Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sex is one of the Greatest Evidences There is a God

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In light of recent debates on creation or the existence of God, here are my thoughts, I am sharing simply because I have not seen them shared anywhere else and I believe they are important.

  1. Its infinitely impossible to believe we came from a big bang or just evolved. Its infinity times infinity impossible to believe that we just evolved or came from a big bang, and oh by the way, we just happen to be able to reproduce with each other.
  2. If the Biblical guidelines for sex are not real, then why does sex outside of those guidelines leave us with emotional scars that can only be healed by the forgiveness and agape love found in the Bible? (An unbeliever may say the scars come from our  man made “religious hangups”  about sex, yet unbelievers are scared by immoral and sexual abuse too, so it has to be more than just our own man made “hangups.”)
  3. At creation we were given the Sabbath and marriage/sex. Satan has done his best to make us forget we have a Creator by making a counterfeit Sabbath and counterfeit (immoral) sexual relationships which lead us back to number 2.

Reflections on the Sea and Life in General

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Sometimes we think something is over when it hasn’t even begun yet.

Texas has some beautiful sunsets. I don’t know why I didn’t get any pictures of them while I was living there. I wasn’t really a photographer back then, and didn’t realize how few pictures I had of my life in Texas until I got ready to move. I wanted pictures to take with me, so my good friend and photographer Danielba, started taking all kinds of pictures of my friends and myself so I could take the memories of Texas with me to Florida.

As a child we often took vacations to the beaches along the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida, and also the Pacific and Atlantic. However as an adult I did not have much opportunity for travel. I remember living in North Texas, and seeing a picture book someone had of ships, and thought to myself that I probably won’t ever see any ships again like I did when I was a kid. Finally in the fall of 2003 I had a weekend where I was not scheduled to preach anywhere. I decided that was my chance, to finally see the Gulf of Mexico again, so I drove down to Galveston and spent the weekend. I thought I better take advantage of this opportunity because it had been so long since I had seen the gulf I did not know when and if I would get another chance. In the fall of 2003 I had no clue that the spring of 2004 would find me living in Tampa, Florida just minutes from the Gulf of Mexico and just over a couple hours from the Atlantic Ocean.

The last few years of my life in Texas I worked in the middle of the night to early morning at UPS and then went to my day job, where I got off work just in time to go home to bed and start all over again. Often I would get home from my day job late, and would hurry from my car to my apartment just so I could go to bed and get up at 2 AM to go to work again. As I walked briskly to my apartment I would pass my neighbors sitting on their patios barbecuing, or just enjoying a lemonade (yeah I’m sure that’s what it was) and a sunset. I thought to myself, that I am so busy working all the time I will never get a chance to just relax and see another sunset. I was too caught up in my daily routine to realize it was only temporary.

 After moving to Florida, while I still work hard and long hours for God, He blesses me with moments, when He calls me to relax with Him for a while and enjoy some sunsets, that at one time my overworked and fatigued mind thought I would never see again. 

Here are some of my favorite sunset pictures I have taken over the years here in Florida.

St. Pete Beach 2007
St. Pete Beach 2007

This picture is one of the first I ever took, and hundreds of pictures later, is about my favorite. I like the way the sun and colors reflect off the clouds. I love being on the beach at sunset, as an eerie calm, seems to quiet and still everyone on the beach as they watch the sunset. A timeless feeling creeps over everyone as the same sun that set over the waters six thousand years ago completes another circuit.

Fort Desoto 2010
Fort Desoto 2010
Panama City 2013
Panama City 2013
Key West 2010
Key West 2010
Daytona Beach 2006
Daytona Beach 2006

Daytona Beach is a sunrise picture of course. A few days after buying  my brand new 2007 Hyundai Accent, I woke up one morning at 3AM. As I laid in bed wide awake, it dawned (pun intended) on me that if I left right now I could get to Daytona in time to see the sunrise. So I did. Then I had breakfast at McDonald’s and drove back home and went to work.

