The Power of a Positive Mind in Leadership

After 400 years in Egyptian captivity, the Israelites were finally on the edge of the Promised Land. While camping in the wilderness of Paran, God charged Moses with sending out 12 spies into their soon-to-be home that flowed with milk and honey. One representative from each tribe gathered around Moses for a briefing on their mission. As Moses concluded his instructions for the spies, he said, “Be of good courage” (Numbers 13:20, NKJV). But after 40 days of exploring the land God had promised to them, ten of the twelve somehow lost sight of the most critical part of Moses’ message: Whatever you see there, no matter how intimidating it may seem, be strong and take courage.

The unbelieving spies launched into a pessimistic PowerPoint presentation while the crowd munched on juicy Canaanite grapes. “This is way out of our league,” they said. “Sure, the place is amazing, a sight to behold, fertile, and abundant, but…” I can imagine the low hum of the listeners increase in decibels as the fake news sunk in.

Caleb, realizing what was happening, jumped up to silence the crowd. “We can do this!” he shouted. “Let’s get going now and claim what is ours.”

But the others weren’t quite finished with their version of the story. “Never in a million years could we take on these people! They all do CrossFit. We’ll be eaten alive.”

That was enough to get the people wailing and complaining to Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! (Numbers 14:2, NKJV). Or if only Gideon’s valiant army of 300 had been alive back then.

God gave them what they wished for—death in the wilderness. Their unbelief was enough to seal their fate. Only a couple people beyond their teen years would see the land that they had been wandering toward, simply because they fell for the propaganda of negative leaders.

We don’t have to be casualties of our own negativity or leave a string of victims in our gloomy path. If you want to practice the power of positivity, try these three steps:

1. Reject

Due to the cosmic conflict raging around us, we have to fight to develop and maintain a positive mindset. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NKJV).

The moment you sense negativity on the rise, recognize that your mind is caught in the crossfire of the great controversy, and reject the thought. Use the weapons you have at your disposal to take that negativity hostage. That leads us to the next step.

2. Replace

Some people won’t leave home without a pocket knife. But as we struggle to be positive, one weapon to keep close at hand is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17, NKJV). Replace your negative thoughts with what is true, lovely, commendable, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). Turn to the Scriptures to inform your way of thinking. Claim a promise to counteract negative thoughts.

Besides replacing your choice of words, change your tone of voice. It may seem insignificant, but it does affect those around you. “A defective tone of voice, an ungraceful manner, or any other defect, will surely be reproduced in others” (The Review and Herald, October 28, 1890).

3. Rejoice

Praise is a form of preventive medicine, like taking a contrast bath before you notice any cold symptoms. Even when you aren’t bombarded by negativity, celebrating God’s goodness can keep unfavorable thoughts at bay. Follow the example of the David, who said, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1, NKJV).

Had those 10 spies put a halt to their negative mindset, which swept through the camp like the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages, thousands upon thousands of lives would’ve been spared. But the Bible is full of examples of those whose positivity in leadership impacts our faith to this day. “Time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life” (Hebrews 11:32-35, ESV).

That “cloud of witnesses” has yet to receive what was promised to them (Hebrews 12:1). However, they didn’t wallow in pessimism to the point of losing all hope. Instead, they kept on working for God’s kingdom and held on to the positive truth that He would one day “[bring] them to their desired haven” (Psalm 107:30, ESV). Their testimony can be ours. So be of good courage.

 

Naomi Jackson
Communications Director
Outpost Centers International

CREATION: Created to Live a Healthy Life

As a full time nurse working in a busy hospital, it’s easy for life to begin to become one giant blur—especially when it comes to work. I care for many patients with different illnesses and situations, and yet so often I find myself looking at my patients or reviewing their charts and thinking how much could be avoided by simply following God’s plan in regards to health and life. I heard it quoted once that at least 75% of patients who end up in the hospital system today could have avoided their visits and the countless dollars spent if they had just followed the eight laws of health.

Although I’m sure most of us are very familiar with the traditional NEW START acronym and its principles (think nutrition, exercise, water, sunshine, temperance, air, rest and trust in God), I wanted to look at things from a different perspective using the CREATION acronym from Creation Health—same principles from a fresh vantage point.C – Choice. It’s interesting when you pause to consider how the choices you make alter everything about your life. Some choices may seem minor or of little consequence in the grand scheme of things, yet we are told in Scripture that “whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” and that “he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” Galatians 6:7, 8. When we look at life from this perspective, we see that our choices matter and eventually will determine our destiny.

