Extending Grace to Others

Is there someone to whom you need to show mercy, who perhaps doesn’t deserve it? Why not show this person that mercy, no matter how hard that might be to do? Isn’t that what Jesus has done for us?

After running from God, Jonah had given up on life, and told the men on the boat in the storm to throw him overboard. However God’s grace provided a fish to save his life! God’s grace never gives up on us, even when we give up on ourselves.

On December 2, 1979 Elvita Adams woke up in the Bronx, and decided she had given up on life. She went to the Empire State Building, and went to the 86th floor observation deck and jumped! She was in midair and had nothing to hold on to, but God’s grace was holding on to her! A gust of wind came and threw her inside the 85th floor. She had a full and complete physical and emotional recovery.

When God’s grace miraculously saves us, it usually creates in us a graceful attitude towards others, but not for Jonah. Instead of praising God for His amazing grace Jonah is angry that God is graceful.

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Jonah 4:1-2 NKJV

Apparently Jonah did not appreciate the fact that the same grace that saved Nineveh was the same grace that provided a fish to save him. Jonah was given grace, but he did not extend that grace on to others, like Paul, who wrote,

But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:16 NLT

Jonah had a wonderful opportunity to go to Nineveh and use himself as an example of what God’s grace can do for the worst of sinners, so they could believe and have eternal life too. Thankfully God’s amazing grace worked in spite of Jonah to save Nineveh instead of because of Jonah.

I heard an old-time Adventist preacher once say that God will finish His work in spite of the church, not because of the church. Let’s not be stingy with God’s grace and force Him to finish the work in spite of us. Let’s extend the grace we have received to others, so God can save others through us instead of in spite of us.

Sandra and Ben’s Baptism and Profession of Faith

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As summer ended, Sandra showed up with her son Ben, for my kids summer Bible study group. Sandra wanted Bible studies as well, so we continued studying during the fall. Today Sandra rejoined the Seventh-day Adventist Church at Tampa First, and Ben was baptized for the first time.

Ben 2

This Sabbath Pastor Brad presented Sandra to the church family, as she came in on profession of faith.

Sandra writes,

“I can not thank God enough for everything He has done for me,  especially for accepting me as His child through Jesus. I got baptized at the age of 18, received the gift of singing on that day and I never regretted it for one second of my life. Today I am renewing my faith as it it was the very first time. I am seeking for that 1st love on the day that we met. Unfortunately due to life circumstances, I wasn’t able to attend church regularly, but I always felt guilty about it and prayed God for deliverance. All those years that I prayed asking, “Oh Lord, when am I going to observe Your Sabbath and take my sons to church as I should? Then this past July God answered my prayer and brought me to Tampa and directed me to Tampa First SDA Church, where I found many blessings. He blessed me with another career adjustment that allowed me to observe the Sabbath.”

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Ben writes,

I want to start a new life with God.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

Ben, like his mother, studied the Storacles Bible study guides with me.  Ben is very interested in the sciences, as well as criminal justice. He is at the top of his class this year. When Ben we study together, Ben likes to tell me all he is learning in school, and asks me about ways he can serve God though various careers. Ben wants to put God first in all that he does.

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Don’t let the sun go down on your life, without finding Jesus as your personal Savior. If you are interested in learning more about Jesus I would love to study with you in a personal or group Bible study. You can contact me at BibleWorker@TampaAdventist.net

Thank you for your monthly contributions to my ministry so I can continue sharing Jesus with others!

A New Commandment and Prayer for 2016

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35 NLT

Dear Jesus, I know all about the Sabbath and clean and unclean foods. I totally understand or at least think I understand all the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation, and have taught several prophecy seminars. I know all about the mark of the beast and the anti-Christ. When it comes to love, I know how to be nice to people who have been nice to me and to be good to people who have been good to me. But this morning in your Word I saw something new. Oh, it’s always been there, and the Bible scholar that I think I am should have already seen it by now. I know I have heard it before, but this morning it struck me like a 2×4 right between the eyes. You said,

“Love each other. Just as I have loved you.”

