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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Law Enforcement and Christianity

 

      The City of Minneapolis has had a lot of protesting and rioting after the killing of George Floyd by a police officer and there is an outcry to defund the city police force in Minneapolis.  Is there a need for a police force?  As of July 22nd, there have been 37 chargeable homicides in that city this year, 19 in the two months since Mr. Floyd’s death.  Those were not people killed by the police, rather they were all killed by fellow citizens.  In our own Birmingham, there have been 55 chargeable homicides…citizens murdered by other citizens. On top of that, according to the latest numbers available Birmingham had 4,056 violent crimes last year including murder, rape, robbery, and assault (that’s an average of over 11 violent crimes every day).  So, the question I think we should be asking is “will those crimes increase or decrease if we defund the police?”.  The bottom line for the purpose of a police force is to prevent crime and apprehend criminals.
 
      In the 13th chapter of Romans Paul explains that a system of government is ordained by no less than God, Himself.  He states that one of the purposes of government is to prevent and punish crime. He also says that criminals should fear the consequences of crime….as well as being guided by their conscience.  As a Christian who strives to live by the Bible, I support law enforcement officers as necessary to keep order in this world.   I see no other alternative.
 

      Are there “bad” law enforcement officers?  Ofcourse there are….and we should do our best to ensure that they receive punishment for wrongdoing as any other citizen would.  Not everyone is cut out to do that job, but I have had the honor of knowing several law enforcement officers over the years of pastoring churches.  Each and every one was kind-hearted, diligent, and truly wanted to help others by doing their job and doing it well.  Theirs is a dangerous profession (as seen by the murder of one of our own, Nic O’Rear).  The few un-fit officers shouldn’t reflect on the thousands of good, honest, and brave men and women who protect all of us on a regular basis.  They are deserving of honor and respect.   Thank God for those who serve and pray for their safety daily.

 
Bro. Tony

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Loving the Unlovable

        Is it possible to love “unlovable” people?  Admittedly, it is tough, but I believe we can do it.  It is important, though, to understand what I mean by “love”.  In 1 John 4, verses 8 and 16, we are told explicitly that “God is love”. Simple enough right?  Well, not exactly.  What we are apt to do is read those words backwards.  Let me explain.
 
     We choose the wrong word to define the other.  God is love? Well, let’s define love and see what God is. Right?  We then come up with a very “worldly” definition of love and that then describes and characterizes God.  If love means we affirm perverse lifestyles and mental issues because that means we “love” that person then we have defined God as One who would do that.  If our definition of love is that we “live and let live” so that someone can feel good about themselves, we have designed a God who would do that.  But we shouldn’t understand God by a ‘humanistic’ definition of love.  Quite the opposite.
 
     Do you want to know what “love” truly is?  Then you have to know whom God truly is.  You have to read and study the Bible to learn and understand the character of God.  You have to know the heart of God. You have to understand the purpose of God.  When God becomes your definition of love then you can understand that sometimes love calls out sin; that love doesn’t affirm unhealthy relationships or behaviors. 
 
     Then…and this is important…you understand that the reason God (love) calls out sin is because God loves the sinner.  He knows what is best and wants what is best for the sinner. In short, He loves the unlovable.  Just as we are called to love them because we want what is best for them. Just remember that love isn’t God.  God is love!
 
    Say good things about your Savior and Church on The Bluff!
 
Bro. Tony

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Corporate Worship and Covid

              What a joy to be back in cooperate worship once again!   I honestly don’t know when we can invite the full church body back together but, believe me, after having the COVID virus, I will err on the side of caution before opening the church back up with no social distancing and masks.  In fact, I believe that one of the reasons God allowed me and Angie to get the virus (or for my Calvinist friends out there…made us get the virus) was to show us the reality of the sickness. It is, indeed, serious business.  Some of you still hesitate to get out of your homes and I honor that.  Stay safe.
 
                But there is still something special about meeting together.  In a way I feel sorry for the churches that have the technology to do everything over the internet. The production is great, and the children still have access to Bible stories and teaching (and that is wonderful) but the “togetherness”, the “fellowship” for the adults can be lacking.   Don’t get me wrong….I applaud the churches that have the capabilities to do that.  But, I don’t want people to get used to a church “online”.   Church is more than preaching and church is more than teaching.  Those are things the church does.  The church also meets; the church gathers together.  We need each other.  We need to feel the comfort, the love, the care for each other. We need to talk and laugh together.  We need to eat together. 
 
                A friend of mine, and a fellow pastor from Geneva County, Chris Adams,  said this:  “normal has packed its bag and walked out the door and is not coming back”.  In many ways I fear he is right, but I want him to be wrong.  Yes, we will find new ways to minister, to get our message across.  We will learn that “love your neighbor” will get tougher.  We will learn that the church is no longer the “apple of her eye” concerning our nation.   All the more, I hope that our body of believers can gather together with no constraints.  We need that more than ever. In the meantime, I will continue to post something online as well as preach and teach in person on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights.
 
