Stacy and Charlie’s Baptism Pictures and stories

I first met Charlie about 5 years ago in the youth Bible studies at the Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church on Wednesday nights. Several of the youth from the community would come to play games and have a Bible study. So I was very happy when Charlie’s girlfriend, Stacy contacted me for baptism studies! We were able to study at the church while practicing social distancing as well as over the phone.

Charlie’s grandmother was a big part of the Plant City SDA Church back in the day. She even designed the picture on our baptistry. She now lives in Ooltewah Tennessee. This morning, November 28, 2020 Charlie and Stacy surprised his grandmother by being baptized in the Ooltewah SDA Chruch! A very big thank you to Pastor Peter Kulakov (Right) for being such a gracious host for this baptism!

Charlie and Stacy with their “Just baptized” masks.

What and exciting day for the Plant City SDA Church, the Ooltewah SDA Church and all of heaven! If you are interested in giving your life to Jesus because of His great love and sacrifice that He made for you I would love to talk with you! You can contact me at racerthee@gmail.com.

I also want to thank all of my contributors to my ministry that keep these wonderful baptisms coming! Click here to find out how you can be a contributor. Thank you!

Video Presentation: The 7 A’s of Confession and Reconciliation

      

Wednesday’s section of this week’s lesson reminded me about the importance of reconciliation. Reconciliation is so important to God that from Genesis 3 to Revelation 20, the theme of reconciliation.

Like King David in 2 Samuel 12:1-12, we all get mad when we hear about oppression and injustice. Like King David, most of us have been guilty of oppression  and injustice at some point. When we find ourselves guilty, it is important to make confession and reconciliation, not just to get rid of our guilt and heal our conscience, but to heal the pain of those we have hurt. In Ken Sande’s book, Resolving Everyday Conflict, he shares the 7 A’s of confession and reconciliation. I would like to take a further look at them here, along with God’s Word. In so doing, I believe we can find a genuine and successful approach to healing the pain we have caused others. Please keep in mind that not all the steps need to be followed for lesser offenses. You will need to pray and let God lead you as to exactly what steps to follow.

Keep in mind also that after Adam’s sin, the Garden of Eden was no longer a safe place for him. While God forgave Adam, he was never permitted back into the Garden here on earth. What a thrilling moment it will be, when in the New Earth,  Adam is reconciled to God and Adam’s Eden home is restored! Likewise there are some extreme cases of oppression and abuse, where certain relationships will only be safely reconciled and restored in the New Earth. Meanwhile what a precious blessing and responsibility it is to restore and reconcile what can be reconciled here on earth.

The 7 A’s of Confession and Reconciliation. 

  1. Address Everyone Involved. 

Sins committed only in the heart need to be confessed to God alone. Public sins need to be confessed to all those who were hurt.

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16 NLT

2. Avoid Using the words, “if” “but” and “maybe.”

Say “I hurt you.” Not, “If I hurt you.” Say “I was wrong.” Not, “I was wrong but so were you.” Say, “I know I made a mistake.” Not “Maybe I made a mistake.” Don’t shift, minimize or excuse your guilt.

People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. Proverbs 28:13 NLT

3. Admit Specifically Where you were wrong. 

Don’t be vague.

Forgive me for shedding blood…Psalm 51:14 NLT

4. Acknowledge the Hurt.

You can even ask, “Do I understand how much I’ve hurt you?”

When Saul sinned, the throne was taken from him, because he was only sorry about what his sin had cost him personally. David sinned an even greater sin, but kept the throne, because He was truly sorry about what his sin had cost God.

Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; Psalm 51:4 NLT

5. Accept the Consequences.

Genuine repentance accepts any due penalties.

Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” Luke 19:8 NLT

6. Alter Your Behavior.

You are not really sorry if you keep willfully repeating the same offense. Ask people to hold you accountable.  You may even put your plan for change into writing. One of the reasons I am writing about this topic is to reinforce it in my own mind.

