Christian Work Ethic

                We just celebrated Labor Day, a day set aside to recognize the contribution of the American worker. The workforce in the U.S. is one of the things that makes this nation what it is.  America was built on the backs of hard workers.  In fact, they practiced what became known as the “Christian work ethic”.  You see, the Bible does teach a certain way to work.
 
                First, in 2 Timothy 3:10 God says we are to work for what we get. There were people kind of slacking off, allowing the church to monetarily take care of them. They had no physical reason for not working and He said to tell them that if they didn’t work, they wouldn’t eat.  Laziness or deception has no place in the workplace for Christians.
 
               Secondly, there is the admonition to work hard and give it your best effort no matter the circumstances. In Colossians 3:23 He tells us to work in our secular work as if we are working for the Lord. Give 100% to please God…even if you don’t like the work or the boss.  An honest day’s work is not about the job or the boss, it’s about the worker. Give it your best, regardless.
 
               You can see why there is a strong tie between the building of our nation and the Christian work ethic.  Sadly, as we see the marginalization of the Bible as a guide to what is right and wrong, we see a generation of people who believe they deserve to be taken care of in some way.  They seem to believe that the “government” owes them something because of their “rights” as Americans.
 
               As Christians we are to be exceedingly generous in taking care of people in dire need. We are to especially look out for widows and orphans. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with Christians believing that folks that are able-bodied should work for what they get and give 100% in their labor.  It’s the Christian thing to do.
 
Say good things about your Savior and His Church on The Bluff!
 

Bro. Tony


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New Alabama Law and Marriage Certificates

                Have I signed my last Marriage Certificate?  Quite possibly.  The new Alabama law doesn’t require a marriage certificate, ceremony, or even a marriage officiant…such as a preacher or justice of the peace.  People simply download a marriage form, fill it out, have it notarized, and turn it in to the county Probate Office to be recorded. Boom! You are married.
 
                Something is just wrong with that picture.  I know that in the last decade the “institution of marriage” has taken quite a beating.  Some of the reasons to get married in the first place have been erased:  Living together, having children, making a meaningful commitment.  But right now, this law is a sad commentary on the importance of family in this culture.
 
                I understand that one of the reasons given for this new law is so that probate judges who disagree with same-sex marriages wouldn’t have to sign (approve) the marriage certificate.  But that could have been accomplished with numerous other types of laws that would have kept the solemnity and sacredness of marriage alive.  Now, unfortunately, it is nothing more that a simple civil contract. That’s it. No counseling, no promises, no vows…and no “I do’s”. Just “sign here”.
 
                Of course, wedding ceremonies can, and for Christians especially, will be performed in churches and wedding venues across the country.  But in the eyes of a so called “progressive” culture of permissiveness, marriage has taken a huge step backwards.  Marriage is a serious and sacred institution.  We should be making it harder to get married, not easier! The importance, meaning, and sanctity of the purpose of the marital union should be stressed, not erased.
 
                Do you realize that someone can decide at 8:00 to “get married” and be married by noon? The divorce courts are going to get busier, I’m sure. I wonder if the law makes a way to get divorced online, too?  Easy come, easy go.
 
Say good things about your Savior and His Church on the Bluff
 

Bro. Tony


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Repent and Turn to God

                A few weeks ago, I mentioned from the pulpit that a person was asking online for the locations  of local churches who welcomed LGBTQ, had good music, and an “uplifting” service.  Let me state emphatically that such a person would certainly be welcomed here at Church on the Bluff!  I want everyone to know that we would not turn anyone away from our services or fellowship. We welcome adulterers, thieves, drunkard, liars, idolaters, those who are greedy, sexually immoral, and causers of division.  We would welcome you, hug you, even invite you to breakfast.  But the message you will hear is this:  “Repent and turn to God”!
 
                I’m sorry if that isn’t as uplifting as you want.  But it is Biblical.  Read the sermons Jesus and the apostles. Read the directives for the churches by Peter, Paul, John, and the others. They didn’t preach repentance from sin because they hated anyone. No…it was because they actually loved everyone and wanted them to experience a closeness with their creator that wasn’t possible with sin in their lives.  They knew of the destruction of families, the misery of a life lived apart from God, and the lack of joy and satisfaction away from God’s will and purpose.  And thus, they believed with all their heart and soul that turning away from sin would grant everyone a peace that passes the understanding of mortal man.
 
