This is a picture of Alexander several years ago in our neighborhood Bible study group. Alexander and his family have always been very active in sharing Jesus with their friends and neighbors. Several years ago, while we were all studying the Bible, Alexander told me he wanted to be baptized one day.
Now, several years later, his parents were using the In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides, to help prepare him for his baptism. Years before, Alexander was already in love with God. One day when he was little the family had been saving up their spare coins in a huge jar. As the jar got full the family realized they now had quite a bit of money in there. One night at dinner they started discussing ideas of how they could spend their hard earned and saved money. Disney World? A vacation to the beach? An expensive video game? As they sat at the table discussing ideas, Alexander and his sister Ailyn came up with an idea. “Let’s give it all to the church to help others learn about Jesus” they said. And that is just what they did! Alexander knew that God had given everything He had when He gave us Jesus, so Alexander wanted to give God everything that he had!
Last Week at Oshkosh Pathfinders camp in Wisconsin, Alexander once again gave all of himself to Jesus because Jesus had given all of Himself for Alexander.
Alexander writes: “The reason I wanted to get baptized was because at Oshkosh the preacher on the third night said something very powerful that moved me. Near the end he said, “If you would like to give your life to God, tell your director and come to the front at the end. We did but nobody was there, so we prayed with this kind guy that was standing there.
After that everyone went back to camp. Everyone was tired but I was excited to give my life to God! So I went to the charging station to charge my I-pod so I could get pictures for the baptism that started at 7:30 to 9:30 in the morning. So we woke up I was excited. We all left we got there and there were so many people giving their life to God I was surprised we went in line again when you get up there they ask where you’re from and your name and I go into the water feeling and thinking of all the wrong things I have done in my life, and thinking that God gave His life for me that we would one day see Him that one day He will come to pick His children and I want to go with God. I want to live an eternal life with Him that I want to go to heaven. Then I go to the pastor, look around , and there under the water I saw the sun shining directly on top of me and I heard that God said, “Welcome my son I have been waiting.”
God’s love is shining on you just like it is shining on Alexander! If you too, would like to give all of yourself to Jesus, because He has given all of Himself to you, I would love to hear from you. You can reach me at Laypastor@TampaAdventist.net
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.
Topics include, How Do I Know If I am Saved? How Can I Forgive Myself and Others? How Can I Live a New Life? How Can I Share The Gospel With Others? How Did the Cross Turn The Early Church Upside Down, and How Did It Change Everything?
For more Information call 817‐919‐7267.
Okay for throw back Thursday we are going to throw it way, way, back! Its 1975 at Tulsa Adventist Academy . Oklahoma City is not known for the Thunder but it has a nice zoo. John Erling is waking Tulsans up every morning on KRMG, telling them to ski the Tulsa mountains. We are having our classes in the Sabbath School rooms in the church across the parking lot, while new classrooms are being built along with a new gym.
On this particular morning, I am sitting with my third and fourth grade class, listening to a lecture given by our teachers, Mrs. Sharon Krueger, and Miss Peggy Fisher. I don’t really remember what we did wrong this time. I vaguely remember it may have had something to do with, where did we all hide the score sheets, or chalk and erasers or Jimmy Hoffa. Actually there is only one thing that I remember vividly from the lecture, as if it was yesterday. While Miss Fisher was trying to set us all straight, she told us,
“If you only learn one thing from us this year, we want you to always remember that we love you.”
Funny. I remember that! Actually that is the only thing I do remember from that talk that day or even the whole day itself. In the fourth grade I was already clamoring for acceptance. I really knew nothing about football at that point, but all the other guys in my class were all talking football so I wanted to join in and sound cool. “I can’t wait for this Sunday” I said. “Why?” The other boys asked. “Because the Dallas Cowboys are playing the Oklahoma Sooners!” I answered, not thinking ahead on how quickly that lie would be found out. I just made it up to have something to add to the conversation. Of course the other boys made me feel like a fool when they quickly told me they are not even in the same league or level. A lie I thought would get me “in” just made me look stupid and ignorant.
Welcome Back Kotter, was a popular sitcom at the time, and at the end of each show, Kotter, played by Gabe Kaplan, would tell a joke to his wife. I decided I was a comedian, and announced to Miss Fisher that I would have a joke to tell each day at lunch. Problem is I didn’t know any jokes, and making them up as I went along did not amuse the kids or the teachers.
So you can imagine, what good news it was that I was loved. I didn’t have to make up lies anymore to be accepted. I didn’t have to make up witty jokes to be liked. I was loved. I was accepted just the way I was.
Miss Fisher taught me more than just that I was loved, but that is the one thing I remember. By being loved I did not have to spend all my time thinking of silly jokes and lies to tell, and I could now focus confidently on my school subjects. I hated diagramming and structuring sentences back then. How was I to know back in 1975 how important that would be, and that I would be writing sermons and blog posts and lessons and devotionals for a living? How was I suppose to know that I would be substitute teaching at another TAA, Tampa Adventist Academy 40 years later, and would meet a kid like me, who really did not want to spend their time structuring sentences, but I would assure them how important it is. How did I know back in the fourth grade that one day I would be teaching my regular weekly Bible class at Tampa Adventist Academy, and would meet students who’s greatest need was knowing that they are loved and accepted so they can behave and learn?
In Miss Fisher’s 40+ years of teaching and working in the education field, I am not the only young person she has mentored. In addition to Tulsa Adventist Academy, places like Parkview in Oklahoma City, and Gentry, Arkansas, and Philadelphia, PA and Valley Grande Academy in Wesleco Texas benefited greatly from her teaching and mentoring. She has also served as educational superintended in New England and the Rocky Mountain SDA conferences, among other places. Later she returned to where her passion lies, in the classroom, at Gold Coast SDA school in Oregon.
Its teachers appreciation week, and I want to thank all of my teachers for mentoring and teaching me. I realize now, as a teacher-Bible Instructor, that teachers get paid regardless if the kids learn or not. The passion teachers pour into their jobs and into their kids is not for a paycheck. They could care less and still get a check. Teachers go the extra mile and often times make themselves unpopular in doing so because they care. They care so much, that their popularity and approval rating does not matter to them as much as making sure students succeed. If you have to occasionally make a student or even parent dislike you in order to make them successful then so be it!
In the fourth grade I had Miss Fisher pushing me and encouraging me to do my best, all the time assuring me, no matter how bad my test scores were, or corny my jokes were, or how little I knew about football, I was always loved and accepted. Today she is on my Facebook cheering me on, liking all my corny comments, and sending me notes on how proud she is of me.
Well today Miss Peggy Fisher, we want you to know, from Philadelphia, PA to the Gold Coast of Oregon just how proud we are of you! For over 40 years you have taught and prepared us for practical living by teaching us Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, as well as preparing us to thrive emotionally, by stressing while you were teaching, that you really did care. Today I know even more just how much you care. You don’t get paid to care about me anymore, but You still do in every conversation or email that we share.
Auto correct can fix misspelled words but it can’t make a kid feel special. Google can give you facts and information, but it can’t make you feel accepted, and give you a sense of belonging in the world. Thank God for teachers who do more than just teach. They care!
Miss Fisher, I know you are retiring from the classroom, but your passion for learning and mentoring continues. Its not your job. Its you. Enjoy your retirement and THANK YOU A MILLION TIMES!
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.
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.
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.”)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!