Nov 232014
 

thumbnail.aspxAs we come to the text, we are mindful that we have not come first – for others have been there before us.

We do not come alone – for a cloud of witnesses await us.

We give you thanks for the brave people of the text, “prophets and apostles, saints and martyrs.”

These cadences come easy to us and are familiar.

 

But if we pray slow, we acknowledge before you that there hover around this text:

prophets – ancient and contemporary – who have been truth-tellers at risk.

apostles – ancient and contemporary – sent with passion and courage undaunted.

saints – ancient and contemporary – who have been single-minded for the vision of this text.

martyrs – ancient and contemporary who have witnessed and suffered and died for this particular truth.

And we are their heirs, children, continuers. Give us freedom to be in their presence.

Give us their innocence before the text.

Most of all, give us the grace to he haunted by them, haunted as they were by the text, haunted to newness.

We pray in the haunting name of Jesus.

Amen.
Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (p. 57). Kindle Edition.

Nov 212014
 

IMG_0027“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” (Psalms 100:4 ESV)

Every morning about 6:00 AM, Miss Kitty wakes me up.

She does so by standing on me kneading like a locomotive and purring very loudly.

 

Should I decide to not rise immediately she will begin to groom me and if I still do not get up she curls up as closely as possible and rests until I do.

Every day.

Without fail.

Now, obviously, she wants something and that something is breakfast.

I’m her provider and if I don’t ever get up and feed her she will be a very hungry cat.

She knows who has her food.

What I finally noticed was how she goes about getting what she needs.

There are other ways the cat could get my attention in the morning…loud yowls, a quick scratch across the face,or a bite to the head would all do the trick.

She does none of the above, she always  acts as if she’s genuinely grateful and very happy to be here at all.

The cat loves me, not just my provisions.

The purring, the kneading, and the waiting are all ways that cats show both trust and affection.

Especially…the waiting.

When I come home at night. she’s waiting in my computer chair and the purring and kneading begin again.

She needs dinner, too.

She gets it.

I’m faithful to feed her as long as she’s faithful to ask.

Sometimes, I give her treats she doesn’t even ask for.

The way she asks makes it a joy to feed her.

Sometimes, she just wants to sleep in my lap…

I wish it were that simple for people to get what they need…

Make your own application…

Nov 212014
 

Calvin's Corner headerPastor Michael Newnham and Phil Naessens talk Fantasy Football, answer a listeners question about two books written by George Bryson and talk about Limited and Universal Atonement plus more great talk on this weeks Calvin’s Corner.

Download the mp3 file here

Nov 202014
 

1*MjYah6eriolXhjUNV33w6AI am not good at mourning.

I suck all the emotions in and soldier on only to have that pain escape at (usually inopportune) moments.

When the writer Charles Bowden died I was devastated.

 

He was more than a brilliant wordsmith to me, he was a role model for what it meant to be a journalist and a citizen.

He spent the last twenty five years or so putting himself in harms way to find the truth and then he told us the truth, even when we didn’t want to hear it.

He cared little about fame or money, he had far more of the former than the latter when he died and in reality he had little of either.

In a world run by public relations consultants, politically correct liars, and corrupt leaders, he told the truths they covered.

There were similarities between his world and mine.

The main one was that we both reported on worlds where people naturally assumed that their leaders and the systems they worked in could be trusted…that the responsibility of being a steward of something far bigger than themselves overrode the desire for personal gain in the end.

We both knew that wasn’t true.

We both knew that telling the truth made enemies, but they were enemies even if you joined in the lies.

He wrote a lot about Mexico, but Mexico was only a pallet to paint a picture of our common darkness with.

I never had Bowdens prodigious writing gifts, but he made it clear that we all had the same responsibility to truth.

When he died it felt wrong…not just because a great man had left us, but because the great man had not finished his work.

He had left loose ends untied…that only he would risk tying.

Yesterday, we found that he had indeed finished his work.

Chuck Bowdens last story took fifteen years to write.

His last story…’Blood On The Corn”.

I don’t expect many to read this article or the links I’ve posted.

Most people prefer the facade to the reality, whether the false front be in church or government.

What’s important is that the truth be available and accessible to those who choose to see.

Bowden finished well.

May he rest in peace and may God grant that we finish our works as well.

Nov 192014
 

images“I put God first now, always,” he says. “I pray all the time, really. I do a lot of what’s required. I pay my tithe offerings at the Church of God, in Cleveland, Tennessee. That’s how I was raised.”

So says one of rock and rolls most notorious sinners, Jerry Lee Lewis.

Long time fans know that one of his signature songs “Great Balls of Fire” almost didn’t get recorded because Lewis and legendary producer Sam Phillips got into a heated discussion over how Jerry Lee could ever get to heaven playing “the devils music”.

“You’ve got to walk and talk with God to go to heaven… I have the devil in me! If I didn’t have, I’d be Christian!”

Jerry Lee has always felt the flames of hell licking at the boots John Lennon once bowed and kissed.

Nick Toches, his first biographer, once asked him if there was anything in the Bible he didn’t understand;

“You know why you don’t understand it? Cuz you’re lookin’ for an easy way out. Now, if you can show me somethin’ in there that’ll show me how to get outta this thing without burnin’ my ass off in hell, I wanna know where it’s at. You and me, we’re gonna burn in hell. We’re in trouble. We’re sinners, goin’ to hell.”

Toches named the biography “Hellfire”…

The old man is creeping up on 80 now and the “last man standing” spends most of his life laying in bed wracked with arthritis and trying to find redemption.

