Are Adventists Still Preaching the Three Angels Message?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

After Evangelist Steve Wohlberg held some meetings at our church, we had several baptisms. One of those was “Wayne.” Wayne and I started hanging out as he loved to talk to me about prophecy. More specifically he liked talking about the mark of the beast. Okay, all he wanted to talk about was the mark of the beast. Even more specifically he just wanted to talk about how it would be distributed. Would it be a computer chip? An ID card? Would it be injected like a vaccine? These questions went on for weeks as we hung out at our favorite hang-outs.

It finally started sinking in that Wayne was not really interested in Jesus. He was interested in conspiracy theories. Finally one day, while Wayne was rehashing his usual questions again about exactly how the mark would be administered, I stopped him, and asked, “Wayne suppose you knew exactly how the mark would be administered. How would that knowledge make you more like Jesus?” Wayne looked at me like I had four heads and four wings! While we preach Jesus every Sabbath at our church, Wayne soon left in search of conspiracy theories that were not being preached at our church.

Sometimes people get so wrapped up in prophecy they forget it’s all about Jesus! To them, Daniel and Revelation is nothing more than a science fiction novel. So when they hear Jesus preached instead of conspiracy theories, they think that preaching Jesus instead of conspiracy theories is part of the conspiracy! They forget that the mark of the beast has a counterpart which is the seal of God. The seal of God is the character of God. We learn about the character of God and the seal of God by studying the life of Jesus.

Some complain the church preaches too much about day-to-day living instead of the Three Angels’ message and prophecy. But it is the day-to-day living that reflects the character of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit that seals Christ’s people to Him. The Sabbath is only the outward sign of the inward faithfulness.

I have been in homes where there was domestic abuse, but everyone in the home was satisfied that they were good Christians because they all knew the Taco Bell logo was satanic, and a sign that the Illuminati were taking over the world and bringing in Sunday laws. I have talked to men who were addicted to pornography but were sure they had the seal of God because they no longer ate cheese. These folk need to be instructed on day-to-day practical Christian living first, before they start getting all wrapped up in prophecy and last day events.

 

When people ask why we are no longer preaching the Three Angels’ message, I am baffled because we are preaching the Three Angels message of Revelation 14:6-12. I just preached it as a guest speaker last Sabbath. The first angel has the everlasting gospel. According to 1 Corinthians 1:17-18 the gospel is the cross. So whenever we preach the cross, we preach the message of the first angel. The second angel tells us Babylon is falling. The king of Babylon thought he had earned his dominion while Daniel 4:32 tells us it was given to him. Babylon represents trusting ourselves and our own system of worship to save us, instead of keeping our eyes on Jesus who will save us. So when we preach salvation by grace instead of works we are preaching the message of the second angel. The third angel warns us against trusting in our own works to save us, and gives us the Sabbath as a sign that we rest our faith in Jesus and not in man or the works of man. Ellen White says this about the third angel,

Several have written to me, inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the third angel’s message, and I have answered, “It is the third angel’s message in verity.” –Ellen White, Review and Herald, 1890.

So when we preach justification by faith we are preaching the message of the third angel.

So when I hear Adventists say we are not preaching the third angel’s message, I wonder what exactly are they expecting. Fire and brimstone? Turn or burn? Keep the Sabbath or you go to hell? If so, they won’t find that in the Three Angels’ message. Yes the third angel mentions fire and brimstone, but only for those who rejected the cross. They show they have rejected the cross when they trust in their own works to save them instead of resting on the Sabbath, as a sign that God’s grace will sustain them, and not the mark of the beast. They end up drinking the cup that Jesus drank for them in Gethsemane. By rejecting the Sabbath rest and God’s grace they choose to drink that cup themselves. It is their own choice!

As Seventh-day Adventists, let us proclaim the everlasting gospel of the three angels. Let’s let the world know about God’s amazing grace that turns abusive homes into heaven on earth. Let’s let everyone know there is a love that not only conquers your desire for cheese but also takes away your desire for porn. The three angels message will change our day to day lives and fit us for His soon coming.

