All posts by Bill Bryan

Beer & Brats after Church – Everyone’s Invited

The local Lutheran Church is hosting a “Traditional Oktoberfest” today following their morning worship services. Complete with an outdoor tent, there’ll be “German music, Brats & Beer!” Hot dogs and wine will also be available. Everyone is invited to wear a costume. Admission and food is free – but they’ll charge you for the booze.

The word worldly means “relating or devoted to the temporal world.” Worldliness is the condition of being concerned with worldly things, especially to the neglect of spiritual things. Scripture has much to say about “worldliness,” none of it good.

In fact, there is to be a clear distinction between worldly people and Christians. Read Paul’s instruction to the Ephesian brethren: This I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles walk…(Ephesians 4.17).

He wrote to the Christians in Corinth to go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you (2 Corinthians 6.17) and James encouraged his readers to keep oneself unstained by the world (James 1:27).

Perhaps the clearest language on this matter is Romans 12.1-2, Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Peter reminds Christians that we should refrain from worldly behavior: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2.9).

Without meaning to be harsh or judgmental, I see a great inconsistency in professing to worship God in holiness one hour and then conducting a “traditional Oktoberfest” complete with beer and wine the next. How is that different from the world? How does that proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light?

grace and peace to you all


Biblical Prophecy and the Eclipse

Behold, the day of the Lord is coming,
Cruel, with fury and burning anger,
To make the land a desolation;
And He will exterminate its sinners from it.
For the stars of heaven and their constellations
Will not flash forth their light;
The sun will be dark when it rises
And the moon will not shed its light.
Thus I will punish the world for its evil
And the wicked for their iniquity.

Isaiah 13.9-11

And when I extinguish you,
I will cover the heavens and darken their stars;
I will cover the sun with a cloud
And the moon will not give its light.
All the shining lights in the heavens
I will darken over you
And will set darkness on your land,
Declares the Lord God.

Ezekiel 32.7-8

SAN ANTONIO, TX— Prophecy and end-times expert Pastor John Hagee, founder of Cornerstone Church in San Antonia, Texas, was seen in his study furiously typing up a book to be rushed out ahead of the historic solar eclipse.

 “This puppy won’t sell like my classic blood moon book,” Hagee told reporters as he typed at 150 words per minute. “I mean four blood moons? That was a once in a lifetime deal – every prophecy guru’s dream. But I can still sell a few hundred thousand copies as long as I can find some kind of tenuous connection to Daniel, Zechariah, or Revelation.” (

Prophecy-obsessed Christians have latched onto the impending eclipse. Anne Graham Lotz, for example, speculates the solar eclipse is a sign of impending judgment on America. She starts her brief comments by citing Joel 2.31. In that text the sun is darkened before the great day of the Lord. Along with the blood-moon delusions of a few years ago, this obsession with regular astronomical phenomenon is the result of a combination of poor biblical exegesis and a lack of understanding of science.

First, a solar eclipse is a normal and predictable event. There is nothing about this event which is unusual or supernatural. Simply put, the moon blocks light from the sun. This is a very predictable event. There was a solar eclipse March 8/9, 2016 visible in Indonesia (no apocalyptic judgment happened), and there will be another solar eclipse July 2, 2019 visible in South America. lists dates for lunar or solar eclipses around the world.

Second, any biblical text which mentions the “sun darkened” is not talking about a regular, normal eclipse. Here are two examples. In the Joel 2.31 passage Lotz cites, the sun is darkened as a part of apocalyptic events associated with the Day of the Lord. In the immediate context Joel refers to the Holy Spirit as “poured out” on all people. This is a standard way of referring to the New Covenant (for example, Isaiah 35; Jeremiah 33.31-33). The “darkening of the sun” could refer (literally) to the sun darkened during God’s wrath on Jerusalem in 586 B.C., or (more figuratively) to the abasement of the sun and moon as spiritual forces, gods, etc. Either way, it is not a natural, predictable phenomenon.

A second example of unnatural darkness is the three hours of darkness during the crucifixion (Mark 15.33). This cannot be an eclipse since it lasts far too long and is localized to “the land,” probably just Jerusalem or Judea. Although the darkness can be explained theologically in several different ways, it is not a natural, predictable phenomenon.

Third, the Bible must be read in its cultural context. The ancient world did not fully understand what an eclipse was and often thought they were signs from the gods. For example, according to Herodotus an eclipse occurred during a war between the Medes and the Lydians; both sides were so terrified by the sign they immediately signed a peace treaty (Hist.1.73-74). The eclipse was allegedly predicted by Thales of Miletus.

Similarly, in 1503 Columbus accurately predicted a lunar eclipse and the red moon and used this prediction to pacify the local Jamaican islanders. Thucydides 1.23.3 listed eclipses along with earthquakes, droughts, famines, and pestilence that affected the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War.

