Aug 292014
 

IMG_0027Miss Kitty didn’t come in last night.

Normally, she’s in by 9:00, has a snack, does some grooming , and is in bed by 9:30.

She never showed.

 

 

This meant that I got little sleep as I went outside at regular intervals through the night making odd sounds with my mouth (that she seems to understand) and of course calling “kitty, kitty, kitty” rapidly in a pitch considerably higher than my speaking voice.

All night long.

In my underwear.

The next time I go outside I need to be wearing a three piece suit to restore any notion of personal dignity in the eyes of the neighbors.

I digress…

All night long I worried and my mind conjured up images of Miss Kitty trapped somewhere, poisoned somewhere, hurt somewhere, or even captured by an evil neighbor and taken to the pound.

I swore my wrath against that imaginary villainous neighbor about 4:00 AM.

She sauntered through the door a few minutes ago.

She ate breakfast, shot me an “I’m sorry” look, and sauntered back out the door.

She’s fine and I’m relieved…exhausted, but relieved.

I share this with you because I found myself feeling guilty on two fronts as the night wore on.

There was guilt because I’m closer to this cat, feel more love for this cat, and would sacrifice more for this cat than I would for most people.

Surely, God can not be pleased by this.

God informed me that this was legalistic tripe and that He’s responsible for the creation of pets in the first place.

The second area of guilt was in the realization that I care so much for this cat because she cares back.

She’s MY cat.

She prefers my company to that of all other humans and beasts…I am special to her.

I like being special.

God said that I’m special to Him too…so I can find room in my heart for those who don’t think I am.

It’s good to have a cat…

Make your own application…

Aug 282014
 

Screen-shot-2013-12-04-at-7.18.39-PMand one has already been fired for doing so…

“This is without a doubt, the most abusive, coercive ministry I’ve ever been involved with.” Paul Tripp, former member of Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability

Warren Throckmorton has the full story and the incredible statement that these elders made.

As I said yesterday, the “investigations” have been a sham and the whole process has been nothing but damage control and spin.

This statement proves my beliefs.

The PR people answered this…but if any more revelations come forth, expect them to run for the hills as well.

This could be the “but, God” moment many have been praying for….

 

 

Aug 282014
 

galleryWe’ve written about a scandal…better word, tragedy, involving an American run orphanage in the Philippines in articles here , here, and here.

To recap briefly, in Lucena City an orphanage, the Sankey Samaritan Mission for poor children and youth, was raided by the NBI and an American, Tom Randall and orphanage manager Toto Luchavez and his son Jake Luchavez were arrested and are charged with trafficking and child abuse based on strong testimony of some of the 31 victims.

Tom Randall was eventually released but the trial for the other two defendants continues today.

The whistleblowers who reported the abuse have been subjected to everything from slander to death threats.

Tom Randall continues to tour the country raising money and featured one of the defendants in his last newsletter.

The victims and the whistleblowers, along with those who are working to do the work of Jesus and minister to the victims in this case ask for prayer today…that justice will be done and truth will win, not American money and influence.

I ask the same.

Thank you.

Updated: The case has been continued for sixty days.

Aug 272014
 

michael-sattler-ivan-moonHaving looked at some of the stranger and more radical wings of Anabaptist history, we turn our attention to the mainstream as represented by Michael Sattler and Menno Simons.

Sattler authored the Schlietheim Confession which is summarized by James and Woodbridge as follows;

“The seven articles assert that (1) baptism is contingent on repentance and a moral life; (2) brethren who fail to live according to the Christian code of ethics are to be banned from the community; (3) a memorialist or Zwinglian view of the Lord’s Supper is the correct one; (4) there should be a radical separation of Christians from secular society ; (5) the pastor must maintain high moral standards in his life and ministry; (6) true Christians must not serve the civil government; and (7) all oaths to the state are to be prohibited.”

These Anabaptists had a radical vision of a pristine church restored to New Testament ways and standards, according to their interpretation.

Theirs was a call to holy living, to separation from the world and in particular from governmental involvements in the church.

It was a call to Biblical “literalism”unencumbered by the traditions of Rome, encouraging pacifism, and sometimes communalism.

It indeed resembled in many ways how the earliest church fathers portrayed the Christian life.

