Oct 312016
 

thinking-pic1. Today is Reformation Day as well as Halloween. Never since the first Reformation has both events falling on the same day been more appropriate. The state of the Protestant church church is frightful…lots of masquerade parties that go on year round.

2. Here’s my theory. God allowed two vile people to be raised up to lead this country so His people could come together to reject both of them in a demonstration of real Christian ethics and values. He did so in order that the church could be a unique beacon to the world that reflected His character. Today is Reformation Day…

3. The Ninth Commandment has been treated like a bad dog this election cycle…because the 1st Commandment was thrown out the window first. Idolatry is nothing more than having greater allegiance to something or someone other than God. You prove your allegiance by which commandments of God you can break to continue in idolatry…

4. In comparison, Saul wasn’t all that bad…

5. You don’t get a pass on breaking the Ninth Commandment if it’s part of a funny meme…

6. I like Arbys. Had to share…

7. There are many people stocking up on guns and ammo preparing for some undefined conflagration to come. Me, I’m stocking up on cat food…

8.This has been a World Series where history will be changed for one of two teams. I still don’t care.

9. As it gets harder and harder to discern the truth about anything in the world, I grow more and more grateful and reliant on the Word of God.

10. I think all of the this conflict in the church and out will lead to a major rebirth in Protestant monastacism. I hope they let me bring my Jerry Lee Lewis music…

Oct 292016
 

Lord, I offer unto Thee all my sins and offences, which I have committed before Thee, from the day wherein I first could sin even to this hour; that Thou mayest consume and burn them, one and all, with the fire of Thy love, and do away all the stains of my sins, and cleanse my conscience from all offences, and restore to me Thy grace, fully forgiving me all, and admitting me mercifully to the kiss of peace.

I offer up also unto Thee all that is good in me, though it be very small and imperfect, in order that Thou mayest amend and sanctify it, that Thou mayest make it grateful and acceptable unto Thee, and always be perfecting it more and more; and bring me also, slothful and unprofitable poor creature as I am, to a good and blessed end.

Amen.
Thomas à Kempis

Oct 292016
 

Christianity tourism destinationsMatthew 11:16-30

 

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

 

 

17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’

19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.

  • Is this not us? John and Jesus don’t live up to our expectations and we are all fickled?
  • You party too much / you don’t party with us.
  • We are never happy – not even when someone comes along in our best interest. Why? Because we don’t want our best interest – we want our selfish interest.

Woe to Unrepentant Cities – Now we come to the “woes” of scripture. When you look for certainty in the words of Jesus, do you ever turn to the Woes? They offer great certainty – they will come to pass.

20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.

  • What are these mighty works?
  • Taking dead, damned sinners and making them saved children of God.

21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

  • Did Jesus say this in his calm polite Jesus voice or did he boom it across town?
  • I find this interesting. You don’t think of Sodom & Gomorrah and Tyre & Sidon as God loving or God fearing people – BUT…
  • Jesus says they would have believed IF they would have experienced what we have experienced.

22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.

  • Note that Jesus validates that there is / will be a Day of Judgment.

23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

  • Capernaum seems like a such nice city … but they are getting a Woe
  • These cities listed are the places that Jesus did most of his teaching and miraculous works… and was rejected.

24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

  • Jesus validates the idea of degrees of judgment / punishment.
  • These words of Jesus are meant to kill. Only after Jesus has killed you with the full weight of the law can he bring you to life (make you Alive) through the gospel.
  • Today, perhaps we should be hearing – Woe to you south Orange County
  • Woe to you Abiding Savior
  • Woe to you Sunday morning Bible class.
  • We don’t hear this much today but this is preaching – Jesus style.
  • Ultimately, Jesus is seeking repentance. Many verses are “you will perish … unless you repent”.

Come to Me, and I Will Give You Rest

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;

  • I wish I had the time and energy to read all of the primary documents containing “God” conversations of other religions … but I don’t
  • Look at what Jesus is doing – he is praising the Father for hiding truth (capital T truth) from a certain group of people.
  • What is being hidden?
  • The wise and understanding are those who think they have it all figured out
  • And in truth, God is hiding the missing piece from them

26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.

  • AND it is his will to do so.
  • Just wait until we get to the parables – Jesus even explains that he tells parables to keep truth from others.
  • Why? – So they cannot take over the kingdom by force.
  • They cannot say “stand back God, I will show you how to do it.”
  • No, It’s for the ‘Little Ones’ – faith
  • Again, isn’t this just the opposite of what you would expect from a god?
  • God should be giving all the needed information to all so that all have an equal chance.

