Michael

Sep 262016
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:16–21 ESV)

If I believed that people could lose their salvation, I’d say that social media is filling hell at the fastest rate in recorded history. It’s as if all biblical standards of conduct have been suspended until after the election. No matter who wins in November,the church has sustained massive loss in relationships and holiness that will cripple us for years. It doesn’t seem to matter…

2. While we’ve split into camps accusing each other of being devils, the real Devil laughs at how easily he has swayed us all…

3. My family is always the clearest reflection of the state of my soul…

4. What fools we are if we are counting on someone or something outside of the church to bring about the ways and will of God…

5. I always rooted for Arnold Palmer…he was the quintessential American sports icon…and he wore iconic very well.

6. Whenever I post numbers that show the decline of the church in this country,the church declares themselves blameless or the numbers inaccurate. This is called whistling in the graveyard. We seem to have the institutional blindness that refuses to see until the institution has fallen. The gates of hell will not prevail,but the institutions will fall.

7.T organized his class to write a letter thanking the local police for their service. He was concerned that all the negative press has eroded their morale. Evidently, I did something right,sometime…

8. There is no such thing as “the media” anymore. Just another straw man to burn in the face of someone who disagrees with us…

9. In the providence of God, Teddy Bridgewater blew out his knee, requiring the Vikings to trade for Sam Bradford and the Eagles to promote Carson Wentz. God works all things together for good…for everyone except Teddy Bridgewater,evidently…

10. Hope in Christ is the hardest sell in the church right now…and by far the most needed. Hoping in the capture of the White House and Congress is not the same thing…and if it happens will not change a single heart. It is the heart we are supposed to be concerned with. I’m very concerned about my own…

 

 

Sep 242016
 

Lord God, heavenly Father, I ask and would be assured that my petitions shall and must be nothing less than yea and amen. 

Otherwise I will not pray nor have intercession made for me. 

Not that I am righteous or worthy, for I know very well and confess that I am unworthy. 

I have earned Thine eternal wrath and hell fire with my great and many sins. 

But in this that Thou dost command and constrain me to pray in the Name of Thy dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, I am still somewhat obedient. 

Upon this challenge and consolation of Thine infinite goodness, not on account of my own righteousness, do I kneel or stand before Thee, and pray what is upon my heart concerning those who are in need of Thy help. 

If Thou dost not help us, O Lord, Thou wilt offend and dishonor Thy Name. 

Thou wilt surely spare Thyself, lest the world would say Thou wert an ungracious and dreadful God.

Preserve us from such a misfortune. 

Remember, dear heavenly Father, how Thou hast at all times supported and helped Thy people.

I will not cease to knock but will continue to cry aloud and to plead to the end of my life.  Amen.

Luther

Sep 242016
 

Christianity tourism destinationsMatthew 9:27-38

Jesus Heals Two Blind Men

27 And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.”

  • Jesus moves on – onward in his mission
  • Odd, blind men following – but perhaps not at all – people with infirmities, with shortcomings – those who know by experience that they cannot help themselves are the ones who follow in faith.
  • Those who are strong and still think they can pull themselves up by their own boot straps – well they have a problem admitting they need help.
  • Son of David- They know who they are addressing – who he is and what is to be fulfilled – 2 Sam 7 (see end note to this lesson)
  • The prayer of the blind men should be our prayer – “Have mercy on us, Son of David.”

28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.”

  • Do you believe? See John 11:21-27
  • 21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
  • 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
  • 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
  • 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
  • 27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.”

  • Again, just his touch
  • No works associated – just “according to your faith”

30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.”

  • I am sure this is one of those immediately things.
  • Why did Jesus continually tell them not to say anything?
  • Only after the resurrection then say of me; “I am the risen crucified savior” – not just I am the latest local healer.

31 But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.

  • It seems like many times the first ‘post’ salvation act is disobedience J
  • But our salvation story, whether you remember it or not, should be so powerful, that you cannot keep it in – even under divine command.

