Aug 262016

IMG_1079So, I had the outline of another cat centered TGIF in my head.

It was relatively clever as as most of these articles try to be…whether I’m successful depends on how you define “relatively” and “clever”.

Adopting Chester has resulted in difficulties at times.

He’s eating us out of house and home…I’ve never seen a cat put away so much food.

He’s used to stealing his food so he eats it really fast and swallows a lot of air…which exits out the other end having been converted to weapons grade gas.

I have to use industrial strength Febreeze air freshener to be able to sit in my own home.

He and Miss Kitty fight over food, attention, and affection.


Like I needed more stress in my life…

He’s one more thing that wears me out.

There are moments when I wonder if I should have adopted him.

After I admitted that, I would point out that “I wonder if I should have adopted him” is something that God never has said, nor ever will say about you and me.

He never has second thoughts about His adopted kids.

He has one thought…”They are mine and they are loved”.

That’s another difference between me and God…

That’s the Gospel and it’s good to hear it.

Slap the familiar “make your own application” tag line on it and another Friday article is finished.

That was the plan until I read the story from a city I know.

The child would have turned ten the next day.

A birthday party had been planned by those who loved her.

Unfortunately, those in her home did not love her and her death certificate will read that she died at nine years of age.

Her death was too brutal, too evil to comprehend, let alone write about on these pages.

Something similar happened here long ago, but not long ago enough to stop me from occasional moments of shaking and tears.

I want to do something or at least say something profound.

All I have are cat stories…and the Gospel.

It’s not enough.

I don’t know what is.

May the child rest in peace…and may we not rest until our stories and our Gospel bring peace into places like her home.

Make your own application…

Aug 252016

tshirt_design_our_fatherIntroducing The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father Who Art in Heaven – Part 1

“Our Father who art in heaven.”

Jesus began His prayer with the invocation – Our Father who art in heaven – which announces the nature of our relationship with God. This invocation is pregnant with meaning and is a key for comprehending our relationship with God.

As we begin to apprehend all of what Jesus has compressed into this short invocation, we will better understand our relationship with God, which, in turn, will help us to pray.

An accurate portrayal of our relationship with God will not project onto God our subjective experiences with our human fathers or how we might imagine the ideal fatherly relationship. Instead, it is crucial that that we seek to understand our relationship with God as He has objectively revealed that relationship to us in the Scriptures.

In His invocation, Jesus linked together three aspects or angles by which to view and understand our relationship with God: (1) He is Father; (2) He is in Heaven; and (3) He is Ours. An objective, scripture-based portrayal of our relationship with God should incorporate all three of these aspects or angles.

In this Part 1, we will explore the name Father.

“But to all who did receive him who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)

God reveals himself throughout the Scriptures by many descriptive names. The name Father is the most intimate of all God’s names and signifies a family relationship. Christians are not enemies, strangers or laborers in relation to God; we are adopted children born of God.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)

God the Father sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, into our broken world to lay down His life to save us. In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote something similar: God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8) These passages show us objectively the nature of God’s love for humanity. When we pray Father, we should remember that Jesus, the only begotten Son, reconciled God to us by the blood of His cross.

Pastor Timothy Keller has been quoted as saying that “in the word Father that you are my Father — is the gospel in miniature.” Keller’s statement echoes Early Church Father, John Chrysostom:

“See how He straightway stirred up the hearer, and reminded him of all God’s bounty in the beginning. For he who calls God Father, by him both remission of sins, and taking away of punishment, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, and adoption, and inheritance, and brotherhood with the Only-Begotten, and the supply of the Spirit, are acknowledged in this single title. For one cannot call God Father, without having attained to all those blessings. Doubly, therefore, doth He awaken their spirit, both by the dignity of Him who is called on, and by the greatness of the benefits which they have enjoyed.” (John Chrysostom, 349-407 A.D.)

The name Father encourages us as His children to pray to Him with trust and confidence, not based on who we are or what we have done or left undone, but because of what the Triune God has done for us: God the Father our Creator who sent the Son; God the Son our Redeemer who gave himself for us; and God the Holy Spirit our Sanctifier who dwells in each one of us and intercedes for us.

A Portrait of the Father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

Perhaps the most vivid portrait of God as Father is found in the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the 15th Chapter of Luke’s Gospel. In this parable, Jesus corrects two common misconceptions about our relationship with God.