                Say good things about your Savior and about His church.  Stay safe, buckle your seatbelts, don’t take candy from strangers.  Wear a face mask
.             

Bro. Tony


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Slow Return to “Normal” – Covid Impact

 
             It is with a heavy heart that I have to tell you that we will not have Vacation Bible School at Church on the Bluff this year.  I cannot see there being a time this summer when parents would be willing to allow their children to mingle with other children in a closed building and rooms for a couple of hours each night.  Even more so now that there is a slight rise in COVID-19 cases.   
 
                I suppose that the biggest disappointment concerning the virus pandemic is the loss of Bible teaching time.  Our Sunday morning Bible study classes have been temporarily halted and now VBS.  There is just something special and productive about getting together and reading, studying, and discussing the Bible.  I’ll not consider the church completely “open” until we get back to Bible study times again.  Please make that a matter of prayer.
 
                On a much brighter note, we have decided to begin our Wednesday night services again!  I know the attendance won’t be as before, but the Bible study we do and the fellowship we have will be another small step toward “back to normal”.   And I do believe we will not only get back to normal, but perhaps we have learned to love that normal we had.  Didn’t we kind of take it for granted?  I will continue to do videos for Wednesdays and Sundays, but for those who are able to get out, the times we have together are precious.  Let us not take our time together for granted any longer.
 
                As I close, I want to mention one more thing.  Last week I chastised the city of Birmingham for their foolish decision to cut ties with the Church of the Highlands.  I stand by what I said but let me explain how that decision adversely impacts Christian churches and hurts their ability to spread the Gospel.  By their move the city of Birmingham has literally branded conservative churches as “hate groups”.  They have officially said to the world that Christians are haters, are racist, and are uncaring. Despite the unbelievable track record of love and care that churches espouse and produce, we are now being falsely chastised and maligned.
 
                We may be tempted to say “well, it’s their loss”, and it certainly is, but it goes deeper than that. Think about it:  The government of Birmingham has made the church no more than a political opponent. Now, viewed through the lens of politics, churches can be publicly chastised and hindered in their mission….by the government.  I’m not much on conspiracy theories but I see the devil’s fingerprints on all of this, and it demands our attention.  If we can be censured because of conservative political leanings the true wall of separation between church and state has been breached.
 
Say good things about COTB!     
        

Bro. Tony

 

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Satan and His Lies – Stand Firm Church!

                As I write, I’m sitting on a patio looking at the mountains of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  Angie and I will leave shortly and head back home, but it has been a wonderful time of rest and time with family. Yet my spirit groans.  I hurt for our nation and the division that is ever growing.  Just when I thought it had hit its peak and that perhaps things would begin to settle down…boom!  It gets even worse. I honestly believe that Satan has begun to finally make strides in his fight against the church here in the United States.
 
                When churches were shut down during the Covid-19 crises I kept quiet and urged caution in calling it a plot to quieten the voice of the church.  When the protests started I could understand the pain and outrage of watching a man of color being killed slowly by a white man who had sworn to protect citizens of his city and I agreed with their desire to make their voices heard.  I thought I was listening.
 
                Then the looting, destruction, and burning started. I saw piles of bricks strategically placed so that “protesters” would have handy means of destruction and I wondered how anyone could miss the obvious signs of outside interference with a dark agenda. But honestly, I thought it would die down. Then the unbelievable. A kind-hearted, loving man who worked tirelessly to grow a church that could minister to the health and physical needs of all people as it ministered to their spiritual needs was cruelly and hatefully vilified for the sin of being a conservative voter.  The church that ministered to the needs of any and all people no matter their race, ethnic origin, political beliefs, or sexuality was unceremoniously kicked out of the neighborhoods that truly needed all the services they offered.
 
                Really….was anyone surprised that evangelical Christians overwhelmingly vote conservatively? Does it surprise you that a minister of God would agree with someone who stands against abortion, discusses the reality of two sexes,  believes that marriage is intended to be between a man and a woman, espouses equality between races, and disavows white supremacy?  What is wrong with that line of thought?
 
        I don’t know how it came to this.  I don’t understand how people who hold conservative values have somehow been turned into the “monster under the bed”.  I know, without a doubt, that a liberal, one-sided, biased news media has certainly abetted that line of thought, but I don’t understand how they have been so successful in convincing people that anyone who disagrees with the groupthink of liberalism is automatically hateful, xenophobic and racist.
 
        We evangelical Christians are called haters. You want to know what hate looks like?  Who spits on someone who wears a certain hat?  Who assaults someone because they are wearing a particular t-shirt?  Who refuses to serve someone in a restaurant because they dare have on the wrong apparel?  It ain’t conservative Christians!
 

