Faith

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#Amazement#Faith

Friday, May 14th, 2021

Nietzche, the German philosopher and atheist, once said, “A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.” (Too bad since he ended his life committed to one as a result of a breakdown and depression).

Thomas Aquinas once said,

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”

No source better than the Bible says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb.11:1)

In the story and Scripture for this Sunday, we find Jesus amazed. Amazed at a “pagan’s” faith. The Centurion. A Gentile amazes Jesus by his faith.  He asks for healing for his servant and then tells Jesus that just saying the word will do the trick.

My Scripture will be Luke 7:1-10 and Matthew 8: 5-13.  This is a powerful story of faith in action. And although I would like to say I have faith, I’m not sure it would be the kind that would amaze Jesus. I can learn a thing or two from the Centurion. We all can. Join me please if you have the chance-in person or online.  Prayer would be much appreciated either way.

#Deconstruction#Religion101

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

Have you ever noticed there are some things which are “all the rage”?   One Sunday as I was visiting with people before our services started, I said hi to an 8 year old who had double bell-bottom jeans on. I had just spoken with two older teen girls who were wearing bell-bottoms. I asked the older girls if bell-bottoms were coming back and they said, “Yeah.” Then I commented how I wore them while in high school.  That, my friends, was over 50 years ago. Yikes!

Anyway, one of the things which is “all the rage” right now is something very sad. It is called Deconstruction. No, that is not what you do when you flip a house-tear it down to its nubs and rebuild it. The deconstruction I am speaking of is that which speaks of someone’s faith. Some very high profile people have come out as “deconstructors” of their faith. Josh Harris (“I Kissed Dating Goodbye”). A worship leader for Hillsong. The former lead singer of Hawk Nelson. The Gungors who have gone on to what is called Progressive Christianity (avoid at all costs). Tons of books have been written; podcasts recorded; articles written and posted via blogs; social media posts; you name it. One of the best I have ever read concerning Deconstruction is a new book by Michael J. Kruger entitled Surviving Religion 101.

Surviving Religion 101

Michael takes a unique approach in his book.  He addresses the whole deal with deconstruction by writing letters to his daughter.  When he wrote this book, Emma was in her first year of college at UNC (University of North Carolina), home of the infamous Bart Ehrman, a renowned deconstructionist whose life passion seems to be destroying peoples’ faith.  There are a total of 15 chapters, each chapter a letter where he addresses concerns Emma might face as she interacts on campus with both teachers and fellow students.  A short list of what he addresses: the intelligence of her professors; her morals being seen as intolerant; the same-sex argument; hell is a fairy tale; the issue of suffering; science and the Christian faith; there are several chapter on the reliability of the Bible; and others.

I didn’t know what to expect when I first bought this book and began reading,  but I can honestly say this is one of the most enjoyable books I have read on this subject. Probably because it is not technical but practical.  My brain is on overload at times because I want to absorb all he writes but that is impossible for my mind to accomplish. But I do know I have underlined a ton of sentences and will revisit this book as I find myself in the place where I need to.  If you know of someone who is seriously questioning their faith, or is even in the process of deconstructing their faith, this is a book you need to put into their hands. It won’t answer every question but it sure will make you (and the person you care about) think. And it will show you that the Christian faith can and will stand up to scrutiny.

#EyesWideOpen#Compassion

Friday, April 30th, 2021

When I was a young boy, we had a TV.  In an age of multiple TVs in a household; where some TVs are as big as a wall; where hued colors so vivid it seems unbelievable; I was privileged to watch a black and white TV with rabbit ears. There was no such thing as cable TV or satellite TV or internet.

There were some fantastic shows back then. Perry Mason. Red Skelton.  There were the “hero” shows like Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Sea Hunt, and Superman (who looked anything but super).  One show was really popular: Eliot Ness and the Untouchables.  Kevin Costner did a movie version of that a good number of years ago.

In the days of Jesus, Israel had their own set of untouchables. It wasn’t because of social or moral status. There were literally untouchable. This week’s sermon is titled Eyes of Compassion from Luke 5: 12-16 and Mark 1:40-45. It kicks off my new series called EYES WIDE OPEN. I will be looking at people who entered Jesus’ life and how He treated them and talked to them and met their needs. I have never done a series like this before. I’m looking forward to it.

