for community involvement. Now that the time has come, you're unsure what your role is or how to add value. A good place to start is with the legal duties of board members.

Under the law, directors and officers of an entity are called "fiduciaries." Fiduciaries have certain duties.

What is a fiduciary?

Simply put, a fiduciary is a trustee or caretaker. It's a person — or group of people — that watches over an item of value on another person's behalf. For example, if you serve on your conference's executive committee, you are a fiduciary in your role as a committee member. As such, you are part of a group — the executive committee — that is entrusted by the conference constituency with the oversight and taking care of the local conference organization.

What are a fiduciary's duties?

Fiduciaries have three primary duties: the duty of obedience, the duty of care and the duty of loyalty.

  1. Duty of Obedience

Fiduciaries must make decisions that comply with the law and with an organization's governing documents and mission.

Let's use the example of serving on a school board. Each board member has a duty to comply with what they know — both explicitly and implicitly — about the laws, rules and policies that apply to the school. 

As fiduciaries, board members do not have the luxury of doing what they please. Board members cannot simply ignore the law or an organization's governing documents — i.e., articles of incorporation, charter, bylaws, parliamentary procedure rules or policies. They cannot choose when they want to follow these documents and when they don't. Of course, this assumes board members have a basic knowledge of the governing documents that exist and their provisions, and it assumes they know where to find the details when needed or applicable.

  1. Duty of Care

Fiduciaries must make decisions with care. More specifically, they have to make choices with the amount of care that a reasonable person would have in a similar situation and that they reasonably believe to be in the best interests of the organization. Board members don't have the luxury of not knowing what's going on in an organization or of turning their heads when they don't want to deal with difficult issues. 

At a foundational level, exercising a duty of care as a board member means you attend board meetings and prep for them by reading materials in advance and coming ready to meaningfully engage. The care level must be high.

  1. Duty of Loyalty

Fiduciaries must make decisions in the best interests of the organization, not in their own best interests. They have a duty to use the resources and information of the entity for the entity's benefit, not their own benefit. This duty includes their responsibility to recuse themselves from discussion and votes on actions where they have a conflict of interest. 

When it comes to organizational decisions, board members have an obligation to view decisions through the lens of the organization as a whole, not considering what would benefit them personally or what might benefit their specific group or constituency.

Your Job

If you are a board member, don't get distracted from your basic fiduciary responsibilities of obedience, care and loyalty. The best way you can serve your organization is by providing meaningful leadership that is in line with the group's governing documents and purposes, that gives good attention to the progress of the group and that works for the good of the entire group.

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André Wang Board Membership 101: The Basics Unsure of your role as a board member? Learn the three essential fiduciary duties you must fulfill to effectively serve your organization. Click to understand how to be an effective board member.
Enabling Learners https://nwadventists.com/news/2024/02/enabling-learners Empowering and enabling means we are helping someone — our students — to be stronger, more confident and ready to take initiative and make a positive mission impact in our world. Keith Hallam Education 34999 Sat, 03 Feb 2024 13:00:00 -0800 Columns & Perspectives

I remember the day that particularly shaped me during the summer of my 10th-grade year when I was working on an academy campus caring for the buildings and grounds.

The principal and maintenance director came and asked me to lead the work crew for two weeks while the director was on vacation. There was still the grounds director from whom I would receive guidance as needed, but they gave me the keys to the buildings and the outline of the routine tasks that needed to be done by the student crew. I was empowered! 

The theme of this education-focused Gleaner is empowering change-makers. Empowering and enabling means we are helping someone — our students — to be stronger, more confident and ready to take initiative and make a positive mission impact in our world.

Scripture is repetitive with stories of God empowering men and women with the opportunity to be His change agents. Stories of Moses, Joseph, Esther and the disciples are just a few examples.

Our church was birthed by God empowering William Miller to “go tell it to the world,” and there were so many others who were empowered and took on the cause of sharing the Three Angels’ Messages. Those empowered individuals created a movement that is still active in changing the hearts of men, women, boys and girls.

I can speak from experience that when someone is enabled and empowered, their engagement, self-worth and purpose increase. Relationships benefit. Change occurs in the individual who was empowered, as well as in others impacted by the change.

It is exciting for me to share that our Pacific Northwest classrooms have teachers who are practicing the most effective growth strategy we have in the development of students — that is empowerment.

Our schools, from early childhood through our university, are instructing, mentoring and engaging students — from the very young to young adults — to be change-makers. We need our young people, and they need to know we trust them, we affirm them and that they belong with us in being change-makers.

Our K–12 education mission in North America is “to enable learners to develop a life of faith in God, and to use their knowledge, skills and understandings to serve God and humanity.”

As you read school stories and view their pictures, I trust you will be encouraged by the work of our teachers and the growth that is happening in our students.

Please offer a prayer of thanksgiving for what is happening and a prayer for the Holy Spirit to continue growing each of us in our belief that we are empowered by God to also be change-makers on this earth.

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Keith Hallam Enabling Learners Empowering and enabling means we are helping someone — our students — to be stronger, more confident and ready to take initiative and make a positive mission impact in our world.
Reciprocal Growth https://nwadventists.com/news/2024/01/reciprocal-growth Not long into the semester, tensions arose between the professor and his class. It didn’t seem like there was an easy way to resolve our frustrations. Despite seeking intervention from the dean, the atmosphere remained strained. And then ... Heidi Baumgartner Education 34832 Sat, 27 Jan 2024 09:00:00 -0800 Columns & Perspectives

"Dr. Nkana, is that you?" I asked as we passed in a hotel convention center.

It had been 21 years since I was in Sam Nkana’s college classroom. He was a first-year college professor, and I was a sophomore encountering my first major-specific class.

Not long into the semester, tensions arose between Nkana and his class. We had multiple clashes of ideas, and it didn’t seem like there was an easy way to resolve our frustrations. Despite seeking intervention from the dean, the atmosphere remained strained.

One day, while discussing theories of public relations, my pent-up frustration burst forth. Seated amid my peers, I boldly interrupted Nkana with pointed questions: “So what? Now what? How does this apply to real life?”

The whole class held its breath. The undercurrent of dissatisfaction had pervaded the semester.

Nkana stopped his lecture and stood in silence. We waited in absolute silence.

A moment later, he gave a considered response. His response must have been somewhat acceptable to calm me and the rest of the class. The semester did become slightly better through gradual shifts in our learning and application, but the relationships within the class were still tenuous.

Years have blurred the specifics, yet one detail remains vivid: my disrespectful attitude. I dismissed the potential for learning from this new professor tasked with shaping my career's foundation.

I've regretted my attitude ever since and even told God in recent years that if our paths ever crossed again I would apologize.

Unexpectedly, that moment arrived recently at a convention center. Nkana, now a faculty sponsor, was surveying the venue with colleagues while I talked with a former classmate-turned-colleague.

As I called out his name, a flicker of recognition registered on his face. Reintroducing myself, I shared a summary of my memories and the subsequent regret.

He was surprised, yet open, to the conversation and the apology I offered. He then shared how he remembered where I sat in his classroom, the specific question that I had asked and how my "so what?" question spurred him to make sure the theories he taught had practical application.

To this day, in whatever type of academic or spiritual topic he is teaching, he makes sure to include a solid point of application. Little did we know from those first tension-filled classroom interactions how much we would influence one another in different ways.

My initial apology turned into a sacred space for a lengthy, nearly two-hour conversation between a professor and two of his former students.

We reminisced about our life experiences, intertwining personal anecdotes with profound reflections on education and personal growth. The conversation flowed effortlessly, threading through memories of challenging class discussions and exploring how perspectives had changed over time.

The weight of regret transformed into a sense of closure and peace, fostering new bridges of connection built upon understanding, forgiveness and common ground.

Reflecting on this unexpected encounter, I recognized the profound potential of reciprocal growth, both within the confines of the classroom and in life’s diverse landscape.

Life presents us with invaluable opportunities to engage, listen and glean wisdom from each other's journeys. It's within these moments that mutual learning, understanding, goodwill and personal development flourish, fueled by an open heart, genuine curiosity and a steadfast grounding in our identity as followers of Christ.

Encountering Nkana after all those years was more than a significant reunion and reconciliation; it was a meaningful revelation of the impact that genuine dialogue, generosity of thought and openness to learning can impart.

Table Talk Prompt

What conflicts and tensions in your life have provided you with valuable life lessons? Who is a person from your past or present with whom you need to reconcile?

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Heidi Baumgartner Reciprocal Growth Not long into the semester, tensions arose between the professor and his class. It didn’t seem like there was an easy way to resolve our frustrations. Despite seeking intervention from the dean, the atmosphere remained strained. And then ...
In-The-Field Experience https://nwadventists.com/news/2024/01/in-the-field-experience LaVonne Long shares her daughter's experience as a Skagit Adventist Academy student during their partnership with Salish Sea School. LaVonne Long perspective Education 34974 Wed, 17 Jan 2024 09:00:00 -0800 Columns & Perspectives

My ancestors have lived on the Salish Sea for centuries. My Coast Salish people have maintained a strong, resilient, beautiful culture centered around the incomparable Salish Sea.

I was excited when our local Adventist school, Skagit Adventist Academy, developed a partnership with The Salish Sea School — based in Anacortes, Washington — Students Training as Research Scientists program and the sophomore biology class. One, my daughter, Isabella, is in the sophomore biology class, and two, I am always up for a hands-on, in-the-field education experience.

The Salish Sea School is a “boat- and shore-based marine conservation adventure and research program to create action-oriented student leaders for the Salish Sea and beyond.”

When The Salish Sea School reached out to Zach Mason, SAA science program director, he was very interested. “My entire philosophy of science education is centered around students doing science and not just reading about it or watching it happen on a screen,” Mason said.

The students are taking part in a long-term project by sampling and counting forage fish eggs that have been laid along the high tide line and collecting environmental data at a single location over several months. What great exposure to marine field research for our sophomore biology students!

Students are being coached by field scientists on standard sampling and surveying techniques, providing them with a unique insight into how science is done professionally, as well as giving them useful skills should they choose to pursue an internship in marine science.

Isabella told me that two helpful and knowledgeable ladies teach this marine research program. They separate the large sand samples and look at them under a microscope. With excitement, Isabella told me they saw smelt eggs* under the microscope, and last week they even saw a smelt egg hatch! “It was very cool!”

These programs with The Salish Sea School are generally not free, so we are so blessed at SAA to be partnering in marine education and conservation with this local school. For our students, this experience shows them what marine biology fieldwork is like.

I am grateful for this great experience for our students at SAA. Our students need to learn the impact that marine life and the ocean have on us and the importance of conservation.

Gen. 2:15 tells us, “The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.”

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*Author's note: As a child, growing up in the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, I participated in the annual smelt derby each year in February in La Conner. Our family would catch these tiny fish with poles as they swam down the Swinomish Channel. It was an exciting family activity and provided an affordable dinner for the whole family.

The smelt were so abundant when I was a child. Now, their numbers aren’t as strong. So to have my daughter “studying” the smelt habitat and eggs is pretty awesome. I am thankful she is a small part of this marine research.

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LaVonne Long In-The-Field Experience LaVonne Long shares her daughter's experience as a Skagit Adventist Academy student during their partnership with Salish Sea School.
Gotta Start Somewhere https://nwadventists.com/news/2024/01/gotta-start-somewhere Want to see your church grow? There really are two things we need to focus on if we want to enact lasting growth. Natashia McVay perspective 34971 Wed, 10 Jan 2024 09:00:00 -0800 Columns & Perspectives

​How do we get a church to grow? Not just sprout then wither, but really grow. The longer I have been an Adventist and a pastor the more I am convinced we often start at the wrong spot when trying to enact growth within our churches.

We are good at forming committees, writing books and making vision statements, and we know all the right strategies for creating growth. But honestly, we are less successful than we would like or ought to be. So what’s the problem?

​I would argue that creating growth within our churches shouldn't be the main focus. If we are focused on growth, we are focusing on the end result we want, not the actual steps to accomplishing that goal. There really are two things we need to focus on if we want to enact lasting growth.

​First, read the Bible. It isn’t enough to hear a sermon each Sabbath; it isn’t enough to once a week think about God. We need to actually dive into the Word of God for ourselves regularly. When we study the Bible, we are learning about God, His desires for our lives and the great plan of salvation.

It's through regular biblical study that we will begin to be transformed by God’s words living in us. The story of salvation, the great love of Christ for us and the truth that we can be saved when we accept His great sacrifice on our behalf is learned through reading scripture.

​If we desire to become a triathlete, we practice and train. Not just once in a while, not just the day before a race — regularly. There is no hope of being ready for the race without the proper pre-work. So it is with growth within the church. We can’t show up one day and expect that suddenly the church will grow without putting in the pre-work that is needed.

​Reading scripture regularly, daily, is vital for forming a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If we have a personal relationship with Jesus now we have something to share with others. Now our relationship with Jesus is alive enough to be visible to others.

When a whole church dedicates themselves to studying the Bible — really reading it themselves — a true transformation takes place. Suddenly there is something to share when someone walks in the door; suddenly there is a spirit of Godliness that is present in the church that is appealing to people as they come in. We can only truly share what we already have.

​The second thing we need to do to enact true church growth is partake in regular prayer time with God. It is through Bible reading and prayer that we commune with God and it is how we bring our characters into submission to God.

By beholding we become changed. What we take in is what we give out. Growth is not possible if we aren’t dedicated to God first and foremost. And we can’t know God personally, be truly transformed by Him or be able to share about Him if we don’t first have a personal relationship with Him.

​My challenge for you is to stop looking for church growth, revival and reformation. Instead, focus on God first. Get to know Him in a meaningful way through regular scripture reading and prayer.

Then your personal relationship with Jesus will be something you can share with others. When a church devotes itself to this sole purpose — a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ — that church will grow!

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Natashia McVay Gotta Start Somewhere Want to see your church grow? There really are two things we need to focus on if we want to enact lasting growth.
Mastering Divinity https://nwadventists.com/news/2024/01/mastering-divinity A Litmus test for Christians is how we relate to those that disagree with us. Kevin McGill perspective 34914 Wed, 03 Jan 2024 09:00:00 -0800 Columns & Perspectives

"Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matt. 11:29).

When a pastor graduates from school, they receive a Master of Divinity degree.

Recently I was reflecting on how arrogant that sounds. Sure, you may have a master’s in accounting, arts or science, but have you mastered the study of God?

This is especially startling when I think back on all my opinions about religion and God that are different now than a decade ago while I was getting my degree. The only thing I know now for sure is I still have a lot to learn.

Are we confident enough to admit we don't have all the answers? Have you ever changed your mind about a political or religious belief?

As you take a minute to reflect on that, I will share a belief that changed for me while I was getting my master's.

Before attending seminary, I read books and listened to hours of presentations about the danger of something called the emergent church and spiritual formation.

I was convinced these things were deadly and divisive. I even signed a statement against the teaching of spiritual formation at Andrews University and talked to a conference president about my concerns. When I got to Andrews, I was highly skeptical of a class called Biblical Formation.

