by Ray Tetz


It was a big decision to get a cockatiel—one of those little grey parrots with the cheerful yellow and orange crest. We debated whether or not we had the patience to raise and train a young bird, especially when we’d heard that they could be reclusive and slow to respond to human interaction. We were young and newly married. What did we know?

One young bird was sitting off by herself in the cage, apart from the other cockatiels, and when I extended my finger as a perch, she jumped right on as if she had been waiting for me.

Thus began one of the great relationships of my life.

We called her Birdeaux. She was not reclusive; she was effusive. She was verbal, animated, engaging, funny, and endlessly curious. She didn’t like her cage much but loved to be with us—all the time. She took to sitting on my shoulder while I read or worked. She could hear my car coming home from a half mile away, and she would start squeaking and screeching until I went back to her cage and opened the little door. Then she would jump onto my finger, climb up my arm, and settle onto my shoulder—filled with all the news of the day that she just had to tell me.

Sometimes I would forget she was sitting on my shoulder—she was so much a regular part of my day—and she would remind me that she was being ignored by nibbling at my ear. And then one day I forgot she was there and walked outside—and she flew away.

We could see her climbing higher and higher in the sky, could hear her calling and we called to her, but she didn’t come back. She kept climbing until she was out of sight, and then she was gone.

We were brokenhearted. We drove through the neighborhoods with the car whose sound she knew, posted signs, took out ads in the paper—nothing. Four days went by; it seemed like forever. Her cage was empty. We would have given anything, done anything, to have her home.

Then the phone rang. “I think we’ve got your bird,” the voice said. “She landed on the balcony and she won’t leave us alone. And she won’t stop talking either.”

We had her back. I’m not sure who was the happiest at being reunited, for there was a lot of cooing and talking and scratching of her little head. She wouldn’t leave my shoulder for anything.

Cockatiels weigh about three and a half ounces. They are all feathers and voice box. Their brains are not very big—and if Birdeaux was any indication, they are dedicated entirely to describing the world around them and showing affection and appreciation for the things they recognize, understand, and love. Being loved by a bird—and loving a bird—was one of the purest and most rewarding experiences of my life. Decades after her death (they don’t live forever), I still miss her.

The day she flew away was one of the worst in my life. The day we got her back still shines in my memory.

If losing a bird can break your heart—what can it be like to lose a whole world? No wonder the redemption story is so sweet with emotion and love. No wonder there is great rejoicing over even one who returns to Father’s care. No wonder the reunion is heralded by the greatest song (and winged creatures, I must add!).

Amazing redemption, how sweet the sound!


Ray Tetz is the director of communication and community engagement for the Pacific Union Conference.

2019-05-21T09:08:55-07:00May 20th, 2019|Living God's Love|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” May 17, 2019 Episode 319

This week in All God’s People:
An extraordinary group of young people take home an award, a church in Compton, Calif., brings the community together, and an interview with our intern.

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Paradise Prayer Warriors Win a Second Place Award at PBE Division Finals
The 2019 PBE Division Finals drew a record-breaking 210 teams to Rockford, Illinois at the end of April. One of the clubs representing the Pacific Union at the event was the Paradise Prayer Warriors. Each of the four pathfinders from this club who attended, as well as the club’s staff, all lost their homes in the Camp fire that raged through Paradise, Calif., last November. In the face of immense challenges, this team persevered and won a second-place award at the Division Finals.
Congratulations to these young people, and to all the Pathfinders who competed in the Pathfinder Bible Experience! Read (and watch) more in this article and video from the NAD:

Tamarind Avenue Church Hosts Community Town Hall
When numerous potholes in town started becoming a problem for drivers, the Tamarind Avenue church decided to get involved by hosting the community town hall held by Congresswoman Nanette Barragan. Approximately 1,000 people from the Compton, Calif. community came to the meeting. Learn more about the challenges this community is facing in the article linked below:$2m-in-help-on-the-way/5211246/

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“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” -Colossians 3:2

New from the Living God’s Love Blog: Dreamers, by Ray Tetz
Read the article:

Sign up online to receive the All God’s People weekly email! These stories, plus breaking news and special events happening in the Pacific Southwest:

2019-05-18T12:56:39-07:00May 15th, 2019|All Gods People|


by Ray Tetz


Peter was not very good at telling jokes. In Acts 2:15, when he says, “These people are not drunk—it’s only nine o’clock in the morning,” this is an example of a joke that didn’t quite work. The people don’t want Peter telling jokes; they want him to explain what had just happened at Pentecost.