                So yes, all sinners are welcome.  Jesus said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”(Matthew 11:28-29 NIV).  That is our cry also. But….we will not affirm sin. Jesus also said to those whom he loved “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:5 NIV).
 
            So…welcome sinners!  Come and feel the freedom of repentance.
 

Say good things about your Savior and His Church on the Bluff.

 
Bro. Tony

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Spirit of Revival

                I hope you are sensing a renewed spirit in the church. It seems like every Sunday the fellowship, the Bible study, and the singing are truly Spirit-filled.  That feeds two different needs.  First, some have had a tough week and need to be around fellow Christians for support and to feel the Spirit encouraging them and ministering to them.  Others come after having a great week of closeness with God and wanting to share their enthusiasm in fellowship and praise.
 
                Both are just what our community needs: Christians experiencing time of personal revival.  When you come to church and draw nearer to the Lord you go into a “world” that needs what you have.  There are people that are hurting, people who are angry, people who are confused….people that are searching for peace and satisfaction in their lives. I believe we don’t realize how much a joyful, encouraging, Christ-centered person affects people on a daily basis. Whether at the workplace, the home, at times of recreation, in the grocery store, or a restaurant….people need to see the light of Christ shining through us.  Sometimes a big smile and a “have a blessed day” can transfer the peace of Christ to someone, if only for a moment.
 
                You see, “going to church” is not totally about us.  There is a great big world out there that needs contact with Spirit-filled Christians; Christians who are sensitive to the Spirit in their lives.  Many times, we encounter people who seem to want to make our day worse.  We think, sometimes, that the devil puts people like that in our day just to rob us of joy.  Did you ever stop to think that God puts us in peoples lives to make their day better?
 
                We are God’s instruments of peace and compassion.  We are put into the world to affect the world, not the other way around.  So, yes, go to church every Sunday.  Recharge if that’s what you need.  Praise and worship the risen Savior and soak up that spirit of revival.  Express your love and joy.  Then take all that enthusiasm and love for Christ out into a world and let the Lord place you in the right place at the right time to touch a weary soul.  Let the Spirit guide you to situations where He wants to work through you.  Somewhere out there is a tired waiter, an ill cashier, an angry co-worker, or a burdened family member that the Lord wants you to minister to.
 
Say good things about your Savior and His Church on the Bluff.
 

Bro. Tony


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The Perfect Storm

                In the last week or so there were two mass shootings that took the lives of at least 31 people and altered the lives of so many more.  The first thing we usually do, is ask the question: “who is to blame?”  Let me say this emphatically:  There is a lot of blame to pass around.  Have you ever seen the movie “The Perfect Storm”?  It references a huge and deadly storm that happens when all of the otherwise benign elements of weather join together at a precise place and time and with the right conditions to create a monster.   I would say that our nation is at the point of that “perfect storm” for these type of tragedies.   That is, all the elements needed for senseless murders on a large scale are present.
 
                This list is by no means exhaustive because each one is an umbrella under which several subsets can reside. And it is in no particular order, though one may feed off of the other. The access to weapons is indeed part of the problem, but we need to understand that relationship to the other aspects of this storm.  The weapons a lot of people want banned have been around for many years with few problems.  Take them away and people are going to find a way to create death and mayhem. The means of destruction will always be available, which makes our understanding of the other storm producers ever so important.
 
                First, I’d mention a collective rage. No matter the side of the political spectrum there is intense anger; even hatred. I’ve never seen a nation so angry and it seems that there is no willingness to find a middle ground.  Some want to give all the “credit” for that to our president but whatever his rhetoric, it is no stronger nor does it bear more weight than the rhetoric of his opponents.  Right now, both sides are only interested in kowtowing to what they believe to be their strongest voting demographic. The mudslinging and name-calling is fueling the rage.
 
                Next, I believe the access to an unfettered social media is a large part of the problem.  A person feeling marginalized or offended can quickly find anonymous people, though they be only a very small part of society, who only encourage and affirm hatred to the point of irrationality.  A person feeling that rage and wanting to take some sort of action is urged on by like-minded people hundreds of miles away. And I’ll use a politically incorrect term, but crazy people pumped up by other crazy people will do crazy things.
 
                Add to that the intense violence that is portrayed in movies, on TV, and in video games.  We are becoming desensitized to the horror of bloodshed. The gore is unbelievable: brains splatter, guts fall out, and blood spurts from wounds like a fountain.  That sort of thing has its affects on our collective psyche as violence is, quite simply, normalized.
 
