Dec 312015
 

headerEarlier this year I wrote this piece comparing corporate American evangelicalism to the “reality” show “Alaskan Bush People”.

“The show centers around a large family that has chosen to live “off the grid” in wilds of Alaska and focuses on how the family depends on each other in these primitive conditions and the deep faith the family has in each other and in God.

The “reality” that has been exposed is that the family doesn’t live out in the bush, they go out there only for filming the show.

The harsher “reality’ is that it is alleged that the family is actually a traveling band of con artists led by the patriarch of the clan.

The show is a fraudulent facade of Christian family values behind which seems to be all manner of sin and wickedness.

Trey loved this show, and I loved that he loved it, because of the values it promoted.

I spent a good portion of the weekend explaining to him that it was all a lie.

Unfortunately, the situation is a picture of so much we see in American corporate Christianity…a facade of virtue with much corruption behind the holy front.”

wmns_gfaThe number one story we featured here was undoubtedly the Gospel For Asia scandal…which looks remarkably like the “Alaskan Bush People” scandal.

The GFA false front of financial accountability and ascetic piety crumbled under the weight of allegations of cult like behavior and financial shenanigans.

The key to keeping programs like “ABP” on the air is to keep the facade of “reality” in place.

That requires that producers, directors and crew members stay silent about the truth of the matter and everyone involved must live the lie out in public.

Such is also the way that the corporate American religious machines keep the money coming in.

While some involved deeply in promoting and supporting the group have gone public in affirming the allegations, many, many, more are still silent and in being so allow the fraud and abuse to continue.

They are cowards and hirelings and will give an account to God someday for their choices.

Some Calvary Chapel pastors have asked their leaders to speak and give an accounting for their actions…and inaction.

They have found that their “leaders” will protect each other, not the “affiliates” or the congregations.

“Alaskan Bush People” is still on the air…and Gospel For Asia is still soliciting funds from those who have not heard the truth.

The sad part is that we tell the same stories every year…only the characters change.

For me, the second big story was the martyrdom of the Coptic Christians by ISIS.

True faith, on display for the world to see.

It turns out that one of them converted on his knees with a knife to his throat…

“Their God is my God”… amen.

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aThe third story has to be Naghmah Abedinis accusations of spousal abuse against her husband Saeed after three years of tireless work to see him freed from an Iranian prison.

The charges left the advocacy community in shock and killed any momentum it had generated.

My instincts tell me that there are more shocks to come and that we don’t know as much as we think about this story…

We will also continue to cover the story of child abuse in the Philippines and the cover up by Tom Randall of World Harvest Ministries…this story hasn’t gotten national attention, but it should.

MYOA Book1 Cover-4jPersonally, we celebrated the release of three books through Reader Hill publishers.

We will be working on other projects as well, with most of the attention going to our long awaited book on spiritual abuse.

Thanks to the grace and generosity of God and His people, we finished the year in the black with the lights on…which only God and I know is really a miracle.

I thank each one of you who have made it possible for me to make it through.

We also learned that we have some serious medical issues that will require some attention in the coming year.

Those will require some lifestyle changes and some changes here as well, that I’ve not fully understood yet.

Next Wednesday, I’ll be driving Trey, his mom, and stepdad, up to Portland from where they will fly to Germany.

Trey and his big brother will be undergoing treatment for Lyme disease, which has debilitated them both.

That will be my first challenge of 2016…he’ll be gone for three months.

Despite the challenges we know and the ones still to come, I’m excited for the New Year.

My prayer for us all is that we will see “the goodness of God in the land of the living”.

Thank you for being here and being part of this community…it’s you, the reader that makes this place special.

 

Dec 312015
 

headerThe top five stories numerically on the Phoenix Preacher this year…

First Public Update On Bob Coy
August 2014

Mike Kestler Back On CSN: Updated
August 2015

How To Dump Your Wife and Keep Your “Ministry”
January 2015

Update on Peter-John Courson
December 2014

Clarity on the TT Situation
September 2015

Overall numbers were down from last year, but we still had over 830,0000 visitors from 175 different countries.