I had read an article in the Adventist Review explaining how the class changed its name from Spiritual Formation to Biblical Formation[1] and thought the name change was a conspiracy to trick more people into being sucked into the dangerous deception.

I was on high alert and my antenna was tuned for any spiritualism the teachers were trying to “sneak through.”

However, in my Biblical Formation class, I learned that what was being taught was literally how to have a devotional life.

We read the Bible, Desire of Ages and we were encouraged to pray and record our devotional time in a prayer journal. My teacher was loving, patient and kind. He answered all my questions and even invited my wife and me over to his home for Thanksgiving.

The combination of kindness and thoughtful answers helped change my mind. I began to see that all the books and hours of presentations I consumed attacking spiritual formation contained mostly slanderous information. I was misinformed, but my teachers at Andrews University didn't shame me for the way I thought — they were patient with me.

The journey continues. I realize I have many opinions about the world and religion that may still be wrong. I am convinced the path forward is pursuing answers with curiosity, honesty and intellectual humility.

Irrational faith is not a virtue. Pretending that we have it all figured out and that we have nothing to learn ultimately does damage to genuine faith.

A couple of years ago I listened to a conference by the Barna group that talked about the difference between intellectual humility and general humility. General humility is how you see yourself. Intellectual humility is how you see your knowledge.  

Intellectual humility relates to everyone. It means you have an accurate perception of your strengths and weaknesses. This kind of humility has four practical behaviors.

1. When you are humble about your knowledge, you will not be overconfident.

2. You won’t become defensive when people have different perspectives than you.

3. You will be open to revision when necessary.

4. You will respect the viewpoint of others.

A Litmus test for Christians is how we relate to those who disagree with us. Throughout church history, millions of martyrs have been burned at the stake because of their “heretical” beliefs.

I find it telling that in all of church history no one has been punished as a heretic for being unloving. But Jesus put the litmus test this way, “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

According to this test, some atheists end up looking more “Christian” than Christians. We should reflect on this, and it should lead to a humility that confronts the arrogance so prevalent in parts of Christianity today. I believe the closer we become to “mastering divinity” the humbler and more loving we will become.

[1] Knott, Bill. “Formed in Christ.” Adventist Review, August 10, 2011. https://adventistreview.org/2011-1522/2011-1522-18/.

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Kevin McGill Mastering Divinity A Litmus test for Christians is how we relate to those that disagree with us.
Don the Armor of God https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/12/don-armor-god Natashia McVay urges readers to not be "spiritually naked," and don the armor of God. Natashia McVay perspective 34669 Sat, 23 Dec 2023 08:00:00 -0800 Columns & Perspectives

One of the most common nightmare scenarios as a public speaker is the idea of ending up in front of a group of people when you aren’t fully clothed. Being exposed, ridiculed and unprepared is enough to cause most people a fair amount of anxiety.

We would never walk out of our house naked in the morning, exposed to the world and people’s stares. We would never run errands in the buff or attend an event without proper attire.

If we would never go around in our daily lives unclothed, if we would never be caught unprepared in regular life, it begs the question: As Christians, why do we so often walk around spiritually naked?

​The Bible tells of a great battle that is raging on this planet: The Great Controversy, the battle between God and Satan. This battle revolves around us, human beings. Our lives are the battlefield, and it is filled with intense warfare. 

Satan desires to draw us away from God, to discourage us, to cause us to give into sin and leave God behind. God, however, works earnestly to draw us near to Him, to remind us that He loves us and desires to save us. But the choice is ultimately ours: Who will we follow?

​As we live our lives, with this battle raging, how do we make sure we are prepared to encounter everything that is hurled at us?

In the Bible, we are told that God has prepared a special suit of armor for us. He provides all the necessary elements to keep us safe. Our job is simply to accept it and seek it daily.

The armor of God is listed in Eph. 6:10–18. God tells us to put on the full armor, not just certain parts but the whole suit of armor. He doesn't tell us this because He wants to control us, rather He desires that we would be covered and safe as we deal with Satan and his attacks on us.

First, we are to put on the Belt of Truth. Scripture is clear on who and what real truth is. John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” We are to begin with Jesus as our truth. When we start with Him as the real truth, we can be safe. We are to hold steadfast to the Truth of God Himself and His leading in our lives.

Then we put on the Breastplate of Righteousness. By ourselves, we are not righteous, not even close. If we had to rely on our own righteousness for salvation, we would be lost. Scripture tells us that we can take Jesus’ righteousness as our own, and then stand covered in Him. David writes about how God alone is truly righteous. Psalm 11:7, “The Lord is righteous.”

A few chapters later, Job writes about how putting on God’s righteousness truly clothes and covers us. Job 29:14, “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me.” God provides the righteousness for us, creating yet another element of the armor we can put on from Him.

Next, we are to cover our feet, fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace. I think of this as being grounded in the gospel. When I truly accept Jesus and His sacrifice for me, when I give up myself and let God lead my life, I have peace beyond anything the world can ever give. 

The next piece of armor is the Shield of Faith. Our faith in Jesus as Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer creates a shield that extinguishes the flaming arrows of the devil. Our faith in Jesus thwarts Satan’s attempts to distract us and harm us. We are safe and shielded when we remain steadfast in our belief and faith in Jesus.

The Helmet of Salvation is next. We put on a strong helmet to protect our heads from harm. We are also to put on our spiritual helmet — remember that our salvation rests in Jesus and He has provided a way for us to be safe and secure.

Finally, the only weapon mentioned is the Sword of the Spirit. Through Jesus Spirit living in us, we can combat whatever Satan throws our way. There is nothing we can say or do on our own that will strike a blow to Satan, but when we rely on God and scripture, that cuts Satan to the core. Satan knows he can’t win against God, and when we fight with God as our weapon he must flee away.

My challenge to you is: Don't go around spiritually naked. Put on the whole armor of God; then you will be able to withstand anything Satan throws at you.

Much like getting dressed in the morning to start your day, we are to clothe ourselves spiritually. If we spend time with God on a regular basis, we can be truly prepared for each and every day.

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Natashia McVay Don the Armor of God Natashia McVay urges readers to not be "spiritually naked," and don the armor of God.
White Christmas – Peace and Hope https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/12/white-christmas-peace-and-hope With 50 million copies sold, not only is Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" the best-selling Christmas song of all time, it's also the best-selling single ever, according to Guinness World Records. Jim Jenkins Ministerial 34815 Wed, 20 Dec 2023 10:30:00 -0800 Columns & Perspectives

With 50 million copies sold, not only is Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" the best-selling Christmas song of all time, it's also the best-selling single ever, according to Guinness World Records.                                                 

Though it was written for a musical that eventually became the classic flick Holiday Inn, the song has a sad backstory too. It was written by Irving Berlin, a Russian-born immigrant who, interestingly enough, did not celebrate Christmas, as he was Jewish. Berlin's 3-week-old son had died on Christmas day in 1928, so every year on Dec. 25, he and his wife visited their baby's grave. The song may have been Berlin’s way of responding in some way to his melancholy about the death of his son.

On Dec. 7, 1941, a surprise attack by the Japanese did unfathomable damage and caused great loss of life at the American port at Pearl Harbor. Franklin Roosevelt summoned his military leaders to the White House and ordered a bombing raid on Japan. The country was at war.

Just a few days after this — Dec. 24, 1941 — Bing Crosby introduced "White Christmas" on his highly successful radio broadcast, Kraft Music Hall, and the song struck a chord for families trying to recapture the peace and hope of the Christmas season.

As I write this, the Christmas season is in full swing, and I am reminded that our world today is still looking to find or recapture peace and hope. And though the song "White Christmas" had its place, it could not then and will not now bring true peace and hope.

There is, however, a story that includes a few special individuals who were looking to recapture peace and hope. It took place during what would become the very first Christmas season. Those few special individuals are ones that quickly come to mind when I think of that first Christmas.

I think of Mary and of her response to the angel Gabriel’s words, informing her that she would be with child, conceived of the Holy Spirit. She would be "mom" to the long-expected Savior of the world. Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

According to your word! Mary had complete faith in the coming Messiah. She was looking for His coming.

"Her acquiescence in the will of God concerning her, v. 38. She owns herself, ... A believing expectant of the divine favor. She is not only content that it should be so, but humbly desires that it may be so: Be it unto me according to thy word. Such a favor as this it was not for her to slight, or be indifferent to; and for what God has promised he will be sought unto; by prayer we must put our amen, or so be it, to the promise. Remember, and perform thy word unto thy servant, upon which thou has caused me to hope. We must, as Mary here, guide our desires by the word of God, and ground our hopes upon it. Be it unto me according to thy word; just so, and no otherwise" (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible).

Mary was looking for the coming Messiah because it was according to God’s word. She was not looking for His promise with indifference but with hope, and when given her part to play in that promise – amen, so be it!

I remember the shepherds, who were watching their flocks on that blessed night when Jesus was born — the first to receive the magnificent news.

"And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, 'Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger'” (Luke 2:8–12).

Why share with these lowly and humble shepherds above all others? "In the fields where the boy David had led his flock, shepherds were still keeping watch by night. Through the silent hours they talked together of the promised Savior and prayed for the coming of the King to David's throne" (The Desire of Ages, pg. 47).

These humble shepherds, despised by many, were looking for the coming Messiah as well. In the place of their calling, amid their work, they were talking of and praying for the promised One. It didn’t stop in the fields. According to God’s word, they left the fields for a manger where they greeted baby Jesus, and leaving they made known all they had seen and heard.

Then there is Anna the prophetess. It is hard to imagine just how faithful she had been in looking for the coming Savior.

"And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was 84. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem" (Luke 2:36–38).

Not departing from the temple, fasting and praying night and day, Anna was faithfully looking for the Messiah. That day, at the appointed hour, she was giving thanks and speaking to all who were waiting, because she had seen the One she was looking for.

We could add Joseph, Simeon and the Magi, each of whom were looking for the promised Messiah. Joseph followed the command of the Lord, taking Mary to be his wife, when it seemed best to do just the opposite. Simeon, who would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ, faithfully was looking. The Magi saw a star that lingered in the sky like no other, and then searched and followed the star out of Jacob. Each were looking for and seeking the Messiah.

The story of the first Christmas is the story of Immanuel, God with us, and as we have seen it is also the story of a few special individuals who were looking for peace and hope. More importantly though, they were looking for the coming of Jesus, the only way to true peace and hope.

From that very first Christmas season, through the Christmas season of 1941 and right up to today as I am writing this, our world really hasn’t changed. We are still trying to recapture the peace and hope of the Christmas season. And much like that first Christmas, the only way there is through the promised One. Here is the beautiful part to all of this: Just as in the first Christmas season, Jesus is coming soon!

During the Christmas season of 1941, as our country came into war, Bing Crosby introduced "White Christmas" and it struck a chord for families trying to recapture the peacefulness and hope of the Christmas season. The following year the song was played over and over by Armed Forces Radio to remind the troops of home during the Christmas season. Some thought it would make the troops sad as they longed to be home with their families, but it was the longing for home, for a better place and time that made "White Christmas" the beloved Christmas song we know today.

Over and over again, year in and year out, we experience the Christmas season. Does it make you long for home, for a better place and time? Do we have true peace and hope? Do we find ourselves looking for a soon coming Savior?

I want to be like those special few that first Christmas? I want to be faithfully, anxiously looking for Jesus’ promised coming. Given my part to play in that promise, amen, so be it! In the place of my calling, amid my work, talking of and praying for the promised One. Not leaving the temple — God’s presence — faithfully looking for and proclaiming to all who will hear, the soon return of Jesus.

I want to, in some way, bring peace and hope to this Christmas season.

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Jim Jenkins White Christmas – Peace and Hope With 50 million copies sold, not only is Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" the best-selling Christmas song of all time, it's also the best-selling single ever, according to Guinness World Records.
When You Wish Upon a Star https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/12/when-you-wish-upon-star Stan Hudson wishes to emphasize the reliability of the greatest Wish-Giver ever, comparing Him to the fantasy of wishing on stars. Stan Hudson Ministerial 34816 Wed, 20 Dec 2023 10:30:00 -0800 Columns & Perspectives

You all probably know where the title of this article came from. It is the title of the theme song of Walt Disney’s Pinocchio, the 1940 animated hit film. The opening verse was sung by the character Jiminy Cricket and is quite memorable:

 “When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you”

The song quickly became a classic. The American Film Institute rated it “seventh out of 100 of the greatest songs in film history.” In Nordic countries, it is even considered a Christmas song and is played every December. For Disney, it became so popular that it has become their corporate theme song.

It encapsulates ideas that Disney promotes. Happiness is found in personal dreams coming true. When you are not able to fulfill your dreams, it’s time to seek help. And that help often is found in sources of magic or in the stars, according to the standard format of these animations.

Such is the case in Disney’s most recent animated film, “Wish.” A fictional country called Rosas was established as a place where wishes came true, but not everyone's.

Enter the heroine Asha who goes over the head of the villainous wish-holding king and prays to the stars. Her theme song/prayer is one you could resonate with: “and so I make this wish to have something more for us than this!” She wishes for a better and more meaningful life for her world and the people in it.

Amen! Don’t we all wish for this? Asha has a point. Her only problem is where she goes with it. The stars? Which ones? The latest count of stars in our universe is around 400 sextillions! And scripture notes that God “calls them all by name” (Psalm 147:4). But they have no personality, no consciousness with which to respond. They are balls of ignited gasses, after all.

What about birthday cake wishes? “Make a wish before you blow out the candles.” It may well have ancient Greek origins with the round cake symbolizing the moon goddess, candles representing moonlight and smoke representing the prayers of the wishes ascending to the heavens. I also don’t remember hearing any Christianized story for birthday wishes.

The word “wish” shows up 47 times in the New King James Bible. Nowhere does it hint that wishing upon a star was a good idea, but there is one place where “wishing” and a “star” do make a story and it’s a Christmas story.

The magi from the east came seeking a wish coming true: they wanted to see Jesus and a star actually guided them to him. Theirs was a theology that thought heaven communicated with people on earth via stars. Because they had a pure wish to see Jesus, God drew them to His Son with a star’s help. Yes, it was an angelic choir as we find out later in the story, but these people wanted to see the Christ child.

That brings me to the best wish ever recorded in scripture: “Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus’” (John 12:20–21).

That’s my wish, especially at this time of year. All of these Gentiles were granted their wish. I want mine granted, too! Jesus is the true “Wish-Granter.” For in Him alone do we find the meaning of life and the opportunities for real personal growth, not with fame in mind for high achievement, but rather with the promise of overcoming all that limits us in this life drama.

“When you wish upon a star” you might as well be talking to yourself. Try instead to direct your wishes to the one who made the stars. You might be surprised to hear Him say: “What do you want Me to do for you?” (Matt. 20:32). I personally have several requests.

