Here is the video of Tojie and Anthony’s baptism as well as my sermon presentation at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, on God’s Hesed, relentless promise keeping and relentless love. The baptism is at 17:10. The sermon is around 100:00, but you will also enjoy the music and testimonies in between as well.
On Sabbath, October 22, 2016 Maretta rejoined the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Plant City. Earlier in the year Maretta was invited to some meetings being conducted by some young men from Southern Adventist Univeristy. Maretta attended more meetings than anyone else, and was soon coming to Sabbath School and church and helping out with our fellowship meals. She fit right in right away and has never looked back. Like most people who have fallen in love with Jesus, Maretta has been taking a friend with her regularly to Sabbath and School and church, who has also been having Bible studies with us. Maretta is glad to be back in God’s church and we are glad she is here!
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel…. 1 Corinthians 1:17 NKJV
Does the church have to baptize every member of the community in order to serve its purpose? Is it possible God has some people cross our paths just because they need to be loved, regardless if they join our church or not?
Years before ever becoming, or thinking about becoming a Bible Worker myself, I found myself on a church softball team, captained by the new local Bible Worker. I failed to eat breakfast before running off to play. In the middle of the game, I began to get dizzy and lightheaded. My team was up to bat when I pretty much blacked out. I was sitting right next to the Bible Worker and told him, as the batter was striking out, “I am blacking out. I can’t even see anything right now.”
His reply? He threw my mitt in my lap and said, “That’s the third out. Let’s go take the field!” Not exactly the reply I was expecting. Needless to say, I did not go out onto the field. I managed to get myself to a nearby building where I got a drink and laid down. I had heard people who had been studying with this Bible Worker say how wonderful he was. I guess already having been baptized, I was not a potential “notch on his belt,” So he was not that wonderful to me. He never even missed me when I failed to come back to the game.
At that point in my life, I was not really that familiar with the Bible Worker concept. Therefore I had never really considered becoming one, but on my way home that day, I remember thinking to myself, that if I ever did become a Bible Worker, I would not be like that one! I also told myself that if I genuinely care about people who are about to be baptized, then I would genuinely care about people who will never be baptized. Even though I was not a Bible Worker at that point, I told myself, that as a Christian as well as being theologically sound, I also want to be relationally sound. I decided to be a genuine caring friend not matter what position I ever have in church.
Ironically I did become a Bible Worker, and found myself studying with a man, in the first district I had been assigned, who finally showed up to church with his 14-year-old step-daughter. She had never been to any church. I went to the parents of teenage girls and told them this girl had never been to church before. Please have your daughters greet and befriend her. One of the mothers shrugged her shoulders and said, “But my daughters already have friends.” The father ended up getting baptized in another nearby Adventist church. We never saw his step daughter again.
Later in another district, I was studying with a war veteran who needed a ride to the veteran’s hospital one day. Wanting to connect him with members of my church, I called several retired members and asked them to give this worthy veteran a ride. One person told me they were unavailable because, “That’s the day I water my garden.” And that was the most legitimate excuse! Not only did this veteran never come to my church, but that was also the end of our Bible studies. Do you blame him?
After studying a few months with a young married couple, they became baptized and joined my church of mostly older people. One of the elders never reached out to this young couple, until finally he heard them say something in Sabbath School that was not theologically correct, so he took it upon himself to call them later in the day, to “reach out” and tell them that they were wrong! That was the only contact he had with them, and it was not long before they were out of the church. How long would you stay in a church where people only call to tell you that you are wrong?
