Dec 092016

IMG_1079Every morning it’s the same routine.

Right around 6:AM, Chester wakes up and starts to howl.

Then he wails.

Then he howls some more, followed by some plaintive wailing.


He does so loudly.

This cat has the lung capacity of an opera singer.

Chester howls and wails because he is hungry, he wants fed, and he thinks that today might be the day when I choose not to provide for his needs.

When he really brings the noise, it even affects the sanguine Miss Kitty…who has quietly trusted me for a long time, but the wailing makes her nervous.

Maybe Chester knows something she doesn’t…

So, Miss Kitty looks at me anxiously and starts to cry.

I’m not a morning person…

The routine was broken this morning.

I woke up and Miss Kitty was asleep at my side as always.

Chester was awake too…and purring.


He said a single meow as if saying “good morning” stretched out, and resumed purring.


After months of morning anxiety, Chester knows he’s going to get fed.

He trusts that I’m going to get up and feed him.

Chester has faith and his faith helps Missy to hold on to the faith she has.

Life and mornings just got better here…

Sometimes we think we have to howl and wail to get God to hear us.

Sometimes we think He really doesn’t want to get up and feed us.

Sometimes we think this is the time when God is going to fail us.

Sometimes we try to convince other people of all of the above.

Sometimes, when we do these things, we lie about God to ourselves and others.

He still gets up and feeds us…but the morning is always better when it starts in faith.

Make your own application…


Dec 082016

son-of-man-1024x786This week we look forward to Christ’s Second Advent on the Last Day.

“The Coming of the Son of Man

 ‘And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’ ” (Luke 21:25-28)

When Jesus returns on the last day in glory with power, it will be plain and unmistakable to everyone. “For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.” (Luke 17:24) Creation itself will signal God’s final judgment. Christ’s return will be preceded by spectacular signs in the cosmos and on earth, which many people worldwide will notice. However, people will react to these signs very differently.

Unbelievers will be perplexed and terrified with fear. What is more perplexing to an unbeliever, when faced with immanent catastrophe, than the questions of “Why me?” or “Why now?” Unbelievers will experience helplessness and powerlessness to forestall the end. The signs of the end to them will herald final judgment and death.

On the other hand, Christ’s return is the joyous fulfillment of the prayers of the Church, which from her beginnings have included: “Thy kingdom come;” “Deliver us from evil;” and “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:19) In contrast to the faithless who will faint with fear, Jesus tells His disciples to “straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Christians have nothing to fear from the signs of His coming. Judgment day for Christians is resurrection day – the redemption of our bodies. And this redemption is not only for Christians: “the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Rom 8:21)

 “The Lesson of the Fig Tree

 And [Jesus] told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.’ ” (Luke 21:29-33)

Jesus wants us to anticipate His return in peace with great joy. He compares his second coming to the arrival of summer. Just as the darkness, bitterness and cold of winter depict the opposition, sin and evil that afflict Christians nonstop in the Church Militant, the bright colors, fruitfulness and warmth of summer depict the deliverance from evil, sin, death and the devil that Christians will inherit in the Church Triumphant. Paul describes his inheritance as a “crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” (2 Tim 4:8) Christ’s promises will survive the passing of heaven and earth.

This summer is the harvest time that Jesus referred to in the Parable of the Weeds. At this harvest, He will send His angels to separate the wheat from the tares. “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matt 13:43)

“Watch Yourselves

 ‘But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.’ ” (Luke 21:34-36)

Some of us may be conflicted about Christ’s return or distracted by the cares of this life? Are we ready to meet Christ now or do we have things we want to accomplish first? Is it a promising career? Getting married or starting a family? Evangelizing an unbelieving relative or spouse? Are we too busy for church right now? Is there unrepentant sin that we are not yet ready to confess but know is wrong?

We must repent of conflicting priorities and unbelieving hearts, which weigh us down, and trust Christ. “Our will be done” must yield to “Thy will be done.” Christ’s return and his kingdom will be infinitely more glorious than anything we might hold on to or accomplish for ourselves here on earth. His timing will be perfect. Christ will not return a minute too soon or a minute too late. So do not fear. The cares of this world must not distract us from the kingdom of God.

