Feb 252015
 

41MPZtTM2gLCharles Bowden wasn’t a believer as far as I know.

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…

Feb 252015
 

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aToday, 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.

From his wife, Naghmeh,

Romans 12: 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Here is my two cents on current events:

RADICAL HATE can only be overcome by RADICAL LOVE. God’s solution to sin was a painful death on the cross while we were still sinners and while we were still His enemies. That’s God’s solution. Radical Love. A love that hangs on the cross and takes all of the insults, abuse and beatings and can still say “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Our president can not solve the problems we are seeing rampant around us. No government or governments in the world can solve it. No money in the world can solve it. No human plans can solve it (no matter how wise they may seem). The United Nations can certainly not solve it. There is only one solution and as Christians we have it to offer to the world!!!

Islam at its best is a religion. A list of does and don’ts. People are tired of religion. The world is thirsty for love. As Christians we have access to the only Love that can change a person within. We have access to the Love that can truly fill the emptiness within.

We might not live in the Middle East, but there are Muslims all around us where we live. Each one is an opportunity to love.

Feb 242015
 

timthumb.phpOn domestic violence…

We all think we’re right…

When Africa bleeds…

Reading the Bible with dead guys…

Who are you married to?

Christian persecution at all time high…

Wesleyan University now up to fifteen letters describing sexual identities…

What really happened in David Barton’s lawsuits?

On unanswered prayer…

The Coptics and Chalcedon…

An epidemic of liars…

ISIS has taken 90 more Christians…

On house churches…

Rob Bell, gay marriage, and the movie “Tombstone”.

ECT on reclaiming marriage…

Can science and scripture be reconciled?

Silencing people and learning to control the narrative…

No faith is free from child abuse scandals and cover ups…

Technology and community…

How to find bread and water in the dungeon of depression…

Steve Brown on why we don’t pray…

10 things about the “Great Commission”…

50 Shades of Gray and patriarchy…

5 myths about social justice…

Feb 232015
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. The Fifth Appellate Court in California has ruled against Alex Grenier in his motion to have the defamation lawsuit filed by his step father dismissed. Barring a settlement, that trial against Alex and Tim Taylor will proceed. The most shocking aspect of the courts ruling was that Bob Grenier was not a “limited public figure”, thus the standard he must prove for defamation is significantly lower than if he had been ruled a public figure. This is chilling to me as a blogger who has covered so many abuse cases…it opens the door wide to nuisance suits filed by people with more power and more money than the vast majority of bloggers. All bloggers need to understand that exposing alleged abuses in the church could threaten your own family and home. Alex and Tim estimate that defending this case will cost about $50,000.00, $30,000.00 of which will have to be raised by outside contributions and donations. All of us in social media need to stop and count the cost…

2. The Go Fund Me account to help with Alex’s legal fees is here.

3. Any “pastor” who would sue another brother or sister obviously does not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and should expect those sitting under their teachings to reject it as well. 1 Cor 6:1-8 is as authoritative as the rest of the book…

4. The hard truth is that “leaders” in the church today would rather sue you than repent… some of them, it seems, would rather die than repent.

5. The blood of the 21 Coptic Christian martyrs may be the seed of some profound changes in evangelicalism. Some who watched these Orthodox Christians die for their faith in Jesus are questioning deeply held beliefs about who gets in to heaven and who doesn’t based on doctrinal formulations…

6. I didn’t watch the Oscars last night as I have absolutely no interest in any film that doesn’t feature someone from a comic book. If you did and movies are your thing feel free to discuss…

7. There is an utter void of ethical leadership at the top of every American institution…I’ll be gone before the real fallout hits, but I mourn for what my son will face.

8. Still looking for the passage that says they will know us by our lawyers…

9. Be what you want the church to become…

10. “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:5–7 ESV)

The Bible is clear…in this life we’re going to need all the encouragement and endurance we can get.

You don’t “endure” enjoyable circumstances… you endure trials and we’ll have all we can handle.

