Matthew and Samantha’s Baptism Pictures and Stories

Matthew and Samantha joined my baptism class at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church a while back. Later they invited me to their home, where we had studies on how to know Jesus and share Him with others. Later we had more baptism studies in the home, and today both Matthew and Samantha (Sammy) were baptized. All through the studies they both did a good job on their workbooks, and asked very good questions. Matthew asked a question that I had to do some researching to find the answer. He asked why the Bible is often printed in two columns on a page instead of one. We found out it saves money that way. Kewl! Good question Matthew! In the above picture, I am studying with Matthew and Sammy and their mother Sarah, in their home.

Before the baptism we went over the baptismal vows.

Before each baptism I like to pray with the person being baptized, asking God to keep them close to them all the days of their life. Thank you for joining me in prayer for Matthew and Sammy today.

Matthew writes: “I am getting baptized today because I believe in God and because I want to give my heart to Him. And so when He comes He will take me to heaven with Him.”

Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death?  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 6:3-6 NLT

Notice the smile on Matthews face after his baptism, as Sammy Writes: “I am getting baptized because I want to give myself to God and be reborn. Getting baptized means giving my heart to God and I am 100% ready to do that. I am so happy that I decided to get baptized and give myself to God. I think that everyone should be given the chance to be baptized and give themselves to God.”

Sammy is all smiles after her baptism as well.

I was very proud to give Sammy and Matthew their baptism certificates, which inlcude the Seventh-day Adventist fundamental beliefs

Sammy writes that everyone should have a chance to give their hearts to Jesus and be baptized. Don’t let the sun set on you before you accept this wonderful opportunity. I would love to visit with you about this, so please contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net

Glimpes of Our God; The Promise of His Return

I am writing tonight from beautiful Lake Placid Florida, which is famous for its murals on many of the town buildings, each one telling a story about the city.

As Seventh-day Adventists recently celebrated the 150th anniversary of our name, one important question comes to mind concerning our name. The “Advent” part pertaining to the second coming. Is the second coming still on? Are we still planning on it? Is it still a part of who we are?

 

Growing up a Seventh-day Adventist I remember hearing people talking about how Jesus was surely coming in the next five years. We thought for sure the oil crisis in the 70’s was the end of the world. I still remember looking at the form the Tulsa Roughnecks Soccer team sent me when I was a teen, asking me to renew my season tickets for the 1980 season. You are going to laugh at me, but I stared at that form in disbelief that I actually saw the year 1980 in print. There is no way the world will last that long I thought. Well that was 30 years ago and we are in a totally new century. So what happened to the second coming? Is it still on?

 

In the mid ‘80s I joined a new Adventist church in the suburbs of Tulsa. I had just started dating a girl who went to that church so I  switched from the central Adventist church in Tulsa to her church. We just started dating when she dumped me. Oh well, I still stayed at this new church for the simple reason that I did not want people to think I changed churches just for her. Besides, this church seemed to really be on fire. The weekly prayer meetings were very spiritual, and everyone was praying for the power of the Holy Spirit to prepare them for the second coming. We had about as many people attending prayer meeting that attended our Sabbath Worship services. We were sure Jesus was coming soon and we were getting ready. Then something sad happened. People stopped coming to prayer meeting. Some decided “Growing Pains” was just too funny of a show to miss for prayer meeting. People stopped coming to church all together. This was not suppose to happen! Discouraged, I asked God why He did not come back when our church was at its spiritual peak, when we had it all together. He waited too long and now look what happened. I believe the Holy Spirit revealed to me why Jesus did not return when the church was on top of its game. Our church was on a spiritual roller coaster. Jesus is not coming back for a church on a spiritual roller coaster. He is not coming back for a people who walk with him off and on. A groom does not want to marry a bride who’s love and devotion goes in cycles. Neither does Jesus. Enoch walked with God many years before being translated. God will come back for a church who will consistently walk with Him year after year after year, and not on some roller coaster. The church is a woman. For centuries God’s church has loved to flirt with Him, but it also loves to flirt with the world. God’s church likes to date Jesus, but it also likes to date other things too. Jesus is not returning for a date, He is returning for a wedding. When God’s church decides to stop dating and flirting with Jesus and decides to get married He will return.

 

During this same time period our church in suburban Tulsa was also asking the Holy Spirit to get sin out of our lives so we could be ready for Jesus to come. We did not, or at least at the time I did not realize how legalistic that was. Jesus is not coming back for a legalistic group who get their act together so they can have some great reward like heaven. Jesus is coming back for a people who love Him because He first loved them. Today I ask the Holy Spirit to remove sin from my life, not because Jesus is coming back but because my sin breaks God’s heart. I do not want to break His heart anymore, regardless if He is coming back tomorrow or a hundred years from now.

