Glimpses Of Our God; The Triune God

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area where the Bucs play.

Out of all the things I forgot while in school, sometimes I wonder what it was that made me remember the things that I do. I remember sitting in my 7th (or 8th?) grade English class at Tulsa Adventist Academy. The teacher, Miss Childers, asked if the word “crowd” was plural or singular. Since a crowd is a lot of people, I answered “plural”.  Miss Childers told me she understood why I said that, but she went on to explain that while there may be many people in the crowd, it is still just one crowd, and therefore is singular.

That was over thirty years ago, and if I posted all my memories from all my English classes onto Google, it may use up 1KB. So why do I still remember such a mundane conversation that took place over thirty years ago? Maybe because that simple explanation by Miss Childers helps me understand the Trinity. While I go to a football game with over 70,000 people (Okay a Tampa Bay Bucs game with only 56,000 people) we are still just one crowd. That helped me understand how God can be singular while still being three Beings. Just like over 500 members make up one congress, likewise the Father, Son and Holy Spirit make up One Godhead.

Gospel Workers, page 315, tells us that every truth from Genesis to Revelation needs to be presented in the light of the cross and God’s love. So how does the Trinity help us understand the cross and God’s love? 1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love. At the cross we see that love is putting other people first, when we think of their needs and wants instead of our own. Now I don’t know when it was or how long ago it was, but logic tells me there had to be a time when nothing else existed except God. Now if God had only been one Being, at that point in time, He could not have been love, because love is thinking of others instead of yourself, and if God had only been One Being, He would have had nobody else to think about besides Himself. God has always been love, because even before anything else existed at all, God was three beings, each One always thinking about the needs and wants of the Other.

By the way, the Godhead is the First Family of the universe. They are an example of what our families are to be. One family, with several members, each one always thinking about the needs and how to please the others in the family. Likewise, our families can be love just like the First Family is love.

To study this week’s SS lesson click here. To download the SS lesson app to your phone click here.

Galatians: Boasting in the Cross

I am writing today from beautiful Collegedale Tennessee, where I am celebrating Christmas with my family. Merry Christmas!

 Here are my thoughts on this week’s SS lesson. For the phone app of the SS lessons click here.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Gal. 6:14

 

Several years ago, when I first became an Adventist Book Salesman, I was attending an awards banquet for the best sales persons in the south west. I was awe struck by the nice shiny plaques and trophies the winners were receiving for leading the region in sales, hours worked, and other categories. I was so impressed that I decided right then and there that I was going to be number one next year so that I could receive such a reward at the next awards banquet.

 

So the next year I went out and worked from early morning until as late at night as I could. After all, if I couldn’t lead the region in sales, I could at least lead in hours worked by just working all the time. Sure enough by the end of the year I had lead my region in hours worked and in sales! I could not wait to receive that award I had been fantasizing about all year! Only one problem: due to finances there was no awards banquet that year. Nothing for me! No recognition! I was angry and upset. I had been slighted. I felt insulted by my leaders.

 

Soon after that, I was on my way to an appointment to show the Christian books to a family in Grove Oklahoma. As I was driving down an old dirt road, I ran across an old historic church and a very old cemetery next to it. Being the history buff that I am, I decided to take a few minutes and look around. It was interesting! Many of the people had died in the 1800s. I saw many graves for children and little babies. One family had lost four babies over the course of a few years, and I was amazed at the faith of this family as they had a Scripture promise engraved on each grave marker.

 

As I was contemplating the suffering this family must have endured, it dawned on me that many of these people had died at ages a lot younger than I was. Soon I was contemplating the fact that I had outlived many of these people and of course was the only one alive right now. Soon a voice inside my mind started asking me the questions, “Why have you out lived these people and why are you alive right now?” As I pondered the suffering and heartache of the families represented in the cemetery and in the world today, it hit me like a bolt of lightening! I am not alive today to win trophies and awards.  Those trophies cannot heal broken hearts, they cannot forgive sins and they cannot give people hope for tomorrow. Suddenly I realized how selfish and silly I had been. I decided to minister to save People’s souls and give them hope and not to win awards. I then realized the meaning of the words in an old classic hymn, “When my trophies at last I lay down, I will cling to the old rugged cross.”  I realized my trophies were my works, what I had earned. Of course nothing that I had earned, could ever heal a broken heart, forgive a single sin, or save my soul, let alone someone else’s!

