Dec 312013

We lost some significant people in the church last year.

Most of you would be familiar with Dave Hunt, Brennan Manning, Harold Camping, Dallas Willard and Chuck Smith.

You may not have been as familiar with Howard Hendricks..but he may have been as influential as all of the above.

Hendricks was a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and his teachings on hermeneutics and preaching set the standard for thousands including, Chuck Swindoll.

A good and humble man by all accounts, his legacy may outlast the rest of his contemporaries.

Which loss affected you the most?

Obviously, the story of the year here was the illness and death Of Chuck Smith and the effect that both had on the Calvary Chapel movement.

The rest of that story is still being written…and may take years to be understood in full.

Some links…

A fascinating look at what we were reading in the Bible last year…

A feminist defense of masculine virtues…

The God of the coming year…

Michelangelo’s Handwritten 16th-Century Grocery List

Ten Things Pastors Wish They Knew Before They Became Pastors

Five New Years resolutions worth keeping…

Driscoll plagiarizes in 140 characters or less…

I’m guessing they aren’t fans of Phil…

John Stackhouse on a good New Years resolution..

To make no more big plans, but do today what You have told me to do and leave tomorrow etc. with You.

I’ll go with that…

Dec 312013

I have a job interview, then I’ll be writing about some of the folks American evangelicalism lost in 2013.

Howard Hendricks, Brennan Manning, Dallas Willard, Dave Hunt, Chuck Smith, and Harold Camping all went home this year.

I’ll have some links as well…in a couple of hours.

Dec 302013

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. The last word on the Duck Dynasty debacle has again been overlooked in all the hype.

The reality is that this is the first time in recent memory that the gay lobby has lost a battle in favor of a greater economic force. The cultural capitulation to homosexuality started with the large corporations for economic reasons, not moral or ethical ones…and retaking any ground begins with understanding what really happened over the last two weeks. The gay lobby would love nothing more than for this to be seen as a publicity stunt rather than a defeat at the hand of the masses.

2. The two main expectations in the NT for believers are love and suffering…and they are intrinsically linked. There is no such thing as true faith without real suffering. They don’t tell you this when they draft you…

3. Perhaps the most troubling trend I see for our cultural future is that through the internet and “entertainment” we are modeling conflict as communication and polarization as the preferred position. Thus we have replaced the art of compromise and statesmanship with extremism looking for conflict. That…is dangerous.

4. The Bible knows nothing of unorganized religion…

5. Behind every renegade pastor (celebrity or not) are a team of renegade elders and a renegade board who share in and enable his sins.

6. One of greatest schemes of the devil these days is to blind us to the 7000 who haven’t bowed their knee to Baal…God still has a mighty big remnant.

7. Another scheme has been to convince the church that preaching on holiness diminishes grace and leads to legalism. I’ve fallen for both lies…

8. Pain is often the greatest predictor of the presence of God.

9.“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”(2 Corinthians 5:18-20ESV). The heart of God and the core of the Gospel is unforced reconciliation between God and man and between people at odds for the sake of the Gospel. When we are content with enmity we deny both the heart of God and the Gospel that saved us.

10. Leaders who are caught in sins like plagiarism and lies then refuse to confess, repent, and seek restoration are as disqualified from ministry as they would be if caught in the act of sodomy. If you can’t model the fundamentals, you aren’t fit to teach them.

With that, we end the first decade of the Phoenix Preacher.

I thank you for all the years you’ve read, commented, encouraged, rebuked, and supported me.

If the Lord wills and you keep reading, we’ll keep on going for a few more.

May God bless you and perfect all that concerns you in the coming year…thanks again.

Dec 282013

thumbnail.aspxWe have heard of your wondrous power, the ways in which you make newness, the ways in which you defeat death, the ways in which you give life.

We trust you in the night while we sleep; we rise early in the morn to find you alert, active, engaged.

You dazzle us day and night.

Yet … we notice the place where you are curbed, you are fringed, you are held.


Your newness we do not see … so we wait.

Keep us easy at night in our wait.

Keep us vigilant in day while we wait.

Keep our wait fixed on you, you alone, you and none other … and we will rejoice.

Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (p. 20). Kindle Edition.

Dec 272013

broken_by_liebe_sieAs 2012 ended I was very excited about what God was going to do in 2013.

2012 had been a hard year…and I had great hopes for recovery.

