Greetings from the southwest corner of Wyoming

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Ash Wednesday Sermon

February 14, 2018

Rewards of the Father (Soundcloud)

Rewards of the Father (MP3)
Rewards of the Father (MP3)

Tortured for Christ - Movie

Thursday, March 8, at 7:00pm
Evanston Alliance Church
235 Overthrust Road / Evanston, WY 
Each ticket buyer receives admission to the show, and a free copy of the book, Tortured for Christ. Proceeds from the movie will go to persecuted Christians throughout the world.
Synopsis: The dramatic testimony of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand as told in the international bestseller Tortured for Christ. In 1945, Communists seized power and a million Russian troops poured into his beloved Romania. Pastor Wurmbrand was captured by the secret police and held as "Prisoner Number 1." 14 years of unthinkable torture in Communist prison could not break his faith.  90 runtime (Parental Guidance strongly recommended)
Trailer #1

Trailer #2

Monday, January 8, 2018

CrossTalk: Calculating Christ's Birthday

I am writing this devotion on the 12th and last day of Christmas. These 12 days of Christmas mark the time between Christmas Day, December 25, and the Festival of the Epiphany on January 6. But how did these two dates become important in connection to Christmas?

Even though Christmas wasn’t really celebrated until the middle of the fourth century, people were still interested in knowing the date of Jesus’ birth. In fact, around the year 200 AD, two different parts of the Church calculated two different dates 12 days apart. Tertullian, a Latin Christian in northern Africa, came up with December 25, while an unknown Greek Christian in the near-East thought it was January 6.

Rather than resolving these two dates, it simply became the custom that eastern, Greek-speaking Christians observed January 6, while western, Latin-speaking Christians celebrated Christmas on December 25. We in the west also developed the custom of celebrating the Greek Christmas (January 6) as the “Christmas for the gentiles,” the day when the first non-Jews saw the baby Jesus.

Besides these two dates, there have been both ancient and modern scholars who calculated still other dates for Jesus’ birth. The Bible itself does not record the date. Neither am I aware of any tradition handed down from Mary or Jesus’ brothers. So we really shouldn’t argue too vigorously about it.

Still, it is worth understanding why the days between December 25 and January 6 have been observed by all Christians for 1,800 years. The popular internet rumor that we simply borrowed December 25 from the pagan Romans doesn’t hold water. Besides, it cannot account for the January date at all.

In fact, the earliest datings of Jesus’ birth aren’t concerned with Jesus’ birth so much as they are concerned with Jesus’ conception! Tertullian and others set out to calculate the day of Jesus’ conception. Once they reckoned that, they simply assumed that the birthday would be nine months later.

Around the year 200 AD, Tertullian concluded that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Ghost on March 25. That would make His birthday on December 25. In the same way, the Greek scholar in the east came up with April 6th as the day of Jesus’ conception, and so January 6 would be the natural time for his birth.

But what in the world would make these people think that could know the date of Jesus’ conception? Truth be told, it was a purely theological idea. Both men were operating under the widely-shared notion that great men, which Jesus surely was, always died on the very same day that they were conceived.

Tertullian and his counterpart in the east both set out to calculate the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. They each came to different dates, but everything else flowed from that. Our December 25 date assumes that Jesus was crucified on March 25. The Greek Orthodox date of January 6 assumes that Jesus was crucified on April 6.

Regardless of whether you are an eastern Christian or a western Christian, Christmas has always been connected to Good Friday.

What a beautiful thought! Jesus was born to be our Savior from sin, death and hell. He was born to give His body for the life of the world. He was born to be King of the Jews. All of this happened on the cross. There He “destroyed the works of the devil” (John 3:8). On that day He said, “This is My Body given for you” (Luke 22:-19). There He wore the crown and hung under the title, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (John 19:19).

Maybe this is what the hymnist William Dix was thinking when he wrote “What Child Is This?” In the second verse of this Christmas classic we sing, “Nails, spear shall pierce Him though, The cross be borne for me, for you. Hail, hail the Word made flesh, the Babe, the Son of Mary.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

CrossTalk: Thank God by Receiving His Benefits

Thanksgiving Day is about giving thanks. That’s a no-brainer. The question is: to whom, why and how?

Giving can only be done toward somebody else. We can give gifts to friends and taxes to Caesar, but to whom do we give our thanks? We can certainly start with our parents. They, after all, gave us life, protection, nourishment, upbringing and, most of all, love. Giving thanks to parents, brothers and sisters for the love that they have given us makes Thanksgiving Day a holiday about family.

