Paul’s Lost Letter to the Roman Citizens

Peace and Grace in the name of Jesus Christ and in honor of Caesar.

I, Paul, Apostle, citizen of Heaven and Rome, praise God for you each day and the blessings we enjoy as citizens of the Great Empire.

I urge you, brethren, to spread the good news of Jesus as you go about spreading the good news of the Greek culture. You have such a great advantage of many over our brothers and sisters who are only citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom.  We must serve the Lord with everything we have, using every blessing to please Him.

Jesus Christ, our Savior, has blessed us so that we will not have to suffer the crucifixion as He did and as some of our brethren do.  But this is only the greatest of rights we have as citizens of the greatest military, economic, and cultural empire that God has seen fit to establish.

As you know, we must get the Flavians out of Rome.  They have continued their policy of pagan idolatry, lasciviousness, debauchery, and greed.  Those who don’t have the privilege and rights of citizenship in the empire have their hands tied so it is up to us to make a change.  While they are praying and taking care of the poor, we will be working to get our dear brother Erastus into the Senate as soon as possible.  Only then can we effect the change in this Empire that the Father wants.

Thanks be to God for the family of Zealots I converted in Jericho.  The love the Lord and are keeping their knives sharp.

The Lord has also blessed us with a wonderful offering that can be used to bribe various officials into looking the other way as we practice our faith.  The drachmas were collected for the poor, starving brethren in Jerusalem, but we know that this is truly God’s Will and supersedes mere physical needs.  Please be in prayer for those in Jerusalem.

Greet Mittius Romneus and the brethren.  I hope to see you all soon so that we may have a special assembly to sing hymns to Caesar and Fly the Eagle Banner together.

Support New Bill in Congress

Bill H.CON.RES.238 is now in the House and would require all American citizens to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins when then reach age 13.

The “Baptism Bill” has undergone numerous revisions but the final one is the result of six Church of Christ ministers from the Bible Belt.

“This is a Christian Nation and God’s principles must be observed,” says Memphis Evangelist Flavil Stone Campbell. He then added, “If God only wanted us to preach the Gospel and pray, He would not have blessed us with a Democratic Christian Nation.”

The group has been working tirelessly to legislate the Word of God and restore Christianity to its prominence in America.

Preacher Scotty Walt of Nashville explained their plan: “As soon as the Baptism Bill passes, we will move on to the Marriage Amendment, then on to codifying adultery, then all types of fornication.  Once our influence and power is fully established, we will move on to more pressing matters such as the use of instruments in church services.”

“The most difficult part was coming to agreement on the ‘age of accountability,’ but in the end we just averaged everyone’s speculation to get age 13,” said Minister Foy Dobson III, who resides in Texas.

Families will have 60 days to fulfill this law before a $500 fine will be imposed.  Fines will increase each month afterward.  If a child reaches his/her 14th birthday without obeying the law, prison terms begin at six months to a year.

The preachers managed to get rid of language concerning the Holy Spirit and the preachers who proposed it.  After much internal debate, the brothers suggesting that it be included gave up and left the deliberations.

“We must take our country back from the Liberals, the Democrats, Denominations, and Muslims,” Dobson continued.

The other ministers could not be reached since they have been spending so much time in Washington that their respective congregations dissolved.

Some of the details of the proposed bill include:

  • It must be done by an approved Church of Christ minister in an approved Church of Christ building in an approved baptistry.
  • The words “for the remission of sins” must be spoken above the candidate.
  • The minister must have one hand raised as he speaks.
  • The entire body of the candidate must be immersed.
  • Anyone in attendance may say, “Amen,” but may not applaud.

Passing the Torch: Godly Influences

John Dobbs had the great idea to blog about ministers who have influenced us in our faith.  What a great way to give honor to whom honor is due and express gratitude to God and these godly men for their service in the Kingdom.

My sister wrote about our Dad HERE, so please read that, too.  There are many I could write about but chose one in particular.

Mike Tanaro (sorry, Trent, for stealing your preacher/dad) had been at the Lone Oak Church of Christ for a couple of years before we began attending. God was working on me, a 15 year old, and I had just been learning/beginning to pay better attention during the assembly and actually listen to the sermon.

Mike made it easier.

He was animated, loud at times, he paced all over, even standing among the youth group when they were talking and misbehaving.  We would occasionally have a “Preaching and Singing till Midnight” on a Friday night.  Those nights he would pace the entire auditorium as he taught.  I will always remember him preaching a series on the book of Romans that was easy to understand and fascinating. In fact, all his sermons were easy to follow and understand.  It was as if he was just talking to you about the Bible and Jesus.

I remember one time he was talking about Moses or someone lying prostrate on the ground, so he suddenly dropped down on his stomache, in the middle of a sentence!  That got everyone’s attention.  He had a lot of great catchphrases, some were probably learned at Sunset from Richard Rogers and others but I will always associate them with Mike Tanaro.

  • “We are saved to serve.  We serve to save.”
  • “You walk, He wipes”  comparing God’s grace to windshield wipers and sin as rain drops, talking about 1 John 1, as he walked across the stage and simulated wipers with his arms.
  • “Do what they did, get what they got”  teaching on the first Christians and salvation

Two more things someone reminded me of:  The regular “Bible checks.”  And when he asked a question during a sermon, he expected a response, and would shake his head up and and down, and side to side as he said, “This means yes, this means no.”

