Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Most Important Questions

In Acts chapter 2, Peter preached to a crowd of thousands.  Amongst those in attendance were some of the very people who screamed before Pilate, demanding Christ’s crucifixion.  In verse 37, they were convicting by Peter’s message, and they asked the most important question of all time – what they needed to do to be saved. 

Are you willing to ask this all-important question? If so, the video below will help answer it.

What must I do to be saved?
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According to some studies, there are as many as 40,000 different “Christian” denominations.  Have you ever wondered why there are so many churches? Can all of these churches teach different things and still be right? Check out this video for the answer.

Why are there so many churches?
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Some people will say there is no such thing as absolute truth.  Well, this is absolutely false. There IS a truth, and the bible tells us that truth will set us free (John 8:32). Are you searching for the truth, as far as what the bible says about being a Christian? If so, watch the video below. You won’t regret it.

Searching for Truth
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Monday, November 14, 2016

Seriously? Donald Trump??

A Yahoo News report said this about the President-elect: 

            Trump alienated immigrants, made enemies of Muslims, insulted and mocked women, and still won. He left unchallenged the belief that he had avoided paying federal income taxes for years, he faced plausible, if unproven, accusations of running a fraudulent business (his “Trump University”), and he retweeted racist and anti-Semitic images and memes — and still he won.

Yahoo News may be right about Trump, but it’s still a very good thing that he won. Before you write me off as crazy, hear me out.

The Bible is clear about what happens to nations that do not follow God.

Isaiah 60:12 – For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste.

The Bible is also clear about what makes a nation great.

Proverbs 14:34 – Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

America was founded by people who had moral conviction and believed in the Great Creator. Were the founding fathers perfect? Of course not.  But they put stock in God’s word, and they founded this country upon biblical principles.  It is no coincidence that America eventually became the greatest nation in the world. No doubt God allowed America to flourish because the moral character of its people, and He knew His church would have a fertile place to grow.

In my opinion, America’s golden era occurred in the 1940s and 1950s.  Just ask my grandmother, and she’ll tell you why things were so great.  She would tell you that the post-war generation knew the value of hard work. They were a church-going people, and they believed in God and His word. God was part of the government, he was found in the schools, and he was at the center of the home.  Abortion was illegal, same-sex marriage was illegal, prayer was allowed and encouraged in schools, neighbors helped neighbors, and towns were safer. Things are pretty much opposite today, and our nation is in moral decline.

So why is Trump a good thing for our country?  If he holds true to his promises, he’ll appoint conservative Supreme Court Justices who are more likely to align themselves with biblical principles. A conservative Court will go a long way in putting our nation on the righteous path (remember Proverbs 14:34).

Personally, I’m not a Republican or a Democrat. I’m simply a Christian.  I didn’t vote for Trump out of party loyalty.  I don’t care much about his policies regarding healthcare reform, immigration control, or building a wall. I’m a citizen of a greater kingdom – Christ’s church, so I care more about the conservative stance Trump apparently takes on moral issues. I pray he’ll keep his word on those.  America will not perish because of political issues like healthcare reform, but it can certainly perish because of moral issues and failing to follow God’s word.

Lord willing, Trump will help make America great again, not through insults, scandal, or bigotry, but by consulting the biblical principles that made America great in the first place.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Trump v. Hillary - How Did We Get Here?

There’s a ton of anticipation surrounding November 8, 2016.  The political line is drawn – Trump on one side, Hillary on the other.  I don’t consider myself overly political. I know as much about politics as the average citizen, but like everyone else, I occasionally scroll through news sites or social media to read up on the latest scandals stories about these candidates.  It may just be me, but I feel like there has never been such a clown show of an election. Controversy has always existed in politics, but this year, it seems the parties couldn’t be more divided, and the nominees couldn’t be any more despised by either side. Most (but not all) of the GOP believes Trump will shake the establishment with in-your-face change, while Dems believe The Donald is nothing more than a greedy, egotistical maniac who lacks any real experience.  The Left believes Hillary is a decorated politician with the experience to keep our country great, but the Right believes she is corrupt and should be in prison. 

Most likely, there is truth to each side’s ridicule of the opponent, and this creates a dilemma for a certain set of the population.  For the citizen who is most interested in the moral condition of the nation, this election presents a problem. There’s pretty much a zero percent chance that a true conservative would vote for Hillary Clinton. However, what is the other option? Should that conservative feel good about voting for a business tycoon who is in his third marriage and likely violated a good bit of the moral code on his way to the top? 

Considering our options come November, I ask this question.  How in the world did we get here?

I kind of mean how we got to a place where these two candidates are our choices. But, more so, I mean how our country slid into its immoral condition. 

God made life sacred (Gen. 1:26-27; Gen. 9:6), but murders (including abortions) happen every day. 

God defined marriage as being between one man and one woman, for life (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:3-10), but homosexuality is celebrated, and divorce is the norm. 

God provides proof all around us that He is the creator (Ps. 19:1), but schools teach evolution (Ps. 10:4). 

God gave His inspired Word (II Tim. 3:16; Jude 3), but society calls it a fairytale. 

God sacrificed His Son (John 3:16) and established one church through Him (Eph 1:22-23; Eph. 4:4), but most refuse to believe and obey.

