Last Saturday night, while in Fort Worth Texas, holding my “In Light Of The Cross” Seminar at the Northwest Fort Worth SDA Church, I received the ALS ice bucket challenge to help find a cure for ALS, or Lou Gherig’s disease. I was unable to do the challenge then and thought I had plenty of time. I thought wrong! My police capture is caught on video here.
The beatitudes, sometimes referred to as be-”attitudes,” are building blocks to a complete conversion. Each be-”attitude” gives us a glimpse of Christ, and what we may become when our attitude is converted to His attitude.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3 NKJV
The poor in spirit have no pride in themselves. They know they need to depend on God for help. Did Jesus, in His humanity feel dependent upon the Father?
Then Jesus answered and said to them,
“Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do;
for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. John 5:19 NKJV
Jesus had no magical powers to live the way He did. Magic is a tool of legalism which focuses on what to do, which is Satan’s counterfeit for a relationship. Jesus had no magic. He had a saving relationship with the Father, and was always dependent upon the Father from start to finish. Likewise as we complete the conversion process, we will forever feel poor in spirit, and depend on our relationship with God to do good.
In His humanity, did Jesus mourn the effect sin had on the human race?
Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.” Mark 14:34 NKJV
As our attitude becomes like that of Jesus, we will mourn for how our sin has affected our relationship with God, and we will find comfort in the forgiveness of sins, not just so we get to live forever, but get to live forever with God, with sin no longer coming between us and Him.
Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. John 14:30 NKJV
“There was in Him nothing that responded to Satan’s sophistry. He did not consent to sin. Not even by a thought did He yield to temptation. So it may be with us. Christ’s humanity was united with divinity; He was fitted for the conflict by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And He came to make us partakers of the divine nature. So long as we are united to Him by faith, sin has no more dominion over us. God reaches for the hand of faith in us to direct it to lay fast hold upon the divinity of Christ, that we may attain to perfection of character.” -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 123
Blessed are the peacemakers,For they shall be called sons of God.Matthew 5:9 NKJV
Jesus was a peacemaker and we can be peacemakers also,
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:19-20 NKJV
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10 NKJV
Jesus was persecuted as He saved others, and sometimes we will be persecuted as well as we help Jesus save others.
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12 NKJV
“Let not the follower of Christ think, when he is no longer able to labor openly and actively for God and His truth, that he has no service to render, no reward to secure. Christ’s true witnesses are never laid aside. In health and sickness, in life and death, God uses them still. When through Satan’s malice the servants of Christ have been persecuted, their active labors hindered, when they have been cast into prison, or dragged to the scaffold or to the stake, it was that truth might gain a greater triumph. As these faithful ones sealed their testimony with their blood, souls hitherto in doubt and uncertainty were convinced of the faith of Christ and took their stand courageously for Him. From the ashes of the martyrs has sprung an abundant harvest for God.” -Ellen White, Acts of the Apostles, Page 465
The climax of the conversion process is to be like Jesus. When we are like Jesus, we will be soul winners. Our attitude will be the same as His in that we will gladly suffer persecution if it will help save some one else.
You can study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
Students who are loved at home, come to school to learn, and students who aren’t, come to school to be loved. Nicholas A. Ferroni
There is no true education, growth or maturity without love. On my first day of kindergarten, way back in the mid 1900′s I was given a red badge to wear, which meant I belonged to the red group, and would be doing activities with the kids in my group. That red badge did more than tell me where I was suppose to be. It gave me a sense of belonging. That was my first step towards education; a sense of belonging.
Folk who visit your Sabbath School class for the first time, may be grown ups telling you they are just “checking this class out” or “wanting to learn more about what the Bible teaches,” but truth is, their learning system is no different than my kindergarten days. They are looking for belonging. Sure they want to learn, but what they want more than anything else is to be loved and belong. Most people will not settle into a learning environment until they are sure they belong.
