Apr 272016
 

So says Tracy Sasso Cruzado about Saeed Abedini on my Facebook page.

Her father is Pastor Mike Sasso who made plagiarism allegations against Abedini last week.

Screenshot 2016-04-27 08.52.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the Sasso’s are telling the truth, Abedini lifted an entire teaching which turned into a series of posts on his Facebook page.

He then lied about where he got the teachings and tried to smear Sasso’s character.

Abedini claims that all of the allegations against him are lies and that he is a target of Satan who does not want his ministry to prosper.

 

 

Apr 262016
 

timthumb.phpSaeed Abedini interviewed by Christianity Today…blames it all on Satan…

Greg Laurie on the death of Prince…

The Wartburg Watch on an excellent “Mortification of Spin” broadcast about abusive pulpits…

Are Mormons moving closer to orthodoxy?

The “Third Eagle” on the death of Prince…

Tracking dinosaurs and finding God…

Did Christopher Hitchens consider converting to Christianity?

Target bathroom articles here and here and here

When altar calls don’t work…

Why Ben Witherington isn’t hoping for heaven…

Oprah to star in drama about mega-church…

Baptist founder still speaking after 400 years…

Does God still speak?

Mercy Multiplied scandal…

Did God just pass me by?

Hypocrites and how we can help us…

The failure of complementarian manhood…

Mike the geologist on science and the Bible…

The introverts guide to surviving church greeting time…my strategy was to stay seated and glare.

Youth are not the future of the church…

Matt Redmond and the superdad weekend…

It isn’t always a wonderful life…

First Things on the death of Prince…

Where do we look to find the origin of evil?…

A response to four views on hell…

Bono and Eugene Peterson on the Psalms…

Thanks go to Eric L as always…support him here

 

Apr 252016
 

Saeed-Abedini-ACLJIt’s entirely possible that historians looking back at our time will find the story of Saeed Abedini to be one of the strangest they try to tell.

For over three years Christians worked fervently to get him released from an Iranian prison.

His wife spearheaded this movement until she stopped, alleging spousal abuse.

She revealed huge discrepancies in his prison narrative, leaving us all wondering about Iranian prisoners owning cell phones and watching Netflix while claiming horrible torture at the same time.

He was eventually released from prison into the waiting arms of Franklin Graham and and new handlers.

American evangelicals, who spent thousands of man hours and untold thousands of dollars advocating for his release waited for explanations and answers to all of these questions and more.

We’re still waiting.

Now there are new allegations of blatant plagiarism.

Abedini denies all allegations, always with a hint of wrong doing on the part of others and possible conspiracy afoot.

Iran is trying to hack his Facebook page, you know…evidently they don’t want anyone to know their prisons feature free wi-fi…

This morning his sister posted this on Facebook:

“Please pray for my brother Saeed Abedini. Two days ago he heard that my niece Rebekka is dealing with severe anxiety because of her Dady situation, and her doctor said she has to take medication for her anxiety. During these two days Saeed was dealing with an extreme pain in his chest till tonight its leads us to the Emergency Room.
Saeed in his last interview mentioned that his life in the U.S. after his imprisonment in Iran is harder than when he was in prison in Iran. That is so true!”

There was, of course, a picture of Saeed suffering in the hospital accompanying the story.

Think for a moment about all the reports of his suffering while in captivity…and the statement that life here is harder.

I’m sure his children are suffering…and that’s why he should disappear until his family issues are resolved and some answers given to the public that supported them.

Why do evangelicals continue to support someone who has been accused of spousal abuse, lying, and plagiarism without providing any real response to those allegations?

Because it is celebrity driven…and Jesus simply isn’t enough.

Download the mp3

Apr 232016
 

unnamedI have noticed that a monster, who’s name is Monstrum Incertitudinis (Monster of Uncertainty) has awakened from its hibernation and is back in its favorite haunting grounds – our churches.

