Tag / pastor brad cassell
Glimpeses of the Cross Day 14; A Tree Makes A Bitter Life Sweet Again
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they [were] bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD showed him a tree, [which] when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I [am] the LORD that healeth thee. Exodus 15:23-26
Why did God have Moses put a tree in the bitter water? How did a tree make the water sweet? In 1 peter 2:24, Peter refers to the cross as a tree. In a world of hate and bitterness, Jesus died on that tree to save us from a bitter world. Sin has caused suffering and bitterness but Jesus was lifted up on the cross to make our lives sweet again. I and many others believe this is why Moses used a tree to make bitter water sweet again.
If life has made you bitter, I would like to invite you to experience the grace that can make your life sweet again, by visiting the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church. If you are not in the Tampa Bay area, you can find a grace filled church in your corner of the world here.
Eva and Ramiro’s Baptism Pics
This morning at the Tampa First-Seventh-day Adventist Church, we celebrated the baptisms of Eva who was renewing her faith with a new beginning by baptism, and Ramiro who was baptized for the first time.
Several years ago, I studied with Tony (Right) and he got baptized. Tony also found Merlyn, an elderly spirit filled man in our church, to be his mentor. Merlyn and Tony both began giving Bible studies together, and even though Merlyn has had to slow down recently because of his health, (Merlyn has been giving Bible studies well up into his 90’s!) Tony has kept right on going. Tony has been studying with several people lately who he meets in various places. One of those is Ramiro (Center) who was baptized today! Tony studied with him for quite a while, and then he felt he was ready we all studied together. As I went over our fundamental beliefs it did not take long for me to see that Ramiro had been a very diligent Bible student and Tony had done a good job of teaching him. There was not much work, if any, left for me to do and Ramiro was cleared for baptism.
Merlyn was unable to be at the baptism due to his health, even though he is doing much better. Merlyn has been giving Bible studies for decades, and as I said earlier even recently while in his 90s. I hope I am still giving Bible studies and teaching as well as he does, when I am his age, if we are not already in heaven by then.
Eva shared in her testimony:
“I praise our God and Father and His Son Jesus Christ and their Holy Spirit for their grace and mercy towards me and you.I want to testify of God’s wonderful love and patience. I desire to renew my baptismal vows, I was first baptized when I was 19 years old. I have failed my God in many ways and have broken His tender heart many times. Today I want to testify before heaven and earth that I love my God and your God, in 1 John 4:4 it is written” Greater is He that is in me, then he that is in the world.”
Ramiro shared in his testimony that at age 55 he is being born again, and that by being baptized he wants to have all the power of the Holy Spirit to live a new life, walking with Jesus and obeying all of His laws of love.
As Eva entered the water we played upon her request the song “Take me to the Waters.” It is a beautiful song setting the tone for a meaningful baptism.
Another meaningful song that was shared was “In the Sanctuary.” A very powerful song for a meaningful occasion.
Please don’t let the sun go down on your life before giving your heart to the One who gave His heart on the cross for you! Why not make that decision today to give your heart to Jesus? I would love to talk to you about this. You can contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net . To find a Bible teaching church in your corner of the world you can find one here.
Relational Life Groups Relating to Your Life
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist church.
While I was a Bible Worker in another state, I studied with a divorced man who joined my church. While there, he met with other people in our church who were divorced and hurting. He told me, “This church teaches doctrines but this church does not have any divorce recovery groups or do anything to help heal hurting people.” He was right! Our church was doctrinal but not relational. In the past, I have been a part of evangelism efforts, which were little more than just hurling doctrines at people. It takes more than amazing facts to win people to Jesus. It also takes amazing relationships. In Jesus’ evangelism efforts He always had correct doctrines but He was also always relational. He ministered to people’s hurts and helped heal their relationships with others and with God Himself.