27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

  • Matt 28:18 = “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
  • How can we know the Father? – aside from Jesus we cannot.
  • Jesus reveals the Father …to whom he chooses.
  • This is what Jesus is all about – to reveal himself to us so that we can know the Father.
  • Jesus is the least one – but still greater than John the B and he is in communion with the Father
  • Jesus means “I am simply doing the Father’s will here – this is what it means to be savior of the whole world – Messiah – Emmanuel – to save MY people – to reveal the father.”

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

  • Who are those people described in that verse.
  • First, these are the only people who come to Jesus.
  • This is Sabbath talk – This is Salvation talk
  • Jesus does all of his work and it is for you and then says it is finished and now fulfills all that was meant in the Sabbath.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

  • This rest talk will lead us into Chapter 12 where we will see Jesus as the Lord of the Sabbath.
  • Rest comes from being yoked to Jesus.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

  • After all the hard things, now Jesus takes over.
  • It’s funny, we enslave ourselves and Jesus frees us.
Oct 282016
 

imac_vectorI’m writing this today from a back up computer as I appear to have killed my iMac.

I was up half the night trying to reverse the damage I inflicted, but thus far my efforts have been in vain.

 

 

 

The old war horse was showing some age, so I decided to upgrade it to the newest version of the Mac operating system so I could extend its life and take advantage of some new features.

The problem was that it had been designated as too old to do so by Apple.

No problem ,said the hackers, we can do it anyway.

Just follow these semi easy steps and it’ll be like new.

I followed the steps and it’s now unusable.

It’s dead and I killed it because I wanted it to be something that it’s not.

It was functional and able before, it’s neither now…all because I tried to make it something it isn’t made to be.

The more I thought about my foolishness, the more I believe this is more than a cautionary tale about hacking your computer.

Some of you are being tinkered with and being pressed into being someone you weren’t created to be.

The hackers in your life are the culture, your peers, or maybe someone closer.

Some of you are angry all the time.

Some of you are stressed all the time.

Some of you are in fear all the time.

Some of you are being abused by someone who is trying to break you.

The world, the flesh, and the devil, are conspiring to hack us all into being someone other than we were created to be.

You’re showing the signs of a break down…

Before you become unable to function at all, it’s time to tell the hackers to step back.

You were created to walk through this world with the joy of the Lord and the peace of his Spirit.

You were created to know His love, trust His provision, and rejoice in His goodness.

That’s who you were created to be and how you were made to operate safely and well.

Some of you need to wrest your self from the hands of the hackers and let the Creator restore you to default settings.

You need to do so before the damage is great and the cost excessive.

I’ll meet you there when I get this computer fixed…if I can fix it at all.

Make your own application…

Oct 272016
 

tshirt_design_our_fatherIntroducing the Lord’s Prayer:  Lead us not into temptation

“Lead us not into temptation”

In this sixth petition, we ask our Father to let nothing become a temptation to us.

“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!” (Matt 18:7)

Christians live in a world that is littered with “temptations to sin.” In the Parable of the Weeds (see Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43), Jesus portrays the kingdom of heaven as spreading throughout the world, but alongside and surrounded by evil. Temptations are depicted in the Scriptures by a variety of synonyms, such as:  stumbling blocks; snares; traps; pits; and darts. “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16) Our sinful nature, the world and the devil all oppose the will of God and afflict Christians with all kinds of temptations.

“For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’—yet for us there is one God….” (1 Cor 8:5-6)

Temptations are the calling cards of the many “so-called gods” and “lords” which reign in the world. They are dangerous because they are designed to mislead and deceive Christians into grave spiritual peril. These perils may include drifting away from Christ or falling into false belief, serious vice or despair. Therefore, temptations should never be toyed with. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Pet 5:8)

“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” (James 1:13)

God tempts no one, because temptations have evil designs. However, God does allow us to be tempted for our own good. God’s good purposes include drawing us closer to Him, strengthening our faith, and compelling us to pray. Because temptations are the “schemes of the devil” (Eph 6:11) and against those schemes we “do not wrestle against flesh and blood” (Eph 6:12), left to our own resources, we are defenseless against them. Therefore, temptations serve the salutary purpose of driving us to our Father for His protection and deliverance.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Cor 10:13)

Although God may sometimes allow Satan to test our faith (recall, for example, the story of Job), He always remains sovereign over Satan. Satan has no independent power to afflict God’s children. And God provides “the way of escape”.

