Lansing Adventist A place to call home… Sun, 05 Apr 2020 23:11:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Lansing Adventist 32 32 174842203 Behind the Camera: How Church Keeps Going Sun, 05 Apr 2020 20:02:27 +0000 by Judy Klein

The Lansing Seventh-day Adventist Church service has undergone major changes in the past few week. With the outbreak of COVID-19, the need for social distancing, and then the government-issued shelter-in-place order, church leadership was forced to make significant adjustments.

With much thought and diligent prayers, Lansing Church leaders looked to the live stream service, which has already been used every week, but would suddenly now be our main connection. It seems so simple to just film the service and tell everyone not to come to the actual building, but there’s a lot more that goes into the weekly service than meets the eye.     

For starters, communication is always key. Members must be informed. That’s where Sheri Christie, head of communications, comes in. Every Sabbath morning at exactly 10:50, she makes a “Now Live” Facebook post, informing everyone who sees the post that they can tune in to the church service. This is in addition to posts throughout the week to enlighten us to upcoming events.     

But even before the announcement goes out and the signal is given to begin speaking, Donna Hall puts together the whole service, as overseen by Pastor Mills. Meeting half an hour before the team goes live, the participants, who are selected by the elders, pray and go over a quick synopsis of what the service will entail. This process even includes a sheet for the Audio-Visual Team so they know where to move the camera.    

The Tech Side of Worship
The AV Team is a major component in the success of our weekly connection for church worship. To get ready for the live stream service, Tony Dean and his team must power up the machines, set up the camera, turn on the special live streaming computer and make sure the software for live streaming is good to go. Sounds easy enough, but there’s still more! Slides that are to be fed into the live stream must be produced: announcement updates, opening songs, children’s story, family prayer, Scripture verses, offering, special music, and sermon title.    

Finally, after the countdown has reached zero and the pastor has begun to speak, the camera operator must keep track of where the camera is supposed to be at what time. This can be quite difficult, and the image as the camera moves from the “living room” to the pulpit is blurry.     

“It almost gives you motion sickness,” Dean says jokingly, “and a second camera would give you major improvement.” The good news is that the Audio-Visual Team is planning to update to three cameras in the near future.    

Separate But Not Distant
We as a church family are unable to meet together in person, but there are still things we can do. “While we’re physically distancing, we don’t have to be socially distant,” Sheri Christie says. During this time of being “sheltered” at home, there are several things you can do to keep busy and stay connected to your church family.

  1. Call the elderly, because while we can’t visit them right now, a phone call is the next best thing.
  2. Check the Instant Church Directory and make sure that your contact information is filed and that the information is all accurate.
  3. Pray—pray for our church leadership, for our governmental leadership, for those who are afflicted with the virus.
  4. Share the “Live Now” Facebook posts on Sabbath morning—you never know who can and will be reached.

And last, as head elder Alex Fitzpatrick put it, “Tune in!” Yes, tune in and be blessed!

Jesus is coming soon—the signs are all around us. Let’s tell the world the good news!

]]> 0 934
Breathing Tips for Better Health Sun, 05 Apr 2020 19:23:06 +0000

Join us for our monthly Supper Club!

This week: Christy Ferree, LRT/RRT teaches us how to improve and strengthen the health of our lungs. 


Sunday, April 5 at 5:00 PM:

  • Health Talk
  • Food Demonstrations (how to make the recipes)
  • Finished and plated dishes.

Due to COVID-19, this will be an online-only event.

You can join starting at 5:00 PM. 

> YouTube Live 

> Facebook

 Following the presentation, the videos for each recipe will be linked here.

]]> 0 914
It’s a girl! Fri, 03 Apr 2020 14:59:42 +0000 How does one introduce someone who has wrapped their little fingers around your heart and completely changed your world?! She’s so much more than her baby statistics (7lb 2.3 oz and 19.5 in, Birthdate: April 1st, 7:45 pm), a name doesn’t do her justice (Chloe Michelle), not even a picture can truly capture the new emotions welling up inside our hearts. Those of you who are parents in our church have been telling me this for years:

“Once you have a child, you’ll understand love at a level you never thought possible”

I had no idea…

Answered Prayer

Chloe Michelle Mills

Chloe was due April 16, but God in His mercy sent her two weeks early. COVID-19 is projected to be reaching its peak (in Michigan) around April 16. Grateful to the Lord for hearing our prayers and sending the baby early. Church Family, thank you for your prayers! Thank you for the messages. Forgive Lindsey and I if we don’t get back immediately. We will get back with you when we are able. Your thoughts, love, and prayers are so greatly appreciated!

Pastor Jerico and Elder Fitzpatrick are taking over the day to day operations of the church for the next couple of weeks since COVID-19 has made it impossible for any family to come and help. So thankful for both of them. It takes a team to run a church (and our home!), and we are blessed with a wonderful team at every level of our church family.

Miracle from God

As I’ve been holding Chloe over these last couple of days, I am in awe at the miraculous power of God in the fashioning of this precious life.

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD… Psalms 127:3

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. Psalms 139:13

Truly our God is an awesome God. Another child has been added to our church family. A child that has been designed by God to be a part of taking the gospel to the World and living forever.


Photo Credit: Daniel Hosford.

]]> 0 877
The End of the Road Sat, 28 Mar 2020 20:25:59 +0000 by Eric B. Hare

I would like to tell you about the great day when the good and bad shall be divided, and I will not talk to you in cunningly devised fables, for I was an eyewitness of the things that I have seen. God gave me a preview of that day, and I know how the good and the bad are separated. I was there; I know the joy that belongs to those on the right hand of God. I have seen the weeping and the wailing and the gnashing of teeth of those who have waited until it is too late. 

I was in Rangoon when the merchants closed their shops and dismissed their tired clerks. I saw them fleeing for their lives. I saw the banks close their doors, and the bankers flee for their lives. I saw the post office close, and the post office workers flee for their lives. I was in Rangoon when the doctors and nurses in the general hospital put their weak, sick patients out on the sidewalks, and then fled for their lives. The Japanese Army was within seventy- five miles of the city, and our last supply line had been cut. Out at the zoo the keepers of the animals shot the lions and tigers to keep them from starving to death, then they fled for their lives. Out at the leper and insane asylums the warders opened the doors and let the loathsome and unfortunate people come into town, while they too fled for their lives. And out at the jail, just three miles from our mission station, the prison doors were opened, and three thousand criminals came walking into town, while the keepers of the jail and the policemen fled for their lives. I was there; I saw it. I saw the last boat leave for India; I saw the last train leave the depot. I saw the government headquarters move out of the city. I saw the military head- quarters move out, and I know what happens then. 

I was in our beautiful church on the morning that we escaped for our lives. It was my privilege to play the organ for the last time. Little did I realize that that was the last hymn that organ would ever play. A few days later the Japanese soldiers used our church as a barracks and broke , the organ up and used it for firewood. I was there when E. M. Meleen read from the dear old Book and closed the Bible on the pulpit for the last, last time. It fell to my lot to turn the key in the door when the pews were all emptied of men. I was there; I saw it. I know what happens then. And I am going to tell you what happens, and can speak with a note of confidence, for in what happened in Rangoon God gave me a preview of the end of the world and the day of judgment. 