While I currently work with a church that has it’s theology correct, I am glad it also values the importance of relationships with God and one another. We share some amazing facts, but at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church you will also find ways to have an amazing relationship with God, your family and your community. Our associate pastor, Claudette Aleman, has some amazing life groups starting for us and our community this Wednesday August 28, and will be going on for several weeks. Please check them out and share with your friends. Hope to see you there!
Abel, Ely, Janice and Ryan’s Profession of Faith
Yesterday was a special day at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist church, as we welcomed four new members into church fellowship by profession of faith. Often our baptized Christian brothers and sister’s who discover the Bible truths taught by the Seventh-day Adventist church, choose to join by profession of faith, since they have already been baptized into Christ. Please see page 51 of the Adventist church manual. Please enjoy the pictures and testimonies of yesterday’s wonderful celebration.
I have had the pleasure of studying with Abel and Ely for the last several months. There home sits near a small lake, and we often enjoyed studying on the balcony overlooking the lake. They love God and His church family with all their hearts, and have already been very active in the church in many different ways, including attending my class on how to give Bible studies and lead others to Christ.
“My reconciliation with God and the Seventh-day Adventist Church
After been born and raised in an Adventist family, at the age of 17, decided to take my own path and make my own decisions as an “adult” in spite of my young age. After such strong determination, left my parent’s coverage facing a new life filled with challenges and lessons which marked me for the rest of my life. During those years away from the gospel, had intervals and a huge need to return to the ways of the Lord; but the distractions of the world kept me busy, maybe to the point of feeling “attached” which broke my first marriage and each us and our family. At that very moment, it’s when and where I’d reached bottom and realized that my life had to change once and for all.
Is in the summer of 2010 when my children were with their father for vacation when I’d found myself completely alone and broken; cried out to my God, and asked for his favor to please get me out of the abyss I was in at the time. In a conversation with a former classmate at the seventh-day Adventist Academy, mentioned a book called ‘Knowing Jesus is everything’ (author Alejandro Bullón) and I said: “Let me see, I think I have it in my mini-library” when I go and look for it effectively there it was, still a ‘practically brand new book’. This book was given to me in the year 2000 during my son’s presentation at church; also traveling to all the sites that I’ve lived; from Puerto Rico to Georgia, Georgia to Germany and Germany to Florida where I currently live. The year 2010, was the one where the total transformation in my life started, after reading the book. Afterwards, I’d started to attend a non-denominational church where I was baptized in 2011 by both the pastor of the Church and the man who became my husband. Only God knew what he was doing in my life. I had no idea that God had that gift of a man, a true man of God and also that he will forgive me for all my sins and loved me and saved me and my children.
After my baptism, one of my former classmates of the Academy says “Ely, you know the truth” and I said “I won’t return to the Seventh – Day Adventist Church, I have a relationship with God and it is all that I need ‘. Looking here and there for churches, one morning passed through the Avenue in front of this church and I saw the sign that says” Seventh Day Adventist Church”. I remember a day like it was yesterday, it was the beginning of 2012 when I decided to take the step and stop by the church. I got ready and drove to church; when I got there, Sister Isoline and the teacher Millie Mojica welcomed me and my family with such love and for the glory of God it remind me of my school days in the seventh-day Adventist Academy in Caguas, PR. At that moment, the promise of God that says: Stay faithful and I will give you the desires of your heart! Amen! I decided to establish myself in this church and told my husband “I’m not sure which church you want to belong to, but I am staying here” hoping that he was feeling the same way and to my surprise, he was. The Adventist Church is more than a church or organization, is a difference, in love and dedication all around the world. Even in Germany I found the ‘Pathfinders’ without looking for them and it brought back many memories.
My fellow brothers and sisters, the bible verse who says “Instruct the child in its way and even if it will be old will not separate of it” it became true testimony in my life. I felt as the bountiful son who was lost and returned. After trying to fill the emptiness in my life on my own, God filled me completely with the truth of the Adventism for his glory and honor. During all this process in my life my children, clearly, also were marked. To feel the voice of my son saying to me ‘Mami thanks for changing and being at home, you stopped going to clubs and now we have you here at home and in the church’. You will not know, how my son broke my heart with these words, but only it was looking at God and was giving him the glory and honor because it protected me and received me once again with open arms at home.
