Ramblings of a Wimpy Christian

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23 NLT

In Jesus’ time and place, people picked up their cross just like Jesus did to go and die. Jesus said this must be done every day. Years later He told the Church of Smyrna

But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life. Revelation 2:10 NLT

I have to wonder if people fully grasp what Jesus meant by, “take up your cross daily” and “remain faithful even when facing death.” I fear I live in an age with a very shallow concept of faithfulness. Athletes change teams as easily as changing underwear. People promise at the altar to love until death, but disappear when the next flirt comes along. Today’s employers don’t even want faithful long term employees, because they don’t want to pay anyone enough to be faithful to their company.

I fear we live in an age where everything is supposed to be convenient. Suffering long simply means waiting a couple seconds for a webpage to download. When was the last time you heard baptismal vows read before a baptism? How many know what baptismal vows are? Its easy to be faithful when there is no standard to be faithful to. God said, “Let us Create man in our own image” and for the last six thousand years, we have been saying, “No! Let’s create God in our own image.” Its easier to be faithful when we are the ones who make the rules.

Recently, while reading The Great Controversy, I understood the importance of everyone worshiping according to their own convictions. But how many times do we call it conviction when it is actually personal taste? There is a difference between following your personal convictions, and just following your personal desires.

Occasionally, I get a call from someone, telling me they were sorry they missed church, but they had a really hard week. What I don’t tell them is, millions attended church that weekend, who also had a really hard week.

Families will tell me its hard to get out to midweek service, with school and homework and all. Really? Did school and homework just begin around 2014? Millions of folks have been attending midweek services for ages now, and I am quite sure they had kids in school too. Homework is nothing new.

Yet in an age of shallow faithfulness and outright selfishness, John see that God has produced a special people like no other people before.

They have kept themselves as pure as virgins, following the Lamb wherever he goes. Revelation 14:4 NLT

The Lamb went to the cross and gave up His life. Am I right in assuming this is included in “Following the Lamb wherever He goes?”

Now, while I’m whining and even meddling, about people not understanding what it means to be faithful, there are people dying for their faith around the world in the face of terrorism. While I look around and question if others are living up to their conscience and convictions, God is tapping my shoulder and telling me, “Why are you so worried about everyone else? William, you are not exactly the best Christian I have on earth right now. Not even close. I have seven thousand who have never bowed the knee to Baal, and to be honest William, you are not one of them! Why don’t you pray for yourself while praying for everyone else?”

There are people in every church from Adventist to Catholic, and every church in between who know what it means to take up their cross and be faithful, even in the face of death. And here I am sitting in my cozy house on my nice comfy chair with my laptop just typing about it. What a wimp I am! And to think I’m the one wondering if everyone else knows what it means to be faithful! I think I still have a few things to learn about sacrifice and faithfulness. How about you?

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

Donnalee Jackson’s Conversion Story


Donnalee Jackson and I at outdoor church in Plant City last Sabbath.

As a Bible Worker, I love hearing how people have come to know and accept Jesus as their Savior. I enjoy hearing older people talk about how they came to know Jesus “back in the day” as I find it interesting how methods of evangelism change over the years and how they stay the same. Below is a testimony from Donnalee Jackson, a very good friend of mine from the Plant City, Florida Seventh-day Adventist Church. I hope you enjoy her story as much as I did.

Donnalee C. Jackson

As I look back, to reflect on how I became an Adventist, I see how I was led by the gentle, loving hand of Jesus. It has been a quiet progress that never seemed earth-shattering, however, my desire to find the truth, would take years of experiences, volumes of learning, and a growing longing, to find the right, narrow path.

The people that have influenced me were not pushey or wishy-washy, but people that I respected and cared about. They shared with me things that made me think and wonder by saying one word, and just by their actions. As my years are fading away, having lived a long time, I am filled with an urgency to be a living example that will help everyone I meet and those that I have been so blessed to associate with, including, and so importantly, my family.

Usually I am filled with meekness, patience, and loving thoughts to get a point over, and sometimes I feel that I need to share something unexpected to shake who-ever, to face their problems, pray about it, and find the real answers, usually by looking in the mirror. Now, to get back to how I got to this point—My Story!