Monstrum Incertitudinis attacks believers by sowing doubt in their hearts and minds that their salvation is secure.

 

Monstrum Incertitudinis works by persuading believers that their faith is not attributable to the Gospel alone, but instead that justifying faith has to do with either the Gospel plus the Law or the Gospel plus good works. How does it work?

The Law can enter the picture when the Gospel is presented as God’s grace made available to an individual, to which must be added a decision by the individual to repent of his sins and in some manner to surrender or commit to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. God does His part; now you must do your part. This presents the believer with a problem: Was his decision sincere? How sincere must he be? Does God judge his decision on a pass-fail basis or on the curve? This sort of Gospel plus the Law, sows seeds of doubt in the mind of the believer as to whether he is in fact saved, particularly in times of trouble or suffering. Can he know for sure? Does God want him to be secure in his salvation? This problem inevitably draws the believer into himself, looking internally for his authentic faith and Christianity.

But, Monstrum Incertitudinis also works by convincing believers that justifying faith involves the Gospel plus good works.

Good works enter the picture when the Gospel is presented such that God’s wrath is appeased when an individual comes to faith in Jesus Christ. In other words, the offer of the forgiveness of sins is conditional on the virtuous act of faith produced in the believer’s heart. God says “I will forgive you, if you believe in me.” This too presents the Christian with the same uncertainty: Was his confession of faith good enough to appease God’s wrath? Is God convinced? How can the individual be sure? If the believer suffers a serious personal or professional setback, is that God’s wrath or something else? This uncertainty also draws the believer into himself again, looking internally for his authentic faith and Christianity.

If you find people asking you questions, such as: “can I be sure of my salvation?” or “how can I know for sure if I’m saved?”, then you might just have Monstrum Incertitudinis lurking in your church. If you find yourself getting these types of questions, a refresher in the pure Gospel might be the best remedy to banish the monster. Tell the flock that there is only one thing, and one thing only, that we can give to God: our sins. But when we do that, Jesus says there is rejoicing in heaven. Wait, it gets better: Jesus takes our sins and gives us back His righteousness and salvation as a gift. It turns out that no decision is necessary (or even possible). The Bible teaches that justifying faith actually comes by hearing the proclamation of the Gospel (Romans 10:17). Even our faith is a gift from God. Then, only after one is justified by faith can one confess Jesus as Lord (1 Cor 12:3).

In Christ, God has provided us with everything needed for reconciliation with Him, our righteousness and our salvation.

Therefore, we can place our trust entirely in Christ crucified for our sins and raised for our justification. Conversely, we should place no trust or justifying faith in our own works, commitment to God, love of God or any other thought, which would divert our singular trust in Christ. As John the Baptist said of our relationship with Jesus: “He must become greater; I must become less.”

Lord, keep us in your Word,
Jean

Apr 232016
 

You know my soul.

You know all that needs to be done there.

Do it in Your own way.

Draw me to You, O my God.

Fill me with Pure Love of You alone.

Make me never go aside from the way of Your love.

Show me clearly that way and never let me depart from it: that will be enough.

I leave everything in Your hands. You will guide me without error and without danger and I will love You all the way.

I will belong to You.

I will not be afraid of anything for I shall remain in Your hands and never leave You.

From Entering the Silence, by Thomas Merton; page 101.

Apr 232016
 

Word of GodMatthew 2:13-18

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”

