Meaningful Relationships or Time Wasting

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In her post, Life-Changing or Time Wasting, Lillianne Lopez cites that only 31% of Americans believe the Bible is inspired. Why do you think that is? I received a clue while I enjoyed reading Lillianne’s post.

A lady friend of mine instant-messaged me, saying she was frustrated with the singles websites, because the men contacting her were only after one thing – sex. She was disappointed she could not find anyone interested in a genuine relationship. I am sure they are out there. God has wonderful people all over the world. Still the question crossed my mind, is that why so many people don’t accept the Bible? Because, like the men contacting my lady friend, 69% of Americans are just looking for ways to gratify themselves instead of giving what it takes to make a meaningful relationship?The Bible does not do much for the pleasure seeker.

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

The Bible does not do much for human pride.

 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. Romans 7:18 NLT

The Bible does not do much for those wanting to be in the elite social circles.

You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.Matthew 24:9 NLT

Hence, the temptation – since the Bible does not tickle our fancy we cast it aside as uninspired and navigate towards those who flatter our pride and cater to our whims. We flatter those who flatter us, calling them inspired and profound, while they flatter us by assuring us we are on the right track, or as Jesus puts it, the blind leading the blind. Many mega and not so mega churches, have dropped teachings about self-denial and commandment keeping from their teachings, because they learned they are just not good marketing tools. Some call this being “progressive,” while their strategy is really nothing new. It was used by the apostate church way back in the Dark Ages.

Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, “the mystery of iniquity” carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into the Christian church. The spirit of compromise and conformity was restrained for a time by the fierce persecutions which the church endured under paganism. But as persecution ceased, and Christianity entered the courts and palaces of kings, she laid aside the humble simplicity of Christ and His apostles for the pomp and pride of pagan priests and rulers; and in place of the requirements of God, she substituted human theories and traditions. The nominal conversion of Constantine, in the early part of the fourth century, caused great rejoicing; and the world, cloaked with a form of righteousness, walked into the church. Now the work of corruption rapidly progressed. Paganism, while appearing to be vanquished, became the conqueror. Her spirit controlled the church. Her doctrines, ceremonies, and superstitions were incorporated into the faith and worship of the professed followers of Christ.  -Ellen White, Great Controversy, Page 49

What a clever marketing scheme! It really made the church grow by leaps and bounds. By worldly standards it was brilliant. Yet we cannot gauge the success of the church or our personal lives by worldly standards. I don’t think I told you earlier, that it was Christian websites and – may I dare say it – Adventist Singles websites my friend was visiting, while everyone was trying to get with her for their own sexual gratification, instead of a meaningful relationship with her.

God would be better pleased to have six truly converted to the truth as the result of their labors, than to have sixty make a nominal profession, and yet not be thoroughly converted. Ellen White, Evangelism page 320

See friends, God is a lot like my lady friend. He is looking for meaningful relationships, instead of a multitude of people seeking their own gratification. While I am happy being single, I think I could also be happy married. Meanwhile, I have my family, friends, church and people in all my study groups, to keep me so busy I don’t have time to be lonely. (I didn’t even tell anybody that last Thursday, on my day off, I actually sneaked down to the Florida Everglades for some alone time!) Meanwhile I meet single people who are lonely. They are not seeking sexual gratification. They are seeking meaningful relationships. One told me, “I know they say marriage takes a 50-50 effort on both sides to make it work, but I would be willing to give 90 and only take 10 if I could just share my life with someone.” My heart broke with sympathy when I heard that. I knew they were telling the truth.

Friends, if you are looking for self-gratification I can see why you would toss the Bible aside. Yet if you are looking for a meaningful relationship, let me share with you Someone who has already given, not 90% but 100%.

Since he [The Father] did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Romans 8:23 NLT

Are you still hesitant because of the verses I shared with you earlier?

But what do we give up, when we give all? A sin-polluted heart, for Jesus to purify, to cleanse by His own blood, and to save by His matchless love. And yet men think it hard to give up all! I am ashamed to hear it spoken of, ashamed to write it.

God does not require us to give up anything that it is for our best interest to retain. In all that He does, He has the well-being of His children in view. Would that all who have not chosen Christ might realize that He has something vastly better to offer them than they are seeking for themselves. Man is doing the greatest injury and injustice to his own soul when he thinks and acts contrary to the will of God. No real joy can be found in the path forbidden by Him who knows what is best and who plans for the good of His creatures. The path of transgression is the path of misery and destruction.  -Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 46

To all those who are looking for something beyond superficial self-gratifying relationships offered by the world, and would like a more meaningful and deeper relationship, may I introduce to you Someone Who is willing to give 100% to have a real relationship with you? May I introduce to you a God who loves you more than life itself? He has written a very eloquent and inspired love letter for you called the Bible. If you appreciate real love instead of superficial self-gratification, I know you will agree it is inspired.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

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

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

Abel and Ely Study

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

Ely Writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

El testimonio de Ely con fotos Ely

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

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

Janice writes:

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

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

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

Little People, Great Revivals

Tampa Storm 2012

I am writing today from the cloudy and rainy Tampa Bay area.

Wednesday’s section of this week’s Sabbath School lesson asks the question,“What does Jesus’ miracle of multiplying the loaves and fishes teach us about the sharing of our faith?”

One thing we learn is, the boy who gave his lunch, enabling Jesus to feed the multitude did not have to grow up before Jesus could use him in a great way.

My oldest niece is getting married next month, yet God used her years ago, when she was only 5 to teach me a very valuable lesson. My sister and her family and I were visiting my parents in Tulsa. We were all having lunch at home, after I had just preached in the church I grew up in. Someone’s name came up who we all remembered from a long time ago. I made a comment on how that person used to get on my nerves all the time. My little niece’s mouth flew open, and with a look of shock at what I just said, she exclaimed with her five year old wisdom, “You can’t be a good preacher and talk bad about people!” We all looked at her, surprised that those words flew out of her mouth. You know, if those words had flown out of anybody else’s mouth at that table 19 years ago, I would not be writing this, because I would not have remembered it. Those words were not from my niece, they were from God. God knew the only way I would remember those words, were if they came from a five year old. So while He could have spoken through anyone at the table that day, He spoke threw a five year old so I would have a true revival and reformation that day. Sure, I was speaking in the comfort of my own family, yet it was not just the way I spoke that needed to change. I needed to change the way I thought. You don’t have to worry about inappropriate words flying out of your mouth if you never think them in the first place.

The boy giving up all he had to revive a hungry multitude, and my 5 year old niece, inspiring a revival which led to a reformation in my way of thinking, are not to be isolated cases of God using young people, now and not just when they get older.

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. Joel 2:28-29

By referring to servants and even handmaids, God is telling us He is going to use little children in His great last day revival. It should not be that big a deal if you think about. I mean, if God can use simple pieces of dust in the wind like you and I, it’s really not any kind of a stretch for God to use little children. Remember God spoke though a donkey when He spoke to Balaam, so God does not consider it a really big deal when He speaks through me anyway. He could use the dog next door to write this post if He wanted to!

In order to be humble teachers we must also remain humble students willing to be taught by anyone God wants to use to enlighten us. A true revival will never revive our pride. A true revival will lead us to realize God can use the most humble instruments to crucify our pride and experience a genuine revival of Godliness.

Folks give Eli a bad rap for not controlling his own sons better, but even with all of his faults Eli got something right. When Samuel was sleeping in the temple, he repeatedly thought Eli was calling him. Finally Eli realized God was calling little Samuel, and the humble priest instructed the young child what to say next time he heard the voice of God.

 “Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth.” 1 Samuel 3:9

You know what I find remarkable in that simple story? In Eli’s day, as well as in our day, a lot of priests and religious leaders with fancy titles and letters behind their names, would have told themselves, “That couldn’t be God talking to little Samuel, because if it was God, He would be talking to someone important like me  and not some little kid.”

