Aug 312012
 

Latest update on Michael’s FB, in case you are not FB friends, was as follows… “Michael is in the recovery unit and doing well.”

Just in, “On the road to recovery. Will be here a couple more days recuperating from the surgery.”

Visit E’s blog for this weeks music!

Its all yours today!

 Posted by at 10:27 pm
Aug 302012
 

THE Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God. 

In my years, the person of the Holy Ghost has gone from one extreme to the other. As a Vineyard head, every thought and prayer was directed to the Holy Ghost. My life revolved around “where the spirit moves…” as if I were holding a metal detector looking for the feel good beep to show me where to go. Later in life, I had rejected all that hyper-spiritual silliness, and I sort of forgot the work of the Holy Ghost. That changed for me reading Wayne Grudem on the subject not too long ago.

I don’t know if it is just me, or if this is somewhat more common than most suspect, but the “third person” of the trinity seems to be the least understood.

Perhaps we can discuss this some.

Thanks, as always, for your input. Feel free to unload whatever you think, on the fifth of the Thirty-nine Articles.

 Posted by at 5:01 pm
Aug 302012
 

  please pray for Michael.

He’s in the hospital with a collapsed lung. Go further than asking for his wellness. Our brother is in need of a new season. Please join me in asking like a favored unashamed child for good things for our beloved friend.

Father, hear our cries!

UPDATE:  Michael is having surgery to repair his lung this morning, Friday. Please continue to keep him in prayer!!

Aug 282012
 
  1. The New York Times profiles former pastor-turned-atheist Jerry DeWitt.
  2. “This past Thursday I experienced one of the saddest events in my thirty years of Christian ministry. I conducted a funeral service and nobody came. “
  3. “It’s just astonishing to us how long this campaign has gone on with no discussion of what’s happening to poor people.”
  4. “As blasphemous as it sounds, “the gospel” is not the answer to every question.  It’s not enough. “
  5. “Thoughtful satire, witty snark and timely sarcasm can be powerful forces, but it seems that in today’s uber-connected and politically charged climate these tactics serve mostly to galvanizing communities already in agreement in order to be a force against the enemy and they do very little to help build bridges of reconciliation, relationships and commonality.”
  6. “The disciplines of community expose our selfishness, vanity, impatience, entitlement and our brokenness. Rather than face this exposure it’s easier to withdraw and live with the illusion that we’re awesome loving people. “
  7. “So what can we say when we are called upon to present the reasons why we believe?”
  8. ” Here is a sane response to the recent kerfuffle (which is much ado about not very much) about the existence of Jesus.”
  9. “why is the complementarian/egalitarian debate such a significant bone of contention in parachurch cobelligerent organisations whose stated purpose is to set aside issues which divide at a church level but which do not seem to impact directly upon the gospel?”
  10. “Yet there are also great joys associated with teaching evolutionary biology in a Christian setting, and in this post I reflect primarily on these as a counter-balance to the more frequent stories of conflict and struggle.”
  11. “Metropolitan Jonah, by most accounts the highest-ranking, evangelical-friendly archpriest in North America’s Eastern Orthodox Church, resigned under duress in July.”
  12. “Science educator and former TV host Bill Nye has struck out against creationism in a new video, calling the worldview “untenable” and “inconsistent.””
  13. “Reagan’s caricatures did not fit the working poor that I knew. “
  14. “I have survived, will continue to survive, only because He is. His love rises sure as the morning. His grace is saving me every single day.” (HT)

 

 Posted by at 9:46 pm
Aug 282012
 

To celebrate the grand reopening of the blog we’re offering the Kindle version of my book for free until Friday.

If you have a Kindle or the Kindle app on your computer, smartphone, or tablet you can now download and read it at no cost.

Friday the price will go up again, but the book will be part of the Kindle lending library on Amazon.

I hope it’s a small blessing in return for how much I’ve been blessed here.

 

Click here for the download.

Aug 282012
 

“So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?””

