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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

"It's just music. How bad can it be?" Hillsong, Bethel Music and Elevation Worship

 Several years ago I began keeping up with three ministries that have had and are having a worldwide impact through their music publication wings. And while I have been aware of these entities for these several years, most of the visible church world doesn't have a clue who and what they are. The three are in the title of this blog post but I will rename them here. They are Hillsong Music coming out of Sydney, Australia, under the leadership of Pastor Brian Houston, Bethel Music out of Bethel Church in Redding, California, under the leadership of Pastor Bill Johnson, and finally, Elevation Worship in Charlotte, N.C., under the leadership of Pastor Steven Furtick. The music from these three ministries has generated multiple millions of dollars for them. To generate that much income means their music must be extremely popular and well-done. And their music is some of the best in the world with top notch musicians playing in their worship bands. However, that's as much praise as you will ever hear coming from yours truly.

The three pastors leading these three churches, all of which have multiple locations for their huge congregations, teach destructive heresies the likes of which the apostles couldn't begin to envision. For instance, before the COVID19 pandemic basically shut down the world, Bill Johnson of Bethel Church said this, "I refuse to create a theology that allows for sickness." And now he has had to shut down his operations because so many of his staff and students at his School of Supernatural Ministries are infected with COVID19. Brain Houston of Hillsong Church said that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, giving a friendly capitulation to the antichrist religion of Islam. And Steven Furtick said that without humans, God would be no more than a concept, an idea. And that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. 

Many followers of the above argue that the music coming out of these three organizations is theologically sound and they absolutely love it. But I counter with a word from the apostle Paul who scolded the church in Corinth with these words, "a little leaven leavens the whole lump." The members of the church in Corinth had welcomed with open arms a man who was committing incest with his father's wife and they loved it. They were actually boasting in their liberalism (1 Cor. 5). Instead, Paul said that they were to deliver this man to Satan that his flesh might be saved on the day of judgment. His sin would spread to the rest of the church if they allowed him to continue to have fellowship with them. The same goes for the music and the destructive heresies coming out of Hillsong, Bethel and Elevation. The music coming from these three world renowned organizations is to the body of Christ what marijuana is to its users, a gateway drug into the world of the hard stuff. Be forewarned, folks, a little leaven leavens the whole lump. But, that's just my opinion. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Kanye West walks on water while false teacher Joel Osteen cheers him on while standing on water

 Surely you have seen the news. It was the "West and Osteen Show." The Kanye West Choir walks out on the water walking on a clear underwater walkway and standing on a clear underwater platform where they do their thing on top of the clear water. They are followed by the man himself along with his children who are then followed by the man himself, Joel Osteen. It was a spectacle worthy of old P.T. Barnum himself. 

And believe it or not, I still hold out hope for Kanye that he was genuinely converted to faith in Christ but is a really confused and deceived babe in Christ. Call me the eternal optimist.

New converts, genuine converts, often experience "spiritual culture shock," coming out of one radical lifestyle in their former culture into life in Christ, which baptizes them into a culture so radically different from the one they were rescued out of that their new life and faith are confusing. To Kanye, Osteen is a Christian and a world-renowned pastor. He is certainly world renowned but he is not Christian. Kanye doesn't yet know the difference. He is like another celebrity who has supposedly come to faith in Jesus, Justin Bieber. But with both celebrities, there are red flags everywhere. The fruit of repentance is just not there...yet. I myself embraced some pretty strange and unbiblical theology in my first year as a disciple of Christ and for the first month as a new believer, sin continually raised its ugly head. So, yes, I can sympathize and empathize with Kanye. 

My suggestion to Kanye and Justin is to find a Bible believing, Bible teaching, Bible practicing local congregation to call home.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Senate candidate John Thompson proclaims war against the white man.

 Have you seen the footage? This man is the devil incarnate. He is the antithesis of Martin Luther King, jr. He has put the white man on notice, "prepare for war, you white blah blah blah." And there are thousands of people in our nation who are rallying behind him, having drank the kool aid, including many blind and ignorant white people. If he does what he threatens to do, there will be blood, white homeowners defending themselves, their families and their homes against attacks perpetrated by this man and others like him. 