Still, when we gather as a family to share a meal, to whom does the family give thanks? Who gave your parents life, protection, nourishment, upbringing and love? Nobody answers with endless genealogical lines. We know instinctively that it is about God, “the Father from whom every family in heaven and earth is named” (Ephesians 3:14-15).

So, Thanksgiving Day is about giving thanks to God, our Creator. We give thanks to Him because life is good, and I mean that in the most basic sense possible. Despite the evil in the world and all the pain that we have experienced, despite of the inevitability of our own death, we know unshakably that to be alive is better than to not be alive.

And the living existence that we have came from God. In his love He considered whether to give you life or not, and He chose the better thing for you. He didn’t have to do it. You hadn’t done anything to earn life. How could you? You didn’t even exist! He gave you your life and existence as a gift, by grace.

In the very first interaction you ever had with God, you were on the receiving end of the greatest gift ever. We give thanks to Him because He first gave life to us, and He continues to give it and everything you need to support, protect, and save it from death.

His initial gift of life is matched by His continual giving of rain and sunshine, harvest and springtime and absolutely everything that is needed to support your body and life. And since, due to evil and sin, your life is inevitably marching towards death, He even gives you the free gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, to rescue you from sin, death and the devil and to keep you alive forever.

It’s for all of this that we give thanks. Our thanks doesn’t pay Him back. We can’t. It simply acknowledges these two things: Life is good, and God gives it to you.

But how can you give thanks? Is it simply a matter of setting aside one day a year? Of course not. It is not even covered by saying the words “thank you” a thousand times a day. The only real way to give thanks is to appreciatively receive what you are given.

When you’re at Grandma’s house on Thanksgiving Day and you want to thank her for the meal, you won’t simply send her a nice card and head out to McDonald’s. You will skip the card and sit down at the table. It makes Grandma happy to see you enjoying what she gives you.

The same is true of God. He who loves your life so much that He decided from all eternity to give it to you also wants you to enjoy it for all eternity. He is pleased to see you appreciate the value of your life. He is delighted when receive the suffering and death of His only-begotten Son who preserves your life forever.

The best way to thank God this Thursday, and every day, is to ask and receive from Him every good and gracious gift that He desires to give you.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Body of Christ and the Public Square

I just learned about this great series of conferences hosted by Our Savior Lutheran Church in Hartland, MI. It is called "Body of Christ and the Public Square"

Here are all the YouTube links and MP3 files.

2015 September 26
Dr. William Weinrich MP3 / YouTube
David Barton (1) MP3 / YouTube
Senator Patrick Colbeck MP3 / YouTube
Rev. Raphael Cruz MP3 / YouTube
William Wagner MP3 / YouTube
David Barton (2) MP3 / YouTube
Bob Dutko MP3 / YouTube
Representative Lee Chatfield MP3 / YouTube
Panel Discussion MP3 / YouTube

2016 October 1
Rev. Christopher Thoma - The Two Kingdoms and the Tragic Assumptions MP3 / YouTube
Rep. Lana Theis and Senator Patrick Colbeck - An Exercise in Religious Liberty MP3 / YouTube
Professor William Wagner - God, Man and the Constitution MP3 / YouTube
Dinesh D'Souza MP3 / YouTube
Panel Discussion MP3 / YouTube

2017 October 7
Joshua Thoma MP3 / YouTube
Rev. Christopher Thoma MP3 / YouTube
Rev. Dr. Jamison Hardy MP3 / YouTube
Senator Patrick Colbeck MP3 / YouTube
Dr. Thomas Burke MP3 / YouTube
Dennis Prager MP3 / YouTube
Panel Discussion MP3 / YouTube

2017 October 14
Rev. Christopher Thoma MP3 / YouTube
Professor William Wagner MP3 / YouTube
Senator Joe Hune MP3 / YouTube
Rep. Louis Ghomert MP3 / YouTube
Panel Discussion MP3 / YouTube

Friday, November 3, 2017

Dr. Maureen Condic

Headwaters Circuit Forum, September 9, 2017 (audio)
Embryology, the Basics
Assisted Reproductive Technologies

Life: Defining the Beginning by the End, First Things, May 2003
When Does Human Life Begin? The Scientific Evidence and Terminology Revisited, University of St. Thomas Journal of Law and Public Policy, Fall 2013, Vol. 8, No. 1. 44-81
A Scientific View of When Life Begins, Lozier Institute, June 11, 2014

Congressional Testimony:
Fetal Pain at 8 weeks, April 2017 (YouTube)

Recommended Reading:
Embryo: A Defense of Human Life, Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen