Ep072 The Importance of Reading the New Testament, Part 2

Why should I read the New Testament? Join Anthony and Amy Russo in Part 2 of this two-part mini-series answering that important question.

If you’ve not listened to Ep071, “The Importance of Reading the New Testament” you can do so at https://www.graceandpeaceradio.com/71

This week, Anthony and Amy continue their conversation about the importance of Bible reading. 

In Episode 70 they talked about the importance of reading the Old Testament. Last week they began answer the question of the importance of reading the New Testament but ran out of time, there was so much to talk about. This week is Part 2.

Also, would you please consider helping us bring Daniel, a teenager in Uganda, back to the US to get refitted with new prosthetic legs? Learn more at https://www.HelpDanielWalk.com.

Grace and Peace,

Anthony & Amy

Web: GraceandPeaceRadio.com

Facebook: @GraceandPeaceRadio

Twitter: @GracePeaceRadio

Store: GraceandPeaceRadio.com/shop

Email: [email protected]

Grace and Peace Radio is honored to be part of the Christian Podcast Community

Ep071 The Importance of Reading the New Testament, Part 1

Why should I read the New Testament? Join Anthony and Amy Russo in Part 1 of a two-part mini-series answering that important question.

If you’ve not listened to Ep070, “The Importance of Reading the Old Testament” you can do so at https://www.graceandpeaceradio.com/70

This week, Anthony and Amy continue their conversation about the importance of Bible reading. In fact, when it comes to answer the question: Why should I read the New Testament? Anthony and Amy had enough thoughts that they had to break it up into two episodes. This week is Part 1.

Also, would you please consider helping us bring Daniel, a teenager in Uganda, back to the US to get refitted with new prosthetic legs? Learn more at https://www.HelpDanielWalk.com.

Grace and Peace,

Anthony & Amy

Web: GraceandPeaceRadio.com

Facebook: @GraceandPeaceRadio

Twitter: @GracePeaceRadio

Store: GraceandPeaceRadio.com/shop

Email: [email protected]

Grace and Peace Radio is honored to be part of the Christian Podcast Community

We Have Indeed Forgotten (A 9/11 Reflection)

Twenty years ago America briefly left its perversions and went to church. It got religion, but soon went back to its old ways. And then it went further.

I’m sitting at my kitchen table on the morning of the 20th anniversary of 9/11. It was exactly 20 years ago that I was at work. At the time I was living north of Atlanta, but that day would find me down in Tampa on a business trip, setting up computers in a new office space for my then-employer. I was 30 years old. Me and my coworker were crawling over and under desks cabling up computers and monitors. We had a lot of work to do that day.

No sooner had we gotten started and we heard the early news reports. Something strange was going on. New York was under attack. Now Washington D.C. Something something something. Pentagon… Before day’s end we were both lined up at the local blood bank to donate a pint of help. In the ensuing days we would have to rent a car to drive 7 hours home since all the flights were grounded. The skies were eerily empty that day we drove home. The whole nation felt that way.

NEVER FORGET

The phrase NEVER FORGET became attached to the events of 9/11 almost immediately, it seems. In truth, I have forgotten. I don’t remember much about that day anymore. I remember standing by a water retention pond near the hotel and calling my mother in New Jersey to see how family was up there. (Back in those days I called her daily since she was in the last stages of the cancer that would take her life four months later.) I remember watching the second tower fall on a big TV in a nearby hotel lobby, at least I think I do. Maybe it was one of the constant replays that day. I remember the blood bank and the drive home days later. Those are most of my memories, and I’m no longer even sure of some of them.

Despite the many posts on Facebook I’m seeing, I don’t think I’m alone. I think many people have forgotten. Oh sure, many remember the events of 9/11, but they’ve forgotten God. For weeks, maybe months after 9/11 churches were packed. But then that quieted down. Slowly, although life would never be the same, life returned to new-normal. And once again, the Lord was in none of our national thoughts.

Asa: A Warning in Two Acts

In 2 Chronicles 16, the writer records the last years of Judah’s King Asa. King Asa’s earlier years were ones of faithfulness to the Lord, “Asa,” the inspired writer tells us, “did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God,” (14:2). When the Cushites attacked Asa and the people of Judah “with a vast army” (v 9), Asa knew he and his army were about to be crushed by their attacker.

Rather than make the mistake of alliances with other nations to come to their aid, Asa did the right thing and turned to the Lord. “Lord,” he prayed, “there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you…O LORD, You are our God” (v 11). Asa called on the Lord and He brought an impossible and mighty deliverance.

Fast-forward some years later. In the 36th year of his reign, Asa and Judah are once again besieged, this time by the northern kingdom of Israel, their own kin. Only instead of turning to the Lord again, Asa foolishly empties the Temple of the Lord of its gold and silver, and gives them to Ben-Hadad king of Aram in Damascus to come to Judah’s defense.

