Tag: Bible worker

She did so Much for me, and I Never got to Thank her

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In evangelism workshops its almost become a cliche now,

Jesus…reached the hearts of the people by going among them as one who desired their good. ….. He met them at their daily vocations, and manifested an interest in their secular affairs.-Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 151. 

But how interested are we really in other peoples own good, even when we do not profit from their prosperity? In my ministry I have been asked to speak at numerous funerals. Before the funeral I like to meet with the family in their home, to get stories and learn more about the deceased. I can know somone all my life and still be surprised what I learn after they are gone. I will be sitting in the family room, listening to selfless heroic stories about the dearly departed, and it touches my heart so deeply, I get emotional and I think to myself that I too, want to be a selfless loving person, but I joke with my friends, that by the time I walk out the door and get to my car, that emotion of being selfless and caring has already passed over.

Case in point. When I lived in Texas I had started a cleaning business on the side. Nancy was a friend of mine from church. She was a nurse and told a few doctors and nurses about my business and I was soon cleaning for them. Nancy and I would go to dinner or lunch occasionally, and I offered to pay since she was my best advertiser. She assured me she did not want anything in return. She was just happy to help me out and see me do well.

We were both in our mid 30’s, when one morning I got the shocking news that Nancy had suddenly died during the night. It was quite a shock as we had plans to got to lunch that day. When you are in your mid ’30s and your friends seem healthy, it is very unsettling to hear the friend you have lunch plans with for that day just died! Leter as I went to clean for a client Nancy gave me, the thought struck me, She did so much for me, and I never got to thank her! I realized on this earth I never would get to thank her by paying her back for her interest in my good. That’s when I told myself, to live a giving life just like her, so that when I am gone, people will say the same about me, he did so much for me, and I never got to thank him.

Only a few days later, at UPS the line I was supervising was short handed. I walked over to another line where there was a supervisior that I had helped out several times. I asked him if he could send someone from his line over to help me. He said, “no” I can’t spare anyone right now. Granted he was right, but at the same time it bugged me because I had often been in situations where I could send him help, but he never seemed to be able to help me. Frustrated I told myself to stop helping him becuase he never paid me back! Then it dawned on me, wait a minute! I told myself I wanted to help others so that when I died they could say I always helped them and they never got a chance to pay me back. But when the chance actually came I did not feel that way at all! Once again I was touched by the selfless love of a caring friend, telling myself that I wanted to be just as loving and giving, but when the rubber met the road I was back to being my same old self again.

Of course all that happened way back in my ’30s. Jesus never made past his ’30s here on earth but was still the perfect example. My friend Nancy, never made it past her ’30s but left me with an example that even in my ’50s I still struggle to immulate. After being raised in the church all my life, I often sigh and think, 50 years later, shouldn’t I be more like Jesus by now? So many people with not even half the advantages I have had are so far ahead of me. Yet the secret is not rocket science. Jesus went about seeking the good of others even in their secular affairs. Nancy did the same. The next time someone needs my help, instead of asking myself how they will thank me, I can tell msyelf, this is my opportunity to be like Jesus. If Jesus helped Nancy, He can also help me to be one who seeks the good of others, even though they may never be able to thank me.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here. 

August 2016 Open Newsletter to My Faithful Contributors

Dear Friends,

Several years ago, some friends of my ministry suggested for financial security reasons, that I start my own ministry. That seemed like a lot of work to me, so I put it off. Then in the spring of 2015 I found myself looking for a new job. I thought maybe now is the time to take my friend’s advice and start my own ministry. However that still seemed like a lot of work, and I am really not a maverick, and would rather work more directly within the Seventh-day Adventist organization. So one morning I woke up with an idea. Instead of asking people to contribute to my own ministry, why not ask them to contribute to something that is already organized within the church? So I asked the Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church, if they would set up a fund that people could contribute to so that I could continue my ministry not only at Plant City but all over the place. As you know the rest is history and they said, “yes!”

Having been given the opportunity by the Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church, I stepped out in faith, relying upon people being moved by the Holy Spirit to contribute. Amazingly, after a year and a half the contributions are still steadily coming in! I am delighted that so many of you are still faithfully supporting this ministry so that I can focus all my time on actual ministry instead of fundraising. Now, I have been advised by the Plant City SDA church that the monthly contributions are down just a tad. God is still providing, so nobody is in panic mode, but if you are a faithful contributor, and believe God is blessing you for being a contributor, I would ask you to pray and ask God if He would like you to invite others to contribute.

Since my last newsletter God has blessed in many ways. Thank you for allowing me a moment to share just a few of those ways.

