Category Archives: Baptism Pictures And Stories

Liam’s Baptism Pictures and Stories

Baptism Class Outside

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!

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This June, at camp Kulaqua, the Florida Conference of SDA campsite, Liam was baptized by his father, Pastor Brad.

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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

 

Ric’s Baptism

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area. Home of Tampa Adventist Academy.
I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area. Home of Tampa Adventist Academy.

Every year I hold a baptism class at Tampa Adventist Academy where we go over the Bible beliefs of the Adventist church, and learn what baptism and being a disciple of Jesus is all about.

Florida weather provides several opportunities to have class outside.
Florida weather provides several opportunities to have class outside.

Ric, is our latest class member to be baptized, April 12th at the Brandon Seventh-day Adventist Church.  Ric has not only attended my baptism class, but he is also in my Bible chain-referencing class I hold at TAA as well, where he has learned with the other students, how to present Bible studies about the plan of salvation, baptism, the Sabbath and several other topics, as well as ask for decisions at the end of the studies.

Ric shares with us what his baptism meant to him.

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“I enjoyed the baptism class with Pastor Earnhardt. I liked the stories of the Bible character’s lives. I also liked how we got to go outside and have class in nature. Baptism to me means to start new. In God’s eyes I am a new man now.”  -Ric, newly baptized student

Ric is fun loving with a sense of humor much like mine (I hope that’s a good thing!) but on the morning of his baptism he was, while being happy, also very serious, showing his sincerity and appreciation for the event, as Pastor Rex Frost, his pastor baptized him. Afterwards Ric appreciated a special prayer of dedication that I, along with his family and church family had for him.

Please continue praying fro Ric as he continues his walk with Christ, and for all of the students at Tampa Adventist Academy!

Issay’s Baptism Pictures and Stories

Today was a very special Sabbath at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, where Pastor Art Grayman, of Port Charlotte, was given the privilege of baptizing his grandson, Issay. Issay has been a member of the young adult Sabbath School Class at Tampa First. I made contact with him several months ago when he told me he wanted to be baptized. Chad, is also a member of the young adult Sabbath School Class, and has received training on how to give Bible studies. I put them together and they really hit if off. Please enjoy their pictures and stories.

After Sabbath School and church, Issay and Chad met together faithfully for Bible studies leading to Issay's baptism today.
After Sabbath School and church, Issay and Chad met together faithfully for Bible studies leading to Issay’s baptism today.

Chad shared with the church family today, right before the baptism:

“I have always enjoyed giving Bible studies and becoming friends with the people I have the privilege of studying with. I had started a Bible study in November 2012 but I had to give it up to the William, the Bible Worker at Tampa 1stbecause our schedules didn’t allow us to continue. I started praying that God would send me another Bible study in March, 2013 and also that He would send me a new friend as well. I didn’t think that within a week of praying that prayer that God would send me both a Bible study and a new friend all in one. In addition God worked it out for us to study when both of our schedules permitted. During the next 6 months everything went with very little problems. Issay and I have developed a friendship and I have seen him grow spiritual over our time of studying together. Seeing my friend get baptized gives me great joy!” -Chad

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Right before the baptism Pastor Brad went over the baptism vows.

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Issay shared his testimony:

“Testimony – How God brought me back to Him

I was blessed to be born in a pastoral family. As a result of my father being a Seventh Day Adventist Pastor, I got to see in first hand all the good things God can do for his children and the love he has for us, even when we take it for granted. But ironically that same blessing of being a pastor son was also tough for me because people expected the very best if not perfection from me at all times.  In my late teen years I didn’t deal well with the pressure of being the “the perfect Christian” so I started to do things that were not good, I started to spend more time with my non-Christians friends, therefore I started to act, talk, eat like a non-Christian. However I kept going to church every Saturday and trying to be what people expected from me, basically I was living a double life.

