Hurricane Ian–Biblical Implications, a Time for Prayer and Fasting

Then He also said to the multitudes, “Whenever you see a cloud rising out of the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it is. And when you see the south wind blow, you say, ‘There will be hot weather’; and there is. Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time?

Luke 12:54-56

The LORD impressed me to change my sermon, because of Hurricane Ian, which just cut across the middle of Florida from West to East leaving a swath of devastation. I have family there, as do many of you. Now the Lord had already given me another sermon. Just this past Wednesday morning I hurriedly sketched it out as I was preparing for part three of my series, “Stories from Mark.” In fact I was really excited about what the Holy Spirit had revealed to me. Yet, Wednesday night as I heard from my daughter and son-in-law (Christina & Crist) how the winds were already starting to whip up and the rain was already starting to fall in Volusia County where they live and work, my mind was being changed.

Yes, the next day, Thursday, after speaking to them again on cell phones and losing the connection, texting was not working, power was out across the State, that is 2 1/2 million people without power, and after seeing news footage of the destruction in such places as Fort Myers and Sanibel Island, a place where Tracie and I vacationed just last year, my heart was filled with earnest to preach a message that would more directly speak to the current situation of Georgia’s sister State.

Yes, Tracie and I live in Georgia, and like many others, we visit Florida often, usually pulling our 5th-Wheel camper and staying near beaches. Most of our camping trips we stay in New Smyrna Beach or Port Orange RV parks. Crist and Christina live in Port Orange, a short five mile drive to Daytona Beach. She owns an ice cream shop in Daytona Beach Shores right on A1A, a place at which we frequently and conveniently find ourselves hanging out to socialize and sample the wares. Christina’s shop is called “Ice Scream Social” of DBS. The ice cream is among the best I have ever sampled, and the atmosphere is memorable. You might even find your picture or that of an acquaintance on their wall of fame. Two doors down is one of the best Mexican fast food restaurants, “Senor Taco,” with authentically delicious burritos that go well either before or after ice cream.

Then came Ian and life has changed for Floridians and those of us who frequent the various vacation destinations there. The famous Daytona Beach Pier is destroyed. Of course, piers are usually the first thing to go during major storms. We used to live in Brunswick, Georgia where not infrequently the different board walks of the barrier islands, St. Simons and Jekyll Islands, would get washed away. We also used to live in Southern California, where the piers from Newport Beach to Huntington Beach to Seal Beach, etc. would be broken or destroyed and later rebuilt only to have that cycle repeated over again after another major storm.

Yes, life near the beach can be a precarious undertaking, especially when it comes to major storms. We may expect to lose a few structures, like the piers. I mean, can they even buy insurance for piers? I don’t know, but I doubt it.

Our homes are another thing though. And our places of business. Our modern day society tends to think of them as more permanent. If they are threatened by impending natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes or hurricanes we are willing to take that chance, because it doesn’t happen that often, and then the threat usually dissolves into something less threatening. Like the time about ten years ago we had camped on the Gulf Coast of Florida at Carabelle Beach and were chased out by a tropical storm named Debby.

Debby’s highest sustained winds were clocked at 65mph. Nothing compared to Ian. In fact, Ian may be the costliest hurricane to ever hit Florida. The Governor of Florida called it a once-in-500 years type of disaster. It competes well with two major hurricanes put together, Charley and Francis, both of which hit Florida in 2004. Charley for the wind speed of 150mph, and Francis for the enormous amount of rain water. Ian’s winds pushed back major rivers to cause them to flood inland, and it’s storm power poured down rain in torrents causing major flooding and ruination of multiple homes, businesses and other structures, including tearing away several large sections of the lovely causeway from Fort Myers to Sanibel Island. Sanibel has been completely cut off from the mainland. What are the over 6,000 residents who live on Sanibel going to do? And for those who evacuated, how do they go back to investigate their former residential or business situation?

Then there is the after cost through loss. Crist and Christina, for example, are just one couple with a teenage daughter, our granddaughter, who like many entrepreneurs make their living running their own businesses. Crist as a Chiropractor, and Christina as the owner of an ice cream shop. Their townhome was flooded with three inches of water in the downstairs, but outside was worse with the water level quickly rising above your knees… and then to your waist as you enter the complex’s parking area. Their cars were sitting in water up to the top of the hood. They were a total loss. She did attempt to start one car after the water had abated three days later. She recorded a short video on her cell to show me later. Water poured out the exhaust pipe as if it was a garden hose, and the engine sickly puttered for about a minute and then stopped forever.

