Tag: tampa bay

How Much Are You Worth?

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

He gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn’t that what it means to know me?” says the Lord. Jeremiah 22:16 NLT

George W. Jenkins not only began his Publix grocery store incorporation during the depression, but he also set up several foundations and charities so that even after his death, in 1996, he could continue giving to the community and those less fortunate.

After setting up and giving to so many charities, someone asked Jenkins what he would be worth had he not given so much away. He quickly answered, “probably nothing.”

Jenkins saw his worth in what he could give instead of in what he could get. He did not figure he would be worth anything if he could not give. Unfortunately four of the “Last Five Kings of Judah” did not share that understanding. Only Josiah recognized that his worth lay in serving the Lord by serving his people.

One of my favorite quotes that helps us keep a perspective on money is,

“Some people are so poor, all they have is money.”

This quote reminds us that life is not about things. Jesus says,

Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own. Luke 12:15 NLT

Jesus goes on to say,

..a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Luke 12:21 NLT

Life is about relationships not money and things.

Another one of my favorite quotes is,

The richest person is not the one who has the most but the one who needs the least.

Several years ago my friend’s daughter was having her 12th birthday during a holiday season, and I felt bad for her almost being “forgotten” with so many other celebrations. I gave her a card and twenty dollars, which I thought was a generous gift back then. Later I found out she had taken my gift along with the rest of the money she had been given and gave it to a fund at our church to help parents with children in the hospital. Turns out my young friend did not need to be remembered with money. She did not need money at all. She needed to be a blessing to others. I reckon she too figured she would be worth nothing if she was not giving to others.

So, what are you worth?

What’s the Difference Between Appearing as Evil and Just Being Misjudged?


I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Abstain from all appearance of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV

A misunderstanding of this verse has crippled the success of many missionaries. A young student loses his parents, and his teacher is afraid to put her arm around his shoulder and comfort him for fear she might be accused of evil. A pastor is having studies with a bar tender in his home and needs to swing by the bar to pick up his umbrella he left, at the bar tender’s home. What will people think if they see him walk into a bar? Is that giving the appearance of evil? No! It is just giving the appearance of walking into a bar!

My purpose here is not to lessen the accountability of Gospel workers. My point is to help us, as missionaries, be healthy and balanced. Yes we must be careful not to put ourselves in compromising positions, but at the same time we must realize, there are some unbalanced people out there who will misconstrue and misrepresent just about everything, and we can’t allow them to cripple our ministry. It reminds me of when, after 9-11, President George Bush told his fellow citizens to go on with their daily lives, regardless of terrorist threats, otherwise the terrorists win. Likewise, if Satan can cripple our ministry by making us over-analyze and stretch our imagination to see how each action and motive can be misconstrued into something evil, then Satan wins.

The truly converted soul is illuminated from on high, and Christ is in that soul “a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” His words, his motives, his actions, may be misinterpreted and falsified; but he does not mind it because he has greater interests at stake. –Ellen White, Testimonies, Vol. 5, Page 569

There is a line between giving “the appearance of evil” and someone else judging us.
I have seen other gospel workers’ ministries become totally paralyzed by their understanding of what Paul said about not appearing evil. The NLT version of Paul’s earlier quote simply says,

Stay away from every kind of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 NLT

Just because someone else judges us does not automatically mean we have given the appearance of evil. And by the way, just because someone claims to have the gift of discerning spirits does not mean they really have that gift. They may just have the gift of judging and causing dissension. Jesus’ own disciples were surprised when they saw Him talking to a woman at the well. The Pharisees judged Jesus for hanging out with prostitutes and publicans, but He never gave “the appearance of evil”! They were judging.

A teacher can put her arms around a hurting child and still stay far from evil.  A pastor can walk into a bar without it appearing to be evil, so long as he does not walk like he is drunk or make jokes about drinking. Joking about drinking oractually insinuating you are doing something evil is when you give the appearance of evil. Just because something can be misconstrued by someone with a dirty mind does not mean it is giving the appearance of evil. It simply means someone has a dirty mind.

Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted. Titus 1:15 NLT

Satan will use unhealthy, unstable people to misconstrue and misjudge our every move. We cannot let God’s work be paralyzed by people with wild and dirty imaginations. The key, I believe, is to have a healthy understanding of where the line is between giving the appearance of actual evil, and someone else just judging according to their unhealthy imagination. We can’t let unhealthy imaginations dictate our mission. It’s a matter of healthy boundaries – knowing where our responsibility ends and others’ responsibility begins.

Joseph had his motives and actions misjudged and misconstrued but in the end Pharaoh himself said,

“Can we find anyone else like this man [Joseph] so obviously filled with the spirit of God?” Genesis 41:38 NLT

Obviously the prior accusations against Joseph did not mean anything to Pharaoh. He could see right through the false accusations and see Joseph’s mission was filled with the spirit of God. So long as our mission is filled with the Spirit of God, balanced healthy people will see through any false insinuations and God will make our mission successful just like He did for Joseph.