Fortunately, Luke is the one telling the story—and he knows how to spin a tale. He rushes right past Peter’s failed joke and quotes Peter quoting Joel 2, a familiar text for everyone listening. They have been reciting this portion of scripture—about a people in trouble—for a thousand years. Peter stands up and says, “In the last days, God says, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy,your young men will see visions,your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy” (Acts 2:17-18, NIV). (Did you notice? Both men and women.)

When he quoted these words, people were reciting with him, because they knew them by heart. But then he added something unexpected: “These words are fulfilled.” Peter was placing the fledgling church smack dab in the middle of God’s providence. The people listening thought the Messiahwould come and change everything. They didn’t know that the Messiah would come and create a churchthat would change everything.

The phrase “the spirit came upon” is used in the Old Testament to describe when God interjects Himself into a situation. In Numbers 11, the Spirit of the Lord came down on Moses and he shared the Spirit with the 70 elders and they prophesied. When Saul was hunting David, the Spirit of the Lord came on him and all of a sudden he was prophesying. The Spirit of the Lord came on Balaam and he couldn’t curse Israel like he wanted to. The Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon and the Lord gave him an amazing victory. Three times, the Spirit of Lord is recorded as coming on Samson. These are all great stories—but none of them are Acts 2. These were all individuals receiving the Spirit, but in Acts 2 the Spirit of the Lord was given to the whole church.

Amazing! The rest of that phrase—“pour out”—is also important. The term was often used to describe what happens when blood pours out from a sacrifice. It also means to pour out your lifeblood. I poured out my life for that kid. I poured out my life for this church. I poured out my life for that cause. That’s the association. It’s amazing that God pouring out His Spirit means the same thing as a person pouring out their lifeblood.

And so when Peter says, “The Spirit will be poured out,” he’s claiming something for the church that’s never been claimed before. When the people ask, “What just happened?” Peter says, “Pentecost just happened. It’s a deluge. It’s God, pouring Himself out on the entire church. This has never happened in the history of the world and it will probably never happen again.”

It’s a torrent, you’re drowning in it, flooded by it, soaked to the skin. It changes everything. Acts 2 is the Niagara of the Spirit. It’s the Mariana Trench of transformative grace. It’s the tsunami of righteousness. This is beyond anything that anyone’s ever seen. That’s what God calls us to be. Even Peter is astounded by what’s happened, and he tells us: we are called from the dream to being the dreamers.

We’re called from the prophecy to being the prophesiers. We’re called from the future into the present. We’re called from the imagined to the enacted. On the most ordinary day, in the plainest of circumstances, on the train you always take to work, while you’re reading in your favorite chair, when you got up to get a drink during half time, at the table where you always sit for lunch, in the middle of another call, halfway through shaving, on the way out to get the mail, while you’re just reaching for the phone, just outside your kitchen window, as you turn to tell your companion something or ask a question, by the time you reach the end of the chapter, before anyone knew what was happening, before church was over, out of the blue with no warning—not a cloud in the sky—life barges in. Pentecost: a deluge. You’re drenched by God. You get filled up, swamped, transformed, sent straight over the cliff. That’s what Pentecost is.

The unexpected happened because God poured out in His lifeblood, His Spirit, on the people of God to make them His church. Every moment of our lives, every moment of worship, every time we gather, every time we open the Scripture, every time we bow our heads in prayer, every time we turn our hearts toward God—even when we don’t, even when we’re ignoring God, even when we think that God is nowhere around, even when we’re doing things that God has nothing to do with and that we hope He doesn’t see, even those times where we’re completely absorbed with something else—in every one of those moments, the potential exists for Pentecost.

