Canadian Field Conference 2007

AUGUST 17-19, 2007

Motto: Stand Up For Jesus

On a beautiful summer evening we opened the Canadian Field Conference with an opening message from Br. John Bescec:

Standing up for Jesus is an individual decision. It is a personal decision. It is a statement that we make to the Lord and to those around us. This, brothers and sisters is a CALL TO ACTION.

The question that I would like to ask each one of you is to stop and think for a moment, how have I stood up for Jesus… today, yesterday, last week, last month and during this past year? Have I stood up for my Lord and Saviour in my personal life, in my family, in my neighbourhood, amongst my friends, at work, at school, in my community? What will the record books in heaven show? Did I stand up for Jesus, and how did I do it?

Did I stand up and demonstrate compassion, courage, discipline, endurance, faith, forgiveness, generosity, grace, holiness, hope, humility, justice, love, mercy, obedience, purity, repentance, sacrifice, service, trust, truth, wisdom? Did I stand up demonstrating the Fruits of the Spirit to those with whom my pathway has crossed this year?

Have you ever hesitated at an opportunity? Did you know that every opportunity that is placed before you is not an accident or pure chance? God engineers our circumstances. God is always working behind the scenes. He works and manoeuvres us to place us right where He wants us. This is what happens in our lives. Often we wonder why God allows certain things to happen to us, and yet, somewhere down the road we look back and see God’s leading in it all… we see God’s leading in our lives.

Once the Lord places us in certain situations it is our duty to take advantage of the opportunity.

Making A Decision

Br. Kanagarajah then brought to us the next message:

1 Kings 18:21
“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.”

Elijah stood on Mount Carmel and demanded that the people choose between God and Baal. If you choose God’s way then there would be the benefit of God’s blessing.

In Mathew 27, we see how different the history of the Jewish people would have been if they had made a different choice, if they had chosen Christ instead of Barabbas.

On Mount Carmel, there was confusion among the people because their minds and hearts were being pulled in two opposite directions. We must not have a divided heart.

We must decide for Christ and Christ alone.

Signs of the Times

Br. Michael Mitov then spoke to us:

What is the next step after we make a decision? Once we start on our Christian journey we know that our life is not easy; it is a fight, day by day and minute by minute.

The Lord gives us signs throughout our life. On May 18, 1918, there was an eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington State. It had a magnitude of 8, just like the one that occurred the other day; its power was like that of 500 atomic bombs. This eruption was earlier forecast by many minor tremors; scientists gave many warnings but most people did not head these warnings.

This is just like God works in our life. He gives signs in fulfillment of prophecy and even in warnings in our individual lives. In Revelation God tells us, “behold I come quickly”.

Revelation speaks three times about the return of Christ. He is coming, but are we ready? There are signs that warn us, but what is our attitude? How do we respond to these warnings?

Many people in the world are concerned about the future, but what is their reaction?

Deuteronomy 7:9
“Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations.”

This is the God that keeps His promises, that keeps His covenant.

Sabbath Opening

Br. Jerry Eaton then opened the Sabbath:

How do you think that we have or can stand for Jesus? It takes courage sometimes to stand for Jesus. How can we do this? We mustn’t try to go forth in our own power!
Br. Eaton challenged us, “How have we stood for Jesus?”
Many Brothers and Sisters shared their experiences.

Sister Edda Tedford shared, “various times in my travels God has put me in the exact time and place where there was a person that needed witnessing to, or ministering to a need.”

Sister Linda Suarez shared, “sometimes they can just notice the expression on your face and that often brings inquiries from people in need.”

People often judge you outwardly by the way you dress so it is important that we look like true Christians.

Stand Up In Your Personal Life

Br. Idel Suarez brought to us the Divine Service:

Come with me to the 1850’s; there was a law passed in the United States called “the great compromise”. In this law the 17 northern states outlawed slavery. The law said that you had to return any runaway slaves that escaped from the southern states back to their owners. You had to report any runaway slaves. This was the time that the Seventh Day Adventist church was just coming into existence, what would they do? This was a great test, whom should they obey? Well, of course they should obey God. But it was a great test for the church at that time. And that time is to be repeated.

What did the northern states do in response to this new law? They built a railroad, an underground railroad to provide a way for slaves to be free in the promised land of the north. This was not a railroad made of iron but one made up of people.