In a little ditty, in which there may be more truth than poetry, I found a line or two that describes the situation well: 

"Mr. Meant-to has a comrade, 
And his name is Didn't Do; 
Have you ever chanced to meet them? 
Did they ever call on you? 
These two fellows live together 
In a house of Never-Win, 
And I'm told that it is haunted 
By the ghost of Might-Have-Been." 

Yes, that’s what happens at the end of the road; that’s what happens when you come to the day that has no tomorrow- you are “haunted by the ghost of Might-Have- Been.” 

Just two days before we escaped, I was packing away some of our most valuable articles in the closet under the staircase, when a well-to-do woman came into the mission headquarters and asked for the superintendent. I pointed to his office and assured her that he was in. She knocked on the door. Mr. Meleen came out, and though I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation. The woman said, “0 Mr. Meleen, I have to go, and I can’t take anything with me except a little suitcase and a rug for the journey. You may not know me, but I know you. I live in that grand home just a few blocks away where the coconut palms and the big mango trees are, and now I have to go and leave my lovely home behind. I hate to think of the thieves breaking in to steal and loot and plunder; won’t you mission people go over and take all my lovely furniture. Take my beds and my tables and my chairs and my beautiful rugs. I will feel so much happier if I know you mission people can use them.” 
And I heard Mr. Meleen say, “0 Mrs. ___ it is too late now. We are all packed up. We will be leaving any moment ourselves. We have been waiting to evacuate our church members, and when they are out we will be going too, with only a suitcase each. If we could have had some of those things three months ago when we were outfitting our clinic, we could have used every bed and chair and table. But now it is too late–too late! ” 

I saw the tears come to that poor woman’s eyes. “Too late?” she groaned, as if she couldn’t believe it. “You are going too?” And as she turned to leave she threw her shawl over her face to hide her grief, and from her lips came the heartbreaking cry , “Oh, how I wish-” Then emotion choked her words, and she left us to fill in the blanks, but I knew what she wished. Yes, I knew. That’s what I call being “haunted by the ghost of Might-Have- Been.” As we talked over this sad experience we tried to remember if that well-to-do woman, just two blocks away, had ever helped out in the clinic program or the Ingathering program, but we couldn’t think of a single occasion on which that poor rich woman had done anything for humanity. And now that it was too late, she had to leave everything behind, and oh, how she wished! And the only picture that will burn itself into her memory is a picture of thieves breaking into her lovely house to burn, break, loot, and steal. I have seen these, and I have seen others “haunted by the ghost of Might-Have-Been.”

Some days later as we were leaving the little town of Pakokku, just after crossing the Irrawaddy River, in our escape into India, W. W. Christensen waved us to stop at the side of the road. We pulled up behind him, got out of our cars, and walked up to see what was the matter. We found him in conversation with a well-to-do Indian woman. She was saying, “0 Pastor Christensen, this is just like the end of the world. Oh, I wish I could get I baptized now. Isn’t there time to come back to the river and baptize me? No one can tell what is going to happen tomorrow, and if I were only baptized, I would feel it was all right with my soul.” 

And I heard Pastor Christensen say: “It is too late now, Mrs.___ Can’t you remember six weeks ago I was kneeling in your home with you and your children, pleading that the Spirit of God would help you to make a decision then? We are fleeing for our lives now, and we must be on our way. We pray that God will bring you safely into India, so that we can study together and get ready for baptism then.” And I saw that well-to-do, well-dressed Indian woman sink to the ground and cover her face with her sari as she sobbed, .’Too late! Too late! Oh, why didn’t I get baptized six weeks ago? There was time then. I could have done it then, but now it is too late. It is too late.” 

It is impossible to forget things like that. But I was there, I saw people “haunted by the ghost of Might- Have- Been,” and I have to tell you what I saw. I want to change the picture, for I want to assure you that everybody is not “haunted by the ghost of Might- Have-Been.” Some people come to the end of the road conscious that they have served God with all their heart, and soul, and strength; and though they are not perfect, they have given the Lord the best they had, and when they come into tight places and difficult circumstances, there is a smile of triumph on their countenances. 

After escaping from Rangoon we hoped to establish our headquarters at Maymyo in north Burma. One day as F. A. Wyman and I were walking along the road to town we saw a stranger approaching. We stepped to one side to let him pass, but he stepped to the same side. We stepped back again, and so did he. We thought how strange it was, and so we stepped back again. Then as he did likewise for the third time, he extended his hand. We did not mind shaking hands, but we did not recognize him till he spoke. It was Brother Johns, one of our deacons in the Rangoon church. He had on dark spectacles and was dressed in clothes we had never seen him wear before. He was thinner than usual, but there was a smile on his face. “0 brethren,” he said, “I’ve been praying that I could meet some of the workers. You know, I was one of the E- men, and I couldn’t leave the city until the demolition squads had done their work. I had to walk along the rail- way line by night and hide in the bushes by day. It took me five days to reach the Irrawaddy River, and the steamer was so crowded that there was not a bite to eat for five more days, and every time I wanted a drink I had to pay sixteen cents for a glass of water, but I am so glad to see you.” 

He pulled out his pocketbook, opened it, and said, “I was paid my last money two days before I escaped from Rangoon. It may be the last money I will have on this earth, but I folded away my tithe, because I want the Lord r to have His share, and I was afraid I might never see another worker to pay my tithe to. Now here you are, and I want to pay my tithe.” 

He handed his tithe to me, but I did not feel worthy to t take the last money a man might ever have. So I said, “No! No! Brother Wyman is the elder of the church; give it to him.” But Brother Wyman did not feel worthy, and he said, “No! No! Brother Hare is the union mission department secretary; give it to him.” 

But I insisted, “No, no! Give it to Brother Wyman.” Then Deacon Johns took Brother Wyman’s hand and put his tithe in it, and while his face shone with a halo of triumph and joy he said, “Brethren, don’t worry about me: I have known the Lord too long to fear that He will forget me now .” And with that he took another folded bill from his pocket and pressed it into my hands. “This is my Sabbath school offering,” he said; “I want the Lord to have part of my last money.” Then he said, “0 brethren, I don’t know where my wife and my children are. The Government promised to fly them out three weeks ago. Have you heard anything about my family?” 

We had heard, and we were able to tell him that his wife and little ones were at Lashio, just seventy miles away, expecting to be flown out any time. We told him that if he caught the next train, he might get there in time to fly out with them. He ran to the depot, caught the train, arrived in Lashio half an hour before the plane came in, and flew out with his wife and family. His God did not forget him. 

When we got into India we met Deacon Johns again in Calcutta, his face still beaming in triumph, and I will never forget it as long as I live. When we live up to all the light we have, and serve God with all our heart, and soul, and strength, we can approach the end of the road in confidence and joy. When at last I come to the end of the way, I want my face to light up with confidence and joy as Deacon Johns’ did that day, don’t you?

But I saw more than that when I came to the end of the road. I saw the division between those at the right hand and those at the left. All the way from Rangoon we traveled with every kind of person imaginable-the rich and the poor, the great and the small, the bond and the free, and the colored and the white. I saw the rich with their servants, their folding beds, their folding chairs, and their folding tables, and they camped at the side of the road in luxury. I saw the poor in their poverty sitting in the dust eating a handful of rice they had half-boiled, half- roasted in a joint of bamboo. I saw men with hundred- dollar uniforms walking by in their greatness and little men with fifty-cent loincloths around their waists walking along in their humility. I saw every kind of person imaginable, until we got to the end of the road, and then something happened. It was just as if a magic general had waved a magic wand, and all the camouflage of life was taken I away. The rich had to leave their automobiles and servants behind, and they had to walk out of the country on foot, with no more than sixty pounds of luggage. The poor also walked out on foot with a similar load of luggage, if they had that much. The great and the small walked out on foot, but none was allowed more than sixty pounds of luggage. 

