The Devil is a Liar

I heard an evangelist say of Christians: “We preach a dynamite gospel and live firecracker lives”. Unfortunately, if we honestly assess our lives we would probably come to the same conclusion.  We read in the Bible where God worked His will regardless of the weakness of human spirit, the objections of heathen government, or the power of His adversary, the devil. Do we not think He can do the same today? Of course He can.  Then why haven’t we accomplished great things in our church and in our own personal lives?  I believe it is because we actually believe the devil more than we believe the Lord. One of the most effective tools of the devil is his lies. Listen to how John described Satan in John 8:44 “He (the devil) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”  Satan lies to you constantly and you don’t realize that it is he.  He lies to you about the past and tells you that it defines you. He lies to you about the present, telling you that you are worthless and cannot succeed.  He lies to you about the future as he tells you nothing will change; there is no hope. All lies. Jesus tells you the truth because He is the truth.  When Jesus tell you “with God all things are possible”, believe that. It is the truth.  When God says that you “can do all things through Christ who strengthens you”, believe that.  It is the truth. The Word of God tells us again and again that we are to live a life victorious because it is God who is in control. It basically comes down to this when it comes to a powerful, victorious, fruitful life:  Will you believe the devil or will you believe God?   Bro. Tony


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Take a Breath

I’ve had difficulty writing my column this week.  In fact, I’m currently writing my third draft.  There is so much going on in our nation politically that will affect the world my grandchildren will inherit.  There are stories in the news of riots, protests, and un-civil behavior.  Families are being separated at the border, transsexuals are being invited to read to our children at public libraries, schools seem more interested in changing ideology than in teaching children to read and write.  I could go on and on.  As we are apt to say in the south, It’s a mess ain’t it? Here’s what I need to do (by “I”, I mean “we”):  take a deep breath and remember whose we are.  “I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth”. (Psalm 121:1-2 NIV)  1 John 4:4 says “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world”.  Yes, things look pretty bad when we look at them; this certainly isn’t the world we once knew.  Bad is called good and good is called bad. But that is nothing new, really. Such was the situation when Jesus walked the earth in bodily form. All of His teachings were given under the heavy hand of a perverse and un-Godly government. In that poisonous atmosphere of debauchery He told His disciples that He would give them a peace that the world didn’t understand.  He told them that the world would hate them but that He loved them and would never forsake them. I take those promises seriously and hang onto them for dear life. Remember, though, His commission to His disciples then and His disciples now: “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”.  He never spoke of changing government, He spoke of changing people. Ideally, when enough people are changed and become a new creature through Christ, government changes.  But even if that doesn’t happen, our task remains the same. So even in a nation becoming hostile to Christianity and seemingly doing everything it can to distance itself from God, I am encouraged. God is on His throne.  We can not only survive, we can flourish. The gospel can and will continue to change people. It can change their hearts from anger, despair, and hopelessness and give them hope and joy and an assurance of eternal life.  My help…my hope…my joy…my purpose…comes from the mountains: the Lord who made the heavens and the earth.   Bro. Tony


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The Bible is True

There is an old saying that “what is true for you may not be true for me”. That is often used when discussing morality, religion, and/or certain social issues. That is referred to as “subjective truth”.  But is there such a thing as subjective truth? Or to put it another way, can truth even be subjective? The so-called subjective truth is based on a person’s beliefs or opinions; his or her perspective. In fact some respected philosophers claim that all truth is subjective.

I believe quite the opposite. I believe no truth can be subjective. I believe that truth can only be objective and un-changing or it’s not truth at all.  What people refer to as subjective truth is merely their “interpretation” of what is true. Let me give you an example that I’ve used in sermons.  If I go into a kindergarten class and ask them if I’m short or tall, they would tell you that I’m tall.  If I walk onto the court of a pro basketball team and ask them the same question their answer would be the opposite; to them I appear short.  Which one is true? Neither. The truth is that I’m 6’2” tall. It is their perspective, their interpretation of that truth, that affects their answer.