R – Rest. Having worked night-shift at the hospital for months, it has become clearer to me than ever how important getting adequate rest is for our bodies. While it may seem like we can push our bodies to the edge, especially when we are young and healthy, it takes a greater toll than we might realize. I’ve found this to be true for me personally as I’ve just transitioned to day-shift and am finally starting to catch up on my sleep deficit. Not only is daily rest important, but God also knew what He was doing when He said, “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” Exodus 20:8. Prioritizing spending time with Him on Sabbath as well as physical rest during the week is crucial to living a healthy life.

E – Environment. Although many things in our environment are beyond our personal control, there are many things we can alter in order to put ourselves in the best position for the most favorable outcome and best spiritual growth. From those we choose as our closest friends to the atmosphere we create in our lives and homes, each thing makes a difference in how we view the world as well as our relationship with God. Scripture tells us, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” 2 Corinthians 3:18. Truly, what we behold changes us.

A – Activity. A lot of people shy away from the term exercise because of the self-discipline required to actually be faithful in any kind of exercise program. On the other hand, some people love to exercise and make it a priority. Whatever the case may be, physical activity is an important part of a healthy life. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” Ecclesiastes 9:10. Even though it can be difficult to fit in around a busy work schedule sometimes, I have personally been seeking to make it more of a priority in my life.

T – Trust. Probably all of us have experienced the heartache and pain of our trust being broken by people in our lives. However, the most beautiful thing is that God never breaks trust with us no matter how far away we may find ourselves. God provides a constant in our lives and we can commit our lives to Him and know that He will never let us down. “In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saved them; In His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bore them and carried them all the days of old” Isaiah 63:9.

I – Interpersonal Relationships. God created us to be relational beings from the beginning of creation. From sanctioning marriage to establishing what our human-divine connection should look like, God is all about relationships. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. for if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up” Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10.

O – Outlook. Undoubtedly we meet some people who have a sour attitude about life and others who are full of positivity. Just this last week I had the privilege to take care of patients with both perspectives on life and it is amazing how draining negativity can be while positivity is so energizing. Our mind has a strong influence on our body and in turn our health, so it is important that we maintain positive attitudes in life. The Bible addresses this very impact of our minds saying “for as he thinks in his heart, so is he” Proverbs 23:7.

N – Nutrition. Although last in this acronym, having the right nutritious fuel to feed our bodies is just as imperative as all the rest. On a whole, our society has dramatically shifted in what kind of food we eat and in turn, we have seen a rise of obesity and other health problems — many of which stem from unhealthful eating. Next time you fill your plate with food, take a look and make sure you are feeding yourself with the best fuel for your body system! “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” 1 Corinthians 10:31.

In summary, God has given us many guidelines for optimal health and if we seek to follow His ideal, we help to fortify ourselves and cultivate a healthy body and spirit. We may not be able to avoid all illness or disease because we live in a sinful world, but the most important thing is to live in harmony with God’s plan so that we are ready to live in a perfect world when He comes again.

 

Glesni Mason
General Vice President
Generation. Youth. Christ.

GYC Beyond 16 – Why You Should Volunteer for GYC

Every movement is made up of people – and GYC is no different! Year after year thousands of young people come together to attend the GYC Conference but it’s behind the scenes where the action really takes place! The backbone of organizations like GYC is made up of volunteers. Without the quiet, unseen work of these volunteers throughout the year, the yearly conference would never happen. In this episode of the GYC Beyond Podcast Esther Louw interviews Carl Brugger, a long-term GYC volunteer with a passion for using his talents to serve Jesus.

GYC Beyond 15 – How to Get Involved in Medical Missionary Work

In Testimonies to the Church Volume 8 page 77, Ellen White wrote: “The medical missionary work is to be to the work of the church as the right arm to the body.” She went on to state that “The medical missionary work is the gospel in practice.” Clearly, medical missionary work is important, but what is it and what are some practical ways you and I can get involved? Join Esther Louw in this episode of the GYC Beyond Podcast as she discusses these questions and more with Dr. Lela Lewis.