God commanded us to obey the gospel (II Thes. 1:8), to live a life of love and sacrifice (Mk 12:31), to help others (Mt. 25:34-40), and to preach to the lost (Mk 16:15-16), but society will call you a radical or even a bigot for doing so.  

Ultimately, the answer to how we got here is simple.  God is no longer the focus.   We have pushed him out of our homes, and we have pushed him out of the government.  

How many of us are members of the true church?  How many of us study and pray? How many of us help the poor, widows, and orphans? How many of us worship just the way the New Testament instructs? How many of us teach the Bible to others? The answer is few, so it’s no wonder that our country has declined and we’re faced with the choice of these candidates.

All things considered, America is still the greatest country in the world, and I’m very thankful that I live here. I just hope and pray that it’s not too late to get us back on course as being “one nation under God.”  One thing is for sure – no matter what happens in November, God is still in control, and He will take care of his people in the end.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

“Saint” Mother Teresa?

Pope Francis says that Mother Teresa will soon become a “saint.”  This article from USA Today references the story and lists the following requirements of becoming a “saint” of the Catholic Church:   

1.) At least five years after the candidate’s death, their life is examined and it is decided whether they are worthy to be called a “Servant of God.”  (The previous Pope sped up the process and put Teresa up for examination within two years of her death).
2.) Church officials again examine the candidate’s life and prove whether he or she lived heroic virtues. Upon passing the examination, the candidate earns the title of “Venerable.”
3.) One miracle is proven, and the candidate earns the title of “Blessed.”
4.) A second miracle is proven, and the candidate then becomes a “Saint.”

The Catholic Church supposedly confirmed two miracles of Teresa. In 2003, a woman’s brain tumor allegedly disappeared after she prayed to Teresa.  Again in 2015, a man was healed of his brain tumors when he prayed to Teresa. In each case, the Pope declared these miracles as being authentic.

First of all, to any serious bible student, the belief that one can pray to anyone other than God and be healed is absolutely ludicrous.  Secondly, there is no biblical example of anyone being healed by a dead person. Finally, with the death of the apostles and any person on whom they laid hands, the miraculous age ended.  Miracles were performed as a way to confirm the message of the apostles and those spreading the gospel during the first century. Once God’s inspired word (the bible) was completed, there was no longer a need for miracles. No one can perform miracles today.

The Catholic Church is insanely wrong about its idea of sainthood. For starters, it is up to God to determine whether a person is His virtuous servant. Also, as already stated, no one can be proven by miracles while alive and especially while dead.

The Catholic Church’s view on becoming a saint is far removed from scripture.  Here’s what the Bible says about saints:

1.) Daniel 7:18-25 prophesied that God’s kingdom would be made up of the saints.  Ephesians 1 and 4 define the kingdom as the church. Thus, saints are all the members of Christ’s church

2.) ALL of the church members of each congregation were called saints.

    a.) Consider I Corinthians 1:2:
To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:

    b.) Roman 1:7:
to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

While addressing the congregations at Corinth and Rome, Paul refers to them as saints. Where in these passages do you find the Catholic Church's process of taking a dead person through a four-step process in order to make them a saint?

3.)  A person becomes a saint prior to death.  In Matthew 27, Jesus spoke about His second coming, and in verse 52, He mentions the bodies of "the saints who had fallen asleep (died)" being raised. It is obviously implied that sainthood preceded death for these people.

4.) The Bible gives no example or authorization for praying to human beings, whether they are alive or dead.  Prayers to dead "saints" are commonplace in the Catholic Church; however, this a concept not found in scripture.

Fortunately, and contrary to what the Catholic Church teaches, sainthood is open to us all. We can all become saints in Christ's church.  By putting on Christ in baptism (Gal. 3:27), you'll call upon His name and have your sins washed away (Acts 22:16), and you'll be added to His body (Acts 2:47).  At that point, you'll become one of His saints.  Make sure to become a saint while there's still time because it certainly won't happen after you're dead.  Thankfully it's up to you and not some misguided church official.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Can a Christian Lose His/Her Salvation?

Do you believe that once a person is saved, they're always saved?   Do you believe that a Christian can't fall from grace?

If you do, you're like many people who believe a teaching that primarily stems from John Calvin's idea called "perseverance of the saints."  I think this doctrine of eternal security comes from an interpretation of Romans 8:39, which states, "nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Considering Romans 8:39 in conjunction with the rest of the scripture, what does the Bible say about the security of one's salvation? 

There is one bible verse that contains the phrase "fallen from grace."  Interestingly, it indicates that a Christian CAN fall from grace, which is the opposite of what many believe.  Galatians 5:4 says, "you have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by the law, you have fallen from grace."   In context, Paul is talking to Jewish Christians who were still holding on to parts of the Old Law even though it had been taken out of the way by Christ. Their error caused Paul to reprimand them and say that they were in a lost state - fallen from God's grace.  If it were impossible for them to fall from grace, why would Paul even bring it up?

