Tag Archives: William Earnhardt

Glimpes of the Cross Day 19; Why Jesus Lives

Dolphin Cruise Con Don Y Eva 065

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. Hebrews 7:25 NLT

Charles Spurgeon was born to preach. Mother Teresa was born to care for the poor. Abraham Lincoln was born to break the bonds of slavery. Everyone was born for a reason. The verse above tells me Jesus was born with a purpose too. His eternal existence before birth also was not without purpose. It also tells us what His purpose for living and existing is. He does not live so He can be a tyrant and force people to worship Him. He does not live so He can hear angels sing His praises. He does not live so that He can sit on a throne in a golden castle in the sky. You can look as far back into eternity as eternity goes, and you can look as far into the future as eternity goes, and you will find that Jesus’ purpose for living is to be your eternal provider and Savior! “He lives forever to intercede with God on your behalf.” Not so much that He is trying to reconcile God to you as much as He works to reconcile you to God. God never ran from Adam. It was Adam who ran from God. Jesus never told the demoniacs He could not tolerate their presence. It was the demoniacs who could not tolerate His presence.

“It is no arbitrary decree on the part of God that excludes the wicked from heaven; they are shut out by their own unfitness for its companionship. The glory of God would be to them a consuming fire. They would welcome destruction, that they might be hidden from the face of Him who died to redeem them.” – Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Pages 17-18.

Jesus’ passion is winning you back to God. Again, that is why He lives.

 ”So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.  This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT

In the moment of temptation we can go to our High Priest, and find the grace to overcome the temptation.

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT

However if for whatever reason we do not ask for the grace to overcome, Jesus has made a fool proof way to sustain us still. We can come to the throne and ask for mercy and forgiveness.

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9 NLT

“How careful is the Lord Jesus to give no occasion for a soul to despair. How He fences about the soul from Satan’s fierce attacks. If through manifold temptations we are surprised or deceived into sin, He does not turn from us and leave us to perish. No, no, that is not our Saviour…. He was tempted in all points like as we are; and having been tempted, He knows how to succor those who are tempted. Our crucified Lord is pleading for us in the presence of the Father at the throne of grace. His atoning sacrifice we may plead for our pardon, our justification, and our sanctification. The Lamb slain is our only hope. Our faith looks up to Him, grasps Him as the One who can save to the uttermost, and the fragrance of the all-sufficient offering is accepted of the Father.

If you make failures and are betrayed into sin, do not feel then you cannot pray … but seek the Lord more earnestly.

The blood of Jesus is pleading with power and efficacy for those who are backslidden, for those who are rebellious, for those who sin against great light and love. Satan stands at our right hand to accuse us, and our Advocate stands at God’s right hand to plead for us. He has never lost a case that has been committed to Him.” –Ellen White, Our High Calling, Page 49

“We may plead for our pardon, justification, and our sanctification.” Before I fall, I can go to Jesus, and find grace so I don’t have to fall. His grace sanctifies me and frees me from the power of sin.

“ For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.  And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.  He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” Titus 2:11-14 NLT

Even though grace leaves me with no excuse to sin, Jesus still offers mercy and forgiveness!

“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Psalms 51:17

The question is not how long will God be willing to forgive me, but rather, will I ever ask for forgiveness? I can go to a home to give a Bible study, and knock on the door. As long as I can hear somebody inside making their way to the door, I will wait as long as it takes. However, if I realize I could wait forever and they will never open the door, then and only then do I walk away. It is the same with Jesus. Probation closes when the sanctuary is forced out of business, because it no longer has “customers” asking for mercy. Jesus has reconciled those who are willing, and sadly walks away from the heart’s door of those who will never accept His reconciling grace. The fact that they would never accept God’s grace is seen by the fact that no one repents during the last plagues and of course nobody repents at the end of the thousand years. The problem is not that they can’t but that they won’t. God did not send them to the point of no return. They reached that point by themselves.

When Jesus forgave the repentant thief, while hanging naked on the cross, he was sending out a message to men and to Satan. “You can take away my clothes and dignity. You can take away my crown and replace it with thorns. You can even take away my life, but you will never take away my power to forgive sin!” Imagine that! Jesus-King of the Universe let go of all of His divine rights, except for the right to forgive sin! Jesus would rather die than give up His right to be your sustain-er and Savior. Why? Because the only reason why He lives is so He can save you! His death was all about you. His life is all about you. He is in love with you!

