Everything Old Is New Again

Bible with candleOld Testament or New Testament

Let’s pretend that right now I said, “Instead of a sermon, we are going to read the Bible for an hour.”

Would you want to spend that hour reading the Old Testament or the New Testament? [Wait for answers. ]

Why? [Wait for answers.]

I think in a crowd of 100 Christians, 90+ would choose the New Testament…and that’s not necessarily bad.

The bridge to cross for the New Testament is shorter. Much of what it contains is less difficult to read. It is easier to understand. It begins with us hearing about Jesus, the most awesome topic.

However, the Old Testament/New Testament preference can also be because the Old Testament seems archaic in its teachings. If people do certain bad things, we are supposed to stone them. We know more about how the tabernacle and the temple were supposed to be built (and outfitted) than is meaningful to us under the New Covenant. It can seem like a totally different moral world.

What was important theologically back then isn’t the same as what is important in the church age.

Or is it?

Reading through the Bible this year has included Leviticus 19, and the topic for this sermon, “Everything Old Is New Again,” hit me after digesting verses 17 and 18:

17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Those words are in a book that has all kinds of stuff that fit my Old Testament/New Testament contrast. Yet, right in the middle of it, we hear enjoinments that sound very New Testament-ish. Let’s review them…

You Shall Not Hate Your Brother in Your Heart [Read more…]

There Can Be Only One

Highlander cover

In Search of Connor MacLeod

Who is Connor MacLeod?

No…he’s not a real person…but a movie character. Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod.

Who is he?

He’s the fictional hero in the sci-fi film, “The Highlander.” Beyond having one of the most awesome movie soundtracks of all time thanks to Queen, it has an interesting plot. There are these otherwise immortal beings who, if they kill each other, gain the power of the ones they killed.

And that transfer of power after death is quite…well…electrifying and explosive.

In the end…and Michelle you know this…“There can be only one.”

Spiritual “There can be only ones”

Today, we are going talk about three spiritual “there can be only ones.” I could provide more, but I believe these are the three most important, and I know you prefer not to spend your entire day listening to me preach. 🙂

[Read more…]

I’m Only Human, After All

List of sinsCarl’s Jr in Bennett, Colorado

During our weekly Saturday morning breakfast excursion, a song came on overhead at the Carl’s Junior in Bennett. It was catchy, and I thought it was a new release by Aloe Blacc…but when I looked it up on my Samsung Galaxy Note9, it was actually by a guy called Rag’n’Bone Man…a track called “Human.”

It was a really catchy tune, with the line “I’m only human, after all” standing out.

Now, in Rag’n’Bone Man’s case, he seems to be using that as a bit of an excuse to deflect blame, afterward saying, “Don’t put your blame on me.”

Being Human

Now, that doesn’t mean that the song didn’t have any legit points. If I were a betting man, I’d think he’s singing to a girl who expects too much out of him. Someone who cannot solve all her problems. Someone who cannot be responsible for her happiness. [Read more…]

Forgiveness in a Social Media World

Forgive button on keyboardKevin Hart

Anyone familiar with Kevin Hart and the Oscars?

Short version is that the comedian, Kevin Hart, was chosen to host the Oscars this year. Some folks looked through his Twitter history and found some old jokes that could be taken negatively against homosexuals. Tweets from back from 2009 to 2011.

He apologized.

Do you think that was enough?

Of course not. At a minimum, many wanted to extract significant penance from him. A simple lashing wasn’t enough.

I suspect whole bunch of others basically consider it an unforgivable sin, whether they consciously recognize that or not.

His genuine repentance for his comments weren’t satisfactory.

And, of course, his is but a small example of what social media doles out every day. Say something bad, or that can be interpreted as bad, in your online presence and that could be it…the mob will attack and, given the opportunity, will take anything and everything that can from you. [Read more…]

This Generation

Three crosses with a red skyBeing Held Accountable

Let’s hop directly into Scripture today, turning Ezekiel 18:19-20:

19 “Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. 20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

Sisco, based on that…will you be held accountable for what your dad has done?

Will your dad be held accountable for what you have done?

No, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son.”

Keeping that in mind, let’s now read Luke 11:45-52 together:

45 One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” 46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

Who was going to be held accountable for “the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world”?

“This generation.”

See the problem? Well, at least the problem on the surface? [Read more…]

The Final End of the Wicked

Hell

I’ve been blessed by a brother in Christ who recently moved to Strasburg (he and his wife being potential attendees of the church I am minister for). When I meet with a possible new member who especially cares about theology, I figure it is best to be up front about anything he or she might find problematic. The largest doctrinal difference I have with traditional Christianity is around hell. I am an “annihilationist”…although it’s probably better to say I am a “conditionalist,” in that I believe in conditional immortality.

That is, if you are saved, you live forever. If you are not, you cease to exist. Your immortality is conditional. The wicked are annihilated.

Either way, I promised this gentleman I would get him biblical back-up for why I believe the lost are destroyed versus sent to a place of eternal torment. Today, I dug up a paper I wrote while attending Liberty University.  It was a critique of “The Final End of the Wicked” by Edward Fudge, which was published back in 1984 in The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. Fudge is famous for his larger book on that subject, The Fire that Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of the Doctrine of the Final Punishment.

Well…wrapping up the preamble…after the critique, I had to provide my personal conclusion. Without further ado, here it is:

Personal Conclusion

I believe God alone is immortal (1 Timothy 6:16) and that the saved only enter eternity because He resurrects them and provides them with the river of life (Revelation 22:1). Since the wicked are not immortal, when God removes His life sustaining power from them, they die—forever. As I mention above, if we are not immortal, then there is no “need” for hell (other than as a description of the eternal destruction of the wicked). Fudge does a fair overview of how an annihilationist would respond to most of the eternal torment references, so I would rather focus on some of the higher level considerations that make annihilation more logical, at least to me. [Read more…]

Yankee Swap

Bow and tagYour All Time Favorite Christmas Gift

Christmas is how many days away kids? Part of today, all of tomorrow…so just two days!

Everyone…what is your favorite Christmas gift ever? One that causes you to smile whenever you think back about it?

Growing up, there was a period where everything I wanted was G.I. Joe related…but I think the two Christmas gifts that stand out most to me were from my older brother and father. When I was a teenager, Erich gave me the album, “Double Vision,” by Foreigner…and as an adult my dad got me “Days of Innocence” by Moving Pictures…which had the awesome tune, “What About Me?”

Now, I’m sure I’ve gotten “greater” Christmas gifts…but those two stand out…how about you? Why? [Read more…]

Anthony’s Sermon on the Two Witnesses

BibleKnowing How You Are Going to Die

Let’s all pretend that we are alone and God asks us a question…

“Alan, do you want to know when and how you are going to die?”

How would you answer?

Yes? No?

Let’s just assume you answer yes…and God tells you something like…

When a blood-red moon rises over the carriage, a crow will be given the right to preach for two periods of time, then as a fish is, you will die.

Immediately, God concludes, “It’s been good talking to you, bye!”

How would you feel? I mean, our Lord is trustworthy and you have been told how you are going to die. However, do you actually know how the time and method you’ll enter eternity? [Read more…]

Just Two Parents?!

Adam and EveNow, I caution Christians not to jump on the bandwagon whenever a scientist, archeologist, or other scholar says something that confirms a Christian belief, but it was kind of neat to read the title of an article that said, “All humans are descended from just TWO people…” The article said (in part):

Scientists surveyed the genetic ‘bar codes’ of five million animals – including humans – from 100,000 different species and deduced that we sprang from a single pair of adults after a catastrophic event almost wiped out the human race.

Can you guess where we’ve heard that first? 🙂

Celebrating Christmas Like a Pagan

Santa putting gifts under the treeFacebook

Recently, I stirred up a bit of controversy on Facebook with this post:

I am a live and let live kind of guy (so I will support your freedom of religion), but the Bible does not have kind words for witchcraft, and for those practicing it, it’s at best a Monkey’s Paw (with eternal ramifications). https://www.christianpost.com/news/witches-outnumber-presbyterians-in-the-us-wicca-paganism-growing-astronomically-227857/

P.S. Paganism is no more correct, so no one misunderstands my not initially mentioning it.