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Stan Hudson When You Wish Upon a Star Stan Hudson wishes to emphasize the reliability of the greatest Wish-Giver ever, comparing Him to the fantasy of wishing on stars.
Fair Booth Interest Leads to Evangelistic Outreach https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/12/fair-booth-interest-leads-evangelistic-outreach From a chance encounter to a purposeful journey, discover how Julie's path intersected with church fair booth in Oak Harbor. Kevin Scott Ministerial 34818 Wed, 20 Dec 2023 10:30:00 -0800 Columns & Perspectives

Our church in Oak Harbor, Washington, rented a space along with other vendors and organizations to have a community events exhibit booth. We gave out a wide variety of books and magazines, as well as free water to anyone interested. Many people came by our booth and we had many good conversations as they took whatever literature appealed to them.

Julie was among those who stopped by our booth. She was very excited to see us and as she introduced herself, she told us that she had been an Adventist in the past.

Nina, one of our members manning the booth, gave Julie some literature and prayed with her. The weekend passed, life went on and we forgot about the many people we had met.

Almost six months later, Julie walked into our church. Very quickly, she let us know she was there to stay, and she wanted to be a part of our church family. Julie joined one of our Sabbath School classes as well as two of the many small group studies that we have available each week.

Julie was fitting into the church family as if she had been with us all along. When we began making plans for our 2023 fall series of evangelism meetings, Julie volunteered to be involved in any way she could be used.

We wanted to make the presentations available in Spanish to our growing Latino population. Julie informed us she had experience as a Spanish translator. When the meetings began, she translated for most of our 22 meetings. There were more than 20 Spanish-speaking friends who used the translating equipment on various evenings. Towards the end of the series, Julie informed Nina that she would like to be baptized.

We praise the Lord that He led Julie to our church family and that she has such a motivation to serve. Please pray for Julie and the many others who chose to follow Jesus during those meetings.

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Kevin Scott Fair Booth Interest Leads to Evangelistic Outreach From a chance encounter to a purposeful journey, discover how Julie's path intersected with church fair booth in Oak Harbor.
Goal-Setting for Kids https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/12/goal-setting-kids LaVonne Long shares four types of faith-based goals to set with your family. LaVonne Long perspective 34668 Sat, 16 Dec 2023 08:00:00 -0800 Columns & Perspectives

My husband and I like creating goals, having checklists and planning. We’d like our kids to be able to set and keep goals as well. It’s important for personal spiritual growth.

Getting the kids involved in their own goal-setting is important. Helping them create goals that are doable, measurable and achievable now will help them in the future as well. So I want to share a few ideas that your family can use in setting goals for the kids. Parents, let's walk beside our kids this new year and help them in their own personal and spiritual growth.

There are many goal ideas for kids. You can help tailor ones for your children that they can do, that would be meaningful in your family and that truly are achievable. Keep it simple and start small. Let them lead on what they’d like to focus on.

Four Types of Faith-Based Goals

  1. Spiritual
  2. Acts of Kindness
  3. Developing Fruits of the Spirit
  4. Practice Gratitude

Spiritual Goals

First, when I think about goals, spiritual goals are usually at the top of my own personal list. I definitely want my kids to make spiritual goals for their life. These goals can include Bible reading, scripture memorization, prayer, involvement in church and more.

Setting goals to help grow our spiritual life is a great idea for every member of the family. Yes, kids can participate and do this too. Maybe kids want to listen to one chapter of the Bible every day. They might even want to memorize a Bible verse weekly.

Keeping a prayer journal is another great idea that might help them keep a prayer goal. Get creative, let your kids lead in their own goal setting, and cheer them on and encourage them on their journey.

Acts of Kindness

Prov. 11:17 tells us, “Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.”

Setting goals for kindness helps us all, don’t you think? I truly want my kids to develop a kind and loving character towards others. Helping them set goals for kindness not only benefits others but truly helps them.

Examples of kindness goals could be including others at school during lunch recess, helping siblings with homework every Thursday evening, bringing church bulletins to sick/elderly on Sabbath afternoon, making cards for missing church members once a month, feeding the homeless one night a month, collecting canned food at the holidays and so much more.

Ask your children what they like to do best. Their goals need to be their own. Remember to help them create goals that are meaningful, doable, measurable and achievable.

Developing Fruits of the Spirit

Gal. 5:22–23 tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

We’ve featured kindness in its own category but could there be other goals that kids can have that relate to the other fruits? Patience and self-control are both fruits that my entire family can grow in.

If your kids want to make a goal of being more patient or practicing self-control, then really be intentional about noticing when they do this. Praise them, direct them, provide feedback and then praise them more.

Practicing Gratitude

1 Thess. 5:18 tells us, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

This goal is important for the whole family. Get your kids involved. Practicing gratitude helps us to keep our focus on the positive things that God has blessed us with. It helps us remember how much God truly loves us.

The impact on mental health, of practicing gratitude daily, is so great. Kids can set their own gratitude goals pretty easily, and this goal is very doable. We all need to be practicing gratitude, don’t we?

Setting goals is good for us all. Model this to your children. Share with them your own goals. Don’t pick so many goals that they become undoable. Start small, keep it simple. Track your progress and think of meaningful rewards for the kids when they meet their goals.

It’s okay to adjust the goals if they are not working. Pray together as a family, asking God to help you with these new goals. What goals will you and the kids be setting this year?

We’d love to hear about them at Northwest Adventists. We also would love to cheer you on. Connect with us by emailing talk@nwadventist.com.

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LaVonne Long Goal-Setting for Kids LaVonne Long shares four types of faith-based goals to set with your family.
Biblical Reminders for Overwhelmed Parents https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/12/biblical-reminders-overwhelmed-parents Parenthood can be overwhelming. Here are Bible verses to pray over, meditate on and commit to memory. Find hope in God’s word. LaVonne Long Family perspective 34545 Sat, 09 Dec 2023 08:00:00 -0800 Columns & Perspectives

Parenthood can be overwhelming.

For instance, today I'm in a small hotel trying to keep it organized and help my sixth-grader keep up with school work. I am feeling overwhelmed. I have stopped three times in 45 minutes to pray for patience, kindness, gentleness and love. But, I am slowly losing it, friends.

So, I decided to look up verses today that can help. When I turn to God’s word, I can be filled with hope and help. The God of the universe cares for me. He loves me, and He really loves the children He’s entrusted to me.

There are many definitions for overwhelm. It can mean bury, defeat completely or overpower. Oftentimes I can feel all of these things in day-to-day mothering. I must stay attached to Jesus throughout the day, commit to spending time with Him each day in His word and in prayer, and know when to ask for forgiveness when I mess up.

When I know my triggers — the things that get me to the point of feeling overwhelmed more quickly — I can mentally prepare for and better withstand those feelings. Often, a deep breath, a moment away from the situation or a quick prayer can help.

There are times though when I need to ask my husband to step into a situation and help diffuse it, sometimes divert it or just calmly sit through it. I'm thankful I have a supportive husband and supportive parents in my life. We need other people to help — it truly does take a village.

You might be feeling similar to me some days; I want to give you a bit of hope too. Here are Bible verses to pray over, meditate on and commit to memory. Find hope in God’s Word, friends.

We can find refuge in God:

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging" (Psalm 46:1–3).

We can find our strength in God:

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isa. 41:10).

We can find rest and peace in God:

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30).

God empowers us to do hard things:

"I can do all this through Him who gives me strength" (Phil. 4:13).

We must surrender to God daily:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight" (Prov. 3:5–6).

There is hope for moms and dads. We just need to be intentional in our parenting. We need to be in God’s word, praying daily and practicing healthy ways to deal with stressful situations. When overwhelming moments get to you on your journey, remember to find courage, hope and refuge in God’s Word.

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LaVonne Long Biblical Reminders for Overwhelmed Parents Parenthood can be overwhelming. Here are Bible verses to pray over, meditate on and commit to memory. Find hope in God’s word.
Belief https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/12/belief Our beliefs shape our priorities and our priorities shape us. All the law and prophets can be distilled to two essential beliefs: love God and love others. Kevin McGill Church Mission and Outreach perspective Faith 34581 Sat, 02 Dec 2023 08:00:00 -0800 Columns & Perspectives

“Our success will be in proportion to their belief in our belief in, and appreciation of, them.”1

If our primary objective is to make other Adventist believers, we will spend all of our energy making people conform to our theological opinions. However, if we believe that every human we encounter is worthy of receiving the love of God, those we come in contact with will feel understood and appreciated.

This is why the love of God is where I start and end every theological conversation. It is the most important belief and there are all sorts of implications from this. I will name five.

1. God believes in us, regardless of what we think of Him.

God gave up everything before we did anything (Rom. 5:8). To God, we are worth it. God’s love remains constant, even if we do not change or love Him back.

2. As disciples, God wants us to treat other people the way He treats us.

That means we should believe in others. We shouldn't just look at people as they currently are; we should seek to see them as God sees them.

The way the world knows we are Christ’s disciples is by the authenticity of our love, and love believes all things and hopes all things (1 Cor. 13).

It’s possible that acts of love can be taken for granted. There may be a fear that those who are too loving may be exploited. Yet, perfect love drives out those fears. Belief that is grounded in love is transformative. It's the choice to believe in love, regardless of how others respond. It is our modus operandi as followers of Christ.

3. The Great Commission was a great conspiracy.

Jesus gave the mission to people who did not believe. Read Mark 16:9–18. It's repeated four times that they — the disciples of Jesus — did not believe.

Jesus gives the Great Commission to the very people who do not believe. He believed in the people who didn't believe, and He told them to go and make disciples. Belief begets belief. The faith of Jesus created faith in the disciples — they acted on His faith, followed in His footsteps and then they transformed the world.

4. The most famous text in the Bible is about belief.

“For God so loved the world ... that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

The belief that matters most is the belief that God is good. The belief that He wants the best for us and loves us as we are. When we believe God believes in us, we can tap into His faith and it is His faith in us that is transformative.

Brennan Manning, pastor and author, encapsulates this idea as highlighted and reshared by blogger Theresa Haskins, when he said, “On judgment day I believe the Lord Jesus Christ will ask us one question and one question only: Did you believe that I love you?”2

5. In the Adventist Church, only 4.55% of all members in Canada and America are under the age of 25.3

A primary reason young people leave the church is lack of faith. I am not talking about their own lack of faith.

I am talking about the lack of faith of the older generation to believe in them. It doesn't matter if they don't deserve it.

To keep young people in the church, we have to believe in them. We have to invest in them. We have to accept them as they are. We have to believe in the power of love to transform them into what God would have them be, not what we think they should be. We have to believe in the power of love to collectively transform us and the church.

Sometimes we think of the world as bad and those who are in the church as good, but what if God is not using the church to change the world but is rather using those in the world as an opportunity to transform the church?

We expect hypocrisy and division in the world, but what if the church made it a goal to transcend polarization? What if we have an opportunity to connect with people in the world rather than just correct them?

What if we commit to looking for the good in our neighbors and loving them as we love ourselves? What if we demonstrate authentic love and risk believing it exists in those we are trying to reach? Is it possible that our success will be in proportion to their belief in our belief in, and appreciation of, them?

Our beliefs shape our priorities, and then our priorities shape us. All the law and prophets can be distilled into two essential beliefs: love God and love others. Everything else is a distraction if it does not lead to a belief that God is love and that we are called to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. And if we don’t love ourselves, it may be best if we leave our neighbors alone.

 

Sources:

  1. Ellen G. White, Fundamentals of Christian Education (Review and Herald Pub Assoc, 1977), 281.
  2. Theresa Haskins, “Ragamuffin – The True Story of Rich Mullins,” Theresa Haskins Sharing Life, September 24, 2014, https://theresahaskinssharinglife.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/ragamuffin-t….
  3. “Endangered Adventism? | Adventist Review,” Adventist Review, January 7, 2022, https://adventistreview.org/endangered-adventism/.
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Kevin McGill Belief Our beliefs shape our priorities and our priorities shape us. All the law and prophets can be distilled to two essential beliefs: love God and love others.
What Churches Believe About Evolution https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/11/what-churches-believe-about-evolution In this article Stan Hudson shares his thoughts about the widespread belief among Christians in evolution and how that actually fulfills Bible prophecy. Stan Hudson Ministerial 34772 Tue, 28 Nov 2023 07:30:00 -0800 Columns & Perspectives

The Pew Research people have conveniently gathered on their website a list of official positions of major religions and denominations regarding their beliefs on origins. Specifically, it lists if they believe in short-age creation or long-age evolution as God’s way of making things. Their website on this is here.

What does this compilation show? The Roman Catholic Church “generally accepts evolutionary theory as the scientific explanation for the development of all life.”

Popes Pius XII and Benedict XVJJ have stated this. The only proviso is that God is still credited with the supernatural creation of man’s soul. This is the “in the image of God” part of their view. I have wondered what this does to their older views on Original Sin. Does this mean at a time in the past, God created a soul and put it in some kind of proto-human, who eventually sinned and became the source of original sin? Was that Adam? The evolution viewpoint makes it hard to explain the origin of sin.

The following churches have stated that evolutionary views on origins do not conflict with either their theology or their doctrines: the Episcopal Church (much affected by Darwin), the Presbyterian Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the United Church of Christ, the United Methodists and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These are the largest churches in the world. Hinduism generally finds it compatible with their beliefs, too. So do many Jews, save their most conservative associations.

And what groups still believe in a literal, recent creation? The Missouri Synod Lutherans, Southern Baptists and conservative Muslims do. Seventh-day Adventists can be added to the group, but oddly were left out of Pew’s study.

It is sad to see such a large majority of Christians with a low view of scripture. Such a view of the Bible naturally includes a low view of God, the worst consequence of any questionable doctrine. Such a view imagines God to be both not caring enough to successfully communicate accurately how He made us and/or incapable of preserving a reliable record of that origin. When you open up the possibility that His Word isn’t historical, you automatically make man’s intellect superior to it.

This isn’t how Jesus viewed scripture. Quoting Moses, Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’” (Matt. 4:4). After this, He again quoted Moses in defeating Satan’s temptations. He apparently thought that the books of Moses, and that includes Genesis, were God’s words and not man’s.

This common low understanding of scripture leads me to view the prophecies of Daniel that foretells religious trends in the last days. In particular, I’m looking at Dan. 7:25, which speaks of the little horn power. “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law.”

Adventists have tended to interpret “times and law” as the only law with a time element in it — the Sabbath. But where that is certainly correct, might it also reference another related subject to origins … the age of life on earth? Does this little horn power challenge the literal understanding of the creation story of Genesis and promote others to share their views?

How much more significant, then, is our call to share the First Angel’s Message of Rev. 14:6–7: “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth … saying with a LOUD voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’”

The theology of creation, that we were made in the image of God and thus have a special purpose and place in God’s universe, is indeed good news. This is news that will help bring light to this dark world. Let’s just make sure our voice is clear and loud!

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Stan Hudson What Churches Believe About Evolution In this article Stan Hudson shares his thoughts about the widespread belief among Christians in evolution and how that actually fulfills Bible prophecy.
Great Things in the Wenatchee Valley https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/11/great-things-wenatchee-valley Caiden and Kasey walked into the Wenatchee River on Sept. 17, 2023 with Troy Fitzgerald, Walla Walla University Church associate pastor. They have been married for about a year and throughout the year their love for each other and God has grown. Troy Fitzgerald Ministerial 34780 Tue, 28 Nov 2023 07:30:00 -0800 Columns & Perspectives

Caiden and Kasey walked into the Wenatchee River on Sept. 17, 2023 with Troy Fitzgerald, Walla Walla University Church associate pastor. They have been married for about a year, and throughout the year their love for each other and God has grown.

