Saturday, December 31, 2011

Anticipating Tomorrow...

"Happy New Year!" That greeting will be said and heard for at least the first couple of weeks as a new year gets under way. But the day celebrated as New Year's Day in modern America was not always January 1. 


The celebration of the new year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, the Babylonian New Year began with the first New Moon (actually the first visible cresent) after the Vernal Equinox (first day of spring). 

The beginning of spring is a logical time to start a new year. After all, it is the season of rebirth, of planting new crops, and of blossoming. January 1, on the other hand, has no astronomical nor agricultural significance. It is purely arbitrary. 

The Babylonian new year celebration lasted for eleven days. Each day had its own particular mode of celebration, but it is safe to say that modern New Year's Eve festivities pale in comparison.
The Romans continued to observe the new year in late March, but their calendar was continually tampered with by various emperors so that the calendar soon became out of synchronization with the sun.
In order to set the calendar right, the Roman senate, in 153 BC, declared January 1 to be the beginning of the new year. But tampering continued until Julius Caesar, in 46 BC, established what has come to be known as the Julian Calendar. It again established January 1 as the new year. But in order to synchronize the calendar with the sun, Caesar had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days.


Traditionally, it was thought that one could affect the luck they would have throughout the coming year by what they did or ate on the first day of the year. For that reason, it has become common for folks to celebrate the first few minutes of a brand new year in the company of family and friends. Parties often last into the middle of the night after the ringing in of a new year. It was once believed that the first visitor on New Year's Day would bring either good luck or bad luck the rest of the year. It was particularly lucky if that visitor happened to be a tall dark-haired man. 

Traditional New Year foods are also thought to bring luck. Many cultures believe that anything in the shape of a ring is good luck, because it symbolizes "coming full circle," completing a year's cycle. For that reason, the Dutch believe that eating donuts on New Year's Day will bring good fortune. 

Many parts of the U.S. celebrate the new year by consuming black-eyed peas. These legumes are typically accompanied by either hog jowls or ham. Black-eyed peas and other legumes have been considered good luck in many cultures. 

The hog, and thus its meat, is considered lucky because it symbolizes prosperity. Cabbage is another "good luck" vegetable that is consumed on New Year's Day by many. Cabbage leaves are also considered a sign of prosperity, being representative of paper currency. In some regions, rice is a lucky food that is eaten on New Year's Day. 


One of the most venerable New Years traditions is the champaign toast at midnight to ring in the new year. Toasting can be traced back to the ancient Romans and Greeks who would pour wine, to be shared among those attending a religious function, from a common pitcher. The host would drink first, to assure his guests that the wine was not poisoned. Poisoning the wine was a fairly common practice in ancient times, designed to do away with one's enemies. In those days the wine was not as refined as it is today so a square of burned bread (toast) would be floated in the wine bowl and then eaten by the last person to drink. The bread was put there to absorb the extra acidity of the wine in order to make it more palatable. Eventually, the act of drinking in unison came to be called a toast, from the act of "toasting" or putting toast into the wine.

The song, "Auld Lang Syne"  is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year. At least partially written by Robert Burns in the 1700's, it was first published in 1796 after Burns' death. Early variations of the song were sung prior to 1700 and inspired Burns to produce the modern rendition. An old Scottish tune, "Auld Lang Syne" literally means "old long ago," or simply, "the good old days."

Here's to hoping you have a safe, sane, and sanctifying New Year tomorrow as 2012 begins! Lord bless you all!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Does Jesus Need Saving?

Kidnapped by the Christian Right.

Discarded by the Secular Left.

Jesus Needs Saving.

So says Living the Question and Jesus Redux Home Edition is a 12-episode video "exploration" for a credible Jesus for the 21st Century. This is a compilation of some 25 "experts" who come together for a conversation about the relevance of Jesus for today.

Amy-Jill Levine, a participant, says: "We're having a culture war and Jesus happens to be one of the weapons tossed about by both sides."

The savingjesus video exploration sets out answer questions like:

Who was He?
What can we know about Him - really?
Considering everything done in his name, is there anything about him worth saving?

Their advertisement in Time Magazine goes on to say, "With insights from 25 specialists, Saving Jesus leaves behind old paradigms and dogmas for a candid conversation about a Jesus you've probably never heard about - one with relevance for today."

Really? A conversation I have never heard about Jesus? With Brian McLaren and Walter Brueggemann as key participants I don't doubt it is a conversation about a Jesus I have never heard about. McLaren is attempting to single handedly destroy traditional Christianity and reconstruct it without biblical parameters.

This is so reminiscent of the time around "Easter" when all the documentaries, programs, and articles on the lost epistles, spurious writings, missing books of the bible, and resurrection legends appear.

Jesus is not lost. Jesus does not need saving. Brian McLaren and his cronies need saving. Jesus is not a cultural war weapon being tossed about by biblicists and biblical Christians. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God in heaven where he has been since his ascension back into heaven. He serves night and day as both high priest and advocate to the true children of God.

