Jul 182014
 

pic-6I’ve never been one of those people that believed that “God is going to soon judge America”.

Biblically, I believe we are living in an age of grace, a time of the kingdom breaking in ,and judgement has been deferred.

Rationally, if He’s going to start judging nations today, there are a lot of worse places He can start cleaning up.

That doesn’t mean, however, that He won’t discipline the church inside of a nation.

That…I believe we are in grave danger of.

My email over the last two weeks has been full of epithets and outrage over my advocacy for the children on the border and immigration reform.

The outrage has been political…being faithful to my understanding of scripture has landed  me on the hated “left”.

I’m going to make this clear one more time…this is a biblical issue, not a political one.

It may have political ramifications and require political solutions, but for me it’s a biblical issue…and one of far more import than what people do in their bedrooms.

“For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:17–19 ESV)

That is not a verse taken in isolation…there are many, many more that say the same thing…it’s not an issue of proof texting, it’s a recognition of biblical principles.

Jesus sums it all up in this passage that should either chill or encourage you.

““When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”” (Matthew 25:31–46 ESV)

For me this is not primarily a a political issue, but a an issue concerning the Gospel…and I am not ashamed of the Gospel.

We are to be the ambassadors of Christ to all people…and when we refuse to do so that puts us in danger of holy discipline.

I do not view the young refugees on our border as invaders, but as opportunities to show forth the love of Christ that has no borders.

It is an opportunity to show that my commitment to His kingdom outweighs any earthly allegiances.

There may be criminals among them…we also may be entertaining some angels unaware.

Damn me all day with your earthly political labels…I care no more.

My only concern is that on that Day I find myself on the “right” side of the Master.

Make your own application…

Jul 172014
 

luther-in-worms1In his volume, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, Luther launched missiles at the heart of Roman Catholicism, the sacramental system.

It had become the practice of the church to withhold the cup from the laity…what if some careless person spilled Jesus onto the floor?

Luther called this “tyranny” and called for the laity to be served both the bread and wine.

He rejected transubstantiation, the belief that the elements were miraculously converted into the real body and blood of the Lord.

He did so by rejecting the Aristotelian reasoning behind it, calling the philosopher a “dead, blind, accursed, proud, knavish heathen teacher”.

He rejected the teaching of the sacrifice of the Mass wherein Christ is actually resacrificed and he demanded that the mass be spoken in the language of the people.

He affirmed infant baptism and on this sacrament he varied little from Roman teachings.

All the other sacraments of the church…he rejected.

On June 15, 1520 a papal bull (declaration) was issued beseeching God to judge His cause…”a wild boar has invaded the vineyard”.

Luther was given sixty days to recant his teachings or be excommunicated.

His response was to throw a party and burn the letter. He was excommunicated on January 3, 1521.

It was the duty of the state to prosecute heretics and Luther was called to appear before the Diet of Worms in April,1521.

He was guaranteed safe passage…but Jan Huss had been promised the same a hundred years before and then condemned and burned at the stake.

He was asked to first acknowledge his writings, then recant them.

He asked to sleep on it.

The next day he tried to give a reasoned defense of his work, but was cut short…his accusers wanted a direct answer.

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the  Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust in either the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor wise to go against conscience. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.”

The enraged council responded with shouts of “to the fires!”…but it was not politically expedient to execute Luther immediately for he had won the hearts of the German people.

Thus, the prophecy of Huss as he was being executed a hundred years before came to pass…“You are now going to burn a goose, but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast nor boil.”

 

 

Jul 162014
 

Luther-nailing-theses-560x538As a young Augustinian monk and professor of theology, Martin Luther was convinced of two things.

God hated him and he hated God back.

He could not be good enough, long enough, often enough to please Him…and God knows he tried to be.

While studying and teaching the book of Romans at the seminary between 1515-1517, the Holy Spirit illuminated the text and showed Luther a long lost doctrine.

Solace and grace became his possession through this text.

“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”” (Romans 1:17 ESV)

Justification by faith.

This was the first spark of the coming revolution, but the revolution was yet to come.

Concurrently, the pope had sent a man named Tetzel to sell indulgences in Germany to finance the building of St. Peters basilica.

This enraged Luther, not so much on theological grounds, but because it exploited the working poor of the region.

Luther nailed the legendary 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenburg on Oct 31, 1517…these were not intended to be the first shots of a revolution, but an invitation to debate.

