Aug 312014

97802927219821.When I was a child I grew fearing losing people who were so important to me that they were part of me…so I would practice dealing with their deaths or departures before they were gone.

Why a child would learn to do such is irrelevant at this juncture, it simply was a way to survive the inevitable in my mind.

I learned how to survive the loss…and to not allow many people to become that important.

When Charles Bowden died this weekend, I lost one of those people.

I didn’t have time to prepare…

I didn’t discover his writings until later in life and his words told me how ignorant I’d been up until then.

It was a gift.

“The rising of the dead means the spiritual awakening of those who have been sleeping in the graveyard of ignorance.” 

He was fearless in pursuing truth, fair even to fools, coarse, harsh, lyrical, and bold….with a deep river of compassion and love for people and land flowing through it all.

The things he saw and the things that he chose to tell us crushed his soul…but he chose to see and speak no matter the cost.

“If you can write, it’s a gift, you didn’t earn it…and if you betray a gift and just use it to make money it goes away. It’s a sin to do that.”

The writers job was to speak truth to power…“no one needs court jesters except the court”.

To do less, from fear or compromise, was a rejection of a calling and a defilement of the gift.

His partner and co-author Molly Molloy:“He did it with no fear. It has to be told and he had to tell it, because if he knew it and there was that level of injustice, he would not let it stay unsaid.”

He wasn’t a professing Christian, but he understood depravity and redemption more clearly than anyone I’ve ever read outside the pages of Scripture.

He was brave, passionate, brilliant, and real and he spent his life speaking for those without a voice of their own.

He never sinned against his gift.

God help us all to do the same.

2. The loss of Bowden is the loss of a prophetic voice to me…the world has few of those left and the church ran ours out long ago.

3. People are complaining on Facebook that they are tired of people posting videos of their “ice bucket challenge”. I refuse to get tired of people trying to do something to help someone else.

4. The greatest legacy you can leave is having loved those whom you have been given, the second greatest are words that spoke truth and love to them and others. Not all of us can be gifted writers, but we can all leave those legacies behind.

5. Our words will be remembered long after we’re gone…what are you saying?

6. Good to see so many insiders coming out in the Mars Hill debacle now that it’s safe and fashionable to do so. I just wonder where all these heroes have been for the last ten years…

7. Sometimes it’s a blessing to be heartbroken…it means you still have a heart.

8. Never, never, ignore the small joys of life…in each of them is a promise of something greater and eternal.

9.  “I am always an optimist. The pessimists are the liars who refuse to admit what is happening”.  Bowden

10. It’s only when a giant falls that we see how small we are by comparison…because the true giants have a way of making us all believe we’re about the same size…

Aug 312014

thumbnail.aspxYour word is a light to our feet and a lamp to our path.

Your word is a glue of the universe wherein the whole creation coheres.

Your word is the address of promise and command by which we live.

Your word has come fleshed among us full of grace and truth.

We are creatures of your word and we give thanks for it.

For all that we are more dazzled that your word is carried, uttered, acted by frail vulnerable human agents.

We ponder and give thanks for those who this day speak your word where it is desperately needed and deeply resisted.

We ponder and give thanks for those who this day act your word for newness and peace and justice.

We ponder with trepidation that among us you will yet designate such carriers, such speakers, such actors.

In our thanks for your word, we pray for courage in the name of the one who emptied himself.

Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (p. 71). Kindle Edition.

Aug 292014

IMG_0027Miss Kitty didn’t come in last night.

Normally, she’s in by 9:00, has a snack, does some grooming , and is in bed by 9:30.

She never showed.



This meant that I got little sleep as I went outside at regular intervals through the night making odd sounds with my mouth (that she seems to understand) and of course calling “kitty, kitty, kitty” rapidly in a pitch considerably higher than my speaking voice.

All night long.

In my underwear.

The next time I go outside I need to be wearing a three piece suit to restore any notion of personal dignity in the eyes of the neighbors.

I digress…

All night long I worried and my mind conjured up images of Miss Kitty trapped somewhere, poisoned somewhere, hurt somewhere, or even captured by an evil neighbor and taken to the pound.

I swore my wrath against that imaginary villainous neighbor about 4:00 AM.

She sauntered through the door a few minutes ago.