Sattler took a pastorate in a small church after the drafting of the Articles, but was arrested by the Catholics a month later.

He was given a trial…but the outcome was never in doubt.

“In the case of the attorney of His imperial majesty vs. Michael Sattler, judgment is passed that Michael Sattler shall be delivered to the executioner , who shall lead him to the place of execution and cut out his tongue, then forge him fast to a wagon and there with red-hot tongs twice tear pieces from his body; and after he has been brought outside the gate, he shall be plied five times more in the same manner.”

He was then burned at the stake, then his wife was drowned after she chose not to renounce her faith.

The religious and governmental establishment saw no difference between the peaceful faith of Sattler and the violent radicals of Munster.

Both were a threat to the established order, both had to be exterminated.

Menno Simons legacy continues to this day through the Mennonites.

Embracing the doctrines of Anabaptists after being a Catholic priest, Simons became a leader of the movement.

He denounced the “crazy”, violent wing of the movement,  while embracing and defending pacifism.

Like his Reformed contemporary John Calvin, his influence was primarily through his writings.

His magnum opus was “The Foundation of Christian Doctrine” which has served Anabaptists the same way Calvin’s “Institutes” have served the Reformed faith.

What lessons can we take from the Anabaptists?

Over the years Sattler  and his wife have become heroes in the faith to me, though we differ doctrinally.

He lived his faith, he persevered to the end, as did his wife.

The ideas about separation from the world and from government, (though overly radical) may be needed correctives in our day of compromise and nationalism.

The notion of the church being a distinct and recognizable people seems to resonate with the New Testament description of the people of God.

Had we listened to Sattler, much of the stains and sins of the Reformation committed in the name of the state would have been avoided.

Would would we profit by listening to him today?

Quotes were taken from the following volume, which I commend to your reading…

Woodbridge, John; James III, Frank A. (2013-08-08). Church History, Volume Two: From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day: The Rise and Growth of the Church in Its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political Context (Kindle Locations 3854-3858). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Aug 272014
 

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aThe word is that Saeed Abedini is being threatened in prison by the same group that recently beheaded American journalist James Foley.

It goes without saying that we all must redouble our efforts to win Saeed’s freedom before he meets a similar fate.

Today, 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.

 

Aug 272014
 

daddydriscollIt’s probably just a coincidence that Mark Driscoll is following the crisis management model that Skip Heitzig employed in 2006 in Albuquerque.

I don’t think it is (for reasons I won’t disclose) and if it is you can expect the following “talk track” and events to commence immediately.

I strongly suggest that those involved read the articles from Christianity Today and the Albuquerque Journal that are posted here.

 

The first thing you have to understand is that the PR firm is in charge right now…and they will make their presence felt.

Driscoll will say little or nothing for the next few weeks…prominent friends will be recruited to speak highly of Driscoll publicly during his absence.

Negative information about those who have spoken against Driscoll will be leaked in such a measure as to poison the well against their accusations.

Anything that can be used to cast suspicion on them will be employed…and it will get vicious.

Online critics better gird their loins…hackers and trolls will be out in full force.

Critics will be framed as ‘jealous’, “bitter”, “hateful”, “unforgiving” and opposed to the work of Christ himself.

During the years of 2003-7 we were the primary online voice speaking on the Heitzig scandal…and our biggest challenge was simply to keep the site up.

If you’re going to speak out now, count the cost…there is nothing sacred to the people involved including your job and your family.

Understand that you’ve already lost, barring some new heinous disclosure.

People preparing to repent and resign do not hire public relations firms to assist them…they already have an Advocate.

The “investigation” will show that Driscoll has a poor “management style” and correctives to that will be suggested.

There will be promises made of new attitudes and transparent disclosure…that will last until the seas have calmed.

The report will go to greater lengths to show “what God has done” through Driscoll and the holy necessity for him to continue that great work.

He will return to the pulpit to great acclaim, declare the matter settled, and make sure the show is the best it’s ever been for the following year.

The last thing that will happen is that this trial will make Driscoll bulletproof.

If he survives this (and I think he will) there will be a subconscious acceptance of his followers of his faults and sins…and they will refuse to hear about them any more.

During the height of the Heitzig scandal I received dozens, sometimes hundreds of emails every day from concerned people.

