Why Did The Crowd Choose Jesus Instead of Barabbas?

Patricia L. Dickson

Matthew 27:19-23

19 While he was seated on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous and innocent Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.” 20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death. 21 The governor said to them, “Which of the two do you wish me to set free for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all replied, “Let Him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why, what has He done that is evil?” But they continued shouting all the louder, “Let Him be crucified!”

There are four accounts of the life of Christ (the son of God) recorded in the New Testament books: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each gospel tells the same story through four different perspectives. The four gospels follow Jesus’ ministry from its beginning at age thirty, to His death on the cross at age thirty-three. Throughout Christ’s ministry, the gospels recount the many miracles that He performed. Jesus is always described as being full of compassion as He performs such miracles as opening blind eyes, healing leprosy, feeding the multitudes or forgiving a woman caught in the act of adultery. Yet, after performing hundreds of miracles (so many that they could not be recorded John 21:25) it was Jesus whom the crowd chose to condemn to death rather than the murderer Barabbas. In fact, they chose to outright free Barabbas.

Surely there were people in the crowd that had benefited in some way from Jesus’ ministry. Was one of the ten former lepers whom Jesus healed amongst that crowd? What about the lame man that Jesus healed in Matthew 9:6-7, was he in the crowd? Could the woman with the issue of blood for twelve years (Luke 8:43-48) or the Centurion soldier (whom Jesus healed his servant in Luke 7:6-10) have been in that crowd shouting let Him be crucified? How could the crowd be so easily persuaded by the chief priest and elders (who from all accounts had really done nothing for them) to choose to condemn Jesus, who even Governor Pilate said was innocent of any crime, and in turn free a murderer? This is a question that I have often pondered.

Perhaps they feared the chief priest and elders more than they feared Barabbas. Why else would they be willing to free a murderer back into the community? However; that does not answer the question of why when asked by Pilate of what to do with Jesus, the crowd shouted crucify Him. Not only did they wish to have Jesus condemned to death, they were willing to let the responsibility of His innocent blood fall on them and their children:

Matthew 27:24-26

24 So when Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but rather that a riot was breaking out, he took water and washed his hands [to ceremonially cleanse himself of guilt] in the presence of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this [righteous] Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” 25 And all the people answered, “Let [the responsibility for] His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 So he set Barabbas free for them; but after having Jesus severely whipped (scourged), he handed Him over to be crucified.

It appears that the crowd harbored a hatred for Jesus more than anything else. But how could they hate someone who had only done good? My mother used to always say that the way to make an enemy is to help someone. I thought she was crazy until I experienced it myself. To explain the crowds hatred for Jesus requires stating the truth. Jesus was a sinless man walking amongst sinful men. Scriptures teaches us that Jesus is the light of the world:

John 8:1

12 Once more Jesus addressed the crowd. He said, “[a]I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

Light will always expose darkness. Although Jesus may have healed members of the crowd’s physical ailments, their hearts were still dark (by choice). When given the choice of (what they thought) would eliminate the light walking amongst them that exposed their darkness, they chose to have Jesus killed. They felt more comfortable with Barabbas freely walking amongst them because he could not expose their darkness. Although they may not have been murderers, they were guilty of sin. All sin darkens man’s heart. People would rather associate with someone who will engage in the same sins as them. As the old saying goes, misery loves company. Birds of a feather, flock together. This saying is true regardless of the type of relationship of the people. One of my colleagues and his wife are big drinkers. So much so that they even try to force their teenage daughter to drink (she complained to me about it). While attending a party at another of our colleague’s home last summer, I met their college aged son who was home for the summer (he noticed that I was the only adult not drinking). He told me that he didn’t drink alcohol (that alone is commendable and unheard of for most college kids) and that his parents kept trying to force him to. I asked his parents why they were insistent that their son drink alcohol when he clearly did not want to. Instead of being proud of their son who probably faced peer pressure all the time at college, their response was that he (their son) was too good and he needed to be like them. He probably makes them feel uncomfortable at home when they are drinking.

The crowd that condemned Jesus to death were looking for a way to rid themselves of the constant bright light shining on their sins. However, they did not recognize that He was the only one that could free them of their sins. It is natural for men to seek ways to heal what physically ails them and yet ignore his or her spiritual ailments. Jesus Christ is able to heal us and cleanse us from all unrighteous. When Jesus comes to live inside of us, we become the light of the world. And there is nothing that can put out our light except sin.

 

 

Evangelical Pastors Chastise Christians for Supporting Donald Trump

Patricia L. Dickson

Some Evangelical Pastors and Christian leaders have recently decided to publicly chastise Christians for supporting presidential candidate Donald Trump. These Christian leaders cite Bible verses to support their rationale in an attempt to shame members of the Christian community to not support Trump. According to these good shepherds, Trump is an immoral and indecent man. To support his characterization, Bryan Fischer, a compassionate man of God and host of “Focal Point”   cited all of Trump’s past and present moral failures:

This is a candidate who has openly and unapologetically boasted of his many sexual conquests and who famously cheated on wife number one by ensconcing the woman who became wife number two in a penthouse apartment at one of his casinos in Atlantic City.

He told Howard Stern in 1997 that sleeping around was “my personal Vietnam,” where he routinely and repeatedly dodged the bullets of sexually transmitted diseases. But, he proudly proclaimed, “I feel like a great and very brave soldier” who courageously faced that risk without flinching.

