To all the Moms and Grandmas…

Today, I’m thinking about my Mom who died a little over three years ago. Mom taught me many things but most of all she taught me about unconditional love. Mom wasn’t just my mother but she was also my buddy and my biggest fan. Sniff.

Mom didn’t talk about God or religion much. Whenever we spoke to her about the Lord, she said such topics were personal and weren’t to be discussed. When my wife and I visited her in Florida for the last time, a couple of months before her death, she was deep in the clutches of Alzheimer’s disease. But one day when we were struggling to have a conversation with her, she turned to us and recited Psalm 23 in its entirety, word for word. “The Lord is my Shepherd…” I hope Mom truly accepted the Shepherd.

My wife is a wonderful mother to our two sons and four grandchildren. I’m blessed to have her as my wife. What a gift she is!

To all of you Moms and Grandmas out there, I wish you a very happy Mother’s Day! There is nothing in this world like the tender love of a Mom.

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” – Proverbs 31:28

1) I’m praying for you Rick! and 2) contemplating the Lordship salvation-Antinomianism/no-guilt debate

As I’ve mentioned before, I listen to the “Calling All Catholics” daily talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, WLOF, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) just to stay abreast of what’s going on within Catholicism. The most entertaining host, by far, is Catholic priest, Rick Poblocki, who is regularly featured on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Rick shoots from the hip and has very little patience with the “separated brethren” and especially with evangelicals who witness to Catholics.

Yesterday, I was listening to the 4/27/17 podcast and at the very end, Rick abruptly announced it was his last show. He indicated that he hadn’t even given the station’s management the courtesy of informing them of his decision prior to the public announcement so I suspect there was more to the tale than he was divulging. I’ll miss listening to Rick because of his outrageously entertaining brand of militant Catholicism. I pray someday he accepts Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone. It’s notable that Rick claims to have received the charismatic gifts of the spirit (speaking in “tongues”), yet he embraces a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit as do many/most charismatic Catholics. But how could the Holy Spirit indwell an unbeliever? Does not compute.


Christians get their backs up, and with good reason, when they hear mention of obedience in association with the gift of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. Grace and works absolutely do not mix. But a Christian saved by grace through faith will want to follow the Lord in obedience.

Over the last few months, I’ve encountered some discussions regarding Lordship Salvation versus Antinomianism. This was a HUGE debate a couple of decades ago when one camp of Christians, led by John MacArthur, argued salvation is totally by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone BUT that a genuine conversion to Christ will lead to a changed life and good works, so when a person accepts Christ as Savior, they also accept Him as Lord. The “free grace”/antinomian camp, led by Zane Hodges, argued that obedience cannot be even remotely associated with the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith otherwise grace stops being grace. It’s an interesting debate. MacArthur agrees that salvation is an absolutely free gift of God through Christ, but that a genuine Christian will want to follow Jesus and obey Him, albeit imperfectly. He says a person who professes to have accepted Christ but gives no discernible evidence of change/fruit in their lives is almost certainly still an unbeliever. It’s correct that obedience has no place in the salvation message, salvation is all by grace, but obedience definitely has a place in the subsequent sanctification/”Christian living” message.

In witnessing to Catholics, I usually only write about the Gospel of grace through faith in Christ alone. I don’t emphasize works in my messages at all because works are the antithesis of grace. This may give some people the wrong idea. That’s right, no one can possibly merit their way to Heaven but if a person genuinely accepts Jesus Christ, they will want to follow Him as Lord in obedience. I know many Catholics say, “Oh, those born-agains came forward or raised their hand at a youth service when they were a teenager and think they can live like the devil for the next sixty years. Talk about cheap grace and easy-believism!” No, my Catholic friend, a person who has been genuinely redeemed by Christ will want to follow Him as Lord. But we obey Him out of love, joy, and gratefulness, not as a part of a religious system in an attempt to merit our salvation. No one can earn salvation by trying to follow the Law as do Catholics, who say they must “cooperate with grace” as part of their salvation theology.

