Feb 132016
 

O Thou most sweet and loving Lord, Thou knowest mine infirmities, and the necessities which I endure; in how great evils and sins I am involved; how often I am weighed down, tempted, and disturbed by them.

I entreat of Thee consolation and support.

I speak to Thee who knowest all things, to whom all my inward thoughts are open, and who alone canst perfectly comfort and help me.

Thou knowest what things I stand in most need of.

Behold, I stand before Thee poor and naked, calling for grace, and imploring mercy.

Refresh Thy hungry supplicant, kindle my coldness with the fire of Thy love, enlighten my blindness with the brightness of Thy presence.

Suffer me not to go away from Thee hungry and dry, but deal mercifully with me, as often times Thou hast dealt wonderfully with Thy saints.

Amen.

Thomas à Kempis

Feb 132016
 

bible-word-of-god_thumbHebrews 11:31-40

 

31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

  • Why is Rahab always called “the prostitute”?
  • It’s not like there are several Rahabs in the Bible and this helps distinguish one from another … like the Marys.
  • Rahab makes the list legitimate – God gave a prostitute faith.
  • Can I be forgiven??? Look to Rahab.

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—

  • “And What more can I say” – how many rolled their eyes and said “not much, I hope!”
  • Actually he is saying “look, I could keep going on with examples – these are not isolated incidents – “look at these guys.”
  • What is the point of the book of Judges?
  • The people are a wreck and there must be something better.
  • The people fall into sin – God sends their enemies to attack – they need a rescuer – one steps up – defeats the enemies – all praise god – and later it will say “in thoses days, everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
  • And it would start all over again.
  • Who is Barak ??
  • Who is Jephthah??
  • Look how little mention David, Samuel and Samsom get.

33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

  • V 33 & 34 together
  • Lions = Daniel?
  • 9 items listed

34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

  • Are these great people or are they people who God invaded their lives, and endowed them with a quality that allowed them to respond?
  • God is not an after thought
  • Daniel’s 3 friends were thrown into the fiery furnace.
  • Look at their faith – the king liked them, but they would not bend the knee.
  • He said that they had to go into the fire – he gave them several ways out
  • But they trusted their God

35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life.

  • Both Elijah and Elisha raised dead children
  • Look how this disproves the LIE told by so many, that if you have illness, loss of job, death etc. that it is because you lack faith.
  • It’s one thing for us to know the Truth, but at the same time we need to call out false teaching.
  • These Word Faith teachers – how can I be nice – may be Christians, but they are teachers of anti Christian doctrines.

36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.

  • Just read Jeremiah – the poor guy just could not catch a break.
  • Look at those who suffered under the 2nd Century BC rule of the Selecides
  • The Jewish wars of the 160s
  • Even today in many countries. Think of the worse Al Qaida tortures.

37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—

  • It is said that Isaiah was sawn in two with a wooden saw.
  • It’s funny because even today biblical scholars are still cutting Isaiah in two
  • Saying that one person could not know all the future stuff
  • Isaiah 1 = 1-39
  • Isaiah 2 = 40-66
  • These guys were punished and persecuted for standing up and living their faith – standing firm, perseverance.

38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

  • The world was not worthy of these men – because of their faith
  • Remember the context here – the writer is “working” the Hebrews”
  • Key for us today!
  • Believe it or not, this is the Christian life – to be stricken, beaten and harassed… For Christ’s Sake.
  • I don’t think Joel Osteen has it right in “Your best life now”
  • In fact he has it 100% wrong
  • Why do people like to hear his stuff? 2 Timothy 4:3
  • “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound[a] teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,”

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised,

  • Is this not the biggest Biblical bummer of all time?

40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

  • The Hebrews at this point have been persecuted but probably have not yet had to shed their blood.
Feb 122016
 

IMG_0027Miss Kitty has some fears.

She’s terrified of the city street sweeper.

She’s afraid of black plastic bags.

She swears she lost a loved one to a vacuum cleaner.

The garbage truck was sent from hell to eat cats in her dreams.