How much insurance will give them in remuneration towards purchasing other cars is still unknown. Both of their cars were completely paid for, and they were proud of the fact. Prior to Ian, their overall financial plan, was to keep those cars, and work hard to save money, so that they may one day buy a regular house, where the property would be their own.

Will FEMA help everyone affected with financial loss? How much will homeowners insurance cover? Can one afford to pay the deductibles? What about the business? When will it be up and running again? Producing a modest income again? And that adds to a persons anxiety over how they will come out of this mess economically speaking. Not to mention mentally and physically speaking. Of course it could be worse, for some were injured. Others died.

What about those of you who believe in Jesus and God? How do you see this hurricane and any other natural disaster that may affect your livelihood at any given moment? What counsel does the Bible give for believers in Jesus?

This is why I changed my sermon. I preached it this past Sabbath at the Thomaston Seventh-day Adventist Church in Thomaston, Georgia. The title is written above in this blog. I also taught an impromptu Sabbath School lesson by combining the children with the Adults. Well, it was the adult lesson, but since three children showed up, I had them stay with the few adults who were present, and taught them altogether. The lesson is titled, “Rebellion In a Perfect Universe.”

The question has been frequently asked, “Why do bad things happen to good people.” The link below will bring my YouTube page where you can watch the Bible study lesson and also view the worship service and hear the sermon. And if you would like to support my ministry, please subscribe and share. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog today.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Dean

The Adventist Calling

Sketch: The title of my sermon is, “The Adventist Calling.” This is the second sermon in my new series, “Stories from Mark.” You may well ask, What is the Adventist Calling? Do you mean what we are called to do? Or, do you mean what we are called to be? I mean both. For what we are called to do, cannot be done unless we become what we are called to be.

Mark says that Jesus came preaching, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.” But take a look at how Marks Gospel begins… He opens with “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” He begins with John’s calling as the messenger who was sent before, for John came “preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” (Mk. 1:4) What was that for? That baptism of repentance? And just what does Jesus mean by “repent and believe”? Could it be that there are more than just a few “Christians” who say they believe in God, but fall short of what Jesus is calling them to be? Is Jesus calling you?

Watch and listen to the full sermon here: https://youtu.be/2L6za_nNnf8

The Owner & The Vinedressers

I am beginning a new sermon series on the gospel of Mark. Why? Because I have been impressed by how this shortest of the four gospels moves. It just takes off and all the stories connect well with the central theme of Mark, found in chapter 10 and verse 45,

“For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:45

In my new series, “Stories from Mark,” each of the stories that I will tell connect well with that all important main theme. You may well ask, “Why are you beginning with chapter 12? Good question. The short answer is that the Holy Spirit impressed me to start there, after weeks of study and devotional time spent in Mark. And, I have already started writing and pretty much finished the second sermon in the series, and you’ll have to wait for that until after I preach it live. But I started writing it early this morning while sitting up in my bed. It is based in Mark chapter one, so from there I will press forward over the next several weeks. In fact, I used my iPhone 13 to write it, fairly quickly just by sliding my finger across the keyboard. Amazing how technology has advanced to enable ease of writing and publishing, even to blogs like this one. I thank God for that.

For this first sermon I am preaching from the parable of the wicked vinedressers as found in Mark 12:1-12. Here is the situation. A certain man owns a vineyard which he dug and planted himself. That’s some serious hard work. Then He decided to lease it to some vinedressers before he left for a long stay in a far away place. However, at harvest time he did send his servant to receive payment for the lease.

Now what should the owner reasonably expect to receive from those vinedressers? Some form of payment. Right? Do you know the story as written in Mark’s gospel? Do you know what happened to that servant, and to the other servants the owner had sent? What would you have done if you were the owner? What are the spiritual implications for today concerning this parable? And just what should the LORD God reasonably expect to receive from His churched people today?

Here is the link to listen and watch on my YouTube page. https://youtu.be/ScyUKQn2F90

And if the Spirit impresses you to support my attempts at spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ then please “Like” and “Subscribe.” Thank you.

Enough!

