Eden Restored

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As a child on family vacations, I loved standing on the ocean’s shore, imagining what lay on the other side. I would watch the waves roll in from who knows how far away. I would see ships sailing for far-away lands that I could only dream about.

After I grew up and became very busy, I was looking at a picture of the ocean and sighed, realizing that I was much too poor and busy to ever see the ocean again. For a while, I was so busy working two jobs that I never even got to enjoy a sunset. I could not see out of the busy rut I was in. Finally one weekend, while living in North Texas, I sneaked down to Galveston for a weekend to see the ocean. It had literally been decades since I had seen the Gulf or ocean, and, for all I knew, it would be the last time. Little did I know, that the next year, God would be moving me to the Gulf coast of Florida!

I now have thousands of ocean sunset pictures that I thought I would never see again!

Have you ever lost something you thought was gone forever, only to find it again?

One of the most romantic things I ever saw my father do for my mother was when she accidentally dropped a beautiful precious collectible plate that shattered into hundreds of pieces. My mother was crying, she was so heartbroken. Dad swept up the hundreds of pieces and took the dustpan into the garage, but he did not throw them into the waste basket. He placed them on his work bench, and over the next few nights carefully glued all the pieces back together. He did a great job! When my dad presented the plate to her, all put back together again, my mother cried tears of joy!

When Adam sinned he lost his precious home. With bitter regret Adam had traded paradise for tears of sorrow. Instead of leisurely enjoying the fruit of the garden, with sweat he worked the cursed ground for his food. As sad as this story is, it has a happy ending!

In another garden, Jesus, the Second Adam, sweat drops of blood as He clung to the cursed ground. Jesus died on a tree if you will, so Adam could have the tree of life back again! Now that I have access to the ocean again, I treasure every moment I am on the beach. I am glad I have the memory of my dad making my mother so happy when he presented her with the once-shattered plate he made whole. But what really gives me Godbumps is realizing one day we will see this:

Transported with joy, he [Adam] beholds the trees that were once his delight–the very trees whose fruit he himself had gathered in the days of his innocence and joy. He sees the vines that his own hands have trained, the very flowers that he once loved to care for. His mind grasps the reality of the scene; he comprehends that this is indeed Eden restored, more lovely now than when he was banished from it. The Saviour leads him to the tree of life and plucks the glorious fruit and bids him eat. He looks about him and beholds a multitude of his family redeemed, standing in the Paradise of God. Then he casts his glittering crown at the feet of Jesus and, falling upon His breast, embraces the Redeemer. He touches the golden harp, and the vaults of heaven echo the triumphant song, “Worthy, worthy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and lives again!” The family of Adam take up the strain and cast their crowns at the Saviour’s feet as they bow before Him in adoration. -Ellen White, Adventist Home, Page 541

Thanks to Jesus, our Second Adam, all the damage the first Adam caused has been totally undone! Adam’s dream, once shattered, will be handed back to him whole. Eden will be restored more lovely than it even was before!

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

Evangelism and Witnessing; Every Member A Minister

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

A while back a lady went into the hospital for a few days. While she was there, a local elder, deacon and an elderly lady came to visit her. However she was released from the hospital before the Senior or associate pastors of the church could come see her. After her release, she was commenting to me that none of the pastors came to see her in the hospital. I corrected her, and told her that three pastors came to see her. According to 1 peter 2:9 the local elder, deacon and elderly lady are all pastors.

The New Testament church was an active church with everyone pastoring and evangelizing. In Acts 8, Philip, a deacon is evangelizing and baptizing. In Acts 7 you have Stephen who was another deacon. While Stephen was “just” a deacon he was stoned to death, and it wasn’t for taking up the offering or adjusting the Sabbath School classroom thermostat. No, he was stoned to death for preaching the gospel! Wait a minute. I thought preaching was the pastor’s job? Not in the New Testament church! In the New Testament church all the members were ministering and evangelizing.

In the dark ages a wide separation was made between the clergy and the laity but that was not the Biblical design. As we progress out of the dark ages the gap between clergy and laity must be narrowed, in order to get back to being a remnant of the New Testament model church.

Around 20 years ago I moved to Texas to be a Bible Worker. The church had thousands of Bible study lead cards that needed to be mailed out. The pastor asked a lady in our church if she could take them to the post office to be mailed. She responded, “Well if I do that then what is William going to do?” She felt since I was the paid Bible Worker that I should be doing all the work, and should mail them myself. Wrong! Fact is, if I am doing all the work then I am not doing my job. My job, along with the pastor’s job is to equip and empower the laity to do evangelism.  If I go by myself to give a Bible study then shame on me! I should always bring another church member so they can be learning how to give Bible studies and also to bond with the student and be another link to the church family. Currently I have about 8 adults in my Bible marking class where I am teaching them how to chain reference their Bibles and give studies and get decisions for Christ. I have also been teaching a Bible marking class at Tampa Adventist Academy, where young people are learning how to share Jesus. At the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church our young people and lay members have been empowered to speak at our evangelism meetings, and to lead out in seminars. We also have several growth group Bible studies and the associate pastor and I are training and mentoring lay members to take over and lead out in these groups. We have also been taking members on door to door evangelism.