I hope you will join me either in person or online. As always, your prayers would be appreciated.

#That’sIt?#LifeMatters

Friday, April 23rd, 2021

There is always a sense of satisfaction when you come to the end of a book or project. I know what it is like to be reading a book and reading that last page, especially if it has been a tough go. We come to the end of Ecclesiastes this week with a sermon I have titled Is That All There Is?

My purpose this week is to remind the folks what Solomon has taught us over the past 4 months (with a 4 week break for Easter). I’ve been able to weed down each sermon into a short lesson that I think will make it easier to see Ecclesiastes as a whole with tremendous lessons (if we are listening).

All of this will make more sense if we remember our main purpose in life. The Westminster Shorter Catechism (a creed we don’t really know or follow as a church body with regular recitations) opens with the words, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to worship Him forever.”  Bottom line: that is our purpose.  With that as the main idea, I am going to review the lessons Solomon has taught us throughout his book.

I’d love it if you would join me-in person or online. If not, then please pray for me, for us. I need that more than anything.

#TrueWords#ConvictingWords

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

As my readers know, I am not on FaceBook or Twitter or Insta or any other social media. I have enough trouble keeping up two blogs and my daily work (plus spend time with Jo) to have to worry about social media and keeping up with the latest trends, wacky and whacked-out thoughts posted on modern media. I have no patience for ignorance espoused as “brain food” and definitely no stomach for liberal politics. Or maybe politics in general.

I recently read an interview with Carl Trueman, the author of The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self  and a professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania.  He was being asked what books are on his nightstand these days. After answering the questions he said some profound words that I want to copy below for you to read and think about:

Question: What are you learning about life and following Jesus?

Life is short. Now in my mid-50s I am increasingly conscious that time is limited and that as a Christian I need to be very careful about my personal and professional priorities. Private time with family and close friends means so much to me these days. An evening in the company of loved ones is a precious gift that I have too seldom appreciated in the past. And professional time has to be focused on things that count: the classroom, reading things that matter, writing articles and books on topics of serious moment.

I am amazed at how many Christians spend their days on Twitter and Facebook—too often platforms for ephemeral trivia and unpleasantness. I do not believe Jesus wants me to use my remaining years in exchanging insults with other Christians. I think he wants all his people to witness to the world by using the time and talents he has given them to edify the body of Christ and to help the rising generation think clearly about the challenges we all face.

Well, now you know I am not alone in my thoughts. It feels good to have someone so intelligent say it so much better than I can.

#Vaxxer#Non-Vaxxer

Monday, April 12th, 2021

I read a blog written by James Emery White that I want to share with you. But before I do I want to say something. I will go on record as saying that I thought COVID was a passing thing. I will even admit to saying that as the election drew near that it was too politicized, that one side was using it as a weapon against another side. There was tons of misinformation floating around. I went 9 months avoiding the “plague” and it finally caught up with me on December 21 when I tested positive. But it wasn’t done. After an incident on Christmas morning (which I will defer on telling you), I literally went from 223 pretty solid pounds honed on a bicycle and weights at the Y, and in three weeks I was looking straight in the mirror at a 175 pound refugee body.  It had attacked my digestive system, ruining my ability to keep food in or down. After a long and eventful 3-4 weeks which included several surgeries, I am on the mend. I am riding by bike again and working out at the Y.

On April 19th Jo and I get our second vaccine.

I worked out. I took tons of immune support vitamins. I exercised. I thought I was “bullet proof” with all that I did. But I still got COVID, worse than anyone in my personal space. Even Jo who has compromised health (diabetes) did not experience what I did.

To be honest, I still didn’t want to take the vaccine. I was concerned about being kicked backwards by it. I also thought since I had COVID I thought, “I’m good.” But then I started thinking about the example I am setting. I thought about how the folks will feel more comfortable around me knowing I am vaccinated.  So I chose to get the Moderna vaccine. Time will tell its end results.

But I know there is a lot of misinformation still floating around…about the vaccine…about COVID. So I am simply asking you to read James Emery White’s blog about the vaccine. Click here to read.

Maybe it will help you make a decision.

#Worry#Don’t!

Friday, April 9th, 2021

If I were to do a random walk through a town or a mall and asked what one thing amped up during the recent pandemic, I suspect worry would be the list.  Maybe even tops.