With the exception of the black garbage bags, these are all understandable things for a cat to be afraid of.

They are large and loud and if I didn’t know what they were, I’d be afraid of them too.

What is irrational to me is her response to her fears.

As I sat to write this morning, she was sleeping soundly on my lap.

We heard the street sweeper approach at the same time…

She sat bolt upright, jumped off my lap, pried the door open, and fled outside.

This is how she reacts to all things that cause her terror.

She leaves the safety of my lap and the safety of her home to strike out on her own to save herself.

She leaves the place where she’s totally safe and runs to places where safety is uncertain.

She doesn’t trust me to protect her.

She thinks that at the end of the day she must rely on her herself to stay safe.

She ends up outside or under the house where all manner of dangers truly do lurk.

I am smarter than my cat…sometimes.

I have my own fears.

Sometimes.. the doctors report is as loud as the garbage truck, the bank statement as fearsome as getting caught under the street sweeper.

Sometimes…the cares of this world threaten to suck the life out of me like the vacuum inhales the souls of cats in Miss Kitty’s nightmares.

I used to run.

There was no place to go.

Now, I stay on my Masters lap until the terror passes.

The terrors are real, but so is He.

It’s safe.

There’s room for you.

Make your own application…

 

Feb 112016
 

TP_MS_1-2When things overwhelm me I drive up the mountain toward Crater Lake and the Rogue River Gorge.

The last eleven miles of the journey are a cathedral in nature, a strip of road cut though a tunnel of majestic fir trees.

 

My soundtrack for this drive last week was the new release from the Martyrs Project called “Mystic Chapel”.

It was a fitting accompaniment in sound to the visual representation of the glory of God in nature.

Our friend Duane Arnold (who wrote and composed the music and lyrics with Michael Glen Bell) had sent me a copy to review.

The liner notes say that the music on this album was inspired by the Easter liturgies of St. John Chrysostom.

That explains why it sounds a bit like Tom Stipe meets John Michael Talbot or The Jesus Movement meets Eastern Orthodoxy and they learn to sing together.

The album tells the story of a person who is weary and for whom real faith has become a vapor…and the journey back to faith.

It’s a beautiful, coherent, journey in word and sound that evokes both worship and deeper meditation on the truths presented.

The lyrics and music are impeccably written and performed…they carry you though the album without distracting one from the experience of listening.

I highly recommend buying the physical CD as the poetry inside the liner notes is worth the cost of the album.

So much of Christian music today is shallow and sallow lyrically, theologically, and musically.

We have here a remedy to all those ills and I commend it to your listening and enjoyment…even if you can’t take the same journey I did.

There’s one journey common to us all…and this is a fitting soundtrack to it.

Thank you, Duane for allowing me to hear this and expose it my readers…it is a gift.

There is an excellent review of the album on the Ancient-Future Faith network as well.

 

Feb 112016
 

wmns_gfaWarren Throckmorton has posted the entire lawsuit that has been filed against Gospel For Asia.

The suit alleges that Gospel For Asia has engaged in fraud and racketeering for the benefit of its directors.

“Soliciting charitable donations to benefit the poorest of the poor while covertly diverting the money to a multi million dollar personal empire is reprehensible; using a Christian organization as a front to attract and exploit the goodwill and generosity of devout Christians is a particularly vile scheme. But that is exactly what K.P. Yohannan and the organization he controls, Gospel For Asia, have been doing for years.”

This is also a class action suit…if it is successful GFA could be forced to reimburse donors before it collapses in a heap of avarice.

I would suggest that people read the facts presented in this document, facts that have been presented previously, but stand out when put in this format.

For example, between 2010 and 2013 GFA collected 4.2 million dollars for “Widows and Abandoned Children”.

Only 31,265.00 was actually spent on “widows” and nothing was spent on abandoned children.

That’s just a sample…read the entire suit to get a grip on the extent of the fraud alleged.

If these allegations are true there’s a special place in hell for people like this.