You may study this week’s SS lesson on Biblical Missionaries here.

Nicholas and Emily’s Baptism Pictures and Stories

March 28th 2015 was another special day at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, as two young people gave all of themselves to Jesus, because He gave all of Himself for them.


Nicholas was in my Baptism class at Tampa Adventist Academy. During the course of the class, I had a devotional skit for the Adventurers Club. I needed Nicholas to play the part of Peter when he denied Jesus. Nicholas told me he would do it, when he understood the reason for the skit, but he let it be known, he totally detested having anything to do with denying Jesus! He told me, “I don’t want to deny Jesus!”


Nicholas definitely did NOT deny Jesus, but professed his love and loyalty to Jesus by his public baptism.

Vows Morgans

A couple years ago I had Bible studies with Mark, Marian, and their daughter Cecilia before they got baptized. Last fall Cecilia’s family and I started a group Bible study. We invited Emily and her mother Doris who enjoyed coming. Emily greatly enjoyed the studies and told us she wanted to be baptized. Her aunt told me, every morning after the Bible studies, while she drove Emily to school, Emily would share with her all the wonderful things she was learning as we studied God’s Word.


 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3 NLT. 

The night before her baptism, I told Emily about a young married couple who gave their hearts to Jesus one night at a tent meeting long ago in North Carolina. They were so in love with Jesus that they decided to become missionaries in Africa. While in Africa the wife caught malaria and died. The husband faithfully finished his term before returning to the states. When he got home his family and friends comforted him, by telling him how proud he should be of his wife who gave her life to God and died in Africa. The husband corrected them. “She did not die in Africa” he said. “She died in the baptism tank in North Carolina.” It was there that she gave up her own life and said goodbye to her self, and Jesus started living His life in her. I asked Emily if she was ready to say goodbye to herself and live for Jesus. She said that she definitely was!

Please don’t let the sun go down on your life before you give your life to the One who gave His life for you. I would love to talk to you about giving your life to Jesus. You can contact me at 813-933-7505 or laypastor@tampaadventist.net

“You Don’t Love me. You Love my Accomplishments.”

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

Studying this week’s Sabbath School lesson, on the humility of the wise, reminded me of a conversation I had, during fellowship dinner in a church I spoke in. A mother told me she was always pushing her daughter to do her best, and win awards and honor roll certificates. She would brag about how wonderful her daughter was doing in school and sports and so forth, until one day when the girl was 15 and told her mother,

You don’t love me. You love my accomplishments.

The mother told me it felt like a slap in the face! Of course it was not true (I suppose), but the mother suddenly saw how her daughter came to that conclusion. There is a difference between teaching a child to do her best, and teaching her to be better than everyone else. I like what a young person shared on Facebook a while back.

I don’t want to be better than anyone. I just want to be better than I was yesterday.

The end of this Sunday’s lesson has a very profound statement.

You have to feel sorry for people who boast (usually it’s a cover for insecurities anyway); it shows just how self-deceived and ignorant they really are.

Could it be the mother was living vicariously through her daughter, trying to make up for her own failures? Who knows? I am no psychologist, but I think we are all needing acceptance. Now I don’t want to over analyze things. Plenty of people go to universities and get their masters degrees simply to learn how to do their job and help others. Its as simple as that. yet others do it to prove how smart or superior they are. The latter are just clamoring for acceptance. Many people spend all their time and effort to battle their way to the top of the hill so they can be accepted when all along, Jesus has already,

Made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6 NKJV

When we accept the love God has for us we no longer feel compelled to be better than anybody else. Our goal is not worldly rank or status. It is intimacy with Christ. We don’t feel compelled to do better than others in order to be accepted, but we want to be the best we can be by God’s grace and power because we love God for accepting us no matter what.

This Sunday’s lesson asked the question, “Who do you think you are?” I have learned not to get too excited when I do well, and not to be too dejected when I fail, because at the end of the day, either way, I’m still just me. I wrote this poem a while back, which answers the question in Sunday’s lesson for me.

It’s Just me

I’ve been chauffeured in the back seat of a Cadillac.

I’ve been behind the wheel of an old Volkswagen Beetle.

I’ve eaten in fancy restaurants with all my friends.

I’ve eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all alone.

But all in all I’m just me, it’s just me.

I’ve laughed out loud with the rest of the crowd.

I’ve cried alone where no one else could hear.

I’ve been in first place at the end of a race.

I’ve been so far behind, when will this game just end?

But after all is said and done, I’m just me, it’s just me.

I preached sermons that have moved congregations to tears.

I have preached sermons that have lulled congregations to sleep!

My friends have given me too much praise for a human being.

My adversaries have given me too much criticism, give me a break!

But at the end of it all, I’m just me; it’s just me.

Into every life a little rain and sunshine must fall.