As a child, in Los Angeles, California, and my parents introduced me to Sunday school. We always walked to the little church that was down the street, across Temple Street and up to Union St. to the Union Methodist Church. It was comforting to learn about God and His love. On Temple St., we passed the little country grocery store, owned by the partnership of a Japanese family and a Chinese family. I’ll never forget the day when the government hauled the Japanese family away to a camp. It didn’t make any sense to me then, and still doesn’t. They were such wonderful, kind people.

Next door to the grocery store was a small church that housed a group of people called “The Holy Rollers”. They were so filled with the love of
Jesus, that when they sang hymns, you could hear them almost from my house. When I peeked inside at them, they were all on their feet, waving their arms and singing at the top of their lungs. I wanted to join them, but I was pulled away and off to the one up the hill to the white church.

Everyone knew what a stubborn child I was, and I was troubled between wanting to stay and hear these happy people, or obey my parents. I have refined my stubbornness now, with diplomacy and lots of love. Honesty was so important to me, that if someone would ask me If I liked something or not, I would tell them—it wasn’t always what they wanted to hear—and that got me into more trouble. I really hope that I have learned to control this part of my character. However, as a child, I was so small, that something coming out of my mouth was unforgivable. I heard that a child should be seen and not heard, and that made me wonder if honesty was only for children?

Sometimes, my grandmother, who lived with us, took me to church. We went down the hill, through Echo Park to Aimee Semple McPherson’s Four Square church on Glendale Ave. In the front of the church, there were huge bins filled with wooden wheel chairs, crutches and other appliances. People had thrown them away when they were healed in this place. Amee was previously an actress that knew how to dramatize a production. There was a stairway from the balcony down to the stage that she used when she made her entrance to be the preacher. She wore long white, flowing gowns belted with gold ropes, and came flowing down those stairs as if she were flying like an angel. The only thing that I remember her saying was when she took up the offering. She said that wanted us to be able to pin it on the drapes, and she didn’t want to hear any jingling in the plate. So I put my nickels back in my pocket, if that was how she felt. A few years later, when we moved to Glendale, CA, my Dad took us to Forest Lawn cemetery to visit my grandfather’s grave site. Aimee has a really big, white monument for her resting place. It looked to me like the place where Abraham Lincoln’s place was.

From these experiences, I was filled with the desire to find what religion was all about. Living on Cedar St., in Glendale, CA., down the street
two blocks was a Methodist church, and my grandmother took me there.
Sunday school for teens was of some interest, and I met others my age that have become life-long friends. Fran was one of them that I was closet with. She is gone now, and remembering her fills me with laughter, fun and growing to adulthood with her. Now, since her children are like my children, I am reminded of the fun we had at the Methodist church. It’s an SDA church now.

On the way to church, we stopped and got the Herald Examiner Paper. Fran and I would sit in the far back, near the exit, and quietly read the funny pages with each other. Again, I am reminded of the emphasis on collecting the offering. A lot of time was taken up on the needs of the church, and it was mentioned several times during the sermons. I began to wonder if all churches were so money hungry. I never had very much money to do anything with. My Mother made most of my clothes, my Dad worked hard all the time. He even sold his blood to supplement our income. Everything was planned and saved for. There was no such things as credit cards. We used cardboard in our shoes, and wore hand-me-downs. I was glad I had an older brother, because I never had to wear any of his old clothes. We had to share bath-tub water with each other; and were told to eat everything on our plate, because there are starving children everywhere. We had our garden and chickens to supply us with a lot of food.

My grandfather had built our house on Belmont St., Los Angeles, CA. He made his own nails out of wood. So I have always been impressed with how to do with what you got. One man’s junk was another man’s treasure. To this day, my son has made a science of this virtue, and saved his family a lot of money.

After I got married and became a mother, I started looking around for a church to go to with my children. I went to several different denominations. When I went to the Presbyterian church, I went in with a stroller for my son and held on to my daughter’s hand. I had read about the mark of the beast and his number, and was searching for a church that followed and taught from the Bible.