The Scriptures are clear on who Jesus is and why He is "relevant" to any age, including this modern age in which we now live. Would I discourage a conversation about Jesus? Certainly not. At least not a conversation based on sound proper biblical exegesis and in line with 2,000 years of accepted church history. Is it possible to tweak some things about Jesus life and/or ministry and through discovery find some additional facts? Yes.

However, nothing we now know or will ever discover will ever contradict what has been revealed in the Bible. Culture does not change Jesus nor cause him to need saving. Experts who have rejected traditional and biblical Christianity will not change Jesus nor cause him to need saving. Discussions lasting 12 or 120 episodes will not contradict or undo the revelation of Jesus Christ in our Sacred Scriptures.

Living the Questions, with its lofty goal of "...not the product of a denominational work group or other institutional effort aimed at simply dressing up the theological status is the response to the search for a practical tool to bring together, equip, and re-educate thinking Christians" has missed the mark. Jesus does not need them to redefine him or Christianity.

Jesus has not been kidnapped by the Christian Right. He was given as a gift to a lost and dying world.

Discarded by the left. To discard implies something once possessed, those apart from a saving work of Jesus Christ never had the true Christ, therefore, He cannot be discarded.

Jesus does not need saving. 

However, Luke tells us very succinctly and pointedly that, "For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost." (Luke 19:10, ESV)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thank You Lord for Philip P. Bliss!

(From the Files - Re-posted from 29 Dec 2009)

On this day, December 29th, 1876 a passenger train crashed when the trestle bridge it was crossing collapsed near Ashtabula, Ohio. Ninety two people died in what became known as the Ashtabula River Railroad Disaster. Among the number of passengers who died that day was Philip P. Bliss.

You may not know who Bliss was but you certainly know his hymns. Bliss was an accomplished composer, conductor, gospel singer, and evangelist. He wrote many hymns, some which you still sing today – that is if your church or fellowship still sings hymns.

Among the hymns that Mr. Bliss wrote are; Almost Persuaded; Hallelujah, What A Savior; Wonderful Words of Life; and Let the Lower Lights Be Burning. Thank God he also wrote the music to one of the most precious poems ever written. A man named Horatio Spafford wrote the words to It is Well with My Soul after receiving a telegraph that the ship his wife and daughters had been traveling on had sunk, and that his four daughters had drowned at sea. Philip Bliss wrote the tune to those words that we love and sing today.

How did he die? He actually survived the crash and had made his way out of the passenger car that he and his wife had been traveling in. While waiting rescue the passenger car caught fire and he went back into the flaming car to rescue his wife. In God’s sovereign plan both died in the fiery car and neither body was ever found.

The Bliss’s were survived by both of their two sons, George and Philip who at the time were aged 4 and 1 respectively. Eventually a monument was erected in Rome, Pennsylvania in Bliss’s memory.

By the way, one more fascinating piece of information, though neither body was found, his traveling trunk somehow survived both the crash and the fire. Inside the trunk was the manuscript for a song that he had written. However, no music for those lyrics was found in that trunk.

Soon afterwards as providence would have it, a man named James McGranahan wrote the music which allowed Thomas Edison to make it one the first songs ever to be recorded. Oh, what was the name of that song, you ask? It was I Will Sing of My Redeemer.

The night before that terrible railroad accident at Ashtabula... Bliss told his audience, "I may not pass this way again." Then he sang a solo entitled, I'm Going Home Tomorrow. This proved to be prophetic of his own home-going.

Happy 58th Birthday to my loving wife of 38 years, Irene H. Metcalf of Kelso, WA!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Will the World End In 2012?

According to Christine Bouer in an ABC News article Gary Geryl, 51 years of age, quit his job as a laboratory worker for a French oil company. He had saved enough money to last him until December 2012. Geryl believed he wouldn't need any money after December 2012 because the world would end that at that time.

Geryl told ABC News, "You have to understand, there will be nothing, nothing left. We will have to start an entire civilization from scratch." Why does Geryl believe this? What would possess a man to save, plan, join a survival group, and gather survival goods and equipment?

Geryl believes the world will end December 21, 2012 because of Mayan Cyclical calendars. Apparently this calendar renewed itself approximately 5,125 years ago, but is set to expire in 2012 with "catastrophic consequences." He also relies on the ancient Egyptians who "saw" 2012" as a year of change.

The Mayans seem to be the first group of peoples to predict the end of the world in 2012. The Mayans had calculated the length lunar moon as 329, 53020 days. Is there any truth to this calendar?

The Mayan calendar was put together around 250-900 AD. The Mayans had a number of calendars for spiritual uses. Their calendars were used for social, agricultural, commercial, and even administrative purposes. The main use of the Mayan calendars was religious in nature. Each day on the calendar had a patron spirit that represented that each day had a specific use or purpose.