Kasey works full-time in marketing and communications. Caiden is studying at Wenatchee Valley Community College to become a nurse and he works in health services. As Caiden enters into the nursing program, he is dedicated to using his gifts and influence to be “a cup of cool water” for those he is in contact with. His love for people is unmistakable. Both Kasey and Caiden are eager to foster their marriage with Christ first.

Ethan is in junior high at Cascade Christian Academy and made his decision to be baptized this year. Surrounded by family and friends in the community of faith, Ethan enrolled in service as a disciple of Jesus. Ethan has a sharp mind and a big heart, and it is evident that God has called him to a life of service and leadership.

Ethan and his spiritual mentor are working on the key checkpoints of the discipleship journey, and part of the effort is to consider his spiritual gifts. Leadership and prophecy are the prominent gifts he is exploring. Influence is the way you influence others, and the gift of prophecy is not foretelling the future, but speaking out on the most pivotal concerns in life.

The words offered in 1 Timothy are becoming true in Ethan’s life: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example, for the believers, in speech, life, love, faith and purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).

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Troy Fitzgerald Great Things in the Wenatchee Valley Caiden and Kasey walked into the Wenatchee River on Sept. 17, 2023 with Troy Fitzgerald, Walla Walla University Church associate pastor. They have been married for about a year and throughout the year their love for each other and God has grown.
Evangelism: A Way of Church Life https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/11/evangelism-way-church-life Ontario Adventist Church has a large heart for evangelism. When they were notified that It Is Written would be providing an evangelist at no cost for an evangelistic series, they were all in! David Brown Ministerial 34781 Tue, 28 Nov 2023 07:30:00 -0800 Columns & Perspectives

Ontario Adventist Church has a large heart for evangelism. When they were notified that It Is Written would be providing an evangelist at no cost for an evangelistic series, they were all in.

The church board, without hesitation, unanimously voted to invite Douglas Na'a to speak. As the meeting kick-off drew closer and conversations were had with Na'a, it was evident the church was on the same page in a collective evangelistic approach.

When the first night came, there was tremendous local and district church support. The church averaged eight consistent visitors — non-Adventists — per night and 38 district member attendants. Considering the average Sabbath attendance in Ontario is 30–35, this was an astounding development.

This continued throughout the series and resulted in three new member baptisms and four strong follow-up opportunities. Each night, the messages were of such a nature that they resonated with all in attendance, and as a result, there is a clear desire to schedule Na'a again in Ontario.

In addition, current members were so moved by his simple, straightforward, gospel-centered presentations that they commented on how they were brought closer to the Lord than they had been previously. They could feel the Holy Spirit's presence present each night. The three new members still regularly attend, participate and are growing in Christ.

God works in mighty ways when a church creates a culture of evangelism and is personally committed to discipling guests and new members. This was clearly evident in the Ontario/Vale district membership, and they are more committed than ever to public evangelism. Evangelism is not just a culture now, it is a way of church life.

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David Brown Evangelism: A Way of Church Life Ontario Adventist Church has a large heart for evangelism. When they were notified that It Is Written would be providing an evangelist at no cost for an evangelistic series, they were all in!
A Sense of Belonging https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/11/sense-belonging What does it mean to belong? What are the core characteristics of belonging and inviting people to belong as well? Heidi Baumgartner Mission and Outreach 34573 Sat, 25 Nov 2023 08:00:00 -0800 Columns & Perspectives

The doorbell kept ringing at my hosts’ house as a dozen guests arrived.

In my recent visit to New England for a convention, I arranged to visit my family of faith who had supported me in my formative high school years.

The gathered guests were a sampling of the people who readily accepted me when my family moved across the country. They had prayed for me through our epic transition, our family’s housing dramas and the loss of my first grandparent. They had involved me in church life and celebrated two academic milestones.

Coming around a table was and still is a common activity. This is where we conversed, dined, laughed, prayed and shared from our hearts. This became a foundation from which we healed from some spiritual wounds and found renewed purpose to be friends helping friends become fully devoted followers of Jesus.

Our recent evening carried many stories of love found, lost and multiplied; of growing families and processing changing family dynamics; of health challenges and victories; of ministries growing, changing and renewing; of belonging together as a family of faith through good and hard times.

The theme of belonging brought a stream of reflective thoughts as I traveled back home to the Pacific Northwest. What does it mean to belong? What are the core characteristics of belonging and inviting people to belong as well?

A sense of belonging, feeling connected and united with a common purpose, is a basic and significant human need.

It's the feeling of being an integral part of a group, place or belief system. It's about feeling at home within your faith, knowing that you are loved and accepted by God, and finding a spiritual family in your fellow Christians. It's the assurance that you are a valued member of the family of God.

Mark 9 recounts telling sequence of interactions about belonging. Jesus asks His disciples why they were disputing among each other while they walked. They were debating who was the greatest among them. Jesus invites a child over to Him and begins His teaching moment about being a servant of all, caring for His children, sharing acts of kindness and extending invitations to belong.

Jesus doesn’t stop there. He goes on to forbid sectarianism, the excessive attachment to people just like you, and the prejudice, discrimination, exclusion or hatred can arise in related conflicts. Jesus goes on to promise that whoever does a good deed in His name will receive a reward.

We can contribute to creating a more connected world by emulating the spirit of acceptance and unity I found around the tables of my youth. We must be willing to receive others with open hearts, eliminate prejudice and exclusion and actively engage in acts of kindness and service, just as Jesus taught.

Table Talk Prompt

What can you do to help foster a lifelong sense of belonging for all generations at your church home?

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Reunited! This is a small, yet special, sampling of Heidi Baumgartner's community of faith in Massachusetts who demonstrated how to create a lifelong sense of belonging when she was in high school and college.

Credit
Rita McCall
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Heidi Baumgartner A Sense of Belonging What does it mean to belong? What are the core characteristics of belonging and inviting people to belong as well?
Listening to the Voice of God https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/11/listening-voice-god Jesus calls his followers to trust Him, listen to His voice and — with humble hearts — face suffering with patience and courage. John Freedman Mission and Outreach 34765 Sat, 18 Nov 2023 08:00:00 -0800 Columns & Perspectives

Pain and suffering are experiences that everyone on earth has in common. No one is immune to them.

The attacks in Ukraine and Israel are causing incredible amounts of suffering and death. Our hearts should be moved to do something. We can support humanitarian relief. We can encourage diplomacy between the nations to help bring an end to the wars.

We can also pray for God’s intervention. We are especially calling our North Pacific Union constituency to 10 days of prayer from Jan. 10–20, 2024.

The Bible tells the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5. Naaman was a wealthy and powerful general of the Syrian army. He was dying slowly of leprosy and had no hope of healing.

His wife’s servant girl was a captive from Israel. She told Naaman’s wife about a prophet of the God of Israel who could cure him if he asked.

She shared the good news with her husband. Hope sprang up anew in Naaman’s heart. He requested the King of Syria to let him go to Israel for a cure. The king granted his request.

Naaman quickly left with a letter from his king. He also took along his servants, silver, gold and clothing to pay for the cure. The King of Israel, upon reading the threatening letter from the King of Syria, was amazed and angry that he was demanding Naaman be cured of leprosy.

The King of Israel admitted he possessed no cure for leprosy. In other words, “Don’t look to me for something only God can do!”

We need to get this message. When we confront suffering and pain, we think the solution is government policy, diplomacy, science, psychology or technology, but the world’s darkness is too deep.

By ourselves, we cannot defeat the powers of darkness that cover the earth. More knowledge or artificial intelligence advances will not bring enough light.

Rarely do we admit how dark the world is until we experience events like 9/11, the war in Ukraine that is killing thousands of people, the attack on Israel by Hamas and resulting battles in the West Bank.

These are all wake-up calls. Yes, we need to do what is humanly possible to relieve the suffering and death we see all around us.

Yet it’s important to realize that such measures will never be enough. The powers of darkness in this world are strong. Evil resides deep in the hearts of humanity and cannot be controlled or eliminated by humanity. It takes more than human resources to destroy all pain, suffering and death.

Naaman eventually found the prophet of God. Elisha sent him on a journey. In that journey, Naaman discovered that wealth, influence or power couldn't deliver him. Instead of trusting in his own or other’s ability, Naaman learned humility and how to listen to the voice of God.

Turning toward God, Naaman was cured of leprosy and received a new relationship with the living God. Grace, joy and hope filled his heart. Suffering led to his salvation.

One of the main teachings of the Bible is that almost no one finds God or grows in His grace without suffering. Painful experiences are wake-up calls, revealing things about life and our own hearts. Even Jesus learned from suffering. Jesus calls His followers to trust Him, listen to His voice and with humble hearts face suffering with patience and courage.

The administrative leadership of NPUC is calling our constituency to 10 days of prayer and fasting. We're also inviting you to a Northwest prayer broadcast on Jan. 20 at 4 p.m. (PST). Find more details about how you and your church can be involved at npuc.org

Recognizing the forces of darkness are covering the world in deep darkness, we know the only power to bring light and healing is God.

God will work on our behalf in answer to prayer. There is power in prayer. We need all generations in our churches to come together in prayer.

Ask our heavenly Father to bring an end to these wars that are destroying so many innocent lives.

Pray for our own government and the preservation of our democracy.

Pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine.

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John Freedman Listening to the Voice of God Jesus calls his followers to trust Him, listen to His voice and — with humble hearts — face suffering with patience and courage.
The Balance of Experience and Relevance: A Call to Pastors https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/10/balance-experience-and-relevance-call-pastors The journey of pastoral ministry is multifaceted. We are called to provide and produce spirituality in our congregations. As we gain experience in our calling, we lean more on our experience, which is undeniably valuable. David Salazar Ministerial 34556 Tue, 24 Oct 2023 10:30:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

The journey of pastoral ministry is multifaceted. We are called to provide and produce spirituality in our congregations. As we gain experience in our calling, we lean more on our experience, which is undeniably valuable. However, over-relying on our experience can diminish the potential that God wants to do in us and cloud our vision. We often ignore staying relevant because we trust in our experience.  

Paul wrote, “I have become all things to all people, so that I may be every possible means, save some” (1 Cor. 9:22). This text reminds us of the need to adapt without compromising our message. Paul had an effective ministry because he was relevant to different groups. 

Research tells us that our productivity decreases with age, but not necessarily due to diminished creativity or cognitive decline[1].

Instead, it is because we are less likely to explore new ideas and take risks. Often, composers write their best scores before 50, scientists write their breakthrough papers in their 30s, and designers and painters produce their most treasured works in their 20s. In our technological world, many innovative companies are founded by entrepreneurs under 30[2].  

The life of King Solomon offers us a parallel. In his youth, Solomon pursued wisdom and built the temple. But in his later years, distracted by wealth, foreign alliances and personal commitments, his heart was led astray, forgetting the zeal and focus of his youth (1 Kings 11:4). 

As pastors, likewise, we mustn’t become complacent in the accumulated wisdom gained from our past victories and experiences. It’s tempting to think becoming a seasoned pastor gives us sufficient answers. Yet, inadvertently, we may neglect fresh opportunities God gives us for innovative approaches to the ministry He has called us to. 

As we age, we acquire more responsibilities through marriage, children and providing stability for the family; we become more averse to risk-taking. Yet, God can help us match the productivity of our earlier years in our later ones. We can continue to be influential leaders of our churches and communities through discipline, collaboration and remaining open to new opportunities, challenges and technological advancements. 

Caleb wanted to take the promised land when he was 45; it was a big risk. Yet Israel’s lack of belief did not allow him the opportunity.

Forty years later, at 85, Caleb doesn’t let time deter him; his years of experience have enriched his boldness. He didn’t rest on his past victories; he continued to eye new horizons in faithfulness to God. 

Pastor, remind yourself of the importance of continually growing and adapting. Our experiences are invaluable but cannot overshadow the importance of staying current. The willingness to act will be the different-maker; the choice is yours. 

 

[1] Bonsang, E. D. M., & Dohmen, T. J. (2012). Cognitive ageing and risk attitude. Netspar.
Netspar Discussion Paper No. DP 01/2012-004 https://doi.org/10.2139/SSRN.2013220 

[2] The challenge for aging leaders and thinkers. Admired Leadership. (2023, September 21). https://admiredleadership.com/field-notes/the-challenge-for-aging-leaders-and-thinkers/  

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David Salazar The Balance of Experience and Relevance: A Call to Pastors The journey of pastoral ministry is multifaceted. We are called to provide and produce spirituality in our congregations. As we gain experience in our calling, we lean more on our experience, which is undeniably valuable.
Presumptuous Prayer https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/10/presumptuous-prayer "Lord, please bring us 20 decisions in the upcoming series," I prayed. Was I being presumptuous? Asking for too much? Was it possible? I know God can do it, but would He? Chris Evenson Ministerial 34555 Tue, 24 Oct 2023 10:30:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

"Lord, please bring us 20 decisions in the upcoming series," I prayed. Was I being presumptuous? Was I asking for too much? Was it possible? I know God can do it, but would He?

We began gearing up for another conference-wide evangelism series. It Is Written was going to join us for this series and we were excited. I grew more excited the day I was asked if Nampa Church would host the series. I was thrilled. We have experienced success streaming in the past, but to host the series live was an unexpected blessing!

As we came closer to opening night, our prayers became more intense. "Lord, help the flyers to get into the hands of those who need to be at the meetings and help the church to be filled for both sessions," I prayed. The registrations began to pile up.

Every day, dozens of registrations came in. I began to worry if two nightly sessions would be enough. Could we hold all the people the Lord was going to bring to us? I knew He would provide.

Opening night came, and people showed up 45 minutes early. The stream of people continued into the first meeting. Once the sanctuary was filled, we began to send people to the overflow room. After the first meeting, the fellowship hall buzzed with those sharing a wonderful meal. Then the second meeting began to fill.

Again, we had to use the overflow space. Just as I had prayed for, we had a full house for both sessions opening night. More than 350 people attended the first session. God answered our prayers, and I was nearly in tears. God is so good, so faithful and desires even more than we ask for.

At the conclusion of the meetings, I'm still amazed at what God has done. We are expecting more than 20 baptisms in the next three weeks. God has done all that we asked for and more. For everyone who has chosen to be baptized, seeds have been planted in 10 other lives.

What will the end result be? Only time will tell. God has done amazing things and we are so blessed.

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Chris Evenson Presumptuous Prayer "Lord, please bring us 20 decisions in the upcoming series," I prayed. Was I being presumptuous? Asking for too much? Was it possible? I know God can do it, but would He?
Creating Healthy Habits in the Home https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/10/creating-healthy-habits-home LaVonne Long shares how to prioritize making healthy habits that lead to a healthy home. LaVonne Long perspective 34493 Sat, 21 Oct 2023 08:00:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

With the recent popularity of books about habits, I wanted to share reasons and ways to create healthy habits in the home. God created marriage and family; it was part of His perfect plan.

