Sep 062014
 

thumbnail.aspxWhen the world spins crazy,

spins wild and out of control,

spins toward rage and hate and violence,

spins beyond our wisdom and nearly beyond our faith,

When the world spins to chaos as it does now among us …

We are glad for sobering roots that provide ballast in the storm.

So we thank you for our rootage in communities of faith,

for many fathers and mothers who have believed and trusted as firm witnesses to us,

for their many stories of wonder, awe, and healing.

We are glad this night in this company for the rootage of the text,

for its daring testimony,

for its deep commands,

for its exuberant tales.

Because we know that as we probe deep into this text … clear to its bottom, we will find you hiding there,

we will find you showing yourself there,

speaking as you do,

governing,

healing,

judging.

And when we meet you hiddenly, we find the spin not so unnerving, because from you the world again has a chance for life and sense and wholeness.

We pray midst the spinning, not yet unnerved, but waiting and watching and listening, for you are the truth that contains all our spin.

Amen.
Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (p. 76). Kindle Edition.

Sep 052014
 

Genesis-Chapter-19-Lot-Flees-as-Sodom-and-Gomorrah-Burn“Now Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters. And the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.” So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father. He did not know when she lay down or when she arose.

The next day, the firstborn said to the younger, “Behold, I lay last night with my father. Let us make him drink wine tonight also. Then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.” So they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father.”

(Genesis 19:30–36 ESV)

“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked(for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.”

(2 Peter 2:4–10 ESV)

When Charles Bowden died last weekend we lost one the last practitioners of the art of telling the truth.

He told us the truth about many things, most importantly, he told us the truth about ourselves.

We…are not good.

We are capable of good, but we are all also capable of being bad as hell.

Christians don’t like the story of Lot…at least not as it’s recorded in the Older Testament.

Peter calls Lot righteous twice…he wants us to know that Lot was righteous.

He tells us that Lot’s soul was tormented by the things he saw in Sodom.

He doesn’t tell us the part where tormented Lot had to be removed from town by force at the last second before God burned down the house.

Peter infers that it was the sexual sins of Sodom, the ones that will be judged by fire, that disturbed righteous Lot so much.

The last time we see Lot in the OT he is getting drunk and having sex with his daughters.

His daughters plotted to get him intoxicated, making Lot the first guy to claim he was drunk and didn’t know what he was doing.

Drunken, incestuous, righteous, Lot.

That sounds about right to me.

I’m a pastor and I know your secrets.

I’m a person too ,and I know mine.

The pious and dry among us will argue that Lot repented and leaved a clean life after his time in Sodom and his hangover from the cave.

Such is not recorded for us, but I have no doubt he repented…many times.

I suspect he had to because his life continued to require it.

Lot wasn’t righteous on the basis of his goodness, character, or behavior.

He was counted righteous by faith.

I’ve applied for the same deal.

It requires faith and being honest to God about who I really am.

The faith was a gift, the honesty I’m working on.

Bowden would be pleased with the obituaries that have been written.

They tell the truth.

They speak of his alcoholism, his stubbornness, his womanizing, and his failed marriages.

They also speak of his generosity, love for the oppressed, and incredible gifts.

They all say he told the truth.

He was deeply loved despite his faults.

So are you.

Make your own application…

 

Sep 042014
 

CalvinToday, we start looking at the second generation of the Reformation with John Calvin and the Swiss Reformers.

This is a difficult task, as no figure in church history is both more scorned and admired than Calvin.

I will write about Calvin as I would any old friend that I’ve spent much time with and profited from his company…because that is how I view him.

 

 

There is so much misunderstanding and misinformation about Calvin that writing about his life and times requires that we first establish a bit of a background to rid ourselves of some of both.

First, John Calvin never set out to be the John Calvin of history.

Calvin wanted to be a reclusive writer and scholar, known for his books and his intellect.

He wasn’t comfortable with groups of people, being naturally shy and introverted almost to a fault.

He came to Geneva in 1536 by the providential hand of God when he was forced to detour there because of a war on his way to Strasbourg.

He had gathered a measure of notice beforehand with the publication of the first edition of the “Institutes of the Christian Religion” which was a small primer on the faith in it’s original incarnation.