Most of the Mayan calendars were short. A calendar called "Tzolk" lasted 260 days. The Haab calender lasted 3654 days. The Mayans then combined the Tzolk and the Haab calendar to form what is known as the "Calendar Round." This is a cycle lasting "52 Haab's" or 52 years.

The Calendar Round was used to remember certain dates, like your birthday or an important religious date. You could not record a date older than 52 years.

The Mayan's came up with a fix. They expanded on the 52 year Calendar Round. Remember that their calendar had probably relied upon their religious belief's, the menstrual cycle, and some mathematical calculations using the numbers 13 and 20 with a dose of astrological myths thrown in. (You are going to base something as important on the end of the world on this?)

How does the calendar work?

The Mayan Long Count began with a base year known as "" Each zero goes from 0-19 and each zero represents a count of Mayan days. The first day in the long count calendar would be The 19th day would be On the 20th day the level goes up one 0. It would look like this, Twenty years would look like this, Four hundred years would look like this,

Divided Opinions

Believe it or not the experts are divide about when the Long Calendar ends. Since the Mayans used the numbers 13 and 20 as the root of their numerical system, the last day marked on their calendar could be written as This represents 5,126 years and corresponds to the modern date of August 11th, 33114 BC. The calendar renewed itself and ends 5,126 years later, which is December 21, 2012.

Will Time End or Is There A Problem?

The Mayan "Doomsday Prophecy" is based on a calendar which some experts believe has not been designed to calculate dates beyond 2012. Even Mayan archaeo-astronomers are divided over the issue of whether the Long Count is designed to be reset to after, or does the calendar simply continue to (8000 AD) and then reset again.

Karl Kruszelnicki writes:  "...when a calendar comes to the end of a cycle, it just rolls over into the next cycle. In our Western society, every year 31 December is followed, not by the End of the World, but by 1 January. So in the Mayan Calendar will be followed by - or good-ol' 22 December 2012, with only a few shopping days left to Christmas." - Excerpt from Dr. Karl's "Great Moments in Science."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

There's No Need for a Line

A response to the song, Where is the Line to See Jesus"

There’s No Need for a Line
Gregg Metcalf
December 25, 2011

It was time for the special
The tape began to play
Congregation sat ready
All eager to hear today

She picked up the microphone
And she began to sing
Her voice was so angelic
The rafters began to ring

Where’s the line to see Jesus
I heard her ask in song
Was he at the store?
This was all so wrong

I sat there in dismay
Wondering why the care
Especially on this day
Of glad tidings everywhere

Little boy in the song
Sounds so sweet to everyone
As sorrow filled my heart
Oh the wrong that was done


There’s no need for a line
To see Jesus the babe
He shows himself on time
To those whom he saves

There’s no need for a line
He is not a display
Truly He is one of a kind
He may show Himself today

Yes, in the blink of an eye
And at the trumpet sound
We’ll join Him in the sky

Every knee will bow low
Every tongue will say
He is Lord of friend and foe

There’s no need for a line
No need for a store
Outside the camp you’ll find
The way, the truth, and the door

There’s no need for a line
The world will only refuse
The one who’s so sublime
Jesus the good news

There's no need for a line
you can find Him everywhere
His blood is the tie that bind
all those for whom He cares


There’s no need for a line
To see Jesus the babe
He shows himself on time
To those whom he saves

There’s no need for a line
He is not a display
Truly He is one of a kind
He may show Himself today

Monday, December 26, 2011

The World and Religion

Briefing - News and Notes of Interest! 

Even Christians are taking Christ out of Christmas

Christmas in America is a season of time-honored traditions – the sacred performance of the annual ACLU lawsuit over the presence of an insufficiently secular “holiday” tree; the ritual provocations of the atheist displays licensed by pitifully appeasing municipalities to sit between the menorah and the giant Frosty the Snowman; the familiar strains of every hack columnist’s “war on Christmas” column rolling off the keyboard as easily as Richard Clayderman playing “Winter Wonderland”…

This year has been a choice year. A crucified skeleton Santa Claus was erected as part of the “holiday” display outside the Loudoun County courthouse in Virginia – because, let’s face it, nothing cheers the hearts of moppets in the Old Dominion like telling them, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus – and he’s hanging lifeless in the town square.”

Alas, a week ago, some local burghers failed to get into the ecumenical spirit and decapitated him. Who are these killjoys? Christians intolerant of the First Amendment (as some have suggested)? Or perhaps a passing Saudi? Our friends in Riyadh only the other day beheaded for Amina bin Salem (so to speak) Nasser for “sorcery,” and it would surely be grossly discriminatory not to have some Wahhabist holiday traditions on display in Loudoun County. (The Islamic Saudi Academy, after all, is one of the most prestigious educational institutions of neighboring Fairfax County.)

Across the fruitcaked plain in California, the city of Santa Monica allocated permits for “holiday” displays in Palisades Park by means of lottery. Eighteen of the 21 slots went to atheists – for example, the slogan “37 million Americans know a myth when they see one” over portraits of Jesus, Santa, and Satan.