He was the first casino owner in American history to put a strip club in a casino. And he did this not in the distant past but in 2013.

Over the last several decades, he has over-leveraged four different business enterprises into bankruptcy and yet wants us to believe he’s just the man to do something about our $19 trillion federal debt.

All the things that Mr. Fischer cited about Mr. Trump are factual, however; I am wondering if he warned his readers about President Obama during the 2008 and 2012 campaign. To be fair, I did google other writings by Mr. Fischer where he has been critical of President Obama since he’s been in office. However; I could not find any articles where Christian leaders publicly warned Christians not to support Obama during both of his campaigns. Mr. Fischer says that informed, educated, and discerning evangelicals are the only demographic group with enough numbers to knock the Trump Train off the tracks. If that is the case, why didn’t the evangelicals knock the Obama train off its tracks and keep him out of the White House? Could it be that these same discerning evangelicals voted for Obama twice? Where was this large group of evangelicals when homosexual and lesbian marriage was shoved down our throats? Where was the concerted outcry from the evangelicals when the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood negotiating the sale of baby parts surfaced? Could these leaders not find any Bible verses to cite?

After nearly eight years of the Obama Presidency, the majority of the Christian leaders have been silent. Now, all of a sudden the sheepish Christian leader Max Lucado wants to flex his evangelical muscles. Max Lucado claims he usually stays out of politics but decided to break his silence because of Trump (he remains silent on Obama). He says that people don’t attend church to hear his views on a presidential candidate, however in the case of Trump he states the following:

In this case, it’s not so much a question about particular policies or strategies about government or even particular opinions. It’s a case of public derision of people. It’s belittling people publicly. It would be none of my business, I would have absolutely no right to speak up except that he repeatedly brandishes the Bible and calls himself a Christian.

It’s a high stakes thing from my perspective because people make decisions about Christ on the basis of Christians and how we behave. If he’s going to call himself a Christian one day and call someone a bimbo the next or make fun of somebody’s menstrual cycle, it’s just beyond reason to me.

Where is Mr. Lucado when President Obama calls republicans names (at least the majority of Trumps insults are via twitter)? Obama supports abortion and homosexual marriage and yet he claims to be a Christian. Mr. Lucado does not seem to have a problem with that. Senator Ted Cruz holds up a bible also. He gave God the glory for winning in Iowa after his campaign circulated an (untrue) message that Ben Carson had dropped out of the race and told his supporters to caucus with Cruz (not to mention all the other questionable campaign tactics). In addition, Mr. Lucado supports open borders under the guise of Evangelical Immigration.

As for Mr. Trump’s sins, are these men of God not supposed to pray for him? Where is their compassion for the lost? Does the Bible not tell us to pray for others? In fact, I pray every day (sometimes more than once) for our country and especially Mr. Trump. Donald Trump is the only candidate that has received death threats. His campaign reported that he wears a bullet proof vest every day. He is the only candidate that the leaders of China and Mexico, as well as the Pope, have commented on. That alone tells me (even if he is not the most moral man) that he is doing something right and he needs our prayers. The Black Pastors that met with Trump at his Trump Towers in New York said that he was very humble and receptive of their concerns about some of his antics. They also said the Trump was not at all like he appears in public.

Our Country is literally going to hell. While some political pundits and writers are worried that it might be too late for the Republican establishment to stop Trump, I am more concerned that it might be too late for the Church to save our country. If our country is to be saved, it will be Christians that will save it. If the church had been doing its job, the country would not be in this condition. Now all of a sudden evangelicals want to complain about Donald Trump. Trump is not the cause of the current state of America or the world. I lay all the fault at the feet of the Church. It is the cowardly Pastors that refused to preach about the sins of homosexuality, abortion, adultery and fornication (all lead to the breakdown of the family) out of fear of offending someone and losing money that are to blame for this country’s condition. Until Christians repent and turn from our wicked ways, there is no hope for the world.

2 Chronicles

and My people, who are called by My Name, humble themselves, and pray and seek (crave, require as a necessity) My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear [them] from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land.

The Bible says that judgement must start in the house of God:

1 Peter 4:17

For it is the time [destined] for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not respect or believe or obey the gospel of God?

It is time for the Church to start doing its job.

 

 

 

 

A Dying World In Need Of a Living God

Patricia L. Dickson

1 Peter 2:12

Conduct yourselves properly (honorably, righteously) among the Gentiles, so that, although they may slander you as evildoers, [yet] they may by witnessing your good deeds [come to] glorify God in the day of inspection [[e]when God shall look upon you wanderers as a pastor or shepherd looks over his flock].

In the past 50 years, we have experienced an explosion in technology. In fact, in just over a century we have gone from the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell  to the worldwide web (internet). Today we are able to connect and communicate with someone a world away in a matter of seconds. These inventions have enabled people to communicate with family, friends and business associates at any time with little or no cost. It is God that has endowed men with superior intellect (men are more intelligent than animals) that has enabled individuals to create and invent the technology that we have today. However, because of man’s superior intellect, it opens the door for arrogance and pride to take hold of the human heart. Once the heart is filled with arrogance and pride, one is easily deceived into believing that he or she does not need God (or that there is no God). In fact, many highly intelligent people (especially scientists) rely on their own intelligence and shun religion as something for the weak and ignorant.