Some “free grace” proponents say a Christian should never feel guilt, shame, or remorse because Christ has already forgiven all of our sins. “Guilt” and “repentance” are bad words in “free grace” circles. Popular TBN, prosperity “gospel” preachers, Joel Osteen and Joseph Prince, encourage their followers to live an entirely “guilt-free” life. Have these people ever read the New Testament? Yes, even though we are saved by Christ, we still have sinful natures and we fail Him. While the Lord surely doesn’t want us to dwell in guilt and defeat, He does confront sin and disobedience in our lives and encourages us to conform ourselves to Him through the power of the Holy Spirit.

“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.” – 1 John 2:3

“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” – Romans 6:17-18

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” – 1 Corinthians 9:27

If you say you are a Christian but have little or no desire to follow Jesus as Lord, if you feel no guilt or remorse after you sin, if you live your life like an unsaved person, you may not know Jesus as Savior.

What is lordship salvation?
https://www.gotquestions.org/lordship-salvation.html

Postscript: If you pay attention to “Christian news,” you probably understand why one of the leading proponents of the “free grace”/no-guilt movement, ex-pastor, Tullian Tchividjian, was so eager to “free” Christians from guilt and repentance.

Should Christians participate in the National Day of Prayer, Thursday, May 4th?

This Thursday, May 4th, is the National Day of Prayer. On that day, Americans of all religious stripes – evangelicals, mainline Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, New Agers, Wiccans, etc., – will join together and pray for the welfare of the nation.

As a born-again, evangelical Christian, it’s my understanding that we should be reaching out to the religious lost in this country with the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, not joining with them in religious activities.

These sorts of ecumenical endeavors might seem right according to worldly understanding but they’re wrong according to God’s Word.

The Southern Baptist church we attended a couple of years ago opted to participate in the National Day of Prayer and that was one of several signs for us that we needed to leave.

Unfortunately, many American Christians take Old Testament passages that refer to God’s covenant with the nation of Israel and incorrectly apply them to the United States, like the blatant misappropriation of Daniel 9:19 in the accompanying advertisement. God is NOT in a covenant relationship with the U.S.. We need to pray for the salvation of the lost souls living in this country rather than joining with them in prayer for the welfare of the nation. Heresy? For many Christians in America, the focus is on national prosperity and patriotic pride rather than on the spiritual battle going on all around us. The ecumenism of the National Day of Prayer is of the evil one.

On Thursday, evangelical Christians should pray for the salvation of the lost in this country – religious and non-religious –  and pray for the nation’s leaders that they will not hinder the spreading of the Gospel, but those are prayers that we should be praying every day.

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you.” – 2 Corinthians 6:14–17


Should we Participate in the National Day of Prayer?
http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/dr-paul-j-dean/should-we-participate-in-the-national-day-of-prayer-11631260.html

Diets RARELY work but this one does!

Have you ever struggled with losing weight? Have you tried fancy diets and expensive gym memberships but nothing seems to work? I’d like to share with you my very simple, inexpensive, and proven method of losing weight, which I call the “Sal’s Birdland Diet.” Why Sal’s Birdland? I’ll get to that at the end.

Doctors define “obesity” as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or over. Calculate your own BMI here. Researchers tell us 36% of Americans are obese so this is a real problem in our country. We eat too much bad food and get too little exercise. When I visited my doctor three weeks ago, my BMI was 30.2. (height 5’10.5”, weight 213.6 lbs.). Because of my weight, I’m at a seriously increased risk for many illnesses. Heading into the stretch before retirement, I need to be more conscious of my health and I determined it was time for me to get serious about losing weight.

My goal is to lose 33.6 lbs. and get down to 180 lbs. and a BMI of 25.5. That’s classified as “Overweight” but it’s real close to the upper limit of a “Normal” BMI for my height which is 24.9 BMI at 176 lbs.. Health experts say losing 2 lbs. a week is a healthy rate of weight loss so I’m shooting for a weight of 180 lbs. by August 9th, 17 weeks from the start of my diet on April 12th.

Losing weight is not rocket science although companies make billions yearly off of overweight people with complicated fitness and diet plans. The simple equation is (exercise)+(eat less)+(monitor)+(rewards) = weight loss goal.