And when we all got down on our own feet, there was no longer any difference between the rich and the poor, or between the great and the small. Everybody slept on the bamboo floor or on the ground. There was not enough water to bathe, and no one shaved, and in just a day or two you could scarcely tell the difference between the white and the colored any more. They were all only people. It didn’t matter any more what kind of bank account you used to have, or what kind of car you used to drive, or what kind of house you used to live in. Nothing mattered then but what you were. 

And in every camp I saw two distinct groups of people. It was just as though someone had built a fence in every camp in no man’s land. It was just as though someone had built a wall, and an unseen general had stood at the entrance of each camp and said, you to the right, and you to the left. You stay over here, and you stay over there.” But they were not the rich and the poor; they were the good and the bad. They were not the great and the small; they were the kind and the unkind. They were not the bond and free; they were the selfless and the selfish. They were not the white and the colored; they were those that sang praise to the name of Christ and those who cursed and blasphemed that holy name. I was there. I saw it.

When I was a boy I thought when I read that twenty- fifth chapter of Matthew that Christ would cause the nations to march toward Him, and like a majestic drill- master He would point, ”you to the right,” and “you to the left,” but I have changed my ideas. I know now how the division is made. I saw no one dividing them, and heard no one say. “You to the right, and you to the left.” I saw that the good ones went over to the right because they were good, and that was where they belonged. They had been singing long, long before they had come to the end of the road. They went where people were speaking kindly, because that was the way they had been speaking long, long before. They did not wait until they came to the end of the road to determine whether they would be among the ones who cursed or those who sang. 

Those who blasphemed went among the blasphemers, because they had been doing that all the way. The unkind and the selfish went with the unkind and selfish, because they had always been selfish. Thus when we came to the end of the road, just as naturally as water and oil separate after they have been shaken together, the good went to one place in the camp, and the bad went to the other. Even boys and girls know that if oil and water are shaken together, we don’t have to say, “Water go to the bottom; and, oil, you go to the top,” to separate them again. Oil always goes to the top, because it is oil. It always was oil. And as soon as it comes to rest it just naturally goes to the place where it belongs. The water had always been water, so the water just naturally went where water belongs. That is the way the good and bad are going to be separated in that great day when Christ comes. If you and I want to be at the right hand of God then, we had better get to the right of God now, and we had better stay there today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and every day till Jesus comes. That’s the only way we can be sure of being at His right hand.

I discovered something else in that wartime experience too. I discovered that those who belonged over on one side were most unhappy if they happened to get over on the other side, and those in one group couldn’t be hired to eat or associate with the other group. It was just as different as that. One evening they said to me, “0 Mr. Hare, won’t you play your trumpet for us?” I asked, ’What shall I play?” 

They said, “Take the name of Jesus with you, child of sorrow and of woe.” I pulled out my old trumpet, for I still had it with me. I had left my motion pictures and everything else behind, and I had brought just enough clothes to wear. But the old trumpet- I had to bring it with me. I threw away the case and the extra mouthpiece, but I brought the trumpet. I wrapped it in my blanket, and was so happy to play it every night of that march into India. So I began to play the hymn they requested. Having just finished our supper, one man who belonged to the other side was still sitting on a rock below me. When he heard me he listened for a moment to see whether I would be playing “Roll Out the Barrel” or something like that; but when he recognized that I was playing hymns he clapped his hands over his ears and ran to the other side of the camp, saying, “I don’t belong here. I don’t belong here. Let me get out of here quick,” and you couldn’t stop him. He belonged with those who cursed and swore, and it was punishment to him to be over where people sang, “Take the name of Jesus with you, child of sorrow and of woe.’ 

My dear young people, if you want to make certain that you will be among those who are singing and praising God at His right hand when He comes, you had better go where people sing praise to Him now. Go to Sabbath school and to prayer meeting, where people become familiar with their heavenly Father now. Then when you come to the end of the road, you will naturally be among the good ones at the right hand of God. 

On the third day out, at the little camp of Tempele, I had one of the sweetest experiences I have ever had in my life. It was an awful day, for, counting evacuees and coolies, there were about two hundred people in our group, but there was only enough water for eighty As we came down the side of the hill toward the little leaf and bamboo sheds, the captain shouted: “No washing even your face or your teeth here! Drink as little as you possibly can, for there is only water enough for eighty, and we have more than two hundred here! When the good ones got into camp they formed lines by the five-gallon cans of chlorinated water, each waiting patiently for his turn to get a drink, but the selfish ones did not wait in line. They pushed and pulled and fought and quarreled and soon the water was all drunk up. 

Then we went to the spring, where a little trickle of water as big as your little finger was coming out of the rock. A line of forty people was waiting, but the bad ones wouldn’t wait. They pushed and pulled and yelled and shouted to get a drink of water. I saw strong men snatch water from women and children, and I just couldn’t watch it. For aught we knew we were all standing on the brink of eternity , and nobody knew what might happen before tomorrow. I said in my heart, “If I die of thirst, I’m not going to look upon such selfishness as that. I will get my drink tonight.” So I went back to camp. “Someone will have to make fires,” I thought, and began gathering an arm load of sticks. But when I got back the camp fires were already lighted. I looked to see who was preparing to do the cooking. Can you guess who they were? Yes, it was the people who sang every night, “Lead, Kindly Light,” “Under His Wings.” That’s where I belong! They are the people I love to associate with, and I gladly took my turn stirring the soup and poking the fire.

I wish you could have been there when the dinner bell rang. The selfish ones who had not gathered a stick could not wait to eat. It is hard work to cook over a wood fire in a kerosene can, and I will admit that the soup was burned on the bottom and smoked on the top, but when the selfish ones tasted it they spat it out and began grumbling and growling, “Rotten old camp! Rotten old soup! Rotten old government.” But you should have seen the good ones eating that same soup. To be sure, they had to swallow twice on the same mouthful to get it down, but they smiled and said, “Well, it is not very wonderful, is it? But it will keep the sides of our stomach from rubbing together during the night, and maybe in the morning it won’t be quite so bad.” They are the people I like! That is the kind of people I want to be with. They are the ones I am going to be with all along life’s highway, and by the grace of God I am going to be there with the same kind of people at the right hand of God when I come to the end of the road. 

After we lay down to sleep that night, H. Baird and I said to Brother Meleen, Brother Wyman, and Brother Christensen, who were quite exhausted after the day’s I march, “We are going for water now. Don’t you bother to come, we can carry three waterpots as easily as one.” So l off we went. Brother Baird had heard that there was another spring, and went off to explore with his flashlight, while I took my place at the camp spring, waiting behind six Indians. After awhile the man at the spring, having filled his can, moved away and walked back to camp. As he passed me he saw that I was a white man, and said, “Don’t wait here, sahib. You are a white man, move up to the head of the line. They will let you; they are only coolies.” I couldn’t speak very much Hindustani, but I l could speak enough to say, “Not tonight! Tonight there are no sahibs and coolies! Tonight we are just men. We are all tired and thirsty , and I can wait my turn like a man.” 