So, how do Christians convince a dying sinful corrupt world comprised of some individuals with superior intellect that first, there is a God and secondly, everyone needs Him? We start by pointing out the truth of the current condition of humankind. To begin with, although we have all of these technological inventions readily available, our families are still broken. It is reported that between 40-50% of first marriages end in divorce and upward to 60% of second marriages. There has been a 400% increase in antidepressant use in America over the last two decades (antidepressant use does not vary by income status). According to the BBC, nearly 50 million people in England are taking antidepressant drugs. Around 28% of American adults drink at levels that put them at risk for alcohol dependence and alcohol-related problems. Alcoholism is not restricted to any specific socioeconomic group or class. Family members commit approximately 13.6% of murders against other members of their family. If ever there was a time that the world needed to witness the supernatural power of God, it is the present. The world should be able to examine our lives and see a stark difference in our conduct compared to the way they live their lives. This is certainly not the time for Christians to compromise our behavior to fit in with the world. I ran across an article in Charisma Magazine titled Christians Drinking Beer: Freedom or Folly? The author talked about a specific incident where a female recovering from alcohol addiction attended a supposedly Christian party and witnessed members of the church drinking beer. This individual was turned off by what she witnessed. The author seemed to imply that the lady was looking for an excuse not to follow God:

One time a friend who was visiting a church I use to attend in Florida went to a party on a boat. She was appalled that the people who went to church were drinking beer. She was a recovering alcoholic who struggled in this area and was so turned off that she didn’t come back.

This article isn’t about whether Christians should or should not drink beer. I spent hours trying to explain to my friend that Christians had different standards when it came to drinking alcohol. She didn’t care. She had an excuse to not follow God.

Their freedom turned into their folly.

The article’s main topic is whether a Christian’s freedom should cause a spiritually weaker believer or a nonbeliever to stumble based on (1 Cor. 8:9, NLT). “But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble”. Instead of questioning whether or not a Christian drinking alcohol is freedom or folly, a better question is why a Christian would drink alcohol to begin with? I know some people will say that I am being legalistic by implying that Christians should abstain from alcohol. However; my issue is how else will the world distinguish that we are different from them if we engage in the same behavior as them? Besides, as I noted above, alcohol dependence is on the rise. When does social drinking cross the line to actual dependence? If Christians need a drink every once in a while, how are we any different than the unbeliever? Is Christ not enough?

The carnal things of the world will never satisfy man. God created man so that we would have a void that only He can fill or satisfy. Worldly pleasures will only satisfy for the moment. After a short while, worldly pleasures will no longer satisfy. In fact, they will eventually destroy us. Rev Franklin Graham made the following comments about the recent tragic events that almost destroyed former NBA athlete Lamar Odom:

“Listen up, young men. I’m a father and a grandfather, and I want to give you some advice. Former NBA star Lamar Odom was looking for something at a brothel in Nevada, something to ease the pain and void deep inside his heart. Instead, it has devastated his life. The truth is-the only One that can heal the pain in a human heart is Jesus Christ. Drugs can’t do it, sex can’t do it, money can’t do it, nothing or no one else can do it. I want you to know that God made you and He loves you,” he continued. “He wants to give you life, peace, and hope-and the only way is through trusting in His Son, Jesus Christ. God’s Word warns, “Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say. Do not let your heart turn to her (a prostitute’s) ways or stray into her paths. Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng” (Proverbs 7:24-26).”

It is time for Christians to stand up and boldly declare (with our lives and mouths) that Jesus is the answer to all that ails humankind. The world is in need of a powerful living God.

Movie Review: Woodlawn

Woodlawn

Patricia L. Dickson

 

The movie Woodlawn is an Erwin Brothers Film that depicts real life events that took place in Alabama during the early 1970s at the height of desegregation. Historical footage from Governor George Wallace’s impassioned segregation forever speech played during the first minutes of the movie as well as parts of speeches from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The movie is based on the struggles of the newly desegregated football team of Woodlawn High School in Alabama. The coach, played by Nic Bishop (ABC’s “Body of Proof”), is task with trying to turn a losing team into a winning team while struggling to calm the racial tension between the white and black players.

After witnessing the constant fighting between the black and white players, a Chaplain, played by Sean Astin (“Rudy” and “The Lord of the Rings”), asked the coach if he could speak to the team. Reluctantly the coach agreed. The Chaplain straight out preached the Gospel with no holds barred and invited the players to accept Jesus Christ as an alternative to the hate that dwelt in their hearts towards each other. Several of the players went forward and professed their faith at the end of his sermon. The coach was astounded at the change that he began to witness in his players, yet he did not immediately grasp the Christian faith that warranted such a drastic change.

The main character in the movie was a black running back named Tony Nathan played by Caleb Castille (feature film debut). As he began to become a popular player on the once segregated football team, he and his family were constantly harassed by local white men in town who did not like the fact the he (a black kid) was getting more play time than their sons. The climax of the movie was when Paul “Bear” Bryant played by Jon Voight (no introduction needed), took an interest in Tony Nathan and began attempting to recruit him to play for the University of Alabama, coupled with the 1974 historical football game between Woodlawn and Banks played at Legion Field in Birmingham.