When we strive to create a healthy home life for our family, I believe we are doing God’s will. A healthy home life just doesn’t happen by accident — we must cultivate healthy habits that can have lasting change.

God is First

For a healthy home, I believe God must be put first in our homes. He is our creator, savior and best friend. He wants us to succeed, thrive and live healthy lives for His glory and for our benefit too. How do we put Him first in our life? Pray, read our Bible, play Christian music, read Christian books and do these things together as a family. Let your kids see you putting God first.

Prov. 3:6 tells us, “In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success.”

Of course, as Christians, we all know the importance of putting God first. But, are we practicing it? Let’s be intentional each day of putting Him first — truly first. That’s how habits are made.

Maybe try a new habit to help you with this. I enjoy using the Bible app and doing Bible studies with friends. I also enjoy Bible journaling. Both of these habits help me keep God in the forefront of my life personally.

Create a Healthy Emotional Environment

Make a habit of being available to your family. I know that life can get busy. It’s overwhelming at times, but creating a healthy, emotional environment takes work — and this is the most important work you can do. Help your family feel safe to talk with you about anything.

Authentic communication is key. Do you feel safe talking about anything with your partner? Are you a safe person who listens without judgment and offers love? When we feel safe in our home, we can thrive.

Be quick to offer forgiveness. (This does not apply to abuse. If there is abuse in the home, please seek help immediately.) Col. 3:13 tells us, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Forgiveness and reconciliation are difficult. In fact, I won’t lie, there are times I don’t want to make amends and offer or ask for forgiveness. But, with God’s help, we can create new habits of asking for and offering forgiveness readily in the home.

Manage stress in healthy ways. Practical ways to help could include prayer, meditation on His word, asking for help and practicing self-care — for me, that’s a long bath.

In my home, you’d see me take breaks and breathe deeply or even ask God out loud to help me. If you are having a continued difficult time at home with stress, anxiety or depression, get help. It’s okay to get medical help.

Creating boundaries in the home will help us all outside the home. Boundaries on behaviors, finances, emotions, verbal interactions, personal space and our bodies are all very important for creating a healthy home.

Make a habit of communicating your boundaries. For example, you’ll often hear me tell my kids, “We don’t use those words in our home. I can’t let you say that.” Or, “We don’t force people to do ____; they are allowed to say no.” I want my kids to have healthy boundaries and be able to communicate those boundaries.

Don’t Neglect Physical Health

How are your eating habits? Are you getting exercise? Are you sleeping enough? Physical health affects brain health, which affects our relationships. It’s all tied together.

Creating healthy habits includes healthy eating, sleep and exercise as well as emotional and spiritual habits. Working full time, being involved in a Christian school and a busy Pathfinder club, I tend to put exercise at the bottom of the list. I should not do this. This is one area of my life that I need to improve — pray for me?

Use a Habit Tracker

Habit trackers are very popular right now. You can use a physical or digital version. I currently use a digital tracker. I am tracking sleep, Bible reading and physical activity right now. But, I occasionally add things like taking breaks, breathing and water intake. Find a habit tracker, or create one with a paper and a pen. Be intentional about new habits.

Small habits done daily will compound into larger habits. Do these personally and together as a family. Pick just one good habit and start small today. 

Remember, Jer. 29:11 tells us, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" God wants us to prosper. Start creating habits together as a family to help.

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LaVonne Long Creating Healthy Habits in the Home LaVonne Long shares how to prioritize making healthy habits that lead to a healthy home.
An Oasis in the City https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/10/oasis-city Places of refuge are worth investing in. All of us experience the joys and hardships of life and need places to rest and recharge. Kevin McGill perspective Church Mission and Outreach 34447 Fri, 20 Oct 2023 16:00:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

I have the privilege of being a pastor in Seattle, Washington. Like most places, Seattle comes with good and bad. There is the beautiful skyline with the iconic Space Needle and the majestic Mount Rainier towering as an omnipresent backdrop.

There are three pristine National Parks within a day’s reach. Ferries connect to wonderful coastal escapes, and in the summertime it’s possible to go months without rain. And yet Seattle doesn’t have the nickname “Rain City” for nothing.

When my family got the opportunity to come to Seattle, it wasn’t just the rain that people warned us about. It was the city itself.

The ubiquitous traffic, the growing challenges of homelessness, the pace of life and the fear about safety. For some, it was hard to understand why we would choose to live in a city. After all, isn’t it written somewhere that in the time of the end we should move to the country?  

Before the move, we heard some comments about Seattle like, “Why would anyone want to live there?” “Good luck!” and, “Stay safe!”

Yet, I have found the city to be full of wonderful people.  

One of my favorite activities here is walking around the lake by Green Lake Church in North Seattle. In a short three-mile loop, I get a window into an eclectic range of human experience — people from all cultures and backgrounds, the wealthy and the poor, the young and the old, the joyful and the depressed. 

As I walk around the lake, I observe birthday celebrations, couples holding hands and people flying by on Rollerblades and bikes. Each person has a story and I breathe it all in. In my passing contemplation, I often pray for these strangers as we briefly cross paths.

The loop is a blur of activity, but it is also full of soul-satisfying pockets of solitude. Hammocks hang between trees. Boats dot the lake. This is an oasis in the city and it’s not the only one.

Miles of trails link to parks across the Emerald City. Bookstores and coffee shops offer opportunities for connection and escape. My favorite oasis in Seattle is the place my family gets to call home. 

Before receiving the call to Green Lake Church, our greatest concern was where we would live. We wondered how we could afford to live in Seattle and if our kids would be safe. God supplied all our needs.

It turned out that Green Lake Church was thinking about these challenges and invested in a housing ministry. Our home was provided by long-time members of Green Lake Church — the Jensens — and became our parsonage and a medical ministry suite.

The home has a large backyard, fruit trees and a garden all fenced in. It is a perfect oasis in the city, not only for our family but for the numerous families that have stayed here amid personal health challenges.

Green Lake Church has been expanding this medical ministry to include additional suites. From 2017 until the present time, we've had more than 2,000 nights of occupancy in the church's various homes. Hotels in Seattle can average more than $160–200 a night, so each year this ministry represents savings of hundreds of thousands.

Places of refuge are worth investing in. All of us experience the joys and hardships of life and need places to rest and recharge.

I believe this is why a theme for Jesus throughout his ministry was rejuvenation. Sabbath rest isn’t just about getting more sleep; it’s about recharging the soul. Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are weak and heavy laden, and you will find rest for your souls.” 

I am thankful for the opportunity to be part of the ministry in Seattle. Not everyone is called to, “flee the city.” There are good people here.

Sometimes medical emergencies offer no other choice. This ministry provides an oasis in the midst of medical storms, and it is a testimony of meeting a practical need in a time of vulnerability. I have had atheist and agnostic friends reach out and offer thanks that our church offers something like this.

If you would like to read more about the impact of the Green Lake housing ministry, read the longer article here. May you be inspired to be a place of refuge for your community, to be an oasis of hope and wholeness.

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Kevin McGill An Oasis in the City Places of refuge are worth investing in. All of us experience the joys and hardships of life and need places to rest and recharge.
Welcome to Table Talk https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/10/welcome-table-talk Tables come in all shapes, sizes and functions. Tables can be commonplace or memorable, personal or corporate, literal or metaphorical. Heidi Baumgartner perspective Mission and Outreach Faith 34487 Fri, 20 Oct 2023 10:00:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

Our family dining room table was the biggest personal sentimental loss from the Paradise, California, fires in November 2018.

Now, there was nothing particularly remarkable about my family's table. It was a long, narrow, laminated particle board table. My parents had purchased this table set soon after they finished seminary. It was the best they could afford at the time and ended up seeing them through nearly 40 years of pastoral ministry and hospitality.

The memories around this table are what make it special. It was a place of practicality, togetherness and hospitality. It was the site of science experiments, diorama art projects, Pathfinder honors, Bible studies and homeschool assignments. Our lives centered around this table where we hosted family, friends and strangers for a meal and long, faith-filled conversations.

Tables come in all shapes, sizes and functions. Tables can be commonplace or memorable, personal or corporate, literal or metaphorical.

In the Bible, scholars note how tables are a place where God is present. Tables are intended to be places for harmony, love, goodwill, provision and reconciliation — a universal symbol of togetherness and community.

God started out by setting a table for us in the Garden of Eden. Even after Adam and Eve’s fateful decision, God kept setting tables as places to gather, to dwell and to be present with Him. There’s plenty to feast on here with a topical study of tables, hunger, bread and more. Get started with Isa. 55, Psalm 23:5, Matt. 26:17–30 and Matt. 14:13–21.

Not only does God set tables, He also overturns tables to change our thinking, perspectives or practices to better align with His kingdom — see Matt. 21:12–17 and Mark 11:15–19.

Ultimately, God is preparing a table for us to sit at eternally as His heirs. We see the Lord’s Supper as a symbol of the eternal marriage supper where God’s family will fellowship forever — see Rev. 19:1–10.

While we wait for this heavenly table, we can nurture qualities to help us be better table mates. The ability to listen respectfully, interact with generations young and old, seek understanding, embrace diversity of thought and disagree with grace can foster more meaningful conversations.

With Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year coming, we will likely have opportunities to set or join a table. These moments provide a chance to engage in conversations that bridge generational gaps, fostering spiritual growth and development.

Through our continuing Table Talk interactions, let's aim to invite just one more person to God's table as we feast on His Word and eagerly await the return of Jesus.

Table Talk Prompt

  • What qualities should we nurture in our earthly conversations to prepare for fellowship at God's abundant banquet table?

Let’s keep the conversation going! Share highlights of your table talk stories and reflections by emailing talk@nwadventists.com.

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Heidi Baumgartner Welcome to Table Talk Tables come in all shapes, sizes and functions. Tables can be commonplace or memorable, personal or corporate, literal or metaphorical.
Trash or Treasure https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/10/trash-or-treasure Natashia McVay shares that while we are sinful people who are dirty, filthy, stinky in our mess, Jesus desires to be with us, to clean us and restore us. Natashia McVay perspective 34494 Sat, 14 Oct 2023 08:00:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

Friday morning is a high point in our household. A special event takes place in the morning hours that my little son looks forward to with much anticipation: The garbage truck comes to pick up the trash.

Though he can’t talk yet, he smiles and enthusiastically blows kisses towards any trash can that he sees knowing they lead to the garbage truck. When he hears the rumble of the truck, he runs and climbs on the back of the couch, smiling, screaming and pointing as the truck rumbles up to the curb to grab the garbage cans.

Trash doesn't excite me in any way. In fact, the garbage can in our home has become even more foul having a child in diapers. I want the trash as far away from me as possible, and I am glad that the garbage truck comes to take the trash away.

This is not the reaction my little son has. He sees the trash cans and is excited; he sees the garbage truck and is filled with exuberant joy. He can’t contain his excitement at the sight of any garbage can or truck.

This joy over trash has led me to understand in a small part how Jesus feels about us. We as sinful people are dirty, filthy, stinky in our mess. We have no real appeal; rather we are smelly and as gross as trash.

Left in our sin, we become dirtier and dirtier, and we can become so used to being sinful that we don’t even smell the stink anymore. This could be a very depressing reality to be left in. However, Jesus provides promises that He loves us even in our mess.

Rom. 5:8 says, “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus didn't give His life for a bunch of perfect people. Jesus didn't say we can only be saved if we show up perfect and mess-free before Him. Rather He loves us and died for us while we were still sinners.

1 John 4:9 says, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him.” It’s because of God’s great love for us that we can live and have a chance at being clean and new in Him. This isn’t something we can do for ourselves. It only comes through a relationship with the Life-Giver, the Maker of All Things.

The unbelievable thing is that Jesus, the creator of the world, looks forward to His time with us just like my little son looks forward to the garbage truck. Jesus is filled with exuberant joy when He thinks of us. He smiles; He jumps for joy when He sees us.

He sees our mess — our garbage — and it doesn't repulse Him, rather it draws Him ever closer to us. He desires to be with us, to clean us and restore us. He doesn't sit there and smell the stink, rather when He looks at us, He sees something of great value.

What the world sees as trash, Jesus sees as great treasure.

Jesus sees what the world would throw away as of great value. We are more valuable to Him than even His own life.

Each Friday morning, I am reminded just how much Jesus loves each one of us. I am reminded that Jesus looks forward to any amount of time we spend with Him.

He is waiting for us to come to Him. He is longing for us to come to Him for companionship and restoration. He is excited to take our trash and turn it to great treasure.

I pray that when you see a trash can or the garbage truck you will be reminded just how much Jesus loves you, and that He is excited to spend time with you!

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Natashia McVay Trash or Treasure Natashia McVay shares that while we are sinful people who are dirty, filthy, stinky in our mess, Jesus desires to be with us, to clean us and restore us.
Our Cause for Christ https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/10/our-cause-christ We are called to dedicate ourselves to the cause of Jesus Christ, to seek to save the lost and dedicate ourselves to the mission of the Adventist Church to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our families, neighbors, communities and the world. John Freedman Mission and Outreach 34488 Fri, 13 Oct 2023 10:00:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

My father, who recently passed away, was a dedicated patriot who served our country during the Korean War. He valued family, education and, later in life, his faith in Jesus Christ.

His life as a husband, father of three boys and high school teacher was defined by his commitment to various causes. When he became a Seventh-day Adventist, he was willing to sacrifice for the cause of Jesus Christ — who sets us free from sin, guilt and eternal death. Dad sacrificed until the end for the greatest cause in the whole world.

What cause have you committed to in your life? Both faith and business sector researchers have studies about people who are willing to sacrifice for a greater cause or a mission. Young adults especially get excited about a cause. In fact, people of all ages get excited about a cause.

People follow vision and mission. It's not always charismatic leaders who drive these movements, but often those who stay focused on the mission's core values and objectives.

My father's love for history led me to revisit the Gettysburg Address, delivered by Abraham Lincoln on Nov. 19, 1863. In it, Lincoln invoked the word "cause" to call people to continue the unfinished work of preserving freedom and a government of, by and for the people.

Lincoln reminded those present, and in the future, the importance of dedicating themselves to continuing and finishing the cause of freedom for all people.

Similarly, the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures call us to daily dedicate ourselves to the cause of Jesus Christ — to seek to save the lost and dedicate ourselves to the mission of the Adventist Church.

What cause is driving your life? Is it the cause of position, power, money, sports, fame, etc. If so, are you willing to rededicate your life to Jesus Christ and His cause to seek and save the lost?

As Adventists, we recognize the spiritual battle known as the Great Controversy. In this world, it's not about political divides or worldly concerns.

The Apostle Paul tells us it is not what we can see that is important, but what we cannot see. What is most important is Jesus Christ and Him crucified. It is the Holy Spirit who reveals all truth to the believers of Jesus.

What’s most important is who Jesus is and what people understand about Jesus. Do people see Jesus in us? Do we represent Jesus in our speech, thoughts and actions? Do people know that Jesus is returning — and soon?