With all his faults, Eli was humble enough to realize that being the high priest did not make him any more useful to God than a little boy. You can pick and find fault with Eli if you want to, but in the end, Samuel led a revival in his day because Eli was humble enough to step aside and let God work through whatever instrument He chose. Likewise God used a small child to work a revival and reformation in my heart at the lunch table one afternoon 19 years ago. And long before that a multitude was revived because a small little boy did not wait to grow up before he gave Jesus everything he had that day.

Recipe for Revival Part 3: Seek God

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

While living in Texas, one day as I was grocery shopping, I decided I was tired of bringing the proverbial bachelor dish of canned corn to church potlucks. I wanted to actually make something. I stood there in the middle of the store, with my cart, wondering what a bachelor like me could possibly make.

Enchiladas! Those can’t be too hard.

So I set out on a hunt, looking for things that would go well in an enchilada dish. I came up with enchilada seasoning mix, refried beans, Morningstar Farm meat crumbles, onions and cheese. 1 I then found some enchilada sauce, vegetarian chili and green onions to top it off with. Oh yes, and. of course. corn tortillas.

I felt I had all the right ingredients, but I knew there had to be a process to make it all fall in place. For example, after I filled the tortillas with the mix, and then started to roll them up into an enchilada, they began to break. I found I had to dip the tortillas in hot olive oil before trying to fold them, so that they would fold right. (Now I just lay them out flat and make my enchiladas more like a lasagna.)

I used to mix the seasoning together in one pan, while mixing the beans, veggie meat crumbles, onions and cheese in another pan and then combining them. I would then add the filling in each individual tortilla. Now I just add the fillings into the pan with the seasoning mix, and I lay the tortillas out flat and pour the contents on top kind of like a lasagna, instead of filling each tortilla individually.

I have to say the enchiladas have been a hit. I have had several families with whom I do Bible studies over, and they love them. One family I have been studying with for a while especially loves them. The kids are always asking when I will make them again. I joked with the parents, that in addition to teaching them the Bible, I could also save them all from a burning building and yet at my funeral all they would be talking about would be how I made good enchiladas!

During this experiment I have learned the importance of creating a delicious meal in the proper sequence.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

God also gives us a recipe for revival in 2 Chronicles 7:14. He not only gives us the ingredients for the revival, He also shares with us the process. We must humble ourselves before we can pray a prayer which leads to revival. And we must seek God before we can turn from our wicked ways.

It does not do any good to pray if we have not humbled ourselves first. Remember the publican and the Pharisee? They both prayed (Luke 18:10), but the Pharisee did not humble himself. (Luke 18:11-12) The publican humbled himself and went home justified, while the Pharisee did not. (Luke 18:13-14)

It also does no good to try to turn from our wicked ways if we do not first seek God.

Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.  Jeremiah 13:23

No matter how hard we try, we just cannot change ourselves to be “good enough” to come to God.

Because they do not understand this, some confuse the teaching of “holy flesh” with righteousness by faith. They expect to come to a point where they are beyond temptation and cannot sin. Ellen White denounced this teaching in 2 Selected Messages, p. 31, just as Paul denounced it in Romans 7:18.

The doctrine of righteousness by faith does not teach that the flesh becomes holy but that the flesh must be crucified, and we must be emptied of self to allow God to fill us with His righteousness which delivers us from the power of sin. See Galatians 2:20 and Great Controversy, p. 623.  

What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself. When men see their own nothingness, they are prepared to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. (Ellen White, The Faith I Live By, p. 111.)

Only God can change our hearts. This is why the church is a hospital for sinners instead of a country club for perfect saints.