If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Ephesians 4:28 NLT

7. Ask for Forgiveness (and allow time)

If it took you a while to confess, it may take a while for the other person to forgive. Don’t push it or rush it. If you are sincere and genuine in these 7 steps, most people will be quick to forgive.

Often when we try to place the blame on others, they will turn around and place the blame on us. On the other hand, when we accept full responsibility for our actions, others will often accept responsibility for their actions.

I have attempted to simplify and paraphrase the ideas in Ken Sande’s book, to reinforce them for myself and to help others to make reconciliation. When we find ourselves being oppressed or treated unjustly it is easy to just run away or attack back. When mankind rebelled against God, God neither ran away or attacked back. Instead He presented Himself as the peace offering for our offense!  Genesis 3 to Revelation 20 deals mainly with God’s attempt at reconciliation. This tells me reconciliation is very important.

It may seem hard to make confession and reconciliation. It may seem easier to run away. It may cost us our pride to make reconciliation, but that is a small price considering it cost God His dear Son. If reconciliation is worth God’s Son, then it is definitely worth anything it would cost us.

7 A’s of Reconciliation

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Wednesday’s section of this week’s lesson reminded me about the importance of reconciliation. Reconciliation is so important to God that from Genesis 3 to Revelation 20, the theme of reconciliation.

Like King David in 2 Samuel 12:1-12, we all get mad when we hear about oppression and injustice. Like King David, most of us have been guilty of oppression  and injustice at some point. When we find ourselves guilty, it is important to make confession and reconciliation, not just to get rid of our guilt and heal our conscience, but to heal the pain of those we have hurt. In Ken Sande’s book, Resolving Everyday Conflict, he shares the 7 A’s of confession and reconciliation. I would like to take a further look at them here, along with God’s Word. In so doing, I believe we can find a genuine and successful approach to healing the pain we have caused others. Please keep in mind that not all the steps need to be followed for lesser offenses. You will need to pray and let God lead you as to exactly what steps to follow.

Image © Lars Justinen Goodsalt.com

Keep in mind also that after Adam’s sin, the Garden of Eden was no longer a safe place for him. While God forgave Adam, he was never permitted back into the Garden here on earth. What a thrilling moment it will be, when in the New Earth,  Adam is reconciled to God and Adam’s Eden home is restored! Likewise there are some extreme cases of oppression and abuse, where certain relationships will only be safely reconciled and restored in the New Earth. Meanwhile what a precious blessing and responsibility it is to restore and reconcile what can be reconciled here on earth.

The 7 A’s of Confession and Reconciliation. 

  1. Address Everyone Involved. 

Sins committed only in the heart need to be confessed to God alone. Public sins need to be confessed to all those who were hurt.

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16 NLT

2. Avoid Using the words, “if” “but” and “maybe.”

Say “I hurt you.” Not, “If I hurt you.” Say “I was wrong.” Not, “I was wrong but so were you.” Say, “I know I made a mistake.” Not “Maybe I made a mistake.” Don’t shift, minimize or excuse your guilt.

People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. Proverbs 28:13 NLT

3. Admit Specifically Where you were wrong. 

Don’t be vague.

Forgive me for shedding blood…Psalm 51:14 NLT

4. Acknowledge the Hurt.

You can even ask, “Do I understand how much I’ve hurt you?”

When Saul sinned, the throne was taken from him, because he was only sorry about what his sin had cost him personally. David sinned an even greater sin, but kept the throne, because He was truly sorry about what his sin had cost God.

Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; Psalm 51:4 NLT

5. Accept the Consequences.

Genuine repentance accepts any due penalties.

Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” Luke 19:8 NLT

6. Alter Your Behavior.

You are not really sorry if you keep willfully repeating the same offense. Ask people to hold you accountable.  You may even put your plan for change into writing. One of the reasons I am writing about this topic is to reinforce it in my own mind.

If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Ephesians 4:28 NLT

7. Ask for Forgiveness (and allow time)

If it took you a while to confess, it may take a while for the other person to forgive. Don’t push it or rush it. If you are sincere and genuine in these 7 steps, most people will be quick to forgive.