But stay awake at all times, praying that you have the strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man (Luke 21:36)

Jesus concluded His teaching with an exhortation: “But stay awake at all times….” Sounds reasonable right? But who can actually do this? Not even Peter. Therefore, if we are going to stand before the Son of Man on the last day with raised heads, it will not be by our own strength or works. We need a Savior. Jesus addressed a similar question in Mark’s Gospel: “And [the disciples] were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.’ ” (Mark 10:26-27)

Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2). He will be our strength to escape the cataclysm of the last day. Jesus will stand us up with raised heads at the final judgment. He will provide His Church with more than enough oil to keep our lamps brightly lit until the day of His return. Therefore, let us with joy and thanksgiving continue to receive forgiveness, salvation and life in Christ’s name, which He won for us at Calvary and now delivers to us through His ministries of Word and Sacrament. “Come, Lord Jesus!”

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph 3:20-21)

Dec 072016

So where do we draw the line?

When do we say that this is not acceptable and we cannot coalesce with it?

How do we go about separating ourselves from that with which we cannot cooperate?

How do we decide when the division is healthy and necessary?

How do we determine that this is what God would want and is not our fallen pride that is doing the driving?

How do we manage to maintain some modicum of unity amongst the existing division?

For the first thousand years or so, there was only the Church.  There was only Christianity.  Yes, I am sure the historians could fill us in on all the corruption and undercurrents of division and small separatist groups which existed throughout that time period, but formally and officially, the Church was one.  Then came along the East-West split which resulted in Orthodoxy and Catholicism.  Several hundred years later, we have the Protestant Reformation breaking off from the Catholic church.  And of course, we now have hundreds, no probably thousands (tens of thousands?), of different groups and sects and denominations within Protestantism.  Within Catholicism and Orthodoxy, the number of splits and divisions have been significantly lesser than Protestantism, but the divides exist, nevertheless.

Having come to mind the thoughts of splits and division within the church is of no surprise right now. 

Around this blog, we have been following the current outworking of a separation within a certain non-denomination denomination.  Now, this current split within Calvary Chapel is not anywhere near the magnitude of some of the divides in church history, but it is still meaningful.  Meaningful because it affects many people, even if a lot of those people don’t yet realize it.  Some of the effects and potential effects have already been discussed on these pages.  And meaningful because a bunch of men who represent God in their calling and vocation are essentially communicating that this is necessary before God to happen. 

So the questions from the opening come to mind.  There has been so much division in the history of the church.  Each side often, if not always, claiming righteousness and God’s honor.  How much of it has been necessary?  How much of it has been truly honoring to God?

One of the unique things about this blog is the degree of theological diversity we have in our community.  Certainly among our commenters and who knows how much more with our readers.  Collectively, we have quite a range of opinion and disagreement on many different theological subjects, some of greater importance than others.  And in whatever discussion we would have here on this thread, those differences likely will manifest.  Yet we are able to maintain some level of respect and unity with each other, most of the time, anyway.  At the same time, of course, we’re not trying to form a church here.

Each and every one of us probably has a list of non-negotiables that a church must meet for us to be a part of it.  If a church fails to meet one or more of these items, we feel as if we cannot be a part of it, and in the case where it happens to be our current fellowship, that we must separate.  At the core, we would probably share some of these items (belief in the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, etc.) and would share less and less as we work out from the core.  What might be a non-negotiable for me may be an item of little concern for some others, and vice versa.  Furthermore, we might share the same non-negotiable but fall on opposite sides as to what is the correct belief/method/behavior of that particular item.  Then we have the tradition from whence we come, where some will give more credence to individual freedom to separate over many more issues and circumstances while others will more defer to central church leadership with a greater emphasis on unification.

So how do we handle all these differences within the church?  Some division may very well be necessary and honoring to God.  When a group within the church starts espousing heretical beliefs and is not open to correction, the decision to separate would likely be proper.  When a church splits over the color of the carpet in the church, as we have all heard the like-stories, likely not so much.  And then we’ve got everything in between.