Do you struggle with feelings of unworthiness? The younger prodigal son had sinned very badly against his father (consider it total rebellion). When he later met up with his father, the younger son could not even imagine being forgiven and restored as his father’s son. In his mind, he was not worthy: Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” (Luke 15:21) However, an astonishing action by his father shows us that the younger son was already forgiven even before he spoke a word: But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20).

The lesson of the younger son is that the magnitude of our sin does not limit our Father’s compassion for us. God’s graciousness towards us is not dependent on our worthiness (of which we have none), but on the infinite worthiness of our Savior who gave himself for us. Forgiveness comes from outside us through the proclamation of the Gospel – “Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor 15:3). Therefore, we must set aside any feelings of unworthiness and believe the Gospel of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who clothes us with His infinite worthiness.

What about the older son? The older obedient son served his father dutifully all his life. When the younger son came home, the older son revealed his own misconception about his family relationship: Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!” (Luke 15:29-30)

The older son’s problem was not his obedience. His problem was that he thought his father owed him something for his obedience. The reality, however, is that the older son already had everything irrespective of his obedience: And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” (Luke 15:31) The older son was blind to the blessings of sonship, because he was chasing a relationship based on working for his father’s favor.

The lesson of the older son is that being part of God’s family cannot be earned; it is a gift. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2:8-9) Therefore, we must repent of any feelings of entitlement and rejoice in our Father’s grace received through faith in the Gospel of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who clothes us with His perfect obedience. Amen.

Next week in Part 2, we will explore the words “who art in heaven.”


Copyright © 2016 Jean Dragon – All rights reserved.

Aug 242016

chase-utleyOkay, so some of you had to know this one was coming.

On August 19, 2015, the Philadelphia Phillies traded beloved second basemen, Chase Utley, to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  

Utley was nearing the end of his career and his performance was not nearly to the level that it had been several years earlier when he was one of the best players in baseball. 

However, he still showed signs of having something left and could be useful to a team like the Dodgers who were competing to make the playoffs.  Meanwhile, the Phillies had become the worst team in baseball and were badly in need of a rebuild with some younger blood for the future.  So the Phillies, with Chase’s blessing, traded him to his hometown Dodgers for a couple young minor league prospects.

Last Tuesday, some 363 days later after the trade, Utley made his return to Philadelphia with the Dodgers for the first time.  To say that it was a lovefest is an understatement.  As his signature walk-up music rang out and the P.A. Announcer emphatically articulated his name, the crowd in Philadelphia rose to its feet to welcome back Chase Utley in his first at bat.  A standing ovation, joined with applause from both the Phillies and Dodgers players and coaches, lasted for almost a minute and a half.  Chase was compelled to twice step out of the batter’s box and acknowledge the crowd with waves and pats to the heart before he could start his at bat.

Chase was cheered as he was announced for each of his successive at bats.  In his at bat in the 5th inning, Chase hit a home run and the outpouring of love continued as the crowd gave him another standing ovation and wouldn’t relent until he popped out of the dugout to acknowledge the curtain call.  And then he did it again in the seventh inning, but this time was it not only a home run but a grand slam.  Once again the crowd showered him with an ovation, louder than even the previous one, and continued on until Chase once again recognized the curtain call.

What other opposing player could ever receive not just one, but two curtain calls when hitting home runs against the hometown team in the feisty and hardscrabble town of Philadelphia?

Chase Utley played 13 seasons for the Philadelphia Phillies.  In a stretch for about 5 of those seasons, Chase was one of the best players in all of baseball, and probably would have been longer if not for a pair of bad knees.  He was part of the 2008 World Series champions.  The Phillies have only won 2 World Series in their 134 years of existence.  So winning the one in 2008 was a really big deal.

But beyond his great performance on the field and parallel success of the team, Utley became endeared to the fan base for other reasons.  Chase approached every game, every at bat, every ground ball with a fierce intensity to compete and win.  His hard-nosed style of play and all-out hustle were clearly evident in nearly everything he did on the field and in preparation to getting on the field.

But not only was it his physical play on the field, but his smarts, too.  Chase was a very heady player who was seemingly often a step ahead of most others and always knew the right play to make.  This was exemplified in Game 5 of the 2008 World Series, the clinching game for the Phillies, when Chase fielded a ground ball up the middle of the field and faked out the third base coach of the opposing Tampa Bay Rays who sent home the baserunner from third base.  Subsequently, Chase was able to throw home to get the baserunner for the final out of the inning and prevent the Rays from scoring the go ahead run.  This is not a play executed in the spur of the moment.  It is something thought through ahead of time.  This is how Utley approached the game of baseball.  Seemingly always.