Martin Luthers Disciple was our leading commentor with 2680 comments.

I’ll be back in a while with the stories I feel were the most important this year and why.

 

Dec 302015
 

EcumenicalHandsFull Definition of ecumenical
1
: worldwide or general in extent, influence, or application
2
a : of, relating to, or representing the whole of a body of churches
b : promoting or tending toward worldwide Christian unity or cooperation

It has been noted on these pages recently that I am “ecumenical”.

Some note this with approval, others as an accusation.

The word itself has been hijacked by separatists and prophecy wonks as a term of derision and scorn.

It’s applied to folks that they believe are trying to bring about the New World Order and a one world religion, and are basically tools of the anti-Christ.

My goals are not guided by those ambitions, but by the words of Jesus.

““I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
(John 17:20–23 ESV)

I believe that orthodox Christians can have fellowship centered on the person of Christ and guided by the creeds and confessions the entire orthodox church accepts as marks of orthodoxy.

In other words, if you profess Christ and agree to what the church has defined as orthodox doctrine, you’re family to me.

We can disagree on all manner of secondary doctrines and you’re still family to me.

There’s one simple reason why I choose to believe this.

I could be wrong.

My personal beliefs line up with those of Reformed Anglicans.

That doesn’t mean I can ignore the work that other Spirit filled believers have written for over 2000 years.

There is “truth” that I can learn in all the different orthodox traditions.

It doesn’t mean I’ll affirm all that any group teaches, it means I respect the work of the Spirit among them.

It doesn’t diminish the differences…the distance between Rome and Geneva is more than geographic.

It does mean that we accept the confession of faith in Christ and treat each other as brethren made in the image of God.

My faith life has been a journey toward truth, not a one time deposit of it.

My views have changed on many things over the years.

They may change yet again…because I could be wrong.

Make your own application…

 

Dec 302015
 

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aOn Wednesdays we encourage people to advocate for the release of Saeed Abedini.

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.

We will continue to do so until he is released.

Dec 292015
 

_end-of-the-world_2433119bBrethren, surely we will not see the turn of the 15th century before the Lord comes.

Though the scoffers may rage the signs of the times are clear.

In the last three years alone 75-200 million have died from the plague.

Should the Lord tarry, will any be left?

Who leads the church?

The East has left us and the pope is now in France…where do we turn to for truth?

The wars all over the continent are consuming those who the plague has not killed.

Nation against nation…and the Turks are a threat to us all.

The Holy Land is a place of conflict, controlled by the barbarians.

Does not the Scripture tell of wars and rumors of wars?

The climate has changed and the rains have ruined the soils.

The resulting famine has led to tens of thousands starving.

Famine, wars, disease, and false religion…the four horseman have been set loose upon us!

Look up! Our redemption must be drawing near!

 

 

Dec 292015
 

timthumb.php15 striking findings from the Pew people…

Driscoll soliciting funds…

Why Mary is so blessed…

Five stories to watch in American Christianity…

Welcome to the mess…

Inside Hillsong…

Top bible prophecy stories of 2015 that probably have nothing to do with bible prophecy…

The last scapegoat…

11 ways the world got better in 2015…

Islam and Aquinas…

Evil and the evidence for God…

Vonette Bright passes…

Two words for pastors?

More Gospel For Asia shenanigans…

The Church with No Name…

Do all atheists deny the same God?

Gender fluid Jesus…

Star Wars spirituality…

Rambling thoughts from the IM…

Can a Christian carry/conceal?

Julie Anne on the Gothard lawsuit…

Obsessed with identity…

We live in two worlds…

On the #1 best seller for Christian women…

Post Christmas thoughts on the Incarnation…

As always, thanks to EricL for the link help.

Support him at top right!

 

Dec 282015
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. Some have suggested that we are doing the Body of Christ a disservice by reporting on matters like the Gospel For Asia scandal. I say it’s not the scandals that darken the name of the church, but how we respond to them. If we cleaned up our own messes people might begin to think we believe what we profess…

 

2. I keep seeing religionists commenting on how Star Wars is or isn’t fit for Christian consumption. Can’t we ever do anything just for fun?

