“No thanks. The old is good.”

I’m currently reading through the Gospel of Luke in my personal daily devotion time, and I’d like to focus on one portion of the text, Luke 5:27-39 (see here for reference).

At the beginning of this passage, Jesus calls Levi/Matthew, a thoroughly despised tax collector, to follow Him (vv. 27-28). We’re then told Matthew put together a large feast at his house and invited many of his friends to attend so that they could listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees were scandalized that Jesus associated with those notorious sinners, to which He replied that He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance  (vv. 29-32). Not content with that, and observing what must have been quite a banquet, the Pharisees then pointed out that the disciples of John the Baptist and their own followers fasted often, but that Jesus’ disciples were having a grand time enjoying what was undoubtedly a very lavish dinner. Jesus replied that the time was coming, when He would be gone, and His followers would then fast (vv. 33-35). Then Jesus told the familiar parables about not using a patch from a new piece of cloth to repair an old garment because it would shrink after being washed and rip the garment, and not putting new wine into old wineskins because the wine would ferment, expand, and burst the inelastic old skins (vv. 36-38). Jesus then sums up with the statement that appears only in Luke,

“And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good’” (v. 39).

That’s an amazing statement that sometimes gets overlooked in the retelling of the patch and wineskins parables. Jesus is referring directly to the Pharisees and their beloved religion of legalism, ritual, and ceremony. The Pharisees knew from their vast knowledge of Scripture that a promised Messiah would someday come as a Savior, but they interpreted Messianic Scripture passages as referring to a temporal deliverer, not as a personal Redeemer from sin. The Pharisees were very religious men and were proud of their severe piety, which they assumed would merit their salvation. They cherished their complicated rabbinical Judaism and were outraged by this itinerant Nazarene preacher who seemed to them to be challenging all that they held so dear with His “new” teachings.

Verse 39 was directed toward the Pharisees, but also has application for today. The “new wine” Gospel message of early Christianity devolved over the centuries into an institution with catalog after catalog of impersonal rituals, ceremonies, and religious rules. The Roman Catholic church had, in effect, become the purveyors of a revamped Levitical priesthood and a complex sacrificial religious system. The new way had been transformed back into the old way. The priests and bishops had, in effect, taken up the role of the Pharisees and, for them, the old way was good. That development is not at all surprising. As the apostle Paul relates in his epistles, “old wine” Judaizers were constantly infiltrating the church even during the time of his ministry.

For the Catholic clergy,

…the priesthood seemed right to them, even though the veil of the Jerusalem temple was rent in twain and the human priesthood was abolished.

…ongoing sacrifice for sin seemed right to them, even though Jesus ended sacrifice for sin by His once-for-all-time sacrifice on Calvary.

…meriting salvation seemed right to them, even though God’s Word says no one can possibly merit salvation.

For them, the old was good.

The Catholic priests and prelates certainly talk about Jesus. They even refer to Jesus as “Savior.” But the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone is repugnant to them. They claim that the old religion of perpetual sacrifice and merited salvation is better.

I praise God for raising up the 16th-century Reformers to reclaim the “new wine” Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone!

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Thoughts on Bible study aids and Christian books and periodicals

Every so often, I’ll read something from a Christian blogger about how, when it comes to information about spiritual matters, we should only read God’s Word because everything else is just sinful man’s opinion.* For some reason, the person doesn’t consider that THEY are sending out posts weighing-in on spiritual matters and that they also regularly read the writings of fellow Christian bloggers. In addition, their pastor routinely uses Bible study aids in preparing his sermons. Bible study aids and other resources written by faithful, doctrinally orthodox Christians can be a big help in understanding and applying Scripture, but, of course, we must use discernment. Not everyone has been given the gift to teach and many in this world who claim to be followers of Christ are actually wolves in sheep’s clothing. If you’re getting your theology from just about anyone on TBN, you’re going to be in trouble. See my previous post on the benefits of a few key Bible study aids here.