This is an amazing thing. This is what is remarkable. This is what makes the church the body of Christ—so different from what was expected. It’s not external anymore. It’s first person personal. Suddenly, when we realize that the same thing can happen for us and for the entire community of faith, we see that this is what God’s been doing all along. Pouring out, pouring in, pouring through people’s lives.


Ray Tetz is the director of communication and community engagement for the Pacific Union Conference.

2019-05-14T15:23:33-07:00May 14th, 2019|Living God's Love|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,”May 10, 2019 Episode 318

This week in All God’s People:

Energetic, mission-minded young people, the celebration of a 100-year old church, and honoring our Mothers and Grandmothers.

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Southern California Congregation Builds a Home of Hope

Earlier this year, the Upper Room Fellowship company (URF) in Arcadia, Calif., partnered with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and spent a weekend in Tijuana, Mexico, volunteering with Homes of Hope. Learn more about their experiences in the article and video linked below:

Read more:

Watch more:

May Recorder Focuses on Kindness

The May Recorder is titled “Called to Kindness” and features guest editorials on this fruit of the Spirit. The magazine also includes our new feature debuting this month – the Newsdesk – that goes behind the headlines of events and trends shaping our church here in the Pacific Southwest.

Read online:

Northern California Church Celebrates 100 Years

The Roseville church, founded in 1919, celebrated its 100th anniversary on April 26 and 27. During the service, Pacific Union Conference President Ricardo Graham and former NCC President Jim Pedersen offered their congratulations, and NCC President Marc Woodson presented a celebratory plaque. Roseville City Councilmember Scott Alvord presented a special commendation from the city.

Watch their Celebration Church Service:

100th Year Anniversary Worship Service

Posted by Roseville Seventh-day Adventist Church on Saturday, April 27, 2019

Celebrating Moms on Mother’s Day

On Sunday, May 12, we will be celebrating Mother’s Day – a holiday honoring motherhood that’s observed in different forms throughout the world. The American version of Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became an official U.S. holiday in 1914. Whatever you do to celebrate your mother or grandmother or your children who are Moms – say a prayer of thanksgiving with me for the incredible blessings of our Moms!

Oakwood University Aeolians Choir Survive Bus Accident in San Francisco

On May 4, while traveling from the San Francisco airport, a bus transporting the Oakwood University Aeolians Choir and school staff was involved in a multi-vehicle accident on Highway 101, just south of Sierra Point. Students and staff members were checked onsite by EMT, and initial reports revealed no life-threatening injuries. . . Read more via the link below.

Read the article:

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“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

2019-05-18T13:07:14-07:00May 10th, 2019|All Gods People|

Feelings and Responsibility

by Becky De Oliveira


For several months now, I have operated in flagrant disregard of the signs on the pedestrian path near my house that I use for running. There is a large-scale construction operation underway on the intersection of Highway 52 and Colorado Boulevard—I’ve heard rumors it may continue for more than a year.

The signs declare the path “Closed at Hwy 52.” But I run at 5:30 in the morning and there is generally no one around to observe as I slip between the bulldozers and over the choppy dirt—only about 50 feet—to where the path resumes, paved as normal, still “closed” but exactly the same as it is when “open.” Occasionally, when I return to cross the same 50 feet the workmen have started to arrive, but no one has ever questioned me. No one, that is, until this past Friday when the tall workman, who often harasses my teenage son for crossing that same section on his way home from school, hollered at me from his truck. “You aren’t supposed to be here,” he said. “The path is closed.”

“How else am I to get back to my house?” I retorted. “I live over there,” I added, gesturing at the housing development on the other side of the highway.

“There’s a detour through Frederick,” he said, referring to a town that is on the wrong side of the highway—a town that is not where I live and that is significantly out of my way.

“That makes no sense,” I said arrogantly. “It’s the wrong direction. I don’t live there. It’s miles out of my way.”

“Well, if you’re out here trying to get exercise, maybe it would be good for you,” he snapped, and I almost lost it. I really don’t like it when people tell me what to do and, worse, when they get sarcastic.