He walked on muttering to himself about the queer white I man who refused to push himself ahead of the coolies. After he left, the next five men began to chatter. Oh, how they chattered! But I could not understand what they were saying. I listened, but it was not Burmese or Hindustani or English or American, and I couldn’t understand a thing till the man just in front of me lifted his hand, and wriggling his fingers up and down said, “Da Da Da Da Da Da.” Then I knew they had recognized me as the man t who played the trumpet around the campfire, and they I were talking about me! Oh, how good it felt to be recognized as one of the good people! in the darkness! by strangers!

My heart leaped within me, and just then the next man at the spring moved away, and we all moved up one place. He put his can down near me, and I thought he was about to make a head pad. You know in India where they carry so much on their heads, they take a cloth and twist it up into a circular pad and put that on their heads, and I thought he was doing that. Then I heard the sound of flowing water, and I looked, and what do you think I saw? He was filling my waterpots from his can of water! As soon as l he had filled them he pointed with a trembling finger right to my heart and lisped in broken English, “You Clistian.” Then he pointed to his heart and said, “Me Clistian.” I was overwhelmed with delight! I tried to talk f with him in English, but he shook his head. He did not f know any more English. I tried Hindustani, Burmese, Karen, but he shook his head. The only words we had in common were those simple words, “You Clistian, me Clistian.” And there in the darkness of no man’s land I put my arm around his shoulders and patted his back as I said, “you Clistian, me Clistian,” and he returned the embrace and said again, “You Clistian, me Clistian.” 

I never expect to hear sweeter words than those as long as I live. You can have your power, position, and fame. I want only to be known as a Christian. It is the sweetest joy I have ever heard. As I went back to camp with my three waterpots filled with ’Clistian” water, I rededicated my life to God. “0 Lord,” I said, “help me to live every night and every day so that everybody will always know that Eric B. Hare is a Christian,” and I intend by the grace of God to be that very thing until Jesus comes.

I saw something else in my preview of the end of the I world. I saw the punishment of the wicked. No, I didn’t see them burning in fire, but I saw the smoke of their torment ascending up and up. It was after we reached the beginning of the Indian road, and were taken to the beautiful evacuation camp of Imphal. We had beautiful bamboo barracks, and hot water to bathe with! Think of it! But again I noticed the good ones went to one end, and the bad went to the other. The good ones at once began to clean up and shave, and what fun it was introducing our- selves to one another while waiting for dinner. 

But at the other end of the barracks the bad ones were not cleaning up! The only thing they thought about was liquor. They inquired where the liquor shops were, and men and women went off together. When you come to the end of the way it doesn’t matter any more whether you are a man or a woman. If you are a good woman, you go among the good people; and if you are a bad woman, you go among the bad people. And there is nothing worse than a bad woman.

These men and women drank all the liquor they could hold; then they carried back all the liquor they could carry. And that night while we were having our usual singing service, they had a drunken brawl at their end of the barracks. This is not what I mean by the punishment of the wicked. I’ll be explaining that farther on. The next morning while we were having breakfast the captain came in, and clapping his hands to call us to attention he called, “Everybody be ready at eight-thirty! Busses and trucks will be here to take you 104 miles to Dimapur Railway station. There you will be given free tickets to any part of India you want to go to. Everybody be ready at eight-thirty!” It didn’t take us long to close our one suitcase and tie a string around our one blanket, and long before eight-thirty we were ready, standing on the side of the road that went through our camp. But again I noticed that the good ones were at this end, and the bad ones at that end. While waiting I couldn’t help hearing what the people round me were saying. At this end they were counting their blessings. They were telling of the wonderful dinner they had had last night, and the wonderful breakfast and the clean bamboo platform we could sleep on, and the train we were going to ride on! 

Suddenly something seemed to tell me to go to the other end of the line and see what they were talking about. I sauntered along casually, but saw not a smile in the whole group there; they had the worst hang-over you could ever imagine. They were grumbling and growling, with the corners of their mouths drawn down: “Rotten old government. Rotten old camp. Couldn’t sleep for mosquitoes. Why couldn’t the trucks come earlier?” And I went back f to my end of the line as fast as I could. You couldn’t pay I me enough money to spend one unnecessary minute in the company of such people. Back I came to the people who were counting their blessings. That’s where I like to be, and I prayed that God would search my heart for the roots I of bitterness and criticism, and that He would deliver me from these fearful habits, for I know where grumbling and murmuring and criticizing is going to place you at the end of the road, and I don’t want to be there!

It seemed a very little while until we heard a rattle and a clatter, and two tea wagons-something like military trucks-came to the camp. They had canvas roofs and half walls, but no seats inside of them at all. As these tea wagons came in, those at the other end of the line yelled, “These are ours; we were waiting first. There are others coming; you wait for them.” 

We just said, “That’s all right, you go ahead,” but to ourselves we said, “You couldn’t pay us enough money to ride in the same trucks with you.” We watched them loading up. They threw in their boxes and bundles, and as they did so they were fighting, quarreling, cursing, pushing, poking, and knocking people off. At last, squeezed in like sardines, swearing at their drivers, they started off. As they disappeared around the corner one of our group said, “Good riddance. If we never see you again any more, it will be too soon.” And I know five good preachers who said “Amen.” 

It was not very long before we heard the clattering of more vehicles, and there came into our camp compound three elegant passenger busses with padded seats and padded back rests, and there were no more selfish people to quarrel and fight. We put the weaker ones on a whole seat with a pillow under their heads, we put the womenfolk near the windows, we stacked the luggage carefully, and we checked each bus to make sure that everyone was comfortable. Then with a smile on our faces, we said to the drivers, “All right, let’s be going,” and away we went. 
Five miles down the road we passed the first two tea wagons, and that’s where I saw the punishment of the wicked. For just a moment we saw them screw their noses into the air as they decided not to notice us while we went by, but they couldn’t help it. There they were jammed in like sardines in a can, and there we were driving along in elegance and comfort, with padded seats and back rests, and they couldn’t keep quiet. They poked their heads out and began to wave their hands up and down and rave and curse. They yelled to our drivers that it was time to change, or to put all the baggage in the tea wagons and let all the people ride in the busses, but our drivers gave them no heed. They drove on, and as we passed them I saw something I will never forget if I live to be a hundred. I saw the dust of that road going up and up, and there I saw their arms waving. I could see their lips forming curses and blasphemies, and I will always declare I had that day a little preview of the smoke of their torment ascending up forever and ever. The Good Book truly says, “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.” Matt. 20: 16. 

We learned afterward that the government arranged that transportation that way on purpose. They found out from experience that human nature generally reacts the same way, and they deliberately segregated the evacuees that way, but those selfish people got into the trucks themselves. The first came last, and those who were last came first. We got our tickets and had found our seats on the train two hours before the others came, and in a few more days we were reunited with our loved ones. 

I know now that I don’t mind being last for a few days in this world. I don’t mind letting others go first, as long as I can be among those who go through the pearly gates. 