Philadelphia is a town that is notoriously tough on its sports teams and athletes.  Yet, it can also really appreciate and adore them at the same time.  If you want to win Philadelphia’s heart, you need to do 3 things:  1) Win,  2) Always Play Hard, and 3) Play Smart.  Chase Utley embodied these 3 things to a greater overall degree than probably any other athlete in Philadelphia history.

So you probably get it by now that I and most others in Philadelphia love Chase Utley.  🙂

However, as much as I love Chase Utley, there are others who feel quite differently about him.  Because the man has his faults, too.  As much as he is loved by many in Philadelphia, there are those who he has irritated and offended because he almost always keeps everything close to the vest.  He is often quite stoic and can come across as stand-offish and can frustrate interviewers and sometimes even fans by rarely saying anything of significance and speaking primarily in overused clichés.

Much bigger than this problem, however, Utley is sometimes hated by other teams and their fans.  You see, in Chase’s intense drive to win he sometimes pushes the envelope with the rules of the game to try to gain every possible advantage he can.  Sometimes that pushing of the envelope even places the safety of opposing players at risk.  Just ask any New York Mets fan about Utley’s take-out slide in the playoffs last year.

And so, even though I dearly love Chase Utley, I recognize that he has his faults.  And I need to realize that those faults can cause problems with other people who may have a distinctly different opinion of the man. These are only the faults I know about.  While I wish it to be unlikely and would hope it never to be true, there could be some deep dark secrets about Utley that someday could expose him to be a terrible man.  And if that were ever to happen, I would need to accept it, despite my reverence for the man.

We all have those we admire.  Some that we really, really admire.  And yet, every one of those individuals is fallen.  Every one of them has their flaws and weaknesses.  Some to a greater degree than others, but all have shortcomings, nonetheless.

This does not mean we should never admire anybody.  But it is healthy to maintain perspective.  Yes, it will hurt when those we admire fall, but we should allow for the possibility.  We should not live in denial.  Because when we live in denial, that is when we create the environment for even more harm to be done.  How many times on this blog have we bemoaned pastors and other Christian leaders who have gotten away with far more harm than they should be able to because they haven’t been properly held to account?  A good deal of that can be attributed to people who seemingly believe that their pastor or leader or friend can do no wrong.  Even when presented with the evidence of wrongdoing, at least in public, they will refuse to see the wrongdoing or take any action on it.

Even for an admired one who generally is a good person and usually carries themselves in an honorable fashion, they can have moments or areas of weakness where they treat others wrong.  So even if I and many others think that Mr. X is a great guy, there could be some others who have had bad experiences with Mr. X and we shouldn’t just discount their experiences because we think we know better.

I think Chase Utley is and has been a great ballplayer and his play on the field and approach to the game is to be admired.  The Mets’ fan has a wholly different opinion.  In the whole scheme of things, this difference of opinion on Chase Utley is probably not going to cause many problems of significance.

But when the circumstances shift to arenas where people have real power and influence over others, admiration, if wrongfully applied, can have dire consequences.

We all have those whom we hold in high regard.  This can be a good thing.  But we also all are susceptible of allowing that fondness to skew our judgment.  There is only One who is worthy of unqualified admiration.  For everyone else, let’s try to achieve a healthy balance.             

Aug 232016

timthumb.phpFive things the church needs to do more of…

Another take on the flood narrative…

How Americans choose a new church…

Absolve someone today…

Big get out the vote for Trump push from pastors…

Tony Perkins ditches theodicy after home is flooded…

Conflict is part of the churches DNA…

One question I decided to stop asking…

Vote Trump or America is toast…

Corpse trials?

What a Christian isn’t…

GFA refuses to release audit…

Refuting two kingdom theology….

Distrusting your congregation…

Do you follow religion #1 or #2?

God wants the church to be more political…

We’re dead, dirty and weak…

6 reasons why churches aren’t transforming their minds…

Josh Harris is sorry…kind of…

Stumbling over women…

On disciplining abusers and protecting sheep…

Christian living, not just believing is needed in Milwaukee…and where you live.