I imagine to those sitting here there is nothing too shocking in that statement, especially given I am a Christian minister. Additionally, it’s 100% accurate. To show that, let’s look at Revelation 9:20-21:

The rest of humankind, who weren’t killed by these plagues, didn’t change their hearts and lives and turn from their handiwork. They didn’t stop worshipping demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood—idols that can’t see or hear or walk. 21 They didn’t turn away from their murders, their spells and drugs, their sexual immorality, or their stealing.

Although there are plenty other verses reflecting on God’s disdain for witchcraft and paganism, that one covers both, doesn’t it? Personally, I think it is summarized by the first of the Ten Commandments:

3 “You shall have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3).

Witchcraft and paganism put other gods (little g’s) before the one true God (big G). [Read more…]

Stop and Smell the Roses

RosesMac Davis

Anyone familiar with Mac Davis?

Mac Davis is a songwriter, singer, and actor who was most popular in the 70s. Although his biggest hit, based on how high it charted, was “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me,” perhaps his most fun song is “Hard to Be Humble”…whose chorus goes like this:

Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble

When you’re perfect in every way

I can’t wait to look in the mirror

Cause I get better looking each day

To know me is to love me

I must be a hell of a man

Oh Lord It’s hard to be humble,

But I’m doing the best that I can

It also has this classic line:

I never get lonesome

Cause I treasure my own company

Know anybody like that? 🙂 [Read more…]

You Are on a Limo to…?

Limo with red carpet20

There are over 7 billion people on our planet.

What percentage, when they wake up, do you believe think to themselves, “Today is the day I am going to die”?

If you aren’t a soldier heading into a hopeless battle, on death row and today is your execution, or are at the end of a fight with a life-ending illness… [Read more…]

Should Christians…?

Okay. Please set aside your political leanings. Pretend you have no clue about what these folks are potesting:

Marriott protest in OaklandIf you are a Christian, should you have been part of this protest? Why or why not?

Now, let’s just stipulate that it is for a genuinely good cause. To support the downtrodden. To right a major wrong.

If you are a Christian, should you have been part of this protest? Why or why not?

Should Christians protest in this manner early in the morning until late at night (e.g. 10:30)?

Final note…this was more reserved than other parts (e.g. what was going on after 9PM one of the nights).

Should Christians…?

Connections

Connections between people18 Years

10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him (Luke 13:10-17).

What jumps out at you from that story?

The heartlessness of the “ruler of the synagogue”?

The amazing miracle of healing a woman stricken by a disability for 18 years?

Something else?

Or that Jesus cared enough for her that He called her over, proactively healed her, and then reminded everyone there…in a society that thought bad fortune implied God’s disapproval…that she deserved to “be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day”?

[Read more…]

He Knows When You Are Sleeping

Santa watching little girl sleepLate Night Thoughts

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night…have an inspiration…go back to sleep…

And when you wake up, only really recall you had an inspiration…and no matter how much you torture yourself to remember…you cannot clear your foggy memory?

Well, this sermon is based on one of those situations…where I didn”t loose it entirely, but it is all the more aggravating because I actually could remember it in the morning…but didn’t write it down…and then later forgot the punch-line!

But I did remember the theme. 🙂

Santa Claus

When I started composing this sermon there were between 93 and 94 days to guess what?

Being that Michelle and I have a year-round Internet Christmas radio station, it probably doesn’t surprise you I’m speaking of Christmas…

And I assume everyone here is familiar with the holiday tune, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”? Do your remember how the part that starts with, “He knows when you are sleeping,” goes?

He knows when you are sleeping

He knows when you are awake

He knows if you’ve been bad or good

So be good for goodness sake

If someone thought too much about those verses, it might be a little frightening. 🙂 Santa Claus is “Big Brother,” watching you all the time?!

However, when I survey the state of the modern world, I suspect much of the evil we see is based on not having a healthy fear of being “found out.”

[Read more…]