Feb 102016

ray_ortland_jr_answers_10_questions_about_preaching_908350852A few weeks back I wrote an article about disagreeing agreeably.

Following up on that, I was reminded of an Alistair Begg broadcast I listened to last year while driving in my car. There was a short portion I went back to and transcribed. In it, Alistair is first quoting Luther and then adds his own commentary.

“Some of us get one part right. Other teachers get other parts right. None of us get it all right…..One falls in one thing, one in another. Others will see what I do not. What then follows – by that we should help one another and make allowances for those who error as knowing that we either have erred or shall error ourselves…..I know that he must be a man of most shameful hardihood who would venture to give out that he understands a single book of Scripture in all its parts.” – Martin Luther

“That’s the kind of pastor you need. Not a talking head who has the answer to every question. But someone who comes before the Bible and says, “This is my best with this. But now we see through a glass darkly.” And that is not embracing theological vagueness. It’s about recognizing what is actually true. And yet contemporary evangelicalism exalts as heroes these individuals of “shameful hardihood” according to Martin Luther.” – Alistair Begg

I really appreciate a pastor or theologian or any Christian leader who takes an approach as described here by Luther and Begg.

There are many who do regularly lead with this kind of humble discourse. Unfortunately, the know-it-alls are the ones who seem to gain more press or influence in the church and so we see and hear from them more often. And our celebrity culture props up with admiration those who bloviate their “truth” on every single issue and circumstance. We sometimes forget that not all are like them.

We are all responsible for ourselves, yet I really look to pastors and Christian leaders to set the tone on this matter. Easy for me to say since I’m not a pastor. But at the very least, the Bible does call those who are teachers to a higher level of account. (James 3:1)

When pastors regularly carry themselves in gracious and unpretentious fashions, both from the pulpit and in personal communication, it influences their parishioners to act in like manner. If a pastor regularly speaks in a know-it-all fashion it sets an altogether different tone for those who hear them. Same as when they regularly criticize those Christians who are “different” from them, and speak as if they are wayward or second class Christians, or maybe not even Christians at all. It emboldens those who listen to them to act the part. They now, too, speak as if they have it all figured out and speak down to and about those who differ from them.

One thing I have been able to surmise in my limited study as a layman is that completely and perfectly understanding every theological premise in the Bible is a very difficult, if not impossible task.

I come to that understanding not so much because some things are hard for me to ascertain, but much more so because when I look at the expanse of smart and knowledgeable and respected and God-fearing theologians and pastors who are of good character and believe the Scriptures to be the fully authoritative Word of God, I see them coming to different conclusions on different matters.

How can so many honorable people who are earnestly seeking to understand God and His Word have so many differing understandings? Yes, they come to much agreement on the essentials of the faith, but after that, there is a great diversity of views as reflected by the many traditions and denominations and sects we have.

Is all of this difference of opinion and “division” within the church a good thing? In some ways, maybe yes, but probably not in other ways. That can be a big discussion for another day.

However, among all of this distinction, I tend to think that God cares more about our attitudes and approach when we speak about the things we believe to be true, and in how we speak with and about those with whom we disagree. Rather than with whether or not we are perfectly right in our understanding on matters such as the baptism of the Spirit, or women’s roles in the church, or how often we should celebrate the Lord’s supper.

I much more welcome a pastor or theologian or even layman who can avoid the “shameful hardihood” of knowing it all. Those who don’t have the definitive answer to every question. Who don’t need to show off just how much they know and also feel the need to always point out what is wrong with everybody else. So thank you to those who carry themselves with humility and a regard for others. It is much appreciated.

Feb 092016

timthumb.phpGospel For Asia target of lawsuit…

Wheaton college controversy over prof that said Islam and Christians worship same god…

The heart of the atonement…

Is church membership really required?

The great migration and the Christian identity…

What can churches do to advance political candidates?

Reconciliation and parting ways…

Why controllers control…

7 new theology books CT thinks you should read…

What to give up for Lent…

Challenging the Gospel Coalition on abuse…

Steve Brown on when Jesus leaves the building

On the doctrine of corporate election…

Same-self marriage…

Mens conference giving away guns…

Evangelicalisms culture of fear…

The seven responsibilities of a church member…not the six or the eight, the seven. Seven is the number thou shalt have.

God weeps for Flint…

Kids Bible being released in adult version…

Misleading America about Jefferson…

When the fire is hot…

Doritos commercial dust up…

How Lent can help you reconcile faith and doubt…

Wenatchee the Hatchet on the Driscoll messes…

Meet the Puritans…

The perfect religious president…

Atheist becomes alt rock Christian musician…

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



Feb 082016

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. I feel inadequate in that I totally missed what I should have been offended about concerning the Super Bowl half time show and commercials. These days, there’s nothing worse than missing an opportunity to be offended…

2. I’d never seen the legendary Lady Gaga perform before…I thought she was great. This probably means I’m unsaved…

3. Nothing has died a more violent death in the internet age than nuance…

4. It’s way past time to stop using the term ” biblical” in online arguments as if invoking the word puts us on higher ground. What’s biblical in my eyes may be aberrant in yours whilst using the same scriptures as “proof”.

5. Somehow in our new embrace of anger in society we have forgotten how rage settles an argument…

6. When we moved from a familial concept of church to a corporate one, we changed the nature of the pastorate from one of being a shepherd to one of being a CEO. Shepherds are accountable for the sheep, CEO’s are only accountable to the board…

7. If you don’t trust that the congregation can make good decisions, blame the guy that taught them…

8. Every time I hear one of the presidential candidates go out of their way to express their faith, I feel manipulated and pandered to…

9. I watched a Calvary Chapel prophecy conference this weekend and it struck me that all these conferences have one thing in common. They judge the timing of the coming of the Lord by events almost entirely American. In the meantime, there are revivals going on all over the rest of the world…

10. “At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him:how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless?I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”” (Matthew 12:1–8 ESV)

If the law has been fulfilled in Christ (and it has) been, the the spirit of the law is always merciful, while the letter of the law condemns.

I wonder what other applications we can make of this…


Feb 072016

On Super Bowl Sunday we have a very special guest…Matt B. Redmond.

Matt joins us to discuss the CTE crisis in football and how we as Christians should wrestle with the deadly effects of Americas game.

Download the mp3


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….


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