Often when we try to place the blame on others, they will turn around and place the blame on us. On the other hand, when we accept full responsibility for our actions, others will often accept responsibility for their actions.

I have attempted to simplify and paraphrase the ideas in Ken Sande’s book, to reinforce them for myself and to help others to make reconciliation. When we find ourselves being oppressed or treated unjustly it is easy to just run away or attack back. When mankind rebelled against God, God neither ran away or attacked back. Instead He presented Himself as the peace offering for our offense!  Genesis 3 to Revelation 20 deals mainly with God’s attempt at reconciliation. This tells me reconciliation is very important.

It may seem hard to make confession and reconciliation. It may seem easier to run away. It may cost us our pride to make reconciliation, but that is a small price considering it cost God His dear Son. If reconciliation is worth God’s Son, then it is definitely worth anything it would cost us.

Which Laws Were Abolished at the Cross?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Were the ceremonial or moral laws done away with at the cross? What exactly did Christ abolish on the cross? Let’s take a look at God’s Word to see.

The ten commandments were written with God’s own hand.

So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone. Deuteronomy 4:13 NKJV

The ten commandments were placed inside the ark.

And you shall put into the ark the Testimony which I will give you. Exodus 25:16 NKJV

The commandments last forever.

The works of His hands are verity and justice;
All His precepts are sure.  They stand fast forever and ever,
And are done in truth and uprightness. Psalm 111:7-8 NKJV

The ceremonial law was written in Moses’ handwriting and was placed in the side of the ark while we have seen the Ten Commandments were written by God and placed inside the ark.

So it was, when Moses had completed writing the words of this law in a book, when they were finished,  that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying: Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there as a witness against you;  Deuteronomy 31:24-26 NKJV

The ceremonial laws written by Moses lasted only until the reformation.

concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. Hebrews 9:10 NKJV

It was ordinances that were handwritten by Moses that were done away with at the cross. The ceremonial laws like the feast Sabbath days like the Passover, which pointed towards the cross no longer served a purpose after the cross. The weekly Sabbath in the ten commandments was instituted before the law was ever given (Genesis 2:1-3) and continued throughout the New Testament by Jews and Greeks alike (Acts 18:4) and will continue in the new earth. (Isaiah 66:23)

having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Colossians 2:14-17 NKJV

Note: the requirements that were against them was the record of their rebellion we saw in Deuteronomy 31:24-26. The Ten commandments were not against them. They were there for their blessing and protection. See Psalm 19 and 119.

The sacrificial system ceased at the cross. The ten commandments never ceased.

Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate.” Daniel 9:27 NKJV

In the new testament commandment keeping continues.

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. John 15:9-10 NKJV

He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  1 John 2:4 NKJV

The ten commandments convict us of sin after the cross just like before.

but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.  For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.  So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. James 2:9-12 NKJV

Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4NKJV

Jesus did not die to do away with the law. He died so we could be obedient and live righteously.

who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,  teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, Titus 2:11-12 NKJV

Those who keep the commandments by God’s grace will inherit eternal life.

Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. Revelation 22:14 NKJV

Summary and conclusion: The handwritten ordinances and sacrificial systems that pointed towards the cross were no longer needed after the cross. The Ten commandments were not handwritten by Moses but by God and do not point towards the cross. The ten commandments endure for all eternity.

Why Kindergarten is a Part of Your College Degree

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The podcast version of this article is available here.

As this week’s lesson emphasizes the importance of the law in our education I am reminded of what Jesus said regarding the principle of the entire law.

Do to others as you would like them to do to you. Luke 6:31 NLT

Many are familiar with the phrase, ‘All I really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten.” This phrase came from Robert Fulghum’s book, with the same title as the phrase. The main idea is that in kindergarten one learns simple hygiene practices as well as the importance of a nap every afternoon.  Sounds great, right? Fulghum goes on to explain how kindergarten taught him not to take things that did not belong to him and how to share what he had. In short, kindergarten taught him to be fair and considerate of others needs and rights. Of course since the book came out, kindergarten has progressed to be more like first grade when I was starting school way back in the mid 1900’s. Still, kindergarten teaches  basic citizenship skills about how to get along with others. How to be responsible in cleaning up your own mess as well as being considerate and helpful to others. I believe Jesus would sum all these kindergarten lessons up with “Do to others as you would like them to do to you.”