Plant City:

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Last June I had my first Baptism at the Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church. Joyce and her 13 year old daughter Madeline were not attending church, but Madeline wanted to learn more about Jesus, and this touched Joyce’s heart as well. Soon we were studying the Bible together and they both were baptized together. Joyce writes, “I am not perfect. I thought that God couldn’t love someone like me. I was so wrong. Through my bible studies, I learned how God loves me and is there for me. Each time I read the bible, it opens my eyes and heart to a loving and forgiving God.” I am currently teaching a baptism class during Sabbath School time, and Madeline wants to help me in this class.

In May and June we had students from Southern Adventist university come to the Tampa Bay area, holding prophecy seminars at Plant City, Tampa and other areas. I was able to attend some of the training and planning meetings to do a little mentoring and even taking some of the student Bible Workers into the community to invite people to the seminars and begin personal Bible studies.

The Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church has fully embraced me as their own and even asked me to serve as head elder for this current term.

Tampa Bay area:

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In the Tampa Bay area, I had personal Bible studies with Hans (Pictured) Cleveland, Paul and Nicson, who were all baptized during the June 2016 prophecy meetings at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church. In addition to personal Bible studies my group Bible studies continue to grow strong in the Tampa area as well. Last Friday night, my group Bible study had 11 non Adventists, three of which have begun attending the Tampa First church after being in this study group. My other group Bible studies keep me busy as well. My Thursday afternoon teen Bible study group, again made up mostly of teens with no church, has some very faithful members. A few times a teen cannot make it to the study for family reasons or whatever, but they will join on Facetime or Skype.  This week Tampa Adventist Academy confirmed with me, my Bible chain referencing schedule for the new school year. This will be the 7th year in a row that I have been teaching the 5th and 6th graders how to chain reference their Bibles and give their own Bible studies to their friends and family. All this in addition to baptism classes and taking my turns with the weekly chapels. 

Around the World:

As many of you know, my mother passed away in the middle of June.  I had several unexpected expenses from last minute airline tickets to funeral costs and so forth. Right before flying out, I prayed and told God that I wanted to stay out of debt, but of course would do whatever my family needed me to do. Right after my prayer, a faithful contributor in Texas saw on Facebook that my mother was dying. She sent me a message telling me that I needed to be with my family and that she was sending a generous gift which helped me with all my expenses! This was truly a sad time for me, but I was very comforted to see God’s loving hand as everything unfolded.

Being in Tulsa for my mother’s funeral and caring for my family afterwards, gave me opportunity to continue my Bible Work in Oklahoma. I was able to reach out to former Bible students during my Oklahoma days. Alan, who I began Bible studies with back in the ‘80s and even came to the Owasso Seventh-day Adventist Church when I would preach there, was able to connect with me again, and I connected him with the current Owasso Bible Worker. Alan wants to resume Bible studies after all these years, and will be returning to the Owasso Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Twice while visiting my mother while she was sick, I was able to share the gospel  at the Broken Arrow Seventh-day Adventist Church.

I continue to write for the Sabbath School network, SSNET.ORG as well as my own website Inlightofthecross.com. Both websites are read from around the globe. A while back a church in Connecticut contacted me through ssnet.org and had me visit their church in Torrington twice to hold gospel meetings. Recently they told me of their plans to share my sermon on Youtube during the worship service.

So you see, even though Plant City SDA church opened up a fund where people can contribute to my ministry from around the world, this ministry also reaches beyond Plant City and goes around the world. It can even reach your neighborhood. All you have to do is give me a call. Thank you again for being such faithful loyal supporters and continuing to support this ministry, and for inviting friends to join you in supporting this ministry. Please follow me on Facebook and at InLightOfTheCross.com.

As always your tax deductable donations can go to the Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church, P.O. Box 5379 Plant City, FL 33563. Please mark your contribution “Bible Worker Fund.” Thank you!

 

Is the Role of the Church in the Community Just to Baptize People?

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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.

Do you Know the Shepherd?

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.” Matthew 14:15-16 NLT

The disciples realized the crowd needed food, but they were not equipped to feed a large crowd, or so they thought. So the decided the crowd should be sent to the villages where there were markets and restaurants. Those people were trained and equipped to feed a large crowd. Imagine the disciples surprise, and maybe even frustration when Jesus said, they did not need to got o the villages and “professionals” to get fed. He told them to feed them.

Have you ever met someone you wanted to share Jesus with, so you called a pastor or elder to study with them? Maybe that wasn’t necessary. Maybe Jesus wanted you to feed them-spiritually. Sometimes we may feel we are not “professional” enough to feed someone spiritually. I am sure the disciples did not feel “professional” enough to feed the crowd. Still, Jesus equipped them to feed a crowd. If you are willing, Jesus can use you to spiritually feed a large crowd, just as well as He can use a professional.