The question I and millions of my fellow country men have is, "How far will our government let this go before our nation is put under martial law?" It looks like many governors and mayors and our elected officials in DC are willing to just sit by and let this play out. In fact, they support the anarchy and the violence. They are afraid to stand up against it lest they too be labeled racists.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

The Fifth Commandment: The "Star Trek" commandment conclusion

    And there it is, the "Star Trek" commandment.  Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

 2 HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise),


Do you see it? "So that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the Earth." "Live long and prosper." Thank you, Mr. Spock.

The Hebrew word translated "honor" in Exodus 20:12, means to put weight on our parents in the sense that we value them and their opinions and their wisdom. However, not all parents are worthy of their children's honor. And another "however." There is nothing said about honoring only worthy parents. The honor is from our side, not theirs. Honoring our parents is in our court, not theirs. It is those who honor their parents who will be blessed and not the parents.

My parents were sexually immoral people. My dad associated with homosexuals and was very likely homosexual himself, and my mother committed adultery more than once, finally being arrested for occupying a motel room for immoral purposes. But by the grace of God, on a Tuesday morning in March of 1974, I came to faith in Jesus Christ and I was enabled by the Spirit to love and forgive my parents. My mother came to faith in Jesus while I shared the gospel with her. Dad never did. But I was the one responsible for honoring them and I did by forgiving them their myriad trespasses against me while I was a kid.

While we are not "under the law but under grace," the ten commandments still serve to remind us of the will of God. And that's what the apostle Paul meant by "with my mind I serve the law of God."

In Jesus' name. Amen

Friday, August 7, 2020

The Fifth Commandment: The "Star Trek" Commandment: part 1

 I was never a fan of the old Star Trek tv series, I personally found it silly. However, most of those who watched it were really, really huge fans and will take issue with me about it being silly. I did watch it though. It came on on Sunday afternoons way back when and there was nothing else on so, what's a young man to do? And we only had three channels available on tv. Anyway, you will see the connection between Star Trek and the fifth commandment later.

The ten commandments are found, as you know, in the 20th chapter of the book of Exodus. Our particular commandment is found in v.12, Exodus 20:12. Exodus 20:12 "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. (Exod. 20:12 NAU). And it is repeated in Paul's letter to the church in Ephesus, chapter 6, verses 1-3,  Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH. (Eph. 6:1-3 NAU) Paul's comment on the fifth commandment explains what the fifth commandment was teaching. And Paul being a former Pharisee and outstanding Jew would know this.

The thought came to me this week that the fifth commandment is one of ten and therefore it made it onto "God's Top Ten." God's top ten. Remember Casey Casem's America's Countdown? He had his top ten picks of the week. Yeah, it's kinda like that.

I have always known that God takes family relationships very seriously and He expects us to do likewise. So it isn't any surprise that this commandment about Jewish parents is included. 

And, furthermore, since the ten commandments were "added because of transgressions" (Gal. 3:19), it means that somehow the Israelites had dishonored their parents. The transgressions or sins that brought about the necessity of the law of Moses began on day one when Adam and Eve blew it for all of us. If one should go back to Genesis 3 and read up to Exodus 20, one will see the dozens of transgressions the descendants of our original parents committed.

Transgressions were acts that offended the holiness of God and if anything fit that bill it would be dishonoring one's parents. And then I asked myself, "why not homosexuality or bestiality or drunkenness or pedophilia? Why didn't those gross sins make it onto God's top ten? God says they are abominations and punishable by death. They didn't make into the top ten? But they did make it into God's law found elsewhere in the books of the law. Lev. 20:9-16. 

I will continue this series on the fifth commandment in a couple of days.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Third Commandment: What do brides take? Her hubby's name

A second way human beings take God’s name in vain.

