Sermon Sunday – J.C. Ryle – Freedom

July 3, 2011 at 6:30 am | Posted in Sermon Sunday | Leave a comment
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Freedom
by
J. C. Ryle
(1816-1900)

___________________________________________________________________

© Copyright 2001 by Tony Capoccia. This updated file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as
long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold. All rights reserved.

Verses quoted, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION © 1978
by the New York Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

A copy of this sermon, Preached by Tony Capoccia, is available
on Audio Tape Cassette or Audio CD at www.gospelgems.com
___________________________________________________________________

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”–John 8:36

The subject before us today deserves our attention. It should ring in the ears of every person like the voice of a trumpet. We live in a land which is the very cradle of freedom. But are we ourselves free?

The question is one which demands special attention during the present state of public opinion. The minds of many are absorbed in politics. Yet there is a freedom, within the reach of all of us, which few, I am afraid, ever think of–a freedom independent of all political changes–a freedom which neither the prevailing government, nor the cleverest politician can bestow. This is the freedom about which I speak today. Do we know anything of it? Are we free? Continue Reading Sermon Sunday – J.C. Ryle – Freedom…

Persecution Friday: Nepal

April 8, 2011 at 9:11 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com

Nepal: Evangelism Ban?

As Nepal continues its transition from a monarchal Hindu Kingdom to a democratic secular state, Christians are becoming concerned that the country’s new constitution may limit or even ban evangelism.

The draft proposal includes a seemingly liberal religious freedom clause that states, “Every person shall have the freedom to profess, practice or preserve his or her own religion in accordance with his or her faith, or to refrain from any religion.” However, an explanatory note adds that while every person has the freedom to “convert on his or her will … no person shall be entitled to … convert a person from one religion to another.” Christians fear that the explanatory note could be used as a means of restricting evangelism.

The potential ban on evangelism seems to have raised no concerns among parliament members; the religious freedom provision is listed under “Areas of Agreement” on the Centre for Constitutional Dialogue website. Several parliament members told Compass Direct News that they were unaware of the religious freedom provision’s implications. One member of the Nepali Congress political party said, “Perhaps the words, ‘force, inducement and coercion’ should be inserted to prevent only unlawful conversions.”

Under terms of the Interim Constitution that has been in place since 2007, the new constitution is to take effect this year by May 28. A Constituent Assembly is now condensing drafts from 11 parliamentary committees into a final draft constitution, negotiating with the committees to create a document that represents the many interests of the vying political parties.

Nepal was a Hindu nation until 2006, when the Maoists, a communist popular movement, helped push the king from power and establish a democracy. Currently, three leading political parties, the Maoists, the Unified Marxist Leninists and the Nepali Congress, control the government through a majority.

Persecution Fridays: Cuba

March 4, 2011 at 10:17 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com 

Cuba: Persecution Increases

Pastors and Christian leaders in Cuba are reporting a shift in how the government treats Christians. The government appears to have moved away from higher profile forms of oppression, such as threatening to shut down or destroy churches, and is now focusing pressure on church leaders, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

Church leaders both within and outside of the Cuban Council of Churches (CCC) report receiving frequent visits from state security agents and Cuban Communist Party (CCP) officials. The CCC is an umbrella organization representing Protestant churches. These visits and meetings seem to have the intent of intimidating church leaders and making them aware they are under close surveillance.

In October 2010, Pastor Homero Carbonell decided to resign as leader of La Trinidad First Baptist Church in Santa Clara after prolonged government pressure and threats, according to CSW. He hoped giving up his leadership position would alleviate some of the demands on the congregation, but nothing has changed.

Pastor Carbonell, a respected high-level denominational leader, denounced the government persecution in an open letter, according to CSW. He wrote that spurious accusations against him, including allegations that he is associated with the counterrevolution, brought a series of penalties to his church. The pastor also described how the Religious Affairs Office has treated the church over the past three years. In one meeting with the Religious Affairs Office, officials told Pastor Carbonell to “behave himself.”

CSW reports that the government’s attention on Pastor Carbonell and his church may have been prompted by the church’s refusal to expel family members of political prisoners and members of human rights or pro-democracy groups.

