The Priesthood and Temperance of all Believers

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

While Seventh-day Adventists have a health and temperance message to give to the world, God has been using His people in every church and age to spread this message. A while back, I visited the Congregational church in Litchfield Connecticut, which was formed back in the 1700’s. When I got home, I Googled the history of this church, and found that Lyman Beecher was the pastor of this church from 1810 to 1826.

34 years before there was a Seventh-day Adventist Church, Pastor Beecher was famous in his day for preaching abstinence from alcohol, even while other pastors of his day were social drinkers.  Thank God He has pastors in every church and age, who simply go by the Bible.

Years ago I was driving home from a Bible study in the Fort Worth Texas area, when I heard a local Baptist pastor on the radio talking about alcohol. He brought up a very interesting viewpoint, I had never thought of. He quotedLeviticus 10:8-11 NLT

Then the Lord said to Aaron,“You and your descendants must never

drink wine or any other alcoholic drink before going into the Tabernacle. If you do, you will die. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed from generation to generation.  You must distinguish between what is sacred and what is common, between what is ceremonially unclean and what is clean.  And you must teach the Israelites all the decrees that the Lord has given them through Moses.

He talked about how alcohol messes with the judgment center of the brain, and how Aaron’s descendants, the priests, were on a special mission and alcohol was to have no interference with their mission. They held a position which set them apart. I remembered listening to another pastor on the radio, years before, talking about why Jesus refused the wine offered to Him on the cross. See Mark 15:23. The health message is not about living longer. It is about living closer to God. Jesus was going to die on the cross if He drank the wine or not. Jesus refused the wine because He was on a mission and did not need alcohol interfering with His brain and connection with God and focus on His mission. It is the same with the priests.

The pastor in the Fort Worth area, drove home this point. While the Old Testament teaches all priests to stay away from alcohol the New Testament teaches the priesthood of all believers.

 You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. 1 Peter 2:9 NLT

His conclusion was, no priest should ever touch alcohol. Every believer is a priest on a mission. Therefore all believers should stay away from alcohol so they can accomplish their gospel mission, and fulfill their role as priest.

While many people inside the Seventh-day Adventist Church today, debate abstinence and moderation in drinking alcohol, people in various Christian churches in various ages had abstained from all alcohol, based solely on the Scriptures, which remind us of our priestly calling.

You may study this topic further here. 

“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.

Do we Keep The Commandments, Or Just Wash Our Robes?

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

A Protestant lady visiting my church asked why we keep Saturday as the Sabbath. I explained that we love Jesus, and Jesus said if we love Him to keep His commandments. (See John 14:15) She responded indignantly, “But you can’t keep the commandments!” I should have been surprised, but I had heard such a response before from others. While many professed Christians say we can’t keep the law or commandments, my Bible says otherwise.

The author of Revelation sees people keeping the commandments. So it must be possible.

And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children—all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus.Revelation 12:17 NLT

Later John sums up the three angel’s message by saying,

This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently, obeying his commands and maintaining their faith in Jesus.John 14:12 NLT

Again John sees people obeying. He also sees how they obey. Faith makes them obedient. Faith does not do away with obedience. It leads to obedience! Now let’s look at a text where many see a great discrepancy, but I don’t  see any

Revelation 22:14 in the King James Version says,

Blessed are they that do his commandments…

However other versions like the NIV and NLT read,

Blessed are those who wash their robes… Revelation 22:14 NLT

So which is it? Do His commandments or wash their robes? Are the NIV and NLT making an attempt to do away with the law, by saying “wash their robes” instead of “do the commandments” as some suggest? Is this some sort of conspiracy to do away with the commandments?

While KJV proponents suggest that the KJV “Do His Commandments” is the more accurate reading, I see no discrepancy, because all those who wash their robes will be keeping the commandments. Just like Revelation 14:12 showed us, all those who have faith keep the commandments.