Jesus Heals a Man Unable to Speak

32 As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him.

  • Everywhere Jesus goes he is confronted with the wages of sin
  • Romans 6:22-23 – “22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • I wonder if he felt like General Custer surrounded at Little Big Horn – surrounded by demonic forces – and all of the demons thinking they are going to get him.
  • Or how about this – the army or police training camps where they go house to house and the bad guy pops up?
  • This is what is happening to Jesus – satan is throwing all these people with sin dripping off them to confront Jesus and Jesus just touches them – heals them and forgives their sin.

33 And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.”

  • Right straight from Isaiah – right straight from what Jesus told John’s disciples – the blind see and the mute speak.
  • Something new is happening.

34 But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.”

  • The crowds are impressed – the leaders not so much.
  • The leaders do not deny the miracles / healings – but how?
  • Yes – we know Jesus is doing all these things – but he has the devil on his side.

This ends the 10 deeds – the sign of the perfect messiah

The Harvest Is Plentiful, the Laborers Few

35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.

  • The Jesus same old – same old.
  • The work of Jesus and continual – even to this day.

36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

  • The recognition that we are lost, harassed by the devil and can’t help ourselves.

37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;

38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

  • When Jesus calls, who is he calling? Us
  • Chapter 10 will be the fulfillment of this call – the calling of the disciples.

 

Sep 232016
 

IMG_1079Having pets is supposed to be relaxing and comforting.

Someone forgot to tell my cats…

An interesting thing has happened since we adopted Chester…a thing I’ve seen elsewhere in the world.

 

Evidently, Chester had it rough before he arrived in my bushes and was invited into our home.

Food was hard to come by…and he was always hungry.

That’s not a problem here…the cats eat better than I do.

That reality has yet to penetrate and overcome his past.

He has to eat all the time…anytime I get up out of the computer chair or out of bed at night, he thinks it’s time to eat.

If I don’t feed him, he wails in mourning, just as he wailed when he was in the bushes starving…this, despite the fact that he ate fifteen minutes before.

It gets tiresome, but love covers a multitude of sins.

The problem is that it’s had an odd effect on Miss Kitty.

She used to watch his wailing with a look of bemusement and irritation…she thought him a fool.

Since the wailing has continued, she’s beginning to wonder if he knows something she doesn’t…

Maybe she should be worried…

Maybe the food is running out…

Maybe she’s the fool…

Now, she’s wailing too.

Chester has wailed so long and so loudly about a crisis that doesn’t exist he’s convinced her the crisis is real.

Now, I have two wailing cats.

I get little sleep.

Thank God they can’t post to Facebook…we would have millions of cats wailing about a crisis that didn’t exist.

On the other hand,maybe they’d fit right in.

Never underestimate the power of one cat wailing…

Make your own application…

Sep 232016
 

CCDoveLogoFollowing up on our article reviewing Roger Oaklands piece on  “The Hijacking of the Calvary Chapel Movement into the Coming One-World Religion” ;

“Finally, as I conclude this commentary, do you not think there is something wrong in the Calvary Chapel movement? What about Brian Brodersen himself? What about Cheryl Brodersen, Brian’s wife and Chuck Smith’s daughter. Do they echo words of warning about the coming onslaught of ecumenism and the march to the Coming One World Religion? Are the cardinals of Calvary Chapel speaking out? “

“Their silence is deafening”

“Would someone please stand up and uncover who the real wolves are?”

Look in the mirror, Roger.

What really happened in the last years before the death of Chuck Smith is that some in the movement began to understand that the rest of the church was not the enemy.

They began to appreciate the work of scholars and teachers from other traditions.

They began to get a clue that in this new information age they could no longer isolate their congregations from the influence of the rest of the church.

They began to understand the folly of constantly being at odds with everyone without a dove.

The vast majority of them did so without changing one iota of their own beliefs in the “Calvary Distinctives”.

After Smith’s death, the “flagship” in Costa Mesa underwent some needed changes.

The demographics of the church and the community around it have changed drastically in the last forty years…and like it or not, so had the pastor.

The worship and the building were both dated, both were changed.

The doctrine didn’t change.

The emphasis changed.

The constant drumbeat of Rapture based teaching and the “imminent” return of Christ had left people exhausted from the wait.

The eschatology hasn’t changed, the frequency that it’s harped on has.

This doesn’t mean that anyone is headed to Rome or Geneva, it means that in some ways, the movement has grown up a bit.