Exercise

Our miraculous bodies like to hang onto those undesirable fat cells as preferred fuel for a “rainy day,” so we have to “trick” them into releasing those fat cells as fuel by revving up our metabolism with aerobic exercise. My son gave me a fit-bit last summer and my daily goal is to walk 10,000 steps (five miles) a day. That’s very achievable because the hallways in the building I work at are very long. If I walk briskly to the end and back it’s around 1600 steps. If I do that twice a day and also walk our dog for twenty minutes when I get home I end up with around 10,000 steps total with all my other extraneous walking. Just buy a fit-bit or an inexpensive pedometer and a pair of walking shoes with good support. That’s all you need. Expensive gym memberships and equipment aren’t necessary.

Eat less and better

No need to get complicated. Simple works just fine. I’m cutting back on my portions and trying to eat more healthy stuff (fresh vegetables and fruits) and staying away from fat, sugar, salt, and carbs. No junk food. Limited processed foods. I’m also drinking lots of water.

Monitor

To stay on track I’m weighing myself daily and marking my weight on my calendar along with my daily steps. Some people advise not to weigh yourself daily because of the inevitable ups and downs but for me it works. The scale is now my friend!

Rewards

Thirty-four pounds is a lot to lose so to motivate myself, I’ve broken it up into doable increments of 11.5 lbs. Each time I drop 11.5 lbs. I’m going to treat myself to a verySSS unhealthy chicken dinner at Sal’s Birdland. That’s comprised of a small half-chicken fried in oil until crispy, served on sliced white bread, and smothered in Sal’s signature “Sassy” sauce with two sides of mac salad (my mouth is watering as I type this). See photo above. Hence the name, “Sal’s Birdland Diet.” If a Sal’s chicken dinner doesn’t get you motivated, NOTHING will! What’s that you say? You live too far from the two Sal’s Birdlands here in Rochester, N.Y.? That’s a real shame but it’s not an insurmountable problem. Just substitute your favorite junk food meal.

I’ve already lost 7 lbs. to date, which is a good start. I’m now at the high end of the “Overweight” BMI weight range rather than “Obese.” People are already starting to mistake me for Fred Astaire instead of Dave Thomas! At this rate I should be enjoying the first of three mouth-watering Sal’s chicken dinners in only two more weeks. I followed this diet before about seven years ago and achieved my goal. The problem was keeping the weight off over the long-term. But more about that in a month or two. For now it’s one step at a time to reach my goal of 180 lbs.!

Thank you, Lord, for my daily bread (and more)! Now please help me to stop being a glutton.

I hope you achieve your weight-loss goal. Drop me a line and let me know how the Sal’s Birdland Diet is working for you!


Is gluttony a sin? What does the Bible say about overeating?
https://www.gotquestions.org/gluttony-sin.html

How should a Christian view weight loss? What does the Bible say about obesity and weight loss?
https://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-weight-loss.html


http://www.salsbirdland.com/

Denying reality

Way back when I was eighteen-years-old, I weighed 160 lbs., which was pretty skinny for someone who is 5’11” tall. Over the years I started to gradually pack on the pounds. Can anyone else relate? The waistline slowly expanded from 30” to 32” to 34” to 36.” By 2000 I weighed 190 lbs. A few years later, I crossed the 200 lb. hurdle and my doctor announced to me that I was officially obese. OBESE?!?!?! How dare he put me in that category! NO WAY was I obese, I was just slightly overweight. I’ve continued to eat (too) well and my weight went up to 215 lbs. and even my size 38” pants were starting to feel tight. I reluctantly visited my doctor two weeks ago for my yearly physical and he was like, “Dude, do you want to have a retirement or not?” Okay. Yup. I get it. I need to eat (much) healthier, lose some pounds (about thirty-five), and exercise (what’s that?)

Not to get too personal, but all these years I’ve been observing myself in the full-length bathroom mirror after a shower and squinting my eyes and thinking, “Yeah, a little chunky but certainly not OBESE.” Well, the mirror doesn’t lie even though I tried my best to ignore or mask what it was telling me. I think I was holding in my stomach during most of my encounters with mister mirror. When it comes to our faults, we often lack objectivity (e.g., Trump obviously thinks his crazy comb-over looks great). My doctor could easily see that I was obese, but I couldn’t. So my first step in getting healthy was accepting exactly where I’m at physically. When I look in the mirror now, I see exactly what it’s telling me. Ouch! And I’m also using a weight scale again. I frankly didn’t want to see what it had to show previously and avoided it like the plague.