She ate breakfast, shot me an “I’m sorry” look, and sauntered back out the door.

She’s fine and I’m relieved…exhausted, but relieved.

I share this with you because I found myself feeling guilty on two fronts as the night wore on.

There was guilt because I’m closer to this cat, feel more love for this cat, and would sacrifice more for this cat than I would for most people.

Surely, God can not be pleased by this.

God informed me that this was legalistic tripe and that He’s responsible for the creation of pets in the first place.

The second area of guilt was in the realization that I care so much for this cat because she cares back.

She’s MY cat.

She prefers my company to that of all other humans and beasts…I am special to her.

I like being special.

God said that I’m special to Him too…so I can find room in my heart for those who don’t think I am.

It’s good to have a cat…

Make your own application…

Aug 282014

Screen-shot-2013-12-04-at-7.18.39-PMand one has already been fired for doing so…

“This is without a doubt, the most abusive, coercive ministry I’ve ever been involved with.” Paul Tripp, former member of Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability

Warren Throckmorton has the full story and the incredible statement that these elders made.

As I said yesterday, the “investigations” have been a sham and the whole process has been nothing but damage control and spin.

This statement proves my beliefs.

The PR people answered this…but if any more revelations come forth, expect them to run for the hills as well.

This could be the “but, God” moment many have been praying for….



Aug 282014

galleryWe’ve written about a scandal…better word, tragedy, involving an American run orphanage in the Philippines in articles here , here, and here.

To recap briefly, in Lucena City an orphanage, the Sankey Samaritan Mission for poor children and youth, was raided by the NBI and an American, Tom Randall and orphanage manager Toto Luchavez and his son Jake Luchavez were arrested and are charged with trafficking and child abuse based on strong testimony of some of the 31 victims.

Tom Randall was eventually released but the trial for the other two defendants continues today.

The whistleblowers who reported the abuse have been subjected to everything from slander to death threats.

Tom Randall continues to tour the country raising money and featured one of the defendants in his last newsletter.

The victims and the whistleblowers, along with those who are working to do the work of Jesus and minister to the victims in this case ask for prayer today…that justice will be done and truth will win, not American money and influence.

I ask the same.

Thank you.

Updated: The case has been continued for sixty days.

Aug 272014

michael-sattler-ivan-moonHaving looked at some of the stranger and more radical wings of Anabaptist history, we turn our attention to the mainstream as represented by Michael Sattler and Menno Simons.

Sattler authored the Schlietheim Confession which is summarized by James and Woodbridge as follows;

“The seven articles assert that (1) baptism is contingent on repentance and a moral life; (2) brethren who fail to live according to the Christian code of ethics are to be banned from the community; (3) a memorialist or Zwinglian view of the Lord’s Supper is the correct one; (4) there should be a radical separation of Christians from secular society ; (5) the pastor must maintain high moral standards in his life and ministry; (6) true Christians must not serve the civil government; and (7) all oaths to the state are to be prohibited.”

These Anabaptists had a radical vision of a pristine church restored to New Testament ways and standards, according to their interpretation.

Theirs was a call to holy living, to separation from the world and in particular from governmental involvements in the church.

It was a call to Biblical “literalism”unencumbered by the traditions of Rome, encouraging pacifism, and sometimes communalism.

It indeed resembled in many ways how the earliest church fathers portrayed the Christian life.

Sattler took a pastorate in a small church after the drafting of the Articles, but was arrested by the Catholics a month later.

He was given a trial…but the outcome was never in doubt.

“In the case of the attorney of His imperial majesty vs. Michael Sattler, judgment is passed that Michael Sattler shall be delivered to the executioner , who shall lead him to the place of execution and cut out his tongue, then forge him fast to a wagon and there with red-hot tongs twice tear pieces from his body; and after he has been brought outside the gate, he shall be plied five times more in the same manner.”

He was then burned at the stake, then his wife was drowned after she chose not to renounce her faith.

The religious and governmental establishment saw no difference between the peaceful faith of Sattler and the violent radicals of Munster.

Both were a threat to the established order, both had to be exterminated.

Menno Simons legacy continues to this day through the Mennonites.

Embracing the doctrines of Anabaptists after being a Catholic priest, Simons became a leader of the movement.

