Feb 132017
 

1. It should be easier to love your enemies these days…because we used to be friends before the election…

2. Both sides of this divided country seem to want more than legislative victories. I sense the desire for a cultural cleansing that removes the other from existence. We are in a civil war that hasn’t fired a shot…yet.

3. Just as losing trust in the Scriptures as being the word of God creates confusion and chaos in the church, so has the lack of trust in journalism created the same in society…

4. If we can’t speak to each other how can we worship with each other?

5. The reason I write about these issues is more for my benefit than yours… if my faith doesn’t define how I do everything, it really defines nothing I do. That, and I hate officiating at funerals…

6. The interesting thing about the Calvary Chapel split is one group wants to go back to the spiritual freedom that spawned the movement in the first place and the other is protecting the institution the movement became…

7. The first weekend without football feels like my cats left and won’t be home for six months…

8. It’s fascinating to me that the number of “the end is nigh” posts on social media have gone down drastically since the election. Evidently, American politics have replaced Israel as “God’s time piece”…

9. I’ve helped raise a lot of kids over the years…and this is the most difficult time to be a teenager and the parent of a teenager in my lifetime.

10. Because we’re now too sophisticated to believe in things like a real Satan and supernatural evil, we are laid out like a buffet table in hell…

One final thought…from Dietrich Bonhoeffer;

“Upon closer observation, it becomes apparent that every strong upsurge of power in the public sphere, be it of a political or a religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with stupidity. … The power of the one needs the stupidity of the other. The process at work here is not that particular human capacities, for instance, the intellect, suddenly atrophy or fail. Instead, it seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived of their inner independence and, more or less consciously, give up establishing an autonomous position toward the emerging circumstances. The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with him as a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.”

From “Letters From Prison”…

 

 

Feb 112017
 

Lord, how much juice you can squeeze from a single grape.

How much water you can draw from a single well.

How great a fire you can kindle from a tiny spark.

How great a tree you can grow from a tiny seed.

My soul is so dry that by itself it cannot pray; Yet you can squeeze from it the juice of a thousand prayers.

My soul is so parched that by itself it cannot love; Yet you can draw from it boundless love for you and for my neighbor.

My soul is so cold that by itself it has not joy; Yet you can light the fire of heavenly joy within me.

My soul is so feeble that by itself it has no faith; Yet by your power my faith grows to a great height.

GUIGO THE CARTHUSIAN, monk and originator of Lectio Devinia (twelfth century) [BHE, 307–308 PD]

Bjorklund, Kurt (2011-09-27). Prayers for Today (Kindle Locations 863-869). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

 

Feb 112017
 

Matthew 16:21-28

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

  • Again, Jesus is in charge – no one is dragging him to Jerusalem.
  • How much more clear could Jesus make it? I will be killed and I will be

22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”

  • Look at the difference between Jesus’ “this must” and Peter’s “this will never”
  • You cannot get anymore obstinate than this.
  • So, what does Peter do? The one who a few verses up said all the right things.
  • Peter’s response is equal to something like, “look Jesus, you just gave me the keys, you just gave me the church to build – Jesus I am going to make my proclamation —
  • Jesus, stand back, this shall never happen – this is no way to build a church.
  • This is no way for you to be the Christ – let me handle this.”

23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

  • Jesus then turns around and gives HIS proclamation – “Get behind me Satan.”
  • Who is Satan? Who is Satan using as his tool? Peter – an Apostle in training.
  • We learn from this verse about anti Christ.
  • Jesus shows up on the scene and Satan sets up shop – and shortly we see a disciple oppose Jesus.
  • In the apostolic ministry – in the apostolic church – anti Christ is at work.
  • This fits in with 1 Thess 2
  • Where the anti Christ sets himself up in the temple of God (the church), claiming to be a divinity himself –
  • This is precisely what Peter is doing – he sets himself up in the driver’s seat as if he is God and says, “I am going to call the shots here!”
  • This is anti Christ working in the church.
  • We all need to get over the Left Behind lie that the anti Christ is a political / economic figure.
  • The anti Christ comes from within the church 2 Thess & 1 John
  • So how do you recognize anti Christ within the church? If you find someone out front trying to lead Jesus, this is a good indicator.
  • Those who would try to correct and guide Jesus in what this person thinks is a better way.
  • A pious preacher in the pulpit teaching anything other than you are saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone for Christ’s sake alone – this is anti Christ.
  • Jesus says faith alone saves you and this one comes alongside Jesus (just like Peter) puts his arm around him and says “yes it is necessary, but it is not enough. Let me tweak your word a little to improve it.”
  • This is my body, this is my blood – words right out of the mouth of Jesus and the preachers says, “well this is just symbolism”
  • All of this and you have anti Christ going on.

Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

  • Right after Jesus chastises Peter … You want to follow me? Take up your cross.
  • What does this mean? We don’t have too many crucifixions going on today, so how do we take up our cross?
  • Here we have the first passion prediction – God’s plan in Jesus is put out in the open.

25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

  • We do just the opposite – we do whatever we can to not lose our life.
  • To follow Jesus means to deny yourself.
  • In many church groups to follow Jesus is to fulfill yourself – Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar – Benny Hinn.
  • It’s about reaching potentiality of self and stuff.
  • In the old days of Norman Vincent Peale – The Power of Positive Thinking
  • Then Robert Schuller said in his book The New Reformation “the problem with you Lutherans (all the reformers) you think there is sin and / or you talk about sin. That time is over and we need to move on – we need to teach people they are good.”

26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

  • Use the example of the rope
  • 50 feet of rope – first 6” on the front end painted red
  • The 50’ of rope represents eternity and the red 6” represents our life span
  • We put all our energy and worry into the small 6” and don’t give a thought to the remainder of the rope.
  • What will it profit a man if he gains the whole 6” and forfeits the other 49.5’?

27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

  • Salvation by WORKS!!! Didn’t we just say that adding anything to faith alone was anti Christ? What is Jesus saying?
  • So here is the kicker – this is a true statement – What are the works that are God pleasing? –Those that flow from faith – and what kind of faith?
  • The faith alone that justifies a sinner before God.
  • The works are our evidence of the faith that is not seen – I cannot see your faith – I can only see the evidence of that faith.
  • I cannot see the wind – I can see only the evidence that there was wind.

28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

  • Calvary & Last Days? Suffering, death and resurrection which he just spoke of in v 21.
  • Jeffrey Gibbs in his commentary states “is a genuinely difficult saying, and confident conclusions about what Jesus was referring to may elude us.”
  • So I will leave it there also.

 

Feb 102017
 

My cats are very different from each other, though they came from the same place.

The street.

Miss Kitty walks in her adoption…she thinks she’s a princess who has the entitlements of royalty.

She asks (tells) me when she’s hungry and expects to be fed.

She expects to be fed something she likes…she also makes it clear what she likes and does not like.

She expects me to note those choices.

She is not shy about asking…she will stand directly on my head as I sleep to let me know it’s time for breakfast.

If it is raining outside she will walk in the house, stop at my chair and get my attention, then walk into the bathroom to be toweled off.

She expects me to follow her promptly and complete the task at hand.

She usually informs me about 9:00 PM that it’s bedtime…she prefers the lights and the computer off then, thank you.

At times, she also wants displays of affection…she tells me when, how, and for how long she should be petted.

She is bold and unafraid to make her requests known to me and she has every expectation that they will be answered.

Because I love her, they usually are.

Chester has different expectations.

He cries a lot.

He does not yet believe he’s been truly adopted.

He cries because even though he eats enough for ten cats, he’s not sure I will keep feeding him.

Affection makes him nervous…he loves it until his fear kicks in…the fear that if he lets his guard down something bad will happen.

He’s trusted others before…it didn’t work out well.

He very much wants to act like Miss Kitty and have what she has, but fear rules him.

He just knows that if he was as bold as her he would end up in the street again…so he settles for whatever he gets.

Most of us act like Chester with God.

He wants us to act like Miss Kitty.

Be bold and expect goodness.

You’re royalty.

You’re loved.

I have to go…she wants the chair…

Make your own application…

 

Feb 092017
 

I’ve been directed to this lecture by Diane Langberg.

This is the single best explanation of the abuse of power in the church that I have ever heard.

I cannot recommend this highly enough…

Feb 092017
 

Is God Angry?