Even though I went through two Christian colleges and learned a lot as an associate minister in Italy, I picked up a few things subconsciously from Mike, although I will never be as good of a preacher.  I do pace occasionally and feel tied down when I don’t have a wireless microphone.  I don’t tell lots of stories or use long illustrations, trying to keep things simple and straightforward.  I wasn’t taught these things at Harding, but do them nonetheless.

God used Mike Tanaro at the right time in my life to create a love for the Word and preaching. Although most of his influence on me was from the pulpit, it certainly left a mark.

How I Got Here (3): pivotal months in 1998

As a senior English major I considered continuing my education and completing a Master’s degree.  I even took one of those prep tests.  I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but a door opened and I walked right through it.

I had heard of the Avanti Italia program from the semester I spent in Italy back in 1995.  It is overseen by the College Church of Christ in Searcy, AR, which is where Harding University is located.  The school program I was in was actually a part of Harding and not FHU.  There was a social event at the Avanti building and we met the workers there.  We also worshipped at the church of Christ in Florence often with the Italian church and Avanti Italia workers.  At that point in my life, I had no inkling or desire to be a minister or do mission work.

But by the time I got to the middle of my senior year, the chance to live overseas teaching English and the Bible really appealed to me.  Of course, the fact that it I would be living in Italy was also cool.  I had a couple of friends who also committed two years to serving in this way.  The program recruits Christians who are college graduates to spend two years in Italy, mostly in Florence, but also other regions, to simply teach English lessons using the Bible.

Some students just want English but they get the Bible.  Some want Bible discussion from the beginning, others grow in their interest.

I made the decision in December of 1997 and had a year to raise my support.  I needed around $900 per month for a two year period. Fund-raising was a challenging and faith-building experience.  I also appreciate my home congregation (Lone Oak) for being my sponsoring church.

I was scheduled to leave in January of 1999.  What would I do from graduation (May 1998) until then besides raise support?

God had an answer for that, too.

The Clements Street Church of Christ in Paducah, KY, stepped in.  My grandparents attended there.  I often joked that they were the congregation’s youth group.  It was an older, smaller (around 40-50 members) congregation that was in between preachers and needed someone to fill in.  And my grandfather recommended me.  From about July through December I preached both times each Sunday and taught Revelation on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening continuously. (Why Revelation? I had just completed a really good Bible class at Freed my final semester and had good notes and a couple of good books.  It went pretty well.)

It was a wonderful experience for someone with no Bible degree, no preaching classes, little speaking experience.  I grew a lot.  They were a sweet group of Christians and I will always appreciate my grandparents and them for giving me that great opportunity.

The next post (next week) will cover my time spent in Italy, and I may need to break that into two parts.

What’s Wrong with America?!?!

My personal opinion…it’s the Christians.

I see that just about everyone has been blamed at some point:  Jews, homosexuals, Republicans, Democrats, Wall Street guys, Muslims, and Christians.

My vote is for us.  Disciples of Jesus.  His Kingdom on Earth, the Church.

Throughout the years, we kept talking about how great America is and didn’t talk enough about how great Jesus is.  The schools and government preached “be a good person” and converted most of our nation and we were okay with the low standards.  We have been a nation of church-goers and “good” people for a long time.

What will that get you?  All the bad news you keep reading about.

Why do we expect people who have not committed their lives to Jesus to do anything other than follow Satan?  Is that really a shock?  Mankind is sinful and without the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, things get ugly.  Even with those blessings and power, those of us really attempting the life of a disciple struggle.

In my worthless opinion, the blame should go to Christians.

If the church had focused more about the Gospel than being good…

If the church had focused on love instead of politics…

If the church had focused more on benevolence than greed…

If the church had focused more on evangelism than buildings…

If the church had been focused more on unity than winning debates…

If the church had focused more on Jesus than programs…

If the church had been all about salt and light instead of power…

If the church had spoken the Truth in love, while living holy lives instead of judging, condemning and voting…

I am disappointed in those who wear the name, Christian.  We have made a commitment to live, act, speak, etc. a certain way because of God’s Great Love and Jesus.  Our nation could have been a better place right now.

Laws are not going to make our nation what we want it to be.  Christian politicians passing Christian laws are not going to make us better. Sure, we can reign in the sinners, but we won’t change them.

Preaching the Gospel in order to have more people transformed by the Holy Spirit will make our nation a better place.

Keep in mind, we should not expect a Utopia on earth.  Jesus said “small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:14)  America has been blessed but not a Christian nation.  Christian nations don’t practice genocide (native americans), Christian nations don’t oppress and enslave races of people, Christan nations don’t perpetuate and enforce racism.

Keep in mind, I am not speaking as a Democrat, nor an East Coast elitist, nor an Ivy Leage trained liberal.  I grew up in the Bible Belt in rural KY, studied at Christian schools, voted mostly Republican when I voted and just happen to live in NJ now.

My opinion, right or wrong, comes from my faith in Jesus and understanding of His Word.