Arab-American charities refuse donations from Lowe’s

A network of 22 Arab-American nonprofits says its members will no longer accept donations from Lowe’s.

Wednesday’s announcement comes after the home improvement chain stopped advertising during a reality TV show about U.S. Muslims.

The National Network for Arab American Communities and its Dearborn-based parent ACCESS said the retailer’s decision contradicts their values.

Lowe’s Cos. executives say TLC’s “All-American Muslim” became a “lightning rod for people to voice complaints.” The Mooresville, N.C.-based company’s decision followed an email campaign by the conservative Christian group Florida Family Association.

Keep Christ in Christmas sign stirs a controversy

pitmansignShoppers perusing the curiosity and gift shops in downtown Pitman might miss the sign hanging overhead that reads, “Keep Christ in Christmas.”

But the white plastic banner has caught the attention of a national group advocating the separation of church and state, which maintains that by allowing the sign on public property, the borough is promoting Christmas and Christianity and thus violating the Constitution.

The use of the term Christmas can be controversial when it comes to public life. Last winter, the establishment and subsequent name change of a “Christmas Village” outside Philadelphia’s City Hall riled observers of various religious persuasions.

The Christmas Truce of WWI

xmastruceThe peace that had existed for decades in Europe – since the Franco-Prussian War 40-plus years earlier – had resulted in tremendous progress in culture, infrastructure investment, commerce and international relations. Europeans of all stripes crossed borders relatively freely.

Before World War I, European Jews and Christians intermingled and intermarried with few eyebrows being raised and, although covert Christian anti-Semitism definitely existed, overt persecution of Jews was not a major problem. Jews were welcomed in the militaries and served with distinction.

When Archduke Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire, was assassinated in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, European peace rapidly unraveled and – by a series of errors of judgment, bureaucratic inefficiencies, ineptitude, lack of communication skills – all the nations seemed to declare war on each other.

It was mostly a case of “death (and killing) before dishonor” in which, no matter how worthy or unworthy the war aims might be, negotiation toward a peaceful settlement was considered to be a  dishonorable way out of a conflict.


In the unevangelized world, there are 20,500 full-time Christian workers and 10,200 foreign missionaries. In the evangelized non-Christian world, there are 1.31 million full-time Christian workers.

In the Christian world, there are 306,000 foreign missionaries to other Christian lands. Also in the Christian world, 4.19 million full-time Christian workers (95%) work within the Christian world. 
Frontier Harvest Ministries

Number of Christian Books in Print:
There are approximately 6 million books about Christianity in print today. 
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (2006)
 Number of Christian Martyrs Worldwide:
An average of 171,000 Christians worldwide are martyred for their faith per year.
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (2006)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Holiday Wishes


To My Christian Friends - Happy Holidays

To My Jewish Friends - Happy Hanukkah

To My Atheist Friends - Good Luck!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Famous Last Words...

1.     "Are you sure the power is off?"
2.     "Don't be so superstitious."
3.     "He's probably just hibernating."
4.     "I can do that with my eyes closed."
5.     "I wonder where the mother bear is?"
6.     "I'll get a world record for this."
7.     "I'll hold it and you light the fuse."
8.     "And that one over there, the red flashing one, what does that mean?"
9.     "I'm making a citizen's arrest."
10.       "It's fireproof."
11.       "It's strong enough for both of us."
12.       "I've done this before."
13.       "I've seen this done on TV."
14.       "Let it down slowly."
15.       "Nice doggie."
16.       "Now watch this..."
17.       "Pull the pin and count to what?"
18.       "Rat poison only kills rats."
19.       "So, you're a cannibal..."
20.       "Listen, I'm taking a course in chemistry, I know what I'm doing."
21.          "That's odd..."
22.         "These are the good kind of mushrooms."
23.         "This doesn't taste right."
24.         "What does this button do?"
25.         "Which wire was I supposed to cut?" 
Which one is your favorite? 
Do you have a story that under girds your favorite?
Will you share your story?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Gregg Metcalf's 55 Undeniable Truths - The First Ten

Much of my world is black and white. A number of influences, both good and bad over the last 56 years have made me pretty much what I am.

For my 55th birthday, I thought I would write down some of the truths I have come to appreciate, operate, and or calculate as being of great value. (I often write my thoughts, feelings, and/or significant musings on my birthdays. One day I will share a song with you I wrote for my 45th birthday, entitled "Forty-Five and A Little Bit Crazy.")

Of course, our Sovereign God has a unique purpose decreed for my life long before I was ever conceived. The indwelling Holy Spirit and the Word of God have both impacted my life.

Please do not make the mistake and assume that I don't have shades of grey coloring certain issues from time to time. I do not mean to imply that I am rigid, unbendable, or cannot compromise when need be. Amongst the occasion shades of gray I have developed over a life time some undeniable truths. From time to time I am going to post these truths. Today I leave you with my first 10 of my 55 undeniable truths:

1.  If you don't ask, you won't get. The worse anyone can do or say is no!

2.  Life is not fair. After the fall, it can never be fair. However, life is still good. Take Don Henley and Glen Frey from the Eagles advice and "Get over it!"