You may study this week’s Sabbath school lesson here.

I Love Simple!

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The key thought in this week’s SS lesson reads, “Whatever the important proper training, we must first be grounded in our relationship with Jesus before we can be “properly equipped” to effectively witness for our faith.”

I love simple. Everything I own fits in the back of a small U-Hal truck with plenty of space left over. Still, about twice a year, I go through my apartment just looking for things to throw away to keep life simple and clutter free.  When I was a kid I loved Taco Bell. Back then they had 7 items on the menu board, and that was all I needed. I would choose the bean burrito. Today I walk into a Taco Bell and their menu board is all cluttered, and confusing with so many new fangled items to offer. I still choose the bean burrito. I love simple. I recently switched my homepage to Google. It is simple and not too busy like the other search engines. I love simple. Having a complicated life is not a status symbol to me and does not allure me.

Understanding how simple I am, you will understand how delighted I was when I discovered a concept I read in John 15:5. In the NIV I read, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit…” . Actually what delighted me is what I did not discover.  Jesus was not telling me that I needed a complicated, long planned out program and agenda in order to bear much fruit. It was really quite simple actually. I just need to live with Jesus and I will automatically bear fruit. Wow. What a concept. It reminded me of when I came home from College in the Spring of 1985. One Friday evening a friend from church called, and told me a couple of other friends were meeting at one of their homes to study the Sabbath School lesson, and asked me to join them. One of them brought their sister, who was not a baptized Adventist.  There was no agenda or schedule set in stone for our small study group. It was not even an “official” small study group. We just hung out together and studied the lesson, socialized, and even started hanging out on Saturday nights with a pizza, and or movie or bowling. A few months later my friend’s sister was baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist church. It wasn’t complicated. All we needed was to be living in Christ, in His word, and we bore fruit.

We don’t need a lot of complicated man made programs when: “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, “Follow Me.”  {Ellen White, Gospel Workers, Page 363}  How simple! Simple does not mean there is no plan or method. It simply means the plan and method is simple.

“There is need of coming close to the people by personal effort. If less time were given to sermonizing, and more time were spent in personal ministry, greater results would be seen. The poor are to be relieved, the sick cared for, the sorrowing and the bereaved comforted, the ignorant instructed, the inexperienced counseled. We are to weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice. Accompanied by the power of persuasion, the power of prayer, the power of the love of God, this work will not, cannot, be without fruit.” {Ellen White, Gospel Workers, Page 363} Here I would like to add another word to Simple. Practical. Jesus’ method was simple and practical. When I go to Taco Bell, I don’t need a mumbo jumbo burrito with a million toppings on it. It just isn’t practical. A simple bean burrito is practical for me. Jesus spent most His time, simply meeting the needs of the people. Most of His ministry was spent in simple one on one impromptu encounters like the woman at the well or the woman taken adultery. Whenever He did preach a sermon it was not a deep theological dissertation. It was simple and practical, and may I also add brief.

I love the simplicity of Jesus in John 15:5, “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit.” One morning when I awoke, I picked up my Bible to read and spend time with Jesus. As soon as I started reading, I began to think to myself, “How can you just sit here and read when you need to see that church member in the hospital, and follow up on these leads for Bible studies, and plan that seminar that is coming up.” I could barely relax and read my Bible, thinking of all the things I needed to do, but I knew it was important to spend time with Jesus so I made myself do it. I wanted to abide in Him. Later when I got to the hospital, I prayed with the lady I had come to see, and as I left, the lady in the next bed, asked me to pray with her too. I prayed with her, and shared a verse and some comforting words God gave me to share with her. I gave her my number if she needed anything else and invited her to my church when she got out. Impromptu, simple, and yet fruitful. I love simple!

