Jul 232015
 

This week I’m cross posting this article by Sarah from her blog, The Small Rain.

She asked if I’d by interested in doing so….and you can read why I was.

Fearfully and Wonderfully….and not forgotten.

I have been listening to the debate raging on my FaceBook feed, on Twitter and in the news. The debate about the Planned Parenthood video. It seems issues of deep importance, with political ramifications, keep demanding my attention. As I said the other day, I am not a fan of entering political or theological debates on FaceBook or Twitter. I simply do better hearing the voice and having the chance to draw out my thoughts in dialog.

 Still. I was left feeling chilled and deeply saddened by the video. Many of us were impacted as deeply by the callousness of the conversation as we were by the topic. I’m not sure I could have eaten in the discussion.

 There are certain truths that define us. For myself, the reality of God as Creator places such a deep value on each person. I confess I do not always carry that value in the forefront of my thoughts…and that is to my shame. As a mother of four, though, the amazing wonder of infancy and of simply the reality of how we are made is staggering. 

 We truly are fearfully and wonderfully created.

Fearfully.

Awesomely.

It should take our breath away when we realize we are carrying a life within us. Staggering. There should be a healthy fear, a Godly fear, of the gift we have in carrying life within ourselves. Carrying that Image Bearer. It is not something to be taken casually….it is staggering. 

For some that reality is overwhelming to the point they feel the need to end that life. 

 I cannot go there. We have to do better in helping those who are overwhelmed by a pregnancy….but we so deeply need to be formed by the reality of the God of Creation marking each soul as an image bearer of Himself. 

Image Bearer. 

Deeply valued.

 Still…my voice seems so small, and sometimes I feel I don’t have a ‘right’ to talk because I have no experience with abortion. I do, however, have a dear friend who is intimately formed by the abortion practice.

 Gianna Jessen has spoken for most of her life about her experience.

 “Born during saline abortion” is stamped on her birth certificate.

 Intended not to live, she survived. And she values life in a way that shouts not only of that auspicious entrance, but also of the deep mark of a Creator who knew her, cared for her and has loved her since she was formed.  Listen:

Who better to be engaged in this dialog than one who survived abortion?

I asked her permission to cull some of her thoughts from her FaceBook page to share with you here:

“Enough with the cocktail party Jesus we create with our enlightenment. the one that makes the neighbors happy.

He’s not even real. we created him in the image of tmz.

All these things we face, will bring us face to face with what, and who we do or do not want. do we really want the Jesus that can raise us from the dead? the only One that can heal our land?

I am sitting here singing. in the darkness. All I want to do is sing to my passionate, beautiful God.”

“I know it’s not uber cool to mention Jesus anymore. But we have the blood of over fifty million unborn children on our hands as a nation. How can we bear the weight of that burden without Him?

How can I be embarrassed to proclaim the God Who spared me from that?

 If you are in a position to share Gianna’s story, what better time? She has a perspective few of us have. A perspective that is vital in this dialog. 

 It is not simply that abortion is bad. It is this…you are created by a loving God. The little one within you is created, not forgotten or ignored. Not simply a lump of tissue…a little soul and light and life with a purpose. 

 Did you hear? You….sitting right there….you are known and loved and marked by the image of a Creator God. He knows you, loves you and has so much grace for you. And, Oh my soul, we need to be moved by these videos and by this reality. 

 You are Loved by God and not forgotten. Nothing about you is forgotten.

Victory!

 

 

(For booking info see giannajessen.com. Text message updates (no spam) text: gianna to 95577)

Jul 232015
 

Last week, two books arrived in the mailbox from B&H Publishing.

I hadn’t ordered them, they were sent to me in hopes of being reviewed here on the blog.

Upon opening the package and looking at the titles and authors I threw them in the “only if I have to spend a month in the bathroom” pile.

Feeling guilty about this, I decided to read them and review them anyway.

i-will-webThe first was a little book by Thom Rainer called “I Will: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian”.

Rainer then gives nine ways to focus inwardly and change your attitudes and be a good church member.

 

Rainer says it’s not a “to do” list, but it is another “to do” list…not a bad list, or a list without truth, but yet another list that focuses on what we do instead of what He’s done.

Meh…

FullSizeRender1-185x300The other book that arrived was by Russell Moore entitled “Onward: Engaging The Culture Without Losing the Gospel”.

Moore is the head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

I assume he is also is a conservative Republican.

I’m not a Southern Baptist or a Republican…and I was prepared to hate this book in Jesus name.

Instead, I will say that this is the best book written on this topic since Francis Shaeffer’s salad days.

 

The introductory chapter is worth the price of the book all by itself.

Moore understands both the culture and the Gospel and his keen insights on both inform the way forward.

His is a kingdom centered approach wherein we go from being the “moral majority” to being the “prophetic minority”.

Moore writes about the book;

“In the book, I argue that the church is, if we ever were, a moral majority no more. We are, on our best days, a prophetic minority, rooted in the gospel of the kingdom. This minority status doesn’t mean siege mentality. The prophetic word, after all, uproots and rebuilds. The new era before us, though, gives us the opportunity to toss aside some aspects of our past that never reflected the gospel in the first place: starting with our bargain-basement prosperity gospel.

