Christian Principles

               I’ve always said this:  Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Promise him that you will give him a fish every day for the rest of his life and he will vote for you.   Yes, that is my cynical view of politics. And it does worry me on several levels.  First, and most importantly because the scriptures teach that everyone should work for what they get. Yes, the Bible has a lot to say about slothfulness and laziness and it is not at all complimentary of idleness when it comes to honest labor.
 
               The word of God is explicit in commanding us to help anyone and everyone in need. As Christians it should be a highlight of our lifestyle to help someone who experiences misfortune and tough times. But because we are followers of Christ, we also have to be wary of the dangers of creating a system that encourages idleness; discourages incentive to be productive. That was never God’s intention in telling us to care for others.
 
              Now back to the political aspect.  This is exactly what I see in a nation that is adamantly and purposely distancing itself from God:  everyone is entitled to free stuff.  It is exactly as a Scottish philosopher, Alexander Fraser Tytler, said in the late 1700’s after examining the American  model of democracy, “ A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”
 
             Equally as disturbing is this from a contemporary of Tytler, French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville when speaking of the equality America was chasing:  
 
“But one also finds in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to want to bring the strong down to their level, and which reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom”.
 
            It’s another example of Christian principles upon which our nation was founded being tossed aside as we seek the purely secular answers to human desires. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it: Jesus is the answer to every question and the solution to every problem.  My heart breaks for the results of removing God from our nation.
 

Bro. Tony


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John 3:16 – For God So Loved “them too”!

John 3:16 is arguably the most famous verse of scripture in the Bible. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” It’s been called “the Gospel in a nutshell”. For most of us it was the first scripture we memorized. But I wonder if we are truly as amazed and awed as we should be at the implication of that verse.
 
I was watching the news a couple of weeks ago when the riots in Portland, Oregon were at their worst.  There was a line of police officers preventing the rioters from entering a certain segment of the city.  The crowd in front of them were openly hostile to them.  In fact, one man kept getting right up in one officer’s face shouting obscenities and saying horrible, terrible things to him.  His language was quite uncivilized.  It was hateful, and shameful. I honestly don’t know how the officer restrained himself from doing or saying anything to that idiot in front of him.
 
Here’s the thing about John 3:16…it was written to that rioter!  God loves him. I can barely fathom a love like that; a love for someone who is, frankly, un-lovable.  That God loves someone who is hateful, rude, and disrespectful is beyond my understanding.  I can understand God loving me….right?  I’m good, kind, respectful, loving and caring (can I get a testimony? Haha). But that man? How can God love him?  But He does. And He loves him as much as He loves me.
 
Don’t get me wrong; I believe that officer should have chunked that guys rear end into a police cruiser and driven him to the station for some time of quiet, personal reflection.  But God loves him in spite of himself and our task…our goal…is to share the gospel with him.  Nothing else will dissolve his anger and hatred. Nothing else will change his heart.  For God so loved that guy…….
 

Bro. Tony


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The “Dogma” of your Faith – Does it live?

The religious affiliation of the current judges on the Supreme Court find that five are Catholic, two are Jews, and one is Episcopalian.  The new nominee, Amy Comey Barrett, is also a Catholic. So why the big deal about her religious beliefs among her detractors?  It is because she is a conservative Catholic.  Yes, even in the Catholic Church there is a divide between the liberal (called progressive…a misnomer if there ever was one) and the conservative wings.
 
The conservative Catholics still hold to the long-standing Biblical teachings on abortion, same-sex marriage, and transgenderism, to name but a few of their doctrines that liberals despise.  Because of that, Judge Barrett’s religious beliefs are a target. Even though the 6th Amendment forbids a person’s religion from being a factor in a nomination Judge Barrett has been told that her conservative views are “problematic”.
 
Senator Diane Feinstein recently said this in Judge Barrett’s confirmation hearing for her current position.  Of course, she tried to hide it behind the questionable tactic of calling Judge Barret’s faith her “dogma”. But then Senator Feinstein made a statement that, whether she knew it or not, was the biggest compliment a person can make to a person of faith.  She said “that dogma lives loudly within you”.
 
It’s about time the world sees people in positions of responsibility whose “dogma” of faith lives loudly within them.  Everyone who has opportunity to interact with a person of faith should see faith lived out…and lived out loudly.  Perhaps we can all learn from Judge Barrett
 
Will her appointment ultimately change the rulings of the Supreme Court? I hope so; there have been some questionable rulings in the last several years. And who knows? There may even be an opportunity to protect some babies’ lives.
 

Bro. Tony


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ProChoice “Christian”??

