One Single Book

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In studying this week’s lesson on being stewards of the gospel I remembered this story which I had previously shared several years ago. When Jesus fed the multitude He had the leftovers gathered so nothing would be wasted. I believe God wants us to be good stewards of the gospel, and I don’t believe God wants literature to be wasted either. Here again is a story of how God used a little forgotten book in the attic, that may have been considered a “left over crumb,” to save a family and countless souls.

Many years ago when I was a literature evangelist, I found myself working one day in the rolling green hills of Northeast Oklahoma. I remember meeting a lot of rejection early in the day. What bothered me the most as I was selling Christian books, was that many saw me only as a salesman, instead of appreciating my passion for sharing Jesus. Rejection plus being misunderstood equaled loneliness for me.

About midday, I walked into a Taco Mayo restaurant for lunch. Long before cell phones were common, or Bible apps created, I carried my Bible with me everywhere I went. I sat down at a table and opened my Bible “randomly” and found this verse,

Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him. Psalms 126:5-6 NKJV

That verse hit the spot! My career in soul winning was just beginning, and this was long before I would begin Bible studies with a family who would start attending church only after I studied with them for seven years in their home. This was long before I would meet Fred, a man I studied with in Oklahoma, who got baptized after I had already been serving in Texas years later. It was also years before I would meet the members of a small Pentecostal Sabbath-keeping church, who would all become members of the Mineral Wells, Texas, Seventh-day Adventist Church after I studied with them and befriended them for four years. (I say that the entire Pentecostal church became Adventist, which is true. The entire church consisted of five members.)

As a rookie evangelist I only had time to plant seeds, but not to watch them grow. I needed to learn patience. If I could have seen the future harvest, I doubt I would have felt so discouraged as I sat there eating my burrito, before I found that verse full of comfort and hope. Still, I should have remembered a passage that my leader had written inside the Colporteur Ministry book he gave me.

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….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. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Pages 679-680

While I sat in that Taco Mayo in Grove, Oklahoma, back in 1990, my evangelistic career was too young to see the results that years and years of patient work brings. However I had stories and testimonies from veteran laborers, like Denton James, my union publishing director. He and his family found the way, when they moved into a home, and found an old Bible Readings for the Home lying in the attic. Denton found the Adventist church through that book and became a literature evangelist who trained many more people like myself to be literature evangelists. Back in 2008 I worked with his granddaughter in Tampa, Florida. She was serving as an ASI Bible Worker. Not long ago, Denton fell asleep in death after many years of soul winning. All those souls and trained Bible Workers and Literature evangelists can trace their success back to Denton James, who traced his success back to an old book found in an attic.

I often wonder who the literature evangelist was who sold that book to the family that left it in the attic to be discovered by Denton’s family moving in years later. Whoever it was, did they ever get discouraged like I did, that day I was working in Northeast Oklahoma. Whoever it was they may have seen many people get baptized as a result of their labors, or it is possible they saw no one get baptized. One thing is sure, that that literature evangelist went to his or her grave with no clue that years later a man would pick up one single book that had been lying around in an attic for years, dust the cover off and read it, not only becoming a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, but leading hundreds to find Jesus, who would lead hundreds more to Jesus.

Since I don’t know who sold the book Denton found, I can only speculate. Is it possible that was the only book he or she ever sold? Is it possible they quit soon after that because “it just wasn’t working out”? There will be thousands in heaven because of that one single book that lay lost in an attic for who knows how long. I can see the evangelist coming home at the end of that day after selling that one single book, and writing in a journal,

“It was a terrible day today. I worked hard all day long and met nothing but rejection and doors slammed in my face over and over. Finally a man bought just one copy of Bible Readings for the Home, from me, but I heard his wife scoffing at him, saying something like ‘It’s just going to end up thrown away up in the attic with all the other junk you buy from peddlers.’ This is so discouraging I might as well quit. At this rate I will never help anyone find Jesus.”

Or I could have it all wrong, but I do know this. The literature evangelist who left that book walked away from that home having no idea that hundreds would be in the kingdom because of an exchange that probably only took a few moments and netted only a few dollars or cents.

Just like that book, buried in a dark attic for years, so it is with the literature and words I shared on that frustrating day in Oklahoma so many years ago,

The good seed may for a time lie unnoticed in a cold, selfish, worldly heart, giving no evidence that it has taken root; but afterward, as the Spirit of God breathes on the soul, the hidden seed springs up, and at last bears fruit to the glory of God. In our lifework we know not which shall prosper, this or that. This is not a question for us to settle. We are to do our work, and leave the results with God….. “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:6. -Ellen White, Christ Object Lessons Page, 65.

