Pray For Our Leaders

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: Daniel 4:34 NKJV

I don’t know how it is around the world, but here in the last days in the United States, we are becoming very polarized politically. I am afraid it is even affecting the church. A while back a young person in the church shared a meme on Facbeook, bashing a political figure with lies. I messaged my young friend and shared the documentation with her that the cruel meme was making a false accusation. She replied back that she did not need me telling her the meme was false because she already knew it was a lie. I asked her why she was spreading lies. She replied back, “They make the point I am wanting to make.” I replied back, “so your point is a lie?” She replied back that she had an agenda and did not need me judging her integrity. If it took a lie to promote her political agenda then so be it!

Sadly that is not an isolated case. Professed Adventist Christians are spreading lies and fake news about political figures to suit their political preferences. It is being done on both sides. What really saddens me is that many professed Adventist Christians are using social media to promote earthly politics instead of sharing the gospel. Not only are they being worldly focused but they are not even using integrity even by worldly standards. They are using lies, fake news and gossip.

In Daniel 4 we see a pagan king who repents and is saved. The first six chapters of Daniel are filled with stories that will be repeated as the prophecies in the last six chapters unfold. The image in Daniel 3 is similar to the mark of the beast. I believe if Daniel 3 repeats itself then Daniel 4 will repeat itself as well. I believe ruthless pagan political leaders will be converted int he last days. Why else would Daniel 4 be in the middle of other stories that are to be repeated in the last days?

As we prepare for the end time, instead of means that even the world recognizes as immoral, such as fake news, lies and gossip to bash political leaders who we think are pagan, lets instead pray for their conversion.

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 NKJV

May I also suggest that instead of hiding behind an electronic device on social media, to hurl insults at others, that sensitive issues are better discussed face to face in real life? I have yet to see social media solve a social issue yet. Social issues are better solved in social real life discussions. It also helps us to be more responsible and Christlike with our comments.

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

Modern Technology is no Match for Intimacy With God.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Way back in the late 1990’s, before android devices, I was working for a delivery company, and would sometimes find myself in someone’s office waiting for them to get a package ready. To kill time I would play a little game on my cell phone. I remember thinking to myself, If they can put a game on these phones, they can put the Bible on here, and that would be a better use of my time.

In 2008 I got my first android phone. My vision became reality when the first app I downloaded was a Bible app. It was so cool having the Bible on my phone and so handy wherever I went. Sure I kept a hard copy Bible with me all the time before, but this was much easier and sleeker. Of course I also have the Ellen White Writings app. I have an entire library in my pocket!

One night I was hanging out with a friend at one of our favorite restaurants, when I got a text from a teen from the school where I teach. She was trying to give her friend a study on the Sabbath but could not find the verses she needed. I went to my In Light of the Cross Website and copied and pasted the Bible study into the text, and suddenly she was able to give her friend a complete Bible study at her finger tips.

Just a few weeks ago I saw an elderly lady in the hospital, when she lamented that she did not have her Sabbath School quarterly with her. I told her I had theSabbath School lesson app on my phone, and she was very pleased when I studied that day’s lesson with her.

Having the Bible, Spirit of Prophecy writings, and Sabbath School lesson on my phone is way cool. A while back I even started using my cell phone to preach, and give devotional talks at school, in an effort to encourage young people to use their Bible apps.

For a long time I was really enjoying modern technology and my new way of studying the Bible and preparing sermons, as well as blogging and sharing inspirational thought on the SSNET Facebook page. Modern technology had sure put me in touch with the rest of the world. But was I closer to God? Spiritual information was at my fingertips, but was it really making me more intimate with God?

In the mornings I would start to read my Bible. I would run across a verse and an idea would come to me, and I would think to myself, Oh I have to share this with the world right now. I would go onto Facebook and post what I had just learned. Well, what could be wrong with that? What was wrong was that it started interfering with my intimacy with God! We weren’t alone any more. It was God, me and the Facebook world. I would be reading and “Bing” I had a text message or Facebook notification. It became distracting.