I wasn’t happy with my double life, it never felt right for me, because I knew that God didn’t want that life for me. So I started to truly pray to God and just be honest to him about my life I asked for forgiveness and for a second chance. I truly believed that God brought me to Tampa for a reason.  I’m thankful that I met Chad and Shaunda because they have been a good support during my new chapter in my life.

The truth is that I never stopped loving God. Now I know what it really means in Proverbs 22:6 “Instruct the child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it”.  I am very thankful for the family that God gave me because they never stopped praying for me and they were always there during my hard times.  Today I am very excited to renew by baptismal vows and I’m looking forward to keep growing with my new family here in Tampa First.”  -Issay

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But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13 NLT

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And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. Galatians 3:27 NLT

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The Collegiate/Young Adult Sabbath School class at Tampa First has embraced Issay in fellowship and Bible study, and celebrated with him today, with a class luncheon.

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Please don’t let another day pass before you give your heart to the One who gave His heart and life for you on the cross. If you would like to know how to get to know Jesus better I would love to help. You can contact me, William Earnhardt, the Bible Instructor at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net or call me at 813-933-7505.

Eva and Ramiro’s Baptism Pics

This morning at the Tampa First-Seventh-day Adventist Church, we celebrated the baptisms of Eva who was renewing her faith with a new beginning by baptism, and Ramiro who was baptized for the first time.

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Several years ago, I studied with Tony (Right) and he got baptized. Tony also found Merlyn, an elderly spirit filled man in our church, to be his mentor. Merlyn and Tony both began giving Bible studies together, and even though Merlyn has had to slow down recently because of his health, (Merlyn has been giving Bible studies well up into his 90’s!)  Tony has kept right on going. Tony has been studying with several people lately who he meets in various places. One of those is Ramiro (Center) who was baptized today! Tony studied with him for quite a while, and then he felt he was ready we all studied together. As I went over our fundamental beliefs it did not take long for me to see that Ramiro had been a very diligent Bible student and Tony had done a good job of teaching him. There was not much work, if any, left for me to do and Ramiro was cleared for baptism.

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Merlyn was unable to be at the baptism due to his health, even though he is doing much better. Merlyn has been giving Bible studies for decades, and as I said earlier even recently while in his 90s. I hope I am still giving Bible studies and teaching as well as he does, when I am his age, if we are not already in heaven by then.

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Eva shared in her testimony:

“I praise our God and  Father and  His Son  Jesus Christ and their Holy Spirit for their grace and mercy towards me and you.I want to testify of God’s wonderful love and patience. I desire to renew my baptismal vows, I was first baptized when I was 19 years old. I have failed my God in many ways and have broken His tender heart many times. Today I want to testify before heaven and earth that I love my God and your God,  in 1 John 4:4 it is written” Greater is He that is in me, then he that is in the world.”

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Ramiro shared in his testimony that at age 55 he is being born again, and that by being baptized he wants to have all the power of the Holy Spirit to live a new life, walking with Jesus and obeying all of His laws of love.

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As Eva entered the water we played upon her request the song “Take me to the Waters.” It is a beautiful song setting the tone for a meaningful baptism.

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Another meaningful song that was shared was “In the Sanctuary.”  A very powerful song for a meaningful occasion.

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Please don’t let the sun go down on your life before giving your heart to the One who gave His heart on the cross for you! Why not make that decision today to give your heart to Jesus? I would love to talk to you about this. You can contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net . To find a Bible teaching church in your corner of the world you can find one here. 

Abel, Ely, Janice and Ryan’s Profession of Faith

Yesterday was a special day at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist church, as we welcomed four new members into church fellowship by profession of faith. Often our baptized Christian brothers and sister’s who discover the Bible truths taught by the Seventh-day Adventist church,  choose to join by profession of faith, since they have already been baptized into Christ. Please see page 51 of the Adventist church manual.  Please enjoy the pictures and testimonies of yesterday’s wonderful celebration.

