Linda, Marissa, Felix, Terell and La Shanti’s Baptism Pictures

This morning, at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church,  we had a double header with baptisms in both services! Five people decided to give their lives to Jesus because He gave His life for them. Please enjoy the pictures and stories.

Baptism Class TAA

Felix, on my right, has been looking forward to being baptized for a while. Shortly after I studied with his older brother and sister, he was talking about it. This year he was able to attend my Baptism class at Tampa Adventist Academy. Felix also attended my Bible chain-referencing class where he learned how to present Bible studies hand written in his Bible. Later, I found out Felix not only had written the next verse by each previous verse, but he also looked up the page numbers for the next verses, and went back to each previous verse and wrote the page numbers. I had not thought of writing the page numbers with the verses, and neither did anyone else, but Felix did. Now that’s taking initiative.

Workbook

In our Baptism workbooks at TAA, we talked about baptism and other symbols. How do you like Felix’s answer for the “M” symbol? By the way, if you agree with Felix’s answer, we are currently having a “Best Weigh” Weight and nutrition seminar at Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist church. Contact me for more info.

Linda and Marissa

Linda and her daughter Marissa studied with me every Wednesday evening at church. Marissa, wanting to go beyond just the theory of Christianity is already joining the praise teams. She has been in school choirs most of her life, and wants to use her talents to help others become disciples for Jesus.

Terrell and Shante

Just a few months ago Equilla started visiting Tampa First with her family, and has been studying with me, joining my Seeker’s class with her oldest daughter Vanessa. Here we are having baptism studies with her youngest, Terell, and La Shanti. Terell will be going to Germany soon to live a while with his uncle in the military. Terell wanted to be grounded in God’s Word and a relationship with Christ before he leaves his family.

Cat

Terell’s and La Shanti’s cat joined our studies too every week. Every week he would wait for me to lay my lap top case on the floor so he could use it as a pillow. He never missed a study and liked to stay till the very end.

La Shanti

La Shanti writes: “Baptism means that God loves me ,my sins are washed away and I’m will be a new person.”

Terell

Terell writes: “What does baptism means to me? It means to give myself to God and Jesus, and then He will wash away my sins. He will heal my heart, and give me a new life with God.”

Felix

Felix writes: “I’ve been in baptism classes and I learned a lot. I know that I can get closer to Jesus. I know that Jesus loves me and wants me to be with Him. I want to follow him in all ways. I want to be by his side in the kingdom of heaven. I want to walk and talk with Him. I want to be a servant of God. I love Him and He loves me.

Linda

Linda writes: ” My parents raised me in the church and have always served God. I see how much God has blessed them in their life and he has also blessed me in my life even when I strayed away and I want to serve Him.”

Marissa

Marissa writes: ” For me, being baptized is showing God flat out that you have accepted Him into your life completely and will do anything humanly possible for Him.  I am not getting baptized for my own personal gain either.  I see it as me being one step closer to God.”

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Brad Linda Merissa William

Then He [Jesus] said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23 NLT

While we rejoice today because these five precious souls have chosen to die to self in baptism, and follow Jesus, each and every day they along with us, have that choice to make all over again. Like a car going down the interstate, each exit is an opportunity to exit the path and go another way. A choice is made at each exit to stay on the interstate or leave. Likewise every day the choice to follow Jesus must be renewed, not only for those baptized today, but for each and every one. If you chose to follow Jesus again today, all heaven is rejoicing for your decision along with those who were baptized today.

Daytona Beach Sunrise 2012

Dawn is just beginning to break in this picture of Daytona Beach. Each dawn brings a fresh day, a blank page full of opportunities and possibilities. Those possibilities depend upon the choices we make. Today is your opportunity to choose to follow Jesus. If you are choosing to follow Him for the first time, or choosing to follow Him again, and would like to talk with me, I would love to talk with you. You can contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net . If you are not in the Tampa Bay area, go ahead and contact me anyway and I can help you find a caring, Bible based church in your corner of the world.

Alyssa’s Baptism

This month is a special month at Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist church as we already have three different baptisms scheduled for February. This morning, was special as Alyssa was our first candidate to be baptized this month. Please enjoy the pictures and stories.