This means a writer living in 500 B.C. or A.D. 90 who wanted to describe strange apocalyptic signs would naturally include eclipses in their list of cosmic signs. But the word in this context has to mean an unpredicted, unnatural darkness rather than a natural and predictable solar eclipse.

Conclusion. If you live in America, enjoy your eclipse. But do not worry about it as a sign from God ushering in his judgment. Honestly, God has plenty of good reasons to smite America and he does not need to warn us with an eclipse.


The heavens declare the glory of God;
the firmament displays His handiwork.
Psalm 19.1



The Way of Love

You’re familiar with this quote from 1 Corinthians 13:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

Here are some other characteristics of love from 1005 Grant Street in Imperial, Nebraska:

Love pulls into town in four 5th wheel travel trailers; love is four retired couples traveling the country helping small rural churches; love works together sharing the load. It begins the day in prayer and song and devotional thought; it covers nails, strips, floats, and sands drywall; cuts in around doors, ceilings, and floors; paints walls and trim. Love prepares lunch for everyone; cleans the kitchen, wipes down pews and songbooks, and vacuums the floors. Love seeks to serve others.

We cannot say enough in thanking the Sojourners for the work they’ve done here this week. The outdated dark paneling is gone. The walls have been repaired and painted. The interior of our building has a fresh “new” look. Thank you for your experience, expertise, and hard work.

Jesus once said, “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13.35). Thanks, Glenn and Anita, Joe and Linda, Meredith and Pat, Robert and Larue, for loving us.

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13.13

– Bill

About the Sojourners:

Sojourners are a group of mostly retired Christians who own RVs. Their goal is national evangelism. Upon request, the Sojourners travel to smaller congregations of the churches of Christ to help them grow spiritually and physically. The National Evangelism with Sojourners of the Church of Christ is established for the purpose of working with congregations to strengthen the church, to encourage, instruct, teach, edify, and evangelize.              –from



Memorial Day 2017

Tomorrow the nation pauses to observe Memorial Day in remembrance of the men and women who have lost their lives in the service of this country and specifically in memory of those who perished in war.

Freedom. That’s the watchword of our republic, and while taken for granted so much of the time, we must remember it has been secured and maintained at a precious cost. Those who laid down their lives to protect the freedom of others deserve to be remembered.

Sunday, and each Lord’s Day, is also a Memorial Day. We gather to worship, and to give thanks, and to remember the One who laid down His life for us.

Freedom. That’s the watchword of our faith, and while taken for granted so much of the time, we must remember it was secured at a precious cost.

And the soldiers took Him away into the place (that is, the Praetorium), and there they called together the whole Roman cohort. And they dressed Him up in purple, and after weaving a crown of thorns, they put it on Him; and they began to acclaim Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting at Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him. And after they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, and put His garments on Him. And they led Him out to crucify Him. (Mark 15.16-20)

And so we assemble on Sunday, each first day of the week, our Memorial Day, to remember Jesus, our Lord and our Savior and our Sacrifice. We gather to remember the One who freed us from the bondage and condemnation of sin. We gather to proclaim His death as God’s gracious gift to all mankind. And we gather in sure expectation of His return to call His church to her eternal home.

– Bill


The Gospel Message of Resurrection

Ten days after the ascension of Jesus to heaven the apostles received the Holy Spirit and began preaching the gospel (Acts 1-2). This was fifty-three days after His death. Their message from the beginning to the end of their ministry was built upon and around the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

Jesus had commissioned them: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16.15).

In explaining the gospel, Paul wrote,

“Now I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received…For I delivered unto you first of all which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; that He was buried; and that He hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15.1-4).

Christ’s resurrection from the dead is our assurance that He was the Son of God and that His sacrifice is acceptable with God. The basic fact upon which the entire scheme of redemption is supported is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Everything in the Christian religion is founded upon the resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, the church itself becomes a monument to the resurrection, since from the beginning it has rested on the resurrection of Christ as its foundation.

– Homer Hailey, From Creation to the Day of Eternity, 83-85


Jesus and Prayer

A study of the Gospels should impress us with Jesus’ dependence on prayer. The greatest illustration of His intensity and persistence in prayer occurred in the garden prior to His death: “He knelt down and began praying, saying, Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done…And being in agony He was praying fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground” (Luke 22.41-42, 44).

While on earth, Jesus performed many mighty works and miracles. Scripture says “power went out of Him,” yet there is nothing to suggest He had to exert any effort to perform His miracles. Only when He prayed do we see Him agonize and toil over His petitions – even to the point of sweating great drops of blood. Such persistence is foreign to us, yet it’s that kind of intensity He would have us learn from two parables. In Luke 11.5-10, the man requesting bread from his friend didn’t recite some formulated request – he pleaded for what he needed. Likewise in Luke 18.1-8, the widow cried out for protection to the one who had the power to grant her petition. His message is clear: If we are to prevail, we must persist! We are not heard for our many words – but for the cry of our hearts.