Jesus said

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”  (John 12:32)

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

We must come to Jesus before we can rest from the works of the flesh. (Also see  Galatians 5:16-24)

Just as recipes have sequences to their ingredients so does a revival and reformation. First we must humble ourselves. Secondly we must pray and seek God’s face. Then and only then can we turn from our wicked ways.

 

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.
  1. I have also experimented with vegan cheese, but let’s not fill the comment section with quotes about cheese. That’s just not what this post is about.

Recipe for Revival Part 2: Prayer

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

While prayer is not the only ingredient to revival, it is very important.

Prayer is the breath of the soul. It is the secret of spiritual power. No other means of grace can be substituted, and the health of the soul be preserved. Prayer brings the heart into immediate contact with the Well-spring of life, and strengthens the sinew and muscle of the religious experience.  –Ellen White, Heavenly Places, Page 83.

Just as we discussed in part one that binge dieting does not lead to good health, neither does a binge revival lead to good spiritual health. Actually a binge revival is no revival at all.

Binge praying will not lead to revival either. Prayer must be a daily part of our life, If prayer is the breath of the soul, then when we stop praying, the soul stops breathing, and when it stops breathing it dies.

Revival must be a way of life and not something we just experience from time to time. I have heard people refer to camp meetings and other spiritual retreats as an opportunity to get their spiritual batteries charged. Problem is we don’t have any spiritual batteries! Our souls are not batteries.

The other day while I was charging my cell phone, it froze on me. I tried to restart it, but I could not even turn it off. I then did what I have done a few times before and just took the battery out to make it go off. It still did not turn off! I quickly realized why. It was still plugged into the charger and so obviously was still receiving power even without the battery. I then unplugged the charger and restarted my phone.

Charging our spiritual batteries is not the solution. Staying connected to the Charger is. Many people have a golf cart religion. A golf cart charges its batteries in the morning, then runs all over the golf course all day under its own power. That does not work for us. We are not golf carts. We are more like trolley cars. A trolley car has no battery. Neither do we. The trolley must be connected to the cable or it cannot move a single inch. Once the connection is severed to the cable, the trolley stops dead in its tracks. So we must stay connected to Christ throughout the day.

Many people wonder why they try so hard to live like Jesus but keep falling short. One reason could be that they are trying to do it in their own power like a golf cart. Often we focus on the miracles Jesus did in the multitude without focusing on what Jesus first did alone, often for entire nights.

He prayed.

We can’t expect to live the way Jesus lived until we pray the way Jesus prayed.

Like us, Jesus realized He could do nothing in His own humanity without the Father.

Then answered Jesus and said unto them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ‘The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.’”  John 5:19

And Jesus promises us that if we stay connected to Him as He is connected to the Father, even we can do great works.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.  John 14:12

Although there may be a tainted, corrupted atmosphere around us, we need not breathe its miasma, but may live in the pure air of heaven. We may close every door to impure imaginings and unholy thoughts by lifting the soul into the presence of God through sincere prayer. Those whose hearts are open to receive the support and blessing of God will walk in a holier atmosphere than that of earth and will have constant communion with heaven.  –Ellen White, Steps to Christ, p. 99 

I want to learn to pray as Jesus prayed, so I may live like Jesus lived. How about you?

Recipe for Revival Part 1: Humble Yourself

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

Diet is a very important part of weight control, but it is not the only thing. There is exercise, and I have also read that the right amount of sleep is a factor in weight control.  Having said all this, weight control is not maintained by binge dieting, it is controlled by a healthy lifestyle.

Likewise when we talk about prayer and revival there is more to revival than prayer. In conversations about prayer and revival 2 Chronicles 7:14 is often mentioned. However, prayer is not the only remedy for revival mentioned in this quote. Furthermore, binge praying may lead to a temporary revival just as binge dieting leads to temporary weight control, yet temporary weight control is no weight control at all, and temporary revival is no revival at all. If a heart attack victim is revived in the ambulance only to die in the ER he is dead just the same.

So what besides prayer is suggested in the 2 Chronicles 7:14 recipe for revival?

The first ingredient is humbleness. God asks us to humble ourselves before we pray. This one is hard, because we often find pride in revival. We rebuild an old ’65 Ford Mustang, and once we have it looking shiny and new we are proud. Our teams revives itself and comes back to win late in the game, which makes us proud. The idea of humbleness being an ingredient to revival goes against human nature. It is also very deceiving. I once listened to a lady in Texas brag to me about how humble she was! No joke! Her exact words, which utter shock embedded into my brain forever, were, “I am the most humble person I know.” She was serious and sincere. Hence the utter shock on my part.

Once again in Texas, I was visiting with a family who was assuring me they realized nobody was perfect. One of the family members, as sincere as could be, said, “no family is perfect,” and then emphatically drove the point home by exclaiming, “not even us!” Say what? I did not bother assuring them I never thought that, and mused to myself where they got the idea that one would need to be assured their family was not perfect. They meant well. I don’t think theirs is the only family that does not sense its hidden pride.

I was amused a while back during volleyball season. The church school’s girl’s volleyball team was winless. That was not amusing. What was amusing were the three different team mothers who told me privately, one at a time, that their daughter is very skilled and talented, but the other girls just don’t know how to play. If those mothers had all been correct the team would not have been winless.  I never told the mothers that the other mothers were saying the same thing. I just nodded and smiled.

An old friend once told me in reference to prayer, “We can be kneeling on our knees but still standing in our hearts.”

Wisdom and humility make a very winsome combination, while stupidity and arrogance combine for disgrace. Funny thing is, I have never seen wisdom and arrogance together at all! They just don’t combine with each other just as iron does not mix with clay.

There is one cure for pride and arrogance. Look to Jesus and the cross.

 When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride. –Isaac Watts, “When I survey the Wondrous Cross.”

Going on a humble binge will not revive us anymore than binge dieting will lead us to health. It must be an everyday part of our life.

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.  Luke 9:23

And I cried
Who nailed Him there
This Child of peace and mercy
Who nailed Him there
Come and face me like a man
Who nailed Him there
And the crowd began to mock me
I cried Oh my God I just don’t understand
Then I turned and saw the hammer 
In my hand! –Steve Milikan, “The Hammer”

That thought alone should keep us humble throughout our life here on earth, till the day we throw our crowns at the feet of Jesus! A binge humbleness will never do.

Any time self revives the revival dies.

You may study this week’s SS lesson on revival and reformation here.

What Makes my Country and my Church Strong!

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In my almost 50 years, I have seen leaders of my country come and go. Some were called good, some were called bad. There have been some fierce debates over whether or not a certain leader was good or bad.

Still my country remains strong. You know why I think that is? While some leaders are good and others not so good, I believe it is the common citizen who keeps my country strong.

Leaders may compromise their integrity for greed or political favor but my country stays strong because of teachers like my 2nd grade teacher, Miss Tubbs, who stayed after school to help me finish my math assignment even though she really wanted to go home, and was under no obligation to stay. I did not thank her for her extra effort. It made me resent her. She didn’t care that her extra effort was not endearing her to me. She wasn’t doing it for me to thank her. There was really nothing in it for her. Yet by going the extra mile she made each of her students a stronger link in the fabric of our country.

Then you have fathers like my dad, who while working a full time job and a couple part time jobs, volunteers at the city library to teach adults how to read. One of his pupils needed help moving, so dad, who has already gone the extra mile in just teaching him how to read, goes another mile more, and helps him move. I never heard dad complain about all he was doing and he still made time to take me to the baseball games. (He should have had me help his student move instead!)

This country has mothers like my mom, who kept the home in order, worked at various jobs off and on, and still volunteered to lead the parent-teacher association, and was always there to give rides on our field trips. My mother taught me integrity with time, money and hard work. Growing up, Wednesday was the day we got to eat out, because that was the day the enchilada dinner was $1.00 off at the Monterey House Mexican Restaurant. Mom knew the value of saving a dollar, but she still had no problem waiting for the waitress to redo the ticket, after reminding her of something she forgot to charge us for.