After kindergarten many of us went on to “greater” things. We learned algebra and geometry.  Some of us went on to learn calculous (well I surely didn’t but some of us did.) We learned science and chemistry and biology. Yet in all of our learning we were never to forget what we learned in kindergarten. While doing algebra and geometry it is still important o know that 1+1=2. Yes we go on to much greater things than we could ever have imagined in kindergarten but we must never forget 1+1=2. When a math major receives her college degree certificate at Harvard, what she learned in kindergarten about 1+1=2 is a substance and the foundation of the degree that she now proudly hangs on her office wall.

Do you know what else is a substance of our greater education? the things we learned in kindergarten about treating others fairly and honestly. Doing for others what we would want them to do for us. Jesus told us this is the foundation of the law. Therefore if the law is the foundation of our education then doing for others what we would want them to do for us must be the foundation of our education. No matter how far you go in math 1+1 will always equal 2. That fundamental law will always stay with you. No matter how far you go in life climbing the corporate ladder “do for others what you would like them to do for you” will always be a fundamental law in your education and career.

When you walk off the platform at Andrews University or Avondale or Newbold, or any other university with your college degree you do not get to throw away your kindergarten education. Your kindergarten education is a fundamental part of your college education. It doesn’t go away. If you ever forget that 1+1=2 your math degree will become useless. If you ever forget to treat others the way you would want to be treated then your entire education becomes meaningless.

The law is the foundation of our education. Do for others what you would like them to do for you is the foundation of the law. Therefore do for others what you would like them to do for you is the foundation of education.

I can’t really say all I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten, but I can honestly say I will always need all I learned in kindergarten.

A Christian Home is Christian Education

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck. Proverbs 1:8-9 NLT

Ephesians 5:33 in the KJV calls for wives to reverence their husbands. That is powerful, because the Bible never tells anyone to reverence a priest or a prophet. That word “reverence” for the father tells me, a parent is  the first teacher and also the first and most important pastor.

I love Christian schools, and have dedicated my time and money to them. I believe in their mission with all my heart. Yet, sometimes when we promote Christian schools, I think we sometimes give credit to the schools that actually belongs to the parents. Of course I understand it is the parents who utilize the school in their home ministry. Christian education does not begin in a school building. It begins in the home. I promote Christian schools over public schools but I also realize a child can get a Christian education at home even if he/she is in a public school. last week’s lesson showed us how the Garden of Eden was the first classroom. The home is a child’s first classroom and it is a continuous classroom.

I went to Adventist Schools from Grades 1 through college. My schools averaged around 100 students a year with different students coming and going throughout my 12 grades. A while back, I went through my year books, and I could count on both hands, and maybe a couple of toes the number of kids who remained in the church after we grew up. Upon further investigation I found, for the most part, my schoolmates  who remained in the church after growing up, had worship every night in the home. Their parents also encouraged their children to study the Bible for themselves. That is why their children are still in the church.

Church schools are great, they are wonderful, they are ordained by God, but they are not ordained to take the place of the mother and father and do the work the mother and father are ordained to do. (I understand there are situations, like my late friend Quong, who came to the United States from Vietnam, and was put in an Adventist School, only because it was private. While his parents were atheist, Quong, accepted Jesus, and was forced out of his home at 14 years of age! He slept at the school every night till he found a new family to live with. Thank God for that school!)

A while back I was giving a devotional for chapel at a Christian School. I asked the lower grade students how many of them have family worship at home. Out of about 45 students only 5 hands were raised. I begged the other students to ask their parents to have family worship with them every night, by studying the children’s Sabbath School lessons (Click on age groups tab on menu at the top of the screen.) and Bible together, and prayer.

