Oct 242017
 

1. If your church is still promoting Gospel For Asia…shame on them… and I’d like to hear from you… phoenixpreacher@gmail.com

 

 

 

2. Beware of prevailing narratives… The NFL boycott over “disrespecting the flag and veterans” has never been about either, yet it is effective because it is a narrative that makes people angry and appeals to those of us that want to feel righteous. That’s all of us, by the way…we just differ on how we define “righteous”.

3. “Success” in social media now depends on making one group angry with another group on a daily basis so that one group will support you financially to keep them angry. The Bible speaks to this…

4. I refuse to speak to issues that I haven’t read at least one book about… at a minimum. Having a platform means you’re either going to provide information or amplify your own ignorance…

5. People use the same reasons for not reading as for not praying…in truth, neither is a priority for most…

6. One of the enemies biggest traps is to convince you that you are too old to desire a particular sin…

7. Having Judeo-Christian roots doesn’t mean much if the tree doesn’t produce Christian fruits…

8. Hope deferred makes the heart sick…hope anyway…

9. The Jews missed their Messiah because they thought He was coming to make Israel great again…

10. If reconciliation is a fundamental Christian ethic…how are we doing with that?

Oct 242017
 

Why hasn’t Gospel for Asia told donors about cancellation of charity registration in India?

Do the Proverbs promise too much?

Churches merging and closing in Baltimore….

New Museum of the Bible in D.C….

Co-ed pastors to succeed Hybels at Willow Creek…

10 reasons your church needs Philemon…

This is what a leader looks like…

Vid-Angel files for bankruptcy…

Shocking humility…

What has happened to substitutionary atonement?

Lutheran baptism…

Origin of spiritual gift profiles…

Morris Cerullo retreat center approved despite LGBTQ complaints…

Ten basic facts about the NT canon…

Thus saith the Lord…

Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw a devout Christian…

Satan is real and out to get you…

Is it ever ok to be angry with God?

Belonging and behaving…

Kitchen table Reformation…

The Reformation is for the mentally disabled and infants…

Evangelical anxiety...( worth the time)

Re-thinking women in the Patristic era…

Huge thanks to EricL as usual for the link help…support him at top right!

 

Oct 232017
 

This week I’ve spent a good bit of time looking at a picture. It was taken back in the early 70s.  There are ten of us on a stage sitting atop amps, guitar cases and a Hammond B-3 and Leslie speaker cabinet.   All of us were involved in the music and teaching outreach of our Fellowship group (which latter morphed into a church).  We were all in our late teens and early twenties.  With the long hair, beards, jeans and flannel shirts, we looked like we could have  been the road crew for Eagles or The Allman Brothers or another band of the era. 

I’m sure we must have scared to death many of our older brothers and sisters in the faith, especially those in the numerous mainline and evangelical churches in the community. 

Last week, one of the people in that picture died of a massive heart attack at the age of 62.  Jim was the first of us to go. It was completely unexpected and it broke my heart. He had started the Fellowship with me. For some years, he was my best friend. We worked together, debated music together, traveled together, lived in the same house, went together to buy his beautiful Gibson Gospel acoustic, talked about songwriting, played practical jokes on people, came up with the worst puns in the world and prayed together…

And now he’s gone…

Jim had continued on from the Fellowship to college, then a post-graduate degree, eventually ending up in an academic position on the east coast.  As I scanned the photograph, I thought about the rest of us. One became a successful businessman; four  of us had taken up our theological education and gone into the ordained ministry; one is an executive with a global missions program (having married another person in the picture) and the remaining two in the picture are dedicated lay people in their respective churches.

I’m sure, at the time, few would have predicted such an outcome.