Religious groups in Cuba are under the authority of the Religious Affairs Office of the CCP’s Central Committee, rather than a government body. Church leaders have complained for years about difficulties dealing with the Religious Affairs Office, especially with regard to permission for church repair or construction. Many of VOM’s partners in Cuba have faced conflict with authorities while building or repairing churches. Some get around requirements by constructing structures with roofs but no walls.

Bibles and Christian literature may be imported into the country only through the Cuban Council of Churches, which, according to CSW, represents a minority of churches. This limitation has led to a severe shortage of religious materials in Cuba. VOM friends help bring Bibles and other materials into the country through other channels and also sponsor a clandestine printing press for Christian literature.

Influence

May 24, 2010 at 5:26 am | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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Whether we realize it or not, we are influenced by many things. We see an advertisement for the newest car, the latest way to lose weight, or the fastest way to make money and we have the opportunity to be influenced. The more we see the ad, the more likely we are to be influenced to purchase the product. It happens for cars, houses, grocery items, toys (think about all the ads you see at Christmas), and movies.  We see people happy with the new product or service and we can’t help but think that it may be the same way for us. We see the newest TV shows with the hottest stars and our interest is piqued. We see the latest summer blockbuster with the most amazing special effects and we have to see it. The chart topping hits play on our favorite radio station, we can’t get the song out of our head, and the next thing we know, we’re buying the CD or iTunes download.

The influence of music, movies, advertising, and other media forms has become so pervasive that we hardly even notice it anymore. We have become desensitized to it. We hardly realize that we are not making the choices anymore. Add to this the “herd mentality” where friends and family are acting on this influence and it becomes even stronger. We seem to be in full control of our decisions, and fail to recognize the influence that the environment around us – the things we see, hear, smell, taste and feel – has such a profound influence on what we say and do. Continue Reading Influence…

America’s Answer

April 19, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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As we watch the federal government grow to an unheard of size, taking liberties and freedoms with it, we keep hearing talk about answers. The president says that his plans are the answers for America’s problems. He tells us as often as possible how great his plans are and how lucky we are to have him as our president. The problem is that the math doesn’t add up when you look at the numbers and just about everything that the president has said to the American people has been a lie. He has broken almost every promise and took steps to make things extremely worse for not only us but future generations of Americans as well. Our grandchildren will have no idea what America used to be like (unless they have an honest history teacher) unless we stop this progression.
 
But, if the president’s plans aren’t the answer than what is? Many talk about cutting taxes and reducing spending. Those will both work economically, but they aren’t the answer to restoring the moral fabric of the country. Personally, I will be surprised if the Republicans do any better than the Democrats when they get the majority again. They seem to be Democrat lite to me… The answer to our country’s problems doesn’t lie in economic plans or government programs. It doesn’t fall on the president, Congress, or big business to fix our situations (they all proven many times over that they are too incompetent to do this anyway). America’s answer lies in One person. God. Continue Reading America’s Answer…

“Marking” a generation

August 2, 2008 at 8:37 am | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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For the past few years, sometimes due to the church that I was attending, I have heard pastors, preachers, teachers, and Christians talk about “marking a generation”, “reclaiming” the next generation, or “raising up” the next generation. These phrases are really starting to annoy me. From what I’ve seen, most of the people saying these phrases don’t seem to have any clue what it means to mark, reclaim, or raise up anything. I’ve also got to ask a simple question. How many times has the next generation been marked, reclaimed, or raised up? Where has it taken them? Are they any different than they were before? I understand that there will be some that will be changed, but I’m talking about an entire generation.

 

The thing that started this whole shebang was an invitation that was given to me by a well-meaning coworker. I have other differences in belief with this person, but so far, I’ve been able to keep my head down and color. The invitation was to her church’s youth conference. The copy on the invitation is as follows (names have been changed to keep those people from embarrassment):

 

Trans4mation:08

Ezekiel 9:6

Marking this generation for God!

