Feb 282015
 

headerPhil Naessens informed me that our podcast, “Calvin’s Corner” has passed 100,000 downloads.

Thank you all for listening… we enjoy doing the program and appreciate your feedback.

The blog is still one of the top rated Christian sites in the world as well…all thanks to our readers.

Thanks as well to you folks who use the Amazon links to make your purchases.

A small percent comes back to me and it helps out a lot.

Support our advertisers…especially when they are part of the online community.

EricL features his books and services up on the top right side of the blog and helps me often with our Linkathon.

I’m just getting started building a book of business with Sellstrom Global Shipping so every thing, large or small helps keep us going until we get on our feet.

You can also make direct donations via PayPal using the “donate” button on the top left side of the site.

We covet your continued prayers and participation for what we do here.

I can always be reached at phoenixpreacher@gmail.com with your questions or concerns.

If you’re interested in our shipping services contact me at michaeln@sellstromshipping.com

Feb 272015
 

IMG_0027It was the standing on my face with her considerable full weight on her front paws while yowling that finally made me get up and feed her.

I went to bed early last night, the cares of the world and the care of this blog having sent my blood pressure into a place it ought not be.

 

Too much worry and too much stress had taken it’s toll.

I prayed a brief prayer and then escaped from it all under an electric blanket.

Evidently (the evidence would be an empty bowl) I had neglected to completely fill Miss Kitty’s food dish before I retired for the evening.

Thus, for three solid hours beginning at 4:30 AM, she sought my intervention to remedy this matter.

She got up on the bed, she got as close as possible, and she yowled.

Loudly.

Every time I changed positions, fluffed my pillow, or otherwise showed a sign of life she would yowl,then jump down to her bowl.

I stayed in bed.

She would then jump back up on the bed, get next to me, and wait for me to move again.

Over and over again.

She did so for three hours… which to a hungry cat is like three days, or three years, or some very long measurement of cat time.

Her persistence was amazing.

She did not make her need known and fall asleep.

She did not go to the neighbors and tell them her need.

She did not attempt to find and open a pouch of Whiskas on her own.

She knew who her provider is and she would petition him until her need was met or the need would not be met.

She knew her provider better than that.

She has been fed here before, she would be fed here again, and she wasn’t leaving me alone until she was fed now.

When I decided to open my eyes she placed her full weight on her front paws on my face and let forth a howl that said she’d been waiting long enough.

I agreed…and got up and gave her what she needed.

For her persistence, I even sprinkled some cat treats on her food.

Oddly enough, after gobbling it all down, she still yowled.

She wanted some lap time too.

She got it.

I’ll make sure the dish is full tonight.

Make your own application…

 

Feb 262015
 

1-140P3130R5It’s been fascinating to me to watch the evangelical responses to the 21 Coptic Christian martyrs.

There were those who denied that they could be Christians because they formulated the Gospel in a different manner than they did.

There were others, however, who proclaimed them true Christians who died in faith… even knowing that they believed a “false Gospel” by their doctrinal and creedal confessions..

That raises some large questions…

If they were truly saved (and I believe they were) then;

a. Their doctrinal formulation was right and mine is wrong, or;

b. God chose to save them despite their errors, or;

c. God isn’t nearly as concerned about doctrinal formulations as we are.

There was a day when I thought I had it all down.

My faith had been narrowed down to a set of doctrinal propositions.

If you assented to those propositions, then heaven was yours.

If you didn’t, you were going to split hell wide open and I was happy about it.

I was a gatekeeper to the kingdom and quite skilled at separating the sheep from the goats.

I was quite proud of my doctrinal acumen and quite scornful of any perceived lack thereof.

Life was simple, life was good.

Then, I met people who did not affirm my doctrinal propositions who had quite evidently met with Jesus anyway.

That sucked.

I either had to change my doctrinal propositions or change my mind about how one gained access to the throne of grace…or both.

I chose both…which then required me to learn to love people I had formerly consigned to the pit.