As I glanced at the altar where the preacher was, right next to it was a
set of two foot square blocks. They had been having a building fund drive for repairs on the church and every Sunday they announced the current amount that was collected and, they put it on the blocks. I took a second look, and on the blocks was 666. I couldn’t pack up and get out of there fast enough. Besides, the lady sitting in front of me was glaring at me when my son slurped at his bottle.

So far, none of several churches met my needs. I got a job at the Orthopedic Appliance Center that was two blocks from my home. I knew the people pretty well since they had made my son’s special brace–the Dennis Browne Splint, attached to shoes that he wore at night. This corrected his feet to go straight ahead instead of outward. The Spillers knew I could sew, so they asked me if I could make special back braces and bras.

Now, Mom watched the kids for me, and I finally made some dollars. It was quite an experience making those awful, torturous garments. When the office was slow, I did the accounting and receptionist jobs. Sometimes when everything was done, I told Mr. Spillers that I had to do something, not just sit there and twiddle my thumbs. Mr. & Mrs. Spillers were Seven-day Adventists, and she brought me a whole set of Bible lesson studies. I thought, wow, a church that refers to the Bible for all the answers.

After finishing the series of studies, and receiving the answers from their Bible worker, I wanted more. So I called Betty, the Bible teacher, and she set up a time for me to have lessons every week. This is what I had been looking for. It made sense. She invited me to join them on Saturday for Sabbath school and church service. My husband studied with Betty too, and I was baptized in 1968 and he was in 1970.

Little by little, the Lord has pointed out something that I needed to correct in myself. I am thankful that He didn’t show all of them to me at once, it was hard enough to face one at a time. I was so filled with learning the truth, that I couldn’t wait to teach Fran and her family, another friend,
Betty and her family, and Diane, so to shut me up, they consented to take
lessons from me as the lessons that Mrs. Spillers had provided.

My journey to find the truth, has led me to the happiest, loving people on earth. My three friends, after studying with me, were soon baptized, and we all went to church together. I am still tempted and sometimes I trip, but Jesus still loves me, as He picks me up, dusts me off, and leads me on the right narrow path. My children have been baptized and occasionally we worshiped together. Growing up, I never had family worship at Sundown on Fridays and still feel envious of those who do study together. I wonder what my life would have been like to have done that.

What is your story?
The beginning of the end

Idols in the Church

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In Numbers 21 the Children of Israel wanted the luxuries of Egypt instead of the presence of God. So God allowed snakes to enter the camp, providing the opportunity to learn how much they depended on Him. The people soon realized they had made a mistake and begged for the snakes to be removed. That is when God instructed Moses to make the brass snake and lift it on a pole, so when people looked at it they could live. The snake was a reminder that God was the source of their healing. The snake was not the goal, but a means to the goal. The goal was the Messiah, later known by name as Jesus.

And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. John 3:14-15 NLT

The purpose of the bronze snake on a pole was to lead people to worship Jehovah, the same Person who later walked this earth as Jesus Christ. However, over time, people began to worship the bronze snake itself! During a revival, Hezekiah destroyed the bronze snake so that people would worship God instead of making idols out of the things that pointed to God.

He removed the pagan shrines, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made, because the people of Israel had been offering sacrifices to it. The bronze serpent was called Nehushtan. 2 Kings 18:4 NLT

So we see here that even good things can become idols when they become the focus of our worship instead of God. Worshiping the creation instead of the Creator is a very easy yet dangerous thing to do! The snake on the pole is not the only God-ordained symbol that God’s people made an idol out of instead of worshiping God Himself. The Sabbath is an eternal symbol and memorial pointing us to our Creator.

For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy. Exodus 20:11 NLT

Yet when Jesus walked the earth He had to remind people that the Sabbath was an eternal, never to be removed symbol to lead us to God, and not something to be worshiped in and of itself. The Sabbath was not to be an idol.

