Sunday, March 15, 2015

Answers to Prayers!

Working at All Nations Church has taught me a lot. From meeting church members to people in the community, there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes that I never would have though of. For example, all the preparation that goes into a special music, the time put into seamless programs, having the AV working properly, and even getting down details in decoration. Bible studies and seminars, getting the people you meet to come to the seminars, struggling with God's promises... All of this goes on behind the scenes when it comes to evangelism. 

I want to focus on answered prayers. Rewind back to before there were cross-trainers at All Nations.

Church members were actually praying for evangelism to get started at this church. A couple would go door-to-door and just pass out pamphlets. They weren't the only ones either. The pastor, a church member here, a church member there... They were all praying and waiting for evangelism to get revived. Donato rolls along, GLOW, practicum workers, and the seminars. You get the idea.

The conclusion of the matter is this. God answers prayers. If you want to get started on evangelism, start praying and God will lead you

Sunday, March 8, 2015


Ok, I'm going to keep this post brief and to the point. My Bible study contacts finally came to the seminars. When our evangelist David Fernandez made an appeal, even though it was their first time, he stood up and came to the front for baptism. The interesting thing is that the topic for that night was standards. It was very interesting to see them respond to an appeal for baptism with that in mind.

He wants to study more before getting baptized, but a decision is a decision.

Will You Decide?

There is great rejoicing in heaven and in our own hearts because people are making decisions for Jesus.

On Friday night, David made an appeal for baptism. You could feel the Spirit moving so deeply in the church. As I sang the song "Were It Not For Grace", I was so deeply moved by the depth of the song and seeing people choosing to publicly show that they were choosing Jesus that tears came to my eyes and I almost started to cry. Honestly no job compares to this! Seven people came forward. And yesterday there were three baptisms with more scheduled for the next week or two as well. Praise God!

Click on the following link to hear the song "Were It Not For Grace" It is not the best recording because it was recorded on an iPhone. But I pray that you will blessed. Please let the Holy Spirit speak to your heart as you listen.

Soon after Jesus had returned to heaven, the disciples had an attitude that I want to have in regards to saving souls. I pray that we may all have this same commitment and burden. "The disciples felt their spiritual need and cried to the Lord for the holy unction that was to fit them for the work of soul saving. They did not ask for a blessing for themselves merely. They were weighted with the burden of the salvation of souls. They realized that the gospel was to be carried to the world, and they claimed the power that Christ had promised." {AA 37.2}

Saturday, February 28, 2015

I Think I Understand a Little More of God

What pain God must feel when people reject Him! And what joy He must feel when people accept Him! I am beginning to understand a little more of God.

When I knock on a door, I offer the residents truth that will lead them to true happiness in a relationship with God. Most people are happy the way they are. Perhaps they are too busy for God. Perhaps they think they know all they need to know about God. But many say, "No." As I think about all those people who don't want to know or learn of the God that I have come to love and serve, my heart fills with sadness. Why can't they see the trap Satan has them in? Why can't they see how cheap everything they are investing their lives in really is? Why can't they just listen to God's voice?

But wait! Haven't I done the same? How many times has Jesus knocked on the door of my heart and I respond, "Not now. I'm happy the way I am. I've grown up going to church; I know what I need to do. I am a good Christian (on the outside)." Jesus stands there sadly as I slam the door in His face. He weeps as He cries out, "Why, oh why can't he understand? I've done everything I can to help him see. Why can't he see the trap he is stuck in? Why can't he see that his happiness is only temporary and really isn't true happiness? Why can't he just listen to me? I want to help him, but I can't. I came to earth to show you what kind of person God really is. I went through awful separation from my Father, experienced the terrible guilt of all humanity, and died alone with no promise of resurrection. I did all this for you. Won't you please listen? I can't force you, but the path you are going is a miserable path. You don't want to experienced what I have and there is no need for you to. I gave everything for you. What more can I do?"

