Organized Religion

I was recently reading an article that was not too complimentary of evangelical Christianity.  To seemingly state her credentials as an “authority” on the subject she said that she was a very spiritual person but wasn’t “into” organized religion. That told me all I needed to know about what was coming in her article: it was opinion from a person with no helpful knowledge about the subject she was about to address.

First, simply being “spiritual” means absolutely nothing.  Hindus are spiritual.  Muslims are spiritual. In fact, Wiccan and naturalists are spiritual. For that matter, Satanist are spiritual. A person can be spiritual and yet have no clue about the one true God, let alone evangelical Christianity.  When it comes to a right relationship with God, being “spiritual” just doesn’t cut it.

Secondly, organization is generally a very good thing, even in secular work. I’ve never heard anyone say “I love cooking but I’m not into organized recipes.  I just throw random stuff in a bowl, mix it up, eat what comes out”, or “I love road trips but I’m not into organized traffic laws.  I drive in whatever lane I want to and I’ll decide whether or not to obey traffic signals and speed limits”.  We organize for  both ease and efficiency.

Here is what I hear when someone says he or she is not into organized religion:  “I  do not like going to church and living by a bunch of rules and regulations”.  Yes, it is that simple. Please understand, though, that to a great deal we shoulder the blame for that.  We have, in many cases, taken a relationship with God and traded it for a list of do’s and don’t’s (tellingly, mostly don’t’s). We then tell people, and practice it ourselves, that if they keep that particular set of rules, they will be in a good relationship with God.  While there are several rock-solid ways of living that uphold and demonstrate God’s character and His purpose, we have to be careful not to micro-manage sin.

In fact, though, not to be a part of ”organized religion” violates several of the things God designed to perpetuate the Gospel.  He tells us to gather together.  He tells us that He gives us specialized gifts to build up the body of Christ.  He tells us that we are to exercise those gifts for the common good of the church. He tells us that each member belongs to all the others.  To reject organizing to maximize the Gospel is both selfish and short-sighted. In fact, it is not spiritual at all.


Bro. Tony



Male and Female

Well, the Boy Scouts are not the Boy Scouts any longer. They have changed their name to Scouts BSA (I’m wondering, though, what the B stands for). They took that step so they could begin accepting girls into the organization. How sad, for both sexes. It is yet another misstep in seeking equality for the sexes. Why is it a misstep? Because it confuses equality with sameness.

                Should girls be taught how to tie knots, start a campfire, and enjoy the outdoors safely? Of course they should, if they have a desire to do that. But somehow the “feminist” movement has morphed into a “masculinity” movement for women. That is, they want women to be like men.  Isn’t that the exact opposite of “feminism”?

Although it is increasingly unpopular to acknowledge it, women and men are different. There. I said it: men and women are different.  One is not more or less than the other, they are just different. Are four quarters equal to a dollar bill? Of course, but they are not the same. There are pros and cons to carrying either, but they are different. So it is with men and women. There are skeletal differences, muscle mass difference, and even psychological differences. Yes they have an awful lot in common, there are differences that truly make a difference in things.

In any situation that includes males and females there is a definite sexual difference that will affect them in several ways: sexual attraction.  Sexual attraction is common, normal, and necessary. But because of that, kids react differently in each other’s presence.  You may find it hard to believe (sarcasm) but boys want to impress girls and girls want to impress boys.  In classroom or teaching sessions they may not be as honest and forthcoming about many things when they are around each other.  Their focus can be compromised when members of the opposite sex are present and they may have questions they wouldn’t dare ask.

God created two sexes and in His infinite wisdom designed them differently with purpose and a plan.  It is not being a “sexist” to acknowledge the inherit differences in the male and female identities, nor is it misogynistic to suggest men and women were created to complement each other.  We each have our purpose.  So there are just times when boys need to hang out together and be boys and girls need to hang out together and be girls. What a shame that we rob them of those opportunities under the guise of “equality”.


Bro. Tony



Hate Speech

           More and more theses days we are hearing about what is called “hate speech”.  That phrase has quickly become the measuring stick for what we will or won’t allow to be spoken in public. On the surface, that may seem like a great idea.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful not to hear people say hateful things? Now, as Christians, we should never say hateful things.  The Bible is very clear about what should come out of our mouth and it is to be pleasant, constructive, and compassionate.  But it is not “hateful” speech that is banned. There is a subtle, yet important, difference between hateful speech and hate speech.

Miriam Webster dictionary defines hate speech as speech that is “intended to insult, offend, or intimidate a person because of some trait (as race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability)”.  Hateful speech will certainly intimidate or offend someone, that is its intent.  One of the biggest problems with defining something as hate speech is how to determine the “intent” and then determine guilt based on whether or not it “offends” someone. What is being defined as hate speech can actually be said out of love and concern for a person.  If I believe that a person with gender dysphoria can and should get help, is that being hateful? If I believe that abortion is the taking of innocent life, am I being hateful? What if I quote scripture warning people about ungodly lifestyles, is that done out of hate?  Of course not, but each of those things have been called hate speech.