Asa lost his way through folly and apostasy, and the Lord sent the prophet Hanani (16:7-9) to pronounce judgment. Despite the great words of comfort and hope that, “the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him,” the prophet speaks the words of God in declaring to Asa, “You have done a foolish thing…”

Rather than humble himself and repent, Asa doubled-down on his wickedness. He threw Hanani in prison and “brutally oppressed” some of his own subjects. And when the Lord sent a terrible disease in Asa’s feet, “even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD,” (12).

Twenty Years On

And now, here we are. I’ll leave it for historians to write about the years after 9/11, but if you were alive then, you know. Bush. Cheney. Rumsfeld. Rice. Powell. Iraq. Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda. Taliban. Hussein. Bin Laden. The Patriot Act. Airport body scanners. Shoes off. Belts off. Freedom Tower. Globalists. Obama. Recession. Obama again. Trump. COVID-19. Biden. Afghanistan. Taliban 2.0.

The truth is: I’m not overly concerned with the politics today. I’m concerned about what really matters: the eternal, the moral and spiritual aspects of where we’re at today as a nation.

The truth is: I’m not overly concerned with the politics today. I’m concerned about what really matters: the eternal, the moral and spiritual aspects of where we’re at today as a nation.

Twenty years ago America briefly left its perversions and went to church. It got religion (often infused with patriotism, which in degrees is not necessarily a bad thing), but soon went back to its old ways. And then it went further.

Now we have a whole distorted alphabet of sexual sins. We’ve gone from one rainbow flag to multiple varieties of them. (It’s interesting that even all of those groups can’t unite under a single banner.) And as a nation we even fly the rainbow flag at our embassies around the world. And it’s everywhere on TV and the Internet. And it’s in many professing evangelical churches.

This new deformed and constricted alphabet has altered the words we speak and the thoughts we are allowed to think. Traditional pronouns are verboten, replaced by an endless mashup of meaningless vowels and consonants to reflect one’s gender, genders, or non-binary, gender fluid, or no gender at all, self-identification. Whatever all that means; I don’t think the people who use this new-speak even know. How can they? Truth, like Hanani, was thrown in prison long ago.

It’s not just sexual stuff. It’s everything. All this linguistic contortion has also warped our logic. (Warped logic may be the only thing that actually does makes sense: Without absolute truths in morality or science, there are no more boundaries on anything.) Men can have periods, and if they miss, it’s because they’re pregnant, since we all know now that it’s not only women who get pregnant. Everyone has the potential to be a “birthing person” now. Imagine that 20 years ago.

And if said person doesn’t want to be a “birthing person” well, they still have the Choice to kill. It’s been so long since 9/11 that America can now own that it has murdered yet another generation in its abortion “clinics.” Last week I saw an article with a woman proudly wearing a t-shirt that told how many abortions she’s had (it was something like 17).

It used to be beauty was in the eye of the beholder, but now we are all subject to horrific perversions of God’s created order of beauty, everywhere around us in our culture. Nothing is sacred. Everything is profane. And that’s just the way they want it. And we know they’re not finished yet.

Twenty Years from Now

When the angels came to get Lot and his family out of Sodom, after the angels struck the city’s men blind, they were still clawing at Lot’s house to try to find the door, so they could break it down and have sex with his guests. America’s pervasion isn’t there yet, but it sure seems to be getting close. Or maybe it’s just more sophisticated, accomplished online and helplessly trafficked through highway rest stops. I don’t know.

What I do know is that America, like King Asa, is undeniably afflicted by the Lord. We are clearly under some form of judgment. And like Asa, we have doubled-down in our sin and rebellion. The writer of Chronicles could write of America today, “even in his illness, he did not seek help from the LORD.”

Asa died and was buried in the forty-first year of his reign. After his burial “they made a huge fire in his honor,” (14). I’ve spent nearly an hour and a half reflecting and writing this. The biggest thing I think about today is: How long until the Lord determines that America’s time on earth, like Asa’s, is up. America looks almost unrecognizable from 20 year ago. I was thirty then, and fifty now. What will America look like if the Lord lets things unravel for another twenty years? I’ll be 70 then. I might be around, but will the United States?

Today

Today I pray for those who lost loved ones on 9/11, and for all those who lost loved ones in the wars that followed. But above all I pray for revival. Not a neo-religious-patriotism, a flag-waving display of American Cultural Christianity. No, we don’t need anymore of that! Pray for the Lord to have mercy on this lawless, God-forgetting land. Pray for Him to raise up a remnant of people who are struck low by a reverent fear of the Lord, who are broken by their sin, who cry out to Jesus to save them, who declare Him Lord and Master and King, and are willing to follow Him regardless of where culture or country goes, for His eternal glory.

Of all that Americans remember today, may we remember and return to the Lord.

Sunday Thoughts

It’s been a long time since I put up a blog post and Sunday afternoons are a good time to reflect on things I’m appreciative of.

Hello Friends. Anthony here. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of writing on the side and looking at other blogs. It made me realize how I haven’t written a blog post on here in forever. Amy and I are back doing the podcasts, which we hope you’re getting something out of, but for a self-professed, “Christian blog and podcast” there hasn’t been much of the former. So, I thought a leisurely Sunday afternoon was a nice time to open my laptop and write to you. Sunday afternoons are a good time to reflect on things I’m appreciative of.

