Throwback Thursday: Happy Thanksgiving!

For this week’s Throwback Thursday installment, I’m republishing this short post from previous years about something that never gets old; being grateful to the Lord for His bountiful blessings!

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“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my brothers and sisters in the Lord here at the WordPress blogosphere! May your time today with your family and friends be joyous as we contemplate all of our blessings in Christ Jesus!

Soda? In Rochester, we call it “pop.”

When I was growing up back in the 1960s, there weren’t as many concerns about nutrition, and soda was a staple of the American diet. Here in Rochester, we referred to soda as “pop” and generally still do. When out-of-towners asked for a “soda” back in the day, we thought that was very strange.

Every weekend, our Dad and a few of us kids would hop in the station wagon and take a short drive to the cinder block building at 625 Shelford Road (photo below) and buy a case of large bottles of “pop” from a local manufacturer, “Fiz Pop,” which was a lot cheaper than the national brands. They had many flavors and it was fun to pick out my favorites as we filled the case. Fiz eventually moved out of that location and my Dad began buying six-packs of Coca-Cola at the big grocery. One of my sweetest high-school-era memories is sucking down ice-old Cokes in the summertime while watching my little black-and-white TV late at night in my hot, un-air-conditioned bedroom.

These days, health experts strongly discourage drinking soda. There’s 39 grams of “sugar” (i.e., high-fructose corn syrup) in a 12 oz. can of Coca-Cola, which translates to 9.75 teaspoons of sugar per can. That’s A LOT of sugar.

I don’t drink a lot of pop/soda, but I do like to crack open a cold one on Saturdays after doing the yard chores. I definitely have my favorites. I have a small stockpile of my favorite varieties with samples in the above photo:

From left to right:

  • Dr. Pepper & Cream Soda – Great combo! Was on the grocery shelf for a limited time during the Summer, but didn’t see it for awhile. It’s now back in six-packs of 16.9 oz. plastic bottles.
  • Coca-Cola, Orange Vanilla – Haven’t seen this Coke variety on the store shelves lately.
  • Vernors – A very gingery-tasting ginger-ale that originally hailed from Michigan. Wikipedia states that “soft,” full-flavored ginger-ales like Vernors were popular before Prohibition, but afterwards, less-flavorful “dry” varieties like Canada Dry caught on.
  • Coca-Cola, Vanilla – Haven’t seen this Coke variety on the store shelves lately.
  • A&W Cream Soda – Hard to find. Stocked sporadically.
  • Coca-Cola, Cherry Vanilla – Haven’t seen this Coke variety on the store shelves lately.

The only Coke on the local grocery shelves lately is Classic Coke and Diet Coke. Has Coke given up on its specialty varieties or have the purchasing agents at our two local grocery chains just gotten lazy? Articles on the internet state that Coke has NOT discontinued its specialty flavors, but that it’s had a hard time keeping up with the high demand during the C-19 pandemic.

What’s your favorite flavor of pop…er, I mean soda?

Above: The Fiz Pop brand was was eventually bought by the Petix family, owners of College Club Beverages. That’s brothers Louie and Joe Petix in the photo above.
I also occasionally like to pick up some bottles of Jarritos-brand Lime and Tamarind flavored soda from Mexico in in the imported foods aisle.
Above: The former Fiz Pop building at 625 Shelford Road, now subdivided into multiple apartments.

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday sermon series, #59

It’s Two-fer-Tuesday, my friends, which means two new sermons from the brethren down in Arkansas.

First, we have Pastor Roger Copeland of Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana, preaching from Genesis 42:18-21 on “The Ghost of Guilt.”

Next, we have Pastor Cody Andrews of Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City preaching from Psalm 3 on “Discouragement.”

Both of these sermons were delivered on Sunday, November 8th.

Pastor Roger Copeland – The Ghost of Guilt

Pastor Cody Andrews – Discouragement

“Am I Catholic?” Praise God, NO, I am NOT Catholic!

Am I Catholic?: A Struggle with Faith, Humility, and Surrendering to God
By Kendra Von Esh
Self-published, Second edition, 2018, 176 pp.

1 Star

Several months ago, I was channel-surfing and happened upon the Daystar cable channel, which is similar in content to TBN, although on a smaller scale. Daystar is owned by Pentecostals, Marcus and Joni Lamb, and much of the content on Daystar includes references to prophecy, healing, and speaking in tongues, meaning I generally wouldn’t view the channel myself or recommend it to anyone else.