Back thirty-six years ago, when I first accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior, I subscribed to a couple of Christian publications for a year or two. “Moody Monthly” and the bi-weekly “Sword of the Lord” were helpful resources, although the Sword began to grate on me due to its support of Falwellism and a few other things. These days, there’s so much information – good and bad – on the internet that hardcopy periodicals are struggling to survive. However, I currently receive the “Banner of Truth” (printed monthly out of the U.K.) and the “Ulster Bulwark” (printed quarterly from Northern Ireland) and I enjoy both of these short (32 pp. and 20 pp. respectively) publications. For me, it’s actually helpful that the writers are non-Americans because we American Christians tend to forget that there are brothers and sisters in the Lord outside of the U.S. borders. I first heard about the “Banner of Truth” via Alistair Begg’s daily radio broadcast, but I don’t recall how I hooked up with the “Ulster Bulwark.”

The contents of the most recent issues are listed below. If you subscribe to a Christian publication that you enjoy and encourages you in your walk with the Lord, I’d appreciate hearing about it.


Banner of Truth – July, 2019

Contents

  • Brilliant and Blind (essay on atheist, Stephen Hawking)
  • The Life of Arthur W. Pink, Part 4.
  • Understanding Habbakuk, Part 3
  • News and Comments
  • The First Sermon Preached at Grove Chapel, Camberwell
  • Jonathan Edwards on the Love of God
  • Jeroboam the Worship Leader (the title is sardonic)
  • Change: A Virtue or a Slogan? In this article, the author favorably quotes G.K. Chesterton. Another case of chewing the meat and spitting out the bones. Why do Christian writers feel the need to quote Roman Catholics who propagate a false gospel of works salvation? They should know better.
  • Book Reviews

The Banner of Truth Magazine


Ulster Bulwark – July thru September, 2019

Contents

  • How should you treat rulers you disagree with?
  • Walsingham Betrayal (essay regarding Mariolatry vs. the Mary of the Bible)
  • Adolphe Monod’s Farewell (essay on 19th century French Protestant pastor)
  • He’s Gained His Angel’s Wings (critique of the popular funeral saying)
  • Archbishop Thomas Cranmer
  • Belfast’s Day of Shame (Belfast Marathon held on Sunday, conflicting with church services)
  • Book Review

The Ulster Bulwark

*Postscript: Some people are just not big readers. If, for them, it comes down to either reading God’s Word or books and articles written by Christians, they should definitely just concentrate on God’s Word.

“If you have your health, you have everything.” Huh?

Well, friends, I’m “supposed” to be in Germany right now. ☹️ Yup, my wife and I had bought our airline tickets back in April for a July 15-25 vacation visiting with our twelve-year-old grandson in Martinshöhe in southwest Germany. But “life intervened” as it often does.

Many of you know my wife fractured her femur bone last November when she fell in the bathroom tub. She’s been recovering very well from that injury. The bone has knitted together nicely and she only has a slight limp at this point. But my wife also has a scoliosis and cranial asymmetry condition that she’s been dealing with all of her life. Very similar to the circumstances when she broke the same femur bone thirty-five years ago, the leg injury exacerbated the chronic spinal/cranial discomfort and pain. We’re grateful her new doctor is very familiar with her specific spinal/cranial condition (most aren’t), but the physical therapy he prescribed is also a bit unsettling as expected. As the vacation date loomed closer and closer, my wife vascillated daily as to whether she felt well enough to travel, and on July 13 we contacted the airline and our relatives in Germany and regrettably told them we wouldn’t be coming.