Persistent, continual prayer welling up from the innermost part of our being is what moves the heart of our compassionate and loving Heavenly Father. Jesus’ promise to His people is this: “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you” (Mark 11.24).

– Bill


Unceasing Prayer

Paul instructed believers to “pray at all times” (Ephesians 6.18) and to “devote yourselves to prayer” (Colossians 4.2). He urged the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5.17)…the Philippians to stop being anxious and instead, “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (4.6)…the Colossians to “devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” (4.2)…the Ephesians to arm themselves to combat the spiritual darkness in the world around them, “with all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (6.18).

Unceasing prayer is essential to the vitality of our relationship with God and our ability to function as God’s called out people in the world. “Pray without ceasing,” what does that mean? To “pray at all times” obviously doesn’t mean we are to walk around praying in noticeable or formal ways every waking moment. Neither does it mean we are to devote ourselves to reciting ritualistic patterns and forms of prayer.

To “pray without ceasing” refers essentially to recurring prayer – not non-stop talking.  “Ceaseless prayer” is living in continual God-consciousness: When we are tempted, we hold up the temptation before God and ask for His help. When we experience something good or beautiful, we immediately thank the Lord for it. When we see evil about us, we ask God to use us to make it right according to His will. When we meet one who does not know Christ, we ask God to help us be effective messengers of the Good News. When we encounter trouble, we turn to God as our Deliverer. Life becomes a continually ascending prayer: all life’s thoughts, deeds, and circumstances become an opportunity to commune with our Heavenly Father – in that way we “set our minds on things above, not on the things that are on the earth” (Colossians 3.2).

– Bill


Prayer, the Center of Christian Experience

Prayer has always been at the center of the Christian experience.

Immediately following the Lord’s ascension, the eleven apostles returned to Jerusalem, and Luke records, “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers” (Acts 1.14).

At the conclusion of the great events on Pentecost—the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the preaching of the gospel, and the response of the three thousand—the text states, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2.42).

When Peter and John told the brethren of their arrest for publicly preaching Jesus as the resurrected Messiah, “when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4.31).

When Peter was imprisoned by Herod, “prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God” (Acts 12.5).

Prayer was their source of power. Their complete dependence upon God, as expressed by their frequent and fervent prayers, enabled them to accomplish the unimaginable—the saturation of their world with the gospel of Christ.

– Bill

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened,
so that you will know what is the hope of His calling,
what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.

These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might
which He brought about in Christ,
when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him
at His right hand in the heavenly places,
far above all rule and authority and power and dominion,
and every name that is named,
not only in this age but also in the one to come.

Ephesians 1.18-21


The Privilege of Prayer

Prayer grants us entrance into the Holy of Holies.

Prayer is a privilege that lifts us above the clamoring noise of the world and transports us into the very presence of the Majesty on High.

There is no pretentiousness with God. We can’t fool Him. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows our hearts and the intentions of our hearts.

Prayer is the secret place where we can go and unburden our souls before the One who knows all our burdens and invites us to cast them upon Him (1 Peter 5.7).

In his book on prayer, Richard Foster says prayer is ordinary people bringing ordinary concerns to a loving and compassionate Father…no pretense to be more holy, more pure or saintly than we actually are. We don’t try to conceal our conflicting and contradictory motives from God — or ourselves. And in this posture we pour out our heart to the God who is greater than our heart and who knows all things – “in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater that our heart, and knows all things” (1 John 3.20).

To believe that God can reach us and bless us in the ordinary junctures of daily life is the stuff of prayer. The only place God can bless us is right where we are, because that is the only place we are!

– Bill



Salt & Light

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

 THE MESSAGE, Matthew 5.13-16

Jesus used the analogies of salt and light to illustrate the Christian’s role in the world.

There are two things required of salt and light:

  1.  They need to be different from their surrounding environment. Salt seasons bland food and light banishes darkness.
  2. Both salt and light must penetrate their environment in order to make a difference.

“Salt of the earth” has become colloquialized in our language to describe a person we believe to have exceptionally high moral and ethical standards. If that’s the case, then we’ve missed the point Jesus is driving home here.

Here’s what He’s really saying, “You are the red hot chili pepper for the whole world!” His description refers not to status, to a person’s high ethical standard, but to function, a person’s impact on the world around him or her.

Light is one of Scripture’s most common symbols. God is light (1 John 1.5), Christ is light (John 1.7-9), and God’s people are light (Ephesians 5.8).

Light makes things visible. You can’t hide a city built on top of a hill. By day it’s visible by the light of the sun, by night by the lights of the city itself. The visible light within each Christian is the working of God in each one’s life.

With salt the world will taste the goodness of God because of the influence Christians have on their immediate surroundings. With light the world will see the goodness of God radiating from within the lives of Christ’s called-out people.

 – Bill