Jun 052018
 

Big boys can cry…

What the SBC needs right now…

What’s going on at Patheos?

Reclaiming the center of evangelicalism…

A look at the bakers Supreme Court victory…

The church must do more than get the Gospel right…

Why believers should consider advanced directives…

Sin is like walking in front of a bus…

Joel Osteen’s church has 90 million dollar budget…

How the American Bible Society became evangelical…

On the deepening loss of religious freedom and our response…

Our scars and His…

What kind of God washes filthy feet?

God’s ugly, ordinary, church…

The ruling was not a victory for religious liberty…

The difference between loving Gods blessings and loving God…

A compelling case for less in the age of more…

If only I could have seen the shore…

Trumps rotten fruit and my own…

Thanks as always to Eric L for the link help..support him at top right…

 

Jun 042018
 

Wealth

Money is something that we are not supposed to bring up in a polite conversation.  Yet, the Bible constantly deals with the inner spirit of slavery that is the result of an idolatrous  attachment to wealth.  “If riches increase, set not your heart on them,” counsels the psalmist.

 

 

Our Lord saw the grip that wealth can have upon a person.  He knew that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” which is precisely why he commanded his followers, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth”.  Note, he is not saying that the heart should or should not be where the treasure is located.  He is simply stating the plain fact that wherever you find treasure, there you will also find the heart.  That can mean different things for different people.  Yet the truth of his assertion belongs to all of us.  Tell me what you value most and I will tell you where your heart is.  Yet the search for treasure and the heart can sometimes have a surprising result.  When the Roman persecutors asked St. Lawrence to produce the treasure of the Church, he brought in the poor of the city and said, “Here are the treasures of the Church”.  In so doing, he revealed the location of his heart.  

I wonder, what treasure would reveal the location of our hearts today?  What is the treasure of the Church?  Is it in our bank accounts and our endowments?  Is it in our buildings and institutions?  Perhaps it is in our institutions, or our radio stations, or our Christian cable networks… or perhaps, in some places, we might find our treasure and our hearts in the midst of “the least of these” , Our Lord’s brethren.

Most often, our treasure is literal.  Jesus exhorted the rich young ruler not just to have an inner attitude of detachment from his possessions, but to literally to abandon all his possessions if he wanted the kingdom of God.  He counseled people who came seeking God, “Sell your possessions, and give alms: provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail…”  He told the parable of the rich farmer whose life centered on hoarding – we might call him prudent or an investor – but Jesus called him a fool.  Like the merchant in search of a single fine pearl, we should be willing to sell all that we have that we might gain its superlative beauty.  He calls all who would follow him to a joyful life of carefree unconcern for possessions: “Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again.”

These are the “hard sayings” of our Lord – the ones we try not to hear.

Yet, these are the very words that have so often brought forth the “lilies of the field” in the midst of the Church’s barren waste.  They are the radiant flowers we know by name: Antony of the Desert, Benedict of Nursia, Augustine of Hippo, Gregory the Great, Francis and Clare of Assisi, Catherine of Siena, Julian of Norwich, the Wesley brothers, holy John Keble, Charles de Foucault, Mother Theresa of Calcutta,  and countless unnamed and unknown saints through the ages.

May God please to bring forth such beauty in our midst today by opening our ears to hear these “hard sayings” anew.

Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

The Project

Jun 042018
 

1. The Supreme Court ruled that a Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding had been discriminated against for his religious beliefs by state agencies. The court did NOT rule that any such decision to refuse services due to religious beliefs would be likewise protected…in fact, the court was clear to say it would be determined on a case by case basis.

