God Hugged Me!

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The Majesty of heaven, while engaged in His earthly ministry, prayed much to His Father. He was frequently bowed all night in prayer. . . . The Mount of Olives was the favorite resort of the Son of God for His devotions.-Ellen White, Amazing Grace, page 167.

Jesus had His favorite place to meet with His Father. Do you have a special place to be with Him? For the last 8 years, while serving as a Bible Worker in the Tampa Bay area, I have a favorite park bench at Ballast Point Park. After a full day and evening of evangelism, many a night has found me on my park bench, looking over the bay, at the car lights racing down Bay Shore Drive. The reflections from the condos and city lights dance on the dark bay waters. I talk with God about all the people I met that day. I share my trials and triumphs. Then, as I imagine all the individuals in the cars speeding down Bay Shore Drive, and all the thousands of souls in the thousands of windows I see in the dark skyline, I ask God to write His love story on all their hearts.  I am weak and helpless, but I know the Holy Spirit can do great things in my city and beyond. If I have learned anything at all in my 20 years of Bible work, it is this. I need to talk to Jesus about people, twice as much as I talk to people about Jesus. I am worthless in the multitude if I have not first been alone with Jesus.

Every night that I meet with Jesus in the park, I know He is with me through His Spirit. One night, not so long ago particularly stands out in my heart. That night I was talking to Jesus about my triumphs, but also my trials. In evangelism you see God at work but you also see satan at work as well. Satan would love to see the Bible work put out of business. I told God that  as long as He enables me to rise above satan’s attacks, that I would always share the gospel with others.  I felt so small and weak, as I looked out over the city, knowing the evil that lurked throughout the streets and neighborhoods. On my own I could so easily be blown away. I begged  God to be with me and never leave me.

The following morning I went to the community service center at our church, where I meet with those who are down and out and try to help and encourage them. As I walked in the door, my prayer from the previous evening was not  on my mind, but apparently it was still on God’s mind. An elderly lady volunteer came right up to me, and before I could even greet her, she gave me a bear hug, and told me that God was blessing my ministry and that God knew what I was up against, and that satan would not be able to stop what I was doing for Jesus. She told me she was always praying for me and for me to never stop working for Jesus. It took a few moments for me to realize what she was telling me, was exactly what I was praying about the night before, in Ballast Point Park. I realized God was answering my prayer through her! Then I realized, if her message was from God, then so was the hug that came with it. That morning God gave me a message but even more so, He gave me a big bear hug!

Thank you Jesus for being with me when I enter people’s homes to share the gospel. Thank you also for being with me, alone on a park bench in Ballast Point Park. Thank you for your confirmation, and even more so for the big bear hug you gave me along with it!

Glimpses of Grace; Victory in Jesus

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area. This is my view of Tampa, from a bench in Ballast Point Park, where I often go to pray at night after a full day of Bible ministry. I love to look out over the city that I am praying for as I pray. I do not only pray for the city. I pray also for myself, that God will give me the skills and opportunity to share His grace amongst great obstacles. When I pray for God’s help in my ministry I am often encouraged by the passages below. Thanks to my friend Adam, who took this picture with his camera, as my camera doesn’t do too well at night.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us Ephesians 3:20

I wanted to share a passage from The Desire of Ages, page 679 that has always brought me hope and encouragement in my ministry.

Christ rejoiced that He could do more for His followers than they could ask or think. He spoke with assurance, knowing that an almighty decree had been given before the world was made. He knew that truth, armed with the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit, would conquer in the contest with evil; and that the bloodstained banner would wave triumphantly over His followers. He knew that the life of His trusting disciples would be like His, a series of uninterrupted victories, not seen to be such here, but recognized as such in the great hereafter. 

  “These things I have spoken unto you,” He said, “that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Christ did not fail, neither was He discouraged, and His followers are to manifest a faith of the same enduring nature. They are to live as He lived, and work as He worked, because they depend on Him as the great Master Worker. Courage, energy, and perseverance they must possess. Though apparent impossibilities obstruct their way, by His grace they are to go forward. Instead of deploring difficulties, they are called upon to surmount them. They are to despair of nothing, and to hope for everything. With the golden chain of His matchless love Christ has bound them to the throne of God. It is His purpose that the highest influence in the universe, emanating from the source of all power, shall be theirs. They are to have power to resist evil, power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master, power that will enable them to overcome as Christ overcame. 

1st and 2nd Corinthians; God Hugged me Today!

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].  1 Corinthians 10:31

I am continuing my journey through the New Testament, but my reading is way ahead of my blogging. I guess to get somewhat caught up, I can just summarize 1st and 2nd Corinthians. Paul talks about a lot of struggles. “Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; [In] journeyings often, [in] perils of waters, [in] perils of robbers, [in] perils by [mine own] countrymen, [in] perils by the heathen, [in] perils in the city, [in] perils in the wilderness, [in] perils in the sea, [in] perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” 2 Corinthians 11:25-27 After all this Paul still calls all his problems, “light affliction.”  “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:17.

Sometimes, for the sake of the gospel we go through trials. Sometimes the enemies of the cross persecute us for preaching the gospel. Satan would want us to feel alone, like we are the only ones who have ever  “ endured such contradiction of sinners.” But we are not alone! Jesus also endured the same. “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” Hebrews 12:3.

Paul tells us plainly in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that the trials we go through are common to man. We are not alone. He also tells us, Jesus will bring us out of every one of those trials and temptations.

God has richly blessed me, but my life is not without trials. Last night, after a full day of Bible studies, and then church board meeting, I went out to Ballast Point Park, on Bayshore drive to talk with God. Life has been good. I told God just how good life has been. I told Him how much I appreciate all the wonderful things He has done and is doing in my life, and for those I love. As I sat on the pier, overlooking the city lights, I prayed for all the people of Tampa, that they would have the hope that is in Jesus. I then confided to God, that while all is going well, I still know there are those who oppose the cross of Christ and try to cause problems, and prohibit the gospel to reach the hearts of others.  I told God of people I want to reach with the gospel, but their so called friends are keeping them away. I also told God there are people who do not like what I do, and would like to see me stopped. I thanked God for supporting my ministry. I thanked Him for all the opportunities He has given me to share His love, and for the hundreds of people who loyally support my ministry with offerings, prayers, work effort, and encouragement. I promised God that I would keep spreading the gospel just as long as He continued to give me victory over the enemies of the cross.

This morning I walked into the Community Service Center at church, like I always do every Tuesday morning, where I meet with and encourage those who are down and out, and invite them to our church activities. Today, as soon as I came in the door, an elderly lady volunteer walked up to me. Without me saying a word, she gave me a big tight squeezed hug and told me to keep spreading the gospel and that God was not going to let anybody get in my way! I have never spoken a word to this lady about any of my trials or personal life, but she looked me right in the eye as though she knew everything, and told me she knew what I was up against, and that Satan was against me but that he would be overcome and that Jesus would be victorious. I stood amazed. Her words seemed to be in direct response to my prayer just hours before. I considered her words to be from God. Then I realized, if the words came from God, then so did the hug!   God hugged me today!