It has been difficult and messy.

We love our tribes in Christendom and when you love the other tribes you end up with no tribe of your own.

We curse each other over doctrinal propositions, traditions, leadership, interpretation of Scriptures, sacraments, and a seemingly endless list of sub categories.

We pay lip service to unity in Christ while secretly doubting whether the other tribes (and those in them) know Him at all.

We believe the road is narrow and we’re on it, the broad road is full of other tribes walking into hell with the heathens.

Even when someone offers up the right propositions and participates in the tribal rites properly, we who are convinced of our own right standing before God examine anything we can for possible disqualification.

We can almost always find something.

We so often make the ‘good news’ something like one of those envelopes you get from Publishers Clearing House…”You’ve won!”…if you meet about a hundred qualifications.

Our mantra is that Christianity is not a religion but a relationship….then we try to force people with a relationship into our religion.

Why…do we go out of our way to make heaven so distant for so many?

Why… does it seem that we are more concerned with keeping people out than getting people in?

Just asking…

 

Feb 252015
 

41MPZtTM2gLCharles Bowden wasn’t a believer as far as I know.

Despite this, he may have made one of the best evangelistic films I’ve ever seen.

You can’t play it in your youth group, however…you probably can’t show it in any group.

The film is called “El Sicario Room 164″ and for the first hour it is nothing but a hooded, professional cartel killer describing his work in graphic detail…from one of the hotel rooms he did his work in.

It is not for delicate in sensibilities, nor for the faint in heart.

The sicarios killings and torture methods are laid out in all their horror with the pride of a craftsman.

I had to take a break from watching it twice…it was more than I could handle.

The last twenty five minutes or so are devoted to how Jesus came and saved the monster we’d been watching.

The killer drops his calm, calculating, exterior when describing his conversion… he weeps with joy as he describes being born again.

The power of the Gospel strangles the forces of hate as easily and as finally as the sicario had strangled his victims.

The movie ends with that testimony.

If you believe the mans story (and I do) you must conclude that no one is outside the power and grace of God.

That includes cartel killers and radical Muslim ones.

The weapons of our warfare are not carnal…

We really don’t believe that…we believe the weapons of our warfare were not carnal until we developed really powerful carnal weapons.

Questions abound if we’re honest…but we’re not.

I wonder why God didn’t choose to save this man before he dispatched 400 or 500 people to unmarked graves.

I wonder why God didn’t choose to save the man who made the movie… who I still grieve for every day as one grieves for a father unmet.

I wonder if the families of his victims would celebrate his adoption by the Father when he took the father of their family.

I wonder why the thought of bombing radical Islam with the Gospel is not nearly as appealing as blowing them to hell.

I confess that I still think myself and others deserve grace that should be denied to others.

I will comfort myself with Deut 29:29 and proclaim such things as “mystery”.

It’s easier than asking those questions…

Feb 252015
 

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aToday, like every Wednesday, we will remember Saeed Abedini.

We do more than just remember, however…we stand with him by using our social media to advocate for his release.

We ask that you change your Facebook profile picture to his and that you “like”  the “Free Saeed” Facebook page and participate in some of the activities that promote his cause.

We ask…that you remember him and his family in prayer…and that you refuse to give up on efforts to secure his release.

From his wife, Naghmeh,

Romans 12: 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Here is my two cents on current events:

RADICAL HATE can only be overcome by RADICAL LOVE. God’s solution to sin was a painful death on the cross while we were still sinners and while we were still His enemies. That’s God’s solution. Radical Love. A love that hangs on the cross and takes all of the insults, abuse and beatings and can still say “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Our president can not solve the problems we are seeing rampant around us. No government or governments in the world can solve it. No money in the world can solve it. No human plans can solve it (no matter how wise they may seem). The United Nations can certainly not solve it. There is only one solution and as Christians we have it to offer to the world!!!