Again, as I’ve said before, it is yet another way to marginalize Christianity and paint the Bible as a book of hate.  Why? Because it offends ungodly people. That will never stop,  Paul’s said in Ephesians 5:11 that the cross, itself, is an offense to certain people.  So what is our response? Silence? No. Ephesians 4:15 we are commanded to speak the truth…but to speak it with love. 

And if truth, spoken with the love of God, offends someone then so be it. We should never let our voices be quieted.  People need to hear the truth.

Bro. Tony



Does this marginalize the Bible?

A few days ago a bill was passed in California that outlaws helping people overcome un-wanted homosexual or gender dysphoria desires for adults (it already had one that “protected” children from much-needed therapy). Other states have a similar law in place.  What makes this law standout from the rest of the ill-advised laws is wording that prohibits  the “advertising and offering of sexual orientation change effort”.

Critics of this law say it will eventually result in the ban of the Bible.  Proponents say it will do no such thing. The answer probably lies somewhere between the extremes, but it absolutely will result in the Bible being marginalized even more.  Remember a couple of weeks ago when I said that demonizing opposition to gender dysphoria leads to presenting the Bible as a book of hate?  This is step two.  In the state of California churches and Christians will be prohibited for advertising or offering the Biblical path to help and healing of those troubled souls.

“Oh no,” the liberals hiss “this would only apply to business that charge for their services”.  Of course it will.  Until an atheist person or group decides to sue and gets it in front of one of the wacky, Bible-hating California judges that seem to love dismantling the  Constitution and the right is gives us to live free from government intrusion into our religious beliefs.  Then we will see how broadly this law will be applied when it comes to the Bible. It is, you know, the “text book” from which Christian counselors derive their approach to homosexuality and gender dysphoria.

Add to that the “advertising and offering” of that service. If I say from the pulpit that the Bible says those things are wrong and that we “offer” help to those who suffer from them, will I be breaking the law? If my pulpit speech is protected (which I doubt) what about one of our church members “offering” the church’s help to an individual in a park or mall? The ”slippery slope” will quickly become a mudslide.

We Christians need to pray that God will not forsake us and that His strength empower us to stand strong and un-afraid on the solid foundation of the Bible.

Bro. Tony



Setting the Mood

                I read an article about the worship activities of a church that was growing at a very fast rate. The accompanying photo was of the stage area in the church.  It was very dark, with a lot of purple accent lights, and spotlights on the worship leaders.  In explaining the reasoning behind the décor and ambience, a leader said that it helped set the mood for worship. Really? We have to set the mood for worship? Call me old-fashioned, but I believe worship sets the mood.

In Acts 16 Paul and Silas are in jail; they are praying and singing and the other prisoners are listening to them. I suspect that those two guys changed the mood in that place through their worship, not the other way around. I picture the early church, chastised and persecuted, meeting in hidden places and still singing praises to the Lord. Did the ambience of caves and catacombs prohibit the believers from worshiping? 

True worship is not found in the atmosphere of the place but in the attitude of the heart.  I’ve always said that if you can’t worship in a barn you can’t truly worship in a cathedral. I hope that in every church service your heart is filled with worship before the first note is played.  That, folks, makes the music and praise beautiful and a sweet savor unto the Lord.

I understand the importance of music in the modern-place worship setting. It does help us to truly have a “worship” service, but if the music is the determining factor in the quality of our worship, we are barking up the wrong tree.  We must prepare our hearts before we open our mouths.

I’m looking forward to worshiping and praising Sunday.

Bro. Tony



Don’t give up

 I heard two people ask recently “why hasn’t God blessed us with growth? We have been doing everything we can to reach people.” That is a very fair question….and a natural one. I’ve told you before that I have not seen anyone who works as hard as the people of Church on the Bluff. After every event you are rightfully exhausted. You are willing to try almost anything new or different to better reach people. And, God knows, you are the most loving and accepting people I have ever met. No one….no one…ever visits this church and goes away without being spoken to and loved on.

So why? Why haven’t we grown? First of all, we have grown. Look around on Sunday mornings and you will see several faces you didn’t see a few years ago. The fact is, though, that we have lost more by mobilization (folks moving away) and death, than we have gained. That isn’t an excuse, though.  We still haven’t seen the growth we should be seeing. So let me list a few things we should consider.

Perhaps we aren’t offering what people want. That, in itself, is not a bad thing if people are looking for the wrong thing. But I have to believe that we are offering the right things….a saving relationship through Jesus Christ, a closer walk with God, and personal spiritual growth that affects our life and our lifestyle. It could very well be that we simply aren’t through building the foundation for growth. If a church is to succeed in the eyes of God there has to be a good foundation. The infrastructure has to be right.  So we will be taking a closer look at that.

It could also be that you have an old fuddy-duddy, stick-in-the-mud, dinosaur of a pastor. I sincerely hope that is not it; I’m about as hip and happening as I’m going to get. But I promise not to give up, and I know you won’t either. As long as the Lord allows me to pastor I will preach that sin is real and hell is hot. I will preach righteous living,  commitment and dedication to the Lord through His church, and spreading the love of God through the gospel to all people. We may not be “Culturally correct” but we will be scripturally correct; whatever our size, we will strive to be obedient to God.