  • When the Magi had departed from Jesus’ house.
  • An angel appears … in a dream. Why a dream? – why not in person as in other times?
  • It happened to Peter when he was trying to get some sleep up on the rooftop in Joppa. And it’s happened time and time again. It happened to Daniel, Abimelech, Jacob, Joseph, Laban, the butler, and the baker. It even happened to Pharaoh.
  • What is the message? Get out of Dodge.
  • It is interesting to look at the comparison to OT scenes.
  • Herod was a Edomite.
  • Who was the father of the Edomites? Esau … Jacobs twin brother.
  • Each became a people and Edom has been fighting God’s people up to this point.
  • Now the new Edomite is on the scene to try to destroy God’s people through Jesus Christ.
  • It’s funny the angel does not say “take your wife.” – but take the child and his mother – see v.11; 13; 14; 20; 21
  • How much of this is a cosmic battle as we saw in Daniel – with Michael the Archangel fighting off the King of Persia?
  • Satan, through Herod trying to kill the Messiah.
  • In the times preceding Jesus, it was common for people would flee to Egypt.
  • It was about 75 miles to the border. They had good status in Egypt and at one time the Egyptians built them a temple.

1And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt

  • This is not a trip to Egypt – come on, pack up, go pee, hop in the car we are going to go see grandma in Egypt! – No! this is an escape.
  • Joseph was obedient to the angel in the dream.
  • Did they tell anyone they were leaving? “hey, forward my mail.”
  • Were the gifts from the wise men used to finance the trip?
  • Herod wants to destroy the Christ child – we see in Rev 12 the dragon chasing the child – the same story.

15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

  • Why didn’t the angel have the holy family just go with the Magi back to Babylon for protection – and then to keep them safe and cared for?
  • Because of the scripture – that needed to be fulfilled.
  • Hosea 11:1 = “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
  • “spoken by the prophet” – inspired by God himself.
  • You really need to study Hosea to understand this properly.

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.

  • Herod’s attitude was “Over my dead body will this child be king in my place. Herod = a murderer and a butcher.
  • Again, it’s the same old tune – when Pharaoh ordered the killing of the male newborns … can you hear the hiss of the serpent.
  • Now, a little theology here;
  • These children were circumcised children / children of the covenant, brought into the kingdom through the sacrament that God had provided for them at that time.
  • The children in a sense died on behalf of Jesus – died on behalf of the savior, on behalf of the gospel.
  • They are martyrs in that sense – killed for the faith
  • And then in another sense, Jesus died for them.
  • Even at the very beginning of Jesus’ life there is rejection
  • Why couldn’t Jesus have shed his blood and died for the sins of the world here in Bethlehem?

17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

  • Matthew is being very clear that his Jewish readers know that Jesus was fulfilling scripture – even during a tragedy.
  • The original context of this passage is that Rachel, the favorite wife of Jacob (Israel) was buried in Ramah, north of Jerusalem (2nd version is in Bethlehem)
  • It was said that when the Israelites were carried off into captivity, they marched on that road past the burial site, that Rachel, from her tomb would wail and weep for the children of Israel, as they were hauled off as punishment for their refusal to repent.
  • Matthew pictures this as the same – the weeping going on as evil thrives in Israel.
  • So Rachel weeps again. And this time, she weeps not because Babylon or Assyria has destroyed her people, but because Herod has.
  • And this time it isn’t because of some political foreign power. It’s even the king of the very nation of Israel itself.
  • The consolation follows immediately because even though the king has been exiled and the slaughter is going on, the king is going to come back, from Egypt.
  • And his gospel will be preached and a remnant will be saved.
  • Why Rachel? – a symbol as the mother of all the children of Israel.

 

Apr 222016
 

file-amr-ambulence-daylight1We pulled up just as they were loading him in the ambulance.

My stomach churned as Trey bolted out of the truck to find out if it was a friend.

Emergency vehicles at a skateboard park always mean something awful.

Unfortunately, it is also usually something predictable.

Someone wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Someones head hit the concrete.

Someone will never be the same again.

The law is posted that one must wear a helmet, but the law is ignored and never enforced.

Experience has informed all that the law is good.

Experience is ignored as well.

Those who remained after the ambulance left resumed skating as if nothing had happened…mostly without helmets.

They mocked the ones who did wear one…while one who didn’t was on the way to a trauma center.

There was much talk about the “right” to allow your head contact with concrete if desire and comfort dictated the need.

Nobody prayed.

