Reflections on the Sea and Life in General

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Sometimes we think something is over when it hasn’t even begun yet.

Texas has some beautiful sunsets. I don’t know why I didn’t get any pictures of them while I was living there. I wasn’t really a photographer back then, and didn’t realize how few pictures I had of my life in Texas until I got ready to move. I wanted pictures to take with me, so my good friend and photographer Danielba, started taking all kinds of pictures of my friends and myself so I could take the memories of Texas with me to Florida.

As a child we often took vacations to the beaches along the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida, and also the Pacific and Atlantic. However as an adult I did not have much opportunity for travel. I remember living in North Texas, and seeing a picture book someone had of ships, and thought to myself that I probably won’t ever see any ships again like I did when I was a kid. Finally in the fall of 2003 I had a weekend where I was not scheduled to preach anywhere. I decided that was my chance, to finally see the Gulf of Mexico again, so I drove down to Galveston and spent the weekend. I thought I better take advantage of this opportunity because it had been so long since I had seen the gulf I did not know when and if I would get another chance. In the fall of 2003 I had no clue that the spring of 2004 would find me living in Tampa, Florida just minutes from the Gulf of Mexico and just over a couple hours from the Atlantic Ocean.

The last few years of my life in Texas I worked in the middle of the night to early morning at UPS and then went to my day job, where I got off work just in time to go home to bed and start all over again. Often I would get home from my day job late, and would hurry from my car to my apartment just so I could go to bed and get up at 2 AM to go to work again. As I walked briskly to my apartment I would pass my neighbors sitting on their patios barbecuing, or just enjoying a lemonade (yeah I’m sure that’s what it was) and a sunset. I thought to myself, that I am so busy working all the time I will never get a chance to just relax and see another sunset. I was too caught up in my daily routine to realize it was only temporary.

 After moving to Florida, while I still work hard and long hours for God, He blesses me with moments, when He calls me to relax with Him for a while and enjoy some sunsets, that at one time my overworked and fatigued mind thought I would never see again. 

Here are some of my favorite sunset pictures I have taken over the years here in Florida.

St. Pete Beach 2007

St. Pete Beach 2007

This picture is one of the first I ever took, and hundreds of pictures later, is about my favorite. I like the way the sun and colors reflect off the clouds. I love being on the beach at sunset, as an eerie calm, seems to quiet and still everyone on the beach as they watch the sunset. A timeless feeling creeps over everyone as the same sun that set over the waters six thousand years ago completes another circuit.

Fort Desoto 2010

Fort Desoto 2010

Panama City 2013

Panama City 2013

Key West 2010

Key West 2010

Daytona Beach 2006

Daytona Beach 2006

Daytona Beach is a sunrise picture of course. A few days after buying  my brand new 2007 Hyundai Accent, I woke up one morning at 3AM. As I laid in bed wide awake, it dawned (pun intended) on me that if I left right now I could get to Daytona in time to see the sunrise. So I did. Then I had breakfast at McDonald’s and drove back home and went to work.

Clearwater 2011

Clearwater 2011

Bradenton 2010

Bradenton 2010

St. Pete 2009. My mother's love for the beach is why we went on so many Florida vacations when I was a kid.

St. Pete 2009. My mother’s love for the beach is why we went on so many Florida vacations when I was a kid.

St. Pete 2009

St. Pete 2009

Tarpon Springs 2010

Tarpon Springs 2010

Bradenton 2010

Bradenton 2010

Near Sky Way Bridge 2012

Near Sky Way Bridge 2012

Fort Desoto 2012

Fort Desoto 2012

Naples 2010

Naples 2010

St. Pete 2010

St. Pete 2010

St. Pete 2010

St. Pete 2010

Fort Desoto 2009

Fort Desoto 2009

I bet you’ve seen enough so I will stop there. Thanks for letting me share my pictures and memories with you. I know God has more wonderful memories and scenes of His majestic grandeur to come for both you and I!

So after working so many 16+ hour days, with no time to even pause to watch a sunset, God knew the desires of my heart, and has blessed me with many memorable sunsets. God knows the desires of your heart too and loves you just as much!

What is the Sabbath School Network, SSNET?

Fort Desoto

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

“The Sabbath school affords to parents and children an opportunity for the study of God’s Word. But in order for them to gain that benefit which they should gain in the Sabbath school, both parents and children should devote time to the study of the lesson, seeking to obtain a thorough knowledge of the facts presented and also of the spiritual truths which these facts are designed to teach. We should especially impress upon the minds of the youth the importance of seeking the full significance of the scripture under consideration.” –Child Guidance, Page 511

Sabbath school is a very vital part of the church. While the worship service is more for worship, hence why it is called the worship service, Sabbath school is where most of the interacting and learning takes place. For years now, part of the purpose of this blog is to share posts based upon the themes of the Sabbath School quarterly. In addition to writing on this blog, for a little over a year now, I have also been writing for, and working with the Sabbath School Network. On most all of my posts I have provided a link to the Sabbath School Network only to learn later, that many people have not clicked onto the link because they were unaware of exactly what it is. Please allow me to show you.

By clicking here you can study the current Sabbath School lesson. These are available for adults and as well as the collegiate, young adult,  youth and children. You can also get an app for your phone or I-pad. This makes it very easy to study the lesson at home and on the go. If you are out of town or missed church, or don’t even have a church in your area, you still have the current lesson always available here.

The Sabbath School Network also offers Resources for Bible Study, Fundamental Beliefs, and other links for Study.

In addition to personal Study, the Sabbath School Network, SSNET.org is like an actual online interactive Sabbath School Class. During the week, writers like Lillianne Lopez, Jennifer Schwirzer, myself and others write posts related to the current lesson theme, where you can comment with questions or your own ideas, and share with other Sabbath School students around the world. Since being a part of SSNET I have a better understanding and appreciation for how Seventh-day Adventists think and worship around the world. For some in remote areas of the world or without transportation, SSNET is their primary Sabbath School family.

SSNET also has a Sabbath School Discussion E-mail list group. You can email and exchange questions and answers, thoughts and ideas with other Sabbath School students around the world.

For Sabbath School teachers, Michael Fracker has a lesson plan for each Sabbath lesson. I have yet to attend a Sabbath School class which made it all the way through the week’s lesson. Most usually get to Monday or Tuesday before they run out of time. Michael Fracker’s lesson plans let you cover the entire lesson. I started using his lessons about ten years ago. They are very easy to use, especially if you are a new teacher.

There is a lot more to SSNET than what I can show you right here. The About Page can tell you more. Please take a look around. If you are like me you will be glad you did! Hundreds of Thousands of other people around the world are glad they did too!

You can also like SSNET on Facebook.

Adrian’s Baptism

Several months ago Pastor Claudette told me her son, Adrian wanted to study the Bible with me. We studied the “In Light of The Cross” Bible study guides, and over the course of the studies, Adrian told me he wanted to be baptized. Adrian was very committed to his Bible study time. Adrian is a big basketball fan. One evening he invited me to stay and watch a basketball game after our Bible study. We had finished the lesson and the game had already begun, but Adrian still had a lot of questions, so we continued our study for quite a while before finally watching the game. The fact that Adrian was a big basketball fan, but wanted to keep talking about God and the Bible instead of just stopping the Bible study to watch the game said a lot to me about his priorities and interest in God. In the picture above, Adrian and I are studying by his pool, where one day we took advantage of the beautiful Florida weather.

I went over the baptism vows with Adrian during our studies, and then Pastor Brad went over them with Adrian before the Tampa 1st Church family this morning.

“I’ve been wanting to get baptized for a long time now. I thought you had to be perfect but none of us are, and the Bible says to start a brand new life and that’s what I’m doing today.” -Adrian

I felt very honored when Pastor Claudette and her husband Rene, asked me to study with Adrian. Pastor Claudette served as a Bible Worker and now has an excellent youth ministry. However, Pastor Claudette and Rene wanted Adrian to have a variety of teachers, as they believe it takes a village to raise a child. I appreciated them asking me to study with Adrian, and we had a great time studying the Bible together.

“Today was one of the most exciting days of my life and ministry.  To baptize my son was truly an amazing experience.  I praise the Lord for Adrian’s decision to follow Him.  I thank God for his Sabbath School and Pathfinder teachers, and specially for William, who gave him Bible studies.  So, in conclusion today I rejoice with the angels as they celebrated Adrian’s baptism.” -Pastor Claudette

For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. Colossians 2:12

You may watch the video of Adrian’s baptism here.

Adrian’s church family and friends congratulated and welcomed him to the church family.

Please don’t let the sun set on your life before you give your life to Jesus. He gave all of His life for you. Will you give your life to Him? I would love to hear from you if you would like to give your heart to God. You may contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net

Glimpses of Grace; What If Moses Took A Spiritual Gifts Test?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I [am] not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.  And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?  Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.        And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand[of him whom thou wilt send.  And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. Exodus 4:10-14

Often we are prone to looking at our talents or spiritual gifts to figure out what we may do for the Lord. However, if Moses had taken a spiritual gifts test, he never would have found his calling. God called Moses and then qualified him. This is something important that we as individuals and a corporate church must be aware of. As individuals we are tempted to look at our talents and means and ask God for a work assignment which may accomplish based on already given resources. As a church we too often look at our budget and then organize an evangelism mission based on what we have in the bank. What we need to do is ask God for our task first! He will supply the resources.

It is in this life that we are to separate sin from us, through faith in the atoning blood of Christ. Our precious Saviour invites us to join ourselves to Him, to unite our weakness to His strength, our ignorance to His wisdom, our unworthiness to His merits. God’s providence is the school in which we are to learn the meekness and lowliness of Jesus. The Lord is ever setting before us, not the way we would choose, which seems easier and pleasanter to us, but the true aims of life. It rests with us to co-operate with the agencies which Heaven employs in the work of conforming our characters to the divine model. None can neglect or defer this work but at the most fearful peril to their souls.- Great Controversy, p. 623

When God gives us a mission He does not expect us to use our strength, wisdom and merits, but by His grace we are to use His own strength, wisdom and merits.

If you are in the Tampa Bay area I would like to invite you to the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, where we rely greatly upon the grace of God. If you are not in the area, you can find a grace filled church in your corner of the world here.

Galatians; Old Testament Faith

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 

 

 

 

Here are my thoughts about this week’s SS lesson about Old Testament faith. You can also download the SS lessons to your cell phone.

In Genesis 15:6 God calls Abraham righteous, because He believed God’s promise. In Genesis 22, God tells Abraham to sacrifice his own son Isaac, and thus tested and proved Abraham’s faith to be a real faith, and not just a pretend or fairy tale faith. Real faith leads to real obedience. Earlier in Genesis 12, Abraham showed lack of faith when he asked Sarai to lie about their relationship in Egypt.” God tested Abraham again, even more severely, to demonstrate before the universe, why He was able to call Abraham righteous.  “It is thus that God still tests His people. And if they fail to endure the trial, He brings them again to the same point, and the second time the trial will come closer, and be more severe than the preceding. This is continued until they bear the test, or, if they are rebellious, God withdraws His light from them and leaves them in darkness. “ {Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 437

I had not been back home from college, too long, when I started working for a business forms company. I falling behind on some of my bills. I had been promised a raise which I had yet to receive, so I decided to “work out” my own salvation from these late bills. I was not going to stop paying tithe, but I decided to use my tithe to pay my bills. I recorded how much tithe I owed so I could pay it all back when I got my raise. Weeks later, what I owed on tithe was adding up and I still had no raise. Feeling guilty, I confessed to a friend that I owed tithe, but would pay it later when I got my raise. My friend told me what I already knew. I would not get my raise until I paid my tithe.

We got our pay checks every Friday, but this Friday I did not go into work or pick up check since I had the day off. Still, I went ahead and stepped out in faith and obedience and prepared my tithe check to turn in on Sabbath, which I did. Monday I went into work and picked up my paycheck that had been sitting there since Friday. I opened it up and there was my raise! I will never forget how God tested my faith and I proved Him to be faithful! When God tests our faith He is really asking us to test His faithfulness to us!

This same faith in the Old Testament is seen again in the New Testament, when Jesus tests Philip’s faith in feeding an entire multitude in John 6.