Author: In Light Of The Cross

“Send us Infinity People!”

St.Pete With Curtis

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23 NKJV

One night I was lamenting to God, about all the apostasy, and outright rebellion going on even in Christian cultures. As I was “interceding” for the “fallen” I felt the Holy Spirit tap me on the heart, and ask,

What if I told you some of the people you are praying for are actually better Christians than you?

Often, we are concerned about others when we should be more concerned about ourselves. Fact is, we have all sinned. Fact is, there is hope for all of us!

For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19 NKJV

How many are made righteous? The many who were made sinners was a staggering amount, so since the same word is used for those who are made righteous, I figure that must be a staggering amount too. I just checked my concordance, and found that both times the word “many” is used in Romans 5:19, it is the word “polus.” Definitions for “polus” include, large, abundance, plenty, and even “most.”

When we see evil all around it is easy to get discouraged. We read,

you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…Revelation 3:17 NKJV

We lament the sins going on in our Christian circles, and think there is no hope. We doubt God will even be able to save 144,000 since in Noah’s day God only saved 8. Be careful! We often project our faults onto others. See Romans 2:1. If I think the church is dead, there is a good chance I am dead.

After reading the sobering message in Revelation 3, I need to heed the warning myself. I need to open my heart to Jesus. I need to realize that amid all the dire things Jesus has to say about me, He still plans on me overcoming!

To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. Revelation 3:21 NKJV

Notice the contrast brought about by God’s grace. The one church that Jesus had absolutely nothing good to say about, is the one church that Jesus expects to not just overcome, but to overcome as I overcame!

While we wonder how many will be saved, while we wonder if the number will be closer to 8 than it is to 144,000 John sweeps our skepticism and criticism away with a staggering number who overcome!

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, Revelation 7:9 NKJV

 

“Which no one could number?” “Of all nations?” Is John telling me there will be more people saved from the most hopeless situations than I can even count? Why yes, yes he is! When things look hopeless and we think a sinner is out of reach of God’s grace, remember,

Often we regard as hopeless subjects the very ones whom Christ is drawing to Himself. –Ellen White, Christ Object Lessons, Page 71 

My Wednesday prayer meeting group was praying for some upcoming evangelism meetings. People were praying for God to send us several people or even a lot of people, but then a 9 year old girl prayed, “Send us infinity people!” We all chuckled inside. Doesn’t she know that’s impossible? Doesn’t she know that will never happen, especially when you look at the shape our world is in? Well, turns out she knew what she was praying about after all. One day this little girl and Jesus will be walking together hand in hand, and He will thank her for praying a prayer that made His dream come true: “A great multitude which no one could number.”

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

Sharing Jesus Door to Door

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Jesus knows us individually, and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He knows us all by name. He knows the very house in which we live, the name of each occupant. He has at times given directions to His servants to go to a certain street in a certain city, to such a house, to find one of His sheep. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 479. 

On a summer evening in 2008, Wes knocked on the door of a home in Tampa Florida, and offered Larry, the man who opened the door free Bible studies. Larry accepted the studies and before the summer was over, Larry and his wife Janice were baptized members of the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist church. A church they did not even know existed, before Wes knocked on their door. Today Larry is a very active deacon in the church. Janice shares inspirational literature with people she finds everywhere she goes. More than this, I have had the privilege of studying with and baptizing two more members of their family, and studying with some of their uncles, cousins and nephews. By knocking on Larry’s door, Wes not only brought love and hope to Larry’s heart, but also to the hearts of his family.

While there are many ways of reaching people these days, especially with social media, it appears God continues reaching people through door to door evangelism.

So how does one reach people through door to door evangelism? When I was 15 I went knocking on doors in my neighborhood, just flat out asking people if they wanted Bible studies. A couple of people said “yes” and one family visited my church with me one Sabbath.

Of course there are different ways to reach people door to door, and Bible studies and baptism don’t necessarily need to be the goal of each visit. The goal is to meet the needs of the people. Many churches have what they call a community needs survey. Ministries offered varies from church to church, but you can click on the link to get an idea. The purpose is to find ways to minister to the community. Sometimes one of the offers will be Bible studies as swell as other ministries such as health, cooking, divorce care, grief recovery and so forth. What I like to do instead of offering Bible studies on the survey is to offer them at the end of the survey as a free gift for taking the time to do the survey. These are the most popular door to door surveys these days.

Wes used a community religious survey when he knocked on Larry’s door. These can generate some very interesting discussions, and the answers people give to the surveys will help you know how to reach them during your course of study.

The Michigan Conference of Seventh-day Adventists have a page full of sample surveys which I have found to be very handy.