Taking it a step further, let's consider the account of Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8.  Simon was a con-artist, impressing people with trickery.  After hearing the gospel, he believed and was baptized, and he was added to the Lord's body as a Christian. When he witnessed the apostles performing miracles, or "real magic" in his eyes, he thought he could offer to buy those same gifts.  He was quickly scolded by Peter who said, "repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity."  Question:  would you say that it's possible to go to Heaven if you are in the gall of bitterness and the bondage of iniquity?  A reasonable mind would say no.  Here we see a clear example of a saved believer sinning and falling into a lost state and being told to repent.  Why would Peter tell him to repent if it weren't possible for him to be lost?

Consider James 5:19-20: "My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins."  This is clearly referring to erring Christians who have fallen away.  Why would it be necessary to bring an erring Christian back if they can't be lost?

Finally, Revelation 2:10 indicates that if Christians are faithful unto death, they'll receive a crown of life.  The reward is dependent on faithfulness.  The Christian must remain faithful. Why would the Spirit instruct us to remain faithful if it's impossible for us to lose our salvation?

In regards to Romans 8:39, this verse is referring to the institution of the church that is guaranteed salvation. The church WILL be saved, but there is no guarantee of salvation for those members who fall away.  In fact, there is no chance of salvation for those who remain unfaithful and disobedient.

The are many other examples in scripture about the possibility of losing salvation. Wouldn't it be great if everyone turned to what the bible says about the issue instead of relying on a man-made doctrine?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A Happy New Year with IBTM!

Welcome to 2016!  During this time of year, we hear a lot about New Year resolutions. Most of us make plans to eat healthier, exercise more, or to quit bad habits.  These are certainly good things to do; however, wouldn’t it be better if we focused more on spiritual matters?  After all, it is the spirit that will live on eternally, not the body.  Exercise and diet changes are good things since we are to be good stewards of our God-given bodies, but I’m afraid we’re all guilty at times of neglecting our spiritual condition.  Paul said that “bodily exercise is profitable for a little; but godliness is profitable for all things” (I Tim. 4:8a). 

If you’re resolved to improve your physical condition, by all means, keep that resolve. However, I’d like to strongly encourage you to work on your spiritual conditioning as well. A great way to do that is to sign up for bible lessons through International Bible Teaching Ministry (IBTM).  It’s a self-study program where you can study God’s word in a simple way at your own pace.  After each lesson, you’ll take a test that is graded by a real person. The grading is done by email. For those of you who know my wife or me, you can request that we receive your completed tests for grading. 

If you’ve always wanted to study God’s pure and unaltered word, give IBTM a shot. You won’t regret it!  To get started, visit:

Friday, November 6, 2015

Ain't In No Hurry

I was listening to music at work today, and the song “No Hurry” by Zac Brown Band came on.  The gist of the song is that while the car needs cleaning, the grass needs cutting, and the bills need paying, the subject of the story is in no hurry to take care of these things.  He would rather take the day off from his responsibilities and spend the day doing the things he loves like fishing and enjoying nature.  I think we can all relate to this mindset.  Sometimes it’s just best to take the day off.

However, one part of the song says, “[I’m] gonna get right with the Lord, or there’ll be hell to pay, but I ain’t in no hurry today.”  Waiting to take care of one’s salvation is an idea I don’t agree with, and hopefully you don’t either.

James 4:14 (NKJV) says “whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. Or what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”  We live frail lives. We could die, or Christ could return any moment, but we live each day as if we’ll live forever.  Just like the guy in the song, we settle in the chair with our fishing pole and put our spiritual lives on hold until tomorrow. What if tomorrow never comes?

II Corinthians 6:2 says “…Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”  We argue with our neighbors, we complain about our circumstances, and we even fight our own families.  We spend our lives pursuing physical possessions. We race through each day, failing to even acknowledge God and thank Him for the very breath in our lungs.  All the while, Christ stands waiting for us to come to Him in repentance.  Some of us care nothing about God, and we don’t believe in His inspired word.  On the other hand, some of us believe in God, but we refuse to obey His word or follow His commands properly.  No matter the stance you take, the truth is, Christ will one day return to take vengeance on those who do not obey Him (II Thessalonians 1:8) and to call the faithful Christians home (I Thes. 4:16-18).  You’re not promised tomorrow, so obeying the gospel should be priority number one.

One of these days will be your last. It may come suddenly, or it may even be expected. Either way, you will not live on this earth forever.  The great news is that God loves you (John 3:16), and you will live forever spiritually (I John 5:13) if you obey His word (Matthew 7:13-14) and serve Him for life (Revelation 2:10).

You may not be in a hurry to do the chores or pay the bills, but you should be in a hurry to work out your own salvation (Philippians 2:12). 

If you want to know more about what it means to obey the gospel, please feel free to use the contact form at the bottom of the page.  If you know me personally and would like to discuss this or any other spiritual issue, just let me (or my awesome wife) know!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

In Evolution We Trust. Or Do We?

This past weekend, the family and I visited Virginia’s Safari Park. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s basically a large piece of farm land where you can ride through and feed and pet roaming animals like llamas, bison, elks, zebras, ostriches, and several types of deer.  They also have a few enclosed areas with animals like monkeys, tortoises, birds, kangaroos, and tigers.  While we were looking at the monkeys, a park employee was explaining that they have prehensile tails, which are tails that are capable of grasping or holding objects.  She pointed out that this particular species of monkey can completely hang from just its tail. She described their prehensile tails as “evolutionary adaptations.”  When I heard the dreaded “E” word, I couldn’t help but think about this college-aged woman talking about the theory of evolution as if it is cold, hard fact.  I assume she was taught evolution while in school, and like many, she doesn’t question it now as an adult.  