 

Finally, the regional director felt sorry for me and sent me a very nice plaque. Several years after that, I was asked to have a vespers service for a church youth group campout. I asked them to have a bonfire going as I gave my talk. I showed the kids my nice shiny plaque and let them admire it as I talked about how hard I had worked for it. Then I told them how that plaque could do nothing to save me or anyone else. I then took the trophy and threw it into the fire. As the trophy melted in the fire and the kids looked at me with shocked expressions, I told them that “My trophies I lay down and now cling to the old rugged cross.” I don’t need the trophy, I need the cross, for it can accomplish so much more for a hurting, dying world!  Now, instead of being motivated by awards and trophies to save  souls, I now am motivated by the cross of Christ. “The love of Christ constrains me.”

 

I told you about my trophy. Now what about yours? Are you holding onto a trophy in your life today? Ask yourself if that trophy can heal a broken heart, or forgive sins, or give people hope. I encourage you to lay down your trophy and join me as we all cling to the old rugged cross.  Never again do I want to live to draw People’s attention to my trophies. I am alive today for one reason and one reason only: to draw people’s attention to the Cross of Christ. Why are you alive today?

Galatians; Living By The Spirit

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

For the Phone app for the SS Lesson guides click here.

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. Galatians 5:17

Monday’s section of this week’s SS lesson, mentions the all too familiar personal conflict between good and evil. The lesson quotes the verse above, that highlights this struggle. However there is good news! If you read that verse alone, it appears it is the good things that we are not able to do. However, when read along with verse 16 we see the good news! “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” So in the great conflict and struggle, the Spirit gives us victory over the flesh so that we do not do the bad things that we would otherwise do. Romans 7 presents to us too, the personal conflict between good and evil, but Romans 8 shows us that the Spirit once again gives us victory over the flesh. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”  Romans 8:1. Please notice it is those who are no longer in flesh, but in the Spirit who experience no condemnation.

God’s ideal for His children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This command is a promise. The plan of redemption contemplates our complete recovery from the power of Satan. Christ always separates the contrite soul from sin. He came to destroy the works of the devil, and He has made provision that the Holy Spirit shall be imparted to every repentant soul, to keep him from sinning. 

     The tempter’s agency is not to be accounted an excuse for one wrong act. Satan is jubilant when he hears the professed followers of Christ making excuses for their deformity of character. It is these excuses that lead to sin. There is no excuse for sinning. A holy temper, a Christlike life, is accessible to every repenting, believing child of God. 

     The ideal of Christian character is Christlikeness. As the Son of man was perfect in His life, so His followers are to be perfect in their life. Jesus was in all things made like unto His brethren. He became flesh, even as we are. He was hungry and thirsty and weary. He was sustained by food and refreshed by sleep. He shared the lot of man; yet He was the blameless Son of God. He was God in the flesh. His character is to be ours. The Lord says of those who believe in Him, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” 2 Corinthians 6:16.  } 

     Christ is the ladder that Jacob saw, the base resting on the earth, and the topmost round reaching to the gate of heaven, to the very threshold of glory. If that ladder had failed by a single step of reaching the earth, we should have been lost. But Christ reaches us where we are. He took our nature and overcame, that we through taking His nature might overcome. Made “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:3), He lived a sinless life. Now by His divinity He lays hold upon the throne of heaven, while by His humanity He reaches us. He bids us by faith in Him attain to the glory of the character of God. Therefore are we to be perfect, even as our “Father which is in heaven is perfect.”  {Desire of Ages, p. 311-12

Blogging Etiquette

I am writing from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Bloggers love to receive feedback on what we share with the world. In a humble attempt to make the blogging world a more pleasant place, here are some thoughts I have on blogging etiquette.