He planned to stay one night then continue his journey, but was persuaded by William Farel to stay and help him teach in the newly Reformed city.

Persuaded is not the proper term…after Calvin repeatedly denied Farel’s request to stay, Farel informed Calvin that if he left that God would damn his studies (and perhaps Calvin as well) for doing so.

This terrified the timid Frenchman and history began to be written with a different pen than Calvin desired.

The second thing you need to know is that Calvin didn’t invent any doctrine of the Reformation, nor any of the ones that are associated with his name today.

Calvin was not an innovater.

Calvin’s strength was as a synthesizer and systematizer of ideas and doctrines that he and the Reformers believed had been around from the beginning.

Calvin wasn’t considered by his peers to be their “leader”…indeed, what we call the Reformed faith was the product of many brilliant minds all corresponding with each other, iron sharpening iron.

His theology was originally Roman Catholic, he received the Gospel from Luther, then was heavily influenced and developed by contemporaries Martin Bucer, Henrich Bullinger, Pierre Viret, Peter Martyr Vermygli, and many others.

“Calvinism” was not the product of one man, but of all of these in concert.

“Calvinism” was a 16th century swear word coined by Calvin’s enemies in Geneva…it is an unfortunate accident of history that it has become associated with a theology that was built by so many.

The fountain head of the Reformed faith was probably Bucer, it’s sharpest theologian, perhaps the Italian Vermygli.

Calvin brought all their ideas together in a coherent form in his later editions of the “Institutes”.

Third, Calvin self identified as a “pastor” not a “theologian”.

He wrote theology to be both for pastors and pastoral…he trained up hundreds of pastors and missionaries during his active ministry and his passion was to make the Word of God accessible to as many people as possible, taught as well as possible.

Theology wasn’t just for the educated elite, it was for all.

Fourth, Calvin didn’t “rule” Geneva.

Geneva was ruled by city councils, Calvin was appointed by them to run the church and he served at their pleasure.

It was their pleasure to run him out of town two years after he arrived, only to beseech him to return a few years later.

Fifth, Calvin was not a cold theological automaton.

Calvin’s Institutes contain some of the warmest devotional writing in theology.

His letters, to fellow theologians, missionaries, and suffering saints, reveal a heart for God and His people that is deeply pastoral.

You can dislike his theology, but it is wrong to doubt his heart.

Finally, Calvin was a sinner.

He knew and confessed this.

He could be short tempered and proud and though he literally worked himself to death, he considered himself to be lazy.

He was also a repenter and his correspondence shows both sides of his character.

Hagiography has no place in history…honor does and Calvin is worthy of much.

Next week, we’ll look at Calvin’s Geneva.

 

Sep 032014
 

daddydriscollI said the “investigations” into all the allegations against Mark Driscoll were a sham and for show.

One resigning elder seems to agree with me.

Dustin Kensrue, who was the worship director at Mars Hill Bellevue, released this letter today.

“While I have for some time understood the sorry state of our current bylaws and have consistently and patiently voiced my concerns along with many other pastors, it has not been until recently that I have fully understood that a shift in theological convictions about eldership has transpired behind the scenes in the highest leadership of the church. Power is consolidated in such a way that the government of MH can only be described as an oligarchy which does not reflect the mutually submissive view of elder governance in provided in the Bible. And this theological shift points to the likelihood that this consolidation of authority through the revision of the bylaws is not, as it has been presented, an oversight or an unintentional byproduct of solving some other set of problems, but rather a deliberate and deft grab for power. 

So, what’s the answer to the question “what can your elders do?” Simply put, sadly not much.” 

The entire letter is a stunning piece of truth telling…that will matter little in six weeks when the thunder of ESV Study Bibles hitting the floor from people standing up to welcome Driscoll back is drowned out by their applause.

Throckmorton has more…

Sep 032014
 

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_a 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.

 There will be a prayer vigil for Saeed’s release on Sept 26.

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Sep 032014
 

Last week we asked our readers to pray for justice in the Philippine missionary child abuse case we’ve been covering.

We received a report afterwards from our friend, missionary Joe Mauk who was at the trial and he informed us that the trial had been continued for 6o days.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this tweet from Joe Coffey, who is the pastor of the church where Tom Randall, (the head of the missions group) attends;

Screenshot 2014-08-29 13.19.15

I responded to Coffeys’ tweet with my own information…he did not and has not responded.