Clearwater 2011
Clearwater 2011
Bradenton 2010
Bradenton 2010
St. Pete 2009. My mother's love for the beach is why we went on so many Florida vacations when I was a kid.
St. Pete 2009. My mother’s love for the beach is why we went on so many Florida vacations when I was a kid.
St. Pete 2009
St. Pete 2009
Tarpon Springs 2010
Tarpon Springs 2010
Bradenton 2010
Bradenton 2010
Near Sky Way Bridge 2012
Near Sky Way Bridge 2012
Fort Desoto 2012
Fort Desoto 2012
Naples 2010
Naples 2010
St. Pete 2010
St. Pete 2010
St. Pete 2010
St. Pete 2010
Fort Desoto 2009
Fort Desoto 2009

I bet you’ve seen enough so I will stop there. Thanks for letting me share my pictures and memories with you. I know God has more wonderful memories and scenes of His majestic grandeur to come for both you and I!

So after working so many 16+ hour days, with no time to even pause to watch a sunset, God knew the desires of my heart, and has blessed me with many memorable sunsets. God knows the desires of your heart too and loves you just as much!

Age Old Mystery Solved and Didn’t Even Need Google

I am writing tonight from beautiful Tulsa Oklahoma.
I am writing tonight from beautiful Tulsa Oklahoma.

I have always found cemeteries to be intriguing places. No, I am not morbid or obsessed with death. I am a people person, and people’s biographies interest me. I like reading the information on people’s gravestones and putting their stories together.  When I was 14 my family visited Washington D.C. and Arlington National Cemetery. While there I somehow made a wrong turn, and lost my family for a while, causing me to roam  the cemetery, contemplating the sacrifices represented by all the grave stones, as I wandered alone, lost in my own thoughts. Looking back, I think I got more out of the visit by being alone for a while.  I also published a blog post a while back about another encounter I had, while exploring a cemetery.  When I have time, I enjoy going to the Find A Grave website and reading people’s biographies. It is not about their death it is about their life.

Late this afternoon I visited the Oak cemetery in Fort Smith Arkansas, and solved an old mystery. When I was a kid I would go with my parents to see my maternal grandfather’s grave. While there I ran across another grave stone which became a perplexing mystery to me. As I remembered, the tombstone had two pictures, one each of twin boys who both died on their 16th birthday.  It haunted me, how  they died and why  they both died on their birthday? Did they get a new car for their birthday and have an accident? A swim party turned tragedy? I knew there was a story. Sometimes I feel sad, because I don’t have my own kids to tell my life story to. Everyone deserves to have their story told, and I wanted to know their story. Why did they both die on their 16th birthday?

Decades after last visiting my grandfather’s cemetery, I was on the Internet one night and decided to try to find their story. I did not remember their names or any dates, so I just tried Googling search terms like, “Twins die on their birthday Fort Smith” and so forth but found nothing. I then decided I had to return to the cemetery, find their gravestone, get their names and Google them to find their story.  While spending time in nearby Tulsa, Oklahoma this week, I decided now is the time. My mother graciously agreed to make the 100 mile trip, just to search for a tombstone and get the names off it. Well, that is not all we accomplished. My aunt Mary from Gentry  Arkansas and her daughter Eva, who both used to live in Fort Smith agreed to meet us in Fort Smith, along with a couple of my mother’s cousins still living in Fort Smith, so we could go to dinner tonight, after visiting the cemetery.

Driving down I was sure we would find it, as I remembered it being near grandpa’s grave. But I had no way to be sure of that. We arrived at the cemetery and started looking around, finding nothing. Then my mother’s cousins arrived. Jeannie, one of her cousins, thinking we were there to find a family grave, told us we were looking in the wrong place. I then told her about my mission, only to find that she had the answer to my age old mystery all along. I didn’t even need Google. I should have just asked Jeannie decades ago.

