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““You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
My ashtray is full and I’ve already had too much coffee.
Too many stories are grappling with each other inside me, all disconnected, but connected somehow by a thin crimson line.
They say they need to install more lights at the intersection as it gets very dark there…darker than the dark in other parts of the city.
There was barely enough light to snap a picture of the child’s shoes that flew off his feet on impact, now laying unoccupied forever on the road.
They snapped a picture of his skateboard too, but it was still very dark.
It was an accident…perhaps if there had been more light…
The child was barely a year older than my own child.
I recognized the boys name, then went on Facebook and confirmed that they have skated together.
That’s all they did together as they lived in different worlds.
There was little light in the one the other child lived in.
His friends all have pictures of things dark and sexual and their selfies reflect those attitudes.
They are children.
Their eyes are already as empty as those who lived far longer without light in other generations.
They are children.
They do not know how to mourn because they have been denied the kind of love that enables grief.
They are children.
It’s dark there.
We should install more light.
The problem as always, is defining who we are, defining who they are, and seeing what the light budget can handle.
We greatly prefer lighting that we can install over lighting that must be carried and held.
Perhaps we will just wait for the darkness to come to us.
It will take a few years, but it will arrive.
For some, it’s here already.
Make your own application…
The internet tried really hard to get two people fired this week.
The first was ESPN reporter Britt McHenry after she was video taped verbally ripping the hide off a tow company worker after her vehicle was picked up.
(Warning: profanity alert)
The second person the always offended tried to remove from the earth was Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price, for dropping over 70 F bombs in a few minute tirade with the local press.
Bryan’s masterful use of the profane precludes me from showing his tape…
A few things bother me about all this .
First off, I can’t really say much because given the right (or wrong) stimuli and a camera in the right (or wrong) place, I could have easily been caught being meaner than Britt and fouler than Bryan.
I am a sinner saved by grace, in frequent need of grace.
Constant need of grace.
I guess the public outcry over these two matters centers around who they represent.
They work for entertainment entities, one a sports network, one a baseball team.
How much more should it matter when those in the church, ambassadors of Christ, prove to be cruel, temperamental and abusive?
Yet when we publish facts about men who abuse their wives, fall into moral failure, and befoul the name of Christ, the outrage is over in a few hours.
The second thing that bothers me is that as a culture we seem to no longer be able to have a measured response to anything.
It’s all scorched earth…fire the person, eliminate the person, heap as much contempt on the person as possible.
Are we really that shocked when a celebrity acts like a celebrity and we find that men still cuss?
The third thing…and the thing that will eventually devour us, is the refusal to offer grace.
Once a sin has been revealed and confessed, our default stance should be one of grace.
In God’s economy, discipline is rehabilitative, not retributive, and the aim is always restoration.
You would never know this from reading social media…
I can’t help but think we’ll have to give an answer for why that is.
The opening of my new book…
“I dwell on the outskirts of Laodecia, a more or less voluntary exile from the manner and customs of the place.
There was a time that I dwelled among it’s citizenry but a violation of customs led to it being an uncomfortable home.
The lords and leaders of the city let it be known that they would prefer I took my leave and, in the end, I preferred it as well.
Now I write for fellow exiles and to those leaders about their customs and ways and I would not be welcomed back unless I recanted what I know to be true.
I will not recant.
I will not return.
They value only two things in the city I left, success as measured in numbers and wealth, as measured in cash.
I am of no value there.
The site which I write on is well known and popular, but advertisers will not violate the customs of the city and support the work of a man in exile.
My writings contradict the advertising that Laodecia pays for.
The city advertises itself as the home of truth, of holiness, of high ethical and moral standards taken from it’s sacred Scriptures.
Life inside is quite different.
The citizenry are held to those ethics and standards, but if the leaders can show sufficient success and wealth, they are exempt from them.
Most of the people ignore this matter, as they have no desire to become exiles themselves.
Until, that is, some perceived violation of custom drives them out to dwell with me.
Our city is growing, though as an unplanned development.”
This is one of those things which I write for that purpose.
There are believers in this country that place great emphasis on the prophetic gifts of the Holy Spirit… some even have classes and ‘schools” wherein they teach people how to enable these gifts.
They regularly publish alleged “words from God” and these words are almost always nebulous breakings of wind from the northern rather than southern portals of their body…sometimes accompanied by the same sort of bodily manifestations that occur the morning after one has mixed beer with hard liquor while eating bad Mexican food with very hot sauce the night before.
They speak of pending natural disasters that are the judgment of God that never falls and of revivals that never come, and often speak of vague “shakings” and violent “winds” of changes to come.
Despite the vapid nature of these emissions, the “prophets” are held in high esteem and paid well and often for their inane belches.
