Sin

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#DeadlyCancer#Pride

Friday, June 24th, 2022

Gregory the Great, who became pope in 590 A.D., once said pride was the “queen of sins.” And even though the papacy is not Scriptural, I have to say I agree with him. C.S. Lewis called pride “the great sin.” He went on to say, “The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride.”

When you think about it, all sin seems to find its roots in pride. Proverbs 8:13 and Proverbs 16:18 seem to say that as well.  Funny side note: do you remember the song by Carly Simon called “You’re So Vain”? It was reported to have been about Warren Beatty because he thought he was God’s gift to women.  Remember part of the lyrics: “You’re so vain you probably think this song is about you.” I just thought she was saying, “If you are arrogant enough to think I’m singing about you in what I have said, then vanity is an issue.” 🙂

Anyway, when pride takes over everyone suffers.  Two weeks ago I began a series I am calling “7 Cancers” with a sermon on Whatever Became of Sin.  This Sunday starts that series in earnest. As you can tell, pride will be the focus of the sermon I’m calling “The Queen Cancer.”   I hope you will join me either in person or online. We have two services-one at 9 and one at 10:45.

Let me close with a quote from J. Oswald Sanders:

Nothing is more distasteful to God than self-conceit.

#Sin#SayWhat?

Thursday, June 9th, 2022

In 1973 Dr. Karl Menninger wrote a book entitled Whatever Became of Sin? Although I have never read the book, i borrowed its title for this week’s sermon.  The very real truth is that sin is part and parcel of life here on earth, but our culture wants to either redefine it, dismiss it, or dismantle it.

Holiness is not an option for the follower of Christ, and for us to accomplish that we must come to grips with the effects of sin in our lives. Anyone who knows the Bible or even of the Bible, knows the beginning of sin from Genesis 3. Adam and Eve decided to take things into their own hands, believe the serpent who said they would be like God, and eat the fruit. Life has been all downhill since then.  Try as we may, we cannot change the outlook or consequence of sin.  I have to confess that I get really embarrassed for those who think they can sing because someone told them they could.  Even though I don’t watch American Idol , I have seen enough promos to know there are some who are downright awful. And when I say awful. I mean A.W.F.U.L. They remind me of those who think they can pull their life together and overcome their sin by themselves. They can’t sing and neither can someone do the latter.

I am starting a series on June 26 (a break for Father’s Day) on 7 Cancers. This week’s sermon is sort of a lead off batter to it.  I would love to have you join me in person if possible. If not, we will be live streaming it at 9 and 10:45. Please join us. If not possible, then please pray for the service. Thanks.

#SinStillSin

Friday, April 1st, 2022

“Sin is non-existent” so no man ever.  Truth is sin is a reality in our lives and there are few issues that divide progressives from historic Christianity more than the issue of sin.  While we might say sin is an issue, today’s world does not want to call it that. We call it by other names: a mistake, a shortcoming, an error in judgment, a mess-up; anything but sin. We have glossed over that word to make it not sound so imposing and condemning. But no matter what kind of “spin” is put on the word, sin is still sin.

Here’s the reality: unless we are willing to call sin what it is, and unless we stop glossing over it and not making it sound so “offensive,” we will never be free of its grip on us.  Romans 3:23 uses the word: “For all have sinned…” Not “all have made mistakes” or “all have had errors in judgment,” etc.  In fact, for us to experience salvation we have to admit to sin. We are all fallen creatures. While I don’t believe in total depravity, I do believe we are born with a sin nature which soon manifests itself in all of us.

I’m continuing my series on Truth Decay with this sermon entitled Sin is Still Sin.  I hope you will join me in person or via live stream. We have two services at 9 and10:45 but if you are unable to watch it then you can watch it later on YouTube or the church’s FB page.  If you can’t be there, please pray for me, for us.  Thanks.

#Forgiveness#LessonsforReal

Sunday, March 21st, 2021

This past Sunday I preached about the necessity of the cross. I once again went to an unlikely Scripture for better understanding: Psalm 130.  Thanks to the late Dr. James Boice (see the end of this post for an interesting fun fact), I was able to make some excellent remarks about God’s forgiveness. I share those with you here:

#1- God’s forgiveness is inclusive. Verse 4 does not say, “There is forgiveness for this sin but not that sin.” It would be even worse if it said, “There is forgiveness for this sin” but then not include the one you or I are guilty of. God’s forgiveness sets no limits. The only sin not forgiven is the rejection of Christ.

#2- God’s forgiveness is for now.  The translators do it right here (v.4) by using the word “is.”  The original Hebrew is even stronger because it says, “With you forgiveness.” You or I don’t have to wonder about our future of standing before God or standing in trembling uncertainty. There is forgiveness for you, this moment, right now.

#3- God’s forgiveness is for those who want it. In verses 1-2 the psalmist says, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!” Forgiveness is there but you must ask for it. One thing I have noticed over the years is God will never force Himself on anyone. You must ask. You must want Him. Notice the psalmist is confessing his sin in verse 1. Pleading for mercy in verse 2. And then believing and trusting God for that mercy in verse 4. 

