CA Dems Want to Ban the Bible?

This week, the Democrat-controlled California State Assembly passed AB 2943. This unprecedented bill may actually — among other things — ban the sale of books and resources expressing orthodox Christian beliefs about sexual morality.  Conceivably, this could include banning the sale and teachings of the Bible.

As with most legislation, “the devil is in the details.”

AB 2943, authored and vigorously advocated for by the LGBT Caucus in the Assembly, modifies Consumer Protection legislature to ban specific counseling or communication, called “conversion therapy.”  If passed by the state senate, the law will be the first of its kind in the nation to criminalize helping either children or adults with unwanted sexual urges (“orientation”) or gender confusion (“identity”).

The Bible teaches we are created biologically as either male or female. Orthodox believers embrace their biological gender and follow biblical teachings, which clearly say sexual expression is reserved for marriage between a man and a woman.  

Our national Constitution protects these religious beliefs and practices in its very first amendment, included in a listing of “rights” and not “restrictions.” The Democrat majority in California’s legislature wants to change that with this (AB 2943) and other legislation introduced by the LGBT Caucus, like AB 1779 and AB 2119.

If you agree, contact your local California legislators and urge them to speak up and to oppose these unprecedented restrictions on religious liberty.

 

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“Seventeen” in our Culture of Death

Seventeen.

That’s the number of students killed at Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School in Parkland, FL on Valentine’s Day, just a few weeks ago.

It is also the number of counts of premeditated murder which a former student, Nikolas Cruz, was charged after he legally purchased the semi-automatic AR-15 rifle he used in his six-minute murder spree, before putting it down and hurriedly walking out of “Building 12” with the fleeing students.

Seventeen is the average number of years of limited life-experience of gun-control-minded student-activists David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Cameron Kasky, and the others being sponsored by left-leaning news media and activist organizations funded by socialist-billionaire George Soros.

It is also the number of years since 2977 lives were lost in the Twin Towers attack on September 11, 2001, and the rise of militant Islam, both of which has cheapened the perceived value of human life in our modern “culture of death.”

With approximately 900 abortions performed EVERY DAY by Planned Parenthood (323,999 reported abortions by PP in 2014), seventeen is also the number of years in which Continue reading

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What Happened on Saturday of Holy Week?

Preaching to the Souls in Hades

Here we are on Saturday of Holy Week, midway between commemorating Christ’s crucifixion and celebrating His resurrection. What happened between these monumental events? If Jesus’ body was in the tomb, where was his spirit/soul?

In the Old Testament, the place of departed souls is variously described, dependent on their status of righteousness, at death. The righteous dead went to Paradise (sometimes called “Abraham’s bosom”), while the souls of the unrighteous were and are incarcerated in a place of torment, known as Sheol in the Old Testament Hebrew and Hades in the New Testament Greek. [Compare Ps. 16:10 when quoted in Acts 2:27.]

The Road to Hell

Solomon warned young men of the dangers of the enticing prostitute, saying “her house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death” and that her guests are “in the depths of Sheol (Prov. 7:27; 9:18).

Peter tells us that sometime during this significant series of days Jesus “made proclamation to the spirits in prison.” These are thought to be the disembodied, disobedient people from the days of Noah (1 Peter 3:18-20), in their designated after-life abode.

This proclamation did not change their state or status.Christ’s preaching to these condemned souls may have been to convincingly justify to them their damnation. The punishment of the unrighteous in Hell, and later the Lake of Fire, is just as eternal as eternal life will be for the righteous (See Matt. 25:46; Rev. 20:14-15; Rev. 21:1-8).

Death Overcome by Life

In Peter’s sermon on Pentecost, he declared to the excited and confused crowds that although evil men had put Jesus of Nazareth to death on a cross Continue reading

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“….He bowed his head and died.”

