Easter

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#Heresy#FalseDoctrine#SayWhat?

Wednesday, April 7th, 2021

I prefer to stay out of politics. I think I do pretty well with that. So what I am about to post has NOTHING at all to do with politics, even though it involves a politician (who probably ought to stick to his wretched politics).

Raphael Warnock, who calls himself Reverend Raphael Warnock, is the “pastor” of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Historically, it is the church Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was the pastor of before his death. On Easter Sunday Mr. Warnock tweeted the following:

The meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whether you are Christian or not, through a commitment to helping others, we are able to save ourselves.

All I can say is, “Say what?” The blowback was quick and strong.

“With all due respect, this is literally the opposite of what the Gospel says. Ephesians 2 states that clearly. Faith alone, Christ alone,” tweeted Jason Romano, an author and the director of media at Sports Spectrum. “Love God, Love others. We should always help others. But … that’s [not] how we’re saved. Romans, Ephesians, the Gospels all make it clear we can’t save ourselves. If we could, then Jesus dying on the cross for nothing.”

Mark Jackson, the pastor of Oakhurst Baptist Church in Clarksdale, Miss., responded to Warnock by tweeting, “You sir have totally missed the meaning of this day. Without the resurrection of Christ, there is no hope of salvation at all. There is no greater meaning of this day than that of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

And here is one I totally agree with:

Another person tweeted, “This is a false gospel and heresy. We cannot save ourselves.”

First, Mr Warnock campaigned on the idea the Bible condones abortion. Now he says this. Seriously? Mr. Warnock should stick to politics rather than spread around the kind of false messages he is busy doing.  This latter one is just sheer poppycock. And blatant false teaching.

Now you know how I really feel. 🙂

#GreatestEvent#Celebration

Saturday, April 3rd, 2021

Oddly enough there is one thing atheists and Christ-followers can agree on.  I believe you can say we have a common ground. That common ground has been summed up very well by Billy Graham: “If I were an enemy of Christianity, I would aim right at the Resurrection, because that is the heart of Christianity.” 

I found an interesting quote recently by a man named Jaroslav Pelikan:

If Christ is risen, nothing else matter. And if Christ is not risen-nothing else matters.

All that to say this: the validity of Christianity rises and falls on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  By an outward look, the cross is the final blow to Jesus and the life He offered. But ONLY IF the resurrection is not true. However, if the resurrection is true, the finality of the cross is done. It is defeated.

Of course, I believe very strongly that the resurrection of Jesus Christ physically from the tomb is true. If I didn’t I would quit my job, find another job, and live in despair for the rest of my life.  In a book called Moorings in a World Adrift, the late Clayton Bell wrote the following words:

The fact of Jesus’ resurrection is the benchmark from which we measure everything about Jesus Christ: his birth, his life, his teachings, his miracles, and even his death.”

Sunday if, of course, Resurrection Sunday. The day we celebrate the greatest event in history.  My purpose is to show why I believe the resurrection is true.  I invite you to join us in person or online. And I’ll close this post with a quote from N.T. Wright:

It is impossible to account for the early Christian belief in Jesus as Messiah without the resurrection.

 

#NeverTooLate#Song

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

I was on my way to the office this morning (Thursday) and was listening to Kutless. I have been listening to them lately and I’m sure I heard this song but never paid much attention.

Until this morning.

I realized how pertinent it was given the meaning of this whole week. The day we honor tomorrow (Good Friday). The day we celebrate on Sunday (Resurrection).

And the ache we have in our hearts for those we know and/or love who have continued to push Jesus away.  I know I do.  I offer this to you to be encouraged to not stop praying and hoping. It is never too late until that last breath is breathed. Until then…

Here is the song.

#Story#Replacement

Monday, March 29th, 2021

Perhaps you have heard this story before. Maybe not. Since I have never read Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities I can’t say I have except in a passing glance. But I used the following story in my sermon yesterday and since it is the week leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection, I thought I would start your week off with a thought-provoking story.

A man named Charles Darnay is condemned to die by the guillotine.  In our vernacular, all means of appeal had been made. The verdict kept coming back “Guilty.” “Condemned.”

As he sat in his cell and thought about his wife and child, he heard the shuffling of feet in the stone passage, a turning of a key, and a quick open and shut door. With a finger to his lips, Sidney Carton stood face-to-face before Darnay with a slight smile on his face. This man had come to trade places with Darney. Carton, an innocent man, is willing to go to the guillotine so that Darnay can be free to live and rejoin his family.

After the exchange has been made, and prisoners are gathered to be taken to their execution, a little seamstress approaches him. “Are you dying for him?” she whispered. “And his wife and child,” he replied.

Sidney Carton died so that another might live. But as great as his act was, it still does compare with what Christ has done for us.  You see, Carton died for 3 people. Jesus died not for just three, not for a hundred, but millions upon millions of people. Jesus died mercifully for a humanity caught in rebellion against God. By His death Jesus reconciled us (made us friends) with God.

Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates his love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Think on that truth as we begin this final week leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus.