#4- God’s forgiveness leads to godly living. Some people object to grace being a motivating factor because they say it leads to sin. You know that argument right? “Bill, if you teach about grace it will just give people a license to sin.” I see it as the opposite. The forgiveness we are talking about does not lead to license but to reverence for God. Notice the words at the end of verse 4: “to be feared.” That is reverence. A life truly changed by the power of the Gospel and the power of God’s forgiveness will not fall into a pattern of sin and disregard for God’s Word. The true effects of forgiveness are love and worship and service not license to sin.

So there you have it. Four lessons to learn and apply about forgiveness. I hope this helps you understand forgiveness a little more.

And now for the fun fact: Dr. Boice’s father was an M.D. who practiced in Duquesne, PA. and McKeesport Hospital. He was my family doctor. Today he would be called a Pediatrician. That was l-o-o-o-o-n-g before specialized medicine. 🙂 And there you have an interesting fun fact.

#SpeakUpandOut#ItisTime

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021

As the title suggests, it is time to speak up and out. I have rued speaking about politics on purpose.  In the long run, it serves no purpose. Talking heads will want to believe what they want to believe. My wife has asked me on several occasions, “Can’t people see that what he is doing is ruining our country?” I nodded in the affirmative to her thoughts about the country but then simply replied, “Nope they can’t because they don’t want to. Big tech and the liberal media only tell people what they themselves believe or what they want people to hear.” We saw that since the first impeachment (farce) of a trial and we saw it the whole 10 months leading up to the election.  (And please don’t get me started on that).

But I have another “bone” to pick. All this talk of science during the whole pandemic as though science was the end all. Science had/has all the answers.  “Science says this or science says that.” If science is so right on that subject, why is science so wrong on another subject?  Cases in point:

The current administration has signed into law that transgender males may participate in female sports. Science says that gives the males an unfair advantage because of the testosterone which is running through their body. But we suddenly push science aside for the sake of political “woke-sim.”  Can I say how much I despise that word “woke”?  Even athletes like Martina Navratilova, a known and out-spoken lesbian,  has gone on public record that it is a bad thing. “It gives the transgender athlete an unfair advantage,” she says. Oh, she took some heat on that one for sure. She isn’t alone. Even Billie Jean King spoke out.  And many others.  It is unfair that woman/high school/college athletes will be punished by the travesty of allowing males to compete as females. So we kick science to the curb for the sake of being PC (a word we no longer need to use since we have “woke”).  Have I told you much I despise that word?  🙂  Oh, and if you think this is not backed by big money then take a gander at this articleThat ought to chill you to the core.

Another “Kick science to the curb” scenario is the recent vote to allow babies who survive abortion not to receive medical help, i.e. just let them die. The fact that they are breathing even science will admit means they are alive.  How can babies be denied life-saving means, especially when a botched abortion was meant to take their life to start with? I am beyond stumped with that. And I am beyond livid when it comes to abortion and now this?  I submit to you there will be some lawmakers who will cringe when they stand before the Judge of all and have to give an account for their actions.  I seem to remember Someone saying we “need to become like children to see the kingdom of heaven” and “it would be better if a millstone were tied around our neck rather than cause one of the little ones to stumble.”  Of course, I suspect many or most of them don’t care what God thinks. And for a supposed pastor to vote for letting them die? I do not want to be in his shoes on Judgment Day.

I have other thoughts but will keep them to myself.  🙂  I will also now climb down off my soapbox and be on my way.  I ranted long enough.  Oh…by the way…these are not political issues; they are moral issues. On those I will speak.

#Manipulation#Critique#Toxic

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

I just finished reading When to Walk Away by Gary Thomas, a book I mentioned in my last post about Finding Freedom from Toxic People.  It has been a really good book, one that will take some time digesting and reading over the highlighted thoughts and sections. I want to use one of the thoughts as a springboard for this post.

If you are like me you tire-and I mean really tire-of people accusing us of basically being mean and narrow and bigoted.  You say something they don’t agree with and you can hear it coming from a million miles away: “Aren’t you Christians supposed to forgive? How come you aren’t acting like a Christian?” Or they will say, “You are nothing more than a narrow, bigoted hypocrite.”  To quote Gary:

They don’t really care if we’re acting like a Christian though. They just want us to do what they want us to do, and they’re using our faith as a weapon to manipulate and control. (p.146)

I always find it interesting when someone who does not claim any allegiance to Christ or to Christianity or to Biblical principles tries to lecture us on those very same issues. Do you sense a disconnect here?  People like this are masters at lecturing or deciding for us how we are supposed to act AND YET they make no claim-they even scoff at the idea-of following Christ.  The problem as I see it is that the atheist or the non-conformist or the immoral person wants to spout off their junk, but when someone questions them or stands against them they rear their ugly head in shock and toxicity and shame-throwing. They are masters at lecturing us how we ought to behave and yet are unwilling to listen to the truth because it will go against their carefully crafted lifestyle and belief system.  They aren’t so much interested in me acting like a Christ-follower should as much as they want me and you to do what they want us to do.  Long story short: approve of their lifestyle and belief system and not counter them or make them feel guilty.

