Jan 252016
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. “Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.

And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.””(Matthew 11:2–6 ESV)

John the Baptist was asking two questions I think.

The first was probably personal… why he was still in prison if Jesus came to “set the captives free”.

The second was wondering when Jesus was going to fulfill the political desires of the people.

John would lose his head and Jesus would be crucified by the political authorities that he wanted overthrown, but the kingdom of God was breaking out everywhere.

We still are asking those same two questions.

Why isn’t Jesus meeting our personal and political expectations?

The kingdom is still breaking out everywhere.

Blessed is the one who is not offended by Him…

2. The death of Glen Frey was just the latest in a series of departures of musical icons from our youth. Instead of trying to discern their eternal state it should remind us to make our own calling and election sure…

3. I have some very strong opinions over some of the issues in this election cycle. I have decided that it’s better to keep them to myself than to offend half the people that may need to hear something about Jesus that I could say…

4. We seem to forget that our fellowship is based on the cross, not our political affiliations.

5. The most important spiritual discipline I’ve learned is the transfer of my burdens from my shoulders to Jesus. I’m trying to learn to do so before they have crushed and incapacitated me. Practice, practice, practice…

6. All manner of evil in the church has been excused because “the Gospel is going out”. Jesus said he could raise up the rocks to praise Him…so the ends do not always justify the means…

7. I envy those who believe that their sect of Christianity has all the answers. One of the few things I hold certain is that we’re all wrong about something…we just don’t know what we’re wrong about yet.

8. I’ve spent most of my Christian life trying to learn the right doctrines about God. With each bad report from the doctor, I’m trying to learn more about Jesus… go and do likewise.

9. The Blessed Hope of the second coming should inspire us to holy living…not because of the threat of judgment, but because of the anticipation of being with the One we love. You dressed up for your wedding, didn’t you?

10. The ministry of Jesus was about afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted…while accepting affliction Himself and eschewing the powers of this world. I think our job description is the same…

 

Jan 232016
 

Do not think of the sins we have committed or of those we still commit.

Put out of your mind the failings we give way to night and day.

Do not impute our offenses to us, whether we did them on purpose or whether we could not help them.

Remember, Lord, that men are apt to make slips; we are a spineless race, given to blundering; think of our build, our limitations.

Our skins may be sound, but there are sores underneath.

O God, you are well disposed to us; give us the strength of your support.

Give us encouragement, give the light that goes with it.

Make us live by the dogmas of the faith preached by your holy apostles and the high teaching of the Gospels of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jan 232016
 

Christianity tourism destinationsHebrews 11:4-7

As we now proceed through chapter 11 and we read of these great people, what are we to learn from these people?

Is it How To Do Good Works?

Is it how to be obedient? Is it how to be strong in the faith?

 What do we usually think? Seeing is believing or believing is seeing?

Does God say believe and you will see or do we go with show me Thomas?

 Whenever you think you know the way man should go – many times you will find God’s way is the opposite.

 4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

  • Cain and Abel are now the 2nd generation dealing with God
  • How did that handoff Go?
  • It is interesting that Adam & Eve are not even mentioned here.
  • We do not have any word of repentance, of faith or holiness of life.
  • What do you make of that?
  • How do we know that Cain and Abel were sinners? – They were offering sacrifice.
  • Why was Abel’s offering acceptable and not Cain’s?
  • We need to remember that Abel was commended for his sacrifice – NOT his good works.
  • We are commended for our repentance – not our good works.
  • What about Cain – was he an atheist? NO!! He believed in God – he offered sacrifices also.
  • God gave Cain chances to do it right. Gen 4:6-7
  • The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
  • But he killed Abel instead – so many people believe in a God of some kind – but they want to worship in their own way.

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.