It is true as well of the seeds you sow.

“In the Spirit”

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.  John 4:24

I am sure that you have friends that no matter how long you are apart from them, once you get together, your friendship resumes right where it left off, as though you had never been apart. This may sound weird, but maybe in one dimension you never were apart! We have physical dimensions such as time and space, but have you ever thought that there is another dimension we can be in that is not bound by time or space? To me, that dimension is the Holy Spirit. I believe why many of our Christian friendships take up right where they left off even after long periods of no physical contact is because we have actually been together the whole time “in the Spirit!”  Why do those friendships take up right where they left off as though no time has passed by? Because we are in the great “ I AM”. With God there is no time. He is in one eternal Now. He is not the “I WAS” or “ I WILL BE”, He is the I AM.  Same with space, The Holy Spirit is everywhere. The Holy Spirit is with our Christian friends, so if we are in the Spirit and our friends are in the Spirit then we are together.

As a matter of fact, all the love we receive from our friends actually comes from the Holy Spirit. Therefore, when I left my friends in Texas and went to Florida and made new friends there, I still received the exact same love I had in Texas. Love does not come form human beings. We can not generate love; all we can do is let the Holy Spirit’s love flow through us. Therefore, the love I receive from people half way across the world is the same exact love I receive from the people I live with right here. It all comes form God. So as long as you have God’s love you can’t miss a friends love, because the only love they gave you came from God and He is still with you!

I am so thankful for all my friends whom I can share God’s love with! Thank you all, who are my friends on SSNET, as well as my offline friends, for being a part of my life. I hope God has been able to love you through me as we worship Him in Spirit.

Galatians; The Unity in the Gospel

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As this week’s SS lesson speaks about unity in the gospel, two quotes from the Spirit of Prophecy come to mind. (Download SS Lesson App to your cell phone.)

Jesus prayed that His followers might be one; but we are not to sacrifice the truth in order to secure this union, for we are to be sanctified through the truth. Here is the foundation of all true peace. Human wisdom would change all this, pronouncing this basis too narrow. Men would try to effect unity through concession to popular opinion, through compromise with the world, a sacrifice of vital godliness. But truth is God’s basis for the unity of His people.  {Our High Calling 329.3} 

When seeking unity we must use Jesus as the compass and not popular opinion. As we all draw closer to Jesus we will be drawn closer to each other as well. And besides, what is the point of unity if it does not involve Jesus Who is the truth? The Jews were united in crucifying Jesus, but that unity did not profit them. Lets pray we never make the same mistake of denying or Crucifying Truth and Jesus in order to preserve unity. Such unity is self defeating.

In Wesley’s time, as in all ages of the church’s history, men of different gifts performed their appointed work. They did not harmonize upon every point of doctrine, but all were moved by the Spirit of God, and united in the absorbing aim to win souls to Christ. {The Great Controversy p. 257}

What this passage tells me is that unity comes, not from trying to win people to my point of view, but by pointing people to Christ. In the first district I ever worked in as a gospel evangelist, in northern Oklahoma, we had a lady who was very conservative and had strong views. One day she was telling me about a man in her church, and his liberal views, which she did not agree with. She was speaking very seriously about how wrong she thought he was. She told me she was very worried about the man. Then she paused and smiled, and told me, with a laugh in her voice, “And I know he is very worried about me!” This told me, that while she “knew” this man was wrong, she did understand that this man was just as sure of his opinions as she was of hers, and that her way was not the only way of looking at things.

When we hear different opinions, let’s not be afraid of being wrong or corrected. Let’s study it out in the Word of God. I once heard of a Sabbath School class, where a visitor expressed a different opinion about the Sabbath and he was quickly told by the teacher to be quiet. I have often wondered why the teacher did that. Was the teacher  afraid of being wrong? Was he afraid of being corrected if he was wrong? There is nothing wrong with expressing opposing views as long as we let God’s Word have the final say.

John 2; A Savior From Social Embarrassment

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

John 2:1       And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 

 2:2      And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 

 2:3      And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 

 2:4      Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 

 2:5      His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do [it]. 

 2:6      And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 

 2:7      Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 

 2:8      And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare [it]. 

 2:9      When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 

 2:10    And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: [but] thou hast kept the good wine until now. 