I heard someone refer to herself as a “pro-choice” Christian.  That person said she wasn’t “pro-abortion” but believed in a woman’s right to choose.  You have probably guessed that person is a politician and is trolling for votes from both perspectives.  But she is not the only person who makes the claim of being a pro-choice Christian. Judging from the number of Christians who vote for a party whose platform calls for abortion anytime, anywhere, for any reason…even up to minutes before birth…there are an awful lot of them.  The phrase “pro-choice Christian” disturbs me greatly. It is a cry for neutrality on the issue of abortion.
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Can a Christian maintain neutrality on such an issue? Not an obedient Christian.  Listen to what the Lord said about a nation that remained neutral while invading armies plundered Judah:  “On the day you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them.” (Obadiah 1:11 NIV). Let me paraphrase that.  “On the day you watched people destroy Judah you were the enemy of Judah”.  That’s what God thinks of neutrality.
 
On the day you vote for allowing people to perform or have an abortion, you are an abortionist.  You can’t be neutral about killing babies in the womb.  You will either fight it or endorse it. You are either pro-abortion or anti-abortion. There is no gray area for Christians.  And please don’t give me the old “what right do I have to tell a woman what to do with her body?” excuse.  Let me rephrase that question from a Christian perspective:  “what right do I have to protect the life of a child?”.
 
Christians, we have every right to do that.  Even more, we have the responsibility to do that!  Those babies need advocates for their very lives.  I believe it to be our duty as Christians to stand up for them; to do everything we can so that they can breathe the air of life. 
 

Pro-choice Christian? Nope. Not gonna let you get away with that.  You are a pro-abortion Christian.  Shame on you.

 

Bro. Tony


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Christian Speech Isn’t “Hate Speech”!

I’ve said several times that “hate speech” will be the main weapon against Christianity in our nation. I believe it to be a term purposefully coined to silence the church.  While its origin as a tool against racism was honorable and indeed lauded by people of faith, it quickly became weaponized to the point that Biblical doctrine is condemned and thus the preaching and teaching of such doctrine marks the teacher as “hateful” and therefore not relevant.  In fact, it is becoming the new normal to disregard a person from the public discourse if that person holds historical Christian beliefs.
 
Take Jack Denton, for instance.  Mr. Denton had served on the Student Government  Association  of Florida State University for three years and was elected president of the SGA.  He is also a devout Catholic and is involved with the school’s Catholic Student Union.  When the Catholic organization was discussing ways to financially support causes to advance racial justice, Jack Denton reminded them of certain positions held by a couple of the groups they we considering that are problematic to Catholic doctrine; specifically same-sex marriage and abortion. Unfortunately for him he noted the new holy grail of liberalism, Black Lives Matter and of course, the ACLU.
 
You can guess what happened.  He was, in essence fired, from the Student Government Association.  The group stated that they had no place for such hatred and prejudice.  Remember, he worked closely with them for three years and they never once noted anything hateful or biased in him.  He was dismissed solely because of his religious beliefs. He is suing them for discrimination (how ironic).  I would not be surprised if he isn’t soon the object of the left-wing terrorism of antifa and the BLM anarchists.  All because of what he and countless millions of others believe the Bible says.
 
Now, before you say that we have freedom of speech so we can preach and teach what we believe, listen to this.  I heard a young college student say, with others nodding in agreement, that freedom of speech does not include hate speech. Seriously. Under the guise of supposed “hate speech”, Christians are being falsely demonized and Christian doctrine is being censored and suppressed. Did you ever see that happening in America?  Me either.
 
Christian, do not be cowed into keeping silent about Biblical teaching and your beliefs. Stand up and bravely speak out.  If you follow Jesus the true haters will come out of the darkness.  Jesus, himself, said in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” Wear the scorn of a Godless world as a badge of honor.
 

Bro. Tony


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Calvinism vs Free Will

During a recent sermon I mentioned that I am not a Calvinist.  Lest anyone misunderstand, let me add that I am vehemently not a Calvinist.  In recent years that doctrine has been popping up in many Christian churches, including Southern Baptist churches (if you hear the word “reformed” it indicates Calvinistic beliefs, so run).  Now, I could quote you a lot of scripture to support my beliefs.  But I’m not going to do that because a Calvinist will then quote scripture to support his/her belief and we come to a draw.  So, what I am going to do is tell you what the doctrine of Calvinism does to the character of God.  When you throw out the flowery language and religious sounding rhetoric, what picture of God does Calvinism paint, and does it line up with the character of God as presented in the Bible?   I believe not and here is why.
 
Calvinism does away with free will.  You and I do not really make any choices in life.  It teaches that God has pre-ordained every facet of our lives: He programmed us pre-birth to think and act as we do.  Our choices are actually His choices made for us.  Every incident, every accident, and every occurrence is predestined by God and there is nothing we could have done or can do to change any of it. In the Bible we are presented with choices on many occasions and told which ones would be wise to choose because otherwise we would be disobedient. Is God just toying with us? Is He giving us a false sense of hope or do we really have a choice?  That lack of choice presents itself as contrary to the character in two very important ways.
 