Society has taken the theory of evolution and promoted it as indisputable fact.  I believe that science pushes evolution on us so heavily because many believe it to be the best alternative to the biblical view of creation. People refuse to believe in God, so they teach the theory that seems to be the best alternative.  But is the theory of evolution so feasible?  Notice the following quotes by prominent scientists, most of whom support the theory of evolution.

-          "Scientists who go about teaching that evolution is a fact of life are great con-men, and the story they are telling may be the greatest hoax ever. In explaining evolution, we do not have one iota of fact." Dr. T. N. Tahmisian (Atomic Energy Commission, USA) in "The Fresno Bee", August 20, 1959. As quoted by N. J. Mitchell, Evolution and the Emperor's New Clothes, Roydon Publications, UK, 1983, title page.

-          "Contrary to what most scientists write, the fossil record does not support the Darwinian theory of evolution because it is this theory (there are several) which we use to interpret the fossil record. By doing so we are guilty of circular reasoning if we then say the fossil record supports this theory." Ronald R. West, PhD (paleoecology and geology) (Assistant Professor of Paleobiology at Kansas State University), "Paleoecology and uniformitarianism". Compass, vol. 45, May 1968, p. 216

-          "The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that 'a tornado sweeping through a junk yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein'." Sir Fred Hoyle (English astronomer, Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge University), as quoted in "Hoyle on Evolution". Nature, vol. 294, 12 Nov. 1981, p. 105

-          “Evolution is the creation-myth of our age. By telling us our origin it shapes our views of what we are. It influences not just our thought, but our feelings and actions too, in a way which goes far beyond its official function as a biological theory.”  Mary Midgley (former Sener Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK] “The Religion of Evolution,” in Durant J., ed., “Darwinish and Divinity: Essays on Evolution and Religious Belief,” Basil Blackwell: Oxford UK, 1985, p. 154.

-          “It must be significant that nearly all the evolutionary stories I learned as a student…have now been ‘debunked.’ Similarly, my own experience of more than twenty years looking for evolutionary lineages among the Mesozoic Brachiopoda has proved them equally elusive.”  Derek Ager (Professor, University at Swansea, Wales UK).”Story Time Over” Proceedings of Geologists’ Association. 1976. Vol. 87, p. 132

-          “…I am quite conscious that my speculations run beyond the bounds of true science…It is a mere rag of an hypothesis with as many flaw[s] & holes as sound parts.”  Charles Darwin to Asa Gray, cited by Adrian Desmond and James Moore, “Darwin,” 1991. New York: W.W. Norton and Company. p. 456, 475.

-          “I believe that one day the Darwinian mysth will be ranked the greatest deceit in the history of science.”  Soren Lovtrup. “Darwinism: The Refutation of a Myth.” New York: Croom Helm, 1987. p. 422.


The educational system will lead you to believe that evolution is supported by loads of evidence; however, even prominent evolutionists, and Darwin himself, admit their doubt in the theory. So why do many people accept evolution and refuse to believe the Bible’s account of creation (which, by the way, is a much simpler and easier to believe explanation)? In short, I believe it’s yet another example of Satan’s influence on mankind. Don’t let him influence you. See the theory of evolution for what it really is – a hoax.


Check out these interesting articles about the shortcomings of evolutionary theory:

Monday, August 17, 2015

19,230 Died From It Last Week!

 Cecil the Lion, Ed Hetherington Photography


This article appeared in the West Side church of Christ's weekly bulletin on August 16, 2015. Eddy Gilpin (minister) is the author. I thought it was too good to not share this on my blog.

No, it was not an old disease or plague that reared its ugly head again to claim all these lives. It was not a new epidemic that swept through some third-world country, under the radar of the media in the first-world. It was not a ploy of ISIS or some other terror group that was responsible for all these deaths last week. However, it was the result of a "terror organization," and one that has been around for quite some time. The taking of the lives of these 19,230 individuals last week came at the hands of abortionists in this country!

By now, most of us have heard Cecil’s story. You know, Cecil the Zimbabwean lion that was killed by an American dentist, Walter Palmer. Mr. Palmer received a flood of hate mail; activists posted his private details online for all to see, and spraypainted the words "Lion Killer" on the garage of his vacation home in Florida.

Last week, customs officials in Zurich found 478 pounds of ivory (estimated to have come from 40-50 elephants), 21 lion fangs and 35 lion claws in transit from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to China. The three Chinese men were arrested and, again, there was outrage over their actions.

Meanwhile, last week 19,230 of the most innocent of the innocent were murdered, butchered within their own mothers’ wombs. This was not only sanctioned by the government of this nation, but in many cases also paid for by the taxpayers of it (you and me). Where was/is the outcry for these human lives, taken so violently and savagely? When will the "all lives matter" mantra expand to include the unborn as well? How long before the cry for killing human infants rises to the level of killing the "Cecils" of this world?