Sometimes I feel small, and other times I feel tall.

I’m no more a person when I do well.

I’m no less a person when I fail.

But either way, I’m just me; it’s just me.

So don’t think that I am perfect all of the time.

Surely you don’t expect all my poems to rhyme.

I often succeed, but I also fail time and again.

Please don’t praise or condemn, just be my friend.

Because win or lose, I’m just me, it’s just me.

Proverbs in Light of the Cross; Holding a Grudge is no fun!

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

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9 NLT

Have you wondered what it would be like if Jesus reacted the way we do to people who mistreat us?

What if Jesus had called Judas a backstabber instead of friend? See Matthew 26:50.

What if Jesus had refused to forgive the repentant thief on the cross? What if, instead of promising to remember Him when He came into His kingdom, Jesus had reacted with, “No way! You were mean to me!” But instead of holding a grudge Love prospered. See Luke 23.

What if after the Resurrection, Jesus had sent a message to His disciples that He would be meeting them in Galilee, except for Peter, because of course He denied Him? Instead He told them tell everyone including Peter I will meet them in Galilee. See Mark 16. 

In all three scenarios Jesus let Love prosper. 1 Corinthians 13:5 NLT tells us love

 is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

When 1 Corinthians 13 describes love it is describing God for

God is love. 1 John 4:8 NLT 

In the three scenarios we just examined, Jesus gave us an example of love, and how it prospers.

While love prospers us, its no fun to hold a grudge. It is much more fun to forgive and love. Dwelling on love brings healing. Dwelling on other’s faults only brings pain. Jesus knew this. Don’t you find that forgiving and loving people feels a lot better than holding a grudge?

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson on Proverbs here.

Proverbs in Light of the Cross; The Blessing of Blessing Others

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

He that watereth shall be watered also himself. Proverbs 11:25. 
The teaching of Christ was the expression of an inwrought conviction and experience, and those who learn of Him become teachers after the divine order. The Word of God, spoken by one who is himself sanctified through it, has a life-giving power that makes it attractive to the hearers, and convicts them that it is a living reality. When one has received the truth in the love of it, he will make this manifest in the persuasion of his manner and the tones of his voice. He makes known that which he himself has heard, seen, and handled of the Word of life, that others may have fellowship with him through the knowledge of Christ. His testimony, from lips touched with a live coal from off the altar, is truth to the receptive heart, and works sanctification upon the character.
And he who seeks to give light to others will himself be blessed. “There shall be showers of blessing.” “He that watereth shall be watered also himself.” God could have reached His object in saving sinners without our aid; but in order for us to develop a character like Christ’s, we must share in His work. In order to enter into His joy–the joy of seeing souls redeemed by His sacrifice–we must participate in His labors for their redemption.
Nathanael’s first expression of his faith, so full and earnest and sincere, fell like music on the ears of Jesus. And He “answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.” The Saviour looked forward with joy to His work in preaching good tidings to the meek, binding up the brokenhearted, and proclaiming liberty to the captives of Satan. At thought of the precious blessings He had brought to men, Jesus added, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”
Here Christ virtually says, On the bank of the Jordan the heavens were opened, and the Spirit descended like a dove upon Me. That scene was but a token that I am the Son of God. If you believe on Me as such, your faith shall be quickened. You shall see that the heavens are opened, and are never to be closed. I have opened them to you. The angels of God are ascending, bearing the prayers of the needy and distressed to the Father above, and descending, bringing blessing and hope, courage, help, and life, to the children of men.
The angels of God are ever passing from earth to heaven, and from heaven to earth. . . . And thus Christ is the medium of communication of men with God, and of God with men. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Pages 142-143

Join millions this quarter who are studying the Proverbs Sabbath School lessons.

Proverbs in Light of The Cross; God Has My Back

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

for the Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap. Proverbs 3:26 NLT

Years ago, I was buying a used car, and was about to drive it off the lot, when I realized I had not even looked in the trunk yet, to make sure it had a spare tire and jack. I mentioned it to the salesman, who promised me it was there, so took his word for it and did not check the trunk.

Not even a week later, I was driving down the highway when a tire blew out. I pulled over to the shoulder of the road, patting myself on the back for asking the salesman, and making sure I had a spare and jack, to change the tire.

I opened the trunk and found the salesman to be half right. There was a tire, but no jack. I was a little less than happy and was wondering what I would do, stranded with no way to change my flat tire. I did not have to wonder for long. In just a matter of moments, a friend passed by, and spotted me on the side of the road. He pulled over, and of course had a jack for me to change my tire. in just minutes I was on my way again, and stopped by the car dealership where I picked up a free tire jack.

The foolish information the salesman gave me, almost had me trapped by the side of the road, but God was my security, when He had my friend come along and save me. Even when people try to trap you, God has your back every time.

You can Continue studying Proverbs with millions by studying this quarter’s Sabbath School Lesson Guides.