The lawsuit doesn’t address the injustices against the GFA Diaspora…put it all together it it is a sordid and wicked picture of a “Christian” organization.

For reasons I’m not sure of, the board members overseeing this (alleged) cartel are not named in this suit.

One of the constants on that board for years was the presence of Skip Heitzig.

More than a few of the rank and file Calvary Chapel pastors have wanted him to answer some of the questions regarding this debacle, as he is also one of the members of the Calvary Chapel Association “council”.

Leaders…should lead.

Instead, they have been stonewalled in the same manner as donors who have inquired have been.

They are finding out first hand what we’ve been saying for years…autonomy that leads to a complete lack of accountability serves the causes of sin and the aspirations of despots.

The only encouraging point to be made here is that some men are asking questions and seeking the truth in this matter.

We commend them.

Meanwhile, Heitzig has been named one of the speakers at the annual Costa Mesa pastors conference.

I’m not sure if he’s speaking before or after Bob Caldwell…

I’m hoping he’ll teach on how ethics are irrelevant if your church is large enough.

It’s the only subject he’s qualified to address.

In the meantime, while leaders refuse to lead, Gospel For Asia is still spending tens of thousands of dollars advertising their (allegedly) fraudulent programs and inducing more large hearted people to donate to what appears to be one hell of a family business.

The leaders of Christendom whose main calling is to protect the flock sit back in mute silence and watch the slaughter of the lambs while gathering speaking engagements.

I’m sure that at this conference they will rail against the evils of the world and those that hold different doctrines than they do.

They will name all they see as wicked and against Christ…after all the mirrors have been removed from the facility.

Make your own application…

Feb 102016
 

ray_ortland_jr_answers_10_questions_about_preaching_908350852A few weeks back I wrote an article about disagreeing agreeably.

Following up on that, I was reminded of an Alistair Begg broadcast I listened to last year while driving in my car. There was a short portion I went back to and transcribed. In it, Alistair is first quoting Luther and then adds his own commentary.

“Some of us get one part right. Other teachers get other parts right. None of us get it all right…..One falls in one thing, one in another. Others will see what I do not. What then follows – by that we should help one another and make allowances for those who error as knowing that we either have erred or shall error ourselves…..I know that he must be a man of most shameful hardihood who would venture to give out that he understands a single book of Scripture in all its parts.” – Martin Luther

“That’s the kind of pastor you need. Not a talking head who has the answer to every question. But someone who comes before the Bible and says, “This is my best with this. But now we see through a glass darkly.” And that is not embracing theological vagueness. It’s about recognizing what is actually true. And yet contemporary evangelicalism exalts as heroes these individuals of “shameful hardihood” according to Martin Luther.” – Alistair Begg

I really appreciate a pastor or theologian or any Christian leader who takes an approach as described here by Luther and Begg.

There are many who do regularly lead with this kind of humble discourse. Unfortunately, the know-it-alls are the ones who seem to gain more press or influence in the church and so we see and hear from them more often. And our celebrity culture props up with admiration those who bloviate their “truth” on every single issue and circumstance. We sometimes forget that not all are like them.

We are all responsible for ourselves, yet I really look to pastors and Christian leaders to set the tone on this matter. Easy for me to say since I’m not a pastor. But at the very least, the Bible does call those who are teachers to a higher level of account. (James 3:1)

When pastors regularly carry themselves in gracious and unpretentious fashions, both from the pulpit and in personal communication, it influences their parishioners to act in like manner. If a pastor regularly speaks in a know-it-all fashion it sets an altogether different tone for those who hear them. Same as when they regularly criticize those Christians who are “different” from them, and speak as if they are wayward or second class Christians, or maybe not even Christians at all. It emboldens those who listen to them to act the part. They now, too, speak as if they have it all figured out and speak down to and about those who differ from them.

One thing I have been able to surmise in my limited study as a layman is that completely and perfectly understanding every theological premise in the Bible is a very difficult, if not impossible task.