(Ruth 1:19–21 ESV)

In the wild and wooly early days of the Phoenix Preacher whenever we wrote extensively about a church scandal, proponents of those being scandalized would have a knee jerk reaction to call all of us “bitter”.

It was a “godly” rebuke intended to shut us up.

It became a running joke for years (we would award them the “bitter dove”)…but the reality of bitterness in the heart is anything but funny.

I’m past fifty now and things in life haven’t played out anything like the grand visions of my twenties and thirties and forties…even recent hopes prayed for seem to be dashed daily.

Like Naomi, I believe that God’s providential hand is and has been at work…but I’m not ready to change my name to “Mara’.

Yet.

While life in general is hard, God has redeemed my place in the church and my heart towards it.

Not so for all of us…today many of us say with Job ; “he will not let me get my breath, but fills me with bitterness” … even in regard to the company of God’s people.

I know the feeling…but I also know it will defile and ruin everything else I want to cherish. (Heb 12:15)

I write not as a critic, but as a fellow pilgrim and pastor…is bitterness now staining your heart and all that you carry in it?

Are you frustrated and angry with the providence of God in your life?

Tell Him how you feel..He knows already.

Is. 38:17 Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness;but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction,for you have cast all my sins behind your back.

 

Aug 272012
 

1. The last two books of the Bible I’ve taught through have been Esther and The Revelation. Neither really taught what I had been traditionally instructed that they did. Both books have a lot to say about God’s people living in exile, a topic I knew nothing about for most of the years of my pastorate, but which is a topic the Bible speaks to continually. My conclusion is that ‘simply teaching the Bible simply” produces spiritual simpletons in the pulpit and the pews and has caused us to miss some of the most important messages in Scripture. As Christians we are a people living in exile, dealing with beast powers and the spirit of anti-Christ and we have been from the beginning. The fact that few of us understand this has robbed us of our true identity and purpose in a fallen world living in the last days.

2. The reason for this appalling gap biblical in knowledge is two fold…ignorance in the pulpit and an assumption that the pews can’t understand the “deeper things” of God. We pastors need to invest in more commentaries and stop believing that the congregation is developmentally disabled.

3. I’m not necessarily “against” events like the Harvest Crusade…I just think it’s the “Christian” version of a rock star stadium tour. I keep reading quotes from people who “attend every year” which somehow seems to me to miss the point.

4. I think people who cheat at “Words With Friends” should be delivered an electric shock through the device when they play a word they looked up in an online dictionary. Yes, I do.

5. Yesterday, millions of people attended church and were enriched and spiritually fed. I’m not sure that fact has ever been noted here.

6. If you really believed Jesus could return at any moment, you wouldn’t act the way you do. Just sayin…

7. The hypocrisy of men who will divide from other brethren over traditional differences and then appear on TBN is both astounding and sickening. That’s like telling someone you have a ministry in a whorehouse…regularly.

8. If you really believed that God hears and answers prayer, you would pray more often than you eat. Just sayin…

9. I’m just sharing my own cognitive dissonance between what I say I believe and my own actions and attitudes…I’m sure I’m unique. Not.

10. So…last week I went to the woods to unplug and commune with nature and God. No cell phone service, no texting, no internet…right up to the point where the resort owners came down to apologize for forgetting to tell me that the wi-fi beamed directly into my cabin. Wi-fi in the woods? I saw a squirrel with an iPod and went in and checked my Facebook.

Your turn…what’s on your mind ?

Aug 252012
 

In your presence and in the company of your good saints,

we offer you our praise and thanksgiving,
for the joys of friendship,
and for the burden of faith.
As we sit in the midst of your many mercies,we are mindful of so many of our brothers and sisters
who dwell in places short of mercy,
absent of justice,
defaulted on the gifts of life.

 

We can recite the grocery list of needful people
and violent places,
but you know them all.
As you know them and we know them,
we pledge in this company
to take these needful people in these violent places
as our call from you.

We are so poorly equipped for such a call.
But you are the God who gives
bread and wine,
table and towel,
book and song,
and with them courage, freedom, and energy
for the task to which we are unequal.

Catch us up this day into the reality of your good purpose, that by the time we leave each other
we will know –
yet again –
that your mercy and justice and compassion
outruns all the needs of the world.

Sign us on and bless your church,
bless the bishops and the priests,
bless the pastors and the elders,
bless all the faithful in places harder than our own,
in places of seduction like ours,
in places of temptation we know too well.

Keep us simple and on task,
and we will praise you by our glad obedience.

Walter Brueggemann

Aug 252012
 

ENTERPRISE

A CHRISTIAN LIVES TO PLEASE GOD

. . . We are not trying to please men
but God, who tests our hearts.

1 THESSALONIANS 2:4

 

It is a familiar truth that every Christian’s life-purpose must be to glorify God. This is the believer’s official calling. Everything we say and do, all our obedience to God’s commands, all our relationships with others, all the use we make of the gifts, talents, and opportunities that God gives us, all our enduring of adverse situations and human hostility, must be so managed as to give God honor and praise for his goodness to those on whom he sets his love (1 Cor. 10:31; cf. Matt. 5:16; Eph. 3:10; Col. 3:17).

Equally important is the truth that every Christian’s full-time employment must be to please God. This may be properly described as the Christian’s personal calling. Jesus did not live to please himself, nor may we (John 8:29; Rom. 15:1-3). Pleasing God in everything must be our goal (2 Cor. 5:9; Col. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4; 4:1). Faith (Heb. 11:5-6), praise (Ps. 69:30-31), generosity (Phil. 4:18; Heb. 13:16), obedience to divinely instituted authority (Col. 3:20), and single-mindedness in Christian service (2 Tim. 2:4) combine to form the prescribed way to do it. God both enables us for this kind of living and takes pleasure in our practice of it. It is his regular procedure in sovereign grace to give what he commands and delight in the result (Heb. 13:21; cf. Phil. 2:12-13).

From the life-controlling summons to please God, we learn the precise sense in which true godliness is both relational and creative. God relates to Christians not only as Father to child but also as Friend to friend. Abraham was called God’s friend (2 Chron. 20:7; Isa. 41:8; James 2:23); Christ calls his disciples his friends (Luke 12:4; John 15:14). The measure of God’s grace is that he makes friends with sinners; the measure of the Christian’s godliness is that one seeks to please one’s heavenly Friend, just as spouses seek to please each other in order to show their love (1 Cor. 7:32-35). Christianity is a love affair, and godliness is in essence a matter of expressing grateful, adoring love by seeking to please.

Creativity is part of God’s image in man, and it is meant to find expression in an enterprising style of life as we look for ways to show gratitude to God. Love will always ask whether more can be done to please, and more neighbor-love, more service of other’s needs, will always be a major part of the answer (1 John 3:11-18). If our plans for pleasing God involve risk, we should remember that Jesus’ parable of the talents commends those who risked their money in the market and condemns the practitioner of timid inaction (Matt. 25:14-30).

J.I. Packer; Concise Theology

Aug 252012
 

First, thank you all for returning to visit and participate.

Thank you, very much.

It dawned on me while standing next to a stump the other day that the great lack in our country and in our churches today is the lack of community…and I’d just blown up a pretty good one online.

Connections made here have turned into “real” connections so many times that I’ve lost count.

There is a value to this, a place where people can connect to different ideas, different traditions, different cultures…and still find commonality of spirit.

I’ll be blunt…I don’t have any more time, nor do I feel a whole lot better than when I shut down.

I will be counting on my beloved co workers and you to keep this running and to keep it from deteriorating into constant conflict.

It was good to take a break, it’s better to be back.

It’s all yours today..

The Harvest Crusade starts tonight…anybody going to watch or attend?

In the early centuries of the faith you had to be catechized for three years to join the church…

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