It is vitally important to understand that Luther wanted reform from within Catholicism, not to start a new movement.

The papacy was enraged by Luther’s theses and tried numerous times to bring him back in line…to them, the matter was more about papal authority than indulgences and avarice.

The matter come to a head in July of 1519 in the town of Leipzig in a debate between Luther and Johann Eck.

Here, Luther affirmed that the “power of the Keys” had not been given to the papacy only, but to the whole church.

This was a direct assault on papal authority.

He further stated that it was not necessary to believe in the preeminence of the Roman church to be saved.

He affirmed that even after taking the sacraments, sin still continues.

That was a shot at the sacramental system.

The biggest shot was when Luther said that popes and councils can and have made mistakes.

The revolution had now begun.

Debates were decided by who had displayed the greatest knowledge of the church fathers…and on that basis, Eck won.

Luther proclaimed himself the victor…because he knew the Scriptures better.

In 1520, Luther took the gloves completely off.

He wrote three books…The Address To The Christian Nobility, The Babylonian Captivity, and The Freedom of the Christian Man.

In the first he states that the church can longer reform itself and the secular powers must step in.

He also pleads for participation of the laity, and rejects the church having the exclusive right to call a council.

The two bombshells he throws are a rejection of the churches exclusive authority to interpret Scripture and he affirms the priesthood of all believers.

In the same book, he rejects clerical celibacy, masses for dead, mandatory fasts, and says that begging by monks should be forbidden.

The revolution was in full swing.

Next, Luther, Part 2

Jul 162014
 

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aToday, like every Wednesday, we 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.

 

Jul 162014
 

960x440SrPastors2014-To most in attendance and watching online, the Calvary Chapel Senior Pastors Conference was a roaring success.

The new openness and fresh ways were a breath of fresh air and freedom in the Spirit.

To most…

There is a group that is not happy at all, in fact they are alternately depressed and outraged at how the proceedings went.

This group is hard to define, the best I can do is to call them the far right wing of the movement.

They are the separatists and they believe they are the true holders of Chuck Smith’s legacy.

They believe we are in the very last days and that the great “apostasy” is in full swing.

They loathe “ecumenicism”, which appears to mean consorting with anyone outside of their own circle.

They truly believe that they have been given a supernatural ability to “discern” that men like Rick Warren and Eugene Peterson are carriers of “leaven” which is infecting the church.

They did not enjoy this conference as they truly believe that all those boundary markers of their faith were either moved or removed.

Their water bearers at this conference were supposed to be Don McClure and Joe Focht.

This was a conundrum from the beginning as McClure and Focht were also thought to be directly responsible for the excommunication from the proceeding of two other heroes, Paul Smith and George Bryson.

No matter, this was going to be the conference where those two grabbed control of the movement and led it away from their perceived precipice of compromise.

They would deal with McClures treachery later.

That’s not what happened though…Brian Brodersen and Greg Laurie engineered a conference that gave a place to the traditions of the movement, while allowing fresh ideas and fresh faces a platform as well.

They captured the left and vast moderate center of the movement decisively and openly…and left this group feeling “left behind”.

The door that Brodersen, Laurie, and company kicked open cannot be closed again…there are more CC pastors on the other side of the door.

The far right group won’t be kicked out of the movement, but they would save themselves a lot of grief if they just moved on.

Calvary Chapel already has…

 

Jul 152014
 

imagesThe Western church was a mess.

The papacy was staggering under the weight of political machinations and avarice.

The bishops and clergy were the instigators and profiteers of corruption, both financial and moral.

 

Church offices were purchased with the expectation of future profits…the practice of simony.

The people in the pews were feeling disconnected from the church…and used and abused by its leaders.

The feudal system was collapsing, the masses feeling crushed economically, and the poor no longer believed the church was there for them.

Theologically, the last century had seen the birth of “humanism” a call back to the original sources both in the church and in philosophy.

In the providence of God, publishing was making Greek manuscripts available from the East that challenged the integrity of the Vulgate and the printed works of Augustine were bringing the greatest father of the West back to prominence.

The Waldensians and the Hussites,the followers of Wycliffe and Tyndale , the erudition of Erasmus…all these proto Reformation ideas and martyrs were suddenly brought to new light and influence.