 

Now that I am older I don’t hear people talking about Jesus coming back in the next five years. So is the whole thing off? One of Satan’s best weapons are over zealous religious fanatics. They tell people Jesus is coming back during a certain time table, and then when their “prophecy” fails, people then doubt that Jesus is coming back at all. However this is all Satan’s plan. To get us to give up right before it happens. Concentration camp survivors say they survived because they never set a date for their rescue. Some wanted to be rescued by Christmas, and then when that came and went, they wanted rescued by Easter, and then when Easter came when went they gave up hope. Others just knew that they would be rescued some day and they survived. As Seventh-day Adventists we must believe Jesus is returning, without setting dates. Some have gone to the other extreme now and don’t even preach the second coming at all. They preach social sermons which they find more practical in everyday living. While we must be practical we must also realize God formed our church 150 years ago for a specific reason. If we are just going to preach social sermons like the ones you can hear in any church or denomination, you must ask yourself why we even bother existing if we have no message to offer other than what the other denominations are preaching. Are we embarrassed by our message? I am sure the disciples were embambarrassed when Jesus was crucified, but there was no reason for them to be. Are we afraid people will not believe our message, so instead we just preach things we know the world will accept? If so, shame on us! We are doing our Savior and neighbor no justice by hiding our special message.

 

 There is no reason to water down our message. Several years ago I was leading out in a youth small group study with another family in my neighborhood. One Sabbath afternoon when it was time for our study, we received an invitation to a youth meeting at our church. There was to be a lot of contemporary music for the kids. I thought, why not? Lets skip our Bible study this week and go to this contemporary concert and show the kids that we have fun too. After the concert I asked one of the kids how they liked the concert, hoping they thought it was a lot of fun and that our church was really with it. This young person, about 13 years old at the time, looked at me with disappointment in their eyes and said, “I wish we would have had the Bible study instead.” People, there are kids out there starving for our gospel message! Why disappoint them by feeding them what the world is feeding them? Furthermore what is the point of a church that is just like the world? I am not saying all contemporary music is wrong and we should never offer that. I am saying let’s offer more than just that. And if the church only feeds people what is in the world then why does the church even bother existing? Have we given up on the second coming and decided to just join the world and be a social club with good morals? How legalistic is that!

 

The Seventh-day Adventist church has a message that will more than prepare people to live nice little lives in this world. We have a gospel that will prepare people for the world to come! We must let everyone know the second coming is still on! There are twice as many prophecies about the second coming than there were about Jesus’ first advent. He came the first time, so we know beyond a shadow of a doubt He is coming the second time. Jesus warns against setting times for His return when He tells us, “ in the hour you think not, the Son of man cometh.” Satan has been using religious fanatics for years to get us all excited and then disappointed that He has not returned. Satan wants us to give up and think Jesus is not returning at all. There is great danger in what I was always hearing growing up, about Jesus coming in the next five years, because it does two things, it makes you give up hope when He does not return in those five years and it also makes you think you have five years to prepare. One day we won’t have five years to prepare. We won’t have one year to prepare. In the hour we think not, He will come! Don’t get ready, be ready! Be ready not because He is coming back but because we love Him because He first loved us! The Adventist church, the church that believes the Bible prophecies about the second coming has a reason to exist! If we just preach social day by day sermons that you can hear anywhere else then we are not fulfilling our purpose for coming into existence 150 years ago.  A true Adventist more than believes Jesus is coming. We love His appearing! We have a message to give to world and believe it or not the world is hungry for our message so why not give it? Jesus loves them and wants to be with them forever!

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.  Download the SS app to your phone here.

 

For more studies on the second coming and our special message click here.

For my friend’s site on our special message click here.

Edith and Dorothy’s Baptism Pictures

This Sabbath we finished our “2012 In Light of The Cross” week or prayer seminar with two beautiful baptisms. The Lake Placid Seventh-day Adventist Church, led by Pastor Rafael Fernandez, is a very evangelistic church in a beautiful community. I was given the privilege of spending a week, giving a revival, focusing on the cross. Hearts were touched and changed as we explored the depths of Christ’s sacrifice and forgiveness, and how the power of His love and grace makes it possible for us to live a more abundant life. One lady testified in our final meeting tonight, with tears in her eyes, that after our presentation on forgiveness last night, she was finally able to forgive and let go of a grudge that has lasted more than a year. Another member testified that they did not realize how legalistic some of their opinions were until they saw the gospel presented in the light of the cross. It was a wonderful week, exploring the power of the cross, and all of the realities and possibilities that are ours now because of Christ’s sacrifice.  Another lady told me she was so excited about what she was learning about the cross every night, that she took notes of all the sermons and e-mailed them to her family and friends. You just can’t keep the good news to yourself!