Glimpses of Our God; Creation Care

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As you can see by this picture, I enjoy the great outdoors. I appreciate the environment. I don’t know that I can really call myself an environmentalist though. It’s not really a soap box issue for me. I do like to recycle. I hate picking up a napkin while at Taco Bell and using it one time and then throwing it away. It is such a waste. And while I don’t make it my soap box, personally I do like to recycle and not waste things. I am aware I am a steward of this earth, and if I am faithful in small things God will give me an even greater world to inhabit.

However, while studying this week’s SS lesson, I have to be honest. I did not have any real inspirations to write about this week’s topic. However, I have read a couple of amazing posts on the Sabbath School Network website. Apparently somebody was inspired and I would like to share their posts here.

Lillianne lopez writes, A Thin Green Line – Christian Environmentalism

Cindy Tutsch writes, Was Ellen White Green?

Click here for the SS Lesson phone app.

Enjoy!

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.

Jesus Wept; The Bible and Human Emotions, Lesson 3; Top Ten Ways to Avoid Stress And Live a Productive Life

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

To download the Sabbath School lessons to your android phone click here.

In conjunction with this week’s SS lesson on Stress, here is my top ten list of

The Top Ten Ways I Avoid Stress and Live a Productive Life

10. Make Life as simple as you can. Avoid clutter. Every few months I go through my apartment just looking for things to throw away or give away. I do the same with my life. My life is simple. I am not embarrassed by being a simple person living a simple life. Life was never meant to be complicated. It is complicated because of sin, not by God’s design. The closer we get to God’s design the more simple and happy life becomes. When I was a kid I walked into Taco Bell and there were 9 items on the menu. That was great! I bought the bean burrito. Now I walk into Taco Bell and there are over 50 menu items and I buy the bean burrito. Today Their menu board looks cluttered and confusing. Why does Taco Bell make life complicated for no reason? Why do people make their lives complicated for no reason? I have seen so many people stress themselves out doing needles projects, and then look at me like I am lazy for not helping them out. I am not lazy, I just don’t think your daughter really needs a $7,000 sweet sixteen birthday party, so forgive me for not helping you put it together. Take her to Taco Bell and buy her a bean burrito, and say, “Happy Birthday!”

9. Have a planned daily routine. I cannot tell you how important this is. When I first started working at UPS I had to get up at 2am to get to work by 3am. It changed my whole life. In orientation class at UPS they told us, in order to cope with these strange work hours we had to have a planned daily routine, not just at work but all day long. Once I got into a planned daily routine, life got so much easier and working at one of the most stressful jobs during the most stressful hours became fun and enjoyable.  I actually miss it!

8. Exercise! If you have a desk job, you will think so much more clearly if you exercise your whole body. Exercise clears the brain so you can think and study better. It makes life more balanced and healthy. I used to obsess about things a lot. Now that I have taken up golf in the last few years, instead of stressing and obsessing, I go play a round of golf and come back to work with a clear mind, and emotionally balanced attitude.

7. Music. I am not a musician. I do love to listen to music though. In the car I have to have more lively music, but while working on my computer I have to have classical music. I was never into classical music until about 11 years ago when I got a computer. The music with lyrics distracted me from what I was reading or writing, but classical music, for the most part, does not have lyrics so it worked out great. Now I have several classical CDs and attend symphony and orchestra concerts. Music keeps me from being stressed. I remember years ago, while working as a Bible Worker in the Weatherford Seventh-day Adventist church, I would be having a stressful day. I would stop by the church office for something, and if nobody was around, I would go into the sanctuary, go to hymn number 86, “How Great Thou Art,” and sing my heart out so loud it raised the roof. Then I felt much better and went about the rest of my day with a renewed attitude.