There’s a very popular saying out there that goes something along the lines of, “If you have your health, you have everything.” Say what? How true is that? MANY people are dealing with serious health problems, and if you’re not, just wait. At some point, EVERY person is going to have a major health problem/s. Our bodies are finite, which most people try not to think about. Because of sin, it’s a fallen world and a few of the consequences are the inevitable deterioration of our bodies and finally, death. But Jesus Christ paid the penalty for sin by His death on the cross and He rose from the grave, defeating sin and death, and extends the free gift of salvation and eternal life to all those who repent of sin and accept Him as their Savior by faith alone. That’s VERY good news, but the majority of people want nothing to do with Jesus Christ. If you enjoy excellent health right now, that’s a good thing, but it’s only temporary. Accept Christ. The old adage should read, “If you have Jesus Christ, you have everything.”

“Sickness teaches us that we must look elsewhere for the purpose of life, than in ourselves; and that we live not just to be happy upon earth, but to glorify God. And this we can do in sickness as well as in health, often better. Let us, then, learn from all of the sicknesses and sufferings of life, and from all that the Word of God teaches us, that our time belongs to God, and our only concern must be to use it for His glory.” – Adolphe Monad, French evangelical pastor, 1802-1856

Postscript: The last time we visited our German grandson was in April 2016, which included a rather humorous episode (see here). His father (our son) and mother divorced last year, but they weren’t together all that much following the wedding. After a couple of years of being stationed at Ramstein AFB in Germany where he met our grandson’s mother, our son was reassigned to several bases in the U.S. (as well as voluntary stints in Afghanistan and Iraq), but our daughter-in-law opted to remain behind in Germany and live with her parents in order to complete her college education, which took a very long time because she could only attend school part-time. Not the best circumstances for a marriage.

Top 25 most-viewed posts from the past twelve months

This blog broke ground on this date four years ago. Wow! Has it really been four years? I started the blog mainly for the purpose of reaching out to Roman Catholics with the Gospel of grace and also to warn evangelicals of the dangers of ecumenism with the Roman church. While I’m certainly not setting any blogging records in light of the “controversial” topics I cover, I do praise God for every visitor over the last four years. I’m also grateful to the Lord for my fellow bloggers in the Lord for their encouragement over the years and for their informative and uplifting posts.

As I do every anniversary, I’m listing the 25 most-viewed posts from the past 12 months (with hyperlinks). It’s amazing to me how some of the older posts continue to bounce around the internet. Why do some posts receive a lot of clicks and others others not so much? It’s somewhat amusing to me that the two highest-viewed posts by far in the last 12 months are about Jimmy Swaggart and clam dip!

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The improbable “return” of Jimmy Swaggart – August 14, 2018 – 2085 views

Heluva Good New England Clam Dip Recipe – July 10, 2017 – 1615 views

Question: When George Harrison was singing, “My Sweet Lord,” who was he singing to? – August 31, 2017 – 946 views

Did Jesus or the apostles ever quote the Apocrypha? – May 22, 2017 – 912 views

All hail, Ganesha! Elephant god worshiped in a Catholic church. – August 30, 2017 – 564 views

“If I take off my scapular prior to surgery and die on the operating table, will I still go to Heaven?” – January 17, 2017 – 546 views

Catholicism’s “three-legged stool” – Broken for all the world to see! – December 8, 2017 – 476 views

Walter Martin was no admirer of Catholicism but dropped the ball in “Kingdom of the Cults” – October 7, 2015 – 384 views

The “churched,” the “unchurched,” the “dechurched,” and the believer – June 7, 2017 – 345 views

Rules about “holy water.” Who knew?!?! – June 16, 2016 – 311 views

Why did Jesus use mud salve to heal the blind man’s eyes? – May 3, 2017 – 300 views

James White: What goes through Ravi Zacharias’s head? – July 14, 2016 – 290 views

Don’t you dare try to correct me! I’m a priest!!! – April 18, 2017 – 261 views

Sorry, no unbaptized babies allowed! – December 17, 2015 – 256 views

Answering the alleged “Catholic verses” – #1: The Church is the Pillar of All Truth? – August 13, 2018 – 249 views

“Broadway Joe” Namath – An idol from my past – November 28, 2017 – 242 views

“Roman Catholicism” by Martyn Lloyd-Jones – January 23, 2018 – 239 views

What’s with all of those little candles at Catholic churches? – April 5, 2018 – 215 views

