Jan 232018

The Calvary Chapel Association

I confess that I find it difficult to fairly assess this side of the Calvary Chapel split.

In my mind, the leaders of this side represent everything I fought against in the early years of this blog.


(I purposefully delineate between the leaders and the rank and file pastors, many of whom are unwillingly caught up in this mess.)

They waged war on Brian Brodersen with factual distortions and outright lies, and even their origin is questionable as I’ve documented in numerous articles.

They continue to act as mercenaries on the mission field with reports of a demand for fealty if financial support is to continue.

This is the old guard of CC, where numerical success equals the blessing of God and elevates “successful” pastors as leaders over others.

Don’t bother to ask how one gets on the “council”…

They see themselves as the exclusive keepers of the Calvary Chapel tradition and the legacy of Chuck Smith and demand adherence to the Calvary “distinctives”.

They are accountable to no one, including each other.

Having said that, they have won more of the battle for pastoral numbers and mind share than Brodersen’s Calvary Global Network has.

The reasons for this are pretty simple, but important to understand.

One of the reasons we join a group of any kind is to establish an identity.

The CCA has a clear identity…they know who they are, what they believe, and consciously trace their history back to the founder.

That is a very comfortable place for pastors who have been affiliated with CC for any length of time.

Equally as important, they also know what they are against…the enemies list is easy to compile from their sermons and writing.

The second powerful reason they are succeeding is that they continue the style of leadership that CC pastors are familiar with.

In that model, you do whatever the leaders say and you give them the benefit of the doubt over heathen critics with blogs.

Whether they like it or not, an inability to deal with conflict constructively is also a CC distinctive…but one that this group is used to.

The issues this group has are these.

First, the self appointed leadership is aging and will soon pass from the scene.

Because there is no clear protocol for who gets placed on the “council” or the regional leadership, there is no succession protocol either.

Expect some bloody political battles as the current members pass on.

Second, they have already lost credibility and gravitas with a significant number of “affiliated” pastors.

Third, it appears that the younger generation of pastors are less interested in eschatological dogmatism and holiness codes than the old guard is.

Finally, (and this applies to most churches) there is so much Christian information and instruction online from every different corner of Christendom, it will be increasingly difficult to pit one group against another without defending why you do so.

Making enemies out of most of the rest of Body of Christ is not an unusual tactic in this group (though not unique to them).

In the long run I expect this group will remain viable and maintain their dominance for at least the near future among those who identify with the Calvary Chapel brand.


Jan 232018

Unprecedented crisis of trust…

The nature of love…

Wearied by spiritual warfare…

No creed but the Bible?

Five things you need to hear right now…

Franklin Graham says Trump is a strong defender of Christianity…

Evangelicalism as a brand and a space…

Are you a listening,seeing person?

The difference between rest and being lazy…

How poetry might change the pro-life debate…

Why leaders should lead us in lament…

Pastoral transition…assistant becomes senior pastor and vice versa…

The year science took over the pro-life movement…

Protecting the homeless in freezing weather…

Trump gets a “mulligan” from FRC on porn star…

A great prayer…

Different religious groups views on abortion…

Church plans to plant 1000 churches…

For some Christians,pro-life is more than just opposing abortion…

Not so sure about scientists…

The mystery of the Trinity…

The one social media sin we’re all apparently ok with…

The “browning” of American megachurches…

The one thing about sexuality that Christians just don’t get…

Virtuous evildoers…

The persistent intensity of American religion…very important research paper worth taking the time to study…

Huge thanks to EricL as always…support him at top right…

Jan 222018

We’re always looking for ways to get good books into peoples hands.

Thanks to a Facebook friend we found a treasure…

If you have a public library card, get the Hoopla app…free ebooks, audio books, movies,music, and television shows.

You can check them out just as you would a book from the library.


I just signed up…lots of good stuff here.



Jan 222018

For better or worse, this site has become the “go to” place for information about Calvary Chapel.

We still get lots of inquiries about the state of the movement, though I find it less than compelling anymore to find answers to those inquiries.

I believe what we’re seeing in CC is the end of a particular time in the history of American evangelicalism and what we’re hearing are the death rattles of what once was.

Calvary Chapel’s place in church history is first of all as the fulcrum of a genuine revival and secondarily as innovators who used contemporary music styles combined with fundamentalist Bible teaching to give that revival structure.

As is common with true revival, the action was on the edges of society and CC exploded by accepting the marginalized youth of the day.

