InLightOfTheCross.Com Charity Golf Classic

When I heard that a family in our church was battling breast cancer and loss of job, it was suggested that we do a charity golf tournament, to raise money to help them fight this terrible disease. I had never organized a golf tournament before, but found myself volunteering, without even really thinking about it. I was so eager to help this well desserving family, that I did not consider how qualified I was to organize this event. There was a lot of work to it. Recruiting players, finding a course, getting sponsors. I donated $100.00 myself to name the event “In Light Of The Cross.” There were also hole sponsors, and closest to the pin, and longest drive contest sponsors. Of course people would want food. While working 50 plus hours a week as a Bible Worker-Lay Pastor on top of this, I was overwhelmed. Thankfully Dera Nolan, a good friend from church, messaged me on Facebook and asked if I needed help. Did I??!! I welcomed her on board and she was a huge help. She helped find sponsors and also recruited a few players. She helped me get Eddie Kearse and the his Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church Pathfinders club involved with serving food, making the sponsor signs, and serving as caddies, for a tip towards the charity. Several others helped out big time, including Karen Alayon, and it was a huge success, taking in over $1,000 to go towards the family and their medical expenses.

I did a lot to save money, so that the event would be fun but also low budgeted so most the money would go to the family. Instead of trophies I bought blue ribbons. We found a nice reasonable executive golf course in Temple Terrace, called Terrace Hills Golf Center. They provided us with good rates. It is a nine hole course, which I thought would be good so that people could come and support the event without it taking too much time away from weekend chores, like an 18 hole course would.

It was a best ball, team tournament. Instead of every man for himself, we had teams of three or four and each team got to play the best ball of their players. Being the competitor that I am, I wanted to play every man for himself, but Dera explained to me that people would be more willing to play on a team, than individually for confidence reasons. If they make a bad shot, a better player on their team can make up for it with a great shot. It worked!

Today was the tournament, and everything went great. I played too, which was kind of stressful as I was also making sure everything else was going well for everyone, but with my cell phone and everybody else’ help all went well. Many of the players had already played in best ball charity tournaments so there was not too much for me to have to explain to them. I can’t wait to do this again for another family next year! Enjoy the pics! http://inlightofthecross.mysite.com/Golf.html

1st and 2nd Corinthians; God Hugged me Today!

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].  1 Corinthians 10:31

I am continuing my journey through the New Testament, but my reading is way ahead of my blogging. I guess to get somewhat caught up, I can just summarize 1st and 2nd Corinthians. Paul talks about a lot of struggles. “Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; [In] journeyings often, [in] perils of waters, [in] perils of robbers, [in] perils by [mine own] countrymen, [in] perils by the heathen, [in] perils in the city, [in] perils in the wilderness, [in] perils in the sea, [in] perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” 2 Corinthians 11:25-27 After all this Paul still calls all his problems, “light affliction.”  “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:17.

Sometimes, for the sake of the gospel we go through trials. Sometimes the enemies of the cross persecute us for preaching the gospel. Satan would want us to feel alone, like we are the only ones who have ever  “ endured such contradiction of sinners.” But we are not alone! Jesus also endured the same. “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” Hebrews 12:3.

Paul tells us plainly in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that the trials we go through are common to man. We are not alone. He also tells us, Jesus will bring us out of every one of those trials and temptations.

God has richly blessed me, but my life is not without trials. Last night, after a full day of Bible studies, and then church board meeting, I went out to Ballast Point Park, on Bayshore drive to talk with God. Life has been good. I told God just how good life has been. I told Him how much I appreciate all the wonderful things He has done and is doing in my life, and for those I love. As I sat on the pier, overlooking the city lights, I prayed for all the people of Tampa, that they would have the hope that is in Jesus. I then confided to God, that while all is going well, I still know there are those who oppose the cross of Christ and try to cause problems, and prohibit the gospel to reach the hearts of others.  I told God of people I want to reach with the gospel, but their so called friends are keeping them away. I also told God there are people who do not like what I do, and would like to see me stopped. I thanked God for supporting my ministry. I thanked Him for all the opportunities He has given me to share His love, and for the hundreds of people who loyally support my ministry with offerings, prayers, work effort, and encouragement. I promised God that I would keep spreading the gospel just as long as He continued to give me victory over the enemies of the cross.

This morning I walked into the Community Service Center at church, like I always do every Tuesday morning, where I meet with and encourage those who are down and out, and invite them to our church activities. Today, as soon as I came in the door, an elderly lady volunteer walked up to me. Without me saying a word, she gave me a big tight squeezed hug and told me to keep spreading the gospel and that God was not going to let anybody get in my way! I have never spoken a word to this lady about any of my trials or personal life, but she looked me right in the eye as though she knew everything, and told me she knew what I was up against, and that Satan was against me but that he would be overcome and that Jesus would be victorious. I stood amazed. Her words seemed to be in direct response to my prayer just hours before. I considered her words to be from God. Then I realized, if the words came from God, then so did the hug!   God hugged me today!

