Filed under: Uncategorized
My area hits the news again! This time Bishop Martino is reminding preists not to give communion to the unworthy. Unworthy in this case directed at politicians that do not follow the Catholic Pro Life stance, Specificaly Sen.Casey [d] Pa. who voted to fund abortions overseas.
Also the Bishop is in the news for criticizing a Catholic university for hosting a diversity [read homosexual] speaker. http://catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=15138
The big news is he may close St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Scranton if some pro choice politicians are invited to speak to some Catholic organizations around St. Patrick’s Day.
This is tragic, as going to St. Pat’s on St. Pat’s day is almost as big a tradition as getting wasted on green beer. [ pray you avoid, all your life the horror of seeing someone violently ill with green beer poisoning, it is an awful sight. It is better to be the one sick, chances are you will have a loss of memory, mercifully] Scranton has a huge Irish population, and that just is not going to go over.
My alma mater Wilkes U, [it was just a college when I attended] wrote a scathing [ they thought so] editorial about this that proves they do not get it.
Here is an exerpt from the Beacon, at Wilkes U
“We first started to pay attention to your actions when you said that some politicians may be refused communion if they support a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion. We recognize that abortion goes against the teachings of the Catholic church, but so do many things that your parishioners do, and refusing them communion is, in many ways, akin to closing your doors to those seeking a relationship with God and the Church.”
“Following your line of argument, your priests should refuse communion to anyone who strayed from the path. Surely there are enough rumors swirling around your churches to provide the celebrant with enough fodder to deny communion many people: the single mother, the homosexual, the divorcee, someone who terminated a pregnancy in their youth – just to name a few.”
Filed under: Uncategorized
Word usage, word meanings, morph over time. The word ‘gay’ is the only example needed to prove that point, but there are many more. Adultery today in our secular culture refers to ” cheating” or “having an affair”, which of course means fornication, despite a vow to God not to do so, but sounds better. You might get a better feel for the true concept of adultery if you look at a definition of adulterate.
- Main Entry:
- transitive verb
- Inflected Form(s):
- adul·ter·at·ed; adul·ter·at·ing
- Latin adulteratus, past participle of adulterare, from ad- + alter other — more at else
: to corrupt, debase, or make impure by the addition of a foreign or inferior substance or element ; especially : to prepare for sale by replacing more valuable with less valuable or inert ingredients /from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/adulterate
So many people with whom I communicate have thrown away the gospel of the bible due to adultery. They have rejected the teaching of Jesus because of things the Savior never said . The simplicity and beautiful mystery of the message of the Messiah has been replaced with far less valuable ingredients. In some cases even where the entire Evangelical doctrine has been maintained , ingredients have been added to it that reduce the palatability , making the biblical expression:
O taste and see that the LORD is good;How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
impossible in that setting, as the flavor of the original has been perverted with ingredients never meant to be in the recipe . With Almighty God as the head chef, it takes an amazing spirit of rebellion for the sous chef to add even a pinch of seasoning to the original . Would Emeril have a sense of humor if one of his assistants took it upon his/her self to redesign a signature dish? Emeril’s in New Orleans offers this:
Oyster Crusted Atlantic Salmon
with Dill Preserved Yukon Gold Potatoes, Tuna Bacon Asparagus, Fennel, and Cauliflower Bernaise
What would the career path be of the chef at this restaurant look like if they decided clams are better than oysters? Or basil beat dill, or should be added. How long would a waitress last who took it upon herself to pour a can of spinach over the whole thing,” ’cause, you know, its like healthy and all.” If Emeril has such control over his ‘kingdom’, why do we take control over God’s?
I would like to lay out some of the additions that have done damage, some changes to the recipe that make the Gospel sicky sweet or bitter.
- worship or veneration of anyone or anything other than the triune God [God Himself made this a commandment]
- rules like “no mixed bathing” or “no dancing”
- church membership as a requirement to worship
- positions that elevate one sinner above another, we are all sinners
- political positions, required voting
- denominational distinctives , “factions” is a sin
- cultural biases marketed as “religious” [clothing, hair, music styles]
- extra-biblical doctrine, 66 books say it all, no more are needed
- condemnation of other denominations, watch your own mote
- restrictions of intellectual material
- forced acceptance of geological or biological histories
- “second’ baptisms, concentration on the demonic
What if the warning at the end of the bible applies to the whole book, not just to Revelations? Revelation 22:18 says
I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book;
I do not have the guts or bravado to risk the wrath of God by amending His book. Were the Words of Jesus and the writings in the Gospel, the history and wisdom of the Old Testament, were these not enough, that mere man must add to the mix? If there is enough for salvation and obedience and fellowship with God, why add?