In Texas I studied with a teenage boy, that for sake of anonymity, I will call Scott. He found a ride to church every Sabbath, as no one else in his family came to church. Shortly after his baptism he moved to Tampa Florida. We had a going-away party for him, and I wrote in his card, “Bible Workers come and go, but friends are forever.” I did not think that much about it. Eight years later I moved to Tampa Florida. I had talked with him a few times after his move. One day, shortly after moving to Tampa, I ran across his name in my address book, and the address “Tampa Florida” jumped out at me. I called the number, to find out that he was in jail. I arranged a visit. Not exactly the reunion I had planned with a former Bible student. We were glad to see each other and had a lot to talk about since our last visit. He explained to me what had been going on with him lately and how ended up in jail. Towards the end of our visit, he told me, “When I moved away, you wrote in my card, Bible Workers come and go but friends are forever. I never forgot what you wrote, and now that you have come to see me after all those years, even though I am in jail, shows me you meant what you said.” I realized even more, that being relational is just as important as being theologically sound. I realized too, that even though he had been baptized eight years ago, my work with him was not over. Scott needed a forever friend. I am glad God moved me across the country to where I could reach out to him.
As a Christian my goal goes way beyond seeing people get baptized. My goal is to see them in heaven. That means being a forever friend to those who are preparing for baptism, and to those who have already been baptized, as well as to those who I may never see get baptized.
Some people think they can’t give Bible studies, but if I can, anybody can. Even so, what a teenage girl needed in a church long ago, was not just Bible studies, but a friend. A veteran just needed a ride to the hospital. A young couple needed someone from the church, to call them just to say hello, instead of just to tell them they were wrong. A young man sitting in jail needed to know someone still cared, even though he was less than perfect.
That morning on the ballfield, I needed a friend. I needed someone who cared for me regardless if I was someone about to be baptized or not. I needed what every other person needs, and that is a forever friend. Do the people in your community know that regardless if they ever get baptized or not, that they can find forever friends at your church?
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
Did Jesus need to be baptized? Was He just setting a good example for us to follow, or was He actually repenting?
Suppose you are eating at your favorite restaurant, and the waiter spills the drinks all over you. I guarantee that the manager is going to come out and apologize all over the place. Why? The manager did not spill the drinks on you. No, but he belongs to a corporation that did. He is apologizing on behalf of the restaurant he represents. So with this mindset, we can say that Jesus was repenting when He was baptized. Not for His sins. He had no sin. But by making Himself one with humanity He was baptized and repented on behalf of humanity.
When Jesus came up out of the water the Father was heard saying,
This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Matthew 3:17 NKJV
Keep in mind, when the Father was saying He was well pleased with His Son, His Son was representing the entire human race. So by accepting His Son, He was accepting the entire human race!
He made us accepted in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:6 NKJV
But the good news does not end there. What Jesus did for us He also wants to do through us.
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Romans 6:4-6 NKJV
By baptism we die to self just like Jesus died to self. As Jesus was raised from the grave we are raised to a new life, and now Paul says that God,
raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6 NKJV
There’s a story of a pastor who was waiting for a train at the station, and a man came up to him offering him some Christian literature. The pastor smelled alcohol on his breath, and asked him if he was drinking. The man lowered his head and said Yes. The pastor asked him how he could be witnessing while drinking. The man said, “Jesus lived a perfect life and died for me, so I don’t have to.” The pastor asked, “So Jesus overcame sin so you don’t have to? And died for you so you don’t have to die?” The man said, “Yes!” The pastor replied, “Then Jesus also went back up to heaven so you don’t have to!”
The gospel truth is Jesus died for us so we can die with Him. Jesus lived a victorious life so we can live a victorious life by abiding in Him. And Jesus ascended into heaven so we too can be with Him where He is.
You may study this week’s SS lesson here.
Donnalee Jackson and I at outdoor church in Plant City last Sabbath.
As a Bible Worker, I love hearing how people have come to know and accept Jesus as their Savior. I enjoy hearing older people talk about how they came to know Jesus “back in the day” as I find it interesting how methods of evangelism change over the years and how they stay the same. Below is a testimony from Donnalee Jackson, a very good friend of mine from the Plant City, Florida Seventh-day Adventist Church. I hope you enjoy her story as much as I did.
Donnalee C. Jackson
As I look back, to reflect on how I became an Adventist, I see how I was led by the gentle, loving hand of Jesus. It has been a quiet progress that never seemed earth-shattering, however, my desire to find the truth, would take years of experiences, volumes of learning, and a growing longing, to find the right, narrow path.