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 7.50.01 AM

 

That was followed up with this tweet from Coffey to a inquiry from a parishioner.

Screenshot 2014-08-29 13.42.43

 

The next morning, Randall announced in the church that all charges had been dropped to great applause and thanks to God.

Somebody is either seriously misinformed or is simply not telling the truth.

The following is Joe Mauks’ report from the trial itself.

“I wanted to give you a little update on the Sankey situation.  Still incredible to see what is trying to be manipulated behind the scenes.  As you may remember Aug. 8 there was a hearing where none of the witnesses received notices.  The presence “by chance” of one of our fellow rescuers caused the judge to re-schedule the hearing for three weeks later, Aug. 29.   We arrived for that hearing last Friday with 4 victims ready to give testimony and 11 others attending in support of them, including the former principal of the Cugley (Sankey) School and her husband (Alice and John Shepherd), also the teacher (Shirley, who received the first written reports smuggled out by two girls and passed them on to my daughter), my daughter and her husband, Trevor and Kathy Hill and others.  At first the attorneys of the two defendants did not show up.  The judge ordered them to be located and they appeared two hours later.  We discovered that this is still not the trial.  It was a continuation hearing on the defense motion to quash.  They were making the argument that the arrest of the two was not proper in procedure.  They objected to any testimony being entered as to the abuses reported to be going on but only wanted to prove that the two were not actually committing a crime at the time of the arrest.  The only witness called was the NBI agent from the Manila office who organized the raid.  Although the argument about invalid arrest should not apply to institutional abuse/human trafficking cases, they pressed issues like “where were they standing and what were they wearing at the time of the arrest?”  At the end of the testimony the judge ordered both sides (the government appointed prosecutor and the privately-hired defense attorneys) to present their final written arguments in a matter of days.  After which submission, he would make a ruling on the motion to quash.  The prosecutor asked for more time to prepare, the defense agreed to an extension and the judge dictated a memorandum to both attorneys instructing them to present their final written arguments within 60 days.

Nine hours later, the pastor of the church where Tom Randall is now living, tweeted the following:  “News frm filipines. all charges dropped against toto and jake.raid deemed completely unjustified by judge #timeandtruth”

Tom Randall spoke in this pastor’s church this past Sunday morning and began with this statement: “Good news for Karen and me. Got a call from my lawyers about 2:30 a.m. and they said hearing finished and they are going to drop the charges against Toto and my godson.”  Wild applause followed.

How sad that there sat four victims ready to testify of the sorry state of the orphanage administration and the long-term systematic abuse that took place there and yet mission-funded attorneys were fighting desperately to not allow their voices to be heard.  We pray it will indeed go to trial and the voices of the victims will be allowed to be heard.”

We ask some questions…

Who is financing the defense of the accused?

Are the accused still involved with children on the mission field in any way?

Why are there conflicting statements with no response when questioned?

Why would either side deliberately misinform the public (and donors)?

Why am I the only person in media writing about this?

We covet your prayers.

For prior stories and background read here , here, and here.

 

Sep 022014
 

timthumb.phpCall evil…evil.

When faith and politics collide…

How Jesus defeats His enemies…

Street smart Christians…

Why the media gets Israel so wrong…

What the church can learn from AA…

Acts 29 doing fine without Driscoll…

Sarah…losing children and resting in hope

Journal article on persecution in the early church…

The grief toolbox…

On being present…

20 truths from the stories we tell…

Dantes’ lessons from hell…

How about we rescue some Christians?

Changing opinions about how much the U.S. should do to solve global issues…

Is truth worth dying for?

Cho calls this generation “most overrated in human history”…

Wenatchee tells all…can’t call this sort of research “gossip”…

The rise of biblical counseling…and why some people want to reverse the trend…

Teaching young women to desire abusers…

The Osteens’ Donald Sterling moment…

Driscoll and narcissistic leaders…

Sep 012014
 

B order 1I’ve read one too many hysterical articles online about how ISIS is going to be coming over our “open border” and committing acts of terror.