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Is it humble to tell God what He forgot? Please, you be the one to tell Him he left some stuff out, He was not clear enough. I am going to stand over here while you have that talk with Him. Lightning hurts.
I would not mind so much, if it were not the extras that drive people away. It is like people who say, “I do not like pizza, anchovies are too salty for me, and they are gross!”. Ask them if they ever tryed pizza without anchovies and you get a blank stare. They never knew you could get it that way, never knew there was such a thing as anchovie-less pizza.
We know what God feels about stmbling blocks. Let us avoid the millstones and get the unadulterated Word out there. Be humble, your add ons may be right, I am not arguing if they are morally correct, but they are yours! Keep them to yourself. The children of Israel kept worship of Yahweh God , but added to it. Here is God’s opinion of such practices.
“Then those of you who escape will remember Me among the nations to which they will be carried captive, how I have been hurt by their adulterous hearts which turned away from Me, and by their eyes which played the harlot after their idols; and they will loathe themselves in their own sight for the evils which they have committed, for all their abominations.
Mighty, wonderful , loving God we praise you and fall before you, worshiping only You, as taught by Jesus the Risen Messiah, the prophets, the Apostles, as brought to our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Forgive us for the errors in our understanding, or well intended but foolish attempts to improve the Perfect. Help us to learn and teach Your Way, Your way, not ours. we ask it in the name of our savior Yeshua Your Son, our Savior, light of the world, amen.
Filed under: Christ
Last Sunday I preached my heart out over Nathan and David and Psalm 51, and most of all Jesus and the Good news. I went a little over, unusually, but then we started a little late too. I had done my homework and prepared a message to soften the heart of the unreformed and uplift the heart of the saints! As soon as I closed in prayer I lifted my head and saw, in the very back row, scorecards. Yes, held high above the heads of the “back row boys” were white placards with numbers to indicate my “performance”. I am a serious guy so I took this seriously, and I thought at first I did OK. A 7.5 from a rough scoring judge, and to my delight, a 9. Unfortunately the guy with the 9 looked up at the score, held up his index finger to me, and quite thoughtfully rotated his card until it read 6 and then nodded. I was heartbroken! Then they laughed and ditched the cards before the church started to mill for fellowship.
I guess some might get angry, or think this out of place in a house of worship, but I rejoice, these guys are miracles. 9 into 6 guy I have known for 30 years. He tried to join a church once and learn about the Lord, but they told him Satan made fossils and to drink one beer meant damnation, also they taught anybody not in their little group pr at least in complete agreement with them was also hell bound. So he quit. Three years ago his uncle, a man he loved dearly died, and 9 to 6 invited me to do the funeral. He has been at church ever since, and was baptized two summers ago as a believer in the gospel of Christ.
7.5 guy I have known and loved for over 30 years. For decades we would debate the affairs of the cosmos. Evolution, God, the bible, and I never won one argument. Two years ago at Wednesday night prayer, we each took a name of someone we loved and prayed for salvation. We prayed the Holy Spirit would quicken dead hearts. I prayed for 7.5. I have taught that God answers prayer. I have had God answer prayer, but when this guy walked into church I could have dropped over. He now describes himself as a Christian, reads his bible as a believer not a critic, prays, and I hope will come forward for baptism. I waited 30 years to get here, I am not hurrying the Holy Spirit on this one.
So I am not mad, I thank God they are there. They take God seriously, but love to torture me. That’s Ok. They are not clowns, they dig into the sermon material and we often go over the same scripture over coffee. I am not there to get them to respect me, my mission is being accomplished.
Today at the gas station I got further abused. Harley man stopped me. I haven’t seen him in a while. He and I met at the church about six years ago when I was pulpit supply [again, long story]. I was walking around the huge wooded back lot behind our suburban church, and Harley appeared. He had a rottweiler on a chain, and a gun on his hip. “If you step on my land I will shoot you! If you are from that church, you are my enemy! I will sick this dog on you you S.O.B.”, and many expletives were not deleted. I informed him that if he liked his dog he would keep it under control, and if he shot at me he bloody well better hit, as that would cause me to loose my religion, and I just might, maybe, shoot back. He liked that. We have been friendly ever since, and he ended up leading the movement to have a neighborhood peace dinner where the church apologized for offending and hurting the neighbors.