3. Patti LaBelle is now known for making pie. That woman can sing like few others I’ve ever heard and it’s all about pie. I’m getting old.

4. There are a whole bunch of Christians whose notion of grace and forgiveness is almost Islamic. Except, of course, if they are the sinners in question…

5. My Facebook friend Bobby Grow said it well… “Christians in Syria, Iraq, and other Muslim areas are not being killed because those killing them think that they worship the same God, but because they believe that they do not.”

6. Lots of pastors are preparing their year end “prophecy updates”. I see no evidence that we are any closer to the end than we’ve been…indeed, this may be the best time to be alive in human history.

Can’t sell CD’s with that attitude…

7. I’ve noted this before, but feel the need to say it again. There is no biblical “gift of discernment”. There is a gift of “discerning spirits” which is helpful if you happen upon the devil.

8. I’m not a “Star Wars” fan, but if you are, I’m very happy you have this movie to enjoy.

9. The NFL has a big problem with the concussion issue. The problem isn’t that anyone will shut down the league legally, it’s that parents will stop their kids from playing the sport. The pipeline will dry up…

10. Despite the health issues I’m facing, I’m excited about the New Year approaching. Christians, above all others have reason to hope…and we should spread that instead of prophecy updates…

Dec 272015
 

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
— Attributed to St. Francis

Dec 262015
 

bible-word-of-god_thumbHebrews 10:1-10

The writer is going to make the point one more time – Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All

We mentioned last week about repetition being a teaching tool. Repetition is like repeating yourself if you had 6 kids.

 

Our liturgy is repetitious – to teach something. What would that be? To ingrain in us the way that the ancient church up to the present has approached God. Also how to receive from God the good gifts he comes to distribute each time the church gathers.

1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.

  • How would you describe a shadow?
  • As a kid, weren’t we all fascinated to see our own shadow?
  • As an adult we may be afraid of a shadow as we don’t know or understand what is approaching.
  • Well all of the sacrifices, all the procedures, all of the laws etc were just a shadow … a preview.
  • Col 1:15 – He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
  • John 14:8-11 – 8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
  • Images, shadows, previews
  • Even the law was a shadow … of what? Good things to come
  • The author is saying that the Levitical system just keeps continuing year after year.

Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins?

  • The old rhetorical question – the sacrifices just keep going around and around.

3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.

  • But hey there is that yearly reminder of your sin. Don’t think you’re so hot.
  • However, today Jews have made this yearly event NOT sacrifice, but more of a day of reflection.

For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

  • Ineffective because it is impossible to do.
  • How well can we perform the things we are commanded to do?
  • So what did the sacrifices accomplish?
  • What do we accomplish “in remembrance of me”?
  • When God remembers his people = good
  • When God forgets his people – I will remember them no more = bad.

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me;

  • Quotes from Psalm 40:6-8
  • What does it mean “When Christ came into the world…”? Jesus did not say this in the NT.
  • What did Jesus mean?
  • Here again we see how reading the OT in light of the NT changes things. The NT writer is telling us what the OT meant.
  • How do we know whose voice is talking?
  • Look at Acts 8 when Phillip runs into the Ethiopian Eunuch.
  • Why would God not want sacrifices etc? He ordered them.
  • The people were doing them wrong.
  • Isa 1:10-14 (a must read)

6  in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.

  • God looks at our hearts and our motives
  • And based on that he want the sacrifices and offerings
  • Done right and with a good heart … but we are not capable.

Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

  • Who is doing whose will? (this goes back to being able to read in the right voice).
  • By God’s will we have been sanctified – by Jesus Christ
  • The real will of God is seen through Jesus Christ – going back to the incarnation.
  • Go back to verse 5 – A Body you have prepared for me.

8When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law),

then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second.

  • God can’t take pleasure because we do not let him take pleasure.
  • So he gets rid of that system and goes to the one who will do his will – Jesus.
  • Doing God’s will and fulfilling God’s will was a joy to Jesus.

10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

  • We have been sanctified – if happened in the past and has present day benefits.
  • Been sanctified – something that has been done to us.

 

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