Oct 232016
 

May the blessing of light be on you – light without and light within.

May the blessed sunlight shine on you like a great peat fire,

so that stranger and friend may come and warm himself at it.

And may light shine out of the two eyes of you,

like a candle set in the window of a house,

bidding the wanderer come in out of the storm.

And may the blessing of the rain be on you,

may it beat upon your Spirit and wash it fair and clean,

and leave there a shining pool where the blue of Heaven shines,

and sometimes a star.

And may the blessing of the earth be on you,

soft under your feet as you pass along the roads,

soft under you as you lie out on it, tired at the end of day;

and may it rest easy over you when, at last, you lie out under it.

May it rest so lightly over you that your soul may be out from under it quickly; up and off and on its way to God.

And now may the Lord bless you, and bless you kindly. Amen.

Scottish Blessing

Oct 222016
 

Word of GodMatthew 11:4-15

(Last week we left off with John sending his disciples to Jesus to ask the now famous question “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:

  • Jesus, now in response will now be preaching to John / them.
  • Preaching back to John what John was already been preaching himself.
  • OR… was Jesus really playing the ying to John’s yang?
  • And now John’s disciples now understand.
  • Jesus also understood that Jesus is the Lamb unto God who is off to slaughter and John understands that he faces the same fate.

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.

  • Come on John / them – pull out your scrolls / iPads and look up the Isaiah passages (29 & 35)
  • Messianic passages and now we have seen all the activities come to life
  • The poor = not the economically poor – but the Beatitudes type – the poor in spirit.

And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

  • Blessed = not offended
  • Many, if not outright offended are still either ashamed or timid to proclaim Christ as their Lord.
  • We all need to have the gospel message repeatedly preached back to us because we tend to forget and wander away
  • Just believe and do what Jesus says.

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?

  • After this Jesus goes off and praises John to others.
  • Note that Jesus did not go off and rescue John – break him out of jail. He didn’t even go visit and answer John face to face.
  • This is the thing with the promises to the church, Christians like soldiers may fall and die, but the church will be forever.
  • Note here that Jesus is using a technique to draw the surrounding crowd in.
  • He comes up with 3 engaging questions that he answers himself.
  • “A reed shaken by the wind?” fickled – accommodating or weak in his ministry – does this sound like John?

What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.

  • Sarcasm or irony used by Jesus
  • Was John dress as the wealthy in soft clothing? No!
  • Such people live in a king’s palace – where does John live? I a king’s prison.

9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

  • Was John a prophet? Yes in a way.
  • But even to compare him to Yahweh’s prophet is to miss the importance of John.
  • His ministry – and the times that have come upon Israel – and the world.
  • For John is even greater than a prophet.

10 This is he of whom it is written, “‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’

  • What were you looking for – A vending machine God? A Santa Claus God?
  • Do we look for the God of the Bible or the God of our wants?
  • John the Baptist was not a man to bend before Herod.
  • It doesn’t matter who you were looking for – THIS is he of whom it is written in the Bible.

11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

  • Jesus knows how to keep us on our toes with these strange sayings
  • How do we become greater? Even the lowest of us?
  • John is surpassed because he never got to see the resurrection, never got to be baptized in the triune name – never got to taste the body and the blood of his savior
  • He never got to experience the full joy of the spirit as did Christians after Pentecost.
  • He was the greatest of the OT, but never got to share the life in Christ like we do today.

12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.

  • When is NOW? The time between John the Baptist and when Jesus is speaking?
  • How about something that Matthew is interjecting in Jesus’ voice up to the time Matthew is writing?
  • This whole verse – it does not get any tougher than this.

13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John,

  • The days of the prophet are coming to an end – or have already ended.
  • John stands at a time of transition

14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.

  • Malachi passage – Mal 4: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
  • And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
  • This was and is something very important to the Jews then and today
  • Passover event – saving a seat for Elijah.

15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

  • Proverbs 20:12 – The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the LORD has made them both.
  • Ears that don’t hear – eyes that don’t see?

 

Oct 212016
 

IMG_1079As I write this, both of my cats are purring loud enough to approximate some sort of feline harmony.

They are quite happy…content even.

This, despite it being a difficult morning for both of them.

 

 

I woke up and threw off my covers, burying Miss Kitty under a pile of blankets and a couple of pillows.

I stepped out of bed and directly on to Chester’s head.

Didn’t know he was there…

Chester doesn’t like to wait while I fill his dish with food…he sticks his head in the bowl and starts eating as soon as the first morsel drops.

This resulted in him wearing a soft hat of Friskies pate this morning…again.

Miss Kitty likes to eat on the bed so I picked her up to put here there…and forgot about her bad leg.

I remembered it after she screamed.