Life just went on.

It will continue to go on until the next head hits the concrete.

Foolish and deadly practices will continue despite the wisdom of law and the lessons of experience.

No one will pray.

I really wish these attitudes were confined to the skatepark…

Make your own application…

 

Apr 222016
 

130627133150-andrew-shaw-op3n-102972-single-image-cut-150x150I was watching the Chicago Blackhawks play the St. Louis Blues in a classic Stanley Cup playoff game the other night.

It was a rough and physical game between two longtime rivals and Andrew Shaw of the Blackhawks was whistled for a penalty.

The camera followed him to the penalty box where he quickly took his seat and began screaming profanities at the referee.

You didn’t have to be a master lip reader to understand what he was shouting.

My first thought was that Shaw was in trouble for cursing out the ref and anticipated him getting a few more minutes in the sin bin.

That didn’t happen…but he was suspended by the league for one game and fined.

He wasn’t suspended for unsportsmanlike conduct, but for using a “homophobic slur”.

Had he chosen his profanity more carefully, he’d be playing tonight.

Evidently, you can call the ref anything, (complete with colorful adjectives) as long as it’s not “homophobic”.

The next day Curt Schilling of ESPN was fired from his position for posting a meme that transsexuals found offensive.

It was a visual comment on Target allowing people to pick their own gender when picking a bathroom.

Now, I really don’t give a hoot in hell what people do in the privacy of their own bedrooms.

That’s their business.

However neither corporate America, nor the politically correct thought police, will stop me from interceding with a man who follows my mother or girlfriend into a bathroom.

That intercession may or may not be accompanied by some sort of illegal slur.

That’s not a threat, it’s a promise.

His dress may fit him much better when I’m done.

I thank the good Lord I don’t have a daughter…

This has nothing to do with my faith, it has everything to do with moral and cultural sanity.

It has nothing to do with Leviticus or Romans, but everything to do with common sense and decency.

Like most of America, I’m tired of having those lines crossed, then obliterated, by those who want “tolerance”, but won’t “tolerate” simple decency.

I’m drawing a new line here…and I have lots of company.

History may record that the revolution started inside a womens room at Target…

Why, when a cultural icon dies, do Christians have to pontificate on the deceased?

Why can’t we just mourn with those who mourn?

Why do we have to be such jerks?

God carelessly forgot to tell me the state of Princes soul yesterday so I can’t comment on that.

I can say his work will be remembered long after the hack theologians who were blasting him are forgotten.

Saeed-Abedini-ACLJSaeed Abedini is getting ready to cash in…

For a fee he will describe the terrors of an Iranian prison, especially the torture of constantly being interrupted when you’re trying to catch up with “Breaking Bad” on Netflix.

From his bio…

“Today, Pastor Saeed continues to share the gospel and tell the story of the persecuted church. The Abedini family has been greatly impacted by Saeed’s imprisonment and continue to resolve the emotional trauma felt by many held in captivity.”

This guys a piece of work…

 

Apr 212016
 

white-vs-black-hatWe are bombarded these days with stories about Christian leaders acting badly.

The reports are embarrassing and maddening.

Many of you have been personally affected by abusive leaders.

Still, many of us remain in the faith.

Let’s take a different course today…

Who helped you become a Christian and who helps sustain your faith today?

My local Assembly of God pastor, the late Pastor Ravan, loved me into the flock.

Today, my own pastor and some young pastors I get to mentor help keep me walking toward home.

Our local congregation and many of you are oasis along the road.

We talk a lot about the bad guys…who are the good guys of the Gospel in your spiritual life?