GYC Beyond 14 – The Power of Sharing Your Faith

There is a quote in the book, Maranatha, that says: “There is no limit to the usefulness of one who, putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart and lives a life wholly consecrated to God.” Sometimes, it’s tempting to feel like our efforts to win souls aren’t making a difference. Or, perhaps, we think that the small things we do don’t really matter that much. In this episode of the GYC Beyond Podcast Esther Louw interviews Tara Vang as she shares a powerful testimony of God’s faithfulness and ability to use even the smallest things to make an eternal impact. Tara is the vice president of evangelism for GYC and also serves as the GLOW Project Manager at the Pacific Union Conference.

Three Angel’s Messages

The three Angel’s messages found in Revelation 14:6-12 hold the everlasting gospel and messages of hope and eternal life for the last days. Let’s see what they are all about!

The First Angel’s Message
“Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—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” (Revelation 14:6-7 NKJV).
God has given human beings the privilege to take the everlasting gospel to every nation, tribe, tongue and people. “Holy angels have been employed in directing this work… but the actual proclamation of the gospel is performed by the servants of Christ upon the earth” (Great Controversy p. 312.1). The ‘angel’ or ‘messenger’ sends us this message to take to the world. This message calls the created human beings to do what they were created to do. Worship the Creator. Human beings have a tendency to become distracted spending more time thinking about ourselves, work, people, possessions, or other things besides worshiping the Creator. No wonder we have all have a huge hole in our hearts! Don’t get me wrong, working is important too, but sometime we forget to give God the glory. Verse 6 also mentions “the hour of judgment” which was once thought to be a prophetic announcement of the second coming on October 22, 1844, but after more study was found to be the announcement of Jesus, our advocate and High Priest, transitioning from the holy place to the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary. The time to choose to worship the Creator is now for we do not know when our day of judgement will be. Jesus planned that not one soul should be lost but for everyone to be redeemed from sin and death and have an opportunity to choose eternal life.

The Second Angel’s Message
“And another angel followed, saying,“Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Revelation 14:8 NKJV).
Babylon, an ancient city and a powerful nation, is a symbol in the Bible of a people who have not worshiped the true God. A woman in the Bible represents the church. The bride of Christ represents God’s church and Babylon represents the fallen church or papal Rome. The fallen church has worshiped other gods (money, sex, possessions, whatever comes between us and God) and not followed the instruction in the ways of life. Christ has called us out of Babylon.

The Third Angel’s Message
“Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:10-11 NKJV).
In the book Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, Christian discovered his need of forgiveness and was burdened with the weight of his sins after reading from the little book (The Bible). As he was on his way to the celestial city, he came to a hill where Jesus allowed himself to be crucified on the cross. Filled with emotion, Christian fell at the foot of the cross overwhelmed with thankfulness for what His beloved Savior had done for him and his huge burden of sin fell from his shoulders down the hill and dropped into an abyss. Three shining ones came to him and gave him a scroll, new clothing that was wrinkle-proof and or spot-proof as long as he stayed in the narrow way, and a mark was placed on his forehead that could only be seen by the heavenly angels. The shining ones gave him a mirror but he could not see the mark. Each of us will receive a mark on our foreheads and hands from whom we worship – the Creator or Satan. The marks will be determined by who our thoughts dwell upon and who holds our fondest affections. Our thoughts will lead to actions and our actions will determine our destiny.

We can praise and thank God Almighty because “from the beginning He chose us for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called us by the gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). Christ wants to share this message with the world. Will you be His messenger?

 

Anna Ford
GYC Blog Coordinator
Generation. Youth. Christ.

GYC Beyond 13 – How To Use Media and Art for God

Martin Luther once said that music is next to theology in its importance to the church. However, throughout history, the church has not always been welcoming of the arts. As Christians and Seventh-day Adventists, what place do the arts have in the church? How can they be utilized to glorify God?  In this episode of the GYC Beyond Podcast, Esther Louw interviews Neale Schofield to address some of these questions. Neale is currently the Manager of Hope Channel New Zealand as well as the previous CEO of Adventist Media Network in Australia.

What Wondrous Love Is This?

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” – 1 John 3:1 (NIV)

“Pastor, this was the most powerful and meaningful communion service I have ever experienced!” one person said. “The best and most beautiful service I have ever been to!” said another with tears in her eyes. Like this and similar were the comments I got while visiting with church members as they were leaving on a communion Sabbath not too long ago. And I couldn’t agree more. During the service I had moments where I had to pause from preaching for a second, just to control my emotions and not to start crying out loud. Which, in hindsight and given the content of the message, would not have been a problematic thing to do. But alas, I am still very European in that regard.