Brian Brodersen’s greatest problem is that he’s not Chuck Smith…but that doesn’t mean that he’s a heretic or a wolf.

The prophecy crowd has always depended on sliming anyone who wasn’t in lockstep with their apocalyptic visions and in doing so have sinned against some wonderful people of great faith.

I’m glad their numbers are shrinking and their influence waning.

Calvary Chapel still has to address the real issues Chuck Smith left behind, the foremost being accountability for clergy and transparency in governance.

Maybe now that some are not playing pin the tail on the anti-Christ they will have the time to do so…

Sep 222016
 

1239846_10151650297553068_340225993_nChuck Smith’s legacy is taking a big hit…from former friends.

This wouldn’t have bothered me except that it’s being tarnished for the wrong reasons…in truth, factually inaccurate reasons.

Roger Oakland goes right to the edge of relating some truth in his last rant, then veers off to Fantasy Island to try to support his eschatological views.

From the articleThe Hijacking of the Calvary Chapel Movement into the Coming One-World Religion” ;

“Chuck Smith, the founder of the movement, seemed to be biblically sound and determined to serve the Lord throughout his many years of ministry. Toward the end of his ministry, it appears there were strange bedfellows planted around him who in earlier years he would have avoided. So what happened? The purpose of this commentary will be to answer that question.”

If that was the purpose of the screed, Oakland failed miserably.

Let’s walk through this mess…

“Those who were situated near the epicenter of this multimillion-dollar big business definitely knew about some major problems that were quietly concealed. A number have pointed out that the Achilles Heel of the Calvary machine was Chuck Smith’s passion for the Moses Model. Ask anyone who ever bucked the system and dared challenge this style of leadership. The exit plan was the door, and they were given the left hand of fellowship without any alternative.

While the motto around Calvary made the claim that agape love was flowing over, many a disillusioned servant of God was buried in an unmarked grave throughout the network of Calvary Chapels. And what happened at Calvary Costa Mesa did not stay at Calvary Costa Mesa. An enormous machine of abuse was born, and many were maimed throughout the growing movement. Pastors cloned the model, and the spirit of heaviness was exported. Thousands were hurt and then shunned as happens in organizations that use cult-like control tactics.”

That statement is true.

It was true when I started writing about it years ago and people like Oakland called me a liar.

Times have changed…

The question that Oakland implicitly raises is “What were those “major problems that were quietly concealed”?

Oakland doesn’t answer the question directly because he knows what the backlash would be if he did.

However, after presenting a case made from whole, shabby, cloth that there was “apostasy” creeping into the movement, he says this;

“It was at that point that the light went on for me. Chuck Smith, as powerful and influential as he was, was under the rule of others who had become more powerful than he was.  If there were wolves in the movement, why did he not remove them according to the Moses Model, I wondered. There are legal words to describe more adequately what I am referring to when human beings are manipulated and controlled by others and cannot comment in a public fashion. Why would that be?”

There you have it…the first public claim that Chuck Smith was being blackmailed…of course, without really saying it.

Let me help gain some clarity around this claim.

Chuck Smith was never “under the rule of others”.

That’s almost funny.

The truth, (as Oakland and scores of others have known for decades) is that Smith was covering up an affair from the seventies.

This left him vulnerable to exposure from those who knew…which included the vast majority of the first guard of CC pastors.

Many used that information to their advantage until the day he died.

There have been allegations for years that the people he was most vulnerable to were in his own family…

What Oakland wants you to believe is that one of the ways he was manipulated was in doctrinal matters and forced associations with people that he never would have associated with had not this been the case.

That is completely and utterly false.

Smith’s life long fear of exposure impacted the Calvary Chapel movement in many important ways that I will discuss at length in my book…but this was not one of those ways.

The primary doctrinal distinctives of CC were never in question for any any reason.

In my opinion, the study and understanding of this situation is important on many fronts, (both current and historical)  and it is beyond wrong that it is being used to perpetuate a false narrative.

It is too complex a situation for a blog article and too important to ignore, which is why I chose to spend the effort necessary to write a book about it.

What is sub Christian in any case is to hint around at the matter without naming it, and to use it to further a false agenda.