Worry is not a respecter of persons. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old. White or black or any other color. Rich or poor.  Living in a mansion or homeless.  Good job or no job. Married or single. Male or female.  White collar or blue collar.

There are three weeks left in the series on Ecclesiastes. I took a 4 week break for Easter so I could preach on the cross and the Resurrection. Ecclesiastes 11 is all about putting worry to bed.  Well…it doesn’t say that specifically but it does talk a whole lot about accepting life as it is.  The adage of AA is “Lord, help me to accept the things I cannot change; to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”  We are all faced with the issue of “Do I or do I not worry?”

Philippians 4: 6-7  says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

Wise counsel. I’m going to open my sermon Sunday by using Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:25-34 to see what He has to say about worry. Then I’m taking Eccl. 11 and taking verses 1-6 to show what we shouldn’t worry about and verses 7-10 to show what we can be happy about.

Join me/us if you have a chance to do so. I would be honored. If not, then please pray. Thanks.

#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. 🙂

#Necessity#Cross#FulfillGod’sPlan

Friday, March 19th, 2021

Paul wrote the following words: “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” (NLT)

The cross has always been the central symbol of Christianity.  And while some wear it as jewelry around their neck or dangling from their ears or even carved into their body, the power of the cross has never been diminished. Some think the cross is a dead symbol. One man is quoted as saying, “A void has opened in the heart of Christianity. Where the cross once stood is now a vacuum.”

Remember two words: Penal substitution. Odds are you may have not even heard of them. Penal denotes punishment.  Substitution speaks of a replacement or a proxy.  Penal substitution atonement is therefore where one person bears the penalty someone else deserves.

All NT writers agree on this: Christ was our sinless substitute, and He died to pay the penalty for our sins. Sin has turned us all into criminals and there is no escape hatch from the pathway to destruction except by way of the cross.

My series on the cross continues this Sunday with the sermon titled The Necessity of the Cross.  There can be no Christianity without the cross. Humanity is not going to get better (do you remember the riots of this past summer?)  Yeah…I wouldn’t call that getting better.  As someone has said, “There is no death of sin without the death of Christ.”

Join me please if you are able to do so. Either in person or online. If not, prayer is greatly appreciated.

#Sensible#Wise

Friday, March 5th, 2021

It is possible to live our entire lives from the wrong perspective. Believing we are right, we can be wrong. A perfect example of that is the man or woman who says he/she is an atheist. Bad choice! Or how about the one who chooses a lifestyle or belief system which is contrary to the Biblical one? Believing they are right will not get them into heaven. Thinking we are hitting the target most definitely does not guarantee us a bullseye.

In preparation for this week’s sermon, I ran across an old illustration which comes from American Indian lore. An Indian brave found an egg that had been laid by an eagle. Not being able to return the egg to an eagle’s nest, the next best thing to do was to put it in the nest of a prairie chicken. The hen sat on the egg, along with her own, and it eventually hatched.  The story continues…

All his life, the changeling eagle, thinking he was a prairie chicken, did what the prairie chickens did. He scratched in the dirt for seeds and insects to eat. He clucked and cackled. And he flew in a brief thrashing of wings and flurry of feathers no more than a few feet off the ground.

Years passed. And the changeling eagle grew very old. One day, he saw a magnificent bird far above him in the cloudless sky. Hanging with graceful majesty on the powerful wind currents, it soared with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.

“What a beautiful bird!” said the…eagle to his neighbor. “What is it?”

“That’s an eagle-the chief of the birds,” said the neighbor clucked. “But don’t give it a second thought. You could never be like him.” 

So the changeling eagle never gave it another thought. And it died thinking it was a prairie chicken.

And we would say what a tragedy!  Designed to soar into the heavens, plunge to earth or water to get its food, and once again to soar majestically, this eagle settled for grubbing worms and seeds from dirt.

Is that any different than the jumble of humanity who sell their souls for temporary pleasure? There is sometimes a fine line between a wise person and a fool. This Sunday’s sermon is entitled Be Sensible-Be Wise from Ecclesiastes 10. I’ll be probing what it means to be both this week. I hope you will join me either in person or online.  And as I always ask, either way or if you can’t, I would appreciate your prayers.