         7 "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. (Exod. 20:7 NAU)
         If we want to understand what God had in mind in this commandment, we need to ask, “what does it mean to ‘take the name of the Lord?’” The Hebrew word translated “take” is pronounced nisa. נשׂא
And it means “to take up, to lift up, to raise, to carry.” This definition coming from The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament compiled by Harris, Archer and Waltke. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon. And Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies. So, it means “to take up and carry the name of the Lord.” It means to identify oneself with the name of the Lord, יְהוָ֔ה Yahweh. It means that those around you will know that you identify yourself with Yahweh and that you profess to be one of His chosen ones, His child. And better, it means that we identify ourselves with the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that’s why we’re called Christians.
         Who does that? Who takes the name of another and identifies with another by taking their name? A bride does this. When a couple marries the bride usually takes the name of her husband and from now on, she is no longer known as Lorraine Schmuel but as Lorraine Limeburger. She has taken the name of her husband.
         But what if Lorraine Limeburger turns out to be a sexually immoral person and commits adultery with her neighbor or a co-worker? What then would be the point of her taking the name of her husband when they were married? Lorraine has taken the name of her husband in vain by committing adultery. And that is the deeper meaning of the third commandment.
         We take God’s name in vain when we profess faith in Jesus but reject His commandments. 1 Jn. 2:3-4; 5:2-3.
          We take God’s name in vain when we profess faith in Jesus yet embrace this world with its lust of the eyes and lust of the flesh. When we love darkness instead of light. 1 Jn. 2:16
         We take God’s name in vain when we profess faith in Jesus yet deny Him by how we live and behave while others watch our behavior. Eph. 5:3-6
         We take God’s name in vain when we profess faith in Jesus yet pursue materialism instead of holiness and righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. (1 Tim. 6:11 NAU)
         But I am persuaded better things of you, my beloved. Hebs. 6:9.
In Jesus’ name, amen.

The Third Commandment: Is "cussin" taking God's name in vain?

One way human beings take God’s name in vain.
I know we have all heard people “cussing” in a store or a restaurant so loudly I guess everyone heard them. I kinda shudder when I hear it and wonder how in the world anyone can talk like that when there are children around. Of course, I’m not naïve, I know the times have changed and children hear that kind of language on tv and the radio and at the movies a lot these days. That doesn’t legitimize profanity. If everyone else is jumping off skyscrapers will you jump off as well? But we must admit that it is as common in our day as eating at MacDonald’s.
I also know that many people simply don’t care if kids hear their filth. Do you remember when we used to get upset if a man cussed in front of a lady? I do. And I think a lot of people still do.
But nothing is quite as cringe worthy for yours truly as hearing someone take God’s name in vain,” as we usually understand it; and you know what I mean. That really bothers me. It disturbs me. It is more offensive to me than hearing someone just cussing in general. Using God’s name as a cuss word is pretty bad. That is one way we can take God’s name in vain. There is another that is, I believe, what the third commandment is alluding to.