First of all, it presents God as the author of all sin and the cause of all pain.  Isn’t Satan the cause of all that?  Evidently not.  Calvinism says God created the devil to deceive people into sin and cause the pain and heartache of those God has already chosen.  Did God really say to stay away from strong drink then create alcoholics who can’t do it?  Did He say for us to love our neighbor and then create hateful people with no chance of change?  Is every adulterer, every drug addict, every rapist, every thief, every murderer, and every homosexual purposefully created by God to be and do those things without an opportunity to resist?  I don’t see that in any scripture.
 
Perhaps the most heinous thing Calvinism teaches is that God created some to be saved and some to be lost and there is nothing anyone can do about that.  That’s right.  If you are pre-chosen by God to spend an eternity in hell you will do that; you have absolutely no choice in the matter. If you do not see the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ it is because God has His hand over your eyes.  He chose you, before He formed you, to spend eternity in torment.  If anything, anything, does injury to the character and person of God as presented in the Bible…that teaching does.
 
I reject the doctrine known as Calvinism so that I can stand in the pulpit and proclaim that God loves every single person He created and want them with Him for eternity.  I can tell all people that God is their help and their hope; their rock and their strength.  I can preach a God of incomprehensible love and unbounded grace for all people.  If I can’t preach those things, why preach at all?
 

Bro. Tony


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Peace – Jesus’ Peace

Peace. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we lived in a world of peace? If we define peace as the absence of conflict that will never happen, especially in a time of instant communication.  A building explodes in Lebanon and we see it almost immediately.  People are murdered at a church and we see it within minutes.  A man is shot by police officers and we view the actual event.  Riots and looting, vicious attacks on peaceful people trying to protect what is theirs…it staggers the imagination.  Can there ever be peace?  The answer to that question is a resounding “Yes”!

 
Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives” (John 14:27 NIV).  Did you catch that? The peace that Jesus gives is different than that which the world gives.  The apostle Paul expounds on that when he said: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV). The world can only offer peace with the absence of conflict and that will never happen.  Jesus offers us peace in the midst of conflict.  He said “in every situation”!  Yes, even in riots and violence God offers us a peace that will guard our hearts and minds. 
 
But we need to make it even more personal.  While the anger and hatred does, indeed, swirl around us there are many personal conflicts that attack us.  Many parents experience an unruly child, some wives a doubting and stubborn husband, etc.  There will be conflicts in the workplace and conflicts in friendships.  Many will encounter financial difficulties, sicknesses, or personal demons of behavior.  Even in these things, no, especially in these things we can experience a peace that passes the understanding of the human mind.
 
I heard a story about a man who was an extreme “worrier”.  His friends and family were all troubled by how worried he was about almost every facet of life.  Then, he seemed to change overnight.  This, too, was noticeable and one of his friends asked him about his obvious change.  He told him that he had hired a man to worry for him! His friend found that interesting and asked him how much he paid that person.  “I pay him a million dollars a year,” The man replied.  “A million dollars?” exclaimed his friend. “You can’t afford to pay anyone a million dollars!”  “Well,” said the man with a smile, “That’s for him to worry about”.
 
Seriously, Jesus says we are to cast our cares on Him.  We are to turn things over to Him.  That results in a “peace that passes understanding”.  The peace that Jesus alone can give.
 

Bro. Tony


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Jesus Took Naps – Be Like Jesus

                I recently saw a shirt for sale that proclaimed: “Jesus took naps.  Be like Jesus.  Mark 4:38”.  Some may decry that as irreverent; I don’t think so.  In fact, I believe it is a humorously pointing out that Jesus was human.  Jesus got tired and He got hungry.  I’m sure He also got frustrated, agitated, and angry.  And why not?  He dealt with the same people we deal with.  He dealt with pompous religious leaders and power-hungry politicians.  And he also dealt with everyday folks…people who were selfish and self-centered, people who lied and stole.  He dealt with people who were unruly and hard to get along with, and He dealt with people who didn’t like Him and thought they were better and smarter.
 
                I believe we don’t dwell on that because we never see Him reacting in anything other than compassion and care for the people with whom He spoke (with the rare exception of the money changers in the Temple who were taking advantage of God’s people who came to worship.  There are some “televangelists” out there who need to go back and read certain passages!).  But otherwise we don’t think He faced the people we face because He didn’t react the way we react.   Not true.  Human nature hasn’t changed.  Jesus experienced the people and situations we face daily and thus instructs us how we are to react.
 