Jesus, you said there was plenty of room in your Father’s house. If the innkeeper who didn’t have room for you were to show up at your house, I imagine you would have room for Him too, right? I just can’t see you telling him, “Sorry you left me out in the barn so you can’t come in. Ha ha serves you right!” I can see me doing that! But you aren’t anything like me.

I greet people who greet me. I do huge favors for those who do huge favors for me. I give to those who give to me, and I call that being a Christian, but you call that being a pagan! (See Matthew 5:43-48) In 2016 can you teach me love the way that you love?

Now that I ask that, I am sure the first time someone mistreats me in 2016 I will want to write them off or retaliate one way or another. But when that happens will you please promise to whisper in my ear, “Now, William! Now is your chance to be like Me!” 

I have given bread to those who have never given it back. Yet I still always have plenty of bread because you give me so much. I imagine if I love people in 2016 who never love me back, that I will still have plenty of love because you give me so much love too.

I can recite the fundamental beliefs. But I suppose pagans can do that too. I can preach and teach, but You have met your fair share of pagan teachers and preachers too, haven’t you? How can I show you that I am a genuine disciple of Yours? Ah, yes, by my love for others. By loving others not the way that pagans love but by the way that You love. That is what being a disciple is all about.

Jesus I am really going to need Your help in 2016! Because in 2016 I don’t want to lose weight or save up money or give up Nachos. With Your help I am going to do something totally supernatural and miraculous! I am going to love others the way that you do! I can’t do this without your supernatural presence in my Life. I can’t do this on my own. Who am I kidding? I can’t do this at all! Why don’t I just lay down my life and let You do it through me?

I am 50 years old. I was raised in the church and have been an elder ever since I was 22. Yet I have met 12-year olds who can love more purely than I can. I have seen pagans give the shirt off their backs while I clung to my coat. So I guess it’s time now for me to ask You to teach me what I should have asked a long time ago. In 2016, will You teach me to love, the way that You love?

Thank You, Jesus, for hearing my prayer.

Exciting New Opportunities in my Ministry, Thank You For Your Continued Support!

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

After 11 wonderful years, serving the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, as full time Bible Worker and lay pastor, my tenure has come to an end. Well, so to speak.There is a plan for me to continue. The Tampa First church has faithfully supported my ministry for 11 years, and I can’t thank them enough for all the opportunities and memories. While I have been giving Bible studies, training seminars and evangelism seminars, working with the church, school, community and out of state and country mission projects in some many various ways over the years, the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church has faithfully supported all my endeavors both local and abroad. They can no longer do this due to their own operating expenses. At the same time God is currently using my ministry to touch more lives than ever before! In just one of my weekly Bible study groups 8-11 un-churched souls attend every week. Others are currently preparing for baptism in my other study groups. We are having baptisms march 7, 28, and April 11 just in the immediate future.

However, that does not mean my ministry is over or that I am leaving the area. Pastor James Johnson, and the Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church have proposed a way to keep me active the the Tampa Bay area and abroad.  Please read Pastor James’ letter of appeal here, to help support my ministry with continued monthly donations.  

My salary at the Plant City SDA Church will be supported strictly by donations. We need $5,000.00 a month. (This amount covers the employer’s part of social security as well as my part, and health and retirement benefits and workman’s comp as well as my modest salary.) As of right now we have just over $2,000.00 in pledges. And we have only just begun so this is very doable with God’s grace and generous giving. Under this plan, I will still be able to continue my work with Tampa First. Many people were hugging me last Sabbath, telling me how sorry they were that I was leaving. How ever, under this plan I won’t leave! I will continue my ministry at Tampa First as well as Plant City and the area schools and communities and around the world. I will continue

personal Bible studies and baptisms. Did you know in the last 11 years God has blessed me with around 300 baptisms? over 200 of those at Tampa First and others  as far away as Peru?   My Website reaches thousands around the world as well as my ministry with the Sabbath School Network. 

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I will also continue leading out in small group Bible studies and training others to do the same at Tampa Firsts SDA, Plant City SDA, Tampa Adventist Academy and beyond!