I read their prophecies and proclamations with equal amounts of amusement and disgust, not only for them, but for those who enable them.
On the other hand, I now have almost gathered the complete works of my favorite secular, pagan author.
In his first published work in 1977, he outlined and explained why the American Southwest would be facing a severe water crisis in the not too distant future.
He prophesied with uncanny accuracy that which we are watching unfold today.
In 1995, he predicted the carnage that would come over a decade later in Juarez, Mexico, and in Mexico in general.
Throughout the 1980’s and ’90’s until his death last year he told us that the migration of people fleeing poverty and violence from third world to first world countries would be a global issue of massive proportions.
All of these things have proven to be true.
He never claimed to be either a prophet or a Christian.
What he did was observe and engage with people and circumstances as they were and through understanding science and economics he was able to reach important conclusions.
It would have been to our great advantage to have listened.
Evidently, we couldn’t hear him over the praise band warming up the crowd for the flatulence contest to follow.
My conclusion is that God is still speaking to us, but He can’t get a word in over the vain babblings inside the church.
The real prophets live outside the camp…
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.
MacArthur on ISIS war on Christians…
Who would dare to love ISIS?
Let me rephrase that.
I sinned yesterday.
As I was getting ready to leave for church I saw an article on Facebook about a veterinarian who posed for a picture holding a cat she had shot with a bow and arrow.
She was quite pleased with herself…and I lost my mind.
I hated that woman and I wanted to see her punished and publicly scorned and shamed.
There was an online petition to get her license revoked which I signed and then shared to all my Facebook friends in hopes that they would do likewise.
I felt a bit better by the time I left the house…I had done my part to damn this woman far and wide.
I had joined the crowd who righteously cyber spat in her smug face.
I left no room for grace, redemption, or reconciliation.
In doing so, I denied my own faith that says nobody is outside the grace of God and desires redemption for all.
Even vile cat killers.
Social media makes it far too easy to hate…and my old nature loves it.
Our ability to hate and spread hate is going to destroy us…and I contributed to the fall.
It has to stop before we devour each other to the point of no return.
2. Another thing that’s going to ruin us is how we handle news.
Accuracy and facts no longer matter…what matters is whether the news came from a place that agrees with our political ideology.
If it does it’s true, if it doesn’t, it’s a lie from the pit of hell.
We’re losing our collective minds.
3. It’s a very short distance between hating someone with a keyboard and justifying hating them in person. We’re on dangerous ground…
4. It was heartbreaking for me this morning to go through the list of Facebook friends who no longer speak to me because of political differences. The church really didn’t need something else to divide over…but we are doing so.
5. “The vocation of pastors has been replaced by the strategies of religious entrepreneurs with business plans.” ― Eugene Peterson. HT to Matt Redmond.
6. Tim Tebow is back in the NFL…yet another sign of the impending Rapture…
7. Being hacked just informs me that I’m hitting the right people in the right place…
8. I preached on prayer last night and continued to neglect praying today…
9. There is much cognitive dissonance between people who don’t believe in supernatural evil and who also believe that people are basically good. ISIS and the Mexican drug cartels testify to their errors.
10. Despite it all…summers coming. “Summertime is always the best of what might be.” Charles Bowden
Pastor Michael Newnham and Phil Naessens discuss the differences between Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism, the importance of using the correct theological terms when discussing heresy, the relevance of quality Christian blogs that point out misdeeds and bad theology in the Church and much more on this week’s Calvin’s Corner.
“For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.”
(Ephesians 3:1–13 ESV)
We now turn our attention to the purpose of Paul’s ministry, which was to reveal a biblical “mystery”.
In the New Testament a mystery is something that was once unknown, but has now been revealed to the people of God.
In this case the revelation is that it was always the plan of God (“according to His eternal purpose”) to fully include the Gentiles in the people of God.
This would be accomplished through the work of Christ who would make us all ‘fellow heirs” of the riches of God, members of the same body, recipients of the same promise.
John Stott puts it this way;
“To sum up, we may say that ‘the mystery of Christ’ is the complete union of Jews and Gentiles with each other through the union of both with Christ. It is this double union, with Christ and with each other, which was the substance of the ‘mystery’.”
“Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:23–29 ESV)
“For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”
(Galatians 6:15–16 ESV)
Sometimes it seems like Gentiles, especially in this country, have an inferiority complex when it comes to the Jews.
We try to mimic their customs and liturgies and act as if they are more privileged in the family of God.
This is not so.
Be who you are…a blessed child of God sharing in all the riches we saw in the first two chapters.
Belonging to the family is only possible through faith in Christ and if you are in Christ you are a child of Abraham.
Conversely, only those who have faith in Christ are the true children of Abraham.
Be who you are…a blessed and beloved child of the King through faith in Christ.
That is who you are, you know…