However, what caught my eye that particular July 1st evening was Joni and Marcus interviewing author, Kendra Von Esh, on the station’s flagship show, “Ministry Now.” Von Esh was on the show promoting her book, “Am I Catholic?” Hmm, how would Joni and Marcus handle this? Marcus began the interview by stating that he realized that, “there are Protestant people, that, they don’t agree with some things about the Catholic church…but the test of salvation, when you ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart and forgive you of your sins, that is the bottom line, and there are many truly born-again Catholics.” Marcus reiterates that it’s not denominational membership that saves, but whether a person is “a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Von Esh then began telling her story of having been raised in a nominal Catholic family and having no substantial connection to her religion until, as a middle-aged adult, her father had a life-threatening illness and surgery, which prompted her to begin delving deeply back into her Catholicism. Among other things, she described the joy of being able to confess her sins to a priest and receive forgiveness.

Joni nervously interjected at that point, because, what Von Esh was describing, didn’t sound like being born-again:

Joni: “When did you, like, have an, if you will, an understanding that Jesus died for your sins and that He [emphasis] forgives everything and it’s finished, it’s done, He paid the price at Calvary for us?

Von Esh replied with some nebulous, religious gobbledygook, but did not answer Joni’s question. Catholics believe, as they are taught by their church, that salvation is a lifelong process that is dependent on regularly receiving the sacraments and successfully obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules. Marcus and other misguided folks extend the hand of fellowship to Roman Catholics because they readily assent to the vague parlance of “asking Jesus to come into your heart” and of being a “believer.”

While it’s true that there are probably some Catholics who are saved, they are saved in spite of their church’s teachings, not because of them. Marcus is correct, that church and denominational membership saves no one, but Roman Catholics never get to hear the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone from their church’s pulpits. The Catholic church unapologetically teaches that salvation is by sacramental grace and merit. Joni sensed a problem with Von Esh’s “testimony” while she was gushing on and on about confessing her sins to a priest, but Joni didn’t follow up. Marcus and Joni failed Von Esh and their viewers by insinuating Roman Catholicism’s false gospel was legitimate or at least “close enough.”

I ordered Von Esh’s short book and read it in a couple of sittings. She describes the “joy” of rediscovering the traditions, rituals, and rules of her church. Many converts and reverts to Catholicism are enamored with the RCC system, but beneath the church’s gaudy “smells and bells” liturgicalism is a works-righteousness treadmill whereby no one can ever find salvation and eternal joy in Jesus Christ.

I said a prayer for Kendra Von Esh’s salvation. Stay away from Daystar, TBN, and other sources that muddy the genuine Gospel by embracing Roman Catholicism as a Christian entity.

For research purposes, I’m providing the video below to the “Ministry Now” July 1st episode in question. The interview with Von Esh begins at the 30:30 mark.

Above photo: Joni and Marcus Lamb muddy the Gospel with Roman Catholic, Kendra Von Esh

2020 Leaf Campaign Update – Week #4, the Grand Finale!

Photo above taken Saturday, Nov. 21st. No leaves remaining on the oak trees.

Last week was a VERY good week in the 2020 Leaf Campaign, with all of the oak trees prematurely releasing most of their leaves because of a warm stretch of weather, resulting in my hauling 34 tarps of leaves to the curb. This past week was the finale and there was a bit more work than I expected.

Thursday, Nov. 19 – The few remaining leaves had fallen from the oaks and some of my less-fastidious neighbors’ leaves had swirled into our yard due to some high winds, so I gave the entire yard a once-over with the leafblower, corralling the backyard leaves into piles and blowing the leaves in the front yard to the curb.

Friday, Nov. 20 – Seven tarpfulls. I raked the leaf piles in the backyard onto my tarp and made multiple trips dragging them to the curb. I also began removing the leaves from a large ivy patch in the back corner of our lot with my metal rake. It’s a very painstaking job, which is why I always save it for last. I removed about two-thirds of the leaves from the ivy patch, saving the balance for Saturday.

Saturday, Nov. 21 – One tarpfull. I finished removing the leaves from the ivy patch, accumulating one large tarpfull. I also got on the roof and blew out the small amount of leaves in the gutters before the snow falls.

Number of tarpfulls, week #4 = 8
Total number of tarpfulls to date = 67
Percentage of leaf campaign completed to date = 112%

Huh? 112%? I’ve always used 60 tarps as the estimated total number of tarps per seasonal campaign and it’s always worked out pretty close, but this year I ended up with 67 tarps. I’m guessing some of that spike can be attributed to the fact that I purposely didn’t load as many leaves onto the tarp on average due to my advancing age. 👴🏻

That’s it folks! I’m happy to say the 2020 Leaf Campaign is complete, a full two-weeks ahead of schedule! Thanks for all of the support and encouragement throughout the campaign!

Leaf campaign trivia: After raking leaves for 12 years, I finally broke down in 2016 and bought my Husqvarna 350BT backpack leafblower. It’s been a HUGE help in dealing with the leaves, but it’s a bit temperamental. The salesperson warned me that I should use non-ethanol, specially-blended, high-octane, Husqvarna-brand gasoline sold in cans at the dealership. But that stuff is VERY expensive, especially for a guy like me with TONS of leaves. Instead, I buy non-ethanol, 89-octane gas at a Fastrac gas station near me, and add Husqvarna two-cycle engine oil. Sometimes the leafblower sputters like a Model-T jalopy and other times it roars like a well-tuned Pratt & Whitney jet engine. It still beats raking even when it’s not blowing air, full-throttle.

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Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 11/21/20

I know most of you have had your fill of politics, but this week’s news feeds were dominated by stories of politically-conservative-minded Christians and Catholics grappling with Joe Biden’s apparent presidential victory.

Pastor Robert Jeffress (photo above) of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, an outspoken supporter of President Trump and the Republican Party and one of the leading torch-bearers of Falwellian Christian nationalism, has thrown in the towel and recognized Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 Presidential Election. President Trump still has not conceded, eighteen-days after the election. Will he eventually concede or is this standoff leading to an unprecedented constitutional crisis?

This conservative Catholic parish priest in this story has warned all of the administrators and teachers of the parish’s school that they will be collecting unemployment checks if they continue to post pro-Biden remarks on the school’s Facebook account.

Cardinal Burke has been one of progressive pope Francis’s fiercest critics and now he also has to contend with a progressive Catholic in the White House.

While conservative American Catholic priests and prelates are wringing their hands over Joe Biden’s victory, their progressive pope is celebrating in the Vatican.

Last week, the Vatican released its report on the church’s mishandling of ex-cardinal and serial abuser, Ted McCarrick. “Saint” John Paul II was directly implicated in the cover-up. This shakes the “faith” of Catholics throughout the world, but especially in Poland where Karol Wojtyla is revered as semi-deity.

Homosexuality is rampant amongst Catholic priests and prelates. Credible sources put the percentage at 30% to 40%. The vast majority of pedophile priests’ victims, around 80%, were male children.

The LA County administration and the media jumped the gun by labeling three cases of COVID-19 at Grace Community Church as an “outbreak.” But as C-19 re-surges across the nation, GCC continues to defy county public health safety mandates and the legal battles continue.

I’m a bit late with this one, but on November 11th we celebrated the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival at Plymouth in 1620. The Pilgrims were separatists persecuted by the Church of England who came to America in search of religious freedom and would later be absorbed by the Puritans, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1630. The Pilgrims celebrated the first “Thanksgiving” following their harvest in 1621.

The Presbyterian Church USA denomination is in the process of hammering out an ecumenical accord with the Roman Catholic church. The PCUSA “went liberal” way back in the 1920s and 1930s.

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #49: “Wine Is a Mocker”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next-to-last installment, the Catholic apologist continues his section on “Catholic Life and Practice” as he responds to the criticism of (some) Protestants that the Roman Catholic church permits the drinking of alcoholic beverages when the Bible says “Wine Is a Mocker.”

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Protestants who believe in complete abstinence from alcoholic beverages cite Proverbs 20:1 among other passages:

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”

Broussard responds with three arguments:

(1) Broussard argues that the consumption of alcoholic beverages is not forbidden by the Bible in an absolute sense because the following verses and others seem to allow it: Deuteronomy 14:22-26, Genesis 14:18, Ecclesiastes 10:19, Psalm 104:15, 1 Timothy 5:23. Some evangelicals claim that the Israelites’/Jews’ standard table wine was diluted with so much water that it was nonintoxicating, but if that were the case, Broussard argues, there would not be so many admonitions against drunkenness in the Bible.

(2) Broussard then argues that Jesus was not absolutely opposed to fermented wine in His earthly ministry and presents the following proof texts: “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking…,” Luke 7:34, and “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now…,” John 2:1-11. Broussard forgets to include Jesus’s analogy of the wine skins and fermented wine in Mark 2:22.

(3) Broussard offers Isaiah 5:11 to argue that the Bible doesn’t forbid drinking alcoholic beverages, but only warns against overindulgence.

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

I’m one of those evangelicals who believes that the Bible doesn’t teach absolute abstinence when it comes to the consumption of alcoholic beverages, but that it warns against overindulgence and drunkenness. I wrote a post on this controversial topic way back in 2016 with supporting references (see here). Suffice to say that each believer must follow his/her own understanding and convictions regarding this matter and also must strive to not be a stumbling block to believers who hold to a different conviction.