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt 26:41)

Prayer is both a deterrent and a defensive weapon against temptations. Christians are like watchmen who stand at their posts, watching vigilantly for the schemes of the enemy. At the first sign of danger, our role is to sound the alarm in prayer and stand our ground. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul described the armor of God as enabling the Christian to “stand” (see Eph 6:11, 13, 14). “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.” (Ps 68:19)

With the Word of God and by constant prayer, God enables us to stand our ground. “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” (Eph 6:16-18a) As long as a Christian continues to pray, faith is still active, because without faith no one can pray. As long as faith is present, the devil has not prevailed.

The way to resist and overcome any temptation is to be watchful and constant in prayer. The Lord does not remove all temptations from us, but promises to deliver us: “call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” (Ps 50:15) When, armed with faith and the Word, praying to our Father – lead us not into temptation – we ask our Father to fight for us against the schemes the devil, the world and the desires of our sinful nature. Even in the midst of conditions which are so oppressive that we do not know how to pray as we should, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Rom 8:26). We have His promise that nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

“Through [Christ] we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Rom 5:1-5)

We should never invite temptations; that would be putting God to the test. However, we should understand that we are surrounded by temptations, and we often fall into them before we realize it, because often times we are not watchful and we fail to pray. Then, when we are tempted, our first impulse is to try to fight against it with our own resources, leading to frustration and shame. However, in Christ we have the forgiveness of our sins. Therefore, when we fall into temptation, let us repent, stand again, and never despair.

Suffering from temptations is a sign that we are in the world, but not of the world. Our Father uses our sufferings and even our failures for our good, enabling us to rejoice in all circumstances. In ways we may not understand or experience, God fights and prevails for us. In Christ we are children of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

“Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me;

    fight against those who fight against me!

Take hold of shield and buckler

    and rise for my help!

Draw the spear and javelin

    against my pursuers!

Say to my soul,

    ‘I am your salvation!’” (Ps 35:1-3) Amen.

Next week we will continue with the seventh petition:  “but deliver us from evil.”

Copyright © 2016 Jean Dragon – All rights reserved.

Oct 262016
 

wmns_gfaBefore I started writing regularly here, Michael posted an article of mine wherein I expressed my concerns about Gospel for Asia (GFA). 

At that point in time, it had only been a month or two since Warren Throckmorton had been posting about the organization and only a few days since the GFA Diaspora website had been made public.  I had not yet come to any definitive conclusions about GFA, but saw a lot of red flags and was also concerned with the feedback I had received in personal conversation from a GFA executive who is pretty high up in the organization.

I expressed my misgivings because it sure looked like a good possibility that the evangelical church was being taken for a ride, most especially Calvary Chapels, including the very large one I attend.  And this is why I had originally written a form of the article on Facebook to my friends.  Additionally, not only did it look like many Christians were being hoodwinked into who or what they were giving to, but it appeared as if the GFA staff potentially was being abused and who knows what was happening to the poor and destitute in Asia, primarily in India, to whom the donor funds were supposed to be going to help.

After several more months of dogged reporting, mainly by Throckmorton and also some here at this blog, the answers became painfully clear that GFA, along with its convoluted association with Believers Church in India, was a thoroughly corrupt organization that deceived its donors, abused its staff, and forsook much of what it could have been doing for those they were supposed to be serving.  Not that the corruption seeped throughout the whole organization, as many on staff were faithfully serving the Lord.  But the top of the organization, and primarily Grand Imperial Kiss My Ring Poobah His Majesty K.P. Yohannan, were exposed to be exceedingly crooked.

It is now about a year and a half later since these reports first started coming to our awareness.  GFA has undoubtedly lost a good amount of its support.  We know of churches and individuals, myself included, who have pulled their support and stopped giving.  GFA appears to have lost its favored status within Calvary Chapel as a whole, and seemingly the same has occurred in others churches, too.  How much support they still receive is anybody’s guess as that would require GFA to actually release their financials, and release them in a manner that could actually be vetted and trusted.  Good luck with that ever happening.

Things have been mostly quiet on the GFA front for a little while now.  We know of a lawsuit that has been brought forth against GFA on behalf of its donors.  As far as I know, the lawsuit is still proceeding.  We know these types of things do not move quickly, but maybe it will eventually bring some semblance of legal justice upon the organization.  Whether from the suit itself or from criminal investigations and indictments that possibly could be spurred by the findings in the suit.

It seems as if GFA has holed itself up in self-defense.  K.P. Yohannan ostensibly stays in India as much as possible, leaving the U.S. executives to fend for themselves.  There never have been any signs that K.P. and/or GFA are interested in real repentance, reform, or reconciliation.  Their strategic plan to ignore and deflect does not seem to have worked out real well for them.  Yet, the organization still survives.  K.P. still lives the good life in India.  GFA still must have a significant donor base to keep going.  Plus, they have all those millions and millions of dollars in supply that they fatted up on all those previous years. Who knows how much money they generate from all those for-profit businesses that they started in India from donor giving?