The line of standing for truth and God’s honor can also often get blurred with our own stubbornness and pride.  Something may be worth dividing over, but the manner in which we go about it is not God honoring.  Other times, the issue may not even be worthy of separation, yet our carnality really gets the best of us.

When we do decide that separation is necessary, how can we manage to do this graciously?  How do we avoid fleshly arrogance and condescension?  How do we divide without calling into question the salvation of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  How do we remain respectful of those with whom we disagree?  How do we refrain from, what’s that term….. oh yeah, “Spiritual McCarthyism”?  How can we appreciate our differences?  How do we stay united in Christ?     

I don’t have the answers to all of these questions I have asked throughout this writing.  And if I did decree answers, I am sure there would be much disagreement.  Each and every circumstance is unique and probably takes some nuance to fully understand and discern.  I leave you with these thoughts, which are thoroughly greater than my own: 

10 “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” – I Corinthians 1:10-13

9 “But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” – Titus 3:9-11

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. – Ephesians 4:1-6

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound[a] teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” – II Timothy 4:1-5

34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

Dec 062016

timthumb.phpSarah continues her Advent series…

Castro’s death and Cuba’s revival…

Saving the bible from ourselves…

Paige Patterson tells Calvinists to go away…

On religious pilgrimages…

Mary’s expectant worship…

Time to refriend those you unfriended during the election…

Will the Catholic church split over marriage?

Time to fire life coach Jesus…

Scarlet hope…

Evangelicals are just too liberal…

What makes someone evangelical?

Julie Anne’s excellent coverage of the Tullian Tchividjian scandals…

Is it time to replace “evangelical” with “red letter Christian”?

The real face of Santa Claus…

Should Christians watch “The Shack?”

Hillbilly family history…

Gospel phobia…and a rebuttal from another Lutheran…

Most churches stayed out of the election…

Isn’t there anywhere a person can be still?

Pastoral authority in an anti-authoritarian age…

Why C.S. Lewis wasn’t a pacifist…

The truth about the future of the United Methodist Church…

Advent with St.John of the Cross…

The ratings success of Dolly Parton’s new movie…

Sometimes,you need to embrace conflict…

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


Dec 062016

joseph_mccarthy-otrcat-comFrom Wikipedia:

“McCarthyism” is the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence. It also means “the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism.”

The term is also now used more generally to describe reckless, unsubstantiated accusations, as well as demagogic attacks on the character or patriotism of political adversaries.”

During the “Red Scare” of the early Fifties Sen. Joe McCarthy used his political power to create an atmosphere of hate and suspicion in this country with insidious accusations that thousands of citizens were communists.

Careers and reputations were lost, blacklists created, and good people destroyed.

It remains one of the most shameful times in American history.

McCarthy’s reign of terror end after an exchange on national television…

“The most famous incident in the hearings was an exchange between McCarthy and the army’s chief legal representative, Joseph Nye welch. On June 9, the 30th day of the hearings, Welch challenged Roy Cohn to provide U.S. Attorney General Herbert Brownell Jr. with McCarthy’s list of 130 Communists or subversives in defense plants “before the sun goes down”. McCarthy stepped in and said that if Welch was so concerned about persons aiding the Communist Party, he should check on a man in his Boston law office named Fred Fisher, who had once belonged to the National Lawyers Guild, a progressive lawyers association. In an impassioned defense of Fisher, Welch responded, “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness …” When McCarthy resumed his attack, Welch interrupted him: “Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” 

The Calvary Chapel split has revealed that McCarthyism is alive and well in the church.

The split has been fueled by unsubstantiated accusations of theological treason put forth by some Calvary Chapel Association council members and spread like manure on a field by the online “discernment” ministries.

Bearing false witness has become an acceptable means to achieve theological “purity”.

One of the ‘proofs” being spread about that allegedly shows Brian Brodersen’s theological “treason” is a video of a young woman “teaching” at a missions conference.

I will not call her name here as she has already suffered enough at the hands of the careless.

She is offering her testimony to a “mixed” group of men and women.

She is not acting in the office of a pastor,nor, according to my sources, does she seek such.

Despite this, and despite Brodersen’s clear explanation of his position on women in ministry, the video is being used to discredit them both.