This is just a short part of my testimony, which I just shared with you, it’s meant for those parents who pray for their children for them not to get tired or give up on them and for them not to stop doing it. Also it’s intended for those children who have been feeling “aggravated” because of their parent’s ways of caring, to please love them and forgive them because they are not perfect in any way, and for them to understand that we enter entire perfection when we turn to the arms of our Creator. These last months with the Pastor William in our house, God’s plan refreshed our beliefs and what we learned in previous years and now comprehend as adults for our lives under the coverage of the Adventism.”
Ely also supplied me with some pictures of her baptism in the same Word document she sent with her testimony. I could not get the pictures to transfer from Word to this post, but the entire testimony in Spanish with pictures are provided by just clicking on the word “Ely” on the line below.
El testimonio de Ely con fotos Ely
Several Sundays ago we had a work bee at the church and Abel and Ely faithfully participated along with several other church family members. Abel is on far right. Ely is behind the camera.
Pastor Brad, Center, prepared Ryan (on Pastor Brad’s left with his wife Erika) and Janice (on Pastor Brad’s right with her boyfriend David) to join by profession of faith.
“I would like to start by thanking the congregation. I feel blessed to become a member of the church. I’ve been searching for God’s truth and The Lord led me to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Looking forward to continuance growth spiritually through the church.”
While we presented the candidates to the church family, Abel thanks the church congregation for being family, and commended the church leadership for encouraging us all to grow together in Christ.
Please don’t allow the sun to go down on you before you give your heart to the One who gave His life for you! I would love to talk to you about giving your heart to Jesus and becoming a part of His body which is His church. If you are not int he Tampa Bay area, you can still contact me and I will be happy to help you find a Grace filled Bible based church in your corner of the world. You may contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net
Brad and Anna’s Baptism
Several months ago Mrs. Mateo, a teacher at Tampa Adventist Academy told me about a lady named Anna, who visited the school to teach a few science projects and was interested in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Today Anna and her husband Brad were baptized! Please enjoy the pictures and stories.
Brad and Anna worked on the Discover Bible Study Guides at home and would bring them for us to go over in class, as well as the In Light Of The Cross Bible Study Guides. Coming from different backgrounds, Brad and Anna would often bring a different angle of approach to the study which made for very stimulating study. Though we sometimes saw things differently our goal was always to go by the Bible and find out what the Bible says about each topic. This way we all learned more about the Bible from each other, as everyone’s background gives them something to bring to the table that can help others to learn more about Jesus and the Bible.
Mrs. Wyatte and Mrs. Mateo, who befriended Anna and introduced her to me, joined us as Pastor Brad went over the baptism vows and we welcomed Anna and Brad into the Tampa First SDA Church family. Brad and Anna chose today to be baptized because it is their anniversary! Brad and Ann will also be joining my class, beginning July 6th on how to give Bible studies and lead others to Jesus.
Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. Romans 6:3-6 NLT
By the way, I was very pleased, when after the baptism a lady from our church family invited Anna and Brad and myself to a celebration dinner after this Sabbath so she and her family can welcome them personally to the family of God!
Please don’t let the sun set on you before you give your heart and life to the One who gave His heart and life for you! If you would like to know more about following Jesus all the way I would love to hear from you at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net. Even if you are not in the Tampa Bay area please contact me and I will be glad to direct you to a Bible based Christian church in your area.
Inernational Sabbath at Tampa First
I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
This coming Sabbath the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church will be celebrating our unity in diversity. Several countries around the world are represented in our church family. God’s love is so big and great there is no way He could express all of his goodness in just one race or culture, so He created several races and cultures so each one can give us a glimpse of His love and goodness.
