Sep 042015
 
3d28rope_noose-229x300 “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”

(Galatians 6:1 ESV)

Upon the reading of the Scriptures the church says “amen”…except when we don’t like what the Scriptures say, at which point we mouth an “amen” while muttering “hell, no!” in our hearts.

We’re in no mood to restore anyone, anywhere, in a spirit of gentleness.

Not in the church, not in the public sector, not in entertainment, or athletics.

On the contrary,we to want ban, beat, impeach, crush, humiliate,indict, deport, and dispose of anyone who violates our boundaries of law and ethics.

We have all now been trained to be angry, but not to balance that anger with grace or to be angry in proportion to the offense.

“But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” (Galatians 5:15 ESV)

We have developed a hideous taste for each others flesh.

We have become hanging judges in the hanging court and we will be even more angry when we run out of rope.

“They” have gotten away with too much for too long.

“They” have used position, power, and wealth to bring evils upon us.

There are two problems here.

First “they” are only using what “we” have given them.

 We place people upon idolatrous thrones that we make with our own hands and set expectations for the seat that do not include the reality of sin.

 We take our eyes off our God and transfer His goodness to a vessel that can not hold it.

When they fail us, (and they inevitably will) we destroy them and find another to work the same foolishness upon.

The second problem is that we are all subject to the same sins and temptations as those who we are angry with.

In truth we are waiting in line for our own fall….waiting with rope in hand that we will discover fits our necks as well.

We will beg for the grace we denied others as our friends devour us.

The cycle will continue, but nothing will ever change.

I’m getting close to the front of the line…

Make your own application…

Sep 032015
 

headerThanks to you folks who use the Amazon links to make your purchases.

A small percent comes back to me and it helps out a lot.

Support our advertisers…especially when they are part of the online community.

EricL features his books and services up on the top right side of the blog and helps me often with our Linkathon.

You can also make direct donations via PayPal using the “donate” button on the top left side of the site.

We covet your continued prayers and participation for what we do here.

I can always be reached at phoenixpreacher@gmail.com with your questions or concerns.

Sep 022015
 

YTpWfjhr_400x400I’ve heard from a very respected reader of the blog and he has helped me gain clarity on what is really happening with the Tullian Tchividjian hire.

I want to be fair and accurate…and I think we are better able to be both now.

My source is very conversant with both Presbyterian polity and this situation…this is not from a fan determined to defend Tullian.

1.  Tullian is not in a “ministry” position as CC’s or evangelicals define it.  Rather he’s a paid staff member, i.e., an employee of the church.  He’s not doing any “ministry” work (preaching, teaching, overseeing the church, or providing pastoral care to members).  Rather, he’s now doing development/management of the church staff and its resources.  He’s essentially doing staff management stuff.

2.  This particular church confuses this matter greatly by speaking of their staff as engaged in “ministry,” (a non-Reformed/Presbyterian way to speak) without making the important qualification that these people who “minister” do so as paid employees of the church (i.e., staff positions).  As such, they are all under the authority and rule of the elders of this church (the session).  Their work is overseen by the session and they answer to the elders as their “bosses.”

3.  While in this position, Tullian remains under the discipline of his Presbytery (the local churches in that region).  The elders of this particular church (the session) are the ones assigned by the Presbytery to actually do the work of oversight.  He is under their authority.  He has been deposed from his office as “minister” (i.e., teaching elder), so he cannot get in a pulpit, do weddings, etc., unless and until he’s restored.  This is not circumventing the process to get back in the limelight.  This is the process at work. 

4.  Actually, this is a good spot for him unless/until he is restored to office (teaching elder).  He can use his gifts to serve the church, and yet he’s an employee, answering to the session.  Pastorally speaking, this is a low-key, safe, and redemptive place for him, out of sight, doing stuff like scheduling staff, training them to do their jobs, etc.  It is not a glamorous job, any more than the church secretary’s is.

We can debate the propriety of the hire, but we now can do so understanding the process much better.

If indeed, this is part of the discipline/restoration process, then it would behoove us to reserve judgment until we see how that process plays out.

Warren Throckmorton offers even more information…

 

Sep 022015
 

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.

You can follow Naghmeh Abedini for the latest news on her Facebook page…

Sep 012015
 

timthumb.phpAll the money you send Gospel For Asia goes to the field…except all of it that doesn’t. Warren Throckmorton  reports on 70,000 paid to clean up their online reputation.

Christian Today picks up the story as well, as the mainstream Christian media ignores it.

Why you can’t trust the Ashley Madison leaks…

False narratives of leaders caught in abuse…

Is it Christianity vs. science?

R.C. Sproul Jr. caught and suspended in AM list…

Ronnie Floyd says it’s her fault…

What infidelity really looks like…

Data on Ashley Madison users…

Scientists and superstitious simpletons…

Every Christian is a mystic…

To an unclean people…

A new look at Proverbs 31…

How the political culture reflects the spiritual culture…

This is crazy…

This is crazier…

How Christians have gotten temptation wrong…

An introduction to Charles Bowden…

Thanks to EricL for putting this together…support him at top right.

Aug 312015
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”(Ephesians 5:25–32 ESV)

All of us who are critical of the church need to keep this passage in front of us. We are talking about something that Christ loves…loves enough that he died for it. Our criticisms must come out of a heart that loves the church, lest we make Christ our enemy.

2. I think my objections to crusade evangelism are summed up in the old saying that “what you catch them with is what you keep them with”.

