08 Nov


By Doug Inglish

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows (Psalm 23:5, last part, NIV).

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you (Luke 6:28, NIV).

The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with … oil (Joel 2:24, NIV).

… (S)ee if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it (Malachi 3:10, last part, NIV).

We are all familiar with passages that promise blessings beyond what we can imagine. If you look over the ones listed above, or even maybe some others you can think of, it’s very easy to get the impression that, in all cases, those blessings are tangible, material increases. Maybe we don’t need literal threshing floors filled with grain or overflowing vats of oil, but it’s not too great a leap to imagine it as a garage full of cars that are paid for and a retirement plan overflowing with diversified investments.

Well, sometimes blessings come in the form of material or monetary increases. But if that’s the only way you measure the return that comes from being a faithful and generous steward, then you will never see the cup as being full.

You know the old saw, that an optimist sees a glass as half full. What nonsense! A true optimist knows that most of a meal is outside the glass and adjusts his field of vision to see the whole picture.

Likewise, most of the blessings God sends to us are outside the category of material goods. That includes the blessings that flow from being a faithful steward. We read Malachi and see that, if we bring all the tithe to Him, He will open the windows of heaven. The natural assumption is that, if I am giving Him monetary gifts, the windows of heaven are set to pour out monetary blessings. But that’s not what it says!

Which may come as a relief to you, if you have noticed that materially speaking, you have plenty more room to receive despite being a faithful steward. At least, that’s my experience. Can you honestly say that you really can’t use any more money, you have too much already? No? Well then, the only way to explain this promise is that the blessings of being a faithful steward are mostly not monetary.

Sit back and think honestly for a moment about what really matters in your life. It could be a ministry that you enjoy, a fulfilling career, getting an education, or a hobby that brings you peace and relaxation. I hope that what really matters includes family at friends, preferably at the top of the list.

Are you blessed by any of these? Do some of them fill you to overflowing? Are they even so important to you that you trade in some of those precious, and even scarce, monetary blessings in order to receive more of the things that make life meaningful? Of course you do, because unless you are the kind of miser who would rather have the cold hard cash than a warm house in winter, money is only there to purchase what we really need or want.

And some of what we need or want can’t be purchased. It can only come to us from the hand of God. Faithful stewards rejoice not only when they keep ahead of the bills, but also when good health, the peace that passes understanding, the assurance of eternal life, good relations with loved ones, and so many other things are being pressed down, shaken together, and running over in their lives. And they rejoice because they know that these, more than monetary things, are what flow from the windows of heaven when they are faithful.

The glass may only be half full, but there’s more to the meal than fits in a glass. Count your blessings and rejoice over them.

—Doug Inglish is RMC vice president for administration. Photo by Unsplash.

08 Nov


Caylee Campbell – Highlands Ranch, Colorado … The middle school students at Mile High Academy (MHA) in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, participated in an Agape feast and communion service, November 3.

This special evening came at the end of the school’s FOCUS week, where they spent time to “Focus On Christ’s Ultimate Sacrifice.” Throughout the week, they had daily chapel services lead by two pastors in the community, and they also engaged in the annual all-school “Love Matters Most” service day.

The middle school Agape feast was an unforgettable experience as every middle schooler who attended not only enjoyed delicious food but also learned about the significance of communion. They learned why we hold communion services and why those services are so meaningful. The communion service, for instance, traces back to the Last Supper where Jesus broke bread symbolizing his self-sacrifice and passed around a cup that representing his blood—a seal of God’s covenant and the forgiveness of sins.

During the event, the students also participated in a foot washing service to connect to when all the disciples were waiting for servants to wash their feet before their supper with Jesus. When no one stepped forward, Jesus humbly took on the role of a servant, taking off his garments and wrapping a towel around himself. He then washed the disciples’ feet one by one and wiped them on the towel that covered him. This act symbolized Jesus taking upon himself the sins of the disciples.

The students extended their heartfelt gratitude to the middle school teachers for orchestrating this special evening and to Pastor Godfrey Miranda, head pastor at Littleton Seventh-day Adventist Church, for helping guide them as they learned the special meaning behind the communion service.

—Caylee Campbell is an eighth-grade student at Mile High Academy. Photos supplied.

08 Nov


Julia Santiago – Loveland, Colorado … Campion Academy in Loveland, Colorado, had the pleasure of holding the first Week of Worship (WOW) with Dick Duerksen the week of October 23. Duerksen shared memorable stories from the Bible and from his experiences around the world.


Duerksen used his photography as a feature in his presentations. “The pictures that he takes reflect God’s true character and His love towards us through the beauty of nature,” shared Sharon Vasquez, a senior student.


In his lectures, Duerksen’s main point was to help the Campion Academy students understand how much Jesus loves each of them. Eriane Saraiva, a senior student, expressed, “Learning more about Jesus’ love was an amazing experience to me. Hearing that Jesus loves me so much, and He will run to save me, is something that I will never forget.”