Many Quaker families protected slaves that escaped from the south until they could be transported to freedom. And where was that Promised Land in the north? It was here in Canada. It was their heavenly Canada, where they would be free. The last station on the Underground Railroad was in Niagara Falls. After that station they had to cross the great Niagara River.

What did slaves go through in the 1850’s? They risked their lives for freedom.

What about ancient Israel? They were a nation of slaves, uneducated; they had forgotten the law of God.

What about us? “Out of Egypt I have called my son.” We are called out of Egypt, out of the world, to a heavenly “Canada”.

The river we have to pass is wider than Niagara.

Ephesians 6:13
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

We wrestle against spiritual wickedness in high places. We need the whole armour of God to stand in the battle that we are engaged in.

We need to run away from sin, we need to give of the best of our life to Jesus, not what is leftover, if we are to reach our Heavenly Canada!

Mississauga Youth Program

The Mississauga Youth presented the passion of Christ through songs and readings.

The program examined the life of Christ, His life on earth and His sacrifice for us as witnessed through the gospels–the gospels which show the deep experience of Jesus’ life and His unsearchable love for us. The gospels show us the setbacks and eventual triumphs of Jesus’ disciples. The disciples went from accepting the call, learning from Jesus then rejecting Him when Jesus was taken to be crucified.

We learned about the penalty that Jesus paid for you and I and the victory over sin.

The program particularly focused on the final events of Jesus’ life, the trial, crucifixion and victory.

Stand Up in Your Community

Br. Oscar Oviedo then spoke to us:

1 Thessalonians 2:4
“But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.”

We have been put in trust of the gospel as a gift. We are entrusted with the gospel, this is something important.

Paul realized that he was entrusted with the gospel. He felt he was completely unworthy but God still gave him this message and opportunity

What is the gospel? It is the good news. It has to show us our condition. It needs to show us the price or what it costs, Jesus’ sacrifice. It is good to know Jesus works in our lives, He is our high priest and advocate. It is good to know our names are written in the book of life! This is good news indeed! But is it good news to you?

There are two other words given to the “gospel” – the truth and my word. We have to go beyond a theoretical understanding of this. We need to appreciate and live it on another level. Did Jesus say that we should keep this good news to ourselves? No we need to give out the good news. It is a commission!

“Whom shall I send?”

In 2 kings 5:2-5 we are introduced to a little maid, a small person, unimportant, but look at what she accomplished simply by standing up! She stood up in her community where she lived. Because of her influence she got one of the great rulers of her day to go to see a prophet of God in Israel; the result was a tremendous witness for God.

Paul says in 1 Thessalonians “not as pleasing men.” We don’t stand up for men, for pleasing people, but pleasing God. Do not live by what others think of you, minimize it in your mind. Do not live by what you think of yourselves, some have a high or low self esteem. Live with only God’s esteem, what God thinks of you!

Children’s Program

We were uplifted by the children’s program, which witnessed of Jesus living in their lives. They spoke about Jesus’ resurrection and the eyewitness accounts of the event. Tell me the story of Jesus!

Stand Up In Your Church

Br. Henry Holmstroem brought the next service:

Many of us in our Christian life need to make a u-turn. Many people, when they know we are Christians they are aware and take notice of how we look, dress, speak and conduct ourselves. We are ambassadors for Christ. Ambassadors represent their respective nations and what they do reflects on that nation. In the same way what we do reflects on our Lord. Let us look at a couple of examples of people that made a u-turn in their lives.

John 1:40-42
“One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.”

Peter was a businessman and a fisherman. I am sure that Peter was surprised to be called a stone by Jesus. Nevertheless Jesus saw that potential in Peter even though he did not see that in himself. Through his relationship with Jesus gradually Peter made a u-turn in his life and became the strength that Jesus saw in him that first day.

Paul was an apostle that persecuted the Christians but he made a u-turn in his life. From persecutor he became one of the most influential leaders of the early Christian church. Similarly we must have a u-turn in our lives that we may become a powerful force within our church through the grace of our Lord.

Toronto Youth Program

The Toronto youth blessed us with personal testimony and song in different languages. God’s family is comprised of people from different cultures and languages and yet He has room for all within His kingdom.