The movie’s main theme is the team deciding to change their focus from winning games to playing for a higher cause (depicted in the movie poster with the index finger pointing upward) of Jesus Christ. It was when their focus and commitment (collectively as a team) turned to Christ, that they started to win. The coach eventually attended Tony Nathan’s (his star player’s) church and got baptized and began praying with his team before games. He was reprimanded by the school’s superintendent and told not to pray anymore before the games. He disobeyed. Tony Nathan went on to play for the University of Alabama and nine NFL seasons with The Dolphins.

If you like history and desire to see a faith based good family movie, Woodlawn will truly warm your heart. This is a movie for everyone.

Will The Church Let The World Go To Hell?

Patricia L. Dickson

America has witnessed our Supreme Court make same-sex marriage the law of the land with a 5-4 decision that changed the definition of marriage. After the decision was announced, one would think that churches all over America would have been protesting and marching in the streets. Instead, on the Sunday following the decision, only a few pastors and ministers addressed the decision with what I would call righteous indignation. On the other hand, many pastors addressed the subject by tip toeing around it and refusing to even say the word same-sex marriage during their morning sermons. Bishop T. D. Jakes, a popular pastor of a mega church with thousands of members, addressed the decision by downplaying it:

I’m not really as concerned about this as a lot of people are. I’m really not as concerned about it. I think that we should not lose our mind about the world being the world and the Church being the Church. This is not a news flash. The world is gonna be the world and the Church is gonna be the Church, and you have to understand the difference.”

Is it not the church’s job (mission) to reach the world with the message of salvation? This supposedly man of God is saying that he is not concerned about the Supreme Court changing the definition of marriage which allows homosexual men and lesbian women to marry their partners, and neither should the church be concerned. If the church is not concerned about the world’s immorality, then who is? The bible teachers the following in Matthew 5:13-16:

13You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

What if Jesus had said that He was not concerned about the world being the world? Jesus would not have gone to the cross if He was not concerned about the world. Bishop Jakes speaks as though the church’s mission has nothing to do with saving the world. If that is the case, what is the church’s mission? Although later in his comments, he told his members that they needed to start reaching out to all types of people and preaching, ministering and sharing their faith with them, his opening comments about the world is going to be the world, made it seem like there is no need for the church to try to reach the lost sinners. That stance is clearly contrary to what Jesus said the role of church is. In addition, while addressing the Supreme Court’s decision, Bishop Jakes never stated whether he believed that the homosexual lifestyle and same-sex marriage is a sin according to scripture. Jesus commission the disciples to go into all world and preach the gospel.

Mark 16:15

15 And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach and publish openly the good news (the Gospel) to every creature [of the whole [e]human race].

Its hands off approach on the same-sex marriage decision reveal the church’s true condition. Not only did the church stand on the sidelines while the gay rights movement steamrolled through just about every American institution, it has been silent concerning the undercover Plan Parenthood videos showing clinic workers discussing selling the body parts of aborted babies. Is the church so weak and cowed that it has replaced the word of God with political correctness? Or has the church become so corrupt that its main goal is the protect its tax exempt status that allows it to rake in millions of dollars for fancy buildings while ignoring the very souls that it is supposed to be reaching? Will the church sit back between its four walls and just let the world go to hell?

The Christian Faith: Protestant vs Catholicism

Patricia L. Dickson

The first time that I had to differentiate my Christian faith as either Protestant or Catholic was while I was serving in the military. While filling out my personnel file on the computer, I came to the question about my religious faith. I typed Christian in the space provided, however that triggered the choice of either Protestant or Catholic. That was the first time in my life that I had to choose a Christian affiliation. My supervisor explained to me that I was a Protestant since I did not identify as a Catholic whom she said were Christians too.

While stationed in Utah, I would engage in conversations with Mormons who would attempt to assure me that they were Christians too. When I would begin to discuss the Bible, they would refer to the Book of Mormons. The Catholic Church also uses other teachings besides the Bible. In fact, the Catholic Church added the following books to the Bible: books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees, as well as some additional stories and verses in the books of Daniel and Esther. Catholics refer to these seven books as the deuterocanonical” books, meaning the “second” standard books. The Mormons use the Book of Mormons as an additional book that goes along with the Bible (another testament). The problem with these books is that they contradict the 66 books of the Bible that Protestants use as the sole source for God’s divinely inspired word. My question to these religious organizations who claim to be a form of the Christian faith is how come each one of you feel the need to write (use), add another or additional books to (as they claim) go along with or is an extension of the Bible?

I believe that there are two answers to this question. First, The Bible removes man from power and proclaims that God is all-powerful (omnipotent). Man has always desired to judge and control other men regardless of his own weak and sinful nature. These additional books (written and inspired by men) places a man (a Priest, Joseph Smith) in the position of power to confer blessing or to require one to confess his or her sins to them. These church leaders are taking on the role of Jesus the Christ (although no one will admit it). The Bible levels the playing field by stating that all have sinned therefore rendering every human not worthy of judging another. Secondly, man’s sinful pride desires to earn his or her own salvation. In other words, man would rather go to God and say that he or she is good enough to enter heaven because he or she earned it by his or her own merit (through good works). The Bible forces men to humble themselves with the knowledge that there is nothing he or she can do to earn eternal salvation except to accept the gift of salvation through faith in His son Jesus. The imputed and imparted righteousness of CHRIST are both offered at the same time to those who accept GOD’S offer and provision of salvation.