Universities don’t send out approval letters. They send out “acceptance” letters. The college scholar jumps up and down with delight when they get their “acceptance” letter in the mail, just like I did in kindergarten when I got my red badge. Acceptance is a life long journey. I don’t mean that it should take a lifetime to become accepted. I mean, “Acceptance” is the name of the vehicle that will get you through life.
Jesus in His humanity needed acceptance in order to grow as a child.
“Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Luke 2:49 NLT
Jesus shined in His interview with the religious leaders, because He knew He belonged somewhere, and He knew where it was. Jesus had a sense of belonging. This is what enabled Him to grow and be educated, and that is what enables us to learn and grow as well.
1. Jesus learned the Scriptures as a Child
Every child may gain knowledge as Jesus did. As we try to become acquainted with our heavenly Father through His word, angels will draw near, our minds will be strengthened, our characters will be elevated and refined. We shall become more like our Saviour. -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 70
Children can do likewise today.
You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:15 NLT
2. Jesus’ prayer life gave Him acceptance and wisdom.
One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. Luke 6:12 NLT
Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. 1 Thessalonians 4:11 NLT
5. Jesus spent no aimless hours with corrupting associates, thus closing the door to temptation.
In His industrious life there were no idle moments to invite temptation. No aimless hours opened the way for corrupting associations. So far as possible, He closed the door to the tempter. -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 72
Jesus encouraged us likewise.
And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. Matthew 6:13 NLT
Jesus was able to grow in wisdom and moral stature knowing that He belonged to God and God’s true people.
Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people. Luke 2:52 NLT
As He grew He never lost his need of knowing He was accepted by the Father.
“Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” John 20:17 NLT
Right after the resurrection Jesus needed His Father’s acceptance, just like when He was in the temple as a boy. He accomplished what He did, knowing He belonged to “My God.” Likewise I needed a sense of acceptance and belonging when I received my red badge in kindergarten and later my acceptance letter to Southern Adventist University. Likewise, those in your Sabbath School class will grow and learn, when they know they are accepted and belong.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
The summer of 2000 was brutally hot in Texas. It was not a good time to be trained in as a UPS delivery driver. I had worked a couple years inside the hub as a sorter, and jumped at the opportunity to become a delivery guy, but being a UPS delivery guy was unlike any other delivery job I had ever had and the heat and frustration drove me to quit and go back to working as a supervisor inside the hub.
I was very frustrated the morning I quit, and just went into my boss’ office wearing regular clothes instead of my delivery uniform, and told him I quit. Looking back I think my boss would have encouraged me to keep trying, but since I wore regular clothes instead of my uniform I had sent him a message that my mind was made up. I had repented of being a UPS delivery guy and my clothes bore testimony to that fact. My boss had no choice but to honor my decision since the uniform was mandatory for delivery drivers.
When an athlete changes teams, he changes uniforms. Along with the new clothes comes a new allegiance for his new team. By taking off his old uniform he is no longer bound to be loyal to the former team. A change has taken place.
In Zechariah 3, Joshua the priest is wanting to pledge his allegiance to God, but Satan was challenging Joshua’s claim. After all, Joshua was still wearing his old sin polluted uniform he got from Satan.
Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the Lord stood by.Zechariah 3:3-5 NKJV
Notice there was no instruction to put the new clothes over the old clothes. The old clothes had to be removed first.