Okay, there is no better way to say this, so I am just going to come right out and say it. If a blogger does not allow your rebuttal to be posted on their blog for the whole world to read, it may not be that you are right, and they just don’t want to admit it. It may be that your argument is so absurd, that the blogger is saving you public embarrassment by just not publishing your argument. A while back someone made a comment on my blog, arguing with what I was saying. I know I am not always right. I will say I am one of the quickest people to admit when I see I am wrong. More than a few times I have told my Bible marking class of 5th and 6th graders, “I was wrong.” They found it refreshing for a teacher to admit their errors. I make many. However, in this case, I was right and the person rebutting my blog was being unreasonable. I knew this person, and that they hated Adventists and just liked to argue. I prayed and decided not to post their comment or respond. Later, while reading another blogger’s blog, I ran across the same person arguing with them too and even writing, “I bet you won’t post my comments because nobody does since I am right and they are wrong.” How sad this person doesn’t realize the true issue.

One time I posted the comments of a man arguing with me about my post. I then replied to his comment, sharing why I believed the way I did. He then responded with another post that must have been three pages long. Sorry, if you are going to write that long of a comment you need to get your own blog! I did not post his thesis.

Another time, a man posted a comment on my blog, once again with a different point of view. I posted his comment and then posted my reply. He replied once again with a rebuttal. After several exchanges I told him we need to agree to disagree. He still sent more comments trying to argue. My policy is, that if you continue contacting me to argue, after I have already said, “let’s agree to disagree” you are now considered a psychopath! I started deleting his comments and personal e-mails without even reading them. Several weeks later they finally stopped coming.

Sure, I enjoy those comments commending my posts and confirming my point of view. However, I need to be challenged in my thinking, and I need to quickly admit when I am wrong. I will “come to my senses” a lot quicker when comments are polite and reasonable. Thanks to all of you who post polite and reasonable comments commending AND criticizing my blog. I post ALL comments that are politely and reasonably written, regardless if I agree or not.

Kristin’s Baptism

Sabbath, November 26, 2011 was a grand celebration at Kristin’s home as her family and friends celebrated her baptism. The baptism was very special as she was baptized in the lake in her backyard. Also her Uncle John performed the baptism. Please enjoy the pictures and stories.

Kristin loves the Bible and sharing Jesus with others. Not only has she been an enthusiastic member of my baptism class at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, and another one at Tampa Adventist Academy, but she is also currently in my Bible marking class. This is a class where I teach the 5th and 6th graders how to chain reference their Bibles, present studies and get decisions for Christ. Kristin is very involved, and her chain reference notes are written very well. Her notes are much easier to read than mine. Kristin is very active in the class. Last week I was teaching them how to do a chain reference Bible study on stewardship. I ended with a testimony on how I received a dollar an hour raise after paying my tithe back in the 1980’s. One student said a dollar is not that much. Kristin quickly defended me by pointing out, “You could buy a loaf of bread for 2 cents back then!”

Even though the baptism was not at the church, but was at the lake near her home, many of the church family came to witness and celebrate, including a reception before the baptism.

Following the reception, Pastor Brad and her uncle John shared with the group some thoughts about baptism and Kristin’s choice to follow Jesus. Kristin and her sisters also sang a song and played a few musicals of praise before the baptism.

Kristin shared with me, “I want to get baptized because I want to get to know Jesus better and dedicate my life to Him. He died for me and I love Him and will die for Him. I want to be re-born because of Jesus.

This is a very big day for me. This baptism means a lot to me! I love Jesus with all my heart and I’m glad that Jesus is going to take away my sin.”

This morning, December 3, 2011 we voted Kristin into membership at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church. I shared with the church family how, the whole time I have known Kristin and her family, she has been very quick to see ways to serve and help others. When someone comes to visit her home she makes sure they are well taken care of. She is also very giving and helpful at church and school. One day while taking Kristin and her family to the airport, Kristin did not have a cord for her camera. Since I have the same camera she does, I loaned her my cord for her vacation. She hesitated to accept it at first and then accepted it very graciously. I realized that Kristin is very quick to give but slow to receive. I wish we all could be more like that. Even though Kristin is in the early part of her walk with Jesus, she is already very active in finding ways to serve God’s family and tell others about Jesus.

Please don’t let the sun go down before you give your heart to the one who has given His life and heart for you. I would love to visit with you about giving your life to Jesus and being baptized. Please contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net