Category Archives: salvation

If a Monkey Can Do It, Why Can’t We?

Free Movies

One of the great things about modern cable networks is the ability to watch free movies on demand. It’s a great thing, but I guess it’s also a bad thing, too. Free movies mean lots of wasted time in front of a television – because there’s always something¬†to watch.

Well, sorta.

I mean, it’s precisely because I am NOT paying for these movies that the selection is a tad bit limited. When you get what you pay for, and you pay nothing, then you get what you pay for.

So, that’s why I found myself watching “Oz the Great and Wonderful” late Sunday night. I’d forgotten that I’d already seen it back in 2014.

Finley the Flying Monkey

Anyway, even though the movie was rather lame, there were a few well-acted scenes. I especially liked Mila Kunis as Theodora: the creepy, emotionally-ill, heartbroken witch that later became the wicked witch of Dorothy fame. She became the prime reason I will never trust an attractive woman dressed in red that just so happens to greet me in the middle of the woods.

But of all the scenes, one stood out immediately (at least this time around when it was free), and that was the following scene where Finley the monkey indebts himself to Oz.

When I saw this Sunday night, I immediately thought of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

I was once trapped and bound by sin. A lion that had been seeking me out to devour me was just about to pounce. I cried out to the only One who could save me, and he did – except in my case, He took the lion’s bite for me.

Why is it so hard to understand that I owe him my life? Oh, I know I do, but do I ever really go about it in the way that Finley the monkey did? Do you?

You do realize, don’t you, that without Jesus we would be dead – eternally so. The life we live is only because of the grace of God. The least we can do is echo the words of Finley and say, “You saved my life, oh Jesus. So, I hereby swear a life debt to you. From this moment on, I shall be your loyal and faithful servant until death.”

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20

If a monkey can do it, why can’t we?

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Filed under animals, Christianity, grace, Movie review, salvation, worship

He Lives!

We celebrate many holidays in this world, but one stands out among the rest…

Easter.

Now, I know that some of the more legalistic among us will label all the celebrations “moot” because of certain “pagan” links, like that to Ishtar and fertility rites. The unbelievers will laugh off this day with arrogant disdain (especially with it being April Fool’s Day).

But for the majority of Christians around the world, this day is a day to rejoice in the Son of God’s victory over the grave.

We are prone to celebrate many things, like who won a game, that new promotion, or a birthday. We throw parties when political candidates squeak out a win, or when that big contract gets signed. Some will even fire thousands of AK-47 rounds into the air while shouting “Allah Akbar!” at the top of their lungs. But nothing is more worth celebrating than Jesus keeping His word and rising from the dead to secure eternal life for those who trust in Him.

Today, as I stand before a congregation, I will attempt, in the power of the Spirit, to stir the imagination, to take us back in time, to recreate a fraction of the excitement that must have been felt when those who were convinced of defeat were shocked by the greatest come-from-below victory of all time.

Today, before all those present, whether in flesh or spirit, I will celebrate victory over sin, death, and hell. The Enemy has been defeated, his tools are obsolete, for Jesus died and rose again.

He Lives!

Click on the link to listen to my favorite Resurrection Day song, “Gone!” (sung by Teddy Huffam).

Also, here’s a group that’s new to me singing a medley of Easter-related songs (none of them about a bunny).

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Filed under Easter, Faith, God, Preaching, salvation, worship

Have You Done a Self-Examination?

A Doctor’s Instructions

I don’t want to get too TMI-ish, but as we get older the doctors say we should do more self-examinations. Have you ever been told this?

Doctor visits can be depressing ūüėČ

You ladies are regularly told by your physicians to check for unusual or suspicious lumps in certain places. We men are told the same thing, just not as often (it’s not a subject we’re comfortable with).

But despite the awkwardness, all of us need to be reminded that it’s our responsibility to examine ourselves in between doctor visits. Fact is, embarrassing as it may be to discuss, a self-examination can mean the difference between life and death.

An Apostle’s Instructions

But as awkward as it is to discuss our bodies, the spiritual lives of people tend to be much more private and less likely to be examined. Yet, what does the Apostle Paul (a true Doctor of the Faith) recommend?

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? – 2 Corinthians 13:5 (KJV)

Or, as another translation interprets it…

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. (NLT)

Believe it or not, there are many, many people who think they are in perfect spiritual health, but in reality, they are terminal. Consider the following examples.