The Gospels tell us that as Jesus hung on the cross on that Friday of Holy Week, around noon the sky turned dark and stayed that way until the middle of the afternoon. Then, Jesus shouted with his last breath and “bowed his head and died.” (John 19:30 CEV)

At noontime today my wife and I attended a Good Friday service at The Church on the Way in Van Nuys (CA). Hundreds of people took their lunch hour to join together to remember and reflect on the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross for us, over 2,000 years ago! Hundreds more will meet there to observe the same tonight.*

Because of that atoning, substitutional death, “God rescued us from the dark power of Satan and brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son, who forgives our sins and sets us free!” (Col. 1:13-14 CEV)

As a congregation, we sang the meaningful, modern hymn by Paul Baloche, To The Cross

Where can I go/ But to the cross, to the cross/

For there my shame/ You have washed away/

Where can I go/ But to the cross, to the cross/

For there You gave/ Up Your life for me/ You gave Your life for me/

You stretched Your arms out wide/ I lift my hands up high to my Savior/ [more]

[Claim these final truths of victory, in Christ:]

Chains are broken / Shame has fallen/ All my sins are gone!

You stretched Your arms out wide/ I lift my hands up high to my Savior/

Pastor Tim Clark applied the words of King David in Psalm 22, written 1,000 years before Jesus’ crucifixion. The passages yielded meaningful applications and even future quotations from Jesus, himself.

The “Psalm of the Cross” (Ch. 22) prophetically preceded the “Psalm of the Crook” (Ch. 23) where Jesus fulfills the promise of a Good Shepherd.  Those past and present promises, preceded the future promises of the “Psalm of the Crown” (Ch. 24), where David answers his own question, “Who can enter the Lord’s Temple?” The answer is those who truly worship God and serve the descendants of Jacob.

As in all of our Good Friday services, the congregation concludes in song, thunderously declaring the chorus to the Gospel Song, written in 1876, after the drowning of the author’s family: IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL.

*Watch live-streaming of the second Good Friday service tonight at 7 p.m. (Pacific) at http://thechurchontheway.org/watch/ and stay with us to the end, when you too can declare again your faith in the power of our risen Lord and sing, “It is well, it is well with my soul!”

Remember, it is Friday but Sunday is coming!

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Here’s An Unusual Consideration for Holy Week

Today is the Thursday of Passion Week. The next three days call us to remember Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection from the dead.

This day before Good Friday is known among liturgical churches as Maundy Thursday and commemorates our Lord’s institution of the Eucharist or Holy Communion at the Last Supper with his 12 closest disciples. This meal is referenced in all four Gospels (Matt. 26; Mk. 14; Lu. 22, and Jn. 13.) and later, in Paul’s first Epistle to the Corinthians (chapter 11).

With all of the holy celebrations associated with the remembrance of these days, I suggest that we unknowingly overlook a principle of discipleship, which can be observed in the way Jesus dressed for this holy event with his disciples. I acknowledge that it is a personal observation—a private conviction and not a command of Christ. However, perhaps it can speak to you, as it has to me and affected how and why I dress as I do for worship services—especially where Holy Communion is observed.  Will you, at least, consider it with me?

How did Jesus dress, with his disciples, for this first communion service? This unusual consideration can be answered in just one word: “UP.” Jesus “dressed up” for this special instruction and symbolic institution, with His disciples.

How do we know how Jesus dressed, for this occasion? Well, Continue reading

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Are You Passionate in your Worship of Jesus?

Today is “Palm Sunday” and marks the start of the beginning of “Holy Week,” in our Christian faith and practice.

On this day we remember the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and the events of what is often called “Passion Week.” These final seven days of Jesus’ earthly ministry include His deep emotional and physical pain, leading to his substitutionary death, loving burial, and glorious resurrection (Matthew 21:1–11).

Now, jump with me to modern days, where actor Jim Caviezel has recently confirmed to USA Today that he will soon reprise his role as Jesus of Nazareth, in The Resurrection, a sequel to Mel Gibson’s 2004 biblical epic, The Passion of the Christ.

You may recall that the original film was an unexpected, mega-box-office success! It not only exceeded $370 million dollars in box office revenue but was the highest grossing R-rated film of all time in North America. It went on to gross $611 million worldwide!

In the nearly one and a half decades since the 2004 religious blockbuster, faith-based films have become their own movie genre. Currently, I Can Only Imagine is playing to religiously-minded audiences, as “the rest of the story” behind the top-played religious-song in the past two decades. Also, at the end of this month, the third in the “God is NOT Dead” trilogy, A Light in the Darkness will hit theaters.