Dear young people, this is what I saw when I came to the end of the road, and again I say, God gave me a preview of the end of the world and the Day of Judgment. Ever since that experience, as I have driven from one town to another, even the highway signs preach to me and remind me of the re-consecration that I made to God at that time. Everywhere little signs say, “Keep to the right.” When I go to Baltimore I see them: “Keep to the right.” In Los Angeles I see them: “Keep to the right.”

Everywhere I see them, and every time I see one of those signs I rededicate my life to the Lord, and I say, “That is just exactly what I am going to do -keep to the right-for that is where I want to be when the Lord Jesus comes.”

]]> 0 868
Sabbath School from Home Fri, 27 Mar 2020 21:14:08 +0000 The first week of self-quarantine is finally behind us. Over this week we’ve seen COVID-19 increase drastically. I am thankful for state leadership that is taking steps to make sure that as few people as possible come down with this disease. However, no matter how much they try, it is the Lord who is the ultimate protector of His people. Stay close to Jesus, church. Keep your lives centered in Him.

Our Sabbath school department and Pastor team have been very busy preparing for in-home live Sabbath School for almost every age. That process is now finished and is being rolled out tomorrow. Almost every class in our church has moved online. If you select the “Live!” tab from the menu above, you’ll see several options. Church, prayer meeting, and Sabbath School. Navigate to your Sabbath School and follow the instructions.

Or you can click here: “Sabbath School-Live!”

During this time if physical separation, we are doing all we can to keep us connected as a congregation.

Next week, we will be moving forward with establishing small groups. We still need leaders. If you are interested, please go and sign up. You can find out more and sign-up: Here:

Happy Sabbath Church. I look forward to you joining us tomorrow for Sabbath School and Church.

Pastor Phil

]]> 0 841
Sabbath Part 2: The Rushed Relationship Thu, 26 Mar 2020 17:16:12 +0000 Have you ever wondered why everyone around you seems to have spiritual victory in their life and you seem to have nothing? We don’t let those around us know that we are struggling. We walk into church with a pasted-on warm, exuberant smile on our faces.

We might have 

  • fought in the car on our way to church
  • felt like failures in our own personal lives
  • lost battles with temptation to the point of deep spiritual discouragement all last week
  • But as the car stops, and our feet hit the parking lot, the pasted smiles go on. We walk into church with that warm grin on our faces.

Shaking hands with those we meet. In response to the question, “How are you brother/Sister _______?” we respond with the patent Sabbath morning answer, “Doing wonderful, Isn’t God so good!”

We are afraid: that if anyone sees what is really going on inside, they might look down on or reject us.

We are Ashamed:

  •  That anyone should find out.
  • That the gospel seems to work for everyone else but ourselves
  • That we aren’t disciplined enough to overcome
  • That we may even love our sins, and not want to stop
  • That there must be something wrong with us, that prevents God from working the miracle of overcoming in our lives.

After all, we are Christians, Seventh-day Adventists Christians, we are supposed to have it together. And so we continue living this facade, fooling no one but ourselves. The terrifying question haunts our minds, “Can God really can help me overcome these spiritual shortcomings that seem so overwhelming?”

“Others he can save, but me?”

And so we sit there on Sabbath morning, struggling with the sins of our lives, wearing a façade on the outside, but deeply struggling on the inside.

Why is the Sabbath so important at the end of time?

Because the Sabbath is the essence of a relationship with God. Before there were Jews, before there was sin, God saw the importance of adding one more day to the weekly cycle, a day into which He would pour a special portion of His blessings

Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day, God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. Genesis 2:1-3

God set’s this day aside. He blesses it, He sanctified it, and He hollowed it.

Why? Because the only way perfection could stay perfect, was by His people building a perfect relationship with Him. Even in Eden, there was a danger that His people would become so rushed in their work, that they would forget their creator. They needed to, “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Could the reason we struggle in our walk with God and victory over sin be because we have forgotten the importance of being still and knowing that He is God? 

Be Still and Know

We struggle to be still and know. “The US is the most overworked Developed Nation in the World.” The average American works more hours per week than any other first world country. Seconded only by Japan.

A survey conducted in 2014 found that 77% of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress. Another 73% experience regularly psychological symptoms caused by stress (

We are a stressed-out society. We work so hard, that we find little time for the other areas that are important. The stress of work and the demands of life are a huge strain.  Time is at a high premium, and two areas began to suffer. Our families and our relationship with God.

We are so rushed, that we don’t see how we can take time for our devotions in the morning. And worse, we don’t take time for our children or spouses.

We might have the devotions, but we rush in and then right back out. We barely take time to say hello to Jesus before we are slamming our Bible’s shut and running out the door.

But this doesn’t work.

Maybe an illustration will help make the point. 

Suppose that I am taking my wife (Lindsey) on our first date. In preparation, I book an exquisite restaurant. Soft music is playing in the background, candle lite softly dances on the tables. She’s in a stunning dress, and everything is perfect. 

As we sit down to eat, Lindsey can tell that I am rushing. As the food arrives, I wolf it down. I talk rapidly and only listen when my mouth is stuffed with food.  The atmosphere becomes tense. When she starts talking, I tell her to hurry up because I don’t have a lot of time—I’ve got so much to do! After about 10 minutes, I tell her how much I’ve enjoyed our few minutes, tell her I’d like to go out again and run out the door. Leaving here sitting at the table alone…

How did I do? Did Lindsey feel validated or important? Do you think she’d want to meet again? Of course not! That would have been the first and the last time we would have gone out.

And yet, how often do we do this to God? We rush into our time with Him, looking at our clocks the entire time, and then rush right back out. Barley taking time to connect with our savior and King!

Are you wishing for victory in your life? Could it be that you are rushing (or entirely) skipping your time with Jesus?

Notice what Christ told a very hard working woman in the Bible:

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”

And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”Luke 10:38-41

Is it important to take care of strangers?

Absolutely! Paul says, in Hebrews 13:2, that by so doing, some have entertained Angels unaware.

But, which was more important, hosting or sitting at the feet of Jesus?

Is it important to take care of our families?

Absolutely! Paul, in 1 Timothy 5:8, says, 

“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 

Yes, we must take care of our homes!

But, which is more important, providing for our families or sitting at the feet of Jesus? 

You won’t be able to provide for your family if you are NOT sitting at the feet of Jesus!!

Do you think your family would rather have money or a happy home? A father that is so stressed that he takes it out on his children, or less money and a father who is close to Jesus and showing His love to his family? 

Would your children rather have a mother who is running ragged or a mother who is so filled with Jesus, that she carries Him into everything that she does? So marriages have split up, not because of a lack of money, but because the spouses did not have time for each other.

Dear reader, the Sabbath is a call for us to come back to the priorities that God has called us to keep. 

God is trying to save our homes, our families, and you! 

“But,” I can hear you say, “I don’t have the time! I would love to spend quality time with Jesus, but the pressures of work, school, and/or family are too much!”

If you do not have time for God and your family, then you have taken on more then God has asked you to do. 

God calls you to cut back. The Sabbath is a call for us to prioritize our lives. Take a pen and paper and write down a two-column list. At the head of the first column write: Current priorities. Under this column write what you are currently doing. Ask yourself some diagnostic questions. What takes the most time from you? What will you skip devotions or family time for? These are your priorities. If an emergency call comes in from work, will you cancel a family vacation? If a friend calls asking you to help them at their house, will you forgo time with your family to help them? 

