Tojie and Anthony’s Baptism

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Today Tojie and Anthony’s friends, family and teachers from Tampa Adventist Academy came to the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church to support Tojie and Anthony as they both gave all themselves to Jesus in baptism, because Jesus gave all of Himself for them. You may watch the video of the baptism and service here. Baptism starts at 17:10.

 

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Tojie is now in the 9th grade. When he was in the 5th and 6th grades he was in my Bible chain referencing class at Tampa Adventist Academy. Tojie told me a while back that he wanted to be baptized. Tojie and Anthony agreed to be baptized together so today was the day! Tojie writes,

“When I hear the word “baptism” the first thing that comes to mind is when Jesus got baptized by John the Baptist. Jesus didn’t need to be baptized. He was virtually perfect, but he did it anyway. Not because he had to, because he wanted to. Jesus wanted to set an example for us all. I think we should do the same.”

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I met Anthony this year at Tampa Adventist Academy, where he is in the 8th grade. I enjoyed studying with Anthony as he is very transparent and sincere, and was not afraid to ask questions if there was something he was not sure about. His sincere quest for truth and Jesus has led Anthony to a very good understanding of the Bible and relationship with God. Anthony writes,

Baptism to me means that as I go under the water all my sins are being washed away, and as I come up out of the water I am free with a new start. I also believe I will have a stronger connection with God. I think he will have a stronger voice when He talks to me. When I read His Word I feel like things will be more visible. As I spread the gospel I will have a better understanding of God and He will reveal things to me.

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After the baptism Tojie and Anthony were welcomed into the church family along with Anthony’s parents, Leighcraft and Sherri-Lee, who were already baptized.  Pastor Brad Cassell went over the baptism vows and awarded them their certificates with the the Adventist fundamental beliefs.

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Please don’t let another day go by before giving your heart to Jesus. After all, you are not going to be able to keep your life anyway, so why not give it to the One who can save it for all eternity? I would love to help you with this step. You may contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net

Brad and Anna’s Baptism

Several months ago Mrs. Mateo, a teacher at Tampa Adventist Academy told me about a lady named Anna, who visited the school to teach a few science projects and was interested in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Today Anna and her husband Brad were baptized! Please enjoy the pictures and stories.

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Brad and Anna worked on the Discover Bible Study Guides at home and would bring them for us to go over in class, as well as the In Light Of The Cross Bible Study Guides. Coming from different backgrounds, Brad and Anna would often bring a different angle of approach to the study which made for very stimulating study. Though we sometimes saw things differently our goal was always to go by the Bible and find out what the Bible says about each topic. This way we all learned more about the Bible from each other, as everyone’s background gives them something to bring to the table that can help others to learn more about Jesus and the Bible.

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Mrs. Wyatte and Mrs. Mateo, who befriended Anna and introduced her to me, joined us as Pastor Brad went over the baptism vows and we welcomed Anna and Brad into the Tampa First SDA Church family. Brad and Anna chose today to be baptized because it is their anniversary! Brad and Ann will also be joining my class, beginning July 6th on how to give Bible studies and lead others to Jesus.

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Anna writes:

” I have been searching most of my adult life for a faith that I could 100% fully & faithfully believe in. My  husband had told me about the Adventist faith and directed me to writings and information about Adventist. Time had past and life caught up with me….I was at a crossroads in my life and in search of guidance and answers. I was blessed to have a good friend reintroduce me to the Adventist faith and encourage me to attend Sabbath. I was pleased to find a faith that I already believed in, I couldn’t believe that a faith existed that was so true to my beliefs and values. The Adventist faith I believe is for me, its like second nature and something I believe is great for me and my family. Through my studies I have learned that all answers to my questions can be found in the bible and through prayer. Reading the bible and praying has brought me closer to GOD and given me clarity on life’s purpose. Most importantly I have a relationship with GOD and have strengthen my knowledge of the bible , this has granted me peace of mind . I am looking forward to being baptized and walking the path with GOD.    The Adventist faith has been a blessing in my life, it has opened my eyes, mind and heart. I know where I’m going and through Christ I am saved and truly blessed. I am grateful to all of those in my life that have helped me gain knowledge and understanding and I look forward to taking this journey towards GOD.”
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Brad Writes:

“William,
 It has been great studying the Bible and learning how the Seventh-Day Adventist faith can help me live a more fulfilling and Christ filled life. Without a doubt your patience in answering and explaining the basic tenets of Christianity to the more complex theological questions is a true testament to your breadth of knowledge. The encouragement and fellowship we received has helped build our confidence not only in our own walk with Jesus Christ, it has also helped us believe we are capable of helping others learn and appreciate the uniqueness of the Seventh-Day Adventist. By using what you have shown me as a foundation, I feel I am able to continue studying with a firm understanding that answers I seek about this life and the one hereafter are in the Bible. Thank you for your time and may God continue to bless you in all that you do.”
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Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death?  For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. Romans 6:3-6 NLT 

By the way, I was very pleased, when after the baptism a lady from our church family invited Anna and Brad and myself to a celebration dinner after this Sabbath so she and her family can welcome them personally to the family of God!