Daniel Camas, a senior student, agreed that God’s love was an important theme: “There are still many more things that we can learn about Jesus’ love. It is always something worth studying and preaching about.” 


In addition to the guest speaker, a student-led praise team introduced the theme song “Never Lost,” making the worship more impactful. Jasmine Smittick, junior student, commented, “The theme song reminded me that even through tough times when I don’t know where I am going or I feel lost, I remember that God has it all in control. No matter what happens, He’s already won the battle.”


To finish the Week of Worship, Duerkson did a photography presentation of “Lions, Bears, Boobies and Bubbles” on Friday night, and a sermon called “When God Smiles” on Sabbath at Campion Church. The students of Campion Academy were left with the feeling of being blessed by Duerkson’s words and his teachings, and certainly knowing more about God.


—Julia Santiago, Campion Student News Team. Photos supplied.

08 Nov


Ardis Stenbakken – Loveland, Colorado … The connection between faith and the arts, the creating of something new and beautiful, has been around since creation when God Himself put beauty in everything. So, the Campion Adventist Church in Loveland, Colorado, dedicated the month of October and a few days of November to celebrate this connection and invite the public to join in the “Faith and the Arts Festival.”

The month started with a full choir and orchestra concert Sabbath evening, October 7. It featured such classics as Beethoven’s “Kyrie in C” and the “Hallelujah Chorus.” A special feature was part of a full cantata written and composed by the Campion Church pastor Leandro Bizama, “Gethsemane’s Battle,” which was well received. One guest remarked, “It has been a long time since I heard such beautiful music as we had tonight!”

the month continued with evening presentations by experts in the congregation on topics such as beginning drawing classes, a song writing lab, beginning pottery lab; oil painting on porcelain demonstration, stories and lessons learned from 40 years of sculpting, and photography class; paper card workshop, scrapbooking, and Bible art journaling; basic nature photography class and lab. One nice feature of the classes was how people stayed around visiting and making connections with the artists and others who had similar interests.

Jamie Autrey, an art teacher and professional potter, presented the sermon, October 14, connecting the work of the potter to what Jesus does as He shapes and changes our lives. The well-known Loveland sculpture Victor Issa did a multimedia presentation, sculpting the head of Christ as it may have been during the Passion Week, October 21. Both Autrey and Issa are members of the Campion Church.

Dick Duerksen, who had been on campus all week as the guest speaker leading the week of prayer for Campion Academy and HMS Richards Adventist School, presented the sermon, “When God Smiles,” October 28. His sermon featured examples of his well-known nature photography and stories, showing how God shows His love to us as illustrated by Duerksen’s photography.

One of the oil painting on porcelain classes has resulted in Bible studies. At the last class, November 4, on Bible journaling, a woman from a non-denominational church in Fort Collins said how upset she was when she thought she had missed that class but saw the reminder on Facebook and came. She loved it.  She spent some time talking to Pastor Bizama after the class was over.

A wide variety of people attended the events from both the congregation and the community. Many positive expressions of appreciation were heard for the events.

—Ardis Stenbakken is the Campion Adventist Church communication director and is involved with Women’s and Family Ministries. Photos by Leandro Bizama.

01 Nov


By Nathaniel Gamble

Most of us are probably aware of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza. And it’s tempting to take sides in this conflict as the news outlets and social media have unfailingly done. But there are more sides in this conflict than just two, as I discovered when I learned two truths in Israel in September 2023.

First, Israel and the Palestinian Authority continually fail to cultivate a healthy relationship. Israel built a thick cement wall around the West Bank to contain Palestinians, but only in 2005 after decades of Palestinian bombings and assassination attempts against Israeli Jews.

Some Palestinian Muslims in Gaza and the West Bank join Islamic terrorist groups, but most Palestinian Muslims have no major hostility toward Israeli Jews. And many of these Palestinian Muslims are Israeli citizens.

The Palestinian Christians tend to be even more pro-Israel, hold Israeli citizenship, and enjoy close relationships with Israeli Jews. Because of this, Palestinian Christians often face persecution and death from Palestinian Muslims for being Christian (even though the majority of Palestinian Christians come from families that were Christians in Israel centuries before Islam arrived), or not nurturing hostility toward Israelis. For their part, many Israeli Jews are unhappy with the wall around the West Bank but are very happy to live next to Palestinians throughout Israel.

Second, most people are unaware that division in Israel is rooted in fear rather than faith or people. Palestinian Muslims and Israeli Jews refuse to teach each other’s histories in their respective schools, and Palestinian Christians are forced to decide whether to teach either curriculum. Israeli Jews live in the uncomfortable tension between being very kind and friendly to everyone, while also fearing that another Holocaust could be perpetuated by anyone, including their current allies.

