Jul 032015
 

Weather-Heat-Web-Graphic_20100616145157_640_480I survived most of the last twenty some summers without the aid of air conditioning.

This is no small feat, as it gets downright hot here in Southern Oregon.

Over the years both my body and my habits adapted to the heat and I was able to endure the annual roasting with minimal discomfiture.

A couple of years ago, my brother installed air conditioners in the house.

Now, my environment is always cool and comfortable no matter the temperature outside.

Yesterday it was 108 degrees outside, whatever I chose inside.

I was comfortable as can be.

Except…

Except now my body and habits have become accustomed to my artificial climate.

I can no longer handle the heat when I go outside.

It makes me miserable, weak, and sick, and I flee back to the place where I control the environment.

The strength I had is gone, replaced with dependence on artificial solutions.

I think I’ve found a metaphor here.

It’s my job.

It’s what I do.

For most of our lifetimes, the church has lived out this metaphor in reverse.

We have been conditioned to comfort, to being able to control our environments.

Now, the machine is broken and the heat is on.

We prefer maintaining the machine to becoming accustomed to the heat.

We want to flee inside to artificial climates where the temperature is cool and the air is clean.

That is not the legacy we inherited from our fathers.

We were born for heat and dirt and pain… we were born to work outside.

We were born for “them”.

We need to grow accustomed to the heat…it is our earthly inheritance.

It’s not comfortable, but the machine is broken beyond repair.

Our next home will be cooler.

Make your own application…

Jul 022015
 

gays in churchOur brother Dr. Alan Hawkins has written a compelling article on the church and same sex marriage.

We are honored to repost it here.

Confessions of a “Homophobic” Pastor

A friend posted on my Facebook page that he is a gay man.

It was a plain and somewhat courageous admission on a Christian pastor’s page but his example has emboldened me to give you grounds for rejecting me up front. My title might shock some, but by any realistic definition a gay person would consider me to be homophobic. No, I do not like the ascription but it is better for me to admit it and deal with it. In other words get the ugly stuff right up front. 

Since I will admit that there are many things about homosexuality being normalized that disturb me you could ascribe the phobic word against me. Often, people who do not know how to be civil or engage in healthy conversation resort to name-calling. Because I intend to enjoin a discussion, let me say up front that if you come at me with accusations and abuse, you will simply be removed from any discussion on this page. Calling anyone a bigot will be received as if you are using an epithet and you will be blocked. Either discuss with civility or be banished. 

Of course I know gay people and frankly I do not know any that I do not care about or regard with love. However, my love has never resulted  in my endorsement of gay relationships or of homosexual love. So if you are gay my heart is not closed to you, but we will come to an impasse if blessing your relationships is required of me. Your dilemma is feeling that I am rejecting you for something that for you is unchangeable. Mine is dealing with the collapse of an authoritative basis for faith if I do. For you the revealed truth is based in your constitutional makeup, for me the revealed truth is in an authoritative scriptures. I care deeply about my loved ones who are gay. I pray and hope to have ongoing relationships of love and peace with them. I desire to actually listen and hear them giving every opportunity to change my mind. My deepest faith conviction is still that as the follower of Jesus I am to love all and that I never have the right to condemn people. That judgement is God’s alone. 

The great problem is that embracing homosexuality as virtuous would be to deny everything I understand about revealed faith and the scriptures which are the foundation of my life. Thus, I have to deny my faith to embrace as virtuous what I believe to be forbidden. This is no small matter. I am not being asked to place homosexuality in the ranks of other sins or even of my own sin. What is being asked is that homosexuality be seen as virtuous. That is a volcanic distinction and re-assessment. 

I know many believers that have made that journey, some have kindly and often privately told me as much. While I acknowledge their freedom I do not acknowledge their wisdom, understanding or propriety. In other words, I think they are not dealing with the full consequences of the collapse of an authoritative Bible. This issue will shred and perforate the scriptures until you are left with a text that you simply cannot trust. Authority is the central issue of life and a source of authority is vital. 

The legislative testimony used to seek legalization of gay marriage centered on one theme. They claimed that their private happiness was of no consequence and caused no harm to those who opposed them. The reality is that the full force of jurisprudence, education, media and a all other cultural powers must now rally to the task of rooting out all opposition. Public dissent will be as unsavory as the Confederate flag in the White House. Already, religious speech is being equated with hate speech. Already, parents are facing children who have been won over by these forces and see the parents as hate mongers. So frankly there are some things to be “concerned” about if you reject the Supreme Court decision. Frankly the phobias are at the gate. 

Jul 022015
 

TTMfinal-copyThe Calvary Chapel Senior Pastors Conference is almost upon us.

The gathering happens July 6-9.

I have yet to be able to determine whether or not K.P. Yohannan and Gospel for Asia will have an exhibit there as they have in years past.

In the face of even more questions surrounding the organizations finances and practices it would be grossly irresponsible to allow them to continue soliciting funds.

The job of the shepherd is to protect the sheep from wolves, not provide a table and silverware in the sheepfold.

If they are present there, I will make much of it and intend on making much of it when they are allowed to be present anywhere until they make a full accounting of where the funds are used and how.

This could be yet another case where the church has turned a blind eye to the sins inside the camp while raising the Ebenezer over the culture.

In the older testament, when God’s people were defeated in battle, the first thing they did was look for sin in the camp.

Once repented of, God then gave the victory.

This is a concept we may want to revisit…

Good to see the “watchblogs” get some positive press…

In celebrity evangelicalism, the blogger has taken up the place of the OT prophet…and is treated about the same as well.

The only ‘prophets” the church allowed to speak today are those who speak of the sin outside the walls…the true prophet speaks to the covenant people first.

I wonder what further catastrophe must come upon us before we choose to listen?