A while back I was eating at Taco Bell when I heard a little girl’s voice say, “Is this how you are spending more time with me? By texting on your cell phone?” I looked over and at the next table saw a young girl looking sorrowfully into her daddy’s eyes. The father put his cell phone away. One morning in my personal Bible study time, I felt the hurt in my heavenly Father’s eyes, when a “Bing” from my cell phone distracted me from my prayer while in mid sentence.

Yes, modern technology was helping me write Christian blog posts, and share Scriptures with people around the world. But when I caught myself distracted by my cell phone during personal prayer and Bible study time, that little girl and her daddy at Taco Bell reminded me of something.

God’s primary reason for creating me was not to have me preach sermons and write blogs. God’s primary reason for creating me was so we could be intimate with each other! 

Friday nights I have a Bible study group with eight to eleven unchurched people. I was very pleased with myself when I helped them download Youversion onto their cell phones and tablets. The other night I was surprised when a lady, who is a wife and mother in our group suddenly made a rule for our group. She banned cell phones! She insisted we use hard copy Bibles instead of phones and tablets. Why? She said because her kids were being distracted from the Bible by their other apps, like Facebook and Instagram. I knew what she was talking about, because I had the same distractions myself in my personal studies. So we all got “real” Bibles. No, not the scrolls but the real Bibles that came after the scrolls in hard copy books.

Today, I turn off my cell phone and pick up my hard copy Bible and you know what I feel? Intimacy! No distracting apps just me and my God! Alone! Everything else is disconnected so I can connect with God. With my hard copy Bible God has me all to Himself. No body else can call or text me on my Bible except God. This is our time. It is what I was created for. To be one with my God with nobody or anything in-between us.

Sure, after my alone time with God, I will share some things on social media and public sermons that happened during our alone time. Not everything though. Some things are just between Him and me. After all, God did not create me just so I could teach and preach. He created me for intimacy with Him!

Modern technology is wonderful and it has its place in my life. But intimacy with God is far more wonderful, and I won’t let modern technology take that away.

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

Is Facebook A Waste of Time Or Does it Save Time?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

It’s amusing when I hear people say things like, “I never have time to read my e-mail.” Fact is, e-mail saves time. You can reach 100 people with one mass e-mail instead of taking the time to call them one by one, or even mail 100 letters. Several times, these people will ask why they did not know something was going on, and I will tell them I sent them an e-mail. They defiantly respond, “I don’t read my e-mail.” Is it my fault they don’t read their e-mail and don’t know what is going on?

Now, with the popularity of Facebook, I still find people who think it is trivial and a waste of time, when in reality it is very useful. Just this week, I got a call that a Bible student of mine, had been rushed to the hospital and was not expected to live. Immediately I got on Facebook and several people saw my post and started praying. Later in the same day, I was conducting one of my weekly group Bible studies. Someone commented that they don’t get on Facebook because they don’t have time to read everyone’s trivial posts. I did not say anything, but I thought, asking someone to pray for a dying friend is not a trivial post. This is just one example of how Facebook can be used to quickly share valid information with hundreds of people.

I get amused when people tell me they don’t have time for Facebook, because I am on all the time, and I am also, frankly, one of the most busiest people I know. I log on in the morning, right after my prayer and devotionals, and as I read the statuses of my friends, in seconds, I see who is feeling down and in need of prayer and even a call or visit. I see who is struggling with their relationship with God, family and friends. I see praise reports. People share thoughts on Scripture that I can use later in my personal and group Bible studies and even apply to myself. That to me, is not a waste of time, or something I should be too busy for.  

Facebook does not even need to take extra time from my day. It allows me to use my down time more wisely. I do not text and drive, but with my android phone, I do check out Facebook while sitting at red lights and in traffic jams. I was going to be sitting at the red light anyway so I might as well be doing something useful, like Facebook. Same goes for when I duck into a Taco Bell for lunch, or am sitting in the doctors waiting room, or waiting for my next appointment to show up. I don’t see how people can say they are too busy for Facebook, or it is a waste of time, when I don’t use any extra time or effort to do it.