More on the sexual orientation debate…

5 vehicles of American repentance…

The many different narratives of Mark Driscoll…

Care and treatment of sick churches…

They will know us by our…politics?

Christian identity in the workplace…

Are American Christians really persecuted?

Moral tribalism in contemporary politics…

Big thanks to EricL…support him at top right…



Aug 222016

thinking-pic1. I think that if I were going to pick a single factor that is breaking down our culture it would be the loss of community…the loss of a few things we all hold in common.

Had you grown up when I did,what we would want to discuss on a forum like this is what we watched on one of the three major networks last night.


On the local level,we would talk about what was in the towns newspaper this morning.

We drew our information from common sources and those sources were minute compared to today. You either trusted Huntley and Brinkley or Cronkite. You could pretty much trust either.

We were forced by the lack of technology to have many things in common and many shared experiences in the greater culture.

It was a far less complicated time.

We lived together in a physical place, a place that mattered, as did those within it.

We knew people, not sites, we read faces, not screens.

Now, we are all are own little gods creating our own individual realities, creating in isolation, creating community with images and monikers that can be muted and deleted.

We have hundreds of channels to choose from, millions of websites, and dozens of churches to choose from.

The news can be and is shaped to fit your personality, not any actual facts.

Few read the newspaper and the common link to the local community is withering.

We do not care because we live in communities of one, custom built to the individual ego.

We live and will die alone…death by sensory overload no matter what actually kills us.

The scattering of Babel has yet to cease…

2. We had time to think, time to discuss those things we read or viewed. Now, we have time to react…no real thought needed.

3. I’ve never taken a selfie and confess I find them to be among the most tawdry of technological advances…

4. I didn’t watch any of the Olympics…don’t care much about them anymore.

5. It dawned on me this morning that the reason some evangelicals aren’t really worried about the decline in church attendance is that they don’t consider many other churches to be valid expressions of the Christian faith…

6. The transforming power of the Holy Spirit hasn’t made me less of a sinner, but more of a repenter…

7. If I were going to pick out a “sign of the times” to lecture on, it would be #1…because one of the effects of it is the love of many growing cold.

8. If what you most hold in common with others online is who you hate…that may be a spiritual problem.

9. The sin of the church in Laodecia was that it didn’t think anything was wrong with it at all…and it was prosperous enough to make the fact that Jesus had left the building a non factor. Make your own application…

10. This blog has been around so long that sometimes we get nostalgic about “the old days”… I’m not sure if that’s good or bad…

Aug 212016

Almighty Father; we enter your presence confessing the things we try to conceal from you and the things we try to conceal from others.

We confess the heartbreak, worry, and sorrow we have caused, that make it difficult for others to forgive us, the times we have made it easy for others to do wrong, the harm we have done that makes it hard for us to forgive ourselves.

Lord have mercy and forgive us through Christ. Amen.

Paul E. Engle,

Baker’s Worship Handbook,

Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998

Aug 212016

bible-word-of-god_thumbMatthew 8:1-13

An Introduction to Chapters 8 &9

  • The events of these 2 chapters are really the actions of Jesus
  • ) 8:1-4 Heals the leper
  • ) 8:4-13 Heals the centurion’s servant
  • ) 8:14-16 – Heals Peter’s Mother in Law & the many
  • ) 8:23-27 – Calms the storm
  • ) 8:28-32 – Heals 2 men with demons
  • ) 9:1-8 – Heals & Forgives a paralytic
  • ) 9:20-22 – Heals a sick woman
  • ) 9:18-20 & 23-26 – Raises a dead girl
  • ) 9:27-31 – Heals 2 blind men
  • 10) 9:32-34 – Heals a mute demon possessed man

10 Deeds / 10 = divine completeness – The Whole Enchilada

God’s complete judgment against pharaoh was 10 plagues for his unbelief

The complete will of God for your life is in the 10 Commandments

These 10 deeds are to show that he is the complete & total savior!!

Jesus Heals a Leper

1 When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.

  • Up on the mountain with the disciples – down at ground level with the crowd.

And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”

  • Compare this to Moses coming down from Mt Sinai with the Law – the Law that tells the leper to stay away.
  • How difficult is this for the leper to come out in public like this right up to Jesus?
  • If you will –you can – This man gives Jesus the highest form of worship – FAITH
  • Clean / healing – this is the restorative work of God.
  • Jesus here does what his father does in restoring the world back to its original and intended glory.