While the demagogues war over the spoils of another man’s work, missionaries are becoming collateral damage in the tyrants lust for power.

Will they be forced to choose between the two factions even at the cost of losing part of their support?

Will they be subjected to the kind of attacks that this faithful young woman has had to endure?

To those who are propagating false accusations, half truths, and guilt by association, I ask…have you no sense of decency?

Is it not enough that you have widely slandered one man, confused thousands, and split a movement?

Will you continue to support missionaries who feel no need to choose between you and those you attack or will they become “collateral damage” in  your political feud?

It’s way past time that decency and truly Christian ethics became part of the CC “distinctives” that some are trying so hard to protect…or watch old time McCarthyism replaced with McFochtism with the same results…

Dec 052016

calvary-chapel-e1478539697846A week or so back, when Michael Newnham of the Phoenix Preacher revealed a split taking place between Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and much, although not all, of the Calvary Chapel Association, I was by turns saddened and upset. 

It appears from the flurry of comments, postings and opinions offered across the internet, that I am not alone.  When I look at my own reaction, however, I recognize that most people would consider it to be irrational.  I’ve not set foot into a Calvary Chapel for close to thirty years.  The last time I spoke with Chuck Smith was in the 1970s.  To my knowledge, I’ve never met Brian Brodersen.  My acquaintance with some few other Calvary Chapel pastors date from almost four decades ago.  As I stated in one posted comment, “I don’t have a dog in the hunt”.  Yet, the news and the turmoil affected me nonetheless.  I needed to ask myself the question, “Why?”

After some bit of prayer and reflection, I think I might have an answer; or at least an answer for me.

There were many strands of influence and activity that would constitute what became known as the Jesus Movement in the late 1960s and 1970s.  I believe, however, that the epicenter of the movement was Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa under the pastoral guidance of Chuck Smith.  This is not to discount what was taking place in the American midwest or northeast, or even closer to home, in Hollywood.  It is simply to say that much of what we know of the movement had its start at CCCM.  The taking on of Lonnie  Frisbee as an evangelist, the encouragement given to John Higgins to create Christian communes, the Saturday night concerts and the creation of Maranatha! Music, the midweek Bible studies and so much more, came out of CCCM.  In the day, whether you were a Calvary Chapel devotee or not, you knew all about them.  Chuck’s Bible studies on cassette tapes made their way across the country and eventually around the world. In Oregon communes, The Everlastin’ Living Jesus Music Concert, was placed on turntables and we began to hear music by Love Song and Children of the Day.  The “beach baptisms” made it into the national media.  In a remarkably short time the movement spread worldwide and CCCM was at its heart.

As they say, however, “that was then, this is now”. 

All throughout Church history, movements morph into institutions.  What had started in first century Judea as a loosely knit group of disciples and preachers had, by the end of that first hundred years, become recognizable organized communities with a system of pastoral oversight.  In the fourth century, what had started with hermits in the deserts of Egypt became transformed into monastic communities.  In the thirteenth century, a rich young man named Francis gave away all his possessions to become an itinerant preacher, pledging all his followers to poverty.  Within three decades, the Franciscans had become a powerful organization within the Church, eventually owning their own churches, monastic establishments and, eventually, even universities.  Similar observations could be made of various Reformation movements, the Methodist societies, or even the Tractarians.  All eventually became institutional in nature.

Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and, whether they recognize it or not, the Calvary Chapel Association, has followed this same path.

It is the realization that this has now become formalized that, I believe, has caused so much distress and sadness.  The distress and sadness is not about the “Calvary Chapel distinctives”, or the verse by verse exposition of all 66 books of the Bible, or who will sit on the platform with whom, or whether Brian Brodersen wears a suit or tie, or whether Chuck Smith set up a foolproof succession plan.  It is not even the concerns (valid or not) about accountability, or salaries or nepotism.  To be frank, these are always concerns within any institutional environment.  No, it is the realization that the movement which set all this in motion is over and the missives making their way between CCCM and the Association merely confirm its demise.