As Christians we need, to be good stewards of our time as well as money. Facebook is something I have implemented into my daily routine, to help me be more productive with my time. Time is more precious than money. Time is the substance of life. Life is a gift from God and I want to make the most of it. Facebook helps me do just that.

Mark 12; Giving From The Heart

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Mark 12:41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 

 12:42    And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 

 12:43    And he called [unto him] his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 

 12:44    For all [they] did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, [even] all her living. 

With cell phones and Facebook, news travels all over the world fast these days. I can sink a 3 foot putt (Really! I can!) on a golf course in a remote area in Georgia, and seconds later have a picture of my feat published all around the globe. Even though a lot of my pictures and posts on Facebook are rather insignificant I can share them in moments all around the world. Yet as miraculous as that may seem, 2,000 years ago a lonely widow in the Mid East quietly sneaked up to a offering box and dropped a couple pennies in the box. No one in that crowd had a camera or cell phone, but somehow that simple little story has been broadcasted and published all over the world for the last 2,000 years!

What makes her story so remarkable? To Jesus it was the fact that she was giving all she had from the heart in the same way the Father was giving all He had from the heart when He gave His only Son to die for us, and the same way the Son was giving all He had from the heart when He gave up His life. We may not all be able to give equal amounts of money, but we can all give an equal sacrifice by giving all, just like this widow. However, not only did this widow’s small offering inspire us to give from the heart, but many around the world, for the last 2,000 years, have been inspired by this widow to give what little they can too. Well all of those small sacrifices around the globe for the last 2,000 years adds up to a lot of money! And let’s remember too, that while a poor widow can give from the heart, so can a rich person. Jesus was not condoning the widow for being poor. He was condoning her for giving from the heart. Rich people are just as capable of giving from the heart as poor people. Sometimes we forget that. With our without Facebook and cell phones, when we give from the heart, all heaven notices!

Matthew 20-23; My Thoughts

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa bay area.

Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death  and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” Matthew 20:17-20

Here Jesus clearly tells His disciples that even though He will be put to death, He will rise the third day. This was to comfort them when He died, so that they would not despair. However, when that terrible night came, and He was crucified, His disciples gave up in despair, instead of remembering the promise. Does this happen to us as well? Jesus has warned us that bad things will happen to us as well but that He will always be with us to see us through and make us come out victorious. Let’s not be like the disciples and forget Jesus’  promises just because things get a little dark.

As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”  Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”  Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. Matthew 20:29-34

After reading this, I paused and asked what the message was here for me. I then prayed that God would give me spiritual eye sight. I may be spiritually blind and not even know it. At least these two men in the story knew they were blind. Jesus tells me in Revelation 3:17, “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”  If Jesus says that I am blind then I must be blind! But I can ask Him for eyesight and I know He will have compassion and give it to me.

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:34-40

Several years ago, I was reading Mervyn Maxwell’s book “God Cares” on Revelation. I read about the 144,000 being sealed with the character of God. At this same time, I had a friend who was in a major spiritual crisis, and dealing with issues from their childhood that they had no control over. In my tiny little mind I was trying to comprehend how my friend would have a chance to have their character sealed before the second coming, after all they have been through. I guess I was like the people Jesus was talking to in Matthew 22:29 when He said, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” The scriptures make it clear that God has the power to seal the weakest of humans with His character. Not realizing this, I picked up the phone and called Myervyn Maxwell. Even though I was total stranger, he gladly received my call. I told him my friend’s situation and how I wondered how they would ever have a chance if God is sealing His people right now. I loved his response and have never forgotten it. He told me that Jesus requires us to love Him with all of our mind, and whatever state my friend’s mind is in, all God asks, is that he love Him with all that is left of his mind after all he has been through. That sounds reasonable. Our God is very reasonable.

Matthew 23 is filled with warnings against hypocrites. Often we think of our adversary as the hypocrite and ourselves as being sincere. However, just this morning I ran across a quote of Facebook by C.S. Lewis: “‎”Humans are very seldom either totally sincere or totally hypocritical. Their moods change, their motives are mixed, and they are often themselves quite mistaken as to what their motives are.” I think we all need to remember this when dealing with others.