Jul 012015
 

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…

Jun 302015
 

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The Wartburg Watch and Amy Smith on Elevation Church promoting a convicted sex offender…

The aftermath of Tullian’s fall…

Shallow Christian fashion fads…

Autism and the church…

Internet Monk and the Lutherans look at Tullians fall…

Glenn Beck to speak at Ed Youngs place…

Integrating compassion and conviction…

Ten signs you are a charismaniac…

Christians must learn to live as exiles…

What conservative churches must do after the SCOTUS ruling…

Christianity Today and the IM on what to do now…

Love wins..or else.

Two weasels have a conversation….

Protests coming over weasel conversation…

Six ways to evaluate your pastors sermons…

Ranking religions on acceptance of homosexuality…

Women in Luke and Acts…

Living in a place of peace…

Steve Browns commencement address at Knox Theological Seminary…

Thoughts on exile…

Mike Huckabee is an ass…

EricL did all the work this week to bring you Linkathon… (except the snarky stuff)  support his work up on the top right.

Jun 292015
 

img0005In my opinion, no New Testament book speaks as clearly to our current national state of affairs as 1 Peter.

Thus, if we want to know how to think and act biblically in these troubled times, we should ask Pete.

I’m going to use two primary commentaries on the book, one by Karen Jobes and one by Thomas Schreiner.

That way, you won’t be burdened by my lack of exegetical skill…

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.”

(1 Peter 1:1–2 ESV)

The key to understanding this book and our place in this “post Christian” culture is to properly identify ourselves.

We are “elect exiles”… as the old hymn goes, this world is not our home.

Schreiner comments:

“The word “strangers” (parepidēmois) introduces a crucial idea in the letter, that is, that God’s people are pilgrims, sojourners, and exiles on Earth. Again, a key theme of the letter is anticipated (cf. 2:11). The church is God’s suffering people, having no place of rest in this world.”

“Believers are exiles because they suffer for their faith in a world that finds their faith off-putting and strange. Goppelt rightly observes that God’s election is what accounts for their being exiles. This interpretation is borne out in that the word “elect” modifies “strangers.” They are not aliens literally; they are sojourners because they are elected by God, because their citizenship is in heaven rather than on earth.

“Dispersion belongs with the word “strangers” in that it communicates again that believers are distinct from the world.”

Jobes:

“By drawing an analogy between the Jewish Diaspora and the situation of his readers, he implies they should understand themselves as Christians in terms of God’s people of the old covenant who were foreigners in the lands to which they had been scattered.”

“The term parepidēmos (plural, parepidēmoi) was used in the first century to designate someone who did not hold citizenship in the place where he resided and was therefore viewed as a foreigner. The lack of citizenship implied that such people did not enjoy all the rights and privileges of citizens. Moreover, as foreigners, they were not necessarily expected to hold the values and practice the customs of their host culture. Because of such differences, foreigners were often looked upon suspiciously as potentially subversive to the established social order, an attitude not unfamiliar even today.”

“Peter, the apostle associated with Rome, uses their disorienting experience to instruct and encourage them with his insight that all Christians are in a real sense foreigners to their place of residence, regardless of where they are living, whenever Christian values and customs conflict with those of the dominant society.”

Today we looked at what it means to be in exile…tomorrow we’ll add the “elect” part of the equation…

Jun 292015
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. When I was a younger man the church had three services every week.

There was the Sunday morning service, the Sunday night service, and the Wednesday prayer meeting. The Wednesday night service wasn’t a mini replica of the Sunday morning service, it was an actual prayer meeting.

 

People came to pray and be prayed for, not to hear another “teaching”. Today most churches don’t have Sunday night services and if you advertised that Wednesday would be a true prayer meeting crickets would be your prayer partner.

I’ll believe the church is serious about changing the ills of society and culture when we are ready to do the hard work of picking up the only two weapons given to fight such wars…prayer and fasting. Until then, it’s all sound and fury signifying nothing,

2. The culture has not done us nearly as much damage as the “progressive” wing of the church…

3. I’ve already received numerous financial solicitations from ministries in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. This is going to be a cash cow for those who know how to manipulate the people of God. Just for your information, prayer and fasting are free activities that will only cost you time and effort.

4. God has yet to break a sweat.

5. When you’re done watering the broom tree and looking for a cave to live in, remember there are still thousands who haven’t bowed the knee to Baal…and get back to work.

6. I’m as upset that churches will still give K.P. Yohannan a platform as much as I am over the Supreme Court decision. Sin isn’t sin if the good ol’ boys baptize it in cash…

7. If you’re going to comment on the sins of the culture from a Christian perspective, make sure that you mix in the Gospel. Too often we sound like good Jews or practicing Muslims…all law and no Gospel.

8. Once again, we are being told that we are in the very last days. Not the last days, but the very last days. If so, isn’t that a good thing?

9. If the prospect of persecution surprises you, you might want to read the parts of the Scripture that don’t mention homosexuality to get the big picture…

10. In terms of your Christian walk and vocation, absolutely nothing changed last week.

Jun 282015
 

thumbnail.aspxWe imagine you coming into the barracks with your insistent demand.

We imagine you addressing

the sun to “move out,”

the sky— “let there be light,”

the sea—“stand back.”

We imagine you addressing Israel, “be my people,”

and the church “follow me.”

We even imagine you addressing us, each of us and all of us

with your order of the day.

We imagine… but the din of other commands,

of old loyalties and unfinished business

and tired dreams

cause us not to hear well, not to listen, not to notice,

and your command is garbled.

So come again with your mandate, with the clarity of your imperative.

We listen, because we know in deep ways that your yoke is easy

and your burden is light.

Come among us, because we are yours, and ours is a listening mood.

Give us ears and then hands and hearts and feet for your good news.

Amen.

Brueggamenn

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