For the second column, make a list of what your priorities should be. The first two items on this list are:

1. God. 

2. Family. 

Everything else comes after these two. 

Before you re-order the list, read this inspired counsel.

None should permit themselves, through the week, to become so absorbed in their temporal interests, and so exhausted by their efforts for worldly gain, that on the Sabbath they have no strength or energy to give to the service of God. We are robbing the Lord when we unfit ourselves to worship Him upon His holy day. And we are robbing ourselves as well; for we need the warmth and glow of association, as well as the strength to be gained from the wisdom and experience of other Christians.  Child Guidance 530.1

If you think your responsibilities are still too important or pressing to re-organize then consider the following. 

How much responsibility does God have? 

Heb. 1:3, “upholds all things by the Word of His Power…”

The entire universe is run by His government. Every being in a limitless space is sustained by God. His responsibilities are infinite. And yet, what did He do? 

He rested.

If God could prioritize resting on the Sabbath ahead of governing the universe, shouldn’t you be able to re-organize your time to spend with Him? Are your responsibilities really more important then His?

]]> 0 722
Sabbath Part 1: Prophetic Significance Thu, 26 Mar 2020 17:12:39 +0000 What if spaceships arrived from “other” worlds? 

As they land, dazzling beings step off the ships, claiming to be representatives from the rest of the universe.  Their leader, a majestic being, appears around the world healing people, speaking soothing, beautiful words, and calling the world to rest and worship together. He says he is Christ and is calling our world back to worship of God.

Would you still believe?  

The last great delusion is soon to open before us. Antichrist is to perform his marvelous works in our sight. So closely will the counterfeit resemble the true that it will be impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures. By their testimony ever statement and every miracle must be tested.

Great Controversy pg. 593.1

Find account in Revelation 13:11-18
Rev. 13:12  “…He performs great signs so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.”

The Bible tells us that around the world, mighty miracles will be performed. Shouts of triumph swell from millions of people, “Christ has come, Christ has come!” The sick are healed, great miracles follow behind him. Countries are brought back together. 

But, his worship contradicts a key truth of the Bible. When every logical reason point to the Bible as being wrong, would you still believe? 

The Bible continues:
Revelation 16:13,14 
“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”

The inhabitants of this planet, 7 Billion + people, are swept away by the charasmatic message.  

Mistaking power for greatness, the believe this must be Christ.As the world is taken in, he commands the world to worship him on Sunday. With great excitement, the world obeys the comment. Who doesn’t want to see the rift between countries healed, the sick raised up?

Would you still believe?

He claims to be Christ, and that God’s law has been changed. A groundswell movement pressures congress, presidents, and world assembles to act. Laws are passed. The divisions, the fighting—all of it seems to disappear. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists—all are coming together. A wave of unity sweeps across the World. 

But there is a problem. It isn’t based upon the Bible, instead, it arises from miracles and perceived power. Yes, he is powerful, yes he is persuasive, but no, he does not speak according to the Word.

The deception is almost overwhelming. 

For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.Matthew 24:24

How do know we will still believe? Those who know God, love God, and build a realtionship with God in His way, are the only ones who stand firm in the coming crisis.

As Satan is calling the world to worship another god, our heavenly Father sends a message to the world calling them back to worship Him as their creator. 

Then I saw another angel, flying in the midst of heaven…Saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”Revelation 14:6-7

God’s message quotes directly from the one command that is based upon and centered around a relationship with Jesus. Notice with me Exodus 20:8-11.
Verse 11, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” 

It’s about the relationship

The Sabbath is the one commandment that enshrines the very essence of what it means to rest, trust and follow Jesus. Why does Satan come and say the Sabbath has been changed to a different day? Because he hates God and he hates humanity. If he can split the world away from the Sabbath, he can cut at the root of all Christian experience, the relationship between God and His people. 

But those who “follow the lamb wherever he goes” are not deceived. Revelation 14:12 makes it clear:
“Here is the patience of the saints, here are this who keep the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus.” 

At the end, when every foundation of truth is under attack, the Sabbath stands as a memorial of God’s creative power and His desire for an intimate relationship with His people
As evolution is on the rise,
    The Sabbath stands as the monument to the creative power of God.

As Violence and evil are on the rise
    The Sabbath stands as a monument of God’s perfect world.

As men and women are swept away in evil,
    The Sabbath stands as a monument to His power to recreate the heart.

As our lives become heavily burdened with stress and perplexity,
    The Sabbath Stands as a monument of the rest we can have in Jesus.  

When everything else is crumbling, 
    The Sabbath Stands!

The war of 1812 had taken its dreadful toll. Several weeks prior the British had attacked Washington, D.C. The Capitol, the Treasury, and the President’s house had been burned to the ground. As the morning of September 13, 1814, dawned, the British began their onslaught against Fort McHenry. As the rain fell in torrents, shells and rockets relentlessly pounded the fort in the Baltimore Harbor. For 25 long, dreadful hours the bombardment continued.

From a ship in the harbor, Francis Skott Key watched with great anxiety.  Writing later, he said, “It seemed as though mother earth had opened and was vomiting shot and shell in a sheet of fire and brimstone,” As darkness enveloped the harbor, Key saw only red erupting in the night sky. Given the scale of the attack, he was certain the British would win. The hours passed slowly, but in the clearing smoke of “the dawn’s early light” on September 14, he saw the American flag—not the British Union Jack—flying over the fort, announcing an American victory.

With great emotion, he began to pen the words:

Say, can you see
By the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed
At the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars
Through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watched,
Were so gallantly, yeah, streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare
The bombs bursting in air
Gave proof through the night
That our flag was still there
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave

Like the flag of old, the Sabbath still stands.

Through the terrible onslaught of all the hosts of Evil, the barrage of mortar fire from Hell itself—The Sabbath still stands!

It stands as a memorial of a God who loves His people

It stands as a testimoent to a God who is serious about a relationship with them. 
It stands as a memorial of His creative power, His saving power, and His love. 

Why is this the final test at the end? 
    Those who love God, are saved by Him
        Those who are saved by Him, worship Him. 
            Those who worship Him build a deeper relationship with Him
               And only those who have built a deeper relationship with Him, are able to see through the deceptions at the end.   

This is why the Sabbath has such prophetic significance. 

Oh, I want to enter into the rest of Jesus on His day. 

How about you? 

]]> 0 719
Receiving to Give Thu, 26 Mar 2020 17:10:16 +0000 It is one of the richest places in the world. Containing hundreds of thousands of tons of minerals—valued at over 106 Trillion dollars. It is a lake into which great wealth has been poured For the last three to four thousand years, this lake has been fed by the Jordan river. Fertilizer and mineral-rich silts have slowly accumulated.

Thousands of years ago, this lake was surrounded by a luxuriant valley—renowned the world over for its beauty. 

It was the place to live. Perfect temperature, an abundance of flowers and fruit. It was the Hawaii of the day.

But there was a problem. All the wealth being poured into the lake had nowhere to go. As time passed, the wealth of the lake became more and more concentrated. Fish began to die. The lake, which had once been so full of life became harsh and inhospitable. Animals moved on. The thriving cities along its coastline began to fall into ruin as people moved away. 

But now?

It is so dead, that it is called—The Dead Sea.

What happened? How did this once beautiful lake become so anti-life? So caustic that not even bacteria, which seem to be able to live almost anywhere, find it difficult to survive in its waters? 

