Oct 312015
 

thumbnail.aspxWe know about your presence

that fills the world,

that occupies our life,

that makes our life in the world true and good.

We notice your powerful transformative presence

in word and

in sacrament,

in food and in water,

in gestures of mercy

and practices of justice,

in gentle neighbors

and daring gratitude.

We count so on your presence

and then plunge – without intending – into your absence.

We find ourselves alone, abandoned, without resources

remembering your goodness,

hoping your future,

but mired in anxiety and threat and risk beyond our coping.

In your absence we bid your presence,

come again,

come soon,

come here.

Come to every garden become a jungle

Come to every community become joyless

sad and numb.

We acknowledge your dreadful absence and insist on your presence.

Come again, come soon. Come here.

Walter Brueggemann

Oct 312015
 

Christianity tourism destinationsHebrews 6:11-20

11 And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end,

12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

  • What he is telling them is to hang on. Hang on – look back to those who persevered – that kept holding on to the promise.
  • This is NOT an exhortation to do better – stop drinking, stop playing cards, stop whatever.
  • This is an exhortation to get into the Promised Land. Do not let anyone tell you this is not about gaining heaven.
  • Look to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith
  • All of the examples that we will see in Chapter 11 – The Hall of Faith – are those who hung on to the promise … even with all of their warts.

The Certainty of God’s Promise

13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,

  • Abraham is a splendid example of what the author has in mind.
  • Though he had God’s promise, he had to live for many years in patient expectation – with nothing but the promise.
  • What about this “swearing by himself”???
  • God is the covenant keeper – we are the covenant breaker
  • This was the folly if you remember the group Promise Keepers – the denial that we are promise breakers.
  • Think of this, God is binding his promises against his own being.

14 saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.”

  • The promise is not theoretical – it came to fruition on the cross, as did all of God’s promises as they were pulled into the NT.
  • Genesis 15 – the covenant
  • Genesis 22 – the promise

15 And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.

  • Did Abraham “Patiently Wait”??
  • Have you ever heard of Hagar-the slave girl from Egypt? How about Ishmael – his first son?
  • Where was the faith of Abraham? Oh, it does rear its head in Genesis 22
  • OBTAINED THE PROMISE: past tense
  • The Hagar incident (16)   – Abe was 86– the next chapter (17) he was 99
  • 13 yrs between chapters – it wasn’t like Abe and God pal around every day.
  • So, here’s the deal – God makes a promise to Abe about Isaac – did he ever tell anyone about that promise? I would need to check – did he tell Lot or Sarah about this promise?
  • Did he really believe it? How much do we believe the promises given us other than we keep them in the back of our mind? Do we act on them?

16 For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation.

  • I swear on my mother’s grave!! I swear on the Bible
  • We swear supposedly to make a higher appeal.
  • Final – as if that is suppose to end the discussion.

17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath,

  • God’s oath is much different than our oaths. God’s purpose is unchangeable – his means may change, but not his promises or purpose.
  • God has no one to swear an oath to – but he does it to show Abe that he is serious.
  • The NT says “let your yes be yes and your no be no.”
  • Do we do that? Do we trust people at their word – their “yes” and their “no” – Or do we make them jump through special hoops to prove their word?

1so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.

  • It gave the believer 2 unchangeable things – the promise and the oath.
  • We who have fled for refuge – OT cities of refuge
  • Where did we flee? To Jesus, where the guilt of our sin have been covered.
  • Hold fast to the hope – what is hope?
  • What is the opposite of hope? Despair
  • Set before us – NIV “offered to us”

19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,

  • Anchor of the soul – remember at the beginning the “drifting away”? (We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2:1)
  • Paying attention binds you to the anchor – not paying attention, not holding fast (v18) – perhaps you drift away.

20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

  • Next week, the author returns to his discussion of Melchizedek … and so will we.
Oct 302015
 

rdozlerDoveFor those who haven’t seen it yet, Warren Throckmorton has answered Yohannans letter to Calvary Chapel pastors.

The rebuttal can be read here.

Oct 302015
 

IMG_0027Miss Kitty was sick.

Thus, I was grief stricken.

Our little church had already lost two beloved members recently with the passing of Beardsley the cat and Roxy the dog.

In our group, pets are not possessions, they are much loved companions.

Sadness abounded already and it seemed my sharing of it would become even more personal.