Abel and Ely Study

I have had the pleasure of studying with Abel and Ely for the last several months. There home sits near a small lake, and we often enjoyed studying on the balcony overlooking the lake. They love God and His church family with all their hearts, and have already been very active in the church in many different ways, including attending my class on how to give Bible studies and lead others to Christ.

Ely Writes:

“My reconciliation with God and the Seventh-day Adventist Church

After been born and raised in an Adventist family, at the age of 17, decided to take my own path and make my own decisions as an “adult” in spite of my young age.  After such strong determination, left my parent’s coverage facing a new life filled with challenges and lessons which marked me for the rest of my life.   During those years away from the gospel, had intervals and a huge need to return to the ways of the Lord; but the distractions of the world kept me busy, maybe to the point of feeling “attached” which broke my first marriage and each us and our family.  At that very moment, it’s when and where I’d reached bottom and realized that my life had to change once and for all.

Is in the summer of 2010 when my children were with their father for vacation when I’d found myself completely alone and broken; cried out to my God, and asked for his favor to please get me out of the abyss I was in at the time. In a conversation with a former classmate at the seventh-day Adventist Academy, mentioned a book called ‘Knowing Jesus is everything’ (author Alejandro Bullón) and I said: “Let me see, I think I have it in my mini-library” when I go and look for it effectively there it was, still a ‘practically brand new book’.  This book was given to me in the year 2000 during my son’s presentation at church; also traveling to all the sites that I’ve lived; from Puerto Rico to Georgia, Georgia to Germany and Germany to Florida where I currently live.  The year 2010, was the one where the total transformation in my life started, after reading the book. Afterwards, I’d started to attend a non-denominational church where I was baptized in 2011 by both the pastor of the Church and the man who became my husband.  Only God knew what he was doing in my life.   I had no idea that God had that gift of a man, a true man of God and also that he will forgive me for all my sins and loved me and saved me and my children.

After my baptism, one of my former classmates of the Academy says “Ely, you know the truth” and I said “I won’t return to the Seventh – Day Adventist Church, I have a relationship with God and it is all that I need ‘. Looking here and there for churches, one morning passed through the Avenue in front of this church and I saw the sign that says” Seventh Day Adventist Church”. I remember a day like it was yesterday, it was the beginning of 2012 when I decided to take the step and stop by the church.  I got ready and drove to church; when I got there, Sister Isoline and the teacher Millie Mojica welcomed me and my family with such love and for the glory of God it remind me of my school days in the seventh-day Adventist Academy in Caguas, PR. At that moment, the promise of God that says: Stay faithful and I will give you the desires of your heart! Amen! I decided to establish myself in this church and told my husband “I’m not sure which church you want to belong to, but I am staying here” hoping that he was feeling the same way and to my surprise, he was. The Adventist Church is more than a church or organization, is a difference, in love and dedication all around the world. Even in Germany I found the ‘Pathfinders’ without looking for them and it brought back many memories.

My fellow brothers and sisters, the bible verse who says “Instruct the child in its way and even if it will be old will not separate of it” it became true testimony in my life. I felt as the bountiful son who was lost and returned. After trying to fill the emptiness in my life on my own, God filled me completely with the truth of the Adventism for his glory and honor. During all this process in my life my children, clearly, also were marked. To feel the voice of my son saying to me ‘Mami thanks for changing and being at home, you stopped going to clubs and now we have you here at home and in the church’. You will not know, how my son broke my heart with these words, but only it was looking at God and was giving him the glory and honor because it protected me and received me once again with open arms at home.

This is just a short part of my testimony, which I just shared with you, it’s meant for those parents who pray for  their children for them not to get tired or give up on them and for them not to stop doing it.   Also it’s intended for those children who have been feeling “aggravated” because of their parent’s ways of caring, to please  love them and forgive them because they are not perfect in any way, and for them to understand that we enter entire perfection when we turn to the arms of our Creator. These last months with the Pastor William in our house, God’s plan refreshed our beliefs and what we learned in previous years and now comprehend as adults for our lives under the coverage of the Adventism.”