Remember the story of Balaam in Numbers 22? Yes the story was about Balaam’s reward for greed, but there is something else in this story too. God used a donkey to turn Balaam’s life around. If God can use a donkey to change someone’s life, don’t you think He could also use you?

God’s messengers must tarry long with Him, if they would have success in their work. The story is told of an old Lancashire woman who was listening to the reasons that her neighbors gave for their minister’s success. They spoke of his gifts, of his style of address, of his manners. “Nay,” said the old woman, “I will tell you what it is. Your man is very thick with the Almighty.” When men are as devoted as Elijah was and possess the faith that he had, God will reveal Himself as He did then. When men plead with the Lord as did Jacob, the results that were seen then will again be seen. Power will come from God in answer to the prayer of faith. -Ellen White, Gospel Workers, Page 255

The story goes of a pastor celebrating his 50th year in the ministry. At the celebration
Friend, do you tarry long with God? Do you know the Shepherd? If so, then you have a story to tell that will turn someone’s life around, without having to call the “professionals.” 
he invited a good friend and famous orator to read Psalm 23. He agreed so long as the pastor would read it afterwards as well.  The famous orator read the psalm with such oratorical mastery that the congregation applauded. The pastor then humbly approached the podium, feeling that he had been outdone. However when he read the beloved Psalm, the congregation was moved to tears. When the pastor asked the famous orator why people wept after his humble reading of the Word, the orator replied, “I knew the Psalm. You knew the Shepherd.”

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

When we Die to Self it is Satan who Gets Destroyed

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Today’s Sabbath School lesson  talks about two men who were invited to follow Jesus but had to die to self first. This is true of anyone who wants to follow Jesus.

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? Luke 9:23-25 NLT 

Something interesting happened with Peter, when Jesus talked about His own death.

From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead. But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Matthew 16:21-23 NLT

Why was Satan influencing Peter to build up Jesus’ ego and try to stop Jesus from dying? Because Satan knew his power would be destroyed when Jesus died.

But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.1 John 3:8 NLT

Why does Satan influence people to build up your ego so you won’t die to self? Because Satan knows his power over you will be destroyed when you die to self.

Letting the Bible Explain Itself

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

When we allow the Bible to explain itself, God can use ordinary people to do great things.

Years ago, when I worked on the sort isle at UPS, our supervisors would occasionally bring in food to eat, while we worked at four in the morning. One such time, my supervisor, who was also a Protestant seminary student, offered me a slice of pizza with pepperoni. I asked him if there was any pizza with just cheese. He knew I was a Seventh-day Adventist and did not eat pork. Still he asked me, “What about the vision Peter had in Acts 10?” I replied, “You mean the one where Peter said,

God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” Acts 10:28 KJV

My supervisor said, “You know your Bible!” He understood right away that the Bible left no mistake about what the Peter’s vision meant. The Bible does not say Peterrealized he should not call any animal unclean. Peter and the Word of God are clear. God showed Peter he should not call any man unclean.
Likewise when Jesus was asked why His disciples did not follow the traditional ceremonial washing of hands, many jump to conclusions when Jesus said, The Bible will explain itself if we let it. That is one reason why it is so easy to be a Bible Worker, like I am and give Bible studies. You don’t have to be a brilliant philosopher. All you need to do is show people the Word of God, and let God’s Word explain itself.

Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Matthew 15:11 KJV

Some claim Jesus was declaring unclean meats clean, but unclean meat is nowhere in the context of conversation. Once again you don’t need an ordained minister to figure out what Jesus as talking about. He tells us very plainly what He was talking about.

to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. Matthew 15:20 KJV

Jesus tells us plainly He was talking about eating with unwashed hands. He was not referring to unclean foods. Once again the Bible clearly explains itself without any fancy human philosophy.

Many famous philosophers used witty human reasoning to impress their followers. Jesus does not use human wit and reasoning. Jesus stuck with the Scriptures and a plain “It is Written” or “What saith the Scriptures?” He let the Bible explain itself. Jesus has given us the only weapon we will ever need on the war against evil. It is not human wit or philosophy. It is the plain Scriptures.