Revelation 7 is talking about the law and the seal of God. Here John describes  those sealed with the law in Revelation 7:14 KJV ,

These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Here even the KJV describes those who have been sealed with the law of God as those have washed their robes, just like the NIV and NLT describe later inRevelation 22.

I conclude that “Do His Commandments” and “Wash their robes” are not contradictions, but rather mean the same thing. In Revelation 14:12 we see those who have faith keep the commandments. You can’t separate the two. And by comparing Revelation 22:14 with the NIV, NLT and KJV we see that all those who have washed their robes keep the commandments. Just like 1 John 1:9 tells us, Jesus forgives our sins and cleanses us from unrighteousness, which means He makes us righteous and obedient to the law.

In Genesis 2:15 God told Adam to “keep” the garden. What He meant was to  cherish it and protect it. Care for it. So when Jesus tells us to “keep” the commandments He is simply telling us to cherish and protect them. In Luke 7:50Jesus tells a woman who had just washed His feet that her faith had saved her. That faith was more than a mental acknowledgement of truth. It was a love response. By washing Jesus’ feet and anointing Him with perfume she was cherishing and protecting Him.

When we literally cherish Jesus, it produces a literal faith, which literally washes our robes from sin and lawlessness, which turns us into literal doers of the law and commandments.

If my theory is correct, perhaps it could explain why Jesus, speaking of the woman who had washed His feet, said,

Wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” Matthew 26:13 NLT

Jesus intended for this woman’s story to go right along with the Good News about the seal of God and the three angels’ message.

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

Elaiza’s Baptism Pictures and Stories

Elaiza

Last year Elaiza faithfully attended my after school Bible studies at Tampa Adventist Academy. This year she attends a different school, so her mother, Janice, invited me to have studies in her home. Elaiza did an excellent job completing her baptism workbook, and shared thoughtful ideas and questions from each lesson. Elaiza would mention how important Bible study and prayer time are, and in my after school Bible studies, would always be praying for her friends and family.

This morning Elaiza was baptized in the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church! 

Elaiza shared her testimony with everyone that she had written out a few days before. When she shared it this morning she got a lot of “amens” and I believed it touched several hearts, and will lead to even more people giving their lives to Jesus.

Elaiza writes: “The reason why I am here today is because I want to give myself to God and go to heaven. It’s just not to just frolic on the streets of gold. It’s because I love him and want to have a relationship with him. It says in Acts 2:38 “Peter replied, repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” So, I want to encourage all you kids to be baptized not because your parents tell you to but, because you love Him and want to give yourself to God. Accept God in your life and He will come into your life.”

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For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake. 1 peter 1:18-20 NLT

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Don’t let the sun go down on you before you take Elaiza’s advice and accept God in your life so you can go to heaven to be with Jesus too! I would be very happy to help you take this step. You may contact me at laypastor@tampaadventist.net or 813-933-7505.

Proverbs in Light of the Cross; Rebukes

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.. Proverbs 27:5-6 NLT

When I was about 9 or so I was playing soccer (futball) with my neighbor. An argument broke out about what the out of bounds markers were. It must have gotten a little out of hand, because my neighbor’s father came over and started lecturing us about sportsmanship. He was quite stern. So stern, I started thinking to myself, he’s not my dad! He can’t talk to me like that! Who does he think he is?

Later I read where Jesus said in Revelation 3:19 NLT

I correct and discipline everyone I love.

I realized how my neighbor’s father always made me feel like family. I was always over at their house watching soccer games together on TV. They took me to the lake and to the park. I was family! I realized my friend’s dad had a right to rebuke and lecture me because he cared about me!

They say rules without relationship leads to rebellion. Having rules and relationships make us feel loved and wanted. Years ago I went with the church youth group leader and the youth to a baseball game. The game went into extra innings. This was just before everyone and their dog had a cell phone, so I had the teens use the pay phones to call and let their parents know the game was going into extra innings and we would be back later. After several kids completed their calls, a girl called her mother. She hung up, and looked at the rest of the group with disappointment and hurt. It wasn’t that her mom was upset her daughter would be home late. The girl said, “My mom just chewed me out for waking her up.” The other kids looked at each other puzzled. Who chews their kid out for offering accountability? 