Appreciating the Seasons

By God’s grace, we’re doing well. The Lord blessed us with a great summer. I’ll include some highlight photos at the bottom of this, including volunteering at our church’s VBS and one of me replacing the starter in our van, which was a neat accomplishment since I don’t usually do my own car repairs.

Now we are looking forward to the change of season. I think it can be sinful of Christians to rush the change of seasons. We ought not to grumble and complain about the weather the Lord is kind to provide us with. So often I notice the world grumbles about winter’s cold only to grouse six months later about summer’s heat, and how now they can’t wait for fall! It makes sense. The world without Jesus is a restless place. We Christians can fall into that trap too, though. Instead, let’s look forward to the Lord’s splendor on display in autumn’s brilliant leaves, cider, pumpkins, and, yes, cooler temps, but let’s be grateful for today, too.

Appreciating a New Chapter

By now the academic year has started again, and this time I praise the Lord I’m not part of it! Having completed my M.Div after 10 long years of on-again/off-again studies this past May, it feels equal parts strange and exhilarating that my academic days are behind me at last. Now I get to read books because I want to, not because I have to. It’s a nice new chapter of life to be in.

Appreciating My Co-Host

Over the summer podcasting break Amy and I had time to reflect on where we want to go with the show. Having her on as a co-host has been a real shift for the show, which started out with just me. Back then it was much more of a “teaching” show, me studying for some topic and effectively delivering a monologue about it. Now, with Amy, it’s a conversation. Besides her thoughtful reflections (which really add to the show, I think), her cheerfulness really comes out in the recordings. The whole dynamic of Grace and Peace Radio has changed, and for the better.

Appreciating Jesus

As I mentioned in our first episode coming back, we want to capitalize on the new dynamic. Instead of being straight-up teaching on a subject, we want the shows to be engaging discipling conversations. That’s not to say that we think we’re, ahem, so wise and sanctified that we have so much to impart to you, feeble listener. God forbid!

Rather, we both have found that we genuinely enjoy coming to the microphones and sharing what the Lord has shown us, the same way someone who is really into collecting seashells or sea glass would lay out their collection and talk about each piece’s uniqueness. I don’t know about you, but when someone does that to me I find their enthusiasm contagious. I become excited by what excites them. That doesn’t mean I’m going to start collecting shells, just that my world is a little bigger and a little more informed than it was, and that much more enjoyable.

And that’s the point, really. We want listeners of Grace and Peace Radio to share in our enthusiasm about the Lord Jesus Christ, who saved us sinners. It’s like how the Apostle John wrote in 1 John 1:3-5,

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our [or “your”] joy complete.

1 John 1:3-5 NIV

Jesus changed our lives when He saved each of us. And then He changed them again when He brought us together. And He’s changed them several times over through the 14 years we’ve been married, through all the ups and downs and twists and turns. Yet every single step of the way He has shown Himself good and kind and faithful.

Appreciating You

And so, as I sit here imagining you, our listeners, some I know and some I won’t meet until Heaven, it’s my prayer that in some small way, our joy at the treasure of Jesus we have will be shared with you.

That will make our joy complete, too.

May the Lord glorify Himself and bless you,

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Test Your Testimony

“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.” John 4:39

 

The story of the woman at the well is perhaps the most influential story of sharing Christ in the whole New Testament. For one thing, she not only shared about Jesus, she shared Jesus—running back into town to invite everyone to “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did…” (29).

 

I’m not one to be drawn to history or sports. Part of the reason is because it is all too detached for me. Another king. Another war. Some country far away. Some team that won or lost. Whatever.

 

But when someone is enthusiastic and describes the king, the underlying conflict, or the personal drama of why that particular game was so important to a player, coach, or the whole team, I’m drawn in. I suddenly care about something I had no interest in before. Likewise, when I hear someone’s testimony of how Jesus changed their life, I’ll stop what I’m doing to listen.

 

Yesterday I listened to a man tell his story of 12 years of drug addiction and how Jesus set him free. That was 12 years ago, so he’s now been clean for as long as he was using drugs. He had ruined his life but God, in the miraculous way that he does, reached down, saved him, and made him whole. God not only gave him new life; he gave him a story to tell. A testimony to share. “Come and see a man…”

 

Not coincidentally, the same day I heard that brother’s testimony, I read the story of a professional baseball player who had become a Christian. He was “fired up” about Jesus as the story was told. He quit all the vices of life on the road and was a changed man…but not for long.

 

Years later, the writer met that famous baseball player at a ballpark where he was doing a meet and greet with fans, signing balls and hats and having all the usual fan interactions retired baseball players do. When the writer asked him if he was still “fired up for Jesus” the man lowered his head and admitted, “Not like I used to be.”

 

How about you? Is yours a life radically and permanently changed by Jesus? Or did you have a go at following Jesus but, like so many others, eventually left him when things got too difficult? If you ran into your town today, would many “Samaritans” believe in Jesus because of your testimony?

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