I love my cats, but there are days when they have to wonder about me…but they don’t.

We had a rough morning, but the purring continues.

They choose to believe the best about me.

They can seemingly forget about the mishaps of life and look forward to times of full dishes and extended pettings.

They are dependent on me and they trust me, even when things happen that they don’t understand…and that hurt.

This, I believe, is the secret of feline contentment.

Believe the best about others and have a positive outlook about the future, no matter what just happened to your head or your tail.

It also explains the basis of human discontent.

It is in vogue now to believe the worst about everyone, only taking into account the negative.

Despite our mostly comfortable circumstances, we believe the end is near and it’s all because of those we choose to think the worst of.

Everyone and everything is bad and getting worse…except of course, ourselves and those who agree with us about how bad all things are.

It says volumes about the One who feeds and cares for us.

Actually it says nothing about Him (but lies) and says everything about how we think of Him.

The One we are totally dependent on, who has given us all we need, is daily slandered by our words and actions.

This is His world and we are His kids…and He loves us far more than I love my cats.

He should be hearing more purring and less growling…

Some gratitude would perhaps be appropriate…even if you’ve had a hard morning or two.

Make your own application…

Oct 202016
 

tshirt_design_our_fatherIntroducing the Lord’s Prayer: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us

“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”

In this fifth petition, we ask our Father for what we need in the life to come: the forgiveness of our sins. When we receive by faith His forgiveness, our Father’s name is hallowed among us, His kingdom has come to us and His will is accomplished in us.

 

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Protestants in traditions which have eliminated daily or weekly corporate and individual confession and absolution may find this particular petition a little puzzling at first. I have heard questions similar to these: Did our Father not forgive all my sins (past, present and future) when I first believed in Christ? Why should I ask for the same forgiveness over again?

Actually, our Father forgave all our sins when Jesus died for them on the cross. “For If while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” (Rom 5:10) Jesus satisfied God’s wrath against all sin on the cross. “It is finished.” (John 19:30).

But, if God’s wrath against sin was satisfied on the cross, a problem still remains on our side (pre-conversion): How do we know we are forgiven? How do we know that for the sake of Christ we have a gracious God? We still do not know God as Father. We are by nature enemies of God (Rom 5:10). We are like the prodigal son who is away in the far country. We need our minds changed towards God. But how?

The answer is that God must take the initiative. He must find us through the proclamation of the Gospel for us. “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” (Luke 15:6) The miracle that repents us, reconciles us to God, converts our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh, is receiving by faith the Gospel that Christ died for our sins, and, for His sake, God has forgiven us all our sins. Then, we have peace with God and a Father to whom we can pray.

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 18:3)

Because our sinful nature still clings to us, even after initial conversion, the Christian life is one of daily repentance, of turning back to our Father with contrition and receiving His free grace. Even Jesus’ disciples, when beset with the sin of pride, were admonished by our Lord to “turn and become like children….”

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor 2:14)

The sinful nature in the Christian is like a “natural person [who] does not accept the things of the Spirit”. It desires to turn us away from our Father to go back to the far country, to existence without a Father. When Christians sin, it is our sinful nature at work turning and moving us away from our Father. Sin is a sign of unbelief. “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” (Rom 14:23) Sin separates us from God. The longer our sins go unaddressed, the more difficult it becomes for us to pray to our Father. Unaddressed sin hardens the heart against God.

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” (Prov 28:13)

Therefore, we have a daily need to turn with a contrite heart from our sins to the free grace of our Father for the forgiveness of our sins and the renewal of our lives. Jesus has given us this petition – forgive us our trespasses… – so that we may daily examine our lives, confess our sins to our Father and receive forgiveness. The forgiveness of sins turns us back to our Father with a clear conscience and gives us the confidence to pray to Him as Father for all our needs.

We should never be ashamed of our weaknesses or of our need for daily forgiveness. Remember, “your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matt 6:8) Therefore, let us trust God’s holy Word: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt 6:14-15)

Following the end of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus appended this short commentary on the fifth petition. He teaches repeatedly throughout the Gospels the importance of forgiveness between people. Earlier I described how sin separates us from God; but sin also separates us from each other. If forgiveness is the one thing which heals the rift between God and people, it follows that forgiveness is the essential element which heals the rift between people.

This petition teaches us to see our fellow human beings the way Jesus sees them – as people for whose sins He also died and to whom our Father’s arms also extend with grace and forgiveness. As Jesus illustrated in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, our debt to God, which He forgives, is infinitely greater than any debt owed to us by our neighbor.

Therefore, the second half of this petition – as we forgive those who trespass against us – is our pledge to God that we have forgiven our neighbors’ trespasses against us. Further, we ask our Father to hold us accountable for making good on our pledge. Our forgiveness of our neighbors’ trespasses against us signifies that we truly believe that our Father has forgiven us our trespasses against Him.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” (Ps 51:10-12) Amen.