I come to that understanding not so much because some things are hard for me to ascertain, but much more so because when I look at the expanse of smart and knowledgeable and respected and God-fearing theologians and pastors who are of good character and believe the Scriptures to be the fully authoritative Word of God, I see them coming to different conclusions on different matters.

How can so many honorable people who are earnestly seeking to understand God and His Word have so many differing understandings? Yes, they come to much agreement on the essentials of the faith, but after that, there is a great diversity of views as reflected by the many traditions and denominations and sects we have.

Is all of this difference of opinion and “division” within the church a good thing? In some ways, maybe yes, but probably not in other ways. That can be a big discussion for another day.

However, among all of this distinction, I tend to think that God cares more about our attitudes and approach when we speak about the things we believe to be true, and in how we speak with and about those with whom we disagree. Rather than with whether or not we are perfectly right in our understanding on matters such as the baptism of the Spirit, or women’s roles in the church, or how often we should celebrate the Lord’s supper.

I much more welcome a pastor or theologian or even layman who can avoid the “shameful hardihood” of knowing it all. Those who don’t have the definitive answer to every question. Who don’t need to show off just how much they know and also feel the need to always point out what is wrong with everybody else. So thank you to those who carry themselves with humility and a regard for others. It is much appreciated.

Feb 092016
 

timthumb.phpGospel For Asia target of lawsuit…

Wheaton college controversy over prof that said Islam and Christians worship same god…

The heart of the atonement…

Is church membership really required?

The great migration and the Christian identity…

What can churches do to advance political candidates?

Reconciliation and parting ways…

Why controllers control…

7 new theology books CT thinks you should read…

What to give up for Lent…

Challenging the Gospel Coalition on abuse…

Steve Brown on when Jesus leaves the building

On the doctrine of corporate election…

Same-self marriage…

Mens conference giving away guns…

Evangelicalisms culture of fear…

The seven responsibilities of a church member…not the six or the eight, the seven. Seven is the number thou shalt have.

God weeps for Flint…

Kids Bible being released in adult version…

Misleading America about Jefferson…

When the fire is hot…

Doritos commercial dust up…

How Lent can help you reconcile faith and doubt…

Wenatchee the Hatchet on the Driscoll messes…

Meet the Puritans…

The perfect religious president…

Atheist becomes alt rock Christian musician…

Big thanks as always to EricL for help with the links…support him at top right.

 

 

Feb 082016
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. I feel inadequate in that I totally missed what I should have been offended about concerning the Super Bowl half time show and commercials. These days, there’s nothing worse than missing an opportunity to be offended…

2. I’d never seen the legendary Lady Gaga perform before…I thought she was great. This probably means I’m unsaved…

3. Nothing has died a more violent death in the internet age than nuance…

4. It’s way past time to stop using the term ” biblical” in online arguments as if invoking the word puts us on higher ground. What’s biblical in my eyes may be aberrant in yours whilst using the same scriptures as “proof”.

5. Somehow in our new embrace of anger in society we have forgotten how rage settles an argument…

6. When we moved from a familial concept of church to a corporate one, we changed the nature of the pastorate from one of being a shepherd to one of being a CEO. Shepherds are accountable for the sheep, CEO’s are only accountable to the board…

7. If you don’t trust that the congregation can make good decisions, blame the guy that taught them…

8. Every time I hear one of the presidential candidates go out of their way to express their faith, I feel manipulated and pandered to…

9. I watched a Calvary Chapel prophecy conference this weekend and it struck me that all these conferences have one thing in common. They judge the timing of the coming of the Lord by events almost entirely American. In the meantime, there are revivals going on all over the rest of the world…

10. “At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him:how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless?I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”” (Matthew 12:1–8 ESV)

If the law has been fulfilled in Christ (and it has) been, the the spirit of the law is always merciful, while the letter of the law condemns.

I wonder what other applications we can make of this…

 

Feb 072016
 

On Super Bowl Sunday we have a very special guest…Matt B. Redmond.

Matt joins us to discuss the CTE crisis in football and how we as Christians should wrestle with the deadly effects of Americas game.

Download the mp3

 

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