Because of the amazing love of God, two beautiful ladies gave their lives to Jesus in baptism, because He had given His life for them.

Dorothy said she has been looking for a spirit filled church in Lake Placid, and she found it in the Seventh-day Adventist Church!

Just before being baptized, Edith testified to the church family that she hopes her husband will be baptized soon one day. I don’t know if she knew or not, but her husband had just told the pastor today that he wants to be baptized too! Too often I have seen one spouse wait upon the other to be baptized, and then neither one ever gets baptized. Edith stepped out in faith, and followed Jesus, and now her husband will soon be baptized as well. Praise God!

Dr. Roa pictured on the left with his wife, began Bible studies, and a Revelation Seminar in his office with some of his patients. Dorothy attended the seminars and decided to be baptized. Dorothy came to our revival meetings every night and said she was strengthened by them, but she had already made up her mind to follow Jesus and be baptized, while Dr.Roa and his family were befriending her and giving her Bible studies. On the far right is Nora, Dr. Roa’s nurse. She has played a big part too, in Dorothy deciding to be baptized. Nora often prays with the patients when they come into Dr. Roa’s clinic.

Edith was raised in the Adventist church but wandered away. She decided she really needed to get married to her boyfriend, so just a couple weeks ago they had a wedding, which the Lake Placid Seventh-day Adventist church graciously provided for them as a gift! Talk about a supportive church family! The power of God’s love has been seen in Edith’s family as they are following through on major life changing decisions in order to have a closer relationship with Jesus. I wanted my picture with Edith’s family and Pastor Ferandez taken by this picture, because I love the title, “Lost no more.”

Mrs. Roa gives Dorothy a great big hug. Hugs were all over the place today! As well as Revelation Seminars, and Bible studies, the Roas and the Lake Placid Seventh-day Adventist Church have an excellent CHIPS program, promoting better health, which has been attended by many in the Lake Placid community, including the mayor.

Our Sabbath ended in Lake Placid tonight, with a beautiful rainbow, a symbol of God’s promise of love and grace. If God’s love and grace has been working on your heart, and you would like to know more about baptism, I would love to talk with you. You may reach me at LayPAstor@TampaAdventist.net

Glimpses of Our God; Love Stories

I am writing today from the beautiful Lake Placid Florida Seventh-day Adventist Church.

This week I have been holding revival meetings at the Lake Placid Seventh-day Adventist Church. I love this place! The people are spectacular. Very warm and friendly, and very much interested in learning more about the cross and the love of Jesus. The meetings were designed to be a revival for the church, but anytime a church has a revival it also becomes more fruitful and evangelic. As well as the church members coming for a week of spiritual emphasis, they have also been bringing their friends, and we will be having two baptisms this Sabbath!

I have not written any new material for this week’s Sabbath school lesson, so since this week’s topic is on “love stories” I would like to share a previous post that I wrote a while back on what romance means to me.  Thank you for keeping our meetings in your prayers!

The Ten Commandments In Light Of The Cross Part 10

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that [is] thy neighbour’s. Exodus 20:17

In Acts 26 Paul stands before King Agrippa. King Agrippa is decked out in all his royal splendor, while Paul stands in his chains and prison clothes. Agrippa tells Paul he is almost persuaded to become a Christian. Paul says, I wish you were such as I am but without these bonds. What Paul is telling Agrippa is, “I wish you had what I have.” Paul did not want the Kings glory, splendor or riches. Paul wished the King could have what he had, which is Jesus! When see the love of Jesus poured out for us on the cross, and have the peace and love that only Jesus can give, we will no longer want what the world has. We will want the world to have what we have!

A thankful heart cannot covet. A thankful heart is too full of gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to be thinking about the rubbish that the world has to offer.

God promises me in the tenth commandment that He will supply the desires of my heart, and that I won’t be wishing I had what others have.

The Ten Commandments In Light Of The Cross Part 9

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbourExodus 20:16

Here God is promising us that Jesus, Who is the Truth, will be our savior and we will not need a lie to save us from anything. When we trust in a lie we are turning our backs on the cross and putting our faith in lies. No matter how big of a mess I get myself into Jesus can save and deliver me and I don’t need to lie.

“There is no chapter in our experience too dark for Him to read; there is no perplexity too difficult for Him to unravel.” Steps to Christ, Page 100

God gives me a love for people so that I don’t need to hate or murder. He also gives me a love for truth so that I don’t need a lie. I love who God made me and so I don’t need to lie about myself. I love my neighbor and do not need to lie about them either.