I told her I was looking for a grave stone for two twin brothers who both died on their 16th birthday. “The Bull boys?” Jeannie asked. “There is a picture on their tombstone.” “Yes!” I said, “That’s it it had pictures on it!” She marched me right over the their grave, which was nowhere close to where I remembered it being. This is where I am now realizing how much I can forget or not remember exactly right after a few decades. On the way to the grave, she told me, they were not twin brothers, they were cousins. I was not sure we were talking about the same boys until we came to the grave and I immediately  recognized the pictures. The picture on the left looked very familiar, almost exactly as I had remembered as a child.

IMG_20131228_163527

It was the same grave but the facts are not exactly as I remembered them. Imagine that! Things are not exactly as I remember them decades later. They were not twin brothers. They were not even brothers, they were cousins. However one of them did die at 16, and the other one did die on his birthday, and they both did indeed die on the same day. No wonder my Google searches were futile. However I did not even need Google to find their story. Cousin Jeannie remembered the grave from her youth, when her and her cousin would explore the cemetery, as it was right by her house. She knew the story too. Donald Joe was in the military and during a leave came to visit. He picked up 16 year old Thomas during school, at Fort Smith Central High School,  so he could play hooky, and they would spend the day together. Sadly, after Donald helped Thomas escape from school, their car was hit by a train and they both died. Jeannie was in high school at the time, and while she did not know Thomas personally, she did remember all the other kids talking about it.

Cousin Jeannie on the left helped me find the grave and story that had haunted me for years. On the right is my cousin Eva who also helped put some of the pieces together for me.
Cousin Jeannie on the left helped me find the grave and story that had haunted me for years. On the right is my cousin Eva who also helped put some of the pieces together for me.

So tonight I finally got the story that had been haunting me since childhood. I learned some more valuable lessons in the process. With modern technology and the Internet being a wealth of information, nothing beats people knowledge. Of course the Internet only knows what people tell it. Google is no substitute for people knowledge. The wealth of information on the Internet is no substitute for the wealth of knowledge and experience in the people who are all around us, if we just take the time to talk to them.  I did not need to wait for Google to solve this mystery. All the time my cousin Jeannie knew the story, and lived her whole life right there in Fort Smith. All I had to do was ask. (Though to my credit I had mentioned it to my mother and aunt.) The amazing thing is, the gravestone was nowhere close to my grandfather’s grave, so I must have been doing some real exploring when I found it as a child. I never could have found it on my own tonight, but once I mentioned the story to Jeannie, she knew exactly what I was talking about (Even with my misinformation) and marched me right over to the grave. Jeannie knew the grave location and story. I didn’t need Google.  (Come to think of it, Jeannie remembered exactly where the grave was, based on her memory as a youth. She must have a better memory than me.)

I learned my memory is not 100% accurate. The information on the tombstones was not exactly how I remembered it as a child, and as I said earlier, the grave location was nowhere near where I remembered it. I remembered it being much closer to my grandfather’s grave.  Now I have to be more careful declaring things are exactly as I remember. Though I did remember enough over the last 38 years or so for my cousin to know what I was talking about. Also after all those years the pictures were exactly like I remembered. Especially the one on the left of Thomas.

So the mystery has been solved. Neither Thomas or Donald probably had children to tell their story to, just like I don’t have any children to tell my story to. But tonight we got to share their story. I guess the good news is you don’t have to have children in order to share your story.

Thanks to all you who read my blog and let me tell my stories.

By the way, here is the only website I have found so far with reference to the train wreck. 

Christmas in Light of the Cross, Day 6

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” Matthew 2:13 NLT 

So there you have it. Herod the great ruler is so intimidated by a baby that he tries to kill it! In church have you ever been intimidated by a young person who shows some potential and promise? Do you shun younger people, for fear they may take your place? What about in the work place? Do you encourage your co-workers and help them advance, even if it means jeopardizing your position? Or do you protect your own position even if it means “killing” someone else’s career?

