Remembering words and water… (really good)
Remembering words and water… (really good)
2. Lawsuits and legislation are the swords hanging over the necks of Christians in this country.
3. If evangelicals were as committed to biblical ethics as much as bible prophecy we might see a revival in this country. Don’t hold your breath.
4. “and He gave some to be CEO’s, some CFO’s, some public relations managers, and some secretaries to build the church corporation.” Hezekiah 4:1
5. When you’re searching for the the rest of the 7000 who haven’t bowed their knees to the Baals of American evangelicalism, look for people who are known for their love as much as their doctrine.
6. “They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.””(Matthew 19:7–9 ESV) That’s a hard teaching and we’ll preach it as soon as we crush the gay agenda that threatens our families, he said sarcastically…
7. If you want to separate the sheep from the goats, call a prayer meeting on Sunday night.
8. I’m excited to be playing in a fantasy baseball league with Matt B. Redmond this summer. The only problem is that he’s so darn nice I don’t care if I win…
9. Luther believed that the rise of Islam was a sign of the end and it was that eschatological fervor that led to his persecution of the Jews. There’s a 500 year old lesson there somewhere…
10. I had a rather nasty surgery a few years back. It’s “healed” now, but the scars still show when uncovered and I’m constantly aware of the scar tissue the operation left. I’m always in some amount of discomfort and always will be. Victims of abuse in the church bear their scars and feel them years afterward as well. Don’t be shocked or dismissive of the fact that they are always going to be somewhat uncomfortable around “surgeons”…
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
(Ephesians 1:1–2 ESV)
I’m starting a study tonight in our church on the book of Ephesians.
I thought perhaps some would like to study along with us.
We’ll see how it goes…
Don’t Skip the Salutation!
Our study opens with a greeting from Paul to his readers.
We usually don’t make much of these verses, because, well, they’re just a greeting.
Don’t do that…there’s gold here.
Paul isn’t just delivering a greeting from himself but also “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”.
The Father and the Son say “grace to you and peace”.
Let me encourage you to personalize this and “make your own application”.
If Jesus were to appear before you where you are right now the first things He would speak to you are words of grace and peace.
No matter where you think you are spiritually, no matter how distant God seems…that’s the message…He brings you grace and peace.
Grace…for all those sins that you think separate you from the love of God.
Peace… God is not mad at you.
Whenever you think about God, those are the places you should start from and end at.
You want to believe that, but you also read… the greeting was for the “faithful in Christ Jesus”.
You aren’t very faithful.
Neither am I.
The part you need to understand is that if you’re “in Christ”, you’re counted faithful…because He was faithful in your place.
Now, that’s good news…and it’s just the beginning.
Next week we’ll talk about being “in Christ”.
Grace and peace to you, my friends.
And yet, we can name in your presence a myriad of shut-down places around us …
those shut down in poverty and despair,
those shut down in fear and in rage,
those shut down by abuse and violence, too hurt to speak, too frightened to appear, too scarred to dance.
And closer, our own shut downs: in anxiety, in resentment, in pretense, too weary to care, too greedy to share, too much of us for neighbor.
These are not all your doing, we confess.
But you are the God who opens all shut downs: by your power, you give fixtures,
by your goodness, you give hope,
by your mercy, you make new.
So we bid you this day come to our shut down places and give birth anew.
We pray through the Easter opening of the Friday shut downs.
Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (p. 119). Kindle Edition.
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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.
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…
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.
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?
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…