  • Enoch did it right. Too bad we don’t know exactly what that was.
  • Who is Enoch? Lived to be 365 yrs – Father of Methuselah
  • Methuselah was the grandfather of Noah
  • Walked with God – did not die – just like Elijah.
  • So, what about all these guys who are “commended”
  • Are we commended / rewarded for doing something right?
  • Is faith used to release rewards?? No!!
  • Here is the gospel in a nutshell
  • God gives us a gift – FAITH
  • And then he REWARDS us for having the gift.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

  • Can you do good works and not be in the faith??
  • What is a good work?
  • Where does this faith come from? Do we muster it up? Is it a result of gathering enough information? Or does God give it to us?
  • How many people mention God just because they are afraid to deny him?

By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

  • What is the story of Noah?
  • Warned by God about events yet unseen – not just an event yet to come, but an event that may not have ever yet happened in the past.
  • Did Noah answer God “rain? Lord what is this rain you speak of?”
  • The pressure to preach to an unbelieving audience.
  • To build an ark for a flood that no one can see … until they see.
  • Noah, holding on by faith for 120 yrs.
  • Was this a worldwide flood or a local flood? It must be worldwide.
  • If God promised no more floods and it were a local flood, then God lied because we have several local floods every year.
  • Also, if it was a local flood, Noah would have just rented a U Haul and moved his stuff to higher ground.
  • Look at the end of the verse “became an heir …”
  • Again this too is the whole Reformation in a nutshell.
  • How do you become an heir – by the work of another. You can do nothing to become an heir.
  • Through faith we are made righteous by this alien work – the work of another – a work outside of ourselves..
  • So, how did this handoff go to Noah?
  • God saved his family – when they were on dry land it was like a new Eden
  • Noah screwed it up – plants a vineyard, gets drunk – and it affects his family.
Jan 222016
 

Paul-Thorn-in-my-Flesh“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.””
(2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV)

I’ve always hated that verse.

Paul had a real problem, even though 2000 years of crack exegesis has yet to decide what it was.

He prayed for relief three times and this was the answer he got.

No.

No I won’t fix the problem, but I’ll make it bearable.

Gee, thanks…

Instead of fixing the problem, God offered ‘grace”.

Grace does not pay for car repairs, heal the sickness, or anything else “practical”

I’m very much into “fixing”, not “bearing”.

His grace will be “sufficient”…another word I hate.

It means just enough.

I don’t like “sufficient”, I like “some left over” in case I need it.

This verse almost made prayer seem impractical…what’s the point if all you get is some ethereal balm?

I think I’ve read the verse wrong.

Paul was a tough old bird who was used to being able to fix things in his own strength.

As a matter of fact, I think he was proud of being self reliant and loathed asking anybody for anything…even God.

He was one of those guys who, given enough time, would either fix something or endure something until it didn’t matter anymore.

He’d do it on his own, thank you.

God had to give him something he couldn’t handle to show Himself strong to Paul.

The sufficient grace was in the problem itself.

The answer wasn’t an “ethereal balm” it was the power of God resting in the place weakness had made.

It was an uneven trade…the power of God for the weakness of a man.

With the power of God all things are possible.

No wonder Paul took the deal…and even bragged about his weakness.

I’m a lot like Paul was.

I’m into fixing and enduring.

I’m not into asking.

Some of you are a lot like me.

You need to read the verse again too.

As for me, I’ve never been this weak…

Make your own application…

 

Jan 212016
 

wmns_gfaThe U.K. Charity commission is now investigating Gospel For Asia.

Sadly, it will take government intervention to finally shut this group down in the United States.

That is, if they choose to take action.

There is another way…a way that would stop GFA in it’s tracks.

If the pastors who had knowledge of the abuses both financial and personal, decided to speak…the funding would dry up and Gospel For Asia would blow away.

There is no question that there are men out there with such knowledge.

They refuse to speak.

Because they refuse to speak, when and if these secular groups take action, evangelicalism will have yet another black eye.

We will not clean up our own messes.

We mock God…God who waits for us to bring truth to the lies and protect His people from avarice and fraud.

While we allow this to happen, Gospel For Asia continues to advertise heavily on social media…undoubtedly new people are being sucked in many times a day.

They buy a platform with donor money and replace those who have heard the truth with those who haven’t.

Someone should warn those folks…they probably work hard for that money.