The people that have influenced me were not pushey or wishy-washy, but people that I respected and cared about. They shared with me things that made me think and wonder by saying one word, and just by their actions. As my years are fading away, having lived a long time, I am filled with an urgency to be a living example that will help everyone I meet and those that I have been so blessed to associate with, including, and so importantly, my family.
Usually I am filled with meekness, patience, and loving thoughts to get a point over, and sometimes I feel that I need to share something unexpected to shake who-ever, to face their problems, pray about it, and find the real answers, usually by looking in the mirror. Now, to get back to how I got to this point—My Story!
As a child, in Los Angeles, California, and my parents introduced me to Sunday school. We always walked to the little church that was down the street, across Temple Street and up to Union St. to the Union Methodist Church. It was comforting to learn about God and His love. On Temple St., we passed the little country grocery store, owned by the partnership of a Japanese family and a Chinese family. I’ll never forget the day when the government hauled the Japanese family away to a camp. It didn’t make any sense to me then, and still doesn’t. They were such wonderful, kind people.
Next door to the grocery store was a small church that housed a group of people called “The Holy Rollers”. They were so filled with the love of
Jesus, that when they sang hymns, you could hear them almost from my house. When I peeked inside at them, they were all on their feet, waving their arms and singing at the top of their lungs. I wanted to join them, but I was pulled away and off to the one up the hill to the white church.
Everyone knew what a stubborn child I was, and I was troubled between wanting to stay and hear these happy people, or obey my parents. I have refined my stubbornness now, with diplomacy and lots of love. Honesty was so important to me, that if someone would ask me If I liked something or not, I would tell them—it wasn’t always what they wanted to hear—and that got me into more trouble. I really hope that I have learned to control this part of my character. However, as a child, I was so small, that something coming out of my mouth was unforgivable. I heard that a child should be seen and not heard, and that made me wonder if honesty was only for children?
Sometimes, my grandmother, who lived with us, took me to church. We went down the hill, through Echo Park to Aimee Semple McPherson’s Four Square church on Glendale Ave. In the front of the church, there were huge bins filled with wooden wheel chairs, crutches and other appliances. People had thrown them away when they were healed in this place. Amee was previously an actress that knew how to dramatize a production. There was a stairway from the balcony down to the stage that she used when she made her entrance to be the preacher. She wore long white, flowing gowns belted with gold ropes, and came flowing down those stairs as if she were flying like an angel. The only thing that I remember her saying was when she took up the offering. She said that wanted us to be able to pin it on the drapes, and she didn’t want to hear any jingling in the plate. So I put my nickels back in my pocket, if that was how she felt. A few years later, when we moved to Glendale, CA, my Dad took us to Forest Lawn cemetery to visit my grandfather’s grave site. Aimee has a really big, white monument for her resting place. It looked to me like the place where Abraham Lincoln’s place was.
From these experiences, I was filled with the desire to find what religion was all about. Living on Cedar St., in Glendale, CA., down the street
two blocks was a Methodist church, and my grandmother took me there.
Sunday school for teens was of some interest, and I met others my age that have become life-long friends. Fran was one of them that I was closet with. She is gone now, and remembering her fills me with laughter, fun and growing to adulthood with her. Now, since her children are like my children, I am reminded of the fun we had at the Methodist church. It’s an SDA church now.
On the way to church, we stopped and got the Herald Examiner Paper. Fran and I would sit in the far back, near the exit, and quietly read the funny pages with each other. Again, I am reminded of the emphasis on collecting the offering. A lot of time was taken up on the needs of the church, and it was mentioned several times during the sermons. I began to wonder if all churches were so money hungry. I never had very much money to do anything with. My Mother made most of my clothes, my Dad worked hard all the time. He even sold his blood to supplement our income. Everything was planned and saved for. There was no such things as credit cards. We used cardboard in our shoes, and wore hand-me-downs. I was glad I had an older brother, because I never had to wear any of his old clothes. We had to share bath-tub water with each other; and were told to eat everything on our plate, because there are starving children everywhere. We had our garden and chickens to supply us with a lot of food.