Don’t give up and don’t despair ….God isn’t through  with us yet. Not by a long shot.

Bro. Tony



The Battle isn’t lost

                I often wonder, in a nation with 83 percent of the people identifying as Christian, why we are going through the moral/social crisis that we are.  And make no mistake about it, we are going through a crisis.  The fact that we are actually arguing about what makes a person male or female is ludicrous; absolutely insane. It is the apex of foolishness, yet many learned people are being brainwashed or shamed into espousing that very idea. Why is that so? Why is that belief even grabbing a toehold in our thinking?

As a Christian I believe it is another in a string philosophies that show how far our nation has drifted from God and His purpose for creation. It is also another point of contention Satan is drawing to discredit the very Word of God in order to marginalize Christianity.  Let me explain.

As Transgenderism is vigorously promoted as normal and natural the people who disagree with that are branded as “transphobic” and “hateful”. We already see that and it will only get worse.  When Christians point to the Bible as their guiding view for a male/female sexual identity, then the Bible is  regarded as a “hateful” piece of literature; it is seen, by those brainwashed to see Christians as haters, to be book filled with hate.  It stands to reason then that we should not use, for any of our ideals and laws, a “hateful book”. See how easy it is to make the connection that transgenderism is natural so the Bible is hateful?

The devil is sneaky and crafty, to be sure. How else, unless blinded by the father of lies, can someone take the most loving, compassionate book ever written and view it as hateful?  We Christians have a long road in front of us.  Just remember this one thing: God doesn’t change minds…He changes people. Pray for un-believers and the true “haters” of God.   The battle is not lost.


Bro. Tony



Hard Times

            Who’s ready for some nice, spring weather?  There is something inspiring about crawling out of the bleakness of winter and walking outside, basking in the warm sun and looking at the beautiful blossoms and greenery. We are glad when winter is over, aren’t we? 
           But let’s never forget that the winter was necessary. Botanists tell us that the season of cold weather actually helps plant life, especially fruit and nut trees, to prosper and become more productive. I’ve read that apple trees need at least 1000 hours of temperatures below 47 degrees in order to produce at optimum level.  The longer it stays cold, the less insects will have time to awaken and breed, giving us a few less mosquitos. Yes, the cold, bleak, gray days are part of God’s plan. They may not seem as beneficial or as pleasant as springtime weather, but things are certainly better because we go through them.

            The same can be said of the “winters” in our lives; those darker times that seem like burdens and problems.  We may not understand at the time why we experience certain things in life, but rest assured that God is using every part of our life experiences to her help us grow and prosper.  If you are going though one of times, hand in there and trust God….Spring is coming for you. 

Be blessed,

Bro. tony



                I saw an interesting commercial concerning Easter.  It was a commercial for a chocolate rabbit. The closing line said this: “This year make the magic of Easter come alive” (with one of their special chocolate bunnies).   I wonder if they are really dumb and accidentally belittled the meaning of Easter or if they purposely sought to insinuate that their chocolate confection was as important to the day as the resurrection. Make Easter come alive….with chocolate.  What an  insult to every Christian who believes that  the resurrection of Christ assures us of our resurrection in the presence of God when this life is over. Paul said that we are “made alive” in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:22).

The resurrection is what the celebration is all about; it makes the events on the previous Friday “good”. Without the resurrection the crucifixion would be watered down to story about a martyr instead of the sacrifice of the Savior. Maybe I’m  just getting old and grouchy, but, for some reason, that chocolate rabbit being associated with “coming alive” strikes a nerve.

That’s my rant about secular Easter. I always look forward to the real meaning and, of course, our services on Easter and this year is no different. We are going to have a glorious day of celebration. Please remember our special service times: Sunrise Service at 6:30, Bluff Perk fellowship at 7:00, Bible Study groups at 8:00, and Worship Service at 9:00. Invite friends and family to join us on this most special day.

Bro. Tony, pastor

Church on the Bluff




                The weather has been kind of wacky this spring. Lots of rain, cold nights, frost in the mornings, heat on in the car going to work and air conditioner on coming home. I complain about it, sure, because my yard needs cutting but is too wet to even try. But I don’t worry about it.  There is one thing for sure: I cannot control the weather.  All I can do is dress for it.  I adapt until things change.

                I believe that we can all benefit from that attitude. Not just about the weather, but about all the “un-controllable“ things in our life.  Jesus said in Matthew 6:27 “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”  That is an awesome teaching.  The key to that, though, is  recognizing all the things that are out of our control; the foremost being people.  For the most part people are out of our control. We can offer advice, let our feelings be known, and even get a little “preachy” but the bottom line is that they will do what they want to do.  The only One who can change people is God, Himself.  And I’ve seen Him do it.  I suspect that you have, too.

So, how do we handle those things, and people, we cannot control? Paul tells us in his letter to the church at Philippi: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 4:6-7)

We usually phrase it like this:  Turn it over to the Lord.


Bro. Tony, pastor

Church on the Bluff