When going door to door, remember to always be polite even when the people you visit are not. A Christlike life will win people over winning and argument. Also be encouraged that if they are not interested, that you are only one of many opportunities God will send their way. Also Jesus said, in Matthew 24:14 that the Gospel will go into all the world before He comes, and so every decision people make, whether “yes” or “no” is one decision closer to Jesus coming. Of course we want everyone to be ready!

Remember, God may be sending you to a certain house to find one of His lost sheep, or possibly many of them!

My Fall Open Newsletter to my Contributors

Preston

Many exciting things have happened since my last newsletter! Here is a picture of Preston getting baptized at Tampa First SDA Church.  God has also blessed with two

baptisms from my studies at Tampa Adventist Academy, as well as Maretta joining the Plant City SDA Church on profession of faith.

Preston CS

After studying and being baptized, like many others, Preston wasted no time getting busy in service for Jesus and His Church. Preston has joined the Community Service Center at Tampa First, helping others in need.

Maretta

In Plant City Maretta has found one friend and one family member, who are now studying with us to be baptized.

Summer Study

So many of the students and Tampa Adventist Academy enjoyed our Bible chain referencing classes and Bible studies, that they wanted to continue studying during together during the summer! On the left Isa, who was in my evangelism class at TAA, is giving the study on the hope of eternal life to our summer Bible study group, which included kids from the community as well as the church school. A few of the other kids from TAA also presented studies during the summer class.

Rose

Last Spring, Rose, who was in my Bible chain referencing class, shared the Gospel presentation with her cousins, and Harold made his decision to be baptized! I am currently following up with him and his family.

I also have several small study groups going on every week. One group is on Friday nights with several people who have no church affiliation. Recently four of them made their decision to be baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church! We are now doing baptismal studies.

At Plant City, the pastor and I are both teaching a New Believers class with 8-12 seekers every Sabbath. I am also helping some families from Plant City who are reaching their family and friends.

While God is opening all kinds of doors right here in Tampa and Plant City, I am also very thankful he is allowing my ministry to spread across Florida. I also have a Bible chain referencing class in St. Petersburg with about 10 students.

Last week I completed a week of prayer at the New Port Richey Seventh-day Adventist school,  I had the privilege of bringing the message of the cross to 75 students every day. On Friday 23 of those students asked for baptism and Bible studies! The principal, Mr. Keith Nelson, has invited me back to study and prepare these students for baptism!

As well as preaching and conducting personal and group Bible studies all over Florida, my online ministry continues with Inlightofthecross.com as well as the Sabbath School Net.

I want to thank my contributors for the awesome privilege of sharing the gospel with hundreds of people in Florida and thousands around the world. I am also thankful for the privilege of coaching others to share the gospel, as we fulfill Jesus’ commission to take the Gospel into all the world! Thank you for your continued support and new supporters are needed and welcomed!

Monthly and one time contributions are welcomed at

Plant City SDA Church

PO Box 5379

Please mark for Bible Worker Fund

Plant City, FL 33653

THANK YOU!

When is it a Good Idea NOT to Follow Bible Counsel?

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear [thee, then] take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell [it] unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican. Matthew 18:15-17

This counsel rarely ever gets followed. How much better our world and church would be if people would follow this counsel from Jesus.

Here is what I have seen happen too often. Someone actually tries to follow this counsel, but at step 2, when he tries to get a brother to go along, the brother perceives it as gossip and does not want to meddle in the situation even though this is exactly what Jesus says to do. Or, instead of being neutral, that person gets an ear load from one side and goes into the meeting very biased.

Even more sadly, I have talked with church leaders who passed judgment on another member without ever hearing that person’s side of the story or going to them personally first. They clearly admitted they did not follow the counsel of Matthew 18because they already had all the evidence without needing to follow Matthew 18. What? You don’t need to follow Bible counsel because you already have the full scoop? Since when was following the Bible optional? Apparently it happens all the time. To me this is the most sad situation of the three, because the people not following Matthew 18 know they are not following it and don’t care, but they still think they are fit to be church leaders while intentionally ignoring Bible counsel.

Before many churches can heal and move forward in proclaiming the gospel, they need to make sure they are following the gospel themselves. We need to make sure we follow Matthew 18 when a problem arises and go to our brother or sister one on one without anyone else knowing. Most problems can be resolved at step one. If not, then step two means we should take along another party who can hear both sides of the story at the same time, and not get an ear full from one side before even hearing the other side. This talking to another person and stacking the deck in one’s favor is very easy for humans to do, but with God’s grace we can avoid this temptation – especially if we are honestly wanting truth to win.