Romans 3:22-24

Namely, the righteousness of God which comes by believing with personal trust and confident reliance on Jesus Christ (the Messiah). [And it is meant] for all who believe. For there is no distinction,

Since all have sinned and are falling short of the honor and glory [b]which God bestows and receives.

[All] are justified and made upright and in right standing with God, freely and gratuitously by His grace (His unmerited favor and mercy), through the redemption which is [provided] in Christ Jesus,

All religions are aware that the Bible is considered the only book that is believed to be the divinely inspired word of God. Therefore other religions that claim to be another form of Christianity will use a few scriptures from the Bible out of context because they know that most people (including professed Christians) know little about the Bible and are not equipped to spot misquotes. It is a damning indictment that supposedly Bible believing Christians can be so easily stumped (by biblical misquotes) by religions that claim to be another form of Christianity. In fact, most religions often start talking about the Bible in the beginning. They know that if they were to admit from the beginning that they do not rely on the Bible as the sole source for the word of God that people would not listen to their teachings. Misquoting God’s words as a means to deceive is not new; it began in the Garden of Eden with the serpent and Eve. Eve; however at least had an excuse because she did not have the written word readily available (as we do) to compare the words that Satan attributed to God to God’s actual words.

My interest in learning the fundamental doctrines that separates Protestants and Catholics peaked during my recent Christmas vacation to Rome, Italy. The tour group that I was part of was present at St. Peter’s square on Christmas day and witnessed Pope Francis’ Christmas message. Since the Pope delivered his message in Latin, the tour guide translated it in English after the service ended. The tour guide said that at the end of his message, the Pope forgave our indulgence and we were then free to continue to indulge (in his case, excessive wine consumption). I immediately told him that Jesus had already forgiven our sins when He died on the cross and that no man has the power to forgive sin. Furthermore, Jesus would never tell someone that he or she was free to continue in sin. In fact, after Jesus healed someone he would warn him or her to sin no more. God does not command us not to sin because He does not want us to have fun. Sin destroys the body and the soul.

John 5:14-15

Afterward, when Jesus found him in the temple, He said to him, See, you are well! Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.

The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus Who had made him well.

The day after Christmas, we toured St. Peter’s Church. During the tour, I was struck by how Jesus was portrayed in statues and paintings. Jesus was always portrayed as weak and powerless whereas, the Catholic Priests and Mary (the mother of Jesus) were portrayed as strong and powerful. Jesus was either portrayed as a baby, suffering on the cross or lying dead in Mary’s (His mother’s) arms. Jesus is not some weak dead savior. He rose from the dead with all power in His hand. He ascended to heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. Jesus is in heaven interceding on our behalf. The tour guide that took us through St. Peter’s Church informed us that the Pope blessed the baby Jesus before it was placed in the manager at the large Nativity Scene display in St. Peter’s square. There are two problems with the Pope’s blessing the baby Jesus. First, there is no baby Jesus to bless. Jesus died and rose again at the age of 33. Secondly, sinful man cannot confer blessing over a holy God. Jesus was Lord at birth and Lord when He died and rose from the dead.

Three fundamental doctrines separate Protestants and Catholics. The Protestant relies solely on the word of God for instructions, and goes to the throne of grace in his or her devotion; while the Roman Catholic consults the teachings of his or her church, and offer prayers through the mediums of the Virgin Mary and Saints (dead humans). Mary, the mother of Jesus is elevated to a position of power in the Catholic Church that contradicts how she is portrayed in Biblical teachings. The Bible never says that Mary was anyone but an ordinary human whom God chose to use in an extraordinary way. Catholics take the term “highly favored” in Luke 1:28 out of context. The phrase “highly favored” comes from a single Greek word, which essentially means “much grace.” Mary received God’s grace. Grace is “unmerited favor,” meaning something we receive despite the fact that we do not deserve it. Mary needed grace from God just as the rest of us do.

In Catholic teachings, salvation is dispensed by the church, especially through the sacramental system. The church has the authority to grant partial or plenary (full) remission of the temporal punishment of sin by selling memorial masses and indulgences. These can alleviate, shorten, and even eliminate the time spent in the purging fires of purgatory.

“If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified… let him be accursed,” (Canon 12, Council of Trent).

“If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema,” (Canon 14, Council of Trent).

No one can MERIT the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can MERIT for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods,” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2027).

By contrast, the Bible teaches salvation is a divine gift of grace, not a human achievement. Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins. We cannot earn justification or merit justification in any way. If we could, there would have been no need for Jesus to go to the cross.

Romans 3:28

For we hold that a man is justified and made upright by faith independent of and distinctly apart from good deeds (works of the Law). [The observance of the Law has nothing to do with justification.]

Galatians 2:21

[Therefore, I do not treat God’s gracious gift as something of minor importance and defeat its very purpose]; I do not set aside and invalidate and frustrate and nullify the grace (unmerited favor) of God. For if justification (righteousness, acquittal from guilt) comes through [observing the ritual of] the Law, then Christ (the Messiah) died groundlessly and to no purpose and in vain. [His death was then wholly superfluous.]