Yes, somebody should warn them…

Jan 212016
 

oneworld“And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”
And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear:”
(Revelation 13:1–9 ESV)

One of the dirtiest words in the vocabulary of dispensational eschatology is “ecumenical”.

If you’re ecumenical in their eyes, it’s not because you share the vision of Jesus in John 17, it’s because you are a pawn of Satan enabling a “one world religion”.

This is odd because the passage above is the only one that speaks of a “one world religion”.

Rick Warren isn’t mentioned.

The Roman Catholic Church isn’t mentioned.

The Pope is nowhere to be found.

Religious and political liberals are not seen in the text either.

According to the passage above, the “one world religion” isn’t a co-operative group of Christians or a group of Christians plus other faith traditions.

It’s the worldwide worship of an anti-Christ who utters blasphemies against God and murderously hates Christians.

Strangely enough, the text explicitly says that Christians, those “whose names were written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain ” will not worship this figure.

Therefore, when you see brothers and sisters in Christ maligned for being “ecumenical”, understand that those brethren are being sinned against without biblical warrant by divisive people who should be marked for doing so.

Christianity is an exclusive religion and is the only religion that worships the one, true, God, Jesus Christ.

Within Christianity, however, all those who profess Jesus are brethren…even the ones who don’t like each other.

I watched part of both parties presidential debates last week…and if that’s the best a nation this size can do, we’re in a heap of trouble.

There is much I would like to say, but have no desire to pay the price to say it.

We are sowing to the wind and will reap the whirlwind…but at least we had someone to blame for awhile.

I will watch and be silent.

The person who claims to interpret the Scriptures with no external bias or influence prior teaching is a liar.

We all…and I mean all…have been shaped by others and our traditions.

We choose those influences which suit us best.

Matt Redmond is a wonderful thinker…

Healing our image of God as Father…..a lot of folks can identify with this one.

An interesting look at pastoral succession…

Jan 202016
 

philadelphia_eaglesChip Kelly came to the Philadelphia Eagles three years ago with the reputation of being an innovator and a master of sports science and a borderline genius.

The Eagles made a bold move in hiring him as head coach and were taking some risks knowing they were going to break from convention in the National Football League and were going to do some things differently going forward.

After some initial success, things went south, most especially this past season.

The Eagles ended up firing Kelly a couple weeks ago. All the hope and promise that was held onto at his hiring had disintegrated into a morass of Kelly’s power trips, stubbornness, head-scratching personnel moves, and his inability to relate to many in the organization, players and non-players alike. (Sorry, you U of Oregon fans. Just speaking the truth of what happened in Philadelphia.)

The Eagles owner, Jeffrey Lurie, prides himself in seeing the Eagles organization as one that is bold and willing to take risks.

He says that one has to take an approach like this to win in the NFL. At Kelly’s firing and during the search for a new head coach, he would repeat this mantra and say that the Eagles would continue in these ways.

The problem is that when they hired their new coach, they appeared to have settled on doing the exact opposite.

Their new coach, Doug Pederson, is the safe choice. The familiar choice. The nice guy who won’t cause any waves in the organization. The understudy of the owner’s security blanket, former long-time coach Andy Reid.

Now, Doug Pederson may turn out to be a great head coach. As an Eagles fan, I certainly hope that is the case. But the Eagles most certainly didn’t do what they said they would do. They got burned the last time they tried it with Kelly, and so they acted differently this time. Whether they can see that or not.

I’m not big on taking risks most of the time as I am generally risk-averse. We can discuss and debate the merits of taking risks as there are pluses and minuses to both sides and each and every circumstance is unique. The trickiest thing for me is when I think God may be wanting me to take a risk and trying to be at peace that this is what God really wants and then actually doing it. I believe there are certainly times in our lives when God wants us to step out and take risks.