Those who are secure in Christ build others up and help promote them. Let’s not let the spirit of tearing others down to protect our own standing, rule in our lives like it did in Herod’s.

Married People say the Darndest Things!

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

While this post is intended to be lighthearted, it does concern me to see young and old people pressured by society into marriages that are not healthy. We live in a culture that seems to think that a bad relationship is better than no relationship at all. This simply is not true. It also concerns me that many people spend more energy trying to find a spouse instead of finding God! Now onto the lighthearted (yet true!) stuff……

Most of my friends are married. I don’t do singles groups for the simple reason that I don’t think of myself as a “single person”. I think of myself as a “person”, and I hang out with married and single people who think of themselves and me as people, and not labels. A lot of singles, like myself enjoy mainstream life because we don’t make a big deal about being singe. We just live our normal lives. My church is a multi-racial church and we all get along great because we simply don’t think of each other as a certain race. We just think of each other as people. I not only worship with other races, I work with and play with people from all races and cultural backgrounds. We don’t ignore our differences. We just don’t label each other anything other than “people.” To me, having a singles social is about as silly as having a white peoples social. Why don’t we forget our skin color and marital status and just have a people social? Well by George that’s what we do.  I don’t think a lot about being single. I don’t run home from work each night and pray, begging God to send me someone. Instead I just live a normal life with normal friends.

After all, if I do find a wife I want her to be normal, and what better place to find a normal mainstream woman than in mainstream society, instead of a group of singles trying to avoid mainstream life?

Now even though most people can live normal mainstream lives in a multi-racial culture, you will still occasionally hear people say silly things about other races. They are not so much racist as just ignorant. Likewise, while I enjoy living my single life with normal married and single people I have still heard some silly things over time.

Anyway all this is just an introduction to my personal top ten list of things I have actually heard married people say over the years. Please remember these are all exceptions to the normal mainstream things I hear from normal mainstream people.  I want to stress again that I live in a mainstream society that treats people like people and does not label them, single or married, black or white, rich or poor, Yankees fan or Rays Fan. Okay maybe we isolate the Yankees fan, but everyone else gets treated normal. What makes the list below so funny is that it is so non-mainstream, random and just plain weird!

Top Ten Darndest Things I Have Heard Married People Say.

10. “How can you preach about sex while you are single?”

This was a comment from a lady about my blog post about sexual purity. Apparently the lady commenting did not realize that single people are sexual. Yes, celibate people are still sexual. You don’t have to be sexually active to be sexual. Therefore, any person who is either male or female has a gender, and is authorized to preach about sex. After all, I am a sex.

9. “How can you be an elder since you are single?”

I was only asked this one time, but I have heard about other people being asked the same thing. 99.9% of the protestant world understands that when Paul mentioned that an elder should be the husband of one wife (See 1 Timothy 3) that he was not making marriage mandatory but was speaking against polygamy. For the other .01% let me explain it this way. When you tell your child they can go to the candy store but only get one piece of candy, you remind them as they leave, “get one piece of candy!” Now you are not demanding they get one piece of candy are you? No. You are just meaning only one. It’s that simple folks. It really is.

8. “Don’t worry, you will find someone.”

Who said I was worried, and who said I was looking, and who said “someone” needs to be found?

7. “Why have you never married?”

Possible answers to this question might be, “I guess I am too ugly” or, “I didn’t know I was suppose to get married.” I just scratch my head and wonder why they asked me that, instead of not asking me why I have never been scuba diving. Both questions are just as relevant in my mind.  By the way I have never asked a person, “why are you married” or “why are you divorced?” Such questions about marital status never cross my mind. I guess it’s the introvert in me, only wanting to think and talk about important things, that are relevant to mainstream society. Instead of wondering why people are married or not, I wonder about important things, like “Why doesn’t Cincinnati have an NBA or NHL team? No seriously! I am asking! Why not?