Again I have dedicated much of my life and resources in support of our Adventist schools. At the same time when we have an ‘Education Sabbath” it grieves me that the church will give credit to the schools that actually belongs to the parents. As already stated family worship and a Christian home is the key contributor to keeping children in the church after they grow up. A Christian home is Christian education.

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

Don’t be Afraid to Try!

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Does the past ever haunt you? Do you ever wish you could go back and do something differently? Every baseball season I am haunted by something that I did, or actually didn’t do when I was 12. Many springs ago, I was a Little League baseball player. It was my first year of organized baseball, while my peers had been playing for years. I had never played fastball before, and those 11 and 12-year-old pitchers threw fastballs by me so fast, that, to me, I might as well have been facing Nolan Ryan! While I did manage to get on base a few times by walking, my career hit total equals 1.

Funny thing is, while my parents came to most all my games, they missed the one game where I got a hit. When I hit that ball into right field, my teammates jumped off the bench and started celebrating like we had won the World Series. The other team was looking over at them, trying to figure out what the big deal was. I told the first baseman it was my first hit. Turns out my only hit.

Eventually I made it to third base, and what happens next, or didn’t happen, is what has haunted me ever since. While I was on third base, the batter squared to bunt. The infield came way in towards home, allowing me to take a gigantic lead off of third base. The pitch landed in the catcher’s mitt. The catcher slowly and carelessly tossed the ball back to the pitcher. That is when I thought, hey, I have such a huge lead off third base already, and the catcher is throwing the ball back to the pitcher so slowly, that if I break for home as soon as the catcher releases the ball, I can steal home before the pitcher throws it back! I waited for my chance. Sure enough the next pitch lands in the catcher’s mitt and the catcher repeats his same slow, careless toss back to the pitcher. However I did not break for home. Instead I thought, wait a minute. The coach is not telling me to run, and if I do get out I will look like an idiot in front of everyone. So I never tried to steal home plate. I was afraid to fail, so I never tried. Now, whenever I see Carl Crawford or B.J. Upton steal home plate, I think to myself, I could have done that too if I had just tried. Looking back now, I am sure I could have made it easily. Only my fear of failure kept me back.

I learned a lesson from standing on third base on that spring afternoon so long ago. Go ahead and try! Even if you don’t make it, at least you will know, instead of wondering about it for the rest of your life, like I have. Many people are afraid to knock on a door to tell somebody about Jesus.

When I was 15 years old, I learned my lesson from when I was 12, and I went door to door in my neighborhood, asking people if they wanted to study the Bible. Many said “no.” At least now I knew, instead of wondering if they did for the rest of my life. One family said “yes” and later accepted my invitation to come with my family to church! Many people tell me they are afraid to give a Bible study to a friend, because they may not be able to answer a question. I tell them, just do what I do. Say, “I don’t know.” The people won’t kill you for not knowing, and you can research it later, and come back with the answer.

A story infinitely sadder than my baseball story happened while I was a Bible worker in West Texas. An elderly married couple in my church told me that another husband and wife, their friends for many decades, had both died. They sadly told me they had never tried to share Jesus with them because they were afraid they would lose their friendship if they saw how “religious” they were! They were more afraid of losing a friend in this life, than they were of losing them eternally.

Friends, don’t be afraid of sharing Jesus. Like all things, you will meet with failure but also much success. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:14, that the gospel will be preached in all the world before He returns. Every time we invite someone to Jesus, regardless if they accept or reject the invitation, it is still one invitation, one decision closer to Jesus returning. Let’s remember too, that if someone rejects us, it is okay. We are an opportunity, but not their only opportunity. Go ahead and try. That is better than spending the rest of your life wondering what might have been.

When Michael Jordan, a famous basketball player tried to play baseball with the Chicago White Sox, the world laughed at him. He did not make it, but his words have always stayed with me. “I am not afraid of failing. I am afraid of not trying.” If that is true in sports, it is infinitely more true in evangelism! Don’t let the past haunt you. Go ahead and try!

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