The Third Commandment: Part 1

The Ten Commandments
The Third Commandment

We are now in our fourth week of our study in Exodus 20 where we have focused, for sometime, on what the ten commandments were about and why they were given to Israel in the first place. And now for the last two weeks we have been studying the individual commandments. We are now coming to the third commandment. Exodus 20 and v.7:
7 "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. (Exod. 20:7 NAU) I will tell you up front, there’s more to this commandment than meets the eye.
Remember, the ten commandments and all the laws given to Israel were given only to the Jews, so keep that in mind whenever you read them or hear someone teaching on them. To the pagan nations that Israel would pass through during their years in the wilderness, these laws wouldn’t mean anything. Without knowing Yahweh, the laws were just so much hot air. However, anyone in the pagan nations who heard about Yahweh and feared Him and wanted to join the Hebrews could do so. It was just a matter of telling Moses or Aaron that they wanted to worship their God and then submit all their males to circumcision. Exodus 12:48 "But if a stranger sojourns with you, and celebrates the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near to celebrate it; and he shall be like a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat of it. (Exod. 12:48 NAU)
Leviticus 19:34 'The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God. (Lev. 19:34 NAU) Judaism was never a closed religion. God has never closed His door to anyone.
Here’s my first observation tonight:
Every disciple of Christ must assimilate into the body of Christ. 
It goes without saying that the stranger who joins himself with the Hebrews, he and his family, will be instructed in the law. 22 'There shall be one standard for you; it shall be for the stranger as well as the native, for I am the LORD your God.'" (Lev. 24:22 NAU) And now that God and His people have welcomed them into their assembly, they will be expected to conform to this new way of life.
You’re probably familiar with the word “assimilation.”  “…to absorb into the cultural tradition of a population or group.” In the US we hear it used in reference to immigrants who come into our country and then set about adapting to our ways and our laws. They assimilate into our culture, our society. That’s what we expect to happen. That’s what God expected the strangers living with the Hebrews to do and He expected the Hebrews to love them and welcome them to worship God with them. It doesn’t always happen that way these days in our nation. Some immigrants refuse to assimilate into American culture on cultural grounds, they just refuse to make America their country. They refuse to learn and speak English and get bank accounts. Some refuse to assimilate on religious grounds, like many Muslims who hate our country and our way of life. I will tell you now, there are many things about life in our nation that I hate and refuse to bow down to such as our horrible adult entertainment industry and our propensity for living in sexual immorality and drunkenness.
When by the grace of God I came to faith in Jesus, I knew I had to repent about how I had been living and what I had believed, which was nothing. I knew I had to assimilate into the church and adhere to the teachings of the Bible. I never expected the body of Christ to adapt to Johnny Helms. I assimilated into the body of Christ and embraced the life-changing demands found in the word of God, albeit, not perfectly or even close. I had never understood why sin is sin and why I wasn’t supposed to live the only way I ever knew of living. That’s what repentance means, a change of mind about who Jesus is, who I am and how I’ve been living. Repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change of life. I changed my mind about Jesus and saw Him as my Savior, the Christ, the Son of the living God, and my Lord. I changed my mind about my living for myself and my gratifying every urge of the flesh that came along. That’s repentance.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

The "Golden Chain:" It's better than you ever imagined. Edited and revised.

“It’s Better Than You Ever Imagined”
The Golden Chain: Part 2
Romans 8:28

         When I first saw the woman who would become my bride in 2014, I was attracted to her because she appeared to be strong and independent and intelligent. After we began seeing each other away from church where I was interim pastor and she was music director, I fell head over heels in love with her. That she wanted to do stuff with me seemed too good to be true. But it wasn't; it was true...and it was that good. And after we were married in 2016, it really did seem too good to be true. Life was better than I had ever imagined it could be. That was over four years ago and life has just gotten sweeter and sweeter. I still have to do a reality check occasionally. 
         The point of Paul's letter to the saints in Rome and to the saints around the world for all time is just that, "Life in Christ is better than you ever imagined it could be." Now it does include suffering, but it is suffering with Christ and with the Spirit living in us to strengthen us and to encourage us during the good times and the bad. It's been that way since the birth of the church on the Day of Pentecost in 33 Ad.   
          When the New Testament letters were written, the known world at that time lived under Roman rule. The Roman Empire had been in power for only about 100 years beginning with Julius Caesar and was flourishing, except for Julius Caesar, of course. He was assassinated after being in power for only two years. “Et tu, Brute?”
So Paul and the other apostles wrote their letters under the Caesars. As it worked out in God’s providence, the insane Caesar we know as Nero became emperor in 54 AD and he kept his seat for fourteen years when he was run out of Rome by his generals prompting him to commit suicide. Nero allegedly burned down about a third of Rome to make way for an ambitious building program he had in mind and blamed the fire on the Christians. You may remember that it was under Nero that the apostle Paul was beheaded in Rome around 64 AD.
Nero was a mad man and his fellow Roman politicians knew it, kinda like what we’re witnessing in Washington these days. Our elected officials have to know that some on Capitol Hill are crazy. But if your fellow party members are the crazies, you don’t want to hurt your party, so you tolerate them and make excuses for the absurd things they say in public. "What Joe meant to say was..."
But meanwhile, back at the ranch in Rome:

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28 NKJ)
My focus this morning is a continuation of what we began to study last week and what Paul meant by “all things.” And as we begin, I want to point out to you that this has to do with you and me as individual disciples of Christ. It addresses the all things of Nancy’s life and Bill’s and Phyillis’ and Gary’s and Debbie’s lives. It includes the all things of our lives before and after we came to faith in Jesus.
This isn’t going to be some kind of academic lifeless study but one that gets deeply personal and intimate. What are your “all things?” Whatever they may be, for those who are in Christ God says, “I’ve got you covered.”
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
What would you say all things would include? If you’re like millions of Christians, you would only include the good “things” in your life. That time you gave some money to a homeless person. Or the time you loaned a few hundred dollars to one of your children who was down on his luck. Or how you once served meals at the Salvation Army on your day off. But, seriously, if one modifies all things then it no longer means all things, it means some things, a few choice things, but not all things. That’s because those millions of Christians cannot imagine holy Almighty God ever using the good, the bad and the ugly things in their lives for His purpose and His glory. To them, God never gets His hands dirty. 

Would you say that our sins are included in our all things? Of course, you would, else the all things wouldn’t be all things. Would you say that your most vile and secret sin would be included in your all things? Of course, you would, else all things couldn’t mean all things.
What is it about all things that you don’t understand or possibly refuse to consider? I looked it up in the Greek text and then went to one of my Greek lexicons and discovered that all things means all things, excluding no thing. We don’t like to acknowledge our remaining sinfulness or our “remaining corruption,” as the reformers put it. But it’s there in all of us and God works with that since it’s a part of who we are. We don't like to acknowledge our remaining sinfulness because we have the erroneous notion that it isn't supposed to be there.
Our experiences as human beings both before and after coming to faith in Christ, have been taken by God and used to get us to where we are now. And He isn't through with us yet. He continues to work all our things together for our good. He really does work all things together for our good, those who love Him, in accordance with His purpose. And He loved us first. 
Imagine that. We were dead in our trespasses and sins and enemies of God and disciples of the prince of the power of the air and He loved us and brought us into His kingdom and baptized us into the body of His Son. And now we are walking in the light as He is in the light and the blood of His Son cleanses us of all sin. He really does love us, and He really is working all things together for our good. When He sees us, and He always sees us, He sees us in Christ.


Beloved, you and I are that blessed man whose sin the Lord will not take into account. All things really does mean all things. Does that by any means give us permission to sin? Of course not. God never gives any of His children permission to sin. But He has made gracious provision for our sins, that being the blood of His Son.

 5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.
 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;
 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 Jn. 1:5-9 NAU)

Being in Christ is better than you or I ever imagined. And it’s all God’s doing. 30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,
 31 so that, just as it is written, "LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD." (1 Cor. 1:30-31 NAU)

The golden chain drives the point home that our being in Christ is all God’s doing. He knew us and loved us even when we were separated from Him by our sins. He justifies the ungodly, that would be us, and keeps us and covers us and washes us and sanctifies us and justifies us and glorifies us, all in Christ and by the Holy Spirit.
11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:11 NAU)
If you are in Christ you are there because God put you in Him.
Beloved, it really is better than you ever imagined.
If there should be someone watching this sermon and you have never called upon the name of the Lord that you might be saved, I beg of you, be reconciled to God by doing just that, calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus that you might be saved.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