“And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.” (Matt 8:23-24)

A recent headline read: ‘Is God Mad?’ Mississippi Tornado Wreaks Havoc; Kills 4. The news article, which covered a Hattiesburg family that just lost their home in a tornado, quoted a young girl who asked her father: “Is God mad at us?” That weekend, nineteen people throughout the Southeast lost their lives in tornados.

It is not uncommon for victims or bystanders to ask if there is a causal connection between a tragedy and God’s wrath, because they understand God to be holy, good and just. They wonder if God caused or allowed the tragedy to occur as judgment or punishment for someone’s sin. God certainly possesses all of those attributes and He does punish sin, but does He make His invisible attributes perceptible in things that actually happen?

People engage in this line of speculation for a variety of reasons. Some Christians want to protect God’s honor by assigning blame to the victims. Other Christians want to use God’s name to bludgeon the victims in order to support their own pet cause. People who hate God may blame and judge Him as an unjust or uncaring deity. However, some Christians may simply be afraid, suffering and/or in mourning and are sincerely looking to God for answers.

“And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing.’ ” (Matt 8:25)

Based on the fact that at least four of the disciples were fishermen, Jesus and the disciples must have been caught in an extreme storm because the disciples were afraid for their lives. I would not be surprised in the least if one thought on their minds was: Is God angry at us?

That would not have been the only time that the disciples attempted to draw a causal connection from a tragedy to God’s wrath. What about the Galileans whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices, people asked? (Luke 13:1). Jesus rejected the causal link and added His own story for an exclamation point: “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:2-5)

In the Gospel of John we learn of a man born blind. The disciples asked Jesus: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2) Jesus replied that the man’s blindness was not punishment for the man or his parents’ sin, “but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3)

What about Job? He suffered the loss of family, possessions and health. However, Job appears to have been chosen to suffer not on account of any sin, but on account of his goodness. “And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?’ ” (Job 1:8) God could have chosen a lesser man to hand over to Satan, but He chose Job because Job was blameless and upright.

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” (Job 42:2-3)

What Jesus taught his disciples and what Job also learned is that God’s providential rule of the world is hidden from us; it consists of “things too wonderful for [us]”. We simply cannot and should not attribute a tragedy or suffering to God’s punishment of the victims. Their loss and suffering may have nothing whatsoever to do with punishment. It may just as well be attributable to God’s grace, His discipline or for His glory. God simply does not tell us the reason why.

Therefore, if we are asking “Is God mad at us (or them)?” we are asking the wrong question, and we are looking for God in the wrong place. God does not make His intentions towards us known through His providential works, so we must seek Him in only one Man, in one place.

“And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?’ ” (Matt 8:25-27)

When we hear about tragedies, such as the Galileans who had their blood mixed with their sacrifices, or the victims of a terrorist attack, earthquake or tornado, Jesus says that we should respond with repentance: “but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” In this week’s text, we see the disciples enact their repentance. They turned from their fear of the storm to Christ for their salvation: “And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” The storm turned (or repented) the disciples to their Savior. It served God’s grace as it drew the disciples closer to Christ in faith.

Sufferings and tragedies test our faith. But Christ, who suffered for the sins of the world and who conquered sin, death and the devil, is our answer to human suffering and the question of God’s wrath. While we are not given to understand God’s providential rule by examining events in the world, good or bad, He desires that we seek our understanding of God and His love for us through the suffering and death of His Son on the cross.

Jesus satisfied God’s wrath against sin on the cross as our substitute. “For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.” (Rom 5:15b) If we are able to behold Christ’s death on the cross for our sins and receive His unconditional forgiveness by faith alone, then we may have absolute certainty in every situation that God is not angry with us. Not only is He not angry with us, He is our heavenly Father who loves us. Amen!

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28) Amen.

Feb 082017
 

Kudos to the Calvary Chapel Association for finally updating their website to reflect David Guzik’s resignation.

His picture has now been removed from the hall of luminaries.

As with all the other resignations, the absence is neither noted, nor explained.

Transparency has never been part of the “distinctives”.

Now that this project is finished, maybe they will have time to file their tax papers in California…I’m dying to see the 990’s…

 

Feb 082017
 

Because I’m a glutton for punishment and use burning hate mail to keep the house warm…I wrote an article on the proposed border wall.

It will be in the “Pages” section on the right margin and will be updated as I have time.

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