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I will continue giving prophecy seminars as well as preaching and training others to preach and teach as well.

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Jac, second from right, was in my class at Tampa Adventist Academy, on how to give Bible studies. This is a picture of him a couple years later, helping me teach a baptism class at Tampa Adventist Academy.

Lauren was also in my class at TAA on how to give Bible studies, and here is a picture of her later giving personal Bible studies to Julio, who was later baptized.

Lauren was also in my class at TAA on how to give Bible studies, and here is a picture of her later giving personal Bible studies to Julio, who was later baptized.

This is Julio being baptized!

This is Julio being baptized!

Your support to help me continue God’s ministry is greatly appreciated. So far, some have pledged $500.00 a month, while others have pledged $50.00 a month. One time gifts are also appreciated to help get the ministry started.

You can contribute now to the Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church. PO box 5379 Plant City Florida 33563. In the check memo please write “Bible Worker Fund.” If you can contribute monthly, a note to that effect and how much would benefit us greatly! You can also print out Pastor James’ letter which includes a portion you can fill out, and return with your check. 

Also if your church needs a revival seminar, evangelism seminar or training seminar I am available. You can contact me at Laypastor@TampaAdventist.net or 813-933-7505.

To stay in touch with what is going on in my ministry please subscribe to this blog and/or like “In Light of the Cross” on Facebook.

Proverbs in Light of the Cross; Winning Souls

I am writing tonight from  the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. Proverbs 11:30.
Let those who have been trained for service now take their places quickly in the Lord’s work. House-to-house laborers are needed. The Lord calls for decided efforts to be put forth in places where the people know nothing of the truth. Singing and prayer and Bible readings are needed in the homes of the people. Now, just now, is the time to obey the commission, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). Those who do this work must have a ready knowledge of the Scriptures. “It is written” is to be their weapon of defense.
God has given us light on His Word that we may give it to our fellow men. The truth spoken by Christ will reach hearts. A “Thus saith the Lord” will fall upon the ear with power, and fruit will appear wherever honest service is done.
The Lord calls for action. . . . Should we neglect to take advantage of this time, we should miss a great opportunity for letting light from God’s Word shine forth. The trumpet is to give a certain sound.
Say to the people: “Know for yourselves of the doctrine.” Let not your lips utter a sentence of doubt. Do not come before the people with an uncertain sound. Know what is truth and proclaim truth. Christ’s teaching was always positive in its nature. Never, never utter sentiments of doubt. Bear with a certain voice an affirmative message. Lift Him up, the Man of Calvary, higher and still higher. There is power in the exaltation of the cross of Christ.
Christ’s divinity is to be steadfastly maintained. When the Saviour asked His disciples the question, “Whom say ye that I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15, 16). Said Christ, “Upon this rock,” not on Peter, but on the Son of God, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (verse 18).
Great is the mystery of godliness. There are mysteries in the life of Christ that are to be believed, even though they cannot be explained.–Ellen White in a Letter 65, Feb. 13, 1905, to A. T. Jones, a prominent minister. 

You can study more about proverbs here.

What Does it Mean to be Under Grace?

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Friday’s section of this week’s Sabbath School lesson states,

“What do you say to those who claim that because of the grace of Christ, they are free from the law? What do they often really mean by that, and how would you answer them?”

I have heard Christians tell me not to worry about keeping the law because we are no longer under the law. We are under grace.(Funny thing is, they only tell me that when it comes to Sabbath keeping. They never tell me I am free to kill or steal. Just free to break the Sabbath. Some people say the ten commandments should be posted in our schools and courthouses, and then the moment you mention the Sabbath, they turn around and tell you the commandments were done away with.)Let’s take a look at that motif in its context.

For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:14 NKJV

The context here, tells us it is sin that we are free from. 1 John 3:4 tells us sin is the transgression of the law.

…sin is the transgression of the law.