Maybe, however, some who helped and mentored us at the time might have hoped that we might turn out alright.  A local physician actually purchased our first building for us. He turned over the keys, made no demands on what we did or did not do in the building and continued to generously support us through the years.  In fact, the only time we saw him, was when he would drop off books that he thought would be helpful to us – Francis Schaeffer, Os Guiness, C.S. Lewis, and a host of other authors, some known to us, others a new revelation.  A local UMC minister encouraged his son to attend our Bible studies and coffeehouse, as the youth group in his own church was not very active.  While in no way interfering with what we were doing in the Fellowship, he would drop by brochures on seminars and conferences dealing with subjects as varied as pastoral counseling, ministry to young married couples, and nursing home visitation.  If we were interested, he would sponsor us and pay the expenses incurred.  Additionally, if he had a special speaker come to his church, several of us would be invited to meet them and have one on one sessions with them regarding their particular expertise.  One older gentleman in the community owned a auto body and repair shop.  A fundamentalist, he remained on the fence as to whether or not rock music was of the devil, but when our band acquired a cargo van, he volunteered to paint it and help us fit out the interior for touring.

I could go on with example after example of the graciousness and generosity of these “older” believers who looked past the hair, the beards, the jeans, the music and all the rest to see something of value; something worth encouraging.  By all rights, they should have been standing on the front porch yelling at us “kids” to “get off my lawn”.  Instead, they not only allowed us on the lawn, they invited us onto the porch and into their homes. 

Sometime back, I visited the physician who had been so generous to us all those years ago.  He was dying of cancer. He had only weeks to live. I had kept up with him from time to time in those years, often sending him copies of my books and articles or letting him know if I was appointed to a new position, but I wanted him to know more.  I wanted him to know about the others. I wanted him to know what he had done. He was very weak when I came to visit, but his eyes still sparkled.  First we talked a bit about my career and then we moved on to the others. I shared with him what they were doing and all that they had accomplished.  He was completely engaged. At the end, I thanked him for what he had done all those years before and told him that he was a part of everything that all of us had done in our lives and ministries. He turned to me and said, “Duane, when you plant a garden it doesn’t look like much.  You hope that it’s good ground, you plant the seeds and you get out of the way, nourish and help where you can and wait.  You and your friends were ‘good ground’ and the garden is beautiful…” His voice trailed off, his eyes filled, we embraced and, before I left, he gave me a book (of course) that he thought might be of interest to me.  Then he said, “Now it’s your turn.”  Of course…

The death of my friend, Jim, reminded me that, indeed, it’s now our turn and the time left to us is limited.  

I’ve read a great deal about Gen X and the Millennials, most of it written by people my age.  Usually the articles are laced with thinly veiled caustic comments concerning skinny jeans, music, man-buns, microbrews, ink and all the rest.  These observations are usually linked to sarcastic off hand remarks with regard to weak theology, vapid worship and the strong implication that somehow they are responsible for the decline of the Church in the early twenty-first century.  The idea that we, in fact, may be responsible for problems of our own making, tends to be ignored or, if raised, shouted down.

For myself, I’m going to hope, like my friend, that there is “good ground”.  My task, in the years that remain, is to plant some seeds.  I have some nourishment to bring – theology, church history, ethics, tradition and a bit of experience – but I also will have to learn to get out of the way and allow the seeds to grow.  

It might just be a beautiful garden.

Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

The Project

Oct 212017
 

Lord God,
you have taught us
that anything we do without love is worth nothing,
for whoever lives without love
is counted dead before you;
send your Holy Spirit,
and pour into our hearts
that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues;

grant this for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ
who is alive with with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Amen.

Oct 212017
 

Matthew 27:32-44

The Crucifixion

32 As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross.

  • You would think that one of the disciples, the ones who vowed to die for him, would be there to help carry his cross.
  • Instead we have a stranger – ‘a man of Cyrene, Simon by name.
  • Cyrene was a large city in Libya Northern Africa a short distance from the southern shore of the Mediterranean.
  • A large Jewish population, ) up to 1/4th of the city) many went to Jerusalem at this time of year. So many in fact that they occupied their own synagogue (Acts 2:10; Acts 6:9)
  • Many became Christians (Acts 11:20)
  • Was Simon the first missionary back to his home country telling of what he saw and who Jesus was?

33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull),

  • Calvary is the Latin word for Place of the Skull.

34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.

  • Who are the “they”? It does not say it was the soldiers. The Jewish tradition says that the women of the town would offer this up to those condemned to crucifixion to ease the pain and to calm them.
  • Jesus will not take the pain killer – he will endure all that the Father gives him. He has work to do and a few words left to say.
  • He will drink the unmixed wine later in v. 48.

