Dec 172014
 

HannahAfter five years in prison for the murder of her foster son, Hannah Overton is free on bail.

She was accused of force feeding the child salt as a disciplinary act, causing his death.

 

Through the arrest, trial, and conviction of Overton I was asked repeatedly to advocate for her release based on the fact that she was a Christian.

I didn’t believe I had enough information to do so, but the church and community she came from have worked tirelessly for her release.

Now, she will have that second chance to prove her innocence.

The Texas Monthly has more on this case including a very damning look at the prosecution.

 

Dec 172014
 

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.

This is his Christmas letter…

Rajai Shahr Prison 2014

Merry Christmas!

These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion. The guards can’t even stand the paper cross that I have made and hung next to me as a sign of my faith and in anticipation of celebrating my Savior’s birth. They have threatened me and forced me to remove it. This is the first Christmas that I am completely without my family; all of my family is presently outside of the country. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me.

These cold and brittle conditions have made me wonder why God chose the hardest time of the year to become flesh and why He came to the earth in the weakest human condition (as a baby). Why did God choose the hardest place to be born in the cold weather? Why did God choose to be born in a manger in a stable, which is very cold, filthy and unsanitary with an unpleasant smell? Why did the birth have to be in such a way that it was not only hard physically, but also socially? It must have brought such shame for Mary and her fiancé that she was pregnant before marriage in the religious society of that time.

Dear sisters and brothers, the fact of the Gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus. Today we like Him should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the Word of Life and Salvation though faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead. It might be necessary to come out of the comfort of our lives and leave the loving embrace of our family to enter the manger of the lives of others, such as it has been for me for the third consecutive Christmas. It may be that we will be called fools and traitors and face many difficulties, but we should crucify our will and wishes even more until the world hears and tastes the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas means that God came so that He would enter your hearts today and transform your lives and to replace your pain with indescribable joy.

Christmas is the manifestation of the radiant brightness of the Glory of God in the birth of a child named Emmanuel, which means God is with us.

Christmas is the day that the heat of the life-giving fire of God’s love shone in the dark cold wintry frozen hearts and burst forth in this deadly wicked world.

The same way that the heat from the earth’s core melts the hard stones in itself and produces lava, the fiery love of God, Jesus Christ, through the virgin Mary’s womb came to earth on Christmas to melt the hard heart of sin and wickedness of the world and removes them from our life. In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain of God’s Holiness and Mercy that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness. He is turning our world into a world full of peace, joy, and love that is so different than the dark, cold, and wintry world that we used to live in. Hallelujah!

So this Christmas let the lava-like love of Christ enter into the depth of your heart and make you fiery, ready to pay any cost in order to bring the same lava love to the cold world around you, transforming them with the true message of Christmas.

Pastor Saeed Abedini

Soaking in the lava love of Christ

Dec 162014
 

timthumb.phpThe evangelical catholic heritage in Lutheranism…

The church and mental illness part 3…

The dance of the dirty, rotten, sinners…

Legacy of a disciple maker…

Standing with the protestors…

Religious freedom and American history…

Saeed writes a Christmas letter…

Should Christians trust scientists?

Scot McKnight with 10 things we need to know about Mary…

The darkness of Christmas…

Challies top ten books of 2014…

James McDonald sells out to TBN…

Lukes counter culture Christmas…

Free weekly devotional from Tulian…

The life and ministry of George Whitefield…

Running out of nuns…

How tech is changing the holidays…

Staying awake for Advent…

The debate over torture…

How BJU responded to the rape claims on campus…

Who is unworthy to take the Lords Supper?

Why most financial whistleblowers go unheard…

Bruskas on Driscoll…

Calvin’s Corner has it’s own home now…

Dec 152014
 

 

Calvin's Corner header

Pastor Michael Newnham and Phil Naessens talk about the the Jets winning, Phil’s addiction to the Jets and the guys share their list of ten books they feel are essential to every Christian lay person plus more great talk.

Calvin’s Corner is now on Facebook.

Calvin’s Corner is now on iTunes and Stitcher.

Download the mp3 file 

Listen to Calvin’s Corner on great networks Max Sports Channels and The 405 Media.

Dec 152014
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. I tend to look at things as a social liberal and a biblical conservative. However…I’m at a point where I think both have gone to seed. Liberalism or conservatism without a biblical foundation is death to a culture…it’s just picking which poison will kill you.

 

 

2. If you believe in radical gun control, move to Mexico where a defenseless population is slaughtered by both the state and the criminal element…which are often working together.  Enjoy.

3. I’m sure that there are people who are legitimately “transgender”. I also believe that it is an incredibly tiny part of the population and laws should be written for the benefit of the masses, not the exceptions. The fact that a twelve year old boy has gender confusion shouldn’t mean he gets to use the girls bathroom until he figures it out. It’s an amazing fact that we didn’t have much “gender confusion” when I was growing up…

4. Two things we never get a complete handle on…the depths of our sin and the grace of God that is even deeper.

5. I really don’t care what my liberal friends think…the nuclear family served society well and it’s destruction is destroying ours.

6. What ever happened to common sense?

7. Bowden was right…the biggest lie of all is “it can’t happen here”…

8. I’m all for being tolerant of other faiths…right up to the point where that other faith starts cutting the heads off innocent people. Then, I’m all for blowing them to hell.

9. So far this article is missing a holiday flavor…

10. I might as well finish  off this darkness…pretending that evil doesn’t exist or that certain people and practices aren’t evil doesn’t change the fact that there is real evil…it simply makes you completely vulnerable to that evil.

 

Dec 132014
 

thumbnail.aspxA Prayer For Hard Times

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Merciful Father, You know how difficult these days are for me.

In Your holy Word You have promised to hear those who cry unto You in the day of trouble.

Listen to my cries for mercy and send me help from the sanctuary of Your grace.

Preserve me from bitterness of spirit and rescue me from every temptation to despair.

Calm my frustration with the knowledge that my life is secure in Your redeeming love, for I am baptized into the death and resurrection of Your Son.

Draw me out of self-centered worry, which stifles faith, and cause me to take comfort in the great and precious promises that You have made to me and all believers in the Gospel.

Sustain and strengthen me under every cross and affliction, that Your grace might be made perfect in my weakness.

Give me confidence to pray without losing heart and to trust in Your mighty deliverance according to Your good and gracious will.

Father, into Your hands I commend myself. Hear me, for the sake of Your Son, who alone is my Brother and Savior.

Amen

Lutheran prayer book

Dec 122014
 

galleryWe received word this morning that (despite Tom Randall and Joe Coffeys statements to the contrary), the trial against the two men accused of child abuse in the Sankey orphanage will be allowed to continue.

The judge in the case found that last Januarys raid on the compound and the arrests made during it were justified.

Toto Luchavez and his son Jake will be arraigned on January 22.

This is a huge victory for the alleged victims and for those who took the courage to speak on their behalf.

It also demands a response from Randall and Coffey who declared on Twitter that all charges had been dropped.

It is vital that this story be spread and direct questions asked of Coffey and Randall about their statements and their involvement in this case.

If you or your church  donates to World Harvest Ministries…you need to be asking some tough questions.

You can get the full background through all the stories we’ve written on this tragedy

Whistleblower Under Fire in Phillipine Child Abuse case.

Death Threats Alleged for Philippine Whistle Blowers

Randall Freed, Charges Remain Against Associates

Update and Podcast with One of the Whistleblowers and Victims

An update on the scandal.

Pray for justice.

Strange twist in the Philippine child abuse case.

Lie exposed in the Philippine child abuse case.

 

Dec 122014
 

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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.”

(Romans 8:34–39 ESV)

Sometimes…I feel like God has it in for me.

(Those of you who have never felt this way can stop reading now and just bookmark the page for when you inevitably will…)

The job lasted less than a week, the flu shot didn’t work, the kid’s having issues, friends and family members have their own struggles, and Christmas is right around the corner ready to assault me like a hiding mugger.

Ho, ho, ho…

Did I mention writers block when I have a book to finish?

Things have been so hard for so long that I worry about what I will have left if and when things turn around.

I feel like the writer in the verses above…being led like a sheep to slaughter.

I ain’t feeling the love, Lord…

I write all that mess because I know full well that many of you are going through tougher times than I am…and we need to hear truth that applies to us.

Listen up.

According to those verses on the top of the page our trials and hardships are part of the Christian experience and they are are not measures of His love for us.

We are loved passionately, fervently, completely, and eternally by God because we are in Christ despite all the circumstantial evidence to the contrary.

Now, here’s what I want you to try to get your soul around this morning…this is radical, but true.

If you are in Christ, then everything that is true about Christ is true about you in the eyes of God.

Your place in the kingdom and your place in the heart of God have nothing to do with your circumstances, your behavior, your attitude, or anything else.

They have everything to with Jesus…

God foreknew you…which means He chose to love you before creation and long before anything that is happening now.

He  predestined you to be in Christ and called you to Himself, justified you by grace through faith, and already sees you as glorified…because you’re in Christ who is already glorified.

His love for you is not predicated on your actions, but on the action that Christ already took on your behalf.

Nothing…absolutely nothing…can separate you from that love.

Ever.

Period.

Someday, my battered, exhausted, faith shaken friends…we will know that we are much more than survivors…we are more than conquerers.

Today is just one more step toward that conquest, even though it may look like another defeat.

Take heart.

Take courage.

You are loved.

Make your own application…

Dec 112014
 

tablet_pc_books-300x211It would be relatively easy for me to make a list of 10 books that I think every pastor should read.

It’s quite another thing to come up with a list of books that I would recommend that everyone in my congregation should read.

 

That’s because I believe that part of pastoral gifting is the love of thick, heavy, theological tomes that the average lay reader would consider a year long root canal.

The following are the books I recommend for all Christians who want a deeper and broader knowledge of their faith and family history without needing a hand truck to carry the books from room to room..

1. “Knowing God” by J.I. Packer. It will always be #1…there is simply no other book written for the lay person that provides so much in such a condensed fashion.

2. “18 Words ” by J.I. Packer. Theology has it’s own language with it’s own definitions. To understand the discussions you have to know the language. Nobody makes this as easy and as understandable as Dr. Packer.

3. Concise Theology” by J.I. Packer. Systematic theology books are large, unwieldy, and often multiple volumes. This is a small one volume “systematic” with one page explanations of all the major doctrines of Christendom. Priceless.

4. Heroes and Heretics” by Iain D. Campbell. What an amazing little book this is…it gives you an overview of church history one small chapter per century. If you’ve never read any church history, you should, and this is the perfect starter book to do so.

5. “Biblical Eschatology” by Jonathan Menn. This is the only “big” book on the list and it is massive. It is also the single best book on end times theology ever written. Take it a little at a time and then you will understand all the different theories about the Rapture and the Second Coming…it’s worth the effort.

6. The God of the Mundane” by Matt B. Redmond. This book could actually be anywhere in the top five. Christians who are not in “professional ministry” need to know that their daily vocations are every bit as important to the Body of Christ as those with jobs anointed with the title of “ministry”. I wouldn’t mind if this was the first book they read…

7. Surprised by Hope” by N.T. Wright. A completely different look at heaven and the age to come that gives you a reason to live before you die…and you don’t have to change your eschatology to embrace the teachings found here.

8. Eat This Book” by Eugene Peterson. Learning to take the living word on it’s own terms. Once you read this book you won’t be afraid to read everything else this sage has given us.

9. Born Free” by Steve Brown. Learning about the prisons our sin and the church will lock us in…and where to find the keys to escape.

10. “Pages From Church History, A Guided Tour of Christian Classics” by Stephen Nichols. Nichols is always engaging, always accessible, and always worth reading. This book profiles twelve important figures from church history and the books they are famous for and tells you why you should care about them. Great intro to the subject.

I believe that the Christian who reads these books will have an excellent foundation for understanding both our faith and the family history.

From here, you will have enough information to explore as the Holy Spirit leads, no matter the faith tradition.

They will also serve to inoculate the reader from all manner of foolishness that is taught in the church today.

Whittling down the list took almost as long as reading them…

They are also all available from the Phoenix Preacher bookstore…

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