A "Calvinist Conspiracy" or Bible Truth? The Golden Chain 3

“The Golden Chain:” Part 3
Romans 8:28-31

TEXT/INTRO: Growing up in rural Union County, N.C., during the ‘50’s and ’60’s, I never had a teacher who taught evolution in a favorable light. I don’t know for sure that none of my teachers from the first grade to the twelfth didn’t believe in evolution, but if they did they never tried to teach it. Darwin and then the people involved in the so-called “Scopes Monkey Trials” in Tennessee and the public education system have succeeded in getting it taught in our public schools and I only have a little concern about that fact. Rather than raising a big stink about evolution in our public schools I’ll fall back on the First Amendment rights that protect Christians and all religions from government takeover. That will come up later this morning when we take a second look at the “all things” in Romans 8:28.
Take your Bible and turn once again to the passage that has been referred to as “the golden chain,” that being Romans 8:28-31. I fully intended to preach one sermon from this passage two weeks ago, why, I don’t remember, but as I began studying it again, and  it and got deeper and deeper, I realized that my folks at Eastway might need to know more about this business of foreknowing and calling and choosing and electing and predestinating. This passage is one of most encouraging passages in all the word of God. I don’t know why so many church folk are afraid of it.
Ironically, there are those who see this same passage as something to be avoided at all cost. They seem to believe that John Calvin must have put it in the Bible because it contains words used by notorious Calvinists since around 1590 or so. But Calvin had nothing to do with these verses being in the Bible. That’s silly, isn’t it? It’s like folks who say “I only use the King James Bible. If it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.” Yeah, right.
Did you know that John Calvin died in 1565 only a couple of years after his final edition of his monumental works, “The Institutes of the Christian Religion” was finished? And furthermore, did you know that his theology wasn’t called “Calvinism” until his followers framed his theology with the well-known acronym T.U.L.I.P. over forty years later? So, T.U.L.I.P. wasn’t John Calvin’s idea, but his followers.’ Calvin’s theology is sound in spite of what his detractors say, perhaps not perfect, but sound.
But there are local churches who don’t want their pastors mentioning Calvinistic sounding words much less preaching about predestination and election and calling and choosing and foreknowing even though all those words are in the Bible. These dear souls see a “Calvinist conspiracy” behind any preaching that dares deal with the words in the golden chain. That’s as frightening and confusing to them as the coronavirus and Black Lives Matter are to NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio.
Romans 8:28-30:
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? (Rom. 8:28-31 NAU)
         As usual, I’m going to draw an observation or two from our passage even if they all come from v.28 only, as they probably will. 28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
         I think it goes without saying that “things” can’t independently work together to produce anything of importance. It’s like the theory of evolution that tries to convince people that the world and the universe and all that’s in them happened by accident. And furthermore, we believe that since God created all things then it is God who is working all things together, not chance or accident.

         My first observation is this, “The gift of faith explains how God works all things together for our good.”
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God,
Beloved, that’s faith. Paul is talking about faith. We know and we’re convinced that all things work together for good to those who love God and are the called according to His purpose. That is faith. Faith is knowing, faith is trusting and believing that what the word of God says as it applies to us is true.
But it isn’t “blind faith,” it is the I-am-convinced kind of faith. It is the “I know that I know that I know” kind of faith. It is the kind of faith that only comes by God intervening in our hearts and minds and spirits when we were spiritually dead and completely helpless and hopeless. Suddenly we understood the gospel. Suddenly we were convinced that Jesus is who God says He is. I believe solely because God gave me the gifts of faith and light and life over 46 years ago. “The gift of faith explains how God works all things together for our good.”
Second, “God is always working in those who love Him.”
         God is like an ant. He never sleeps, He never tires and He never stops working.
Note this, church, when our English versions of the Bible say,  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, the Greek text is literally saying this, And we know that all things are working together for good to those who love God.” “Are working” is that kind of verb. You and I and everything in our lives at this very moment is being worked together by God for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory. It doesn’t seem like it, but it is true. Why? Because God Himself called us to be His children knowing full well who and what He was getting. God planned to continue working in His children from day one of their lives. He knew, of course, that we would need Him.
Listen to this from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 
 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; (Phil. 2:12-14 NAU)
Third, “I know where God works.” Do you know where God is right now? I do, He’s at work. “…it is God who is at work.” And I know where God works. He works in us. it is God who is at work in you. We know where God is at any given moment, He is at work. And we know where God works all the time, He works in us. “God is always working in those who love Him.”
         Fourth, “I know why we love God.”And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God.” No one listening to me preach this morning can boast and say, “See, I love God and that’s why He loves me.” But my friend, you know in your heart of hearts that that simply isn’t true. Even your love for God is His gift. 19 We love, because He first loved us. (1 Jn. 4:19 NAU). Dead people can’t love God except He intervene in their lives.
We were all dead, spiritually speaking, and separated from God and totally without hope. 11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision " by the so-called "Circumcision," which is performed in the flesh by human hands--
 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Eph. 2:11-13 NAU)
The “all things” in Romans 8:28, that’s what they list consists of. *Repeat them.
         “…to those who are the called.”  Do you see the word “the” just before the word “called?” Paul lets it be known that there is a very distinct group of ungodly human beings whom God calls to be His children, they are called “the called.” Who are these people and what makes them so special that God would call them rather than a billion others? They’re special only because they’re called. And don’t worry about that other billion. God desires that all be saved and come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. It won’t happen, but not because God hasn’t made it available to all in some form or fashion through the gospel.
Think about Abram. Abram and his family were idolaters before God called him and Sarai out of Ur of the Chaldees. Out of all the people on earth at the time, God chose to call Abram, the idol worshiper, to become His chosen vessel to be “the father of many nations.” The calling of Noah and Abram set the fallen world on a new path. That means that every descendant of Abraham and Sara were also the called
who are included in the working together for the good of those whom God would extend His call to. It’s called “the Abrahamic Covenant.”
And it is those who are of Abraham, who have the same faith he had  who are the called according to God’s purpose.
         Did you know that Abraham heard the gospel in the promise of God to make him the father of many nations, AND, that the Bible calls him a “believer?” 8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU."
 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. (Gal. 3:8-9 NAU)