6. “I can see why they have never married!”

This is usually said when a single person exhibits a quirk in their personality. They forget that married people have their quirks too. The saying does not bother me. Actually, single people use that same phrase all the time too. We just apply it to other singles and not ourselves.  Ha ha

5. “Sure! That’s what normal people do.”

That was the response I got from a friend, when I mentioned that I heard his niece was getting married. So, was he insinuating something and I was just too dense to get it? This same friend also has the number one comment at the end of my list. By the way, while normal people get married strange people get married too, and vice versa for singles.

4. “We would like to invite you to Thanksgiving dinner if you have no place to go.”

No thanks. I’ve already had several invites from families who invited me because they like me.

3. “We would invite you, but you would just feel like a third wheel.”

Really? How do you know? And why would I feel like a third wheel? Because you all are purple and I am white? Or because you all are Catholic and I am protestant? Or because you all were born in New England and I was born in Oklahoma? Please help me with that one. I don’t know what to feel like a third wheel about. That’s okay. I’m not a wheel anyway. I’m going to go hang out with people. I’m a people.

2. “Wow! How did you know that? You’re single!”

A lady asked me this, years ago, when I asked if she was expecting. She was a casual drinker and made the comment she could not have alcohol right now. I asked if she was expecting to which she said she was and then acted shocked and dismayed that a single man would know that a pregnant woman should not be drinking. Seriously people? Do we need to go back to the top of the list?  (By the way I believe in abstinence from alcohol  for everyone so no need to write to me about that.)

1. “If you never get married and have kids, then when you die, it is like you’re whole life was all about nothing and you never existed.”

I was told this by the husband and father of a family I was having dinner with, in their home, at their invitation. I don’t think that one even deserves a rebuttal, but it is good for laughs whenever I remember that a real person actually said that! And no, he was not joking. It was a very serious and earnest comment.

See, married people really do say the darndest things!

Truth Versus Theories, Fables and Conspiracies

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

“…the truth will set you free.” –Jesus Christ, John 8:32

Last week a high school friend of mine, attending a Christian non-denominational school, gave a speech on her belief of the Bible teaching of the state of the dead. She texted me for verses and ideas and used my lessons on Death in Light of the Cross. Instead of endorsing her stand, or refuting it, her teacher simply responded, “I guess we will never really know.” Seriously? For the sake of being diplomatic to other beliefs and to be politically correct, you make God look like He is not smart enough to provide us with a Bible that can be properly understood?

A while back I was watching a family sitcom, where the youth pastor came for dinner, because the family had some theological questions. The youth pastor on the show ends up explaining that the Bible can be interpreted a lot of different ways. While I know this was just an actor and not a real youth pastor, I know too that it is a popular belief. However I do not believe that is true.

We try to be diplomatic and peace keeping by saying there are many different denominations, because the Bible can be understood many different ways. While this may be partially true, we must open our eyes and realize the reason why there are so many different denominations and even religions is not because the Bible is confusing. It isn’t’. The problem is not that the Bible is hard to understand. The problem is that people lie! I hate to call people liars but I would rather call someone a liar instead of making my God out to be too stupid to provide a book that can be properly understood. Revelation 21:8 says all liars will be thrown in the lake of fire. No one will go to hell because they are confused. Those who are lost are lost because they lived on lies.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe God has His people in all different churches and denominations. There are godly people from all walks of faith who will be in heaven. My point is simply that instead of being so diplomatic and politically correct that we start accepting every wind of doctrine, we need to stand up and face the fact that someone is out-right lying!

When we don’t want to face the facts we try to confuse ourselves. The confusion does not come from the Bible. The confusion comes from mixing our own opinions and emotions with Bible truth. For example, people are quite certain that Good Friday was on the 6th day of the week Friday. They are quite sure Jesus rose on the first day of the week Sunday. Yet when you mention the Seventh-day Sabbath right smack dab in the middle, they suddenly become “confused” claiming there is no way to know for sure which day is the 7th.