The Conversion Center: Still Reaching Out to Catholics after 65 years – April 28, 2017 – 214 views

Popular Evangelical, Joni Eareckson Tada, endorses ecumenical “First Things” – October 8, 2015 – 214 views

A Few Catholic Conundrums – Part 1: The Case of the Abused Altar Linens – May 14, 2019 – 212 views

Throwback Thursday: Next time you drive past a Catholic church on Sunday morning… – May 23, 2019 – 199 views

God, Donald Trump, and a Catholic mystic? Oy vey! – November 20, 2017 – 190 views

Beating the chest and other Catholic formalities – November 13, 2018 – 189 views

Whatever happened to St. Christopher medals? – October 2, 2015 – 188 views

Rochester printmaker, James D. Havens

As a child, I had some artistic ability and dreamed of growing up and becoming a professional artist. However, I didn’t have any serious instruction until my senior year of high school when I took a class with artist and teacher, James Wright. I had worked in many mediums, but Mr. Wright introduced me to linoleum block printing, which I really enjoyed.

Life intervened and I didn’t pursue an art career, but I still dabbled in art as a hobby over the years. I also liked to periodically visit the University of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery to admire exhibitions and works in the permanent collection.

In early-2001, I visited the gallery and was pleasantly surprised by a temporary exhibit, “Woodblock Prints by James Havens: A Centennial Celebration,” which included forty prints from local artist, James D. Havens (1900-1960). Wow! Having had some rudimentary training in block printing, I really admired Havens’ masterful work.

Havens was born into privilege in 1900. His father was a U.S. Representative, and afterwards, a legal counsel for the successful Eastman Kodak Company. But young James was a stricken with childhood diabetes at the age of fourteen. The disease was a death sentence in those days, however, through his father’s influence, college-student James became the first person in the United States to receive treatment with the new “miracle” drug, insulin.

Havens began studying art at the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (which later became the Rochester Institute of Technology, my alma mater) and further honed his printmaking skills under the direction of nationally known artists, Troy Kinney and Charles Woodbury. Havens co-founded the Print Club of Rochester in 1930 and became one of the region’s most beloved artists. He died of cancer in 1960.

While recently engaging in some internet sleuthing, I discovered that Havens’ former home and studio, built in 1938, is only two miles from our house.

It’s amazing how gifted artists, like Havens, can take a scene out of nature that we would casually pass by without a second thought, and invite us to focus on the intricate beauty and design of God’s creation. Enjoy a few of James Havens’ woodblock prints below:

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One last time to witness for Jesus?

I used to receive the Rochester N.Y. daily newspaper up until about six months ago. I really enjoyed skimming the headlines every day, but as the paper became thinner and thinner and the price continued to climb higher and higher, it became increasingly harder to justify. After I downloaded the newspaper’s app to my iPhone, I found I didn’t need the hard copy paper at all and stopped delivery. In addition to the local news stories, I like the app because it displays the daily obituaries. When people reach a certain age, they generally become interested in scanning the daily obits for the names of old neighbors, friends, classmates, workmates, etc.; yet another official qualification for senior citizenship!

As I was scanning the obits the other day, I came across the name of David N. Both the name and accompanying photo looked very familiar. I cracked the whip and the tired ol’ brain neurons began firing up again and leaping across those worn-out synapses. It was thirty-five years ago, but I began to recall that Dave had been a member at the first Gospel-preaching church my wife and I attended after we accepted Jesus Christ as Savior in the early 1980s.

Dave was around 25 at the time, a couple of years younger than me. I’m somewhat of an introvert, but I remember Dave made me look like a gregarious big mouth. We used to participate in visitation together and during the preparations, Dave would keep his nose buried in his Bible the whole time without looking up or saying much. After a couple of years, Dave stopped coming to church and every once in awhile I wondered what had happened to him. The church had several problems, which I’ve previously written about, and my wife and I eventually stopped attending there ourselves in the early 1990s.