Hopefully, the current stir arising from Planned Parenthood’s selling of the body parts of so many of these infants has raised some of that much
needed awareness, and awakened the consciousness of a nation. But, alas, we shall see. How many more must die before we come to the realization that abortion is murder- pure and simple?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Irony of the Rainbow

Photo credit: Michael S. Williamson/ The New York Post

In Genesis 6, God became so angry with mankind’s wickedness and rebellion that he decided to destroy life on Earth. Fortunately for us, one man and his family found favor in God’s eyes.

Genesis 6:5-10 (NKJV)
“Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”

Fast forward to chapter 9 when the flood waters subside and God places a rainbow in the sky as a sign that He will never again destroy the Earth with water.  The rainbow became a majestic symbol of God’s power, grace, and decision to spare mankind who deserved complete eradication.

Fast forward to June 26, 2015, a day that I’m afraid will forever change the political landscape of our country and have lasting negative implications. On this day, SCOTUS made a decision on same-sex marriage, and rainbow flags emphatically waved throughout the country.  Social media sites were flooded with the rainbow, and even the White House was lit up in color.  (Side note: even if you support same-sex marriage, surely you agree that the President’s decision to rainbow the White House was, at best, distasteful.)

The rainbow, which is a symbol of God’s mercy on His creation, has been stolen and abused by people who glorify sin and make a mockery of God’s word. Isn’t it ironic? Just like in Genesis 6, it seems man’s thoughts are once again continually evil.  He arrogantly parades around, ignorantly carrying a representation of the rainbow that marked the end of God’s wrath on a wicked world, a world that no doubt embraced homosexuality. 

God has defined marriage as being between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:24), and He has condemned homosexuality (Romans 1:26-27); however, the concern shouldn’t be with homosexuality only. Homosexuality is nothing new, and it will be around until the end of this earth. We should be more concerned with the fact that our nation seems to accept and embrace sin as a whole more and more each day.  Romans 1 places sins like gossip, disobedience to parents, hate, boasting, arrogance, greed, and lack of understanding in the same group as homosexuality – things that are worthy of death. It not only condemns people who do these things but also the people who approve of those who are doing them.  Christians should never show hate towards anyone, but we cannot approve of the sin surrounding us. The legalization of same-sex marriage is merely a symptom of a sick nation that wants less of God and more of sin.  It is our duty to live as lights in a dark world (Ephesians 5:8).  Love does indeed win - the love of Christ, not the love of sin. 

Isaiah 30:1 (NKJV)

“ ‘Woe to the rebellious children,’ says the LORD, ‘Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin;’”

Doesn’t this verse remind you of our current government and the latest decision from SCOTUS, in particular?  A concept already decided by God was left in the hands of nine lawyers, five of whom caved in to godless pressure. They took counsel and devised a plan not after God’s Spirit but after the spirit of sin.  A law already defined by God cannot be redefined by man, no matter what man and its government decide.

Isaiah 24:5-6 (NASB)
“The earth is also polluted by its inhabitants, for they transgressed the laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant. Therefore, a curse devours the earth, and those who live in it are held guilty. Therefore, the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left.”

No matter how bad this country and world get, I’m thankful that God is patient toward us and doesn’t want any of us to be lost (II Peter 3:9). I’m thankful that He offers a way of repentance and forgiveness. I hope that you’ll take His offer of salvation before it’s too late, just as it was too late for those who were swept away in the flood.

I Peter 3:20-21 (NASB)
“who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you – not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lessons from the Appalachian Trail

This past weekend, I was able to hike the Appalachian Trail (AT) with a few friends (and fellow members of the church).  We started at McAfee Knob and ended 13.5 miles later at Andy Layne Trailhead. We had perfect weather, and it was a great time I won’t forget. While trekking through God’s creation, I couldn’t help but ponder these spiritual lessons.

I.  Nature confirms the creator

Standing atop McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs, I felt closer to God. If you’ve never been to these places, I highly recommend going. The breathtaking views and peaceful tranquility at these peaks create a reverent atmosphere. Among the other hikers resting there, some were meditating, some were praying, and some were looking out in silence. I believe that all humans have an innate sense of wanting to worship a higher power. I believe this sense is strongest when we find ourselves among God’s magnificent creation.

“But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; and the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you. Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you; and let the fish of the sea declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?” Job 12:7-10

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:20

II. Life is full of ups and downs

The section of hike that we did was full of ups and downs. There were quick downhill stretches with switchback turns followed by brutally long inclines and level ridge walks. The same is true with the roller coaster of life. Happy times are quickly followed by sad times, then happy times again.  Ecclesiastes 3 speaks of the ups and downs in life – a time to cry, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, a time to rejoice; a time to live, a time to die. The question is how we handle these ups and downs.

Christ himself experienced every emotion while living on this earth.  He experienced times of joy, times of sadness, times of anger, and times of compassion.  Thankfully, he overcame his greatest and most terrible obstacle – his crucifixion and subsequent death.   Facing an agonizing death and being separated from the Father while he bore the sins of all of humanity, Christ refused to back down. Keeping this example in mind, how will you handle the valleys of life?

III. We all have to choose a path

On the AT, there are “white blazes” that keep hikers on the right path. These are white marks intermittently painted on the trees. Occasionally, there are double blazes that instruct the hiker to make a turn. There were several times during our hike that we encountered these double blazes, and in one instance it wasn’t very obvious which way we should turn. To the left, there was a trail that looked nice and wide, but to the right, the path was narrow and looked less inviting. Upon further inspection down each path, the wide and inviting way had no blazes, but the narrow way did.  Which bible passage does this remind you of?

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13

When we came to the crossroad, the wide path to the left looked the most appealing because it looked easy. However, we chose the narrow path to the right because it was marked with the blazes. We knew it would eventually lead to the end of our hike. We had no idea where the wide path to the left might lead, possibly to our being lost in the woods.

Life gives us the opportunity to choose a path. Will you choose the wide gate and broad way to destruction, or will you choose the narrow and difficult path to life? The vast majority will choose an easy life of sin. Will you be one of Christ’s elite who walks the difficult path of Christianity to eternal life?

Choosing the narrow path to life doesn’t simply mean believing in Jesus and calling yourself a “Christian.”  You have to believe in Christ (John 8:24), repent of your sins (Luke 13:3), confess your belief in Him before others (Romans 10:10), be added to the church through baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38,47), associate and worship with a local congregation of the one and true church (Hebrews 10:25), teach others (Mark 16:15), and live faithfully unto death (Revelation 2:10). 

Hiking the AT was an awesome experience. You should definitely do it if you get the chance. It just might give you the motivation to seek God and His plan of eternal salvation.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Life's a Vapor: A Letter to My Friend

The Bible describes life as being like a vapor that quickly vanishes away.  Before we know it, our lives have raced by, and we wonder where the time has gone.   In light of this inescapable fact, I’d like to write a farewell letter to my friend. No, I don’t plan on leaving this earth any time soon; however, I want to get some things out while I’ve got the chance. After all, none of us are promised tomorrow. 

Dear Friend,

I’m glad that you believe in God, and I’m glad that you are “religious.” This shows that you probably want to do what the Bible says, and you want to go to Heaven.  I’ve seen the pictures and videos of the worship services and other church events you’ve been a part of.  I’ve also read the inspirational Bible verses and devotional thoughts you’ve posted online.  Most of your other friends are probably happy or even inspired by all of these religious things going on in your life.  Sadly, I’m not.  I don’t mean to sound condescending or pompous. I just want to wake you up to the reality of your situation.  Waking you up to this reality has been one of the purposes behind my blog, which I hope you actually read. What I’m about to say comes from the heart, and I definitely don’t mean it as an insult to your intelligence.

It makes me sad that you put so much effort into vain worship.  In Matthew 15, Jesus accuses the Pharisees of vainly worshipping because they were teaching as doctrine the commandments of men.  That’s exactly what your church is doing. I’ve heard the sermons. Your minister would make a better inspirational speaker than preacher because his messages are sappy pep talks that play on pure emotion. There is little mention of actual Bible verses. The few verses that are mentioned are usually taken out of context, and their intended meanings are completely missed.  At your church, there is clearly an attitude of “what can I get out of being here, and how can I be entertained?”  I’ve seen the band and talented singers up on stage, rocking it out.  People are raising their hands and clapping along.  It looks just like a rock concert. I think that’s exactly what your “worship” services are – entertainment. Since when did God ask us to entertain ourselves when worshipping him?  Worship is about sacrifice, and it certainly isn’t about us! John 4:23-24: “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.  Your church may have the “spirit” part down, but its worship certainly isn’t rooted in truth. Your church is much like those people mentioned in Romans 10:1-3 who were zealous towards God, but they weren’t doing what God instructed.  The New Testament only authorizes singing (without instruments) (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16, Mark 14:26), praying (1 Tim. 2:8), partaking of the Lord’s Supper (every Sunday) (Mark 14:22-25, 1 Cor. 11:23-29, Acts 20:7), giving back (every Sunday, only on Sunday) (1 Cor. 16:2), and preaching (Acts 20:7, Acts 2:42). Where is the authorization to have a rock concert? This is the point that you and millions of others miss: EVERYTHING done in a worship setting is to be done by the authority of Jesus (Col. 3:17).

 It makes me sad that you blindly follow a man-made religion that even calls itself by a man’s name. 1 Corinthians 1:12-13: “Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?  Just like in the first century, many people today claim to be followers of Christ, but they are actually followers of men and their man-made doctrines (i.e. Lutherans, Calvinists, Wesleyans, Baptists (Smyth), Catholics (Pope), Mormons (Smith), etc). You may think a church’s name is a minor technicality, but it actually matters what church you’re part of because there is only one body, and that one body is Christ’s church (Eph. 4:4, Eph. 1:22-23).  Churches today will do whatever it takes to get people in the doors. They’ll come up with catchy, hipster names; they’ll put on extravagant shows; and they’ll tell you all you have to do is accept Jesus as your savior, and you’ll never be lost, no matter what.  Please don’t be fooled.  Compare their creed books with what’s actually in the Bible; you’d be surprised at the errors.