“God will restore the years”…

I knew God had a plan.

He did.

He planned to break me.

He did.

God’s plans are never thwarted.

Had I known of His plan, I might have tempered my enthusiasm.

In all measurable things, I’m a lot worse off than I was at the end of last year.

All of the things that truly concern me and those closest to me deteriorated further.

Had I known of His plans, I might not have even tried…I might have given up completely.

That would have been a mistake.

Broken is the place where you meet God at the end of yourself.

Broken is the place where celebrities never have to dwell and speak of only by hearsay.

Broken is the place where following God becomes easy because you have ran out of all your other options.

Broken is where the games end and the lies are of no use.

Broken is the place where fellowship is sweet because nobody has any energy left to fake it.

Broken is where all your plans have failed and you’re ready for God’s plans instead.

Broken is where you’re assured of the love of God and the people around you because everyone else has left.

Broken is the place where you find out if all you believe is true and whether you believed the truth or not.

It’s true.

I believe.

I know who I have believed and He is able.

I’m very excited for 2014…broken is where God does His best work.

Make your own application.

New article from Sarah…

Dec 262013

So…my favorite book this410+dzII85L._SL210_ year was Biblical Eschatology by Jonathan Menn.

The runners up?

“Weakness Is The Way” by J.I. Packer

“Fight” by Preston Sprinkle


“God’s Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement In America” by Larry Eskridge

“Start” by Jon Acuff

Acuff’s book is very valuable if, like me, you’re having to reinvent yourself in todays economy.

What were your favorite reads this year?


I’ve had the same music for over 50 years so my opinion ain’t worth much…


Dec 242013

links_image1Sarah on Advent…

The Santa tracker…

The “war on Christmas debate”…

The violence of Christmas…

A word from Naghmah Abedini…


What evangelicals can learn from Francis…

Keeping the Christmas in Christmas…

Survival tips for the holidays…

The parable of the carnival and the freak show…

When merry is a million miles away…

Does birth order matter?

Derek’s blog…

Consider the dogs… (love this one)

Sharing my opinion is overrated…

God getting human on Him…

The war about the war on Christmas…

Dec 242013

JESUS_MARY_AND_JOSEPH_NEW_JEWISH“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:18-25 ESV)

If you write for a Christian audience you are pretty much expected to write something either devotional or theological about Christmas.

It’s already been done over and over again by far more gifted writers than myself.

I was just going to let it go until this passage struck a chord in me…what about Joseph?

All the characters in the nativity story get a lot of press…Mary, Jesus, the wise guys, the shepherds, the angels…Joseph…not so much.

This, despite the fact that Joseph was the first person to suffer for the sake of Christ.

The English text does not do this passage justice…it does not capture either the pathos or the heart of a great man.

“Joseph, I’m pregnant”.

The words must have torn him inside out.

He knew it could not be his child.

In a few seconds with one sentence his pride, his manhood, and his dreams were shattered into the sand.

It was a risk he took waiting until later in life to get married…he was older and she was young and pretty.

Now he had been betrayed twice…once by the woman he loved and hoped to marry and once by someone he had to know who lived in the village.

His mind raced…was it one of the shopkeepers? One of his customers at the carpentry shop? His apprentice? Who would do this to him?

“The child is from Yawheh”.

Joseph had to believe at this point that not only had she betrayed him, she was crazy.

The Bible doesn’t tell us if he shouted at her or how long he cried.

It does say that in his pain and betrayal he chose to act in grace and love when he had the right to inflict some pain of his own.

He would divorce her quietly…and allow her to go on with the rest of her life and he picked up the pieces of his.

That is one of the greatest acts of sacrificial love recorded in Scripture.

We know the rest of the story…we know God came to Joseph in a dream and verified this crazy story…and Joseph believed God.

The child was not his, but he would raise it as if it were.

I wonder if he ever understood that God picked him to be the stepfather of Christ as surely as he had chosen Mary to be his mother.

I wonder if he ever pondered these things or if he simply did what good fathers do…worked hard at his trade, loved his family, and worshipped their God in front of them.

Joseph disappears from Scripture without a mention of his death or his funeral…he dies as quietly as he lived.

I’ll bet Jesus wept…

His legacy is the son that wasn’t his…and he did really well.

It started with choosing to love despite the pain and then believing God for the unbelievable..

Make your own application…



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