Christ reiterated the truth that the sacrifices were in themselves of no value. They were a means, and not an end. Their object was to direct men to the Saviour, and thus to bring them into harmony with God. It is the service of love that God values. When this is lacking, the mere round of ceremony is an offense to Him. So with the Sabbath. It was designed to bring men into communion with God; but when the mind was absorbed with wearisome rites, the object of the Sabbath was thwarted. Its mere outward observance was a mockery. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages Page 286

So an idol is anything that absorbs our affections more than Jesus, even if it is something in the church. We may not have statues of Mary in our churches, but is it possible there are still some idols lying around in our church? Let’s not be too smug. If God’s true people had idols in Hezekiah’s day, and again in Christ’s day, chances are good we need to take a good look around, and see if there are any symbols,  traditions or dates – as good and noble as they may be – that are absorbing more of our focus and worship than Jesus.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here. 

DeKontee’s Baptism Pictures and Stories


After studying with DeKontee’s sisters JanJay and Tinsey several years ago, I was very happy when DeKontee’s family invited me to study with her, to help prepare her for baptism. I enjoyed our studies every week. DeKontee’s family always spoils me with lots of starfruit from their backyard, and nice home cooked meals that I could eat with them, or they would pack for me to go if I had to run to my next Bible study. One thing is sure, you can always feel the love in their home.


Dekontee was very proud to receive her baptism certificate, which contains the Bible teachings we went over in our studies. DeKontee also wrote a note about her baptism which she asked Pastor Brad to share with the church family.

DeKontee writes:

“When I hear the word baptism, I think of salvation, the gift of salvation. The gift of salvation is nothing we deserve. It was given to us out of love. Getting baptized is not something that you just want to do because your friends or parents say you should. Baptism is a decision you make with your heart. It is a personal decision. After you get baptized you shouldn’t do all the bad things you did before. You have to try to live a better and Godly life. By the grace of God, and with the help of the Holy Spirit I am determined to live a God fearing life. My aim is to truly fall in love with Jesus Christ who died on the cross to save me. I know he will never leave me nor forsake me.” -DeKontee


DeKontee’s family and her Tampa First Pathfinder Club were up front to show their support. DeKontee even had family from Africa!


DeKontee and I did a “dry” rehearsal of the baptism before going into the water. I always remind everyone to be sure and bend their knees when I baptize them. Otherwise their feet will go flying out of the water!


 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. Colossians 2:12 NLT

For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.  We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. Romans 6:4-6 NLT 


Dwayne, Whom I baptized a few years ago when he became a part of the Tampa First SDA Church family, now welcomes DeKontee to the Tampa First Church family, and many others welcomed her as well.


If you live in the Tampa Bay area or on the other side of the world, I would like to invite you to join DeKontee in giving you life to Jesus. When you do, you are only giving away something you were never going to be able to keep anyway, but you gain eternal life, and eternal love. I would love to help you in making this decision if you would like to contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net

As my Bible Worker ministry is now 100% reliant upon contributions, I would like to thank those who are loyally supporting this ministry so I can continue sharing the gospel with others in the bay area and around the world, just like DeKontee. Contributions can be sent to the Plant City SDA Church PO Box 5379 Plant City, Fl 33563. Thank you!

Recent Baptism Pictures From the TAA Baptism Class


Joraimy (left) and Jasmy have been two of the most loyal and faithful members of the after school Bible study and Tampa Adventist Academy baptism class. They love Jesus and studying His Word every chance they get. For the last three years they always ask when after school Bible study is, and when the baptism class is. They were baptized a few weeks ago at the Tampa Spanish SDA Church by Pastor Moreno.


Allison (Left) and Kaina have been in my after school Bible study as well as baptism class. When we take prayer requests in our after school Bible study, Kaina always asks us to pray for her family members who do not know Jesus yet. She loves her family and Her God, and want them all to spend eternity together!


William was baptized by his father in St.Petersburg. William is always quick to answer questions and help explain the Bible to others. He is also in my Bible chain referencing class, where I am teaching the kids how to give Bible studies and get decisions for Christ. When William got his baptism certificate He told me how proud he was to now be an official member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church!


Daisy Heredia and her husband Carlos are huge blessings to Tampa Adventist Academy and the Tampa Bay Adventist Community. Daisy has also been helping me with our after school Bible studies and Baptism classes. Daisy Writes,

“Over the last 3 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Pastor William Earnhardt, by offering Bible classes to the elementary school aged children at Tampa Adventist Academy. The time spent with these children has been a blessing and spiritual growth not only for them but for me as well. To see their genuine desire to get to know Jesus is priceless. It fills us with a new rejoicing in the Lord. The most fulfilling part of this experience has been to see them come up from the waters in baptism and see their joy, as well as the joy on the parents faces. As a parent of two beautiful girls that will be baptized as a part of this ministry, I am very thankful for those who continue to support Pastor Earnhardt’s ministry so he is able to continue his faithful ministry for Christ.”

 I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Please don’t let the sun set on you before you make your decision to give your life to the One who gave His life for you. I would love to help you in your decision for Christ. You can contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net. You may also write or show your support for my ministry at the Plant City SDA Church, PO Box 5379 Plant City, FL 33563.

How do You Accept Rebukes?

I am writing today from beautiful Florida.
I am writing today from beautiful Florida.

Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. Proverbs 27:6 NLT

Long ago, I was writing a blog post about humor. I compared the humor of my friends in different areas. Just a few minutes after publishing my post, I got a call from a friend here where I live. He told me I better rethink what I wrote about my friends in another area. He told me even though he knew no offense was intended, it could offend them. I edited my post as suggested. I thought, how wonderful that I have a friend who was so concerned about me, that he called so quickly to warn me, even though he was busy with his own day, and had no vested interest other than looking out for me. Instead of taking offense and taking his call as being critical, I took it as a compliment. He thought enough of me and my ministry to make that call right away.

Unfortunately, many people in Jeremiah’s day did not appreciate his rebukes, even though they were given out of love. It takes a lot of love to tell someone what they need to hear, instead of patronizing them with what they want to hear. I realize the success of my ministry depends upon Jeremiahs of today, who will rebuke me when needed, in a Christlike way.

Christ Himself did not suppress one word of truth, but He spoke it always in love. He exercised the greatest tact, and thoughtful, kind attention in His [association] with the people. He was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul. He did not censure human weakness. He fearlessly denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity, but tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes.  –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 353 

Years ago, the church I was attending at the time was going through a little crisis. I was having dinner one evening with a couple of friends who supported me wholeheartedly on my view of the crisis. In the course of the evening I made a comment out of frustration that was out of place. They both quickly let me know what I had just said was not appropriate and was not a healthy attitude. They showed me how much they loved and supported me but did not hesitate at all to let me know when I stepped out of line. I thought, “Wow! Now I know they are really looking out for me and my ministry!” I felt loved and secure, knowing these friends were not going to let me step out of line and make a fool of myself and disgrace my ministry.

When people rebuke me I take it as a compliment. It means my ministry is worth something in their eyes, and they are looking out for me. How do you accept rebuke?

How Much Are You Worth?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

He gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn’t that what it means to know me?” says the Lord. Jeremiah 22:16 NLT

George W. Jenkins not only began his Publix grocery store incorporation during the depression, but he also set up several foundations and charities so that even after his death, in 1996, he could continue giving to the community and those less fortunate.

After setting up and giving to so many charities, someone asked Jenkins what he would be worth had he not given so much away. He quickly answered, “probably nothing.”

Jenkins saw his worth in what he could give instead of in what he could get. He did not figure he would be worth anything if he could not give. Unfortunately four of the “Last Five Kings of Judah” did not share that understanding. Only Josiah recognized that his worth lay in serving the Lord by serving his people.

One of my favorite quotes that helps us keep a perspective on money is,

“Some people are so poor, all they have is money.”

This quote reminds us that life is not about things. Jesus says,

Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own. Luke 12:15 NLT

Jesus goes on to say,

..a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Luke 12:21 NLT

Life is about relationships not money and things.

Another one of my favorite quotes is,

The richest person is not the one who has the most but the one who needs the least.

Several years ago my friend’s daughter was having her 12th birthday during a holiday season, and I felt bad for her almost being “forgotten” with so many other celebrations. I gave her a card and twenty dollars, which I thought was a generous gift back then. Later I found out she had taken my gift along with the rest of the money she had been given and gave it to a fund at our church to help parents with children in the hospital. Turns out my young friend did not need to be remembered with money. She did not need money at all. She needed to be a blessing to others. I reckon she too figured she would be worth nothing if she was not giving to others.

So, what are you worth?