35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.

  • See Psalm 22:18 – “they divide my garments among them,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.

36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there.

  • What were they watching for? To be sure no one removed him from the cross.

37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

  • According to John 19 “19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
  • The Jews want the statement changed – but Pilate stands by what he wrote.

38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.

  • Who were these 2? Could they have been part of Barabbas’ clan?
  • Some manuscripts insert verse 28: And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “He was numbered with the transgressors” Which is a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:12.
  • Of which he spoke to his disciples in the Garden Luke 22:37 – “37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.”

39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads

  • Here we see the one who is despised – Psalm 22:7 “All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;”
  • Isaiah 53:3 – “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

  • Look what we have here – similar to Matthew 4 – Jesus being tempted.
  • Satan is now using the mocking crowd to tempt Jesus.
  • In Luke’s gospel at the end of the temptation it says v.13 – “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.” – Now we see that opportune time.

41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying,

42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.

  • This is a tremendous satanic temptation
  • Save yourself – isn’t this how we all think we will get through life in God’s good graces? Saving ourselves?
  • “and we will believe in him.” – God, do what we say and we will believe in you.

43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

  • They do recognize the truth in their mocking – Jesus does trust in God.
  • They do know what his words meant “I am the Son of God.”

44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

  • You would think that they had enough troubles of their own.
  • Note the term ‘robbers’ – as we said earlier about Barabbas, robbers = revolutionaries. If Barabbas was actually released, perhaps these are his fellow revolutionaries.

 

Oct 202017
 

If you have a cat, you know the one thing that strikes terror in the heart of a feline.

A closed bathroom door.

Despite the fact that they have seen you safely enter and leave the bathroom thousands of times, they still evidence fear and separation anxiety every time you close that door.

This morning, Chester managed to pop the door open and burst into the shower with me.

He burst back out as quickly.

Chastened and wet, he observed the rest of the proceedings from on top the toilet.

While I found this to be somewhat amusing, I probably shouldn’t mock him.

I have my my own fears and I am always on the verge of separation anxiety of a different sort.

Sometimes…a lot of times…I think God has shut himself away or gone away, period.

Now, I know this is irrational, but, like my cats, I never seem to overcome the problem.

The only remedy is to constantly remind ourselves (and each other) that not only has He not gone away, Jesus is the door and we have complete access to God through Him.

This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

(Ephesians 3:11–13 ESV)

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

(Hebrews 4:15–16 ESV)

You don’t have to stand outside a closed door and howl the song of your people or try to bust in by force…heaven is always open to those who want to be with their Master.

The problem is that most of us don’t want to be with Him as much as my cats want to be with me in the bathroom…

Make your own application…

 

Oct 202017
 

Behold, the latest gun pointed at the head of the local church.

“There are millions of churches around the world. They represent a wide spectrum of beliefs, which are translated into actively enforced policies. At the level of the local church, policies are often communicated unclearly, if they disclosed at all. In many churches, especially evangelical ones, clarity is elusive. “

“In the first phase of Church Clarity, our focus is on policies that directly impact LGBTQ+ people.

While ostensibly nothing more than an attempt to inform people of a given churches position on LGBTQ people, it is really a means to further divide the culture and the church into binary categories of “affirming” or “non affirming”, as if those are the only choices there are.

The organization claims to be neutral, but watch the heat on the “non affirming” churches after they gather their information.

My answer to the good folks at Church Clarity is to tell them to go straight to hell.

They don’t have a category that says “we affirm two thousand years of the moral theology of the church, but offer the Gospel and pastoral care to all”, so I had to provide my own response.

I encourage my fellow ministers to do likewise.

I’m not playing this game, nor am I going to allow others to choose the game and make up the rules.

I refuse to divide the world into categories that reflect sexual preferences only.

I refuse to cater to the tiny minority of people that do.

I refuse to cede my right or your right to hold to and practice traditional religious and moral standards and do so in peace with dignity.

You only lose this game if you continue to play it.