It makes me sad this letter will likely never accomplish its goal. I want you and everyone else I know to go to Heaven, but I’m afraid Satan’s got too tight of a grip on you.  He’s got you thinking that you’re a Christian and you’re making God proud. You’re comfortable where you are; it feels right.  Ephesians 3 talks about Christ’s church being the eternal purpose of God. God has known forever that salvation would come only through his son and his church. All of history points to Acts 2 and the establishment of Christ’s church. Don’t let people tell you it doesn’t matter what church you attend.  We can’t take some “pastor’s” word for what the church is and how we become a member of it.  Study the Bible with me, and I’ll show you what the true church is.  Don’t be like the people on judgment who professed to be Christians on Earth, but they end up hearing Christ say, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Mt. 7:23)

I hope this letter isn’t too harsh. I hope I haven’t driven you away.  God wants everyone to be saved (John 3:16, 2 Pet. 3:9), so please do your part in accepting his salvation under his terms. If you think I’m wrong about anything I’ve said, I invite you to show me why.  As a professed Christian, you have a responsibility to point out my error. Let me know if you want to talk about any of this or if you want to study the Bible together in general.  

God bless,
Your Friend

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What About the Dots?!

One day last week, when I was walking downtown on my lunch break, I walked past a man on the street corner who was handing out religious tracts. He was a neatly dressed man, wearing a red ball cap with a cross on it.  He handed me a tract, and I read it as I walked.   About halfway through, I decided I’d turn back and ask him some questions. As I approached him, his interest perked up, and I could tell he was glad to receive some kind of response from someone.  I introduced myself, and after some small talk, I asked him how he’d respond to the question of what I have to do to be saved.  Basically he said all I’d have to do is believe in Jesus, ask him to save me, and accept him as my savior, just like the thief on the cross did. Knowing that’s how he would respond, I asked him what he would say to a verse like Mark 16:16: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned [emphasis added].” He said something to the effect of, “Well there are other verses about baptism, like Acts 22:16 and Acts 2:38, but they’re more of a figure of speech. They’re not literally saying you have to be baptized. You’re really just taking these verses out of context when you say you have to baptized.”  Since I had to get back to work, we didn’t get to talk much after that. I tried to point out some other scriptures about baptism as best I could in the short time I had, but it was clear he didn’t have much interest in my point. I thanked him and went on my way.
I kept the tract he gave me, and it wasn’t until after I got home that afternoon that I noticed something.  On the back, it gave some steps on how to be saved, and under the “Forgiveness” heading, it said the following:
“Acts 2:38 ‘…Repent…in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…’ Repent – to change one’s mind. You must agree with God that you have sinned against Him.”
So what about the dots (…)?
If you’re not familiar with Acts 2:38, I’m listing it here, and I’m bolding and underlining a VERY important part that the tract leaves out. I’m not sure what translation the tract used, so I’ll just use the NKJV.  “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”
His tract, in my estimation, intentionally left out “and let everyone of you be baptized” in order to change the verse to support the view that baptism is not essential for salvation.  My argument is simple. If you’re going to include repentance as a necessary step of salvation based on Acts 2:38, then you MUST include baptism as a necessary step as well!  By replacing baptism with dots, you’ve completely changed the text, which is strongly warned against in Revelation 22:19. As a side note, remember that he told me all I had to do is believe in Jesus and accept him as my savior because there’s nothing I can do outside of grace?  Why then would his tract say I must repent?  Isn’t repentance an action I’m taking in order to receive grace? That’s a contradiction to his belief/faith only doctrine.  Like belief, repentance, and confession of Christ’s deity, baptism is an action we must do in order to demonstrate our obedient faith in God’s saving grace. All of these actions are important, and they must all be done in order to be saved.
Back to the dots.  Isn’t that something the religious world does quite often? Don’t people replace commands and statutes established by God with dots in order to make scripture fit a man-made doctrine they’ve been taught their whole lives? People may not do it intentionally, but they’re just as guilty as someone who intentionally alters scripture.
As a response to the dots in the tract, here are just a few (of many) points, backed by verses, which show the essentiality of baptism.
It’s the only way to BE IN CHRIST - Galatians 3:27
It’s the only way to WASH AWAY OUR SINS – Acts 22:16
It’s the only way to CONTACT CHRIST’S BLOOD while reenacting his death, burial, and resurrection – Romans 6
It’s the only way to be ADDED TO THE CHURCH – Acts 2:38-47
Be wary of peoples’ dots.   Look into the scripture, and let it speak. You’ll likely discover something that other people don’t want you to know.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Myths Exposed

Jess and I sent out Christmas cards yesterday.  When I got the stamps from Kroger, I asked for the holiday edition.  The only holiday stamp they had was called "Christmas Magi," and it featured a single star silhouetting three camel-riding magi.  Obviously, this stamp is referencing the wise men that visited the child Christ.  In hindsight I should have passed on those stamps and gone to the Post Office to get some with reindeer, gingerbread men, trees, or whatever, but I was too busy to do that.  I settled for the "wise men" stamps, but I immediately thought it would be a good intro to my next blog post.