Ely also supplied me with some pictures of her baptism in the same Word document she sent with her testimony. I could not get the pictures to transfer from Word to this post, but the entire testimony in Spanish with pictures are provided by just clicking on the word “Ely” on the line below.

El testimonio de Ely con fotos Ely

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Several Sundays ago we had a work bee at the church and Abel and Ely faithfully participated along with several other church family members. Abel is on far right. Ely is behind the camera.

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Pastor Brad, Center, prepared Ryan (on Pastor Brad’s left with his wife Erika)  and Janice (on Pastor Brad’s right with her boyfriend David)  to join by profession of faith.

Janice writes:

“I would like to start by thanking the congregation. I feel blessed to become a member of the church. I’ve been searching for God’s truth and The Lord led me to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Looking forward to continuance growth spiritually through the church.”

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While we presented the candidates to the church family, Abel thanks the church congregation for being family, and commended the church leadership for encouraging us all to grow together in Christ.Davis Island Dusk

Please don’t allow the sun to go down on you before you give your heart to the One who gave His life for you! I would love to talk to you about giving your heart to Jesus and becoming a part of His body which is His church. If you are not int he Tampa Bay area, you can still contact me and I will be happy to help you find a Grace filled Bible based church in your corner of the world. You may contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net

Brad and Anna’s Baptism

Several months ago Mrs. Mateo, a teacher at Tampa Adventist Academy told me about a lady named Anna, who visited the school to teach a few science projects and was interested in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Today Anna and her husband Brad were baptized! Please enjoy the pictures and stories.

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Brad and Anna worked on the Discover Bible Study Guides at home and would bring them for us to go over in class, as well as the In Light Of The Cross Bible Study Guides. Coming from different backgrounds, Brad and Anna would often bring a different angle of approach to the study which made for very stimulating study. Though we sometimes saw things differently our goal was always to go by the Bible and find out what the Bible says about each topic. This way we all learned more about the Bible from each other, as everyone’s background gives them something to bring to the table that can help others to learn more about Jesus and the Bible.

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Mrs. Wyatte and Mrs. Mateo, who befriended Anna and introduced her to me, joined us as Pastor Brad went over the baptism vows and we welcomed Anna and Brad into the Tampa First SDA Church family. Brad and Anna chose today to be baptized because it is their anniversary! Brad and Ann will also be joining my class, beginning July 6th on how to give Bible studies and lead others to Jesus.

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Anna writes:

” I have been searching most of my adult life for a faith that I could 100% fully & faithfully believe in. My  husband had told me about the Adventist faith and directed me to writings and information about Adventist. Time had past and life caught up with me….I was at a crossroads in my life and in search of guidance and answers. I was blessed to have a good friend reintroduce me to the Adventist faith and encourage me to attend Sabbath. I was pleased to find a faith that I already believed in, I couldn’t believe that a faith existed that was so true to my beliefs and values. The Adventist faith I believe is for me, its like second nature and something I believe is great for me and my family. Through my studies I have learned that all answers to my questions can be found in the bible and through prayer. Reading the bible and praying has brought me closer to GOD and given me clarity on life’s purpose. Most importantly I have a relationship with GOD and have strengthen my knowledge of the bible , this has granted me peace of mind . I am looking forward to being baptized and walking the path with GOD.    The Adventist faith has been a blessing in my life, it has opened my eyes, mind and heart. I know where I’m going and through Christ I am saved and truly blessed. I am grateful to all of those in my life that have helped me gain knowledge and understanding and I look forward to taking this journey towards GOD.”
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Brad Writes:

“William,
 It has been great studying the Bible and learning how the Seventh-Day Adventist faith can help me live a more fulfilling and Christ filled life. Without a doubt your patience in answering and explaining the basic tenets of Christianity to the more complex theological questions is a true testament to your breadth of knowledge. The encouragement and fellowship we received has helped build our confidence not only in our own walk with Jesus Christ, it has also helped us believe we are capable of helping others learn and appreciate the uniqueness of the Seventh-Day Adventist. By using what you have shown me as a foundation, I feel I am able to continue studying with a firm understanding that answers I seek about this life and the one hereafter are in the Bible. Thank you for your time and may God continue to bless you in all that you do.”
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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 

By the way, I was very pleased, when after the baptism a lady from our church family invited Anna and Brad and myself to a celebration dinner after this Sabbath so she and her family can welcome them personally to the family of God!

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Please don’t let the sun set on you before you give your heart and life to the One who gave His heart and life for you! If you would like to know more about following Jesus all the way I would love to hear from you at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net. Even if you are not in the Tampa Bay area please contact me and I will be glad to direct you to a Bible based Christian church in your area.

Tampa Spanish Baptisms

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Last week the Tampa Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church, they had a week of prayer, entitled “Metamorphosis.” Pastor Israel Mora shared over the week on how God takes those who realize they are sinners, and transforms them into the image of God. All things are possible in our lives when we surrender and let God always be in control.

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At the end of the week, this last Sabbath there was a wonderful baptism celebration. Several gave their lives to Jesus. Many of them I have been privileged to work with at Tampa Adventist Academy.

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Leslie (left) and Pamela both attend the upper grades at Tampa Adventist Academy. They both told me they wanted to give all of their lives to Jesus because He gave everything for them. Leslie is in my 7th grade Bible class I teach once a week, and always participates with good questions and comments. Both of them take their over all education very seriously, though they both can be fun. Leslie is currently editing my “In Light of The Cross Bible Study Guides” with verses from the New Living Translation.

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Gabby is in the third grade at Tampa Adventist Academy. Gabby writes:

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“Well baptism means to me that when get in the water that you give your life to Jesus and you be a better Christian and when I got in that water I felt the Holy Spirit going in me and that what you are suppose to feel and I felt like a better Christian.”

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The pathfinders, including Gabby’s sisters Abbi (Second from right top picture) and Kathy (Right on lower picture) sang “I Will Follow” in dedication to Gabby. Abbi and Kathy are very energetic in participating and leading out in their Sabbath school and Pathfinders as well as school activities. They both have attended my Bible chain-referencing classes, and a while back Abbi volunteered to help with one of my baptism classes. Gabby, their little sister appears to be just as on fire for Jesus as they are.

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Janelle writes:

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“What baptism means to me is that I’m giving my heart, life and soul to Jesus and that I’m starting a new life and all my sins are at the bottom of the sea. Also that I set an example for little kids and for grown-ups. Also God and His angels are rejoicing and partying.”

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Keyla, Janelle’s good friend, sang “Dame Tus Ojas” in dedication of Janelle’s baptism. Keyla has been very active in several of my baptism classes as well as Bible-chain referencing classes at TAA.

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Jimmy writes:

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“When I was in line to getting baptized, I was kind of nervous and when they called me to go to the tub, I was even more nervous. When I was in the tub my nervousness had left and I was not nervous anymore. I was shaking because before going into the tub it was cold but the water was warm. I felt great after that.”

I can relate to what Jimmy is saying because I have done baptisms in cold water and warm, and I definitely prefer the warm.

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After the service Janelle’s parents, Carlos and Daisy invited me to a special lunch in Janelle’s honor.

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As we were all eating cake I realized, even though Janelle is only in the 5th grade that she already has a Bluetooth. Get it? Blue tooth? Okay, moving right along…..

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I want to congratulate the Tampa Adventist Academy students from the Tampa Spanish Church, for being so involved in both their church and school, and taking advantage of every opportunity to grow spiritually and be a part of God’s church family. TAA is owned and operated by several churches in the Tampa area. We all share one common goal in sharing Jesus with the young people in our community. It is an honor to know these young people, and for me to have had Jimmy and Janelle in my baptism class last year. They are also in my Bible chain-referencing class that I teach on Tuesdays. I am very proud of all of them! I am also proud of their dedicated teachers!

