Jun 302014
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. The first Reformation came about because of great frustrations with the financial, ethical, moral, and theological abuses of the church.  The discontent over these issues had fomented for years…it was only when the printing press made the airing of theses grievances (and solutions to them) available to the general public that the revolution actually gained traction. Today the internet is performing the same function by informing the masses at a level unheard of in the 16th century. The only thing missing is real leadership presenting viable alternatives. We’ve become very good at naming problems without positing solutions…and until we do both, the next Reformation won’t happen.

2. Grace means loving beyond the limits of your patience.

3. We distort the biblical view of law and Gospel when we believe that God’s only expectation of us is sin.

4. There is an amusing sequence in Monty Python and The Holy Grail where the Black Knight is sequentially chopped to pieces while demanding the battle continue and boasting about his prospects for victory. This to me is also a picture of the conservative churches battle for “traditional marriage”. Culturally and politically, it’s over. We lost. In my opinion, it’s time to retreat, regroup, and pray about why…because my guess is that we used the wrong weapons.

5.  June is Gay Pride Month…and by far the best month to take an internet sabbatical.

6.  Grace means believing that failure today contains the seed of divine opportunity tomorrow.

7.   Barabbas and Jesus were both political revolutionaries in a sense. One believed victory would come through political power and violence if necessary, the other achieved victory through suffering and a cross. The crowd preferred the way of Barabbas…and they still do.

8.  In the first century, crucifixion was such a shameful thing it wasn’t even spoken of in decent company. To be ashamed of the Gospel is to ashamed of the method by which the Gospel was purchased…through suffering and a cross. The divine methodology hasn’t changed…and some of us are ashamed of that. We’re all Barabbas.

9.  Grace means loving when our expectations of another are not only not met, they aren’t even considered.

10. If your faith tradition is that you do not belong to any other faith tradition, that is your tradition.

This just in…the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby.

Jun 282014
 

thumbnail.aspxHelp me Lord, to see You are about me.

You are my hope.

In my laying down and rising, in my travelling and arriving; Help me, Lord, to see You are about me.

You are my hope.

In my sorrow and enjoyment, in my work and unemployment; Help me, Lord, to see You are about me.

 

You are my hope.

In my health and in my sickness, in my strength and in my weakness; Help me, Lord, to see You are about me.

You are my hope.

In my peacefulness and strife, in my going from this life; Help me, Lord, to see You are about me.

You are my hope.

In my achievement and its waning, in my losing or my gaining; Help me, Lord, to see You are about me.

You are my hope.

CELTIC PRAYER,

Bjorklund, Kurt (2011-09-27). Prayers for Today (Kindle Locations 546-555). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Jun 282014
 

istock_000015991944mediumIt’s all yours today… here’s my only thought for the weekend.

“The line between good and evil does not lie between ‘us’ and ‘them,’ between the West and the rest, between Left and Right, between rich and poor.

That fateful line runs down the middle of each of us, every human society, every individual.

This is not to say that all humans, and all societies, are equally good or bad; far from it.

Merely that we are all infected and that all easy attempts to see the problem in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’ are fatally flawed.”

~N. T. Wright, from Surprised by Scripture

 

Jun 272014
 

Thank God, I don’t live in Iraq…or Mexico, or Central America.

Thank God, I live in relative peace, freedom, and safety.

Thank God, the only invaders I have to worry about are rats and raccoons.

Thank God, my decisions about food come down to whether I shop at Wal Mart or Safeway.

Thank God, the only thing threatening my child’s safety is when he refuses to wear his skateboard helmet.

Thank God, I have access to excellent medical care and chances are I’ll never need care for a bullet wound or bomb damage.

Thank God, with all the bad news in the world, I can just turn off the computer and it all goes away.

Thank God, I can thank God for who I believe Him to be and the worst thing that will probably happen is that someone won’t like me.

Yes, thank God.

Except I don’t.

Thankfulness is not an attribute that I’ve developed to the fullest.

However, if complaining were a spiritual discipline, I’d be the next pope.

There are some legitimate complaints…financial issues and health problems of my own and others, emotional wounds, and needs unmet at home and all about me.

God hears all about those when I bother to talk to Him at all….and that’s usually why I bother.

I withhold thankfulness until proper address of my grievances.

Besides, it’s hard to have an attitude of gratitude when the internet is so damn slow this morning and the coons ate all my cat food.

Surely, you understand.

I know you do.

Thank God, His mercies are new every morning because only His mercy can cover such sin.

Thank God for the grace that allows me to change my attitude today.

Thank God, He’s given me a place of comfort and security to pray for the children on the border and the brethren in Iraq.

Thank God…I probably should.

Make your own application…

Jun 262014
 

Iraq-with-Ur-site-and-cities-OL_webOne of my closest friends in ministry and a member of this online community is in Iraq at this moment ministering to those caught in the war there.

For obvious reasons, his identity and location must remain secret.

This is what he just wrote me;

 

Let me begin by saying that the reports that we see in the comfort of our homes do not do justice as to what the reality is.  