         Beloved, when it comes right down to it, no one “deserves” to be called or chosen or saved. No one. It is all of God. The Bible tells everyone living on the face of this little planet that we are all born dead and enemies of God. But now, solely because God has worked all things together for our good and is right now continuing that work, we are alive in Christ. 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:13 NAU)
         Do you know where God is? I do. He’s at work.
         Step back for a moment and take a good close look at yourself and your life. How are you doing, spiritually speaking? How are you doing as far as living out your faith is going? How do you handle the temptations to sin that pop up in your life every day? How do you handle it when you give into those temptations? How’s your relationship with your family? Do you see any reason to believe that God can’t handle everything in your life, the “all things” in your daily life?
         Do you know why you called upon the name of the Lord and were saved? Because you are the called. The called will always call upon the name of the Lord.
         So, those Biblical words, called, chosen, elect, foreknow and predestined aren’t so scary after all, are they? And they’re all Biblical.
         In Jesus name. Amen

Saturday, July 11, 2020

As Dr. Fauci would say, "that's a great question."

Fear God, but not like that
Romans 8:28-32

TEXT/INTRO: On any given day, if you’re watching Fox News, and the pandemic panel is on the platform with President Trump answering questions, you’re going to hear this from those on the panel, “Now that’s a really great question.” Or “That a good question.” And they respond to every question like that, even the ones asked by a reporter after someone else has just asked the same question and gotten an answer. Remember those teachers we had way back in our day in school who would always say, “there’s no such thing as a bad question?” Well, they were fudging a little on the truth. “May I ask you a question?” “That’s a really great question.”
I once worked with a young man from an adult group home who was pretty severely intellectually challenged. One day he asked, “May I ask you a question?” That was his question. He didn’t say another word. He and I both got a good laugh out of that one.
Beloved, I have a few really good questions for you this morning and they will be based on our Golden Chain passage in Romans chapter 8, verse 28-32. So, take your Bibles and turn to Romans chapter 8 beginning with v.28:

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? (Rom. 8:28-32 NAU)

         Let’s delve right in with my really good questions.  First, “If God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, and He most certainly does, then why are so many people almost terrified by the words “elect” and “called” and “predestined” and ‘chosen” and “foreknew?” And my next really great question is this, “Why are we not so afraid of the other words in our passage like ‘justified’ and ‘glorified?’” And next, “why do we love and embrace the words in verses 31 and 32 and on to v.39?” Here are several really great answers to those really great questions.