The worship service and parade of flags begins at 11:30am Sabbath, March 2. Pastor Conrad Duncan from the Florida Conference will be our special speaker. Before the worship service we will have one Sabbath School class, brought to us by our own Pastor Brad Cassell. At 5pm we will have a music festival and then at 6:30 will be our International Food Fair. The money raised at the food fair will go to help the Sabbath School department.
If you have any questions just call the church office at (813) 933-7505. Hope to see you there!
Mark, Marian and Cecilia’s Baptism Pictures
If all the angels rejoice when one soul gives their life to Jesus, and they do, then all the angels must have been downright ecstatic this morning at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, when an entire family of three each gave their life to Jesus in baptism. Please join us and the angels in rejoicing as you enjoy the pictures and stories.
Several months ago, Marian showed up in my Seeker’s Sabbath School class. She told me she was raised Episcopalian, but wanted to learn more about the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Her husband, Mark, had been an Adventist and lot of his family still are. Mark and Marian joined my Seeker’s Sabbath School class, and we began personal Bible studies in their home. Mark and Marian live just down the road from me, so it has been great not only making new friends at church but also making new friends in the neighborhood.
Mark and Marian placed their daughter, Cecilia in our church school at Tampa Adventist Academy this fall while they were still studying for baptism. Cecilia loves her new teacher, Mrs. Nowotny. Cecilia says Mrs. Nowotny really listens to her. Cecilia decided she wanted to be baptized and I began studying with her too. Cecilia has been enjoying the chapels at TAA and even joined our Wednesday after school Bible study group. Apparently, not only does Mrs. Nowotny really listen to Cecelia, but Cecilia listens as well, as during our Bible study time, she shared with me things she had learned about Jesus from Mrs. Nowotny.
As we did the baptismal vows, we also shared a little bit of the journey. Marian has this to share:
“Being baptized and growing up in the Episcopal church provided me with the foundational beliefs in the blessed Trinity and guidance to walk a path of Christian living. I was blessed to have the opportunity to attend a faith-based college, and while attending, I was fortunate to volunteer and lead the adult choir in a Presbyterian church. Throughout my adulthood, I desired to deepen my faith and searched for the right fit. After my daughter Cecilia was born, this became more important to me than ever before. I remembered that when Cecilia was blessed in the Seventh Day Adventist church how much joy we were surrounded with and the warmness our family received. We attended several other churches of different denominations and nothing seemed to fill me with the joy I had once experienced. Last spring, I decided to go online and research the Seventh Day Adventist faith and beliefs, I researched the school curriculum and found that it enhanced upon my foundational beliefs and was completely bible based. I researched all of the area churches and found Tampa First to be the church that I felt a connection with and we planned to attend. I then contacted the Tampa Adventist Academy and scheduled an appointment for Cecilia to be interviewed and tested for acceptance into the school. I feel so blessed that my first experience at Tampa First was surrounded by so many generous members eager to help our family settle in.
I met William on our very first visit and it changed me. Soon after, William was studying with Mark and I in our home and my path was clear, I wanted to be baptized, follow God’s laws and be reborn to self to honor the Lord for all his grace and glory for the things he had done and given up for me. Toward the end of our baptismal sessions, our daughter, Cecilia, brought forth a very good argument on why she should be baptized. William so graciously changed course and began studying with Cecilia as well. I am so glad we delayed our fall plans to include Cecilia in our baptism. Today, January 12, 2013 I have been baptized with my daughter and husband and I cannot thank William enough for bringing his knowledge and the power of the Holy Spirit into our home and family to bring us to a closer walk with God our Father. Pastor Brad has become a very dear part of our family by providing us with his time and guidance and I thank him for his deep dedication to our family and continued support. I pray that the peace of the Holy Spirit remain with each of us always and thank each of the members at Tampa First and our families for being such an integral part of our journey to walk into baptism and may we continue to walk in Christ from this day forward. If I stumble a time or two, I believe my roots are planted through baptism and God’s love will carry me through the storm to meet each of you in the air on that great day of rejoicing.
Many blessings, Marian Morgan”
Cecilia says, “I love God and want to teach people about God.”