It is not the purpose of this essay to assign blame or to opine as to who is right or wrong.  Instead, it is to simply point out the reality of what has happened and to recognize that there is no going back.  If you doubt this, then consider the following scenario – an outrageous, charismatic nineteen year-old with a hipster beard and lots of ink shows up at the home of the pastor of Calvary Chapel Wherever saying he has a call to be an evangelist. The young man’s background includes drugs and a questionable sexual orientation. He’s already married and he holds a different view of charismatic gifts than that of the pastor… and, after prayer, the forty-one year old pastor of Calvary Chapel Wherever gives the young man a leadership position in the church outraging and offending much of his board.  Chuck Smith did this very thing in the day with Lonnie Frisbee, but I wouldn’t look for it to happen any time soon at either CCCM or, indeed, in any of the CC Association churches.

So, let us mourn the formal end of the Jesus Movement.  Let us send all best wishes and prayers to Brian and those at CCCM as they enter a new chapter in their history.  Let us as well keep the churches of the Calvary Chapel Association in our prayers and hope that Chuck Smith will be remembered with love and great affection, but not set upon a pedestal.

Finally, let us pray that another movement of the Holy Spirit will take place among us once again and lead us to places and work yet unknown in our own day and time.

Duane W.H. Arnold

The Project

Dec 052016

calvary-chapel-e1478539697846Pastor Dave Rolph just released this statement on the matter on Facebook.

“I have resisted making public comments about the recent CCA/CCCM split, partly because I’ve been trying to think it through thoroughly and partly because I don’t think my opinion is all that significant in the overall scheme of things. I have talked with people on both sides of the issue, including those who are on the CCA council, and I have addressed some of my personal concerns in private letters to some of them. Ultimately I decided to just publish some general comments and perspectives so that I can stop the avalanche of questions I am getting about this matter.

First of all, the split was a tragedy. Perhaps it was a necessary tragedy, but it was a tragedy just the same. There are men on both sides who are very special to me and I hate this public division.

There has been a lot of talk about unity but for me unity is only impressive when it contains diversity. A unity that comes through division and exclusion isn’t really unity at all. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, in chapter 12, he makes it clear that God intended His Church to be a unity with a lot of interesting diversity. And that is what impressed anyone who came to Calvary Chapel in the 70’s, when I first started to minister there. It wasn’t just a tent full of hippies. It was “long hairs, short hairs, some coats and ties.” It was police officers like Hal Fischer, firefighters like Ken Mitchell, business executives like Chuck Missler, and crazy hippies like Lonnie Frisbee. And it was led by a middle aged bald guy. The Calvary Chapel movement was always the same. As other churches started we had Mike MacIntosh who had a huge vision for missions, Greg Laurie who was an evangelist and heir apparent to Billy Graham, Tom Stipe who had a passion for worship, Don McClure who called us to holiness as he was influenced by Alan Redpath. Later there were guys who were more drawn to apologetics or creation or eschatology or politics. But within this diversity, we were all held more or less together by our love and respect for Chuck Smith. The reason Chuck was able to hold this motley crew together is because he didn’t let diversity trip him up. Frankly, the Calvary Chapel fellowship of churches hung together largely because of Chuck’s capacity to put up with extremists, radicals, and a various assortment of crazy people. If we purge all the crazies from Calvary Chapel, and organize and structure the whole thing, it will no longer be Calvary Chapel. Unity without diversity will suffocate what once was a powerful work of the Spirit, where the lunatics like us had been allowed to run the asylum.

I hesitate to even use the words “Calvary Chapel Movement.” In the 60’s and 70’s there was a Jesus Movement. It sprung up almost simultaneously all over the country and several places around the world. Calvary Chapel was a church that participated in the Jesus Movement. I’m not sure when people transitioned from talking about the Jesus Movement and instead talking about the Calvary Chapel Movement but there was a sad day in there somewhere. In the early days it was never about Calvary Chapel as opposed to the rest of the church. Chuck worked with people from various different denominations. Calvary loaned money to missions groups like Wycliffe Bible Translators and Missionary Aviation Fellowship. He was friends with Bill Bright and supported Campus Crusade. He was also friends with Chuck Swindoll, John MacArthur, Billy Graham, Francis Schaefer and others. He even had Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Reformed Calvinist woman preach from the pulpit of Calvary Chapel several times. The point is, during the times when God blessed Calvary Chapel in the greatest way, Calvary Chapel was a part of the larger Church of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t a sell-contained “Movement.” History will show that the more exclusive our church (and churches) became, there was a pronounced decline in the influences of our ministries. So in my opinion, a move toward exclusivity will be a move toward obscurity.