Like most of you, vet bills aren’t in my budget, but I couldn’t afford to lose her either.

I called the cat doctor early in the morning…there were no appointments available until that evening.

That upset me, she needed help now.

I made the appointment for 5:00 PM.

Five minutes later, they called and told me to bring her in now.

Miss Kitty had never been in a cat carrier or in a car and when placed in both she cried for the first time in her life.

She was terrified of the journey.

I was terrified of the journey.

I’d never taken a cat to the vet and brought one home…it was always the place where I had to say goodbye.

This is pretty much where the story I want to tell begins.

When I carried my sick friend into the lobby of the clinic I lost it.

“It” being any composure or dignity I possessed and Lord knows I value both more than most.

Through many tears I gave them the information they needed and the kind soul at the desk quickly moved us into an examination room.

She took the time to try to comfort me and treated Miss Kitty as if she were one of her family members.

After the initial checkup she advised me to let Miss Kitty roam the room and get more comfortable… so Miss Kitty and I sat on the clinic floor to wait for the doctor.

Soon enough the door opened and I began to rise to my feet…just as the doctor plopped down on the floor.

The whole examination was conducted on the floor.

This good doctor met us where we were.

He was there not just to heal, but to comfort.

He was there for us.

He made his diagnosis, gently put Miss Kitty in her carrier, and led us out to the lobby again.

I was apologizing profusely for my emotional state all the way out.

The doctor and his assistants assured me that there was no shame in being broken by the situation…the shame would be if I were not.

This morning, Miss Kitty ate a lot and went about the business of her day feeling feline fine.

You know where I’m going with this…

The church is supposed to be a place where broken sinners can go and receive the comfort of God and God’s people.

People who will get down on the floor with you and wait together with you for the Great Physician.

It’s supposed to be a place where shame is replaced with a song of redemption.

It’s supposed to be a place where brokenness is a shared experience.

We have a Doctor who will meet us where we are…and love us to a better place.

The journey is often terrifying, but He will not only meet you at the end, He will be present as you go.

It will cost you, but it’s worth it.

There isn’t another place to go.

You can get an instant appointment.

Make your own application…

Oct 292015
 

Francis-Chan-Podium“Hear me clearly in this, because it is vital—in fact, there is nothing more important or eternal: Are you willing to say to God that He can have whatever He wants? Do you believe that wholehearted commitment to Him is more important than any other thing or person in your life? Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people He has made? If the answer to those questions is yes, then let your bet match your talk. True faith means holding nothing back; it bets everything on the hope of eternity.”

Chan, Francis (2010-01-01). Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (p. 95). David C Cook. Kindle Edition.

Some time late last night or early this morning when the ashtray was full and the coffee pot drained, it hit me.

We’re losing the information war against Gospel For Asia.

“We” meaning Warren Throckmorton, myself, and some other bloggers because the “Christian” media did it’s thing (begrudgingly) and left the bloggers to tilt at the windmill.

All night long as I checked Facebook to follow another story, the ads would pop up on my timeline.

Ads purchased by Gospel for Asia that were seen on millions more screens than any of our articles.

I can’t buy that kind of exposure.

I’m a nobody.

The only way the whole story would get the exposure it needs to put a dent in this operation is if a somebody cared enough to stand with us.

The only somebody qualified in this case is Francis Chan.

Chan become a celebrity by advocating a “radical” form of self sacrificial Christianity.

The book I quoted above sold millions.

He took “lukewarm” Christians and Christianity to the woodshed and striped them with many blows.

He was right more often than erring to do so.

Today, he sits on the board of Gospel For Asia… he says he loves his friend K.P. Yohannan.

I have an inbox full of email from people who don’t.

These are not disgruntled former employees (though I believe them too).

These are people who heard Christ’s call to self sacrificial Christianity before Chan was ever heard of…or even born in some cases.

They have given their lives to the cause of Christ in a land not their home…and have suffered from the political and ecclesiastical machinations of Gospel For Asia.

They suffer in silence from the American love of celebrity and ignorance of India.

I have not even spoken of the thousands of donors here who have given sacrificially.

Chan could make a difference for all of us.

The question before the house (and him) now is how much does Francis Chan believe his own words?

What is he willing to give up in this situation to love God and His people who are being hurt?

Perhaps he will offer the victims of this debacle some real “crazy love” and stand with them.