There was another attack on a remote village last night that drove over 5,000 IDP’s (Internally Displaced Persons), to the area where we are ministering.

I asked a pastor how this situation compares with the war to overthrow Hussein and this was how he responded, “we knew where and when that war was to be fought.  In this situation, there is no warning and the attackers are evil”.

On the local news, they actually show on video people being thrown off of cliffs, people being shot in the head and others being beheaded.

Part of the problem is that to them, it’s an honor to die and therefore there is no fear in these killers.

While meeting with our contact who is a young pastor whom I have known for approximately 5 years, he shared how the families of one of the large towns which were attacked fled into this area and the Christian’s sought him out for shelter and protection.

There are currently approximately 50 people living in the basement of his church with nothing more than the clothes on their back and whatever they could pack in their vehicles.  They are afraid, they are homeless and they have no hope.

Pastor M, has an existing congregation of around 120 people plus the IDP’s that came to him for help.

Typically in these situations we want to think that we can fix this problem by giving them money to help with the needs.

Money will not correct the problem this time…

Once housing is secured, they will need furniture, clothing, jobs etc.

As far as the housing, the cost to rent has gone up over 25% in the last 24 hours.

The owners of the housing for rent are demanding a one year lease with huge deposits up front.

Gas for vehicles can be purchased at astronomical prices after waiting in line for up to 11 hours and everyone is limited to 30 liters per vehicle.

Cooking oil is rationed and people are only allowed to purchase 2 small containers at a time.

The cost of all food products are going through the roof and as you can imagine, the demand is greater than the supply.

We intended to come here and hold up the arms of a young pastor who we knew couldn’t say no to anyone with a need.

Our friend is tired and he is being stretched beyond anything he ever thought he would experience.

You see, he knows these people who he is helping.

He understands their words and he knows why they cry.

He knows the name of every child and he can’t help but smile with tears in his eyes as he tries to figure out how to feed his new family.

When we met with him this morning, he was handing out new shoes to children who’s parents probably couldn’t afford these shoes in the best of circumstances even without becoming hunted down like animals.

The women refugees made lunch for everyone today and insisted that we (3) get served first.

One by one they shook our hands and thanked us for coming.

The little ones played all around us and pretended not to be scared.

Their father’s and mothers tried to explain the toll this has taken on them without crying.

These people are broken and scared.

Our pastor friend is worried and tired.

He needs to go home and hug his wife and little girl but he’s a true shepherd of God’s people and struggles to leave his new family alone.

As of 6 pm our time, the bad guys were 30 minutes away and attacking another village with the vehicles and weapons that we left the local army while trying to free them from a wicked man.

Now there are many wicked men.

We wondered how many refugees will be in the basement waiting for food and shelter when we wake up.

There is a plethora of emotions that I am feeling and while trying to force myself to forget, the little faces that proudly own the new shoes broke my heart today.

What are these people guilty of?  What did these people do to deserve being treated worse than a dog?  They love Jesus.

I’m learning a lot and need your prayers.”

Prayer needs:

Wisdom and direction for Pastor M

Financial support to feed and provide housing

Peace from the terrorists who want to murder innocent people

I will continue to update you as time allows.  Thank you for your prayers and I ask that you pray as you are led regarding all of the challenges that these people will continue to face.

I cannot validate any of the political commentaries that we see in the news as this is not a political issue, it’s a moral issue.

These killers hate Christ and all that He stands for.  As far as they are concerned, they are doing exactly what is expected of them by their god.

They believe that they need to die for their god and we know that Our God died for us.”

“It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones”

 

Jun 262014
 

readingA friend of mine brought up this topic on an email list and I thought it worthy to bring here.

The following is a list of “spiritual disciplines” from the Renovare website.

 

 

Do you practice any?

If not… why?

If so…to what benefit?

Are there any you would like to pursue?

  • Meditation: The ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word.
  • Prayer: The interactive conversation with God about what we are doing together.
  • Fasting: The voluntary denial of an otherwise normal function for the sake of intense spiritual activity.
  • Study: The mind taking on an order conforming to the order of whatever we concentrate upon.
  • Simplicity: An inward reality that results in an outward life style.
  • Solitude: An open relational space for being found by God and freed from competing loyalties.
  • Submission: The discipline which frees us to let go of the burden of always needing to get our own way.
  • Service: The many little deaths of going beyond ourselves which produces in us the virtue of humility.
  • Confession: Experiencing the grace and mercy of God for healing the sins and sorrows of the past.
  • Worship: Entering into the supra-natural experience of the Shekanyah, or glory, of God.
  • Guidance: Knowing in daily life an interactive friendship with God.
  • Celebration: A life of “walking and leaping and praising God” (Acts 3:8).

 

Jun 252014
 

John_WyclifThe Roman Catholic Church hated him so much that over forty years after his death, they dug up his bones, burned them, and tossed them in the river.

It was way too late, for he had already planted the seeds of reform that would change the Christian world forever.