Being from Austria it is not typical for us to show a lot of emotion in public. Especially not in church or worship settings. I believe this is why many European Christians are fascinated with guest speakers from the U.S. American preachers move around on the platform, they use their voice dynamically and express emotions so much more than their European counterparts, which makes the message they present much more real compared to the dryer style of preaching one is usually exposed to in the Old World.

I had presented this communion sermon two times before already in other churches I pastored. The reactions were always the same: members in tears, using superlatives in expressing how moved they were by the service. And every time I myself was surprised how powerful this message is. Especially because it was purposefully not preached in a very dynamic, “American” way.
I did not want any fluff or human method to enhance a message that needs no enhancing. I wanted the content through the work of the Holy Spirit to speak for itself with as little human distraction as possible.

So what was the message about?
First off, I did not write a single word of that sermon myself.

Communion is a ritual and so it can easily become a “following-the-motions” thing. In order to focus the attention on the deeper meaning of what we were remembering and celebrating, I chose to simply curate inspired words and read them out loud to the congregation who followed along every word on the screen.
The sermon was simply a reading of selected Bible passages and Spirit of Prophecy quotes chronologically arranged to tell the narrative of the last hours and moments of Jesus’ life. From Gethsemane to Calvary, with a special focus on Christ’s personal experience as the sins of the world were put on Him and how they killed our lovely Jesus in the anguish of the second death.
No illustration stories, no fancy introductions, not even moving around on stage or extravagant use of intonation. Just a reading of the most remarkable moments in history.

Have you ever wondered what this often-quoted statement of Ellen White would practically looks like?:

“It would be well to spend a thoughtful hour each day reviewing the life of Christ from the manger to Calvary. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination vividly grasp each scene, especially the closing ones of his earthly life.” – Gospel Workers pp. 92, 246

One time I heard how Roger Morneau, a former demon-worshiper turned Seventh-day Adventist, talked about how blessed he was as he daily contemplated upon a memorized passage from Matthew 27, which tells the story of Christ’s death.

As Christians the cross and the events that surround it are very familiar to us. Sometimes they seem too familiar and so Ellen White’s appeal to contemplate upon it daily is more or less ignored. I am the first to admit it. Because, … what is there more to know? The sins of the world were laid upon Jesus, He suffered, He died, He was resurrected, now we can be saved. Done.

For the longest time I was satisfied with this simple five point summary. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t necessarily treat God’s incredible sacrifice of love lightly, but I simply did not realize how life-changing beholding the cross truly can be, and what depth of God’s love there is to experience in the study of the science of salvation!

In order to grow personally we need to remain in an intentional mindset, never settling for what we have or what is comfortable and familiar. While habits and rituals are not always intrinsically bad, they can easily prohibit us from growth.
This is particularly true when it comes to seeing, understanding, feeling, and experiencing the transformative love of God.

For me, continually and intentionally beholding and studying the cross has changed my life and Christian walk.
When I see what my sin has done to Jesus – how every single one of my failings pierce His heart with the darkness of the second death;
when I behold the Perfect, Holy and Pure Lawgiver and King of the Universe selflessly giving up His life for broken, filthy, unworthy me, separated from the Father because of my sin;
when I hear Him being mocked by bystanders and then my own voice chime in;
when I realize that here justice and mercy kiss, God’s character is vindicated, and the grandest and most marvelous expression of divine love is revealed in the most shameful yet most glorious moment of all universal history, … I can not but fall on my knees in shame, joy, thanksgiving, praise, humility, awe, wonder, and self-surrender, and join in with the hymn writers in exclaiming:

“Amazing love! how can it be, That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”
“What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul?”

Even as I am writing this I am having a hard time not breaking down crying.

At the cross, in the light of the matchless charms of Jesus – the most powerful and wonderful manifestation of God’s love – all sin and temptation is stripped of its sugar coating and appeal. Here divine love penetrates my sin-cursed and darkened heart, breaking through with rays of light and love, which awakens a supernatural love where before only pride and selfishness was to be found.

Beholding, studying, and believing this reality of God’s ultimate love will transform your life! It daily wakes me up to the realization of how there is nothing righteous in me, and how much I need my lovely Jesus day-by-day and moment-by-moment. When tempted to sin, one closer look at the cross is enough for sin to lose its appeal.
God’s love as revealed in the uplifted Jesus truly draws me to Him, motivates and empowers me to overcome. For it is in looking at the cross that I am realizing the joy of and my need to surrender all.