The plan of holding Bible-readings was a heaven-born idea. There are many, both men and women, who can engage in this branch of missionary labor. Workers may thus be developed who will become mighty men of God. By this means the word of God has been given to thousands; and the workers are brought into personal contact with people of all nations and tongues. The Bible is brought into families, and its sacred truths come home to the conscience. Men are entreated to read, examine, and judge for themselves, and they must abide the responsibility of receiving or rejecting the divine enlightenment. God will not permit this precious work for Him to go unrewarded. He will crown with success every humble effort made in His name. –Ellen White, Gospel Workers, Page 191. 

Please notice, you don’t have to be a smooth talker with witty illustrations and philosophy. Only present the plain Word of God and let men judge for themselves. And no matter how humble you think your efforts are, “He will crown with success every humble effort.”

In Luther’s Day,

Crowds would gather to hear the truth advocated by men of little education, and even discussed by them with learned and eloquent theologians. The shameful ignorance of these great men was made apparent as their arguments were met by the simple teachings of God’s Word. Laborers, soldiers, women, and even children, were better acquainted with the Bible teachings than were the priests and learned doctors. –Ellen White, The Great Controversy, Page 195.

The humble men, women and children gained knowledge the way Jesus did, and every man woman and child today can do the same.

Every child may gain knowledge as Jesus did. As we try to become acquainted with our heavenly Father through His word, angels will draw near, our minds will be strengthened, our characters will be elevated and refined. We shall become more like our Saviour…. Communion with God through prayer develops the mental and moral faculties, and the spiritual powers strengthen as we cultivate thoughts upon spiritual things. –Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, Page 70.

God blessed my ordinary effort as an ordinary UPS worker, when I convinced a seminary student of truth, by simply referring to Simple Scriptures. As you became acquainted with your Heavenly Father through studying His Word and prayer, the Holy Spirit will use you also to help others to know the truth about God’s love.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here. 

The Wind and Waves Get us to Where we Need to be

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I am writing today from the beautiful but sometimes stormy Tampa Bay area.

Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mark 4:38-40 NLT

 

Besides Jesus and Jonah, I don’t know of too many people who take naps on boats during chaotic storms. I think I would be freaking out like the disciples. 18 year old Ellen Harmon found herself in the middle of storm on a steamboat in the north Atlantic. The boat rocked and tossed one lady out of her bed. Another lady screamed in terror, before asking Ellen if she was not terrified as well.

I told her I had made Christ my refuge, and if my work was done, I might as well lie in the bottom of the ocean as in any other place; but if my work was not done, all the waters of the ocean could not drown me. My trust was in God, that he would bring us safe to land if it was for his glory. –Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church,  Volume 1, Page 81.

Young Ellen could have been terrified like the disciples were during their storm, but instead she rested her faith in the love of Jesus. She was not afraid. She had faith that God would be what was best.

One day, while helping out at the church school where I give Bible studies, I was sharing the story of Jesus calming the storm. When I got to the end of the story where the water was all calm and peaceful, a third-grade boy raised his hand and asked, “How is the boat going to get anywhere now?” He was pointing out the obvious, that wind and waves are what carry a sail boat. Without any wind you can’t get anywhere! (We’re talking about boats in Jesus’ day.)

It was persecution that got the church to move and spread out, sharing the gospel around the world. Many people have been “forced” to pursue their dream careers after losing their mundane but “secure” jobs. Once, while riding my bicycle, I got caught in a torrential downpour. I put my cell phone in my pocket, but that was not enough. When I took it to the repair shop, because it quit working, water gushed out when they opened it up. However, they told me I was eligible for a free upgrade. I walked out of the store with a much nicer and newer phone, with nothing out of my pocket, thanks to the storm. A very simple illustration of how a storm got me to a better place, as I don’t have space to tell of bigger blessings from even greater storms.

At the end of the storm Jesus asked the disciples why they were afraid and had no faith. I always assumed He meant why they had no faith He could calm the storm, but fact is, that is exactly what they were asking Him to do. Maybe He was asking them why they needed Him to calm the storm? While some storms are scarier than others is it possible they all get us to where we need to be? Will we really get anywhere in life if Jesus calms every storm that comes our way? Are there times we should let the storm rage, and do like 18 year old Ellen, and rest our faith in Jesus, just like Jesus was resting in His Father’s love during His storm? (Don’t ask me why Jonah was resting during his storm-I have no idea!)  Sometimes it takes more faith to not ask for a miracle. With God’s love we can face the roughest storms and not be afraid. That’s what 18 year old Ellen Harmon did. I firmly believe, if Ellen Harmon had been in the boat during the storm with Jesus and the disciples, she would have been resting with Jesus, unafraid and full of faith in God’s love amidst the tremendous waves, instead of freaking out with the disciples.

Sometimes He calms the storm. Sometimes He calms His child.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.