Oakland ends his article with this;

“Finally, as I conclude this commentary, do you not think there is something wrong in the Calvary Chapel movement? What about Brian Brodersen himself? What about Cheryl Brodersen, Brian’s wife and Chuck Smith’s daughter. Do they echo words of warning about the coming onslaught of ecumenism and the march to the Coming One World Religion? Are the cardinals of Calvary Chapel speaking out? “

“Their silence is deafening.”

The only thing louder is the misinformation Oakland is spreading.

I’ll respond to this more in a later article.

Sep 222016
 

tshirt_design_our_fatherIntroducing the Lord’s Prayer: Thy Kingdom Come – Part 1

“Thy kingdom come.”

 In this second petition, we pray that God’s kingdom will come.

 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

At the heart of Jesus’ preaching was his announcement of the arrival of a new kingdom. Matthew’s Gospel frequently (but not always) labels it the “kingdom of heaven,” while Mark, Luke and John’s Gospels always label it the “kingdom of God.” Virtually all commentators agree that both labels refer to the same kingdom, but they differ in their explanations for why Matthew alone often labels it the “kingdom of heaven.”

A common explanation is that Matthew used “heaven” as a paraphrase for his original Jewish readers so they could avoid pronouncing the name of “God.” However, that explanation fails to account for many places in Matthew’s Gospel where the name of “God” remains. While we may never know for certain, one reason for why we see “kingdom of heaven” frequently in Matthew’s Gospel may be to emphasize that Jesus brought a kingdom “not of this world.” (John 18:36)

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Just what and where is this kingdom of God? The Scriptures point us to Jesus. The kingdom arrived through the incarnation of the eternal Word. Jesus personifies the kingdom: He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25); He is the way and the truth (John 14:6); He is the vine in whom we the branches abide (John 15:5); and He “became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor 1:30).

Therefore, the locus of the kingdom is in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor 5:17) “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col 1:13-14)

The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:28)

As the One who personifies the kingdom, Jesus is its King. What distinguishes His kingship from all earthly kings is that Jesus reigns by serving His people; not by receiving from His people, but by giving to His people. His greatest service was laying down His life for our sins. “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isa 53:5)

 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom 14:17)

Paul described life in the kingdom as: righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Jesus won these gifts for us on the cross. The Holy Spirit delivers us these gifts through the proclamation of His Word. Let us take a brief look at these gifts:

Righteousness. Jesus gives us righteousness (2 Cor 5:21). Quoting David, Paul describes this righteousness: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (Rom 4:7-8) Jesus connects righteousness to His Word and faith: I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24) Righteousness signifies both God’s declaration of right standing before God and adoption into His family.

Peace. Jesus gives us peace (John 14:27). This includes peace with God through Christ (Rom 5:1). Paul urges us to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. (Col 3:15). Peace is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. What distinguishes the peace of Christ from the world’s peace is that His peace is eternal, not transitory. His peace enables us to live with a clear conscience before God and to endure temptations and hardships, because we have forgiveness in Christ and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ.

Joy in the Holy Spirit. Jesus gives us joy (John 17:13). Joy also is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We rejoice that Jesus defeated death and “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31) for our benefit, and because He is present with us in His Word and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” (1 Cor 15:50-52)

The kingdom of God that we experience here in time (sometimes referred to as His “kingdom of grace”) is Christ’s reign in our lives through His Word and faith. This kingdom is not a temporal or geographical kingdom. Christ has promised us something infinitely greater at His second coming: the resurrection of the body and everlasting life; a new heaven and a new earth; the removal of all evil; and the cessation of all mourning and suffering.

At His second coming, Jesus will sit in final judgment. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Cor 5:10; see also Matt 25:31-32) Christians look forward to the final judgment for the removal of all evil which currently blights our world. Christians do not fear the final judgment because in Christ (i.e., in His kingdom) we have the forgiveness of sins.

Next week in Part 2 we will look at how His kingdom comes.

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.” (Rom 8:22-24) Amen.

 

Copyright © 2016 Jean Dragon – All rights reserved.

Sep 212016
 

thumbnail.aspxThis past weekend, Penn State University commemorated the 50th anniversary of Coach Joe Paterno’s first game as head coach of Penn State football. 