Let’s not get sidetracked. The permissibility of consuming alcoholic beverages is a tertiary issue. The primary issue is Roman Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

Next up: “No Graven Images”

Throwback Thursday: When a pope celebrated the wholesale slaughter of Protestants with a medal

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a short post that was originally published back on February 5, 2016 and has been revised.

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In celebration of the slaughter of the Protestant Huguenots in Paris on the eve of St. Bartholomew’s feast day, August 23-24, 1572, pope Gregory XIII (aka Ugo Boncompagni) directed the pictured medal to be struck, which featured an “exterminating angel” striking the Huguenots and the caption, UGONOTTORUM STRAGES, (“Overthrow of the Huguenots”). Gregory XIII also commissioned three frescoes commemorating the massacre for the Sala Regia Hall at the Vatican, where they remain today. The estimated death toll varies, but some historians put the number of Protestants who were murdered in the violence that spread across France at 30,000. Those Protestants who survived the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and national “religiouscide” were persecuted in Catholic church-supported “dragonnades” and forced to flee to other nations.

Pope Gregory XIII

There’s no debate that both Protestant and Catholic European monarchs engaged in wars of expansion and political control, using religion as an excuse, but how is it that a pope, allegedly guided by the Holy Spirit and supposedly infallible in all important matters of faith and morals, could have celebrated the wholesale slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent victims? In addition, by sanctioning the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, the pope was encouraging further violence against Protestants.

On Aug. 24, 1997, pope John Paul II offered a semi-apology for the Paris massacre (see here), but if every pope is infallible when acting as shepherd of the Catholic church, how could Gregory XIII have celebrated an event, which clearly violated the teachings of Jesus Christ? Why did the Catholic church wait 425 years before it apologized for this atrocity? What are Catholics to deduce when one pope apologizes for the actions of another pope?

Better to follow God’s Word in all things than to follow man-made religious institutions and traditions.

“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.”  Matthew 15:8-9

Ecumenist Norman Geisler Strikes Again

Is Rome the True Church?: A Consideration of the Roman Catholic Claim
By Norman Geisler and Joshua Betancourt
Crossway, 2008, 235 pp.

2 Stars

One of the strangest books I ever read in my entire life was “Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences” (1995) by Norman Geisler (d. 2019) in which the evangelical theologian clearly defined the irreconcilable doctrinal differences between Gospel Christianity and Roman Catholicism, including the opposing views on justification, and yet still concluded the RCC was a Christian entity! See my associated post here.

In this book, published thirteen years later, Geisler specifically focuses on Catholicism’s claim to be the “one true church” based upon the notions of Petrine primacy, apostolic succession, and papal infallibility. Geisler examines Scripture, the writings of the church “fathers,” and to a lesser degree, church history, to make a very substantial case against Rome’s false claims. Adopting the Roman-Caesarian imperial model, the bishops of Rome sought to secure and consolidate their advantages and privileges.

The reader will repeatedly have a sense of déjà vu while reading this book as Geisler often uses the same references to counter different claims. But his arguments are substantive and convincing. As with his previous book, Geisler once again strangely concludes that the Roman Catholic church is a Christian entity despite the fact that it teaches a subjective, intrinsic view on justification and a salvation system based upon sacramental grace and merit. All ecumenical evangelicals must “leap frog” over this irreconcilable incongruity. Sadly, Geisler mentored a bevy of ecumenically-minded, pop-apologists (i.e., McDowell, Craig, Zacharias, Strobel, Turek).

Contents

  1. The Roman Claim to Be the True Church
  2. The Historical Development of the Roman Primacy Structure
  3. The Roman Argument for the Primacy of Peter: Stated and Evaluated
  4. The Roman Argument for the Infallibility of Peter: Stated
  5. The Roman Argument for the Infallibility of Peter: Evaluated
  6. The Roman Argument for Apostolic Succession
  7. Is Rome the True Church?
  8. Why Some Protestants Convert to Rome

Appendices

  1. Irenaeus on the Alleged Authority of the Church
  2. A Chronological List of Popes and Antipopes
  3. The Relation of Tradition to Scripture
  4. Sola Scriptura
  5. Irenaeus on Scripture and Tradition

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday sermon series, #58

It’s Two-fer-Tuesday, my friends, which means two new sermons from the brethren down in Arkansas.

First, we have Pastor Roger Copeland of Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana preaching from Genesis 41:41-43 on “Handling Success Successfully.”

Next, we have Pastor Cody Andrews of Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City preaching from Galatians 5:16-26 on “The Battle Between Spirit and Flesh.”

Both of these sermons were delivered on Sunday, November 1st.

Pastor Roger Copeland – Handling Success Successfully

Pastor Cody Andrews – The Battle Between Spirit and Flesh