 

Glimpeses of the Cross Day 14; A Tree Makes A Bitter Life Sweet Again

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they [were] bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD showed him a tree, [which] when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,  And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I [am] the LORD that healeth thee.  Exodus 15:23-26

Why did God have Moses put a tree in the bitter water? How did a tree make the water sweet? In 1 peter 2:24, Peter refers to the cross as a tree. In a world of hate and bitterness, Jesus died on that tree to save us from a bitter world. Sin has caused suffering and bitterness but Jesus was lifted up on the cross to make our lives sweet again. I and many others believe this is why Moses used a tree to make bitter water sweet again.

If life has made you bitter, I would like to invite you to experience the grace that can make your life sweet again, by visiting the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church. If you are not in the Tampa Bay area, you can find a grace filled church in your corner of the world here.

One Single Book

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

Many years ago when I was a literature evangelist, I found myself working one day in the rolling green hills of North East Oklahoma. I remember meeting a lot of rejection early in the day. What bothered me the most as I was selling Christian books, was that many saw me only as a salesman, instead of appreciating my passion for sharing Jesus. Rejection plus being misunderstood equaled loneliness for me. About midday, I walked into a Taco Mayo restaurant for lunch. Long before cell phones were common, and Bible apps created, I carried my Bible with me everywhere I went. I sat down at a table and opened my Bible “randomly” and found this verse,

Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him. Psalms 126:5-6 NKJV

That verse hit the spot! My career in soul winning  was just beginning, and this was long before I would begin Bible studies with a family who would start attending church only after I studied with them for seven years in their home first. This was long before I would meet Fred, a man I studied with in Oklahoma, who got baptized later after I had already been serving in Texas years later.  It was also years before I would meet the members of a small Pentecostal Sabbath keeping church, who would all become members of the Mineral Wells, Texas Seventh-day Adventist Church, after studying with them and just as importantly befriending them for four years. (I tell people the entire Pentecostal church became Adventist which is true. I also tell them the entire church consisted of 5 members.)

As a rookie evangelist I had only had time to plant seeds, but not to watch them grow. I needed to learn patience. If I could have seen the future harvest, I doubt I would have felt so discouraged, as I sat there eating my burrito, before I found that verse full of comfort and hope. Still, I could have remembered a passage that my leader had written inside the Colporteur Ministry book he gave me.

Christ did not fail, neither was He discouraged, and His followers are to manifest a faith of the same enduring nature. They are to live as He lived, and work as He worked, because they depend on Him as the great Master Worker. Courage, energy, and perseverance they must possess. Though apparent impossibilities obstruct their way, by His grace they are to go forward…. They are to have power to resist evil, power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master, power that will enable them to overcome as Christ overcame. -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Pages 679-680

While I sat in that Taco Mayo in Grove Oklahoma back in 1990, my evangelistic career was too young to see the results that years and years of patient toil brings. However I had stories and testimonies from veteran laborers, like Denton James, my union publishing director. He and his family found the way, when they moved into a home, and found an old Bible Readings for the Home laying in the attic. Denton found the Adventist church through that book and became a literature evangelist, who trained many more people, like myself to be literature evangelists. Back in 2008 I worked with his granddaughter in Tampa Florida, who was serving as an ASI Bible Worker. Not long ago, Denton fell asleep, after many years of soul winning. All those souls and trained Bible Workers and Literature evangelists can all trace their success back to Denton James, who traced his success back to an old book found in an attic.

I often wonder who the Literature Evangelist was, who sold that book to the family, that left it in the attic to be discovered by  Denton’s family moving in years later. Whoever it was, I wonder if they ever got discouraged like I did, that day I was working in North East Oklahoma. Whoever it was they may have seen many people get baptized as a result of their labors, or it is possible they saw no one get baptized. One thing is sure, that literature evangelist went to their grave with no clue that years later a man would pick up one single book that had been laying around in an attic for years, dust the cover off and read it, and not only become a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, but lead hundreds to find Jesus, who would also lead hundreds more to find Jesus.

Since I don’t know who sold the book Denton found, I can speculate. Is it possible that was the only book he or she ever sold? Is it possible they quite soon after that because “it just wasn’t working out?” Still there will be thousands in heaven because of that one single book, that lied lost in an attic for who knows how long. I can see the evangelist coming home at the end of that day when they sold that one single book, and writing in their journal,

“It was a terrible day today. I worked hard all day long and met nothing but rejection, and doors slammed in my face over and over. Finally a man bought just one copy of Bible Readings for the Home,from me, but I heard his wife scoffing at him, saying something like, its just going to end up thrown away up in the attic with all the other junk you buy from peddlers. This is so discouraging I might as well quit. At this rate I will never help anyone find Jesus.”

Or I could have it all wrong, but I do know this. The literature evangelist who left that book, walked away from that home having no idea that hundreds would be in the kingdom because of an exchange that probably only took a few moments and netted only a few dollars or even cents.

Just like that book, that was buried in a dark attic for years, so it is with the literature and words I shared on that frustrating day in Oklahoma so many years ago,

  The good seed may for a time lie unnoticed in a cold, selfish, worldly heart, giving no evidence that it has taken root; but afterward, as the Spirit of God breathes on the soul, the hidden seed springs up, and at last bears fruit to the glory of God. In our lifework we know not which shall prosper, this or that. This is not a question for us to settle. We are to do our work, and leave the results with God….. “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:6-Ellen White, Christ Object Lessons Page, 65.

It is also true of the seeds you sow as well.

Click here for an archived copy of the March 1968 Southwestern Adventist Record magazine as Denton’s story was told long ago. His story is on page 19.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

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!

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.

Ramiro William Tony

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. 

20 Things Your Bible Worker Will Never Tell You

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

Since this is my 20th year of being a Bible Worker Lay Pastor, in keeping with the theme of “20”, here is my list of 20 things your Bible Worker will never tell you. While I have put the list together mostly myself from my own experiences, it is not entirely my own.  A couple other Bible Workers have chipped in too with a couple contributions of their own. No names, as the whole purpose was to give them a voice while remaining anonymous, so they can truly tell you what they will never tell you. If some of these points seem a little harsh, they are not intended to be. They are only intended to be real.

Twenty Things Your Bible Worker Will Never Tell You

  1. If I seem pre-occupied when you try to have a conversation with me at church, it’s because I am. I’m teaching Sabbath School, probably preaching too, and keeping an eye out for the people I invited to church today. Call me during the week and I can give you my undivided attention.
  2. I really appreciate the $25.00 gift card you gave me for Christmas. I know since I’m still wearing my worn out shoes it looks like I haven’t used it yet but I have. I used it to buy school supplies for a struggling family I’m working with.
  3. Tell me you can’t read and I can work with you and help you. Keep telling me you forgot your Bible or can’t find it and we will never get anywhere.
  4. When you tell me your family is praying for me every day, it means the world to me. When you call me and pray with me it makes my day.
  5. When I called and told you about a Bible student I have who needs a ride to church, and you told me it’s not on your way, I wasn’t really asking if it was on your way. I was just asking if you would do it. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but I go out of my way for people all week long. Why should I be the only one? Fact is I do try to match people up in the same area, but I also try to match personalities and male to male and female to female.
  6. Don’t be afraid to hang out with me because I may see you’re not perfect. I’m not perfect either.
  7. You may have driven by and seen me on the golf course this afternoon. What you didn’t see was me spending the entire night before, in the Emergency waiting room, praying with one of my Bible students, while their wife had emergency surgery.
  8. I mean it when I say call me anytime. If everyone is afraid to call because I may be busy then that means no one will call and I won’t be busy. I depend upon you to call and keep me busy. I like to be busy.
  9. You may not feel like you know the Bible very well, but that observation and comment you just made about that verse we just read was pretty good. I will be sharing it with all the people I study with from now on. Thanks!
  10. When I am studying with your children in your home I would really like you to join us. If you do not care to join us, please don’t leave the house to run errands. I know you trust me, but the question is, do I trust your family?
  11. I really am interested in what you have to say, but I can’t answer your question until you quit talking.
  12. I use my lap top when giving Bible studies, and following up on leads and making appointments. That’s why it looks like I’m on Facebook a lot. Plus Facebook is another way I stay in touch with my Bible students.
  13. I may use you as an illustration in one of my sermons, but I won’t use your name and may even switch your city and gender in my story to protect your identity.
  14. I truly appreciate your offerings in support of evangelism and the Bible Worker fund, but just so you know, I work for Jesus and not the richest person in the church. He is the One who died for me and the One I am going to be faithful to.
  15. When I ask you to greet for an evangelistic meeting I need you there for the whole night. I may need something handed out at the end, plus it does not look good for you to greet everyone and then, them watch as you get in your car and go home. Same for special music. Watching you come up on stage, sing a song, and then go home before the speaker begins, does not do much for the continuity of the meeting.
  16. The literature in the literature rack in the church lobby is for visitors. Please buy your own literature if you are a member.
  17. I wish you wouldn’t use that study Bible, or would at least understand that the study notes are not inspired and are not 100% accurate.
  18. On my day off I will gladly explain to you the plan of salvation, but I really don’t want to use my day off debating whether Adam had a navel or not.
  19. Remember last fellowship lunch, when you were huddled with your little clique and the visitor I am studying with was sitting by himself? Yes, after I asked you went over and invited him to your table, but he saw me ask you. It would have been a lot more effective if you had reached out to him without me having to ask. Thank you for offering to give him a ride to the doctor that week though.  Connecting with him outside of church was a nice touch.
  20. Our study group has 10 members and meets for 75 minutes. We really care about you and what you have to say, and will give you the floor all night if you really need it. At the same time please be respectful of the other members of the group and that they too may have something on their hearts as well. Thank you to those who are mindful of the math and realize 10 people can’t talk for 20 minutes each within 75 minutes.

Unity and the Trinity

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

“My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you.  All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory.  Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. John 17:9-10 NLT

In the United States there is one federal government. One Congress, yet it has over 500 members. A husband and wife are one while they are still two individuals. Likewise, there is one Godhead. yet many people have trouble understanding how this can be. Could it be they are being a little too intense and literal? I observe that a lot of misunderstandings about the Bible come from us being more intense and literal when studying the Bible, instead of allowing Jesus and the writers to use figure of speech just like everyone else.  Just like there is one congress with over 500 members, so there is one Godhead with three members. While the Senator from Ohio is a congressman, the representative from Arizona is a congressman too. Just as the Father is God, so is the Son and Holy Spirit. Just as the 500 individual members of congress can all be congressmen, so the three individual members of the Godhead can all be God.

Jesus prayed in John 17 that His church would all be one just as He and the Father are one. Now if Jesus and the Father were just one individual then what Jesus would have been praying for would be for the entire church to be just one individual. This obviously is not so. Jesus wants His church to be one in unity just as He and the Father are One in unity.

Study more on the Trinity here.

Study more on this week’s SS lesson unity here.

Repentance: A Gift From God

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

One of my life long battles has been colas. Actually I can’t honestly say I have battled it my whole life, which may be part of the problem. I am not going to debate temperance vs. abstinence concerning colas, but let’s face it, they have 0% nutritional value, and if you drink too much you have the risk of cancer, diabetes and acid re-flux. So you can’t really say the nutritional value is worth all the health risks. Anyway, believe it or not, colas are not the point of what I am writing about today. The point is repentance is a gift of God.

For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good. Matthew 5:45 NLT

God’s grace is not in response to my faith. God does not look down on me and say, “Well okay William believes, so I will give him my grace.” No, God shines His grace upon the good and the evil.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8 NLT

My faith responds to God’s grace. The same sun that melts butter hardens clay. When God’s grace shines down on us it hardens some and chases them away, like Pharaoh for example. Other hearts are melted by God’s grace, leading them to believe and have faith.

While my faith is in response to the gift of God’s grace, likewise my turning away from sin and repenting is a gift as well.

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? Romans 2:4 NLT

Our repentance or turning from sin does not lead to God’s kindness. His kindness leads us to repent and turn from sin.

A while back while I was trying to get off colas, I decided one was not going to hurt. Here is where Satan gets us, not just on colas but on several areas of our life. First, depending upon what it is, it might be debated as to whether or not one time is going to hurt. Problem is it’s usually never one time! I had been off colas at one point for ten weeks, when I was giving blood and they offered me a Pepsi. Sure one time won’t hurt It old myself. Well it wasn’t just one time. I was back to drinking them all the time. So be careful. Even if it’s true that one time won’t hurt does not guarantee you it will be just one time.

Here is what happened later though, and this is the whole point of what I wanted to share. I had cut way back again on colas. Thinking that one time would not hurt, I went to the store and bought myself a cherry coke. I took a couple sips and the sweetness was so sickening that I dumped it out and filled the cup with water instead! That, my friends, was a gift from God. God made the cola so sickening sweet to me that I would not want it. He gave me a craving for water instead.

Fact is you can develop a taste for water, and when you do it tastes very good! Problem is our tastes have become perverted. As a matter of fact we have actually had to pervert our taste buds in order to develop a craving for unhealthy drinks. Once our taste buds are no longer perverted and are re-created by God’s grace to their natural state, we crave pure water instead of sugar and syrup.

I am so thankful God’s goodness led to my repentance. When the sugary syrup made me sick after two sips, and I had to dump it out and refill my cup with pure water, it was all a gift from God.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.