There were various festivities before and during the game and the weekend included the honoring of past teams and players along with a video tribute of Paterno during the game.  It has now been almost five years since the child sex abuse scandal rocked the University, resulting in Paterno losing his job and quickly followed by his death only a couple months later.

As was expected, there was national debate as to whether or not such an event should take place.  On campus and in the Penn State community and family where Joe Paterno is still very much revered, the event was largely enthusiastically welcomed, although there were sure to be some who felt differently.  The video tribute to Paterno drew much cheering and applause, while some of those in attendance from the opposing Temple University Owls turned their backs in protest.

I have written here before about this horrifying scandal and its relation to Joe Paterno.  We may never know the whole truth of exactly when and how much Paterno knew and what he did or didn’t do about it, or even tried to cover up.  At the very least, it would seem that if one is able to lay aside all biases they would surmise that Paterno should have done more.  The Coach admitted as much himself.  He was the most powerful man on campus and he knew to at least some degree that there were some potentially very inappropriate things taking place under his watch and he chose to do very little about them.

Now, as I also have written before, Paterno did much good for the university and the football team and in the lives of many players and others associated with the team.  More so than most other coaches and big-time college football programs, he stressed academics, staying out of trouble, and doing things right.  Although he still made out well, he long collected salaries significantly less than what he could have demanded, he donated much money back to the University, and he lived a modest life.  And of course there was his success on the field where he won two national championships and more games than any other college football coach ever.

So how do you honor a man who did much good but ended his career with a very significant black mark?  A black mark that potentially stretched back as far as 35 years before he lost his job.  Do you honor at all?  Ever? 

He’s already had his statue taken down at the football stadium and his legacy will forever be tarnished.

For some the answers are easy and obvious.  You don’t ever honor a man such as this who played a significant role in allowing such horrendous crimes to occur.  For others it’s a no-brainer that you honor such a man.  A man who has done so many great things and has never been proven to be definitively guilty of the many things of which he is accused.  And then for others there is a jumble of conflicted feelings as to what should and could be done about Joe Paterno.  For them, there are few easy answers.

George Whitefield, the great evangelist of the 1700’s, was and is widely admired in many Christian circles.  He is credited for playing a major role, if not the most critical human role, in The Great Awakening and other revival activity in Great Britain and America.  He is viewed by many as a great hero of the faith.

But George Whitefield was pro-slavery and he owned slaves. Not only this, but he was actually a major advocate for legalizing slavery in Colonial America.  Whitfield used his power and influence to help bring about the abhorrent institution of slavery in America.

Martin Luther, the great Reformer, did many great things in standing up to the wrongs in the Church and bringing about much needed change.  Later in life, Luther said some pretty nasty things about the Jews, influencing others to think the same.  John Calvin, another great Reformer, no matter how one views it, had his Servetus issue.  Moses disobeyed God in front of all the Israelites and struck the rock and took credit for the miracle.  David had Bathsheba.

So what do we do with all of this?  Do we steadfastly shun the recognition of any person who has ever done unrighteous things?  I don’t think so, lest we will never recognize anybody.  Yet at the same time, nobody in a right mind should ever want to honor an Adolf Hitler or Charles Manson or Jerry Sandusky….. no matter how many good achievements some of them may have had.

Discerning how to best handle each and every one of these situations is not always easy.  The truth is that we are all a mixed bag.  We cannot be honest by denying the good or the bad that each individual person has done.

Thus, how do we decide when it is appropriate to honor someone or speak reverently of them and when it is not?  Do we ever honor a Joe Paterno for the good things he accomplished or do we keep his legacy stuffed in a closet along with his statue, never to be spoken about again?  Do we never speak of Luther or Calvin or Whitfield as being greats in the faith because of their varied failings?

Moses and David have their indiscretions documented in Scripture and yet they are later honored in the “Hall of Faith” in the book of Hebrews.  Same goes for Noah and Rahab and others.

In some cases, we may decide that the bad is just too bad, or too hurtful to others, that we choose not to honor.  In other cases, we decide that everyone has their faults, but the good carried out by this person is just too important to ignore.  Through it all, it’s probably best if we can honestly admit and recognize that even our heroes have their failings and those we find to be reprehensible may very well have done some good.  If we can do this, it may go a long way in our decision making and in how we relate to others when making such decisions.         

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