Okay, so now I’m trying to do things right. But this coming to grips with my true physical reality reminds me of how I often misperceive my spiritual reality as well. God’s Word is a mirror that reveals the state of my walk with the Lord. I think a lot of the time I squint and squirm and try to fool myself that I’m walking closer with the Lord than I actually am. The Holy Spirit will use God’s Word to let us know what to work on, but we need to stop the posturing, admit to the Lord and ourselves where we’re at, and get on with it with joy in our hearts. No, this isn’t a guilt trip. The Lord wants us spiritually healthy and the best way to do that is by following Him.

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12

“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24

If you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone you’re probably thinking you’re doing a pretty good job of obeying your way into Heaven. But the reality is no one can obey the Law, even for a single day. The only Person who perfectly obeyed the Law was Jesus Christ. He died for your sins and rose from the grave beating sin and death and He offers eternal life and fellowship with God to all those who accept Him as Savior by faith alone.

A 2000-year-old testimony to God’s truths (now in brilliant virtual color)

Our youngest son, Steve, has served in the Air Force for sixteen-years and has been all over the world. My wife and I had the opportunity to visit him when he was stationed in Aviano, Italy back around 2004. Aviano is about sixty-miles north of Venice in the northern part of the country. After a few days in Aviano/Pordenone, we took a train excursion to Venice and Rome. The highlight of our short stay in Rome was walking through the Colosseum and the nearby Roman Forum. On the east end of the Forum, on the Via Sacra, standing fifty-feet tall, is the Arch of Titus, erected in 81 A.D. to commemorate the military success of the Roman general (later emperor), Titus, during the First Jewish War (66-74 A.D.). Titus had ransacked and completely destroyed the Temple complex in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Historians say the spoils of the Jewish Wars helped finance the construction of the Colosseum, where many of the early Roman Christians were martyred.

There’s a carved relief panel under the Titus arch which depicts Roman soldiers carrying the confiscated treasures of the Temple, including the table of showbread and the lampstand/menorah, through the streets of Rome. Even though I was not walking with the Lord at that time, I was still AWESTRUCK to stand underneath the arch and gaze at this panel, a two-thousand-year-old testimony to the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy:

“And He said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.'” – Matthew 24:2

Last night, I was reading the latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, which featured the cover story, “True Colors: Digital Reconstruction Restores Original Brilliance to the Arch of Titus.” We mistakenly assume ancient Roman buildings originally appeared as plain stone edifices as we see them today, but recent research reveals building and monument exteriors were often decorated with vibrant colors. A team of scientists examined the victory parade panel in the Arch of Titus and discovered traces of yellow pigment on the menorah, indicating the entire panel had been painted. Using computer enhancement, the team was able to digitally restore the panel as it may have originally appeared (see photo). Being somewhat of a history nerd and a Christian, stuff like this absolutely fascinates me.

For the past two millenia, Jewish visitors to the Forum have bitterly resented the Titus Arch and its victory procession panel. When Jews visit the arch, they have been known to proclaim something along the lines of, “Titus, you’re gone, but we’re still here. Am Yisrael Chai! The people of Israel lives!” Israel was re-established as a nation in 1948, one-thousand, eight-hundred, and sixty-seven years after the death of Titus.

“He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” – Isaiah 11:12

The Lord doesn’t hit the people of the world over the head to show them He’s there, but He’s given us remarkable signs if we would pay attention.

Google pushing the ecumenical “co-exist”

Capture

I don’t usually pay too much attention to the cutesy illustrations used by Google on their web search page, but today’s ecumenical “Co-exist” graphic caught me eye.

At the risk of offending supporters of “The Shack” who defend the anti-Biblical notion that all religions are valid pathways to God, see my thoughts on the ecumenical “Co-exist” ideology here.