At this point, I don’t know much else to do but to wait.  With my limited abilities, resources, and circle of influence, I did what I could to bring awareness to the GFA ruse.  But now, I wait.  We wait.

The best case scenario is for K.P. Yohannan and the other top executives of GFA to repent and seek serious reform and reconciliation.  Get GFA back on track to what they should have been doing all this time, and maybe even were at some point in the distant past.  But all signs and behavior from GFA point to this as being a pipe dream at best.  It sure appears as if this is a very unlikely outcome.

So beyond the best case scenario, I yearn for justice.  Yes, there is a part of me that carnally and gleefully wants to see the weights of justice crush K.P. and GFA.  But I also pine for justice because I desire for things to be made right.  For donors to receive back the money they gave under deception.  For the GFA staff, former and even current, a confirmation that they did, indeed, work and live under abusive conditions and some form of restitution for the ills they suffered under denigrating leadership.  For the poor and destitute in India and other parts of Asia to somehow be compensated with the full help and support they should have received.

What or how or when this will all happen, I cannot venture a guess.  I pray that the Lord will see justice done.  I know He will in the next life.  But I pray He also has it to happen in this life.

Some measure of justice has already come as Gospel for Asia has been exposed and has taken some serious hits.  But I pray for justice to come more fully as GFA continues to carry on.  They should be held accountable for what they have already done and I do not want them to continue taking advantage of their donors and doing harm to their staff and potentially those that they are supposed to be serving.

And so I write about GFA once again.  Maybe it will catch the attention of another soul or two who are still donating to GFA because they were unaware of their problems.  Maybe it will cause a soul or two who are still donating to GFA despite knowing of their problems, to reconsider their giving.  Perhaps maybe my writing is just simply my empty lament.

But above all I pray that God makes things right.  That hearts would be healed, both the abused and the abusers.  That the poor and disadvantaged would receive the help due to them and would see Christ.  And that the name of Jesus Christ would not continued to be sullied by a corrupt ministry.

Lord, please hear our prayer.

     

Oct 252016
 

Calvin's Corner headerThis week, Phil and I discuss the deaths of Jack Chick and C.Peter Wagner and the reaction to them…and answer a listener question on why some Protestants think Catholics aren’t Christians…

Download the mp3

 

Oct 252016
 

timthumb.phpVery encouraging site from someone who was well raised by one of the pillars of this community…

Praying doesn’t have to be hard…

Jack Chick has died…

Can the religious right be saved?

Ed Stetzer on the death of C.Peter Wagner…

How social media is making us all dumber…

What to do about angry white men…

10 things you should know about interpreting the Bible…

Debating With Grace from Hospital Church on Vimeo.

Christian distinctiveness in the ancient world…

Is your church ready for the future?

Modern atonement theories vs. the Gospels…

Six myths about advocating for women in ministry…

Small churches ideal for millennials…

10 books that made Peter Enns rethink the Bible…

24 tough Bible passages and how to understand them…

Preparing for Reformation Day with song…

Three Rahabs in the Bible?

The politics of Jen Hatmaker…

A day in the life of a female pastors husband…

Evangelicals won’t cave…

Seeing God in science…

How to regain cultural capital…

When the mirror speaks the reflection lies…

Luther and the lightning bolt…

Another pastoral abuse cover up…

What a revival doesn’t look like…

Mormon and gay?

Jealousy is wrecking your spiritual life…

Huge thanks to EricL as always…support him at top right…

Oct 242016
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251.“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:

If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain.

Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.”

(Revelation 13:5–10 ESV)

Christians conquer the powers of this world by being conquered by the powers of this world.

“Victory” is won only through death and is proven by resurrection.

The “Jesus Party” is having a hard time finding campaign volunteers…

2. My job as a pastor is not to inform people who to vote for, but to make sure they understand that our kingdom isn’t established through a vote…

3. I saw a young pastor endorsed by another pastor as an “up and comer”…and prayed that the young man didn’t read his own press clippings…

4. The evangelical response to their candidates mistreatment of women has been exactly the same as we’ve seen when one of their own mistreats women…which is very little response at all…

5. Elections provide the best opportunity to show the world the difference between kingdom ethics and those of the world…maybe next time…

6. My cats have finally decided they have to share the same space with a modicum of peace…go and do likewise…

7. The enemy never changes tools because the old ones work so well…

8. Whoever a person can dehumanize, he can kill, believing God is on his side…

9. Fall brings the dread of winter without even whispering a word about spring…

10. I woke up this morning with many problems…but I did wake up. Thus, God is still at work in my life…make your own application.

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