I understand that some people within CCA see the Calvary Chapel Association as being the successors, chosen by Chuck Smith, to all that is Calvary Chapel in the future. I understand that because Chuck allowed a letter to be published that seemed to endorse that concept, and he made certain statements to that effect. However, Pastor Chuck also made numerous private statements concerning his lack of respect for CCA, to me and many others, and on several occasions he told me that he was going to pull out of CCA and “we will start our own thing.” Chuck never saw the group of CC churches as the big deal that others seem to think. He told me many times, “Dave, we have one church! Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa!” And maybe it sounds strange, since I am the Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Pacific Hills, but I still consider Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa to be my home church. I consider CCPH to be a part of, and an outreach of, Costa Mesa. I’m sure it is different for pastors who have never been personally associated with CCCM but I worked as a pastor there for 25 years, taught there for 30 years, and remained in regular personal contact with Chuck Smith for the greater part of 40 years. His church will always be my church, no matter what.

For me, the idea of there being a Calvary Chapel Association that doesn’t include the original Calvary Chapel is ludicrous. CCCM even owns the name that CCA uses, as well as the dove. Some of the CCA guys feel that Brian is starting an association that is a subset of CCA. In my view, every church that calls itself “Calvary Chapel” is a subset of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. For CCA to attempt to get CCCM to submit to CCA the tail is wagging the dog.

I understand why many of the Calvary Chapel churches don’t want to submit to Brian. While Chuck ultimately handed CCCM off to Brian’s leadership, he did send conflicting messages concerning whether or not he really wanted that to happen. Conflicting messages were a constant thing with Chuck, and anyone who knew him knows that. But you have to ultimately go by what he did in the end, which was turn the church and all of its assets over to Brian’s stewardship. But the thing is, no one has to submit to Brian. Brian isn’t even asking anyone to submit to him. He is simply unwilling to submit to others, as was his father-in-law.

All of this illustrates why independence is so importance as we move into the future. The Lord works in mysterious ways. As Jesus said to Nicodemus, “The Holy Spirit is like the wind. You never know where He’s coming from or where He’s going but you’ll hear Him as He moves.” Calvary Chapel experienced an incredible move of the Holy Spirit, as a small group of people, led by one man, allowed the rules to be broken, and submitted to no one but the Holy Spirit. At the time Chuck was accused of arrogance, and of not being a team player. The team players and rule keepers missed the revival, and they always do. If you were going to come up with a revised list of Calvary Distinctives, I’d put independence somewhere near the top of the list. To see a Calvary Chapel pastor be criticized for having an independent spirit is incredibly ironic.

The messages that have gone out from CCA have stated that the role of CCA is to maintain the affiliation process, have a helpful webpage, put on conferences and publish various teachings. So far, after 3+ years, not much of that has happened. The CCA webpage and affiliation process is a confusing mess. They haven’t conducted a single conference. And the only things they’ve published, to my recollection, are the recent succession of emails about Brian, and a few short notices concerning how to help with some natural disasters. On the other hand, Brian has an amazing website at, with a great church database and lots of articles written by Calvary Chapel pastors, including many written by CCA board members. He has a constant presence on social media, which is so critical nowadays. And he has put on a large pastor’s conference every year, in addition to missions conferences, youth worker conferences, worship leader conferences, and scores of other conferences all over the world. And Brian was doing all this long before there even was a CCA. If CCA really wants to lead they might want to start by doing all the stuff that he is doing, at least as well as he does.

When Brian put out his announcement about Calvary Chapel Global Network he made it clear that he’d be happy for pastors to be associated with CC Global and with CCA. I thought he was very gracious toward CCA. On the other hand, CCA made a series of attacking statements directed toward Brian, and made it pretty clear that they don’t want their affiliates associating with CC Global. That says a lot to me.