Every Friday, the Temple Mount turns into a religious game of Russian roulette, where all the Jerusalem Christians stream toward the Church of the Holy Sepulcher along the Via Dolorosa at the exact same time all the Jerusalem Muslims stream in the opposite direction toward the Al Aqsa Mosque for prayer. Adherents of both religions inevitably collide with each other, where human congestion usually blocks the narrow city roads and fistfights and brawls often break out between Christians and Muslims.

Hasidic Jews come to the Western Wall later that evening to welcome in the Sabbath, but 95% of Jewish people living in Jerusalem have never been to the Temple Mount because they think it only holds significance for Muslims and Christians.

What these two truths indicate is that the conflict in Gaza is not between only Israelis and Palestinians, but between Israeli Jews, Palestinian Muslims, and Christians who belong to both worlds. Gaza is merely a flashpoint in the long story of how three faiths and the many people groups who claim them struggle—and often fail—to live together, as portrayed by Jerusalem’s three famous domes: the golden Dome of the Rock (Islam), the light silver Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Christianity), and the white Hurva Synagogue (Judaism).

It’s easy to take sides in this conflict. After all, there are enough villains, heroes, and innocent bystanders to go around. But there’s also enough guilt in this conflict, too. In many ways, guilt is a wasted emotion, because it makes one party feel censured while the other party feels sanctimonious—all while failing to produce compensation, reconciliation, or atonement for either group. The only solution that will bring peace to Gaza is also the only solution that will bring peace to Jerusalem, Israel, and the whole Middle East: Jesus, and the peace, reconciliation, and healing he brings.

—Nathaniel Gamble is RMC religious liberty director. Photo by Nathaniel Gamble.

01 Nov


José R. Alarcon – Aurora, Colorado … The Aurora-First Seventh-day Adventist Church in Aurora, Colorado, embarked on a fall evangelistic series entitled, “The Commander of the Deep,” based on the Book of Jonah, October 14-21. The series included nine presentations and drew great crowds of up to 100 people on weeknights and 300 people on Sabbaths.

One major question that the series was trying to address was “Is Jesus qualified to be the Commander of the Deep?” Speaker José R. Alarcon, pastor at Aurora-First Church, explained God’s Word trying to answer this question.

The Apostle Peter, right before the Sanhedrin, declared, Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12, NIV).

The Great Commission, given by Jesus himself in Matthew 28: 18-20, doesn’t need reinforcements. What Jesus was implanting in the minds of his disciples is that the Gospel needs to be preached, proclaimed, and conveyed. The Gospel is God’s undiluted Message, simple yet powerful, simple but in no need of improvement. In fact, the gospel is not made powerful by dynamic preaching nor by spiritual singing or by anything else. These things may adorn the gospel, but the gospel doesn’t need to be enhanced, but rather preached.

The Children Ministries department conducted nightly programs for the children. There were nightly gifts for the guests, health nuggets, praise teams, special music, and nightly refreshments.

The Health Ministries department invited Erick Aakko, a certified plant-based chef and educator, to present, October 15. The event drew almost 50 church members and guests. Chef Aakko prepared a delicious breakfast for all the participants. On October 21, Christian singer Jennifer Lamountain did a one-hour concert followed by the special baptismal ceremony.

Those that were newly baptized were formally introduced as church members. Each of the candidates were assigned to mentors who will help them achieve spiritual progress as new creatures in Christ. Some of the attendees have even decided to join Pastor José’s next baptismal class.

Among the attendees was member and church clerk, Rosalie White, who commented on her overall perception of the evangelistic series. She stated, “The Fall Evangelism Series at Aurora-First deepened our understanding of how much God loves us. It revealed that no matter the trials and tribulations in our lives, Jesus, the Commander of the Deep, is really in control of all the situations in our lives.”

“Everyone who attended came away with a profound knowledge of the truth advancing them in their spiritual journey. Only in the glory of eternity will the results of the fall evangelism be revealed,” she continued.

Organized by the Aurora-First Church’s pastor and Evangelistic Team, the event proved to be successful, not due to the attendance and the end-result of 11 baptisms, but because God’s Word was the star of the week. When God’s Word is admonished, then God’s Message is conveyed.

For attendees Paul and Delores Cunha, the series was a remarkable experience. They reflected, “We enjoyed the ‘Commander of the Deep Series.’ It was a unique presentation in two ways: It portrayed how Jonah was a type of Jesus, and it illustrated our own, less-than perfect behavior. Pastor José preached with such a fervor and used biblical and historical facts that made the Jonah story come alive, believable, and relatable. The question at hand about Jesus been the Commander of the Deep was certainly answered.”

And so, the Aurora-First Seventh-day Adventist Church will continue to strive forward, carrying on with their main responsibility of preaching, proclaiming, and conveying God’s Message. Why? Because “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

—José R. Alarcon is lead pastor at the Aurora-First Seventh-day Adventist Church. Photos by José R. Alarcon.