While none of the kids were rebuked or disciplined for the game going into extra innings, they were still offering accountability and recognizing boundaries in their relationship with their parents. I think the girl who got chewed out for waking her mother up, would rather have been rebuked for being out too late. At least then she would have known her mother cared!

With loving relationships comes rules, boundaries and accountability, which make us feel safe, secure and loved.

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

Exciting New Opportunities in my Ministry, Thank You For Your Continued Support!

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

After 11 wonderful years, serving the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, as full time Bible Worker and lay pastor, my tenure has come to an end. Well, so to speak.There is a plan for me to continue. The Tampa First church has faithfully supported my ministry for 11 years, and I can’t thank them enough for all the opportunities and memories. While I have been giving Bible studies, training seminars and evangelism seminars, working with the church, school, community and out of state and country mission projects in some many various ways over the years, the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church has faithfully supported all my endeavors both local and abroad. They can no longer do this due to their own operating expenses. At the same time God is currently using my ministry to touch more lives than ever before! In just one of my weekly Bible study groups 8-11 un-churched souls attend every week. Others are currently preparing for baptism in my other study groups. We are having baptisms march 7, 28, and April 11 just in the immediate future.

However, that does not mean my ministry is over or that I am leaving the area. Pastor James Johnson, and the Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church have proposed a way to keep me active the the Tampa Bay area and abroad.  Please read Pastor James’ letter of appeal here, to help support my ministry with continued monthly donations.  

My salary at the Plant City SDA Church will be supported strictly by donations. We need $5,000.00 a month. (This amount covers the employer’s part of social security as well as my part, and health and retirement benefits and workman’s comp as well as my modest salary.) As of right now we have just over $2,000.00 in pledges. And we have only just begun so this is very doable with God’s grace and generous giving. Under this plan, I will still be able to continue my work with Tampa First. Many people were hugging me last Sabbath, telling me how sorry they were that I was leaving. How ever, under this plan I won’t leave! I will continue my ministry at Tampa First as well as Plant City and the area schools and communities and around the world. I will continue

personal Bible studies and baptisms. Did you know in the last 11 years God has blessed me with around 300 baptisms? over 200 of those at Tampa First and others  as far away as Peru?   My Website reaches thousands around the world as well as my ministry with the Sabbath School Network. 

?????????? Ramiro William Tony            William preaching 

I will also continue leading out in small group Bible studies and training others to do the same at Tampa Firsts SDA, Plant City SDA, Tampa Adventist Academy and beyond!

Bradely 2

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I will continue giving prophecy seminars as well as preaching and training others to preach and teach as well.

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Jac, second from right, was in my class at Tampa Adventist Academy, on how to give Bible studies. This is a picture of him a couple years later, helping me teach a baptism class at Tampa Adventist Academy.

Lauren was also in my class at TAA on how to give Bible studies, and here is a picture of her later giving personal Bible studies to Julio, who was later baptized.

Lauren was also in my class at TAA on how to give Bible studies, and here is a picture of her later giving personal Bible studies to Julio, who was later baptized.

This is Julio being baptized!

This is Julio being baptized!

Your support to help me continue God’s ministry is greatly appreciated. So far, some have pledged $500.00 a month, while others have pledged $50.00 a month. One time gifts are also appreciated to help get the ministry started.

You can contribute now to the Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church. PO box 5379 Plant City Florida 33563. In the check memo please write “Bible Worker Fund.” If you can contribute monthly, a note to that effect and how much would benefit us greatly! You can also print out Pastor James’ letter which includes a portion you can fill out, and return with your check. 

Also if your church needs a revival seminar, evangelism seminar or training seminar I am available. You can contact me at Laypastor@TampaAdventist.net or 813-933-7505.

To stay in touch with what is going on in my ministry please subscribe to this blog and/or like “In Light of the Cross” on Facebook.