So Harley started telling me he has a new God, Uff. His heart is failing rapidly, it is down to 6%. Harley said his family said a novena, it did not help, he prayed to Jesus, and God, but they were “busy”. So the Rottweiler told him to pray to the dog god Uff. He did, and he feels better. No respect, huh? But I know him. He is calling me out. He is dying, and figures if he proclaims out and out blasphemy I will respond. He is right. I will be at his house to talk about Jesus, thanks Uff.
So I get no respect, but I do not deserve any either. I will put on a clown nose [never did it], sing like Elvis [ ok I have done that, kinda] , or stand in front of people to explain the unexplainable and attempt to describe the indescribable , [ I do it as often as possible] and do whatever it takes to get someone to grasp the Truth.
Filed under: Bible study
As part of our study in repentance, started by our study in Mark of the words of the Savior,” The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”, we studied Psalm 51 and the events that lead up to it. It was a great chance to talk about one of my favorite Old Testament stories, the conviction of David by the words of Nathan.
Let me tell you a bit about Judo. Part of Judo is throwing techniques. There is an art here . It is not about using brute strength to pick someone up and bodily hurl them, it is about manipulating the opponents balance, placing yourself in the proper position, and following through. Balance ,position, and follow through, like Golf. In Judo we say break the opponents balance, fit- in, throw. Just like Nathan.
Nathan was charged by God to be David’s pastor. What a job! As King of Israel, David had incredible power, but unlike a pagan king, he did not have absolute power, David still needed to answer to God. Most of us know the story, Bathsheba, Uriah, adultery, lies, murder. David seems to have been alright with his sinner self for over a year. He needed someone to give him a wake-up call, someone to show him just how far off the mark he had fallen. I can’t imagine there would be many volunteers. “Go tell the King that he is a murderer and a liar and an adulterer, I will wait here, tell me how that went, will you?” It was God that sent Nathan. Now the Judo part.
If Nathan had walked in to the Kings chambers thumping a scroll, or telling David he was hell bound, or saying, “You know, David, I personally am not a murderous adulterer”, David would have had a chance for self defense, excuse making, or to summon the guards to shut Nathan up, for good. Nathan used good Judo. He told a story of cruelty to a poor man by a rich man. He painted a picture of an innocent loved pet, plucked from the loving arms of a poor man by a mean rich man. David was furious! The king would bring justice and punish the wretch who would do such a thing. His balance was broken, and then the fit- in, Nathan set the positions up perfectly, “That man is You”. Davids heart provided the motion for the follow through, and David went down, or at least his vanity and pride did, causing the writing of Psalm 51, the Hymn of repentance.
Isn’t this a model of Evangelism? I know somebody will post,’I was saved by a Chick Tract” , but as we are charged to do the work of an evangelist can we not emulate Nathan. First- engage people in a dialogue that does not cause rebellion but thought, secondly – show them how they, personally, fit into God’s plan for redemption, follow through by providing loving discipleship.
Isn’t this a great model for exhorting a brother or sister who can’t see the mote in their eye? Can this not be used to get the attention of a Pastor who is in error? Nathan did not condemn, he let David’s own conscience make the throw.
Holyer than thou, legalistic, bible banging rhetoric did not work with David, why do we still employ it in the church?
Have you ever had a moment when a friend, a preacher , the Holy Spirit himself played Nathan to your David? Was there ever a time in your christian walk where the Lord brought your sin before your eyes in a dramatic moment? No one ever promised you that the ongoing work of sanctification would be painless.
Have you had the opportunity to play Nathan’s role, used as a tool in convicting some one of their sin against God? How did it work out? Part of the community of Christ is that we can help each other by lovingly pointing out issues that must be addressed. Does your church encourage you to participate in each others life in such a fashion? I am sure God gives such encouragement.
God, help us to speak like Nathan, to hear like David, help us to correct with Love, and be corrected without resentment, all for the Kingdom of Jesus the risen Christ.
Filed under: Uncategorized
Some of the blogs I read agree with John and Yoko. The war is over, not the war in Iraq or Afghanistan [it seems, unfortunately peace is evasive over there] but the war in America, the culture war.
Not only am I told it is over, the hurtful part is that I am told Christians should not have been a part of the culture war, we should never have been involved in politics, our struggle is in the spiritual world and we should keep our noses out of the business of the country.
Let’s use the Wikipedia definition of Culture war. “The expression was introduced again by the 1991 publication of Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America by James Davison Hunter, a sociologist at the University of Virginia. In it, Hunter described what he saw as a dramatic realignment and polarization that had transformed American politics and culture.
He argued that on an increasing number of “hot-button” defining issues — abortion, gun politics, separation of church and state, privacy, recreational drug use, homosexuality, censorship issues — there had come to be two definable polarities”
I don’t get it. If I live in the United States, [I do], and the USA is a democracy, [it is, well a democratic republic], and I care about the future, [which I do], why should I not be involved in the battle? And it is a battle. Do I need to give up social involvement because Jesus saved my soul? Was that in the fine print?
Let me give my opinion on the culture war issues, and i would like to hear yours.
- Abortion, no Christian can LIKE abortion. I do not think the government should fund it. I think churches should be pro adoption, and put their money where their heart is. Don’t try to tell me youth can not abstain, some do. Sex education is health education. Promiscuous sex is unhealthy. Teach that.
- Gun politics. I have been raised around guns all my life, I live in the country. I have a gun permit to carry concealed. I will not give up my God given right easily.
- Separation of Church and State. I would like to see separation of atheism and state. Separation does not mean disintegration. It surely does not mean the boys on the football team who want to can not pray before the game. This issue has gone way too far.
- Privacy. I am a private person. If I am on a long distance call talking about bombs, I would like the FBI to come visit. Please.
- Drug use. We need to seal our borders. Seal. Like tupperware. Prohibition didn’t work with alcohol, isn’t working with drugs. Invest in youth, street programs are cheaper than prison. Big area for churches to get involved.
- Homosexuality. I feel adults can do what they want. Have a ba.. never mind, but when behavior sickens me, don’t say I am a homophobe. I am not afraid, I am grossed out. I don’t care if they marry, marriage in this country is a joke 52% of the time anyway. [ just my opinion, and not just because of divorce]
- Censorship. This is my hardest one. I hate censorship, but Brittany Spears new song about Amy, and two live crew, and gratuitous sex scenes. It is repulsive. I am not against nudity. Nudity can be artistic and beautiful, with out lust, but my eyes are bombarded with dung. Have you tried to see a movie lately? I appreciate the old jurists comment, “Porn, you know it when you see it.” Again you can not legislate morality.
I don’t think Christians can tell everybody what to do. I also think Christians owe it to the culture they live in to be salt.
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Thus says the Savior
- What does salt do? My favorite pastor Tom Harmon teaches this about salt: Heals, ask any dentist Preserves, saves from spoiling and rot Melts ice, the world is a cold place Provides Flavor , imagine the country with no Christians! Tasteless!
So I am going to stay salty. I’m not ready to give up this war, I do not want to legislate Christianity, but if we do not add the salt to this country it will fester and rot, freeze over its heart , and have no taste. Maybe that is what this is all about, are we going to have a tasteless country?
Filed under: Uncategorized
I remember reading a tragic story years back about an incident between a recent immigrant and an armed man. In a horrible case of mistaken identity and misinterpreted intent, the armed man drew a gun on a fellow from Nigeria and said, “Freeze!” This word was not in the newly arrived man’s vocabulary and he walked forward and was shot. Meaning is everything. There is no communication without shared definitions. Part of a preachers job, the main part, is to explain the Word of God in a way that reaches the heart of the listener. King James Only preachers spend a lot of time explaining the language to the listener. All of us want to make sure the words of the prophets are understood, and the Word s of the Savior made clear.
We are preaching/teaching through Mark at Dayspring. This past Sunday one of the verses read and expounded upon was this: Mark 1:15
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
You have heard this preached as have I, no doubt many times. How many different meanings have you heard for the word repent? Or how many different ways has this very important passage been “unpacked” for you? I remember it preached as ,”an about face, turning away”, J. Vernon McGee says something like that. I have heard it as an emotional experience of sorrow for crimes against God, C.H. Spurgeon leaned on that. Now these are my two favorite preachers, and when they diverge I honestly find it a bit disconcerting. I wish they would all get along, but you know we are Protestant. I do not always agree with these guys, not that I am fit to polish their pulpits, but I trust Scripture alone. Sola Scriptura.