Also as is common with revival, the revival doesn’t last, but the structure does.

Then the structure becomes institutional, and over time denies it’s own origin and history.

This is the story of CC in my opinion and the reason that the group split and is no longer a “movement” at all, but a stagnant institution with little vision of the future other than a fruitless attempt to grasp it’s former glory.

Calvary Chapel in it’s heyday was a personality driven movement… first with Chuck Smith and Lonnie Frisbee, than with Smith alone as he navigated the church away from the fringe and into the mainstream of American evangelicalism.

Smith’s unique personality and business acumen set the parameters of what his “affiliate” churches would look like.

When Smith died, there was no one of his stature in the group who wanted to take over, but plenty of lesser lights who desperately wanted the position.

A split was inevitable, and even then, the lack of charismatic leadership on both sides meant neither would succeed in unifying the tribe.

What is left is splintered and irrelevant, the emotions of both the founders death and the bitter divorce having dissipated like the revival that birthed the movement.

The cultural fringe is now something to preach against, not to minister to.

The ability to innovate musically and artistically has been replaced with a continual nostalgia for what once was.

The power of the untamable Holy Spirit has been replaced by the power of authoritarian pastors and dogmatism.

The current leadership is aging and the younger generation is less inclined to fully identify with the brand.

A lot of pastors simply don’t care about the conflicts or the brand anymore.

In the coming days, I’ll look more closely at the state of both sides of the split…but there’s not much worth writing about…


Jan 222018

1. I’m teaching through the life of Abraham in church these days…he might have been a “friend of God”, but he would never have survived social media today. Very few biblical figures would…



2. The world divides itself between “good” people and “bad” people…the Bible divides it between “sinners” and “redeemed sinners”. One view actually reflects who we are, the other does not…

3. Social media is a reflection of a culture that is quickly losing the concept of redemptive grace…without which everyone goes to hell and the culture becomes it…

4. The only thing harder than raising a child these days is being one…

5. I am fully persuaded that as a person on center/left of the political scale I could go in a room with any of my conservative friends and hammer out reasonable solutions to most of the issues of the day in a matter of hours. We should be inquiring why the people paid to do so cannot or will not…

6. Some people watch the stock market…I watch the price of cat food…

7. It seems like the most frequent verse I repeat these days is “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”…not as a declaration of piety, but as a choice made…

8. We are all born with an inner ambivalence between needing fellowship and seeking war…

9. We are becoming a people devoid of heroes and saints…that may be realistic, but it feels awful…

10. My Vikings lost in embarrassing fashion yet again…and again I will hope in next year. Hope in the face of defeat is a Christian virtue which evidently takes practice to achieve…


Jan 202018

Almighty God,
in Christ you make all things new:
transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace,
and in the renewal of our lives
make known your heavenly glory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Jan 202018

Revelation 2:8-11

To the Church in Smyrna

  • The city of Smyrna had a well known stadium – that is never good news to the Christians.
  • The city also had a very large Jewish population.
  • Polycarp was the Bishop of Smyrna and was persecuted and killed for his faith in Christ. All that was asked of him was to take the oath that Caesar is lord, curse Christ and he would be released, His famous calm reply was, “Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my king who saved me?” And he was put to death.
  • The point? – John is writing these letters and this book to them to tell them what they will be going through – what the church will be going through – then and today.
  • This is the shortest letter to the seven churches.

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.

  • So we know the speaker is Jesus – as he is in all 7 of the letters. The description comes from 1:17 – Jesus is the first and the last – eternal and unchangeable. Hebrews 13:8
  • With each description we are hearing from Jesus. Luke 10:16 = “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
  • When Jesus speaks, it is important that we listen. How Jesus describes himself sets the tone of the letter.
  • If Jesus speaks of himself as dying and coming back to life, what does that convey – what does that make you think?
  • Is it a scary picture, is it a comforting one? Is it encouraging? What does it do?
  • For those in Smyrna facing death, this should be offering hope and comfort – Jesus died and Jesus came back.

“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

  • We heard from John in Rev 1:9 about his tribulation – a shared tribulation.
  • Now Jesus recognizes the tribulation of the church.
  • Poverty – now it is possible that the Christians were just poor, or perhaps their exclusive message about Jesus got them shut out of the local economy.
  • We could also be speaking of poverty in the spiritual sense which would match up with the (but you are rich) comment – rich in the eternal spiritual sense.
  • Jews who “are not”. – What did Paul say in Rom 9:6-8
  • Jesus, a Jew himself likens unbelieving Jews to the followers of Satan. Does this sound familiar? John 8 telling the Jews that their Father was really the devil. And who were these Jews? John 8:31”the Jews who had believed him”
  • But know this, all unbelievers are the enemy of God and all are of the synagogue of Satan.

