May 252015
 

images1. One more change in our national identity is showing in how we celebrate Memorial Day. Younger (under 50) people don’t have the heroic wars of early in this century as a reference…they have wars of debatable cause and worth as their historic referent.

 

Whatever we think of those wars we should fully support the men and women who fought and died in them as service to their country.

2. I had no idea what a “Duggar” was before last week… I could have profitably gone longer without that knowledge.

3. In the internet age there is no longer anything close to a “local” or “private” dispute. My guess is that we will all suffer from that fact more than we profit from it.

4. The meme that the church is dying is load of happy horsestuff. The church is not dying, it’s changing… and those changes are (for the most part) for the better. In an institution that’s a couple of millennia old, spring cleaning can take some time.

5. If your God doesn’t care about justice and righteousness, your God is the devil.

6. It is interesting to me that we are living in an era when we’re redefining both our national identity and that of the church. What troubles me is that we seem to be doing so while ignoring all but one demographic of both…thus depriving ourselves of the wisdom and history to make excellent decisions.

7. I used to think that having “official” membership in churches was one answer to some of the abuse issues in the church. Matt Chandler and the Village Church are chopping up that notion pretty well..

8. I think patriotism is becoming a relic of former generations… and I’m not sure how to think about that.

9. If you really believed that we were in the last days of the last days…what would you change?

10. Stay safe and celebrate responsibly… :-)

May 232015
 

thumbnail.aspx_“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

We hear the story of the wind at Pentecost,

Holy wind that dismantles what was,

Holy wind that evokes what is to be,

Holy wind that overrides barriers and causes communication,

Holy wind that signals your rule even among us.

We are dazzled, but then – reverting to type –

We wonder how to harness the wind,

how to manage the wind by our technology,

how to turn the wind to our usefulness,

how to make ourselves managers of the wind

Partly we do not believe such as odd tale

because we are not religious freaks;

Partly we resist such a story,

because it surges beyond our categories;

Partly we had imagined you to be more ordered

and reliable than that.

So we listen, depart, and return to our ordered existence:

we depart with only a little curiosity

But not yielding;

we return to how it was before,

unconvinced but wistful, slightly praying for wind,

craving for newness,

wishing to have it all available to us.

We pray toward the wind and wait, unconvinced but wistful.

Walter Brueggemann Prayers for a Privileged People

May 222015
 

261021_Budweiser_Beer_Can_006.jpg3be6f326-3a86-4ac6-bdd1-f3cae467c782LargeShe was standing outside the convenience store when I pulled in to get some lemon juice for my evening libation.

I would, as I always have, do everything humanly possible to avoid her.

She’s an older woman in her fifties or sixties or something like that.

One cannot guess with much certainty as the street adds years without them being lived.

She is homeless and has been for a long time.

She also stinks to high heaven because there are not restrooms everywhere she stays and she has taken to relieving herself as she walks.

She refuses to stay in shelters because she prefers her own company and that of convenience store clerks who don’t always share in her desire for companionship.

She is loud and crass and bold and I cringe when I see her and pray that something distracts her before she spots me.

She spotted me.

“HEY!!!!!!!” “YOU!!!!!”

People within a block and a half turned around…

She asked if I had a buck so she could buy a beer…I ignored her and slipped inside the store.

As I was waiting to pay for my faux lemon, I heard one of the people in front of me say “she just needs Jesus”.

Of course…that’s it.

She just needs Jesus.

That would solve the problem …the problem in reality being good folks like us having to pass a homeless person to buy our own beer.

She just needs Jesus…

Jesus would make her act like us, think like us, and live like us, and spare us having to duck her when we go to the store.

Of course He would…except…

Any damn fool could see she needed a bath, another bath, and then a shower.

She needed clean clothes.

She needed a place to stay and some warm food.

She probably needed medication.

She needed a beer.

I got out of line and got her one.

My exit plan was to toss it at her and run to the truck…but I took a deep breath and handed her the bag.

“I liked your book”.

“Huh?”

“I said I liked your goddam book…Amy used to read parts of it to me”.

Amy used to work at the store… and indeed I had given all the employees who wanted one a copy of my book.

“Yea, I liked it…you can’t survive out here without God”.

I thanked her and slid into my truck.

She already had Jesus.

She needed a beer.

Make your own application…

 

May 212015
 

thevillage1This story is a bombshell.

A woman is being disciplined by her church (the 11th largest in the country) for exposing her former husband as an alleged pedophile and consumer of child pornography.

“It would be hard to believe that the events of the past five months had happened had I not experienced them myself. The discovery of Jordan’s pedophilia and use of child pornography was an indescribable shock and triggered a thorough upheaval of every aspect of my life. While I have been upheld by the grace of God every step of the way, I have wondered many times whether it is possible to fully recover from something like what has happened to me. And during these months, what has become even more troubling than the issues that have come to light in Jordan’s life has been the consistent refusal of the pastors and elders of The Village Church to respond in a way that takes into account the seriousness of the situation at hand.”