The Bible is true. It is absolutely true. It is the truth.  It is unchangeable, immutable, truth.  It cannot be changed for this generation, it wasn’t different for the last generation, and it will not be different for the next. Jesus, Himself, said “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6).  A person’s perspective will determine their adherence to that truth, but it doesn’t make it any less true.

So when it comes to religion and morality I’ll let the Word of God guide my actions.  That may not be popular and it may draw the ire and disdain of this present world, but I’ll hold firmly to it. As Paul said in his letter to the Colossians,  “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

Say good things about your Savior and about His Church.

Bro. Tony

 


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Christianity-religion of peace

I heard it again. In a discussion about morality a lady said this: “Religion is evil. Religion poisons everything.”  Another person said “religion is responsible for more wars and suffering than anything else in history”.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in the world who naively accept that premise without checking the facts. Has religion ever led to bloodshed? Of course it has. But usually after such statements about evil religion and its’ reign of terror we are pointed to the Crusades and even the Salem witch hunts as examples of religious hostility. Why? Because theses falsehoods are generally pointed to a bias against Christianity, not just “religion”.

              While the witch-hunting hysteria is most certainly a black eye for Christ-followers we must put the number of deaths in perspective to “Religion is responsible” for worldwide deaths. 20 people were executed for the crime of witchcraft in a period of about 15 months. Contrast that with just one weekend in Chicago where 12 people were murdered and 66 shot.  Religion had nothing to do with that.

              The Crusades are a different matter.  It is estimated that over 1.5 million people died in the 200+ years of the crusades. That is an awful number.  But let’s look at the reason for the crusades: they were fought to regain land taken by over 1000 years of Islamic aggression. Yes, definitely a religious war that caused a lot of death and suffering but who knows how many harsh Islamic caliphates there would be in Europe and the Mediterranean had not Christians fought back.  So, yes, religion has played a part in wars throughout history.

              But is religion responsible for more wars that any other cause? Has religion resulted in the death of more people than any other reason? Absolutely not.  To make that statement even remotely true you would have to belief that World War I and World War II, as well as the Korean War and Vietnam, were fueled by religious hatred and fought to advance religious beliefs. Do you really think that Adolf Hitler wanted to rule the world because he was a religious man?  And, in fact many of the European “religious” wars were more about land grabs and power struggles than religion.

              Christianity is, and always will be, the supreme religion of peace.  Never did Jesus command us to force people to accept our faith by force. Becoming a Christian must be a personal choice; a conscious decision to accept Christ as Savior. No amount of outside force can achieve that. Christianity is the reason we can have true peace in our lives.  It is the reason we can truly change from self-centered to selfless, from from hateful to loving.  In fact Jesus said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives”.  Falsely blame war and suffering on Christianity if you like but in reality Jesus give a peace that supersedes anything the world can offer.

             

             

 

             

Say good things about your Savior and about His Church.

 

Bro. Tony


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All or None

All or none. That choice is pretty stark: Everything or nothing.  We don’t like being put in a position where we have to make such a drastic determination, do we?  We usually like a “middle ground”; a place of compromise.  Honestly, in so many cases, compromise can be a good thing.  But there are some cases where compromise is useless.  The Bible is the most glaring example .

                You see, we must believe all of the Bible or there is no use in believing any of it. It is either all the very word of God or we can’t decipher which is the word of God, if any of it. If we think we can pick and choose what is truth and what isn’t we then become the master of the Bible, that is, it’s editor. If effect, we become as God, deciding what is right or wrong, what is good and evil.  The Bible becomes ineffective, useful only as a personal handbook for what we want to believe.

Yet, I see that happening in more and more people and, unfortunately, more and more churches/denominations. If what the Bible says doesn’t line up with what we want and think we simply ignore it and say the dumbest of all rationales: “Well, they didn’t know back then what we know today”. Hear this…God knew more back then than we will ever know.  We must make up our minds that we will live by by pure faith in the Bible and believe every word of it.