When I stand in front of the attendees of this Bible seminar, I look at the faces of the people. David has made his appeal and I sing the appeal song. Each night I see hearts melt in the presence of the spirit of God. Then after the song, David continues the appeal. I move to the side and look around at the people who are sitting. On some faces I see a struggle. I see one person get up slightly and then sit back down again. I see the same effect on a whole group of about 5-6 people. I see the controversy inside. God is knocking on their heart. I see it on their faces. Will they say yes? Oh please don't say no! The appeal continues. I plead with God for them that Satan will be driven back and that they will make their decision for Him. Time passes and the struggle continues. Then one stands, and another, and another, and another until almost every one of them stands and comes to the front. Joy like nothing else I have ever experienced fills my heart! A smile comes into my face and tears come to my eyes. They chose Jesus and they stood for Him. Joy fills the heart of Jesus and a smile comes over His face. They chose Him.

Will you chose Jesus? I know we hear it all the time--"Jesus gave all for us." But actually think about that. He literally gave up EVERYTHING to be able to give us the ability to choose life. How can you say no to such a generous offer in exchange for death and a miserable existence? How?

I am understanding a little more of God. I am feeling a little more. I am feeling a little taste of the joy He must feel when I choose to follow Him. I am feeling a little taste of the pain and utter anguish He must feel if I chose to turn my back on Him and reject Him.

What do you want to give Jesus? Do you want to give Him joy? Or do you want to give Him pain? The choice is yours, but don't delay.

" Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me." Revelation 3:20

Saturday, February 21, 2015

16 Miles to Mt. Wilson

The WiFi Connection Seminar just started last night and God has really been blessing. I'll write more on that in another blog, but I wanted to give you a little peak at a different part of my life and share an object lesson I learned.

So what did I do on my day off? I love nature and innately despise the city so I was delighted to take last Monday to go off by myself to hike up Mt. Wilson. Now you wouldn't think that LA is known for much nature, but I was surprised to find that 10-15 minutes away from here are several really nice trails back up into the mountains. So I decided to go on an approximately 16 mile hike round trip; over seven miles up and over seven back and then some at the top. Mt. Wilson is known for its many astronomical observatories which I wanted to see as well. Now you could drive up there, but why drive if you can spend time in nature hiking up?

As I hiked, it was a steady incline--often quite steep--with little respite. It was a fairly narrow trail that decreased in size the farther along I went. From about three miles in, I had multiple thoughts of how I should just call it quits and return; but I was determined to get to the top. I was struggling at times to continue because I was so tired and sore. Sometimes I had to climb up rocky parts; other times I had to fight against slipping back down the steep slope on sand and loose dirt and it was very wearing. I frequently had to stop and rest. A couple miles from the summit, the trail got much wider and seemed to turn into a gravel road that cars drove on. Once I turned onto this wide gravel road, even though it was still a steep incline and in the sun, I began moving at a much more rapid pace. Yes, I was tired and sore, but it was so much easier on my legs. I don't think I took a break from that point all the way to the top!

Here I was almost to the top of the mountain. I could see the peak not far off, but how did I know that I was actually on the trail? I stopped seeing trail signs and kept wondering if this road would really take me where I wanted to go. Looking up the trail later online, I noticed a note that another hiker had left saying that many people take the gravel road but that that actually isn't the trail. The trail is really had to notice and goes more directly to the summit. It is so small that most hikers miss it.

What a lesson God brought to my mind! As it turns out, the wide road was just a longer easier way around to the top, but it wasn't the trail. For the point of this object lesson, the road actually did go where I was heading eventually (so don't take the comparison too far), but what if it didn't? I still would not have known until I was far down it. In our Christian walk, how often do we fight our way up a mountain of difficulty. We are nearly to the top, almost to victory, and we come across a wide easy road and completely miss the real trail never making to the top. It might be a big temptation of money or family or anything else that looks attractive and looks like the easy way out. But we are then going off in the wrong direction.  All because it is easier to walk on and you can move faster. So few people had taken the actual trail that it was practically invisible except to those who had been there before.

Yes the true trail is more challenging, more narrow, more tiring, and harder to find. But that is the trail we need to be on.

I thank God for that warning from nature. I pray that as I climb the narrow road with Jesus, that He will guide me to stay on the true trail. Yes it seems harder at the time, but He knows the way and it'll take me where I want to go in the end. No matter how many roads I cross that look easier to travel on, I want to stay on the narrow climb directly to the prize at the top--heaven and eternal life with Jesus! And I want each one of you to stay on that same trail with me so we can meet there together!

"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." Matthew 7:13-14

A view of the trail going up near the
beginning.  It became probably a third
or less of the size of the trail here.
                Exhausted, but happy.
 God's creation is so beautiful!
                               The wide easy road.

At the top!

                                                             The observatory for the 100-inch telescope

Wrestling with His Promises

It's opening night! The first night of 11 has begun, and everyone is excited. I'm also... excited. More than the actual seminars however, I'm excited for my Bible study contacts to come to the meetings. Time ticks by and it's almost 6:30. The seminars/meetings start at 7:00. I am waiting and waiting. 6:45... and I am still waiting. The seminars end and I'm stuck with these mixed feelings. We had about 10+ guests come on our opening night. Praise the Lord! None of my contacts came. The simplest question comes to my mind, and that is why. God must have His hand in this, but what is He trying to teach me. And... why?

I'm going to share a verse that we all are very familiar with

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

Everything works together for good to them that love God. So when my contacts don't come to the meetings, initially, I have a somewhat doubtful and questioning sentiment. Initially. Because I had always heard that we need to claim God's promises; but what does that mean practically? What does that mean in my life personally?

Well, it kinda means this. God said He would do something, and just because things don't turn out the way you want doesn't mean He isn't doing it. Therefore, keep His word close to you and trust in His promises. It means having faith in what you don't see! God is doing something beyond my/our human eyes. We don't see it, but does that mean it isn't happening? Not only that, but He is constantly bringing us higher. So what does that mean? God is growing our faith. He wants us to trust Him more and more.

Here's my conclusion: how has God been leading you, and where does He want to grow your faith?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Witness of a Child

Nine year old Krystal comes to church because of a school friend whose parents are members here. She is one of 4 little girls that have adopted Donato, Sam, and me as uncles. Not only do they come to Sabbath School and church, but faithfully come to Tuesday and Wednesday night Bible studies. Krystal does not belong to an Adventist family, but she loves coming to Bible study.

This last Tuesday and Wednesday night, I unexpectedly had to teach both studies. I had about an hour on Tuesday to prepare and I was praying about what to share. I finally settled on Jeremiah's prophecy that Israel would go into captivity for 70 years, but that God would not forget them. I then shared how Daniel prayed in Daniel 9 for God to remain faithful to his promise even though Israel had failed their end of the bargain.  Then I went to 2 Chronicles 36 where it says that just how Jeremiah had prophesied according to the word of the Lord, so it happened. I ended in 2 Chronicles 7:14 where God promises that if His people return to Him, humble themselves, and repent, He will hear and forgive. Since Donato has been focusing on prophecy in this Bible study in previous weeks, I wanted to show how there are other prophecies outside Daniel and Revelation and that God is always faithful. Little did I know how applicable this would be.

A lady walked in before the Bible study began that I had never seen before. She sits down and we begin talking. It was kind of ironic that the reason why she was here was because Krystal invited her classmate, this lady's daughter, to the Bible study. She had grown up Adventist, but had kind of, yet not entirely wandered away from the church after her marriage years ago. She has rarely been to church but still faithfully keeps the Sabbath. Her husband frequently asks her questions about why she does certain things and her answer is that it is in the Bible, but she doesn't know where. I offered to help her with finding those answers and she readily agreed. Then she told me that she has a real burden for her older teenage son and wants me to study with him as well. Please pray for us. I will be studying with them this Tuesday.

As I think about this whole situation, I stand in awe at how God orchestrated the whole thing. Krystal, a young girl and not even Adventist herself, invites her friend to come to church. Now the girl's mom wants me to study with her and her family to give them Bible answers to the things she knows but can't support herself. God works in wonderful ways.

PS: She has a family member who is a Dietrich. She is going to find out but it may be that we are distantly related!