So grace frees us from sin so we can keep God’s law. Therefore we are no longer under the condemnation of the law. Let’s suppose that I am driving 160 KPH down a highway where there is no speed limit. An officer pulls me over and says, “You were going 160 KPH. I was thinking of giving you a ticket but I will just let you go.” Would that be grace? No! There was no speed limit. So what would I need his grace for? If there is no law I don’t need grace. I can’t break a law that is not there. The fact that we need grace tells me there is still a law. By electric company gives me a ten day grace period to pay my bill after the due date. A grace period would mean nothing without a due date, and God’s grace would mean nothing without a law.

Lets now suppose I am driving down a highway where there is indeed a speed limit of 75 KPH. I am driving the speed limit. Can an officer pull me over and give me a speeding ticket? No. Why? Because I am in harmony with the law and not under the officer’s condemnation. This is what Paul is talking about,when he says we are not under the law but under grace. He makes this clear in the following passage.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:15-18 NKJV

God’s grace keeps me in harmony with the law, so I don’t fall under its condemnation.

Glimpses of the Cross Day 13; The Messiah Prophesied in Scripture

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Several years ago, I was showing a set of Christian books to a lady. There were several hardbound books in the set, which also included beautiful art work. The lady loved the books, and asked how much they were. I told her, “Four-twenty-nine.” She was delighted, and exclaimed, “Is that all!” I said, “Yes.” I  went on to explain the payment plans, of cash, credit card, or down payment of 15% and then 12 monthly payments. She looked confused, and then disappointed when she realized, that by four-twenty-nine I meant $429.00 and not $4.29.

The lady was like most all of us. We hear what we expect to hear. We read the Old Testament Prophecies that depict Jesus’ sacrifice, like Isaiah 53, and wonder why the Jews did not understand that the Messiah was coming to die for our sin and not set up an earthly kingdom.

The Jews were looking for a Savior from Roman tyranny because they read  prophecies, such as Isaiah 52:13, “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.” And also Isaiah 9:7, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.” They thought Jesus would come and set up an earthly kingdom. Would we have thought differently?

There was nothing wrong with the prophecies. The prophets were right on. The Jews, the disciples, the lady I was trying to sell  books to were all just like us. We hear what we expect to hear.Even the disciples misunderstood and heard only what they expected to hear. Jesus told them in Matthew 16 amongst other places, that He would be crucified, but Peter and the others simply refused to hear of it. The weekend of the crucifixion they were devastated. It was a great disappointment.

Some scoff at them for not knowing better, but are we any better than they are? Do we not make similar mistakes?

Jeremiah 23:6 promises to save the kingdom of Judah.

“In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

This led the people to dream of a kingdom prosperous and above all others. However the text also promised righteousness for the people.  It seems the people were not so interested in the righteousness as they were in the prosperity. That is just like us today. InMatthew 6:33 Jesus says,

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Many today are seeking the kingdom and all those other things that will be added to us, but how many of us are seeking His righteousness? How many of us today are taking up our cross daily and following Him? How many of us just want the prosperity? Even if we are seeking a heavenly kingdom above an earthly kingdom, we may still be materialistic, unless we are really seeking His righteousness.

Could we today be like the children of Abraham, dreaming only of prosperity, and forgetting that God once asked father Abraham to sacrifice his son and future prosperity?

When Paul was reasoning with the Jews, showing them that Jesus was the Messiah, he had his work cut out for him. Below is a study on the Messiah, showing the prophecies predicted in the Old Testament, and their fulfillment in the New Testament. Paul probably used some of these Scriptures when he taught the Jews about the Messiah.

At the crucifixion the disciples were devastated and hurting. Jesus  looked past the mistakes of His disciples and saw the pain. On the road to Emmaus, he took pains to demonstrate to them from the Scriptures that His life had fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. He probably used some of these Scriptures as well.