3.  Character does matter in an individual. Character, whether good or bad, guides your decisions and choices.

4.  Laws serve as restraints and penalties serve as punishments. Penalties were never meant to rehabilitate nor serve as a deterrent.

5.  Words mean things. They must be chosen carefully, and be fully understood.

6.  Practice does not make perfect! Only perfect practice makes perfect.

7.  Not everybody can be a winner. There are losers. People really do loose.

8.  It is never right to do wrong. Rationalization, , relativism, and/or situational ethics will never make a wrong a right.

9.  It is OK to fail. If allowed and you are smart enough, you will learn valuable lessons from your failures.

10.  The man who says there is no God is not the only fool. The man who says there is a God and then fails to live by His standards is  also a fool.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Reading

With the days "shorter," much colder, and the rain more prevalent during our Pacific Northwest winters I have planned my winter reading. Winter begins December 22, 2011 and comes to an official close on March 20, 2011. On those dark and blusterous winter nights I am going to get warm and cozy and have challenged myself to read the entire two volume set of The Works of Jonathan Edwards.

I have read a number of books, articles, and excerpts from these works but I have never completely read every page. It will be a challenge to work through his diary, the various books he wrote, and many of his sermons. I hope my brain won't explode as I take on the greatest theologian and thinker America has ever produced.

What about you?
What are your winter reading goals?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

10 Reasons Why I Believe the Bible Is Inspired

1.  The character of the Scriptures - they resonate with the presence of God through His Holy Spirit. Man could not and would not have conjured up such things as the infinite holiness of God, the absolute depravity of man, or the existence of evil. The character of scripture cries out for divine inspiration.

2.  Jesus believed the Scriptures to be inspired. He quoted from and treated the Old Testament as sacred and not as a work of man.

3.  The 12 Apostles believed the scriptures to be inspired and from God.

4.  The early church and disciples of Jesus believed the Scriptures to be from God. They believed that the Old Testament was from God and accepted the New Testament books of the bible as they were written and distributed.

5.  Martyrs believed the bible to be from God. So many gave their lives for the testimony of Christ. They bled and died believing the word to be inspired.

6.  The longevity of the Bible. No book or collection of books have affected so many for so long. Great books, classic books, and masterpieces have come and gone but the bible remains and continues to work in the lives of men.

7.  The vicious attack on  the bible. No book has been hated so much and no book has had so persecution hurled against it. The bible has been hated more than it has been loved.

8.  The millions of lives that have been changed by the bible. No book, no writing, no composition has changed vile and heinous sinners into holy men and women of God.

9.  The internal witness of the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I am a child of God by the work of God as He applies the work of Christ to my heart through faith, the Holy Spirit bears witness that the words of Scripture are the very words of God.

10.  The impact that the word has had on my life. I am a changed man. My affections are on things above and not on things below in this earth. My hope is in Christ and that I will be delivered from the body of this death and will live forever with Jesus the Christ.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

About Converson: The Effects

The Effects of True Conversion

According to

Charles H. Spurgeon

True Conversion…

…takes away the despair of the soul; but not true repentance

…gives pardon to a man; but does not make him presumptuous
…gives a man perfect rest; but doesn’t stop progress

…gives a man absolute security; but doesn’t prevent alertness

…gives man holiness; but doesn’t let him boast

…gives a man the desire to live for God; but doesn’t hinder blessed communion with God
Happy 16th Birthday to my darling granddaughter Madilynn Nicole Metcalf of Vancouver, WA! I love you pumpkin!

Monday, December 19, 2011

About God: God the Father

Spurgeon Gems

"Beloved Friends, we may well continue to praise God, for our God continues to give us causes for praise!" --1893, Sermon 2296

"Never let us fall into the false notion that if we magnify Christ, we are depreciating the Father. If any lips have ever spoken concerning the Christ of God so as to depreciate the God of Christ, let those lips be covered with shame!" --1894, Sermon 2382

"Whenever we have to praise God, we do we do? We simply say what He is! 'You are this and You are that.' There is no other praise. We cannot fetch anything from anywhere else and bring it to God; the praises of God are simply the facts about Himself! If you want to praise the Lord Jesus Christ, tell the people about Him." --1891, Sermon 2213

"Why is heaven called a city? Because it is a place of fellowship where men meet one another!" --1893, Sermon 2291

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Why Does Evil Exist?

Original sin is the only rational solution of the undeniable fact of the deep, universal and early manifested sinfulness of men in all ages, of every class, and in every part of the world.

---Charles Hodge

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Funerals & Public Speaking

According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two! This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.

--Jerry Seinfeld

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Birthday George W!

December 16, 1714: 

Revivalist and evangelist George Whitefield, the best-known figure of the American Great Awakening, is born in Gloucester, England.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Do Believers Have Guardian Angels?