Make your own application…

Oct 192017
 

Law and Gospel

“But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.” (Matt 22:34-35)

In this encounter, the Pharisees and Jesus exchanged two important questions: one about the Law; the other about the Christ. Out of these two questions, Jesus addresses the two central themes or teachings of the entire Bible: the Law; and the Gospel. These two themes are central because they run throughout the entire Bible and together are essential teachings if one is to be saved. Therefore, the preaching and teaching of both the Law and the Gospel must continue, alongside one another, until Christ returns.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” (Matt 22:36)

When God created mankind in His own image (Gen 1:27), He endowed us with the knowledge of God and both the ability and willingness to do God’s will. Since God is love (1 John 4:8), Adam and Eve were created with an innate love for God and each other. This is God’s eternal, unchangeable will (or Law), which Adam and Eve walked in from a willing spirit without coercion, before the fall.

The Divine image in Adam and Eve was shattered when, seduced by the serpent, they ate the forbidden fruit and fell from grace. Sin and death entered the world: “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.” (Gen 3:7a) Adam no longer loved God as he had: “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself” (Gen 3:10); Adam no longer loved Eve as he had: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate” (Gen 3:12); and Eve no longer loved Adam as she had: “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” (Gen 3:16b) God’s Law would remain in effect, but after the fall, for Adam and all of his descendants, obedience to it would have to be coerced with threats and punishments.

“And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’ ” (Matt 22:37-40)

At Sinai God gave Moses the Law in the form of Ten Commandments. These Commandments are often divided into two tables (representing the two tablets received by Moses): The first table consists of the Commandments which we owe directly to God (the first 3 or 4 according to one’s tradition); the second table consists of the remaining Commandments, which we owe to our neighbors. In answering the lawyer’s question, Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments into Two Commandments, one for each of the two tables. These are not different or additional commandments, but a distillation of what all Ten Commandments essentially mean.

The Law tells us what God requires of an individual to stand in the right before Him. The Law must be kept perfectly in thought, word and deed, as it is written: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt 5:48); and “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” (James 2:10)

What the Law requires of mankind, however, we do not have the ability or will to accomplish. The Law is powerless to accomplish in us what it requires of us. In this way, the Law shows us what we have become as children of Adam: “all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.’ ” (Rom 3:9-11) Therefore the Law must always be preached “so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.” (Rom 3:19).

“Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?’ ” (Matt 22:41-42a)

If we do not know our miserable and hopeless state before God, we will never inquire about Christ. (That was the Pharisees’ problem, who presumed to walk in the Law, never truly understanding it.) Therefore, the Law must show us our universal disease, or we will never inquire for the Physician and His help.

But God’s purpose is not to diagnose our disease and leave us dead in our sin. Therefore, Christ and the Gospel must be preached alongside the Law. Jesus knows man cannot fulfill the Law and stand in the right before God. Thus, He broaches the second and ultimate theme of the Bible – the Christ and the Gospel. “Whose son is he?”

“They said to him, ‘The son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet’ ”? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?’ And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.” (Matt 42b-46)

What does it mean to know Christ? The Pharisees were clueless; they did not consider him more than David’s son. They expected him to be only a temporal ruler. But that they would need him in their lost state, to help them out of sin and death, of that the Pharisees knew nothing. The Holy Spirit must teach that Christ is not only David’s son, but also God’s Son.

Jesus here does not provide a full Christology, but broaches the subject of His divinity using Psalm 110:1: “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord”? Christ is David’s Lord to whom the Father says: “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.” The Father is saying essentially to Christ: “You shall be acknowledged and worshipped as true God.” Since the Father places Christ equal with himself, He must be more than all creatures. Therefore, we are to believe that Christ was both David’s true son by human descent and also David’s Lord, whom David himself must worship and hold as God. It is impossible to make these statements harmonize, unless the Holy Spirit reveals how the two are at the same time in the one Christ, both that he is truly David’s son and God’s Son.

Christ came and stepped between the Father and us. He bore in His flesh our transgressions, shedding His blood for the entire human race to grant us the forgiveness of sins. Moreover, Christ fulfilled the Law for us so that we might be clothed in His righteousness and thereby come to grace.