No repentance is genuine that does not work reformation. The righteousness of Christ is not a cloak to cover unconfessed and unforsaken sin; it is a principle of life that transforms the character and controls the conduct. Holiness is wholeness for God; it is the entire surrender of heart and life to the indwelling of the principles of heaven. -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, pages 555-556
In world War II you could not fight for Britain in a German uniform. A football player can’t play for England while wearing a German uniform either. You can’t try to wear one uniform over the other one either. Then neither side will trust you! Remember when David was hiding out with the Philistines so Saul could not find him? When it came time for battle, the Philistines sent David back. The Philistine princes said,
““Make this fellow return, that he may go back to the place which you have appointed for him, and do not let him go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he become our adversary.” 1 Samuel 29:4
No, you can’t hang on to your old uniform when you change sides. A boy does not want his girlfriend wearing her ex-boyfriend’s school jacket. He is not going to try to fit his jacket over the old jacket. The former boyfriend’s jacket has to go before the new boyfriend will let her wear his.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
The new does not cover up the old. The old passes away. Christ’s robe of righteousness does not cover us while we willfully continue in sin. Just like with Joshua, the old clothes had to go. The good news is Christ takes away those clothes for us. Joshua did not take away those filthy rags he was wearing, but he let God have them removed. Likewise we can’t change ourselves, but if we fully surrender to God, God will take away the old uniform Satan gave us, and we will be clothed with the righteous robe of Christ. We have become turncoats. We have betrayed the side of Satan and have become traitors to the prince of darkness and that is a good thing! We have changed sides and we don’t need to wear Satan’s high school jacket anymore. We have put on Christ.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. Romans 13:14 NKJV
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
Many have seen the movies and read books to children about the knight in shining armor who comes and saves the damsel in distress. As we read we dream of someone caring for us the way the knight cares for the damsel. Would anyone ever pursue us with such desire?
What if I told you, that someone is pursuing you with such desire and even more so? What if I told you that Genesis 3:15 was where the original love story of the damsel in distress and knight in shining armor came from? Writers are not as original as they like to think. Fiction is often based on some truth, because writers have to get their ideas from somewhere. Since the story happened first here, I would guess that all the other books have been copy cats. Nothing beats the original version!
And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15 NLT
Jesus is talking to Satan, or the dragon, since these stories need a dragon, right? The woman, the damsel has fallen into the hands of the dragon, but Jesus is telling the dragon He is going to rescue the damsel. You could also say the damsel is a princess and the Prince of Peace is going to rescue the princess.
Sure enough the Prince of Peace is faithful to His promise!
Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True. Revelation 19:11 NLT
The prince or knight always comes in on a horse right?
His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. Revelation 19:12 NLT
Pure speculation on my part, but since the understanding of the name is not known, speculation is allowed. I have read of detectives keeping the names of missing people and even their pictures in their wallets because they are obsessed with their rescue mission. Could it be that Jesus has a special name for His damsel in distress inscribed on His person? Even written on His heart? There has never been in the history of love stories, a prince who has desired and pursued a damsel like the Prince of Peace is pursuing you! There has never been a knight in shining armor who has desired a woman like Jesus desires His church!
Please remember. I am not making this rescue look like a fairy tale. Far from it! Fairy tales writers are the ones copying themes from the Bible and failing miserably at it! Hollywood doesn’t know what real love is and could never write a real love story. Let’s go on with the original and only real love story.
Then I saw the beast and the kings of the world and their armies gathered together to fight against the one sitting on the horse and his army. And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast—miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. Their entire army was killed by the sharp sword that came from the mouth of the one riding the white horse. Revelation 19:19-21 NLT
Jesus keeps good with His promise and comes to the rescue of His damsel in distress. He destroys the dragon and his followers who were putting His woman the church, in distress like a damsel. Now He and His damsel can marry, go to His castle and live happily ever after.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:3-4 NLT
There are so many versions of love stories because everyone loves a good love story. The Song of Solomon is proof God loves a good love story too, but not the cheap imitations. He loves the original story. The original version is the only version where they really do “live happily ever after”!
Please don’t waste time on cheap fairy tale stories that make you dream about someone desiring and pursuing you. Read the real story about a real Prince Who has real love for His damsel in distress which is you! Read in the Bible how He promises to rescue you from the dragon because He really does love you with a love no paper back novel can emulate. There will never be a greater story. There will never be a greater love. There will never be a greater Prince or Knight in Shining Armor. And there will never be another damsel in distress who is loved, desired, and pursued as much as Jesus, loves, desires and is pursuing you! He is too great a gentleman to force Himself. All He needs is your consent, and He will rescue you from the dragon so you can both live happily ever after.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
One Friday morning, I was helping a friend get their house “presentable” to have a group of Bible study students over for Sabbath afternoon. I was pulling weeds in their flower bed near their front door, when I got a little carried away, and found in my hands, not a clump of ugly weeds like I was suppose to have, but instead, before I could stop my over zealous hands,I realized I had just murdered a totally beautiful and innocent begonia! I snapped it before the root and there was no way now I could save it. In my mind I could hear Jesus telling me,
“See why I don’t let you go pulling weeds in my church? You can’t tell a beautiful begonia from a weed. There is no way I am going to let you destroy a totally innocent member of My church, just because you think they are a heretic. I will do My own weeding thank you. I can tell a weed from a begonia. Obviously you can’t.”