Throughout my years with Calvary Chapel I saw Pastor Chuck say and do some dumb stuff. But I remained associated with him. And I said and did a lot of dumb stuff, and he remained associated with me. (We could be furious with each other at different times, but we remained connected.) I think CCA has said and done some dumb stuff recently. But they are still my family. And I’ve also seen Brian say and do some dumb stuff. But he is still my brother. I wish that Calvary Chapel Association could’ve avoided this split. I wish they hadn’t been offended by Brian’s independence and I wish he wouldn’t have left and I wish they wouldn’t have attacked him after he left. But what’s done is done, and we need to move forward.

I had the privilege of growing up in a church environment that was crazy, independent and radical. It was messy and disruptive. It was anti-establishment and always walking a fine edge, and falling off regularly. That was Calvary Chapel. And the Spirit blew everywhere, and an old man let it happen. Brian and Cheryl Brodersen’s oldest daughter, when she was probably 3 years old, used to say to Pastor Chuck, “Grandpa, you are a non-capormous!” (She couldn’t pronounce “non-conformist, although she knew what it meant” so “non-capormous” was the best she could do. And Chuck was so proud that his granddaughter saw him as a non-conformist. He was one to his very soul. And that’s what he taught us, if we were listening. I am an old man now but I pray that I never lose that radical, messy, independent, non-conformist spirit I got from Chuck and Calvary Chapel. There is an old saying in history that the first thing revolutionaries do when they come into power is kill all the revolutionaries. If we aren’t careful we may snuff the flame of the next revolution of the Spirit before it happens. Let’s never lose our radical spirit.”

Dec 032016

We are strange mixtures of loss and hope.

As we are able, we submit our losses to you.

We know about sickness and dying, about death and mortality, about failure and disappointment.

And now for a moment we do our failing and our dying in your presence, you who attend to us in loss.

As we are able, we submit our hopes to you.

We know about self-focused fantasy and notions of control.

But we also know that our futures are out beyond us, held in your good hand.

Our hopes are filled with promises of well-being, justice, and mercy.

Move us this day beyond our fears and anxieties into your land of goodness.

We wait for your coming, we pray for your kingdom.

In the meantime, give us bread for the day.

Walter Brueggemann. Prayers for a Privileged People (p. 167). Kindle Edition.

Dec 032016

Christianity tourism destinationsMatthew 13:18-30

The Parable of the Sower Explained

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower:

  • In an odd way, and you will probably only hear it here from me – v.11 & 12 are the parable of the sower.
  • The explanation coming next is really based more on what he said in v.11-17.
  • He is rejected – God made flesh and he is rejected.

19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.

  • This is the history of Christianity – sowing seed around the world and who snatches the word away?
  • The evil one – where Jesus works, satan sets up shop. We will see that in the next parable – the weeds in v.25
  • It has been this way for all church history and will continue until the end.

20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy,

  • The new convert – very excited at first.

21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away,

  • But then there are things that come up in their life and they are gone – and you never see them again.
  • What are some reasons people fall away?
  • What excuses do we come up with?

22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

  • Worries & cares of this life. Hey, life is hard
  • Deceitfulness of riches – if only I get this job, get this raise, get those riches – then I can pay attention to God.

23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

  • I think Luther said in the introduction to the Large Catechism “The more you study the word of God, the more fruit your life bears.”
  • The more you study the same passages the more that comes to light
  • How many times have you heard the parable of the Sower…

The Parable of the Weeds

24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field,

  • OK, if you don’t get it – try this one.
  • Jesus again is the key to the parable
  • Note the fruit of Jesus’ preaching – he speaks and it bears fruit … believers.

25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.

  • Here is the enemy at work –
  • Who is it who goes to work when the word of God is spoken?
  • The lord builds his church and the devil sets up his chapel right next door.

26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also.

27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’

28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’

29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.

  • Look at the concern that Jesus has for the believers.

30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

  • Now this does not mean that we do not speak a word of law tto these unbelievers
  • The role of the law is to bring someone to Christ.
  • The point of the parable is that God is the Lord of the harvest
  • He will take care of it.


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