  • Bob goes to church every day the doors are open, including cleaning day.
  • Henry gives 20% of his income and 10% of his time to the church. If there’s a need, ask Henry.
  • Margaret goes to a fundamental church, uses the “right” translation of the Bible, and never wears anything but a long dress (except when she wears culottes to the beach).
  • Mary would never say a dirty word, tell an off-color joke, or even permit foul language in her presence.
  • Sharon put aside marriage and gave her life to helping orphans in the streets of Mumbai.
  • Frank and Karen have Bible studies in their home, take the kids to Sunday School, have gold crosses in every room, not to mention on their necks.
  • A rich young ruler has kept ALL the commandments (not just the big 10), even since he was a boy.

Are you like Bob or Mary? What about Sharon or Frank and Karen? Are the above people spiritually healthy, or could there be hidden cancer not yet removed?

Remember Ephesians 2:8-9? Works don’t save people; faith in Christ does. It’s not about the life you live; it’s Who’s life is in you.

My Advice

Look, I’m not an M.D. or an apostle, but if you’d like my advice, here’s what I have to offer.

  • Listen to your doctor and do what you need to – check for those lumps and things. Your life could depend on it.
  • Listen to the words of Paul and do a spiritual self-examination. Is your faith genuine?
  • Go to the top of this blog and click on the “Eternal Life” tab and consider what is written.

Don’t neglect the health of your body… or your soul.

 

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Filed under Christianity, fitness, Life/Death, salvation

Do You Have Hope Without Jesus?

In Acts 16:30 the Philippian jailer asked, “What must I do to be saved?

“Forgiven” by Thomas Blackshear

William MacDonald wrote the following comment in his commentary:

“This question must precede every genuine case of conversion. A man must know he is lost before he can be saved. It is premature to tell a man how to be saved until first he can say from his heart, I truly deserve to go to hell…Many people today seem to have difficulty knowing what it means to believe. However, when a sinner realizes he is lost, helpless, hopeless, hell-bound, and when he is told to believe on Christ as Lord and Savior, he knows exactly what it means. It is the only thing left that he can do!” (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer’s Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or Logos)

Do you have hope without Jesus? Then you’re without hope. Simply hopeless.

And that breaks my heart.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” – Acts 16:31


If you would like to talk with someone, there is a phone line open 24 hours a day. Call 1-800-NEED-HIM (1-800-633-3446). Someone will be happy to show you how to be sure you have eternal life. Don’t wait.

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Filed under Christianity, salvation

Do You Even Know the Difference?

Walmart lines can be insanely long, as many of you know well. Therefore, as I am standing in one with my wife, I decided to pull out my phone and watch something on YouTube. She is looking at something in a magazine, probably about how Queen Elizabeth ordered Meghan to boot camp…or that she’s actually an alien.

Anyway, I came across the following video featuring a favorite of mine, Ravi Zacharias. No doubt, the modern church is becoming less and less equipped to handle threats against our faith, and much of the problem lies in the desire to have one’s ears tickled.

Do you know the difference between Christianity and Islam? I hope you do.

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, salvation

I’m a Sinner, But I’m Saved! Thank God!

My friends, since I am still recovering from surgery to my right shoulder, typing is still quite painful after a few moments. I thought about a few things I wanted to write, but then decided a re-post was in order.

So, I went back a few years into the archive, and that’s when I found this post. I little voice inside me said, “Post that one again.” Therefore, I hope you read the whole thing; it might be a word from the Lord for you.


I Still Sin

(updated)

It may come as a shock to some of you, but I still sin. Yes, this preacher still makes mistakes. You see, I am no better than anyone else, even though there used to be a time when I thought I was.

Years ago, when I was a really legalistic son-of-a-gun, it wasn’t uncommon for me to look down my nose at others who were “less spiritual.” Oh, I wouldn’t admit I thought I was better than anyone, because I really thought I was humble. It’s just, seriously, I never committed any of those horrible sins like adultery, murder, etc. All my sins were small, like not cleaning my room when asked, or looking too long at pictures in the J.C. Penney catalog.

But things changed. First, I found out that this self-righteous do-gooder could actually screw up – big time. Second, I found out that some of the ones I looked down on before had better excuses for their sin than I did. Third, I grew up. Forth, I found out what grace is all about.

So, I still mess up from time to time. I still sin, and that’s because I still live in unredeemed flesh. However, there are still times when I need to be reminded of how sinful my little sins are, and how great God’s grace is.

What I Deserve

Last week I lusted. Yes, this preacher – a married man and father of three – lusted. It’s not like I do it all the time, but I saw something on television that caused me to look longer than I needed to, to allow some thoughts to come into my mind that had no business there. A moment of weakness. Just being honest.