Jesus Wept; The Bible and Human Emotions, Lesson 9; It’s Just me

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This Week’s SS lesson (Download phone app.) on Self-esteem, reminds me of a poem I wrote, several years ago while living in Fort Worth, Texas. As a kid, I was a big sports fan. I would read the sports standings in the paper everyday, and somehow thought that the cities with first place teams were somehow living a higher existence and breathing different air than the rest of us. Years later, when I became a Christian book salesman, reality started to set it. I was leading my conference in sales, but somehow I was still breathing the same air everybody else breathed. I was no better than anybody else. Then I moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area about the time the Dallas Cowboys won their last two Superbowls. I then realized my how wrong I was as a kid. The grass was no greener after Dallas won the superbowl than it was before. The air was the same too. Funny thing too, when the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs the grass did not fade. Win or lose, succeed or fail, people are people. We are all just people. Likewise, when I was leading my conference in sales I was no more or less a person than I was the next year when I did not lead the conference in sales.

Back in 2003, I wrote this poem, illustrating how we are all just people no worse or better than anybody else. It doesn’t rhyme at the beginning but does at the end. Weird, I don’t know why I did it that way.

                                                                   It’s Just me

 

I’ve been chauffeured in the back seat of a Cadillac.

I’ve been behind the wheel of an old Volkswagen Beetle.

I’ve eaten in fancy restaurants with all my friends.

I’ve eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all alone.

But all in all I’m just me, it’s just me.

I’ve laughed out loud with the rest of the crowd.

I’ve cried alone where no one else could hear.

I’ve been in first place at the end of a race.

I’ve been so far behind, when will this game just end?

But after all is said and done, I’m just me, it’s just me.

I preached sermons that have moved congregations to tears.

I have preached sermons that have lulled congregations to sleep!

My friends have given me too much praise for a human being.

My adversaries have given me too much criticism, give me a break!

But at the end of it all, I’m just me; it’s just me.

Into every life a little rain and sunshine must fall.

Sometimes I feel small, and other times I feel tall.

I’m no more a person when I do well.

I’m no less a person when I fail.

But either way, I’m just me; it’s just me.

So don’t think that I am perfect all of the time.

Surely you don’t expect all my poems to rhyme.

I often succeed, but I also fail time and again.

Please don’t praise or condemn, just be my friend.

Because win or lose, I’m just me, it’s just me. 

1 Corinthians 4-6; Things to Consider

“we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” 1 Corinthians 4:9

 A cloud of witnesses are observing our Christian course. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  {4T 35.2} 

     The world should be no criterion for us. It is fashionable to indulge the appetite in luxurious food and unnatural stimulus, thus strengthening the animal propensities, and crippling the growth and development of the moral faculties. There is no encouragement given to any of the sons or daughters of Adam that they may become victorious overcomers in the Christian warfare unless they decide to practice temperance in all things. If they do this they will not fight as one that beateth the air.  {4T 35.3}  

     If Christians will keep the body in subjection, and bring all their appetites and passions under the control of enlightened conscience, feeling it a duty that they owe to God and to their neighbors to obey the laws which govern health and life, they will have the blessing of physical and mental vigor.

I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.  For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?  But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.  1 Corinthians 5:9-13

  Are you serving, honoring, and magnifying God, or are you dishonoring Him and sinning against Him? Are you gathering with Christ or scattering abroad? All the thought and plan and earnest interest devoted to these organizations, has been purchased by the precious blood of Christ; but are you doing service for Him when uniting yourselves with atheists and infidels, men who profane the name of God, tipplers, drunkards, tobacco devotees?  {Ev 618.4} 

     While there may be in these societies much that appears to be good, there is, mingled with this, very much that makes the good of no effect, and renders these associations detrimental to the interests of the soul. . . .  {Ev 619.1} 

     I ask you who take pleasure in these associations, who love the gathering for indulgence in wit and merriment and feasting, Do you take Jesus with you? Are you seeking to save the souls of your companions? Is that the object of your association with them? Do they see and feel that there is in you a living embodiment of the Spirit of Christ? Is it manifest that you are a witness for Christ, that you belong to a peculiar people, zealous of good works? Is it manifest that your life is governed by the divine precepts, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” and, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”?