We will wait and see what Matt Chandlers response is to this incredibly well documented and well written expose…

May 212015
 

israel-flagIsrael has a very prominent place in the eschatological theology of American evangelicalism.

What evangelicals often miss is that the vast majority of Christendom doesn’t share those views on it’s place in end times theology.

The majority of Christendom for most of our history has believed that all the promises and purposes of Israel have been fulfilled in Jesus.

There are substantial biblical reasons to believe that… these folks are not apostates.

Now, however, some from that majority are looking at the Scriptures with fresh eyes and less tradition and are seeing there may well be a place left for national Israel in Gods plan for the ages.

Anglican scholar Gerald McDermott wrote this article for First Things.

A series of papers were presented in these lectures.

I think getting our arms around this subject is vitally important if we’re to understand the times we’re in.

I encourage you to at least read the article and add to the points “pstrmike” posted earlier.

1. Not all non-dispensationalists are anti-Semites.

2. Other groups also recognize biblical prophecy that speaks of a future in the land for Israel. If you’ve read much covenant theology, you would recognize that is a big deal.

3. I am encouraged by those who are willing to take a hard look at their systematic theology and ask difficult questions, recognizing that the Bible is final authority.

a. There is such a thing as respectful disagreement of the authorized version of theology. We should glean a thing or two from that concept instead of the default of “showing someone the door”.

b. Even founders of movements are not infallible and it is important to receive the good things they have taught and exercise the freedom to challenge those things that are not airtight theologically.

4. We should see these groups as allies in our work of justice for Israel. They are the one nation in the Middle East that respects human rights and they should be encouraged to continue to do so.

5. Hopefully, this will encourage better discourse between dispensationalist and no-dispensationalists. Too many of the rank and file foot soldiers of dispensationalism have a rather truncated, narrow view of Israel that has been fostered by a flawed hermeneutic and incomplete exegesis/exposition of Scripture.

6. In contrast to #4, it is also important to recognize that Israel today consists of an unregenerate nation, that their policies are not always correct, and we should not cower in expressing our protests when they go off the rails.

May 202015
 

prayer_sunset“Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”

(Psalms 10:1 ESV)

It has been a hard week already…a hard week in the midst of a long, hard, season.

In the midst of my own difficulties, I also note the ones around me who are suffering more.

There is injustice and unfairness and grief all around us.

“In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised. For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD. In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” His ways prosper at all times; your judgments are on high, out of his sight; as for all his foes, he puffs at them. He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved; throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.” His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under his tongue are mischief and iniquity. He sits in ambush in the villages; in hiding places he murders the innocent. His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless; he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket; he lurks that he may seize the poor; he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net. The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might. He says in his heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”” (Psalms 10:2–11 ESV)

The wicked act as if there is no God…or if there is a God, He is oblivious to the evil they do.

We see it, are wounded by it, and wonder where the God we do believe in is.

“Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted. Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?” (Psalms 10:12–13 ESV)

David often felt the same way and God saw fit to have him write his pain filled questions down for our benefit…for the days we would be asking the same questions.

Make no mistake when you read these passages…these aren’t Davids intellectual pondering about theodicy or theology.

These are cries from the gut for justice and hope.

He doesn’t end with questions, he answers them.

“But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none.   The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.” (Psalms 10:14–18 ESV)

David affirms the presence and power of God.

“You do see”

“You do hear”

“You do strengthen”

“You will act”

There will be a day when all things are set right, where all accounts will be settled, where the righteous will shine and the wicked get justice.

Sometimes we will see that day, sometimes it lies in the future beyond us…but it will come.

Our hope is not on the here and now, but the now and then.

Our hope is in God and it is a sure hope.

Be encouraged…and make your own application…

May 202015
 

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aToday, like every Wednesday, we will 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.

You can follow Naghmeh Abedini for the latest news on her Facebook page…

May 192015
 

timthumb.phpThis probably should be the only link I post this week…the horrors of ISIS. 

The shrinking attention span…

Who’s really engaging with Christian media?

How seriously should we take the “nones”?

The blessing of the toilet paper…

Driscoll…whine and cheese.

Turtles, speed, and retribution…

Is Genesis 1-11 historical?

7 ways to recognize false teachers…

A fight about the finish…(hell)

The dying art of civil disagreement…

Why millennials are sick of church…

Same sex attraction and the church:the problem of plausibility.

Pro life and the death penalty…

The curse of Genesis 3…a lament.

Is it how we read the Bible , or if we read the Bible?

Michael Brown and Andy Stanley about gays…

Love theologically…

Why bigamy is a bad idea…

Free ebook by Dr. Packer…

Who would Jesus execute?

Why is Jesus human? 

Town church feud pits everyone against the Methodists…

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