What baffles me is how people will come up with lies in search of the truth! This is how conspiracy theories abound. Now no doubt there are conspiracies, but some conspiracy theorists like to turn everything into a conspiracy.

Some conspiracy theorists like to accept the darkest explanations. For example, after Kennedy’s death, Johnson wanted to be sworn in as president before leaving Dallas. As soon as the swearing in took place he told reporters to share the pictures with the world as soon as possible. Conspiracy theorists say Johnson had a big ego and wanted the whole world to know he was in charge. How about looking at it another way? Johnson wanted the whole world to know that the United States Government had a leader and was not vulnerable to attack? Now you can’t prove either theory. But you can follow Bible principle and try to see the best in people instead of the worst. We destroy a lot of reputations and relationships by looking for the worst possible motives and scenarios.

Conspiracy theorists also rest their cases on the most ambiguous facts. By proving that two people knew each other, they have a hypothesis that they both were involved in a conspiracy, just because they knew each other. Guilt by association they say. This again is a dishonest way to ruin people’s reputations and relationships. So even the truth that some conspiracy theorists have, does not have much weight, and lead to assumptions that may or may not be true.

And when holes get shot in their theories they turn to facts that simply are not true. Oswald was a poor marksman is one accusation. No way could he have made those shots. Fact is Oswald was a great marksman well above average. Some say Oswald could not have made it to the 2nd floor from the 6th floor in time to be caught by the police in the time frame in which he was. Re-enactments have proved that he could. Still, 50 years later, people cling to their fables and call our leaders liars, thinking the worst of everyone in leadership from Lyndon Johnson to Gerald Ford and George Bush.

It simply is not healthy to be thinking of all the bad motives people could have had, especially when all you have are theories. Nothing good comes from looking for the worst possible motives in people.

Fact is, if we belong to God we don’t have to worry about conspiracies. Joseph was a victim of a conspiracy. His brothers sold him as a slave into Egypt and then covered it up by dipping his coat in blood and telling his father he had been eaten by some wild beast. There you have it! A true conspiracy and cover up! No harm done though. While the conspiracy was designed to destroy Joseph, it actually got Joseph to exactly where he wanted to be! Later when Joseph reveals himself to his brothers after becoming the ruler of Egypt, he shrugs it all off and tells them there are no grudges, everything worked out fine. Joseph did not need to see the worst in his brothers. He did not need to expose their evil motives and egos. Instead he proved them to be good decent men in the end. By the way, for those who think the Kennedy assassination was an inside job, Joseph’s attack really was an inside job-done by his own brothers! Still, God used it to get Joseph where he needed to be.

So when it comes to Bible truth or conspiracy theories let’s not confuse the plain facts with our own feelings and emotions. Let’s not look for the worst in others. And last but not least, let’s not worry about lies, conspiracies and hidden agendas when we know that our God is greater than any lie, conspiracy or hidden agenda, and He will take care of us just as well as He took care of Joseph.

So, a high school Bible teacher says we will never know the truth about death, even with all of the Bible evidence right in front of him. Conspiracy theorists say we will never know the truth about the Kennedy assassination while they dream up all kinds of hypothetical scenarios based on their own imaginations, emotions and opinions instead of hard facts. The truth is there. The question is will you accept the truth even though it doesn’t fit with your theories?

Trustworthy People Couldn’t Care Less if You Trust Them or not

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

While flipping through the channels on my TV the other day, I ran across a “Law and Order” show, or something similar, where a detective was saying how abusers always seek the trust of the person they want to abuse. I have heard similar things in pastor group meetings, which has prompted me to share what little common sense I have on the matter.

If someone is trying to get you to trust them, be suspicious. Fact is trustworthy people will never ask you to trust them, because they will never allow situations where they need your trust.