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Please don’t let the sun set on your life before you accept Jesus and eternal life. I would love to talk to you about giving your life to Jesus. As Pamela and Leslie say, He has given His life for us. I would love to talk to you if you are in the Tampa Bay area, and even if your not, email me anyway. I can find a Bible-based Jesus loving church in your corner of the world Laypastor@TampaAdventist.net

Linda, Marissa, Felix, Terell and La Shanti’s Baptism Pictures

This morning, at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church,  we had a double header with baptisms in both services! Five people decided to give their lives to Jesus because He gave His life for them. Please enjoy the pictures and stories.

Baptism Class TAA

Felix, on my right, has been looking forward to being baptized for a while. Shortly after I studied with his older brother and sister, he was talking about it. This year he was able to attend my Baptism class at Tampa Adventist Academy. Felix also attended my Bible chain-referencing class where he learned how to present Bible studies hand written in his Bible. Later, I found out Felix not only had written the next verse by each previous verse, but he also looked up the page numbers for the next verses, and went back to each previous verse and wrote the page numbers. I had not thought of writing the page numbers with the verses, and neither did anyone else, but Felix did. Now that’s taking initiative.

Workbook

In our Baptism workbooks at TAA, we talked about baptism and other symbols. How do you like Felix’s answer for the “M” symbol? By the way, if you agree with Felix’s answer, we are currently having a “Best Weigh” Weight and nutrition seminar at Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist church. Contact me for more info.

Linda and Marissa

Linda and her daughter Marissa studied with me every Wednesday evening at church. Marissa, wanting to go beyond just the theory of Christianity is already joining the praise teams. She has been in school choirs most of her life, and wants to use her talents to help others become disciples for Jesus.

Terrell and Shante

Just a few months ago Equilla started visiting Tampa First with her family, and has been studying with me, joining my Seeker’s class with her oldest daughter Vanessa. Here we are having baptism studies with her youngest, Terell, and La Shanti. Terell will be going to Germany soon to live a while with his uncle in the military. Terell wanted to be grounded in God’s Word and a relationship with Christ before he leaves his family.

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Terell’s and La Shanti’s cat joined our studies too every week. Every week he would wait for me to lay my lap top case on the floor so he could use it as a pillow. He never missed a study and liked to stay till the very end.

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La Shanti writes: “Baptism means that God loves me ,my sins are washed away and I’m will be a new person.”

Terell

Terell writes: “What does baptism means to me? It means to give myself to God and Jesus, and then He will wash away my sins. He will heal my heart, and give me a new life with God.”

Felix

Felix writes: “I’ve been in baptism classes and I learned a lot. I know that I can get closer to Jesus. I know that Jesus loves me and wants me to be with Him. I want to follow him in all ways. I want to be by his side in the kingdom of heaven. I want to walk and talk with Him. I want to be a servant of God. I love Him and He loves me.

Linda

Linda writes: ” My parents raised me in the church and have always served God. I see how much God has blessed them in their life and he has also blessed me in my life even when I strayed away and I want to serve Him.”

Marissa

Marissa writes: ” For me, being baptized is showing God flat out that you have accepted Him into your life completely and will do anything humanly possible for Him.  I am not getting baptized for my own personal gain either.  I see it as me being one step closer to God.”

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

While we rejoice today because these five precious souls have chosen to die to self in baptism, and follow Jesus, each and every day they along with us, have that choice to make all over again. Like a car going down the interstate, each exit is an opportunity to exit the path and go another way. A choice is made at each exit to stay on the interstate or leave. Likewise every day the choice to follow Jesus must be renewed, not only for those baptized today, but for each and every one. If you chose to follow Jesus again today, all heaven is rejoicing for your decision along with those who were baptized today.