“Thanks,” I said, waving my arm dismissively. “You’ve been sohelpful.” The light changed and I continued my run—right between the bulldozers. My anger fueled the last third of a mile, and by the time I got home I was so ramped up that I immediately got into an argument with my husband about the lawn mower. I fumed all morning and determined that I would simply have to make sure I got out for my run early enough that the workman would never see me trespassing through his site. Problem solved.

Later that same day, I spotted a car in my neighborhood with a bumper sticker that read, “My rights don’t end where your feelings begin.” This is the kind of aggressive statement typical of my neighborhood, a place where people fly Don’t Tread on Me flags and seem to be in a constant state of reactionary rage against someone or something they believe is trying to infringe on their rights. My next door neighbor refers to me as “that woman with all the liberal stickers on her car” when my car (a Prius) has three marathon stickers and a Free Cascadia sticker—a sentiment that in and of itself I’m not sure I could place with confidence on the political spectrum.

But the rights/feelings sticker made me stop and think—not just about the ignorant aggression of the sentiment but the equal stupidity of the opposite statement that may have inspired it: “Your rights end where my feelings begin.” (This is a good example of why it is important to avoid a life philosophy that can be placed on a bumper sticker.) I thought about the construction man, a guy I’d taken to referring to in my head as “meth head” when in fact I don’t know the first thing about him or his daily habits and have no reason to suspect methamphetamine use. What are my rights? What are his rights? What are our respective feelings? Maybe I have the right to run where I choose—but in fact I have no idea whether I have this right or not. I probably don’t. Perhaps he has the right to set rules about his construction site and expect them to be followed courteously by the local people who will perhaps benefit from it. We both have feelings: anger, irritation, and the feeling of being disrespected by the other person being the ones that are most obvious.

I made a decision in that moment, and the next afternoon, a Sabbath, I took a walk and found the pedestrian detour he’d referred to and followed it. The next morning I used it as the first portion of my running route and simply readjusted the rest of my route. It wasn’t hard at all; it was no big deal. “A soft answer,” the Bible says, “turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1, NKJV). So does an evaluation of rights and feelings that considers people other than oneself and that tries to avoid reaction and indignant insistence on being right. So yeah, I caved. I demonstrated weakness. I let him win. I did all those things. I don’t regret it, not any of it.

Becky De Oliveira is a teacher, writer, and graphic designer working on special projects for the Pacific Union Conference from her home in Colorado.

2019-05-06T14:37:17-07:00May 6th, 2019|Living God's Love|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” May 3, 2019 Episode 317

This week in All God’s People:

Adventist Health Lodi Memorial hosts special graduation, a church in Victorville, Calif., gives the gift of shoes, and a Los Angeles church impacts lives through outreach.

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Lodi Memorial Hosts NICU Graduation

Recently, Adventist Health Lodi Memorial welcomed back their tiniest patients and honored them with a graduation ceremony to celebrate the new neonatal intensive care unit that helps keep Lodi babies close to home.

Watch the news report:

See more photos:

Community Services Sabbath

This Sabbath, May 4, is Community Services Sabbath for the entire North American Division. Many of our churches in the Pacific Union are becoming the hands and feet of Jesus as they faithfully minister to the homeless or others in need in their diverse communities.

Learn More:

Southern California Church Gives the Gift of Shoes

In late March, the Victorville church gave the gift of 429 pairs of shoes to students attending Lucerne Valley Elementary School!

Read More:

Culver City Church Models Christ’s Method in Los Angeles

Although they haven’t quite yet fed the five thousand, the Culver City church has been following in the footsteps of the Savior—and last year, members hit a major milestone of serving 2,000 homeless people in Los Angeles.

Read More:

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“….whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me.” -Matthew 25:40

2019-05-03T15:16:00-07:00May 2nd, 2019|All Gods People|

When They Leave…

by Darla Lauterbach-Reeves


Have you been walked away from? Ghosted? Not committed to? Replaced? Even when our kids leave, as is the natural way of life, there is a tremendous amount of pain. It’s a ripping—a tearing away at our heart. I have experienced all of the above. I’ll bet you have too, and if not yet, you may. I want to help you see a positive in the pain.