Consider the story of James White, who followed the Holy Spirit's guidance to share the message of Christ with those he encountered. His journey began with a single step when one day, as his conscience agitated him, he set off on a walk.

As he passed by a cottage, the Holy Spirit said, “Stop here.”

He tried to walk past, but the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let him. James tried to think of an excuse to knock. The Holy Spirit prompted him, “Why not ask for a drink of water?”

He knocked on the door and was greeted by a grieving man who had just lost his only son and questioned the existence of God.

“I cannot see past the tomb,” he sobbed. “Is there a God? I am not a Christian and my burden is more than I can bear.”

Through James's guidance, the man found faith and joy.

The next morning, when James started walking again, the same impression happened just two miles down the road. He knocked on the next door to again ask for water. To his surprise, a former student answered the door.

“Oh, Mr. White!” she exclaimed. “Are you a Christian? We have all been under conviction that Christ is coming soon.”

The girl seated James in the parlor, then hurried around the neighborhood calling friends, neighbors and fellow students. In less than 30 minutes, the house was full of people wanting to know Jesus. He left that village transformed, and more revival and reformation followed.

James went on at the ripe old age of 21 to become a traveling preacher. His life, preserved in The Autobiography of James White, is a fascinating story of leadership development in the Adventist Church. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, he passionately adopted the cause to proclaim Christ's soon return.

The work of taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ — in the context of the Three Angels’ Messages — to our families, neighbors, co-workers, friends, communities, nation and the world is not finished. There is still work to do to move the cause of Jesus forward.

This Thanksgiving and Christmas season, regardless of your age, I invite you to dedicate or rededicate your life to the cause of reaching and teaching others about our loving Savior, Jesus Christ.

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John Freedman Our Cause for Christ We are called to dedicate ourselves to the cause of Jesus Christ, to seek to save the lost and dedicate ourselves to the mission of the Adventist Church to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our families, neighbors, communities and the world.
Extending Grace: 3 Simple Ways to Show Your Kids God's Love https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/10/extending-grace-3-simple-ways-show-your-kids-gods-love LaVonne Long shares three ways to extend grace and demonstrate the love of God to children. LaVonne Long Family perspective 34412 Thu, 12 Oct 2023 06:00:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

As parents, we want to raise our children to know and love God, nurture their spiritual growth and teach them the values of love, forgiveness and grace. Believe me, this journey as Christian parents is not without its challenges, but amidst the ups and downs it is crucial we model God's grace to kids.

When our kids were young, my husband would give them “Christmas spankings” — ask my kids about it one day. They’ll be embarrassed but they’ll tell you. When they made a bad decision, instead of punishment, he’d give them a “Christmas spanking” which was a kiss. Then he’d tell them, "That was grace," and "Let’s try and do better next time." I know my kids will never forget the grace they got on a regular basis from Dad.

Here are three easy yet impactful ways to extend grace and demonstrate God's love to our children.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:8–9).

Extend Love in Their Imperfections

One of the most powerful ways we can show grace to our kids is by embracing their imperfections. As children grow, they make mistakes, learn through trial and error, and sometimes fall short of our expectations.

Instead of responding with harsh criticism or undue punishment, let us remember God's grace is abundant and covers all our imperfections. By offering understanding, patience and forgiveness, we create an environment where our children feel safe and loved, mirroring our God's unconditional love and forgiveness. This is the point I am working on and praying about most. I don’t want to be harsh with my kids or ever make them feel like failures.

"Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 5:20–21).

Encourage Honest Communication

Our kids know they can talk with us and they are both pretty open about the things they share. Our son often tells us when he got in trouble at school before we even hear from the school. Our daughter often shares her interpersonal struggles with classmates. The relationships we’ve fostered with our kids feel good. Open and honest communication is vital in nurturing a relationship built on grace.

Create a safe space where your children feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, concerns and struggles without fear of judgment or condemnation. When they confide in you, resist the urge to react hastily or dismissively. Instead, actively listen, seek to understand their perspective and respond with empathy and compassion. By doing so, we foster an environment of trust and acceptance, demonstrating God's grace and His willingness to hear our hearts without condemnation.

"For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:16–17).

Teach the Power of Apology and Forgiveness

I’ve mentioned before that I am trying to always ask my kids for forgiveness when I mess up. I literally apologize and humbly ask them to forgive me. Teaching our children the importance of apologies and forgiveness is an invaluable lesson which reflects God's grace in action.

Encourage them to also take responsibility for their actions and apologize sincerely when they have wronged someone. Let them hear you apologize to your spouse. Model what an apology looks like. We are always working on forgiveness in our home; that one is a lot harder. But just as God forgives us when we repent, we need to forgive others. By emphasizing the transformative power of grace, we cultivate a culture of reconciliation and healing in our homes.

As Christian parents, it is our responsibility to show God's love and grace to our children, and that is scary and humbling most days. By extending love in their imperfections, encouraging honest communication, and teaching the power of apology and forgiveness, we create an environment where they experience and understand the depths of God's grace more clearly.

It is my prayer that our efforts in extending grace to our children reflect the overwhelming love and forgiveness God freely bestows upon us, shaping their hearts and drawing them closer to Him.

Communicating Compassionately

In the moment, it can be hard to communicate with our kids in a way that models compassion. Try remembering these ten things to say instead.

  1. Instead of saying, "You're a bad kid," say, "You made a mistake. I forgive you, and with God’s help, let’s learn from it and do better next time."
  2. Instead of saying, "I'm too busy right now," say, "I would love to spend time with you. You are a blessing. Let's find a time that works for both of us."
  3. Instead of saying, "Stop crying, it's not a big deal," say, "I understand you're upset; let's pray about it and find a solution together."
  4. Instead of saying, "Because I said so," say, "Let me explain the reason behind my decision, so you can understand why it's important."
  5. Instead of saying, "You're not good enough," say, "You have God-given unique strengths and talents. Through prayer let’s work on developing them further."
  6. Instead of saying, "You're such a mess," say, "Everyone makes mistakes. Let's clean up together and build new habits."
  7. Instead of saying, "You're always so lazy," say, "I believe in your potential. Let's pray about this and find ways to motivate and inspire you."
  8. Instead of saying, "You're being a burden," say, "You're an important part of our family. God specifically gave us you. How can we support each other better?"
  9. Instead of saying, "You're a disappointment," say, "I love you unconditionally. Let's find ways to overcome challenges and grow together."
  10. Instead of saying, "You're not listening," say, "I value your thoughts and ideas. Let's have a respectful conversation about this."
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LaVonne Long Extending Grace: 3 Simple Ways to Show Your Kids God's Love LaVonne Long shares three ways to extend grace and demonstrate the love of God to children.
What God Does With Grumpy, Old Men https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/09/what-god-does-grumpy-old-men As I age further past 70, I notice some differences in my personality. Most of them bother me. Aging is not for beginners. Stan Hudson Ministerial 34454 Mon, 25 Sep 2023 11:15:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

As I age further past 70, I notice some differences in my personality. Most of them bother me. Aging is not for beginners.

My memory is getting even poorer and that’s frustrating. America seems to be sinking morally and that’s frustrating. I am even getting physically uncoordinated and that’s REALLY frustrating.

Sometimes I take my frustrations out on inanimate objects. But given all of this, what does God think of my attitude? I feel like at times I’m a grumpy, old man.

However, there’s hope. I take courage in the biblical stories of two grumpy, old men: Moses and Elijah. How did God handle these two frustrated old ministers?

Let’s start with Moses. He killed a man when he was 40, so perhaps he had anger issues before turning old. At age 80 he smashed the Ten Commandments written by the finger of God at Israel’s sin with the golden calf.

I didn’t see where God told him to do that. After his venting upon the backslidden rebels, how did God handle him? He told Moses to return to the mountain for another set of commandments and for a lesson about the beauty of forgiveness and patience.

After the Lord told Moses that He was willing to keep Israel as His own people, Moses was so amazed at God’s character that he asked for a closer experience with God. His wish was granted and he was permitted to behold the un-shielded back of God.

The extended visit with Divinity transformed Moses into a literally radiant man of 80 years. He was the “meekest man on earth,” but he would still have some grump left in him when he smashed the rock with his staff at a later time. That sin cost him a ticket to the promised land. Instead, he died at age 120, probably frustrated with himself for losing patience with Israel again. Perhaps he was tempted to think his ministry was a failure. And before his passing away, he appointed Joshua as his successor.

Now let’s talk about Elijah. We don’t have his age mentioned, but he was clearly a senior near retirement. After the Lord’s victory at Mount Carmel and the slaying of 850 idolatrous priests, we are surprised at the weakness he showed at Jezebel’s threats. He runs to Mount Horeb where God had met with another old man before — Moses. How does God handle His veteran pastor?

On the way, an angel meets him and provides physical food and rest for the journey. When asked why he was running away, Elijah is vocal about his frustration: “God’s people are all dead and they are trying to kill me!” In his depressed state, he further whines, “I’m from a long line of losers. I feel like dying would be a good thing.” Once again on a mountain, the Lord instructs His grumpy prophet about patience.

God’s usual way was not in big displays of power. He worked quietly behind the scenes in still, small voices. “Oh, and your ministry was more successful than you think,” the Lord said. “Seven thousand times more! Go back and anoint Elisha to take over for you.”

What similarities do we find in the stories of these two grumpy, old men? Obviously, they were mostly frustrated with God’s people and their failings, a frustration you could imagine God sharing.

God instructed them to retrace their steps to where they were before their anger episodes, and the Lord personally instructed them to have the kind of patience that God has for His people. Yet at a time when personal failures seemed highest, God took both of them to heaven. That’s where their ministries would continue.

For me, the coolest part of this story was that at a critical time in the ministry of Jesus, God sent these two aged pastors to counsel and encourage His dear Son. Peter, James and John were witnesses of something special on the Mount of Transfiguration: “And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus” (Mark 9:2).

What does God do with grumpy, old men? He saves them! And I guess they never really retire.

(Writer’s note: Sermon idea! Especially if your church has a fair amount of seniors in it.)

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Stan Hudson What God Does With Grumpy, Old Men As I age further past 70, I notice some differences in my personality. Most of them bother me. Aging is not for beginners.
Winning at Conflict Mediation https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/09/winning-conflict-mediation Working through conflict isn't fast and easy, but it is deeply rewarding and transformative. We have to keep our own hearts in check. Nate Hellman Ministerial 34456 Mon, 25 Sep 2023 11:15:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

My heart sank and my blood pressure went up when she shared the incident with me. The Sabbath School teacher of a primary children’s class told me of an episode that unfolded that week.

A young boy who was prone to impulsive and boisterous behavior declared loudly to a class that he desired to do something inappropriate to a girl in the class — something very inappropriate and devastating, with severe implications.

The teacher wanted this boy removed from the class indefinitely. She wanted immediate, punitive consequences. Something indeed had to happen, but due to the temperament of the family and since they were fairly new to the church, I knew that we could easily lose them if this wasn’t handled well. I prayed, “Lord, help me. I’m out of my element!”

What does a leader do when faced with a conflict of high emotions and a potential for fallout?

When the tension is palpable and the stakes are high, what is the right course of action when people are looking to you for decisive leadership? How do you win at conflict? The question is not how do you win a conflict, but how do you win at conflict? When you are in the arena, how do you deal with it?

Conflict is hard. My own natural tendency is to run from it, or give in to the loudest party. This has to do with my experience growing up — a story for another time. That day, I was faced with a choice. A choice to engage or just let it play out.

There is a time for both, but prayerfully, I engaged. Conflict is not something to be avoided, but it’s an opportunity to be embraced and navigated. It’s an opportunity for God to shine. I know now that God — by His Spirit and Word — will help us through conflict and tense situations if we are willing to surrender to His leading instead of our natural inclinations.

After we pray for wisdom and God’s leading, here are a few principles to keep in mind as one moves forward in the face of conflict.

  1. Be careful not to take sides.
    Like getting a stick in the front spokes of your bicycle, taking sides will end in disaster. The Biblical principle here comes from Phil. 2:4, which says, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others."

    Considering the standpoint and needs of all parties is key. I’m convinced that the Lord led me to walk that careful line in this situation. Keeping this principle in mind, I was able to empathize with the teacher, while guarding the boy and his family from her anger. I was able to facilitate holding the boy accountable, while respecting and caring for the family.
     
  2. Listen, listen, listen!
    We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Scripture counsels us to take our listening seriously. “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak” (James 1:19).

    In light of the interests of others and the principle of listening, I carefully listened to each individual person involved and validated their feelings and perspectives. In doing so, they felt that they were heard and ministered to, and that I was truly there for them.

    I found that listening was important because I was also able to get a full perspective, which is often eclipsed when emotions are high. I learned that through the careful questioning of the boy on part of the parents. It was very clear that he didn’t understand the verb he used in his declaration. It was a word he heard from his classmates at his school or in a movie unsuited for the child, but he honestly didn’t know what it meant.

    This was a huge revelation. Of course, the girl he directed it to didn’t understand it either, and fortunately her parents were patient and gracious about the situation.

    I also learned that the Sabbath School teacher had personal stuff going on in her life that wore her down and made her very impatient. There was a short history of tension between her and the boy’s parents. She was at her wits' end with the boy, and that led her to escalating towards a decisive action to remove him.
     
  3. Think redemptively, not punitively.
    In the midst of conflict, we must remember that God is in the business of redemption. He sent His son into this world to live and die for us, to “reconcile us to Himself through Christ” (2 Cor. 5:18). God is “not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9).

    Often we think solely in terms of punishment, but we should consider what will reconcile people to God. The greatest ideal and joy is to see a heart change, rather than a swift slap on the wrist of sorts. Keeping this perspective in mind was key for the way forward.
     
  4. Form a resolution that is approved by all parties.
    Our God is a God who is reasonable. “Come, let us reason together” (Isa. 1:18) He says, and we can reason our way through conflict in a redemptive manner. This is done by finding a solution that works for everyone.

    Prayerfully combining a redemptive approach with the need for a solution was the key for finding a way forward that glorified God and that all parties could agree upon. We developed an idea and worked through it with each party, adjusting it based on their interests and approval. Then we moved forward. Clear parameters were set for classroom behavior, with clear consequences as well.
     
  5. Work through a kind process of forgiveness and reconciliation.
    In conflict, reaching a way forward is great. Yet, we must not neglect the most important component: forgiving and reconciling. As it says in Eph. 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Could all parties be gracious, kind and forgiving? I wasn’t sure. This necessitated more prayer. What became of this was one of the most powerful moments in my ministry.

    With the approval of the parents and the boy, we all agreed on the Sabbath School teacher facilitating forgiveness and reconciliation the following Sabbath. That day, since his statement was aloud to the whole class, they brought the boy forward in Sabbath School.

    While up front, the Sabbath School teacher knelt down with him and stayed at his side, supporting him as he acknowledged that though he didn’t fully understand, he knew he had said something that was hurtful and inappropriate.

    He apologized, said he wouldn't ever do that again and asked for the class to forgive him. The teacher then led out in having the whole class forgive him and said it out loud. Then they surrounded him, said they loved him and the teacher prayed for the whole class. This was a powerful moment.

