Feb 222016
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. I have to have a medical procedure done soon that will take a couple of days to recover from.

In anticipation of this I’m rearranging the area immediately surrounding my bed so that the things that matter most will be closest to me and the less important items moved farther away.

I have also recognized through the process that this is a metaphor for how I want to live the rest of my life…there is too much that is insignificant too close and too much of significance that has been displaced…make your own application…

2. If I were an unbeliever watching how Christians fight not only over doctrine, but even more so over politics, I would think of them as I would hillbillies arguing over a load of moonshine. Amusing, but worth avoiding at all costs.

3. Learn to rejoice when it seems that your life and circumstances are out of control…because it is only then that you will find that God is completely in control…

4. Sixteenth century social media…the pope being birthed out the devils backside. I guess not much has changed in Christian discourse…

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5. I overheard a woman telling a homeless person that “Jesus was all you need”. The statement was pious and ridiculous. He needed a shower, a meal, a place to stay, a toothbrush, and deserved a beer for listening to her with patience. Jesus himself acknowledged that we need many things…and if we seek Him first they will be added to us. God cares about all the “stuff” too…

6. One of the blessings of being sick is that I’m spending much more time being grateful than angry. Try it, you’ll like it…

7. Paul warned us about being divided over particular messengers through whom we heard the Gospel. How much more deadly is it to Christian unity to being divided over politicians?

8. When I was a young man I worked for a man who was a hothead and I was hot headed myself. His wife would get disgusted with us both and declare that “we should be about better things”. It’s taken forty years, but I’m now convinced she was right…

9. When Jesus fed the 5000 that number didn’t include women and children…women and children didn’t count in those days. Sometimes, it seems not much has changed…

10. I have absolutely no confidence in anyone running for President. This doesn’t disturb me in the least as I have full confidence in the God who will appoint one of them…

Feb 212016
 

We bring before Thee, O Lord, the troubles and perils of people and nations, the sighing of prisoners and captives, the sorrows of the bereaved, the necessities of strangers, the helplessness of the weak, the despondency of the weary, the failing powers of the aged. O Lord, draw near to each; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Anselm

Feb 202016
 

bible-word-of-god_thumbHebrews Ch 12

Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

  • Therefore ties us back to Hebrews 11 people of faith
  • Those who came before us – those who died in the SAME faith
  • We / They are being called to put into action that faith in Christ that saves as witnessed by the great cloud of witnesses.
  • Jesus was faithful to them, saved them. It is not so much what they did – but what Jesus did.
  • What holds us back? What are we told to lay aside?
  • Every weight – and sin
  • Let the race be our only thought.
  • Who is called to be the witnesses? Them? – the Hebrews? Us?
  • The witnesses of Ch 11 – we are told what they did, not what they said.
  • If they were to speak a witness what would they say?
  • They trusted in the promises of God – and we say that many never saw those promises come to fruition. (see v 2 for what they would say.)

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

  • This is their witness – they were looking to Jesus
  • They said Jesus was the founder of the faith
  • The perfecter – the one who because of who he was and what he did – made the faith real. Never forget that Jesus produces the faith in us … not our actions.
  • And they would say why he was made man and was sent to earth – to endure the cross
  • And where he is today.
  • TODAY many people see themselves as the “authority of their own faith”
  • They have weighed the evidence and the options and “decided” to accept Jesus … and the result?
  • I become the “perfecter” of my faith – I work on my sanctification daily.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

  • Consider him … stop and consider – don’t let it just drift past
  • Jesus suffered what you are suffering – hostility against himself
  • Do not grow weak – do not be discouraged.
  • If you look to yourself, there is a good chance you will get discouraged
  • Do we fall into a trap of setting ourselves up for failure?

In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

  • They are being persecuted, but they are not yet being martyred.
  • But because things will be tough, does not guarantee that Jesus will protect you from harm.
  • Live your life recognizing your hardships
  • If the world was bold enough to persecute God – they will have no problem doing the same to us.

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.

  • What??? This may be coming from God?
  • Discipline as teaching – not punishment – is proof of our sonship.

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

  • What constitutes a child of God?
  • We learn from discipline about our sonship.

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

  • God’s discipline is what gives us the UMPH to endure.
  • God does not say “if you go through troubles” but says “when you go through troubles.

If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

  • Is everyone a child of God? Nope.

Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?

  • Respect for the spiritual father vs earthly fathers
  • This also includes civil leaders who rule over us.
  • What about our church leaders? Do we give them any rule over us today?

10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.

  • Share in God’s holiness – do we ever get to “feel” holy?
  • Example of a wedding – the groom is standing up front watching his bride come down – all he sees is white and her beauty.
  • The bride is walking down and all she sees and feels are all of her blemishes.
  • Did my makeup cover up OK, is my hair OK, how is my dress, etc?
  • God sees perfection in Jesus Christ – but the Church knows all the blemishes.