After my divorce, I boldly asked God to remove anyone not meant for me from my life. I meant that request but never thought it would take so many “tries” to find the right person. It takes a lot of courage to try again with anyone after such a blow as a divorce. It is even harder to stick your neck out when you have kids—and when you’re in public. I had no desire to date “in the dark” or without intention, so I continued in prayer, worked on my weaknesses, gave them to God, and asked Him for help. My deepest desire is to grow closer and closer to God with my partner and show His love to others. I promised myself to take the attitude that if that scares anyone off, so be it. I hate to lose people—I love people—but He comes first.

Sometimes I thought me “being me” was the problem. I did a lot of inner work and crying out to God. Still, in my heartbreak and bewilderment, I trusted God’s heart in the pain and the questions. What was going on in my life? Why? Even my truest friends didn’t understand why any of this had to be part of my story. I prayed, they prayed. I loved, they loved.

Rejection is one of the most excruciating things on this planet. I have not only been rejected, but I have also done the rejecting. That’s hard too, but I knew it was best for me and my girls. I’ll just go ahead and assume the guys who rejected me felt the same way, and I wish them the very best. I’ve learned from each relationship, even through the hurt, and I truly appreciate the way dating the “wrong” people pushed me closer to God. I became a fighter, a learner, a stronger person. These relationships helped me dig deep for healing and to find my truest Lover and Corrector. But I can say now that I fully trust God’s heart in each painful experience—and would do so again. I trust that He wants what’s best for me. And I trust that anyone He chooses to remove from my life would ultimately distract me from my first love, which is Him. Either that, or I would distract them from Him.

Now I realize that the lessons I’ve learned have given me a ministry. I wouldn’t have the lessons without the story. I’ve always loved to write, but I wouldn’t have the content without the story. It’s been in the confusion and rejection that I found my beloved Jesus and a way to use the gift He’s given me. He’s the One who never turns His back on me—or leaves for college or draws a final breath. Rather, He holds me closer than ever. Each time I’ve experienced loss, this has been confirmed and has deepened our relationship.

I pray that this helps me understand and sympathize with my daughters’ dating experiences better than before. I also hope that I can help others heal from their childhoods or divorces, and that maybe they can even gain insights from their past relationships if they choose to date again. I pray that sharing my experiences helps others not only stay married but have a better marriage. I pray it helps others find worth in Christ and not in those who walk away or put them down. I pray it helps women to find their beauty in their Creator and men to recognize that both sexes have the same Creator and Father. I pray it helps us all remember and recognize that we are accountable to Him for carrying out the tasks He has put us here to achieve. What has He asked you to do?

The enemy messes with me. He discourages me and tries to silence me. But I continue to pray that my lips and fingers never stop praising my faithful God—the One who lovingly turned His back only to protect us from His Glory (Exodus 33:23). The One who will return and never have to leave again. The One who welcomes the prodigal sons and daughters home. The One who asks me to share my heart. The One who craves His time with me. The One who teaches me.

May each rejection, loss, and season of sadness push you closer to His heart. That is His will for all of us.


Darla Lauterbach-Reeves was raised in the church, but it wasn’t until her marriage fell apart that she came to truly know her Greatest Love—Jesus—in whom she found the relationship she had always craved. She is the author of the book He Loves Me THAT Much? available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

2019-04-28T16:00:35-07:00April 29th, 2019|Living God's Love|

Joy Hard Won

by Connie Vandeman Jeffery


How does one “rejoice in the Lord always” and then rejoice some more? This directive in Philippians 4:4 is hard for me. I sing along with everyone, “I have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart,” but maybe my joy is buried so deep in my heart that it doesn’t reach my brain. Because I sometimes feel joyless.

And that is how I felt on a cold December day in 2000 when Ken Wade, the producer at Voice of Prophecy, and I went to the Joni and Friends ministry in Agoura, California, to do a radio interview with Joni Eareckson Tada about an article on joy that she had recently written for Decision magazine.

I am in awe of Joni, who is one of the world’s leading international advocates for people affected by disability. A diving accident in 1967 left her a quadriplegic in a wheelchair at the age of 17. After two years of rehabilitation, she emerged with new skills and a determination to help others in similar situations. She founded Joni and Friends in 1979, and the organization quickly grew to provide Christ-centered programs to special needs families, churches, and communities.