This is a powerful sermon on the meaning of “enough.” (1 Peter 4:1-4; 7-11)

Do you have enough? Enough what? you may ask. How about enough food? Sufficient clothing and shelter? When it comes to material stuff, some do not have enough. Others have more than enough. When does enough become too much? What about companionship? And what about love? Not just human love, but God’s love? Peter admonishes christians to stop living for the will of the flesh because, “We have spent enough of our past lifetime” in doing just that.The apostle further counsels, “since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” And more importantly Peter strongly urges, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.'”

Drawing Closer To Jesus

I’m going to begin with a text from 2 Corinthians chapter 3 and verse 18. The scripture says, “ But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

If you read through this chapter of second Corinthians, yes and even the whole book, but especially here, The apostle Paul who wrote this is making a distinction between serving God in the Spirit versus serving only in the letter. The inside of the cup versus the outside of the cup. And he is making a comparison to the people in the time of Moses, who “had a veil over their face,” meaning that they really did not understand the gospel. Because of that, many of them were in disobedience to God’s expressed commands over and over again.

And yet, what about Christians today? I believe that the whole goal of the Bible is to draw people closer to God, nearer to God, through Christ. Yet if there is confusion of hypocrisy within Christianity, where God’s professed people are not living to glorify God, but rather living more like they don’t understand or even know the gospel, then there will be a great disconnect. And the rest of the world will not be drawn to God, because of the hypocrisy and contradictory teachings of the many and various Christian groups who value religious tradition over what scripture actually says. This is why God raised up reformers during the Protestant Reformation, Luther, Calvin, Knox, Wesley, Miller…

Now you can draw people nearer to God through other religions. But ultimately, you’ll reach a sticking point. Unless you come into Christ. And then the sticking point is removed. 

But, in Christianity, we have the same principle applied. Because, why are there so many denominations out there? For example, different groups claim to have the truth. “No no no! You don’t have the truth we have the truth.”

And Adventists, we’re really no different, because we also believe we have the truth. We believe we have a progression of truths… that came through these reformers, that were renewed by God during the reformation beginning, oh, about five/600 years ago, that had been lost sight of since the time of the apostles.

And what’s interesting is, y’all know about Martin Luther? Martin Luther lived in the 16th century. So did John Calvin. Two great reformers! John and Charles Wesley came almost two centuries later… The 18th century. In fact, right here in Georgia there are monuments to the Wesley’s where they landed after coming from England, in Savannah and also in Brunswick. You can go into the museums and read the different things about them there.

But, what’s interesting to me about John and Charles Wesley, is that they became ordained ministers before they really understood the gospel of grace. Yes, they didn’t know the gospel. These are their own words, not mine. They didn’t know about salvation by grace through faith. They were very high on the law of God. And they were very high on Holy living. Trying to, by their own works of holy living, make themselves acceptable before God.

And here is the reason. When the reformation began… let’s just go to Martin Luther‘s day. There was a struggle. You know there was a struggle. But, the people who accepted Luther’s teachings, they were free. They had liberty. Because they were accepting salvation through Christ alone, through faith in Christ alone. “By grace you have been saved through faith.” Luther taught that great teaching of being justified by faith.

You might remember the story when he was ascending the stairs in Rome. Called Pilates staircase. As he was ascending the stairs on his knees, a voice spoke to him. A voice that basically said, “why are you doing this?” You cannot be made righteous by your works because you are on your knees trying to climb the stairs in some sort of penance. And that text from Romans chapter 1 verses 16 and 17 flashed into his mind, “the just shall live by…” What?  FAITH! Of course that New Testament quote originally came from Habakkuk. “The just shall live by faith.”

200 years goes by… between the Time of Luther and the Wesley’s. And the Church in England which had separated itself from the Papacy, because they had reformed, had backslidden. The reality was that it had only exchanged one supreme leader for another. The King for the Pope! And the nation was in a period of spiritual declension. 

What did God do to bring the Wesley’s into an understanding of the gospel? Listen and watch my sermon to find out: https://youtu.be/gwrdXfu8dHc

“Making Known His Victory”

Psalm 98, verse 1 says: “Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! For He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.” What is this new song that the psalmist calls us to sing to the Lord? It is a song of victory. But whose victory? A few questions we might ask: Why did the Lord God need to gain a victory? I mean, He is Almighty God. He already rules all things, for He created all things. All things exist by His power. Nothing exists apart from His will. And to help us answer the why, we might also ask, How did the Lord gain this victory? The bible answers in verse 1, “His right hand and His holy arm…” And what is the victory? Just what did this victory win?