I understand that there will be some different interpretations of what God meant in a few passages such as whether a deacon can be divorced or what the dragon in John’s Revelation vision represents, but we will still believe that God, Himself, told those men what to write and it is all His word.

So, yes, I believe a snake and a donkey talked, I believe the Red Sea parted, I believe angels came to earth and talked to people, I believe people were miraculously healed, Jesus was born of a virgin and He was murdered and raised from the dead.

So, too, I believe it when He says that homosexuality is wrong, there are only two genders, and marriage is to be between a man and a woman.  I believe God created in the womb and it is not our choice as to whether a baby lives or dies after it is conceived. I believe those things, not because they are rational to an imperfect mind or because the ideology of the day favors them.  I believe them because I believe the Bible is the never-changing, ever-truthful Word of God.

I believe it all.

Say good things about your Savior and about His Church.

Bro. Tony


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Summers End

                The summer seemed short and hot so there just wasn’t much energy. While it is still very warm it is great to see things begin to pick up as school starts back. It’s exciting that a couple of projects we have been working on are finally about to happen.  Some of the hill area is being cleared so that the church is more visible from the main intersection.  The new signs are being installed.  The new church directory is in the works.  Awesome.

                Keep in mind that “Grace on the Bluff” is just around the corner and we need someone to come alongside Meg to train to take charge. This is such a fantastic ministry and I know the Lord has impressed it upon someone’s heart to take the reins and keep it going. Please be praying about it and contact me if you have any questions.

                If you haven’t signed up for the church directory, please do so as soon as possible.  You can do it online in just a couple of minutes. Just go to the church website and follow the instructions.  If you are not “web savvy” just give us a call, or sign up after a church service.  This directory is much needed.  It helps celebrate our 120th Anniversary as well as updates our current membership and faithful attenders.  We want everyone’s picture in there. I hope to see your name on the list soon!

 

Say good things about your Savior and about His Church.

 

Bro. Tony


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Not Haters

Hate is a pretty strong word.  The Miriam-Webster defines hate as “1. a: intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury. b: extreme dislike or disgust: antipathy, loathing”.  I bring that up because people are getting away with misappropriating the word and lessening it’s true impact and in the current atmosphere of opposition to Christianity we Christians are receiving the brunt of the false implications of the word; we are being mis-labeled as “haters”.

For instance, do I  hate women because I am opposed to abortion?  Do I have a hostility and aversion to them because I view life as beginning at conception? Do I feel disgust at them or loathe them because I believe in the sanctity of life in the womb? If you listen to the news and the rhetoric of so many liberal organizations (as well as politicians) you’d believe I did hate women.

The same goes for the folks caught up in the LGBT hysteria. Because I disagree with them and believe that their lifestyles and beliefs are caused by mental/emotional disorders I’m said to hate them. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course, but you wouldn’t know that to hear people speak of my attitude.  According to those who stand on the opposite side of my beliefs, I hate people. We have got to fight, as Christians, the combat that stereotype as “haters”.  Why is it so important that we not let our society view us as haters (besides the fact that it is just so blatantly false)? The answer is simple:  hate speech.

In a nation that was founded on the wonderful principle of free speech we are hurtling toward the abyss of certain speech being free no longer. If our society can successfully brand opinions and beliefs as “hate speech” they can quieten any and all voices they so choose. You better believe that the voice of the church will be the first causality. This is a battle for the soul of a nation.

Say good things about your Savior and about His Church.

 

Bro. Tony

 


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Rhetoric

We are just a couple of weeks removed from a contentious Republican primary in Alabama in which every candidate professed to love Jesus, the Constitution, guns, and President Trump (not necessarily in that order) and about three months away from the general election. I’m not excited about that.  Why?  Because in the recent elections it seems that the church has forgotten our true calling; our first love, so to speak.