Daytona Beach Sunrise 2012

Dawn is just beginning to break in this picture of Daytona Beach. Each dawn brings a fresh day, a blank page full of opportunities and possibilities. Those possibilities depend upon the choices we make. Today is your opportunity to choose to follow Jesus. If you are choosing to follow Him for the first time, or choosing to follow Him again, and would like to talk with me, I would love to talk with you. You can contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net . If you are not in the Tampa Bay area, go ahead and contact me anyway and I can help you find a caring, Bible based church in your corner of the world.

Alyssa’s Baptism

This month is a special month at Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist church as we already have three different baptisms scheduled for February. This morning, was special as Alyssa was our first candidate to be baptized this month. Please enjoy the pictures and stories.

Baptism Class TAA

Alyssa, on my left, was one of the first to sign up for my baptism class at Tampa Adventist Academy. She faithfully completed her baptism workbook, and actively participated by asking thoughtful questions about how to please God with our lives, and she was very satisfied when we found the answers in the Bible.

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Alyssa read a short testimony on why she was being baptized and what it meant to her. She wrote:

Alyssa's note

Alyssa baptism

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“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.” Romans 6:3-4 NLT

One of the many things we learned in our baptism class, is what baptism means. When you go under the water you stop breathing for a second, since you don’t breathe water. This is symbolic of your  death. You are dying to self, and saying goodbye living life your own way. When you come up out of the water, you take a new breath, symbolizing the new life you are now living for Jesus.

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After church the church family congratulated and welcomed Alyssa to the church family.

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Here is Alyssa with her family. Alyssa was very happy about her Uncle Charlie (Top Center) coming all the way from California for her baptism. Charlie was a member at Tampa First before moving to California, and is very much in love with Jesus, and has encouraged others to make their decisions for Christ as well. In our baptism class, Alyssa was always talking about her Uncle Charlie and how she wanted to be baptized when he could be here. I can tell by the way Alyssa talks about him all the time, he is her hero and a very positive influence in her life. I am so happy when a young person has a real hero and role model to admire and emulate.

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All who follow Jesus will be fishers of men. Alyssa has the same passion for reaching others for Christ that her Uncle Charlie and the rest of her family have. Here she is being presented with her baptism certificate, which includes the fundamental beliefs of the seventh-day Adventist Church.

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Don’t let the sun set on your life, before you give all of your life to Jesus. Alyssa did not want to wait till she got older and give to Jesus just whatever was left over of her life. She gave all of her life to Jesus because He gave all of His life to her. Jesus has given His life for you too! He loves you! If you are thinking about giving your life to Jesus I would love to talk with you and help you prepare for baptism. If you are on the other side of the world I would still love to hear from you, and help you find a Bible based church on your side of the world. You can reach me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net

Mark, Marian and Cecilia’s Baptism Pictures

If all the angels rejoice when one soul gives their life to Jesus, and they do, then all the angels must have been downright ecstatic this morning at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, when an entire family of three each gave their life to Jesus in baptism. Please join us and the angels in rejoicing as you enjoy the pictures and stories.

Mark and Marian

Several months ago, Marian showed up in my Seeker’s Sabbath School class. She told me she was raised Episcopalian, but wanted to learn more about the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Her husband, Mark, had been an Adventist and lot of his family still are. Mark and Marian joined my Seeker’s Sabbath School class, and we began personal Bible studies in their home. Mark and Marian live just down the road from me, so it has been great not only making new friends at church but also making new friends in the neighborhood.

Cecilia

Mark and Marian placed their daughter, Cecilia in our church school at Tampa Adventist Academy this fall while they were still studying for baptism. Cecilia loves her new teacher, Mrs. Nowotny. Cecilia says Mrs. Nowotny really listens to her. Cecilia decided she wanted to be baptized and I began studying with her too. Cecilia has been enjoying the chapels at TAA and even joined our Wednesday after school Bible study group. Apparently, not only does Mrs. Nowotny really listen to Cecelia, but Cecilia listens as well, as during our Bible study time, she shared with me things she had learned about Jesus from Mrs. Nowotny.