    What could have been terrible, became tearful. I was blessed to see God at work. God was glorified and reconciliation happened! On top of this, there was a ripple effect. After Sabbath School was out, I caught a glimpse of the teacher and the boy’s mother crying and hugging one another in the Sabbath School hallway. More reconciliation!

Working through conflict isn't fast and easy, but it is deeply rewarding and transformative. We have to keep our own hearts in check. By prayerfully and carefully walking through a patient process that respects the needs of both parties and keeps redemption a priority, I’m confident we can handle conflict God’s way and He will bless the effort!

In the midst of it, you will be stressed, but I encourage you to lean on Jesus and be intentional. In the end, you will come to experience and understand a bit more clearly what Jesus meant when He said, "Blessed are the peacemakers" (Matt. 5:9).

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Nate Hellman Winning at Conflict Mediation Working through conflict isn't fast and easy, but it is deeply rewarding and transformative. We have to keep our own hearts in check.
Long Awaited Revival https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/09/long-awaited-revival What do you say when you've seen the Holy Spirit do things in your church that were hopes and dreams only a few months ago? Amen, and amen! Michael Gee Ministerial 34492 Mon, 25 Sep 2023 11:15:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

What do you say when you've seen the Holy Spirit do things in your church that were hopes and dreams only a few months ago? Amen, and amen! At Meridian Adventist Church, we just concluded our meetings with Eric Flickenger, It Is Written associate speaker.

What a time it has been. Leading up to our meetings, we met every Friday evening for prayer vespers to ask God to bring revival and reformation to our church, as well as to our community — and that's exactly what God did.

I don't like to use the word "revival" very often because it isn't something that I've often seen on a grander scale, but that is what happened in my congregation. Prior to these meetings, we had low team morale, a weakened focus on our purpose and a distant memory of what the fruit of evangelism tastes like.

That has all changed. The final weekend of these meetings ended with nine rebaptisms and nine baptisms, with more coming up soon. The church feels like a family, the focus is on Christ and His mission, and the people have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.

One couple who was baptized hadn't been to a church in more than 26 years. They received a flyer in the mail and never skipped a beat. The husband has already started sharing his new-found faith with his friends.

Another man was about to give up on life after the death of his wife when he found It Is Written on TV. He said John Bradshaw and his team saved his life, and he gave his life to Jesus through baptism. Another family of three came and found Jesus to be a friend to them. They were baptized all together.

Lastly, we know just how important it is to respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and not to delay. One of our members who requested baptism asked if she could be baptized outside in the river, rather than in the baptistery.

Well, that last Sabbath was going to be packed, and I asked her if it would be ok if we did it the next Sabbath, which she was ok with. Not long after that conversation, I felt like I needed to make sure we baptized her on the closing Sabbath, even if that would mean being late to the evening meeting. So, we did — just my family, Flickenger and her.

It was a beautiful moment. Little did we know that in just a few days she would be in the ICU on a ventilator. A life-long medical condition flared up, which caused bleeding in her brain. Her family and I are so thankful that we didn't put off for tomorrow what we could do today.

It was a wonderful pass through the Lord's vineyard, for He truly blessed and is continuing to bless our congregation. He is sustaining His people and He has given us a new zeal for His work, and all I can say is amen and amen!

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Michael Gee Long Awaited Revival What do you say when you've seen the Holy Spirit do things in your church that were hopes and dreams only a few months ago? Amen, and amen!
The Gem of Maui https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/08/gem-maui Stan Hudson, NPUC creation ministries director, reflects on the devastation of the Maui fire. Stan Hudson Ministerial 34403 Wed, 30 Aug 2023 15:30:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

Cindy and I began our ministry in my hometown of Los Angeles, California. Specifically, I was assigned as a young post-seminary pastor to be an associate at Lynwood Church. One of its dear members owned a vacation home in Princeville on the Island of Kauai and kindly offered us its use should we want to visit Hawaii. Of course we couldn’t say no!

My dad served in the Navy in World War II, mostly stationed in Pearl Harbor. His stories made me romanticize all things Hawaiian, and now finally we had the chance to go.

We have had several opportunities to return in the years following our initial visit, learning to love those canvases of God’s beautiful creation, always finding it easy to imagine the original paradise God had intended for our homes.

Each island has something special: Lanai has pineapple. Molokai has a leper colony. Oahu has the military and cultural history. The Big Island has volcanoes. Kauai has tropical jungles — and quickly became Cindy’s favorite.

But for me: give me Maui! It had it all — a volcano, tropics at Hana and the best beaches and snorkeling you could imagine. It even had a cute little town where early Christian missionaries had preached the truth of the gospel 200 years ago: Lahaina.

You can imagine where this is going. Lahaina, the gem of Maui, is gone, the victim of a hurricane-driven firestorm that literally burned it to the ground. Gone are the monuments of those missionaries, gone is the harbor, gone is the touristy Front Street. But most important and sad is the fact that hundreds of precious souls are gone, too.

You have probably seen the pictures of devastation. The power and rapidity of the firestorm itself was tragically awe-inspiring. It brings to my mind a similar tragedy which happened to another American paradise.

Just five years ago, the Camp Fire — named after Camp Creek Road where the fire originated — burned most of Paradise, California, to the ground. Over 18,000 buildings were destroyed, along with 85 people. Many stories of survival have been told wherein last-second decisions were why some escaped with their lives and some didn’t.

Once again I mention my dad. After divorcing my mom in 1962, he remarried and moved to Paradise where he lived for most of his remaining years. So Paradise was my second home and I spent many summers there. Paradise was well-named, as the lovely homes were built in the midst of a beautiful pine forest.

Dad died four years before the Camp Fire, so he never saw its devastation, but I had the opportunity to visit Paradise soon after the fire. I was shocked! It seemed there was no part of the town that wasn’t heavily damaged. Burnt cars were there by the hundreds, as people fleeing only took one of their two. Our large church was gone. All the homes Dad had lived in over the years were gone. It looked like a war zone.

I revisited all of those mental images when I saw the photos of the August 7–8 Lahaina fire. What particularly got me was the sight of those burned-out cars on Front Street. You could see the dramatic story they told of Hawaiians trying to drive north to safety along Front Street next to the ocean, stopped by the advancing fires ahead.

What were they to do? Seconds mattered; dozens of people chose to abandon their cars and jump into the waters. They stayed in the waters while their cars burned just a few feet away. And there they watched their town, their homes, their livelihood, their schools and churches perish. In a word, they watched their world destroyed, but they themselves were safe.

In the aftermath of this tragedy many are asking why there was no warning issued. Had there been more time to escape, many more people would have lived.

It isn’t hard to see spiritual lessons here. As we continue to live on this temporary home of a planet called Earth, one destined to be destroyed by a fire that will even “burn up the elements,” decisions are being made to survive that oncoming fire. But people who don’t know about this danger won’t have time to escape.

I see my duty as one who knows the end is coming to let the people I know and love know enough to prepare for it. If they do, God promises safety: “When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isa. 43:2).

If we can issue the warning with a “loud cry,” people will have time to make their decisions to leave the false security of the world and find true salvation in, what, the waters of baptism? Perhaps there is life to be found in nearby waters.

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Stan Hudson The Gem of Maui Stan Hudson, NPUC creation ministries director, reflects on the devastation of the Maui fire.
Engaged in Evangelism https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/08/engaged-evangelism In 2022, Cloverdale Adventist Church held a traditional evangelism event with a speaker from Washington Conference. Marlon Seifert Ministerial 34417 Tue, 29 Aug 2023 15:30:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

Acting on its belief in traditional evangelism, in 2022, Cloverdale Adventist Church held one such event with a speaker from Washington Conference. Though the experience was positive overall, toward the end of the meetings they struggled to find volunteers to fill all the necessary positions.

This year, the church was excited to partner in evangelism with It Is Written, and wanted to find an easier way for volunteers to engage. To this end, they decided to start the meetings with an intensive week-long effort, meeting every night for nine days.

After the first week, the church transitioned to meeting as a smaller group, which will continue to meet every Tuesday night until they cover all the topics from The Great ReSet.

Currently, Cloverdale Church has about 40 people attending these meetings, 10 of whom are not members. During the intensive week, they also had children's programming matching the topics the adults were studying, and several children expressed a desire to be baptized.

The Great ReSet meetings have also served as a revival for existing Cloverdale members. April, who is currently studying theology and doing her internship at the church, organized a visitation team including members who were baptized during last year's evangelistic meetings. They were so excited to receive training and go door-to-door inviting others to come to the meetings. This experience caused their faith to grow.

Another family, who had been baptized as a result of an evangelistic series before COVID-19, brought their mother from California to stay with them and attended the meetings for one week. Their mother flew back to California but took the remaining studies with her, and church members are following up via FaceTime.

Some of the small group meeting on Tuesday nights came last year for Cloverdale's evangelistic meetings but did not make a decision then. These individuals have indicated that this time they came to stay.

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Marlon Seifert Engaged in Evangelism In 2022, Cloverdale Adventist Church held a traditional evangelism event with a speaker from Washington Conference.
Build Eternal Friendships https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/08/build-eternal-friendships Aren’t we always searching for new and improved evangelistic methods? How can we really make a positive impact on the world around us as Adventists? Daniel Jean-Francois Ministerial 34414 Tue, 29 Aug 2023 15:30:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

Aren’t we always searching for new and improved evangelistic methods? How can we really make a positive impact on the world around us as Adventists? How can we effectively fulfill the gospel commission in our generation?

These questions perplex us as church leaders. We plan, meet and strategize. We alternate between conflicting approaches, but Jesus gave us an example to follow that is simple and effective.

As a child, Jesus learned about God at His parent’s knees. As an adult, He modeled a sacrificial devotional and prayer life. He listened to those who sought Him, while remaining observant and attuned to His surroundings. Likewise, we must follow His example in having a personal relationship with God and a genuine heart for others. 

In the book Ministry of Healing, Ellen White shares Christ’s method of reaching people. “The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, 'Follow Me.'"

Jesus became acquainted with people, they became acquainted with Him and His loving care for them won them over.

Here we see Christ combining the gospel with practical ministry. Relational needs are the bridge to those who do not attend church, so we must stretch across the cultural and social barriers our society has raised and foster caring, authentic relationships with those we wish to reach. When we put this relational approach into practice, we will not only succeed in soul-winning but also experience the blessings of true friendship and energized spiritual growth.

As leaders, we should practice these principles and encourage our members to do so as well.  

A few years ago, a young member approached me with a passion and desire to reach his friends at the university where he was studying music. I encouraged him to connect with them and see if they were interested in spiritual things.

This young man’s common bond with other musicians provided a bridge for him to find those who were willing to study the Bible. Unsure how to lead them to Christ, he asked me to join and share God’s word with them, and three of his musician friends gave their lives to the Lord as a result of their friendship.

One is now a pastor in the Adventist Church, giving up a $40,000 saxophone scholarship to enter ministry. Another is a pastor’s wife, ministering on the very same campus where she was converted. The third was an atheist from China who has returned to her country with a completely different outlook on life and spirituality.

Each of these individuals is actively ministering in their fields, and I couldn’t have reached these young people alone. We are all still friends, encouraging each other in faith; friendship paired with the word of God is a winning combination.

The love of many is waxed cold in the world today. Jesus warned us things would get hard. More than ever, there is a great need for true friendship and care for humanity which has the power to change lives. Jesus showed us the value of mingling and meeting others’ needs; let us follow Christ’s method, engage in personal effort and bid them to follow Him.

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Daniel Jean-Francois Build Eternal Friendships Aren’t we always searching for new and improved evangelistic methods? How can we really make a positive impact on the world around us as Adventists?
Getting Involved and Experiencing Changed Lives https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/08/getting-involved-and-experiencing-changed-lives Ezra and Tre were struggling with the idea of commitment — not because they disagreed with what they had learned at Parma Church's evangelistic series, but in fact the opposite. Cheri Gatton Ministerial 34415 Tue, 29 Aug 2023 15:30:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

Ezra and Tre were struggling with the idea of commitment — not because they disagreed with what they had learned during the Parma Adventist Church evangelistic series, but in fact the opposite.

Revelation 2.0 afforded the Ezra and Tre the opportunity to dig for answers to their questions. They were very excited to keep the Sabbath and Ezra has already made a stand.

"I was going to fix the water heater on Saturday afternoon," he said, "but then I realized, 'Wait, it's Sabbath!’" When he shared that with the church at the Saturday evening meeting, they all cheered him on for his commitment to "Remember."

The third visitor who came every night was Dylan, a polytheistic Norseman. He has attended every gathering Parma Church has had since the beginning of the year: The Great ReSet, Sabbath School, prayer meetings and worship. He was the church's audio-visual manager for each of the meetings this time, and took notes at most of them. Dylan loved John Bradshaw — "the Kiwi," as he called him.

Dylan had a spiritually abusive father and found pagan theology as an escape from Christianity. He has come a long way in believing there are actually good Christians, and that what they preach is reasonable and different from what he learned as a kid.

Dylan has softened remarkably over the last month of meetings, leaving his ax and pagan books at home. He even jumped into greeting one Sabbath at church. The church solicits everyone's prayers for the miracle of Dylan's conversion.

Parma Church members have also experienced a significant revival through these meetings; two of their members have requested rebaptism, and three more visitors have attended every meeting and received a certificate of completion of the studies.

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Cheri Gatton Getting Involved and Experiencing Changed Lives Ezra and Tre were struggling with the idea of commitment — not because they disagreed with what they had learned at Parma Church's evangelistic series, but in fact the opposite.
Ease Your Child's Back-to-School Anxiety https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/08/ease-your-childs-back-school-anxiety Back-to-school anxiety after a long summer break is very common among children. LaVonne Long shares five ways to help settle children during this season of change. LaVonne Long perspective 34317 Sat, 19 Aug 2023 08:00:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

Anxiety, ADHD, behavior problems and depression are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children. In fact, almost 10% of kids aged 3-17 have been diagnosed with anxiety.1

Back-to-school anxiety after a long summer break is very common among children. Anxiety can manifest in various forms, including being separated from parents/pets (separation anxiety), as a phobia of new places and people (social anxiety), of worry about the future and with physical symptoms.

As parents, it’s important to understand how common childhood anxiety is and to acquire tools to use when dealing with anxiety at home. We want our children to have a secure and loving environment where they feel safe, so let’s equip ourselves to help them when they head back to school.

1. Encourage Open Communication

In our household, we prioritize open communication. Creating an atmosphere where our children feel safe to express their feelings and concerns is essential for addressing anxiety. Let your children know it's okay to talk about their worries, and listen attentively without judgment when they do. Use this as an opportunity to remind them of verses like Phil. 4:6-7, which encourages us not to be anxious but to pray and present our requests to God, trusting in His peace that surpasses all understanding.

2. Lead by Example

Children learn a lot by watching our behavior, don’t they? As parents, we must model healthy ways of coping with stress and anxiety. Show them how you pray, meditate on scripture, practice deep breathing and self-care. Let them see you dealing with stress and anxiety in healthy ways. By doing so, we give them tools and teach them resilience and the power of faith in dealing with their own anxiety and stress.