11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

  • In the end, the result should be kept in mind – not the process.
Feb 192016
 

heart-200x148My cardiologist knows his stuff.

He can tell you everything you ever didn’t want to know about your heart.

He understands and can explain all the diseases common to the human heart.

He can give you precise details about all the procedures you’re facing.

He even will quote the mortality statistics for your age and illness, down to the exact percentile.

He answers questions you haven’t even asked yet, and does so with great assurance and authority.

He reminds me of some pastors.

I hate him.

When he walks into the examination room, I cease to be a person with a name, a family, or emotions.

I am a diseased heart… and that’s all I am.

I am severe aortic regurgitation, hypertension, and tachycardia.

His words and his eyes address only the disease, never the person.

The only things that differentiates me from anyone else he sees are the particulars of my affliction, not the person who I am.

Someday, he will hold my heart in his hands and his hands are cold.

I leave his office well informed and completely bereft of all comfort.

In the church we also identify people by their “heart disease”.

They do not know us for our love, but for our labels.

Those labels always refer to the sin we have imputed to them or to each other.

We act as if that is all the Great Physician is concerned with.

It’s as if God holds them in the palms of His hands and His hands are cold.

We are full of sound doctrine and little comfort.

Doctrine without love is a lie because all doctrine is grounded in the love and grace of God.

We are not our sins, we are human beings bearing the image of God.

God cares about you as a person…your name is engraved on the palms of His hands.

He will never leave or forsake you.

He’s already provided the cure for your disease…so you could have a relationship.

You matter.

All of you…

Make your own application…

Feb 192016
 

smiley-zipping-mouthIt was, he thought, a very good idea.

Trey had just listened to me lecture on the corporate greed that demanded that people work on holidays and be separated from their families while the rest of us enjoyed the company of loved ones.

He had no choice but to listen as we were driving and I had turned off the radio…

I digress.

“Lets do this”, he proposed…

“We will thank every one we meet today who has to work and wish them a merry Christmas”.

You have right at it”, I replied.

He laughed…because he knew I wasn’t kidding.

My personality currently swings between “introverted” and “reclusive” and my deepest sorrow in life is that Amazon can’t deliver everything.

I want to do whatever I have to do and return to my cave in blessed silence.

I don’t believe you care how my day is going and I don’t really care how yours is, either.

Mine will go better if you simply ring me up, take my money, and send me on my way without complications.

I don’t want to be rude, but I really don’t want to chat, either.

Trey, however, was undaunted.

We had a number of errands to run and at every stop he thanked the person who waited on us for being there for us and wished them a cheery and sincere “merry Christmas” whilst I skulked out the door.

What happened was amazing…people came out from behind counters to hug him and all were touched that someone cared.

He brought a lot of light and no little joy to a bunch of people that day.

I dropped him off at his moms with much commendation and praise for his actions.

On the way home, I swung back by a convenience store we’d stopped at earlier.

The clerk had a question…

“How the hell did someone like you raise a kid like that?”

“Excuse me?”

He explained that I was a “bleep” and he really didn’t like me at all…but there had to be something good about me because Trey was very good, indeed.

I complimented him on his honesty, affirmed both of his judgements, and left as I had arrived…quietly and quickly.

The moral of this story is not what a “bleep” I am or how good Trey is.

We both have days that defy those assessments.

The moral of the story is that everything we say and do, even in the most mundane situations…reflects on our Father.

People judge Him by what we say and what we do.

I owe Him an apology…and I offer it with a prayer that Amazon steps up their game soon.

Thank God I don’t have one of those fish stickers on the truck…

Make your own application…

Feb 182016
 

Pastor-Saeed-Abedini-family-couch-FacebookWhy can’t bloggers and social media leave Saeed and Naghmeh Abedini alone to work out the crisis in their marriage?

Because some of us have information that leads us to believe that real reconciliation isn’t a priority for Saeed and his camp.

The priority we believe is to force Naghmeh Abedini into a “counseling” situation that does not compel Saeed to deal with his (alleged) abuse, but provides “holy cover” for him to begin a lucrative speaking career with Franklin Grahams help.

There are two ways that this situation could be dealt with.

In one scenario, both parties leave social media and begin intensive counseling separately, then together (after the abuse is confessed and repented of) in an attempt to reconcile the marriage.

This is a long and difficult process.

In the other scenario, the allegations of abuse are denied and Naghmeh Abedini is marginalized and even vilified if need be in order to establish Saeed as a “godly” victim.

Saeed Abedini has already denied the allegations, as has Franklin Graham.

It’s not that difficult to see what comes next.

The question then becomes how one levels the playing field when one side has one of the most famous “Christian” leaders in the country along with one of it’s most expensive and effective public relations firms?

The answer is social media.

I’ll be blunt.

This is not what I believe Gods best is, nor do I believe that this marriage has a snowballs chance in hell at this point.

Social media was used to keep Saeed’s plight in front of the public and now it will be used to keep this battle going as well.