So here I was, thirty-six years later, reading Dave’s obituary via the newspaper’s app. In the obituary, there’s mention of Dave’s family, education, his employment, his passion for NFL football, and his love of animals, but there’s no mention of the Lord or any church-affiliated funeral services.

What happened? Dave was on-fire for the Lord way back in the day. Did he allow frustration with circumstances at our old church to derail his walk with the Lord as I had done? Or did his relatives neglect to give glory to God via the obituary and funeral arrangements? Right, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with education, a career, enjoying some football, or loving animals. But when we’re composing our 150-word obituary, let’s make sure we’re giving God the glory and pointing people to Jesus! Thousands of people read the local obits.

In our walk with the Lord, there are many who once walked beside us who fell away. We can try to help them and pray for them, but we mustn’t allow them to distract or discourage us. Our focus must remain on Jesus Christ. Whether others remain faithful is not our responsibility. We must give an account to the Lord only for ourselves.

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” – 2 Peter 3:17-18

I was a teen-age pot washer!

My wife and I divide up the household chores pretty evenly. More often than not, I’m the one who puts the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and gets to scrub the pots and pans in the kitchen sink. Every time I wash the pots and pans, it brings back old memories.

I got a part-time job in my senior year of high school, working in the kitchen of a local hospital. We guys were called “porters” and we did the floor-mopping and pot-scrubbing while the girls were called “tray girls” and they delivered the food trays to the patients and picked up the empty containers and silverware afterwards. My future-wife was one of the tray girls, which was how we met. Anyway, back to washing pots and pans. Man, that was a tough job! Scraping the baked-on or fried-on food crust off of those big, commercial pans, letting them soak in the huge sink, and then scouring them. The large sheet pans that were used to cook scrambled eggs were the worst. Argh! It was especially tough in the warm weather, working over that hot water with no air conditioning. By the end of my shift, the front of my work uniform was completely drenched.

We highschoolers worked only in the afternoon/evenings and on weekends. The guys who washed pots and pans as a full-time job during the day came from a temp agency called Manpower and generally didn’t last too long. It was not a pleasant job. The guys were generally high-school drop-outs, alcoholics, immigrants, etc.

Well, I got a job at one of the local GM factories in August 1974 right after high school and my wife and I were married soon after. The auto manufacturing industry had a lot of seasonal layoffs until you built up your union seniority and I was subsequently laid off in January. With a lot of time on my hands, I visited my old hospital kitchen stomping grounds. The boss told me their latest full-time pot washer had just quit and asked if I would take the job. I thought, sure, why not? GM would be calling me back soon. So I started washing pots and pans as a living. One month turned into two, then three, then four, then five.

Being a professional pot washer was a humbling experience. After six months, I had had enough and I transferred to the hospital’s Radiation/Oncology department as an orderly/transporter. Six months after that, I signed on with Eastman Kodak.

When I wash pots and pans at home, I think about my time at the hospital. I enjoyed working with all of the people in the kitchen even though the work was very, very tough. I know from God’s Word that there’s dignity in all honest work. God doesn’t esteem a CEO or successful entrepreneur over people with less-glamorous professions. The Bible includes many examples of people of humble backgrounds who were full of faith. In fact, in many Biblical accounts, we see that the more wealth and prestige individuals had, the more temptation there was to fall into sin. Remember, the Lord Jesus Christ humbled Himself by coming to this Earth and appeared first to people lying in an animal trough. Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus had no place to even lay His head. Although we know from His Word that God is no respecter of persons and commands us not to be either, we often succumb to how society ranks people over others due to income, profession, education, celebrity, etc. We see that kind of preferential treatment even within our “church culture.”

When we think we are SOMETHING, watch out!

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.” – Proverbs 16: 18-19.

