Feb 182015
 

CalvinI am a Protestant.

I am a Calvinist.

I’m still reeling from seeing respected members of my sect sending twenty one martyrs proclaiming Christ with their last breath to the pit because they did not hold to our doctrine.

The doctrinal formulation that my tribe treasures above all others is that of salvation by grace alone through faith alone.

 

I believe that doctrine with my whole heart, soul, and mind.

That doctrine is precious to me and I’ll defend it to the end.

That doctrine, however, is not the Gospel.

The martyrs, say the purists, held to a “false Gospel” that cannot save.

I contend that they were not the ones holding to a “false Gospel”.

The Gospel is simple and found in 1 Cor 15 and the preaching of the New Testament.

Jesus came, He died for our sins, He rose again, and He will return to judge the quick and the dead.

Through faith in Him and His work we can be saved from our sins.

That’s the Gospel.

The rest of our stuff is the religion we build around it.

That stuff doesn’t save…or condemn.

Those martyrs were not holding to a false Gospel, they believed some things doctrinally that I disagree with.

They were holding… to Jesus.

More importantly, He was holding on to them.

A false Gospel is one that says that knowing Jesus isn’t enough.

A false Gospel is one that puts faith in doctrinal formulations instead of the person and work of Christ.

A false Gospel is one that says you can’t love others as family that believe the true Gospel, but not what you’ve built around it.

Thankfully, the true Gospel even covers Calvinists…

Make your own application…

Feb 172015
 

isis-slaughter-coptsThe video is all over the internet.

21 men who claimed Christ getting their heads sawed off by men who personify evil.

I can’t watch such things…I don’t have the emotional or spiritual filters to withstand them and function.

 

I’m not sure I have the proper filters to withstand some of the responses to this barbarity either.

Fox News and conservatives were outraged at the Presidents response…he didn’t call the victims “Christians”.

Some Christians were upset because other Christians called the victims Christians.

God have mercy on our wicked souls.

J.D. Hall and James White quickly wrote articles to inform us that these Coptics did not have a proper understanding of the nature of Christ in their confessions, thus they may or may not have been in Christ.

Now, their followers are repeating this information as if it were a public service to do so.

I am ashamed to say that most of these folks are Calvinists.

Deeply ashamed.

Doctrine and confessions are important…vital to the health of the church.

I believe that.

What I believe even more than that is that my relationship with Christ and yours is mysterious and deeply personal and it is beyond all of our creedal and doctrinal definitions.

I believe that if in the last seconds of my life with a knife to my throat I call on the name of Jesus (as these men did) that He will hear and answer.

“Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

(Romans 14:4 ESV)

These man stood taller on their knees waiting to die than most of us ever will stand in life.

They did so because the One whose name they called upon made them able.

We were only able to politicize their deaths and criticize their faith.

Jesus wept.

Feb 172015
 

timthumb.phpHow science enhances faith…

What ISIS really wants…

Essentials and non-essentials in a nutshell…

The primacy of pastoring…

10 things to miss about Christian bookstores…

Which presidents were the most religious?

Carl Trueman on why he won’t observe Lent…

When is someone disqualified from ministry?

Steve and Tullian on radical grace…

Is your pastor or pastors wife a sociopath?

Zack Hunt on why ISIS causes him to struggle with the Gospel…wish I’d written this one.

Why people don’t report abuse…

Roger Olson on theological labels…

High church vs. low church sacramentalism…

Luthers’ church asks where all the Protestants have gone…

Half of pastors believe faith will be online only experience…

Five reasons many American Christians wouldn’t like the first ones…

Why is the number of the beast 666?

The truth tellers…

7 ways to give up the Internet for Lent…

Feb 162015
 

thinking-pic1. I have a bunch of questions from readers to what the “Christian” response to ISIS should be.

The personal response is to pray for your enemies. The state, however, has a different responsibility.

“For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”(Romans 13:2–4 ESV)

If any state had the moral compass left to call “evil” what it is and decided to use the sword to wipe these demons from the face of the earth, I’d say “God bless them”.

The problem is that the last state moral compass broke about 1945…

2. What we’re seeing from ISIS is what we’ve already seen in Mexico. When evil is given free reign it feeds on itself and becomes empowered by hell. My apologies for holding to ancient supernatural mythologies about the powers of darkness…actually, I don’t apologize at all. You scoff at these things to your own peril.

3. Another reason why my Facebook feed drives me nuts…a post about a cage full of children that ISIS intends on burning alive is followed by another by someone claiming that “all people are basically good”. No they’re not…some people are just like their father, the devil and all people are victims of the Fall. Deal with it.

4. I’ve also been asked if this verse refers to those killed by Islam;

“Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”

(Revelation 20:4 ESV)

The answer is … it refers to those who have been killed by anyone for the sake of Christ. A lot of folks have lost their lives at the hands of different entities for Jesus over the centuries.

5. The Achilles heel of narcissistic Christian leaders is their complete inability to take responsibility for specific actions and apologize to specific people from the heart…even when it would benefit them to do so. True repentance to a narcissist is like Kryptonite to Superman…

6. You could eliminate every professional sports “all-star” game except baseball’s and no one would notice…

7. Romans 14 (and other passages) tell us that there will be division in the church over secondary issues. They also tell us that one of the ways we fulfill the law of love is to love each other by accommodating each other despite them. I’m not good at accommodation…thus, I’m not good at loving as I should be.