He denounced the “crazy”, violent wing of the movement,  while embracing and defending pacifism.

Like his Reformed contemporary John Calvin, his influence was primarily through his writings.

His magnum opus was “The Foundation of Christian Doctrine” which has served Anabaptists the same way Calvin’s “Institutes” have served the Reformed faith.

What lessons can we take from the Anabaptists?

Over the years Sattler  and his wife have become heroes in the faith to me, though we differ doctrinally.

He lived his faith, he persevered to the end, as did his wife.

The ideas about separation from the world and from government, (though overly radical) may be needed correctives in our day of compromise and nationalism.

The notion of the church being a distinct and recognizable people seems to resonate with the New Testament description of the people of God.

Had we listened to Sattler, much of the stains and sins of the Reformation committed in the name of the state would have been avoided.

Would would we profit by listening to him today?

Quotes were taken from the following volume, which I commend to your reading…

Woodbridge, John; James III, Frank A. (2013-08-08). Church History, Volume Two: From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day: The Rise and Growth of the Church in Its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political Context (Kindle Locations 3854-3858). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Aug 272014

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aThe word is that Saeed Abedini is being threatened in prison by the same group that recently beheaded American journalist James Foley.

It goes without saying that we all must redouble our efforts to win Saeed’s freedom before he meets a similar fate.

Today, 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.


Aug 272014

daddydriscollIt’s probably just a coincidence that Mark Driscoll is following the crisis management model that Skip Heitzig employed in 2006 in Albuquerque.

I don’t think it is (for reasons I won’t disclose) and if it is you can expect the following “talk track” and events to commence immediately.

I strongly suggest that those involved read the articles from Christianity Today and the Albuquerque Journal that are posted here.


The first thing you have to understand is that the PR firm is in charge right now…and they will make their presence felt.

Driscoll will say little or nothing for the next few weeks…prominent friends will be recruited to speak highly of Driscoll publicly during his absence.

Negative information about those who have spoken against Driscoll will be leaked in such a measure as to poison the well against their accusations.

Anything that can be used to cast suspicion on them will be employed…and it will get vicious.

Online critics better gird their loins…hackers and trolls will be out in full force.

Critics will be framed as ‘jealous’, “bitter”, “hateful”, “unforgiving” and opposed to the work of Christ himself.

During the years of 2003-7 we were the primary online voice speaking on the Heitzig scandal…and our biggest challenge was simply to keep the site up.

If you’re going to speak out now, count the cost…there is nothing sacred to the people involved including your job and your family.

Understand that you’ve already lost, barring some new heinous disclosure.

People preparing to repent and resign do not hire public relations firms to assist them…they already have an Advocate.

The “investigation” will show that Driscoll has a poor “management style” and correctives to that will be suggested.

There will be promises made of new attitudes and transparent disclosure…that will last until the seas have calmed.

The report will go to greater lengths to show “what God has done” through Driscoll and the holy necessity for him to continue that great work.

He will return to the pulpit to great acclaim, declare the matter settled, and make sure the show is the best it’s ever been for the following year.

The last thing that will happen is that this trial will make Driscoll bulletproof.

If he survives this (and I think he will) there will be a subconscious acceptance of his followers of his faults and sins…and they will refuse to hear about them any more.

During the height of the Heitzig scandal I received dozens, sometimes hundreds of emails every day from concerned people.

When I reported last year that Heitzig was trying to leave again to take Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, there was not a single inquiry from ABQ.

No, not one.

History has a way of repeating itself…especially when you follow the template and advice of those who made history before.

On the other hand, history is His story… and maybe He’ll write a different ending to this chapter.

Aug 262014

timthumb.phpWhy some people aren’t embracing the “ice bucket challenge”. I still believe it’s done great good…

Between sweetness and nausea…

The dangers of measurable outcomes…

Who will stand up for Christians?

Keller on polarization…

Grace and salvation…

Will white evangelicals ever recognize systemic injustice?

Questioning the “man of God”…

The insincere campaign against sincerity…

Through the eye of a needle…

The wrong kind of Christian…

The Islamic state is evil returned…

Ebola and the glory of God…

In defense of inerrancy…

What is a good historian?

ISIS as an apocalyptic cult…