Rom 5:8-9

But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us.

Therefore, since we are now justified ([f]acquitted, made righteous, and brought into right relationship with God) by Christ’s blood, how much more [certain is it that] we shall be saved by Him from the indignation and wrath of God.

Is 53:5

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.

Which are we to believe? The Roman Catholic Church or God’s word? Any Bible believing Christian should be able to discern that we are living in the last days. We are witnessing what is prophesied in the Bible (2 Timothy 3) every day. Millions of souls are being deceived and led astray by false doctrines and false prophets. We who have been saved are mandated by God to teach the unadulterated whole counsel of God to a dying world. If we do not reach the world, who will?

 

What Do Gays Really Want From The Church?

Patricia L. Dickson                 Originally published at American Thinker

After a federal judge in Idaho recently ruled that the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, ordained ministers Donald and Evelyn Knapp who own the Hitching Post wedding chapel in the city of Coeur d‘Alene, were asked by a gay couple to perform their wedding ceremony. According to Fox News , the ministers declined to perform the wedding due to their opposition to same-sex marriage. However, because the Hitching Post wedding chapel is registered as a for-profit business rather than a church or place of worship (although the wedding chapel is registered with the state as a “religious corporation” limited to performing “one-man-one-woman marriages as defined by the Holy Bible”), they must comply with a local nondiscrimination ordinance that was passed last year. The question that is most puzzling to me is why did the gay couple choose to do business with that particular wedding chapel? Were there not any other places that they could have gone (such as the Justice of the Peace) to have their wedding performed? Why did the gay couple in Colorado approach the Christian Bakery? Were there no other bakeries in their city or town? It appears that the gay community is targeting Christians and the Christian church. If that is indeed the case, what do they want from the church?

We were assured by President Obama after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act that he wouldn’t try to force religious institutions to conduct gay marriages. However; I think that the slippery slope metaphor is appropriate for this issue. I have always contended that the goal of the gay rights advocates is to somehow get the church to approve of the homosexual lifestyle by forcing churches to perform gay marriages. If gay couples were to win every court case against Christian business owners or if the law somehow changed so that every Christian pastor is forced to perform same-sex weddings in the church, would they be satisfied? I do not believe that they would because their battle is not a political one, it is a spiritual one. Spiritual issues need to be addressed with God, not fought in the courthouse. Neither man nor woman (through the court system or through his or her approval) can win a spiritual battle for an individual. Gay couples know that Christian ministers pray for God’s blessing over heterosexual couples when performing church weddings. They are seeking what man cannot give, God’s blessing and approval of their lifestyle.

The gay community is constantly attacking the church as if the church were singling them out. However, it is the other way around; the gay community is singling out the church. How else do you explain gay couples running straight to Christian business owners as soon as their state lifts the ban on same-sex marriage? The church does not single out the homosexual lifestyle when preaching against sexual sins — as though the Bible rates sin on some scale from one to ten. God rates and rejects all sin equally (lying, adultery, theft, fornication). On the other hand, God has love and compassion for sinners so much so that He sent His son Jesus to die and pay the price for sin so that all could be free from the bondage of sin and receive salvation.

1 Corinthian 6:9-10

Do you not know that the unrighteous and the wrongdoers will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived (misled): neither the impure and immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who participate in homosexuality,

Nor cheats (swindlers and thieves), nor greedy graspers, nor drunkards, nor foulmouthed revilers and slanderers, nor extortioners and robbers will inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God.

 

Romans 6:10-12

For by the death He died, He died to sin [ending His relation to it] once for all; and the life that He lives, He is living to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him].

Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.

Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions.

 

When I read about Christian business owners being targeted and sued by gay couples, my emotions swing from one extreme to the other. My first reaction is righteous indignation when I consider the political implications of the same-sex marriage issue and the agenda against the church and the people of God. However, when I turn my focus to the individuals, my anger turns to compassion. When I look at the photos of gay individuals marching with signs and scowls on their faces, I am willing to believe that underneath all the anger lies a soul yearning for God’s approval of their lifestyle.

Yes, I know that many homosexuals and lesbians claim that the Bible is outdated and that Christians are bigots; nonetheless, the first place they run is to a Christian business owner or minister. If they really believed that Christians are bigots, why would they suffer being in their presence? Who do you know chooses to be in the presence of bigots? What these individuals know is that the safest place to be is in the company of God-fearing people. The Washington Times reported on the Christian ministers in Idaho: “On Friday, a same-sex couple asked to be married by the Knapps, and the Knapps politely declined.” Not everyone that opposes the homosexual lifestyle does so because of a religious faith. Some individuals are just plain bigots. True bigots are full of hate and have no problem verbally and physically attacking the target of their bigotry.

It is my belief that the church is the only place where gay individuals can truly find compassion. The gay advocate groups do not care about the individuals. They are just using them to further their political cause in the same way as the abortion advocates use women and young girls. When and if these individuals decide to seek counseling, the church should be the first place they turn. When they turn to the church or any Christian, we should welcome them while at the same time teach them what the Bible says peppered in love as Jesus Himself would do. As Ephesians 4:15 states, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

 

How To Tell A True Minister of God

Patricia L. Dickson

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. Romans 8:14

I frequent Christian websites and blogs to keep up with what is going on in the Christian church in the U.S. and around the world. These Christian websites and blogs chronicles the recent news and events in the church world. The news is however; not good. Every other week, I read about a pastor’s adultery, mishandling of the churches finances, rape, child pornography, Pedophilia , spousal abuse or drug use. This is happening on a regular basis throughout the nation in all Christian denominations. Pastors of all ethnicities and races (mostly male). What is going on?