8. Who among us is observing Lent this year and why? Why not?

9. I wonder if I’m in the last generation that marks the change of seasons by when the pitchers and catchers report…

10. There is a part of me that thinks the articles detailing the evil that Islamic extremists are committing are just this weeks social media excitement to too many…and we’ll be back to being outraged by some celebrities behavior tomorrow. All that we care about is that we are continually fed something to be outraged about and we truly care about little other than that.

Feb 152015
 

headerPhil Naessens informed me this afternoon that our podcast, “Calvin’s Corner” just 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.

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 142015
 

thumbnail.aspxPraying is going forward to meet our Father, God-Love.

Prayer is saying to God: ‘Source, give me living water flowing between the banks of my everyday life. Without you, I would become stagnant water and die.

Sun, give me light shining on my way today and tomorrow. Without you, I would live in darkness and be lost.

 

 

Wind, fill my sails – they are hoisted to receive you. Without you, I would never leave the harbour.

Breeze, I am waiting for your breath to carry me on my fight. Without you, I would be a bird with polluted feathers.

Artist, touch me with your bow and draw music from my strings and my wood. Without you, I would remain forever silent in my case. God, great Artist, I am here, receptive as a violin held in your loving arms, waiting for you to play me. I offer myself to you as your bride – embrace me in your Love– embrace me in your Love and our child will be music that will make the world sing with joy.’

‘Yes, you must pray, for prayer is going out to meet God, who is coming to meet us, knowing that he is our Life and our Love, being totally composed and offering ourselves totally to be loved even before we love others.’

Quoist, Michel (2014-09-05). Keeping Hope – Favourite Prayers for Modern Living: Selected Inspirational Prayers from World-Renowned Theologian Michel Quoist (Kindle Locations 497-502). Gill & Macmillan. Kindle Edition.

 

Feb 132015
 

IMG_0027If you didn’t know it already, I love cats.

All cats.

I’m a cat person.

I like dogs too, as long as someone else owns them.

 

I especially have a heart for stray cats and I leave them food every night in front of and in back of my home.

Some of the strays have learned to trust me enough that they come and request a meal if the bowls are dry.

All the strays are welcome to be strays no longer and call my house their home.

Well, they’re almost welcome.

The only problem they face is the cat who was once a stray, but is now a stray no longer, the beloved Miss Kitty.

Miss Kitty was in bad shape when she first came here..she was filthy and ill tempered and less than a pleasant companion all the way around.

My son loved her for reasons known only to him.

Because he did, I would too.

Thus, she stayed.

Over the years she’s mellowed and adjusted to a new life, she’s grown to be a wonderful companion and a beautiful cat.

She knows I care for the other cats around us though, and this troubles her for some reason.

She guards the outside food dishes and those who desire to eat must often pass through her first.

Some… have no chance…..she sees them and assaults them until they flee.

Some… she lets pass through to the dish, then sits beside them and growls the entire time they try to partake.

They can eat, but she really wants them to leave after they’re finished.

A very few have managed to meet her in the driveway and pass her inspection.

I know not what makes her amenable to these few… what set of feline confessions are heard and affirmed that makes her willing to let them pass.

They are allowed to eat in peace with only an occasional look of suspicion or growl that affirms whose territory they’re on.

This behavior frustrates me…I want to see all the cats to be fed and find a home.

My son loves them all.

Miss Kitty only wants the ones who she finds agreeable.

The rest can starve until they learn how to speak to her properly.

Most, it seems, never learn the language.

They remain strays at the paws of a former stray.

It doesn’t seem right.

Little does she know that I’m always looking for ways to feed them anyway…

Make your own application…

 

Feb 122015
 

tony-jonesThe Tony Jones story just took another leap forward into the abyss with this article, The Evidence Against Tony Jones.

I don’t normally follow what goes on in emergent circles, but this one bears many of the traits we’ve seen over and over again when a prominent Christian desires to change wives.

 

The ex wife to be had better comply or be crushed under the weight of all the resources available to male Christian leaders.

This is a prominent leader and Julie McMahon is at least being heard, partly because of her former husbands notoriety.

The women who have suffered similar (alleged) abuse at the hands of less prominent men who have the same benefit of more resources and power are rarely heard.

They suffer at the hands of the man and then at the hands of the community that will support him at any cost lest an cherished idol fall.

The Good Book says they will know us for our love…the question is “when?”

635591734621729682-kayla0000003I don’t believe in “saints”… the idea that there are some folks who are so good that they enter heaven to their own theme music and are available to take requests from those left behind.

I’m too old, too cynical, and I’ve seen too damn much to buy in to that mythology.

 

Kayla Mueller makes me think twice about that.

She died at 26 having touched people at the point of their need in her community and around the world.

For my own sanity I have to believe that the seeds she planted of grace and love will someday grow to help choke out the evil that took her life.

Had she not been murdered by barbarians we would never have know her name or her works.

There are thousands out there like her who we never will hear of nor celebrate… because they do the works of God for those who need them, not for the benefits they may get from them.

Remember them when we despair of those who use the things of God for personal gain.

I pray for her family and all those she touched…and I pray her tribe increase.

 

 

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