So what's the problem with these wise men stamps?  For me personally, I think it sends the wrong message. It kind of sends the message that my family celebrates Christmas as a religious holiday. So what's wrong with that, you ask?     To put it simply, the Bible does not authorize us to remember Christ's birth in religious celebrations or commemorations.        Some churches will conduct special worship services where they have things like carols, tree lightings, and nativity reenactments.  The Bible definitely instructs us to observe the Lord's Supper every first day of the week (Acts 20:7), but nowhere does it instruct us to remember Christ's birth during worship.  Don't get me wrong, I'm very thankful for the birth of Jesus, and there is nothing wrong with reflecting on it, but you have to draw the line when it comes to introducing things into worship that God has not authorized.

John 4:24 tells us that "God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth."  Acting out the nativity probably satisfies the spirit requirement, but it doesn't meet the truth requirement; therefore, it is vain and unacceptable worship.  God has established a certain pattern for worship, nothing less and nothing more.  He commands first day of the week worship to include prayer, singing, preaching, observance of communion, and giving. Anything else is not authorized.

Here's another problem I have with the wise men stamp.  It's associated with many Christmas myths.  You know the story: On December 25th, Joseph and Mary are sent out to the barn with the animals because there is no room at the inn; Jesus is born and placed in the manger, and shepherds, angels, three wise men, and a star are all present.  This account, that is proudly displayed in nativity scenes across the world, is false.

Here's a run down of common Christmas myths (the account of what really happened can be found in the gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John):

- Jesus was born on December 25th
The Bible does not specify the date Jesus was born [possibly because God didn't want man to make a religious holiday out of it]. There was no indication he was born on December 25th, and most, if not all, scholars agree that his birth didn't occur in December at all.

- There was no room in the inn for Joseph and Mary
There was no inn, as in motel.  Mary and Joseph weren't trying to get a room at a local motel. In actuality, there was no room in the upper room of the house (likely the house of a relative) they were staying in because the yearly census was being conducted, and everyone was in town. Therefore, they had to stay in the animal stable on the lower level of the house.  The animals were probably vacated at this time to accommodate the extra guests. The greek word for "inn" is "kataluma," which by context and by other uses in the Bible, refers to an "upper room."

- Joseph and Mary had to stay in the barn out back.
There was no barn.  As mentioned, they were in the lower level of the house where the animals were kept.

- Three wise men visited baby Jesus.
The number of wise men is unknown. There were three gifts brought to Jesus, but that doesn't mean there were three wise men. The Bible doesn't specify the number.

- The wise men rode into town on camels.
The Bible doesn't comment on their mode of transportation.

- The wise men visited Jesus on the night he was born.
The wise men didn't visit Jesus at the time of his birth. By the time they arrived, they visited Jesus at a house, not while he was in the manger.  At the time of their visit, the Bible describes Jesus as a child, using a word that is different from the word used for a newborn.

-The Star of Bethlehem guided the wise men to the manger.
The star guided the wise men to Christ's location (likely Nazareth) many days or months later. The Bible simply refers to this star as "His star," and it did not appear over the manger at the time of His birth. An angel guided the shepherds, not the wise men, to the manger on the night of His birth.

These common misconceptions may seem like no big deal, but I think it's that mentality of not being concerned about exactly what the Bible says that has led to the thousands of different denominations in existence today. Anyway, the next time you see a nativity scene this holiday season, maybe it will inspire you to read the Bible's account of Christ's birth.  After all, it was His birth that lead to an even greater event - His death on the cross.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Here it is - my very first guest post.  Taking the spot of first contributor is my friend, minister, and mentor, Eddy Gilpin.  Eddy is the full-time preacher at West Side church of Christ, and he is the author of many tracts, books, and bulletin articles. The following article will appear in this week's Sunday bulletin.

If "One Is As Good As Another," Why Not Pastafarianism?

It was indeed an unusual scene when newly-seated Pomfret, NY, Town Council member Christopher Schaeffer was sworn into office in January 2014. Schaffer, you see, was wearing a colander on his head. Why? He is a "minister" of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Members of his articular organization refer to themselves as "Pastafarians."

According to the organization’s website the only "dogma" allowed in the Church of the FSM is "the rejection of dogma." There are no particular regulations, no strict rules, and no routine rituals. Some general things about their beliefs are:

-Pirates were the original Pastafarians, and they were peaceful explorers. Due to Christian  misinformation, they now have an image of being outcast criminals.

-They are fond of beer.

-Every Friday is a religious holiday.

-They embrace contradictions.

While this organization is ludicrous to the minds of Bible-believing individuals, it is recognized as a legitimate religious system by our government. It is yet another example of political correctness run amuck.

However, a more serious matter can be addressed from this story and this organization. If, as much of the religious world claims, "one church is as good as another," the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster would qualify just as much as any other. While in terms of governmental recognition and common sense we might see this organization as silly and ridiculous, religiously speaking it is no more ridiculous than any other religious group that claims to be legitimate and, yet, which cannot legitimately claim its origin in the New Testament. There is, after all, only one church that can do that—the church of Christ (Mt. 16:18; Acts 2:47; Rom. 16:16; Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:4; 5:23; Col. 1:18).

One can join the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster for a fee of only $20. One can join thousands of other religious groups free of charge. However, one cannot "join" the church of Christ. He has to be added to it by the Lord Himself (Acts 2:47). As foolish as "The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster" sounds, since Jesus purchased only one church (His church- Acts 20:28), it is just as foolish to think anyone can be a part of any other and still claim to belong to Him.