They effectively punted the big decision down the road. That’s why news agencies are reporting this as a “narrow” decision…and why you should stop mocking the headlines because the vote was 7-2…

2. What structural changes will the Southern Baptist Convention adopt in light of the Paige Patterson debacle? None. When independence is the greater virtue than accountability the only change agents are empty pews…

3. Never forget that the basis of American Christianity is not the Bible, but the free market…numbers are what matters…

4. After seeing Facebook this morning, I think our biggest national crisis may be reading comprehension…

5. What does “Focus On the Family” think about refugee families being separated at the border? Asking for a friend…

6. I think the pendulum is swinging back against the forced acceptance of all these sexual identities other than that which is traditionally the norm. The challenge will be to swing with it in grace as well as truth…

7. The ability to reason and debate with substance and intelligence has been replaced with seeing who can spew the foulest utterances about those they oppose. Neither side of the culture dare claim any moral high ground on this … we are all wallowing in filth…

8. In the Older Testament, God showed up and gave instruction personally. In the Newer Testament, the Apostles end up casting lots to try to discern the mind of God. Today, we make our best guess as to what to do. I find this odd…

9. I have a theory…that we’re hardwiring our brains to be unable to hear the voice of God…by overwhelming ourselves with the fruit of technology…

10. I’m still going to be working on finding a new theme to hold the blog as this one is no longer being updated. Unfortunately, I’ve found that blogging technology has passed me by…more unfortunately, it’s not the only thing that has…

Jun 022018
 

O God, the protector of all those who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy, that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal; grant this, heavenly Father, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Jun 022018
 

Revelation 10 – A Pause

At this point I think it is critical to pause to tie up some loose ends, review a bit and look at where we are.

  • We are at a similar point of what we experienced earlier. As we saw with the first vision of events (the seven seal judgments) which were the history of events on earth throughout the church era. This is similar to that event between the 6th and 7th seals – a pause (chapter 7).
  • This interlude consists of two scenes: 1) The Mighty Angel and 2) The Two Witnesses. As we will see, this interlude focuses on the mission of the Church throughout the church age and God’s protection of the church in that mission.
  • Chapter 10 now takes up this role – a pause between the 6th and 7th
  • These pauses seem to be for the purpose of providing certainty – a huge theme in Revelation – the certainty of victory with Jesus – an assurance to John as he will be asked to do more and to the Church as we see its mission described in 11:1-13.
  • So after the first 6 trumpets and all the ensuing demonic action, it is easy for us to reflect, “has it all been in vain? Is it all for nothing?” These pauses remind us of the promises – that there is a rest and a peace from this great demonic tragedy.
  • Looking back to the end of chapter 9, we look at the darkness of the inhabitants of the world (the lost) who refuse to repent. We see the world continues on in its old destructive ways of unbelief, and the prayers of the church unanswered during the history of the world. Remember chapter 6 “how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
  • The temptation for John, for his initial hearers and for us today as we have all lived in perilous, dangerous, darks days is to despair – to stop trusting in the one who is on the throne, and the Lamb.
  • Right here in the middle of the book of all places, John is given a start over. John is going to start over again and retell the vision.
  • This is why some commentators, me included, will say when you read Revelation it is like going up a spiral stair case. It spirals, and it seems like you are covering the same territory – but it escalates a little each time through.
  • Chapters 10 through 14:20 could be considered a book within a book – just as I pointed out that the letters to the 7 churches were letters within the larger letter. (Revelation is actually a letter to the churches.)
  • John introduces this thought in verse 1 with the angel and the little scroll. It is a summary of the book John was told to write – it is like a microcosm in the macrocosm.
  • Chapter 10 – 14 is not something new, but is a repeat of what has already been discussed but from a different perspective, a new angle – another camera shot of that game winning touchdown pass.
  • The theme is the same; this is a revelation of Jesus Christ who has won the victory through his death on the cross and his resurrection from the grave.
  • A caution – many times we can listen to the book of Revelation and wonder “wow, when will that take place? When are we going to see these locust and the horse riders come out?” as if this is all in the future rather than this being a description of what is happening in these last days where we live.
  • The New Testament says that the last days encompass the time from Christ’s first coming through to his second coming.
  • In this, John can say in his other writing “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.” 1 John 2:18
  • Hebrews 1:2 can say the same “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” – the same way Paul will speak of the Church being of the time which the end of the ages has come. “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” (1 Cor 10:11).
  • I would like to bring forward as a refresher as passage I had in my introductory articles to this book – speaking to the point of recapitulation;

This is the style John uses telling the Revelation story – the story from God’s point of view. Some examples – (very simple and not comprehensive – just to get the thought rolling.) – at each stop, this is all end of the world language

  • The 7 Seals (5:1 – 8:5) leads to the end = 6:12-17.
  • The 7 Trumpets (8:6 – 11:19) leads to the end = 11:15-19
  • The Interlude (12:1 – 14:20) leads to the end = 14:9-20
  • The 7 Bowls (15:1 – 16:21) leads to the end = 16:17-21
  • If the back half of Revelation were lost to the ages and ended at Rev 7:17, I am sure that the readers would have been satisfied that they had been shown the end and the following heavenly scene.
  • If true, then this would show that John was not writing a chronology, but indeed, retelling the same history, over and over again.

 

Jun 012018
 

Paige Patterson got terminated, Roseanne got cancelled.

Just when the drama from all that began to recede, a new article came out saying horrible things about a popular Christian comedian.

We barely had time to congratulate ourselves on our moral excellence in the first two cases before a third fell into our pious laps.

Now we must quickly frame incendiary tweets to make sure that the new meat is publicly shamed beyond redemption and he is unable to make a living and hopefully, unable to buy groceries without a disguise.

It’s not enough to publicly call people to repentance anymore…they must be destroyed.

We’ll go back however many decades is necessary to find reasons to do so.

Redemption is not our problem.

We have our standards.

If someone offends you, ruin them thoroughly.

Permanently.

Now, Patterson needed to resign and that culture needs to change.

Any place abuse is enabled, a light must be shined upon it.

Roseanne needed called out for her mouth, but the last time I checked TV’s enabled you to change the channel.

The “Christian” comedian is accused of being a bad guy, but his crimes have not been fully disclosed.

It won’t matter…accusations are enough these days.

When I called out people here, the objective was to call people to repentance and hope for reconciliation with God and man.

Systems needed to be changed…attitudes needed to be changed.

They still do.

However, advocating for change is different from wanting to destroy people and wipe the memory of their existence from the earth.

Mob rule is great as long as you’re part of the mob…but when the mob runs out of targets they look among themselves for one.

It could be me…it could be you.

Maybe you have lived a pristine life free of conflict and sin, but I barely get through each day without shipwreck.

The only standard I meet is that I’m a pretty good repenter…because I’ve had a ton of practice.

When I claim the moral high ground it’s with fear and trembling and the knowledge that high ground induces vertigo in me.

Social media enables to us to ruin people more quickly than we can stack their scorned carcasses.

Scorn is the end of that process.

It supposed to be the beginning of the process for the church.

If you see me on that stack remind me of Jesus…and I’ll do the same for you.

Redemption is His specialty.

I’ve heard He’s not on Twitter…

Make your own application…

May 312018
 

“We who used to value the acquisition of wealth and possessions more than anything else now bring what we have into a common fund and share it with anyone who needs it. We used to hate and destroy one another and refused to associate with people of another race or country. Now, because of Christ, we live together with such people and pray for our enemies.”

Justin Martyr

May 292018
 

Evangelicals least likely to believe the U.S. has a responsibility to accept refugees…

Why we don’t pray…

On Throckmorton being booted off Patheos…

The contagious holiness of God…

Questioning hell…

Christ at the check point…being a Palestinian believer…

Willow Creek elders apologize to Hybels victims…

How evangelicals and the White House teamed up for prison reform…

Six questions for the trustees of SWBTS…

Creating space and opportunity for God…

Churches are like restaurants…

How to disagree about theology without kicking each other out of the church…

Woe is me…a different kind of spiritual experience…

Patterson is unrepentant…

Will all people be equal in heaven?

Willow Creek elder calls for repentance instead of understanding…

Alexa can bless your food and help you find a church…

Reading together, early church style…

Surviving SWBTS as a female employee…

Being Christian in Western Europe…

Is your life like a Rubic’s cube?

Ireland: an obituary…

Huge thanks to EricL for the link help…support him at top right…