3. Establish a Routine

We have learned a structured routine helps all of us, as anxiety can be exacerbated by uncertainty. Having a consistent daily routine can bring a sense of stability and security to family life. When we can incorporate prayer, devotions and family Bible studies into the daily schedule, this helps instill a strong foundation of faith and provides children with a spiritual anchor to lean on during anxious moments.

4. Promote a Healthy Lifestyle

My husband has his master's degree in marriage and family therapy. He is always learning and sharing about brain health and emotional intelligence, and encouraging the whole family to live healthfully. Physical health is closely tied to mental and emotional well-being. Encourage your children to engage in regular physical activities, eat nourishing foods and get enough sleep. Additionally, teach them the importance of spending time outdoors, appreciating God's creation and finding moments of peace and reflection in nature.

5. Practice Mindfulness and Prayerful Meditation

Mindfulness techniques can help children focus on the present moment, reducing anxiety about the future. In third grade my son learned about using deep breaths, rubbing his bands briskly together and giving himself a big hug as physical ways to ground himself when he’s feeling anxious. Combine these methods with prayerful meditation during which your children can reflect on Bible verses or uplifting messages. Psalm 46:10 reminds us to "be still and know that I am God," offering a powerful reminder of God's presence and control over our lives.

6. Combat Negative Thoughts with Positive Affirmations

Anxiety often leads to negative thinking patterns. We call that “stinkin’ thinkin’” in our home. Teach your children to counter these thoughts with positive affirmations rooted in scripture. Encourage them to repeat affirmations like, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13) whenever they feel overwhelmed.

7. Build a Supportive Community

A strong support system is invaluable in overcoming anxiety. We love to connect with our church community, small groups or Bible study circles so we and our children can build meaningful relationships and feel supported in times of anxiety. This sense of belonging reinforces the knowledge that they are not alone and God is always with us.

This back-to-school season we have the privilege and responsibility to continue to raise our children with love, compassion and faith. By incorporating these tools and strategies into our family lifestyle, we can provide a nurturing environment where our children feel equipped to healthfully deal with anxiety.

Remember to be patient, practice what you preach and rely on God's guidance every step of the way. With love, faith and God's grace, we can foster emotional well-being and a sense of peace which will carry our children successfully through life's challenges. And if your child’s anxiety gets unmanageable, see a professional. It’s okay to get help.

 

1. https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/data.html

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LaVonne Long Ease Your Child's Back-to-School Anxiety Back-to-school anxiety after a long summer break is very common among children. LaVonne Long shares five ways to help settle children during this season of change.
Leadership for a Divided World https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/08/leadership-divided-world Looking at Jesus' example of leadership, Kevin McGill explores the topic of leadership for a divided world. Kevin McGill perspective 34319 Sat, 12 Aug 2023 08:00:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

What does it mean to be an effective leader in an unjust society? We live in a time of polarization and pendulum swings. Politicians stoke the fires of our worst fears and grievances; they point out all the flaws of their opponents while lacking the introspection to contemplate their own.

Grievance politics has tapped into these deep-seated feelings of being wronged and has weaponized them. The feeling of being powerless or being treated unfairly strikes at the core of our ego.

Politicians and media talking heads know how to tap into that frustration. They make a living by generating feelings of resentment. They promise vengeance. This style of leadership is tribalistic and ultimately ineffective.

To establish legitimacy, those in authority have to demonstrate they understand and care. Malcolm Gladwell makes this point in his book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, explaining that legitimacy is based on the following:

“First of all, the people who are asked to obey authority have to feel like they have a voice — that if they speak up, they will be heard. Second, the law has to be predictable. There has to be a reasonable expectation that the rules tomorrow are going to be roughly the same as the rules today. And third, the authority has to be fair. It can't treat one group differently from another."1

These principles are timeless. We may be tempted to believe that leadership is harder now than it has ever been — that if we could somehow bring the country and the church back to an earlier era, we could make it great again. The truth is leadership has never been easy. Consider the polarization and politics of Christ’s day.

The Jewish nation was under control of the Roman empire. They were looking for liberation and wondering why God was not sending the promised Messiah to set them free. To deal with the cognitive dissonance of believing they were the chosen ones while at the same time in subjugation to Rome, there were four main political expressions.

1. The Pharisees thought if they kept the law perfectly God would restore them. They viewed Romans as pagans who eventually would be destroyed by God. The Pharisees clung to their identity at the expense of their relevancy. Instead of engaging the Romans with kindness, they privately despised and hated them. They thought God's answer for the nation was to make Israel great again.

2. On the opposite end of the political/religious spectrum were the Sadducees. The Sadducees grasped for relevancy at the expense of their identity. The way they coped with Roman subjugation was compromising with Rome. They exchanged religious conviction for political gain.

3. The Zealots were essentially radical Pharisees. They were not content to wait for God to overtake the Romans; they were political terrorists who believed their cause was righteous. So, in the name of religion, they slit people's throats.

Speaking of this mindset, professor Jacques Doukhan explains, “Missionary zeal that points a raging finger and calls upon the wrath of God seeks only to divert attention from one’s own responsibilities. It is wrong ever to consider religious violence as an expression of profound conviction. Murder and war, the tortures of the Inquisitions, and all the repressive measures taken in the name of religion are symptomatic of spiritual cowardice and anguish.”2

4. The Essenes were the smallest of the four main groups. They isolated themselves completely from the political fray by moving to the mountains. They comforted themselves with religious rituals to maintain their cleanliness.

This was the political environment Jesus entered. As Jesus became more well-known as a teacher, people wanted to know what side He would choose. He chose disciples on the completely opposite sides of the political religious spectrum: a tax collector and a Zealot.

Tax collectors were seen as traitors by most Jewish people; they made money by charging even higher taxes than Rome demanded. This sellout was a constant reminder of Jewish subjugation to Rome. They were not only seen as unethical cheaters, but as traitors to their homeland and kinsmen. A tax collector may have had money, but that was just about all they had. They were pawns of the Roman government and objects of scorn among their own people. And yet, from among them, Jesus chose Matthew to be His disciple.

On the other end was Simon the Zealot. He was part of a political party which worked to incite violence and rebellion against the Roman Empire. Anyone who sided with Rome was perceived as an enemy and therefore a target of their violent attacks. And yet, from among them, Jesus chose Simon to be His disciple.

The fact that Jesus united people on opposite ends of the political spectrum is instructive for the polarization that exists in our own day. Jesus took a “terrorist” and a “traitor” and made them His disciples. How did He unite them?

True leadership begins not with leaders imposing their will, but with an understanding of the importance of expression of legitimacy.

On the night of the last supper, at the most critical point of His ministry, Jesus demonstrated His power by getting down on His knees and washing His disciple's feet. It was customary for servants to do this, but a Rabbi? The Messiah? Peter noted the dissonance and immediately rejected this offering. Jesus responded, “Unless I wash your feet you will not belong to me” (John 13:8). This was a lesson in legitimacy.

Jesus explained, “The rulers of the Gentiles lord their authority over one another, not so with you” (Matt. 20:25). Status, hierarchy and power are the typical measurements delineating insiders and outsiders, but Jesus presented a different way.

He was a servant leader. He washed the feet of His betrayer, a tax collector and a Zealot. He demonstrated His authority not with force but by self-sacrificing love. Legitimacy as a leader is established by the ability to unite political and religious opponents under a common cause.

His message was a message of mercy and radical love. His kingdom was based on compassion, kindness, and justice. Jesus didn't avoid political debates, He reinterpreted them. If Jesus could unite a Zealot and tax collector, do you think He could unite a Republican and a Democrat today?

We are called to make disciples as Jesus made disciples. We should not be so aligned with one side of politics that we lose the ability to minister to the needs of another. Legitimacy for the Christian is not established by winning political or religious debates, it’s established by walking in the footsteps of Christ.

1. Gladwell, M. (2013). David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (1st ed.). Back Bay Books.
2. Doukhan, J. B. (2000). Secrets of Daniel: Wisdom and Dreams of a Jewish Prince in Exile. Review and Herald Publishing Association.

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Kevin McGill Leadership for a Divided World Looking at Jesus' example of leadership, Kevin McGill explores the topic of leadership for a divided world.
With Christ Nothing Is Impossible https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/08/christ-nothing-impossible John Freedman shares how attending church can impact church growth. John Freedman Church 34362 Fri, 11 Aug 2023 08:00:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

A recently published study suggests “a decline in religious practice” leads to an increase in “deaths of despair.”

Deaths of despair are defined as deaths from “suicide and alcohol or drug abuse.” The increase is particularly noticed among middle-aged Americans, both male and female. The relationship between the increased decline in religious participation — not necessarily a decrease in belief, just participation in church — beginning in the 1990s and the increased number of deaths of despair was clear. 

The takeaway is remarkable: We cannot underestimate the importance of spiritually healthy churches! 

Recognizing the negative impact of the recent pandemic on church attendance, North Pacific Union and our three smaller conferences — Alaska, Idaho and Montana — have agreed to collaborate on the challenge of growing local churches.

Local conferences are providing strategy and lots of effort for church revitalization; NPUC is providing needed additional financial resources requested by each conference and church member and board training from our department directors. You'll read about several initiatives in this issue of the Gleaner.

The foundation of all church growth and revitalization is prayer. There is, of course, more to church revitalization than this, but prayer is the most important. Without Christ, we can do nothing. With Christ, nothing is impossible.

The one major way to invite Jesus Christ to be actively involved in church revitalization is to earnestly pray. Incidentally, prayer is also the primary means by which we invite Christ’s activity into our personal spiritual lives. 

We cannot underestimate the power of an active, spiritually healthy church. It’s important to note that church is not bricks, mortar, nails and wood; church is the members. When church members are active and spiritually healthy, the churches they attend usually grow. 

Church attendance does impact positively the growth of a local church and the salvation of those in the community. Another part of being a spiritually healthy church member means recognizing the total dependence we have on God and the need to talk with Him in prayer.

My children have taught me several things about revitalizing churches. Malinda and I were pastoring in Littleton, Colorado, when two of our children, Jesse and Jared, gave us an important lesson on the relationship between total dependence on our Heavenly Father and prayer. 

One late Sunday afternoon many years ago, as I walked a departing visitor out to the front porch, Jared — age 3 — began to cry. Jesse — age 7 — heard his brother’s cry, went over and picked him up. 

Knowing where I was, Jesse carried his brother, with tears still in his eyes, out to me on the porch. Jesse then lifted Jared up, as far as possible, and said, “Daddy, Jared’s crying; you take care of him.” Jesse paused a moment as I reached down, pulled Jared up, held him and wiped away the tears. 

I’ll never forget what happened next. A big smile lit up Jesse’s face as he turned around and ran back into the house. He was fully assured Jared’s needs were being met now that he had placed him in his father’s hands. No worries or doubts filled his heart. 

In a similar way, we can bring the people we know and love — family, friends, neighbors, fellow church members, co-workers, etc. — to our Heavenly Father in prayer. God has big, strong hands and He will wipe away their tears. When we leave our place of prayer, we can go without a worry or doubt that our Father will take care of them. 

We may not see it instantly like Jesse did, yet the death Christ on Calvary gives us the blessed assurance that Jesus is always interceding, full of mercy and grace, for those we lovingly bring to Him. With Christ, nothing is impossible.

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John Freedman With Christ Nothing Is Impossible John Freedman shares how attending church can impact church growth.
The Root of the Problem https://nwadventists.com/news/2023/08/root-problem Small weeds in a garden can become deeply rooted problems. The same can happen with pride. Let's standing up for truth, protecting families and surrendering to God's leading each day. Natashia McVay perspective 34344 Fri, 04 Aug 2023 08:00:00 -0700 Columns & Perspectives

I love gardening — it’s one of my favorite hobbies. It’s relaxing to plant things and see them grow throughout the year. Over the years I have developed a very nice garden, but I have a small problem.

A few years ago, my husband wanted a mint plant, and against my better judgment I planted it in my main garden space. For the first year it was barely noticeable — a tiny little plant, in fact. The next year, it was a bit bigger.

During that year it did something I initially didn’t notice — it began to put down a massive root system. What started as something small has become an enormous problem. I’m still struggling to this day to get rid of that “small” mint plant.

Before our world was even created, Scripture tells us something rather small began to slither into the mind of a perfect angel in heaven. He began to feel God was unfair and unjust. Why should God alone be worthy of worship? 

Lucifer felt he knew better than God. Pride began to creep into his heart and began to put down some very deep roots. At first the angels in heaven were appalled at this idea, but over time a number of them began to side with Lucifer.

Pride — the desire for your own will and way — took hold in the hearts of Lucifer and a third of the angels in heaven. This ultimately resulted in Lucifer and his followers being cast out of heaven, because pride has no place in God’s presence. So began the Great Controversy. 

The desire to do whatever makes us feel good and the desire to create our own “truth” is motivated by pride. Pride from a biblical perspective is never a positive thing; rather, we are called in Scripture to surrender our goals and sinful desires, and take hold of Jesus. We are to give up self!

In the 21st century, pride is being exalted as a virtue. Entire movements have arisen which argue whatever feels good and whatever your heart desires should not only be acceptable but celebrated. 

The advocates of this unbiblical and anti-Christian philosophy argue that anyone who opposes or critiques their movement is hateful and bigoted. What began as something small has become deeply rooted in every aspect of our American culture and life.

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). The teachings of positive pride go against the teachings of scripture. It was pride which drove our original parents to sin. Their desire to do their own thing drove them to forsake God’s instructions and warnings.

Lucifer, now called Satan, was more than happy to help lead them down the path of joyous pride, and the choice to follow self above God resulted in the fall of humanity. Over all of earth’s history the destructive nature of pride can be seen. What God made perfect, Satan continues to work to destroy. 

​The prince of darkness disguises himself as an angel of light, and the accuser and tempter remains just as clever today as he was in the garden of Eden. He seeks to employ pride as a deceptive tool. He encourages humanity to redefine and re-imagine sin. What once was clearly understood as sinful and immoral is now celebrated.

In her book Education, Ellen White writes, “The greatest want of the world is the want of men — men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name” (pg. 57).

​How can modern Seventh-day Adventists seek to uphold God’s high standard? How might we effectively proclaim God’s law of love is normative for all humanity?

1. Do not give in to the world’s agenda of pride. Stand up for truth — the truth that Jesus is Lord and is calling you to surrender your whole being to Him; physically, mentally and spiritually. It is time to give up your own way of life and surrender to Jesus as the true Way. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life…’” (John 14:6).

2. Guard your homes, your families and your children from the alluring prideful ways of the world. As a compassionate global citizen — especially one who calls themselves "Christian" — it is your duty to protect the innocent and vulnerable. In today’s world this is becoming more and more important. Don’t surrender your families to the world’s ideas of pride. 

3. Surrender each day to the leading of God in your life. Let Him transform you into His likeness. Give up self; take hold of God!

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).

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Natashia McVay The Root of the Problem Small weeds in a garden can become deeply rooted problems. The same can happen with pride. Let's standing up for truth, protecting families and surrendering to God's leading each day.