But ultimately, my thought on this article does not revolve around risk taking, though that can be an important topic. More so, I think about how Jeffrey Lurie has deluded himself into thinking that the Eagles are big bold risk takers when it comes to hiring coaches. They did it with Chip Kelly. Sort of. Because when Kelly was hired he was the big hot name that everybody wanted. It wasn’t like they were going out on a limb and doing something that nobody else would have done. The Eagles weren’t daring with their most recent hire in Pederson. They weren’t gallant for the several years before Kelly as Lurie held onto Andy Reid for too long. He held onto Reid for those extra years, because at least partially, he felt safe and comfortable with Reid. So even though Lurie thinks the Eagles are bold and daring, they often act the opposite.

Are there things in our lives that we like to pride ourselves in that aren’t always true?

We take a liking to a certain quality and then affirm ourselves as the shining beacon for that particular attribute. I like to think of myself as someone who is honest and straightforward and not a game player who manipulates people and situations to get what I want or win an argument. In general, I think this is true. However, if I really examine my life, are there times where I fail to uphold this quality that I pride myself in? Most certainly. And maybe more so than I am willing to admit or even able to recognize.

I think it is good to be cognizant of our own strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, we need to be careful that we don’t become puffed up with pride in relation to our good traits. We need to recognize that we aren’t the be-all, end-all and that even in our strengths we sometimes fail. Maybe even more times than we know. There is only One who is the be-all, end-all when it comes to perfectly fulfilling and executing every good thing. Let us always keep our reliance on Him rather than ourselves.

And what’s that saying we often hear around here……Oh yeah…….Make your own application. 🙂

Jan 192016
 

timthumb.phpDriscoll’s church in a P.O. Box…

Evangelicals support Trump…

The meaning of Christian mercy…

The truth about legalism…

Meeting Jesus at mile 20…

Company bans Muslim prayer breaks…

Russian Orthodox leader connects acceptance of homosexuality to popularity of ISIS…

2 Chronicles 7:14 isn’t about American politics…

How did the fall affect the created world?

The angry MLK…

The hardest countries to be a Christian…

Pastor driven churches…

Deep space and the dome of heaven…

It’s about Jesus…no, it’s about me…

The vulnerable pastor…

Worry about what’s inside…

Diversity a misunderstood goal…

Missionaries don’t usually say these things…

A private letter to hurting pastors…

The new bi-vocational pastor…

My name is Martha…maybe yours is too…

Big thanks to EricL for the help…support him at top right.

Jan 182016
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251.While I rejoice with those who rejoice that Saeed Abedini has been released, I have grave misgivings over what happens next. Naghmeh Abedini has not retracted her accusations of spousal abuse as some believed she would after he was free. I am thankful that she sounds like a woman who has set definitive boundaries and will demand that the abuse be dealt with honestly.

She will have a hard time doing so…part of the church will canonize him as a hero and make it very easy for him to escape accountability. I will continue to stand with her as she navigates even deeper water than she has thus far.

2. Oddly enough there were three other people released from Iran as well that we didn’t pray for at all…

3. Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Sadly, I believe that we are farther away from racial justice and equality than we have been at any time since his assassination. Prejudice has become politically expedient…

4. The corporate model of American churches turned the Gospel from a proclamation of good news freely given into a product to be packaged, marketed, and sold. The church was meant to be much, much, more than a storefront to buy salvation from…

5. Tom Brady is the best quarterback in this era. Deal with it.

6. The Anti-Christ will be a populist demagogue who preys on the fears and anger of the populace to enslave them. Make your own application…

7. There has never been a time in history when we had more information and less truth available than today. It is impossible to make good decisions with bad information…

8. Being a congregant in one of the ‘independent” corporate churches is like working for a company without an HR department. If there is abuse, your only alternative is to leave, no matter what you’ve invested in the work. I think God expects more…

9. The story of Saeed Abedini will tell us exactly how serious evangelicalism is about domestic abuse. Once recovered from his ordeal he will have the opportunity to make big bucks talking about his imprisonment…and I don’t want to hear anything about it until his marriage is restored and healthy.

10. When we deny the truth that even our leaders are simultaneously saint and sinner, we set them up to fall into all manner of sin and abuse. A calling alone does not make one holy…

 

 

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