We are not ambassadors of “traditional values.” We are stewards of the mystery of the gospel.

The book argues that the kingdom of God should set our priorities, that the kingdom should reorient the cultures of local congregations to speak to the outside world, and that a holistic mission ought to define our engagement. This kingdom-culture-mission framework drives us then to a distinctively Christian vision of human dignity, of religious liberty, and of family integrity.”

In my opinion the path laid out by Moore can be a manifesto of cultural engagement by the church that crosses political party lines as well as denominational ones.

I highly commend it to your reading.

It will be available August 1 and is available for presale now.

Jul 222015
 

1401854848179Last week I had the opportunity to have dinner with a fellow who runs an extensive Christian media network.

Among other nuggets, he told me two things I found hard to believe.

One was that programs centered around apologetics are the most popular he airs.

 

Two, was that there are a very large number of people who are searching for answers and are deeply curious about the Christian faith.

As the culture grows more and more secular, that number grows accordingly.

To put it simply…people who are already Christians want to know why they believe what they believe and non believers want a reason to believe.

The fields are white to harvest…but the workers are few or are busy doing other things.

This is not the narrative we’ve been hearing as Christians sing the blues about their place in the culture.

The latest polls show that more people oppose same sex marriage than approve of it.

The video exposes’ of Planned Parenthood have made the culture face the grisly results of abortion and the culture has recoiled in horror.

We all have seen and fear the reality of Islamic terror…just as the church has since the 7th century.

The country and the world is looking for answers and looking for hope.

The answers they thought they had have failed them.

We have the answer to all of these issues.

We have the only answer to all these issues.

We have the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We haven’t spread it as we should, nor practiced it in truth.

We have let power and money defile the truth and the name of the Lord in the eyes of the culture.

If…if… we repent of our own sins and walk in His ways, He will turn the tide.

We have the truth, but we must walk in that truth and tell that truth in love.

God has not abandoned us, though He could have done so righteously.

What He has done is set the table for a feast of revival and renewal by making many hungry for only that which will satisfy.

We can either serve the feast or stay in the kitchen complaining about the diners.

If we choose to stay the course we are on…of self seeking and self serving religion… we will lose and receive what we deserve.

If we repent…a feast awaits with new family.

Which will it be?

Jul 222015
 

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.

You can follow Naghmeh Abedini for the latest news on her Facebook page…

Jul 212015
 

timthumb.phpAdultery site AshleyMadison hacked, cheaters could be exposed…

Was the early church ruled by elders or a single bishop?

What’s next for Driscoll?

The reinvention of Sovereign Grace Ministries…

Roger Olson asks “did I belong to a cult?”

Did Adam and Eve exist?

Two views on the Confederate flag…for and against

Second video of Planned Parenthood haggling for parts….

On Indulgences…

The altar of platform…

No more gatekeepers…

Is Franklin Graham “intolerant”?

Yet another article on millennials and the church…

Religious diversity around the globe…

A new social media platform coming for politics…

Bloom County back…

What it means for scripture to be ‘God breathed”…

Thy will be done…

Not all Lutherans affirm Tullians view of grace…

Defending Tullian…

The fragility of life…

How the internet has brought us together and the wisdom of trolls…

WTH with a take on plausible deniability and other ways to lie…

How to tell if your Christianity has been Americanized…

GFA still stonewalling, deflecting…

This Linkathon was brought to you by EricL..support his business at the upper right.

Jul 202015
 

Calvin's Corner headerThis week Phil and I discuss the importance of knowing the difference between the theology of the cross and the theology of glory.

You will practice the theology of the cross by forgiving the bad audio from my mic…

Jul 202015
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. Doctors say that we all carry cancer cells in our body all the time…they manifest themselves in the disease itself under certain conditions. Likewise, I believe we are all latent narcissists in our fallen state and under the right conditions that disease of the soul manifests itself. Going online is to narcissism as smoking is to cancer…

 

2. In our online worlds all things are subjective to and suited for us. We choose what we see, what we hear, who we associate with, and who we believe. Because of this, we seem to believe more and more that truth itself is also subjective and is a slave to our whims. There is no surer, more well paved, path to personal and societal destruction.

3. I propose a 3-5 year ban on domestic church planting. Instead of planting, I propose that all those folks who think they are called to serve in this way pour themselves sacrificially into existing churches to strengthen them before beginning anything new. You really don’t know better than those who are already serving and trying to plow hard ground…

4. One of the greatest needs we have as a society is for non partisan, fact based, fact checking news outlets. Right now, “news” is simply a story to make someone angry enough to be “click bait”.

5. Enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, and divisions are all proof of walking in the flesh according to Galatians 5. Those who practice such will not enter the kingdom of God. Some of us need to turn off our computers to save our souls…

6. While the internet has opened vast streams of knowledge, it also taps deep wells of ignorance… be careful where you drink.

