Feb 072016

Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication to you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting.


St. Chrysostom

Feb 062016

bible-word-of-god_thumbHebrews 11:20-30

20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau.

  • Isaac blessed both Jacob and Esau
  • See Genesis 27
  • What about Rebekkah – she knew the promise
  • Where is faith in this passage? When Isaac realized that he was wrong – and he kept the blessings in place. He knew either it was God’s plan or God would now use it as his plan.
  • He knew he had done it wrong. V 33 his reaction – “Then Isaac trembled very violently.”

21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.

  • What do you think the blessings were like?
  • Would they be something like – “the words have been said over me and the water has been poured on me”?
  • Faith sometimes means going against “traditions” – not blessing the 1st
  • The promise of eternal life & heaven is sure and secure. But do we really hold on to it?
  • Are you going to heaven? How many times have you heard someone say (or perhaps yourself) “I sure hope so.”
  • God does not want us to be unsure, so he gives us the sacraments. How do you know you are going to heaven? “I have been baptized.”
  • How do you know your sins are forgiven? “I have taken his body and blood in my mouth as instructed.”

22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

  • Joseph was looking for a resurrection
  • Joseph was not going to follow conformity – his bones belonged to Israel.
  • Joseph lived in Egypt from 17 to 110 yrs old
  • After all those years in Egypt, he still understood the promises given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
  • Were you that well trained at 17? Today?

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

  • This example is not about Moses but about his parents
  • Where is the faith? It’s not in putting Moses in the water – but keeping the baby Moses for those first 3 months, defying the king’s commands.

24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,

25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.

  • Bringing up Moses to these Hebrews who are considering leaving the faith because of persecution, is absolute genius.
  • What OT figure put up with more garbage than Moses.
  • But he knew something better was coming.
  • When it came time to ACT on his faith – he did.
  • Acts 7 gives the inspired version of the exodus account.
  • Moses thought this would lead to a revolution which he would lead.

26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.

  • He was thinking of Christ?
  • Again, the NT writers interpret the old.
  • What were the riches of Egypt? Think of the exhibits we see today that go on tour, all the gold, jewels etc.
  • Now try to imagine the reaction of these Hebrews to Moses giving that all up for Jesus – and they being chastised for leaving.

27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.

  • What was Moses like when he confronted the king? – Bold
  • Again this theme of endurance.

28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

  • Obedience to the will of God.
  • 1st Passover – blood on the house
  • More than symbolism – this is a great look ahead at a timeless reality.
  • Any Jewish 1st borns killed? How about any who did not believe and did not put blood on the doorposts? Could an Egyptian have been saved?

29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.

  • How high was the water stacked up on each side?
  • How loud was the wind?
  • Moses is a part of the “they” – “the people”
  • God literally led them to the Red Sea – cloud – pillar of fire
  • Which to anyone who knew the geography, would have seemed like a dead end at the Red Sea.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.

  • Now we are into the 2nd generation of wilderness wanderers.
  • What happened to the 1st generation? Died in the desert.
  • Talk about BIG FAITH – after the 6th time around, how many do you think wanted to quit? “Hey boss, walking around this place one more time isn’t going to do anything – let’s pack it up.”
  • How outrageous was the command to walk around Jericho?
  • Is it any more outrageous than today we are told to forgive someone who is unforgivable? Or we are told to pray a blessing over our enemies?
Feb 052016

Saeed-Abedini-ACLJThe Idaho Statesman has uncovered some info on the prison conditions in Iran.

This would seem to verify Naghmeh Abedinis narrative, at least in part.

Feb 052016

IMG_0027Miss Kitty loves her “treats”.

When she first adopted us I would sprinkle a few on top of her food.

Now, unless her food is covered in treats she won’t eat.

In fact, she often eats the treats and leaves the food behind.

She thinks shes being fed.

She thinks she’s being nourished.

She thinks she’s full when she’s done.

She is taking in a quantity of food of little or no quality.

In reality, she is at risk of malnutrition and sickness.