Br. Richard Eaton gave a personal testimony of how Jesus had worked in his life and though he had not yet committed fully to Jesus through baptism, that it was his intention to do so. He spoke of feeling a strong need to be accepted within his peer group at school, yet he felt a desire to change this relationship and instead find acceptance within God’s family.

Sister Emelina gave a personal testimony of her past battle with giving up smoking and how each time she would throw the package away after smoking one cigarette, fully intending that to be her last one. Yet she found herself repeating this over and over. Finally she decided that she would fast and pray and ask God to take this desire away from her and God did!

Testimony and Praise

Br. Timo Martin led the testimony and praise meeting. Many people praised God through song. There were many who witnessed to the work of God in their lives and thanked Him for His patience and unwavering love. Many recommitted their lives to Jesus and pledged to stand up more for Him in the future.

Stand Up for the Faith

Br. Thomas D’haiti led out in the next service. Br. D’haiti recounted his meeting with Samuel from Haiti with whom he started to study with by phone. He then visited him in Florida. After which Samuel finally decided to join the church. Br. Samuel wanted to be accepted as a member in Canada, as a witness to his friends, as to where he had originally heard of the reform.

This witness then led to studies over the phone to his other friends in the Dominican Republic. The same young man went to Haiti and had a week of revival. Many Adventists went to his house to study; the truth then spread like wild fire among the Adventists in Haiti. Many have now accepted the truth of reform there and this despite threats of death from their former brethren and pastors.

These people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti are real life, present day examples of people that are standing up for the faith of Jesus. We need to take a lesson from these brethren; we need to stand up for the faith in every aspect of our lives.

Sabbath Close

Br. Kelly Schultz led out in the next service:

Evangelicals say that Jesus fulfilled the Sabbath and so it was done away with. But we know that it is not the truth.

We are looking for that eternal rest that we can all take part in throughout eternity with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! But first we must stand up for Him today!

Sunday Morning Baptism

On the shores of Lake Ontario, the sun shining in a clear sky, its reflections shimmering on the waves as they gently caressed the sand of the shore, Br. Idel Suarez and the young lady who chose to make her stand with God’s remnant people, Sister Irene, stood by waiting to enter the watery grave. Br. Suarez brought forth the message:Colossians 2:11-13

“In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.”

Here we have biblical proof for baptism by full immersion. Baptism has to be a burial. When you go to a funeral, do they just sprinkle dirt on the body? No, you have to dig a hole in the ground and bury the body fully. We must be “buried with Him in baptism”. Luther and Zwingli didn’t understand it but the Anabaptists did. The person has to be dead in sins to be buried, not still living, but dead. Then He can quicken you.

After Sister Irene went in to her watery grave we continued at the church. Br. Suarez noted that this is a time of celebration, Heaven is having a party, and so it is proper for us to sing when we are happy.

Galatians 3:27
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

Br. Suarez told us, “Little girls love to play dress up; they will change costumes several times a day. My little girls love to dress up like princesses. When we are baptized we dress up like Jesus, on the inside and outside, but it has to start on the inside. People need to say when they look at us that we look like Jesus.

Closing Service

Br. John Formosa closed the conference with texts from Joshua 24: 15Ð27. After Joshua asked Israel whom they would serve, the people all said that they would not forsake God. How could they after what the Lord had brought them through? How surprised they must have been when “Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.” Israel had been poisoned by the presence of false gods within their homes and worship service. Joshua told them that they could not worship God in such a state. God would not accept this kind of worship because God is a holy God.

The same is true for us today. We may say that, of course we choose to have God, look what He has done for us in our lives. But the reality is that unless we are a holy people it is impossible for us to serve the Lord. We must raise the standard far above what we are currently doing if we are to serve the Lord. Just as in the case of ancient Israel, we must put away all of the false gods and habits that pollute our lives if we are to be a holy people fit to serve a holy God. How can we raise the standard if we remain seated and still in our lives? We must stand up for Jesus if we are to raise the standard.

“So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.”

Joshua put a great stone to remind Israel when they saw it of their covenant they had made to be holy with God. Similarly we can look to our own baptism as a visible sign and witness to the same covenant we made with God to put away strange gods from among us and become a holy people for a holy God.

With a special benediction by Br. Idel Suarez the 2007 Canadian field Conference came to a close.