We all hoped for better…but the demands of the American evangelical corporate machine for celebrities to exploit will win the day.

The whole Abedini family will lose, but the machine will roll on.

Skip-Heitzig-webSkip Heitzig will be speaking at this years Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa pastors conference.

Naturally, I find this outrageous because of his long history of (allegedly) abusing power and his involvement as a board member of Gospel For Asia.

 

My outrage is to be expected.

What has been unexpected is the outrage for the same reasons expressed by some of his Calvary Chapel co-affiliates.

Not a few of them have tried to get information from him in order the understand the GFA debacle.

They have been stonewalled.

Now, more than a few are wondering who their “leadership” is accountable to…and they are finding out first hand what many of us have known for years.

They are accountable to no one.

The CCA board cannot and will not police it’s own and instead offers up men like Heitzig at regional and national conferences, imbuing them with rank and authority in the process.

It is a travesty… but one that has been present at many levels for a very long time.

We’ll see if those involved have the will to change that.

What is “sin”?

Feb 172016
 

Remembering the 21 Coptic Martyrs of ISIS

Today, we remember the twenty-one Coptic Christians that were martyred for their faith by ISIS one year ago. Take courage! The Lord has told us what is to come and we rejoice at the confession of these Coptic Christians who did not deny Christ, though swords were at their throats.

Posted by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod on Monday, February 15, 2016

Feb 172016
 

flag_and_Bible-300x199Let me start out by declaring that I hate politics.

I hate governmental politics.

I also hate the political entanglements that occur in the church or in business, or pretty much anywhere in life for that matter.

 

I very much dislike the lies and deceit and manipulations and power plays that are so often engrained in politics.

Politics leave a terrible distaste in my mouth.

Here are a few egregious examples that have occurred just over the past couple weeks in this “wonderful” (now, where is that sarcastic smilie?) election season.

As is well known by now, Supreme Court Justice Scalia passed away this past weekend.

While his passing inspired some very eloquent and compassionate words from both sides of the aisle, it also sparked some really ugly sentiment (warning – language).

Meanwhile, it only took hours after the announcement of his death for the political wrangling to begin as to who gets to appoint his successor. Now, my own personal longings would very much not like to see President Obama appoint a successor to Justice Scalia. However, I must agree with the thoughts published here. It looks like a big political game and fight is being set up to try to circumvent established rule and order.

Last week at the New Hampshire primary, we see Bernie Sanders with a landslide victory over Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side of the ticket. However, due to the way the rules are written, Hillary won pretty much the same amount of delegates as Bernie. The system is gamed to keep The Establishment in charge and away from the will of the people, of which our system and government is supposedly serving.

Just a week before that, we see the shenanigans on the Republican side of the ticket at the Iowa Caucus. The news comes out right after the vote that Ted Cruz’s campaign had been running with a spurious and unverified report on the day of the vote that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race. Yes, Cruz offered a half-hearted apology after the fact. But only after he had gained some potential votes in the state.

This is only a very small snapshot of examples.

The ones I picked were not meant to disparage or support any particular parties or candidates. They were just good illustrations for this exercise. If so desired, one could probably sit down and think through and research and create a list of thousands, if not tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of like cases. And that only dealing with national governmental politics. The same could be done in many areas of life.

Now, I also admit I could be missing some insight and nuance on some of these stories. Because of my great dislike, I only follow politics as much as I can stomach. And so I could be missing some angles here that others could speak to in a more informed manner. Nevertheless, I don’t think that changes the overall narrative that there is a lot of dirt and distortion in politics.

What is most dismaying to me in all of this is when I see Christians get caught up in the political squalor.

Whether it be the candidates and politicians themselves or just the many of us “average joes” who support specific parties or candidates and speak our own political opinions. At its base there is nothing wrong with a Christian being involved in politics or holding or speaking to their political opinions. In fact, for those of us who have the freedom to be a part of an electoral and governmental process, I believe it is a stewardship given to us by God. That is one of the main reasons why I try to stay at least somewhat informed of the news of the day. But when a Christian participates in the dishonesty and mischaracterization and unseemly behavior that is so often prevalent in politics, then there is a problem.

We have all been guilty of it. The demonization of the politician or the “other side” in general where we say more than we should. The misrepresentation or wrongful exaggeration of them and/or their arguments. The unjust attacks on their character.The willful blindness and intentional arrogance in not admitting the holes or weaknesses in our own candidates or arguments or to give credence when the “other side” has a good point.  For those of us who completely avoid governmental politics, I am sure there are more than enough examples where these types of things happen in other areas of life where “politics” creep in.

By contrast, we also heard stories of redeeming value surrounding one of the news stories I already mentioned. It seems that Justices Scalia and Ginsburg were able to transcend the fray of political differences and formed a genuinely meaningful friendship. They recognized that there were things in life more important than differences in political ideology.

May we seek to learn from that example and may we seek to be forthright and God-honoring in our “political” dealings.

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