My concern is not so much with the many false prophets but instead with the size and loyalty of the flocks that they are able to manipulate. How do these men so easily deceive so many Christians? Some members remain loyal to the pastors even after the sins are confessed or exposed. Christians should not be taken by surprise by the exposure of the false prophets in the church today because we were warned about them in the Bible. However, Christians should not be so easily deceived by false prophets. The Bible is clear about the character that the men who lead the church should possess.

Titus 1:6-7

6 [These elders should be] men who are of unquestionable integrity and are irreproachable, the husband of [but] one wife, whose children are [well trained and are] believers, not open to the accusation of being loose in morals and conduct or unruly and disorderly.

7 For the bishop (an overseer) as God’s steward must be blameless, not self-willed or arrogant or presumptuous; he must not be quick-tempered or given to drink or pugnacious (brawling, violent); he must not be grasping and greedy for filthy lucre (financial gain);

Maybe the problem lies with the people who fill the pews in the churches rather than the men in the pulpit. What are Christians looking for in a pastor? Are Christians examining the character of the men who they so willingly allow in their pulpits? Certainly, these men do not appear from out of nowhere. Just as any job applicant, should not churches check resumes, professional and personal references as well as criminal records? Perhaps charisma and oratory skills are more important than character. Maybe the churches are filled with people who have itching ears and therefore hire pastors that will tell them what they want to hear.

2Timothy 4:3-4

3 For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold,

4 And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions.

Isiah 29:13

And the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips but remove their hearts and minds far from Me, and their fear and reverence for Me are a commandment of men that is learned by repetition [without any thought as to the meaning],

Anyone that studies scripture can discern that the church is living in the last days. Scriptures teach us that in the last days there will be a great falling away. We are witnessing church leaders compromising the word of God claiming to be more inclusive and less offensive. In other words, they have bowed to political correctness. There is nowhere in the Bible where it teaches that the church should exclude anyone. Pastors who use the word inclusive are making excuses for not preaching against sin, mainly homosexuality. The Bible calls so-called preachers who refuse to preach the whole counsel of God false prophets. Everyone is welcomed in the Christian church. However, no one should think that if he or she attends a Christian church that his or her sinful lifestyle would not be mentioned. The Christian church is where all sinners go to receive forgiveness and salvation.

1 Peter 2:12

Conduct yourselves properly (honorably, righteously) among the Gentiles, so that, although they may slander you as evildoers, [yet] they may by witnessing your good deeds [come to] glorify God in the day of inspection [[e]when God shall look upon you wanderers as a pastor or shepherd looks over his flock].

Could it be that church members are so backslidden themselves until they are incapable of discerning whether a man possesses Godly character? Christians have become sermon tasters attempting to substitute intimate time with God through prayer and reading the Bible for instant gratification from the words of man.

1Timothy 4

But the [Holy] Spirit distinctly and expressly declares that in latter times some will turn away from the faith, giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach,

If drug addicts, extortionist, and child molesters lead the churches, why would sinners attend? They might as well stay home and watch an episode of the Godfather. It appears that the church is becoming a big reality show. It is not difficult to choose Godly men to lead congregations. The church is going to have to repent and get back to prayer and studying the word of God to gain wisdom and discernment. That is the only way that the church can prevent being deceived by wolves in sheep clothing.

 

 

The Christian Message vs Social Justice

 

Patricia L. Dickson                         Originally published at American Thinker

The events in Ferguson, Missouri have propelled several issues afflicting the black community to the forefront. In most inner cities, it is common to find a church on every corner, which leads me to wonder what the pastors in these communities are teaching the people.   Rev. Fred D. Robinson  wrote a scathing article entitled What God is screaming in Ferguson, Missouri.  He made no bones about preaching Social Justice over the biblical teaching of repentance of individual sins and salvation. He feels that churches should address social justice and structural racism.  He blasted a fellow white Christian and preacher for wanting prayer and calm in the wake of the riots and unrest in Ferguson instead of lamenting what he called the modern-day lynching by law enforcement of innocent black bodies.

When did churches begin to replace the Christian message of forgiveness, repentance and holy living with Social Justice? How can any pastor preach about society’s ills while ignoring such individual sins as fornication, abortion, murder, laziness and theft (just to name a few)? Is society not made up of individuals? How can society be fixed without first changing the individual? The main topic of Rev. Robinson’s article focused on his objection to a white pastor’s call for more racially diverse congregations as a solution to what the author calls a racial cauldron in Ferguson:

I get tired of that one. His unrelenting insistence reminded me — in the most stark terms — of James Baldwin’s prophetic quip: “Racial progress in America is measured by how fast I become white.”

Simply having diverse congregations without addressing the weightier matters of social justice and structural racism is not better church practice. It is possibly subterfuge.

It ignores the fact that we have to do more than call sinners to repentance, we have to call societies, systems and structures to repentance as well.