10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

  • Note that Jesus tells them the future they face – note also that he does not say he will rescue them from this – in fact Jesus delivers the news that they will be executed (“be faithful unto death”). Jesus tells them how to stand.
  • Jesus comforts for coming suffering – there is a coming suffering.
  • What is the comfort? “Do not fear” – do not be afraid. We saw this with Jesus with his disciples in the storm tossed boat – Matt 14:27 and with the 3 disciples on the Mount of Transfigurations – Matt 17:7
  • The devil cannot touch Jesus, so he goes after those Jesus loves. Whether it is the Jews or the Romans, who toss you into prison, just recognize who it really is. Who is our fight against? Ephesians 6:12
  • Do we understand what is meant by “Do not fear”? Read Luke 12:4-7
  • 10 days is a symbolic number and it equals a short period of time – just as in Rev 20 1,000 years equals a long period of time. If it were a literal number then what is the big deal – anyone can handle 10 days in jail.
  • Whatever the actual length, it is a set time known to God.
  • “That you may be tested” – this is really a gospel statement because it is not just suffering for suffering sake.
  • “Be faithful …” What is the goal? What are the marching orders for this church? Be faithful until the end – persevere to the end – run the race until the end and receive your reward.
  • The crown of life = a crown of thorns? That was the crown Jesus wore.
  • This is not the plan for success, but the plan to be faithful – on the surface the cross was not a success.

11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’

  • The pattern is repeated – he who has an ear. Note that the messages of Jesus are spoken to two different audiences (1) he who has an ear and (2) to those who do not have an ear.
  • Those willing to listen and those who will not. Those willing to listen are those who “have and ear” and obviously those who do not listen do not.
  • The 2nd death = the end of grace for the unbeliever.
  • These gifts are not specific to the individual churches. You do not try to pass the Ephesus challenge to receive the tree of life and then move on to the Smyrna challenge conquer the 2nd death and then move on to…
  • When you conquer, when you remain faithful, you get them all.

So what have we seen?

  • The church of Smyrna seems to have been persecuted heavily but remained faithful. For this, they received only blessings from Jesus and no condemnation. They do not receive any negative words about any apparent weakness in their devotion, theology, worship, love, or service.
  • This letter is filled with paradoxes. The believers in Smyrna are said to be poor yet rich. The opposition claims to be faithful Jews but were not. The path to a victor’s crown lies in death and is guaranteed by the eternal one who died.
Jan 192018

They’re calling it the “Minnesota Miracle”

If you aren’t a football fan, what happened is this.

The Vikings were trailing the Saints in a playoff game with only ten seconds remaining.

The game was, for all intents and purposes, over.

It was going to be another crushing defeat for a team that has seemed to specialize in crushing defeats over it’s history.

Then what you see in the video happened.

Another defeat became one of the most unexpected victories in NFL history.

Adam Thielen of the Vikings said “that’s a God thing right there”…

Now, I don’t know if God is a Vikings fan (He hasn’t demonstrated such in the past) but Thielen has a point.

It’s a God thing to turn a history of defeat into blessing and victory.

Now, I am a lifelong fan of the Vikings.

Thus, I spent the week before this game accepting the fact that something bad would happen and losing was inevitable.

That’s just the way it goes for us.

Then I realized that that’s how I approach most of life.

The losses have piled up over the years and I have accepted that no matter how hard I try, defeat is inevitable.

The objective now is to deal with defeat with some modicum of dignity.

Then Diggs made this catch…

By the time the next game kicks off, I may believe it happened.

It happened.

It can happen again…not just in sports,but in life.

We serve a God of promises and even though it seems that the promises have failed before, you’re still in the game.

If you’re breathing, you’re still in the game.

It may seem like the clock is running out on a situation you are in, but the games not over.

Remember Abraham and Sarah…the clock had not only run out, it had rusted and stopped.

The promise of God still produced the miracle of Isaac.

There are promises to you, too.

Hang on to the promises and the Promise Maker in faith, not in preparation for defeat.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever…and he’s a lot better quarterback than Keenum.

Make your own application…


Jan 182018

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