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…]

Jesus Derangement Syndrome

Yelling at Jesus

Hate

If you are on social media and you see the acronym, TDS, what does it mean?

Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Now…don’t worry…this is not going to be a political sermon. However, Trump Derangement Syndrome came to mind after I recently read the story of Lazarus. However, before we review a portion of that…

What is Trump Derangement Syndrome?

My definition would be disliking Trump, his behavior, and/or his policies so extremely you are unable to to properly judge him (or anyone associated with him) rightly, you frequently overreact, and you often behave in a way that would not be socially acceptable if directed toward anyone else.

Basically, TDS turns over control of the brain and body from reason and intellect to emotion.

Now…just because someone says something against Trump, his administration, or one of his supporters does not mean they are exhibiting Trump Derangement Syndrome…and labeling it as such can be unfairly used as a bludgeon. However, some people truly have gone off the deep end when it comes to their hate of Trump.

Lazarus

Moving on…

I mentioned that the story of Lazarus reminded me of Trump Derangement Syndrome. I wouldn’t blame you if you scratched your head at that comment, so let’s join the narrative about that incident to see if I can clear things up. We join the story after Jesus has incredibly (and supernaturally) raised Lazarus from the dead.

45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death (John 11:45-53).

What did the last verse say?

[Read more…]

You Still Don’t Know Me?

Jesus with sheep

Introduction

Has anyone here ever been friends with someone very long…close friends…

And then, one day, they ask a question or make a statement that makes you scratch your head, turn to them, and ask…

“You’ve known me this long, and you say that?”

They should know better than that!

If you’ve ever been in that situation, then the question they asked (or the statement they made) probably didn’t have very positive implications. Do they not understand your character well enough to know that there is no way you would have done, said, etcetera that?!

Today, we are going to discuss a situation like that with Jesus. I wouldn’t say the statement was negative…

But it showed that the questioner didn’t quite learn from his experiences with our Lord.

Hopefully we will. 🙂

Philip’s Question

Let’s turn together to the verses that inspired this sermon, John 14:1-11:

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

I know that’s a pretty long selection, but I wanted you to get a flavor of the conversation before it got to the punch line, which is in verse 9. Let’s review verses 8 and 9 again…

8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

I don’t know about you, but my experience with Christ through the Word doesn’t have anger in Jesus’ response…but perhaps there is a little disappointment. “Have I been with you so long and you still don’t know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

Think about that.

[Read more…]

10, 2, 1

10 Commandments

PowerPoint Presentations

As part of my work, I often have to put together PowerPoint presentations. One rule for effective slides is to show some data…for instance, a graph…and then make three points or conclusion.

Not two points.

Not four points.

Definitely not ten points.

But three. It’s like a golden number.

And it is effective.

Ten

However, three is not perfect for every situation. Yes, it may be ideal for executives in business, but it would be ridiculous in life to force every presentation of information into three bullet items.

[Read more…]