              We must remember that the church is not a political organization. In fact, the church should transcend politics. Jesus and the early church leaders were not concerned with how the church affected the governments of the time…and they were harsh, tyrannical governments. At the same time the church in America has an unique opportunity that wasn’t present in New Testament times: the opportunity to vote. I, for one, believe we should take advantage of that opportunity to try and shape a nation whose morals and identity reflect the nature of God.

              What we have to be careful with is our rhetoric. We are to promote truth, honesty, purity, and virtue. (Philippians 4:8) yet speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). The nature of today’s politics makes that difficult. We need to learn to pick and choose the battles in which we brandish our indignity as Christians. In the great scheme of eternity some things are important and some aren’t. I think the command expressed in 2 Timothy 2:23-26 is important to keep in mind these days: “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

Never shy away from Biblical truth but always measure your words.  Will the subject and the way you present it shine light on God’s nature, desires, and purpose? Will it help draw someone to Christ?

 

Say good things about your Savior and about His Church.

 

Bro. Tony


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From abundance to selfishness

              Can you remember when the nation overwhelmingly viewed Christianity as a good thing? In the business world, educational system, and even politics a “person of faith” was admired and respected. Now a Christian can get fired for expressing a Biblical truth in public, displays of Christian faith are forbidden in schools, and people will publicly question your sanity if you express belief in God.  What happened? How did that happen over just a few years?

           Here is a quote attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler:  “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage.”

              While this quote specifically references money and abundance, I believe it also speaks to the issues of “how did this happen” in regards to the place of Christianity.  I believe that our nation entered into that fourth stage of democracy: “from abundance to selfishness” and the people with money and its accompanying power have discovered that they can use the democratic process to bestow upon themselves the “freedom” to engage in any and all perverse behaviors their carnal souls desire. To do this, though, they must erase any remembrance of that first step: “from bondage to spiritual faith”.  And how can that be accomplished except they belittle and disown any sense of the absolute truths  contained in the Bible and espoused by persons of faith?

              What does this realization mean to Christians? It calls us back to the basics. Our call is to share the Gospel and to do it without fear. Peter and John were called before the governing body and commanded not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus and their response should be ours, “which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you or to Him? As for us we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20

 

Say good things about your church and about your Savior!

 

Bro. Tony


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Court Decisions

              Two recent decisions by the United States Supreme Court have a direct impact on the lives of Christian businesses. One involved a baker who refused to design a cake for a same-sex wedding and the other concerned a florist who did not want to arrange flowers for a similar wedding. Both cases were decided for the Christian business owners and the media, The LGBT activists, as well as  anti-Christians, went ballistic. They began presenting scenarios where businesses would put up “no gays allowed” signs and people would began a wholesale purge of all things not heterosexual.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

              Both business gladly served their LGBT patrons in the normal course of business, selling them baked good or flowers; there was absolutely no discrimination.  The owners felt, though, that they could not “actively participate” in an activity they (correctly) perceived as violating their Christian beliefs.  Both owners would have sold them anything in their store to do with whatever they wanted, but they would not design special cakes/floral arrangements for the events. 

              Make no mistake about it, it was only because they were Christians.  The services demanded could have easily been attained elsewhere without any problem or trouble. Here was a chance to attack Christians and it seemed to have worked as both business owners lost their businesses.  But the Supreme Court finally recognized the cases for what they were: animosity toward Christians simply because of their religious beliefs.  Our constitution says you can’t do that.

              Many people have wondered how I, as a Christian, could vote for our current president.  Well, this is it: Conservative judges that realize the laws of our land protect people of conscience. He appointed one and now, pray for him as he appoints another. Perhaps, just perhaps, Christians can regain some of our freedoms and our nation will quit drifting toward pure evil of unrestrained humanism.

 

Say good things about your church and about your Savior!

 

Bro. Tony


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