Memorial Day

Today, the country rightly commemorates the servicemen and servicewomen who sacrificed their lives so that we can enjoy the many freedoms we possess. There are billions of people throughout the world who can only dream about the freedoms that we often take for granted. Today we remember that those freedoms were secured for us by those who sacrificed their lives, and we are grateful.

As a believer, today I also remember all of those martyrs who paid with their lives so that we could have the Gospel. When people think about “the martyrs,” they generally think about the members of the early church who were persecuted by the Roman Empire. But believers have suffered persecution over the past two-thousand years, mainly at the hands of the institutional church. Do we ever think about those who sacrificed their lives so that we could hear the genuine Gospel and have God’s Word to read for ourselves? For the HIGH PRIVILEGES of hearing the Gospel of grace before you accepted Christ, for worshiping the Lord at church yesterday unmolested, and for being able to absentmindedly pick up your Bible today, millions of believers over the centuries suffered harassment, persecution, or death.

I am grateful to all those who purchased our temporal freedoms with their blood. And I am eternally grateful for all those believers who boldly proclaimed the Gospel of grace and would not recant and suffered persecution and death in the service of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Throwback Thursday: Religion or Jesus? – A tale of two friends

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re going to revisit a slightly re-edited post that was first published on July 15, 2015:

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The gospel preached by the Catholic church is VERY different from the Good News! Gospel of Bible Christianity. Let’s use a couple of hypothetical old friends, Nick and Bill, to illustrate:

Nick is a devout Catholic. He was baptized into the church as an infant and attended Catholic grammar school where he listened attentively to the nuns and priests. In first grade, he made his first confession and received his first communion. When he was in fifth grade, he was confirmed. Nick grew up to be a very religious man. When he was twenty-years-old, he resolved that he would attend mass daily and receive communion. He also resolved to go to confession every Saturday and ask forgiveness for his “mortal” and even his “venial” sins. Nick is very proud of the fact that he kept up this religious routine for fifty years.

Now let’s take a look at Bill. Bill was also raised as a Catholic. Like Nick, he was also baptized as an infant and was introduced to the sacraments of reconciliation and the eucharist and attended mass regularly growing up. But when Bill was twenty, he felt like there had to be more to it than the ritual and constant striving so he bought himself a Bible and began reading the New Testament. He began to understand that he wasn’t a sinner because he sinned, like the Catholic church had taught him, but he came to realize that he sinned because he was a sinner. Huge difference! It was a radical realization!

The message of the Bible was different than from what Bill had learned in the Catholic church. The priests and nuns had taught him that by obeying the Ten Commandments and the rules of the Catholic church he would hopefully be justified before God and merit Heaven. But the Bible said there are none who are “good.” There is no one who can possibly obey the Ten Commandments in thought, word, and deed, except for One.

“As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” – Romans 3:10-12 

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” – Romans 3:20 

Bill had heard about Jesus for many years, but for the first time he really began to comprehend that God sent a Rescuer, a Savior, Jesus Christ, God the Son, into the world to be the atoning sacrifice for his sins. Although Catholics call Jesus the “Savior” they don’t think that they actually need to be saved.

“I have not come to call the [self] righteous, but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:32 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 

“For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” Romans 10:2-4 

“For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21 

Bill understood that becoming a Christian wasn’t a matter of baptism, church membership, receiving the sacraments, or being “good.” Rather, becoming a Christian meant acknowledging one’s sinfulness before God, repenting of sin, and accepting Jesus Christ, God the Son, as Savior by faith alone. Bill humbly prayed to Jesus Christ and accepted Him as his Savior and was spiritually reborn for the first time. He realized that “good” works weren’t the means to salvation, they were the fruit of his relationship with Christ.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10.

Bill walked with the Lord for many years and often shared the Good News! with his friend, Nick, but Nick’s loyalty to his religion was the most important thing in his life and he could not imagine life without it.

Bill died unexpectedly of a heart attack on his 68th birthday. At the very moment of his physical death, he joyously joined his Lord and the other saints in Heaven, not because of his religion or “good” works, but only because of the imputed, perfect righteousness of his Savior, Jesus Christ.