My grandfather had built our house on Belmont St., Los Angeles, CA. He made his own nails out of wood. So I have always been impressed with how to do with what you got. One man’s junk was another man’s treasure. To this day, my son has made a science of this virtue, and saved his family a lot of money.
After I got married and became a mother, I started looking around for a church to go to with my children. I went to several different denominations. When I went to the Presbyterian church, I went in with a stroller for my son and held on to my daughter’s hand. I had read about the mark of the beast and his number, and was searching for a church that followed and taught from the Bible.
As I glanced at the altar where the preacher was, right next to it was a
set of two foot square blocks. They had been having a building fund drive for repairs on the church and every Sunday they announced the current amount that was collected and, they put it on the blocks. I took a second look, and on the blocks was 666. I couldn’t pack up and get out of there fast enough. Besides, the lady sitting in front of me was glaring at me when my son slurped at his bottle.
So far, none of several churches met my needs. I got a job at the Orthopedic Appliance Center that was two blocks from my home. I knew the people pretty well since they had made my son’s special brace–the Dennis Browne Splint, attached to shoes that he wore at night. This corrected his feet to go straight ahead instead of outward. The Spillers knew I could sew, so they asked me if I could make special back braces and bras.
Now, Mom watched the kids for me, and I finally made some dollars. It was quite an experience making those awful, torturous garments. When the office was slow, I did the accounting and receptionist jobs. Sometimes when everything was done, I told Mr. Spillers that I had to do something, not just sit there and twiddle my thumbs. Mr. & Mrs. Spillers were Seven-day Adventists, and she brought me a whole set of Bible lesson studies. I thought, wow, a church that refers to the Bible for all the answers.
After finishing the series of studies, and receiving the answers from their Bible worker, I wanted more. So I called Betty, the Bible teacher, and she set up a time for me to have lessons every week. This is what I had been looking for. It made sense. She invited me to join them on Saturday for Sabbath school and church service. My husband studied with Betty too, and I was baptized in 1968 and he was in 1970.
Little by little, the Lord has pointed out something that I needed to correct in myself. I am thankful that He didn’t show all of them to me at once, it was hard enough to face one at a time. I was so filled with learning the truth, that I couldn’t wait to teach Fran and her family, another friend,
Betty and her family, and Diane, so to shut me up, they consented to take
lessons from me as the lessons that Mrs. Spillers had provided.
My journey to find the truth, has led me to the happiest, loving people on earth. My three friends, after studying with me, were soon baptized, and we all went to church together. I am still tempted and sometimes I trip, but Jesus still loves me, as He picks me up, dusts me off, and leads me on the right narrow path. My children have been baptized and occasionally we worshiped together. Growing up, I never had family worship at Sundown on Fridays and still feel envious of those who do study together. I wonder what my life would have been like to have done that.
What is your story?
The beginning of the end
June 20, 2015 was a very special Sabbath at the Iglesias Adventista Hispana de Efeso in Miami and in heaven as Estefania gave all of herself to Jesus, because He gave all of Himself for her.
Estefania and her brother really enjoyed their first year at Tampa Adventist Academy, where they both joined my baptism classes. Estefania was also in my Bible class, where she eagerly participated in choosing to have a close, real and personal relationship with Christ.
After attending my baptism classes at Tampa Adventist Academy Estefania shared a desire to be baptized in the summer at the church in Miami that is very dear to her heart. You can see she is very dear to their hearts too.
Estefania was baptized by Pastor Samuel Diaz.
Estefania writes of her baptism:
It meant that I was a new person and that God had forgave me for all my sins. That also meant was I can be with God when he comes back to save us so we can go to heaven with him. Also I feel a new person in Jesus Christ.
Don’t let the sun set on you before you decide to give your life to the One Who gave His life for you. I would love to help you in this decision. You may contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net
Did you know that Sunday Observance is not a Biblical memorial to the resurrection? God gave us baptism as a memorial to the resurrection.
“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:3-4 NKJV