This country is full of pastors like Pastor Kelly of the Highland Park Christian Church in Tulsa, where my family worked in the nursery for years. Since we were Seventh-day Adventists, we were Christians who were available to babysit while everyone else was in church Sunday. During my teen years I sometimes needed a mentor to talk to who was not necessarily in the picture of my routine life at school, home and even my own church. While I was not a member of Pastor Kelly’s flock or even his denomination, and he knew good and well there was no chance I ever would be, still he made time for me and always returned my phone calls if I missed him. Just like my second grade teacher, he went the extra mile even though there was nothing to gain for himself. He cared.

Then you have Eneida, who is now 20 and serving in the military getting ready to go to Afghanistan. She was 13 when I met her and her family. We all started studying the Bible together. I have watched Eneida give up things for herself, which were rightfully hers, so her younger siblings could have them instead. Being Hispanic, when it came time for her Quince, while her other friends were throwing big parties she told her parents not to waste any money on her, and enjoyed a quiet celebration with family instead. I have watched her caring for her younger siblings like a mother hen. Now she is in the military. At 20 years of age, the only life she knows is looking out for her family and country even at the expense of her own welfare. Her life has been full of sacrifices, none of which anyone else has ever asked her to make.

Just like Paul could go on and on in the “Hall of Faith” chapter of Hebrews 11, I could go on and on too, about the rest of my wonderful family and community. I think you get the picture. As long as my country has people like Miss Tubbs, mom and dad, Pastor Kelly and Eneida, I don’t think any political leader can destroy the strength of the common people, who make our country strong. It’s not any one leader who is holding this country together and making it strong. The strength of this country is found in the millions and millions of everyday people, like the ones I have just mentioned.

So in my church, it is not any one leader who keeps it strong even with all its challenges. Elijah was once tempted to think he was holding things together during a time of great spiritual crisis in Israel, when he was reminded about 7,000 everyday people who had never bowed the knee to another any other god besides the true God. See Romans 11:4 NLT So while the King and Queen of Israel worshipped Baal, Israel survived because of 7,000 everyday people who we don’t even know their names!

In Hezekiah’s day God’s people experienced another revival. The priests or leaders were not necessarily prepared for the revival the laity was experiencing.

But there were too few priests to prepare all the burnt offerings. So their relatives the Levites helped them until the work was finished and more priests had been purified, for the Levites had been more conscientious about purifying themselves than the priests had been. 2 Chronicles 29:34 NLT

So it is today, often the revivals are led by the lay members. Sometimes it is the lay members who lead the paid gospel workers back to God. I may be a paid full time Bible Worker, but I can’t tell you how many times I have been educated, mentored, and yes even corrected by the most humble of lay members. During times of spiritual crisis it has been the common lay members who have held our church together. The grandmother praying through the night, the small child who quietly slips the money given to him for his birthday into the offering plate, fearing embarrassment if anyone was watching, the mother and father who were just cursed out after a board meeting, right in front of their children, who never retaliated, but went home and prayed in the family circle for the ones who cursed them; yes these are the people who revive and reform our church in times of crisis. These are the people who make our church strong. When I look to myself and then look at the challenges ahead I want to faint! Then my Savior comes and takes me by the hand. He tells me not to look to myself for revival and reformation but to look to Him. Then He tells me not to worry. Not because He will make me a great leader, but because He is a great leader. The church will survive. It will be revived and reformed, not by any one leader. No. It will be revived and reformed by the 144,000. Literal number or symbolic it’s all the same. God will not save, revive or reform his church through any one person. Like the days of Elijah, God will raise up a multitude of everyday common no-name individuals who will reflect the character of God instead of themselves. And it’s because of My God, and His loyal, selfless, unpaid, unrecognized and un-thanked followers that my church is strong!

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