Jul 242014

 key-to-the-kingdom-detail“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.””

(Matthew 16:19 ESV)

What “authority” does Christian leadership possess?

In the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Lutheran traditions the clergy are believed to have the authority to forgive sins…and to withhold forgiveness.

They hold the power of excommunication, which in it’s true meaning places those being disciplined outside the church and outside salvation.

In most Protestant denominations authority is limited to addressing participation in a particular assembly, while encouraging (or demanding) that the rest of the group “shun” the ones under discipline.

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Hebrews 13:17 ESV)

How do you interpret the “ministry of the keys”?

What authority does the clergy possess and what is the responsibility of the laity to them?




Jul 232014

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aToday, like every Wednesday, we 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.


Jul 222014

Christianity is hardtimthumb.phper than we admit…

Driscoll talks…doesn’t repent.

Situation worsens for Iraqi Christians…

Ken Ham…what can I say?

Even when the Pyro guys have a point, they overstate it…

The collapse of middle class clergy…

Driscoll loves freedom of the press…as long as the story is about someone else.

Don’t be an Edomite…

Academics and religious freedom…

On the Israeli crisis…

The worship of men is an old problem…

Muller on Scripture…

A good case against amill…

Defining our terms when we talk about birth control…

Discerning narcissists in the pulpit…

Applying the Golden Rule to political discussions…

The mystery of childrens church…

Jul 212014

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251.  Jonathan Merritt says about all I have to say in this article on the difference between Americans attitudes toward the Pope and evangelicals in general.

 “Americans accept Christians who advocate for the marginalized.

Americans resist Christians who seek power to marginalize others.

Americans accept Christians who want to serve society.
Americans resist Christians who want to be served by society.

Americans accept Christians who are as clear-eyed about the failures of their community as well as others’.
Americans resist Christians who are partisan and tribal.

Americans accept Christians who are compassionate and speak with humility.
Americans resist Christians who are cantankerous and speak with hubris.”

The reality is that many aren’t rejecting Jesus or the faith once delivered…they’re rejecting all the baggage we hang on both.

2. According to a new article by Christine Scheller, 48% of evangelicals and fundamentalists believe serious mental illness can be healed with prayer and bible study. It doesn’t tell us how many still believe that witches are spreading the plague by smearing it on doorknobs…

3. I would love to see some balanced reporting that would help me to gain an understanding of the Israel-Gaza conflict. My guess is that simply picking a side doesn’t do the situation justice…

4. The most difficult command in Scripture is “fear not”.

5. Note to self; when you feel like you’re drowning, look for someone who can walk on water…

6. Note to self; make sure that when you “shake the dust off” you’re not standing in your own home…

7. I was having a conversation with an expert on aging the other day…and he said within three years boomers will control 70% of the disposable income in this country. By next year they will represent 45% of the population of this country. Tell me again why the church is laser focused on the youth demographic…

8. Note to self; you’re not feeling persecuted, you’re homesick.

9. “My love of consistency with my own doctrinal views is not great enough to allow me knowingly to alter a single text of Scripture”. Charles Spurgeon

10. I’m done now.



Jul 192014

thumbnail.aspxGod holy, sovereign, faithful, generous – that is the first thing we know and affirm at the break of day.

But then, from these old, hard texts we notice that your holy, sovereign, faithful generous way with us and with our people is in this endless tale of violence … war, plunder, rape, incest, deception, and death.

You stay hidden within that misery, at work even against such circumstance.


We notice that our long-term narrative is just like every other tale, wreaking with violence, just like every other … except for you … holy, sovereign, faithful, generous.

We trust your hidden ways today in our narrative and in all the narratives of violence in force today.

Work your good will,

give us eyes to notice what can be seen of you,

give us faith to trust what stays hidden of you,

give us nerve to obey you this day, even where we do not see.

We pray in the name of Jesus who confounds all our tales of misery.

Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (p. 45). Kindle Edition.

Jul 182014

Our good friend Samer Khoury wanted the PhxP family to be aware of this…

RrCeN4c3SNGIo9tuuXp4mQ“Peter Mozbauer was a dear friend that I met when I first went to Hungary 18 years ago.

He was a 20 year old who had recently come to faith in Christ .

The next 18 years were spent serving in the church and in recent years pastoring a church in Hungary.

He did this for many years while working a 9-5 job.

He was one of those guys who everyone liked, an unassuming man of average height but whose integrity and love were overpowering and stood 10 feet tall.  Peti married a wonderful woman from the church and together they were raising 3 little girls.  A number of months ago he was having health issues and a couple of weeks ago cancer took its toll on his body and he went to be with the Lord.

While we are at peace with knowing that Peti is in the presence of his savior we are broken hearted at the loss of a friend, son, father, and husband.  In wanting to do something to help his widow and children my wife and another friend have set up an account at giveforward.com to raise some funds that will help them pay for some of the costs of the funeral and keep them provided for over the next short while as they adjust to this new life.

Recently a man raised over $50,000 to fund his first attempt at making a potato salad!  It was done as a joke and thousands of people sent money as a joke.  This is a chance to help real people with a real need who are a part of the body.  If you are inclined to give even something small please click on the link and let Kristi and her girls know that there are people around the world who are praying for them.  Thank you all for taking the time to read this.”



Jul 182014

pic-6I’ve never been one of those people that believed that “God is going to soon judge America”.

Biblically, I believe we are living in an age of grace, a time of the kingdom breaking in ,and judgement has been deferred.

Rationally, if He’s going to start judging nations today, there are a lot of worse places He can start cleaning up.