I am going to cut straight to the chase. I have become very concerned lately how easily the word “apostasy” gets thrown around Adventist circles these days. If someone does not agree with us, some of us accuse them of apostasy. That is a strong word! Apostasy simply means a renunciation or abandonment of a belief, but yet it carries with it an even greater connotation within our circles, of abandoning God Himself. Funny, some people put themselves in God’s place of defining heresy and apostasy, yet I don’t ever find Jesus accusing anyone in the Bible of being an apostate or heretic, so I am confused as to why so many of His professed followers have taken up the practice.
Apostasy does not mean renouncing a doctrine because another church teaches it too. Remember, the Seventh-day Adventist Church grew out of many denominations. The purpose of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is not to disagree with everybody else. The purpose of the Seventh-day Adventist church is to
In the mid 1800′s a group of Advent believers from many denominations sat down together with their Bibles. Rachel Oakes, a Seventh-day Baptist in that group introduced the Sabbath. The group found it to be quite Biblical so it was adopted by the group. The group found that the Baptist church was quite Biblical concerning baptism by immersion so that was adopted as well. However, the group found the immortality of the soul to be found nowhere in the Bible so that was not accepted. You see, this group did not say “Oh we don’t believe that! This is what the Baptists believe or that is what Catholics believe!” If we are going to use that logic we are going to have to give up the Sabbath because that is what Seventh-day Baptists believe! We would also have to give up the Trinity because that is what Catholics believe!
If our goal is to be the exact opposite of Catholics, then we are going to have to stop praying for loved ones in the hospital because that is what Catholics do. Actually we will have to stop running our hospital systems all together, because after all, having hospitals that provide compassionate care is something the Catholics do. And we don’t want to be like them, right? Friends, just because the Catholics do something does not make it wrong, and just because we do something does not make it right! Catholics are very reverent in their worship service. Shall we run and scream in God’s house just to prove we are not Catholics? Of course not! Like Paul said, we want to hold on to what is good instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water.
I have met bitter former Adventists who have made it their religion to bash the Adventist church. Instead of lifting up Jesus they love to go online and bash the Adventist church. I have news for them. Bashing Adventism in not a religion. Now I have some news for some of us Adventists. Bashing Catholicism is not a religion either! Jesus, our example never made a religion out of bashing people for their beliefs.
This message must be given, but while it must be given, we should be careful not to thrust and crowd and condemn those who have not the light that we have. We should not go out of our way to make hard thrusts at the Catholics. Among the Catholics there are many who are most conscientious Christians, and who walk in all the light that shines upon them, and God will work in their behalf.–Ellen White, Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 243.
Right and wrong is determined by the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16) and not by religious denomination.
We are not to hold on to our beliefs because they are what our pioneers taught. If we do that then we are making an idol of our pioneers. We also become steeped in tradition if we only believe what our pioneers believe. It was never Martin Luther’s desire to bash Catholicism. It was his desire to take the Bible over tradition and the teachings of man. If we now set up our Adventist pioneers and Adventist traditions as the standard, then we are falling back into Babylon! The only way we can stay out of Babylon is to use the Word of God as our standard, instead of worshiping as idols the pioneers of our church even when they may be wrong, and bashing other churches even when they may be right!
Let’s be careful who we call apostates and what we call apostasy. Recently I have heard people saying the trinity is not an Adventist doctrine while it most definitely is! Many people are accusing other people of apostasy while they are in apostasy! So let’s be careful how we use that word, and not use it all if we can avoid it. It is not a word I read Jesus using. Let’s try to be more like Jesus.