Next week we will continue with the sixth petition: “Lead us not into temptation.”

 

Copyright © 2016 Jean Dragon – All rights reserved.

Oct 192016
 

cameron-cottrill_trump-lie-of-the-year_webI have been vocal in my opposition to the candidacy of Donald Trump for president. 

I have been vocal here on this blog, on Facebook, and in real life conversations.  I have been more vocal in my opposition to Trump than I have Hillary Clinton.

Now why is this?  Is it because I think Trump is a worse choice for president than Hillary?  No, I think they both have huge problems and cannot make a qualitative judgment as to who I think is the worse candidate.  Is it because I find the things Donald Trump does to be more offensive and revolting than Hillary Clinton?  Again, no.  Is it because I am concerned for the future of America?  Yes I am concerned, but no more with a Trump presidency than a Hillary presidency.  Is it because the political party I’m registered to ended up nominating who I believe to be an unbelievably bad candidate and so I am on a crusade to somehow reform the party?  No, not really.  Is it my pride in rejecting a man I find to be morally repugnant so that I can feel better about myself?  Well, if I’m honest, this probably plays a part at times.

But no, far and away, the biggest reason I am outspoken in my opposition to Donald Trump is because I am concerned for the gospel and the name of Jesus Christ and our witness of Him.

We are human and we are going to fail.  While there are of course plenty of times we succeed, those of us who are Christians also quite frequently fail in faithfully representing Jesus Christ.  This would be not only in our political ambitions or proclamations, but in all areas of life.

However, I have never seen a time anywhere close to what we have experienced over the past year or so where there is such a large scale of publicly and loudly and proudly justifying and rationalizing and minimizing and intentionally ignoring wrongs from the Christian community, including by an appreciable amount of high-profile Christians.  Where there is enthusiastic cheering and supporting and campaigning for a person of horrible morals and character.  Where there is an intentional strategy to attack and tear down one person of terrible character while protecting another person of terrible character in cunning fashion.  Many of these things often even done in the name of God.  All for purposes of political expediency.

What must the unbeliever think?  How can they take serious our claims of salvation and life in and through Jesus Christ when there is so much avid promotion of those whom are anti-Christ in their behavior?  How can they believe our assertions of the morality found in the Word of God when we are so apt to excuse boorish and corrupt and misogynic and deceptive and sexual predatory behavior?  How can they believe us when we say God is in control and Jesus is the only way and then turn around and say that we must elect this thoroughly vile or corrupt candidate in order to save our country?

What must Jesus think?

Now, of course, this type of behavior is coming from not only those Christians supporting Donald Trump but also those supporting Hillary Clinton.  It is not any more wrong or right when it comes from either side.

But for me, there are a couple qualifiers here. 

First, the cries of concern about the morality, most especially with sexual standards, of our politicians and government have long been much louder and plentiful from those on the conservative side of the aisle.  You cannot be pounding the pulpit on this matter for years and years and then suddenly act as if it’s not very important.  You cannot abruptly start rolling out clichés like, “We’re all sinners, only Jesus was perfect,” or “We need to learn to forgive,” or “We’re not electing a pastor-in-chief,” when you would have never used them before in the same context.  (Ironically, these statements would apply equally to either candidate, thus they do nothing to favor the argument for Trump.)  You cannot say that all that matters is where the candidates stand on the issues when for many years character has been a crucial consideration.  You cannot blast Bill Clinton for his sexual ethics and behaviors and say he is unfit for the presidency because of them and then not say the same of Donald Trump.  The list can go on and on.  It is all rank hypocrisy.

Secondly, I identify as a conservative, both politically and theologically.  And so when I witness this type of behavior from my own, it is more concerning and disturbing to me than when I see it from those who aren’t part of my “family”.  And within my family, there are far, far more who are participating in this type of behavior in support of Trump than Clinton.

Therefore, for these two reasons I am compelled to speak out much more against Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton.  (I still have spoken out against Hillary.)  In actuality, many times my speaking out about Trump is more in concern with some actions of his Christian supporters, than it is even about Trump himself.  Ultimately I speak out because I see Jesus’ name being dragged through the mud of this wretched political season.

I am not advocating that a Christian must not vote for either one of the candidates.  I personally cannot, but everyone must vote their own conscience.  Despite the extensive difficulties with both candidates, some may see one of them as the better (or less damaging) choice.  And I understand the issues that may lead some to see one or the other as the better choice for our country.  The purpose of my writing here is not to argue about the issues and the pros and cons of either choice and I would urge the follow-up discussion to avoid the same.