        So  shame on you Birmingham, Alabama, for demeaning and vilifying a ministry that has been so good to you, who reaches out to you, who ministers to your needs, and who has your best interest at heart.  Shame on you for putting political ideology ahead of the well being of your own people. There are a couple of old sayings that I believe are relevant to this situation:  “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water ” and “don’t cut off your nose to spite your face”.

        I am a pastor. I believe the Bible and believe that it teaches values that line up with conservative beliefs. And that means I love all people regardless of their race and want the best for them in every way.  Please…please…stop listening to the lies of those who tell you otherwise.
 
Say good things about COTB! 
             
Bro. Tony

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True Justice and True Change

Along with hundreds of thousands of people I watched in horror as a police officer callously knelt on a man’s neck until he died.  It was disgusting.  But now we must try to determine the desired outcome after the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.  What is it that we seek?
 
First and foremost. I think we can all agree that we need to seek JUSTICE.  We know that God is a Just God.  His word, the Bible, is full of God’s desire for justice. He is crying out for justice for George Floyd.  His death was unnecessary, and it was senseless.  The people responsible must be held accountable and face the full consequences of their actions.  Everything needs to be above board and transparent.
 
After viewIng the video, I also think we can agree that there needs to be major CHANGE.  Everyone wants to see changes made so this doesn’t happen again.  This is a tougher challenge because there is no one thing that could change to assure these horrible incidents don’t occur again.  It was not just racism.  It was not just an overuse of force.  It was not just purposeful police brutality.  It was not just a callousness for human life.  It was a combination of some or all of them (and probably even more).  Yet each ingredient must be faced and acknowledged. 
 
This is especially frustrating because all these things have been addressed before. This is not the first time a killing such as this has occurred. So, we ask why haven’t the necessary changes been made?  That’s a good question because when we answer it. we will have a strong foothold on the next question:  How?  How do we make the changes?  I think that we all agree that changes need to be made to make sure this scenario isn’t played out again.
 
Now let me address one thing that we should not seek:  VENGEANCE.  In seeking to justify revenge a man wrote yesterday that the Bible said, “an eye for an eye”.  Using that from the Bible to permit revenge is a serious misquote and taking scripture out of context.  In fact, Jesus Himself, discounted that notion in Matthew, chapter 5.  Jesus never taught retribution.  Quite the opposite.  Jesus taught peace and said that Christians could (and should) have a peace that is beyond understanding of the human mind: a peace that He gives.  Vengeance leads to violence which leads to vengeance which leads to violence which leads to….well, you get the picture.  Racism is a matter of the heart and as such will never be prevented by either vengeance or law.  I’ve always said that Jesus is the answer to every question and the solution to every problem.  I stand by that in this time of civil unrest.
 
To any who are advocating violence and destruction I have a couple of questions:  to what end and for how long?  At what point will you say that you have burned enough buildings, beat enough white people and police, and destroyed enough property so you can say that you have successfully avenged George Floyd’s death?
 
I will preach that we as Christians must stand up for justice for George Floyd and the others who suffer merely because of the color of their skin. And I will preach that we as Christians must help implement change so that no one is treated differently by people in places of authority.  But I will not preach that we as Christians should use violence to achieve those goals.
 
May God be glorified in the outcome of this horrendous mess.  Take this opportunity to praise the name of Jesus.
 

Bro. Tony


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God’s Church Will Always Prevail

 
               This is the first column I have written since March 23. That is over two months ago.  A lot of things have happened since then:  Many people have died, people have lost their jobs, not a few businesses have closed permanently, and yet another wedge driven between people of different political slants and ideologies.
 
                There are several things that have happened that have been real “eye-openers” for me.  One is that I have developed an even stronger distrust of and disdain for politicians.  I have seen them toy with people’s lives and livelihoods in order to gain political footholds and push personal agendas that have nothing to do with the crisis.  I have seen a selfishness and callousness in their ranks that I never thought I would see. It is both disturbing and sad and makes me really concerned for the direction of our wonderful nation.
 
                Having said that, I also want to say that I am also amazed at how this event has revealed the world’s misunderstanding of the work and power of the church.  I supposed that it shouldn’t surprise me that lost folks view the church through very biased eyes, but I always hope for the best.  Take the work of the church, for instance.  I honestly believe that when they ordered the church viewed as “non-essential” those in charge thought that the influence and ability of the church would be weakened perhaps even abolished.  Yet the church kept working and flourished as compassionate lovers of people.  The majority of organizations that mobilized to help those affected by all the shut-down orders are churches! While our government argues over who will get credit for any benevolent action, the church has shown up and shown out. More people have been touched by the church during this panic than before!
 