Islam at its best is a religion. A list of does and don’ts. People are tired of religion. The world is thirsty for love. As Christians we have access to the only Love that can change a person within. We have access to the Love that can truly fill the emptiness within.

We might not live in the Middle East, but there are Muslims all around us where we live. Each one is an opportunity to love.

Feb 242015
 

timthumb.phpOn domestic violence…

We all think we’re right…

When Africa bleeds…

Reading the Bible with dead guys…

Who are you married to?

Christian persecution at all time high…

Wesleyan University now up to fifteen letters describing sexual identities…

What really happened in David Barton’s lawsuits?

On unanswered prayer…

The Coptics and Chalcedon…

An epidemic of liars…

ISIS has taken 90 more Christians…

On house churches…

Rob Bell, gay marriage, and the movie “Tombstone”.

ECT on reclaiming marriage…

Can science and scripture be reconciled?

Silencing people and learning to control the narrative…

No faith is free from child abuse scandals and cover ups…

Technology and community…

How to find bread and water in the dungeon of depression…

Steve Brown on why we don’t pray…

10 things about the “Great Commission”…

50 Shades of Gray and patriarchy…

5 myths about social justice…

Feb 232015
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. The Fifth Appellate Court in California has ruled against Alex Grenier in his motion to have the defamation lawsuit filed by his step father dismissed. Barring a settlement, that trial against Alex and Tim Taylor will proceed. The most shocking aspect of the courts ruling was that Bob Grenier was not a “limited public figure”, thus the standard he must prove for defamation is significantly lower than if he had been ruled a public figure. This is chilling to me as a blogger who has covered so many abuse cases…it opens the door wide to nuisance suits filed by people with more power and more money than the vast majority of bloggers. All bloggers need to understand that exposing alleged abuses in the church could threaten your own family and home. Alex and Tim estimate that defending this case will cost about $50,000.00, $30,000.00 of which will have to be raised by outside contributions and donations. All of us in social media need to stop and count the cost…

2. The Go Fund Me account to help with Alex’s legal fees is here.

3. Any “pastor” who would sue another brother or sister obviously does not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and should expect those sitting under their teachings to reject it as well. 1 Cor 6:1-8 is as authoritative as the rest of the book…

4. The hard truth is that “leaders” in the church today would rather sue you than repent… some of them, it seems, would rather die than repent.

5. The blood of the 21 Coptic Christian martyrs may be the seed of some profound changes in evangelicalism. Some who watched these Orthodox Christians die for their faith in Jesus are questioning deeply held beliefs about who gets in to heaven and who doesn’t based on doctrinal formulations…

6. I didn’t watch the Oscars last night as I have absolutely no interest in any film that doesn’t feature someone from a comic book. If you did and movies are your thing feel free to discuss…

7. There is an utter void of ethical leadership at the top of every American institution…I’ll be gone before the real fallout hits, but I mourn for what my son will face.

8. Still looking for the passage that says they will know us by our lawyers…

9. Be what you want the church to become…

10. “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:5–7 ESV)

The Bible is clear…in this life we’re going to need all the encouragement and endurance we can get.

You don’t “endure” enjoyable circumstances… you endure trials and we’ll have all we can handle.

Our God is a God of both endurance and encouragement…..and we are to be carriers of both in His name, for each other.

Let’s practice living with each other in such a way that we all have all we need.

I can always be reached at phoenixpreacher@gmail.com.

Feb 212015
 

thumbnail.aspxIn the midst of all the pushing and shoving among us,

in the world and in the church,

propelled by anxiety and acted as brutality,

You have planted yourself in all your fidelity.

You have placed yourself among us in steadfastness and abiding care present in the day,

alert in the night,

making us all safe and noticed and cared for.

So evidence your fidelity as to curb our anxiety,

as to restrain our brutality,

as to overcome our alienation.

By your fidelity, renew us, renew church, renew city, renew world.

Give us the safety to love you fully, to love neighbor well, in glad obedience.

Amen.
Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (p. 118). Kindle Edition.

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