Today, it seems, more than ever, that we have an overabundance of preoccupation with the subject of angels. One cannot go into a Holy Hardware Store -oops, I mean Christian Book Store and not be inundated with images, sculptures, books, and whatnot's. Due to the popularity of angels in Christian circles publishers are pumping out books about angels and experiences with angels almost faster than they can be read.

One can hardly drive across town and not see angels on bumper stickers, dashboards, or as ornaments on the outside of the cars. Angels are displayed in windows, hung on doors,and made into wind chimes. The production of angelic trinkets has seemingly eclipsed the sale and distribution of the little silver statuettes of Dianna from long ago Ephesus.

Sermons, bible studies, small groups, and many para-church organizations have preached, taught, and studied this topic it seems, more so than any other theological truths in the Scripture. Yet for all this interest and study we seem to have added to an embellished what Scripture does have to say on the subject of angels. It cannot be argued that much ink has been used on this particular subject.

It is a commonly held opinion that Christians have guardian angles. The idea of "guardian angels" seems to come from Matthew 18:10, "See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 18:10, ESV) and from Acts 12:15, ESV, "They said to her, 'You are out of your mind.' But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, 'It is his angel!'"

Where did this idea of "guardian angels" come from? Why is it so prevalent in many religions and cultures? Is there any foundation for their existence? Can they be proven from or by Scripture?

During the period of time between the end of the Old Testament era and the beginning of what we now call the New Testament era, Jewish tradition was preoccupied with angels and heavenly beings. Much of this preoccupation was simply speculation and superstition. Some of it even spilled into the early churches. It seems to have been a problem in the church at Collose.

The Apocryphal book of Tobith reads, "Do not worry; our child will leave in good health and return to us in good health...For a good angel will accompany him; his journey will be successful, and he will come back in good health. (Tobith 5:21-22)

The challenge we face here is that the Apocrypha is not inspired. It was not accepted by the early church and Christians. It is a collection of tradition, Stories, and superstitions.

Roman Catholic teachings have added fuel to the fire of speculation concerning the existence of guarding angels. For example, Ludwig Ott, a renowned and highly respected Catholic theologian actually developed the teaching of guardian angles. He taught, "Every one of the faith [Catholic] has his own special guardian angel from baptism."

Ott goes on to further develop his idea of guardian angels by teaching, "...every human being, including unbelievers...have their own guardian angel from...birth." 2

John A. Hardon, another Catholic writer says, "a guardian angel is a celestial spirit assigned by God to watch over an individual during life...The role of the guardian angel is both to guide and guard; to guide as a messenger of God's will to our minds,and guard as an instrument of God's goodness in protecting us from evil." 3

There is absolutely no biblical foundation whatsoever to prove or even suggest the existence of guardian angels. The Apocrypha was rejected for it fancifulness in some places, its inclusion of superstition, and lack of evidence of inspiration. Catholic dogma has not been proven to be accurate. Their teaching on this subject is mere tradition and not biblically substantiated. We would reject Roman Catholic teaching on this subject.  

Although the teaching in Matthew is some what ambiguous and needs further study, it does not prove the existence of guardian angels. Charles Hodge, that great Presbyterian theologian and principal of Princeton personally believed children have guardian angels, he still wrote the following, "...this does not prove that each child or each believer has his own guardian angel." 4

So, it seems that while true believers have an innumerable supply of angles as their servants (Hebrews 1:14) the bible does not support the theory that each believer has a guardian angel. I believe God sends angels at times to serve, minister, protect, and to guide believers. I do not believe based upon the bible that we have a permanent or even rotating bevy of guardian angels to guard us.

Therefore, you do not have to worry about driving faster than your angel can fly! You could never drive faster than the sovereign and eternal purpose of God for your life!

1.  Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, trans. Patrick Lynch, ed. James Canon Bastible (St Louis, MO: B. Herder, 1954), p. 120
2.  Ibid
3.  John A. Hardon, S. J., Pocket Catholic Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1980), p. 175
4. Systematic Theology, Charles Hodge, 1:640

Happy 53rd Birthday to my dear sister, Nancy Kay (Metcaf) Dupre of Ferndale, WA!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Family Radio Still Gets It Wrong

In an editorial this morning Family Radio ran an editorial detailing their current position answering the question, "Where do we go from here?" Apparently they still believe that May 21 and October 21 were significant days in the plan of God. They conclude that God led them to certain truths concerning those days but did not reveal to them everything that they needed to know about them.

Family Radio believed that the Lord would return for all true Christians on those days but since "they" are obviously still here, God did not in fact return. They believe He will still come for true believers at an unknown date. They truly wish that God had returned for believers on either of those days. However, since God did not return for true believers, it is incumbent upon true believers to continue to preach the gospel until then. Of course they mean preach the gospel as they have defined it.