That doesn’t mean, however, that He won’t discipline the church inside of a nation.

That…I believe we are in grave danger of.

My email over the last two weeks has been full of epithets and outrage over my advocacy for the children on the border and immigration reform.

The outrage has been political…being faithful to my understanding of scripture has landed  me on the hated “left”.

I’m going to make this clear one more time…this is a biblical issue, not a political one.

It may have political ramifications and require political solutions, but for me it’s a biblical issue…and one of far more import than what people do in their bedrooms.

“For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:17–19 ESV)

That is not a verse taken in isolation…there are many, many more that say the same thing…it’s not an issue of proof texting, it’s a recognition of biblical principles.

Jesus sums it all up in this passage that should either chill or encourage you.

““When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”” (Matthew 25:31–46 ESV)

For me this is not primarily a a political issue, but a an issue concerning the Gospel…and I am not ashamed of the Gospel.

We are to be the ambassadors of Christ to all people…and when we refuse to do so that puts us in danger of holy discipline.

I do not view the young refugees on our border as invaders, but as opportunities to show forth the love of Christ that has no borders.

It is an opportunity to show that my commitment to His kingdom outweighs any earthly allegiances.

There may be criminals among them…we also may be entertaining some angels unaware.

Damn me all day with your earthly political labels…I care no more.

My only concern is that on that Day I find myself on the “right” side of the Master.

Make your own application…

Jul 172014

luther-in-worms1In his volume, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, Luther launched missiles at the heart of Roman Catholicism, the sacramental system.

It had become the practice of the church to withhold the cup from the laity…what if some careless person spilled Jesus onto the floor?

Luther called this “tyranny” and called for the laity to be served both the bread and wine.

He rejected transubstantiation, the belief that the elements were miraculously converted into the real body and blood of the Lord.

He did so by rejecting the Aristotelian reasoning behind it, calling the philosopher a “dead, blind, accursed, proud, knavish heathen teacher”.

He rejected the teaching of the sacrifice of the Mass wherein Christ is actually resacrificed and he demanded that the mass be spoken in the language of the people.

He affirmed infant baptism and on this sacrament he varied little from Roman teachings.

All the other sacraments of the church…he rejected.

On June 15, 1520 a papal bull (declaration) was issued beseeching God to judge His cause…”a wild boar has invaded the vineyard”.

Luther was given sixty days to recant his teachings or be excommunicated.

His response was to throw a party and burn the letter. He was excommunicated on January 3, 1521.

It was the duty of the state to prosecute heretics and Luther was called to appear before the Diet of Worms in April,1521.

He was guaranteed safe passage…but Jan Huss had been promised the same a hundred years before and then condemned and burned at the stake.

He was asked to first acknowledge his writings, then recant them.

He asked to sleep on it.

The next day he tried to give a reasoned defense of his work, but was cut short…his accusers wanted a direct answer.

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the  Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust in either the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor wise to go against conscience. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.”

The enraged council responded with shouts of “to the fires!”…but it was not politically expedient to execute Luther immediately for he had won the hearts of the German people.

Thus, the prophecy of Huss as he was being executed a hundred years before came to pass…“You are now going to burn a goose, but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast nor boil.”



Jul 162014

Luther-nailing-theses-560x538As a young Augustinian monk and professor of theology, Martin Luther was convinced of two things.

God hated him and he hated God back.

He could not be good enough, long enough, often enough to please Him…and God knows he tried to be.

While studying and teaching the book of Romans at the seminary between 1515-1517, the Holy Spirit illuminated the text and showed Luther a long lost doctrine.

Solace and grace became his possession through this text.

“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”” (Romans 1:17 ESV)

Justification by faith.

This was the first spark of the coming revolution, but the revolution was yet to come.

Concurrently, the pope had sent a man named Tetzel to sell indulgences in Germany to finance the building of St. Peters basilica.

This enraged Luther, not so much on theological grounds, but because it exploited the working poor of the region.

Luther nailed the legendary 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenburg on Oct 31, 1517…these were not intended to be the first shots of a revolution, but an invitation to debate.

It is vitally important to understand that Luther wanted reform from within Catholicism, not to start a new movement.

The papacy was enraged by Luther’s theses and tried numerous times to bring him back in line…to them, the matter was more about papal authority than indulgences and avarice.

The matter come to a head in July of 1519 in the town of Leipzig in a debate between Luther and Johann Eck.

Here, Luther affirmed that the “power of the Keys” had not been given to the papacy only, but to the whole church.

This was a direct assault on papal authority.

He further stated that it was not necessary to believe in the preeminence of the Roman church to be saved.

He affirmed that even after taking the sacraments, sin still continues.

That was a shot at the sacramental system.

The biggest shot was when Luther said that popes and councils can and have made mistakes.

The revolution had now begun.

Debates were decided by who had displayed the greatest knowledge of the church fathers…and on that basis, Eck won.

Luther proclaimed himself the victor…because he knew the Scriptures better.

In 1520, Luther took the gloves completely off.

He wrote three books…The Address To The Christian Nobility, The Babylonian Captivity, and The Freedom of the Christian Man.

In the first he states that the church can longer reform itself and the secular powers must step in.

He also pleads for participation of the laity, and rejects the church having the exclusive right to call a council.

The two bombshells he throws are a rejection of the churches exclusive authority to interpret Scripture and he affirms the priesthood of all believers.

In the same book, he rejects clerical celibacy, masses for dead, mandatory fasts, and says that begging by monks should be forbidden.

The revolution was in full swing.

Next, Luther, Part 2

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