Vows Morgans

As we did the baptismal vows, we also shared a little bit of the journey. Marian has this to share:

“Being baptized and growing up in the Episcopal church provided me with the foundational beliefs in the blessed Trinity and guidance to walk a path of Christian living.  I was blessed to have the opportunity to attend a faith-based college, and while attending, I was fortunate to volunteer and lead the adult choir in a Presbyterian church.  Throughout my adulthood, I desired to deepen my faith and searched for the right fit.  After my daughter Cecilia was born, this became more important to me than ever before.  I remembered that when Cecilia was blessed in the Seventh Day Adventist church how much joy we were surrounded with and the warmness our family received.  We attended several other churches of different denominations and nothing seemed to fill me with the joy I had once experienced.  Last spring, I decided to go online and research the Seventh Day Adventist faith and beliefs, I researched the school curriculum and found that it enhanced upon my foundational beliefs and was completely bible based.  I researched all of the area churches and found Tampa First to be the church that I felt a connection with and we planned to attend.  I then contacted the Tampa Adventist Academy and scheduled an appointment for Cecilia to be interviewed and tested for acceptance into the school.  I feel so blessed that my first experience at Tampa First was surrounded by so many generous members eager to help our family settle in. 

I met William on our very first visit and it changed me.  Soon after, William was studying with Mark and I in our home and my path was clear, I wanted to  be baptized, follow God’s laws and be reborn to self to honor the Lord for all his grace and glory for the things he had done and given up for me.  Toward the end of our baptismal sessions, our daughter, Cecilia, brought forth a very good argument on why she should be baptized.  William so graciously changed course and began studying with Cecilia as well.  I am so glad we delayed our fall plans to include Cecilia in our baptism. Today, January 12, 2013 I have been baptized with my daughter and husband and I cannot thank William enough for bringing his knowledge and the power of the Holy Spirit into our home and family to bring us to a closer walk with God our Father.  Pastor Brad has become a very dear part of our family by providing us with his time and guidance and I thank him for his deep dedication to our family and continued support.  I pray that the peace of the Holy Spirit remain with each of us always and thank each of the members at Tampa First and our families for being such an integral part of our journey to walk into baptism and may we continue to walk in Christ from this day forward.  If I stumble a time or two, I believe my roots are planted through baptism and God’s love will carry me through the storm to meet each of you in the air on that great day of rejoicing. 

Many blessings, Marian Morgan”

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 Cecilia says, “I love God and want to teach people about God.”

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Cecilia describes baptism by saying: “The water surrounds us with God’s love and holds us.” I had never thought of that before, and thought it was a very beautiful analogy.

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 1 Peter 1:18-19

Marian

I always like to pray for the person being baptized and for them to always remember the amazing love that brought them to this decision.

Mark

Mark is a really cool dad. When most parents come by to pick their kids up after school during our Bible study, they take their kids and go. That is totally understandable as this is an informal after school study, and the parents have things to do and places to go. However, when Mark comes to pick up Cecilia, instead of taking her out of the Bible study, he stays and joins her and the rest of the kids in our study group. It makes Cecilia proud to have her dad there, and the other kids like it too.

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After church Mark, Marian and Cecilia invited me and their family over to the house for lunch as we celebrated a totally awesome Sabbath!

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Please don’t let the sun set on you before you give your life to the one who died to redeem you with his precious blood. We are planning another baptism at Tampa First February 23rd, if you feel the Holy Spirit tugging on your heart, I would love to visit with you about that date or another upcoming date. You can contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net . If you are not in the Tampa Bay area, I would still love to hear from you so I can introduce you to a church family in your area who can help you with this important step.