He was the “morningstar of the Reformation” and his name was John Wycliffe.

 

An Englishman, Wycliffe grew disgusted with the wealth of the church, the oppression of the poor, and the sale of indulgences.

He came to reject transubstantiation and papal authority over the church in matters of doctrine…he believed in “sola scriptura,” meaning that the Bible was the only true guide for faith and practice.

If the Bible is the sole standard for the church and the church is comprised of the priesthood of all believers, then all believers must have access to the Scriptures.

Wycliffe set out to make it so.

He produced the first English translation of the Bible by hand and until the 19th century all copies of the Wycliffe Bible were produced the same way.

The next step was to get the Bible to the people…and that was accomplished through his followers, the Lollards.

Together, despite great persecution, they laid the foundation stone of the Reformation to come.

There were many other stones added to the foundation in this century.

JanHusJohn Hus was a Bohemian priest influenced by Wycliffe who also became a proto-Reformer.

He was condemned for such by Rome and burned at the stake for his efforts.

Hus means “goose” and the expression “we’ll cook his goose” began as a slur against this man of God who they did indeed roast.

At his execution he prophesied that though they would slay him, in a hundred years another man would come whose fire they would not be able to extinguish.

 

“Now we will cook the goose.” “Yes”, replied Huss, ““It is thus that you silence the goose, but a hundred years hence there will arise a swan whose singing you shall not be able to silence.”

The swan was Martin Luther and the prophecy was fulfilled.

His writings, and more importantly, his life, would be an inspiration to Luther and other Reformers for centuries to come.

Thomas Bradwardine was an English theologian who influenced Wycliffe and others by emphasizing the primacy of grace in the salvation of sinners and re emphasizing the Augustinian theology that was the heart of the Reformation.

Gregory of Rimini was an Italian philosopher and theologian who not only emphasized the grace of God in salvation, but articulated the doctrine of double predestination centuries before Calvin was born. Gregory’s greatest contribution to the Reformation was his careful recovery and translation of the works of Augustine. It is his work that is most often referenced by the later Reformers.

Meanwhile, back in Rome…no ones home.

Pope Clement V came under the influence of King Philip IV of France and the papacy was moved to Avignon, France for 63 years.

The power of the papacy was further weakened when the “Great Schism” occurred and two popes were in power, one in Rome and one in Avignon.

By 1409 three popes were vying for power.

The church was ripe for reform.

 

Jun 252014
 

 

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.

His wife has asked that we write letters to him as well;

 Hi 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

 

Jun 242014
 

10384579_907346375957434_4202084972377067766_nI have been asked repeatedly offline about my perspective on the children amassing on our border.

I have lacked the courage to write this article, but I do so now.

 

 

The perspective I give is my own…I do not seek to force it on anyone, nor do I condemn anyone who disagrees with me.

My perspective is based on my best understanding of the Scriptures and is based on that understanding alone, not any political implications that may flow from my conclusions.

My perspective is based on what I believe the churches response should be…I care little about the political ones.

The thought of children sleeping in what amount to kennels after surviving the horrors of a thousand mile journey keeps me up at night.

This is first and foremost, a humanitarian crisis.

The church has always responded generously and sacrificially to such and should do so again.

Some identify these “illegal aliens” and legally, they are.

I do not identify them as such.

I identify them as refugees from oppression, aliens and sojourners as spoken of in Scripture, as my neighbor,  and finally…as children.

I do not believe the kingdom of God has borders.

They are, in my heart and spirit, the very people that Jesus said He came to and for and the people that He instructed us to especially care for.

Anything we do in regard to these children must be grounded in this understanding of who they are and what our duties are in front of Christ, not country.

My perspective is that the church should embrace and care for these children as Christ would, while praying fervently that He provide the financial resources, wisdom, and people to do so to His glory.

I am not unconcerned or ignorant of all the political and financial ramifications of what I believe…they are simply secondary to what the Scriptures and The Holy Spirit say to me.

That’s my view.

I could be wrong.

 

Jun 242014
 

links_image1Mark Driscolls’s demon trials…

How to conduct a demon trial…

Why businesses shouldn’t be called “Christian”…

Society for the study of music and the Bible…

Muslims fleeing Christians…

The aesthetics of prophecy…

Five things to know about ISIS…

The book marketing secrets of David Jeremiah…

Follow the money trail…

Cosmology and creation…

John Piper’s twelve questions to ask before watching “Game of Thrones”…

Learning from Calvin’s company of pastors…well worth a listen.

The value of shame…

New blog on abuse…

How a plague helped spread Christianity…

“Anointed” means unaccountable…

A denomination confronts child abuse…

The Shepherd knows our needs…

Wenatchee the Hatchet has new profiles on Driscoll…

Want to feel awful? Here’s your six month spiritual checkup

Bill Kinnon returns to blogging…I highly recommend all his articles on discipleship

Finally, a lot of us love blogger/author/pastor Matt B. Redmond.

He lost his mom last night, his dad just a short time ago.

Keep him and his family in your prayers.

%d bloggers like this: