Feb 282015

headerPhil Naessens informed me that our podcast, “Calvin’s Corner” has passed 100,000 downloads.

Thank you all for listening… we enjoy doing the program and appreciate your feedback.

The blog is still one of the top rated Christian sites in the world as well…all thanks to our readers.

Thanks as well to you folks who use the Amazon links to make your purchases.

A small percent comes back to me and it helps out a lot.

Support our advertisers…especially when they are part of the online community.

EricL features his books and services up on the top right side of the blog and helps me often with our Linkathon.

I’m just getting started building a book of business with Sellstrom Global Shipping so every thing, large or small helps keep us going until we get on our feet.

You can also make direct donations via PayPal using the “donate” button on the top left side of the site.

We covet your continued prayers and participation for what we do here.

I can always be reached at phoenixpreacher@gmail.com with your questions or concerns.

If you’re interested in our shipping services contact me at michaeln@sellstromshipping.com

Feb 272015

IMG_0027It was the standing on my face with her considerable full weight on her front paws while yowling that finally made me get up and feed her.

I went to bed early last night, the cares of the world and the care of this blog having sent my blood pressure into a place it ought not be.


Too much worry and too much stress had taken it’s toll.

I prayed a brief prayer and then escaped from it all under an electric blanket.

Evidently (the evidence would be an empty bowl) I had neglected to completely fill Miss Kitty’s food dish before I retired for the evening.

Thus, for three solid hours beginning at 4:30 AM, she sought my intervention to remedy this matter.

She got up on the bed, she got as close as possible, and she yowled.


Every time I changed positions, fluffed my pillow, or otherwise showed a sign of life she would yowl,then jump down to her bowl.

I stayed in bed.

She would then jump back up on the bed, get next to me, and wait for me to move again.

Over and over again.

She did so for three hours… which to a hungry cat is like three days, or three years, or some very long measurement of cat time.

Her persistence was amazing.

She did not make her need known and fall asleep.

She did not go to the neighbors and tell them her need.

She did not attempt to find and open a pouch of Whiskas on her own.

She knew who her provider is and she would petition him until her need was met or the need would not be met.

She knew her provider better than that.

She has been fed here before, she would be fed here again, and she wasn’t leaving me alone until she was fed now.

When I decided to open my eyes she placed her full weight on her front paws on my face and let forth a howl that said she’d been waiting long enough.

I agreed…and got up and gave her what she needed.

For her persistence, I even sprinkled some cat treats on her food.

Oddly enough, after gobbling it all down, she still yowled.

She wanted some lap time too.

She got it.

I’ll make sure the dish is full tonight.

Make your own application…


Feb 262015

1-140P3130R5It’s been fascinating to me to watch the evangelical responses to the 21 Coptic Christian martyrs.

There were those who denied that they could be Christians because they formulated the Gospel in a different manner than they did.

There were others, however, who proclaimed them true Christians who died in faith… even knowing that they believed a “false Gospel” by their doctrinal and creedal confessions..

That raises some large questions…

If they were truly saved (and I believe they were) then;

a. Their doctrinal formulation was right and mine is wrong, or;

b. God chose to save them despite their errors, or;

c. God isn’t nearly as concerned about doctrinal formulations as we are.

There was a day when I thought I had it all down.

My faith had been narrowed down to a set of doctrinal propositions.

If you assented to those propositions, then heaven was yours.

If you didn’t, you were going to split hell wide open and I was happy about it.

I was a gatekeeper to the kingdom and quite skilled at separating the sheep from the goats.

I was quite proud of my doctrinal acumen and quite scornful of any perceived lack thereof.

Life was simple, life was good.

Then, I met people who did not affirm my doctrinal propositions who had quite evidently met with Jesus anyway.

That sucked.

I either had to change my doctrinal propositions or change my mind about how one gained access to the throne of grace…or both.

I chose both…which then required me to learn to love people I had formerly consigned to the pit.

It has been difficult and messy.

We love our tribes in Christendom and when you love the other tribes you end up with no tribe of your own.

We curse each other over doctrinal propositions, traditions, leadership, interpretation of Scriptures, sacraments, and a seemingly endless list of sub categories.

We pay lip service to unity in Christ while secretly doubting whether the other tribes (and those in them) know Him at all.

We believe the road is narrow and we’re on it, the broad road is full of other tribes walking into hell with the heathens.

Even when someone offers up the right propositions and participates in the tribal rites properly, we who are convinced of our own right standing before God examine anything we can for possible disqualification.

We can almost always find something.

We so often make the ‘good news’ something like one of those envelopes you get from Publishers Clearing House…”You’ve won!”…if you meet about a hundred qualifications.

Our mantra is that Christianity is not a religion but a relationship….then we try to force people with a relationship into our religion.

Why…do we go out of our way to make heaven so distant for so many?

Why… does it seem that we are more concerned with keeping people out than getting people in?

Just asking…


Feb 252015

41MPZtTM2gLCharles Bowden wasn’t a believer as far as I know.

Despite this, he may have made one of the best evangelistic films I’ve ever seen.

You can’t play it in your youth group, however…you probably can’t show it in any group.

The film is called “El Sicario Room 164” and for the first hour it is nothing but a hooded, professional cartel killer describing his work in graphic detail…from one of the hotel rooms he did his work in.

It is not for delicate in sensibilities, nor for the faint in heart.

The sicarios killings and torture methods are laid out in all their horror with the pride of a craftsman.

I had to take a break from watching it twice…it was more than I could handle.

The last twenty five minutes or so are devoted to how Jesus came and saved the monster we’d been watching.

The killer drops his calm, calculating, exterior when describing his conversion… he weeps with joy as he describes being born again.

The power of the Gospel strangles the forces of hate as easily and as finally as the sicario had strangled his victims.

The movie ends with that testimony.

If you believe the mans story (and I do) you must conclude that no one is outside the power and grace of God.

That includes cartel killers and radical Muslim ones.

The weapons of our warfare are not carnal…

We really don’t believe that…we believe the weapons of our warfare were not carnal until we developed really powerful carnal weapons.

Questions abound if we’re honest…but we’re not.

I wonder why God didn’t choose to save this man before he dispatched 400 or 500 people to unmarked graves.

I wonder why God didn’t choose to save the man who made the movie… who I still grieve for every day as one grieves for a father unmet.

I wonder if the families of his victims would celebrate his adoption by the Father when he took the father of their family.

I wonder why the thought of bombing radical Islam with the Gospel is not nearly as appealing as blowing them to hell.

I confess that I still think myself and others deserve grace that should be denied to others.

I will comfort myself with Deut 29:29 and proclaim such things as “mystery”.

It’s easier than asking those questions…

Feb 252015

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aToday, 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.

From his wife, Naghmeh,

Romans 12: 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Here is my two cents on current events:

RADICAL HATE can only be overcome by RADICAL LOVE. God’s solution to sin was a painful death on the cross while we were still sinners and while we were still His enemies. That’s God’s solution. Radical Love. A love that hangs on the cross and takes all of the insults, abuse and beatings and can still say “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Our president can not solve the problems we are seeing rampant around us. No government or governments in the world can solve it. No money in the world can solve it. No human plans can solve it (no matter how wise they may seem). The United Nations can certainly not solve it. There is only one solution and as Christians we have it to offer to the world!!!

Islam at its best is a religion. A list of does and don’ts. People are tired of religion. The world is thirsty for love. As Christians we have access to the only Love that can change a person within. We have access to the Love that can truly fill the emptiness within.

We might not live in the Middle East, but there are Muslims all around us where we live. Each one is an opportunity to love.

Feb 242015

timthumb.phpOn domestic violence…

We all think we’re right…

When Africa bleeds…

Reading the Bible with dead guys…

Who are you married to?

Christian persecution at all time high…

Wesleyan University now up to fifteen letters describing sexual identities…

What really happened in David Barton’s lawsuits?

On unanswered prayer…

The Coptics and Chalcedon…

An epidemic of liars…

ISIS has taken 90 more Christians…

On house churches…

Rob Bell, gay marriage, and the movie “Tombstone”.

ECT on reclaiming marriage…

Can science and scripture be reconciled?

Silencing people and learning to control the narrative…

No faith is free from child abuse scandals and cover ups…

Technology and community…

How to find bread and water in the dungeon of depression…

Steve Brown on why we don’t pray…

10 things about the “Great Commission”…

50 Shades of Gray and patriarchy…

5 myths about social justice…

Feb 212015

thumbnail.aspxIn the midst of all the pushing and shoving among us,

in the world and in the church,

propelled by anxiety and acted as brutality,

You have planted yourself in all your fidelity.

You have placed yourself among us in steadfastness and abiding care present in the day,

alert in the night,

making us all safe and noticed and cared for.

So evidence your fidelity as to curb our anxiety,

as to restrain our brutality,

as to overcome our alienation.

By your fidelity, renew us, renew church, renew city, renew world.

Give us the safety to love you fully, to love neighbor well, in glad obedience.

Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (p. 118). Kindle Edition.

Feb 202015

IMG_0027I had just settled down to eat when I heard the howling.

I put my plate down and walked outside and was hit in the face with the smell of cat urine and a cloud of cat hair no longer attached to a cat.



Miss Kitty was puffed out and angry…her battered opponent was across the street peering out of the culvert he had escaped to.

I recognized it as a stray I’d been trying to entice to eat…it was painfully thin and appeared to be injured as well.

He had evidently decided to take me up on my offer from sheer desperation when he ran into Miss Kitty.

He didn’t have a chance as he was suffering from malnutrition and my cat looks like a Volvo with fur.

When I appeared Miss Kitty shrunk down to normal size and walked up to me as if I approved of her actions.

I petted her and inspected her for wounds in the slight chance the stray had hit a lucky shot…and told her that this was unacceptable behavior.

She often pretends not to understand English, so I demonstrated as well.

If she wouldn’t let the stray come to me, I would go to him myself.

I went in the house. grabbed her dish full of food, and walked across the street.

The stray slipped deeper into the culvert thinking I couldn’t see him, crying for help while hiding from it.

I set the food at the opening of the culvert and bid him softly to come and eat.

In a few minutes his need overcame his fear and he came and ate.

He ate as one who hadn’t had food in too long… voraciously, but interjecting loud, sad, apologies in between gulps.

He suddenly shrunk back…Miss Kitty had run across the street to my side as I sat on the pavement feeding her enemy.

She somehow knew not to attack again…understanding that for some reason her master had accepted the stray and she would not be allowed to strike it again.

I wondered what was going through her mind as she sat next to her owner as he fed a stranger the same food she eats from the same dish.

The lesson appears to have stuck with her.

The stray comes to the door and eats now, though Miss Kitty guards the entrance to the house in silence with an occasional low growl.

I don’t think she has anything to worry about…he comes to see me and to be fed, not hang out with her.

He doesn’t have to come in to do so.

Make your own application…