My purpose as a follower of Christ is to please God. To bring fame to His Name. To honor Him in all things.  I have to keep in mind my approval by others is not on the table. Don’t allow someone to manipulate you into playing his games by his rules.

#Lent#3

Saturday, February 29th, 2020

The way the story of the Bible, the way the truth weaves its way through the whole Biblical narrative has never ceased to impress me.  It starts in Genesis 3 with the Fall and God’s judgment on the serpent-the animal and the force behind it.

  • “On your belly you will go and eat dirt”
  • “And I will put enmity between you and woman and between your seed and her seed.”
  • “You will bruise His heel; He will bruise your head.”

And then this!  “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (I John 3:8)

Satan would only bruise Jesus’ heel (cause Him to suffer), but Jesus would bruise Satan’s head (destroy him). Unless you are Achilles, a blow to the heel won’t kill you.  A blow to the head can and, if it lands just right, will.

The cross was that place.  Jesus suffered (His heel was bruised) but Satan was defeated by suffering a fatal blow (head slammed).  Thank God for the cross and the resurrection!

SOS

Friday, March 1st, 2019

First off: SOS did not stand for “Save Our Souls.”  It was actually chosen because of its ease to use in Morse Code. (…—…)  What it did mean is “We are in trouble and need immediate help.”

The story Sunday started with a sleepless night then exploded into a story of lust, adultery, deception, and murder. If it was a movie at the theater or a book we were asked to read we would (probably) avoid it. The story is, of course, the story of David and Bathsheba. It is a story most are familiar with-in the church or outside the church. Why include it in the Bible? I mean, why not whitewash everything and leave this type of story out? Maybe this verse of Scripture might answer the question:

“Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did…Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come…Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” I Cor.10: 6, 11-12

The story of David and Bathsheba is the story of me. It is the story of you. We are prone to stand off and say, “I’m not that David” and feel pretty smug. But the reality is that we are that David because David’s enemy is our enemy: sin. Gratefully, the Scripture for Sunday’s sermon, Psalm 51 has the theme of grace not sin. This is actually going to be in two parts: Verses 1-9 this week; verses 10-19 the next.

I’d appreciate your prayers for this weekend. Thanks.

Avoid!!

Friday, September 21st, 2018

General George C. Marshall once said, “Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.”

If the truth be known, we are all tempted from time to time to put the best possible spin on things related to us. We don’t really want people to know who we are. We might open the door a crack. But totally? We aren’t quite ready to do that.

As followers of Christ, we tread a fine line. We shouldn’t withdraw from the world because that leaves us with no influence. But at the same time we shouldn’t fall lock, stock and barrel into walking lockstep with them either. We need what is called D.I.S.C.E.R.N.M.E.N.T.  Frankly, there are people we ought to and need to avoid. While an addict may feel strong, hanging around with his old buddies is not the wisest choice.

Proverbs 6:12-19 is a rather hard-hitting passage. I’ve divided it into two sections:

  • Stay away from the insincere (6:12-15)
  • Stay away from frauds (6:13-19)

This is going to be my last sermon in the Proverbs series. Ryan will be preaching next week. My soon-to-be 12 year old grandson plays football and the only games I could make it to are played on Sunday. So Jo, Tami, and I will be leaving next Saturday, staying the night, then watching him play on Sunday at noon. So Ryan has graciously said he would preach for me.  He will finish the series using Proverbs 3: 1-8.

One more note: I started a post here on Tips which came from a book called Being There. I’ll include the second installment next week. That way my millions of readers will have a chance to read and comment.  🙂 🙂 🙂

 

Blind

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

I was just listening to a song by Styx called “Snowblind,” about the dangers of cocaine. One of the refrains says, “Mirror, mirror on the wall/The face you show me scares me so…” That describes my morning look into the mirror!

Reality has set in for me. Well, it has for quite awhile but there are some things I cannot deny. Long hair to no hair. Dark beard/goatee to gray. Joints which creak. 🙂 Joints that don’t want to work anymore, or at least very crankily. There is other visible evidence which I cannot deny. The mirror just does not lie.

While reading Caleb’s new book (I talk about it here) I ran across a great story! It comes from the movie Creed, where Rocky is training Adonis, Apollo Creed’s son. (Watch the first 100 Rocky’s to know who he is. Actually the first 4).

During one scene, Rocky and Adonis are standing in front of a mirror in the gym during their training session. Rocky teaches Adonis a brilliant lesson about self-perception. Pointing at Adonis in the mirror,  Rocky says, “You see this guy here staring back at you?”

“Yeah,” Adonis answers.

“That’s your toughest opponent. Every time you get into the ring, that’s who you’re going against. I believe that in boxing, and I do believe that in life.”

Who knew? Rocky the boxing philosopher! I agree with him actually.  I have tough times, seemingly on a daily basis (although that would be an exaggeration), but no battle I face is bigger than the one I have with the dude looking back at me in the mirror.  It is not a physical battle (although it is looking like 65), but an inside job. Who am I? Do I have what it takes to serve Jesus? Am I His or just playing a game? Am I ready for today’s battle?

P.S. My heart breaks as I watch pictures of the video and know there are thousands prisoner to a “false paradise.”