7. What books are you reading this summer? 

8. I have no problem with questioning certain passages of Scripture and doctrines drawn from it. The difference between a believer and an unbeliever asking those questions is one is asking for clarity from an established authority and one is demanding that the authority prove itself authoritative. For me, the Scriptures are my final authority for doctrine and practice. Period.

9. I do believe that the Bible teaches that at the end of all things there will be a global government and economy. Because the Bible teaches that this will be the case, I cannot and should not endeavor to stop it, but I should endeavor to explain it as it unfolds. To listen to some of the end time wonks you’d think it’s our job to try to keep Christ from returning by stopping all the events that precede His appearance. That’s just crazy…

10. All the opinion polls I see show what I’ve suspected all along…that the mainstream in this country doesn’t fully embrace such things as abortion and same sex marriage. Those folks have overplayed their hand and a backlash is starting. This is an opportunity for the church to show what the Gospel truly looks like…by confessing our own sins and failures and pointing to the Cross of Christ where our sin was forgiven and His blood still flows to sinners seeking grace and pardon. We need to stun the world with our love for each other and for them and point to the Cross alone as our hope and salvation. We need to embrace the fact that these are spiritual battles and come to prayer personally and corporately…it may be our last chance.

 

 

Jul 192015
 

thumbnail.aspxLook upon us, O Lord,

and let all the darkness of our souls

vanish before the beams of thy brightness.

Fill us with holy love,

and open to us the treasures of thy wisdom.

All our desire is known unto thee,

therefore perfect what thou hast begun,

and what thy Spirit has awakened us to ask in prayer.

We seek thy face,

turn thy face unto us and show us thy glory.

Then shall our longing be satisfied,

and our peace shall be perfect.

Augustine

Jul 192015
 

Word of GodHebrews 1:1-2

The Book of Hebrews best reflects my thesis that the Old Testament is the Bible and the New Testament is the divine interpretation of this Bible.

Whenever a big book or movie comes out such as Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, Christian publishers feel compelled to bring out their versions, you’ve seen them, Finding Jesus in Lord of the Rings or in Harry Potter. Consider Hebrews as Finding Jesus in the Old Testament.

So, who wrote Hebrews? We don’t know. Who was it written to? We don’t know. When was it written? Before the Temple was destroyed.

1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,

  • God spoke to our fathers. Think about it – God has spoken.
  • We take that for granted. We are talking about Special Revelation
  • God reveals himself to us – we do not discover God.
  • Natural revelation gives us evidence that God exists and leaves us without excuse Rom 1
  • However, all we can really tell from natural revelation is
    • He exists
    • He is powerful
    • He is mad
  • But divine revelation is what reveals to us who God is – the trinity.
  • How did God speak in the past? Long ago?
    • By the prophets
    • Includes Moses, David etc – not just Isaiah, Jeremiah etc.
  • What do you think it means – “at many times and in many ways”?

2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

  • Last days – how long are the last days? This has been going on for quite some time.
    • Do people mock Christians when we speak of being in the last days? 2 Peter 3 / Jude 1
    • God’s word is always present tense – the now & the not yet – we are always in the now.
    • It was the last days for this author, for Paul & Peter, for Luther and for us.
  • God is still speaking today through his Son. This is not in addition to the ways of the past – the old ways have ended and today it is through Jesus alone.
  • How does Jesus speak to us today? Through the Bible
  • The Bible is outside of us – not the “God in us” – our feelings etc. What happens when our “feelings” tell us Go and the Bible tells us No?
  • What is this heir of all things? That is a pretty bold statement to apply to someone who was nailed to a tree. When we are in Jesus – when we are joined to Jesus, we too become the heirs.
  • In baptism we are put into Jesus and in the Eucharist Jesus puts himself into us.
  • So Jesus is speaking, what is Jesus saying to us? We say to Jesus “Lord I don’t want to mess up – who should I marry, where should I go to school – should I take this job? etc.
  • Jesus says, “I forgive you, I love you, you are mine.”
  • Now this gets a little dicey because you have to watch out when people today say;
    • Well that was then, but today he speaks to us through Muhammad; or today he speaks to us through Joseph Smith; or today he speaks to us through _______
  • By His Son – we could do a whole 10 week class on just who is the Son and the relationship between the Father and Son … but we won’t, I will leave that to others.
  • But how is the Son described here
  • There will be 7 descriptions – which I think is on purpose.
  • Just as there are 7 prophecies to begin Matthew and 7 Miracles to begin John.
    • Heir of all things – who is an heir? – Because he is God’s Son
    • Creator of all things – How many things is all things? John 1 & Col 1

As we will see next time the writer, the preacher puts his whole case in the next few verses. But for discussion, I think

1.) Barnabas was the writer – in fact I think this was actually a sermon presented to these people.

2.) I believe “these people” to be an isolated Jewish congregation(s) who were feeling the pressure of being outcasts from Jews, from Gentiles and from the Roman authorities and have advanced ideas to return to Judaism.

3.) This letter was written to encourage them to stay, that what they had was superior to anything they could return to.

 

Jul 182015
 

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