Then (and this is of utmost importance) there is the drastic mistake of trying to separate the physical from the spiritual.  Humans are not merely physical products of some sort of majestic coincidence of chemical reactions some billions of years ago.  We were created by a loving God, in His image.  When we as a nation purposely kick God to the curb the elements for that perfect storm are unleashed.  Presidential candidate Joe Biden said a week ago “white supremacists are winning the battle for this soul of the nation”.  How pitifully simplistic.  Satan is winning the battle for the soul of this nation. He is using white supremacists, Antifa, black supremacists, violent gangs, greedy politicians, hate sites on the internet, a news media that thrives on controversy to the point of actually feeding it, and a nation that is distancing itself from God.
 
                A lot of people have died in this storm.  We, the Christian church, have our work cut out for us.  Prayers are necessary and these things ought to drive us to our knees in the presence of God.  But action is called for and I believe the most important action is evangelism. Only God can change hate to love and He does that by changing the people through the Gospel.  Now is not the time for the church to circle the wagons, it is time for us to stand up and boldly share the true and only cure for this storm:  Jesus Christ.
 
Say good things about your Savior and His Church on the Bluff
 

Bro. Tony


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Christian Values Attacked

                  According to a July 24, 2019 report from LifeSiteNews (as well as other agencies) “– A YouTube ad for a charity supporting military veterans was suppressed recently because it contained the keyword “Christian,” the charity’s founder says.”  Keywords are words chosen by the ads to help direct searchers to their particular website/advertisement.   Apparently, YouTube has decided that the word “Christian” is unacceptable content!
 
                Now, get this: the marketing team substituted the word Muslim for the word Christian and there was no problem publishing the ad. Does that shock you? I hope it does. It certainly raises more than a few red flags, but I have two main questions that trouble me.  First, when did being a Christian become such a bad thing in this country?  And secondly, why the sudden infatuation with all things Muslim?
 
                Let’s look at that first question.  There was a time, not too far removed, when people were respected for their Christian views.  Politicians across the nation proudly presented their religious affiliation during the election times.  Keeping in mind that Christian doctrine hasn’t changed, those same beliefs are now considered backward, hateful, and dangerous.  Seriously…hateful?  Christians in my generation and the generation after mine, were seen as staunch defenders against the vices that caused so much damage to the individual and to families: drinking, smoking, gambling, pre-marital sex, etc., and a great deal of our salvation experiences included the forsaking of those lifestyles.  Yes, we were seen as prudish and often judgmental, but our beliefs were respected.
 
                Then came Satan’s greatest victory in destroying people: the “sexual revolution”.  When we stop to think about it, we realize that the major conflict between Christians and worldly living now has to do with sex.  There is the abortion industry that thrives because of un-planned pregnancy due in a great deal to the loss of respect for the place of sex in our lives, the homosexual tendencies that are encouraged and celebrated, and now even the transsexual movement to normalize a serious mental health problem. Anything and almost everything goes.  I say ‘almost’ because there are some sexual behaviors that are still recognized as un-natural and deviant; but rest assured that those will quickly follow.
 
                As a result of the licentiousness and darkness of the selfish human nature, Christians are now dubbed “haters”.  But that begs the second question about the widespread push for the Muslim community.  Do Christians believe that the afore mentioned sexual behaviors are un-natural and sinful?  Yes.  Do we want the misguided LGBTQ folks executed or imprisoned? Of course not; we want them healed.  Yet nine major Muslim countries such as Afghanistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iran have the death penalty for LGBTQ behavior and eleven more, including Algeria, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Syria impose harsh prison sentences. Yet Christians are the haters?
 

Don’t be fooled by thinking that those Muslims who migrate here have suddenly abandoned their faith in exchange for the “American Dream”.  Nor have those elected to positions of authority and power suddenly ditched their hatred for non-Muslims.  So why, then, is Islam given such positive promotion across our country by the cultural elite and liberal colleges?  It is plain to me that it is due to willful ignorance brought on by the hatred of Christians. Jesus said it would happen…yet it still caught me by surprise. I never thought I’d see the day where Christians would be told to not only to be quiet about their beliefs but even deny them in order to be a part of our American culture.