I had laid my dear father to rest just a few weeks earlier, and I couldn’t shake the exhaustion, sadness, and joylessness I felt. I missed him so very much. What I didn’t count on was that Joni’s joy was positively contagious. As she propelled herself in her high-tech wheelchair into the conference room where we’d already set up the digital recorder and mic, she looked stunning with every hair in place and her makeup perfectly applied. What struck me immediately was her gorgeous smile and her kind, penetrating eyes. They were filled with joy!

Joni was the first to suggest that we ask God to bless our efforts. Ken had already turned on the recorder, and by the end of her simple but powerful prayer, I was beginning to “catch” some of her joy. She prayed:

Days like this are always wonderful, Lord Jesus, when the clouds hang heavy on the coastal mountains and it’s a gray day and it reminds us that change is helpful and variety is always a gift from you. And these clouds remind us that there are showers of blessing that come from your heaven. We thank you for these dear friends who are going to be sharing some incredible insights about your joy! And, Lord Jesus, it occurs to us that we’re a bunch of sour-faced people and we get grumpy and irritated, and yet your joy is so powerful. You are the high Hoover Dam of Joy! It’s spilling and splashing over heaven’s walls, and we just seem so satisfied to drink from a mud puddle. So please help us to appreciate your joy by the insights shared today. And now give us your words. We ask in your name. Amen.

Joni’s prayer calmed my nerves. I asked her how she was able to have such joy, and the answer that followed filled the rest of our five-minute interview. She said, “I don’t do it.” Then she went on to describe her daily routine. “After my husband Ken leaves for work at 6:00 a.m., I’m alone until I hear the front door open at 7:00 a.m. That’s when a friend arrives to get me up. While I listen to her run water for coffee, I begin to pray, ‘Lord Jesus, my friend will soon give me a bath, get me dressed, sit me in my chair, brush my hair and teeth, and send me out the door. I don’t have the strength to face this routine one more time. I have no resources. I don’t have a smile to take into the day. But you do. May I have yours? God, I need you desperately.”’

“And does He give you that smile?” I asked, already knowing her answer.

“I turn my head toward my friend and give her a smile sent straight from heaven. It’s not mine. It’s God’s,” Joni explained. “Whatever joy you see today was hard won this morning.”

Joni went on to describe how the weaker we are, the more we need to learn to lean on God—and the more we lean on God, the stronger we will discover Him to be.

I totally forgot about myself and my loss during that hour with Joni. I learned in a fresh new way that I needed to keep my eyes focused on Jesus. She showed me that the “harder won” the joy, the more it is appreciated.

At the end of our interview, we gave Joni some Voice of Prophecy materials and a copy of my dad’s autobiography, My Dream. “I don’t know if you’ve heard of my father,” I said, “but he was a television evangelist for many years and he just passed away. I’d like you to have this.”

“George Vandeman!” she exclaimed. “I used to watch It Is Written when I was lying in a hospital bed in Baltimore, Maryland. I would flip through the channels looking for religious programs and I found him.”

I left Joni’s office feeling incredibly blessed and not even a little bit sorry for myself. We all experience sadness and the loss of precious loved ones. But Joni reminded me that God, the Source of all Joy, would always be there to put His joy—however hard it is won—down deep in my heart, and His smile back on my face.

Connie Vandeman Jeffery is the host of All God’s People, a weekly short video series highlighting the people and ministries of the Pacific Union Conference, and has had a long career in media.

2019-04-25T14:17:12-07:00April 22nd, 2019|Living God's Love|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” April 18, 2019 Episode 315

This week in All God’s People:
Special guest Greg Evans sings his original song, “A Hill Far Away.”

Greg’s song reminds us not only of that old song, “The Old Rugged Cross,” but why those events of two thousand years ago are still so relevant today.

Greg’s music speaks to our hearts, and for all of us here at All God’s People, it speaks of our faith and greatest longing during this Easter.

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“Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” -Romans 8:34

2019-04-30T07:09:41-07:00April 15th, 2019|All Gods People|