Seventy-five miles up the Jordan river is a completely different lake, the sea of Galilee. It too, over the last 3-4 thousand years, has been fed with rich, fertilizer laden silt. And yet, it is healthy and vibrant. A thriving community lives around it. Fish swim in the waters— along its edge can be found vineyards, orchards, gardens. 

What is the difference between these two lakes? Why is the one so beautiful while the other so full of death? 

Both have been filled with rich silt.

Both were once alive.

What made the difference?

One—the sea of Galilee—receives to give. 

The other—the dead sea—takes and never gives back. 

Rich Young Ruler

Our study is the story of a man who was very successful. Over the short years of his life, he had amassed wealth and success. He was the envy of his friends.

However, one thing troubled his mind. How could he be saved? The success he had in the world meant nothing if he would lose it all in the end. 

A layer was sitting in my dad’s office. They had worked together for years, and my dad was praying for some way to share the gospel with him. They were talking about the future, and my dad began to ask questions.  

What’s next on the horizon for you? 

“Children graduate from college.”

Then what? 

“Become a multi-millionaire.”

Then what? 

“Retire, buy a nice house by the golf course, and play golf.”

Then what? 

“Spend time with my grandchildren, travel the world”

Then what?


Then what? The room got very quiet. Then he responded, “Dr. Mills, I don’t like to think about that.”

At some point, we all reach the end of our “Then Whats…” At some point, the journey is ended, and what we have accumulated over the years of our lives, will disappear. Then what?

And this is the point that the rich man was at. He had run through the “Then Whats” in his mind. He had watched his wealthy friends pass away. He knew that once you died, there was no taking of his wealth beyond. This life, that was it. 

He wanted more! He wanted to live forever!  

And so he asks Christ the ultimate question.

“Now behold, one came and said to Him, ‘Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?’”Matthew 19:16

Jesus loves this question. His greatest desire is to save every human being. Mark 10:21, recounts this same story but adds a critical detail:

Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him…

As he looked into the eyes of this precious man, Christ saw an earnest seeker after truth. Here was a man who was striving to do what’s right, be faithful to the Lord. He was hard working, driven, and successful.

In answer to his question, Christ reveals the fundamental law of the universe. It is summarized in the word, “Love.”

The law is this: 

Law: We Receive to Give.

This man had received talents, wealth, honor, prestige, success, and so much more. He had used these talents shrewdly and had increased them. 
But he had used them for his own wealth and success. He was not using them to advance the kingdom of God. He was like the dead sea. His life was one of always getting but never giving back.

The anidote to his sink which is the core sin all of us face, was to: 

“Go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come, follow Me.”Matthew 19:21

“Pastor,” I can hear you say, “that’s a powerful thought Christ is bringing to bear. When I get what is good, I’ll make sure to give back good…”

But that’s not the only point. 

No matter what we receive, we are to give back what is good. 

“…But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…”Matthew 5:38-48

This is the gospel.

This is the giving of good in the face of unimaginable evil. When Christ was being nailed to the cross, when he took the sins of the world upon himself, He gave back good. 

“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”Luke 23:34

Sin is the opposite: Takes and keeps. It looks out for its self. It makes sure that my interests, my needs, my feelings, and my desires come ahead of everything else. 

Why was Paul willing to be beaten, stoned, and so much more? 2 Cor 11:24-29. 

He understood the gospel. He understood the call to give good in the face of incredible difficulty, pain, and hatred.

No wonder he penned the powerful promise:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Church, we are so wealthy as Americans and as a congregation. I know what’s it is like to look at the bank statement, and wonder how we are going to get there. But do not forget that it is our heavenly Father who has given you a roof over your head. Are you giving back for the blessings He has given? Would you be willing to sell all that you have for the sake of the gospel? 

Are you receiving to give? 

]]> 0 715
Becoming Family – An Army of One Part 2 Thu, 26 Mar 2020 17:05:35 +0000 Christ was unashamed to reach out and touch the broken and untouchable. 
  • Where humans saw a prostitute, Jesus saw a woman who could change the world with her story.
  • When others saw a tax collector, Jesus saw a disciple (Matthew).
  • When people saw a physician, Jesus saw Luke the ministering physician. 
  • When the disciples saw two demoniacs, hopelessly lost, Jesus saw two missionaries.  

Jesus sees the World so differently then we do!

A young man walked into a church in California. His hair was long and pulled back into a ponytail. His overalls were not in the best of shape, a hole here or there, but they were clean. As he sat down in the Sabbath School class that morning, he noticed that he was given lots of room. To the class, he was just another person off the streets. If he would get his act together, then maybe they would give him notice.

How wrong they were! This was a man who Jesus planned to use to impact thousands of people. He had orchestrated countless miracles to bring him through the doors of His church. His child was finally home.

But what is this?! His church is not reaching out! 

I can see Jesus, with tears in His eyes, pleading with one person after another, “Please reach out to him. Won’t someone invite him home for dinner, or at the very least talk him?”

But no one heard the calls. So caught up were they in their own little world, that they missed the great opportunity. The Great Shepherd had brought a child of His home, but His church, His fold, was un-ready to receive. 

The young man left that congregation. I can picture the angels, with great anxiety, watching what is going to happen next. Would he return? Was all their work to bring one of God’s children back home for naught?

What happened? How is it that God’s church could turn away from a man whom God and His angels and worked miracle after miracle to bring into His fold.

They did not understand the value of one.

“‘What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!” 7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.’”

Luke 15:4

The sun is setting. Storm clouds in the distance grow threateningly. The ominous rumblings of thunder can be heard, as the storm approaches.  The Shepherd, hearing what is coming, calls his sheep and moves towards a protective coral. 

As the single file makes its way into the fold, the shepherd counts each one… 1, 2, 3, four… 97, 98, 99… He looks up, expecting one more, but there is none! In surprise and fear, he recounts his sheep, 97, 98, 99…

There are only 99! Already the drops of rain, telling of the storm about to begin are falling around him. For an instant, a tempting thought flashes through his mind, “I have 99, what’s one more…?!” But even more quickly he dismisses the thought. 

This shepherd loves his sheep!

And out into the stormy dangerous night, he heads. 

The rain is coming down in sheets now. The wind is tearing at his clothes. Pressing on into the black night he goes. His calls are snatched away by the wind. He keeps looking, calling. Finally, in the distance, he hears the feeble cry of his sheep. 

​Instantly he turns toward it. The bleating is becoming weak. He moves with greater earnestness. Carefully he ascends the rocky crevasse. Then he sees the sheep, caught on the edge of a steep cliff. 

With great care, He ascends the wet rock. His own life is in danger, but he gives this no thought. If only he can save his sheep. 

Finally, the sheep is saved. Carefully he carries him home. The 100 are back. 

You see, the shepherd understood the value of one sheep.

Here is the divine guarantee that not even one of the straying sheep of God’s fold is overlooked, not one is left unsuccored. Every one that will submit to be ransomed, Christ will rescue from the pit of corruption and from the briers of sin. 

Christ Object Lessons 188.2

“Pastor,” you say, “I have fallen into sin.” That is true. But Jesus came to save sinners. 

1Tim. 1:15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 

If you were not a sinner, then the salvation of Christ would not be needed.

“But pastor, I have fallen again and again into the same sin.”