“And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” – Philippians 3:9

A few days after his 70th birthday, Nick was on his way to morning mass when he happened to notice a very attractive young woman walking ahead of him who was dressed in a rather revealing outfit. For just a few short moments, the old gentleman lusted heartily after the young woman and didn’t notice the approaching car as he crossed the street. Nick, a devout Catholic for his entire long life, was hit by the car and died with the “mortal” sin of adultery on his soul (Matthew 5:28). Even after fifty years of daily mass attendance, he would have to spend eternity in Hell according to the Catholic theology because he did not die in a “state of grace.” Catholics are taught they must constantly sustain themselves in a “state of grace” through participating in the sacraments and through good works and “avoiding” sin. Most Catholics, if they’re honest, will acknowledge they haven’t been entirely “good” so they’re hoping they get the chance to wipe the slate clean by receiving the sacrament of Last Rites/Extreme Unction immediately before they die.

Nick died in his sin of adultery and all of his other sins and went to Hell for eternity because he was trusting in his religion’s sacraments and his own “good works” rather than repenting of his sin and trusting in Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone as his friend, Bill, had done.

Which path are you on? The path of legalistic religion and attempting to merit your own salvation or God’s ordained path of salvation by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone?

Bad bosses

Note: Because I happen to have quite a few drafts in the queue, there won’t be a “Throwback Thursday” post today or next week.

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Did you ever have a bad boss? Since I started working at Kodak in 1976, I’ve had A LOT of supervisors. How many? The other day, I sat down, put on my memory cap, and actually came up with a list of the 25 supervisors that I’ve had in that 43 year span. Wow, 25! Some of those supervisors were good, some were bad, and some were very bad. There were a couple of times I was treated very unfairly by my supervisor and I elevated the issue to their boss. Taking that kind of action is always risky. Both times, the issue was not resolved appropriately, however, in the long-term, it all worked out.

What prompted this post? My wife is a nurse and has worked 17 years for the largest healthcare network in the area. She initially worked in the hospital respiratory ICU that operated according to very strict procedures because of the critical level of patient care. Four years ago, she transferred to an outpatient department where the care level is much less critical and the standards are more lax. Without going into great detail, I’ll just say there were some personnel issues in the department that were not being addressed by my wife’s new supervisor. My wife and a few of her peers raised red flags several times. As her “reward,” my wife, who has always received an “outstanding” overall rating on her yearly performance appraisal, received just a mediocre, “meets expectations,” overall rating.

Yup, someone else in the department was seriously underperforming, but my wife was penalized for making it an issue. Many years ago at Kodak, I learned it’s often not a matter of right and wrong, but of playing the office politics game according to the boss’s rules.

My wife requested a follow-up meeting and things devolved to the point where the supervisor recommended that the hospital’s Human Resources department intervene. As of this writing, the issues are still being reviewed and may never be completely resolved.

As Christians, we should certainly respect our bosses and follow their leadership, but that doesn’t mean we should remain silent when company policies and/or fairness laws are being violated.

Justice! Where is the justice? There may not be any immediate justice for unfair treatment or a wrong that’s been done at the workplace. There are some situations that we can only hand over to the ultimate judge, our Just and Holy God. The Bible says we are to even pray for those who abuse or mistreat us. That’s hard. We desire justice and revenge when we’re wronged. But we also know the Father has shown us great mercy by forgiving our sins against Him; forgiving us through His Son, Jesus Christ! Let us show mercy and forgiveness as well. By repaying evil with goodness, unbelievers will see the love of Jesus Christ within us.

“17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:17-21

How many bosses have you had? Did you ever have a bad boss?

On the flip side, being a supervisor is a demanding and often thankless position. I was a production supervisor for ten years and the monetary benefits were not worth the daily stress and strain. This post was about bad bosses, but supervisors often have to deal with apathetic and bad employees.