  God requires all men to render their bodies to Him a living sacrifice, not a dead or a dying sacrifice, a sacrifice which their own course of action is debilitating, filling with impurities and disease. God calls for a living sacrifice. The body, He tells us, is the temple of the Holy Ghost, the habitation of His Spirit, and He requires all who bear His image to take care of their bodies for the purpose of His service and His glory. “Ye are not your own,” says the inspired apostle, “ye are bought with a price;” wherefore “glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” In order to do this, add to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience. It is a duty to know how to preserve the body in the very best condition of health, and it is a sacred duty to live up to the light which God has graciously given. If we close our eyes to the light for fear we shall see our wrongs, which we are unwilling to forsake, our sins are not lessened but increased. If light is turned from in one case, it will be disregarded in another. It is just as much sin to violate the laws of our being as to break one of the Ten Commandments, for we cannot do either without breaking God’s law. We cannot love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength while we are loving our appetites, our tastes, a great deal better than we love the Lord. We are daily lessening our strength to glorify God, when He requires all our strength, all our mind. By our wrong habits we are lessening our hold on life, and yet professing to be Christ’s followers, preparing for the finishing touch of immortality.  {2T 70.1}

1 Corinthians 1-3; God is too big for any one Camp

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.  Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.  1 Corinthians 1:12-17

I guess it is human nature to get caught up in some camp, some camp of thought in the church. Paul realized that God is too big for our man made camps. There are liberal camps, conservative camps, different theological camps in the church, but fact is God does not fit in any one camp. Fact is, we all balance each other out. Now I am not saying that there are no errors out there that we need to be aware of and avoid. There are. But in this passage Paul is discouraging people from following their favorite preacher and just joining a man made camp.

I have my favorite authors, but I do not read just one author. I do not follow just one pastor as my mentor. That would be a cult. When one person does the thinking for the whole group there is certain danger ahead. I love it when people I have been studying with come to church and hear different people preach and Sabbath School teachers teach. I want them to hear what others have to say. I want them to get different views and then use their own brain to form their own opinion. I do not want to do their thinking for them. Be very afraid of the so called gospel worker who claims he is right and everyone else is wrong. Be very afraid of the so called gospel worker who tries to “protect” you from corruption, and tells you to only listen to him. Use your brain and let the Holy Spirit and God’s Word lead you into all truth and not  man.

For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I [am] of Apollos; are ye not carnal?  
 Who then is Paul, and who [is] Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?  
 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 
So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.  1 Corinthians 3:4-7

Jesus Wept; The Bible and Human Emotions, Lesson 8, Resilience

I am writing from my home tonight, in the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This week’s SS lesson, (Download SS app to your phone) on resilience got me to thinking about my plant in the above picture. It didn’t always look like that. For 16 years it was a nice big green plant. A friend gave it to me, when I moved into my first apartment in Fort Worth, Texas. I do not know much about plants, but I watered it every week. I never changed the soil. The plant (I don’t even know what it is called) made the move with me to Florida, back in 2004. Just in the last couple years it would start getting yellow leaves which I would trim off. I did not have the plant arranged where it got a lot of light, but it seemed to do well without any natural light for years. My mother told me the leaves were turning yellow because it had too much water. So I started watering it less. Still the leaves turned yellow. I plucked off the yellow leaves, and soon there was not much more to pluck off.

Recently I bought a coffee maker. I don’t really drink coffee, but sometimes after I serve my guests, they like to relax with a cup of decaf. I empty the coffee grounds into the plant pot. I heard that helps plants. My plant still continued to die. I decided to give it more light and sat it next the window for the first time in 16 years. The leaves all turned yellow, and what’s more, the top of the soil started growing some kind of white fuzz. Again I know nothing about plants, but did not think that was good. After 16 years I did not want to lose my plant. Finally reality set in, and I realized the plant was gone, or so I thought. When I went to throw the plant away, I noticed a small green leaf sprouting through the coffee grounds.  Even as dumb witted as I am about plants, something told me to go to Wal-Mart. Get some repotting soil and replant the little green sprout. I did and the plant appears to have grown a little bit even after this picture which I took yesterday. I have the plant sitting in the window now, and we will see what becomes of it.

This got me to thinking about how resilient God’s grace is. I thought the plant was dead and good for nothing but the garbage, but as it turned out something was actually growing there. How many times do we think all hope is gone when there is still hope with God? We just need to trust God’s grace which is very resilient. I hear from people all over the place who sometimes think their church is dead. Be careful. There might be something growing there. Maybe you are tempted to stop praying for a loved one to come to Jesus. Don’t give up. Something may be growing there. The green sprout in my plant came where there was nothing but death as far as I could see. The green sprout is growing. My plant, after 16 years is showing some resilience. God’s grace is resilient. God is resilient. Now that I know there is hope, I am going to take better care of my plant! Don’t stop caring for your situation. There is hope there too!

So, any advice on how to better care for my plant?

Romans 12-16; Vengeance is Mine

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.  Romans 12:19

I used to read this and think that God meant that He would pay the people back who hurt me, by hurting them back. Recently, while reading this passage it dawned on me that maybe Paul meant it another way. Maybe he meant that God Himself would repay me what my enemy owes me. If someone has stolen from me, whether it be money, or any other blessing, God will pay me back so that I don’t have to get it from the person who tried to hurt me.

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

The law defines what love is. Love is putting others first. “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please [his] neighbour for [his] good to edification.  Romans 15:1-2 If we love others, we will automatically be keeping all the commandments. The first four are about putting God first. The last six are about putting family and friends first.

Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, [be] glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.  Romans 16:25-27