Baptism Class TAA

Alyssa, on my left, was one of the first to sign up for my baptism class at Tampa Adventist Academy. She faithfully completed her baptism workbook, and actively participated by asking thoughtful questions about how to please God with our lives, and she was very satisfied when we found the answers in the Bible.

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Alyssa read a short testimony on why she was being baptized and what it meant to her. She wrote:

Alyssa's note

Alyssa baptism

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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.” Romans 6:3-4 NLT

One of the many things we learned in our baptism class, is what baptism means. When you go under the water you stop breathing for a second, since you don’t breathe water. This is symbolic of your  death. You are dying to self, and saying goodbye living life your own way. When you come up out of the water, you take a new breath, symbolizing the new life you are now living for Jesus.

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After church the church family congratulated and welcomed Alyssa to the church family.

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Here is Alyssa with her family. Alyssa was very happy about her Uncle Charlie (Top Center) coming all the way from California for her baptism. Charlie was a member at Tampa First before moving to California, and is very much in love with Jesus, and has encouraged others to make their decisions for Christ as well. In our baptism class, Alyssa was always talking about her Uncle Charlie and how she wanted to be baptized when he could be here. I can tell by the way Alyssa talks about him all the time, he is her hero and a very positive influence in her life. I am so happy when a young person has a real hero and role model to admire and emulate.

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All who follow Jesus will be fishers of men. Alyssa has the same passion for reaching others for Christ that her Uncle Charlie and the rest of her family have. Here she is being presented with her baptism certificate, which includes the fundamental beliefs of the seventh-day Adventist Church.

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Don’t let the sun set on your life, before you give all of your life to Jesus. Alyssa did not want to wait till she got older and give to Jesus just whatever was left over of her life. She gave all of her life to Jesus because He gave all of His life to her. Jesus has given His life for you too! He loves you! If you are thinking about giving your life to Jesus I would love to talk with you and help you prepare for baptism. If you are on the other side of the world I would still love to hear from you, and help you find a Bible based church on your side of the world. You can reach me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net

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

Revelation 10; Spreading the Good News

I am writing this morning from the beautiful Tampa First SDA Church.

And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. Revelation 10:11

 We are to give the last warning of God to men, and what should be our earnestness in studying the Bible and our zeal in spreading the light! Let every soul who has received the divine illumination seek to impart it. Let the workers go from house to house, opening the Bible to the people, circulating the publications, telling others of the light that has blessed their own souls. Let literature be distributed judiciously, on the trains, in the street, on the great ships that ply the sea, and through the mails.  {9T 122.3} 
     A great work is to be done, and those who know the truth should make mighty intercession for help. The love of Christ must fill their own hearts. The Spirit of Christ must be poured out upon them, and they must be making ready to stand in the judgment. As they consecrate themselves to God, a convincing power will attend their efforts to present the truth to others. We must no longer sleep on Satan’s enchanted ground, but call into requisition all our resources, availing ourselves of every facility with which Providence has furnished us. The last warning is to be proclaimed before “many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings,” and the promise is given, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Revelation 10:11; Matthew 28:20.  {9T 12} 

 The Lord will fit men and women–yes, and children, as He did Samuel–for His work, making them His messengers. He who never slumbers or sleeps watches over each worker, choosing his sphere of labor. All heaven is watching the warfare which, under apparently discouraging circumstances, God’s servants are carrying on. New conquests are being achieved, new honors won, as the Lord’s servants, rallying round the banner of their Redeemer, go forth to fight the good fight of faith. All the heavenly angels are at the service of the humble, believing people of God; and as the Lord’s army of workers here below sing their songs of praise, the choir above join with them in thanksgiving, ascribing praise to God and to His Son. {7T 71}

As well as carrying out my regular responsibilities as a Bible Worker at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, I have also been teaching the young people at Tampa Adventist Academy to mark their Bibles and give Bible studies. This week I have begun a baptism class with about 28 kids. Seven of them have already been baptized but wanted to take the class as a “refresher course.” I decided to let them attend but to also have them help Pastor Brad and me in actually doing some of the presentations! I have made Power Point Presentations out of the In Light of The Cross Bible study guides, so each baptized student will have an opportunity to give a lesson in the baptism class. I was amazed how excited the kids were to do this!