The author compared the push for more multiracial churches to a quote from Dr. John Kinney, a professor of theology at Virginia Union:

“When white supremacy adopts diversity, it seeks to either cleanse you, contain you, co-opt you or convert you.”

Nowhere in the article did Rev. Robinson, a so-called pastor, quote any Scriptures from the Bible. The Bible teaches that Christians are one race:

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own [d]purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

 

Pastors are supposed to preach love and forgiveness, not hate and grievances. There is no place for racism and divisiveness in the church (from anyone). The church is where men and women go to learn of God’s love for them and receive His forgiveness. The Bible does not say that preachers are to call societies, systems and structures to repentance. It does teach that pastors are to call men and women to repentance. Whereas the Christian message teaches that individuals are sinful, Social Justice places blame and responsibility on society.

 Romans 3:23

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”

1 John 1:9

“If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].”

Anyone that claims to be a pastor and refuses to preach individual sin and salvation has abandoned God’s calling. Assuming that God called him or her to begin with. Preaching victimhood is also against Biblical teachings. Christians are not victims. Pastors should preach uplifting sermons taken straight out of the Bible. An individual may walk into church a victim; however he or she should walk out a victor.

Philippians 4:13

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who [g]infuses inner strength into me; I am [h]self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].

Romans 8:31

What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?]

“If God is for us, who [can be] against us” includes the supposedly structural racism that Rev. Robinson is so concerned about. Years ago I had an older black Christian female friend who would constantly speak about her faith in God, however; she would also lament about how racist whites were oppressing and holding back black Americans. One day I asked her if white people were more powerful than God. She was speechless. Rev. Robinson would have one to believe that God is screaming because of racism and inequality. However, the bible tells us that man’s sin is what grieves God. Our sin grieved God so much that He sent His son Jesus to die and pay the price for it.

If black pastors are preaching Social Justice in place of the Christian message taken straight from the Bible, there is no wonder the black community is in so much disarray. If the black church fails to teach against the sin of fornication, there is no wonder 70% of black babies are born to single mothers. If black churches are teaching black Americans that there is structural and institutional racism instead of telling them that God is on his or her side, there is no wonder that there is so much anger and destruction. The continual destruction of the black family is a sign that black pastors need to put down the sociology books and pick up the Bible.

 

A Case For Critical Thinking

Patricia L. Dickson

If I had to list the life changing events in my life, I would have to include the semester that I took my first critical thinking course. I was an adult woman that had been in the military for a number of years when I decided it was time to complete my college education, so I enrolled in evening classes after work. Before I enrolled in the critical thinking class, I thought that I was a logical thinker (I always valued being blessed with common sense). However, I soon learned that although I did have a tremendous amount of common sense, I lacked critical thinking skills. The root cause of my skewed thinking skills was because many of my beliefs at the time were based on false premises. If one begins his or her thought process with a false premise, the rest of the entire thinking process will lead to a false conclusion. I immediately began to apply the concepts that I learned in that class in every area of my life. I learned so much in that first class that I elected to enroll in an additional two classes in philosophy and critical thinking. I have since joined a professional critical thinking organization.

The problem that America is facing today is the inability of the vast majority of the citizen to think critically. A male Liberal colleague and I were discussing the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. He began the discussion by immediately stating that he thought the decision was stupid and that Hobby Lobby was wrong for denying women birth control. I informed him that before the Supreme Court hearing, Hobby Lobby was already providing sixteen forms of birth control. I also informed him that the reason Hobby Lobby’s case went to the Supreme Court was due to the requirement under Obamcare that would force a business to provide the morning after pill which is a form of abortion. He was surprised and said that he was not aware of that. How do you comment on an issue if you do not have the facts? Why was he so quick to believe that Hobby Lobby wanted to deny women birth control? It was because he believed the false premise parroted by the media that conservative Christians are bigoted sexually repressed people that want to control the lives of others. Once you accept that premise, it is easy to believe the ridiculous meme that a Christian business owner’s agenda is to prevent women from having access to birth control. Any rational person would have come to the same decision as the courts and the media knows that and that is why they made it about birth control instead of abortion. The media’s first step is to create a false premise and then appeal to the emotions of the people with mush for brains. All of this is done to distract from the disastrous policies of the current administration.

I sometimes visit the websites owned and operated by black Americans. The one thing that is common on every site is the accepted false premise that every criticism of Obama is based on racism. Every article published on the sites brushes over the issues at hand and gets right down to the root cause of the opposition…….racism. The majority of the comments on the sites reinforce the same meme. How sad that the readers cannot see past false premises and participate in an honest intelligent discussion.

Critical thinking is critical as noted by Anniel, for the survival of this republic. The media has basically abandoned its responsibility of reporting facts in exchange for distracting, propagandizing and protecting. It is imperative that individuals acquire and hone critical thinking skills in order to navigate through the lies and distortions coming from the mainstream media. I recommend Set of Twenty Two Thinker’s Guides by Dr. Richard Paul & Dr. Linda Elder for anyone that lacks or wants to improve their critical thinking skills.

Every morning after reading the Drude Report, I tell my Liberal colleagues that American is gone and it is going to be difficult to bring it back. However, they (have their heads in the sand) begin their morning reading the Huffington Post and they believe everything is just fine. They think that I am the modern day Chicken Little crying, “The sky is falling.”

 

 

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