                I know it’s difficult to show compassion on certain people.  And I know it’s difficult to empathize with people when we don’t understand them…and even more so when we do understand them and disagree with them; their morals and ideals.  But the old WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) bracelets are just as applicable today as when they were a fashion statement.  As we face discrimination because we are Christians, when we face rioters and anarchists, when we engage with an increasingly immoral world…indeed, what would Jesus do?

 

                Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to be like Jesus and go take a nap.
           

Bro. Tony


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Presidential Election – Vote According to The Word of God

                The Presidential election campaigns are officially underway.  Let the name-calling, lies, half-truths, biased “newscasts”, and un-informed opinions begin!  Wait….that’s been going on for quite a while, hasn’t it?  I’m afraid it’s going to get worse, though.  Never have I seen such division, anger, and hatred in our great nation, and it pains me to say that all of that is fueled by the media.
 
                Prior to the French Revolution there was said to be three “estates”: First, the clergy, then the nobility, followed by the common man. In 1878 a man named Thomas Burke said this: “there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all”.   He rightly observed the power of the press 144 years ago.  But Oscar Wilde, noted poet and playwright in the late 1800’s made a statement that still rings true today and it bothered me.  He said that the fourth estate “…has eaten up the other three. The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it. We are dominated by Journalism”. 
 
                I hope you caught that.  The “Lords Spiritual” (the clergy) have nothing to say. I think it is an insult to God’s people that we stay silent…the clergy and the laity as well.  Why is the voice of God carrying less weight than a bunch of people reading their version of current events?  The first reason, I believe is that a majority of Christians live a lifestyle that nullifies their witness and makes them out to be hypocrites when espousing God’s Word.  The other reason is that we are afraid to be called out, ridiculed, and demeaned for our Christian beliefs. We are “chicken”.
 
                When it comes to politics I usually err on the side of caution.  I don’t want to say something that is purely political and possibly prevent me from sharing the Gospel with someone whom I have offended.  With the political climate quickly becoming more and more “Christophobic” I think that must change somewhat. So…let me tell you why I vote how I vote.  I vote by the Word of God.  That is Why I vote for the candidate/party that I believe most closely follows what I will call the 4 basics of God:
 
  1.   It is no cosmic accident. God created life. He alone should be the arbitrator of life.  When we allow humans to determine who should be born and who should die in the womb, we violate the purpose and character of God.
 
2..God has a purpose for family and His reasoning shows that purpose.  Marriage is to be between opposite sexes so that life continues; humans are to propagate the human species.
 
3.This is almost a subset of family but does encompass more.  God created two sexes, male and female.  He gave them different characteristics so that they completed each other in ways that greatly enhance the afore mentioned propagation.
 
4.God created all races and He created them in His image, and they all have equal value and dignity.  Racism is abhorrent to God.
 

           So, there you have it.  I, as a Christian, could never vote for any political party that promotes and advocates for abortion, same-sex marriage, the LBGT movement, or racial divide.  A leader may go off “half-cocked” sometimes and say dumb stuff occasionally.  He may be a braggart and vindictive to his political opponents.  He may not be very likable.  But as long as his party doesn’t kill babies in the womb, try to destroy the Godly and historic and purpose of marriage, and use race as a means to hold power while destroying true brotherhood I will vote for him.  Every time.

        It’s really quite simple.

 

Bro. Tony


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Only The Bible Teaches True Love

     I have said in this column previously that I cannot support the official Black Lives Matter organization because of their desire to do away with the “western-described nuclear family” and their approval of the LGBTQ lifestyle.  I would think (and hope) that a very large percentage of black Americans feel the same way I do.  If that isn’t enough to question that organization, then how about this:  A Black Lives Matter protest burned Bibles in Portland recently.  Burned Bibles!
 
     The only hope for true social justice for all races is to be found in that book.  Nelson Mandela said “No one is born hating another person because of the color of their skin….people must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love”.  Jesus is the only teacher of the process that must take place for a person to be taught pure love.  You see, only when one’s hate is seen as a sin, an abomination to God, will it ever be eradicated.  Only when one truly repents of that sin and turns away from it can life-changing love for all people take place.
 

     The Bible is the only place a person will find that.  It will not be found in a communist manifesto or a socialist handbook. It will not be found in BLM pamphlet.  It will not even be found in codified civil law. It can only be found between the covers of God’s word to us; His commandments, directives, and precepts.  And make no mistake about it, a person can only live according to the word of God when that person is saved by the grace of God through the blood of Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit.\

     So why then, Black Lives Matter, do you burn the only book that is the ultimate solution to all of your problems?  I’ve always said, and it is especially relevant in this era, that Jesus is the answer to every question and the solution to every problem.     
 
Say good things about your Savior and Church on The Bluff!
        

Bro. Tony


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