Conservative pundits are at the forefront of this campaign, allegedly to protect and inform us of this dire crisis.

In reality, they are making all of us more vulnerable by trying to politicize our deepest fears.

It is entirely possible that a terrorist group may come over our southern border.

 

They aren’t going to do so as you’re being led to believe, however.

They probably aren’t going to risk tromping through the desert like a desperate migrant hoping to survive the walk and elude the Border Patrol.

Migrants use that route because it’s the only one available to them.

Wealthy terrorist groups have much better options.

Let me give you an example…and tell you how most drugs and other contraband get into the U.S.

Laredo, TX is the  largest landlocked port in America, the main route of commerce between the U.S. and Central America.

As many as ten thousand trucks per day cross the border there.

Five million trucks cross the whole border every year as well as thousands of freight cars pulled by trains.

To inspect every one of them would bring international commerce to a standstill.

The U.S actually did just that once in retaliation against Mexico and it lasted just a matter of hours before we lifted the inspections because of the international furor.

This…is where the border is “porous” and “open”… but the politicians aren’t going to interfere with commerce, nor are they going to talk about this on Fox News.

How many border inspectors do you have to bribe to allow a truck through?

One.. the one working the lane you’re in.

The one you already threatened or bribed and you made sure you were in their lane.

There are many such crossing points and bribed inspectors on the border.

My point is this…while the politicians have you staring in fear out into the desert sun, the terrorists are flying into Portland or Peoria or riding over the border in a truck full of tomatoes.

Think about these things…and refuse to be duped when the dangers are so real and true vigilance is called for.

 

 

Aug 312014
 

97802927219821.When I was a child I grew fearing losing people who were so important to me that they were part of me…so I would practice dealing with their deaths or departures before they were gone.

Why a child would learn to do such is irrelevant at this juncture, it simply was a way to survive the inevitable in my mind.

I learned how to survive the loss…and to not allow many people to become that important.

When Charles Bowden died this weekend, I lost one of those people.

I didn’t have time to prepare…

I didn’t discover his writings until later in life and his words told me how ignorant I’d been up until then.

It was a gift.

“The rising of the dead means the spiritual awakening of those who have been sleeping in the graveyard of ignorance.” 

He was fearless in pursuing truth, fair even to fools, coarse, harsh, lyrical, and bold….with a deep river of compassion and love for people and land flowing through it all.

The things he saw and the things that he chose to tell us crushed his soul…but he chose to see and speak no matter the cost.

“If you can write, it’s a gift, you didn’t earn it…and if you betray a gift and just use it to make money it goes away. It’s a sin to do that.”

The writers job was to speak truth to power…“no one needs court jesters except the court”.

To do less, from fear or compromise, was a rejection of a calling and a defilement of the gift.

His partner and co-author Molly Molloy:“He did it with no fear. It has to be told and he had to tell it, because if he knew it and there was that level of injustice, he would not let it stay unsaid.”

He wasn’t a professing Christian, but he understood depravity and redemption more clearly than anyone I’ve ever read outside the pages of Scripture.

He was brave, passionate, brilliant, and real and he spent his life speaking for those without a voice of their own.

He never sinned against his gift.

God help us all to do the same.

2. The loss of Bowden is the loss of a prophetic voice to me…the world has few of those left and the church ran ours out long ago.

3. People are complaining on Facebook that they are tired of people posting videos of their “ice bucket challenge”. I refuse to get tired of people trying to do something to help someone else.

4. The greatest legacy you can leave is having loved those whom you have been given, the second greatest are words that spoke truth and love to them and others. Not all of us can be gifted writers, but we can all leave those legacies behind.

5. Our words will be remembered long after we’re gone…what are you saying?

6. Good to see so many insiders coming out in the Mars Hill debacle now that it’s safe and fashionable to do so. I just wonder where all these heroes have been for the last ten years…

7. Sometimes it’s a blessing to be heartbroken…it means you still have a heart.

8. Never, never, ignore the small joys of life…in each of them is a promise of something greater and eternal.

9.  “I am always an optimist. The pessimists are the liars who refuse to admit what is happening”.  Bowden

10. It’s only when a giant falls that we see how small we are by comparison…because the true giants have a way of making us all believe we’re about the same size…

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