However, as Christians, we are part of a kingdom that is much greater than the temporary earthly kingdoms where we currently reside.  A kingdom that transcends all others.  Our concerns and enthusiasm for representing that kingdom and its King should far outweigh the concerns and enthusiasm we have for our temporary kingdoms.  It is not wrong to be concerned for our earthly kingdoms, not at all.  But it is a matter of focus and priorities.               

I believe we are seeing that our desperation regarding our earthly kingdom affairs is throwing our priorities askew and causing us to sin.  Our intentions may even be good in what we are trying to achieve in the end.  But if the means to get to that end are wrongful and sinful, then we need to stop.

There even can be a frequent overlap between the kingdom of God and what is happening in our earthly kingdoms.  We may be trying to achieve rightness and justice on this earth for the sake of the kingdom of God.  But our lens of focus must always be through God’s kingdom first, not the other way around.  I believe we are getting it backwards way too often in this election season.

We are Christians. 

The name of Christ is prominently displayed in that label we take.  When we are actively and loudly taking political action, we are doing so as representatives of Christ.  Sometimes we even specifically attach Christ’s name to those actions.  Navigating the muck of this current political morass and discerning what are appropriate and rightful actions has not been easy to do.  However, much of what is happening right now should be a million miles away from having a connection to Christ.  We need to do better. 

Lord, help us to do so.          

Oct 182016
 

imagesOn his Facebook page, “Pastor” Saeed Abedini says that a woman could not be elected President because that would be giving her “headship”.

He does allow that a woman can be in “leadership”.

He has not yet explained the difference in any coherent way.

Coherence is not his strong suit.

He is still being held up by Charisma ragazine and other Christian “news” outlets…in Charisma, he says he’s not endorsing a candidate.

On Facebook, he comes out loudly for Trump.

He also says that he has been in a constant battle with the “spirit of Jezebel” since coming home.

Of course he has…

Of course, Saeed claims that everything he says is biblical.

Therefore, you should be one of 200 people who will commit to twenty dollars a month to support him… after two weeks, he’s only 180 people short.

Evidently, the Franklin Graham gravy train has had the wheels come off…

Before you commit to giving Saeed twenty bucks a month…perhaps he should answer how he’s still in the ministry when he’s absolutely disqualified biblically from the pulpit.

Ask him how a woman is unqualified to be president, but a man with an unbiblical divorce and an arrest record is qualified for ministry.

Ask him how a man that refuses to answer for his past or present sin to the Body of Christ is fit for ministry.

Ask him…better yet, ignore him.

Oct 182016
 

Calvin's Corner headerAfter a (very) brief word on hockey, Phil and I discuss the apocalyptic view on… everything.

Download the mp3

 

Oct 182016
 

timthumb.phpSermon: How to live in these crazy days…

Another look…it never helps…

On modesty…

The value of friends who aren’t like you…

Get thee to an altar…

Pat Robertson is Christianity’s crazy uncle…

Who do you think you are?

The religious wanderings of Bob Dylan…

Failing abuse victims…

Why are so many evangelicals condoning sexual assault?

A climate for change…

Christ and the “stop it” message…

Hitting the evangelical wall…

Mixing politics with religion and communion…

You are the manure of the earth…

Don’t let it get inside you…

How to believe…

Great interview with N.T. Wright about his new book…

Reading Luther…

No other gods…

The church and the huddled masses…

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

 

Oct 172016
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251.““Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”” (Revelation 12:10–12 ESV)

The church wages war through faith in Christ, the testimony of the Gospel, and sacrificial love that is willing to follow Jesus to the cross.

My theory would be that if we’re losing the war, it’s because we’re using the wrong weapons…

2. God forbid we would actually recognize the hand of the enemy behind all the strife and divisions…we’re too sophisticated for that…

3. I know I sound like a broken record, but in my heart I believe there is nothing more important to society than the church being the church…

4. I’ve written extensively on the importance of the church holding to it’s moral authority in the world or face losing it’s influence. Moral authority comes from recognizing the law of God as true and being crushed by it, then receiving the Gospel with gladness and living in it. Many have only chosen to be crushed by part of the law while demanding the culture bear the full brunt of it…and we dole out grace as if we’d bought it ourselves…

5. The turning of the seasons with the accompanying darkness and chill have taken a huge toll on me this year…

6. I think if we taught people the theology of the cross we’d have less need for large buildings…

7. The greatest joy I have is when I see T show kindness to someone others are ashamed to be seen with…

8. “Turning back to the Lord” is not a one time event, it’s a way of life…

9. There is nothing more pathologically insane than the liberal description of unborn children…

10. I have not giving up on changing the world…I’ve simply shrunk my world to those God has given me that are close enough to touch…

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