         First, people are afraid that either they are not God’s elect or someone they love is not.

         Second, people are afraid it puts God in a bad light.

         Third, people believe predestination is divinely unjust.

Fourth, people can’t handle the truth.

Fifth, those words smack of Calvinism.

And sixth and finally and still great, people think that no one can know if they are God’s elect.

“What if I die and end up in hell? What then?” Well, that’s a really great question. You’ll have to take it up with God. 27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, (Heb. 9:27 NAU)

"Defund the Police." Just when you thought it couldn't get any crazier.

President Trump has a campaign ad running even as we speak that tells it like it is. If this whole moronic movement, Defund the Police, should ever have its way, it will be bedlam to the inth degree.
There is in our world at this time the manifest presence of evil like we've never seen before, not even under Hitler and the Third Reich. And the reason I say that is the whole planet is caught up in it while it wasn't during WW2. Too many people saw Hitler's insanity and wanted it stopped.

In our present "cancel culture" with its violence and destructive means at achieving its ends which align with the Black Lives Matter agenda and the socialists/liberals/progressives agenda as well as the LGBTQ agenda, the twisted notion that anarchy trumps our republic form of government and even democracy has found a home. They don't wish for this to be stopped.

The Bible calls the devil "the god of this age (world)" and reminds us that he is the deceiver of nations (2 Cor. 4:4 and Revelation NAU Rev. 20:3  and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.
 8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.
What we are witnessing is nothing less than spiritual warfare being waged by Satan and his angels against the world's populace and against the church, the body of Christ. And make no mistake about it, we are indeed living in the last hour, the last days, witnessing the rise of the spirit of the Antichrist.

There is more to the cancel culture and the Black Lives Matter movement and the defund the police movement than meets the eye.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Ending systemic racism through social justice or the gospel?

For the most part, literally, God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit and the Bible have been left out of the arguments concerning the current upheaval and rage and riots and racism that have followed the horrible murders of unarmed black people in our nation. Police brutality against blacks doesn't happen as often as has been portrayed by the liberal news media and the bleeding-heart whites and the Black Lives Matter liars, but when it does happen it must be dealt with immediately and vigorously by our system of law and justice. It has taken this latest round of protests to remind us of just how horrific life can be for the average black American. I cannot begin to imagine.

I know the source and root of systemic racism, it is the nature of man. And what can change the nature of man? The nature of God. Neither social programs nor violence nor liberal empty-headed educational systems can ever change the nature of man. That takes the miracle of regeneration given only by the grace of God who alone can bring the fallen to soul-saving and life-changing faith in Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

So, do I have hope for our world? No, not really.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Did God choose you, or, did you choose God? Duh. Part 3

Third, “The whole world, without exception, lies in the power of the evil one.”

19 We know that we are of God, and we know that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (1 Jn. 5:19 NAU
         Again, there are those two truths we know.
If you’re keeping up with current events it’s pretty easy to see why John would say such a negative thing, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” And as the world turns things have gotten much worse than they were in John’s day. I’m not saying that every protester is wicked and evil and unregenerate because I don’t know that. But thousands of them are manifesting who their father is.
         But it is not just the protesters and rioters and the moronic criminal element that always raises its ugly head during times like these, it is also our media. They won’t get off God’s hook.
         Do you remember the other name for the evil one given him by the apostle Paul? It’s found in 2 Cor. 4:4, he’s “the god of this world.” The devil’s chief task is to blind people’s minds to keep them from seeing and embracing Jesus as Lord and Savior. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,
 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Cor. 4:3-4 NAU)
         Racism and police brutality against unarmed black men is one of many distractions the devil is using to blind this world and to make them believe that Jesus is irrelevant.

Fourth and finally, “The good news is this, ‘greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.’”

4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them.
 6 We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 Jn. 4:4-8 NAU) Church, do you want to know how to think of the protesters and the whole shebang? Watch their behavior and know that not even then can we condemn any of them. What we see comes out of the heart. Love ‘em. In Jesus’ name. Amen.