1973 was a monumental moment of time in my life. I was just 20 years old and excited to seize the days before me! I had just bought my first car — a beautiful, navy blue, 1967 Dodge Dart. I was elatedly engaged to be marrying the girl of my dreams, and in December of that year I married my Carole from Carolina. She still remains the love of my life and the joy of my heart! I also graduated with my B.A. from the School of Religion on May 6 at Southern Missionary College (now Southern Adventist University) that year. I then began my first year of service for Christ for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ft. Myers, Florida, as an employee of the Florida Conference. As I reflect on the past 50 years, I’ve been so honored and grateful for the sacred trust of serving Christ and His remnant Church in the areas of educational, pastoral, and administrative ministry.
Over these years, I’ve learned that leadership or membership in the Seventh-day Adventist Church is not just a battle for faithfulness, purity, and integrity. The great controversy is raging today — right now and right here as a moment-by-moment spiritual war for the heart of everyone alike. From the moment we open our Bibles, we can see it splashed across virtually every page as a sobering reminder to each one of us.
The Apostle Paul said it best in Ephesians 6:12 NKJV: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Then in verses 13-15 of that same chapter, he reminds us and details what we need to be doing daily to brace ourselves with the “whole armor of God.”
As faithful followers of Christ, Adventists have a message and mission bearing an eternal imprint. During these end times, I believe that we exist to strategically plan for evangelism, discipleship, church growth, church planting, and church revitalization. But, we must ever be conscious of our Savior’s urgent counsel to “watch and pray” that we may withstand temptation. Jesus cautioned us that ,“The Spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,” Mark 14:38 ESV. I believe that there is no better defense against spiritual attacks than humility. Genuine and Christlike humility enfolds us with an awareness of our constant need for the Holy Spirit’s protective and empowering grace. It encourages us to watch for danger and pray without ceasing for God’s help and the loving nurture of fellow believers.
Our Savior is alert and provides us with every weapon necessary for the battle before us. He’s on our side and reassures us with words of courage and hope as we near the finish line and the victory lane set before us —
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? …
Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me, yet I will be confident,” Psalm 27:1-3 ESV.
Southern Union | April 2023