 
Say good things about your Savior and His Church on the Bluff
 

Bro. Tony


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God’s Plan has God’s Purpose

                Absurd: “wildly unreasonable, illogical, or inappropriate, senseless…”. I think it’s time to begin throwing that word around more, especially when it comes to the “transgender debacle”.  A presidential candidate recently tied himself into a pretzel trying to include the transgender community in the abortion debate. (Every vote counts, you know).  Listen, Slick….only a woman can have an abortion because only a woman can get pregnant. To state otherwise is absurd. It doesn’t matter what a person thinks in his/her head, males cannot get pregnant. It is physically, physiologically, biologically, and medically impossible. For anyone (news media personalities, Hollywood celebrities, and politicians) to push anything less than that truth is…well…absurd.
 

Now you don’t have to be religious to know that.  I’ve known and now know unbelievers who have enough sense to know that there are only two sexes and those sexes are quite different and men cannot get pregnant.  But being a believer in Christ and holding true to the word of God, the Bible, we do have the strength to stand up to the absurdities of things that are the result of misguided and yes, sometimes even evil human imaginations.  Ephesians 4:14 says that as we become more mature in Christ “We will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming”.

 

Ask yourself this question: “why, all of a sudden, has the spotlight been shone on a community of people that represent at best .6% of the population?”.  That is point six percent. As in 6/10 of one percent! (From what I’ve read that’s probably about the same amount of people who believe they were abducted by aliens). That’s absurd.

 

Many say it’s because they have been marginalized and even discriminated against.  Unfortunately, people with mental problems are often avoided if that’s what you mean my marginalized.  It’s unfortunate, but it not a question of hate so much as awkwardness and not knowing what to say or how to act.  Discrimination? A man dressed as a woman used to come into the fabric store where Angie worked and purchase fabric. You know what? They sold him fabric.  When he left and went out to a fast food place to eat, they sold him burgers.  Walmart would sell him a ladies bicycle.  He can go into any museum, any theater, any public place that his heart so desires.

 

“But he can’t go into a ladies restroom!  That’s discrimination!”.  Nope. Not even close.  It’s common sense and a safety precaution.  To think that someone with male genitalia should be allowed into a women’s restroom is…absurd.  It goes to that last part of Ephesians 4:14 that instructs us to beware of “the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming”.

 

God has a plan and God has a purpose.  The sooner people recognize that the better off we all will be and the closer we will be to harmony, peace and unity.

 

Say good things about your Savior and His Church on the Bluff.

 

Bro. Tony


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The Sin vs The Sinner – Transgenderism

 
              Does the Bible speak to the plight and struggle of people that are “transgendered”?  As a matter of fact, it does.  In the first section of Deuteronomy 22 God speaks of some common-sense, proper ways to handle certain situations. He commands that if you find someone’s property do all you can to get it back to them and to help your neighbor in times of need. In fact, he commands several things will set God’s people apart from a selfish and perverse world.
 
                Right there in plain sight (verse 5) God says this: “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.” The Common English Version translates it like this: ”women must not pretend to be men, and men must not pretend to be women. The Lord your God is disgusted with people who do that.”
 
For many years, and to some extent today, people interpreted that verse as prohibiting women from wearing pants. I feel that the reason it was interpreted that way for so long was that the interpreters never gave serious thought to a grown man parading around in public wearing a sun dress and heels.  It was practically unheard of and would have been rightly seen as a sign of serious mental illness. A person didn’t need the Bible to tell them that, right?
 
Apparently, people do need the Bible to tell them that.  God detests such things, not because He hates peoples, but because such things abolish the purpose of His creation. It does so both in how nature works and how God’s creation glorifies Him.  He loves the sinner and wants to reclaim him/her through the blood of Christ.
 
As usual let me stress that we are to treat all people with kindness and understanding.  That doesn’t mean we are to affirm their choice as normal nor do we have to applaud their decision as “bravery”.  It also doesn’t mean we are to allow them to use another sex’s bathroom, sit in another sex’s classes, or participate in another sex’s athletics. There is nothing “hateful” about that.
 

But they are a creation of God and he loves them…just as much as He loves me and you.  They need our help and they need to hear the truth….spoken in love.

 
Say good things about your Savior and His Church on the Bluff.
 

Bro. Tony

 

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Cults and the Danger

                I mentioned in my sermon a couple of weeks ago, that I had watched a program about cults.  While the cults portrayed were dangerous because at some point members were commanded to kill people, I hope everyone knows that all cults are dangerous because they lead you away from Christ. They are spiritually dangerous.  The cults that were featured were all small cults, anywhere from 30 to 300 people. However, when you look at the defining characteristics of a cult, you see that some majors religions are nothing but cults.  So…what makes a religious movement a “cult”?
 