3. If someone I loved responded to the Gospel in a crusade I probably wouldn’t have any objections at all…

4. Dogs will eat the same thing every day all their life. My cat demands a full buffet table at each feeding. There’s a spiritual application there, somewhere…

5. It is impossible to discern the work of the Holy Spirit from the work of the flesh in crusades and revivals…only time will prove what was true. Both critics and supporters need to allow for that…

6. The question on my mind in this political season is whether the church will be an agent of reconciliation or an aid to division…there are ways in which both are biblical.

7. The culture is in deep trouble when the Planned Parenthood videos are ignored and “Straight Outta Compton” is a big hit…

8. I haven’t heard of any pastoral resignations as was predicted last week would occur because of the Ashley Madison list…and I’m glad I haven’t.

9. “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23–24 ESV) If we actually did this the buildings would be empty for a couple weeks…

10. I am continually overwhelmed with the question “how can I make it better?”…

Aug 292015
 

bible-word-of-god_thumbHebrews 2:10-18

It was being argued that Jesus was greater than the angels and that his greatness is to be seen in the salvation that he obtained for us. But he had lived on earth as an ordinary man. There was nothing about this man Jesus to show that he was greater than the angels – in fact he suffered, was humiliated and died as a convicted felon.

So the author moves on here to show that this should not be an objection to his greatness – but was actually part of his greatness. This is how God would save men – he would be made like those he saves.

An interesting point to ponder on – God walked around the neighborhood for 30 years – and no one knew.

10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.

  • Who determines what is fitting for God?
  • Everything God does come out of his character.
  • ***We are on God’s mind – now and in glory***
  • These words show that the suffering of Jesus was not by chance
  • Other translations say “the author” – the RSV = Pioneer
  • ***I like this – “The Founder” – the trailblazer – the one who goes first.**
  • This is a very monergistic statement – there is only one player here, there is only one actor on the stage – God.
  • Perfect = a sense of completion.

11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers.

  • It is God who does the sanctifying.
  • ***Sanctification = set apart for God’s use – for himself.***
  • A secondary sense is that we are set apart for ethical and moral purity.
  • Many mistakenly make the secondary the primary
  • Set apart to be holy – then we are actually and progressively purged of sin by the weakening of our sinful habits and the strengthening of our new nature.
  • But, and people do get off track, the purpose of the verse is not a lesson in sanctification – it is the common joining of the sanctifier and the sanctifyees.
  • Jesus is the one who makes people holy
  • ***Note the passive wording of being made holy “and those who are sanctified.” ***
  • “all have one source” – NIV = “of the same family”. The thought being that Jesus is qualified to be our priest and savior because he shares out nature – he is not some far off entity.
  • We are called brothers / sisters.

12 saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”

  • A quote from Psalm 22:22 – a Messianic Psalm from the cross.
  • Jesus is not only NOT ashamed to call us brothers, but does so proudly.
  • ***We are now a part of God’s family***
  • When Jesus speaks about us in heaven – – does he have a wallet with our picture?

***The Author now quotes 3 OT verses to show Jesus’ connection with the old covenant***

13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,

15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

  • ***Who are the children? = the church***
  • Jesus did not just appear human – He was not God in a human suit.
  • But actual flesh and blood – the exact same as us
  • ***Through his death, Jesus had defeated the devil – he is defeated, but still active.***
  • It may not look like it now but think of any game with a clock.
  • Basketball game 5 min to go and your team is losing by 35 points. You are still playing the game, making and changing strategies – still trying to make points. Because the clock has not wound down to 0:00.
  • Death has been defeated and since that was the big tool in the devil’s tool box, the only thing he has left is to make us afraid of death.
  • Trusting in Jesus removes that fear – removes those shackles.
  • Jesus, the Pioneer – not the first to die, all the OT guys died, but the first to be the trailblazer to rise from the dead.

16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.

  • ***For surely*** – this makes a strong case for information that is shared between the parties
  • Helps – better understood as “to take hold of” or “taken by the hand”
  • “For it was not the angels that he took to himself” – In other words “Jesus came to rescue his people.”
  • Invoking Abraham makes the statement particular
  • So Jesus may “help” many besides the Jews – this is a particular kind of help directed at his people.

17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

  • ***He had to… The purpose of salvation involved a genuine incarnation***
  • ***To make propitiation for the sins of the people***
  • Propitiation vs atonement – NIV = atonement.

18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

  • ***He himself ***– Emphatic
  • Contrary to what might have been expected – he suffered
  • No other religion has a suffering God.
Aug 292015
 

thumbnail.aspx“Oh Lord our God we thank thee more than ever that thou has been pleased to give us thy Holy Word. We realise what frail, fallible creatures we are, and how prone we are to go off on tangents and to trust to our own understanding only. We thank thee that thou has given us thy Spirit and thou has given us thy Word.

Oh God we cry out to thee, as a company of thy people, to have mercy upon us. God of our fathers, let it be known that thou art still God in Israel.

Let it be known in this arrogant 21st Century, that thou art the same God who has acted and operated throughout the running centuries.

Honour thine own Word, oh Lord. Honour thine own dear Son. Exalt his precious name, and bring many to a knowledge of him as their only Saviour and their Lord.

Lord have pity upon us. In the midst of wrath remember mercy. Revive thy work, oh Lord, thy mighty arm made bare. Speak with a voice that wakes the dead, and make the people hear.”

M.L. Jones

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