Cecilia describes baptism by saying: “The water surrounds us with God’s love and holds us.” I had never thought of that before, and thought it was a very beautiful analogy.
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 1 Peter 1:18-19
I always like to pray for the person being baptized and for them to always remember the amazing love that brought them to this decision.
Mark is a really cool dad. When most parents come by to pick their kids up after school during our Bible study, they take their kids and go. That is totally understandable as this is an informal after school study, and the parents have things to do and places to go. However, when Mark comes to pick up Cecilia, instead of taking her out of the Bible study, he stays and joins her and the rest of the kids in our study group. It makes Cecilia proud to have her dad there, and the other kids like it too.
After church Mark, Marian and Cecilia invited me and their family over to the house for lunch as we celebrated a totally awesome Sabbath!
Please don’t let the sun set on you before you give your life to the one who died to redeem you with his precious blood. We are planning another baptism at Tampa First February 23rd, if you feel the Holy Spirit tugging on your heart, I would love to visit with you about that date or another upcoming date. You can contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net . If you are not in the Tampa Bay area, I would still love to hear from you so I can introduce you to a church family in your area who can help you with this important step.
Joyce, Robert and Bradley
In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!. Luke 15:7 NLT
There was much rejoicing today in heaven and at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist church this morning! Bradley was baptized, showing heaven and earth the love for Jesus that has been in his heart for some time now.. Joyce and Robert also took their stand for Jesus and their commitment to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Please enjoy the pictures and short stories.
(Click on pictures to enlarge)
A few years ago the evangelism team had a special July 4th celebration at our church. Joyce, who lives in the neighborhood saw our sign and joined us. She had such a wonderful time she has been coming ever since. She joined my Seeker’s Sabbath School class, which is pictured here on a recent picnic, where we had class at the park. Joyce is on my right. Joyce has also joined a small study group, that Mike and Karmin help me lead out. She also was in the Best Weigh program with me, and was a big source of encouragement with all of her success. We already considered Joyce a part of our church family, but this last fall, during our “One Hope” evangelistic meetings, Joyce filled out a card asking to become a member. Joyce, who was already baptized into the Methodist church, where she faithfully loved and served Jesus for many years, joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church today on profession of faith.
Joyce writes, “I learn a lot about God in this church, and everyone is very friendly. I feel very comfortable in this church.”
Robert was a part of the Seventh-day Adventist church a while back, when the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist church was on Nebraska Avenue. Sadly, Robert and the church parted ways back then, but God has brought healing and that relationship has been restored. Robert has been back with us for about six years, and today, after meeting with Pastor Brad rejoined the Seventh-day Adventist church family. Welcome back Robert!
Robert says one of the reasons he is back,is becasue the Seventh-day Adventist Bible doctrines all make perfect sense.
Bradley has been preparing for baptism for some time. He has attended my baptism class at Tampa Adventist Academy, and as pictured here, in my 5th and 6th grade Bible Chain referencing class, where he is learning with the rest of his class to give Bible studies and share his faith. Bradley’s sister Heather, has a small study group for teens at her house. While Bradley is not quite a teen yet, he attends and participates in the studies.
Pastor Brad went over the baptism vows before we voted Joyce, Robert and Bradley into membership.
Bradley writes: “I want to be baptized to wash away my sins and start a new life with Jesus.”
“In their early years children may be useful in God’s work. . . . He will give them His grace and His Holy Spirit, that they may overcome impatience, fretfulness, and all sin. Jesus loves the children. He has blessings for them, and He loves to see them obedient to their parents. He desires them to be His little missionaries, denying their own inclinations and desires for selfish pleasure to do service for Him; and this service is just as acceptable to God as is the service of grown-up children.” –Adventist Home, Page 486
” 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. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.” Romans 6:4-8 NLT
Please don’t let the sun go down on your life before you choose to be baptized and give your life to the One who gave His life for you. “Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT I would love to visit with you about making this step. You can contact 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