A perfect storm was brewing that would explode into the Protestant Reformation.

It was Martin Luther that would come first, bearing the thunder.

It is with him that we will begin our study in our next article.

 

 

 

Jul 152014
 

timthumb.phpWhen you feel helpless…

Is evangelical morality still acceptable in America?

What happened to the 12 apostles?

Can we still believe the Bible?

When we misinterpret God…

Hell has frozen over…I post a good word about Glenn Beck.

A child was bored in the service…

Mars Hill member demanding an accounting of Global Fund donations…

Church of England affirms women bishops…

Finding the good in terrible people…

Archie to die saving gay best friend…

Is the Christian life more like Colorado or Nebraska?

The next big church thing…

Romans 13 and the immigration crisis…

Wenatchee the Hatchet with a look at Mark Driscolls sex narrative…

The irrationality of Calvinism…

Was Luther a Calvinist?

What Western Christians don’t understand about the Palestinian conflict…

Driscoll’s flip flops on T.D. Jakes…

Many Americans don’t believe Jesus supports their political views…

A church for exiles…my favorite link of the week.

 

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Jul 142014
 

1. The lack of attention given Saeed Abedini at the Calvary Chapel Senior Pastors Conference was unconscionable to me.

Greg Laurie has stepped up to the plate today, however.

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2. The only thing more frustrating to me than some Christians attitudes toward immigrants is when the government won’t allow Christians to minister as Christ would to the stranger among us. The church all over this country is attempting to help the children on the border…but is being rebutted at every turn.

3. The preaching of holiness without grace appeals to the flesh as much as as the prosperity gospel…and is just as warped.

4. The shortening of our attention spans is breeding a hatred of complexity and reducing issues to binary opposites. This is more deadly than any virus or war that could befall us.

5. Many observers, (including me) believe that God did a work at CCSPC 14. What most haven’t acknowledged is that it never would have happened if Chuck Smith were still alive. The final test of a great leader is to know when to pass the torch…

6. The difference between being hopeless and hopeful is the object of your hope. 

7. God gave Martin Luther the revelation of the doctrine of justification by faith 1500 years after the birth of the church. I have a hard time believing that God ceased giving revelation from the scriptures after that point…the study of Scripture with fresh eyes and open hearts must continue until He returns.

8. Here’s some incentive to be an intercessor…think about it.“And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends.” (Job 42:10 ESV)

9. I believe that God allowed there to be many denominations and traditions within orthodox Christendom because no one group can express all He is. I also believe that focusing on those differences rather than on Him inevitably leads to worship of the differences, rather than Him.

10. Miss Kitty came to me as a stray. I adopted her, loved her and provided for her. She’s not a stray anymore. She was very grateful at the beginning, but lately, she’s changing. She sits in front of the house and guards the driveway from other strays…she is fat and healthy and tears them up in their weakened condition. She has also taken to beating up the other cat in the home…who was here before she was. If I leave food out for the other strays in the neighborhood, she walks around the property and eats it before they find it…while wailing like a banshee for her own dish to be filled. She used to be full of affection and joy, but her vigilant defense of what she’s been given takes up most of her time and energy now.

She’s forgotten where she came from…and that all she has is a gift she couldn’t possibly earn.

Make your own application…

phoenixpreacher@gmail.com

 

Jul 122014
 

thumbnail.aspxLord God, heavenly Father, I ask and would be assured that my petitions shall and must be nothing less than yea and amen. 

Otherwise I will not pray nor have intercession made for me.

Not that I am righteous or worthy, for I know very well and confess that I am unworthy. 

I have earned Thine eternal wrath and hell fire with my great and many sins.  

But in this that Thou dost command and constrain me to pray in the Name of Thy dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, I am still somewhat obedient.  

Upon this challenge and consolation of Thine infinite goodness, not on account of my own righteousness, do I kneel or stand before Thee, and pray what is upon my heart concerning those who are in need of Thy help. 

 If Thou dost not help us, O Lord, Thou wilt offend and dishonor Thy Name.  

Thou wilt surely spare Thyself, lest the world would say Thou wert an ungracious and dreadful God. 

Preserve us from such a misfortune.  

Remember, dear heavenly Father, how Thou hast at all times supported and helped Thy people. I will not cease to knock but will continue to cry aloud and to plead to the end of my life.  

Amen.

Martin Luther

 

 

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