Not only was this Jesus’ first recorded miracle, but consider why He performed this miracle. It was to save the host social embarrassment. That tells us something about Jesus. It tells us that He was a very social person, and He was very sensitive to the feelings of others. Did the people really need wine? No. They could have survived with water. Jesus obviously wanted people to have fun at the party and did not want the host to be embarrassed. That right there tells me a lot about our God.

I like the simple words of Mary, “Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.” It is as simple as that. I remember several years ago, while living in Texas, I went to a three church district in Oklahoma to preach one Sabbath. On most occasions, when I did this, each church that Sabbath would give a little offering to help with my gas expenses. It usually totaled around $200.00 give or take a few.

One Sabbath when I arrived at the first church where I spoke that Sabbath, I found out that one of the families in that district had just lost a young boy. The family was poor and did not have the money to bury him. The pastor said an offering would be taken to help the family. He assured me there would still be an offering for me.

As I sat on the platform getting ready to preach, I heard a testimony about the family who lost the little boy. The Holy Spirit tapped me on the shoulder (heart?) and told me to tell the pastor sitting on the platform with me, to not take up an offering for my expenses but to have it all given to the family. I thought about it for a second, and started doing the math, thinking about how much money I would be losing and how I could get by without it. As I was doing the math in my head, the Holy Spirit tapped me on the shoulder again and said, “I already told you what to do. Why are still trying to figure things out?” I then leaned over and whispered in the pastor’s ear to not have an offering for my expenses, but to give all the money that Sabbath to the family. I never missed the money. More importantly I learned the simplicity of Mary’s words, “Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.” It doesn’t have to be complicated. Don’t worry about the consequences. Simply do as He says, and see if Jesus does not bless your life the way He blessed that wedding party in Canaan.

Matthew 14; Walking on Water

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

When we read about Jesus walking on the water in Matthew 14, we often think that is something He was able to do only because He was God. I remember looking at a greeting card a while back that read, “Some people say I think too much of you, just because I worship the water you walk on.” I have even joked about walking on water because years ago in Oklahoma, I walked across a frozen lake. All joking aside though, Jesus did not do anything that He did not also make possible for us to do as well. Jesus rose raised the dead but so did Peter in Acts 9. Jesus shares His victories over sin and evil with us, and lets us experience the same victories in our lives.

Notice in John 14:10 Jesus attributes His success to His relationship with the Father.  Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

 

Notice in John 14:12 that when we enter into a relationship with Him and the Father that the same success is possible for us.   Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

 

In the story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water in Matthew 14, folks are quick to point out that Peter started to fall in the water when He took his eyes off Jesus, but they fail to point out that he was walking on water, just like Jesus was, so long as he kept His eyes on Jesus. Peter did walk on water! Before Jesus is recorded walking on water, earlier in chapter 14 we see Him spending quality time in prayer alone with the Father. I wonder, if Peter had spent that time in prayer, could he too have walked without falling into the water? Before we can begin to walk like Jesus we must first learn to pray like Jesus.

 

For a Desire of Ages study on how we can experience the same victories Jesus had click here.

Thoughts on Loved and Loving: John’s Epistles Lesson 10

St.PeteI am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In Sabbath’s section of this week’s SS lesson we read, ““And this is the confidence which we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us” (1 John 5:14, ESV).”

 

 

 To me the most thrilling part of prayer is, just knowing that God hears me. I am just a grain of dirt in this magnificent universe and yet He cares for me!

 

Last year my apartment lease was up and I singed a new lease. I asked about a free months rent for re-signing and they said no way definitely not. I singed any way. Meanwhile I had a burden on my heart and was sharing it with God. On the first day of my new lease I was walking to the apartment office to pay my rent. I was praying about my burden as I walked. All of a sudden I found myself telling God, “if You want me to do such and such have them give me a free months rent when I get to the office”.  I thought, there is no way that can happen. They have already told me no.”  I got to the office and gave them the check. The lady looked to enter it on the computer but then paused and said, “wait a minute, it is showing no rent is due this month from you.” She went into her boss’ office to confirm and then came back and said, “You owe no rent this month.” I can not explain this. I was told more than once when signing my lease there was no free rent. When I went in I did not ask but just gave them the check and they handed it back to me. What is more thrilling then a month’s free rent is that God heard my prayer!

 

 

Many moons ago I was a Literature Evangelist selling Christian books in Oklahoma. I was leading my division in sales. However in the summer I ran into a dry spell. Three weeks with no sales. I began to doubt my calling. I had been told before what a wonderful work being and LE was, but as I continued to go with no sales I could not help but doubt. I thought maybe it was a great work a hundred years ago when they did not have radio and television to spread the Good news. One day I was driving to Tahlequah Oklahoma to show a Baptist school principal the books. As I drove I prayed to God, “If I am still doing an important work for this time please let me know.” I drove on and got to the school and showed the man the books. He bought them! As he was writing out the check I was writing out the order. He paused as he wrote and said, “you know this is a very important work you are doing”. I thanked him but it did not really hit me as a direct answer to prayer until he paused again and said, “and especially for this time.” Chills went down my spine as I realized that this man was repeating the exact words I had used in my prayer! I went on and led my division in sales by the end of the year. What is more thrilling though is that God heard my prayer!

 

 

I have had many other direct answers to prayer. Many of them I cannot share because they involve other people who may not want them shared. Still, what is more important than getting what I ask for, is knowing there is a God who loves and cares for me, and even takes time to listen and care about what is on my heart, even though I am just a tiny speck of dust in His great universe! Of course He loves you just as much!

 

 

“Keep your wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, and your fears before God. You cannot burden Him; you cannot weary Him. He who numbers the hairs of your head is not indifferent to the wants of His children. “The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” James 5:11. His heart of love is touched by our sorrows and even by our utterances of them. Take to Him everything that perplexes the mind. Nothing is too great for Him to bear, for He holds up worlds, He rules over all the affairs of the universe. Nothing that in any way concerns our peace is too small for Him to notice. There is no chapter in our experience too dark for Him to read; there is no perplexity too difficult for Him to unravel. No calamity can befall the least of His children, no anxiety harass the soul, no joy cheer, no sincere prayer escape the lips, of which our heavenly Father is unobservant, or in which He takes no immediate interest. “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3. The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth to share His watchcare, not another soul for whom He gave His beloved Son.”  {Steps to Christ p. 100.1}

 

You can find more studies and devotionals at my personal Website: InLightOfTheCross.com

Never Give Up

I am writing from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And you, being dead in your sins ….. hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses. Colossians 2:13

  

Friday’s section of this week’s SS lesson asks the question, “How can we help someone who is spiritually dead?”I must share an experience I had several years ago, early in my ministry that taught me to never give up. I was a Bible Worker in a small church in Oklahoma . For the sake of anonymity, I will name the following couple Joe and Jane. Joe had gone back to drinking and soon he and Jane both stopped coming to church. One night at prayer meeting someone reported that not only had they left the church for the world, but they even told us to stop praying for them. Of course we kept praying any way. After several weeks I finally found them at home. I thought I had talked them into at least letting me come back to study the Bible with them even if they would not come to church. We set a time for me to come back. When I returned, I was met at the door by Joe. He told me he could not study the Bible with me, because just the thought of reading the Bible made him so sick and depressed, that he could not stand it. So he sent me away. I walked back to my car fully convinced this man must have grieved the Holy Spirit away, since he had asked us not to pray for him, and even the thought of the Bible made him so sick. I decided if he had grieved the Spirit away, there was obviously no reason to contact him again, so I never did. I never saw Joe in church or anywhere else for that matter.

  

Three years later I was working in North Texas as a Bible Worker when I got a phone call from my mother. She wanted to know what set of Bible study guides I like to use. I told her the “Good News Study Guides” by Don Grey.  She told me she needed to get some study guides because my father and she had just begun some Bible Studies with Joe and Jane. I could not believe it! First of all my parents don’t normally give Bible studies, and I thought Joe had grieved away the Holy Spirit with his drinking and constant rebellion. While studying with my parents, Joe left his drinking and rebellion and a few weeks later both he and his wife were re-baptized! I called my parents before writing this story. They tell me Joe and Jane continue to be faithful members ten years later.

  

I believe God used my parents to study with them so that I would be aware of this happy ending for two reasons. 1. To show me I should never give up on anyone. 2. To show me what He was able to accomplish with absolutely no help from me. God is able to work His greatest miracles when I am nowhere in the picture. 

  

I was a young Bible Worker back then with a lot to learn. I have since learned to follow Jesus’ example in all I do. The reason I never give up on anyone now is simply this-Jesus left me with no example on how to give up. He never taught us to give up, never talked about giving up, never thought of giving up. Even if someone seams spiritually dead we do not need to stop praying and give up. Jesus raises the dead! “Even when we were DEAD in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by grace ye are saved.  Ephesians 2:5