Time to go all in, Francis…or you’re all talk too.

phoenixpreacher@gmail.com

 

Oct 282015
 

ring-kissing1-croppedThis form letter is being sent out by Gospel for Asia to Calvary Chapel pastors who either support the charity or have done so in the past.

It is full of lies, half truths, and misinformation that I will, for the most part, lean on Warren Throckmorton to parse soon enough.

There is no hint of confession or repentance.

I want to focus our attention today on the paragraph I have put in bold type.

In one small paragraph the GFA Diaspora and others who have left the group are slandered with the vilest of faux pietistic innuendo as addicts and sinners and are implicitly threatened with disclosure of private pastoral issues.

Thus, all their accusations and information are dismissed.

They are no longer brothers and sisters, but sinners and addicts who cannot be trusted.

There can be no more wicked and evil abuse of ecclesiastical authority.

This is an abomination to God and His church.

This tells you every thing you need to know about K.P. Yohannan.

Dear Pastor ———-,

Greetings to you. I am grateful to God for the relationship He’s given us over the many years. I appreciate your heart to reach the lost world with us, and this is why I am writing to you today.

For the past several days, I have been ministering to around 15,000 believers who have been savagely persecuted and ostracized for their faith in Christ. These meetings were arranged well over a year ago and some believers traveled for days just to get to the conference location. Even with much happening in the US office at this time, I couldn’t cancel this trip and let them down.

Most of you are now aware that ECFA recently terminated our 36-year membership with them. I know, reasonably so, that this has caused great concern and raised questions about the integrity of Gospel for Asia and the handling of our financial matters. ECFA affirmed the funds given to the ministry were accounted for. We have honored our sponsors and donors designations. There were some processes and standards for ministry where we fell short of their standards. During the review process, which we are very grateful for, each time ECFA pointed out something that they felt we could improve on, we took it seriously and began to implement changes without delay.

In retrospect, we realize that we have should have sought experienced outside counsel at times to help us in dealing with the complexities that come with a ministry of our size. To strengthen our ministry and further improve our processes, we are working hard toward becoming eligible to re-apply for ECFA. GFA’s eight board members are standing strong and aiding the ministry in these matters.

One question which raised concerns is in regard to the kind of church structure on the mission field. The structure (which is explained here: gfa.org/bc/about), is the result of God’s leading in the lives over 100 of our senior leaders in Asia, including myself. About ten years ago, after much prayer and fasting, the decision was made to register Believers Church with the Asian governments in order to gain the protection offered over the assets and work that many of you invested in, and that our missionaries and pastors here have given sacrificially to establish. For the sake of the Lord’s work and by His leading, our leaders on the field chose a form of church structure that is accepted by the government known as “constitutional episcopacy” (this is not the same as an Episcopal church, instead it is the governance of the church), which means the church is led by episkopos (bishops) (1 Timothy 3:1-2) and presbyteros (elders) (Acts 14:23). In order for any pastor to legally conduct weddings and other legal matters for the church, each one must be licensed by the Magistrate from the judicial system, or be ordained by a bishop of a church within constitutional episcopacy.

Also, just so you know, the practice of ring kissing has not been taught or encouraged in Believers Church. The video of the pastor’s ordination being circulated about me does not show people kissing my ring, but rather them kneeling down to be prayed for and then touching my hand to their forehead, which is a very common cultural gesture of respect in India. I myself have done this many times.

The expression and practice of worship in Believers Church are liturgical in form. This is culturally understood and accepted in South Asia, though it is a less common form of worship for evangelical denominations in the West. A typical church service in a Believers Church consists of 30 minutes of congregational worship, 40 minutes of systematic teaching through the Word of God with practical application, intercessory prayer and confession of the faith. While the expression is different, the substance remains the same. Our statement of faith, commitment to historical Biblical Christianity and philosophy of ministry remains unchanged. It is the governance of the church that has changed.

Believers Church is in the unique position of having over 2.5 million believers, who speak nearly 300 languages, and of whom as many as 80% are illiterate. The interactive portion of the liturgy allows all to participate in the service, while reading through major portions of Scripture once every few years. It is the desire of Believers Church to keep these believers unified in the faith while growing in the Word and knowledge of the Lord.