In this, she is a picture to me of our culture and our churches.

We take in more information than ever, most of it of questionable value.

We do our theology by Google and Wikipedia.

We craft our political opinions by soundbite and website.

We think we’re being fed.

We think ourselves wise.

We demand to have a voice and opinion, even if it’s ill informed.

We are angry and divided and think each other the problem.

We think ourselves full, but full of what?

We are malnourished by lack of wisdom and our souls are growing as sick as if there were a famine of it.

I’m cutting off Miss Kitty’s treats and putting her on a healthy diet.

When she’s healthier, we can do treats again…in moderation.

For the rest of us, I suggest cutting the cable and buying a book.

Maybe several…

Wisdom takes time…if wisdom still matters.

Make your own application…



Feb 042016

LooseEnds610The Jews had three “boundary markers” that set them apart from all other people and defined them culturally as worshipers of the one true God.

Those were circumcision, dietary laws, and strict Sabbath observance.

The Christian has one.

The New Testament says that they will know us by our love.

If social media is any indication, there are very few Christians that own computers.

On social media they will know us by our anger.

Our identity is no longer in Christ, but in our candidates and our issues.

Because we are divided on candidates and issues, that is a split identity as well.

The struggle I’ve had in recent weeks to stabilize my heart condition and blood pressure has put me in a place where I can no longer afford the luxury of recreational rage.

Being angry and stressed now comes with a cost.

I’m not the only one with “heart disease” however.

When politics and the things of this world can bring such division and contempt for each other that is heart disease that cripples the whole Body.

When we can so easily write each other off over temporal matters we deny who we were called to be and the One who called us.

Some of you need the blessing of physical illness…it has a way of reordering your priorities.

What’s wrong with this picture?










Imagine the surprise of some when they find out that this is a Christian gathering.

If it’s true that you keep them with what you catch them with, some churches are going to have to pay some bands…

I’m excited to say that Matt B. Redmond will be our guest on Calvins Corner this weekend.

We will undoubtedly be talking about this….


Feb 032016

MV5BODU4MjU4NjIwNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDU2MjEyMDE@._V1_The other night I was watching The Shawshank Redemption on tv for the umpteenth time.

I watch very few movies “umpteen” times, so you know it’s one of my favorites.

This time around, however, I could not help but to think of K.P. Yohannan and Gospel for Asia as the story line of the warden played out.

While not everything matches up completely and the parallels aren’t always perfect, there are definitely some strong correlations.


You see, for those unfamiliar with the movie, Warden Norton rules Shawshank Prison with an iron fist.

Prisoners and guards alike fear the Warden and you dare not ever tell him anything he doesn’t want to hear.

He has used his power to gain full capitulation from all. The Warden also purports himself to be a very pious man.

He spouts and displays many Bible verses and religious sayings.

Near the beginning of the movie we see him in full character welcoming some new prisoners by telling them, “I believe in two things: discipline and the Bible. Here you’ll receive both. Put your trust in the Lord; your [butt] belongs to me. Welcome to Shawshank.”

One of those new prisoners is a very smart banker named Andy Dufresne.

As the Warden discovers Andy’s talents, he puts them to use and runs all kinds of money laundering schemes to enrich himself and his prison. The more “success” he has, the deeper his crookedness becomes in order to protect his riches and power… until one day when Andy puts in place a plan he had been scheming for years and outsmarts him.

Judgment day comes upon the Warden and his prison.

The Warden’s backstory isn’t told and so we don’t know if he was once a sincere Christian man who becomes corrupted in his rise to power,or if he was just always jerk who only used religion to help him gain the power he wanted.

But there is no question that he is an utter hypocrite who only grows worse as the movie plays on through the years.

As awful as the Warden was in this fictional story, the dastardly aspect is we can think of real life examples of so called Christians who are corrupted in power,

Just as I did in this case.

Their actions bring pain to those around them and they bring shame to the name of Christ, especially when they are found out.

Thank God I am not like these other men who are corrupted in power.

Hold on……. I think I’ve heard something like that before…

Feb 022016

timthumb.phpThe pulpit bully…

The third temptation…

The unexpected consequences of the Jesus Movement…

Why it’s dangerous to misrepresent the Gospel…

God is capricious…

Being a pastor isn’t fair…

Identifying the victims of Boko Haram…

Excellent article from Julie Anne on the Abedini case…

Obamas new faith leaders…

British worried about Sunday school raids…

Muslim and Christian misunderstandings…

Evangelicalism is not dying…

Trying to define what it means to be an “American evangelical”…

The return of Driscoll…

Mahaney sneaking in the SBC backdoor…

What I’m doing to protect my kids from sexual abuse…

On electing a pastor-in-chief…

“I don’t understand the sermon”…

Church planters only reaching white people…

Does God do cyber warfare?

Saving sex for marriage…

Wenatchee the Hatchet on Driscolls new team…

7 bad reasons to leave your church…

Jesus killed my church…

Why Christians can’t be silent in election cycles…

Big thanks as always to EricL for the help today…support him at top right.

Feb 012016

thinking-pic1. In the strange, sad, case of the Abedini’s, facts are in short supply.

Before we attempt to discern the things unknown, I think it would be wise to mark out what we do know.

We do know that Saeed Abedini was convicted of domestic abuse in a court of law.

We know that as far back as 2007, his spousal abuse and addiction to pornography was known to the pastor he worked under, Bob Caldwell of Calvary Chapel Boise.

We know from sources that Caldwell briefly put Abedini under discipline for this, a time our sources put at 31/2 to 4 months.

Therefore, what we know is that Saeed Abedini had no business being in the position he was in after that.

2. It takes more than a few months to overcome whatever issues lead one to abuse the wife of their youth and consume pornography.

Those issues effectively disqualify someone from the ministry…for a very long time.

The issues themselves have to be dealt with, then the damage they have caused needs to be addressed and healed.

The failure to view these issues as seriously as they should have been has led us to the morass we have today.

Evangelical patriarchy that demands “submission” to men often presents submission as the answer to all relational ills…especially when the male in question is in a position of ecclesiastical authority.

The men are considered indispensable to some “Gospel” work, and the women’s issues are ignored for the sake of holy pragmatism.

This attitude is as wicked as the sins that engender it.

3. According this (excellent) article the DeMoss public relations group and the ACLJ have moved on from the Abedinis.

This should be no surprise.

Before the abuse allegations came out and before the evidence of abuse was shown, Saeed Abedini was worth a small fortune to those who would have capitalized on his experience.

Those organizations depend on donated money and nothing brings in the bucks like a living martyr.

Now that the Abedini’s halos are tarnished they will be consigned to the evangelical flea market.

Nothing personal, you understand…business is business.

4. Let’s light up the elephant in the room. Many people are speculating that Naghmeh Abedini has found another man. I have no evidence of this whatsoever. I for one, wouldn’t care if she did find that there was life after an abusive marriage.  If she has found someone else it invalidates neither her accusations or the heroic efforts she put forth to get her husband released.

5. When we read the Bible, all the heroes have deep character flaws and sins. We pretend those don’t exist even though God recorded them for us. When we see sinners in real life we pretend that there is no evidence of redemption in them. We are so very twisted and lack so much understanding of what the Gospel really means.

6. There are no “good” people, just redeemed bad ones.

7. I have to confess up front that abuse of women and children is close to being the unforgivable sin in my book. We must be so very careful that we don’t deny the possibility of redemption to anyone, lest we deny the power of the Gospel in doing so.

8. It is without question that Nagmah Abedini has offered conflicting narratives about the terms and conditions of Saeed’s imprisonment. What is in question is why…and I don’t have enough information to speculate. She had a lot of different voices in her ears…

9. My prayer for both of these people is that they find a small, trusted group of people willing to love them back to spiritual and emotional health. That will be more difficult than it should be in the church…

10. The saddest part of this whole story is that in some ways both Saeed and Naghmah are in new prisons now…


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