I preached this sermon live on Jul 16, 2022. I upload it here for a blessing to those who desire to share in making known the Lord’s victory and proclaiming His salvation.

The Tragic Irony of Solar

Going green is not really all that green. When will we ever learn to count the whole cost? The push to go solar in California, is now resulting in a huge mess for how to dispose of these “toxic solar panels.” The heavy metals like selenium and cadmium can leach into and poison underground water sources. And The cost to recycle them is prohibitive, so they are just being thrown out, and filling up landfills. What a tragic irony.

www.latimes.com/business/story/2022-07-14/california-rooftop-solar-pv-panels-recycling-danger

In Hope… I led Worship from Home

Our Church service July 2, I led from home. We used Zoom because of COVID-19 cautions, Yes, I caught the bug this week, and my wife and a few others, but probably from different sources. Yet God is good. I had at first wanted to cancel the services, yet, God turned it around, and I was well enough Friday to change plans and run the service through Zoom and stream live to YouTube. It was a different and special service for us. We began with a “Welcome & Season of Prayer.” We had a sweet season together for the first twenty minutes. Then, I streamed one of the messages Tracie and I heard at our NAD Ministers “Called Convention” when we were in Lexington last week. Here’s what you’ll see. 1) Adventist Historian Dr. George Knight presents, “We Stand On Their Shoulders” (5 minutes). 2) NAD Pastors Song Team leading over 6,000 of us to sing together “God Turn It Around,” and “In Christ Alone.” 3) the sermon: “Hope Is A Habit” by Hallerin Hill (18 minutes of powerful story telling preaching) Hallerin is the CEO and Founder of Wisdom House. 4) The Closing Song (our theme song) “Because I Am Called” written by Hallerin, Sam Ocampo and Ivan Williams the NAD Ministerial Director. 5) I come back live to give the benediction and we say our farewell greetings.

Enjoy and be blessed.

Midweek Pastoral Letter for June 7, 2022

Dear Folks,

Happy midweek, this first part of June. Yes June! The month that summer begins and more sunshine is generally felt in the Northern Hemisphere. I am thankful for the blessing of daylight and sunshine which testify of our Creator’s love and care for this earth. God has made the sun to give physical light and warmth to all living. He has made it so that all the plants of the earth can be sustained by the light energy they receive from the sun. And with the help of water and earth, the living plants in turn give beauty to delight the senses of both animals and of human beings and precious oxygen that ministers to our required need for breath. It is this Creator God who first breathed into Adam’s nostrils the “breath of life,” so that man might become a living being. And it is this same God who stepped into the darkest night of man’s own sin to be our Savior. Jesus who was in the beginning with God, and through Him all things were made, and without Him, nothing was made that was made… Jesus stepped down from heaven to become a man that He might save us from sin. He did this even though it would cost Him everything! 

As you contemplate the things of nature during this month of June, please remember our Lord and our God. For He is our Savior and our Friend as well. Truly no greater friend could anyone of us have other than Jesus. He is now and always will be the true Light of the world. And, He is coming again! Soon every eye will see Him in glory… and the dead in Christ shall rise, and those of us who are in Christ and who are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with the resurrected saints to meet our Lord… where? In the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. (See John 1, Revelation 1:7 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

I pray these words bring you hope, encouragement and comfort.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Dean

Praying What You Believe.

For Memorial Day, I remember Jesus. I think of Him who is the image of the Invisible God, through Whom all things were made and brought into existence. He who created the worlds also became the Savior of our lost estate by coming to this earth and dying for our sins…

I have been away from the Thomaston Church for the past three Sabbaths, as I was preaching a 6-part series called “ORIGINS” at my other church in Griffin. I am a Seventh-day Adventist pastor of a two church district, and this ORIGINS series required my presence at Griffin for three consecutive Sabbaths. We had an excellent series of meetings there with several young people who came to all six presentations because they were invited by their friends. And they were interested in the topic. ORIGINS!

Did God really create the heavens and the earth like the book of Genesis portrays? Or, was life on earth, and all inanimate matter for that matter, the product of a random accident of chance known as the Big Bang, which over eons of time, then gave place to a primordial soup at some point on a prehistoric earth, which then somehow got energized enough to somehow spark the first form of life, a virus?, a complete cell?, or??, which then took off into an evolution of life, until… over 4.5 billion years or so we arrived at today?

Are we the product of genetic mutations that began in a primordial soup? Are the great apes and chimps our close cousins? Or, did God actually create human beings in His own image? What do you believe?

During the ORIGINS series which was written by Dr.Stan Hudson, I had the privilege of exploring the debate. It was Evolution vs. Creation. We explored the fossil evidence for the origin of mankind. We investigated the evidence for the origin of the oceans, and what the fossils and the geologic column have to say about that. We examined the opposing views on the age of the earth and the age of the Universe. Yes, we learned some strengths and weaknesses of radioactive dating and also of unconformities in the geologic column.

And we learned about the dinosaurs. Did Noah take some of them on the Ark? Were they wiped out by meteors? Could meteors have been involved in the great Flood? or its aftermath? For definitely, the great Flood of Genesis chapters 6-9 was a world wide catastrophe, that most likely involved rapid changes in the earth in a short period of time, as opposed to evolutionary science’s view of slow, gradual changes over millions and even billions of years.

We investigated both sides of the debate. And, we showed that the different interpretations of the evidence depend on and arise from the model that one uses to base his or her interpretation. Your model is your worldview. What is clear to me is that these two worldviews are not compatible. For if evolution is true, then the Bible is not. And if the Bible is true, then evolution is not. Even the basic atheist understands that point.

Why then do some, perhaps even many Christians amalgamate their belief about a Creator God with a belief about evolution? If evolution is true, then sin cannot exist, or at the very least it’s not our fault (not human fault). If evolution is true, then God did not create Adam from the dust of the ground, nor did He create Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. And, that would mean that the Biblical story about sin is nothing except a fabrication, and in fact the worst kind of deception. And, what’s more, if evolution is true, there is no God!

But… I believe in God the Father and in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the Son of Man. I believe that Jesus is One with the Father, as the Bible teaches. You see, I do not morph my Biblical worldview to accommodate the evolutionary worldview. And what’s more, I believe Jesus and the Father made this world perfect. No sin. No death. No sickness. Nothing bad existed in God’s original creation of this earth, which the Bible emphatically states was accomplished in six, count them, six literal days. And on the seventh day, God ended His work and rested and was refreshed. And He gave Adam and Eve, and their posterity, the Sabbath Day as a memorial of creation. Thus Jesus affirmed that, “The Sabbath was made for man!” And, for that reason, He emphatically stated that He was “the Lord of the Sabbath!” (See Mark 2:2-28).

I recorded my presentations on ORIGINS; however, I cannot post them here, for, the material is copyrighted. The purpose of ORIGINS is to conduct the meetings in live venues around the world. Here is the link to my presentations so you can read what they are about: https://originsseminar.org/griffin. You can find out if there is a live presentation being held near where you live, by entering your city’s name.

However, the meaning of my blog post today is to grab your attention about what you believe. I have given this post the title, “Praying What You Believe.” Why? Because I believe that God originally created human beings in His image. And that sin has messed up that image. And I am praying that what I believe may be attractive to some of you, yes, even most of you, so that you might seek the Lord, and find Jesus and be saved. Most people don’t realize that Jesus came to be the Savior of the world so that He might restore us from our lost estate. And most people do not know that… God Is Love!

When Jesus comes again, He will come in the glory of His Father, with all the holy angels (Matthew 16:27), and the reward that the saved human saints will receive at that time is to be called forth from their graves if they have died, or, for those saints who are still living when He appears in the sky, to “be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…” (see 1 Corinthians 15:50-55). Together, they will be caught up in the clouds of heaven with Jesus and His angels. The reward that Jesus will give to them is eternal life. They will receive new immortal bodies, and thus the image of God will be fully restored in those humans who are saved. Jesus also calls this resurrection “the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14). Revelation calls it the first resurrection, and states that these resurrected saints are “blessed and holy,” because “the second death has no power” over them (see Revelation 20:6). The second death is permanent death. The second death has power only over those who refused to accept Jesus’ saving grace when they lived on earth. The second death is the final reward of the wicked.

So, for Memorial Day, I am sharing the YouTube link to my sermon, “Praying What You Believe”, and I am remembering Jesus, the One who does not want anyone to perish. He came to earth so that we might know the truth, and be made free from the bondage of sin, because “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). He who died for my sins, is the same One who created this earth. For it is written:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”

Colossians 1:15-18