#Heart#Cross#Dichotomy

Friday, March 26th, 2021

Hey! Thanks for dropping by my blog. I had planned on posting one more time before this weekend but a quick and last minute trip to Ohio to visit with our daughter and grandson took precedence and me out of the loop. So I’m playing a little bit of catch up and this is one of those places. I have to forego the post I was going to do and post this one instead.

The old hymn used the refrain, “So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross/’Til my trophies at last I’ll lay down.” The question which begs to be asked is, “How can someone cherish the cross? What we know of it and the horrors and torture which surrounded it says anything but “cherish.” It was an ugly instrument of death.

The past two weeks I have been looking at the cross and will do the same this week. This Sunday is commonly called Palm Sunday because it showcases the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem surrounded by followers laying palm branches on the ground.  It introduces what is called Holy Week, so-called because it is the last week of Jesus’ earthly life/ministry before His crucifixion and resurrection.  Some have called this week and crucifixion as being the week where we get to see a perfect example of cosmic child abuse.  Progressive “Christianity” is whacked and the purveyors of it are complicit in its and their “whackness.”

The cross was absolutely essential to the story of salvation.  Take away the cross and you take away the heart of the whole story.  The Bible tells us this is the way it had to be!  JESUS DIED WILLINGLY, laying down His life on His own accord.  He wasn’t forced or tricked or blackmailed or threatened with the extinction of His people. He did all of this willingly. In fact, Hebrews 12 says, “For the joy set before Him.”

My purpose this Sunday is to show the heart of the cross.  I want to show how Jesus defied common wisdom and practice and instead of whining and crying and fighting, He willingly laid down His life for me, for you.”  I even have a great story which Charles Dickens included in The Tale of Two Cities which I will be using in the sermon.  (If you are unable to watch or attend and are good, I will include it in a post this coming week). 🙂

Please join me in person or online on the church’s FB page or YouTube channel.  You can check out the church’s website for those links.  And as always, if you are unable to do either, please pray for me, for us. Thanks.

#LessonsfromaShadow

Sunday, March 14th, 2021

Yesterday I preached on the Shadow of the Cross. In my last post, I mentioned there were 6 lessons from a book I planned to use during the sermon and then I was going to post here.  I’d like to share three here and then three in the next post.

#1- The shadow of the cross teaches us who we are. The cross should and must humble us. Very few of us look at ourselves with humility. Instead, we compare and tell ourselves we aren’t really too bad. We need to rekindle the thoughts we had when we initially were saved-a sinner in need of and saved by grace.

#2- The shadow of the cross teaches us what we need. The cross teaches me I need inward change.  I don’t need to change my circumstances, my lot in life, my place of living, or even a physical change.  I need an inward, heart change.  And here is the kicker: I am incapable of making this change happen on my own.

#3- The shadow of the cross teaches us who God is. Bluntly put: He is God and I am not.  But it goes much deeper than that. The cross teaches me that God is unrelentingly merciful.  The cross teaches me God is full of grace. The cross teaches me that He is the One who wants to be in charge and I am incapable of managing and running my own life. When God takes over ownership of my life, He wants to be the One in charge. He does not need a backseat driver telling Him what to do with my life.

The main ideas are from the book by Paul David Tripp entitled Journey to the Cross.  The commentary is mine. As you think about the upcoming season of the cross and Resurrection Sunday I hope this helps put things in perspective.  I will post the next three on Wednesday.

#Cross#Shadow

Friday, March 12th, 2021

I missed Ash Wednesday. Well, not really. I was aware of it. I knew when it came (and went). But since I am not from a tradition that typically observed/observes it, I often consider it just another day on the calendar. However, I do try to be more aware of its significance.  I do know that Ash Wednesday is the start of what we call the “Easter season.” It is the start of the 40 day journey to Resurrection Sunday.

I may sound somewhat cynical here but please don’t take it as being any less sincere: I don’t need a reminder of how sinful I am. I see that every day-whether as I read my Bible, journal, interact with people, or just live my life. I feel like the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15- “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”  Busted!

But thank God for the cross!! A most unusual psalm fits in right here: Psalm 130. That psalm is the basis for my sermon Sunday on the shadow of the cross.  I’m borrowing from Paul David Tripp’s new book, Journey to the Cross for this message. He gives 6 lessons the shadow of the cross teaches us.  They will be the first part of my message followed by a look at Psalm 130.  I also plan to share those 6 lessons in two posts next week.  I’d love to have you join me and the church I pastor either in person or online.  And as always, if you are unable to do so, then prayer is always appreciated.

I’ll close this post with words from a Petra song: “Never perfect, but perfectly forgiven…This is life as we know it forgiven and free, life as we know it more abundantly.”  (Life As We Know It)

#ImportantDay#DayofReflection

Wednesday, February 17th, 2021

Today is an important day for several reasons: one personal and one spiritual.