Rom. 5:20   …But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,

No matter how broken you may be, no matter how often you have fallen, Christ is there to pick you back up and lead you into forgiveness. How gracious, and forgiving Jesus is! 

Desponding soul, take courage, even though you have done wickedly. Do not think that perhaps God will pardon your transgressions and permit you to come into His presence. God has made the first advance. While you were in rebellion against Him, He went forth to seek you. With the tender heart of the shepherd He left the ninety and nine and went out into the wilderness to find that which was lost. The soul, bruised and wounded and ready to perish, He encircles in His arms of love and joyfully bears it to the fold of safety.

Christ Object Lessons 188.3

Here is the point. Jesus loves humanity so much, that no cost is too high for our salvation. 

What about you? 

Has the Love of Jesus so filled your heart that you are willing to let him save you? 

Let’s take it a step further, what about loving enough to reach out to those lost and in need here in our very congregation? 

What would have happened, if, after the shepherd brought the sheep back to the fold, the other sheep had ignored this lost sheep? What if they were incensed that this sheep had wandered away. It was dirty from the mud, bleeding from cuts it had received on the cliff, it just wasn’t like them?

Back to our story.

As Doug left the church that Sabbath, he was disillusioned. But God was not done. After some months, he visited a little congregation in the country. There the members warmly received him. He was invited home for lunch. The Bible was studied, friendships were formed, and Elder Doug Batchelor joined the Seventh-day Adventist church. 

Over the years, God has used Elder Batchelor to reach thousands with the good news of Jesus Christ. 

For just 1 sheep, Christ left all. What are we willing to do to regain the lost?

]]> 0 712
Becoming Family – An Army of One Thu, 26 Mar 2020 17:00:25 +0000

It was a typical day. The soccer team was just finishing practice when someone suggested they explore the large cave nearby. On a video that’s surfaced, you can see them laughing, joking, not a clue about what was to happen. 

As they entered the cave, the skies were relatively clear. However, an hour after they entered, a sudden downpour swept through. The water swelled in the cave, and the team found themselves trapped over a mile underground, with no way to get out. It was cold, black, and very cramped. For days, they were cut off from the rest of the world. Slowly the cold, hunger, and lack of oxygen began to take its toll. The terrifying thought.

But not all was lost! Above ground, word quickly spread. Soon rescuers were called, and a dramatic rescue effort began. 

Elite Navy Seals arrived, who began to swim through the cave, looking for the young people. Miles of tight spaces, tunnels, and muddy, pitch-black water were traversed. With each passing day, the search became more urgent. 

Back in the pitch-black cavern, nine long terrifying days had passed. All sources of light had gone out. The youth are faint with hunger and quickly running out of oxygen.

And then, a light piercing through the darkness of the water. They were found! 

As I’ve been watching this, it has struck me how much effort has been expended to save just 12 children and a coach. There are millions of dollars that are being spent. People are volunteering their time, expertise, and even their lives. Jobs have been put on hold. Differences put away. Elon Musk has flown his top engineers over. 


Because they realize the value of just one child. To them, saving one child would be worth all the effort, time, and expense. There is no cost too high to save just one person.

The Value of You!

Do you realize your value?

6,000 years ago, our world was cut off from the light of the universe. As the blackness of death spread across this planet, a rescue effort was put in motion to save humanity. 

“God so loved the world…”John 3:16

The Creator of us all, sent His Son, on a daring rescue mission to reconnect this blackened cave with the realms of heaven. He lit the darkness for 33 years. Then, at our own hands, paid the ultimate price to save humanity. Through his death, a path was formed through which men and women might be rescued from the blackness of this cave.

And now, there is a husband, father, and savior who has been desperately searching for his lost family! Saving no expense! Pouring out all the resources he has at his disposal, to save His precious children. 

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”Romans 5:8

For 6,000 years, his heart has ached for His loved ones who have been lost. He has given all to save you! You are worth everything to Jesus. He loves you with an incomprehensible love. 

Do you believe it? 

The Value of them!

It’s not just you that’s worth everything to heaven. Your neighbor, friend, co-worker, classmate, the stranger on the street, all are worth everything to Jesus. 

Do you live your life with the realization that your neighbor is worth the life of Jesus? 

Paul did. 

He was willing to stop doing what he knew wasn’t wrong so that his brother with a weaker conscious might be saved (Romans 14:21, 1 Corinthians 8:9-13).  Are you willing to deny yourself to save your sister or brother? 

 Do you love Jesus enough to love them with all your heart? Are they worth it? 

As the world is falling apart around us, God is looking for the church family that will come together in close unity. 

John 17:20-21. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

Church this morning, we must become an army of one! But to be an army of one, we must understand the value of one! Every person in
our congregation is worth everything.

I think that there are times that we forget how much the others within our church and this city are worth to God. 

“Desponding soul, take courage, even though you have done wickedly. Do not think that perhaps God will pardon your transgressions and permit you to come into His presence. God has made the first advance. While you were in rebellion against Him, He went forth to seek you. With the tender heart of the shepherd, He left the ninety and nine and went out into the wilderness to find that which was lost. The soul, bruised and wounded and ready to perish, He encircles in His arms of love and joyfully bears it to the fold of safety.”Christ Object Lessons, 188.3

Building a Family – An Army of One.

Maria and her daughter, Christina, lived in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of a Brazilian village. Christina spoke often of going to the city. She dreamed of trading her dusty neighborhood for exciting avenues and city life. Just the thought of that horrified her mother, who knew exactly what Christina would have to do for a living.

 That‘s why her heart broke. That‘s why she couldn‘t believe it when she awoke one morning to find her daughter‘s bed empty. Knowing where her daughter was headed, she quickly threw some clothes in a bag, gathered up all of her money, and ran out of the house. 

On her way to the bus stop, she entered a drugstore and got one last thing. Photos. She sat in the photo booth, closed the curtain, and spent all the time she could on making photos of herself. With her purse full of small black and white photos, she boarded the next bus to Rio de Janeiro. 

Maria knew Christina had no way of earning money. She also knew that her daughter was too stubborn to give up. When pride meets hunger, a human being will do things that were before unthinkable. Knowing this, Maria began her search. Bars, hotels, nightclubs, any place with a reputation for streetwalkers or prostitutes. She went to them all. And at each place, Maria left her photo—taped to a bathroom mirror, tacked to a hotel bulletin board, fastened to a corner telephone booth. And on the back of each photo, she wrote a note. Then her money and the pictures ran out, Maria went home. 

A few weeks later young Christina descended the hotel stairs. Her young face was tired. Her dreams had become a nightmare. But as she reached the bottom of the stairs, her eyes noticed a familiar face. She looked again, and there on a lobby mirror was a small picture of her mother. Christina‘s eyes burned and her throat tightened as she walked across the room and removed the small photo. Written on the back was a compelling invitation, Tears sprang into her eyes. Rapidly ascending the stairs, she rushed home to her mother. 

“Whatever you‘ve done, whatever you have become, it doesn‘t matter. Please come home.”

Point 1: The Value of You
Point 2: The Value of Them
Point 3: Building a Family – An Army of One

What Christ has given up to save us is beyond our comprehension. You are worth everything to Jesus. He loves you with an incomprehensible love. He loves your neighbor the same. 

Do you love your neighbor? 

]]> 0 708