Let’s not accuse someone of apostasy because they do something a Catholic or Baptist does. If we do, we will need to stop baptizing by immersion and having compassionate hospitals. Not everything they do is wrong and not everything you do is right. Let’s just go by the Bible.
Let’s not set up our Adventist pioneers as infallible and above the Word of God. If we tell the Catholics not to worship Mary and St.Peter, then its only fair we not worship Uriah Smith and Ellen White. Yes, I know Ellen White wrote under inspiration but so did Peter. Let’s not worship either one of them. Let’s worship Jesus. If we tell Catholics not to put their traditions above the Word of God then lets not put our traditions above the Word of God. Let’s not make a religion out of bashing other people’s beliefs and churches. Let’s make a religion out of lifting up Jesus!
You may study and discuss this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
Ever have one of those days where it seems nothing is going right? I had one of those a while back. I went to my regular barber shop, wrote my name on the waiting list and sat down to wait only for my name to never be called. People were coming and signing after me and getting waited on before me, so I went to another nearby barbershop, only to find the wait was too long.
I had no more time to waste as I had to get to a Bible study on the other side of town. After the Bible study I saw a barber shop nearby. I got waited on right away. The barber asked me where I worked, and I told him I gave Bible studies. He told me he wanted to learn more about the Bible. He did not want personal studies, but he did want the Bible study guides and some literature I had in my car. As I drove away I realized why the first couple of places never waited on me. The Holy Spirit was working on the barber’s heart across town, and so He worked things out to get me where I needed to be.
Something Similar happened to Paul and Silas.
Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. Acts 16:6 NLT
I wonder if Paul and Silas saw it that way? I mean did they realize it was the Holy Spirit that was preventing them from preaching in Asia or did they blame it on the devil? What may have looked like a victory for the dark side was actually a victory for God. Often when I lose control of a situation and things don’t go my way, I am tempted to think that evil is getting the upper hand, when in reality God is still in control. He is just not doing things my way!
God had a plan to save Asia, but Paul and Silas’ current missionary tour was not a part of God’s plan to save Asia at that time. Earlier I asked if Paul and Silas saw it that way, and maybe they did. However, I know many times today when we set out with goals we get discouraged when they are not carried out according to our plan. Its not necessarily that things did not go according to God’s plan, but they just did not go according to our plan. God had another plan for Paul.
Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there. So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas. Acts 16:7-8 NLT
Wow nothing seemed to be going right. Ever have one of those days or even years where it seems nothing was going your way? Several years ago I lost my job and my fiancée, and nothing was going right at my new job. It was so bad it made me wonder if I was even suppose to be born, or if I was an accident that God did not know what to do with! Looking back now, it was just a little bump in the road to better things and the best years of my life. Stay with me here.
That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there. Acts 16:9-10 NLT
Ah! That is why there was a roadblock on the way to Asia, Mysia and Bithynia! It wasn’t evil getting the upper hand, just like it wasn’t evil getting the upper hand when I could not get my hair cut. The Holy Spirit was using those roadblocks to get Paul and Silas to where they needed to be!
Remember God has a plan for your life even when it seems things are going wrong.
Remember when everything seems to be going wrong, God is still very much in control. He just may not be doing things our way.
The Holy Spirit is working on hearts all over the world. Instead of telling the Spirit where to work, we need to be willing to work wherever the Spirit is working. That may mean going to another side of the world, or another side of town.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
Have you every brought up an idea in a committee meeting, only to have it ignored, and then ten minutes later someone a little bit more popular than you, says the same exact thing you just said, except this time, instead of it being ignored everyone loves the idea! And you are sitting there thinking to yourself, “That’s what I just said ten minutes ago!”
Sometimes its not what is being said but who is saying it. A while back, after teaching a group of young people how to chain reference their Bibles, to give Bible studies, I then had one of them lead out in an actual Bible study group. I was there for encouragement, but they were the teacher. Maybe I should not have even showed up at all, because what happened was, while the young person had all the answers from the Bible, the people in the group kept directing their questions at me, instead of the young person who was teaching the class. Awkward! Somehow the group members thought my life experience trumped the authority of this young person, but not so! This young person was getting all their information from the Word of God, and I don’t care how much life experience someone has or titles behind their name, nothing trumps the Word of God!