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Please don’t let the sun set on you before you give your heart and life to the One who gave His heart and life for you! If you would like to know more about following Jesus all the way I would love to hear from you at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net. Even if you are not in the Tampa Bay area please contact me and I will be glad to direct you to a Bible based Christian church in your area.

New Family Members!

This morning there was a wonderful celebration at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church.  Five precious souls gave their lives to Jesus through baptism and profession of faith. Please enjoy their amazing stories and pictures.

Francisca has returned to her true love, and was baptized with her daughter Cindy, and grandson Julio. She is so excited to be back in the Adventist Church family.  While doing studies, I ask my students to do two or three lessons a week, hoping they will do at least one. During the course of our studies, Francisca had to make a trip to Puerto Rico for a few weeks. I gave her the rest of the study guides to work on while she was away. I forget exactly how many, but there were a lot, like over 15 or more.  When she returned she had them all completed! I was so excited I had to take the pictrure above.

Francisca first found the church in a miraculous way. Here is her story:”When I was a little girl, I remember my grandmother taking me to Catholic Church every Sunday. I married at the age of 18. A few years later my husband and I bought our first house in the Westside of Chicago. Our children were in elementary school. My husband and I were going through a difficult time and one morning I got up extra early before I got the children ready for school. I got up on my knees and prayed to the Lord, “I want to serve you but I don’t know what church I should go to. Please lead me to your true church. I don’t want to go to just any church. There are so many religions, I don’t know where to go. Please Lord help me!”  We had already visited a few different churches.  About 3 weeks later on a Monday, I walked the children to school as usual. The school was located on the other side of the park. As I was walking back past the park I saw a lady on the corner of Lemon and Potomac St. She was just standing there looking around. She looked lost, so I asked her, “are you o.k.?” And she said, “No, I don’t recognize where I’m at.” I asked her, where are you going? She answered, I was on my way to visit some friends they live on Crystal St. I said you know that’s the street I live on, you passed it. Thank God you ran into me because if not, you probably would have kept going! As we walked back she offered me bible study. She explained, that all I had to do was read the article and answer the questions and that she would pick the study up on Saturday. I accepted, after all I thought to myself it’s only 1 page to read and a few questions to answer. Saturday came and I had not completed the study because I had forgotten about it. When Abrahana arrived and asked for the study, I explained to her that I had forgotten about it. And she said that she would return on Wednesday for it. Well Wednesday came and when Abrahana asked for the study, I told her that once again I had forgotten. Then she said, I’ll be back on Saturday for it. At that point, I thought, Wow! She is very persistent, I have never met anyone like her. I need to complete this study to get her off my back. Therefore, I completed the study. Abrahana came on Saturday to pick it up. As soon as I handed her the study she revised it and to my surprise she gave me a second study. She then told that there were a total of 24 studies and since I had already started, I had to finish them. After completing the third study I found the fourth study to be more intriguing as I learned about the Sabbath. At that point I asked her what religion did she belong to and she said Seventh Day Adventist. That was the first time I had heard of Seventh day Adventist. Later that evening I remembered that I had prayed to the Lord for guidance in my search for a church to attend. And I realized that my prayer had been answered. I then told my husband that my prayer had been answered and from that point on we started going to church on Sabbath. Amazingly, Abrahana and I have maintained contact for over 35 years now.”

Julio writes,“Baptism means that we give our heart to Jesus , washing our sins away and starting a new life.”

Julio was baptized today with his mother and grandmother. During the Bible studies we were having with his family, Julio told me he wanted to be baptized too.  A few years ago, I studied with Lauren before her baptism. A couple years ago, Lauren was in my Bible chain referencing class. As Julio prepared for baptism Lauren helped me give Julio Bible studies. In this picture Lauren and Julio are studying about baptism. I was suppose to help too, but Lauren was doing such a good job, I just sat there and ate pretzels while she taught. Julio enjoyed his baptism studies so much that he is now doing the advanced set of guides.

Not only has Julio been baptized, but this is his first year at Tampa Adventist Academy. I am now coaching Julio and Lauren, as they are conducting a Bible study growth group after school on Wednesdays.

Here we are going over the baptism vows with Julio, his mother Cindy, and grandmother Francisca. Since beginning these studies, Cindy has invited both her sisters to join us, and we are now studying with them every week too! Cindy is now enrolling to an online university to study theology. She would like to work as a prison chaplain.