If a pastor or Bible Worker thinks of themselves as the ones who are to do all of the preaching and evangelizing then they are not  Biblical but are stuck in the dark ages. Very few pastors today still want to create a huge gap between pastors and laity, while more and more pastors are like Moses, when he said, “would God that all the LORD’S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!”   Numbers 11:29 With this spirit upon our paid clergy the gospel can spread like wildfire and turn the world upside down, just like it did in the book of Acts when every member was an evangelist! Please keep in mind that if the pastor or Bible Worker  are doing all of the preaching and teaching then they are not doing their job. You know the pastor and Bible worker are doing their jobs when they call you and give you work to do!

You may study this week’s SS lesson here. You may download the SS lesson guide to your cell phone here.

John 4; In The Spirit

I wrote this about seven years ago while living in the beautiful Dallas-Fort Worth area.

As I am making my current journey through the New Testament, when I came to John 4, I remembered something I had written about seven years ago, right before I moved to Florida. One of the things I love about writing, is taking a look back every now and then at how I thought years ago. In the article below I am writing about my attitude about moving to Florida. After being here now for seven years, I find it interesting that I seemed to have a self-fulfilling prophecy about making friends here. Glad everything happened even better than I ever dreamed. Below is my article, exactly how I wrote it seven years ago.

God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth. John 4:24

With the possibility now, of me moving to Florida where I will be hundreds of miles from any of my friends, it has me thinking a lot lately about my friends and what their friendships mean to me. In light of this, I found something in the above verse that is very comforting to me. I am sure that you have friends that no matter how long you are apart form them, once you get together, your friendship resumes right where it left off as though you had never been apart. This may sound weird, but maybe in one dimension you never were apart! We have physical dimensions such as time and space, but have you ever thought that there is another dimension we can be in that is not bound by time or space? To me, that dimension is the Holy Spirit. I believe why many of our Christian friendships take up right where they left off even after long periods of no physical contact is because we have actually been together the whole time “in the Spirit!” Why do those friendships take up right where they left off as though no time has passed by? Because we are in the great “ I AM”. With God thee is no time. He is in one eternal now. He is not the “I WAS” or “ I WILL BE”, He is the I AM. Same with space, The Holy Spirit is everywhere. The Holy Spirit is with our Christian friends, so if we are in the Spirit and our friends are in the Spirit then we are together.

As a matter of fact, all the love we receive from our friends actually comes from the Holy Spirit. Therefore, if I leave my friends in Texas and go to Florida and make new friends there, I am still receiving the exact same love I had in Texas. Love does not come form human beings. We can not generate love; all we can do is let the Holy Spirit’s love flow through us. Therefore, the love I receive from people half way across the world is the same exact love I receive from the people I live with right here. It all comes form God. So as long as you have God’s love you can’t miss a friends love, because the only love they gave you came from God and He is still with you!

I am so thankful for all my friends whom I can share God’s love with! Thank you for being a part of my life. I hope God has been able to love you through me as we worship Him in Spirit.

Evangelism Team Meeting: Planning for 2010

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area. Most of my pictures feature our beautiful gulf and bay, but this picture is of the Tampa Skyline from the beautiful Hillsborough River.

Dear Church Family,

I wanted to take a moment and share with you some of the exciting things the Tampa First Evangelism team (Members listed at bottom of this page) has planned for 2010!

  1. By God’s grace we want to have a training school right here at the church to teach people how to win souls to Christ through various soul saving methods such as Bible Studies, seminars, small groups, door to door evangelism etc. Our goal is for every member to give at least one Bible study in 2010.
  2. We want to hold several off site seminars and evangelism meetings, possibly in schools, libraries, etc. They will be taught by pastors, Bible Workers as well as our church lay family.
  3. We will be working with the church board in finding a couple Sabbaths that we can devote to various outreach activities in the community which will involve the entire church in participation according to each person’s gifts and preferences.  These activities may include literature distribution, door to door surveys and Bible studies, giving bottled water to people in the parks and giving them invitations to church, Prayer warriors while everyone is out doing their activities, etc.
  4. We will be helping families organize and participate in small study groups. Each group may have a different theme (For example I have a small golf group) but each will be very intentional in leading people to Jesus.
  5. We want to team with other churches to share Jesus with the community on a much larger scale than we ever have before.
  6. Several on our evangelism team will be going door to door and inviting others as well. We want to once again team with other churches to see what areas are being covered and which are being neglected.

 

These are just a few of our goals. Please pray for our evangelism team but also know that you are not only welcomed but encouraged to be a part of our soul winning efforts. Please also know that whenever you see it posted that the Evangelism Team is having a planning meeting that our meetings are opened and all are welcomed to attend!

Some churches do evangelism. God wants Tampa First to be an evangelistic movement that also does church!

May God richly bless your Christmas and New Years, and I pray He gives you a burden to join us on all our evangelistic efforts in 2010.

Your Christian Servant,

William

2010-2012 Tampa First SDA Church Evangelism Team:

EVANGELISM TEAM

Leader:  William Earnhardt

                   Amy Beattie

Dana Schnoor                                 Sondra Shields

Paulette Cooper                               Harrison Inniss

                                    Dan Ferree

Geraldye St. Jean                             Guether St. Jean          

Fitzgerald Peterkin                           Enid Peterkin