In John 4:1-54 Jesus meets with a woman at a well, and counsels her about her promiscuous relationships. What gave Him the right? He had no marriage counseling license. He had no marriage experience. Yet this is not the only time He counseled people about their sex lives. In John 8:1-11 Jesus not only counsels with a woman taken in adultery, but He also counselled the men involved, by writing in the sand. In Matthew 5:27-32 Jesus preaches about marriage, sexual temptations and divorce. Instead of referencing His personal life as many do today, Jesus referenced the Scriptures. The Scriptures trump human experience.
Jesus counsels the woman at the well about her relationships, by helping her realize that she has been trying to fill a void in her life that only God can fill. Each sexual escapade just left her thirsty. Just like people try to use Pepsi to quench their thirst, only to find Pepsi actually dehydrates you and leaves you even more thirsty for water, likewise inappropriate sex was leaving this woman thirsty for the living water that is only found not in sex, but in a relationship with God.
Could it be that while having no wife or children, Jesus was an authority on relationships because He had a perfect relationship with God the Father? While giving counsel in John 8, Jesus says “let him without sin throw the first stone.” This was from the Levitical law, so Jesus was basing his counsel on Scripture as well as His relationship with His Father.
In Matthew Matthew 6:24-34 Jesus is giving financial advice. What gives Him the right? He was not a Wall Street wizard. He has no place to lay His head and relied on friends for a place to stay. If a man with no money in the bank and no home or property were to hold a financial seminar today, how many people do you think would listen to him?
The story goes of a very rich business man who tried to school a poor man about wealth. The rich man from Chicago was vacationing in Mexico and doing some fishing. A local came along and threw his reel in the water and a few minutes later had caught four fish, which he put in his bucket and started to leave. The rich business man stopped him and asked,
“Why are you leaving already? You are doing great!”
The local replied, “I caught all the fish I need for my family. I am going home now to eat with them and relax and spend time with the family.”
The business man exclaimed, “But you are doing so well! If you stay longer you can catch even more fish!”
“What would I do with them?” The local asked.
“You could catch enough fish to sell them and buy a boat!” the man answered.
“Then what?” The local asked.
“You could catch even more fish with a boat! Then you could sell even more fish and buy more boats and catch and sell even more fish.” The business man exclaimed, somewhat frustrated that the local was not catching the vision.
“What would I do after all of that?” The local replied,
to which the rich business man answered, “Then you could retire.”
“What would I do while I’m retired” asked the local.
“You can eat with your family and relax and spend time with them!” The rich man declared! Wondering why this simple local could not follow his logic and financial advice! But was it logical? Wasn’t the local already on his way to eat and spend time with family now? Why should he spend his life planning only for tomorrow never knowing for sure if there would even be a tomorrow?
Ever heard the saying, “Some people are so poor all they have is money?” The local, like Jesus realized you need more than money to be wealthy. Some people give up their health and friends in an effort to make more money, only to find out that money is not the substance of life. Good relationships are what make you wealthy in the long run. Years ago a friend of mine went to hear a financial motivational speaker. The speaker told them, “In order to be rich, the first thing you need to do is drop your poor friends and only hang out with rich people.” Some one raised their hand and asked, “Won’t we be losing a lot of good friends doing that?” “Sure the financial wizard explained, “But if they are are good friends they will understand.” True story! My point here is financial wizards don’t always give the best advice. Sometimes the best advice comes from a Teacher who had no money in the bank and “no place to lay His head.”
While Jesus had no marriage or financial experience according to our standards, He was the perfect counselor. Like my young friend teaching the Bible study group, Jesus was often heard saying, “It is Written.” When asked questions instead of relying on personal experience Jesus would often say, “What saith the Scriptures?” Jesus made the perfect counselor, not because He had a degree or license or the perfect wife and children and perfect home, but because He had a perfect relationship with His heavenly Father and a perfect understanding of the Scriptures.
Looking at first glance Jesus was totally the wrong person to be giving advice, except for one thing, He was perfect.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
You are looking at my favorite Florida sunset picture out of all the ones I have taken. While I love the beauty of Florida I have discovered as I travel around, that Florida is not the only beautiful place in the world. The sunsets on the sea are not the only way God expresses His beauty. He also expresses His beauty on snow capped mountains, lush valleys and meadows as well as majestic forests. God has too much glory and beauty for little Florida to contain, so He must spread it all over the world. It is the same with people. God is just too big and glorious for Him to portray Himself in one type of people. So He expresses His beauty in different types of people all over the world.
The spring of 2003 found me driving from Texas to Tennessee. I stopped for the night in Louisiana. The next morning I stopped at a doughnut shop in Mississippi. As I walked in, all eyes were glued to me, and were staring me down. I checked my zipper. Everything seemed to be okay. I walked up to the counter and smiled at the lady at the cash register, but she only glared back at me. I wiped my face. I must not have rinsed well after shaving. I cheerfully ordered my two chocolate cream filled doughnuts. My cheerful order was not met with a cheerful smile. The lady very curtly gave me my doughnuts, made change and glared at me as I smiled back and said “Thank you!”
As I turned around, I saw all the customers were still glaring at me. I smiled back at them and they only glared back at me. That is when I finally noticed something I hadn’t before. I was the only white person in the store. Everyone else was black. My first reaction to that realization was, “You’ve got to be kidding me! Your attitude towards me is so 1964! It’s 2003 people!” I came within an eyelash of making a grand speech, about how we are all friends back in Texas, but thought better of it. My church in Texas was a multi-cultural church with several different nationalities. (Notice I did not say races and I will tell you later why.) Not only at church, but also where I worked, I had black friends, white friends, Hispanic friends, and everything in between.
Later when I shared my experience with a friend, they reminded me that I was passing through an area where there was still anger over racist crimes. They reminded me about Emmett Till, the young black boy who was killed by some white men for no good reason and the jury let them go! That has created a lot of anger in the black people.
Well I want to share something with you. What happened to Emmett Till has created a lot of anger in me too! You see, I don’t think of Emmett as just black. I think of him as human. I like to think of myself as human as well. People call what happened to him a race crime, that pits blacks against whites. But here is the thing. I am the same race as Emmett Till! While he was black and I am white I am still the same race as him- the human race! What happened to Emmett was a crime against humanity-the same humanity I am a part of. I have just as much right to share the hurt and anger of this terrible crime, because as a human I can identify with him. You see, the Bible only acknowledges one race, the human race. We all have one Father. When Cain killed Abel, it was an attack on the human race and when those men killed poor Emmett, it was an attack on the human race as well- the entire human race, and it broke the heart of the same Father whose heart was broken when Cain killed Abel.
Even though I enjoy beautiful sunsets on the beach here in Florida, I am still concerned about how pollution affects beautiful places all over the world. You see I don’t just belong to Florida. I belong to the world. Emmett Till did not just belong to black people. He belonged to humanity.
When we become narrow-minded, thinking we only belong to people in our own area, color, or even church then we are denying how great and wonderful our God is. Even in the church we debate theology thinking our way of thinking has a corner on the market, forgetting that God is too great to pour all His theology into one simple narrow minded brain. I have said it before and will repeat it now, often our camp of thought is wrong, not by what it teaches, but by what it does not teach. Some people stress justification while others stress sanctification. Fact is you need both. So to get the big picture on theology we must put all our ideas together. I may love my beach sunset pictures, but we need beautiful mountains and valleys in there as well. While I see God’s glory in the sea, many see God’s glory in the desert. My sunset picture is not a complete comprehensive picture of God’s glory and beauty, and my theology is not complete either. When we put all our pictures together we get the big picture.