Cindy writes: “Baptism to me means letting go of the old you, old ways and starting fresh.  A new beginning in Christ! (e.g. Being Reborn) Baptism is making a commitment to serve God.” 

I met Marlice several years ago, when she first attended my Seeker’s Sabbath School class. Later, her husband Ray started attending too. Not too long ago, my friends Barbara and Betty told me Ray and Marlice had mentioned to them that they would like to become members of Tampa First. Immediately we began studying for baptism. It was fun being able to spend more time with them outside of Sabbath School, as we had weekly personal Bible studies.

Ray writes: “While doing our bible studies to become amember of Tampa First, I came to realize that I wanted the Holy Spirit to startguiding me in my walk with God with a renewed heart and the only way to achievethat is by baptism.”

Marlice writes: “I was raised a strict Seventh-dayAdventist and attended self-supporting, church-oriented high schools andcollege, and married a school mate right out of high school.  He and I continuedattending the SDA church, but had no personal devotions or home worship.  Inreality, our faith was hollow, having no relationship with Jesus.  Theworld beckoned.  We divorced after seven years and one daughterlater.   Twenty-six years, three husbands and two sons later, I was sadand empty inside and knew that what I was lacking was “God”, so Ibegan my search for meaning and personal peace.  Through all my searching byway of various Sunday-keeping churches and knowing some truly wonderful,loving, giving Christians there, I could never get over the sound of thatlittle voice in the back of my head that said, “yes, but . . .the seventh-day is the Sabbath that God blessedand hallowed.”  So when I came up “empty” for the lasttime, I could no longer continue going to church on Sunday, I started attendingTampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, and it felt so right.  Besides that, the Sabbath School classes and the sermonswere REAL.  My husband, Ray joined me in attending, and he found that itstruck a chord with him too.  Eventually, William Earnhardt invited Rayand me to study the Bible with him to prepare us to join this church.  Wecompleted our course of study and have made the life-altering decision to jointhe “Remnant Church” so that when Jesus comes He can say, “Well done, thougood and faithful servant; enter in to the JOY of thy Lord.”  

My dear Mom and Dad would be so happy ifthey knew that I had “come back”, but this way we can all betogether at that great banquet table in heaven.”

While we went over the baptism vows, Lauren stood with Julio and his family that she has been studying with.

Marlice, who joined our church on profession faith, stood with Ray as he was baptized. After the church service, both of them joined the meeting to help feed the homeless. Ray is also becoming active in our men’s ministry, and is joining a men’s Bible study on Thursday nights.

 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 NLT

I will contine studying with Cindy, as both of her sisters have now joined our study!

For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. Romans 6:4-6 NLT

This evening, our new church family members and I gathered at David and Sondra’s home. They are Lauren’s parents. We celebrated the baptism with a nice dinner, then closed out the Sabbath with family worship. After that we played games and had fun fellowshiping together.

Don’t let the sun set on you, before you decide to give your live to Jesus. He gave His life for you. I would love to talk to you about giving you life to Jesus if you have never done so. You can contact me at Laypastor@TampaAdventist.net

Ciera’s Baptism Pictures

This morning was a special day at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church.  Not because it was St. Patrick’s day, but because we welcomed another saint into the body of Christ. Ciera gave her life to Jesus today by being baptized, because Jesus gave His life for her. Please enjoy the pictures.

Ciera has been looking forward to this day for a long time. Over the years, at Tampa Adventist Academy, she has been in several of my baptism classes. In addition to baptism classes, she is also pictured here in my Bible marking-chain referencing class that I hold at TAA. She is learning to share Jesus with others. The other day in class I did some role playing, and pretended I did not believe in the Sabbath. Cieria quickly found Bible verses to let me know the Sabbath, and the rest we find in God’s grace is still very much in effect.

This morning, Pastor Brad Cassell, went over the baptism vows with Ciera before the congregation.

The smile on Ciera’s face shows she has been looking forward to and preparing for this day for a long time.

Even though Ciera’s family are members of another Adventist church in the area, Ciera chose to be baptized at Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church by Pastor Claudette Aleman. We are glad Ciera chose Tampa First, and consider her family a big part of the Tampa First family.  All the area Tampa Bay area Adventist churches are just one big happy family!

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 NLT

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. Romans 6:5 That new life sure puts a smile on your face, doesn’t it!

Ciera and her family had several family and friends over for lunch today to help celebrate!

After a long day of celebration, worship and fellowship, we closed out the Sabbath together with some songs and a devotional thought from the Bible.

Please don’t let the sun set on you before giving your life to the One who gave His life for you! If you are interested in baptism I would love to talk to you and help you prepare for this important life changing step. You can contact me at LayPAstor@TampaAdventist.net