The third step is to take it to the church. At this point the church should not be afraid to handle the matter. It is not gossip at this point; it is Bible counsel. In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul tells the church it will be judging angels and needs to be judging its own issues.

When we reject Bible counsel everyone loses. When we follow Bible counsel there is redemption for all.

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

Overcoming Everyday by Dying Everyday

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24 NKJV

While reading through Galatians again, the part of this passage about even our desires being crucified jumped out at me. I have studied with people who tell me that even though they stopped smoking, the desire to smoke always remains. One man told me, “I will always be a smoker. I just will always choose not to smoke.” That makes sense as we all have sinful flesh, but do not have to give in to the flesh.

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 NKJV

Still, do I take Galatians 5:24 to mean that our sinful desires are crucified once and for all never to return?  Can a born-again smoker live the rest of his life without ever craving to smoke the rest of his life? Can a selfish person be born again and never crave self again? Can a sexually promiscuous person be born again and never crave immoral sex again? Do we give people the idea that if they are born again and are walking in the Spirit, that it is not normal to be tempted? Do we teach once cured always cured? And if so, is that as dangerous as teaching once saved always saved?

After prayerfully pondering this, I think I found the answer in something Jesus said.

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,and follow Me. Luke 9:23 NKJV (emphasis on “daily” added)

Jesus did not teach once saved always saved, nor did He teach once “cured” always “cured.” Every day we wake up as sinners. Every day we must deny and crucify self. The passions and desires being crucified in Galatians 5:24 are not a one-time event. We continue to be cured only as we continue to crucify self.

Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” that he begged God to just take away. However instead of taking it away, God just said,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV

Some have twisted this passage to mean that Paul could just keep on sinning and God’s grace would just keep on forgiving him, but that is not the case at all. Paul realized

when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10 NKJV

Paul knew that while God did not remove the weakness or temptation, he did not need to give in to it, because God supplies the strength to overcome. Of course many believe the thorn was a physical issue and not a moral temptation. even so, Paul says,

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV

Salvation and victory over sin continue, only as we continue to crucify the flesh along with its passions and desires every day. Every day we must deny ourselves. Every day we must pray “Not my will, Your will be done.” So not only are sinful habits crucified, but the very desire to sin can be crucified-daily.    

He’s Like Me

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to live as I do…Galatians 4:12 NLT

 

Why is Paul telling us to be like him? Aren’t we supposed to follow Jesus as our only example?

There’s a story of a man who was trying to share Jesus with an atheist every day. Finally the atheist had heard enough and told the man he would let him say one more sentence about Jesus, and after that he did not want to hear any more. If you could only say one sentence about Jesus, what would you say?

Knowing he could not say anything about Jesus after one sentence, he had to choose his words carefully, so he told the atheist, “He’s like me.” When I heard this story, my first thought was that was a very prideful thing to say! Who goes around saying “Jesus is like me?” But the man was not prideful. He was sincere. According to the story, the atheist told the man, “Well if He is like you, I want to learn more about Him.”

The man chose his words carefully, because he knew that even though he might not be able to talk to the man about Jesus, the man would still be watching him. It’s been said of children, but I believe it is also true of adults, that while they may not always be listening to us, they are always watching us. And to answer the question, Who goes around saying, “Jesus is like me?” The answer is, everyone who calls themselves a Christian.

While Paul says, “imitate me” in the next verse he says, “I follow Christ.” 1 Corinthians 4:17 NLT

Paul makes it more clear what he meant here.

And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 NLT

Paul wanted people to follow him only as he follows Christ. While Jesus told us to follow Him and not other Christians, we still have a powerful influence.

Throw a pebble into the lake, and a wave is formed, and another and another; and as they increase, the circle widens, until it reaches the very shore. So with our influence. Beyond our knowledge or control it tells upon others in blessing or in cursing. -Ellen White, Christ Object Lessons, Page 340. 

How does your influence affect how people think about Jesus? Can people honestly say Jesus is like you?

And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT

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

When Your Troubles Seem Overwhelming Remember This

Clear Water Moon

I am writing from the beautiful Tampa Bay area tonight.

This Monday,  August 21 when it gets dark in the middle of the day across the United States, keep in mind the sun is 64.3 million times bigger than the moon.  While the sun is so huge, we will “let” something relatively tiny get in the way of the sun, and darken our day.

When we face problems that darken our day, we need to remember that God’s love is infinitely greater than our problem. That is even more than 64.3 million times greater! The reason those tiny problems darken our day is because we look at them so closely they block out the sunshine of God’s love.

We can’t stop the moon from eclipsing the earth this Monday, but we can keep our small problems from eclipsing the light of God’s love, by looking at God’s love more closely than we look at those tiny problems.

 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT