May 222014
 

220px-Red-tailed_Hawk_Buteo_jamaicensis_Full_Body_1880pxThe road that Trey and I travel everyday is prime country for red tailed hawks and golden eagles.

We’ve counted them and named many of them, and we watch for them every day.

They bring a sense of wonder and awe of the Creator to me…their grace and freedom in the air are reminders that I own such as well, though grounded.

 

We often want to slow down and watch them as they hunt, glide, or just perch in regal posture overlooking their territories.

This usually elicits honks,taunts, and extended middle digits from those who have sped up behind us.

It frustrates Trey, but it saddens me…they have to get somewhere so fast that they miss the wonder of the journey.

I was reminded of that when I saw this video…

[youtube]http://youtu.be/Y0nDhQEIdSQ[/youtube]

Now, that kind of piano playing is close to experiencing the Rapture for me.

Even if that wasn’t my preferred musical genre I would have loved to have been there to witness spontaneous brilliance in such a mundane setting.

Most of God’s best work is done that way…inexplicable interventions into the daily routines of life.

It’s easy to miss it.

Most of the time we are like the audience for this performance…focused on our tasks and destinations and oblivious to the work of God right in front of us.

We become like the man wearing his headphones and holding his sign…deaf and looking only one direction when joy was right behind him.

Worse yet, we can become so hardened that the grace birthed interruption to our routine annoys and irritates us… and we scorn the distractions that could heal us.

God is always with us…and often looking to show us His love and grace in nature and people alike in our day to day lives.

Look for Him.

Listen for the sound of His hands playing holy instruments.

I didn’t listen to the video for a week…I was too busy.

Make your own application…

 

 

 

May 222014
 

Pastor-Saeed-Abedini-family-couch-FacebookHi All,

Writing letters to Saeed in prison is a great way to let the Iranian government know that there are many who are concerned about him and it helps keep him alive and treated better at the prison. Here is the address to Rajaei Shahr prison. Please join me in writing letters to him. It should cost $1.10 for postage. You can share scripture and about Jesus as long as you are not attacking Islam or the Iranian government.

Saeed Abedini

Zendane Rajaee Shahr

Bulvare Moazen

Karaj, Iran

God Bless

Naghmeh Abedini

 

May 222014
 

truth-300x200Another day, another blight on American evangelicalism and the church.

Another scandal, another zillion comments ripping through the faith once delivered.

As is often the case, I’m right in the middle of it.

 

A writer must speak truth to power, after all, or they are nothing but a parrot with a keyboard.

The problem is that none of us are telling the whole truth.

A partial truth is the seed of a complete lie.

We’re getting better about telling the truth about corruption and hypocrisy in our ranks, but that’s not where the truth about Christians ends.

Many among us are indeed shallow or doctrinaire or unkind….but that’s not where the truth ends.

A local church pastor died a couple of days ago.

You’ve never heard of him and you never will.

His memorial service will be large because he spent fifty plus years in one place ministering to a few at a time.

It took generations to build attendance for his homegoing…generation after generation of baptizing, marrying, burying, preaching, teaching and caring.

An anonymous man tilling the fields of the Lord.

The fruit of that anonymous labor has ministered greatly to me…but he never knew that.

I’d never heard of him until he died.

He represents to me what the local church really is and what the local pastor really does…and that’s as true as all the scandals you read about here.

The other partial truth we embrace is that Christian are idol loving, narrow minded, science rejecting, gay hating, sectarians who are concerned about nothing but protecting their religious and social turf.

They are also the people who have kept me alive for the last few months.

They are also the ones who give sacrificially to their neighbor next door and across continents.

They build and have built more colleges, hospitals, and homes then any group in the history of the planet.

They believe in the Scriptures and try to follow their Lord…so they work honestly, love their families and neighbors, and care deeply about the country that provided them with the opportunity to do it all.

They believe in Jesus and in Jesus name they have been the quiet moral and ethical backbone for everyone else in the world.

The true Christian faith isn’t represented by celebrity preachers or well know converts.

It’s represented in the heart of the neighbor who brought you dinner when you were sick…after putting in their eight hours on the job.

It’s represented in the hearts of millions who support children here and abroad who don’t have the resources their own children do.

It’s represented in the hearts of those who use vacation time to go to foreign countries to dig wells and plant crops and those who go next door to check on you.

It’s represented in the heart of that pastor who is not “successful”, but will be faithful to be there to care for you.

It’s represented by all the pastors and lay people alike who hate the scandals and the shame because they smear the name of our wonderful Lord and stall the work of His kingdom.

There…that’s closer to the whole truth.

May 212014
 

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aOn Wednesdays we remember that a brother languishes in a foreign prison.

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.

 On the heels of yesterdays news that Pastor Saeed Abedini has been taken from the hospital and beaten back in prison, Nahgmah Abedini posted this;

“I have to be completely honest with you all and ask for your prayers and your help. For the first time in two years, I feel so very tired and not sure of next steps. I can not stop the tears from falling. I feel like a wounded soldier who needs time to rest. I need you all to carry me and my family in prayer and to continue to voice your concern. Today I feel there is no breath left in me. Praying and worshipping through it, but I have to admit today is so very difficult. Each minute feels like an hour. Praising Him through my tears. Need you all to hold my hands up like Moses in battle. Feeling so very week..”

Lets be honest…some us us…myself included…have grown weary in this well doing.

We have prayed and advocated and hoped and prayed some more…seemingly to no avail.

Our efforts have been largely ignored by the politicians in government and the church.

It’s utterly unbelievable to me that the website for Calvary Chapel makes no mention this morning of his plight.

We can’t quit.

I know we’re exhausted emotionally and spiritually, but what is the worth of one brothers life?

What can we do?

What will you do?

May 212014
 

1-Tullian-TchividjianIt was like a swarm of gnats attacking an elephant on Twitter…bloggers, lay people, victims, and one courageous reporter all demanding answers and relentlessly pursuing truth and accountability from Sovereign Grace Ministries and The Gospel Coalition.

The big boys were unyielding.

 

Then someone showed up with an elephant gun.

Tullian Tchividjian told the truth in an interview with the Christian Post last night and blew away the smoke and let the light pour in.

In commenting on the TGC defense of C.J. Mahaney in the SGM sex abuse scandals he said;

“Give me a break. These people, they’re family. Of course he knew,” Tchividjian told The Christian Post. “C. J. was, for many years, the micro-managing head of the organization and nothing happened under the umbrella of Sovereign Grace that he wasn’t made aware of, so for anyone to say, ‘Well he didn’t know,’ that’s totally naive.”

“Tchividjian added that he was “pretty disturbed” when Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung, and Justin Taylor published a statement on TGC website in May 2013 which defended Mahaney, saying that it looked “like the good-old boys club covering their own.”

In appreciation of his honesty and grace based theology, TGC  sent Tchividjian packing.

He should be grateful…he might get some of that special TGC sauce on him should he stay at that table.

Sportscaster Keith Olbermann has a segment on every show called “The Worst Person In The World”…for that particular day.

If he was a Christian blogger doing the same he’d have to add an extra segment for the nominees, but would have had a clear winner last night.

Joe Carter of the Faux Gospel Coalition.

Carter is TGC’s media director…so his job last night was to slander and accuse those seeking truth through the media.

He did it well.

He accused honest child advocates of “exploiting victims” by using the hashtag “#istandwithsgmvictims” on Twitter.

Evidently, covering up two decades of child abuse doesn’t qualify as ‘exploitation” and is unworthy of Carters ire.

He tried to smite and spin and smear…but along came Tullian.

Gnats win.

Janet Mefferd, (who has been a giant of the faith in these matters) interviews Tullian on her program at 1:30 PST

Listen to Janet nail the real issues.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/XUTAJtqFT9k[/youtube]

My comrades at The Wartburg Watch and Spiritual Sounding Board have more on the story.

May 202014
 

Saeed-Abedini-ACLJPlease share this update and retweet and repost it.

Our government is either impotent or uninterested or both…we must take a stand.

May 202014
 

links_image1Oregons gay marriage ban ruled unconstitutional...

Churches empowered when informed about science…

Mahaney and Harris out at the Gospel Coalition…

Can I lose my salvation?

Erunner sadly calls it quits…

The absence of fathers matters…

Four views on the role of works at the final judgement…

Compassion for the mentally ill…

Mars Hill deletes Driscolls errors…

Tullian Tchividjian booted from The Gutless Gospel Coalition… (he was too “Lutheran” for their tastes.)

Spokesman for The Godawful Gospel Coalition threatens blogger…

Baptist seminary admits Muslim…

Churches and the disabled…

Americans lie about how much they go to church… 

10 facts about multi-site churches…

Michael Brown on gay marriage…

Troubling trends in Neo-Calvinism….that apply to every other sect as well.

More on the SGM sexual abuse convictions…

10 things we need to hear from young church leaders…

The whole Bible in 20 minutes…

What is heresy?

My two stories on the Tom Randall /Philippine child abuse scandal need to be shared far and wide as he is still harassing the whistleblowers and those he perceives as the same.

Our first report

Our second report with a podcast featuring both one of the whistleblowers and one of the victims.

 

 

 

May 192014
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church. He was not ill informed or a deluded optimist. He was and is God who is ruling and reigning over His kingdom as we speak.

2. The way of victory in the Christian life is always through sacrificial love, suffering, and death. I realize that the war metaphors and attitudes are far more attractive to my flesh, but they are also at odds with my Commander-In- Chief.

3. Correct me if I’m wrong (I’m sure you all will) but the only people I see killed by the God for their sin after the Ascension and before the Second Coming are two Christian hypocrites…

4. Jesus stated mission was to seek and save the lost. I too often seem intent on running off the Bosses new customers…

5.““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:43–44 ESV) To obey this command of our Lord, first you have to have an enemy or believe that you are being persecuted, or both. We all believe that this is happening culturally…how are we doing with our end of the deal?

6. This is just my opinion, (it is my blog), but until theological conservatives like myself become as adept at expressing the love and compassion of God as we are in expressing sound doctrine the rush to liberalism will continue unabated. There are those who will always choose to stay in their sins and reject the truth. Others simply reject the people who are speaking it and can’t hear past the attitude…

7. Contrary to popular belief, God often gives us more trials than we can handle…in order that we may learn to discern the difference between we and He. This is not an arbitrary or prideful exercise of authority, it’s giving directions to the hospital.

8. Be very careful about standing with someone on “the hill they would die on”…for it is the same hill they will slay you on if you’re not willing as well…

9. The shameful silence of the Reformed continues on even in the face of convictions in the latest child abuse scandal to rock the church. Silence is the new way of responding to scandal…confession and repentance are evidently for lessor beings.

10. The wondrous thing about getting older is that being wrong has become an opportunity to learn, not an embarrassment…and I have a lot of opportunities these days.

On a personal note, I don’t have much time online these days so please bear with me if I’m slow in responding here or through email.

phoenixpreacher@gmail.com

 

 

 

May 172014
 

thumbnail.aspx“Things fall apart, the center cannot hold.”

We are no strangers to the falling apart;

We perpetrate against the center of our lives, and on some days it feels like an endless falling,

like a deep threat,

like rising water,

like ruthless wind.

 

But you … you in the midst,

you back in play,

you rebuking and silencing and ordering,

you creating restfulness in the very eye of the storm.

You … be our center:

cause us not to lie about the danger,

cause us not to resist your good order.

Be our God.

Be the God you promised, and we will be among those surely peaceable in your order.

We pray in the name of the one through whom all things hold together.

Amen.
Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (p. 26). Kindle Edition.

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