Apr 232016
 

You know my soul.

You know all that needs to be done there.

Do it in Your own way.

Draw me to You, O my God.

Fill me with Pure Love of You alone.

Make me never go aside from the way of Your love.

Show me clearly that way and never let me depart from it: that will be enough.

I leave everything in Your hands. You will guide me without error and without danger and I will love You all the way.

I will belong to You.

I will not be afraid of anything for I shall remain in Your hands and never leave You.

From Entering the Silence, by Thomas Merton; page 101.

Apr 232016
 

Word of GodMatthew 2:13-18

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”

  • When the Magi had departed from Jesus’ house.
  • An angel appears … in a dream. Why a dream? – why not in person as in other times?
  • It happened to Peter when he was trying to get some sleep up on the rooftop in Joppa. And it’s happened time and time again. It happened to Daniel, Abimelech, Jacob, Joseph, Laban, the butler, and the baker. It even happened to Pharaoh.
  • What is the message? Get out of Dodge.
  • It is interesting to look at the comparison to OT scenes.
  • Herod was a Edomite.
  • Who was the father of the Edomites? Esau … Jacobs twin brother.
  • Each became a people and Edom has been fighting God’s people up to this point.
  • Now the new Edomite is on the scene to try to destroy God’s people through Jesus Christ.
  • It’s funny the angel does not say “take your wife.” – but take the child and his mother – see v.11; 13; 14; 20; 21
  • How much of this is a cosmic battle as we saw in Daniel – with Michael the Archangel fighting off the King of Persia?
  • Satan, through Herod trying to kill the Messiah.
  • In the times preceding Jesus, it was common for people would flee to Egypt.
  • It was about 75 miles to the border. They had good status in Egypt and at one time the Egyptians built them a temple.

1And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt

  • This is not a trip to Egypt – come on, pack up, go pee, hop in the car we are going to go see grandma in Egypt! – No! this is an escape.
  • Joseph was obedient to the angel in the dream.
  • Did they tell anyone they were leaving? “hey, forward my mail.”
  • Were the gifts from the wise men used to finance the trip?
  • Herod wants to destroy the Christ child – we see in Rev 12 the dragon chasing the child – the same story.

15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

  • Why didn’t the angel have the holy family just go with the Magi back to Babylon for protection – and then to keep them safe and cared for?
  • Because of the scripture – that needed to be fulfilled.
  • Hosea 11:1 = “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
  • “spoken by the prophet” – inspired by God himself.
  • You really need to study Hosea to understand this properly.

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.

  • Herod’s attitude was “Over my dead body will this child be king in my place. Herod = a murderer and a butcher.
  • Again, it’s the same old tune – when Pharaoh ordered the killing of the male newborns … can you hear the hiss of the serpent.
  • Now, a little theology here;
  • These children were circumcised children / children of the covenant, brought into the kingdom through the sacrament that God had provided for them at that time.
  • The children in a sense died on behalf of Jesus – died on behalf of the savior, on behalf of the gospel.
  • They are martyrs in that sense – killed for the faith
  • And then in another sense, Jesus died for them.
  • Even at the very beginning of Jesus’ life there is rejection
  • Why couldn’t Jesus have shed his blood and died for the sins of the world here in Bethlehem?

17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

  • Matthew is being very clear that his Jewish readers know that Jesus was fulfilling scripture – even during a tragedy.
  • The original context of this passage is that Rachel, the favorite wife of Jacob (Israel) was buried in Ramah, north of Jerusalem (2nd version is in Bethlehem)
  • It was said that when the Israelites were carried off into captivity, they marched on that road past the burial site, that Rachel, from her tomb would wail and weep for the children of Israel, as they were hauled off as punishment for their refusal to repent.
  • Matthew pictures this as the same – the weeping going on as evil thrives in Israel.
  • So Rachel weeps again. And this time, she weeps not because Babylon or Assyria has destroyed her people, but because Herod has.
  • And this time it isn’t because of some political foreign power. It’s even the king of the very nation of Israel itself.
  • The consolation follows immediately because even though the king has been exiled and the slaughter is going on, the king is going to come back, from Egypt.
  • And his gospel will be preached and a remnant will be saved.
  • Why Rachel? – a symbol as the mother of all the children of Israel.

 

Apr 222016
 

file-amr-ambulence-daylight1We pulled up just as they were loading him in the ambulance.

My stomach churned as Trey bolted out of the truck to find out if it was a friend.