My list isn’t comprehensive because some identify up to 12 characteristics.  What I am sharing are the most obvious and easily identified.

 
  1. They are birthed by a person who personally receives new revelation from God that drives their doctrine. This leader is infallible. Notable for our era is L. Ron Hubbard (Church of Scientology), Joseph Smith (Mormonism), Muhammad (Islam), Charles Russel (Jehovah’s Witnesses), and others.

 

  1. They have a book, or books, that they claim as being equal to or superior to the Bible. The Mormons have the Book of Mormon as well as “The Pearl of Great Price” and “Doctrines and Covenants”.  The Muslims, of course have the Quran.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses actually have their own version of the Bible called “The New World Translation”.
 
  1. They claim that only their particular group will be in heaven (and often their definition of heaven is different because of their “new revelation”). The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that only 144,000 will be in heaven, so that’s fairly exclusionary.  We pretty much know the Muslims believe you have to embrace Islam…even if by force. Mormons are a little more flexible.  Non-Mormons can’t populate their own planets, but if they are good, decent people they may inhabit a type of “heaven-like” experience on a much lower plane.
 
  1. They are not always up front about their beliefs often resulting in somewhat deceptive practices.  Mormons don’t just come out and ask you if you want to be god of your own planet or tell you that they have secret places only Mormons can see.  Jehovah’s Witnesses will introduce themselves now as a “Christian” religion even though they don’t accept Christ as having deity nor believe in the concept of the Trinity.  Scientologists don’t parade around their belief that an alien populated the earth millions of years ago by bringing spaceships loaded with other aliens.
 
There are a few other characteristics of cults, but these are usually the easiest to spot.  Yes, the smaller cults with charismatic leaders that make the headlines for their horrible practices and terrible endings are dangerous.  But I believe the biggest danger is found in the cults that I mentioned (and a few others) that are perceived not to be cults at all.  How do we combat the false doctrines of cults? First by being sure of the doctrines you know to be Biblical and true.  Then always pray for wisdom and courage to stand up for that truth.
 
Say good things about your Savior and His Church on the Bluff
 

Bro. Tony


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Christians and President Trump

                I read an interesting “back and forth” argument concerning Christians who voted for President Trump. It wasn’t the first time I had heard the rhetoric: “How can someone who calls themselves Christian vote for an egomaniacal, racist, anti-immigration, lying, misogynistic, Islamophobic like Donald trump?”
 
                First, I’d argue about some of the descriptions thrown around about him that people continue to advance without any proof whatsoever. For instance, is the man a racist? I really don’t understand where that comes from.  His policies are helping minorities by decreasing unemployment and he has established a commission to look into the unfair incarceration rate/sentencing guidelines (even a black president failed to do that).
 
                He certainly isn’t anti-immigration.  He has even increased the number of green cards issued.  Now he is certainly anti-illegal immigration. But let’s not confuse the two. All previous presidents espouse the very same beliefs about illegal immigration that President Trump has.  Exactly.  The difference is he began putting feet on his promises.  If previous administrations were so much more favorable to immigration practices why did the throngs of people suddenly rushing our borders not make their desperate treks during those administrations? If I didn’t know better, I’d think a liberal plot was afoot. Now as far as caring for those being housed in detention for trying to get in legally and illegally, I think you’ll find the majority of organizations providing comfort and care for them, as much as is allowed, are Christian organizations. I certainly haven’t seen Anitfa or Socialist organizations mobilizing to help.
 
                Is he egotistical? A liar? Look up the definition of “politician”.  An honest definition would include those words.  If a Christian had to wait for an honest, selfless, saint to run for office before we vote we would never get to the polls.  Misogynistic? I’ll give you crude and vulgar (and we Christians do not like that) but as far as we know he hasn’t slept around with interns, movie stars, and subordinates while in office as have some in the past.  And…He has had as high as eight female senior advisors compared to five for both a President Obama and President Clinton. How is that misogynistic?
 
                Bottom line, though, is this:  Christians had two choices. Many voted for the one who promised to do what he could to limit the horrible practice of killing babies in the womb, to appoint conservative, constitutional judges, build a strong economy, and control illegal immigration. There is certainly nothing un-Christian about those goals.

 

Say good things about your Savior and His Church on the Bluff.

  Bro. Tony


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