We thought we were communicating effectively to you regarding these changes made to Believers Church and the reasons for it. We put up numerous pages on our GFA website. We hosted many, many Calvary pastors on the field and never hid our church from anyone. With some pastors we spent hours explaining the reasons for these changes; and we thought it was understood. However, we now realize, by comments made to us, that we did not communicate as effectively as we thought we had. We are truly sorry for this. Please know that it was not intentional. In the future we will work harder to communicate better.

There are some former staff who have been quite vocal in expressing complaints they have against my leaders and I. We have taken this seriously and actively sought, according to Matthew 18, to reach out individually to these former staff members to ask for forgiveness. As leaders, we would agree that we have not always represented Christ in the right way. But our conscience is clear before God that we have always tried to. And we continue to try. We have not disclosed the “other side of the story”; the personal lives of many of those whose testimonies have been shared. Some of them we spent hours counseling out of addiction and sin. Some of them we fasted with, prayed with and wept with during times of personal struggles and family tragedies. We have protected them and their reputations. God knows, and in fear of Him and of judgment we will continue to pray for them.

Some people have asked if my lifestyle is different in reality than what I have written in my books. I’ve even heard people saying I live in a mansion and drive around in a classic European sports car! In reality, my “European sports car” is a restored 1962 VW bug which I bought 19 years ago for $1800. My wife drives a Honda HRV. In my life I have taken a total of 4 family vacations. I currently have one house in the Dallas area that I am trying to sell. It’s in a nice neighborhood hardly two minutes from the previous location of our ministry. It’s about 3,000 square feet, has 4 bedrooms, my office and my wife’s office. In Asia, the only house I live in is owned by the church. It’s about 1,400 square feet. Some pastors have seen it during their visits to India. My salary is set by the Board of Directors of Gospel for Asia. It is about $100,000 per year, including housing allowance. My wife and I don’t need that much to live on, but this is what the Board decided to give us. We give a significant portion of it back to the ministry. I have never taken any royalties from the 250 books I have written. Although I have been called foolish for not taking them, writing books has never been about the money, but about reaching the lost world and encouraging the saints. This is the way I have chosen to live my life. Like you, I try to hear from the Lord and do what He asks of me.

I have attempted to live before God and man humbly and faithfully. There have been many times that I have fallen short and failed. But I ask God for forgiveness and make things right with those who allow me to. And I look forward to the day I will see my Lord face to face.

If you have any specific questions for me, I would be happy to talk with you. You can also direct your questions to my leaders, Daniel Punnose, John Beers or David Carroll. I have included all our email addresses below.

Your brother,

K.P. Yohannan

Not my brother you wicked devil…

Oct 282015
 

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…

Oct 272015
 

IMG_2160“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” (John 10:11–14 ESV)

In the world of a sheep, there is no more important person than a shepherd.

He takes them to pasture, treats their ailments, protects them from the wolf, and leads them safely home.

The wolf problem is where the wool meets the road, where he earns the right to be called a shepherd.

This is because wolves will eat shepherds, too.

The shepherd puts himself at risk to protect the sheep.

The shepherd who runs away from the wolf is not a shepherd, but a hireling using the role of shepherd to make money without fulfilling the obligations of the role.

Gayle Erwin is a hireling.

Damian Kyle is a hireling.

Skip Heitzig is a hireling.

When they resigned from the board of Gospel For Asia they fled from something.

Something was so wrong with the organization that they could no longer risk being a part of it’s leadership.

They won’t tell us what it was that they saw.

Because they won’t tell us what it was that they saw, whatever it was is still a threat to those who give sacrificially to make the charity viable.

They cared deeply enough for themselves to remove themselves from the threat, but don’t care enough about the sheep to inform them as well.

They have left that job to bloggers and the media…people that they have already told their flocks never to trust.

They will cover their cowardice by telling each other that they are “leaving it to the Lord”.

Let’s blow that lying piety to hell.

The Lord most often uses means to accomplish His will.

The means He has chosen to protect His sheep is a shepherd.

When the shepherds become hirelings they become the stewards of hell instead of the shepherds of God.

This is not a word to simply accuse.

This is a call to these men to repent and fulfill the calling they claim to have on their lives.

It is a call to do it now, before any more of the saints are bitten by wolves because they have been left in pasture to find their own way home.

Love of God and church demands this…even if it costs you more than you want to pay.

Love of self alone will keep you silent…and affirm that you were never called at all.

phoenixpreacher@gmail.com

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