Event Prophecy Fulfilled
The place of His birth Micah 5:2 Luke 2:4-7
His virgin birth Isaiah 7:14 Luke 1:26-31
The slaughter of the children Jeremiah 31:15 Matthew 2:16-18
His flight into Egypt Hosea 11:1 Matthew 2:14,15
The time of His baptism Daniel 9:24,25 Luke 3:1,21,22
His rejection by the people Isaiah 53:3 John 1:11
His entrance into Jerusalem Zech 9:9 Luke 19:29-38
His betrayal by a friend Psalm 41:9 Luke 22:4748
The price of His betrayal Zech 11:12 Matthew 26:15
Spat upon and beaten Isaiah 50:6 Matthew 26:67
Crucified between two thieves Isaiah 53:12 Mark 15:27,28
The wounds in His body Zech 12:10 John 19:3420:27
Given vinegar and gall to drink Psalm 69:21 Matthew 27:34
Gambling for His clothes Psalm 22:17,18 Matt 27:35,36
None of His bones were to be broken Psalm 34:20 John 19:32,33
To be buried with the rich Isaiah 53:9 Matt 27:57-60
His resurrection Psalm 16:10 Luke 24:1-7

Seeing how Jesus met all the Old Testament predictions affirms our faith that He is indeed the Messiah. It also affirms our faith in the Bible.

Greater yet, it affirms our faith that He will come the second time, just as the Bible promised He would come the first time. There are actually twice as many Bible promises about His second coming than there are about His first coming.

Our Works on the Day of Atonement

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As this week’s SS lesson focuses on the work of Jesus our High Priest on the day of atonement, let’s take just a moment and focus on what the people were to be doing on the day of atonement.

This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you.  For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, thatyou may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.  It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. Leviticus 16:29-31 NKJV

Even though this is not a weekly Sabbath we are to put away our works. Now when you consider that we have been living in the literal day of atonement since 1844 it does not sound logical to do no work since 1844. So how do we apply the no working part to how we should be living in the literal day of atonement? I believe the answer is found in Galatians 5:19-21:

 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,  envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 

Leviticus tells us to afflict our souls. What does that mean? Could it mean doing some heart searching and putting away our fleshly egos and lusts? This is where I think we need to be careful about something Paul warned us about a long time ago.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;  and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:3-5 NKJV

Hmmm….interesting….Paul says endure afflictions. Could it be that during the day of atonement, in the last days, when we should be afflicting our souls, looking for areas and rooms of our hearts that need to be surrendered to God, that Satan supplies us with false teachers with fables that make us feel so good about ourselves that we don’t feel the need to do any soul searching, much less afflict our souls or deny the lusts of our flesh and egos?

 

During the day of atonement, which we believe we have been in since 1844 we are to be afflicting our souls and putting away our works, so that the Holy Spirit can fill us with the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which is not our works but the works of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26 NKJV

On page 623 God’s messenger describes the work of God’s people during the literal day of atonement, beginning in 1844. Does this sound similar to what God’s people were told to do during the symbolic day of atonement?

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.  –Ellen White, The Great Controversy, Page 623

Jesus will not force an entrance into our hearts. He will come into our hearts when we have taken a good look at our hearts and sense our need of a Savior. This means putting away the pride and works of the flesh and asking the Holy Spirit to replace our works with His fruit. While Jesus does not wish to harm the dignity of the individual, it is impossible for us to sense our need of Him, until through affliction, the ego has been crucified. This is how Leviticus 16:29-31 is fulfilled, when we afflict our souls and do no works of the flesh.

Do I Really Need to Know God’s Will For my Life?

Me preaching at age 5 from a pulpit my father built me when I told him I was going to be a preacher.

Me preaching at age 5 from a pulpit my father built me when I told him I was going to be a preacher.

While many people ask why God does not show them His will for their lives I have come to a simple conclusion. He does not need to.

He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?  Micah 6:8

When I was 4 years old, I remember sitting in church, knowing, not wishing or hoping,knowing I would be preaching the gospel one day. However, as I became older it was unclear to me if that preaching would be as a full time career or volunteer.

Each spring, as high school graduates contemplate their future, I hear the question, “What does God want me to do with my life?”  Regardless if someone is planning on college or going straight into the workforce I sometimes hear them say, “I wish God would tell me what He wants me to do.”

After one year of college I was not sure if I was really “suppose” to be a full time  preacher or gospel worker. I mean I knew I loved Jesus and wanted to share his love with others, but doesn’t every Christian do that? How do I know if I had been called? My life was in a fog.

I started working for a business forms company, and I started dating a young lady who attended a small Adventist Church outside of Tulsa, where I lived. I left the larger church in Tulsa to be with her. Things did not work out between us like I dreamed, and she moved away. Something told me to stay at the small church instead of going back to the larger church. I have to admit I did not know why I was doing what I was doing. I was in a fog. Not long after that, two literature evangelists joined that small church, and invited me to join them. I left the business forms company and became a literature evangelist. Soon afterwards, a new pastor came to our church and asked me to be his Bible Worker. Soon after, he moved to Texas and hired me down there. Several times I thought about finishing college but the time just never seemed right.

After I had been a Bible Worker for a few years in Texas, a friend got me hired on at UPS for some extra income, and so that I would have health benefits for my fiancée and me. Well, once again things did not work out between me and my love, and she politely broke up with me. The next morning when my 2AM alarm went off to go to UPS, my first thought was, why go in? The person I got the job for has left me. For some reason, as much as getting up at 2AM was unappealing, I did it anyway. (Never mind the fact that I also had a broken heart that morning and severe depression.) I was in a fog and had no idea why I was still working at UPS. I had no idea, but God did. A few weeks later, the church I was a Bible Worker for had to let me go due to lack of  funds and other financial obligations. UPS became my only job!

After working my way to supervisor at UPS, my sister sent me a notice of a church in Tampa Florida needing a Bible Worker. I had no interest in moving to Florida. I had sunk my roots in Texas. However, one night I e-mailed my resume to Tampa, just to hush my family who kept asking me about it. I knew by now they had already filled the position. To make a long story short, I got a call from Tampa the next morning, and less than two months later I was a full time Bible Worker in Tampa.

While many people talk of glory days gone by, I must say my current years have been the best years of my life. As I look back I see God has brought me to where He wants me to be without me even knowing what His plan was. God did not tell me why I was staying at that small church after my girlfriend left me, but He knew. He never told me, “stay” but looking back I know now it was His plan. The morning after my fiancée broke up with me, I did not see any reason to go to my second job at UPS at 2AM anymore. I only got the job so she would have benefits. Looking back, I know now, God had me get that job because He knew my Bible Worker job was coming to an end. He never told me that. He didn’t need to. He had it all under control, without me knowing what the plan was, while my head and heart were still in a fog.

Now some people have taken a much easier and shorter route to get to where they are today. They just went to college and straight to their lifetime career. Do I regret taking the longer road? Not at all! Sometimes the shorter, easier route is not the best way to go. Does it sometimes seem like you took the long road to get to a goal in your life? Before you blame yourself for your mistakes, consider, it may have been the exact road God wanted you to take.

“When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle.” Exodus 13:17-18 NLT

Do you feel like your head is in a fog now? Do you feel like you have no direction? I say, as long as you do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God, don’t worry about it. You may be exactly where God wants you to be. God  can make it all work out without telling us at all what is going on. I knew at an early age I would be a preacher one day, but did not know exactly how it would all work out, or that I would be preaching and sharing the gospel as a full time paid Bible Worker, with the title “lay pastor” tagged on. I also never knew, while sitting in the church pew, at 4 years old, in the 1960′s, that sharing the gospel would also include writing articles for a Sabbath School Blog on something called the Internet! Its not exactly how I pictured it while I sat in church as a little boy thinking about it. But God worked it all out on His own. And while it is not exactly how I imagined it would be, it is exceedingly more wonderful than I ever dreamed it could be!

While my head was in a fog, God led the way. I did not need to know if God wanted me to be a full time paid gospel worker or just a faithful Christian in the secular workforce. All I needed, was to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God. And that my friend, you can do in any line of work, wherever you are.

You can study this week’s SS lesson here.

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.”

Terell la shanti Felix Brad

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.