Jesus also sends us the Holy Spirit to follow Him, and even in this life begins to extinguish and slay sin, until we come to Him and become like him without any sin and in perfect righteousness. For Christ was raised from the dead to the right hand of the Father to totally abolish sin, death and hell and bring us to new eternal righteousness and eternal life. Amen.

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” (Rom 3:21) Amen.

Oct 182017
 

From 2014-2016 we reported on allegations of sexual abuse at a Philippine children’s home which was at the time run by Tom Randall and his World Harvest Ministries.

You can read a synopsis of that story written by the whistleblower by clicking here.

Randall himself was arrested and released by authorities, a situation that made headlines here in the United States and a martyr of Randall with his supporters.

We tried (without success) to get authorities or the press to dig deeper into the situation.

For more background on this story click here for all the articles we’ve written as well as a podcast interviewing one of the victims.

There is also this story on alleged financial irregularities and more unanswered questions.

Now, despite all of these questions, Randall is making a triumphant return to the Philippines.

From his October “prayer letter”…

Dear Friends
I would like you to consider giving me your blessing and prayers as I return to the Philippines to visit and minister from November 20 to December 4. I understand that many will not like the idea of me returning considering the threats, ambushes, and arrests over the years. Frankly, the people in the Philippines are not expecting me to return after my unjust arrest and imprisonment during my last ministry trip.
It is difficult to explain the burden and love God has given me for the country and people of the Philippines. But perhaps you can understand my desire to see and hug my kids again. I am also anxious to encourage our missionary staff and friends who have bravely carried on and grown our ministry in the Philippines. I have a powerful story to tell, the language to communicate, and the Good News of Christ to share.
Personally receiving apologies from the NBI agents, DSWD personal, and prison guards and officials has been encouraging. Even the girl who accused our staff member of a kiss has asked forgiveness from him and Karen and me. The missionary who inserted himself into our business and escalated the gossip and slander which resulted in our arrest and the detention of our kids is no longer credible or relevant and poses no threat.
We are encouraged by Joseph’s response in Genesis 41:52. “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Karen and I are so thankful to our church, supporters, and friends who have helped us “sow with tears and reap with joy” these past three plus years while healing from the betrayal, physical abuse and continued slander. As I look to return to the Philippines with a renewed enthusiasm and boldness I want to speak of what I have seen and heard. (Acts 4:20-29).
While still imprisoned in Cell Block 1 a Christian visitor of military authority came to my aid. He fed me, prayed for me, and then stunned and motivated me with the exact words the Lord said to Paul in Acts 18:9-10. “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you and no one will attack or harm you for I have many in this city who are my people.”
And so it was after my “visitor” left Cell Block 1 I was no longer attacked or threatened and four more inmates would give their lives to Christ before my release! “What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?… Who can separate us from the love of Christ?” The apostle Paul asks these questions and then gives the answers in Romans 8:31-39 after experiencing God’s power and presence in prison. “ For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So it is with great confidence that I ask you to pray and send me again on another adventure with Jesus and the Good News to the Philippines! Karen will be at home or with her mom in Michigan so I will travel alone this time. But there will be many friends waiting for me in Manila and providing security and fellowship every day, in every place, all the time. God is not finished with me yet!

Still your missionary,

Tom Randall

All of the comments have been overwhelmingly supportive to the letter posted on Facebook.

There could not possibly be a letter written that shows how those in positions of power can position themselves against accusations and scrutiny.

His accusers have all allegedly either recanted or been found to lack credibility.

He has bravely withstood his enemies and they have allegedly apologized.

He walks in the power of God, has been vindicated, and is unafraid.

The only thing he left out is a mention of the devil.

There is no proof offered for any of this, just bold and pious statements.

It works…for now.

For the record, I have interviewed many of the people in this situation many times and they do not lack credibility at all.

I have spoken with the alleged victims and they do not lack credibility at all.

I have spoken with the whistleblowers and found them both credible and godly people.

Whether there will ever be a real investigation into all of the issues surrounding Tom Randall is an open question…but then, there are a lot of those.

 

 

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