It was clear from this editorial that they still hold to the sinfully wicked false teaching that the church age has ended and that true believers are to leave their churches. The church age will end one day with the glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Since He has not returned for His church (I Thessalonians 5) the church is alive and well. It is no secret that many of the visible representations of the glorious invisible church are heinous representatives. Christ promised that even the gates of hell would not prevail against the church. (Matthew 16:18)

What a great heartache it is to know that this organization with all of its tremendous resources remains heretical. My heart grieves for those who are deceived. Oh, that true followers of Jesus Christ would recognize the deception and false teaching and abandon this organization.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Words Mean Things!

You may be a man of
but you must make them count!

"Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." (Colossians 4:6, ESV)

Monday, December 12, 2011

The World and Religion

Briefing - News and Notes of Interest!

Pennsylvania Town Rejects Atheist Holiday Display

A western Pennsylvania mayor refused to include a banner from an atheist group that says “there are no gods” as part of a holiday display that includes a Nativity scene, which has been erected annually on city property for decades.

Hundreds of people turned out to support the mayor’s decision to go ahead with the display Friday, which also includes symbols pertaining to Kwanzaa and Hanukkah and secular symbols, including Santa Claus, a snowman and a Christmas tree.

The city about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh added secular symbols to the display this year after the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained last year that it amounted to a government endorsement of religion.

Seeking to head off a similar challenge, the mayor also invited the Madison, Wis.-based group to contribute something to the modified display, so the group mailed a sign that read: “At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

Democrats see opening to attract religious voters in 2012

democratsDemocrats claim to have an unprecedented, promising opportunity to expand their voter base into previously uncharted territory — religious voters.

Republicans have long walked in lock step with the loudest and most influential voices in the American religious sphere, professing a monopoly on the faith-based values that drive the decisions of millions of religious voters.

But eager to leave no stone unturned as they peruse the electorate for 2012 supporters, Democrats are setting out to court faith-based voters by connecting their policies on economic issues to the values of equality, tolerance and humanitarianism.

They’re backed up by evidence showing that social issues such as abortion, where Republicans perform better among religious Americans, are taking a back seat to concerns over unemployment and poverty.

Thank God for Tebow’s message

timtebowThe popular headlines today are about sick pedophiles posing as lifelong football coaches, about a career college basketball assistant and his wife and their perverted triangle of abuse, about NFL players stomping on opponents and others being arrested for domestic violence. So let me get this straight: Tim Tebow praising God is a problem?

Sports and religion have mixed since the Mayans and Aztecs went at each other on rivalry weekend, when ESPN cameras weren’t rolling but the winning captain presented his head to the losing one because decapitation was believed the ultimate honor.
I’m thinking Ndamukong Suh would have made a great Mayan.

Joel Osteen’s getting a reality show

osteenMore than 10 million people watch Joel Osteen’s television broadcast each week, and soon viewers will be able to see how the pastor of America’s largest church lives outside of Lakewood.

A new reality show will follow the Osteens’ ministry as they serve and inspire people across the U.S., Lakewood confirmed.
Over the years, “just about every studio in Hollywood” has pitched show ideas to the Osteens, but they’ve always turned them down, until now, said Don Iloff, Lakewood spokesman.

The Osteens have been friends with Burnett and his wife Roma Downey, who are Christians and have visited Lakewood in the past, and they trust Burnett’s vision and expertise in the reality TV medium.

The program is in its early planning stages and has not secured a network to air it or even a name yet. The Osteen ministry team hopes it provides uplifting, positive programming that will bring families together to watch.


Number of Christian Denominations:  There are approximately 38,000 Christian denominations in the world. This statistic takes into consideration cultural distinctions of denominations in different countries.
Christianity in America:  Today in America, about 75% of adults identify themselves as Christian. In comparison, the next largest religions in America are Islam and Judaism. Combined they represent only about one to two percent of the United States population. 

Not all are truly Christian:  There are more than 1500 different Christian faith groups in America. 

Bible Distribution:  Approximately 83 million Bibles are distributed globally per year.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Where Are You Building?

Sunday's Quips and Quotes

 From the Letters of
Samuel Rutherford


"Build your nest upon no tree here; for ye see God hath sold the forest to death; and every tree whereupon we would rest is ready to be cut down, to the end we may fly and mount up, and build upon the Rock, and dwell in the holes of the rock."

--Samuel Rutherford, Letter IV 

(Letter written Jan 15, 1629 to Lady Kenmure as her Pastor on the occasion of the death of her infant daughter. Tribulation [is]the portion of God's people, and intended to wean them from the world)

Happy 78th Birthday to my dear mother, Evelyn L. Metcalf of Modesto, CA. I love you Mom!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas-time Bulletin Blooper

-- Next Sunday, as we prepare for Christmas holidays, the choir will sing, "Angels We Have Heard Get High."