And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

  • The compassionate servant as spoken of by Isaiah.
  • Immediately is the difference between Jesus and doctors
  • Why this leper and not others? Think about it.
  • He asked for the healing. I don’t want to sound like a faith healer, but …
  • What did it mean when a clean person touched a leper? They became unclean
  • Jesus is like a sponge – soaking up people’s sin.

And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”

  • What is this don’t tell anyone? I f I healed someone, I would want to go on the Today Show.
  • Shouldn’t this guy be out witnessing as to how and who healed him?
  • This was to be a message to the religious leaders of the day.
  • This verse can be used to defend the position that Moses wrote Leviticus – Jesus believed Moses wrote Leviticus.

Jesus Heals the Centurion’s Servant

When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him,

  • Like the leper, you wouldn’t think Jesus would have anything to do with the centurion.
  • Like the leper – the centurion felt comfortable approaching Jesus for help.

“Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.”

  • An appeal for someone else.
  • This is the Christian life – going to Jesus and asking for good things & help.
  • The people know this – why have we forgotten? We need to repent.

And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

  • It’s Jesus’ will to come and heal
  • Again, he is breaking down the barriers.
  • What do the Jewish leaders think of this guy working with the enemy?

But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.

  • We are not worthy – but we still ask.
  • The Jewish leaders do not understand, but this guy does.
  • He understands that what Jesus says does come to pass.

For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

  • So what is a centurion? Are centurions bad ass guys? (My Drill Instructor)
  • He may have been the ruling centurion in the Capernaum region.

10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.

  • So who is the true believer?
  • When Jesus said this – who is he speaking to, the large crowd?
  • It is so ironic – in scriptures Jesus marveled over only 2 things
  • (1) The faith of this centurion
  • (2) The unbelief of the Jews – Mark 6:6

11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven,

  • Assurance – salvation recognized for the gentiles

12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

  • Cursing – those who should be in the kingdom, tossed out.
  • Jesus is telling the people – the great crowds following him, point blank – “if you don’t trust my word, you don’t believe in me – it’s not going to go well with you.
  • In fact it will end terribly for you
  • Look back what he said in Matt 7:24-27 – “wise and foolish builders.”

13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

  • What is it we get out of stories like this today?
  • Are they there just to warm our hearts?
  • No! This is what Jesus does for us today – in the divine service – the words of Jesus heal.
  • Even in the smallest things – How can this little splash of water help me?
  • How can this little wafer and sip of wine help me?
  • SS kids know how to answer this – “because Jesus said it would.”




Aug 192016

7eea4faaeaf9df85f47365b48434f6c4I can’t take it anymore.

Let us rant.

Every day, all day long, I read on social media that “America’s only hope is to repent”… or “America’s only hope is to turn back to God”.

Let’s try this one more time.

America isn’t Old Testament Israel.

It isn’t a theocracy.


America cannot and will not “repent”.

It is not a sentient creature with a soul.

It is a political entity.

It cannot “turn back” to a God it never knew and cannot know outside of the philosophical beliefs of it’s founders.

If your solution to our problems as members of a political entity is some massive spiritual “awakening” where the mass of the country decides you have the correct beliefs about God, then we are (pardon the expression) utterly screwed.

That’s not going to happen.

If you think that’s our “only hope”, you’re part of the problem and I sincerely wish you’d shut the hell up.

Our only hope is to believe that there’s always hope if we choose to put in the hard work of identifying and solving our problems together.

Christians can play a part in this… basically by acting like Christians.

The Bible tells us over and over again, “do not fear”.

Yet, we spend all day telling others and ourselves all the things and people to be afraid of.

Stop it.

The Bible tells us to love our enemies.

Yet, we hate our “enemies” with a “holy” passion and even the enemy of our enemies is called a friend.

Stop it.

The Bible says that our warfare is spiritual, so pray.

We say we believe in prayer, but only when we’ve exhausted every other option.

We don’t really believe it accomplishes much of anything, but it does sound pious.

Prayer does change things, but it’s hard work and it’s impious to post real prayers on Facebook.

Do it anyway.

Finally, lets make sure our lives reflect these attitudes;

““Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you”

Granted, these do not bring the joy of crushing the enemy under your feet while daydreaming about Jesus coming back and barbecuing them when you’re done.

They are, however, what it looks like when people turn back to God…maybe we should go first…

Make your own application…


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