Later in the day, after a long day on a hot school bus, I took a shower. As I was washing my face, soap got into my eyes and caused them to sting. With a wince I felt a little twinge of guilt as I was reminded of the earlier sin involving my eyes. I said aloud, but to myself, “I guess I deserved that.”

Then, almost immediately, a still, small, Voice whispered into my heart, “No, what you really¬†deserve is Hell.” In other words, it was like God was saying to me, “Anthony, is that how little you think of my Son’s sacrifice for you?” In other words, if all it took was a little soap in the eyes to pay for that mistake, why the cross?

Bam!

Do you realize that even if all you and I had ever done was commit some little, private sin, Jesus would have still had to die on a cross to reconcile us with God? Do you realize even the smallest, most insignificant sin is still sin in God’s eyes? ALL sin separates us from the Father, therefore ALL sin is worthy of Hell.

But praise the Lord for God’s amazing grace! It saved a wretch like me. Through it the righteousness of Christ was imputed to me, and therefore I am now truly clean, holy in the sight of God my Father.

I’m a sinner, but I’m a saved sinner. Thank God!


Do you want to know how you can be a “saved sinner,” too? Click on the Eternal Life tab at the top of the screen. If you’d like to talk with someone about it right now, call 1-888 – Need Him.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, legalism, Love of God, salvation

After-Christmas Gifts

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” – Matthew 2:11

Late-Comers

Part of the Christmas story can be found in the book of Matthew, the first book in the New Testament. There, in chapter two, we read of several wise men, Magi, who followed the star till it rested over the place where the young Jesus was living.

But what most people fail to notice is that only the shepherds came to visit Jesus while he was still a baby in a manger. The Magi came later, once they were living “in the house” and Jesus was a “young child.” And, based on Herod’s decree that all male children 2 years old and younger should be killed (Matt. 2:16), Jesus could have been a toddler up and walking.

Simply put, generally, every manger scene protested against by atheists is not a faithful representation of the Christmas story. How ironic is that? But I digress…

The Gifts

When the Magi came to Bethlehem in search of “he that is born King of the Jews” (Matt. 2:2), they brought with them three very rare and valuable gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They were not random gifts, but ones with specific political, spiritual, and practical importance; they were meant to recognize a literal, earthly, but also heavenly King.

gold frankincense and myrrhGold was a universally recognized precious metal, symbolic of all wealth. Frankincense was a substance primarily used as incense, but also mixed with other substances to create the holy anointing oil placed on high priests and kings. Myrrh was a substance used for things ranging all the way from cosmetics and antiseptics, to perfuming the living and embalming the dead.

According to Matthew 2:11, the Magi fell down before Jesus, which would have been an appropriate response when in the presence of royalty (and these men knew the difference). But the wise men did more than fall prostrate before royalty, they “worshiped him.” ¬†This young king was more than just “King of the Jews,” but the long-promised Messiah, and they offered their gift to the Son of God.

Are You Wise?

As long as I can remember there have been sermons preached during and before Christmas entitled, “Wise Men Still Seek Him.” The sermons focus primarily on the seeking leading up to Christmas, but rarely, if ever, on the gifts given after the celebration is over. But today is different.

Today, I am going to ask you to consider three gifts we should give, now that the birthday celebration is over.

  • Gold. Gold represented wealth. In your worship of the King, will you give Him your wealth? In reality, God owns everything, including everything He loans unto you. But with your heart, are you willing to lay everything that is most valuable to you at His feet?
  • Frankincense. Frankincense represented worship. Would you be willing to fall down before Jesus, or do you hold back some of your Frankincense in reserve? Are there idols in your life – people or things – for which you reserve a little of that anointing oil, making those things lords of your life? Would you be willing to make Jesus Lord of all? Will you worship him without reservation?
  • Myrrh. Myrrh was symbolic of the beauty of life, from beginning to end. Would you give to Jesus everything that makes you happy? Everything that brings you hope? Everything that is sweet-smelling? Everything that hides your faults and failures, disguising your true self? Would you give Jesus your life? He can do more with it than you can do on your own.

Returns

For several days after Christmas people will stand in line to return and/or exchange unwanted gifts. Many will trade what others gave them for something they want more. Others will just ask for a refund or in-store credit.

Rest assured that when you give your gifts to Jesus, he will not return them, exchange them, or re-gift them next year. But will you, once you realize what you’ve given, want to take something back?

Don’t wait for a New Year’s resolution. Now that Christmas is over, be like the Magi and leave everything at Jesus’ feet, then “depart…another way.” Once you give Jesus those three gifts, you’ll never be the same.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christmas, God, Love of God, salvation, wisdom, worship