When I make a deposit at the bank they give me a receipt. Don’t I trust them? Sure I do. However they never say, “Instead of us giving you a receipt, why don’t you just trust us?” Trustworthy people don’t ask you to trust them. Trustworthy people don’t need you to trust them. They understand accountability and checks and balances.

I hear stories where a “caregiver” seeks to earn a parent’s trust, and then betrays it once they are left alone with the child. The “caregiver” put the parent in a situation where they felt obligated to show they trusted them. A true caregiver will never put a parent in that situation. A true and trustworthy caregiver will always do things in groups and never seek to be alone with the child.

A true and trustworthy caregiver will never act hurt or insulted that you are not showing that you trust them, because a trustworthy caregiver couldn’t care less if you trust them, because they have no desire to be in a situation where they need your trust!

As a matter of fact, trustworthy caregivers are just as cautious of you as you are of them.  They will not allow themselves to be put in situations where they need to trust you or your child. That doesn’t mean they are paranoid of you. Let’s go back to the bank. I am not paranoid about my bank having my money, but they still provide receipts and statements offering accountability. At church I am not paranoid about the deacons when I put my money in the offering plate, but the deacons still count the money in groups instead of by themselves, just to offer accountability and to make things look kosher, not for me but for themselves.

Abusers often seek to get the trust of the parents. If someone acts offended or insulted that you don’t trust them, beware. A trustworthy person will not act hurt or insulted if you don’t trust them, because quite frankly a trustworthy person couldn’t care less if you trust them or not! Everything they do is done in groups, in the open for the whole world to see. Part of the policy of the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, which I work under, strongly encourages for no woman or man to be left alone with a group of children, but even though some situations may exist, under no circumstances whatsoever should any woman or man be left alone with any child, girl or boy. This policy in no way interferes with us accomplishing our mission as caregivers. We don’t need a parent to trust us alone with their child in order to teach or mentor.

A true caregiver will enjoy having parents and other adult caregivers join them while they are mentoring and teaching, because it creates a community where the child feels loved and accepted.  A true caregiver wants the children they work with to know that there is an entire church family who cares about them, and not just one caregiver. Let me make this clear. A true mentor wants to win children to Christ and the church and not just to themselves. A true mentor teaches children to be sociable and part of a community, instead of isolating them from the community.

Likewise a trustworthy person will never put themselves in a situation where they need to trust you either. Trust works both ways, but so does accountability, and checks and balances. The receipt the bank gives me after a transaction protects the bank as much as it protects me.We both trust each other, but neither I nor the bank ever tells the other, “just trust me,” or “why don’t you trust me?”  Everything is done in the open with receipts for the whole world to see as well as statements with checks and balances.

So in closing, in case you haven’t already picked up on what I am trying to say, let me say it again. If someone acts hurt or insulted that you don’t trust them then beware. Only abusers “need” you to trust them. Good healthy trustworthy caregivers will never be in a situation where they will need your trust, and therefore they will never ask for it.

Jesus as the Sanctuary, in Light of the Cross

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In Numbers 21:1-9 God has Moses set a brass serpent on a pole so that if anybody was bitten by a serpent, they could look at this serpent on a pole and be healed. Now as real and literal as this serpent was it was only symbolic. There was no magic in the brass or the pole. This brass serpent was to point forward to Jesus dying for us on the cross and curing us form the snake bites of that old serpent the devil. Still some people started worshiping the brass serpent because they could not see past the pole and get the big picture. 2 Kings 18:4 tells us, finally Hezekiah destroyed the brass serpent because people were worshiping it instead of God. The problem was they saw the brass serpent as the end of their theology instead of looking beyond the pole to what it represented.

Today some say there is no literal sanctuary in heaven, while the Seventh-day Adventist Church continues to teach what I understand to be true, that there is a literal sanctuary in heaven. See Hebrews 8:-12. However, if your theology stops at either the literal sanctuary on earth or the literal sanctuary in heaven your theology still falls short. Just like the brass serpent was real and literally existed, those who could not see beyond the brass serpent still fell short in their theology. Yes there is a real sanctuary in heaven but even the real and literal sanctuary in heaven is not the end of our theology.