Then, self is lost in the ocean of God’s love and the Holy Spirit can enter and work out victory in me. He establishes a great circuit of love, He binds my heart to God’s heart and transforms me into Christ-likeness. This is the great mystery and miracle of salvation!

When you experience God’s divine love, your life will never be the same! His love as seen on the cross needs no fluff, no human methods to make it look or sound more appealing. It speaks for itself. And it comes with divine power.

Behold the cross daily, read the inspired words, believe and apply them, let the Holy Spirit illuminate your heart and mind with the reality of the highest and grandest love of the universe. Let the intentional exposure to God’s love – Christ’s life and death for you – awaken a supernatural love in you for God and others. Let it lead you to complete self-surrender, an abhorrence of sin, and a firm reliance on Christ’s righteousness alone to accomplish the work of salvation for and in you.

“By thus contemplating his teachings and sufferings, and the infinite sacrifice made by him for the redemption of the race, we may strengthen our faith, quicken our love, and become more deeply imbued with the spirit which sustained our Savior. If we would be saved at last, we must learn the lesson of penitence and faith at the foot of the cross…. Everything noble and generous in man will respond to the contemplation of Christ upon the cross.” – Gospel Workers pp. 92, 246

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” – Isaiah 54:10 (NIV)

 

Jonathan Walter
Generation. Youth. Christ.
Vice President of Missions

GYC Beyond 12 – How to Reach Out to Refugees & Immigrants

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, there are currently over 22 million refugees around the world. Of course, this number doesn’t include the many individuals who simply migrate to a new country for other considerations. Many refugees and immigrants come to America and other developed countries every year. As Adventist Christians, how can we reach out to these people groups and make a difference? In this episode of the GYC Beyond Podcast, Esther Louw discusses this challenge with David Skau. A young person with a passion for mission, both overseas and in America, David Skau is currently working for the organization, Reach the World Next Door. Listen in to discover ways you can reach out to refugees and immigrants in your local community.

Faithful to the End

In order to be faithful to the end, we need to first establish where faithfulness begins. What drives us to be driven and true to a calling to the very end and even though we may waiver from time to time, to never give up? It starts small – when we are faithful in going to church, when we are faithful, in our prayer life, faithful in giving tithes and offerings, faithful in our devotions, faithful in doing our jobs, faithful in our schooling. We don’t set out to be faithful to God all of a sudden, it takes time and effort on our part. We begin building our faithfulness to God when we are faithful in the everyday choices and actions of life. But we really cement our devotion to God and being faithful to Him when we stick with maintaining a personal friendship with Him. Why? Because when have a personal connection with God, He is our friend – a person who we want to spend time with and talk to. It’s like growing a garden – it’s not enough to order your seeds, till the ground, add fertilizer and then plant the seeds. You must water, cultivate and inspect your garden daily in order for you to get a harvest at the end of the season. The days become long, the temperatures rise and it may not be the best feeling to be outside sweating and working hard with seemingly no reward in sight. However, we know that at the end of the season we will reap a bountiful harvest.

Think of the parable of the man who had a vineyard and needed laborers to bring in the harvest. This man went out early in the morning at 6AM and brought back men, then again at 9AM, at Noon, at 3PM and he even went out at 5PM – just one hour before the workday ended and brought in the last group of men to help finish the harvest. At the beginning of the day, the owner promised to pay a fair day’s wage of one denarius to each man who worked for him. He never told the rest of the men he hired throughout the day what he would pay them, only that it would be fair according to the work they did. At the end of the day, starting with the last men, he paid each man one denarius no matter if they had worked the whole day or just one hour. He was faithful to his word. Through countless Bible stories, we see God taking care of those that are faithful to Him. God did not create mankind and then just turn His back on us. He provided a garden with plenty to eat, drink and occupy the time of Adam and Eve. After sin, He provided a way for humanity to be redeemed. Just providing a way for us to be redeemed and to spend eternity with Him would have been enough, but He did not stop there. He continues reaching out asking to be our friend, to have a relationship with us, because He wants to provide us with the best He has to offer – which is eternal life. All we have to do is believe He is true to his Word and hold tight to our faith in Him and He will see us through.

 

Seth Shaffer
Vice President of Communications
Generation. Youth. Christ.