The Ten Commandments In Light Of The Cross Part 8

Thou shalt not steal. Exodus 20:15

God promises to take care of all of our needs. If God did not give it to me then I don’t need it. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32 If I steal then what I am saying is that God does not really love me, because if He did He would have allowed me to have the thing that I want. David trusted God’s love when he said, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalms 23:1. Sure there are things that we have to work to earn that we may not have right now. When we steal we are saying that God should have allowed us to have it by now.  David realized he would not be in want or need when he said, “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing. “ Psalms 34:10

God promises us that He will supply all our needs so we wont need to steal.

The Ten Commandments In Light Of The Cross Part 7

Thou shalt not commit adultery. Exodus 20:14

In Ephesisans 5 Paul tells husbands to love their wives even as Christ loved the church. Christ loved the church so much He gave His life for it. That is what love is-others first, and on the cross Jesus put others first and sacrificed His own life. In Paul’s time many marriages were pre-arranged. Regardless if there was any passion or butterflies in their stomachs when they looked at their wives, they could love them by simply putting their wife’s interest and welfare above their own.

Did you know you can commit adultery without there even being a third party? If you put your own interest or welfare before your spouse you have just committed adultery by loving someone more than your spouse, when you love yourself more than them by putting your interest and welfare above theirs.

Jesus said,  “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Matthew 5:28 Did you know you can lust after your own wife and commit adultery with your own wife? How so? Lust is Satan’s lousy counterfeit for love, but it is actually hate.  When we lust after something or someone we are thinking of what they can do for us instead of what we can do for them. In 2 Samuel 13 it says that Amnon lusted after and hated a woman. He lusted after the woman but was putting his feelings above her feelings. There for since love is others first, and Amnon’s lust had him putting himself first, his lust was actually hate. From time to time I have had married couples ask me if it is okay to have sex on the Sabbath. I tell them that if they are doing it please the other person than it is quite appropriate as the Sabbath is a day to think of others and not seek our own pleasure, but if they are doing it for their own pleasure than it is wrong any day of week, as love does not seek its own pleasure. Lust seeks its own pleasure, love seeks for the good of others. See 1 Corinthians 13.

When we trust God’s love, and that He gives us everything we need for our happiness, we will not be lusting after a spouse that is not our own.

The Ten Commandments In Light Of The Cross Part 6

Thou shalt not kill.  Exodus 20:13

The Hebrew word for “kill” is “ratsach” which more specifically means to murder.  Murder includes malice and self serving motives for killing. This commandment is clearly not forbidding capital punishment as that would conflict with the rest of the Bible. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed. Genesis 9:6

In light of the cross all selfishness leads to murder. In John 8 Jesus says Satan was a murderer from the very beginning. In heaven Lucifer, now Satan, wanted the throne of God. Isaiah 14 The only way you get the throne is to eliminate the person on the throne. Many of the angels did not realize that Lucifer actually had murder on his mind while in heaven, but on the earth, at the cross, he did to God here on earth what he wanted to do to him in heaven-murder Him! The cross is where both Satan’s and God’s characters were manifested. At the cross we see Satan willing to kill anyone who gets in his way of getting what he wants, and we see God who is willing to die and say goodbye to life forever if He can just save someone else.

Self will always try to rise to the top and eliminate whoever gets in its way. This is why Christ took human nature to the cross and crucified self for us all. “God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:3-4

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  Galatians 2:20

Love is being centered on the welfare of others. Hate, which leads to murder is being centered on self. The only way to overcome putting yourself first is to put others first. The only way to overcome hate is to love.  So “Thou Shalt not kill” could actually be translated, “You will not put yourself first.” At the cross Jesus put others first. At the cross Satan put himself first, and showed the universe why he was a murderer from the very beginning, when he first started putting self first.

The Ten Commandments In Light Of The Cross Part 5

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth theeExodus 20:12

Why should we honor our parents? The same reason we love, respect and honor God. Not because He is bigger and stronger than us but because He loved us enough to die for us. This is the same reason we honor our parents. If you were taken to the hospital today and the doctors told your parents you needed a kidney or liver transplant in order to live, you parents only question would be “how soon can you take mine?” Your parents would gladly give their life for you! Even though we may or may not always agree with their decisions they deserve our respect and honor just because they love us.

It breaks my heart to see children talk back and sass their parents, not just because it is rude and disrespectful though that would be reason enough to break my heart, but even more so because I know those parents love their children enough they would die for them. So please, always remember when talking to your parents always be respectful if for no other reason than they love you enough to die for you. And really, that is reason enough.