6. Write. Keep a journal to record your thoughts. Start a blog. There is therapy in writing. I have no way to prove this, but I also believe there is emotional therapy in writing your feelings out by hand instead of typing. The important thing is to write. I kept a journal in my teens. I look back and read it now and discover things about myself that I did not see at the time. I even look back and see clues as to why I annoyed certain people even though I could not figure it out at the time. When I first moved to Texas, before laptops and cell phone texting, I would go into restaurants with pad and paper and write letters back home while I ate. Then I made friends where I was at, and went to eat with them, and stopped writing letters back home. I miss that. Even today I will occasionally leave my laptop at home and go to a nice restaurant and write a hand written letter back home.

5. Don’t take yourself seriously. Laugh at yourself. A while back someone insulted me in public and I was very offended the person insulting me said what they did in front of everybody. Later, while talking to some of the people within earshot of the insult, I realized they did not even hear what the person said. They were not paying attention, and had other things on their mind. The only person who remembered it was me. I wonder how many times I have been stressed out from embarrassing situations that are recorded in my brain and nowhere else.  I have learned not to be so intense. Some insults that I have taken to heart in the past, I found out later where not given as intensely as I took them. Being melancholy, I think everything has to be perfect. I have realized, that being a perfectionist is a flaw. I don’t need to stress because of the small dent on my  new car. I don’t need to stress because of a little dust on my bookshelf. I don’t need to stress because a friend is a little upset with me. Relationships, like everything else, don’t have to be perfect in order to be absolutely wonderful.

4. Set goals, but don’t cut your wrists if your goals are not met. Have a minimum and maximum goal within reason. For example, as a Bible Worker, I have a goal of how many people I want to contact every day. Some days I can contact 40 or more people. Some days I can only find 10. So 10 is my minimum goal which I can live with while I try for 40 or more. Some days, I get a phone call from a Bible student who is struggling with something, and I take the day and just hang out with them, encouraging them. That is okay too. My goal was not met, but I am not cutting my wrists over it. That would freak my Bible student out!

3. Pace yourself. Take time to relax. Sometimes I will be working on a Seminar presentation or sermon and I get a mental block. I put down my laptop and take a walk. I relax my brain, and then the ideas for my presentation or sermon just start popping into my head. Sometimes my best ideas come on my day off while I am relaxing and reading  or praying.

2. Remember all stress is relative. During the 1998 home run record chase between Sammy Sosa and Mark Mcgwire, I believe it was Sammy Sosa who was asked how he was handling the stress of chasing the home run record. He responded, “This is not stress. Having no food on the table is stress.” Last year, after the Tampa Bay Rays lost a close game, radio announcer Andy Freed refused to call the game a “heartbreaking loss.” He said “having a child in ICU at All Children’s Hospital is heartbreaking! This is just a game.” While a little stress is good as it keeps us shooting for our goals, remember it’s all relative. Some things need to stress us out but not everything. What will it matter ten years from now or even next week?  Several years ago I was working in the church office as an office administrator as well as Bible Worker. There was an older man who could come into my office and talk my ear off while I was thinking about all the things I needed be getting done. He was a dear man, very close to Christ. He would tell me stories, while I would fret about getting all of my work done. A few years later, while sitting at his funeral, I asked myself, Was I really all that busy?

1. Prayer and Bible study. Jesus accomplished so much that John says the world could not hold the books that would be written if everything He had done was written down. Still, He spent long hours in communion with His heavenly Father. Before we can live like Jesus, we must pray like Jesus. His life was spent between the mountain and the multitude. We can’t expect to accomplish all He accomplished without praying like He prayed. I talk with people who tell me they are too busy to study and pray. Life is just too busy, they say. I say, if life gets too stressful and busy for prayer and Bible study then forget life! I won’t live without my time with Jesus! If life gets so hectic that I don’t have time to spend with Jesus, then life has just defeated its own purpose! My life has no purpose without God, so why would I let life make me so busy I have no time for Him?  You can accomplish so much more in life, after you spend time with God and leave your stress with Him, than you can by ignoring Him and carrying all that stress yourself.