 

Healing, Deliverance, Salvation, Repentance

 

August, 1st-3rd

Friday & Saturday @ 7pm & Sunday @ 10am

 

Pastors Mr. and Mrs. So and So

Conference Hosts

 

Akron Smith

Christian Record Label

Gospel Hip Hop Artist

 

Pastor Blah Blah Blah

House of Prayer, USA

Youth and Young Adult Pastor

 

Pslamist

Host town’s Anointed Rhymer

 

Brother Song & Crew

Formerly of a band I’ve never heard of

 

DJ Bill

Lighten’ (not the way to spell this).. It Up On The Turn Table

 

One of a Kind

God’s Hip Hop Girl

 

On the back, it says this:

 

Activities Include

 

Nightly Giveaways

Hip Hop Dance

Drama

Mime

 

5 on 5 Basketball

After Party on the Patio

Youth Leaders Breakfast

Sunday Night Skate Party

& Much More

 

I was told how AWESOME this was going to be and how I needed to get any youth I know to this event. I looked at the invitation, studied what was on it, and put it in my Bible. There were a ton of things that I wanted to say, and just as many questions that I wanted to ask.

 

How, exactly, do you mark a generation? Do they know that they’re marked? Will there be something that sets them apart that is readily recognizable? If not, are you really helping them? The only thing that I saw on the invitation that remotely could help change the youth was the word “repentance”. When you mark a generation, what is expected of them and do they know this? Do they even know that they’re getting marked or is this some kind of stealth ninja evangelism event? I can’t help but wonder what will be preached at this event. Most of the people listed on the invitation are singers/hip hop artists.

 

I also can’t help but wonder what they’ll be giving away, how much time will be spent in 5-on-5 basketball games, and whether or not there will be any time left over for the “healing, deliverance, salvation, and repentance”. And, what about the AFTER PARTY when it’s all done?!?! Is this a party or a Christian event? Who are they trying to fool? The kids that they’re trying to mark? “Maybe if we call it a party, they’ll fall for it and come in and then get saved and be marked and be REAL Christians”…

 

This is ridiculous! What’s truly ironic is the verse that is used for the basis of this entire façade is Ezekiel 9:6:

 

“Utterly slay old men, young men, maidens, little children, and women, but do not touch any man on whom is the mark; and you shall start from My sanctuary.” So they started with the elders who were before the temple.

 

I wonder if they spent some time reading the context of the verse that they used? The context of the verse begins in Chapter 8. Ezekiel is sitting in his house with the elders of Judah before him. While he is sitting there, the hand of God falls on him and he sees a vision. In this vision, God shows Ezekiel the abominations of the very men sitting in front of him! The elders thought that no one knew what they were doing in secret. God revealed the idolatry that the priests and elders were living in. There were people in the temple who would face the east and worship the sun! IN GOD’S OWN TEMPLE!!! Because of this, God says something very chilling:

 

Eze 8:18 “Therefore, I indeed will deal in wrath. My eye will have no pity nor will I spare; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, yet I will not listen to them.”

 

The idolatry of those who are supposed to be leading God’s people has become an affront to God and He prepares to send judgment. God shows Ezekiel exactly what He’s going to do. In Chapter 9, God calls the executioners to Him. Six “men” gathered in front of the Lord with “their shattering weapon in their hand”. Among them was another “man” with an inkhorn. It was the job of this “man” to mark the foreheads of those who have remained obedient to the Lord and were weeping and groaning over the abominations of the elders. The six destroyers were to follow behind the man and kill anyone who did not bear the mark of God. They were to start in the temple.

 

Eze 9:9  Then He said to me, “The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is very, very great, and the land is filled with blood and the city is full of perversion; for they say, ‘The LORD has forsaken the land, and the LORD does not see!’

Eze 9:10  “But as for Me, My eye will have no pity nor will I spare, but I will bring their conduct upon their heads.”

 

If this event is truly focused on God and changing a generation, it will be full of God-centered worship, and expository preaching. Forgive me if I sound critical, but I have a really hard time understanding how mime is going to “mark a generation”. I don’t understand how 5-on-5 basketball is going to make a lasting impact on anybody for Jesus Christ. The only thing that can make a lasting change in man is through the study, understanding, and application of God’s Word. All of this needs to be done rightly. It’s not taking a verse and making it say what you want it to say. It’s about studying the Word of God to understand how He meant it. When we understand how God meant it, we can rightly apply it to our lives and it will change to be more like Christ. Not the Christ that many seem to preach about today, but the One that is witnessed to in scripture.

 

I truly pray that there will be changes happening at this “Christian” event this weekend. I find myself having a harder and harder time believing that the modern church has the ability to do more than baby-sit the youth. I really want to believe that the church can actually raise up the youth to continue the Great Commission that all of us who believe have been given. I still want to believe that there is time. In the back of my head, I have this nagging thought that time is running out


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