Friday, December 9, 2011

Answers to the Pop Quiz

How did you do? What did you learn? Here are the answers:

1.  Either Jeremiah or a number of unknown authors over several years.

2.  "Greetings O favored one, the Lord is with you!" (Luke 1:28, ESV)

3.  Theophilus, a ranking Roman official.

4.  Tarsish.  (Jonah 1:3)

5.  176.  (Psalms 119)

6.  John Mark, Barnaba's Nephew. (Acts 13:13)

7.  The Apostle Paul was stoned, dragged out of the city and left for dead. (Acts 14:19)

8.  Approximately AD 90-95

9.  This phrase is not found anywhere in Scripture.

10.  Paul's traveling companions:  Aquila, Priscilla, Aristarchus, Barnabas, Epaphras, Gaius, Justus, Luke, John Mark, Secundas, Silas, Sopater, Tertius, Timothy, Titus, Trophimus, Tychicus

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pop Quiz

Today, let's take a minute and test your biblical knowledge  This will be a "closed bible" quiz! No peeking! No googling! No life-lines! Here we go:

1.  Who do most scholars believe wrote the collection of laments known as "Lamentations?"

2.  What were the first words spoken to Mary, the mother of Jesus by the angel Gabriel?

3.  To whom did Luke write his gospel and historical narrative called "The Acts?"

4.  To what city did Jonah decide to flee to when he first refused to go to Nineveh?

5.  How many "verses" are there in Psalms 119?

6.  Who abandoned Paul and Barnabas for Jerusalem when they reached Perga in Pamphylia

7.  What significant event took place in Lystra of Lycania?

8.  When did the Apostle John write his gospel?

9.  Where in the Scriptures, Old or New Testament is the phrase, "Cleanliness is next to godliness" found?

10.  Name three (3) of Paul's traveling companions.

How did you do? Those of you who take the quiz please comment on your score and how you did. Please comment on what you may learned from this pop quiz. Answers will be posted Friday, December 9th.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Expiration Date

 "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him." (Hebrews 9:27-28, ESV)

Almost every food product that is sold has an expiration date. If it does not have an actual or specific expiration date, most products will say "Best used before ________," or " Use before __________." Of course the reason for these expiration dates is to remind us of the date when these products will no longer be usable or effective. As a matter of fact they serve a distinct purpose of keeping the consumer from getting sick or dieing by ingesting a "spoiled" or contaminated product.

James, the former pastor of the Jerusalem Church and half-brother of our Lord Jesus Christ made this statement, " are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." (James 4:14c, ESV) This is another way of reminding you and me that we too have an expiration date. There will come a day, unless the Lord comes for His church and transforms us instantly into our immortal and glorified bodies, that we will expire. We will die.

Mind you, this is an unusual event. God originally created us to live perfectly in His presence, for His service, in order to render honor, glory, and worship to Him. Although God knew from eternity past, and all His purposes worked according to His good will, man would sin and be subjected to physical death. Man was created to live physically eternally. Sin cut that short. The wages, the bible says, of sin is death. This includes both spiritual and physical death.

As 2011 winds down and 2012 looms on the horizon, our time in this life is racing toward our expiration date. Unlike the homogenized and pasteurized milk you buy at the local market, you do not have an expiration date stamped on your "container." We do not know the moment of our death. We need to be prepared for that day. The time to make peace with God and be reconciled to Him is now, in this life, prior to our expiration date. Pope John Paul II and Rob Bell are proven to be wrong by Holy Writ - there is no universal salvation after death. The bible clearly states, "Today is the day of salvation!"

Romans 10:11-13 (ESV) clearly states, "...there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on him. For every one who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."  Salvation, redemption, reconciliation is available to all and it is free. However, one must repent of sin, believe the message of the gospel, and place one's faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross and call upon Him for this salvation that it might be applied by the Holy Spirit to your soul.

Do so  before your unknown "expiration date!"

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What Connects You To Your Community?

People are "wired" to be social creatures. Human beings have always had places where they could gather, meet, discuss, plan, or develop ideas for their own betterment. People have met in Taverns, eating places, city gates, social halls, and of course churches.

The internet is now the main place of gathering with friends and family through social websites such as Facebook, My Space, chat-rooms, message boards, electronic forums and specialized websites. Networking takes place around the world on sites like Link-in.

The mission of the church of Jesus Christ is to "Go...make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20a, ESV) Acts chapter one breaks this mission down more specifically to our own communities when Jesus says, " will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8, ESV) (Emphasis mine)

For me my Jerusalem is Kelso, my Judea is Cowlitz County, and my Samaria would be from Portland to Seattle, and then spreading out to the State of Washington. Then my mission field envelopes the Pacific Northwest, reaching to United States and then to the end of the earth. What is your Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria?

The question facing us is how can we visualize and cultivate out networks, our meeting places, and our proclivity to socializing with one another to fulfill this "great commission?" I think the answer is through connections, personal connections. We must connect with those around us, particularly those who do not know Christ as savior in order to be an effective witness.

Your city is filled to its limits with unsaved people who will die in their sin. Your city awaits you. What connections will you make in order to share the gospel with every creature? What connects you to your community?