So what do you do when the brain-trust is not in agreement? Your home work.
I am not schooled in Language. When I attempted to learn Hebrew in college the wonderful and kind Rabbi Katz, said, “Maybe God has given you other gifts, but language? I don’t think.” Now I had a couple years of Latin , many years of German, and a failed attempt at Russian. These languages, at the level of proficiency I have, are of little use to a bible scholar. I must use a Lexicon and concordance to get an understanding. Let me share my study.
The word repent used here comes from the Greek word “Metanoeo”. It occurs 36 times in the New Testament. Ten (10) times in revelation, and each time it means the same. To change one’s mind. Searching around I see that some scholars add an emotional element, but if I just took the common factor that all agree on it would be, “to change the mind”.
In the Old Testament the word we translate as repent is ” nacham”. It has an emotional element of sorrow, or comfort. It shows as comfort 57 times and repent 41. Obviously there is an element of emotion here, it is almost all emotion.
So what did Jesus want us to do? My degree is in Psychology. I think it gives me a different slant, in a way. I think He wanted us to change our minds. Not change a decision we make like the expression is used today, “I thought I wanted pizza, but I got a burger.” No, I think literally He wanted us to CHANGE OUR MIND . Change it. Change the wiring. Many of the things that we once found to be positive reinforcements now hold no appeal. Things that were once negative, like reading the bible or hearing a sermon now are pleasing. Distance from God that once held no concern, is now considered horrible. Is that not what Paul said, the things I once held so dear are now dung to me? What a change in his mind! Paul studied law after law and teacher after teacher, and ended up preaching the law nailed to the cross and following the Teacher that he once persecuted.
What good is it just to feel sorry for sin? There are those who feel bad each time after a sin but sin none the less for the pleasure it brings. That was me. But when your brain is rewired, when you are deprogrammed from the lies of the Devil, sin loses its grip, it no longer reinforces itself. Metamorphosis is changing form, metanoeo is a metamorphosis of the thought process itself. Understanding the word repent is core to the message of Christ, more important than knowing the word “freeze” when a weapon is aimed. I want to follow the command of the Savior.
The amazing Good News, is that we do not need to do this ourselves! Luke 24:49 “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be enbued with power from on high.”
We are blessed with power from God to make this change. That is the Good News, the Gospel, there is a way for us to spend eternity with God. This repentance is a process. Since sanctification is a life long work, repentance will be part of our lives until we depart, or He comes back.
What definition do you wish to embrace? Of course the Christian feels sorrow for causing the Savior to suffer and die, of course we wish we had done better, differently. But is it ours to weep, or to work? Do we sit in a pile of ashes and scrape at the scabs of our sin? No! We pick up the Cross with a changed mind and follow the path of Yeshua the Messiah! The old patterns of thought, self above all, short term reward, disbelief and rebellion do Him no good.
Almighty Father, Ruler of all, thank You for the change You bring into our lives by the Quickening of our souls. Holy Spirit mold the very thoughts of our mind to become acceptable to You. Shape us and mold us. We want to look like Jesus in Your Eyes. It is in His name we pray to You, Amen.
Filed under: Uncategorized
My county made world headlines! The courthouse mentioned in the news and shown here is 3 miles south on River Street from Dayspring. It is a magnificent building created 100 years ago this year, when coal was king and money flowed. Sculptors and painters were brought from Italy to paint frescoes and murals of local and American historic scenes, and to sing in the rotunda is an acoustic joy. And now this.
Two judges traded the future of our youth for filthy lucre. They even owned a yacht in Florida named, “Reel Justice”. I do not believe America has a Justice system. Justice is beyond man. We have a legal system, and law is an imperfect science. In a time when people seek to remove the 10 commandments from the courthouses in the nation, here is some scripture that should be carved on the walls, or better yet the heart of those who would be judges.
Amos 5:12 For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate [from their right].
Leviticus 19:15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: [but] in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.
Deuteronomy 1:16 And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear [the causes] between your brethren, and judge righteously between [every] man and his brother, and the stranger [that is] with him.
Deuteronomy 16: 18,19 And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear [the causes] between your brethren, and judge righteously between [every] man and his brother, and the stranger [that is] with him. Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.
The words of scripture tell us so much, it is time for our culture not to pass them by, but to embrace them. Pray for the Judges to repent. Pray for the victims who were unjustly treated. Pray that Jesus would come with His justice.