Emergency vehicles at a skateboard park always mean something awful.

Unfortunately, it is also usually something predictable.

Someone wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Someones head hit the concrete.

Someone will never be the same again.

The law is posted that one must wear a helmet, but the law is ignored and never enforced.

Experience has informed all that the law is good.

Experience is ignored as well.

Those who remained after the ambulance left resumed skating as if nothing had happened…mostly without helmets.

They mocked the ones who did wear one…while one who didn’t was on the way to a trauma center.

There was much talk about the “right” to allow your head contact with concrete if desire and comfort dictated the need.

Nobody prayed.

Life just went on.

It will continue to go on until the next head hits the concrete.

Foolish and deadly practices will continue despite the wisdom of law and the lessons of experience.

No one will pray.

I really wish these attitudes were confined to the skatepark…

Make your own application…

 

Apr 222016
 

130627133150-andrew-shaw-op3n-102972-single-image-cut-150x150I was watching the Chicago Blackhawks play the St. Louis Blues in a classic Stanley Cup playoff game the other night.

It was a rough and physical game between two longtime rivals and Andrew Shaw of the Blackhawks was whistled for a penalty.

The camera followed him to the penalty box where he quickly took his seat and began screaming profanities at the referee.

You didn’t have to be a master lip reader to understand what he was shouting.

My first thought was that Shaw was in trouble for cursing out the ref and anticipated him getting a few more minutes in the sin bin.

That didn’t happen…but he was suspended by the league for one game and fined.

He wasn’t suspended for unsportsmanlike conduct, but for using a “homophobic slur”.

Had he chosen his profanity more carefully, he’d be playing tonight.

Evidently, you can call the ref anything, (complete with colorful adjectives) as long as it’s not “homophobic”.

The next day Curt Schilling of ESPN was fired from his position for posting a meme that transsexuals found offensive.

It was a visual comment on Target allowing people to pick their own gender when picking a bathroom.

Now, I really don’t give a hoot in hell what people do in the privacy of their own bedrooms.

That’s their business.

However neither corporate America, nor the politically correct thought police, will stop me from interceding with a man who follows my mother or girlfriend into a bathroom.

That intercession may or may not be accompanied by some sort of illegal slur.

That’s not a threat, it’s a promise.

His dress may fit him much better when I’m done.

I thank the good Lord I don’t have a daughter…

This has nothing to do with my faith, it has everything to do with moral and cultural sanity.

It has nothing to do with Leviticus or Romans, but everything to do with common sense and decency.

Like most of America, I’m tired of having those lines crossed, then obliterated, by those who want “tolerance”, but won’t “tolerate” simple decency.

I’m drawing a new line here…and I have lots of company.

History may record that the revolution started inside a womens room at Target…

Why, when a cultural icon dies, do Christians have to pontificate on the deceased?

Why can’t we just mourn with those who mourn?

Why do we have to be such jerks?

God carelessly forgot to tell me the state of Princes soul yesterday so I can’t comment on that.

I can say his work will be remembered long after the hack theologians who were blasting him are forgotten.

Saeed-Abedini-ACLJSaeed Abedini is getting ready to cash in…

For a fee he will describe the terrors of an Iranian prison, especially the torture of constantly being interrupted when you’re trying to catch up with “Breaking Bad” on Netflix.

From his bio…

“Today, Pastor Saeed continues to share the gospel and tell the story of the persecuted church. The Abedini family has been greatly impacted by Saeed’s imprisonment and continue to resolve the emotional trauma felt by many held in captivity.”

This guys a piece of work…

 

Apr 212016
 

white-vs-black-hatWe are bombarded these days with stories about Christian leaders acting badly.

The reports are embarrassing and maddening.

Many of you have been personally affected by abusive leaders.

Still, many of us remain in the faith.

Let’s take a different course today…

Who helped you become a Christian and who helps sustain your faith today?

My local Assembly of God pastor, the late Pastor Ravan, loved me into the flock.

Today, my own pastor and some young pastors I get to mentor help keep me walking toward home.

Our local congregation and many of you are oasis along the road.

We talk a lot about the bad guys…who are the good guys of the Gospel in your spiritual life?