When I reported last year that Heitzig was trying to leave again to take Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, there was not a single inquiry from ABQ.

No, not one.

History has a way of repeating itself…especially when you follow the template and advice of those who made history before.

On the other hand, history is His story… and maybe He’ll write a different ending to this chapter.

Aug 262014
 

timthumb.phpWhy some people aren’t embracing the “ice bucket challenge”. I still believe it’s done great good…

Between sweetness and nausea…

The dangers of measurable outcomes…

Who will stand up for Christians?

Keller on polarization…

Grace and salvation…

Will white evangelicals ever recognize systemic injustice?

Questioning the “man of God”…

The insincere campaign against sincerity…

Through the eye of a needle…

The wrong kind of Christian…

The Islamic state is evil returned…

Ebola and the glory of God…

In defense of inerrancy…

What is a good historian?

ISIS as an apocalyptic cult…

Aug 252014
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. The Mark Driscoll saga is over.

Bloggers will continue to blog, the reporters will continue to report, but the conclusion has been reached.

Borrowing the template that Skip Heitzig used to survive his crisis, Driscoll “apologized” for unspecified offenses against unspecified people, hired a public relations firm, and stepped aside so that people with no authority to discipline him can “investigate” him.

In reality, it’s letting the storm pass before resuming the game…which he’s already won.

It was a masterful display of what our Babylon’s Dread brilliantly called “obfuscation by piety”… after which the crowd shouted it’s love for him and gave him a standing ovation.

Game, set, match, Mark.

All the cannons have been fired, the ammunition is exhausted, and so is the army of wounded warriors that have tried to bring him to repentance.

They were defeated not by Mark, but by the congregation they were trying to protect.

Driscoll will return and thrive…and that pile of bodies behind the bus will grow exponentially as the tyrant takes his revenge.

It will take about two years for him to rebuild the numbers and the finances…and for his famous friends to be seen with him in public, though they are proving helpful behind the scenes.

The people have spoken…they want their king and they will walk right over the bodies of the fallen to praise him and make their offerings to Baal.

2. This was a critically important test case for the power of social media to bring reform. If Driscoll could be taken down, lesser lights would have no chance, and many independent pastors were squirming. Turns out they had nothing to worry about, unfortunately.

3. The American celebrity church cares nothing about biblical standards, ethics, or virtues. It cares about success and social and economic stature. Thus, it is anti-Christ no matter how often it speaks the name of Jesus.

4. 1st Corinthians 12:14-26 speaks of the importance of every member of a local church body. American celebrity evangelicalism stacks up the bodies in a pile at the behest of the only person it finds worthy…

5. We have been defeated by yet another windmill…might be time to return both the lance and donkey.

6. The Beatitudes teach us that those who represent the kingdom will hunger and thirst after righteousness. Righteousness and justice are almost biblical synonyms…and if you’re seeking either in this church culture you will die from starvation and dehydration.

7. These battles aren’t just over the sins of leaders…they are battles for the soul of the church. My concern is that we’ve sold our souls for a mess of pottage and multiple screens.

8. Note to self: God always works through a remnant. Find the remnant and see how you can serve them.

9. Note to self: God is still on the throne. Chill out and see #8.

10. I was going to write a long article about the border and ISIS, but thought better of it. Let me just say that wealthy terrorist organizations don’t risk dying in the desert…they fly in first class. I understand the need to make political hay while the sun shines, but it leaves us vulnerable elsewhere.

Aug 232014
 

thumbnail.aspxYou voice the worlds into being,

You voice the church into obedience,

You voice us, now and then, into newness,

You speak and call into existence that which does not exist.

You speak and address us, and make all things new.

And we should answer you:

 

we in our shabbiness before your splendor,

we in our timidity before your magnificence,

we in our poverty before your wealth,

we in our foolishness before your wisdom.

We stammer and stutter and pause and parry, silent, mute, reluctant, with only one gift back to you-that of tongue.

So for our tongues-thousands and thousands of them, we give you thanks:

that we may speak back to you your wonder,

that we may sing back to you your presence,

that we may vow back to you our obedience.

You speak and we are, You listen and we are voiced, always again on our way rejoicing.

Amen.
Walter Brueggemann;Anna Carter Florence. Inscribing the Text: Sermons and Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (Kindle Locations 329-332). Kindle Edition.

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