Gibson, it seems, has been planning this sequel for several years. Earlier, he explained that “We’re trying to craft this in a way that’s cinematically compelling and enlightening so that it shines new light, if possible, without creating some weird thing.”

The Resurrection will be anything but “weird.” Gibson is teamed up with veteran movie writer Randall Wallace, who not only wrote the script for Gibson’s highly acclaimed Braveheart film but has his own experiences in faith-based films, having directed 2014’s Heaven is For Real.

With this background to the production’s inspirational story and the growing faith-based interest worldwide, acclaimed actor Jim Caviezel, himself a committed Christian and practicing Catholic, believes The Resurrection, “is going to be the biggest film in history. It’s that good.”

But, this is not just a “good” film story. It is the real story of people who honored Jesus verbally, but within the short days of this “Passion Week” their praise became condemnation and they rejected Him violently.

They saw him as a messiah. They wanted him to rescue them politically and free them nationally. This is not unlike some today who may see certain politicians as their “messiah.” They will do or say anything to get certain bills passed or issues funded. They have nationalistic aspirations over spiritual affirmation and obedience.

 But, mankind’s primary need is spiritual, not political, cultural, or even national salvation. The Apostle Paul told the Philippian believers that there is coming a day when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10–11). At that point, there won’t be any “fake” worship. All will be genuine and glorious!

In the everlasting world to come, John the Revelator recorded a future scene which features the eternal celebration of our risen Lord: “There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands” (Revelation 7:9, emphasis added).

Did you catch in the next verse how these palm-branch bearing saints will shout, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (verse 10)?

As we, again, experience the treasured thoughts of “Passion Week,” let us passionately re-commit to seriously serve Jesus our Lord with all our hearts, souls, and minds, as we “purify ourselves” and await His promised return. For these end times, this is our true calling and our hope!

 

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The “Scandal-Free“ Life of “America’s Pastor”

 

Yesterday, America’s leaders honored “America’s Pastor” Billy Graham by receiving his body to lay in respect and honor in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.

This bi-partisan action has only been accorded to honor private citizens three other times: The others were two police heroes, following 9/11, and civil rights heroine Rosa Parks.

The late morning ceremony was relatively brief. From the time the hearse arrived at the back Capitol steps until the closing benediction was less than one hour. In between, the benediction was given by the House of Representatives Chaplain and meaningful remarks were made by the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and President Donald Trump before these three each paced a display of flowers at the casket bier. The familiar Graham Crusade song “Just As I Am” was played and sung by Christian musician Michael W. Smith and the benediction was given by the Senate Chaplain.

Everything which was done, said, and sung was warm, reflective, and respectful.  But, it was keywords in the benediction that was most meaningful to me.  Senate Chaplain Barry Black thanked God for “the gift of your servant, William Franklin Graham, Jr.  We are grateful for his scandal-free life of integrity, characterized by conduct that was above reproach.” (Emphasis mine)

In his 100th year, with over sixty years of consistent evangelistic ministry with 419 evangelistic outreaches, 210-million people reached face to face and over 2-million professions of faith, “Mr. Graham” and his team had lived out a mutual covenant of integrity, sexual purity, honesty, and humility.  These biblical principles kept this man of God and his ministry free from scandals and, instead, empowered them each to live “life of integrity, characterized by conduct that was above reproach.”

In 1948, Graham and his founding team members, including Cliff Barrows, George Beverly Shea, and Grady Wilson, were conducting a series of meetings near Modesto, California. Although he was just 29 years old at the time, he had been a full-time evangelist for several years, ministering as part of the popular Youth for Christ organization.

But, as opportunities for independent campaigns were developing, including the future/historic one in downtown Los Angeles, he and his team wanted to avoid the public and private problems and scandals that plagued other evangelists.

Graham asked his team members to pray and then write down the issues they thought they would face, and how they should deal with them. Cliff Barrows recalls that the next morning they all met and compared notes.  Each man had written Continue reading

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