When Jesus came to this earth He referred to His body as a temple. See John 2:19. A temple is a dwelling place. Today we dwell in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. See Ephesians 2:6. Jesus was the most the Holy Place and his humanity was the veil shielding us from the glory so as not to destroy us.  As real as both the earthly sanctuary is, and as real and literal as the heavenly sanctuary is, neither sanctuary is the goal of our theology. Jesus is the goal of our theology!  For years while I have been writing and preaching about the sanctuary and making Jesus the center of my preaching and writing, I have had people call upon me and remind me that there is a real sanctuary in heaven. That is nothing that I have ever refuted. I teach there is a real sanctuary in heaven. I just don’t make the real sanctuary building in heaven the goal. I make Christ the goal. Still people want to remind me that there is a real sanctuary in heaven. That makes about as much sense as someone reminding me about the brass serpent when I teach about the cross! Yes, I know there was a real brass serpent but that real brass serpent was not the goal. The cross of Christ is the goal. In the sanctuary message Christ is again the goal.

Everything in the sanctuary points to the goal and end of our theology, which is Christ.

Christ is the Lamb of God that took away the sins of the world.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29 NLT

Christ is the light of the world that lightens every man.

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12 NLT

Christ is the living bread who came down from heaven to give us eternal life

Yes, I am the bread of life!  Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”John 6:48-51 NLT

Christ is the mercy seat (propitiation), through whose redemption we have salvation full and complete

Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.  For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past. Romans 3:24-25 NLT

Christ is our intercessor against the accusations of Satan

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.1 John 2:1 NLT

By the way, when we join Satan in making accusations, we fire Jesus as our advocate and hire Stan to replace him! Jesus can plead your case without making accusations against other people. Accusing others is Satan’s game plan.

Christ is the curtain that bore our sins in His flesh

 And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death,Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. Hebrews 10:19-20 NLT

The Sanctuary Revealed the Fall and Restoration of Man.  In Adam, humanity sinned, was defiled, and condemned to death. In Christ, the same humanity was reconciled to God, cleansed from all defilement, and justified to life.

Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. Romans 5:18 NLT

Through faith in Christ, sinners experience salvation.  This is the good news of the gospel and the truth of righteousness by faith. All this was revealed in the Sanctuary model given to Moses:

The Sanctuary was where God met sinners

I will meet with you there and talk to you from above the atonement cover between the gold cherubim that hover over the Ark of the Covenant. From there I will give you my commands for the people of Israel. Exodus 25:22 NLT

Today He meets us in Christ

 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19 NLT

The Sanctuary was where God revealed Himself to sinners

and they will know that I am the Lord their God. I am the one who brought them out of the land of Egypt so that I could live among them. I am the Lord their God. Exodus 29:46 NLT

Today He reveals Himself to us in Christ

Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!  John 14:9 NLT

The Sanctuary was where God accepted sinners

Lay your hand on the animal’s head, and the Lord will accept its death in your place to purify you, making you right with him.Leviticus 1:4 NLT

Today He accepts us in Christ

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6 KJV

Whenever I am preaching, giving a personal Bible study or writing for SSNET.org, I always have this quote from the book Evangelism in mind:

The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary. I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption–the Son of God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foundation of every discourse given by our ministers.—Ellen White, Gospel Workers, p. 315.

Friends, the foundation for the discourse on the sanctuary message is not the literal temple on earth or in heaven. Yes, there is a real sanctuary up in heaven, I know. However, according to our prophet, in Gospel Workers page 315, the foundation of the sanctuary message is the sacrifice of Christ Himself. Just like the brass serpent on a pole pointed us to Christ, likewise the literal heavenly sanctuary points us to Christ.

You may study this week’s SS lesson on the sanctuary here.