                As for as underestimating the power of the church, did people really believe that a lock-down on attendance would somehow weaken the church? Yes, it has affected income somewhat, but it also increased the presence of the Gospel online in the social media many times over.  It has strengthened the desire to assemble as we realize we may have taken that right for granted. I believe that the physical presence of the church will be greatly increased, not diminished, when this event is over.
 
                And, honestly, it shows that the government cannot and will not ever have the power to destroy God’s church.  That should give us Christians a new boldness. Despite all the world can do, and is trying to do, we still exist, and we still thrive, and God will prosper us as He promised He would!
 
Say good things about your Savior and your church!
 

Bro. Tony

 

 


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Gender Assigned by God – Period!

               There is a famous story written by Hans Christian Anderson called “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. In it, two weavers promise an emperor a new suit of clothes. They tell him that the new suit is so special that it cannot be seen by people who are “unfit for their position, stupid, or incompetent”. From that point onward no one, even the emperor, will admit that they cannot see the amazing new suit of clothes for fear of being labeled as stupid or incompetent. He prances around in a parade almost naked, looking pretty foolish, because everyone has been cowered into silence. That is, until an innocent child sees him and says (and I’m paraphrasing here): “Mama! He ain’t got on no clothes!”.
 
                “The Emperor’s New Clothes” was written in 1837 but another famous writer wrote this many years before: “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools”. (God, through the hand of Paul in Romans 1:22 NIV). It’s almost as if both authors looked to the future and saw this era in which we are living. Well, I know one actually did. But what else can you say about a society where if I told a man who was dressed as a woman and calling himself a feminine name that he was male, I would be called the one with a problem? Or if I just made a simple statement that males and females are physically different, I’d be called ignorant? Yet, that is exactly the case.
 
                When it comes to all this gender bending insanity we need to stand up and say that the emperor ain’t got on no clothes! I don’t have a “gender assigned at birth”, I have a gender assigned by God. The doctor or nurse that filled out the birth certificate didn’t assign my gender, he or she merely recorded it. I am male, not because I think I am, but because I’m physically a male. It is an established, scientific, provable, immutable fact.
 
                How foolish it is to tell someone they can choose their gender. It is insincere, senseless, and harmful. Yet here we are in a world that parades “trans-genderism” around impressionable school children, teaching them that they get to choose. Worse yet, we have parents doing the same thing. We allow males to use female restrooms and locker rooms and even allow males to compete athletically with females. There is neither a scientific reason nor a logical thought for all this except to say that someone has sold this culture an invisible set of clothes.
 
                My heart goes out to the unfortunate people with emotional and mental issues that drive them to want to be a different sex. I truly feel sympathy for them. But the best way to help them is not to affirm their problems, it is to help them discover the person they are; the person God created them to be. And as importantly, don’t be afraid to stand up against such policies that allow and encourage this misbehavior. The emperor is naked. Don’t be bullied into silence.              
 
Say good things about your Savior and your church!
 

Bro. Tony


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Eternal Risks

 

                Last week a man launched himself into the air in a homemade rocket trying to reach a distance of 5000 feet above the earth.  It was the first step in his process to eventually launch himself into outer space.  The rocket failed and he died.  That’s horrible, isn’t it?  Most people would ask why a man would even attempt that; it was a crazy thing to do.  I don’t know if it was crazy, but it was certainly risky.  Very risky. So, a good question is “why do people take risks?”
 
                The vast majority of people would agree that we should take as few risks as possible.  Some would say that you can’t really live unless you take risks. And, honestly, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. Life would be pretty boring if we never took any risks at all.  But I want to talk about the biggest risks of all.

 

                For a lost person it is remaining lost.  What a risk to take to choose to believe there is no heaven or hell; that you don’t need Jesus.  The price to take that risk is an eternity in hell.  And what is the risk for choosing to believe?  There is no risk. Some may say that you risk having all the fun that is “out there” but I can assure you that I’ve had far more “fun” (a fulfilling life, joys and happiness) since I’ve been saved. No sir, choosing to stay lost is the biggest risk ever:  Eternity depends on it.

 

                For a Christian, the greatest risk is disobeying God.  Let me make one thing clear:  God doesn’t ask us to do things.  God commands us to do things. Our only choices are to obey Him or disobey Him.  Do we really realize what a risk we take when we disobey God? When God tells us what brings us happiness and we choose to disobey, we are putting our very happiness at risk.  When the Lord instructs us on how to have a successful marriage, to disobey Him puts our marriage at risk.  To disobey God puts our family, our work, our joy, our satisfaction and our personal relationships at risk.  Yet countless of Christians put all that at risk on a daily basis by simply choosing to disobey God.

 

                Lost person….is hell worth the risk?  Christian…is pain, heartache, sorrow, broken relationships worth the risk?  Don’t wonder about the risk someone takes to blast off into the air;  we risk that and more when we choose to disobey God.

 

Say good things about your Savior and your church!

 

Bro. Tony

 


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