Our God is a God of both endurance and encouragement…..and we are to be carriers of both in His name, for each other.

Let’s practice living with each other in such a way that we all have all we need.

I can always be reached at phoenixpreacher@gmail.com.

Feb 212015
 

thumbnail.aspxIn the midst of all the pushing and shoving among us,

in the world and in the church,

propelled by anxiety and acted as brutality,

You have planted yourself in all your fidelity.

You have placed yourself among us in steadfastness and abiding care present in the day,

alert in the night,

making us all safe and noticed and cared for.

So evidence your fidelity as to curb our anxiety,

as to restrain our brutality,

as to overcome our alienation.

By your fidelity, renew us, renew church, renew city, renew world.

Give us the safety to love you fully, to love neighbor well, in glad obedience.

Amen.
Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (p. 118). Kindle Edition.

Feb 202015
 

IMG_0027I had just settled down to eat when I heard the howling.

I put my plate down and walked outside and was hit in the face with the smell of cat urine and a cloud of cat hair no longer attached to a cat.

 

 

Miss Kitty was puffed out and angry…her battered opponent was across the street peering out of the culvert he had escaped to.

I recognized it as a stray I’d been trying to entice to eat…it was painfully thin and appeared to be injured as well.

He had evidently decided to take me up on my offer from sheer desperation when he ran into Miss Kitty.

He didn’t have a chance as he was suffering from malnutrition and my cat looks like a Volvo with fur.

When I appeared Miss Kitty shrunk down to normal size and walked up to me as if I approved of her actions.

I petted her and inspected her for wounds in the slight chance the stray had hit a lucky shot…and told her that this was unacceptable behavior.

She often pretends not to understand English, so I demonstrated as well.

If she wouldn’t let the stray come to me, I would go to him myself.

I went in the house. grabbed her dish full of food, and walked across the street.

The stray slipped deeper into the culvert thinking I couldn’t see him, crying for help while hiding from it.

I set the food at the opening of the culvert and bid him softly to come and eat.

In a few minutes his need overcame his fear and he came and ate.

He ate as one who hadn’t had food in too long… voraciously, but interjecting loud, sad, apologies in between gulps.

He suddenly shrunk back…Miss Kitty had run across the street to my side as I sat on the pavement feeding her enemy.

She somehow knew not to attack again…understanding that for some reason her master had accepted the stray and she would not be allowed to strike it again.

I wondered what was going through her mind as she sat next to her owner as he fed a stranger the same food she eats from the same dish.

The lesson appears to have stuck with her.

The stray comes to the door and eats now, though Miss Kitty guards the entrance to the house in silence with an occasional low growl.

I don’t think she has anything to worry about…he comes to see me and to be fed, not hang out with her.

He doesn’t have to come in to do so.

Make your own application…

 

Feb 182015
 

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aToday, 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.

From his wife, Naghmeh,

Update on Saeed (Praise Report)!

Saeed’s father was able to see Saeed in prison today (behind a glass window). It was a wonderful time of fellowship and Saeed got to hear of all of your prayers and words of encouragement that you had shared. Nothing encourages him more than to know that you are all praying for him and that he is not forgotten.

The amazing part of the visit was that they started praying together and worshipping together and sharing from God’s Word together and the guards were there watching and didn’t seem to want to end the visit! They were allowing them to pray and worship together. The normal 20 minute visit turned into 40 minutes which turned into an hour which turned into a few hours! Saeed and his father were shocked the amount of time that they were allowed. The presence of the Lord was so strong that the guards did not want to intervene and end the visit! Praise the Lord!

On another note, continued prayers appreciated for Saeed’s health, his nutrition, and for clean water. The quality of the prison water is very poor and so is the nutrition (lack of protein). Saeed has not been able to purchase mineral water or protein from the prison store as they have stopped providing them for purchase which has affected his health.

Thank you all for your prayers!

Love you all!

Naghmeh

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…

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