 

Apr 202016
 

us-flag-and-bible-cross“And we’re going to protect Christianity. And I can say that — I don’t have to be politically correct — we’re going to protect it….. And I asked Jerry (University chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr.), and I asked some of the folks, because I hear this is your major theme right here, but Two Corinthians — Two Corinthians 3:17, that’s the whole ballgame. ‘Where the spirit of The Lord is, there is liberty.’ And here there is Liberty College – Liberty University.” – Donald Trump speaking at Liberty University while on the campaign trail

“I want to remind you of the promise of Scripture — weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning….. Tonight Iowa has proclaimed to the world, ‘morning is coming, morning is coming.'” – Ted Cruz after winning the Iowa caucus

“But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’ teaching that ‘for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.’” – President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2012 justifying his taxation plan using a passage from Luke 12:48 which in context has nary to do with paying taxes or responsibility to government

Several weeks ago I wrote an article about Christian America and where we’re trying to take America back to.

I wrote about some of the concerns that I, and likely many other Christians have about our country and culture. I also talked about the rhetoric we hear from both politicians and common folk in regards to getting back to the way things used to be. Unfortunately, much of that rhetoric doesn’t hold water as there really has never been a time in which America was truly or fully “Christian”. I finished by expressing that maybe our biggest concerns shouldn’t be with taking our country back for God and rather with how we conduct our lives as Christians and spreading the gospel, because ultimately our hopes are not in the United States of America but in Christ, whose kingdom is not of this world.

Some of my thoughts and ideas in the article were derived from or influenced by Dr. John Fea and his excellent book, Was America Founded As a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction. (Editor’s note – An updated second edition of the book is being released in September.) Dr. Fea is an Early America Historian and in the book he attempts to take an objective and comprehensive approach in finding how the past informs us and speaks to us. While avoiding the cherry picking of information just to make one’s political case today.

Last week I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Fea speak on this topic. He covered many engaging ideas and interesting assertions. One point he made that got me to thinking a little bit more is that using the Bible to promote political ideas is nothing new in America. I would imagine it’s probably nothing new in world history wherever and whenever Scripture has had influence in a culture.

Dr. Fea specifically mentioned Galatians 5:1 – “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Thinking back to the beginnings of this country, it’s pretty easy to see how those on the side of the American Revolution co-opted this verse for their purposes. And apparently this was done quite regularly and liberally at that time. He gave a specific example of a minister from New Jersey whose historical sermon notes showed the minister preaching on this verse in the 1760’s and holding to a pretty standard and orthodox meaning of the text. However, when preaching on the same text in 1775, the minister seemingly applied a whole new meaning to the verse and now suddenly there were strong parallels between freedom and Christ and the Continental Army.

Dr. Fea also brought up the passage of Romans 13:1-7 – “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment…..” Guess who was using these verses to make their case? Yup, the Loyalists, of course.

So this is nothing new. When we see people today, politicians and non-politicians alike, using Scripture to make political points, we know this practice goes all the way back to the beginnings of our country.

Now, this is not to say that it is always wrong to use Scripture to make a political point. Assuredly, there are times that God’s Word can be aptly used to support a political point, cause, or idea. However, we also have seen plenty of cases where the Bible is incorporated into a political cause and quite a bit of violence is done to the authentic meaning of the text.

This goes well beyond politics. I would be disposed to believe that we all at one time or another, if not more, have mis-used Scripture for our own purposes. Whether it be to make a political point, or to manipulate a situation for our own gain, or to win an argument on the Internet. Or how about in wanting to selfishly hold onto a belief that we don’t want to give up when the evidence is starting to show that it might not be true. If we thought about it long enough, we could probably come up with a really long list of the ways Scripture has been mis-used.

I am not a Biblical scholar or theologian and so I can’t expertly speak to the optimum ways of handling and interpreting Scripture in all of its fullness. But I know enough to identify some sloppy eisegesis going on out there sometimes. Even at times catching myself at the transgression.

The Bible is God’s Word.

It is the book where God tells His story to us.

It speaks to and brings life to those who read it and believe.

It is the most important book ever written.

Let’s treat it as such.

Let us not use it as a tool for our own selfish benefit, political or not.

God deserves more than that. Much more.

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