He’s stopped running around on his wife, he prays over his food and prays over his past, he reads his Bible, he pays his tithes, and he’s working hard to work his way home before dark.

He wants to get right with God…and that’s the problem.

That’s not the Gospel.

The Gospel says that the work has already been done by Jesus Christ.

The Gospel says that the blood of Christ paid for the sins of those who will believe, even the sins of Jerry Lee and me.

The Gospel says it is finished, the works that could be done were all done on the Cross.

The Gospel says that those works are the only ones that can save you.

The Gospel calls us to rest in His works, not hope our own measure up.

I’m glad the old man is seeking God…eternity without his music would be hell for me.

I’m just praying that Jesus finds him…and lets the old man get some rest.

Nov 192014
 

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aToday, like every Wednesday, we will remember Saeed Abedini.

We do more than just remember, however…we stand with him by using our social media to advocate for his release.

We ask that you change your Facebook profile picture to his and that you “like”  the “Free Saeed” Facebook page and participate in some of the activities that promote his cause.

We ask…that you remember him and his family in prayer…and that you refuse to give up on efforts to secure his release.

This is the latest from his wife, Nagmeh;

 Hi All,

I would appreciate your help in the next critical weeks as the November 24th deadline for the nuclear negotiations with Iran approaches. We want to make sure Saeed is not forgotten. That he is not left behind. A movement has started to blitz the White House with postcards asking that President Obama to not forget Saeed (please see the link below).

You can order post cards or ask your church to order postcards to send to the white house. Postcards are available for purchase through Trinity Worldwide Reprographics by calling (562) 567-2050 or by emailing freesaeed@trinity3in1.net.

You are also welcome to send your own postcard with the below message:

Mr. President,

A man in your position has been given great power and responsibility to represent every American, whether on domestic or foreign soil. Please hold to your own words, that no one is left behind. We, the American people, ask you to do everything within your power to bring U.S. citizen, pastor, husband & father, Saeed Abedini, home to his family from his time of incarceration in Iran.

Sincerely,

Thank you!

God Bless you all

Naghmeh

Also…no nuke deal with Iran until Saeed is freed…

Nov 182014
 

timthumb.phpEvangelicals talking with Orthodox…

What Christians fought about in the first century…

The state of theology today…

Christian battle language…

Doug Phillips excommunicated…

10 things Warren Cole Smith wants you to know about evangelicals…

Debate double standards?

Why it matters that Jesus wasn’t a Gentile…

Eugene Cho on the “marathon of discipleship”…

Counseling after you call the police…

Semper reformata?

Buechner on the sheep and the goats…

Tim Kellers lectures on preaching…

For everything, a season…

Rick Warren at the Vatican…

Does the corporate model fit the kingdom of God?

ROTC facing religious challenges…

Gay couple files complaint against UMC…

Wenatchee on Driscolls spiritual warfare doctrine…not enough sex in marriage is the devils work…

Probably the best all around article I’ve read on the gay debate…

Very interesting…the rise of the “dones”…

Issues Etc. did a twenty four hour marathon with each hour being a show addressing a myth about Lutheranism.

These are excellent programs if you seek an understanding of confessional Lutheranism.

Nov 172014
 

thinking-pic1. I was checking Facebook to see what I was supposed to be irrationally angry or afraid of this week now that Ebola and ISIS terrorists allegedly streaming over the border into Texas are passe… amazing how fast these things come and go.

2. Facebook actually looks a little calmer since God’s party won the Senate…surely there can’t be a connection.

3. Someone needs to just go all the way and start a denomination that has “be a Republican” in the statement of faith…

4. I loathe this time of year so much I can’t even stand to be around myself…

5. I’m getting a flu shot. Tuna fish has mercury in it too.

6. Exactly how can we be ‘one nation under God” when everyone in the nation that believes in God has a different way of defining what it means to be “under” Him? Just curious…

7. While we are busily anticipating Black Friday the country on our southern border is contemplating revolution. If it happens on Black Friday no one here will know it until after the holidays…

8. I finished teaching Romans 5 last night…and was rocked again by how unbelievably good the Good News is and how hard we try to tone down it’s goodness. The biggest threat to the doctrine of justification by grace through faith is the nagging fear that someone somewhere will get away with something you think you can’t.

9. The greatest supernatural empowerment a clergyman can receive is the gift of faithfulness…

10. There is a “blessed assurance” in belonging a a group with clear doctrinal positions and a certain loneliness of spirit that comes when you can’t affirm all that one group believes and thus are outside the camp. Still, I’d rather be alone and free to ask questions…

Nov 162014
 

thumbnail.aspxO thou,

who art the light of the minds that know thee,

the life of the souls that love thee,

and the strength of the wills that serve thee;

help us so to know thee that we may truly love thee;

so to love thee that we may fully serve thee,

whom to serve is perfect freedom.

 

Watch, dear Lord, with those who wake, or watch, or weep tonight, and let your angels protect those who sleep. 

Tend the sick. 

Refresh the weary. 

Sustain the dying. 

Calm the suffering. 

Pity the distressed. 

We ask this for the sake of your love.

 

Lord Jesus, our Saviour, let us come to you.

Our hearts are cold; Lord, warm them with your selfless love.

Our hearts are sinful; cleanse them with your precious blood.

Our hearts are weak; strengthen them with our joyous Spirit.

Our hearts are empty; fill them with your divine presence.

Lord Jesus, our hearts are yours; possess them always and only for yourself.

 Augustine

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