The spiritual first. Today, February 17th, is the beginning of Lent, or Ash Wednesday. Lent is the 40 days before the day we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. This year that will be April 4th. I must confess to you that growing up in the church tradition I belonged to we did not observe Lent. I was so naive about it that I almost went up to a teacher who had a dark spot in the middle of his forehead and told him he had dirt there. 🙂 I had no clue! I also know some of my friends would talk about giving up something for Lent. Again, I had no clue.  My teacher was Catholic, as were my friends, and I now know that was a significant aspect of their belief system.  It had to be only 15 or so years ago that I really gave any notice to Lent. I heard some folks talking and decided it would behoove me to know more. For several years I decided to give it a go so one year I gave up caffeine pop. Another year I gave up beef (which wasn’t really hard since I didn’t eat it much anyway). One year I gave up all pop and drank only water. Then I finally figured out it really wasn’t about giving up something; it was really about surrender.

In his book, Journey to the Cross, a 40 day devotional to be used during Lent, Paul David Tripp writes: “It is right and beneficial to take a season of the year to reevaluate, recalibrate, and have the values of our hearts clarified once again. Lent is such a season. As we approach Holy Week, where we remember the sacrifice, suffering, and resurrection of our Savior, it’s good to give ourselves to humble and thankful mourning. Lent is about remembering the suffering and sacrifice of the Savior. Lent is about confessing our ongoing battle with sin…And Lent is about giving ourselves in a more focused way to prayer, crying out for help that we desperately need from the only One who is able to give it.” (Pages 8-9)

I no longer use Lent to give up something physical. I try to use it to do just what Tripp says: “to reevaluate, recalibrate, and have the values of my heart clarified once again.”  May I challenge you to do the same? I have been reading his book in preparation for my sermons on the cross and the resurrection. I’m actually on Day 17…and no I didn’t plan it that way. Perhaps you might even consider getting a copy of his book to help guide you.

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On a more personal note: this day has some significance. Many of you know of my struggles physically since testing positive for Covid on December 21. I will spare you the ugly details. Let’s just suffice it to say I lost between 40-50 pounds in less than a month. After multiple tests they have narrowed it down to gall stones which lodged in my bile duct which caused my physical issues. After having them removed, it was highly recommended that I have my gall bladder removed. My words: I have a gravel pit in there.  Oddly enough, I NEVER had a moment of pain. However much I hated getting Covid, it actually alerted my doctors (and me) to the potential for a great amount of pain and the possibility of infection which could have caused serious issues down the road. So I am having my gall bladder removed today. I guess that gives new meaning to Lent being a time of giving up something?  🙂  By the time many (most) of you read this my surgery will probably be over. I am hoping for the laparoscopy so I can come home today. All I ask is that whenever you read this you do say a prayer. I would like to recover as quickly as possible. On the bright side: we were “blessed” with 8-9 inches of snow Monday and Tuesday morning so I can’t be outside riding my bike anyway.  But I have been riding inside and am praying for a good answer to my question: when can I start riding inside again? I’ll keep you posted on how things went. Meanwhile, I do ask for your prayers. For more on this whole process and how I am “seeing” it, please check out my other blog here.

He’s Alive!

Sunday, April 12th, 2020

Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. It is not quite the Resurrection Sunday celebration we were anticipating that’s for sure.  The past few years we have had one service at a local venue (Abram Farm) that allowed us to be all together as one church family. This year was already going to be different due to the company that normally did our sound having to beg off this year. So, in spite of the graciousness of Bill & Suzie Abram, the owners of the venue, we were going to have two services at our building.

Then COVID-19 happened. Suddenly, we went from Abram Farm to our church building to a virtual celebration. But there is a great lesson here! The grave could not contain Him. What in the world would make us think a virus could? So we celebrate anyway. Virtually.

More could be said. But I’m not going to belabor the point. So I say, “Celebrate! Jesus is alive in our hearts. He is alive in our worship. He is alive seated at the right hand of His Father. Celebrate!”  I’d like ask you to listen to an old song. In my mind, one of the best Easter songs you don’t even know by my favorite Christian group of all time.

#LentEnding#33

Saturday, April 11th, 2020

Sunday, Resurrection Day, is the official end to Lent.  A sad time ends in a time of rejoicing.

Pastor and author John MacArthur once said:

Neutrality is not an option. Either Jesus rose and rightly demands your attention, repentance, trust and obedience, or he stayed dead.  If He only became a rotting corpse why should you follow Him?”  {Quoted by Andrew Warnock in Risen With Christ}

Although I don’t always agree with his views on some things, Biblical scholar N. T. Wright made this statement:

The only possible reason why early Christianity began and took the shape that it did is that the tomb really was empty and that people really did meet Jesus, alive again.

Hard to argue with either one. Resurrection Sunday is the crowning event of our belief system. Take away the resurrection and WE. HAVE. NOTHING. Peter knew it. Paul most certainly knew it (he devoted a whole chapter to it. See I Corinthians 15).

Rise up followers of Christ! Do not despair! If the grave could not contain Him, how in the world and why in the world do we get this crazy notion some virus will? So the church is not meeting in a building. Good!  Meet in homes. Meet with friends. Meet with loved ones. Invite others to join in the party. Celebrate the RESURRECTION OF JESUS with me!! 

Bet you can’t guess what my sermon will be about tomorrow!! 🙂 See you on the church FB page at 10:00.