Luke 15:11-31 shares the story of the prodigal son, and in that story the older brother disowns his younger brother when he calls him “This son of yours”. He would not call him brother. Problem is we all have one Father. That makes us all family. God is the father of struggling sinners. If in my pride I claim the struggling sinner is not my brother, then I have also said God is not my Father! In the end of the story the older brother finds himself outside of his Father’s house, because he refused to accept his brother.
Quaid, an elderly man from Vietnam, whose family disowned him when He became a Seventh-day Adventist, was a member of a church I preach at here in Florida. Sadly, he has passed on. At his funeral, a mother of a struggling teen shared this story with me. Her daughter, we will call Shelby was dealing with some grief in her life and was acting out. She dressed differently and liked to dye her hair bright colors. One day at church people were talking about her and she was very hurt. She started telling everyone she was never coming back, because people were treating her like she was so different. Quaid, in his classic grey suit and tie sat down on a bench outside the church, with 15 year old Shelby, in her strange clothes and hair, and he told her how his family had thought he was strange for being Seventh-day Adventist, but it did not stop him from coming to church. He talked to her about how people thought he was strange because of some of his customs from his native country, but that did not stop him from loving them. This elderly man from Vietnam, sat on a bench with a rebellious 15 year old girl, and talked to her about all the things they had in common! He shared with her how, while being different, they both shared the same problems-rejection. He told her he was not giving up coming to church just because people thought he was different, and told her not to let them keep her from church either! Years later, Shelby attends church occasionally, but according to her mother, she would not be attending at all if it wasn’t for an elderly Vietnamese, traditional Adventist elder who saw himself in a 15 year old American rebellious teenage girl. Shelby attends that church occasionally and has friends from that church that she meets for socials outside of church, but Quaid will always have a special place in her heart.
Friends we share one Father. We are family. While I live in Florida I have an interest in the whole world because the lines between states and countries are only imaginary. I am not just a part of Florida. I am a part of this world. I am not just a Seventh-day Adventist. I am a Christian and therefore I have an interest in my Methodist and Baptist brothers as well. I don’t just belong to white people. I belong to people of every color and nationality because I am a part of the human race. I am a part of God’s great big family. I am not going to let narrow minded thinking force me outside my Father’s house.
You can study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
This last year, Liam was in our baptism class at Tampa Adventist Academy. We met during lunch on Fridays, and in this particular picture, our regular meeting room was unavailable so we enjoyed our lunch and study outside. This was in December by they way. Only in Florida! :)
Liam comes from a nice Christian home. His father is Pastor Brad, the senior pastor at our Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church. His mother Julie, teaches at the Tampa Adventist Academy and helps out in several children’s ministries in the Florida area. He has two big brothers who make excellent Christian role models. While this is an advantageous situation for Liam, he is still his own man. In the baptism class, as well as in school chapel Liam makes thoughtful comments and questions, showing that he is doing his own thinking, and making good choices.
Last year, while I was giving the talk for chapel, I was talking about Jesus calming the storm. When I got to the part about the storm being calmed, Liam raised his hand and asked, “If the sea was calm then how did the boats move?” Liam was making a very deep and mature observation, that in life we need a little wind and turbulence to propel us to where we need to be. Sometimes its the storms in life that take us to places of growth and maturity.
When we finished the baptism class Liam announced he wanted to be baptized at summer camp-and he was!
Many of Liam’s family and friends were unable to be present at the baptism, but Liam’s mom, Julie was kind enough to share these pictures and a little report so we can all share in the celebration.
“It was a sunshiny Sabbath afternoon on June 7 at the Camp Kulaqua Spring. Liam Cassell had been waiting for this day for four years–that was when he first started asking to be baptized, and specifically at Camp Kulaqua. Finally, after going through baptismal studies with William Earnhardt at TAA, having many discussions with his family and friends, and waiting for the weekend of his 10th birthday, Liam was baptized by his father, Pastor Brad Cassell. Despite the cold spring water, father and son were all smiles, while mom wiped away her tears of joy. What rejoicing in heaven and earth when a young one gives his life to Jesus!” – Julie Cassell, Liam’s Mom