 

Apr 202016
 

us-flag-and-bible-cross“And we’re going to protect Christianity. And I can say that — I don’t have to be politically correct — we’re going to protect it….. And I asked Jerry (University chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr.), and I asked some of the folks, because I hear this is your major theme right here, but Two Corinthians — Two Corinthians 3:17, that’s the whole ballgame. ‘Where the spirit of The Lord is, there is liberty.’ And here there is Liberty College – Liberty University.” – Donald Trump speaking at Liberty University while on the campaign trail

“I want to remind you of the promise of Scripture — weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning….. Tonight Iowa has proclaimed to the world, ‘morning is coming, morning is coming.'” – Ted Cruz after winning the Iowa caucus

“But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’ teaching that ‘for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.’” – President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2012 justifying his taxation plan using a passage from Luke 12:48 which in context has nary to do with paying taxes or responsibility to government

Several weeks ago I wrote an article about Christian America and where we’re trying to take America back to.

I wrote about some of the concerns that I, and likely many other Christians have about our country and culture. I also talked about the rhetoric we hear from both politicians and common folk in regards to getting back to the way things used to be. Unfortunately, much of that rhetoric doesn’t hold water as there really has never been a time in which America was truly or fully “Christian”. I finished by expressing that maybe our biggest concerns shouldn’t be with taking our country back for God and rather with how we conduct our lives as Christians and spreading the gospel, because ultimately our hopes are not in the United States of America but in Christ, whose kingdom is not of this world.

Some of my thoughts and ideas in the article were derived from or influenced by Dr. John Fea and his excellent book, Was America Founded As a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction. (Editor’s note – An updated second edition of the book is being released in September.) Dr. Fea is an Early America Historian and in the book he attempts to take an objective and comprehensive approach in finding how the past informs us and speaks to us. While avoiding the cherry picking of information just to make one’s political case today.

Last week I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Fea speak on this topic. He covered many engaging ideas and interesting assertions. One point he made that got me to thinking a little bit more is that using the Bible to promote political ideas is nothing new in America. I would imagine it’s probably nothing new in world history wherever and whenever Scripture has had influence in a culture.

Dr. Fea specifically mentioned Galatians 5:1 – “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Thinking back to the beginnings of this country, it’s pretty easy to see how those on the side of the American Revolution co-opted this verse for their purposes. And apparently this was done quite regularly and liberally at that time. He gave a specific example of a minister from New Jersey whose historical sermon notes showed the minister preaching on this verse in the 1760’s and holding to a pretty standard and orthodox meaning of the text. However, when preaching on the same text in 1775, the minister seemingly applied a whole new meaning to the verse and now suddenly there were strong parallels between freedom and Christ and the Continental Army.

Dr. Fea also brought up the passage of Romans 13:1-7 – “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment…..” Guess who was using these verses to make their case? Yup, the Loyalists, of course.

So this is nothing new. When we see people today, politicians and non-politicians alike, using Scripture to make political points, we know this practice goes all the way back to the beginnings of our country.

Now, this is not to say that it is always wrong to use Scripture to make a political point. Assuredly, there are times that God’s Word can be aptly used to support a political point, cause, or idea. However, we also have seen plenty of cases where the Bible is incorporated into a political cause and quite a bit of violence is done to the authentic meaning of the text.

This goes well beyond politics. I would be disposed to believe that we all at one time or another, if not more, have mis-used Scripture for our own purposes. Whether it be to make a political point, or to manipulate a situation for our own gain, or to win an argument on the Internet. Or how about in wanting to selfishly hold onto a belief that we don’t want to give up when the evidence is starting to show that it might not be true. If we thought about it long enough, we could probably come up with a really long list of the ways Scripture has been mis-used.

I am not a Biblical scholar or theologian and so I can’t expertly speak to the optimum ways of handling and interpreting Scripture in all of its fullness. But I know enough to identify some sloppy eisegesis going on out there sometimes. Even at times catching myself at the transgression.

The Bible is God’s Word.

It is the book where God tells His story to us.

It speaks to and brings life to those who read it and believe.

It is the most important book ever written.

Let’s treat it as such.

Let us not use it as a tool for our own selfish benefit, political or not.

God deserves more than that. Much more.

Apr 192016
 

timthumb.phpHow a Texas church drove out payday lenders…

The origin of the Christian fish symbol…

Darrin Patrick bites it…

C.J. Mahaney wants your protection and obedience…

Four views on hell…

Driscoll’s bouncy house…

Jeremiah vs. Augustine on depravity…

Fundamentalists, then and now…

The Second Great Awakening and Manifest Destiny…

YWAM wants to “err on the side of grace” with jackass who used kids to smuggle counterfeit money…

Carl Trueman with another must read on celebrity Christianity…

A John Stott classic ruined in republication…

Response from the publisher…

Unbelief diagnosed…

Why the gender debate in church is heating up…

The end of the offering plate?

Wenatchee on Patrick, Driscoll, and other stuff…

The inconvenient truth about evangelicals for Trump…

Good piece on Christian/Islamic history…

Free ebook on biblical theology…

Big thanks to EricL for the link help…support him at top right.

As a writer, I can’t possibly commend him more…great to work with.

Apr 192016
 

Saeed-Abedini-ACLJOn April 13, Pastor Mike Sasso of Calvary Chapel Eagle posted this summary on the subject of revival on his Facebook page.

On April 15, the Christian Post published this article by Saeed Abedini...which looks a lot like Mike Sasso’s outline.

According to “Ben”, (who left a comment on this blog) Sasso had posted this on Facebook as well;

“Pray for Saeed Abidini

A couple weeks ago I met with him at a coffee shop. After our meeting he asked me if I would write down my thoughts and send them to him. Since then he did a series on revival on his Facebook page using the outline I sent him. When I wrote him privately to explain to him what plagiarism is he rebuked me and told me I needed to repent and that I was not a good man because in his words, the things I wrote were things “he taught me”. After that, he blocked me from his Facebook page. Something is very wrong here.”

This is no longer on Sasso’s Facebook page, but his revival outline is.

On Abedini’s Facebook page, you will find a whole series of “revival messages”…based on the outline that Sasso claims to have written.

I reached out to both Abedini and Sasso for comment…Abedini directed me to this exchange on Facebook.

Screenshot 2016-04-19 09.37.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screenshot 2016-04-19 09.36.15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abedini also said in an email; “Why Bob Caldwell assistants are attacking me has a clear answer but I don’t want to defend myself as marriage accusations
Some pastors asked me to keep silence and Let God defend you and others and I did until today”

Mike Sasso has not responded to my message yet.

More to come, I’m sure…

Apr 182016
 

In all the fallout from the Together For the Gospel conference controversy, I believe a critical point has been missed.

That point is this.

The 8-10,000 pastors assembled learned more than theology from Al Mohler and C.J. Mahaney.

They learned to have the same attitudes toward abuse and abuse victims that their leaders have.

Mohler mocked the whole situation and mocked those who have brought attention to the matter.

Men of conscience and the Holy Spirit would have walked out at that point.

If any of them did, they were too few to notice.

They applauded their leaders and went home ready to duplicate the same attitudes that were displayed in front of them.

Tyrants begetting tyrants…

God help us all.

This week Phil and I speak of how people control the narrative in these cases and God’s narrative about you.

Download the mp3

Apr 172016
 

MV5BNTE5NzU3MTYzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTM5NjQxODE@._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_AL_ I hated the “Batman vs. Superman” movie.

I thought I hated it because it was too dark and because it didn’t portray the “good guys” as being really “good guys”.

Both the heroes were portrayed as being more complex than that, men of mixed motives with all too human vices and virtues.

In other words, they were just like us, except with super powers and gadgets.

That’s not what I wanted to see… I wanted to suspend  disbelief and believe in something better for a couple of hours.

We want to believe that there are those who are always pure and virtuous, that there is always a clear delineation between good and evil, and that good either triumphs or dies trying.

We want to believe that there are actually people who always do the right thing.

That’s why they call it “fantasy”…

In the church we call it “over realized eschatology”.

We set expectations for each other and our leaders that will almost always fail as badly as this movie.

To make matter worse, we often fancy ourselves as being carriers of those virtuous ideals and actions and able to carry them out without fault or failure.

That only happens in the movies…

You and I, regardless of our place in the church or society, are simultaneously saint and sinner and will be until our resurrections.

I’m not good, I’m forgiven.

I haven’t transformed much, but I’ve been completely redeemed.

The only supernatural power I have (and the only reasonable expectation for me), is the ability to repent.

We will fail…but our repentance should be faster than a speeding bullet.

My job isn’t to show you how good you can be, but how you can repent as well as I can.

We will fail at that too…

The real reason I hated that movie was because while it was “realistic” about the nature of people, it was also graceless.

Grace is the power that gives life, gracelessness is Kryptonite for the soul.

In this movie, both heroes are left fallen…but, our Hero lifts the fallen by the power of grace.

It’s all about what He’s done, not what we can do.

Someday we’ll be like Him…and we won’t need these movies anymore.

I still can’t wait for Captain America though…

 

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